I recently saw this video come up in my Twitter Feed. It is about a group of teenagers who are working on a project for Abbott Labs, and the story of their teacher who realizes that after working on this Real-World Problem, that the students will never be able to learn the same way ever again. Meaning, in the traditional sense, without the technology and virtual tools. I understand where the teacher is coming from. But as an educator, I don’t think it should take a project from Abbott Labs for us to realize this. We need to realize this now. We need to revolutionize learning for our students now. We need to take action before its too late.
I'm really happy to report that this is ALL of the student feedback from my Saturday class that recently ended:
"Although I did not understand a lot of the material, the instructor was very informative and acted as if he had he students in his best interest."
"Jon is a great instructor. He really takes his time to explain the topics with out getting behimd schedule. I wish more instructors were like him. The course should be a week or two longer to fully grasp all of the concepts that are being taught."
I know it can be tough out there! I just finished two of the worst semesters I have ever had back-to-back. The students constantly had attitude problems and my supervisors scolded me for telling the students that their attitude was unacceptable for the classroom. Well, I just received the first good news I have gotten in a while: My online students (at at different school, that is) seem to like me. It’s comments like these that make teaching worthwhile.
If I could give one recommendation for future reference, it would be: “Nothing, I really enjoyed having this class with the instructor! He had so much to offer us. He answered questions promtly and interacted with us in the discussions more than any other instructor I have had. It was great taking this class with him”
The most beneficial part of this course was: “the Instructor and his knowledge and ability to communicate with the students and help them to be understand their issue”
Here’s a recap of the links that I’ve posted on Twitter over the past week or so:
1. A friend told me that she used this Divisibility Rocks game from over at The Utah Education Network with her Developmental Math students and that it worked really well. It turns out that they have plenty of other great lesson plans as well.
2. Z-Type is a very intense typing game. It turns out that as a Math Instructor, I do have to teach typing, computer, and writing skills as well. For example: One student told me just today that he couldn’t write a paper for my class about an African American Mathematician because he hadn’t had an English class yet.
3. NightMare is an example of a 25-word story. I’m considering having my students write their own 25 word stories about a concept in mathematics. This would be good introductory video to show to students, though, because it is absolutely hilarious! It’s one of the best laughs that I have had in a really, really long time.
4. 100 Ideas for Data Projector and Document Camera – Well, yeah, these ideas really are for my friends who still want to teach like they’re still in the 19th century. And even if you’re already using the document camera, I’m sure that you can’t think of 100 ideas. Well, maybe you can.
5. Times Attack is an awesome multiplication game that takes over the top spot for me as my favorite multiplication game ever! And let me tell you, I learned so much from the hour I played this game just about the world of video games. I was just as frustrated with figuring out how to navigate as I am sure a student would be with doing the multiplication.
6. Math Illustrations is a new program that I just found out about for drawing mathematical figures that I really think that you will like once you watch the tutorial video on this page. It is so great that I am really considering the $59 fee to buy this program because I think it would make my life a lot easier in the long run. And the Word Drawing tools suck, especially for number lines.
7. NCTM Black History Month Resources – It’s Black History Month and I am trying to incorporate some lessons into my curriculum. I found these resources to be extremely helpful. I am even going to check the recommended book out from my library to read over the next month or so. I checked already and it is indeed one of the books that they have!
8. E-Learning Tools for Schools and Education is a Mindomo Mind Map with hundreds of wonderful resources for E-learning. There are a lot of tools that I thought were regrettably left off the list as well. However, I know that there are plenty of resources on the list that I have yet to explore. I hope that you have time to explore some of them as well and to find what will work best for you.
9. Math Wordles – I have talked about Wordles on this site plenty of times in the past and this activity just reminded me of the fact that there are so many things that can be done with a Wordle. My plan is to develop a modified version of this activity in the near future to use with one of my classes. As described, I think this could be a great activity for Math Anxiety toward the beginning of a semester.
10. On-line LaTeX Equation Editor – I think LaTeX is so easy for entering equations, and I especially love how in the newer versions of Word I can type LaTeX code directly into Equation Editor. However, even that bridge until the next time I can use LaTeX is not enough. I can see this on-line tool being a great use to some people.
I've really been trying to avoid it, but at this point I don't think I can help it anymore. I think that the TED Talk that was featured over at The Edge of Learning sums it up well why I don't like to give away many of my New Year's Resolutions. But I want to tell someone, so since you're reading this, you're going to bear the brunt of it:
1. I want to continue to lose weight in the New Year. I took the month of December off so that I could enjoy the holidays with people, but now the holidays are over, and it's back to business. I have my Weight Watchers account up and activated again to start on 1/3/11, and I have my goal jeans sitting in my bedroom. It may seem extremely strange for a male to have goal jeans, but at this rate, it's more of a psychological thing knowing that if I don't loose the weight, then the money to buy those jeans has went to waste!
2. I want to create an on-line portfolio of my work, such as this one so that I can highlight some of my accomplishments and ideas. I feel as if in some way this blog has started to hold some of what I intend to be in my on-line portfolio some day. A friend recently recommended the websites LiveText and rCampus. I haven't used them yet myself, but the sample work that he showed me was absolutely amazing, and I am always open to exploring things that are open and continuously improving.
3. I want to write for a journal. I have always wanted to publish articles in peer-reviewed journals, but it's just not something that was ever heavily promoted when I was a graduate, or even an undergraduate student. So, the process is not entirely familiar to me, and I'm not even sure where to start in terms of which of my ideas would be best to expand into an article that is worthy of being published in a journal. Any ideas, or maybe someone wants to publish with me. I'm entirely open to working together.
This morning with a stack of blank, unused paper sitting right next to me, I was thinking about some new projects that I might be able to assign my students for next semester. Then it popped into my mind… Origami! I think an assignment on origami would be especially interesting to my students in art and design. I am looking forward to seeing what students will create in the semesters to come. By the way, below is a link to a related TED talk by Robert Lang. It could serve as a good way to introduce an entire unit on this topic (to the right group of students).
There was a tweet in my feed this morning that simply said: "Now that's how you present statistics http://pop.is/24bos". I'm glad that I took this tweet seriously, because the next 5 minutes or so of watching Hans Rosling talk about the "Joy of Stats" was a real treat. I can only imagine what some of these talks would have done this semester if I would have showed them at specific points throughout the semester in order to show why statistics is even useful, or how it is even used on display in the world around us.
There were a couple of points this semester when I could hardly talk and needed to fill a few extra minutes of class time to give my voice a little rest. I have heard about TED in the past, but hadn't really thought about how I could use it in the classroom. Well, I tried it and it worked very, very well. I showed Conrad Wolfram's talk "Teaching Kids Real Math with Computers" and then had students write a reaction to what they saw. I haven't finished reading all the student papers yet, but I can tell that I have opened the eyes of many of my students to see math in a new and positive way. And it's been a few weeks since I've shown the TED talk in class and I still have students talking about the video and how they see the points in the video as being a positive thing for the future of math education. I'm truly amazed by the response from my students.
But that's not where it stopped for me. Now I want to watch more TED talks so that I can find more relevant TED talks to share with my students. Then it came to my attention that one of my favorite mathematicians, Arthur Benjamin, has given a few TED talks. I first heard Benjamin earlier this year when I ordered his course "The Joy of Mathematics" from The Great Courses. He is a delight to watch on the screen and truly does make math come alive. I am looking forward to sharing his TED talks with my students in future semesters.