David Wees's blog

Story telling in mathematics

I tell a lot of stories when I teach, but not generally stories about my life or past stories of students. I use story-telling as a vehicle for explaining concepts that are difficult to understand when abstracted in symbols. 

For example, when I talk about sums of arithmetic sequences, I start with the story of the legendary mathematical genius Gauss as a kid.

What if we treated grades like leveling up?

So I was responding to comment on this blog about student retention, and the person used the word "level" and it made me think of "leveling up" which is this process by which your fantasy character becomes more powerful as a result of the experience they gained. This video below describes the process of leveling up in World of Warcraft (an online fantasy role-playing game).

Retaining students? Not a good idea.

We had a silly ceremony when I was in first grade. It was called "the first grade graduation ceremony." We all stood around and our families all came out and we celebrated our graduation from first grade. We were even given little certificates to hold onto to remind us of the experience. I have no idea if my mom still has mine, but I doubt it.

Improvement, not Innovation, is the Key to Greater Equity

Here is an excellent presentation by Ben Levin.

Clark Kent or Superman? Why you should blog

Blogging is like becoming a super-hero. It is a costume you wear and while you are in this costume you can say almost anything and speak your thoughts in ways you would never do while at work. You can choose a pseudonym, design the appearance of your costume, and feel like you have a kind of imperviousness if you choose anonymity. Even normally mild-mannered people can have their ferocious opinions shared and scrutinized.

School Teaches Obedience

Our current school system teaches students who to be obedient instead of independent. Almost every time our students show even the slightest deviation from the path schools set, we beat them back into line using our bludgeons made of consequences, grades, and self-esteem. I've been thinking about this a lot since reading John Taylor Gatto's essay, The Six-Lesson School teacher so I'm sure that many of the thoughts below are reflected in his essay.

Topic: 

How many hours do teachers work?

I just conducted a very unscientific poll. I sent out a link on Twitter only and asked people who happened to be around how many hours they worked. It's not rigorous. However, in the limited sample group I have of 85 (update actually 132) educators on Twitter, here are the results as a CSV file.

All I have are questions

I might post on this blog like I know what I'm talking about but each of these posts is a question really, an internal discussion that I share. I'm finding I have more questions than answers now.

The current model of education doesn't work in my opinion, but I can't see what should replace it.

You need to give them the tools

Container of coins

Every elementary school classroom should have about $20 in change. Not fake money printed on a piece of paper, but real money. Yes, some of it will go missing over time, and you might need to lock it up depending on your community, but honestly it's worth the risk. It's only $20.

What is the International Baccalaureate?

I read an article on the Principal's blog by Mel Riddile talking about the changes the AP is implementing and how these changes will make it more like the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. He asks a teacher who has been fortunate enough to teach both programs for a long time.

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