I collected so much inspiration this summer, and started the school year by acting on as much of it as possible. Here are a few websites that made me excited and anxious to leave behind the lazy days of summer and get back to the unpredictable wonders of the classroom:
- Adam Spencer’s TED talk on Monster Primes. His passion for numbers is contagious, and his statements around 10:00 resonate with me as a math teacher.
- This blog post on why School should be more like Camp. I started this school year with discussions, relationship building, and opportunities for students to leave their desks and actively model math concepts with their bodies: Calculus students were careening around on gym scooters; Math Studies students were building human Venn diagrams. I adopted students’ ideas for the ideal math classroom: communication, repetition, understanding, respect – those were student-generated requirements. Food and music and a sense of community were further ideas we quickly agreed on (because how on earth can you learn math on an empty stomach??).
- Shawn Cornally’s TEDx talk on his incredibly innovative school, BIG. This is student-centered education at the extreme, and a reminder that teenagers not only know what they want but can be treated like real human beings in achieving their goals, rather than being processed as products in an education factory.
- Shawn Cornally’s blog posts Calculus: A Comedy. I came across these lesson reflections while looking for fresh ideas for teaching Calculus. From this I stole the idea for allowing students to struggle with the problem of calculating instantaneous speed while wheeling around in the fresh air. For my group of high-achieving grade 12 students, this worked out remarkably well. They thought, designed, implemented, calculated, adjusted, re-calculated, and then struggled at the end when I stumped them with the request for speed at-that-exact-point. It led into an investigation, which led to some direct instruction, and will culminate with my favorite part of the year: when I sit and read aloud to grade 12 students, from the book A Tour of the Calculus. Thus begins our adventure in a story of mathematical beauty and genius.
And you? Any exciting, innovative, inspirational ideas you can’t wait to implement? I have many things in the works and look forward to sharing how they unfold this year!