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Topic: The Cycle of Education
Replies: 4   Last Post: Jul 14, 2009 1:14 PM

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Kirby Urner

Posts: 4,713
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: The Cycle of Education
Posted: Jul 13, 2009 2:19 PM
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RH:
> Isn't engagement an ultimate role of the teacher?
> Especially an elementary teacher? I don?t know what
> teacher school looks like but don?t they teach this
> part of teaching? Or is this unfortunately a "knack"
> thing and we will always have teachers that have it
> and teachers that don't?


Let's remember that one reason the calculators caught
on in the first place was they were fun to play with,
but also low bandwidth enough to not detract from the
teacher up front so much.

With these big LCDs in front of each student, per the
digital math format, the dynamic inevitably changes,
some experimenting with *not* rank and file layout, but
more a horseshoe with a central conference table. This
allows for role modeling, multiple hat wearing e.g. when
you're at the table, teaching projecting, there's no LCD
competing for your attention. Here's a floor plan:

http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2009/06/at-work-again.html

Engagement with the shell is what we're striving for
initially, i.e. like with a calculator, there's what's
called REPL as in "read, evaluate, print, loop".

So for example we go:

>>> 2*10000
20000

>>> 2**10000
19950631168807583848837421626835850838234968318861924548
52008949852943883022194663191996168403619459789933112942
32091242715564913494137811175937859320963239578557300467
93794526765246551266059895520550086918193311542508608460
61810468550907486608962488809048989483800925394163325785
06215683094739025569123880652250966438744410467598716269
85453222868538161694315775629640762836880760732228535091
64147618395638145896946389941084096053626782106462142733
33940365255656495306031426802349694003359343166514592977
73279665775606172582031407994198179607378245683762280037
30288548725190083446458145465055792960141483392161573458
81392570953797691192778008269577356744441230620187578363
25502728323789270710373802866393031428133241401624195671
69057406141965434232463880124885614730520743199225961179
62501309928602417083408076059323201612684922884962558413
12844061536738951487114256315111089745514203313820202931
64095759646475601040584584156607204496286701651506192063
10041864222759086709005746064178569519114560550682512504
06007519842261898059237118054444788072906395242548339221
98270740447316237676084661303377870603980341319713349365
46227005631699374555082417809728109832913144035718775247
68509857276937926433221599399876886660808368837838027643
28277517227365757274478411229438973381086160742325329197
48131201976041782819656974758981645312584341359598627841
30128185406283476649088690521047580882615823961985770122
40704433058307586903931960460340497315658320867210591330
09037528234155397453943977152574552905102123109473216107
53474825740775273986348298498340756937955646638621874569
49927901657210370136443313581721431179139822298384584733
44402709641828510050729277483645505786345011008529878123
89473928699540834346158807043959118985815145779177143619
69872813145948378320208147498217185801138907122825090582
68174362205774759214176537156877256149045829049924610286
30081535583308130101987675856234343538955409175623400844
88752616264356864883351946372037729324009445624692325435
04006780272738377553764067268986362410374914109667185570
50759098100246789880178271925953381282421954028302759408
44895501467666838969799688624163631337639390337345580140
76367418777110553842257394991101864682196965816514851304
94222369947714763069155468217682876200362777257723781365
33161119681128079266948188720129864366076855163986053460
22978715575179473852463694469230878942659482170080511203
22365496288169035739121368338393591756418733850510970271
61391543959099159815465441733631165693603112224993796999
92267817323580231118626445752991357581750081998392362846
15249881088960232244362173771618086357015468484058622329
79285387562348655644053696262201896357102881236156751254
33383032700290976686505685571575055167275188991941297113
37690149916181315171544007728650573189557450920330185304
84711381831540732405331903846208403642176370391155063978
90007428536721962809034779745333204683687958685802379522
18629120080742819551317948157624448298518461509704888027
27472157468813159475040973211508049819045580341682694978
7141316063210686391511681774304792596709376

>>>

A reason for doing a number that big is precisely to
promote "engagement" and, in this case "disengagement"
(in the sense of disillusionment) with these far less
powerful calculators, which we're allowed to actively
"diss" (disrespect) in gnu math, as a part of our
outreach to oppressed majorities (e.g. the non-geeks).

We call it "bridging the digital divide", a rhetoric
shared with the AlgebraFirsters, even though my school is
more into geometry. But then our students are older
(>= TV-14), know how to type for the most part, and get
our cultural allusions, e.g. I might call exponentiation
(**) "like multiplication on steroids" (it's a doubled
asterisk after all), which'd prolly go over the heads of
younger children, but if they've ever tracked baseball,
watched the Olympics, they know of these chronic problems
and appreciate a teacher keeping it real in that way.

Defining a function is really easy too:

>>> def f(x): return x**3

Then for ordered pairs it's just:

>>> pairs = [ (x, f(x)) for x in range(-10, 11) ]

stuff like that. Of course you'll want to save work for
teacher review, resuming next session, and we get to that
pretty early (though maybe not the first day).

All this amazingly powerful software for free, though you
might pay for add-ons. Haim will bring up hardware costs,
but think of what we're saving by not buying textbooks in
hardcopy. If you need to print sections, do so, but on
your own dime. Given Oregon kids tend to be tree huggers,
they nod appreciatively here, find most adults ridiculously
wasteful of the Earth's resources. Having real engineers
writing curriculum just feels nicer, like someone really
cares.

In my experience, high schoolers are grateful to finally
gain access to computers from a mature adult perspective
i.e. let's unlock the mysteries of these beasts in the
process of learning how things work from a mathematical
point of view. Keith Devlin calls it "making the
invisible visible."

Before long, we're talking about SQL, RSA, a lot of geek
lore. Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and Ada Byron get focus,
unlike on the AM track, where they don't celebrate people
hardly at all, let alone ours. Leibniz is another hero.
A lot of these kids maybe delve into 'Baroque Cycle' so
know where we're coming from, in terms of connecting math
topics to history. Again, we're talking engagement.

Once teachers master the pedagogical skills required for
math labs, they're likely to encounter far more motivated
students. This curriculum is a far cry from that dreary
calculator-based stuff they were doing out in 'burbs.
Good thing we have Max.**

Kirby

** http://worldgame.blogspot.com/2009/07/planning-charter.html
(Max is our light rail system, used by many PPS students,
part of Tri-Met).



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