Sunday, March 29, 2009

Purpose of this blog...

I'm not a (frequent) blogger, but find me (mathercize) on Plurk / Twitter for brief, but much more frequent thoughts/updates.

This site is used for the occasional (and hopefully more frequent) thoughts on teaching.

Maybe when I get better at teaching, I'll post more...

Bouncing Ball Pattern

I too would like to join the Dan Meyer fan club, for his perspective and helpfulness, but this time for his "Will the ball hit the can" activity.

His post got me thinking about the bouncing ball pattern:

And I wondered how the parabolas were related, in particular, how are the equations of the quadratics related?

So, back to geogebra (using Dan Meyer's work as a template), and in short I was able to change:

  • On the construct:
  1. Neither the presentation of this problem, nor the geogebra file are student ready. This was just a question I had. [I'm still learning geogebra and this was a way for me to get more comfortable with the tool. I now know a way to *add a picture as a background and *create a slider.]
  2. The picture is not mine and therefore is a bit forced as an 'application' problem. I wanted to try the geogebra aspect and so just used a pre-existing pic this time.
  3. I feel that the whole set-up of the factored form is too helpful to be used as-is.
  • On the problem:
  1. In this set-up, the parabolas have very similar leading coefficients and I think its worth testing to see if that's always true. This observation was not my original assumption.
  2. The next question that came to my mind was what I'm calling the basketball fractal (forgive my touchpad-sketching capabilities). The question is, if basketball is shot, hits the rim and is continuously bounced back into the air (with no new force added), then, how will the 'nested parabolas' be related?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

leprachauns everywhere! Let's have lucky charms for dinner!
Educators: What did you not get taught in college? (ex. here's what a preacher wasn't taught: )

Monday, March 16, 2009

what's the rule in town on burning leaves... what about at midnight? I don't trust my neighbor.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Graham Crackers + homemade chocolate frosting = sunday supper
family > internet

Saturday, March 14, 2009 ... and goodnight
DEER! ... (that's plural)
as soon as my 3-year old gets off the 4-wheeler.... (with grandpa), we'll go back to Holton.
finishing up work on a covenant inductive study. Key words: all, blood, and sacrifice.
Yep, just got dun hookin up an anhydrous ammonia tank up to a rusty, trusty john deere. Total life-hours spent farming: 0.20
livin la vida Courtland

Friday, March 13, 2009

Five changes

I was tagged by Alan Beam to write five things I would change about education. The rules are as follows:

“List FIVE changes you would like to see in the educational system. Your responses should represent your perspective and your passion for learning and students…tag the following people…from a variety of perspectives...”

Disclaimer: This post is as much of my expectations and aspirations as it is a confession of how much I'm just a traditional and boring teacher.

1. Motto #1: It's not about me. (its all about the learning)
Man is a brute 1. Call it social contract or God's providence, I believe that a main goal of education is to civilize us and make us constructive members in our society (the kingdom of man). The best part of this contract is that when we lay down ourselves and submit to learning, to Truth, we benefit.

I fear that all too often in high school2, students feel a sense of entitlement. If I am king, then there is no reason to learn the quadratic formula, heroic couplets, or the price of tea in China... unless it serves me right here, right now.

School will be done wrong until we all agree that learning is good and worth our time.

2. Motto #2: Often in life, the harder things are better (its all about the learning)

We have an great football team. This is due, in large part, because we have a phenomenal conditioning program. Unfortunately, we do a poor job of translating that diligence and dedication to the classroom. Half is given, half is earned. Our brains like wrinkles, but we don't.
Math is hard3, but that does not mean that there are no rewards for the deposit given.

3. Remove the walls.

I compartmentalize. This statement itself, though, is a confession that the world does not come easily packaged. How about an example:

What is facebook?
  • a place for socialization
  • photo/music/art - sharing
  • advertising (personal and corporate)
  • self-expression
  • a mask
... that's the short list4. Inasmuch as our world is becoming digitized, the well-defined boundaries are hazy at best. In order to be effective, teaching must elicit learning that creates connections, connections within a curriculum and across curricula. The three R's are easy to keep separate. Its those darn 21st century skills that call for more than Mr. Math and Mrs. English5, expounding their isolated subjects. So, in the new school I would form, there will be no conceptual or curricular walls (drywall doesn't bother me, we don't all need to move to the gym). is a crescendo!
4. Make School Bigger.

Not the building or class sizes: no, the scope. Since curricular walls are coming down, students will be equipped to tackle real problems from the world. Whether that be snapping a picture and asking "what would you do with this?" or changing the world Information is no longer in short supply with the teacher as the sole source of all that is true... but rather, knowledge and how-to's are readily available at a mouse-click. Education must change.

5. Standardize and Simplify.

Not the students or delivery-of-content: no, the scope. Focus. Clearly communicate the expectations. Let me propose this overly-simplified recipe:
  1. Define your standards for high school graduation with as much career/college specificity as required. [In other words, list every skill in every class that students must master in order to complete the curriculum, which can include: space science, statistics, social skills... in other words, the written AND hidden curricula.]
  2. Learning takes place (see changes 1-4 above).
  3. Implement accurate assessments for these standards. When all standards are met, the student is done. If this happens in 3 years or 5... great. When mastery learning is achieved, students graduate.
Let's remove the time-wasting game from the equation.

That's it, those are my 5 changes I would make to education.

  • First things first (ie learning).

  • The Good, the Beautiful, and the True would be appreciated, loved, and sought (and these exist outside of ourselves, but we grow in goodness, beauty, and truth as we comprehend and apprehend 6 them).
  • Teamwork, it takes a village, as it were.
  • Go global. Hit this one out of the park.
  • Make the goal of high school S.M.A.R.T.

1. All humans... but guys especially.
2. Make that K through retirement.
3. ... or is it beautiful?
4. I dare you to ask a high schooler all that facebook does for her.
5. If you'll let me play on stereotypes.
6. or, more aptly, they apprehend us.
Now playing: Alaska In Winter - Staring At the Sun
via FoxyTunes
Made it to Courtland. Man, crazy traffic... we must have past 12 whole cars in the 3 hours.
SURPRISE... heading to the in-laws... NOW.
Have a seat
I've got a Wrinkle meeting... post-haste!
I need to find a Cadbury Creme Egg.
t-minus 5 hours (until spring break)... but who's counting
t-minus 6 hours and counting. Spring Break approacheth.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The New FOUR R's of education are: Rigor, Relationships, Relevance, and Results.... discuss.
dumbest thing I've said to my wife recently: "It's not bad... you've made grosser things than that and called them soup."
back from class, had two gone; so me and student, we are alone
home->supper/play-with-daughters :: night-class->exam/teach/factor :: home->grade/plan/sleep
pretty sure the kids made AYP... w00t, w00t
... actually, i just feel left out
... actually, i just feel left out
I say 'Wrinkle in Time', you say...
found an old Finley Quaye CD (do they still make CDs?), reggae-pop makes a chilly day seem warmer
tired of school lunches by this point in the year... must find sustenance
tired of school lunches by this point in the year... must find sustenance