Some Textcerpts

I want to examine a few ideas from this week’s reading – a quick google tells me that I’m not original in my invention of “Textcerpt.” Gene Wintner beat me to the punch.

Student-Parent Conferences sound great, but the text’s description rang young. I have trouble imagining what they would look like in high school. This is almost certainly confirmation bias – I can’t picture it working because I’ve never seen it. All I need is someone who has been there, or someone with a better imagination, to point me in the right direction. Collaboration ftw, as the kids say*.

Teacher Office Hours are held by almost every professor, but I’ve never known a public school teacher to do so. I’m thinking less of students, and more of parents. Start of the year, “Dear Parents, I’ll be at the school every Thursday until 7PM if you want to come in and chat.” A good idea? A useless drain on my resources?

“Being a Mathematician” as a criteria, worth 40% of your grade. How does that feel in your gut? Does it give you a visceral reaction? I’ve been thinking on it for a week, and the more I do, the happier I get. It would need refinement, clarification, criteria, probably a rubric, and sample pieces of evidence. But according to Paul Lockhart,

“Many a graduate student has come to grief when they discover, after a decade of being told they were “good at math,” that in fact they have no real mathematical talent and are just very good at following directions. Math is not about following directions, it’s about making new directions.” (p. 6)

What better solution than charging students, in a math classroom, to behave like a mathematician? It also puts a huge focus on the four goals of mathematics in Saskatchewan (Number Sense, Logical Thinking, Spacial Sense, Mathematics as a Human Endeavour).

Weighting Evidence is a frequent concern. Assignments are potentially fully cooperative, even if individual copies are handed in. Projects are individual, but with lots of available supports. Tests are very individual. I think that’s how we’ve traditionally, assigned weight to different pieces of evidence – the more help you might have had, the less it’s worth. If we’re sure you did it alone, give it a heavy weight. Extremely different from, you know, real life. Outside of school, you’re praised for accomplishing tasks. More difficulty, more praise. Often, more collaboration, more praise.

Final Note: The incomplete assignment form from The Problem with Penalties? I love it, love it, love it. I plan to play with it, and use it.

* No kids say this.

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One thought on “Some Textcerpts

  1. Zach I continue to enjoy reading your blogs. I feel as if I am here in education floating along with this and that, and then you swoop in on your sailboat of knowledge and save me from the ferocious undertow of ignorance.
    In regards, to your idea of communication between teacher and parent I find it reasonable that you want to create openness in communication by letting them know your hours of operation and by hosting conferences. I commend you on planning to take the initiative in communicating with parents, I believe this shows an attitude of a teacher that we all should reference.
    I think there does need to be a two way avenue of communication if it to be optimal.
    Here is an article about two way communication: http://www.adi.org/journal/ss05/Graham-Clay.pdf
    I would love to see the reasoning and a little more explanation on weighting something 40%, because to be honest I quiver at this statement, but I feel there is reasonable and appropriate purpose for your plan. Could you provide more information on your idea here? With proof or reasoning, this is optional. I like how your view on math is different from the traditional math. As many of us, I as well are included in the stat only know how to do Math but can’t explain it or give reason to why we do things.
    May you a Math major and I a Math minor desire to educate students in the best ways possible.

    Like

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