The Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching CAMT14 was a great experience. Ft Worth is a wonderful town. Day 2 also provided many great sessions and speakers as you will see below.
General Session: The Power of Thinking
If you ever have the chance to see John Antonetti, please do. His anecdotes, experiences, and tales had educators laughing throughout the morning. Of course he discussed pedagogy, and his approaches to giving students opportunitities to learn through engagement . Three main ideas include that students should experience:
Vision ( See myself doing the math)
Pattern (Applications- See and Understand the Patterns…. they are what last)
Emotion (Be interested in it,… we shut down if we don’t get it)
An aside: the Planets by Gustav Holst. Take time to share it with your students.
Connections Between Socrates, Pythagoras, Gauss, and Polya
John Edgell and Areg Gessas of Texas State University
I found this session carrying a much more in depth study into irrational numbers and geometry. As we continued a seat partner demonstrated a Logarithmic Spiral using isoceles 90-45-45 triangles. We also discussed Wheel of Thedorus where the side leg is always 1 unit. Then we moved into the Pythagorean Spiral. Of course, my curiosity got the most of me, and googling brought me to many more spirals including the Archimedies Spiral, Fibonnaci Spirals and Hyperbolic Spirals. Here with mathematics, we jumped to scientific relationships with the spiral of the Milky Way and even in the particles of matter. Quickly, we also covered Triangular numbers, Fermat’s ideas, and Gauss as well. Too many topics to cover in an hour session.
Failing to Succeed: An Honest Classroom
Dr. Ed Burger
Well, had to make time for one of the Rock Star speakers of the conference. Actually, we had many Rock Star Speakers including Dinah Zike, Cindy Neuschwander, Ron Brown, Marcy Cook, and many many others. Just like ice cream… too many choices, not enough time!
Affectionately called “Burger in a Box” by one of my colleagues (referring to the video clips for textbooks), Dr. Burger discussed 5 habits of teaching through mathematics.
1. Appreciation of Deep Understanding. “How can I learn it a little more” He suggests calling homework, “HomePLAY”… and “Problems” (a negative term) should be reworded as “situations, conundrums (another favorite of mine) or exercises”.
2. Effective Failing. Recognize the mistake. As a teacher, deliberately make a mistake. If a student comes up with a wrong answer, let the class figure out where he/she went astray.
3. Be in the Habit of Creating Questions. Ask two students to be QUESTIONERS OF THE DAY. They must think of questions to ask throughout the lesson. Always Actively Question.
4. Flow the Ideas. Let students see the whole problem and recognize that every idea leads somewhere. They should be asking, “What else can I do with this? HOw can I apply it to something else? What are we going to do next in our lesson?”
5. Fundamental Promise of Education… “To CHANGE Lives”
We need to be role models for our kids. Make mistakes, and get beyond them. Model the consistency of change. Give our kids the confidence to think effectively.