Winter Reflections

Having survived the first week of my “Mathematics for Teachers” course during Winter Term, I have mixed feelings about the one-intensive-4-week-course model.  I’d still vote to get rid of it (sorry, Hallie); it’s exhausting for me to keep students busy enough, and I’d love longer fall and spring semesters.  However, it’s nice to know that I can schedule school visits more easily and give open-ended assignments in this format.  I have an interesting mix of a couple of math majors, some economics (and other) majors who are considering independent school teaching jobs, and one parent of three on a path to teaching license renewal.  Thanks to a mini-course at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston last week, I now know about these “Resources for Teachers.” They’re all fun and rich and interesting, but I strongly recommend the first page of the first 2008 file.  For at least some of my students, this is (sadly) a much different way of looking at doing mathematics than what they remember from high school.

Another result of my trip to Boston:  I’ve signed on as a “reviewer” of “tasks” submitted to the “Illustrative Mathematics” project.  The project takes an open-source approach to providing resources for teachers about the Common Core standards.  A “task” is an exercise for students related to a specific CC standard, anyone (including you!) can submit tasks.  Each one is reviewed by both a mathematician and a K-12 education expert.   The community approach appeals to me.  In fact next week I’m going to have my students pair up and write tasks and submit them.

When I was growing up, the New York Times was delivered to our front door every morning.  In my mind, it’s still the Paper of Record, despite quite a few quarrels (my dictionary says a “quarrel” is “typically between people who are usually on good terms” — exactly what I mean here) I’ve had with the Times on a variety of issues.  I now get NYT alerts to their education articles.  Here are just two that I’ve found compelling recently:

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About Priscilla Bremser

Professor of Mathematics Middlebury College
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3 Responses to Winter Reflections

  1. Rob Root says:

    These are always a pleasure to read. The graduation speech is actually at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2011/11/02/stuyvesant-students-mourn-a-math-teacher-who-was-no-1/. This is a “prime” speech, but it is sad to think that this inspiring man has been cut down by cancer.

  2. Priscilla Bremser says:

    Thanks Rob — I’ve corrected the link.

  3. I still stand by the excellence of J-Term, and I would have loved to take your class! I’m excited to check out some of these links, especially Illustrative Mathematics. My school is in the process of adoption the Common Core standards, so having resources specifically aligned with them would be a big help.

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