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Archive for January, 2013

My New Part-time Dream Job

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment

I really don’t know how else to put this – I am now part of Team Desmos!  For now, most of my time is spent running the Desmos twitter feed.  I remember three months ago, a person asked me, “Luke, what would be your dream job?” I responded, “To teach at a community college and to work for Desmos.”  Now, all of the sudden, poof, it happened. But how did a community college instructor who lives on the opposite coast from where Desmos is located get this chance of a lifetime?  Good question.  The following post gives a short description of how all of this happened.

I first came across the Desmos calculator back in late 2011.  Honestly, the first attraction that hooked me in was the price, which was free.  So, I began messing around with it and I quickly saw how easy it was to use.  If I had a question, Eli, who is the CEO, would respond to my emails.  (I remember thinking how cool it was that the CEO of the product I was using was helping me.)  Then as I used Desmos in the classroom, by using an overhead projector, I saw how much more my students were engaged.  Also, Desmos allowed us to explore math concepts in a way I could have not done earlier.  The combination of customer service and student enjoyment motivated me to see just how many different ways could I apply Desmos to my teaching.

Some graphs I made were art. Some graphs I made were math demonstrations.  Some graphs were for my own enjoyment. So, yeah, no need to hide from the truth, Desmos became one of my hobbies.  A collection of my graphs can be seen here.  When ever I finished  a graph, I would share it on Twitter.  Once in awhile an educator would respond and most of the time Desmos would give a RT (retweet).  This gave me nice warm math fuzzies.  I love to share math and  knowing that people across the world were seeing my math influenced me to begin promoting Desmos when ever I could.

I did three different presentations (NCCTM, NCMATYC, and SOCOMATYC) and all of them had a bit of Desmos with the topic I was discussing.  Each time I would ask the audience if they had heard of Desmos and only a few hands would go up.  Then as I would introduce them to the slider feature, the choice of colors, the projector mode, and so on, each one would be amazed.  The look on their faces reminded me when I first began.

Another place I was sharing Desmos work was on a facebook page .  I run a facebook page  for the students at the school I work.  Like I said, I like to share and talk about math and this is just another venue.  So, on this page I would post Desmos graphs that my students would create and Desmos would see and share them as well.  Students loved to showcase their work and I loved to share it.

Overall, the main theme in my story is sharing math.  Social media removes the physical distance and makes sharing easy.  Sharing is a common part of life and Desmos has integrated that into their calculator.  I was able to share my graphs with two clicks, copying and pasting a URL.  Students can do the same and, even better, they want to.  Also, students can print out their graph and share a hard copy, too. They did this once to make a coloring book for Kindergartners.  And, yes, I print mine out, too, and I have them hanging in my office.  So, just how did I get to join Desmos? I would say by sharing what I love to do.  I know there are thousands of people who do the same and that is why I feel so lucky to have been chosen.

Categories: desmos Tags: ,

Flip the First Day

January 8, 2013 Leave a comment

Ah, the first Day. As a student or as a teacher we all know about the first day.  Usually this means going over rules, syllabus, and other guidelines.  I began to think about the first day and thought, “If I want my students to come to class prepared, then why on the first day of classes do I stand in front of them telling them every thing?  Shouldn’t the first day be what models how the semester is going to be?  Isn’t there some thing about how first impressions are the most important?”  So, after marinating on that thought this is what I decided to do on the first day.

  1. First I passed out an index card.  Before hand, I wrote the numbers 1-30 on the back of the cards and shuffled them up.  I had students write down basic information about them and some other fun stuff, such as “Write down one lie and one truth about yourself but don’t tell me which is which.”
  2. Next I told students that now you will get in groups of three such that the sum of the numbers of the back of your cards is divisible by three. (We quickly went over the divisibility rule of three.  Students were able to form  groups pretty quickly. I would say about two minutes.)
  3. Next I told them to get into groups of four, such that if I were to pick any three members of the group their sum is not divisible by three. (This took a bit longer about four minutes.)
  4. Finally, I told them to get into groups of five such that if I pick any three members of the group their sum in not divisible by three.  (I gave them about two minutes before telling them that to form such a group would be impossible.)

During this exercise, students were using Socrative (socrative.com check it out) to share what their group numbers were.  I have the overhead projecting socrative and this allowed me to point out some patterns, such as “Will three consecutive numbers be divisible by three? Can three prime numbers be divisible by three.”  I did not tell them why you can always find three number whose sum is three from a group of five numbers.  Again, trying to model that some ideas take time.  Hopefully, some students will come to class saying, “I figured it out.”

Once students were back in their seat, around 35 minutes of class had passed.  I told them, “Notice how I did not start the class by going over the syllabus and me telling you every thing.  This is a model for how this class will be run.  I expect you to come to class prepared and ready with questions.”  Yada, yada, yada, the speech went on a bit more.  I will see how many actually go and look at the syllabus and everything else in Blackboard.  Regardless, I am happy with how I set the learning environment on day one.

Categories: blah-blah Tags: , ,