Blog Post

Summer Plans 2012

So, this is my annual post where I organize my thoughts on what I need to get done before the end of this summer.  If I recall, last summer my plans fell into 5 categories.  I will try to sort my thoughts for this summer in a similar manner.

1.   Conferences:  This summer the conferences I am attending fall into multiple categories:  the ones that I was supposed to present at, the ones that I am presenting at, and the ones that I am not presenting at.

  • eCOTS (Electronic Conference on Teaching Statistics) – I was supposed to record a presentation for this on-line conference, but the conference organizers did not return my e-mails reminding them that they had not yet set-up a time to record.  Oh well.  Here you can a version of what I was going to record.
  • MIJEC (Michigan Joint Education Conference), June 18, Ypsilanti, MI.  The title of my presentation is “Using Games and Activities to Engage and Connect Mathematics across the Curriculum.”
  • MICTM (Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics), August 1-2, Traverse City, MI.  The title of my presentation is “Teaching Important Concepts through the Use of Games in the Classroom.”
  •  Screencast Camp, August 3-5, Okemos, MI.  Yes, technically this is an ‘unconference,’ but I learned enough at Screencast Camp last year that I think it qualifies as a conference.  And here is my video overview of what I learned at last year’s camp.
  • MCC Math & Tech Workshop, August 6-10, Muskegon, MI.  Yes, technically this is a ‘workshop,’ and I am not even really attending it.  I just have plans to hang out with the people for the week and volunteer if I am needed.

If you did not notice, the last three bullet points put me on the road from August 1 through August 10.  This means that you should not try to contact me during that time as I will probably be unavailable.  But then again, that is not true at all since more than likely I will be more attached to my computer during that week or so than any other time during the summer.

2.  Teaching:  I am teaching a meager 3 courses as well some math workshops for my college’s Achieving the Dream Initiative this summer.  They are Mathematics for Education I, Intermediate Algebra, and Mathematics for Education II.

  • Mathematics for Education I – I just finished teaching this class in the Winter Semester that just ended.  I will be making three minor changes to this class:  I will not be using MyMathLab in the summer since I was unable to have the book request in on-time, I will give my class a course pack at the onset of the semester to limit the number of handouts I pass out throughout the semester, and I will be using Canvas as the LMS instead of using ANGEL.
  • Intermediate Algebra – I have not taught this class since last Fall Semester.  The only changes I plan to make are to give my class a course pack and to use Canvas as the LMS instead of using ANGEL.
  • Mathematics for Education II – I have not taught this class using this book yet (and the sad part is that it is the only time that I will be teaching this class using this book since we are changing the book).  I have a massive amount of prep to do for this class still and that will take up a good portion of my summer.
  • Achieving the Dream Workshops – This semester I signed up for a supplemental assignment at my college to develop a 2-day Math Workshop on Factoring Trinomials as part of my college’s Achieving the Dream Initiative.  The hardest part – developing the coursepack for the workshop – is already done.  The workshops will occur sometime in the middle of June.

3.  Events:  Over my first year as a full-time math instructor, I have finally picked up a hobby – watching Detroit Tigers baseball!  Having a hobby is something that I never had time for as a part-time instructor.  I would teach 7 days a week (on-line teaching never stops), and in my spare time I would grade papers or start getting ready for the next class.  Here is a short list of some of the things I plan to do this summer:

  • See Detroit Tigers games
  • See opera at the Detroit Opera House
  • Attend a Mosaic Youth Theatre musical
  • Attend a play at Meadowbrook Theatre
  •  Volunteer at Rochester Heritage Days
  • Attend a play by Stagecrafters in Royal Oak
  • Go on walking tours with Preservation Detroit
  • Attend a concert somewhere in West Michigan
  •  Attend the Michigan Green Living Festival

And this is all of the stuff that I am planning to do before my extended trip to Traverse City, Lansing, and Muskegon, from August 1 – 10.  Most of the events are in Detroit.  Maybe that is a hint to me that I should move closer to Detroit?

4.  Big Projects:  Everyone always has some “big projects” that they want to get done during the summer.  These are the ones that top my list, at least the ones that I can actually tell you about.

  • Finalize the results on the supplemental instruction program that I piloted with the statistics classes at my college this semester.  Preliminarily, it appears that there was a significant increase in the final exam scores over the previous semester; however, there was not a significant change in the final grade in the class.
  • Work on creating some new math games for the presentations I am giving later this summer and for a presentation I am developing with a colleague at my collage who works in the ESL department.  Yes, I know, it is about time that I add some new games to my website,
  •  Work on adding some material to the Intermediate Algebra website that I am creating for my second-year probationary project at my college.  My first year ended this last week, so I have until around the beginning of next May to have this website fully functional and completed.
  • Work on creating additional screencasts to add to the ones that I have already created to help students review for the departmental final exams at my college.
  • Work on a course pack for the calculus class that I am teaching in the fall.  I really want to create this particular course using bottom-up design, something I have always wanted to do, but have never really had the time to focus on.  Since I am starting now, I hope that I will be able to have everything the way I want it by the time the Fall Semester rolls around.
  • The textbooks are changing for my Math for Education and Everyday Math classes in the fall, and I will need to give myself appropriate time to read through those books as well.  Specifically, the Everyday Math class is using two paperback, novel-type books.  I have not taught from books like this since I taught Middle School English classes.

 Yes, these are the major projects I have on my plate.  So, I guess it will be a pretty busy summer for me, whether I want it to be a busy summer or not.

By Jon Oaks

College Math Instructor. Tech Enthusiast. Visionary. Creative Genius. But above all, I enjoy what I do. That is why I am a teacher. Because I like to teach.

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