August 3, 2013

Nix the Tricks: An Update

I have a slew of posts I need to get written, but I got some motivation to prioritize this post via a tweet:

The tweet he was referring to:

I've written about this document before but, as is wont to happen, school got in the way and it fell off people's radar.  

In the beginning, there was a calculus teacher complaining about students' lack of a definition of slope.  Then there was a conversation among my department members on tricks we hate seeing kids show up to our classes with.  I expanded the conversation to members of my online math community.  We brainstormed and debated what constituted a trick and which were the worst offenders.  I organized.  More people joined in on the conversation and shared better methods to emphasize understanding over memorization.  I organized some more.  Contributions started to slow down.  Ashli created an awesome table of contents with links.  The end result was 17 pages.  I had grand dreams of a beautifully formatted resource that we could share with teachers everywhere.  A few people shared my dream.  We discussed formatting and organization and themes.  Then the end of the school year craze happened, and suddenly it was August!

Before we got distracted by life, we decided on this format as the most flexible:

At this point I would like to create a document that is accessible in a variety of formats (eBook, PDF, printable), searchable (grade band, CCSS) and easy to read.  

I need help on several fronts:
  • Rewriting each trick in the format above
  • Tagging
  • Illustrating (butterfly method anyone?)
  • Writing an introduction that allows someone to send the text to a colleague without offending them (without an introduction it says: Your method is wrong. Full stop.)
  • Formatting- I'm good in google docs but have no idea how eBooks work
  • The things that haven't even occurred to me because I have no idea what I'm getting into

I know you are busy, but if you think this project is important could you help with just one part?  Together we can make this happen.  Imagine how awesome it would be if students could use precise mathematical terms to describe all of the math they've learned.

Sign up to help out: 

Update August 7, 2013:
We're gaining momentum! This post and project are being featured in The Math Forum Newsletter.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa!!!! You deserve a .... well, there OUGHT to be a Math Teachers' Equivalent of the Fields Medal for things like this.

    How many times have I smashed my head against the desk when someone I'm teaching helpfully volunteers 'two minuses make a plus!'.....

    This needs to be circulated internationally -- at least in the Anglophone world (where various 'helpful' abbreviations may be different -- for instance, in the UK it's 'BIDMAS' ( 'indexing' rather than 'exponentiation', a terrible substitution)).

    Once we have eliminated Oldspeak, perhaps we should think about extending Newspeak a bit. For example, the Aussies use the word 'pronumeral' instead of 'variable' in their algebra teaching, which I think is brilliant (although why not call it a 'pronumber', which would be more accurate?).