Ashli Black, over at Learning to Fold, recently posted this little bit of wit and whimsy. The post essentially recounts her experience in algebra classes and compares it to the experience of contestants on an extremely confusing, quite vague, and thus hilarious math game show. Ashli makes the point that, “As that kid without conceptual understanding in algebra, this skit is pretty much exactly what it was like in class for me. Confusing, almost no stated rules I understood, and at any moment the scene might change or I might be shoved in a box for not achieving Wangernumb.” Ashli considers the difference between teaching for conceptual understanding and teaching for procedural understanding in her post, but it got me thinking about my own students. I often think my students are holding their breath, waiting for me to tell them their answer was in fact “Numberwang.”

My goal as a special educator is to communicate the day’s lesson or task so the students will be able to access, understand, and apply the mathematical content. This often leads to accommodation, modification, and differentiation of everything for everyone. When one thinks of accommodations the first things that come to mind are standardized testing accommodations. The general list usually looks something like this:

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