I had the privilege of observing Desert Vista Campus Mathematics Faculty Darla Aguilar’s Math for Elementary School Teachers (MAT 147) last week. It was enlightening, as it is a harbinger of the next generation of education, one that combines new technology with evolving teaching styles.
The class was held in a room in Desert Vista’s new Center for Integrated Learning, our beautiful new 21st-century education space. Groups of a half-dozen students gathered at five tables; on the wall above each table was a monitor where the students could collect and display research data on a spreadsheet.
Their research question involved Barbie-type dolls, rubber bands and bungee jumping. How many rubber bands does it take for a Barbie to bungee-jump a distance without hitting her head on the ground?
The assignment enables the students to think about math with an elementary-school mindset, while honing skills involving manipulatives that will be critical when they enter the classroom. It also emphasizes teamwork and communication as the groups decide the best approach to solving the problem. (Some students captured their Barbies’ rapid descent on slow-motion smartphone video.)
Also noteworthy is that Darla has replaced the traditional lecture with an interactive, student-centered approach in which the instructor serves as a facilitator and coach.
Darla’s class is a prime example of how new technology and innovative pedagogy add up to a great learning experience for our students.