It’s Almost June? Where Did The Year Go???

It's Almost June? Where Did The Year Go???

Edited By Carl Oliver @carloliwitter

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Online Professional Development Sessions

This week we are lucky to have Yana Weinstein (@doctorwhy) presenting Improving Math Education with Interleaved Problems. In this interactive presentation, we will give a brief overview of interleaving and discuss the ways in which teachers currently use interleaving in their classrooms. We will talk about the challenges of using interleaving, research demonstrating that interleaving enhances math problem solving skills more than blocked practice, and provide some ideas for implementation of interleaving in the classroom.Join us tonight at 9 EST here.

Last week Tracy Zager (@TracyZager) wowed us with How Do They Relate? Teaching Students to Make Mathematical Connections. The interactive talk took participants on a journey from Tracy’s local video store, through the worlds of relational and instrumental understanding, and into strategies for fostering connections between students understanding of math. The engaging talk had lively conversation in the chat which spilled over into twitter, using the hashtag #globalmath. Click here to view the recording.

Great Blogging Action

Belonging and Barbecue

At our school’s ironically named “End-of-year” barbecue I talked with a couple of students who have been enrolled in our school for a long time. They are both in their twenties, both male, both students of color. While they both have a history of struggling in school they both are poised to graduate when the school year actually ends on June 28th. They both spoke about how important was to feel a part of something as they reflected on their successful school experiences. They recalled feeling like they were connected, and that everybody was on their side and we were working together. It was a very interesting conversation that stayed with me for some time. 

As I returned to my desk I found Ilana Horn’s article Who Belongs In Our Math Classrooms? in my twitter feed and saw an amazing set of connections between the conversation I just had and her blog post. The post describes the alienation that students feel in schools, especially in math class given the cultural norms and assessment driven pressures that surrounds the subject. “For most students, alienation can be overcome by teachers who create a sense of belongingness.” Horn writes in the post “Belongingness comes about when students experience frequent, pleasant interactions with their peers and teacher.” I was instantly reminded of my conversation about the two students who could quickly list off the classes and the teachers that created that culture and created a sense of belonging. They contrasted the sense of belonging with other teachers’ classrooms where they felt alone and had to “fend for themselves”. In Horn’s article she describes the negative consequences of creating a competitive culture as “competition sends a strong message that some people are more mathematically able than others.”

Horn goes on to describe a number of other things that made me think of ways to help other students. These include using students actual names even when it is difficult to pronounce, not treat students differently based on their cultural backgrounds, and not looking to correct things that are inconsequential. “If our students are learning English as a second language, speaking a pidgin or African American Vernacular English (AAVE), our focus on correct grammar in situations where it is inconsequential may disinvite their participation.” It was a great post, and one that would probably resonate with others as much as it resonated with me on Friday afternoon. 

Hot on Twitter: Make it Rain!!!

Highlights From My BLOG Pocket

The constant stream of insightful writing across the #MTBoS is a wonderful addition to my day. Luckily the opportunity to write for this newsletter is a good chance to go through the posts that I save in my pocket or in my feed reader and reflect on those ideas.

Andrew Gael (@bkdidact) created an infectiously engaging post that also made me wonder how to make our Parent Association more profitably. Using the money that his parents generated, he made an interesting 3-act problem with a really engaging video and a satisfying finish in the 3rd Act.

As a teacher who takes a hand-on approach to curriculum, I was really moved by Tina Cardone’s (@crstn85) piece about Curriculum over at her blog Drawing on Math. Her thinking around the district choice of a new 8th grade algebra curriculum echoed a lot of the thinking that I have about my curriculum. “Is it my job to write curriculum? No. Do I trust anyone else to do it? Not really.”

The collection of tweets and posts collected in John Golden’s (@mathhombre) recent post Not Subtracting is just the latest example of how wonderful example of this wonderful community. The post begins with a simple observation about a little girl doing math, and turns into a series of connections being made across the #MTBoS that looks almost like a game of six degrees of separation. It was an insighful discussion about subtraction too!

Reflecting on the 2015 Summer Math Photo Challenge

The Summer math photo challenge was a highlight of last summer for many people. These photos were a few of hundreds taken by math teachers across the country who posted them to Twitter under the hashtag #mathphoto15, and were then archived on the challenge’s Flickr page. Participants were challenged to post pictures that matches a particular theme, which was posted on the summer math photo challenge website.  Some of the challenges included lines, arrays, circles, and more.

The challenges and the entirety of the project was the brain child of Malke Rosenfeld who is ready to pass the torch on to a new person who is ready to spearhead #mathphoto16. If that person is you, reach out to her on Twitter (@mathinyourfeet), and let me know as well!

-Carl Oliver (@carloliwitter)

1. I won’t be spearheading the math photo challenge this year but if anyone wants to take the reins I’m happy to fill them in on the deets.

2. And here are the archives of last summer’s challenge — math images from all over the world! … #elemmathchat

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