What is Hungry Teacher?

Real-world math activities that promote student engagement, collaboration, & problem-solving with your students.

Our lessons incorporate a “socratic” (questioning) approach. We present students with real-world problems or questions that need solutions. When presented, this immediately brings up more questions from your students. But this is exactly what you want. This means they have already started the process of problem solving and thinking critically. It is entirely up to them to solve or answer. This naturally teaches students to be self-directed and resourceful (have you ever solved a problem at work by consulting with co-workers or fixed something in your home by going to YouTube?). It’s not that students don’t ever need to memorize formulas or math facts (a toolbox), but when students are presented with real world problems this is what will drive them toward the need to know and apply the right formulas (tools) for solving.

Meaningful Math

Math is everywhere…it is how we try to organize and make sense of the world around us. Today’s math classes often lack this connection between Math and the real-world. Meaningful math problems have certain characteristics. They should be rooted in a context so that students can visualize and relate to the problem. Meaningful math problems should get students to want to know the formulas, rules, or shortcuts instead of what we often see in math classrooms: teachers begging or threatening students memorize them. It’s not that students don’t ever need to memorize formulas or math facts, but when students are presented with engaging, relatable problems, students will be driven towards the need to know and apply the right formulas, rules, etc.

Hungry Teacher lessons are written to engage students in the mathematical world that surrounds them. All lessons are differentiated into three general levels of difficulty which allow students to work at their own pace and teachers to reach every student.

Be Supportive, Not Helpful

No more unearned hints. Students are too used to teachers giving hints. Unearned hints are the reason why students often refuse to think. Students know that if they sit there long enough we will take their hand and lead them to what becomes a meaningless solution. Instead of providing hints, students should have to figure out what they need to know. Once students know that information, then instruction and meaningful learning can finally take place.

Hungry Teacher lessons are simple. There are no time frames because every student does not learn at the same rate. There are no stated learning objectives because when in life are you told what you are going to learn before you learn it? Instead, Hungry Teacher lessons are driven by essential questions. These essential questions promote student understanding, communication, metacognition, and engagement. They are also guiding the student through the mathematical content in a way that aligns with how students learn mathematics. Students need to become problem solvers, critical thinkers, and good communicators…this is every Hungry Teacher’s goal.

Question the Questions

Hungry teacher lessons incorporate a “socratic” (questioning) approach. We present students with real-world problems or questions that need solutions. When presented, this immediately brings up more questions. This is engagement, and this is exactly what you should want. Students have started the process of problem solving and have begun thinking critically about a solution. It is entirely up to the student to solve or answer. This naturally teaches students to be self-directed and resourceful (have you ever solved a problem at work by consulting with co-workers or fixed something in your home by going to YouTube?).

So what do you do when students ask really good, insightful questions? How can you get them to understand what you want them to without giving too much information? How do you preserve the method of discovery, but still provide the support the student needs to continue the lesson? Our suggestion: question their questions. We feel that a teacher’s ability to promote a student’s understanding via real-time, formative questioning is the most difficult and most important quality of a teacher. Hungry teacher lessons anticipate questions that students are likely to ask by providing the teacher sample responses in the form of questions. Like the driving questions of the lessons themselves, these questions are suggestive. They will not work for every student or every class. You know your students better than us which is why we did not put a suggestive response to the very frequent student question, “Can I go to the bathroom?”

The 10 Second Pause

Ever watch “Dora the Explorer”? What does she do after she asks a question? She waits. She waits so long that it becomes uncomfortable; you begin yelling, “Map! Map! Map!” at the television. We recommend that you learn more from Dora than the simple, “Hola!” and make your students just as uncomfortable. We call it, “The 10 Second Pause”.

As teachers, time is always our enemy. We are always feeling rushed, and it often has detrimental effects on our classroom instruction. When we ask a question and get no response, we get a little paranoid. We start second guessing if we are asking the right question: “Is it too hard?” “Did it make sense how I worded it? Am I boring them?” No! Have confidence in your questions, and let the students think! Students need time to process and formulate an answer. Please do not do the disservice and prematurely answer your own questions.

Tiered Lessons

Math problems/tasks should be accessible to a wide range of mathematical abilities. This differentiates a classroom, but just as importantly, it allows for individual students to develop a deeper understanding of the mathematics by making connections between all of the mathematical concepts of that problem. Ideally, an accessible task enables a teacher to engage every student, and Hungry Teacher lessons extend that engagement with related tasks. This allows teachers to cover more standards without having to push the reset button on their students’ learning and engagement.

Comparison

Hungry Teacher
  • Student Centered and Directed
  • Questioning, questioning, and more questioning (stimulates engagement, thinking, & collaboration)
  • Knowledge acquired through activity and application leads to permanent retention
  • Students work collaboratively
  • Students depend on peers for help
  • Students are working harder than their teacher (engaged)
  • Relevant and engaging
  • Overall objective: Students are resourceful, self-directed, critical thinkers, problem-solvers, collaborators, and possess strong work ethic
Traditional
  • Teacher Centered and Directed
  • Lecture & Presentation (spoon feeding)
  • Passively acquired knowledge leads to short retention
  • Students work and are evaluated independently
  • Proficiency based on student’s ability to recite or “regurgitate”
  • Students are mostly dependent on teacher for help
  • Teacher is usually working harder than their students
  • Not relevant or engaging
  • Overall objective: Students are “proficient” on standardized tests (this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are critical thinkers, problem-solvers, resourceful or comprehend concepts or material).