Hi, I am Pam Lettieri, the 7th grade math teacher at AMS. I absolutely love teaching math and watching my students begin to discover the amazing possibilities mathematics has. In middle school, students are beginning to see how math can be applied to their lives in so many different ways. They see connections between the skills in order to apply them in the real world. They realize that math goes hand-in-hand with problem solving and critical thinking.
The hardest thing I have found in my 20 years of teaching is finding the balance between preparing for high stakes testing and creating an understanding of how math works. For several
years now, I have worked with MDE and Questar, writing items for MAAP tests. I understand
that the tests expect a student to “know” the math. I want my students to understand the “why” the math works as well.
I try to use as many hands-on activities and manipulatives as possible to allow students to “see”
the math. Recently we had a unit on triangles. This unit focused on the conditions that would create one unique triangle, more than one triangle, or no triangle. I felt that simply giving notes was not enough for the students to gain an understanding of the concepts, so I pulled out rulers, protractors, scissors, and lots of paper for the students to explore the “why”. Students were engaged, they were making connections, and they were making sense of the math, and understood why such conditions had to exist. I feel students best learn mathematics in this way. They need to understand concretely before moving to the abstract. When they explore and discover on their own, the concepts become real for them and the understanding is greater. They are better prepared to take what they have learned and apply it to new situations and problems they have not encountered before.