I sometimes get tired of hearing about how “teachers (meaning K-12 teachers) just don’t understand this or that, or won’t try doing something new,” or are deficient in some way or another. We often advise teachers to let go of the “deficit model” and trade in for the “abundance model” when thinking about their students, so why not encourage society to do the same for teachers. In a sea of people bemoaning the state of our education system, we should consider these dedicated individuals are resources to be celebrated. Disclaimer: I haven’t had either of these teachers myself, but based on their blogs, I am guessing they are awesome. There are many wonderful teaching blogs out there, but these are a few that have recently caught my eye.
Fawn Nguyen’s blog, Finding Ways to Nguyen Kids Over, is full of ideas that could be used in both college and K-12 classrooms.
My favorite part of her website is her Visual Patterns catalog, which is a whole bank of visual patterns that help middle schoolers connect algebraic expressions and geometric patterns. This was especially nice from my point of view because she includes her way of doing “math talks” with these visual patterns, a simple but effective way of letting the kids think individually, share their ideas, and get feedback from classmates.In addition to sharing the mathematics that her class works on, Ms. Nguyen writes post like “I can’t afford not to” addressing the concern that there isn’t enough time to devote to activities outside of the typical curriculum like she does. She shares some of the reflection of her students as evidence that Math Talks and other less conventional activities that she does in class are effective. My favorite quote from a kid was “I thought it was clever because towards the end it wasn’t the rule, it was your rule.”
The teachers at Math Munch: Anna Weltman, Justin Lanier, and Paul Salomon, who all taught or teach at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn.
I’ve liked this blog for a while and mentioned it before. Recently, it featured a game with which, I am a bit ashamed to say, I became somewhat obsessed..2048. If you haven’t already played this game, maybe it’s best that you continue to avoid it. But if you are like me, you have not only played many times, but you play to win as quickly as possible.
It seems that Justin Lanier is currently working at the Princeton Learning Cooperative and has his own blog “I choose math” which features most recently his foray into Celtic knot drawings at a math circle.
We shouldn’t forget that our parents are also our teachers, as is so obviously the case for kids who are homeschooled. Take for instance, Mike, curator of mikesmathpage.wordpress.com.
- Mike has a day job, but also makes videos in which he explains math to his sons in front of what appears to be a room plastered entirely with whiteboard. My favorite post is the one he made about Gauss and finding the expected value of the number of ways to write an integer as the sum of two squares. I could easily see using this problem in a number theory, probability, or real analysis course! He also had a great post about how his family was inspired by Laura Taalman’s 3D Printing Blog that was featured recently by my co-editor, Evelyn Lamb.
Lastly, I like this idea, that Pi Day is a great day to thank you favorite math teacher, from a writer and “radical homemaker” Alicia. Here she describes her math teacher:
“Listening to him talk about math was like entering an alternate universe. This place was full of excitement, creativity + experimentation…nothing like the black and white worksheets I was used to. Instead of boring work like solving for X, we created 3D graphs, puzzling out shapes likes ice cream cones and clowns by using multivariable equations. Once everyone had calculated a perfect design, we printed them out and hung them in the hallway: a mathematical gallery sprang up to usher us to class.
Watching someone who passionately loves their subject matter talk about French literature, statistics or anthropology is enlightening. The material almost doesn’t matter when you can watch someone’s eyes light up and their every animated gesture convey their fascination. Pi Day, or 3/14, is the perfect day to nerd out and send a huge thanks to teachers who have changed our lives.”