No surprise here… When students are interested in something, they work hard!

Since my personal commitment to teaching this year is finding the relevance¬†of mathematics in my student’s world, I decided I was going to let the students choose their own research topic for their second term project: ¬†“Math in….” ¬†Here is my description.

Sarah Ludwig, our Academic Technology Coordinator, came to class on the first day of the project to teach students about research. They narrowed down their topics and she guided them in finding good sources. ¬†The second day, I introduced GlogsterEdu to students who had not used it before. This went very well and the students were excited about exploring all the options Glogster¬†had to offer. After a bit of “play time”, we refocused our efforts on the research and continued to guide students in making good choices for graphics and videos, and in turning their research into their own words.

The topics students chose included “Math in Basketball”, “Math in Music”, “Math in Cooking”, “Math in Warfare”, “Math in Football”, “Math in Baseball”, and many more!¬†I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how excited the students were! These topics were definitely things that interested them and they were actually researching what MATH had to do with them! YAY!

The students worked hard on this project and they are being submitted to me tonight, AHEAD of the deadline! I am so excited for their presentations on Friday!

Here’s a preview of some that were finished early:

Math in Basketball 

Math in Music

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The Measurement of Success

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. How do you measure whether a student is successful in your class, at your school, etc.?

-Is it their quarter average?

-Is it their cumulative G.P.A?

-Is it their score on AP Tests?

-Is it their SAT scores?

-Is it their college acceptance list?

A student’s success should be based on so much more than these things and yet, I continue to hear public and private schools sharing these stats as if they are the true measurement of the cumulative success of its students. Is it because the numbers are easy to tabulate? Is it what people want to hear? It really bothers me. (And I’m a math teacher…numbers and statistics usually make me happy!)

In my opinion, the most “successful” students don’t necessarily have the highest quarter average, GPA, SAT score, and don’t necessarily take the AP test. A successful student is one who loves to learn and loves coming to class each day. It’s a student who isn’t just concerned about what’s on “the test” (and yet, this is what we (myself included) measure them with). ¬†It’s a student who goes beyond the assignment because she was so excited about it. It’s a student who has the mental toughness to stick with a problem and experience that sense of pride because all the hard work was worth it! It’s a student who can think “out of the box”. It’s a student who has surpassed the ¬†personal goals she set for herself.

If I can cultivate this in my students, I would say I have been successful. Wouldn’t you?¬†¬†If a school culture cultivates this in its students, wouldn’t you say it is successful? But…how do you “measure” these things? How do you communicate/market this kind of success? ¬†It makes me sad that it all comes down to the numbers…

Finally… a moment to reflect

I made it! The mad dash to the end of the first quarter…. this year, the back to school crazies seemed to sustain themselves well beyond the normal. Usually singing Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” can get me through it. This year, it seemed to last through the month of October and into mid November. Starting the year off with a hurricane and spending the past two weeks dealing with a freak late October snow storm hasn’t helped, but the stuff in between has been GOOD STUFF! Busy… but good! Having Tom Daccord inspire our faculty at opening meetings has really created an energy on campus that is contagious. Many are trying new things, taking risks and having a great time doing it. As a result, our labs and classroom sets of laptops are overbooked and we are making use of every bit of technology we have. I’m busy… my department is busy, but it’s for all the right reasons.

This year, I have the added pleasure of being evaluated. While this did add to my stress a bit, I found it so rewarding to put together a portfolio of my strengths and challenges as a teacher. Finally, last night, I was able to take some time to write my personal statement about teaching. It made me stop and think about who I am as a teacher and why I continue to do what I do. Here goes….

I believe that teaching is a lifelong learning process. It is my obligation, as a teacher, to continue to learn new ways to present material, new ways to connect with my students, new ways to assess student learning, and new ways to collaborate with my peers and colleagues. By continuing to learn and grow, I believe that I am providing the best opportunity and environment for my students. We are now in the 21st century, which makes me a 21st century educator. It is important for me to look forward and try to anticipate, as best as possible, the world that our students will live in. It is also my obligation to connect and collaborate with other educators to see what is working for them, and what I can ‚Äúbring to the table‚ÄĚ for my students. This is not to say that I forgo skills and the foundation that all students need to succeed in their study of mathematics; it‚Äôs all about finding the balance, getting my students excited about learning and making mathematics more relevant in their lives!

So… there it is. Now I can exhale.