Archive for July, 2010

The PopMatics curriculum provides an interactive learning format that infuses students’ daily mathematics instruction with popular culture to engage students. The PopMatics pedagogy is embedded through five main pillars: technology, the Internet, Mass Media, Social Media, and Interactive Activities. This innovative approach provides stimulating activities to engage students, while mathematical concepts scaffold to bridge the gap between mathematical content and students’ daily lives.


Anyone who has even been in a mathematics classroom knows the delicate balance that exists between student engagement and student disruptions.  In order to get and keep students engaged, math educators must first hook students into the lesson then activate their prior knowledge so that they can connect it to what they already know.

Technology and the Internet are essential components in today’s society.  In fact, technology and the Internet are the two main avenues which popular culture is delivered to the society. 

Ever listen to music? Watch a movie or TV show?  Read a magazine or book? These are all examples of mass media, one of the elements of popular culture.  Ever been on (or heard of) Facebook?  YouTube?  Twitter?  These are all examples of social media, a second element of popular culture. 

With popular culture playing such a significant role in our society, it naturally makes sense to integrate it into our classrooms.  Unfortunately, youth popular culture, a division of mainstream popular culture, is often foreign and intimidating to educators.  For this reason, most do not incorporate it into their classrooms.

If the solution to the balancing student engagement and students disruptions is by hooking students into the lesson and then linking it to their prior knowledge, then the key to keeping this delicate balance is PopMatics!  

It is argued that an “achievement gap” exists between socioeconomically disadvantaged youth and their more advantaged counterparts.  Countless studies and numerous reforms exist to help close this ever- increasing gap.  These studies and reforms suggest that one of the reasons why this gap exists is because these two groups think and learn differently from each other.  One of the main commonalties between these two groups is: pop culture. 

At foundation of the MatheMagics curriculum are the five pillars of pop culture:  Technology, The Internet, Mass Media, Social Media, and Interactive Activites.  It is through these five pillars that students will be provided with an interactive learning format.  This innovative approach provides stimulating activities to engage students, while mathematical concepts scaffold to bridge the gap between mathematical content and students’ daily lives.

Technology and the Internet have changed the way students’ brains are wired, subsequently the way they think and learn.  Short attention spans and multitasking is common.  Incorporating mass media and social media into the classroom will reduce math anxiety, enhance student engagement, and increase mathematical understanding. 


 Twenty years ago “technology in the classroom” meant using a chalkboard and a four-function calculator.  Ten years ago “technology in the classroom” meant using an overhead, using a graphing calculator, and showing a movie on VCR to deliver a lesson.  Five years ago “technology in the classroom” meant using a computer, giving PowerPoint lessons, sending an email, and showing a movie on DVD.  Today “technology in the classroom” means using a Smartboard, using a graphing calculator and laptop, sending a text, and using an iPod to deliver the lesson. 

Like anyone else, students need to connect with the material, in this case the mathematics, in order to truly understand it.  It naturally makes sense to incorporate technology in the classroom because it plays such a heavy role in our world today  

The Internet

With the 40th anniversary of the Internet approaching, it is impossible to deny the impact it has had on our world.  From how we work to where we work, from with whom we interact and how we interact with them, the Internet has transformed every facet our daily lives.  The potential of the Internet is limitless; and this is just the beginning of the revolution.  Since students instinctively turn to the Internet to communicate, find information, and do many other things, why not incorporate it in the classroom as well and tap into the limitless world of knowledge it has to offer?

Mass Media

A classic generation gap has developed between students and education stakeholders.  The culture that most teachers, administrators, and educators were brought up in was different, to say the least.  This major generational gap exists because elders consider this new culture threatening.  It is something they do not fully understand.  Proponents of traditional media are skeptical towards this new media and the incredible effect it could have.  In addition, the speed at which students interact with it and gain an understanding of it also intimidates these elders. 

It is only natural to fear what is not understood. However, the power that Mass Media could have on education is unlimited and priceless.   Television, movies, digital print and music captivates the interest of today’s youth because they relate it to their own interests and are often interactive.  Utilizing mass media in the classroom will help reduce math anxiety and enable students to connect complex math concepts to their own daily lives.

Social Media

Incorporating social media into the classroom may seem in appropriate as its impact is often misunderstood.  In order to hold the attention of today’s youth they must be able to collaborate with each other, receive immediate feedback, and interact with information.  Social media is built upon these features.  Utilizing it will make students feel like they are in control of their education. 

Interactive Activities

It is nearly impossible to gain a true understanding of a concept without “interacting” with it.  Completing 20 math problems out of the book or on a worksheet does not constitute interacting with mathematics.  Students need to “play” with mathematics in order to make give it meaning and make connections.  Incorporating interacting activities (that are not technology based) will allow students to “make math their own”.