lost in the numbers

18 children 

And one teacher 

were killed today

by an 18 year old school shooter.

(And maybe more will not make it) 

The second major incident of gun violence to make it to my news radar this month. 

And there were over 200 that never made it to me. 

We have drills

We have trainings 

We have debriefs 

But we will never have peace of mind

And in hearing about this tragedy,

This unthinkable catastrophic normality,

I think first about where in my classroom would we go. 

Where are the locks and the curtains and the heavy objects to use to barricade the door.

I think about where are the books for throwing in self defense

And where are the sharp objects I could use to break the window. 

And then I think about how the news would reach my person. 

And my people

And I think about how i would recover if this happened here 

how this is community would recover

And I think about how would the situation change depending which class i was with, 

and their dynamics, and their needs,

And how I would best protect them,

And how could we get through this together,

And
I think of of each and every one of them.

The 58 on my class rosters.

And the many more who are not. 

I think of their faces 

(Or half visible faces) 

And I think of the goodness I see in them all. 

And I can’t think of the world without them. 

And
I try to think of anything else 

anything besides the idea, the possibility, of this happening.

19 children were killed.

And 2 adults. 

27th school shooting

212th mass shooting 

1984 people killed by guns 

In the United States of America

in 2022

so far.

And I have to say so far 

Because there will be more.

For these irreplaceable,
individual, incredible human beings

who have taught me how to be a teacher,

i want more for them. 

more than this never-ending barrage of preventable and catastrophic violence.

I want more accountability and action and shelter and healing and care for them. 

and
i want more for me.

Sources: https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/, https://www.npr.org/2022/05/24/1101050970/2022-school-shootings-so-far

awards season

I gave each of my students an individual award for the end of the year. Below are the awards (slightly edited for anonymity).

  1. Product of Zero Award: Most Persuasive
  2. Absolute Value Award: staying positive when things are hard, bringing joy and humor to our class
  3. Math Center Award: best use of resources and asking questions
  4. D20 award: Best world builder
  5. Denise chickulant award (named after the succulent in our class): positivity and adaptability
  6. Proof Award: Excellence in class participation and mathematical explainations
  7. Exponential award: Mathematical growth
  8. x^2+y^2 = 1 award: well rounded, and rolls with the punches
  9. Craftsperson Award: creativity and skill in many mediums
  10. Secret Mathematician: Most likely to ask if we can not do math in math class
  11. Tony Award: accomplishment in the dramatic and mathematic arts
  12. Fractal Award: A mathematician who is meticulous, organized, and precise
  13. Sunflower award: Most growth, and for being ray of sunshine
  14. Chameleon award: makes the best of any situation
  15. Technicion Award: Most likely to build a computer from scratch, and excellence in tinkering and finding the joy in a puzzle
  16. Calculator award: Most likely to have done all the math in their head before half the class heard the question
  17. Distributive property award: Best person to spill tea with
  18. Best New Artist: Painting
  19. Divide by 0 award: Best person to be stranded on a desert island/get you out of a bind
  20. Apothem Award: for keeping us grounded, clever solutions, and also making us laugh
  21. Cosine Award: For someone who is adaptable, practical, and perseveres through challenges
  22. Prime number Award: For someone who demonstrates individuality, curiosity, and strength.
  23. Probability Award: Most competitive at games of chance, as well as someone who always pushes themselves to improve
  24. X^x: For excellence in volleyball, leadership, algebra skills, and positivity
  25. Proof By Induction Award: For witty comments, persuasiveness, great communication, and clever mathematical solutions
  26. Java Award: Most likely to be a vigilante hacker
  27. Exponential Award: Most likely to make forbes 30 under 30
  28. Rising Star Award: Given to a freshman who shows wisdom, discpline, and skill beyond their years
  29. Parabola award: For excellence in 3 point shots, and for willingness to lean into difficulty and grapple with complex ideas and problems
  30. GCF Award: For excellence in collaboration and making connections between concepts
  31. Tangent Award: Most likely to steer the conversation in an extremely interesting (if unrelated) direction
  32. 2022 Award: For someone who embodies the best part of this year together: fruits nacks, flexibility, fun, friendship, and a finding where you fit in this community.
  33. Unmasked award: For authenticity, compassion, risk taking, and kindness.
  34. Wordsmith: For excellence in fast typing and word puzzle solving, and general cleverness and collaborative skill
  35. Canada Award: For excellence in leadership, athleticism, fidgeting, style, and perseverance
  36. For excellence in collaborative problem solving, creative thinking, reading prowess, and openmindedness.
  37. CPS (clicks per second) Award: For fastest gaming, googling, and wordle completing.
  38. Blooket Award: For speed, accuracy, and good sportsmanship.
  39. Desmos Award: Excellence in graphing, visualization, and precision
  40. Linear Function Award: Someone who keeps us on track, and is consistent in their effort and enthusiasm
  41. Rational Function Award: For someone who excels in logic, organization, and finding unusual methods of solving problems.
  42. The Phantom Tollbooth Award: For embodying the spirit of Milo (the main character in The Phantom Tollbooth). This award is given to someone with extraordinary creativity, cleverness, and growth throughout the year.
  43. (Breaking the) Glass Ceiling Award: for someone who defies expectations, holds themselves to high expectations, and advocates for their needs
  44. Quadratic Award: For excellence in box factoring and mathematical explanations.
  45. 18th Hole Award: For golf skill, kindness, compassion, and perseverance.
  46. Piecewise function: For someone with many changes and bumps along the way through this year, but who managed to find a path through with positivity and humor.
  47. The Lightbulb Award: For someone who asks great questions, and uses their understanding to help others understand. This award goes to someone who helps others see the joy in mathematics and problem solving.
  48. High School Musical Award: For positivity, openness to trying new things, kindness, and commitment to the bit
  49. Glee Award: for excellence in collaboration, community building, and communication

Awards named for colleagues

  1. For someone who has worked hard to make connections in the community, and goes out of their way to make sure everyone feels welcome. You are someone listens without judgment, and who is always trying to understand the perspectives of others.
  2. For a leader and in the community with big visions, high expectations, and good humor.
  3. For being unafraid to stand up for the right thing
  4. For Kindness and compassionate leadership
  5. For a lover of calculus
  6. For perseverance, good humor, curiosity, and tenacity
  7. For someone who is kind, consistent and clever
  8. For creativity and Enthusiasm
  9. For someone who is prepared, organized, thoughtful
  10. for curiosity, collaboration, singing, and style

Geometry Solids Project: Creating a Die

I am looking to attempt this project with my students starting in a few weeks. I am still working out details and testing it, but I would love feedback.

Objective: 

Students design and create a non-cube die of their choosing using either 3D printing, crocheting, (or something else?)

Definitions: 

Polyhedron: a solid formed by plane faces

Dice: A solid object that can be rolled and land on one of n-sides. Each side is labeled a number or other symbol(s). 

Deliverables

ItemFormatDetailsDueDone?
ProposalGoogle FormWhat polyhedron?What material?Who you are working with (if anyone)? 
*Everyone must submit a form, even if you are working in pairs*
Digital 3D Model.spl fileUse tinkercad.com to design your dice. It must include the polyhedron listed in your proposal, but you may combine it with other polyhedrons.
Play with the number of sides, steps and other settings to create your die.
Paper/cardboard NetFlat net and folded netDrawing of net(s?) and calculations (perhaps showing multiple approaches for calculating?)Find Area (in general terms, and then with a specific size that you plan to make)
SummaryPaper
 AND 
Google Classroom
Stats/Calculations: 
-Surface Area of Net (General and specific)
-Volume of paper (General and specific)
-Print/Crochet speed (in. of material/minute?)
-Length yarn/filament used 
-Something with the probabilities/fair and unfair dice???

Reflection: 
-It is impossible to create a perfect physical polyhedron. In what ways is yours an approximation? In what ways is yours an accurate representation?
-What did you learn during this project about your medium? About polyhedrons?
-Discuss the math behind constructing your die
-What surprised you during this project?
-What are you most proud of from this project?
DiePhysical ObjectPossibilities:
1. 3D printed
Crafting Days: Research/learning about how 3D printers work, beginning prints

2. Crochet/Knit
Crafting Days: Time to work on your project and troubleshoot together

3.Something else that you think would be cool? Talk to your teacher!
After Project SurveyGoogle formGetting your feedback!
  • Questions for those reading this:
    • How does this read? Is it logical? What questions are you left with?
    • How would you assess this? What would you include in a rubric?
    • What should the presentations/celebration at the end of the project look like?
      • Possibilities: gallery walk, verbal presentation, giving feedback to each other, playing dice games…?
    • Any ideas for extensions to this/other mathematics to explore
Photo by Matthias Groeneveld on Pexels.com

long and short term goals and dreams

But who’s to say which is which

  • Create a math elective
  • Decorate/organize classrooms and office
  • write a play
  • create knit/crochet clothing
  • create a gender retreat or pen pal network or mentoring network or something related to giving the trans youths a place to explore gender
  • write pretty math puzzles
  • make cool escape room puzzles
  • crochet cool things
  • knit cool things/learn to knit
  • Research the crossover of fiber art and math
  • journal/post updates more consistantly
  • write poetry
  • Create art with trash
  • Learn more about 3d printing
  • Write a letter to students thanking them for being my first group I’ve thought for a full year
  • Do a workshop on gender/trans competency for faculty
  • Learn to roller skate more
  • Find a way to get back into dance

Defining our purpose: the trajectory of my math department

There is a lot of discussion around what the math department at my school will look like over the coming years. I rarely contribute to the discussions, sometimes out of anxiety but mostly because I am listening to what others have to say. I want to fully understand where we stand right now and how we got there before I can begin imagining where I want us to go. Here are some things that have come up when I have been thinking about this.

I want us to be a place:

Where you problem solve and model and visualize and predict

Where you learn to communicate precisely

Where you practice seeing patterns and connections

Where you use logical and organized thinking

Where you analyze and critique the world you live in, and brainstorm solutions

Where you come out in the end fundamentally believing in your ability to struggle productively

Where you lean into the unknown and the confusing with curiosity and creativity

Where you learn to ask questions far more than you find answers

parenthood

to acknowledge that I want a child 
is to acknowledge that my parents wanted me 

that someone wants me
that someone thought the world would be better off with me in it
that without me, something was missing. 

and for some reason my soul has trouble accepting that. 
original scribbles

Reflecting (~7 months after originally writing this poem): i really want to be a parent someday. i want to be a soft place for a child to land when things get hard (i heard this phrase recently and its stuck in my head. it just feels nice). I want to be a safe space to be imperfect. i want the experience of parenthood. i think i would be good at it.

themes from writing feedback: fall 2021

At the end of the term, my school has a thing called narrative comments: individual written feedback by each teacher to each student.  A typical structure (and the one I chose) was 3 sections: commendations, recommendations, and comments. Below are some excerpts from my first term of comments. 

Commendations

  • You do a great job of leaning into the challenges in class. We have had many concepts that were tricky and nuanced, but you have always been willing to jump in and start trying to make sense of them.
  • You do a great job of pulling apart diagrams/breaking complex problems into smaller, more manageable problems.
  • You always come to class with a great attitude and a willingness to work with anyone.
  • You are very good at working slowly and methodically through problems and keeping your work organized. This will serve you well and we continue to delve into more complex problems.
  • You do a great job of asking for help with focused and specific questions. This shows me that you have put a lot of thought into your work before looking to other resources for help.
  • I was very impressed with your work on the unit 4 assessment, and the thoroughness of your proof map. Your best work comes out when you have the time to dig deep into a complex problem.
  • You use your time in class efficiently, and take advantage of extra class time to start homework. This is a great habit that allows you to get your questions answered before you leave.
  • Over the term I have seen a large growth in your skills tackling difficult problems. You seem more willing to dive into the complexity, rather than shy away from it. 
  • Your work is always thorough and well thought out. Your homework could be an answer key. I appreciate your ability to communicate so clearly and precisely in your work.
  • You are patient and kind to group mates when they find a problem more difficult than you do. You do an excellent job of balancing listening to others’ thoughts and contributing your own.

Recommendations

  • Continue to push yourself with communicating mathematically. There is a lot of specific notation in geometry, but it all serves a purpose. Becoming as comfortable as possible with notation (in diagrams and written out) will help to avoid confusion or miscommunications in your work.
  • When you face a problem that feels overwhelming, try breaking it down into smaller pieces. Another strategy is to list out everything you know in the problem. It will surprise you how much information you already know
  • Work on improving the organization of your work in order to communicate more clearly. Your process should be able to be read and understood by someone else.
  • Work on understanding and using math notation when marking up diagrams. In geometry, these figures hold so much information, and it will help if you write on diagrams rather than trying to keep the information in your head.
  • Practice slowing down when working. With some assignments or problems, you seemed rushed to get it done, causing you to miss some of the details. It will help your understanding to slow down, and take the time to make sure your work is organized well and you understand all the pieces. 
  • Practice approaching problems from different vantage points. See what ways classmates look at problems, and try to understand the similarities and differences in the approach, and why both may work. This will help you be more flexible when approaching unfamiliar problems.

Comments

  • You have done a wonderful job of adjusting to so many changes this year, including switching classes. I am so proud of you for advocating for what you needed, and taking care of yourself. It has been wonderful to see your confidence in math growing.
  • I really appreciate your honesty when giving me feedback on what works and what does not work for class. Our class is better because your suggestions, and because of your presence and participation.
  • I want you to know that your effort and hard work is seen, and remind you of the resources that are here to support you.
  • I appreciate how honest and communicative you are about how you are doing and what difficulties you are having.
  • You have all the makings of a great mathematician. You think critically and question information that is given to you, you persevere through difficulty, and you do it all with humor and joy.
  • Continue to hold yourself to high standards, but remember you are allowed to make mistakes as part of the learning process.