Trying to find math inside everything else

Posts tagged ‘Teacher’

Lab –> Lecture –> Assessment

Next year, the weekly schedule at my school is going to be 2 double periods for a particular class (alternating sections on an A/B day schedule) with a single period for every section on Wednesday. Because of the new schedule, I wanted to make a new structure for my class, which is the title of this post: Lab –> Lecture –> Assessment.

There are roughly 30 proper weeks of learning in the year, so I figured I would have 30 Learning Goals to cover, and do one each week. I would introduce each learning goal with a “math lab,” which may be an actual lab (like the popular M&M Lab for exponential growth/decay) or a 3 Act problem or something else that the students can really engage in before getting down to the nitty-gritty and symbolic way mathematicians deal with the problem.

The next double wouldn’t necessarily just be lecture, but it would be the abstraction of what we did the lesson before, including lecturing on technique and practicing what we’ve learned. Then assessment could be any number of things, but will almost certainly involve a targeted quiz.

Seems like a good structure, right? Problem is, while I have a lot of good labs and problems for most of the topics (and will keep improving), not all of them do. Particularly:

  1. Radicals – Simplifying & Arithmetic
  2. Unit Conversion
  3. Solving in Terms Of
  4. Box-and-Whisker Plots / Percentiles
  5. Scientific Notation
  6. Statistics Vocabulary (univariate/bivariate, etc.)


So my major goal this summer will be to develop something for each of those. The rest I can fall back on what I have, even if I don’t come up with something new/better. But these have nothing. My first task/idea is to develop a board game about radicals. That’s still under development. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

Writing by Design

Though I’m a math teacher, I also consider myself to be a writer. Unfortunately, my more prolific days were pre-teaching, mostly because of the time. But as I was going to bed tonight, I realized that thinking like a teacher (in particular using the Understanding by Design framework) would help me get past a block I’ve been having.

Back when I was in undergrad I wrote a novella that, for the most part, was pretty good. But the story only really picked up from chapter 2 onwards: my prologue and first chapter were muddled, confusing, and needed a lot of work. I’ve opened it up every once and a while since then to try to fix them, but I just didn’t know where to start.

That’s where thinking like a teacher helps me. I just had to think, well, what exactly is my goal in having those chapters? (Establishing the main character’s relationship with his aunt, his tendency towards flights of fancy, etc.) With those goals clearly established, it becomes easier to envision what I need to do.

But there’s another part. I then asked myself, why was I only trying to change things in the prologue, instead of rewriting a new chapter that meets my goals? It’s because that prologue was originally a short story that then spawned the whole book. In teaching, that would be the same thing as already having a great activity and basing a whole lesson or unit around it. Everyone knows that is a terrible way to lesson plan. Turns out it’ll hold back your writing, too.

Now that I’ve realized these things, I’ll let them simmer in the back of my mind while I sleep, and maybe the morning will look brand new.