Hello, reader! If you intend to post a link to this blog on Twitter, be aware that for utterly mysterious reasons, Twitter thinks this blog is spam, and will prevent you from linking to it. Here's a workaround: change the .com in the address to .ca. I call it the "Maple Leaf Loophole." And thanks for sharing!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Chin Up, You

We're getting a post-TMC rush of folks posting about how interacting with our awesome community is making them feel a tad inadequate. I appreciate the honesty and the willingness to be vulnerable. Blogs are a great place for processing feelings, aren't they? And this is from a person who barely has any feelings, so you know it's true.

I have some perspective now on being well-known by a certain small niche of the internet, and I want to tell you, every time you think "I am not as cool as that cool blogger person" that person is likely thinking "I am not nearly as cool as this person thinks I am." At least, that is what I am thinking.

It is natural to read about someone's practice and compare yourself to them. But you have to remember that when you are reading about awesome things on blogs, you are reading about that person's best day. Their best day that week or month. Maybe even their best day that school year or in their career. When you attend a presentation at TMC, you are hearing about one aspect of a person's practice that they have been thinking about for a while.

And you're comparing it to the totality of you, because you are stuck inside your head 24/7.

In the fantastic morning session organized by Elizabeth Statmore, which touched on collaborative group problem solving, restorative practices, classroom circles, and so many other things, I had an opportunity to present a quick task and ask the participants to... participate. I'm really grateful that they were game and willing to work through a few things with me.

There were a few consequences of the way I structured the task that I didn't anticipate, and I wasn't super thrilled with how it turned out. I felt for a hot second like, "Oh no, now they know I'm not that good a teacher and will think I'm a fraud." But of course, it would have been delusional for anyone to think that someone with only a few years' classroom experience, who has been out of the game for a while, could plan something that would be awesome right out of the gate. So it was dumb of me to assign them that expectation. And if they came out of it thinking "Kate is not nearly as awesome as I thought she was," then GOOD. Because that is the truth.

So, I'd just like to say, everybody chill the &^%$ out. We are all good at some things and suck at other things. One thing we all share is the recognition that we all have work to do, and that we can all get better, and that focusing on that is worth our time. There was an adorable tweet yesterday from a math teacher asking how they could "join the MTBoS," with a perfect response from Jed Butler. If you're asking the question, you're already in. Show up. Learn. Teach. Get better. We're all right there with you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Essential Questions for Algebra 2's what we have so far.

Sequences and Series
  • What kinds of patterns commonly arise in our world? 
  • Why is it sometimes desirable to describe a pattern mathematically? 
  • When we notice a real-world or mathematical pattern, what are some different ways in which we can describe it? 
  • How is it possible to keep getting closer and closer to something, but never actually touch it? 
Probability and Statistics
  • How can I use probability and statistics to make predictions and decisions that will benefit me in life?
  • How should I interpret statistical information about myself and that I see in the news?
  • What is the bell curve, why does it appear in many aspects of society, why is understanding it so important to our society?
  • What are are some more sophisticated ways of counting, and when are they useful?
Intro to Functions
  • How are functions used to represent/simulate the world we live in, and why are they so important?
  • How do functions help us to make the best decision?
  • What are some different kinds of functions, and what sorts of real-world situations can they model?
  • Why is the idea of "inverse" so important in mathematics?
  • How are quadratic functions used to understand/represent the Universe we live in?
  • How can writing a mathematical statement in different but equivalent ways highlight its various features?
  • Often, solving problems involves making choices. How can we make smart choices for any problem?
  • How are polynomial functions used to understand/represent the Universe we live in?
  • How are all the different representations of a polynomial function related?
  • How are rational functions and different types of variation used to understand/represent the Universe we live in?
  • How is it possible to keep getting closer and closer to something, but never actually touch it?
  • How are radical functions used to understand/represent the Universe we live in?
  • How can something that "doesn't exist" affect our world?
  • How can we make sense of exponents that are not integers?
Exponentials and Logs
  • How are exponential and logarithmic functions used to understand/represent the Universe we live in?
  • Why does the graph of an exponential function have its shape? How is it possible to get closer and closer to something and never touch it?
  • Why is the idea of "inverse" important in mathematics?
Modeling with Data
  • How do you decide if a mathematical model is "good"?
  • How can we use existing measurements to make predictions?
  • What are some possible pitfalls of using mathematical models to make predictions?