From role-playing to fair trips, schools are innovating how they teach maths

Considered bogus by many students, mathematics is present in many ways in people’s daily lives. Whether it’s in the price of food at the supermarket, in the algorithms that enable internet searches, in the measurements of a football field or even in the division of pizza among families. Teachers in the Rio Preto region used these examples to make teaching the subject easier and more attractive. The result is an improvement in student scores.

At the Francisco Molina State School in tiny Santa Salete (165 kilometers from Rio Preto), by measuring the size of the school block or visiting the town’s supermarket, teacher Francisco Penha Delsim, 54, tries to bring math closer to the students. lives.

“Since Santa Salete is a small agricultural town (population 1,500), I try to use examples from the everyday lives of students and their families. So I use the prices of livestock, fruit and food a lot in the supermarket. “Imagine if I only talk about examples in the books, for example, taxi flags, even if there are no taxis in Santa Salet,” he said.

In Rio Preto, Professor Fabrício Rissão Mattos uses digital games and the history of the discipline to engage students in his classes at Etec Philadelpho Gouvêa Netto. “We try to show students that math is not just in engineering fields, but in all professions.” For example, a nurse needs to know math in order to use medicine correctly.”

Etec de Rio Preto achieved the best results among public high schools in the northwest of São Paulo in the Basic Education Evaluation System (Saeb) 2021. “Showing math in practice makes classes more engaging.” An example of this is when we use probability to create role-playing games. This awakens students’ involvement in the study of the discipline,” Matos noted.

A role-playing game (RPG) is a type of game in which players must play characters and create narratives that dictate the progress of the game. They must follow predetermined rules and roll dice to see if any action is possible. Students then use math to calculate the probability of a given number coming out.

A study conducted by the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul and Cambridge through the Instituto Tim in the United Kingdom found that students lose interest in mathematics during basic education. In the first years of primary school, more than half of the students show a taste for learning the subject. However, in the last years of elementary and high school, the rejection rate of mathematics is higher than the interest in learning it.

Among the reasons is the fact that mathematics is cyclical in the teaching process. That is, if the student did not learn addition, subtraction and division well in the early years, it will be more difficult for him to advance in the discipline.

“Nobody likes what they don’t understand. This is the main reason why students do not like mathematics. We must prove that mathematics is difficult and that only a few will be able to understand it. Mathematics is available to everyone and is very necessary in our daily life”, defended João Carlos Ferreira Costa, Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Unesco, Rio Preto.

“I say it’s like a home, you have to create a good foundation for students to learn mathematics in the early years of elementary school so that the student can progress,” emphasized Francisco, a teacher from Santa Salete.

Technology as an Ally for Learning

In the small district of Nova Itapirema, Nova Alianza, with the help of technology, Professor Selton Martins Aguero managed to get 147 students interested in mathematics in the first years of primary school. Mathematics lessons are also held in the computer laboratory.

“I work a lot on the skills of each of them. Since we are municipal full-time, they have regular classes in the morning and different activities in the afternoon. So we use our labs a lot. Therefore, in addition to the fact that the student solves the fraction in a notebook, I try to show mathematics through online games,” he noted.

The municipal school also has hands-on robotics activities where students perform first tests based on resolutions discussed in class.

According to João Carlos Ferreira Costa, a professor at Unesp in Rio Preto, practical activities, the use of board games and solving OBMEP questions are the ways that schools should follow that intend to improve the performance of students in the subject.

“Another initiative is math clubs. In them, students meet to discuss and study mathematical problems, thus collaborating in both academic and social performance. I also cannot fail to mention the importance of activities related to teacher training and continuing education in the school system, which have a great impact on the work of their respective students.

For those who have been in the area for nearly 30 years, teaching math is like teaching literacy, except with numbers instead of letters. “I usually say that mathematics is a chain. It is necessary to show the presence of mathematics in people’s lives, and it starts at school,” said Francisco Penha, a teacher from Santa Salle. (RC)

An exclusive teacher

At the municipal school, Regina Teresa Aparecida Savatz, in Elizario, was a specialist teacher who made a difference. There, due to the suspension of face-to-face activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the municipal secretary of education decided to hire a specialized teacher to tutor the students.

“Normally, in the early years of primary school (grades 1 to 5), it is the teacher who teaches maths and Portuguese, but because we perceive the great difficulty of students in maths, we have the cooperation of a teacher specialized in maths to teach us. The shift is after school hours”, said the director of the municipal school, Yusilen Fornazari Gabas.

As a result, the school achieved the best results in mathematics among public educational institutions in the early years of elementary school in the Rio Preto region. “Mathematics is a progressive learning, if you don’t learn how to multiply correctly, it will be difficult for you to add fractions, break down simple numbers. Unlike history, which can study the French Revolution without studying Greece or Rome”, quotes Claudio Landim, Deputy Director of the Institute of Sacred and Applied Mathematics (Impa) and General Coordinator of the Brazilian Public School Mathematics Olympiad (OBMEP).

He should follow good examples like Elisario, but they can be solved by reforming the pedagogy courses in Brazil. “In the first years, students have math lessons with teachers who don’t know and don’t like math. In general, pedagogical courses do not have a mathematics subject. If the future teacher does not know mathematics throughout the course, how will he teach?”. (RC)

Students from Santa Salet: measuring the sports field is one of the activities (disclosure)

Professor Fabrício Rissão Mattos, from Etec Philadelpho Gouvêa Netto, with an experiment showing the Pythagorean theorem in practice (Guilherme Baffi 10/6/2022)

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