How I Use It
I learned about Math Nation as I was stepping away from my classroom for a bit to raise my little ones, but I was so excited about all that it had to offer, as I sat in on the presentation when my district signed up for it, I knew it was something I believed in and wanted to be a part of. Therefore, I am keeping my teaching certificate active and am now working on the Algebra and Math Nation walls as a Study Expert, which is what the teachers are called who moderate the "wall" and facilitate students in getting the help they need. I continue to feel so thankful that students who use this tool have a place to come during after-school hours to get help with their assignments, under the guidance of a certified math teacher that can give more quality support than they might otherwise find by just phoning a friend. It doesn't even matter if their assignments are from the Math Nation curriculum materials, they can literally ask anything from whatever curriculum or teacher-created materials they are using. We're just here to help them, without just giving the answer or providing shortcuts. One of the key values is to make sure that students understand the reasoning behind the process and not just get a quick fix. As teachers, we all know there's plenty of ways to get "online help" that is essentially cheating, so it's really important that Math Nation offers students a place to get REAL help.
If and when I return to the physical classroom, I plan to encourage future students to hop on the wall at any time they need some help completing a homework assignment outside of school hours. This would literally remove the excuse of "I didn't understand" as a reason for having incomplete or unattempted assignments, and this makes Math Nation AMAZING, in and of itself. As far as curriculum, I am always one to develop my own with the help of various resources, so I would likely use the Algebra/Math nation materials as a supplemental resource in that endeavor, but I must say that I have found the provided resources to be high quality, with a scope and sequence that makes sense, and seems to align to content standards quite well. I've always been very picky about pedagogy when it comes to teaching mathematics and I actually approve of how lessons are mapped out and presented in the videos, especially the ones that specifically say they go more in depth to review and explain..
Students who are serious about wanting to learn and understand math concepts really can get a lot out of this tool. Students who are just looking for answers or that quick fix, who aren't really concerned with learning and improving their skills, may lose interest and disengage, which is the reason for my engagement rating, but those who are willing to persevere quickly realize that it is an essential support to help them be successful in their math courses and they return again and again throughout the school year. I have to admit that I love this part of it because there is that familiarity that is built between study experts and students and I believe that this also is crucial in the learning process. Having those repeat experiences helps to understand the unique skill levels and how to best approach the tutoring experience for returning students. Relationship building truly makes a difference. Even though it's all online, it's a safe, positive, and uplifting atmosphere where kids really start to connect with and gravitate toward the teaching styles of various study experts that they prefer to get help from on the wall or learn from in the videos.
Additionally, some students are extra engaged because they want to help others and have a chance at earning enough Karma points to win prizes each month. These students not only get the benefit of learning to explain mathematical concepts, but they also learn new concepts along the way that they may not have seen previously. All interactions are moderated by the Study Expert on duty, so any misinformation provided by another student will always be caught, explained, and cleared up, which is all part of the real life learning process.
This is something you definitely will want to tell your school district to get signed up for!