Mathematics is universally shunned, and educator Subash Chandar K knows it.
Mr Chandar K left his job and backpacked to 26 countries. It didn’t take him long to work out a common denominator. The minute he introduced himself as a mathematics teacher, people would promptly say they hated maths.
“I couldn’t believe that regardless of which part of the world I was in, there was a universal dislike for maths,” smiles the award-winning curriculum leader of mathematics at Ormiston Senior College.
His resolve to change how people feel about the subject became stronger while volunteering in Nepal and Bali at a children’s home.
“Dealing with students with 30 different needs in a classroom in Bali, I felt there has to be a big shift in how we deliver content to kids.”
Back in New Zealand, the flipped journey began. It involves creating maths videos for students.
A flipped classroom is when learning happens outside the traditional classroom.
Mr Chandar K started creating YouTube videos where he answered a series of exam papers on video, teaching students the right strategy to solve mathematical problems.
He created a YouTube series Calculus daily for Year 13 students in preparation for externals in 2016. Students would get a proper understanding from the fully worked-out answer papers and come prepared for the following day to class.
The idea was well-received, not only by students but also by the teaching community.
The 35-year-old was soon invited to host workshops for teachers’ professional learning; won a scholarship and asked to run workshops at the NZ Maths Conference in 2015 and 2017.
Recipient of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Award, (an award for innovative educators) three years in a row, he was also acknowledged worldwide for winning the #Class Hack challenge during #HackTheClassRoom event held by Microsoft in September 2016.
His work with the videos in L1 Algebra and L3 Calculus in 2016, has won him the Ernest Duncan Award 2016. Videos can be found under the channel: infinityplusone.
He says that being the recent recipient of the Kalman Mathematics Teaching Prize means a lot to him.
“The last one is quite special,” he says. “Mala Natraj the other teacher who won this award with me was my Year 13 Calculus Teacher in 1999 and she was my associate teacher who trained me to be a math teacher in 2006.”
There couldn’t have been a better recognition of teaching excellence–integration of research in mathematics education into classroom practice– for the two highly respected members of the Auckland Secondary School mathematics teaching community.
Constantly striving to make the subject more interesting, Mr Chandar K has been recognised for introducing the Desmos tool, a cool way to teach graphs.
Lately, the Sphero robot is another tool that has changed the landscape of teaching maths.
“We have got 18 robots at the moment and its fun for the students to see their calculations in action. Navigating a robot from point A to B– they must calculate the right distance and time as they calculate the bearing to send the robot in the right direction
“There have been students who were not particularly engaged in maths and now that we have changed the landscape of how we teach, there is a huge change.”