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Topic: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Replies: 26   Last Post: Oct 7, 2011 12:19 PM

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kirby urner

Posts: 1,788
Registered: 11/29/05
Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Posted: Sep 26, 2011 2:25 PM
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On Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 3:07 PM, Dave L. Renfro <renfr1dl@cmich.edu> wrote:

<< snip >>

> I don't think I mentioned what usually happened, at least
> in the post above (although I do recall writing about it,
> so perhaps this was in another post), but my experience
> was that almost always the students who could carry out
> these coping strategies were already good in math and
> usually discovered several on their own while the other
> students (with a few very inspirational counterexamples)
> found these coping strategies made things more difficult
> for them by being yet another thing they were supposed
> to learn how to do.
>
> Dave L. Renfro
>


I liked this analysis about how bored teachers might sometimes get
this gee whiz attitude around some New Thing and make that the coups
du jour. Their enthusiasm may be infectious in a few cases, but what
we really need are teachers who stay enthusiastic about the same Old
Things, as to the noobs (newbies) these things are new also, and still
just as valuable. Good points.

What I see as a possible solution to this problem, which has been
solved before in the same way (so no claims to being original here),
is Rotation. By which I mean rotating faculty, not letting any one of
them rot in a rut. In fact we need to challenge faculty to not just
sit pretty. The idea of tenure was to take risks, not sit back and
take it easy. So a tenure track should mean lots of opportunities to
shake it up.

I'm currently in the mechanized logic division, meaning I teach the
same machine-based claptrap day in and day out, hours a day. It's new
to the students moving along the track, a four part series, and their
particular learning difficulties may be new to me.

That's another important source of novelty for some teachers: their
students. It's too limiting to use polarities like "good and bad".
You need lots of axes, like when doing wine tasting, if planning to
introject a student body.

In my case, that may be more difficult because I don't meet these
people in person, usually (talking about the logic courses). It's all
asynchronous over the web, except when I showcase some New Thing I've
been tinkering with in a workshop (using the "gee whiz" effect to
recruit new students is a time-honored strategy as well).

For example (speaking of newfangled), just a couple days ago I started
unveiling pieces of my newest "tractor-based" curriculum segments.

In this age of "diversity" (which in geekdom is often code for "need
more women") you'd think something so prosaic as a tractor would scare
off market share.

When Seymour Papert & Co. unveiled Logo, it was a "turtle-based"
curriculum. Turtles seem kid friendly (like in 'Finding Nemo'). Plus
sea turtles can swim, meaning a Logo turtle could be adapted for
volumes and (x,y,z) play.

Tractors are strictly "2D" (they plough in a plane) and their "field"
(the canvas) is uber plain and simple: ASCII characters in a 2D data
structure (a list of lists).

Starting this simply, it's pretty easy to ramp up. Before ya know it,
we've got the Game of Life and the Mandelbrot Set, though we need to
go back and explore the ideas more. How is the complex number type
handled (used for the Mandelbrot)?

Note that we don't have much time for any "real number type" in DM
(that's for the AM track to spend more time on). We have floating
point numbers, extended precision numbers of various kinds, but no
reals.

Per my earlier postings to this thread, the stratagem here is to pitch
to adults and have some trickle down that way, rather than to come in
as teachers of something newfangled, who alienate the grownups by
guinea pigging the kids.

The "tractor graphics" aesthetic actually ties in with the Rotation
solution above, where we don't make individual faculty members just do
the same thing their whole lives, even if (especially if) they have
tenure track positions.

A lot of our adult workers are volunteering and have experience
traveling the world (Fallon for example, who made the Youtube, and of
course myself). This doesn't mean we're all homeless (I have a roof
over my head), but some of our students and faculty are definitely in
that "wandering through" category (they're "in rotation"). There's
campus housing in some scenarios. I provide space for touring
faculty.

Say some volunteer from the Ukraine comes in through a church program,
kicks it around for awhile, learns some skills, and is gone, off to a
next chapter. Small teams may also get into it.

Yes, I mentioned "church" (even though I'm not a member of any), which
gives the idea we're not a secular program, and therefore ineligible
for federal support.

My response to this criticism is we haven't structured this as an NGO,
but we encourage NGOs to get involved, and that includes churches.
But why not more public schools?

That will be the next step, now that so many adults have been through
some of the pilots and are spreading the word.

Given the Internet, education initiatives needn't concern themselves
with "brick and mortar" too early. We get lots of student involvement
in cyberspace, without needing to reform what goes on in those
classrooms right off the bat.

Kirby


Date Subject Author
9/20/11
Read Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner
9/22/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Martisa Vignali
9/23/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner
9/22/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Robert Hansen
9/23/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Dave L. Renfro
9/26/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner
9/26/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Haim
9/27/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner
9/26/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Dave L. Renfro
9/26/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Haim
9/26/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner
9/26/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Robert Hansen
9/27/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Scott Gray
9/27/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Bishop, Wayne
9/27/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Haim
9/29/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
GS Chandy
9/29/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
GS Chandy
9/29/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner
9/29/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
GS Chandy
9/30/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
GS Chandy
9/30/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Robert Hansen
9/30/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Robert Hansen
9/30/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner
10/7/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
GS Chandy
10/1/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
GS Chandy
10/1/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
Robert Hansen
10/2/11
Read Re: Continuing Education for Math Teachers (gnu math)
kirby urner

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