When teaching mathematics in schools, there can be a tendency to focus on procedures rather than concepts, problem solving, and modeling. We realize that mathematics is much more than a collection of skills that students learn or apply. Instead, mathematics embodies the exploration and conjecturing of patterns and relationships. With the increased importance of promoting the Common Core mathematical practices in the teaching and learning of mathematics, the mission of the Central Ohio Math Circle for Teachers is threefold:
1) The Circle will serve as a collaborative and supportive environment where teachers can work with mathematicians to develop the habit of doing mathematics. Such experiences will enrich and deepen teachers’ view of mathematics as well as their content knowledge.
2) Part of each meeting of the Circle will address how a similar learning experience could be implemented in the teacher’s classroom. This will enable the teachers to bring these experiences to their students. It is our hope that the habit of “doing mathematics” will become infectious and will permeate all levels of learning and teaching mathematics.
3) By collaboratively working on and developing rich mathematical tasks, we hope for teachers from different schools to forge new relationships with other teachers and mathematicians alike. This discourse, between teachers and mathematicians, is critical for fostering a habit of doing mathematics.Currently, there are complementary programs in place in Central Ohio that will align well with the goals of our Math Circle, though, many of these activities are student-centered rather than focused on teachers.
The Ohio State University (OSU) currently runs a monthly student math circle where non-traditional tasks are explored by high school and middle school students. Our Math Circle also plans to work directly with OSU’s STEAM Factory, a collaborative space with the goal of bringing research in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics to the public. Additionally, the Math Fest for high school students, the Young Mathematician’s Conference for undergraduate students, and the summer Ross Program for gifted high school students nationwide are all avenues for students to explore and showcase powerful mathematics. The Math Teacher Circle will be able to collaborate with these groups to develop rich tasks.The leading group members of the Circle will each take on different but supportive roles based on their experience and placement within the local mathematics community.