Monday, November 14, 2016

Ten Letters for the President [99pi and GMD]

This is what I'm sharing in this week's Global Math Department newsletter:

Ten Letters for the President

I’ve mentioned my favorite podcast before. Recently 99% Invisible released Episode 235, Ten Letters for the President. It’s definitely worth listening to in light of recent events in U.S. politics.

The podcast does a thorough job explaining the process of President Obama receiving tens of thousands of letters a day from people across the country. In reality, he only reads 10 letters each day which turns out to be less than 0.1% of the letters received. Those 10 letters are a small sample of the pulse, emotions, heartaches, and thoughts of thousands across the country. The president says, “These letters, I think, do more to keep me in touch with what’s going on around the country than just about anything else.”

I share this podcast episode for three reasons:

  1. It’s a reminder of the impact our current events can have on all of us; teachers, students, family, strangers, friends, enemies, cities, states, countries, and all humans. No matter how large the impact, I believe we as individuals can have a far greater impact with how we treat those we have contact with each day. Our students need to see us be good humans. We are in their daily world. Be good humans.
  2. These letters to the president are super important. If less than 0.1% of the daily letters received can positively inform and impact the president, then these letters could very well be more valuable than any tweet, blog post, or Facebook comment one might dispense into their social media bubble.
  3. I hope these letters continue to pour into the president, especially after January 20, 2017. I hope 10 letters continue to be read by the president each day. I hope those letters keep the president in touch with what’s going on. I hope that if something is on your heart, you write the president. I hope that if something is on your students’ hearts, they write the president. Be good humans when doing so. That 0.1% might be the most important percentage we ever teach in math.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"How much?" vs. "How many?"

Can you believe it? I haven't blogged since April... and it's been amazing!
You heard me right. I've been busy enjoying life and summer. On the scale of life, family time has definitely outweighed work time. This doesn't mean I haven't been thinking math. I have enjoyed lurking on Twitter and reading blog posts here and there. Keep up the great work everyone.

So, I'm dusting off the blog and wiping away the cobwebs so I can share just one gift of parenting a six year-old, learning the English language. Well, at least one part of the English language: when to use "how many?" and when to use "how much?"

I provide my son with a healthy amount of questions that involve estimation. I know, big shocker. So it shouldn't surprise you (or me for that matter) when he fires them back at me. However, it's extremely interesting that most of the time he begins his questions with "how much".

Here are some examples. Hey Dad, I wonder
  • How much air is in the tire?
  • How much pumps of air the tire will need?
  • How much miles it is to the beach?
  • How much pancakes will we make?
Can you spot which questions need help?
What advice would you offer a six-year old (and his dad) so he is better equipped to know when to either use "much" or "many"?

Here's what I offered him:
If it something you can count, use "how many"
  • How many pancakes will we make? 10
  • How many eggs are in a dozen? 12
  • How many pumps did it take to fill the tire? 6
  • How many minutes until we leave for soccer practice? 5
If it is something that is difficult to count, use "how much"
  • How much air is in the tire? not much
  • How much sunblock did you put on? only on my face
  • How much ketchup would you like? a lot
I'm more fond of my criteria for using "how many", but I'm not entirely convinced my criteria for "how much" will win me English/Math teacher of the year. I know there is a way to quantify the air inside a tire. There is a way to quantify the amount of sunblock applied. Help me make the criteria better and easily comprehensible for a six-year old.

Hope the school year is going well!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Principles to Actions Book Club [phases]

Inspired by Kaneka Turner's #ShadowCon16 talk, I decided to form a Principles to Actions book club during the summer of 2016. Sorry, the club will be comprised of teachers in my district. I'm excited at how it is shaping up in the past week. I broke it into three planning phases before we actually start reading NCTM's Principles to Actions. I recommend you start your own. Here's why:

Phase 1:
I created a goal for the book club (inspired straight from Principles to Actions):
Collaborate with other TUSD teachers to strengthen our math teaching practice and improve the learning of mathematics by engaging students in mathematical thinking, reasoning, and sense making.
I reached out to a small group of (K-12) math teachers and coaches in my district to generate interest.
10 teachers replied with interest. We're ready for Phase 2.

Phase 2:
I will tap into the wisdom of these 10 teachers to help structure:
  • HOW we will accomplish our goal.
  • WHAT tools we will use to accomplish our goal.
I'm confident these 10 teachers will help structure how we discuss the book, how much time we spend as a book club, how we will collaborate (virtually or in person), etc. I also know these teachers will help suggest what tools we might use to help assist in the virtual collaboration. For example, Google Docs, Google Classroom, Padlet, etc. 

I asked them for input via Google Forms. Here are the questions I asked.

Once I hear back from this small group, I will move forward in structuring the PtA book club along with setting up the digital tools and spaces that make the most sense. Phase 3 is next...

Phase 3:
I plan to do a district-wide invite to the Principles to Actions book club so anyone who teaches math is invited. More importantly, I am counting on the small group of 10 teachers to reach out to other colleagues at their site and throughout the district to personally invite teachers to the Principles to Actions book club. I'm confident their reach and influence will make the collaboration more meaningful and fun for all invloved.

I've never done something like this before, but I'm excited because I am confident in the 10 teachers who have already expressed interest. I encourage you to find something mathy you can invite others to be a part in. Maybe it's a Principles to Actions book club. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or tips!