Friday, July 24, 2015

Five Things I learned at TMC15: Friday 7/24/15

1. John Stevens has created a Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere Search Engine; a Google search that is restricted to blogs and other sites on the MTBoS. It is great for finding lesson materials on a specific topic, or reading reflections on a specific mathematical idea. Robert Kaplinsky also has a Problem Based Learning Search Engine.

2. Which One Doesn't Belong is a website inspired by Christopher Danielson and created by Mary Bourassa. It features sets of four figures and simply asks: which one doesn't belong. Interestingly, each of the four figures might not belong depending on the context and rational provided. A seemingly simple question can introduce ambiguity and spark rich discussion from kindergarten through calculus.

3. In the past, I have seen very rigid interpretations of standards based grading that either (1) do not allow for the grading of homework, classwork, and larger practice-based tasks, or (2) are seemingly incompatible with a traditional A-B-C-D-F grading scale. Today I found a much more open interpretation that advocates: if it’s important for students to know and do, then make it a standard. That means that there could be a set of “scholarship” standards for good student skills such as completing homework and projects in a timely manner. There could also be a set of “problem solving” standards that highlight the 8 mathematical practices. Of course, these standards would account for a much smaller percentage of a student’s overall grade, but it is possible to incorporate them within a more open view of SBG. Thanks to Anna Hester, David Petersen, and Lisa Soltani.

4. A boring lesson in person is still a boring lesson on video. While creating flipped video lessons for students introduces the ability to predict, rewind, and re-watch, we must be careful not to push mounds of procedural blather onto students. Andrew Stadel suggests creating videos that are quick and to the point with off screen preparation. He also advocates for videos with errors; complete a problem incorrectly and ask your students to find the error. Princess Choi suggests that students create their own videos as a review strategy. Whatever the method, don’t make your videos boring!

5. Pump up your class. Give everyone a high five when they come in the room. Give neuron stickers when they help each other. Let students hit the gong in your class. Create varsity math t-shirts. Build rapport. Find something you love and do more of it. Be fast, fair, friendly, firm, and funny. And remember, you can’t learn from someone you don’t like.

6. Five miles seems shorter when running with other math teachers.

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