It’s Earth Day today – check out Google’s interactive logo (more than one clickable spot this time!). As well, I will be blogging a lot this week – one post per day for seven days in a row, all reflections on the workshops I attended at the NCTM conference in Denver last week. Reflections by me and others who attended will be posted at within the next few days, including links to any handouts and slide decks presenters may have used. Occasionally, videos of the workshops are available – links to those will be posted as well.
Focus Area #1: Engagement
Carbon Footprint Calculator: There are a lot of carbon footprint calculators online. Many of them focus on adult lifestyles (driving and flying, home bill payments) to determine calculations. If you want a more flexible carbon footprint calculator, I recommend the “Global Footprint Network” calculator. This calculator has both an adult and a kid version, with either a basic or a more detailed calculation available (basic takes only a minute or so to calculate an answer, the detailed version takes more time to answer more questions). As well, this calculator lets you determine carbon footprints based on where you live in the world – a great way for students to imagine if they were living in a different country how this might affect their footprint. Happy Earth Day!
Focus Area #2: Critical Thinking
Desmos: An excellent and *free* graphing calculator is available online for your students to explore. Desmos includes not only the calculator, it also includes postings of how students and teachers use the tool as well as examples of what they have created. An incredibly powerful tool, one of the features that lends to its power is the ability to create “sliders” for variables (such as a slider for “a” and/or “b” in the formula y=ax+b). For every variable in an equation, a slider can be created. Students hung up on the algebra or who have difficulty visualizing relationships, *any* students actually will find this a powerful calculator to see relationships quickly! This tool allows your students to make predictions before seeing the visualizations online and helps you as a teacher get to a deeper level of discussion and conceptual understanding without time-consuming repetitive graphing requests of your students. Awesome!
Focus Area #3: Connections
Mathalicious: Have you heard of the Mathalicious website? This is a great site for sample lessons that focus on “big ideas” in math and have students delve into conceptual understanding by asking a big idea question. For example, one sample lesson gives you a lesson plan for helping students answer the question “how big is your (TV) screen?” While they explore the answer to this question, they learn about how aspect ratio and size of screen are tied to the Pythagorean Theorem to either validate or disprove advertisers’ claims. Ten sample lessons are free online (for grades 6-12). Beyond that, they ask you to pay for access to others (but have an incredibly flexible idea of what paying for their service means.) Check them out!
Ms. Pac Man: Want a different way to discuss translations, reflections, and rotations with your students? Check out Robert Kaplinsky’s blog post (with usable videos for your lessons) on using the Ms. Pac Man game as the context for reflections, rotations, and translations!
Focus Area #4: Professional Learning
NCTM Equity Address: During my time in Denver last week, I heard several excellent speakers. Only a handful were videotaped and uploaded to NCTM’s website. If your math department is looking for something to watch together and open up deep discussion regarding how we address the needs of *all* students in math classes, I highly recommend listening to “Keeping our eyes on the Prize”, the Iris M. Karl Equity Address given on Friday April 19th at the NCTM conference in Denver. The address is almost one hour long, but well worth the time to watch and discuss with colleagues. (Maybe try a flipped approach to PD! Watch the video before coming together for your next math meeting!)
Winnipeg MathJam: Did you miss the first ever Winnipeg MathJam last month? Fascinated by the idea and want to join the fun this month? Don’t know what it is and you’re curious? Come to The Round Table Restaurant this Tuesday April 23rd at 7pm! Or, check out the online details of the previous gathering!
Focus Area #5: Current Research
“We need to examine what common sense, observation, and research tell us about instructional practices that make significant differences in student achievement. Such practices can be found in high-performing schools across the country. There, we see teachers making “Why?” a classroom mantra to support a culture of reasoning and justification. We see cumulative review being incorporated daily. We see deliberately planned lessons that skillfully employ alternative approaches and multiple representations that value different ways to reach solutions to real problems. We see teachers relying on relevant contexts and using questions to create language-rich mathematics classrooms.” (Moving Mathematics out of Mediocrity, Steve Leinwand, Education Week Online Jan.5 2009, pp.2-3)
I had the opportunity to hear Steve Leinwand in person at the NCTM Annual Meeting in Denver Colorado last week. A powerfully charismatic presenter, as a listener I found myself continually checking to see if what he was saying had substance. Too often, I have sat in keynote addresses where the speaker is entertaining and engaging, but the substance of the address was missing. Not so in the case of Steve Leinwand. His trumpet call to math educators everywhere is to ensure consistent, equitable approaches to the teaching of mathematics. He pulls no punches when speaking and is known as the “Chuck Norris of Mathematics” (nickname given to him by Dan Meyer). His website contains slide decks of many of his presentations and publications, a blog, as well as a few video clips.
Focus Area #6: Ressources en Francais
Chiffres, Symboles et Civilisations: Use this picture to invite conversations about patterns in the symbols used by various civilizations to represent number systems. The picture is posted by Yvan Monka from m@ths et tiques.
BrainPop en Francais!: You may be familiar with the English version of BrainPop, but did you know it’s all available in French? The site includes all sorts of videos and resources for number sense, shape and space, and measurement. And all en francais! Magnifique!