On Brilliance, Relevance, and Impotence: A Classroom Example

Everyone knows that you can’t wish for more wishes, but no one says you can’t wish for more genies. According to the binding rules of genies (as published by Disney in the 1992 film, Aladdin), there are a few restrictions on what can and cannot be wished for. Probably the most famous restriction is that there is unequivocally no circumstance in which one is permitted to wish for more wishes. This is grouped with three other limitations stating that genies will not kill people, make people fall in love, or revive people from the dead. Other than that, the wishes …

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Second-hand Student-ing

Billy: “Banting, I have a question for you.” It was 5-minute break between classes and I was trying to reset the random seating plan, open up the electronic attendance system, and load the image that would serve as a starter for the day’s lesson. During this small window of time, questions are usually about missing binders, requests for future work due to mid-semester holiday plans, or updates on my ever-present pile of grading. In short, I usually do not want to deal with them. Begrudgingly, I obliged. Billy: “I need a piece of paper and a pen” This student (affectionately …

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Real-World: An Attack on “Relevance”

**deep breath**Last week, I caught myself saying something to a pre-service teacher as we planned a Grade 1 lesson for the making of 10s. I asked her,  “Why would the students need to know how to make up 10s?” When she was auspiciously silent, I filled the space with a statement said entirely tongue-in-cheek. It was only upon reflection, that I kicked myself for not being able to shut up and allow her to think. I said, “…because my job is to convince teenagers they need logarithms, and that is much more difficult.” Now, aside from the unwarranted attack on …

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TDC Math Fair 2016: A Summary

Background:On June 15th, my Grade 9 class and I hosted our second annual math fair. What started out as a small idea has grown into a capstone event of their semester. This year, we had 330 elementary school students visit our building to take part in the fair’s activities. Several people (following the hashtag #TDCMathFair2016) commented that they would like to do similar things with their student transitions. This post details the rationale behind the event, how we structured it, what stations we had, and feedback/advice from our exploits.Rationale:I pursued this opportunity with a two-pronged focus. First, I wanted to showcase a …

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Mathematics Is: Student Impressions

I have taught the second half of a Math 9 Enriched course for the last three years. The students generally finish two-thirds of the curricular outcomes during the first semester (with an different teacher). This alleviates the perpetual nemesis of time, and leaves me with no excuse to stretch the boundaries of what is possible in a classroom.  I spend most of the time developing a classroom ecology focused around conjecture, community, and curiosity. The result is a constant focus on problem shaping, solving, and re-posing.  At the end of the semester, I ask students to respond to a simple …

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Classroom Clean-Up

No more students for this year. I’ve spent a full day cleaning up and re-arranging my space for my incoming intern (for whom I’m very excited for).  Amidst the broken calculators and stray linking cubes, I found a note that a student wrote me from my first year of teaching. It served as a brief reminder of why I attempt to curate a community of mathematical action with my students. It isn’t the easiest way to teach, but has a limitless ceiling.   Dear Mr. Banting, You called me a “genius” in math class once, and that night I went …

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Math Wars North

O Canada!The debate about best practice in Canadian math education has exploded once again. This time attracting high profile combatants.This post is not meant to resolve deep-seated values, but rather provide a perspective that gets lost in the partisan arguments. It wouldn’t take a long time to place me in a camp, but that would be assuming that there are two camps that want drastically different things.Now there are certainly battle lines drawn, but would it be possible to distill the highbrow mudslinging into a succinct cause–a common denominator?The recent tweet conversation between Dan Meyer and Robert Craigen (storied by @MathewMaddux here) serves as …

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Bloggable Distributions: Reading #MTBoS Blogs in 2015

Twenty-fifteen will be the fifth year that my little corner of the blogosphere has been dedicated to digitally curating my own thoughts and experiences regarding the teaching and learning of mathematics. It represents a wide array of posts regarding a wide array of topics. Much has changed from new teacher status to graduate student, and the posts reflect that. Still, the heart of its posts and pages is pragmatic: I write about classroom events that seem to matter (for some reason or another, they catch my attention) in hopes that other teachers might find the same phenomenon.I am going to …

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CCSS: Support from the North

I can’t–for the life of me–understand why someone would argue to eliminate high level mathematical reasoning in favour of memorized tricks, but that seems to be the case with those arguing against the Common Core State Standards. I cannot fathom how this can be the case except to chalk it up to a case of “he-said-she-said”. Change (especially in something as resistant to it as mathematics education) breeds ignorance. And Ignorance breeds fear.Let’s face it: The public are scared of reform efforts and most teachers aren’t far behind. There are multiple (legitimate) reasons. Time Mathematical Proficiency Control / Power Outside Testing Pressures …

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“__BL” : Education’s Obsession With Labels

Last week there was an interesting twitter discussion on the nature of projects versus the nature of problems. @dandersod @samjshah @k8nowak @leslie_su76 How is Mega M&M a project rather than a problem? — Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) July 17, 2014 It occurred with specific reference between the differences of PBL (project-based learning) and PrBL (problem-based learning). If you follow this blog or scan the provided tags you will find PBL does occupy some space here. There is also a large amount of posts detailing “tasks”. This is a rather artificial term I use to refer to a piece of mathematical work …

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