Math Autobiography

I have always had my students write a mathematics autobiography each year I’ve been teaching. I start by sharing my own mathematics autobiography and then have the students write their own to me. The purpose is for me to know what my students bring with them to the math classroom; math anxiety has a huge impact on student learning and I need to know which of my students are suffering from it. My students are very open with me when completing this assignment and it is amazing what I learn from my students through this assignment.

What I give to my students:

The purpose of this assignment is to have you reflect on your experiences with mathematics. This will set the stage for all the (possibly different) ways you will experience mathematics in this class. The autobiography will also help me in knowing how you feel about mathematics and what you have experienced in mathematics classes and will help me create the course for you. The audience is just me, your teacher, and in some sense you.

Assignment:

Write your own mathematical autobiography. You should include:

  • some of your early experiences, include some experiences with teachers (in any grade), both good and bad ones,
  • What sort of math student do you think you are? why?
  • why you like math or don’t like math
  • what feels good about doing math or learning math?
  • what is scary for you about math?
  • what is exciting for you about math?

EAL Version

I teach many students who are learning English. Depending on their level of English, some of my students get a version of the assignment shown below.

Mathematics Autobiography (EAL Version)

The audience is just me, your teacher, and in some sense you.

Assignment:

Write your own mathematical autobiography. You should include:

  • why you like math or don’t like math
  • what feels good about doing math or learning math?
  • what is scary for you about math?
  • what is exciting for you about math?

Next year every student in my classroom will have a laptop. My goal is to implement this daily check-in idea from Mari Venturino. I love that it would give me a glimpse into the day my student is having and allow me to alter my teaching or my interactions with a student in order to better address their needs.

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