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Getting her students to think about math problems is important to Dorothy Brech, a middle school math teacher in Ava who works with at-risk kids. She attended the 11-day Missouri math academy last month and describes it as one of the best professional development experiences she's had in her 13 years of teaching.
She says she learned the importance of letting her students use different approaches to solving problems rather than forcing everyone to plug numbers into a formula. This exploratory approach to teaching allows students to develop their own method of solving-problems and encourages critical thinking, according to Brech.
She says she learned during the academy that she should give students about several minutes to think about a problem and discuss it with a classmate before working through it on the blackboard. This will allow students to see how someone with a different approach goes about working a problem.
In addition to that, Brech says the academy has helped her think of real-life examples involving math, an important part of getting kids excited about math. She says there's a bridge being built near ava in an area familiar to most students'she says that will provide her with a chance to show how math is used outside the classroom.
The math academy is a joint effort between the state departments of economic development and elementary and secondary education.
Dr. Wesley Bird is the director of curriculum and technology integration for with the department of education.
He says there are two interconnected reasons to train math teachers'one has to do with academics and one has to do economics. Bird says he and other organizers of the math academy will continue to work with the teachers who participated in this summer's program. He says the teachers will meet again in a few weeks and will receive support during the school year.
Brech and the other teachers who received intense training in geometry this summer will get another round of training next summer focusing on algebra.
Brech says she's energized and ready to transfer what she learned at the academy into the classroom even though she knows it will take some time for the students to adapt. Brech and the other teachers received stipends for their participation in the academy. The 11 days of the academy involved training that ran from 8 a-m to past 8 p-m. Brech says it was exhausting but well worth her effort.