Sunday, January 14, 2018

Teach 180: Sometimes I Teach More Than Math (Day 84)

The reason I became a math teacher was because I truly love my subject and was told by one of my math teachers that I was good at working with students.  She said that I would ask questions that the students should be asking themselves, modeling the thinking process the students would need when working by themselves.  At that point, I thought that is all that teaching was.  Working with students on math and helping them to understand math.  In fact, that is what I thought it was for the first several years of my teaching career.

Well, teaching is more than just teaching a subject.  At the beginning of my career, I would have said that I am a math teacher.  Now, I say I am a teacher who just happens to teach math to high school students.  I say this because there is so much more that teachers teach their students than just a specific subject area.  We teach by the examples we set and we teach based on the stories we tell from our lives.  In advisory today, we were talking about the need to Speak Up! if we hear talk that is racist or stereotypical.  (The link takes you to the program that is being used within our school this year.) We looked at several scenarios and because my advisees were seniors, they had much to say on this topic.  There was also an alumnus who happened to be visiting the school and I invited him into my classroom to participate.  He gave some suggestions based on his experiences at college and even though I could have offered those same suggestions, the alumnus' words were probably seen as more valid than if I had said them.

There is no school on Monday, but I will be busy preparing a chapel talk, grading, finishing a consulting project and getting ready for the second semester.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Teach 180: Dept. Chair Responsibilities (Day 83)

It is around this time of year that I get bogged down in piles of administrative stuff.  Today I only taught two classes, which meant my teaching day was done at 10:05 AM.  However, my afternoon was filled with the following:

1) Working with a teacher on a new course proposal for an Introduction to Computer Programming course.
2) Working with that same teacher to get her NCTM membership renewed.
3) Coordinating midterm exams for 12 students who would be missing their math midterm due to County Chorus next Friday.
4) Asking for teacher input for students who should take the AMC contest in February and printing off contest information to prep for the contest.
5) Checking with five different teachers to see if a classroom would be open to administer the contest in February.
6) Organizing my midterm exams for next week.
7) Organizing the midterm exams for the extended time room.
8) Posting results from the latest Math League contest.

With all that you may think that I have finished everything that I need to do.  Nope.  I still have the following on my "To Do" list for tonight:

1) Grade Stat homework (only 2 remain)
2) Grade PreCalc projects (only 4 remain)
3) Grade Calc quizzes (16 to grade)
4) Create a 12 question Kahoot to review for PreCalculus
5) Create a "speed dating" review for Calculus
6) Finalize grades for all classes.
Looks like I should stop blogging and procrastinating.  I've got some work to do.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Teach 180: The Bias Project (Day 82)

"Would you eat this pizza?" Sure.  It looks delicious.  "Would you eat this vegan pizza?"  Maybe not.  But it's the same pizza!?!  Did introducing the word "vegan" in the question bias the results?  This is an example of two questions that were asked as part of an experiment for the bias project.

In my Prob/Stats class, I have students create an experiment where they purposefully see if they can bias the results of a question.  After gathering data, students used a simulation in Fathom to see if the results based on the biased question are likely to happen by chance alone.  Students put their results on posters and I hang the posters around the room.  Then, half the class stands by their posters and they present to the few students that are in front of them.  This takes about five minutes.  Then, the students move on to another poster and pair of presenters.  Students get to give their presentation about three or four times.  No powerpoints, no notecards, less nervousness and similar to informal presentations they might need to make at some point in their lives in the future.

I told my husband about this project this morning and he asked if my students peer review the posters as part of assigning a grade.  When I asked him how I would go about this, he said to create a rubric.  I am ok with creating rubrics, but I often feel that they can be challenging to have students (and adults) use the rubrics in the same way.  By this I mean that it is hard to have evaluators get similar results with a rubric unless there is extensive training. (AP Statistics teachers who have been to the AP Stat reading can attest to this.)  So, instead of a rubric I had students give qualitative feedback.  For each presentation they saw, they had to write a "Kudos" and an "Improvement".  As I read through the responses this afternoon, I felt like the students gave honest and helpful feedback to each other.  Although I am a math and numbers person, qualitative feedback can often be more powerful than a single number.