The Goal: Guiding Teachers to Incorporate CREATIVITY into Analytical, Logic-Oriented Math Classes
Have you ever wondered where Math Giraffe came from, who I am, or why I do what I do?
Well here’s the scoop for those of you who have the more curious minds ;)
I’m Brigid…I am obviously a math dork, but I'm also a wife and a mom. I’ve got a lot of those typical “teacher” characteristics you think of when you imagine a math teacher – I like to bake, organize, plan with sticky notes, and reign with tough and logical discipline blended with never-ending love. But then I also have some twists God threw in to spice it up. It turns out that even though I’ve got a very analytical and logical math mind, I also have a huge dose of creativity in my brain. I’ve always been into designing unique things around the house, on the computer, and in the yard. I was into scrapbooking and floorplan designing as a kid. I created special gift boxes that I sold as a little girl, and my mom still has one or two that she uses! I have slowly come to realize that I think of math more visually than most Algebra- oriented minds do.
I have a wonderful husband who cooks our meals, builds our furniture, and makes our home peaceful and happy every day (and that’s all on top of his actual job!). We have a very sweet little girl and a fun and spunky toddler son. I started out teaching in Ohio. After spending a couple years in Texas on the US-Mexico border, we moved back up north - closer to family. (Yay!) While I am certainly loving the hiking, campfires, and snow up here, I really miss my palm trees and sunshine! I am a summer girl at heart.
Over the past years, I’ve discovered that math students really do have a need for the creative design and unique ideas that I enjoy building. My goal is to help logical left-brained math teachers like me to integrate creativity in each and every math classroom! Today, I want to share how my beliefs about teaching math transformed into a platform dedicated to guide you in building engagement and creativity into your classroom!
I started out as a middle school teacher in Ohio teaching 6th through 8th grade. I got hooked on inquiry-based learning, and I began to try to develop better ways to teach this way. I actually originally fell in love with inquiry in college when I took a class all about setting up GeoGebra exploration lessons to allow students in Analytic Geometry courses to investigate the principles. This way, they develop the formulas and notice the relationships themselves. It’s such a wonderful learning method, especially for Geometry.
My true passion is actually teaching high school Geometry, particularly proof and logic. After teaching middle school, I got to spend just a short time teaching high school Geometry in an all-girls Catholic school. It was an incredible experience. I was surprised to see how much I enjoyed the all-girls atmosphere, since I was so used to being surrounded by boys. (I have 7 brothers).
I always tried to give my students a challenge and try to make everything really rigorous. I’m one of those teachers who teaches by setting the expectation level toward the top 50% of the class, but then differentiates as well, adding a TON of support. In Geometry periods, I started to notice how the new twist I added to teaching proofs made such a difference. It was a simple in-between step that no one was doing. It went such a long way to help their understanding and decrease frustration compared to the previous class that I had followed the traditional sequence with. I decided to put it into writing and share it in resources online to help other teachers do it this way too!
Shortly after having my daughter, I began creating more and more resources, and set up a blog to spread the word. I knew these methods I was starting to develop worked better than what most teachers were doing, and I wanted the world of math teachers to know it! Now, thousands of teachers are teaching proofs with my additional step and my own proof unit (with awesome success!), and hundreds of thousands of students have had an easier experience with the dreaded geometry proofs because of the tweaks! I got hooked on the community feeling, and the excitement of other math teachers when they could see these effects too. I kept at it!
Then, when doodle notes were born, even more teachers fell in love and saw an impact. It was so exciting for me to realize I was introducing a new method of note-taking that was more effective for focus and retention, and more accessible to students even than other visual methods like sketch notes. It is such a weird, but awesome feeling to see that now this strategy and these lesson pages are used in hundreds of thousands of classrooms. But I am loving the journey of sharing unique and creative ideas with math teachers around the world.
Next, more and more teachers started emailing asking for help with creating their own doodle notes, so I designed the Doodle Note Club, a place where teachers can access templates, graphics, and video training I've created to make it easy for them to build doodle notes for their own classrooms, no matter the subject area. And so it continued on -- As I got new types of requests, I just added more and more communities, resources, and ideas to help solve the problems that teachers asked for solutions to.
I never would have expected (or intended) to become a blogger or curriculum creator, but throughout this process, I discovered my love for creating teaching methods and resources. I have absolutely enjoyed serving teachers and students in a unique way. It's all about taking steps to teach math more effectively by teaching it more CREATIVELY!
Teachers are the heroes of their classrooms. They are rocking the world of education every single day and impacting so many students. My goal is to be a guide and a resource for you. I want to support more and more math teachers to discover that integrating creativity in math class leads to happier, more engaged students, as well as higher test scores!
I am passionate about a few things in the world of math ed, and my wish here is to spread that joy and passion to you in your own classroom.
I want your kids to light up instead of whining when you say it’s notes and lecture day.
I want your kids to get excited when they finally “see” why a mathematical property is true.
I want your kids to use their own creativity in math class instead of being restricted to only a logical left-brained typical math experience.
I want your kids to feel the success when they can visualize and remember what they learned as a result of both their teacher's creativity and their own creativity and ownership.
I want your kids to acheive the boost in memory and focus that leads to stronger, deeper learning.
I want you to see test scores rise in your class BECAUSE of engagement and creativity, not by SACRIFICING engagement and creativity for test prep!
So if you are still with me, here are my math class philosophies. If you care to join the party and stick with me here, click the links below. Also, be sure to subscribe to my email list to get free resources, updates, and ideas sent right to your inbox.
1) I believe…
that the discovery process allows students to take ownership of the material, understand the content more deeply, and remember the concepts. Inquiry style lessons, or investigations, guide students to discover properties, formulas, and concepts for themselves. Instead of presenting students with a formula or rule, you give them a lesson that is structured to help them develop the formula or rule on their own. When your class understands WHY the rule works and HOW it was developed, they do not have to memorize it - they can reproduce it themselves at any time!
The goal: Let kids discover properties themselves and write their own formulas that they’ll remember and understand
LINK: inquiry learning
2) I believe…
that math isn’t just memorization, and relaying rules and facts. I believe that math class can be approached with creativity! Spicing it up with some variety while keeping the rigor level high is the ultimate combo!
It is a rare blend for logical, analytical-minded math teachers to also incorporate high levels of creativity, so I hope to share guidance to help your own classroom benefit from that approach, without sacrificing rigor. I'd love to help you give your students a brain boost by adding CREATIVITY to math.
The goal: The elusive but perfect blend of fun & rigor
LINK: Creativity in Math
3) I believe…
that students retain material better when they are taught with a right-brain / left-brain integrated approach. When we can add a bit of color, doodling, or creativity into a logic-based class, we require the two hemispheres of the brain to work together. This has been proven to lead to an increase in learning, focus, relaxation, retention, and internalization of the lesson material! Students can really benefit from visual brain triggers. I love to let them interact with math content through coloring, sketching, or doodling in a productive and related way!
The goal: Combine visuals with linguistic input to boost student learning
LINK: Incorporate theright brain in math class
This is where the "doodle notes" concept came from. I loved the concept of visual sketch notes, but needed a more guided, structured version of visual notes instead. I needed something that kids could use easily. I debated just making my infographics black and white to be more color-friendly, but it just was not enough to activate the full brain benefits. I wanted it to be the best of both worlds. So the other features of doodle notes came together to become a whole new way for kids to interact with notes during lectures.
These have completely cured all the students' note-day dread, while also boosting their brains! Even the kids are amazed at how much more they are able to retain. It has been absolutely amazing to see the results of this method. I'm totally hooked on the doodles, and have been diving into the research, process, and benefits that these offer. As I continue perfecting my own creation of visual triggers and doodle-analogies to maximize the benefits of these pages, I also teach about how to make your own in the Doodle Note Club.
Here are some great places to dive into the teaching strategies that I believe in and have seen great results from:
So thank you for following along and trusting the benefits of blending rigor and creativity in math class!
I would love to hear from you! If you’ve seen a positive impact after coming across material here at Math Giraffe, or have questions, could you leave it in a comment below?
Thanks for reading!
Let me know how I can help you on your journey to teach math with a touch of CrEaTiViTy!! :)
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