ReImagining GEMS Dubai American Academy

Case Study 4

Students must be able to connect to learning for it to be meaningful. GEMS DAA math teacher Desirae Matthew conquered this challenge with a simple essential question: What do my students feel is important?

Their heartfelt responses helped Desirae align her own goals to thiers. Using the Fluencies, she helped them take responsibility for their learning and made math meaningful once more. This is their story.

Without relevance, there can be no learning. Desirae Matthew, a math teacher at Gems Dubai American Academy, knows this reality all too well. “While our topics have real-life applications, there is somewhat of a disconnect in finding the applications that are relevant and meaningful to the students,” she explains.

Desirae turned to the ultimate tool for fostering authentic learning adventures: an essential question. She asked her students what is most important to you? From here some truly powerful learning would begin to happen.

young town classroom 2

Desirae realigned her goals to connect to those of her learners. She then gave each group a standard to focus on, and both Solution Fluency and Collaboration Fluency took center stage. “They were able to define what the standard was asking for and create their own examples of how they may see the standard in problem-solving situations,” says Desirae.

Needless to say, Desirae was extremely proud of the students’ efforts. “The energy in the classroom has changed completely,” she claims. “We celebrate victories big and small, evaluate methods and processes, and incorporate reflection frequently. We are growing individually and together.”

Working with Lee Watanabe-Crockett has been insightful and extremely helpful. He has been inspiring and supportive through this process. I appreciate all that he has done to initiate this transformation and I look forward to learning more from him.

Desirae Matthew

GEMS Dubai American Academy

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