My Life as a Mathematician

Photo by DaveKav on flickr
To be completely honest, math was not my best subject in school.  I managed through high school because I was a good student and I had a teacher that was willing to give extra time and help me, but in college it was another story.  I took College Algebra my first semester and failed it.  Waited another year and then failed it again.  I finally ended up taking it my last semester of school (for the fourth time) and passing it with a C.  Tutoring made only a marginal difference.  I finally passed and understood what I was doing when I had a teacher that really taught me the how and why of algebra. She cared about whether I understood the material or not.  She made me feel like it was okay to ask questions.  I have never been more excited in my life to receive a C! 

Today I know that my foundational problem was number sense.  I am not able to figure sums in my head with confidence, or estimate reasonably.  Directions, distance and elapsed time take me twice as long as others.  I am beyond thrilled that I can calculate tip percentages and sale prices on my iphone.  (I used to use a piece of paper.) And yet, the holes in my math knowledge continue to haunt me. 

My 14 year old daughter struggles with math more than I did at her age.  This year, she is taking Algebra for the first time.  My life as a mathematician now has become...relearning Algebra!  But there is a big difference between then and now. 

Now, I'm not alone.

I have sent messages out on twitter to get help from my PLN and immediately had some great resources and tutorials that helped us struggle through her homework assignments.  And thankfully, her teacher has agreed to hold morning tutoring sessions this year.  This has made a big difference in my daughter's comfort in asking questions and getting help in class.  She now spends most of our evening homework time teaching me. 

So my life as a mathematician is all about learning right now.  So maybe I won't have to use my iphone apps to "figure" everything out all the time anymore. 


My "Class" Poll

I wanted to add a class poll to the Fall Blog Challenge for the specific purpose of showing that doesn't need to be difficult.  You don't need to struggle over what to post about on your blog.  You can simply share the individual results of a question you posed to the class, such as their favorite part of an activity, what they learned in a lesson or their opinion about something.  Kids also like to read what their friends wrote or answered. 

That being said, I think there is an aspect of this that could be interesting to the edublogger as well.  You might be surprised if you ask a question to the folks around you.  I know I was. 

I used my faculty as my "class" and asked the question:  If you could buy any one piece of technology, what would it be?  Here's what they told me:
S.Phillips - ipad
J.Johnson - macbook
L.Perez - laptop
D.Barber - huge flat screen TV
N.Thomas - laptop
L.Sambito - ipad
D.Cothern - ipad
M.Ellis - ipad
JJ.Brown - ipad
V.Cole - ipad
B.Ciupak - ipad
First Grade
P.Wallace - smartboard w/tablet and ipad
T.Chant - smartboard
T.Ruark - smartboard
R.Roberts - smartboard
M.Mallon - ipad
C.Dillard - ipad for me, smartboard for kids
D.Harbour - electronic reader for me, smartboard for kids
D.Timmons - for tech to work!
Second Grade
R.Bridges - smartboard
H.Correia - laptop
L.Metzger- ipad
K.Morris - ipod docking station
J.Shaffer - headphones
D.Rossignol - headphones
K.Nelson - laptops for students
L.Morgan - iphone4 or ipad
W.Lankford - kindle
C.Walag - ipad
L.Thomson - flip video
C.McLeod - digital DVD recorder
B.Roberts - ipad
Third Grade
L.Patterson - new pool that can convert into a patio with push of a button
L.Hoffmann - smartboard
K.Symons - ipad
R.Timmons - student response system
M.Ross - ipad with camera
A.Russell - digital video camera
C.Constande - ipad
T.Sani - ipad
M.Corbett - smartboard
D.Evanko - flatscreen LCD TV
C.Tsengas - ipad
C.Chascin - kindle
Fourth Grade
J.Nash - student response system
C.Montero - smartboard
B.O'Connor - smartboard
J.Montisano - smartboard
A.Phillips - multimedia speakers
R.Pinchot - smartboard
M.Launey - whiteboard and laptop
Fifth Grade
K.Shannon - Google TV by Sony
T.Ruark - 4G cellphone
T.Lehane - laptops 4 kids
S.Rabe - iphone
C.Swidorsky - macbook
L.Werch - external hard drive
ResourceJ.Snead - large format photo printer
K.Cherney - 30 flip videos or ipod
D.Tamburrino - ipod docking station
N.Hall - flip video
R.Robinson - GPS for wife
J.Plank -smartboard
J.Gannam - laptop
S.Shall - macbook pro
B.McCall - ipad
And for me, I've been wanting a good pair of multimedia speakers and a microphone :)

I wasn't surprised that so many wanted ipads.  I looooove mine.  But I was surprised that so many wanted a smartboard.  Especially since I'm not a big fan of smartboards, and neither are the few teachers I know that have them.  It surprised me for sure.

What would you buy?

Check out the other posts from the fall blog challenge in the right sidebar of my blog!


My Life as a Reader

Many years ago, I heard Lucy Calkins speak about teaching reading.  There were many things she said that day that impacted my teaching in so many ways.  One of the things she said was: Share your life as a reader.  Let kids hear about your reading habits.  They need to know it's not just a subject, but a part of everyone's life. I also think that sharing a little bit of the "personal you" with you students helps them feel more comfortable with sharing their own thoughts with you.  

I am a zealous reader.  If I don't have a book to read and a book waiting to be read...then something is very wrong.  I love learning new things, meeting new characters, reading a new author's craft, settling in to a familiar writing style and escaping to a different time and place.  If I find an author I like, I try to read all of their books. I'm such a snob about new authors because I don't want to waste my precious time on a book I won't like, so I only read books that have been recommended to me.  I even keep a digital book log in Google docs, by author, to keep track of books I've read so that I don't accidentally reread them years later (I am the only one stupid enough to do that? ) But it's very handy when I'm at the store or library.  I simply pull up my docs account on my iphone to check to see what books I haven't read by a specific author. 

People ask me all the time, "How in the world do you find time to read?"  I like to use a phrase that I learned from Lucy Calkins. I make time by carving out time for reading in my day.  If I look at my busy day that starts at 5 am and ends after my 3 kids' extra curricular activities and their homework then I wouldn't find the time.  But I start by always keeping a book with me.  I read while I'm drying my hair, sitting in the car line after school, at the waiting room during appts. with the kids, while waiting for a training to start and then maybe for 15 minutes in a quick bath before bed.  (My favorite reading spot!)

My life as a reader has changed in one signifigant way this year:  the iPad!  Once I read a book on my iPad, I was hooked!  It's easy to keep in my purse, I always have the next book ready and waiting to read.  I. Just. Love. It.  But I do have one confession to make, after reading about 5 books in a row on the iPad, a friend loaned me a book she had bought.  I opened up that paper book after several weeks of reading and realised... Acckkk!  I could barely read the words.  I had been using the larger font feature on the iPad and turning up the brightness on the backlighting.  Ahhh, I guess it's time for glasses. 

Check out posts by others participating the the Fall Blog Challenge 2010 on the right sidebar of my blog :)