I am having #mathcationwithdrawl from #mathcation2013. I thought I would share my favorite things from the ICTM conference
Three Generations of Mathematics Teachers.
Shirley was my high school mathematics teacher. She is retired now, but still attends regional and national conferences. I was Kimmy's high school mathematics teacher and this was her first math conference. This was just so cool!
The Mathematics of Angry Birds.
John Diehl and Ismael Zamora have been presenting "The Mathematics of Angry Birds" for at least the past year at various math events. This was the first time I attended their session about it and, honestly, because my first thought has been, "I am sure it is an activity on parabolic paths and I can just take a screen capture or video clip of this game too." However, I really loved the session and learned more than I expected for sure. Their session was much deeper than just the parabolic paths that the birds in Angry Birds travel. Rather, they pointed to the rich context that the game provides. And, they also pointed to important extension questions that you can pose and talk about in your class. For example, they broke down the parabolic path in parametric equations. They spoke about how students often struggle to see the how the horizontal change or parametric equation for x is linear. This made me start to think about other things you can do that would be interesting in this context. Students could investigate if the Angry Bird programmer included wind resistance in the game. Students could also investigate the different initial velocities of the different birds and explore the different paths that the different birds take. Overall, I am SO happy that I went to this session. It was one of my favorites! I hope to use this activity soon.
The Christmas Problem and the Common Core.
Are you on Jerry Becker's e-mail list? If you are not, then you better sign up immediately! Seriously, his e-mails will keep you so up-to-date on news, conflict, other blogs, inspirational stories, and any important news in mathematics education. Just send Dr. Becker an email and he will add you to the list Here's his email: JERRY-P-BECKER-BIGA-L@LISTSERV.SIU.EDU
I've been on Jerry Becker's email list for a few years now. I mainly went to this session so that I could "see his face." I walked into his session and he had a huge box of handouts of activities, articles, etc. He presented a problem that was a "Christmas pattern" composed of "Christmas stars." It was basically a pattern composed of black and white rhombi. What I liked about the problem is that it was the type of problem that a fourth grader could approach and investigate the fractional amount of black or white out of the entire shape. However, this same task could be used with algebra, if one looks closely and sees the sums of integers of the sums of even integers. And, this same task could be used with calculus students if we imagined the pattern of the shape extending infinitely. His presentation was well timed for me. Earlier during the pre-conference at one of the Common Core presentations, a presenter said we need to be careful as educators and Common Core is preventing "repeat instruction." An example was provided that this particular person was in a first grade classroom and saw a spinner divided into four parts. Then, later that week that person walked into a ninth grade classroom and saw a spinner divided into four parts. It was expressed that this was "wrong." I passionately disagree with this and I don't think that "the spinner" or any other repeated context or problem is the issue. For me, this presentation, and context provided in his presentation, pointed to the fact that the same context can be used in multiple mathematic classrooms differently and even across grade bands. What changes is the depth of the mathematics. In fact, I think that contexts like this Christmas pattern are rich and beautiful. Using the same context across grades illustrates the growth and beauty of mathematics.
NASA's Dangerous Mathematics: Black Holes and Dividing by Zero.
The famous phrase, "Black holes are where God divided by zero." The best part of this workshop was learning that you can mathematically demonstrate/discuss how this "funny" quote is actually mathematically and scientifically quite spot on. This was such an awesome workshop! Words can not describe. We began the session by creating our own "star" out of balloons and tin foil. Then after calculating the mass, volume, and density, we crushed our star and made it a "black hole." We learned the science behind the Fermi mission. We learned about black holes. We learned about integrating science, geometry, numerical computations, and discourse into the classroom. In my personal opinion, this lesson would be phenomenal if you teach geometry and are looking for a great activity, exploration, extension task for volumes of spheres. Janet Moore ran the session and is a Nasa enthusiast, NASA & STEM lover, and great presenter. She has a blog and provides ALL THE MATERIALS for this lesson. Check her blog out and download all of the materials: http://www.nasajanet.com
I already have!!! I can't wait to make "black holes" with students.
Presenting at ICTM.
It sounds a bit funny to say that my presentations were my favorite part, but they truthfully were. I was nervous about having two presentations on a Saturday, especially one at 8 am on a Saturday. However, the teachers that came to both presentations were so mathtastic and teacheriffic. We had such great discussions and did some great math together. I've given quite a few presentations, and I can honestly say these were some of the best ones ever. I ended my ICTM conference with such a math high. The only problem is is that one of my presentations (with my friend Carrie) was a calculus workshop and I don't teach calculus anymore. I'm feeling a bit sad about my lack of a calculus class after this math high and awesome workshop! :)
The Mark Twain hotel gave us a TON of free drinks, courtesy of CAT, which was pretty awesome.
And, I saw a pretty cool yarn-bombing! (Anyone who knows me well, knows my love of yarn/knitting.)