I’ve been off. For a long time. But I’m coming back with lots to tell. Firstly let’s do a then & now to summarize a fews items.
I wanted to get back to working with people, in classrooms, so I applied for and was chosen to work at Heritage High School as an instructional technology teacher. It feels good to be a regular on a campus. I get to hear, “hi Mr. Butler” again. I missed that. I’m working in depth with a handful of teachers, running some side projects with digital citizenship and social media, and showing teachers ninja moves with ed tech. A couple of those teachers I work closely with have been starting to use Desmos, particularly the activity builder content.
My wife and I are expecting a child on valentine’s day. We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, and honestly I’m not sure if I’m biased one way or the other. People keep asking us if we’ve at least got a name. Some have encouraged to follow the J-trend from our families. My name is Jed, and I have an older sister (Julia) and a younger brother (Jake). Both of my brothers-in-law are J’s (Justin and James), and my nephews are Jace and Jayden. I think we’ve about exhausted it, so we’re aiming for something from the other 25 letters from the english alphabet.
For those that don’t recognize it, the image is from Son of Flubber, the follow-up of Disney’s Absent Minded Professor. Friends and family sometimes listen to what I say and they imagine this guy in the picture, conjuring up crazy experiments for the classroom. In my position as a coach, I’ve lost the opportunity to use my own classroom as a lab, but the alternative is actually turning out to be awesome. After some convincing, the teachers that I work with volunteer to host my experiments. I’ve been able to see students use Google drawings and slideshows to improve vocabulary in a Spanish classroom by personalizing the content, 3 ELA teachers are piloting a new internal blogging system that utilizes the open platform from wordpress.org, help support the video production course in establishing a daily news show, desmos activities in math classrooms, and building a digital citizenship program for the freshmen foundations courses. The assistant director in my district now shares a workflow spreadsheet with me entitled “Jed’s Hair-Brained Schemes”.
With all this excitement, I still want to do some old favorites – so I have plans for two big math + tech series, both housed over at transformulas.org.
- I love transformations, and I see how it builds a backbone for secondary math in today’s classroom. I need to share this conversation with others. So I’m writing about it over the next while (let “while” be somewhere between 6 months and a year; I really have no idea of the time line)
- Desmos Activity builder is awesome. I need to push myself to use it more. (Others should too). I want to dive into lesson (re)design playing in the desmos platform. No set goal here, but more a desire to build.
Upon returning from Twitter Math Camp 2014 I felt like this:
I didn’t really know how to process it. I couldn’t compare my experience to another TMC because this was my first. As the weeks approached, I felt a little like a the slow crescendo.
I arrived late with John Stevens, Mrs. Stevens, and Sadie Estrella late the night before the big event. We had great conversation and got to sleep a few hours after midnight, just a few hours before needing to be up for the big show at Jenks High School. Around 7am, we start seeing faces. For some this is a long awaited reunion, and for others this is a first encounter. No matter the previous experience, everyone seemed to be feeling like this as twitter handles turned into real life:
In some ways I didn’t truly understand what was happening around me. I’ve felt like the outlier in my incessant passion for math and learning. Our backgrounds were varied, the common ground of interests kept us bouncing from one conversation to the next.
Then we get to the facility.
It just kept escalating. Then start our morning sessions. This was a pleasant twist on conference workshops. Being able to meet for a few hours each morning over multiple days allowed us to truly develop a deeper insight into some specific math content, and package that understanding into something we could take home with us. It’s not really possible to do this at another conference. TMC keeps a good balance of meeting the masses, while supporting conversations in smaller communities. This is what makes it so special. I have heard some worries about TMC losing value as it grows, but as long as we have groups like the morning sessions in which we can have the intimacy and depth of relationship TMC will still maintain its appeal for me.
Then I get to be in a session with Pershan on complex numbers and geometric rotations. His craft as a teacher is what impressed me most. He let us work through some material in small groups, and guided us in the classic, “I’m going to pretend like I don’t know where this will end up.” Then another whoa.
Every night I would fall asleep exhausted from the constant mind blowing experiences. My awesome roommate, Chris Shore, was able to help me remember this experience.
— Chris Shore (@MathProjects) July 27, 2014
Occasionally I may have had a moment where the rise and fall seemed less impacting relative to other extreme moments at the conference,
but the bumps kept coming.
Then I return home, work for a couple of days and then off to more conferences. Only now is TMC truly starting to settle for me. This conference has transformed me, and only now am I able to process the experience. As this rollercoaster feeling diminishes, I’m seeing how the conference is having direct effect in my professional and personal life. Only 350ish days until we do this again.
to be continued…..
(I plan to follow up this post with another soon on how I plan to incorporate TMC into my work and that of my colleagues as well.)
There is a little bit of mystery and magic to these relationships, if you don’t believe me just ask Mr. Vaudrey. Students trust that a triangle is simple, yet if you asked them to communicate anything beyond the magical balance of 3 angles, and 3 sides, most wouldn’t know what else is true. Sometimes students see triangles as snowflakes, each one of them unique. Little do they know how much all these triangles are alike.
- Get quarter sheets of graph paper
- Draw your own unique triangle
- Color in the angles in each corner
- Cut Out the triangle
- Tear off each corner
- Piece together the puzzle, and what do you see?
Describe in your own words what’s happening.
This is HUGE. Students need time to digest this transformation. If it feels like the engine is stalling, change gears:
Start practicing lo-tech with some paper examples.
Constantly bring back the triangle with the transforming corners. Have the students take some
Then go back again to the applet. Get the class to a point where students are articulating what is happening in the triangle. Have them say it in multiple ways. These angle relationships have patterns and consistencies, but often get lost in the multiple perspectives (what about this corner, or that one, or the inside, or the out, or what does a parallel line have anything to do with it). If students can transform a triangle and its angles, then adding in the relationships with parallel lines is only a half step away.
Don’t forget to check out the other gems over at Transformulas.
Two-dimensional area starts and ends in pretty much the same place, with base and height. Kids in elementary school calculate space by counting grids. Calculus classrooms do the same thing (on a more complex level of course), but through the short cut of integration. Somewhere in the middle, with geometry and the like, it gets complicated and students lose the conceptual understanding.
Here’s what we did instead.
Start with a few applets:
Then we document our thoughts. Some people call this notes.:
Students watch in amazement as if this were a magical experience. Audible comments of “wow” and “that’s cool” are common.
So then we conclude that there really is just one way to calculate 2 dimensional straight line areas:
base times height (and sometimes half)