Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Math may still suck a little?

...not that I would ever say that in front of students!

While I didn't read this, or it's sequel Kiss My Math, thoroughly, I certainly want them in my classroom -- lots of hands-on examples and methods, cute and clever wording to connect with students, even practice problems that don't feel like actual work (suggested by a cute TV personality has more weight than assigned by a teacher?).  The cover design that looks like an issue of Teen Vogue is apt, there are also a lot of girl-centric non-Math articles, advice, and encouraging quotes.

From a Math student viewpoint, it reminded me of my Math for Elementary Teachers course from just a few years back.  That class gave me such a headache, but the brain pain was from repeatedly slapping my forehead while exclaiming "No one ever taught me that!" and from the blinding flashes of lightbulbs going off above my head.  I remember Math as learn/memorize/practice doing it this way or you'll get it wrong -- which I usually did.  That Professor, and McKellar's book, teaches tricks, shortcuts, divisibility rules, dare we say "fun" Math stuff that will :
  1. provide multiple methods of getting the right answer, so not every robot student has to do the work the same way.
  2. teach cool patterns, easy to remember algorithms, even tricks that can help students feel smart and gain confidence when they start getting the answers correct.
  3. engage students, getting them to invest in their own learn by presenting a 3-digit division problem as something more than one of 20 to solve -- it's the work place, it's marriage, it's a real-world problem that needs solving, and the student has been armed and trained in several tools and skills in order to reach the solution.
 Not only a great Math reference to keep and USE in the classroom, but a reason to show some old "The Wonder Years" scenes...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When does he have time to comb his hair, much less let it catch fire?!?!?

This has got to be fiction, one of those James Frey "true as I remember it" tales?  Or it's a combination of several decades of teaching, all this -- plays, concerts, travel, baseball, manners -- could not possibly all occur in the same school year... with 5th graders?!?!?

They need hidden cameras in this classroom so mere mortals can see just how he does it.

I admire him, am intimidated by him, and will strive to have one tenth of the impact he has on his students.  I don't think we'll ever do Shakespeare, but I think the time he makes himself (and the classroom) available is a huge difference maker. I'm an early to work guy anyway, so as long as my students learn to use the coffee maker I'd love to have them in bright and early to get some work done, and designate days after school to focus on additional learning. 

The Hobart Shakespeareans website