Published December 4, 2009
technology , Tools , Web 2.0
I know, I know:
“Using a tool for it’s own sake is bad pedagogy.”
“Have an objective and then find the tool that will help you best meet that objective.”
“If your favorite tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Blah, blah, blah.
What if you didn’t know if your objective was even possible until you tried out the tool? Then what?
I completely understand Kate’s frustration when it comes to the speed bumps caused when we try to rely on certain tools. But what about just making the tool available and allowing kids to come and go as they see fit? Why can’t we do that? Does everything have to have a lesson plan attached to it?
I originally created this wiki just because I could. I let kids take some class time to familiarize themselves with how to use it–in fact, we learned how to use it together. But the space has taken on a life of it’s own. I have kids who are now in high school coming back to access the resources they created last year.
That’s a good thing, no?
Kids butcher the Mathanese language. I’m just sayin’. We have all these kids who speak text just fine. It seems to me that Mathanese should be right up their alley. All we are doing is taking a bunch of words and converting it to symbols. Should be easy, right? Not so much.
I find that kids have a tough time translating algebraic expressions to English and vice versa. Am I alone?
Yeah, didn’t think so.
One of the things that I have been trying to focus on this year is to convey to students the universality of the things they are learning. For example, cause/effect in language arts becomes input/output in math. Conflict resolution is the same as problem solving. Language arts has expressions and sentences, so does math. Scientific method can compare to making a conjecture in geometry, testing it out and then using inductive logic to arrive at a conclusion (read: rule).
So what happens when you tell them to translate: the product of 3 and the sum of x and 2?
You get: 3x+2, right?
Well I figured we needed to develop a mashup of English and Mathanese; Mathglish, if you will. Here is what we came up with:
English to Mathanese:
This should read: The product of 2 and the sum of the product of 4 and x and 3.
Mathanese to English:
The key this time was to allow the mashup. I live in a rural area where the Spanish speaking population is very large. Many of my kids speak and understand Spanglish. I have never done it this way before and the kids nailed it.
How do you do it?
Update: Just did a quick check for understanding 2nd period and 26/28 kids circled the bases.
Published December 2, 2009
Algebra , Are You Kidding Me? , Lessons
I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I can’t let Sean Sweeney have all the fun in class (see here and here). I do, however, have to credit Sean with giving me the push I needed to actually do this with my class. Thanks!
I told my students that before the Fray was “The Fray”, they were called The Phray and their lead singer was a math teacher. He wrote a song called “Solve to Save Your Life” but when they were signed they changed the name of the band and made some adjustments to the song on account of “math songs don’t make the top 40, baby.” It took some searching to find the archive of the old song, but I did it. I also told them that OneRepublic had a song called “Rationalize.” We’ll see if that one surfaces.
So with no further ado: The Phray performing their hit single, “Solve to Save Your Life.”
If you want the lyrics.
We’ll be releasing the official video soon.
Reflection: This really isn’t my thing. I was debating whether or not to scrap the whole thing even though my 4 yr. old can now solve equations. The thing that really hit me was that me leaving my comfort zone allowed some of my students the freedom to do the same. I made some connections with kids where I may not have otherwise been able to. I also learned that playing guitar for 1.5 hours over 3 periods may cause tendonitis. Advil anyone?
Published November 25, 2009
I’ve kind of been off the grid lately-save following a few conversations via Twitter- due to the birth of my son. Thanks again to everyone for all the well wishes. Mommy and baby are doing great. Sleep is a precious commodity but I am blessed to be able to take a few days off to enjoy the adjustment to our little one. I always seem to compare my approach to teaching with my approach to parenting and vice versa. Here’s the top 10:
10. The clientele will expose your bad habits.
9. You can read as many “how to” books as you want, but nothing prepares you for your first real life encounter.
8. They like it when you act goofy.
7. Sometimes you just have to wing it.
6. They get grumpy before lunch time.
5. They get sleepy after lunch time.
4. You’re gonna lose some sleep.
3. Working at one makes you better at the other.
2. Balance is crucial.
1. If it stinks, change it.
Published November 10, 2009
Man, I am horrible right now. No, not the tell-people-that-I’m-bad-so-they-tell-me-I’m-good kind of horrible. I mean really horrible. I am way behind in planning, grading and have way too many ideas and no way to implement them. Or if I do try to implement them, they’re half-baked. It may have a little to do with a certain visitor we are expecting. But at the end of the day I have been feeling way scattered. It’s not a good feeling but I know it’ll pass. I have been doing this long enough to know better.
There, I said it! Let the healing begin.
Published November 10, 2009
During the warm up today, I asked the question:
When does the absolute value of r equal r?
I liked the way the students handled themselves during the discussion so I took out my phone and recorded the following. After a little prodding, Jose jumped in. I’m thinking of changing his name to Q.E.D.
Published November 2, 2009
For the past two years I have had a classroom Voicethread account. It has been really difficult to set up the accounts for the students, though. So much so, that I have put it on the back-burner until today. I saw that I could import multiple accounts as long as I had a Name, UserName, Email and Password in a .csv I could import.
Piece of cake. I set up a Google Form, embedded it on our wiki and had the kids fill it out. Done. Now I’m gonna eat lunch.