About

About

Jennifer Plosz

  • High school mathematics teacher for a number of years
  • Currently, at the University of Calgary
    • Area of study is the role of images and visualization in the growth of mathematical understanding
  • Guest author with Dyslexic Advantage magazine
  • Presenter of parent math nights:
    • Educating as a Community . . . (K – grade 2)
    • Educating as a Community . . . (grade 3 – 6)
  • Facilitator for Family Math nights
  • Targeted classroom teaching in Elementary Schools
  • Speaker at Conferences and Teachers Conventions
  • Teacher PD in schools
  • Provide one-on-one or small group tutoring for grades K-12 with learning differences

 

After being a high school mathematics teacher for a number of years, I took a leave to stay home with my kids. Upon becoming a parent I underwent an experience that served to disrupt my dominant ideologies regarding mathematics education. In beginning to teach my son basic number skills through what I understood to be productive teaching methods, we reached what seemed like an impasse before even getting to what I believed to be the starting gate – symbols (1, 2, 3, +, -, etc.).

My son and I were at a four-year-old birthday party, as the birthday cake entered the room ornately displaying a big number four, I could see that all the kids knew and recognized the symbol.  My four-year-old son and I had been working on his numbers for some time, yet he still could not recognize it. This perplexed me greatly for up to this point my son fit beautifully into the mold of my understanding of an intelligent child. His language skills were excellent, his building and reasoning skills were exceptional, and social sensibilities came to him with ease. How could he struggle with such a basic concept like the number four? My understanding of intelligence was deeply linked to the ability to learn in our cultural style of – I do, we do, you do; yet my son was not connecting with this approach.

It was in this space and time that my mind began to notice the fork in the road. Do I accept the imposed rhetoric that my son is not a math person or could there be a different understanding that needs to be sought out? My dominant ideology about mathematics education offered minimal help, and I began to question my own knowing. I began to realize that my understanding was not wholly what I imagined it to be.  This led me down a path towards a different understanding of what promotes the growth of mathematical thought.  As I began to engage with my son through a more conceptual-visual-intuitive mode, movement began, and not along a slow linear path, but more like leaps and bounds across sporadic intervals.  I began tutoring other elementary students who struggled with learning number concepts and guest teaching in classrooms. Through these experiences, I encountered many students who were experiencing similar positive outcomes. This is when I knew I was on to something.