BPRIME- Reflection, Collaboration and Building Community8/14/2005 11:00:00 pm
T i m e W a r p
This post has been sitting around in draft form since early June .... I just finished it off tonight.
Yesterday we (math folks here and from two of our feeder schools) had our First Annual BPRIME Workshop with teachers from grades 7 through 12. The feedback so far has been very positive which is amazing considering the date was June 1st; just as we enter the final exam period and teachers and students are under tremendous pressure to finish courses and begin review. (We're talking about doing the next one in Novemeber or December.)
The day was built around two documents:
- »Encouraging Mathematical Thinking; a video paper from the Math Forum.
- »Improving Student Achievement in Mathematics from the International Academy of Education.
The Cylinder Problem is rich in mathematical concepts and the discussion it promotes. We presented how the problem might be tackled at the elementary level and then asked the middle and high school teachers in attendance, working in groups of 3, to come up with lesson plans appropriate to the levels they teach. While everyone recognized the depth and scope of topics inherent in the problem the overriding question became; "What do I want to use this problem to teach?" We summed up the activity by showing how this problem can be used to help students develop an informed concept of volume and what the volume of an object depends on (elementary); it can be used to teach algebra in a meaningful context in middle school; it leads to developing various functions in high school; and also suggests an interesting optimization problem in calculus.
The afternoon had two parts. First we spent some time looking at the "Student Achievement in Mathematics" document and identifying how the best practices it mentions can be applied in working through this problem. Everyone took home a hard copy and we spent some time discussing a few of the suggestions in the document. Each group of 3 teachers looked at one best practice, discussed it and presented the results of their conversations to the group. I think this was the lowest point of our day together. The content was good but I wasn't happy with the way it went over -- it seemed kind of flat. Something we'll have to do differently next time.
During the second part of the afternoon I introduced everyone to The Teacher's Lounge Wiki and the BPRIME Wiki. That went over really well but I'm still struggling with how to encourage folks to buy into the the wiki paradigm. Maybe I should have them email their contributions to me and I'll put them on the wiki myself like Rob does.
I think everyone walked away with the three themes of the day knocking around in their heads: the best educational practices evolve from teachers and students reflecting, collaborating and building community -- students with students; teachers with students; and teachers with teachers.