I took the opportunity to go to Gary Rubinstein‘s session “The Math Behind the Heavens and Earth” to start my Thursday at NCTM’s Annual Conference in Denver last week.
Gary has uploaded a video of his session (really a practice run of his session, but still helpful for those who couldn’t attend). It’s below.
He had one double-sided handout for the session, but has provided access to the student activities he referenced in his session. Click here to get to the activities and handouts. He has also provided a collection of resources he used to help build the activities and for further reading.
Highlights of the session for me were:
1. When he answered a great “big idea” question: “Why was Easter so ‘early’ this year?” (at 1:41 in his video he has a great list of astronomy questions, this one being #3 on the list…go to 31:45 for the answer to this);
2. How he articulated his progression of math concepts to have students get to a stage where exploration of those big idea questions were possible (the flow of the presentation was excellent);
3. His inclusion of Eratosthenes and how he measured the circumference of the earth – I’m always a fan for including historical context in mathematics! (this is at 29:19 in the video). A great “picture book” that tells the story of Eratosthenes (one I’ve used with students successfully), check out Kathryn Lasky’s “The Librarian Who Measured The Earth“;
4. His sharing of any and all resources for this session. The power of any session for me is to take the ideas presented and rework them into something that I can use – sharing allows this. Thank you Gary!
What I was left wondering about:
How he supported learners who struggle – I can see how these activities would easily help support the middle and upper end of the student abilities spectrum, but wanted more information from Gary as to how those on the lower end of the spectrum would be supported with this. I know I have ideas on how I would do this, but didn’t hear from him how he may have done this in his classes.