Math Education Concepts

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Tangible Parting Gifts

I can’t believe the year has gone by so quickly!  It’s already the end of May and there’s only one week left for final exams.  While my time at Salesianum School was short, it will be remembered.  I have memories that will last me a lifetime.

My memories are those that made me laugh, yell, admire, love, and befriend!  Any high school math teacher can relate to the mixed emotions that are experienced in (and out) of the classroom!  It’s not new.  Maybe some day I will share some specifics about those emotions and experiences.

Today, I want to share two tangible gifts I received this year.

1. A t-shirt with my name on the back.  The significance of the t-shirt is that the students labeled me as a teacher who “Keeps it real.”  I gave it to my students straight, no chaser, and they appreciated that.  If they asked questions, I did not sugar coat the answers (whether the questions were about math, friendship, dating, or life).  One of the parents purchased the t-shirts for the entire class (Thank you Mrs. R.).

T-shirt designed by 414-2.

Keepin’ it Real T-shirt designed by 414-2

2. A”K” shaped crepe.  One of my students hosted a French exchange student this year.  Toward the end of the 4th quarter my student earned a 92.2.  He needed a 92.5 to get an “A.”  The exchange student asked me to boost the student’s grade.  I told him I would if he would make me some food using an authentic french recipe.  So they made crepes (the french exchange student used his mother’s recipe – or so he said he did).  It was delicious, so I will deliver on my word.  He was a good student so I would have bumped him .3 points anyway (especially since he missed a few days of school while he was away at France as an American exchange student).

K-shaped crepe made by French Exchange student and his host

K-shaped crepe made by French Exchange student and his host

These are two of the tangible gifts I received this year.  The intangible gifts are too many to name here.  But to name a few I gained friendships, respect, knowledge, love, life-lessons, memories, and so much more.  I will miss my students, but they will always be close in my memories.

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5 Strategies to Master Precalculus – Kindle Edition

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Why My Son Needs Common Core

This parent/math teacher understands her son’s need for Math Common Core State Standards. Read more…

Maximizing Learning

I know that there is a debate regarding the “new” math common core state standards.  I understand parents are frustrated with children having to learn “new” ways to add, subtract, multiply, or divide.  I understand that parents are frustrated with children having to show work and defend an answer, even when the answer is correct.  I understand your frustration as a parent.  I have a child who is off the charts in math.  He consistently scores in the 90th percentile and above on all standardized assessments.   He just “gets” math.  (His mom is a math educator.)  He is always frustrated when I ask him to defend his answer.  His typical response is, “because I know it’s right.”  I used to think common core was not written for children like him.  He does not need to draw a picture or learn a “new” way to divide.  I was wrong!  My…

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Teacher or Mathematician First?

Earlier this week a close friend, Lawrence, asked me a question.  And for the first time (in a long time) I had to think about the answer.

He asked me if I were a teacher or mathematician first, when I am in the classroom.  I paused for a moment to consider the question.  My first comment was that, since I have yet to earn my PhD, I am not necessarily considered a mathematician.  But I understood his question.  He wanted to know what drives me when in the classroom.  The example he used was that he is an architect first, then an engineer.  His education path is engineering, but his career path is architectural design (or something like that – sorry Lawrence).  But his real joy is designing blue prints for office buildings.  In fact, he is going to design my future institute (a post for another day).

After thinking about the question, I explained to Lawrence that it depended upon the class I taught.  This semester I am teaching a math course for students pursuing degrees in STEM related fields and a math education course for students pursuing education degrees in non-STEM related fields.  My initial answer was “both:  I am a mathematician first in the math class and a teacher first in the education class.”

This was my explanation:

In the math class the students really need to know and understand the concepts in order to proceed to the next math course.  I have to get the math concepts across to the students.  In the education class, the students need to pass a pre-service exam and satisfy this course requirement.  But they are future educators and I want to exemplify what that means to my students.  The goal for each course is different, so I teach each class differently.

My final answer, however, was that I am a mathematician first.  If you put me in a classroom and take away the math I would be less fulfilled.  I decided to teach to share my joy of math and to help others learn and appreciate math the way I do.  I know this will not happen for all of my students, but I want to reach as many as possible.  The classroom is the best place to do this!

So there you have it Lawrence:  I am a mathematician first, teaching is the vehicle I use to express and share my passion for mathematics!


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Back to School… Again

Back to SchoolIt’s that time of year again. Somehow it seems like this year will be busier than last.  Do you feel that way or is it just me? The summer is almost over, I am preparing my syllabi for two universities, and I have yet to make my way to an amusement park.  Where has the time gone?

How are you preparing for this upcoming school year? Do you have any advice for new teachers, professors, or instructors?