Many of Kelli Bass’ students come to her saying that math is too hard, and they don’t enjoy it.
She’s hoping to change their attitude by doing everything from teaching the quadratic formula to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel” to watching a video called “Teach Me How to Factor” on YouTube.
Using songs is one way she makes math class fun and memorable, which engages students, says Bass, who primarily teaches algebra 1 at Eastview 8/9 in Norwalk.
“My goal has really been to teach them that they can do math,” she says. “I’ve really worked to help them build their confidence.”
In addition, she incorporates as many real-world examples as possible and tries to build off of students’ successes to show them they’re progressing. She conveys to them that math teaches skills such problem solving, perseverance and solving problems in multiple ways.
Seeing her passion for math also gets them excited about it, she says.
Math has always been Bass’ favorite subject, and the one she excelled at, despite the fact that it didn’t always come easy. But she was willing to work at it. Her experience has given her the knowledge to better anticipate the kinds of struggles her students will have, she says.
Bass is using technology to assist students with some of their challenges. Websites, (including her class website), interactive programs, manipulatives and graphing calculators are just some of the tools they’re using. These offer students multiple representations of what they’re learning, Bass says, and also address different learning styles.
It was a combination of her affinity for school and being blessed with really good teachers that led her to go into education, she says. Last year was her first teaching.
Bass likes working with the age group at Eastview because it gives her the opportunity to help students prepare for high school and beyond, as well as how to be successful in and out of school.
They’re also a group that carries with it a bit of an element of surprise.
“They are fun,” Bass says. “You never know what’s going to happen.”