Blogging So I Don’t Have To

I’m drafting a longer post right now on a recent classroom exercise. (Teaser!) Meanwhile, here’s some stellar work from around the edublogosphere:

Scott Elias writes up what you need to know when youâ€™re done with teacher school, a list that rings true to my own experience, especially his advice to “be interested.”

No, thatâ€™s not a typo. I donâ€™t want you to worry too much about being interesting because thatâ€™ll take care of itself. And, letâ€™s be honest, you just canâ€™t force that. So start out your first year in the classroom by being interested â€” really interested. And please, for the studentsâ€™ sake, show them that youâ€™re interested in more than just your content area. Youâ€™ve got a passion (presumably) so donâ€™t be afraid to let it come out in who you are in the classroom.

Megan Golding and Nick Hershman invigorate two of the most contrived content standards in all of the high school mathematics (as far as I’m concerned) â€” combined rates for Megan, ie. “How long does it take Timmy and Marsha to mow the grass if it takes Timmy 2 hours on his own and Marsha 1.5 hours on her own?”; systems of equations for Nick, ie. “A train leaves Philadelphia at noon, etc.”. These concepts are incomprehensible to students as words on a page but enjoy the difference when Megan and Nick first a) visualize the problem with multimedia and then b) access student intuition. I love, also, what Nick says about making the WCYDWT media:

As Iâ€™ve been editing them I canâ€™t shake the feeling of being frequently rewarded when a calculation adds a meaningful piece of info into the scene or turning pixels roughly into meters and determining a subjectsâ€™ speed by calculating the difference in location over time. The math feels really useful. Itâ€™s hard to get that by having them watch the video. I had it by making it.

Sam Shah opens up his unit on area under the curve by giving his students a visual question and then asking them to simply get their hands dirty:

What was interesting to me was how hard it was for them. Not the estimating, or the making of triangles and rectangles and other smaller pieces. What was hard for them was being asked to do something that they didnâ€™t know how to do. It happened multiple times that kids were sheepishly telling me that they didnâ€™t know how to start, that they were doing it wrong, that they didnâ€™t know the right way. They were telling me this to assuage some part of their psyche that was telling them that they had to be right. I told them to STOP BEING CONCERNED ABOUT KNOWING THE RIGHT WAY and just TRY SOMETHING! Then they did.

This last link has nothing to do with anything except for the fact that I’ve listened to this mashup track featuring Lil Wayne and The Office (called Office Musik) about a million and a half times tonight. Not safe for a) work or b) people who don’t have awesome taste in music and tv.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.

1 Comment

1. Shawn Cornally

March 17, 2010 - 10:25 am -

I feel like I’m beginning to sense a theme here. When I started blogging I had no idea there were so many like-minded people out there who were as sick of the sterility in math ed. as me. These posts are great!

Thanks for all of the links, Dan. I’m getting more traffic than I deserve!

=shawn