As part of our occasional series on the great teachers who make our programs possible, we asked Challenge Saturdays teacher Slade Hovick about teaching, high-ability kids, and one very unusual lesson plan.
I love coming up with fun and interesting ways for people to learn. I try to branch out and think outside the box in my lesson planning. Sure, I have several lessons that are your run of the mill, boring, math lessons, but I really try to spice things up from time to time with fun games, activities, or what I refer to as character lessons where I teach as someone other than myself, like Colonel Mathematics.
What is the most important lesson you have learned about high-ability students?
KEEP THEM BUSY!!! High-ability students need to have something to do or their high-ability brains will find something to do. This is actually why a lot of very intelligent students can (sadly) be mis-labeled as “trouble-makers,” when they are just bored silly.
How did you come up with the idea of Colonel Mathematics? What does a lesson look like using your character and the game of Risk?
Well, Colonel Mathematics takes the students through the Mathematics Military boot-camp. The students learn that there are hidden soldiers called variables that take innocent citizen numbers hostage in our equations and they learn how to use our weapons of mathematical war (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) to rescue these citizen numbers and bring them over to our side of the battle field (equation). After the students learn the basics of mathematical combat, they are put to the test with a RISK styled game called World War Math where they earn armies by solving equations and then use those armies to take over more territory. It is my hope that students walk away realizing the power math gives us: If you master mathematics, you master the world.