Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's the most difficult time of the year

It's that time of year again; we've just finished creating our draft of next years' schedule and I have been lucky enough to be a part of the action. I know exactly what we believe I will be teaching next year. I'm psyched to report that I will be teaching multiple classes of Geometry in a flipped and blended environment, with some PBL aspects thrown in for good measure ;-) I also have a few cool courses I am hoping students sign up for--a PBL elective based around discovering the mathematics behind cool constructions (pool tables, air hockey tables, projectiles and the ever popular Angry Birds game),  and discovering the truth of the probability of winning various games we play... Aka Game Theory. Anyone else as excited as I am? I'm also eager to see how many students sign up for the trig and precalc course that if arm hoping  I be teaching next year to help students prepare for college level mathematics.

 Now as excited as I am, I am trying to contain myself, and prevent myself for looking too forward to next year. First of all, we still need to finish up this year, and I have an awesome Flatland project that I am about to be wrapping up, that I want to give my full devotion to. Secondly, I've been through scheduling before, and know that this is just a draft that will undoubtedly change. Our first schedule was created is child's chalkboard in our principal's dining room. It lasted us a few months, and then it changed completely after our first semester. Then last spring we spent hours devoted to creating the perfect schedule. A month after school got out, four of us went to an unconference, came back and scrapped everything. Endless to say, no one was happy to hear that their months of preparation was in essence, useless. 

So let's catch up on Flatland... 

Ever since the NCTM national conference in Indianapolis in 2011, I've been eagerly anticipating doing a project on Flatland, and was finally presented with a six week block in which to do so. I can't even begin to tell you how wildly successful this project is working out--students are engaged in the readings, participating in discussions, arguing about the themes and talking It outside of our classroom. Now, this is not to say that there is nothing that has gone wrong--in fact we have been so engrossed in the story that we have let some of the pure mathematical discussions and activities go to the wayside. Am I upset about that? Slightly, but only because I have so much cool knowledge I want to help the kids discover. However, hearing them argue over the various characteristics of each classification of triangle and seeing them debate where they would fall in a Victorian aristocracy based culture just takes my breath away; so I can deal with it. 

We've just finished reading the book and watching two film interpretations, and the students at busily writing their comparative essay this weekend. Next week, we will have an interactive lesson on understanding cross sections and realizing the limitations of portraying a 3D object in a 2D way. Students will then choose their favorite character from Flatland and create a creative and unique 3D version for it, using an axis of rotation. Students will be displaying their creations and orthographic projections depicting their original polygonal figure, as well as their final products at a Mathematute held the last week of school. I'm getting very excited!  One that wraps up, it's it me for a summer filled with planning, and I can't wait!

Stay tuned for SUMMER 2013 as I will be posting weekly updates as I plan out my courses and projects! Topics will include:

Creating a flipped class
Math in a blended-learning environment
Integrating literacy in mathematics courses
Designing cross-curricular projects
Classroom management

And who knows what else! Any suggestions? Let me hear them!