Special Education and Open Middle Problems

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 5.54.29 PM

Special Education teachers are often underrepresented when it comes to innovative teaching practices. These are the teachers who stand to benefit the most from technology and interesting ways to teach kids, yet probably due to being overworked, in my experience I have rarely seen them at things like CUE and Math conferences. Side note – My wife Meagan and I are very excited to be presenting (assuming we get approved) at the CMC-Central Symposium in March 2016! 

Tonight I had an opportunity to teach at a special education class at Fresno State due to my wife being an adjunct professor of Special Education there. I showed them first a 3 Act Math task that sort of flopped, but then this Open Middle problem:


I challenged these grad school students that there would be many different ways in the room that people solved it. One student joked, “wouldn’t they just point and count?”

Every student in our room counted the dots differently. Different groupings, different sides they started from, etc. It was great to hear them talk about different ways to understand this relatively simple problem. I pointed out that this is how we can approach most math problems too. Sure, they need to eventually know certain methods. But isn’t it better to help them with the thinking behind it?

It’s this kind of struggle that leads to greater understanding. It’s this kind of teacher that helps all students understand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *