Curiosity Inspired that Cat

How does life live? Can girls be robots? Why do worms have faces? How do you make water? Are you old, mom? What is mean and nice? Where did you find me when I was a baby? How does food turn into poop? Kids are naturally curious. They ask 1000s of questions. They both annoy and astound us with their questions. To parents, it seems like it may never stop. But then they go to school and it does. And that’s the worst. Why does that happen? I don’t know the answer, but I suspect schools are to … Continue reading Curiosity Inspired that Cat

Stats with Empathy: Course 4 Final Project

We are redesigning the non-exam track of our 11th and 12th grade math courses next year, and I am excited to be able to take on these new courses. Our plan is to use some of the IB/DP Math Studies curriculum, while making it more accessible and useful to a group of students who have typically struggled with math. There are two things that excite me about this new course. 1. Math Studies is a great course. I’ve taught it now for 6 years. For some kids it’s the first time they really understand why they’ve had to learn math. … Continue reading Stats with Empathy: Course 4 Final Project

What Problems Do You Want To Solve?

As a little girl, my parents and teachers used to ask me “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Oddly enough, it was a paralyzing question. If everything is possible, how do you choose? How can you even choose what, when you don’t even know why? “What Problems Do You Want to Solve?” Refugees. Clean Water. Literacy. Poverty. Climate Change. Clean Energy. Trash in the Oceans. Air Pollution. Housing. Bees. War. Parking. Transportation. Depression. Cancer. Nutrition. Diabetes. Bullying. Etc. Etc. Etc. What if, instead of asking kids what they want to be, we started asking them what problems they want to … Continue reading What Problems Do You Want To Solve?

Power to your People

People are your school. People are the system. People make things happen. — George Couros, author of The Innovator’s Mindset Just as each leaf, each branch, each root and piece of bark contributes to the beauty of this tree, so does each member contribute to making a school what it is. Great schools not only draw out the best from their people, but celebrate their talents and encourage growth. Schools are full of teacher-experts: experts in their fields, experts in pedagogy, experts in collaboration or organization, even experts in some activity or hobby. Here are some thoughts as to how you can nurture those … Continue reading Power to your People

The Flipping Game

To game or not to game? To flip or not to flip? These are the questions of the week, and well, at the risk of being a COETAIL naysayer…meh. // GAMES? Of course play is fun and engaging. I start most days with the New York Times Crossword Puzzle and a game of hearts is such a great way to hang with the family. For a quick fact-checking warm-up, a Kahoot! is fine. It resets students’ brains as they walk into the room and gets them excited to do some math. Kahoot!’s new feature of being able to download their results adds to … Continue reading The Flipping Game

We need to think differently

Problem Based Learning. Project Based Learning. Challenge Based Learning. I’m having an existential crisis. Questioning everything I do. Am I and my fellow math teachers still relevant? // This week’s readings got my head spinning and sent me on a mad web-searching frenzy. Who cares about rational functions? What even are rational functions? What is the purpose of education? What are they doing in Finland? Why do we still divide schools into subjects and departments?  We need to think differently. That’s the message I take away from this week’s readings. We. Not just me. We. Here’s what I know: I talk too much. I … Continue reading We need to think differently

Do you Technigrate?

According to my Humanities teacher husband, everything we do is technology. When I use sidewalk chalk in teaching Venn Diagrams or ropes to teach linear equations or even good old-fashioned pencil and paper in the teaching of math, I am integrating technology into my classroom. After all, cavemen didn’t have these tools. But I digress… According to Edutopia what we mean by integration of technology in the classroom is electronic media (computers, mobile devices, social media, and apps) which allow not just for greater understanding, but also for creation, communication, and connection.   “Take out your calculators”, “Google the formula for compound interest” … Continue reading Do you Technigrate?

Make Iceland Beautiful Again

I have so enjoyed Course 3 of the COETAIL program. Though it definitely got way more time out of me than the other courses, I think the results have been the most rewarding. I got so excited, I basically completed five final projects: 3 units and their slideshows, my About Me page, and a presentation for my student service trip to Iceland. For this post, I’ll focus on how I changed my Iceland presentation. A little background: each September for the past four years I have brought 20 students with me to work in the Thorsmork National Forest in Southern … Continue reading Make Iceland Beautiful Again

The Power of Numbers

Numbers when combined with images are powerful and can be used to influence change. This is no big secret, which is why so many people use infographics to spread their message. In Grade 9, we call our exponents unit “The Power of Numbers”. In addition to standard exponent laws and scientific notation, we use dimensional analysis to teach the concept of changing units. Our culminating project has kids researching the recycling problem at our school and educating the school population as to the potential problem in an attempt to increase recycling. We start the project in the school’s basement. The custodial staff … Continue reading The Power of Numbers

Tell Me a Math Story

At first glance I wondered what the heck am I going to do with this? Digital storytelling in math?!? But I started thinking–it doesn’t have to be my OWN storytelling that I share. Have others shared math stories? Oh yeah, there are some good ones. As a high school math teacher, I’m really not interested in “every-day” math videos. Telling time, figuring out tips and sale prices, to be honest, that’s elementary math. The truth is, I don’t use most of the math I learned in high school, except, well, to teach math in high school. Does that mean I … Continue reading Tell Me a Math Story