Circles in Math?

I’m not talking diameter or circumference here…well not exactly.  Math circles are social structures where students engage in and ponder the nuts and bolts of mathematical thinking, perform math equations as a group, and ponder open-ended mathematical problems.

So, what’s the big deal?  Well, for starters, it’s a fun way to do math.  Second, remember that old phrase, two heads are better than one?  It works for math splendidly.  And, even better, kids learn to socialize in a group.

Developed in Europe a hundred years ago, math circles are still being used today and serve as a much better teaching model than a teacher standing in front of the classroom writing on the white board or the overhead projector.

So, how do these elusive circles work?

First, students are placed into small groups and apply math to interesting life experiences.  The students get to ponder potential answers, collaborate with each other, help each other, and come to conclusions.  The groups of students in the circles then meet.  They discuss, prove, and substantiate the mathematical problems that they worked on in their circle.  Logic abounds.  Thinking is prevalent, and logic abounds.

Project-based learning helps students in numerous ways.  Added subjects cross over and integrate…art, science, reading, writing, computer programming…the sky’s the limit!

We all know that math can’t be taught in a vacuum.  So, now we know a way to avoid boring math lessons.

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