• instruction,  math in real life

    Pablo Escobar’s Hippos and Levels of Inquiry

    As a school, JQUS has been working over the past two years to bring inquiry-based teaching to both our International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP) classes. The IB unit planner starts with a Statement of Inquiry (SOI) that brings together common key and related concepts to create a big idea / conceptual understanding (kind of like an essential question / enduring understanding). For example, my exponential functions unit last year was based on the SOI “Relationships show how change in population and demography connects to the impact of decision-making on humankind and the environment,” with the aim of getting students to apply exponential functions to…

  • instruction

    Visible Thinking: Chalk Talk

    This year we have been learning visible thinking routines from Project Zero to support our students’ development of critical thinking skills. Teachers have been sharing strategies in grade team meetings, and more informally in the student work they display in the hallways. I saw this outside our 10th grade Humanities classroom and got inspired to do it for 11th grade math! I brought in the chalk talk to introduce our summative assessment (create a video about human population growth that applies exponential and logarithmic functions to highlight a global challenge: preserving biodiversity, sustainable resource use, or protecting human rights) by looking at the problem first and considering how math affects…

  • instruction,  math in real life

    Rational Functions and Jewelry Production

    Math SL is a Diploma Programme (DP) course for grades 11 and 12, yet I’m unit planning in the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) style since it’s consistent with our grades 6-10. MYP math has four criteria: A – Knowing and Understanding, B – Investigating Patterns, C – Communicating, and D – Applying Math in a Real-Life Context. I’ve been racking my brain to come up with an authentic assessment (not a test) for my Rational Functions Unit. In this unit, we are focusing on the following objectives from the IB Math SL syllabus: 2.5 The reciprocal function x → 1/x, x ≠ 0, its graph and self-inverse nature. The…

  • instruction,  musings

    summer reflection: on habits and the teaching-family connection

    The 2016-2017 school year is finally over (as of June 28), and I’m now in the Brandeis teacher leadership program summer component for most of July. This year has been incredibly rewarding in terms of growth as a teacher and as a leader, but I haven’t quite figured out how to reflect on that growth or figure out how to just sit down and write! Changing habits is an interesting beast. The “run at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays” habit finally gelled for me this year, when I tricked myself into running before work so that I could hang out with my husband and son after work. That habit wasn’t as…

  • instruction

    what is the “right” way?

    Today a friend emailed this math problem to me. What *is* the “right” way for math anyway? Is technology inherently less “right” than algebra? Solving it graphically by Desmos (or by TI-84) still solves the problem, but maybe that doesn’t feel as elegant or satisfying. I did want to share the joy of Desmos (since my non-math teacher peers aged mid- to late-thirties did not grow up with it), so I sent the following screenshot (before I eventually solved it algebraically). The response: “Ha ha, neat toy. Since I forgot all the tricks to resolve mixes of square roots and variables, I looked at it as, it must be an integer since…

  • instruction,  parenting

    on this day

    As much as I dislike Facebook, I do find value in the “On this Day” feature. From April 21, 2011, I wrote this note. Six years later, 3) through 6) are still so important for teaching (and now parenting). Six years later, we have Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Workplace, ClassDojo, Khan Academy and countless other technologies that increase our ability to access content or transmit content to our colleagues or students. Six years later, we have Amazon PrimeNow to get whatever baby product we need within two hours. We have similar access to “wisdom” via countless online mommy/baby forums, sleep consultants, and ScaryMommy/Pregnant Chicken-esque blogs. We can also transmit our content in those…

  • instruction

    A Day in the Life

    I’ve been thinking a lot about how to better balance work and life so that teaching is sustainable for the long haul. Balancing the demands of parenting a toddler with the demands of teaching and IB coordinating has made year 9 of teaching much more challenging than the first few years. I have often told my senior students to make the most of college because “you will have the most free time you have ever experienced in your life, and that will be a blessing and a curse.” I wish I’d learned that lesson about teaching, because until my “free” time got cut by about 80%, I didn’t realize how…

  • appetite,  instruction,  math in real life

    Atlas Coffee Club and Math Projects

    Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary sample of Atlas Coffee in exchange for my thoughts on the product. I was not paid to write this post. All opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links in this post. I’ve written about coffee math before and recently got inspired again after learning about Atlas Coffee Club. After my beginning of semester poll on “what would help you do better in math?” some of the students in my math enrichment class said “real-world projects!” I love doing those anyway, so I got to thinking about topics that are relevant to them. My first period 9th grade class doesn’t seem to have…

  • instruction

    MTBoS Week 4: sharing a lesson

    It feels good to be back at school! Here’s my 9th grade math lesson from day 2 (the first day of Coordinate Geometry), for the two 47-minute sections. Day 1: 1-a Distance Formula 1) Name Graphs: Check off completion. [This assignment was to have students write their names on graph paper using only straight lines that begin and end at coordinate points on a grid.] Have 3 students draw a letter of their names on the board with points labeled. 2) Practice Quiet Coyote [my routine for getting attention–his ears are open but his mouth is shut] 3) Mini-Lesson: Distance Formula [taught using the 3 student examples] – Look at how to solve…

  • instruction

    MTBoS Blogging Initiative Week 3: Better Questions

    You’re planning a lesson and you try to come up with super good question to ask to get kids to think about something. What is that question? Why did you phrase it the way you did? Why do you think it will prompt discussion/thinking? I’m returning to work at my International Baccalaureate school on Monday after seven months of maternity leave, and teaching Middle Years Programme (MYP) Math 9 for the first time. I’d written a few MYP-style units before in spite of teaching only Diploma Programme (DP) classes. I’m trying to be more thoughtful and intentional about unit planning now to create more effective assessments that tie into the…

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