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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Kathi Barber

I entered teaching after volunteering in my son's classroom. I observed that rote memorization of math facts, while helpful, was not allowing students to understand the mathmatics behind the tools and formulas. I investigated various ways to become a teacher of mathematics for students from grades 5-12. I applied and became a Teach for Arizona (then Teach for Tucson) Master's student at the University of Arizona at the age of 55. I started teaching in 2006 and have found I love teaching 8th graders. I know. You have to love that age group to teach them!

It is 2011 and I am ending my fifth year of teaching. I am still looking for new ways to teach for deeper understanding of mathematics. Each year, my students teach me new skills and bring me new ideas. I teach in a Southwestern city of 750,000 and my school is urban, Title I, diverse, and an Arts magnet. My students are talented in many different areas. Some come to me hating mathematics. My job is to demonstrate how math will help them and then how to learn math. I use projects, puzzles, games, CMP, and any other tools that I think might work. I get many ideas from the Middle School Math Teachers' Circle conducted by the Center for Retention and Recruitment at the University of Arizona.

Areas of Interest: 
problem solving,
math counts,
exceptional education,
project based learning,
motivating students,
new ideas

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