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”

Quick, Impactful, Awesome: Post Math Norms

I recently posted Jo Boaler’s 7 Math Norms in the front of my room, and I’m in love with it.jo-boaler-posters

I regularly tell students that “mistakes are helpful, we need them”, and while the message eventually gets through, it is SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL  when I say it while pointing directly at the norm “Mistakes are valuable”. Students know I’m not just covering for their mistake in front of their friends. I took the time to print and post these things – I really mean them. Continue reading “Quick, Impactful, Awesome: Post Math Norms”

So I guess I teach HS now…

I got an email reminder, per the suggestion of Sam Shah, about my goals this year, and one of them is written reflection for myself. So here goes.

I’m now 3 weeks into teaching HS and it’s… mostly really good. I feel good going to work, I feel good when students are in my room, I generally look forward to each day. Still, there’s a lot of adjusting to do.  Continue reading “So I guess I teach HS now…”

Math On A Stick, Part II: Stepping Stones, Parent Talk, Teacher Lessons Learned & Mathematical Depth

Part I here.

After the phenomenal time I spent last weekend at Math on a Stick, I signed up for 2 more slots this week – making a total of 4 for this year. Here are some more stories about why it’s so great and then some teacher musings.

The Stepping Stones

math on a stick stepping stones.jpg

Math on a Stick is blessed to have Max Ray-Riek and Annie Fetter as volunteers, and while I have sadly missed working with Annie this year, I have gotten to spend a fair amount of time there with Max. He is extraordinarily awesome.

 

‘Twas Wednesday evening when Max came over to tell me he’d just had a great experience at the stepping stones with a mom and daughter. I hope he’ll write up his version of events, because I came in only halfway through. Anyhow, he told me this girl was so excited about them that he’d exhausted the problems he usually uses (count by 2s; 23 minus 24, etc.). They even counted PRIME NUMBERS on the stepping stones. They also did it in an awesome way. They figured out which stones they would not step on if they were skip counting, and stepped on those! (Mom did a lot of carrying her daughter between stepping stones that were too far apart.) Awesome!

Continue reading “Math On A Stick, Part II: Stepping Stones, Parent Talk, Teacher Lessons Learned & Mathematical Depth”

A Question on Language and the Mathematicians project

I often feel very odd speaking about this project in the negative:

The project is about not white male mathematicians.

Part of me enjoys the bluntness of calling out the issue as starkly as that, and part of me likes honoring that “not white dudes” is how the student who sparked the whole thing put it.

That said, I can also acknowledge that if I want this project to be open and inviting to as many people as possible that perhaps putting it in a positive sense…

The project consists of mathematicians with an oppressed identity.

…might put less people off. 

(Note: I’m stealing that language from Jonathan Osters. He put together a beautiful write up for his students which you can see here.)

I would appreciate any thoughts you have on this. My goal has never been to prevent my students from learning about white-male mathematicians. It’s just that they will learn about white-male mathematicians if they happen to learn about any mathematicians at all. They will likely not learn about any others unless we make the conscious decision to include them.

Please add any thoughts you have in the comments. Thanks!