Math Students Become Math Teachers

by Ariel
In 5th Grade math, we talk a lot about how math is a lot more than solving problems quickly. In fact, mathematicians spend a lot of their time showing, explaining, and justifying their thinking. For the past month or so, 5th Grade students have been studying what happens when you subtract all different kinds of quantities: whole numbers, negative numbers, fractions, decimals, and mixed numbers! Last week, 5th grade students were challenged to step into the role of teachers during math class. They started by working in partnerships to “grade” some subtraction problems by an “anonymous” student (AKA yours truly). Their challenge was not only to identify mistakes, but to explain why the mistake led to an inaccurate answer. Then, students paired up to create a lesson based on one mistake in particular. They were challenged to create a lesson that was clear, interactive, and would help someone avoid the same mistake in future. 
The result was a series of highly informative and entertaining lessons! Some lessons featured dramatic acting, some featured learning through mistakes, while others featured posters or step-by-step guides! Throughout the process, students had to work together and think beyond the “how” of the math to verbalize or depict the “why”. Inset: one of the students’ posters.
Located in the Central District, Seattle Girls' School is an independent school for girls and gender nonconforming students in grades 5-8. Our mission is to inspire and develop courageous leaders who think independently, work collaboratively, learn joyfully, and champion change.