Aug 152015
 

At #TMC15 I shared my favorite of the “High 5”. Richard Villanueva is awesome enough to record them all and post, so I will just share the video of what I said. It is short and sweet:

There is the video. I want to stress a few points.

  1. Giving high fives to my learners absolutely changed me. I got 150 high fives every day. How can you NOT be in a great mood getting 35 high fives several times a day, every day.
  2. I am serious. I didn’t teach math. I taught people the subject of math. The high fives was just one step that demonstrated this philosophy.
  3. This was an evolution of my approach that on the first day of class scared me to death. I was freaked out and thinking that it was going to be a massive failure.
  4. I was wrong.
  5. It was the single thing I did all year long that had the greatest impact on my classroom environment, my relationship with my learners, and my own personal attitude.

I wrote about it last year as it occurred:

Before school started: August 10th: School started on the 11th.

After 1 week of school: August 20th

After 1 month of school: August 27th

I finally EARNED a high five from my one holdout: September 10th  : This is the one high five I am most proud of.

That was last year. Then #TMC happened. After #TMC15, several teachers told me they were going to try it. We had several Twitter conversations about it at different times with different teachers. A sample is below. And this is ONLY a small sample of the more relevant tweets.

 

   

 

 

 

And here are some captured images from @misscalcul8. Elissastartpic2Elissa2 elissa3  Elissa1 And finally: pic1Elissa    

Let’s pause and reflect a moment.    What effort did it take me to give a high five? Very little. I had to get over my introvertedness. I had to fight my impulse to just stand there and say hi, and I had to make the effort to actually acknowledge each learner one at a time with the motion. I had to grab some hand sanitizer afterwards as I was walking into class. …. 

Yea, that is really what it cost me. That’s it.

Not to diminish the fright / frustration / and uncomfortableness that the introversion creates, but getting over it did not damage me in any way.  

What did I gain? My learners received the one on one acknowledgement from me every day. They walked into my classroom looking forward to the personal contact that went beyond the subject and touched them personally. Learners who were just standing in the hallway saw it and started asking for a high five every day. They recognized that it was something to get and feel good about themselves.

It changed my outlook on the class period. Every period be came a 1st period of the day. Every period was a “good morning” because every period started with 30 to 35 high fives. How could every period NOT be a fresh start, a clean slate, and a new beginning. It changed the class outlook towards me. I wasn’t just that weird math teacher (and I was) who wore strange socks everyday (because I did). I was also the math teacher who treated them like human beings. I also was the math teacher who acknowledged they were weird learners (because they were) who struggled with the ideas (because they did) and who needed the reassurance that if they kept trying they would get it (because they absolutely DID.)  

The cost / benefit analysis there is pretty clear. What it cost me was very little. What I gained was huge. What my learners gained was even greater.  

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I am not teaching high school anymore. I am teaching college and the standards are different, the expectations are different, and the stakes are different. Guess what I am NOT going to give up. I think these outcomes are too valuable. It will definitely be a radical departure for the college setting. It is worth it.  

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Edit: Some research to back up why it works: http://www.teachers.net/wong/OCT13   More teachers on board! Yay!    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These next three go together. Wow, the power in these three tweets.

 

 


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Amy posted on her blog the following paragraph.

High fives at the door. Glenn’s “my favorite” has been popular for good reason. It is simple, but we have already discovered it is powerful. My colleagues and I decided to make it a department thing, and also roped in the two non-math teachers in our hallway. So the 200 hallway is officially the “high-five hallway” at our school. I am surprised by how something so small has already helped me feel more connected to my students, and how the classroom atmosphere gets an immediate boost. You just can’t be too grumpy after a high-five.

Chris Shore said:

High 5’sGlenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs): Glenn was right. Offering the High 5’s at the door does more for my mood and mental preparation for the class than it did for the kids.

Bob, on his blog, said:

GREETING STUDENTS WITH HIGH FIVES – Intertwined with all of the mathy goodness of Twitter Math Camp this past July was a simple and powerful device for student engagement from my friend Glenn Waddell – the High Five.

Each day last year, Glenn met his students at the door to give them a high five – a simple, caring gesture to establish a positive tone for class. I often meet students at the door before class or linger in the hallway for informal chat, but I love the tradition and rapport Glenn establishes here and hope to emulate it.

Lisa, on her blog, was even more positive about the effects:

After five days of being at the door and high fiving students, students are positioning their books to be ready to give me a high five as they approach my class. I have had students high five me in the hall when I am not at my door and walking in the hallway (when I don’t have a class). It makes me smile.

This is only one paragraph of a much longer post by Lisa, but you get the sense right there something amazing is happening.

Stephanie Bower tried it too. Her post says so much about it.

Most of the time, the high-fives give me a chance to gauge the moods of each student in a split-second. (Glenn pointed this out too.) I can tell by the tone of their high-five, the way they return my verbal greeting, and their body language if something is “off” that day.

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[And yes, that graphic is golden, and will be stolen and reused. Forever.]

highfiveclub Thank you @conniehamilton.

Feb 092015
 

Besides the usual quote on the board today, I also have this math pickup line: How can I know hundreds of digits of pi and not know your phone number?  I am featuring a new math love / pickup line each day this week (some days will have more than one). If you want the list, Math & Multimedia is the source.

But anyway, I hate to even call this a #180 blog posting, because I gave up on that at the semester. I just was not focused enough to maintain. I don’t know how people do it. But I do want to share some of the Central Limit Theorem Love I just did.

The exercise is not my own. I stole it from Josh Tabor and I credit him fully with the idea. What you need for this exercise are pennies, chart paper, and some fun dots. That’s it. You need a lot of pennies though. By a lot I would estimate I have approximately 2500 pennies in a bucket. I don’t know exactly how many, but it is a huge number. I emailed the staff at the school and asked for pennies and they delivered. Each year I ask for more, and they deliver more. It is terrific.

Okay, on to the set up. When the learners walked in the room, they saw this:

2015-02-06 10.00.15

The instructions, the left chart paper for x’s, the middle for xbar’s and the right for p-hats. Yes, the scale is completely wrong on the p-hat chart. It should be from zero to 1. I fixed that.

Then, the learners pulled their coins, found the means, the proportion greater than 1985, and we graphed using stickers for the x’s, writing xbar and phat for the other two. At this point, we ended up with some good looking graphs. We discussed if we could tell the mean of the dates from the x graph, we decided we could not, so we OBVIOUSLY needed more data.

Do it again.

After two rounds, we ended up with these graphs:

2015-02-09 12.23.42 2015-02-09 12.23.54 2015-02-09 12.24.02

 

I did change the 1985 to 1995 by the time I took these pictures from my 3rd period of Stats. The newer pennies the staff gave me pulled the mean up.

I actually tore the “Actual Values” graph down and threw it on the ground because it was so useless. That was the point of that graph. I loved how the other two graphs were so clearly unimodal and symmetric. They fit the idea of the CLT perfectly. The fact they matched was just icing on the cake!

–http://onlinestatbook.com/stat_sim/sampling_dist/ Using this simulation for the CLT, we then looked at what happens when sample sizes are changed, whether the shape of the population matters, etc. It was very eye-opening.

Then we discussed the reason why, how, and what conditions must occur for one sample to then represent the population. The notes I used are here in pdf format. I am trying something for the end of the year where I post the notes before hand and they are required to read them as homework. I HATE going over the notes in class. So far it is a good experiment.

Next up are some in class problems.

This is the third time I have done this exercise, but only the second time I have used xbars and phats. It is very useful to have those there so the formulas make more sense.

The fact that the formula reads “the population mean is identical to the calculated mean of the sample” is very useful when the learners keep the population mean and the sample mean separate.

Jun 272011
 

I admit it, I read the funny pages first thing on Sunday morning. Okay, maybe I should first admit that I have a daily subscription to the newspaper and read it cover to cover every day. But, on Sundays, I read the comics first.

Yesterday’s Doonesbury was an instant classic in my mind, worthy of my comics wall. Here is a link to it. I will wait while you read the whole thing. … … …

I know, right! They nailed the problem with memorizing random facts in only 5 panels. The other 3 are there just to be funny and set the mood, but panel 3 and 7 are the set up and punch lines.

imageimage

The three panels in between show Zip’s friend asking some random questions on science, philosophy  and history, along with the fractional seconds it took Google to spit back the correct answer.

I took an informal poll last year in my class year, and around 50% of the class had smartphones that could access the internet. The rest of my learners could text questions to Google and get answers back (they had texting, most of them did not know they could do that) and all of them knew about Cha-Cha.

So what are the “Profound questions about what it means to be a student?” Here is my weak attempt at listing some.

  1. In an era where every learner has never known a time when information was not immediately findable, why do we (teachers) spend so much time asking learners to memorize formulas and facts?
  2. The comic makes an implicit assumption that faster is better. Is that correct? Is it important that a learner memorizes a fact and can recall it on demand, even if that means more time?
  3. The other assumption Zip makes is that Google or Cha-Cha are more accurate than his own brain, memory, understanding. Is that correct? I know I have asked questions in my classes and some learner says, “Why should I do that, I will just Cha-Cha the answer.” My response was, “Go for it, get your phone out and do it.” [That shocked the heck out of him, but he did it, and Cha-Cha failed!]
  4. Is there a middle ground? Can there be vital things they need to memorize, important things they don’t, and less important info they can look up?
  5. Is the goal of the lesson understanding (in the context of UbD) or rote memorization?
  6. Finally, what evidence is necessary for demonstrating the difference between the two in 5?

I think Doonesbury fit very nicely in my current PLN content discussions. Now it is time to do something about it.

Jan 072010
 

“Tom Johnson” has a blog about the introduction of some nasty piece of technology into the schools in our country. It is horrible, disruptive technology that is changing the learning and teaching that is taking place in schools in a dramatic manner.

This tech is that horrible and dreaded No. 2 pencil. Yikes!  Can you imagine how disruptive it was? Imagine all those teachers who had entire curriculums built around slates and chalk. They had to ditch all that work and adapt to pencils. Oh, the horror!

Yes, this is entirely in sarcasm, but the blog is real.  Head towards http://pencilintegration.blogspot.com/ right now and subscribe.

Now.

Do it. You won’t regret it. It is so sad, funny and true that you will laugh and cry at the same time. And then find teachers you know in the descriptions (which will make you cry again!)