So, this is day 13 of the 20 day blogging challenge, and I skipped over day 12 (although I may go back to it). The prompt was
“Tell about a favorite book to share or teach. Provide at least one example of an extension or cross-curricular lesson.”
My favorite resource is not actually a book, it is a magazine, Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. One of my favorite parts of the magazine is the Palette of Problems section, which is a bit odd because often I find myself thinking … this problem has no point, for example,
“How many birth dates in a century have the property that the sum of the month and the day equal the value of the last two digits of the birth year?”
I do realize that some students will be interested just in the challenge of solving a problem. However, for many students, the apparent lack of application can be very de-motivating. Most of the problems, though, can be adopted to our games with really simple modifications or may just give me ideas for a problem that would fit right in. For example, this is an extension of a problem in this month’s issue
Zoongey Gniw is looking for a wife. He is from the Catfish clan and people from the same clan are not allowed to marry. His uncles are going to trade with two different bands. In the first band, 12% are from the Marten clan, 20% from the Crane clan, 64% from the Bear and Loon clans and the rest from the Catfish clan. His other uncle is going to trade with a band where 11% are from the Catfish clan. It is going to be a hard decision which uncle to accompany, says his father.
Not at all, says Zoongey Gniw, and he steps over to the first uncle. How did he decide?
This fits perfectly in our game. There is a video clip on clans, narrated by the inimitable Debbie Gourneau from Turtle Mountain. The prohibition on marrying within clans is historically accurate. As far as the interest of our students today, not only are many of them from tribes that have the clan system described, but they are also, like most middle school students, interested in the opposite sex, having a boyfriend or girlfriend, so the topic is inherently interesting.
I like this magazine, and I call it that deliberately, rather than an academic journal. All of the journals I read and nearly all of the academic texts talk in theory about what needs to be done and why but not nearly enough on how to effectively do it, whether the topic is teaching mathematics or running a company. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School is all about how to do things.
When I was in graduate school, it was common for professors to mock teachers who “aren’t interested in anything longer-range or deeper than what am I going to do on Monday.”
That’s the attitude you have the luxury of having if you don’t have to actually show up and teach on Monday.