How to Get Students to Play with Desmos

This week, my students were excited about math. They were excited about what they came up with. They were creative. They were asking each other questions and trying to figure out why things worked. That’s DESMOS’s fault. Here’s what happened:

My Advanced Algebra classes are starting a unit on “Families of Functions”, and I discovered earlier this week that they had NO idea what the graph of x^3 looked like. Wanting them to make sense of it, I leaned hard on Desmos and I was not disappointed.

Continue reading “How to Get Students to Play with Desmos”

The Dream – Help me out here, #MTBoS

I’ve had my first day back. I’ve met with new colleagues at a new school. We’ve started making plans. I’m full of hope and belief in the new year, but I can already see the mountain of work ready to bury me in its immediacy and distract me from my goals.

Thus, I’m stating my goals here so you can all hold me to them. If you have ideas or thoughts about them, I would love to hear what you have to say. Continue reading “The Dream – Help me out here, #MTBoS”

The Mathematicians Project: Mathematicians Are Not Just White Dudes

Do you have mathematicians you’d like to add? Please fill out this google form and I’ll periodically add to this list! 

What is the Mathematicians Project?

The Short Version:

  • We as math teachers tend to only talk about white male mathematicians.
  • Most of my students don’t look like that, and thus, they have few mathematical role models they can identify with.
  • Take 10-15 minutes a week to research (read Wikipedia, that’s all you need) a not-old-dead-white-dude mathematician, and then take 5 minutes in class to tell your students about them.  Include a picture. It’s worth it, I swear.

Continue reading “The Mathematicians Project: Mathematicians Are Not Just White Dudes”

Math GIFs

I’m teaching geometry this year and want to have a deeper understanding of how some things are constructed. This has led to a borderline unhealthy binge on Geometer’s Sketchpad. Thus, here are a lot of gifs. I hope someone can make use of them. If you are looking for one and can’t find it, request it in the comments. No promises, but I’ll do my best to make them if it’s in my skill set. OR if you have suggestions on how I could do any of these more effectively, let me know. I’ll update this as I make more gifs.

copy segmentcopying a segment

Constructing a circle through 3 points:

circle through 3 pts construction Continue reading “Math GIFs”

Multiplying is Not a Pre-requisite for Fractals

This is obscenely long. Read the short version if you don’t have much time. Read the rest if you like.

The Short Version: There is a lot of complicated math in the world. We tend to venerate that math for its complexity, and not tell our students about it because they’re not ready to understand it yet. This is terrible. One of the worst things we can ever tell our students is, “You haven’t learned ____ yet, so you can’t learn ____.” We throw up our hands in frustration when our middle schoolers don’t know multiplication facts. “How will we ever teach linear functions?”, we cry.

I am totally guilty of this. It takes a leap of faith to trust that a student struggling with division can work with rational numbers. Assuming they can’t means math is sequential. I don’t think it’s that cut and dry. Sure, prime factorization helps me factor polynomials, but what if you happened to start with factoring polynomials. Is that impossible?

Sending the message that the second step is unattainable until you’ve reached the first is a problem for two reasons:

Continue reading “Multiplying is Not a Pre-requisite for Fractals”

Math Identities, Part 1: Me (& also tracking stinks)

Dylan Kane gave me permission to be selfish, and I’m taking him up on it. This one is cathartic for me. 

I have apparently developed a bit of a reputation as someone who gets excited about math.

It’s true. I do. At “Math On a Stick” last year, I was so happy, that some of the other volunteers were afraid of me. I regularly burst into applause when I see a beautiful proof. My students admonish me by saying that most 31-year olds go to clubs that don’t start with “math” on Friday nights.

This has not, however, always been the case. Bear with me. (Or stop reading, mathy emotional baggage coming up.) Continue reading “Math Identities, Part 1: Me (& also tracking stinks)”

Talking about Race Matters

Here we go, Post #3. I will likely end up going months without posting things at some point, but this one matters, and since I’ve started a blog, I would be disappointed in myself for not expressing this as soon as I can.  Continue reading “Talking about Race Matters”

Well, That Escalated Quickly…

This started as a paragraph in my “About Me” section, and perhaps reveals the philosophical mush I found myself in while I spent an embarrassingly long time choosing the title of this blog. But as a first blog post, it’s a decent attempt at my current, honest – if wildly philosophical and abstract – feelings toward teaching and math. I’ll get more specific in future posts. 

Why “Arbitrarily Close”?

Continue reading “Well, That Escalated Quickly…”