Reading Assignment 10/26

I have SO MUCH to blog about right now! Yesterday we had an “Un-Conference” at school and I had some really cool conversations with people in the education world. I’ve also continued teaching mathematics, despite the appearance on here otherwise. I’ll be back soon with more updates, but for now, read the words of others:

Constructions Castles
This is SUCH a great idea from cheesemonkey wonders – taking geometric constructions and giving them a visual purpose. I’m not teaching these this year, but next year if I do I’ll try this out.

The SPECTRUM Alert: 8 Steps Schools Can Take to Prevent Autism Elopement Tragedy
In the category of terrifying problems I didn’t know about, have you heard of “autism elopement”?

Is This Working?
I love you, This American Life. This episode is centered around behavior management in the classroom and the positive and negative consequences of disciplinary actions. What makes this story great is that it is never prescriptive and gives a fair assessment of the pros and cons of very different systems at various schools. As a teacher, it’s impossible to hear this without a thoughtful consideration of your own management systems.

Reflective Writing in Math
I have a handful of students whose writing in my math class is never quite reflective enough, and Mary Dooms has a solution over at Curiouser and Curiouser. Come midterms time, I am trying out this chart!

100-Year-Old Math Teacher: Just Can’t Stop Teaching!
She is so inspiring! I also love/hate how Diane Ravitch sneaks an anti-charter message into this human interest story.

We Should Wish PhotoMath all the Success in the World


Reading Assignment 10/12/14

Greetings! If you’re off for this terrible excuse for a three-day weekend, Columbus Day, I hope you’re enjoying it, and if not, I hope you’re not too bitter. Here are some interesting things I’ve been thinking about:

If you are anything like me, you initially saw this article and disregarded it because of your distaste for Disney. But then your friend Rebecca told you to read it, and you did, and it’s stuck with you. Apparently, they are at least slightly like me at Radiolab, because they made an episode devoted to this family’s story. It’s worth listening to even if you’ve read the piece, because you get to hear how everyone sounds. There’s also some interesting commentary at the end that raises the question: is it a good idea to tell such optimistic stories about children with an autism diagnosis, knowing that some people will never be as high-functioning as Owen is?

Two Percent is Not Enough
How I admire Eleanor Holmes Norton. In this piece, along with co-author Clint Smith, the DC representative laments the lack of black male teachers. While it’s absolutely necessary to be able to learn from people who are different from you, black male students would benefit from having older counterparts in their classrooms teaching them.

Nearly 1,000 Colorado Students Protest A Conservative Call to Change Their History Curriculum
Did you hear about what happened in Colorado? A school board proposed regulations on the AP History class that would encourage teaching to promote patriotism and downplay the “negative aspects” of US history, including civil disobedience. Students’ response: civil disobedience! I asked my students if they’d consider joining in the protests and one of them said “well, if it were in the winter, because then I’d go skiing afterwards.” Not sure he got the point.

Here are the Colleges and Universities that Do Not Require the SAT
This is such an important list. For students with testing anxiety, learning differences, ADHD, or any number of other exceptionalities, but who are bright and motivated, like the ones mentioned at the beginning of the article, the SAT is just a barrier. These schools seem to understand that. I noticed that many are art schools or religious schools, which may not be for everyone, but there are also plenty of liberal arts colleges to choose from.

You Can Always Add. You Can’t Subtract
What a lovely concept! I was sold immediately by the “informal dialogue” in the first. If students are talking about math, they are learning way more than they would if they had to just immediately start calculating.

Too Many Students Rely on Social Promotion
I witnessed social promotion’s ills firsthand while teaching in North Carolina. Students who have continually been pushed up without having to put forth much effort or actually learn anything are not set up to succeed in high school. On top of overcoming their knowledge gaps and skill deficits, high school teachers also have to instill in their students the idea that learning is important and necessary to earn a passing grade. Holding students back more than a year or maybe two would be disheartening and frustrating, but holding some back just one year would help them get back on track and have time to mature, grow, and actually learn.

Teaching Math to People Who Think They Hate It
I’m obsessed with this curriculum now, Discovering the Art of Mathematics. I can’t wait to try their techniques for teaching proof – I’m sure whatever they’ve got is better than anything else I’ve tried. I’ll be sure to post about it.

Z is for Zebra – 90 Percent of the Time
Super-tangible data-gathering and analysis from fivethirtyeight. This year we spent basically the entire data unit in math 3 “crunching” numbers about Oreos (hahaha cookie/math pun), but perhaps someday I’ll be able to get that to go more quickly and we’ll have time to explore other data sets, too. This would be an excellent starting place.

A quick love letter to Desmos

Desmos is so lovely. Unlike GeoGebra, which is great, too, it can graph polar things!

desmos polar

It is super user-friendly: to get theta you can click the button for it, or you can just type “theta” and it knows what you mean. It is very easy to edit and delete functions. Making a slider is as easy as typing a non-variable letter and just clicking on it. Idea that I’m having too late: type in r = 2 + bsin(theta) and drag the slider to show how cardioids and limaçons and the loopy ones are related!

I had the students do an investigation about polar graphs in pairs. Last year I gave them some work ahead of time about what polar coordinates were, but I decided to postpone that this time. I thought it might be better to let them discover more on their own.

I’m attaching my PDFs, but mainly I just gave them a good amount of each type of equations and asked them to sort and then to generalize.

I cut these functions out and put them in an envelope: polar task chart and functions
These are the instructions: polar task