Project-based learning and math

How much do you want to change the world?

real-world problems and project-based learningAs project-based learning gives students a way to tackle authentic problems in the world and accomplish tangible change while learning, let’s not forget that math can and does sneak in everywhere. So if you have students who think math doesn’t add up, let them explore their passion for problem-solving and don’t mention how much math you see them doing.

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Planning Pi Day activities

More than just math?

deliciousLet’s be honest, there’s not many days dedicated to the celebration of math or its concepts. This is why math folks get a little energized every March 14th. Picking up where last year’s Pi Day post left off, this is an opportunity to plan for activities or celebrations in the classroom, but more importantly infuse some enjoyment into the math culture.

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Sugaring and the community part 2: Students become teachers

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark Olofson

Last week we looked at the sugaring operation at Essex Middle School. The students at the Edge Academy built a sugar house a few years ago, and now they produce maple syrup for their school every year. Math teacher Phil Young has intertwined the project with his mathematics curriculum, and students use iPads to support their work. By sugaring, students are engaging in the culture of their community in an authentic way. Today, I would like to share with you how these students have taken the project a step further. Not only have they learned how a sugaring operation works, they have shared that knowledge with local elementary students. This spring, The Edge invited two different classes of third graders out to the sugar house. The younger students engaged with sugaring and the math involved; the Edge students instructed them along the way, building their learning and community in the process. Continue reading

The backlash to STEM education

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonThere is a lot of conversation about the importance of STEM education – in the media, in politics, and among educators. With so many voices emphasizing STEM education, it is not surprising to see people raising the counterpoint. Recently, Fareed Zakaria (a journalist for whom I have a lot of respect) published an op-ed titled “Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous.” With a splashy title like that, you can be certain that I clicked through. The article makes many good points; however, his arguments are based on a shallow understanding of STEM, 21st century skills, and innovations in education. Today, I’d like to break down these understandings, and show how STEM education actually can help solve the problems he presents. Continue reading

Technology in the math classroom

technology in the classroom

A 1958 illustration of “the push-button classroom” by Radebaugh. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When we first started our work with the Tarrant Institute I was hesitant. I am a math teacher; unless using innovative technology in the classroom means a graphing calculator I had no idea where to start. Everything was new to me, and I have to admit, I was overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of how I could embrace technology in my room.

With the support of Tarrant and our technology specialist I took baby steps.

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Celebrating Pi Day with your students

The most epic Pi Day ever: 3/14/15 9:26:53 am and pm

celebrating Pi Day with your students

Larry Shaw, the founder of Pi Day, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Math enthusiasts of all ages are anxiously awaiting the celebration of what many are coining the most epic Pi-Day ever.

Okay, maybe that is an overstatement, but I am certainly looking forward to the fun recognition of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

3/14/15… 9:26:53. Two opportunities to celebrate, two opportunities to eat pie, so many opportunities for learning.

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Project-based learning at Essex Middle School: algebra and songwriting

Making math and music at The Edge

algebra and songwritingWe were lucky enough to get to sit down with three groups of students at Essex Middle School’s Edge Academy just before the break and hear how their year-long project-based learning (PBL) projects are going.

In the final installment of the series, we talk with three students making math and music in equal measures.

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Reflecting in the math classroom

Keeping your resolution to reflect

Susan Hennessey, Professional Development CoordinatorMy colleague, Meredith Swallow, recently shared a post about the importance of reflection in her professional growth, which got me thinking.  She points her readers to Reflect or Refract: Top 3 Tips for the Reflective Educator where the authors suggest “reading a wide variety of education blogs regularly exposes educators to new ideas and concepts. Transformational thinking occurs when conversations about these posts develop. New ideas that stem from blog posts provide alternate thoughts to consider.”

I couldn’t agree more. Here are a few tech-savvy math bloggers who you might want to engage with to inspire ongoing reflection.

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On middle school math and picking favorites

Pi, Code Camp and other irrational things

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Digital credentials, quests and middle school math

Because 102 years of Girl Scouts can’t be wrong

New this morning on the blog, Harwood Union Middle School math educator Lisa Therrien discusses how she and her students are using the Badgestack platform to use digital badges, quests and differentiation to turn traditional math teaching on its head.

Badgestack is an online tool that’s now available free as a series of WordPress plugins.