Excerpted from August 4, 2020
Making Math Real’s Response to COVID-19 Part 5:
Update on the Status of the
Making Math Real: Overview, K-12 Course
Making Math Real: Overview, K-12:
The Most Important of All the Making Math Real Series of Courses
In addition to being the required prerequisite course for getting started with the Making Math Real series of courses, the Making Math Real: Overview, K-12 is the most important of all the Making Math Real series of courses. The Overview course provides the necessary introduction to the structure and methods of Making Math Real to prepare educators and parents for the up to 680 hours of content courses that follow (see the full list of courses here), and is therefore the mandatory prerequisite for all other Making Math Real courses. The Making Math Real Simultaneous Multisensory Structured Methods are historically unprecedented and are the first and only comprehensive pre-K through calculus prescription for teaching that emphasizes integrating the development of executive function and working memory within every math lesson.
Math Means “I Know that I Know”
The entire emphasis of all the Making Math Real Simultaneous Multisensory Structured Methods K-12 is on structuring the educator’s ability to activate and sustain their students’ comprehension-based, working memory perceptual experience of the mathematics. For teaching much of the K-5 fundamentals in mathematics, this requires a direct and interactively structured, in-person, hands-on use of manipulatives. The interactive structure of using the manipulatives provides students with a direct and physical, concrete experience of activating their comprehension-based working memory picture for introducing new mathematical concepts. Once students have integrated the concrete concepts of the math, they are systematically guided to transferring their concrete, manipulatives-based understanding of the math to its specific reconstruction in abstract symbolic form. Successful transfer of the concrete to the abstract means students can self-activate their comprehension-based working memory picture directly from the math symbols. The emphasis on developing students’ ability to self-activate and sustain working memory is unique in math education, and is never to be confused with the way math has been consistently taught: teaching to procedural memory dissociated from comprehension-based working memory activation. Procedural memory without working memory activation can at most “hope” students remember what to do, whereas students’ self-activation of working memory integrates their knowing and understanding what they are doing, because processing math successfully means “I know that I know”.
Making Math Real Was Never Intended to Be Taught Via Distance Learning
The online format of distance learning is contraindicated because the educator’s ability to structure, activate, and sustain their students’ working memory picture without direct and immediate physical interaction with their students’ hands-on, manipulatives-based experience, is severely limited. The Making Math Real Simultaneous Multisensory Structured Methods K-12 require an active learning experience for the students, not a passive one. The nature of distance learning greatly fosters a passive response from participating students (much like watching TV or an instructional video), and without the educator’s ability to immediately activate instruction through direct and physical management structures, students can revert to passive modes of learning. In addition, students with underdeveloped self-regulatory abilities to sustain focus and attention will struggle to maintain engagement with the lesson without a direct, in-person external source to help manage their behavior and attention. Furthermore, the significant limitation of the educator’s ability to establish and maintain rapport with students via distance learning greatly reduces instructional effectiveness. As stated above, we are physical beings, and to maximize educational and developmental benefits, all students need and deserve all instruction to be delivered in a direct, in-person format. Making Math Real was never intended to be taught to students via distance learning.
Sending the Wrong Message
Making Math Real: Overview, K-12 is the most important of all the Making Math Real series of courses, and since the principle function of the Overview course is to help educators expand their teaching practices beyond the limitations of teaching to procedural memory dissociated from working memory activation, I would be sending the wrong message to new participants by introducing Making Math Real via distance learning. Without first experiencing a baseline physical connection of the direct and immediate interaction with their students’ hands-on, manipulatives-based experience, new participants could not understand how my attempts to express this cornerstone of Making Math Real via distance learning are misleading; and worse, could inadvertently send the wrong message that course participants, too, could try and teach Making Math Real via distance learning. The prospect of my trying to teach the Making Math Real: Overview, K-12 via distance learning prompts what would be my constant disclaimer to the course participants:
“Even though you are experiencing me teach Making Math Real to you online, Making Math Real was never intended to be taught online, so please, do not do what I’m doing!” *
Please Stay Tuned
It is my sincerest hope that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will one day cease and we can return to our normal human interactions. In the meantime, as conditions remain unsafe, I will continue to postpone the Making Math Real: Overview, K-12 course, which means the Overview scheduled for February 2021 may also be cancelled. I will make a formal decision about the courses for Spring 2021 by the end of November 2020 or sooner, so please stay tuned. I hope my explanations for why I cannot present the Making Math Real: Overview, K-12 course via distance learning make some sense to you. If the unsafe conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic persist indefinitely, and continue to require distance learning only, I will endeavor to create new structures for teaching Making Math Real via distance learning.
Stay safe and be well,
David Berg, E.T.
Founder & Director of the Making Math Real Institute
Creator of the Making Math Real Simultaneous Multisensory Structured Methods
* It is possible and well precedented that under the appropriate conditions, a highly experienced Making Math Real practitioner can effectively teach students via distance learning. This is not a casual statement and is indicated for only those Making Math Real practitioners with requisite clinical background and experience in the assessment, diagnostics, and the planning and implementation of individually prescriptive scopes and sequences for a vast diversity of student processing styles.