Being excited about math

I found Integer Jim's website two days ago, and I had to browse thru his whole website because it was quite interesting.

Here we have a math teacher who is very enthusiastic and excited about what he is teaching (you can sense that by reading his website).

Now, that is, I feel, one ingredient in what makes a good teacher: being enthused about your subject matter.

I realize not every homeschooler feels that way about math; but don't despair if you feel teaching math is a drudgery. All that CAN change... Head for the Living Math website for starters.

But back to Integer Jim. Besides being a math teacher, he's also an artist and has made some interesting projects with his students that tie art and math together.

I wanted to highlight one: The Math Journal project. Jim says,

The Math Journal is a comprehensive and in depth project. It requires a lot of time and effort on the part of the students. For that reason, I use it as the centerpiece of my curriculum; the textbook that I taught from previously, I now use as a resource book for problems and homework assignments. It is my observation that the students were never enthusiastic about the textbook anyway. Now they definitely have something that they are enthused about.

In other words, he has used the journal project as the core of the curriculum: students write in it lecture notes, charts, diagrams. Then they also write about interesting math topics from math history for example, and topics of their own choice such as puzzles and 'fab facts'.

The result is like an adventure.

I commend Jim for this; the students are creating a work of their own, learning math AND writing skills, being highly motivated. Sounds great all the way thru!

However, there are drawbacks, too: it will take some extra time compared to just using a workbook, and a broad knowledge of math from the teacher in order to guide the student(s) with the extra topics. Of course the internet is a fantastic source for interesting math topics, history, puzzles, and such.

Maybe the idea is adaptable on a smaller scale, somehow. (He's used it as a whole course curriculum.) Anyhow, it's definitely something I'd like to try some day.

On this page you can request a more detailed guidelines and typical contents of his algebra journal.

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