Back to: Module: Helping Students Do Math

*Note to students working alone:** In addition to just thinking about this stuff, you can ask another paraprofessional to do the activity too, and then you can talk about it as a group of two. Or you can discuss your data with your family or a friend.*

*Note to instructors:** If this Unit is part of a workshop or course, the activity can be adapted so that students interview each other, or so that small groups discuss the activity after the teachers and students are interviewed.*

## Activity

Probably you’ve never asked yourself “What is math?” It’s a fun game though, because *everyone* stops short when they’re asked that question. Often they say, “Gee, that’s a good question!” But everyone will also think of some kind of an answer.

So the assignment here is simple.

- Ask five teachers “What is math?” and write down, in your own words, what they say.
- Then ask five students, and write down their answers.

Think about:

- similarities and differences in
*teachers’*answers - similarities and differences in
*students’*answers - similarities and differences in the answers that students’ and teachers’ give.
- the words used in answers: are there any patterns that you can see?

What *logical sense* can you make of the answers on the basis of similarities and differences? In trying to make sense of the similarities and differences, you might want to:

- Read or re-read the Unit 1 Overview.
- Discuss your ideas with others: a colleague or a group of colleagues is particularly good. For one thing, a group of colleagues will have
*more data*. For another, a group will have a*variety*of insights.

**Finally: a question to ponder…**

- There’s math in this assignment. Where is it? (Describe the math-like things in it; again, it helps to talk with others, if possible).