About Me

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MN, United States
Tutor, Business Owner, Technology innovator

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sometimes the technology can drive the math

Technology Tools for Educators logo
In all that I have studied, the "science" of math has driven the technology industry, especially in education.  I like to also use technology (apps like Desmos, devices like iPads, SMART boards, etc.) to relay conceptual foundations for the math topics. I also like to frequent Richard Byrnes' site for ideas on teaching mathematics to middle and high school students (Free Technology 4 Teachers-see Math Games and Resources)

I have seen many on #Twitter and other social media provide their own recommendations for some of their favorite things they used in the last year.  In my own reflection for 2017, I would say Desmos definitely rocked.  It also helped me find different ways to teach, especially smaller groups.
  • Fezzik: Well, I haven't fought one person for so long. I've been specialised in groups, battling gangs for local charities, that kind of thing.
  • Westley: Why should that make such a
  • [squashed painfully]
  • Westley: difference?
  • Fezzik: You use different moves when you're fighting half a dozen people, than when you only have to be worried about one      --Princess Bride
My favorite class during my master's class was Differentiation with Technology.  Sometimes the technology is just a piece of paper, sometimes it provides a better way to commit to a process.  It should NOT be just another means to distribute Kill and Drill sheets. I digress...

My other tools include "A Matter of Survival" project through NCTM's archives (the 90's?) a nice way to get a snapshot of the students' abilities, without it looking like a diagnostic/assessment.  Like I mentioned before I have a unique group of 8th graders, and their abilities are well hidden, and not classically inclined (i.e., traditional math "skills"), but they are starting to talk (a little) mathematically!  Another set is using a set of videos and virtual field trip tools for my careers class, just because I was hesitant to let them out on real field trips. Undercover Boss also gave them a look behind what some of the workers go through on their daily jobs.

My all time favorite is yet not here: teaching technology to 7th graders!  I heard they were a challenging group, but I can unleash my flurry of techno at them to inspire wonder and attain some basic skills (unfortunately I only get each section for a quarter). 

With the latest hype of data mining, I cringe at the prospect of continued use with Google products (current content included--Blogger is a Google product and has been for several years).  However I will try to keep changing it up because every year the youth seem to know a little more tech in other ways than I do (however deviant).

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

New Stress-old story

Photo by Kristine Lewis via Flickr
This year marks my first in long time of having a struggle class be THE struggle class. Normally I like to do an activity with them I got from NCTM in the first month called “A Matter of Survival,” and the students usually play it out prettty well. This class could not focus for more than 2 minutes! It took me at least 20 minutes to tally their data. (October).

Now they have been struggling to focus enough to understand the concepts...it almost borderlines dyscalculia.  Dyscalculia, according to Wikipedia, is " is difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics. It is generally seen as a specific developmental disorder." Wikipedia reference

They've been a distraction to themselves for so long, they missed capstone learning moments to solidify their number theory from the 6th grade before coming to the high school (we only have two buildings in our district.)  This is where I had to research and find a common ground where I can challenge them just enough and they feel they accomplished something (not push them forward).

Some of the resources were geared toward this very thing.  Dr. Jo Boaler gives some guidance to this avenue through You Cubed.Also I've taken some direction from Sara Van Der Werf's blog to keep it real (when I can).

I've learned: 
1. They do better with (color) abstractions than concrete (weird)
2. They can handle short assignments (similar to those on an IEP)
3.  It takes a long learning curve to find what motivates and engages them, persistence is key.

When measured at the beginning of the year, are they were I want them?  No.
Are they making progress?  YES  

Learning to celebrate the (littlest) victories is what I need to help this group, where they have made four prior teachers consider going elsewhere throughout their gradeschool.

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Oh my... I have operated under the radar for the last year. There are so many things that have happened. For one, my post from winter quarter disappeared. Can't remember everything, so here goes... The picture you see is of my daughter being ready for summer camp before I left her for the week.

 I realize that I will yet again be teaching college now algebra (this was ladt fall). . Based on my last experience I was not excited to do what I had done the previous year. However when the school year started, I then realized how sweet a schedule I actually had.  Actually this year's college now class was very concerned about their learning. There were a few, of course, that tried to command my attention, and I reminded them of course, this was a college-level class which required college level expectations.

There was also a question whether or not I would return the following year and if so what capacity would I be teaching. It made me look for other possibilities well still studying methods and tips that I have learned with my colleagues through #MCTMduluth.  But then I found out that not only will I be returning but I will be teaching a new class which was to be college now trigonometry.

Amazing, I also got to take a grad level class I actually liked: proportional thinking for conceptual understanding.  I like this place a lot because it helped reinforce skills that I taught myself when I did not understand my teachers when I was in school. I admit when I went to this year's College Now workshop I felt I have actually been doing right by my students, listening to other teachers' stories.

 Long story short I have yet to get ready for my daughter's wedding, do paperwork and administrative tasks as the local unions president, and to study some curriculum ideas before the school year actually rolls out. One of my resources just provided me some homework to do. It's at MCTM's Mathbits. Sara Van Der Werf challenges the math teachers to check the sites listed to brainstorm as we prepare for our year.

Oh, and I get to take another grad class, Probability and Stats for teachers (yes!)

Til I chalk again,

Mr. Shel