Saturday, April 4, 2009

Let's Get Together

It's Spring, just after April Fool's Day, and it's time to play "Let's Get Together and Network"

There we were, math and science teachers all, gathered to absorb the wisdom of the State and of each other. "21st Century Graphing Skills in the Mathematics Classroom" - sounds spine-tingly good, doesn't it? Me like.

Until the presenters started speaking and doing. Number 1 - state functionary who didn't really know math. Number 2 was a Geometry teacher who began by saying that she didn't really use technology and didn't know much about the graphing calculator (nor, as it turned out, much about Geometer's sketchpad, winplot, TI-Smartview, MS Office, computers, or Windows in general.)

Number 1 tried to present WebQuests but that didn't work too well. The first one on the list was riddled with grammatical errors and wasn't that useful. The second one was trivial and required one Wikipedia page. It was projected on a SmartBoard so that apparently made it okay.

I went over to the CBL motion detector setup to set it up for Number 2 because she couldn't, but another teacher beat me to it. I played with that for a few, but I'd rather use LoggerPro to collect data in the classroom. The TI is OK but cumbersome in that role. It's only good outdoors if you don't have a netbook handy.

Realize, we didn't actually DO any graphing or discuss how that graphing might happen in a math classroom or how we might assess that graphing in the classroom. We just saw a couple examples of someone they'd heard about.

Completely useless.

The afternoon was billed as 9-12 Graphing Across the Math and science Curriculum. I lost interest when our first task was to count by fours and group ourselves. My mood further deteriorated when the second task was to compare and contrast k-2nd grade math and science standards that seemed to be about data collection.

I know squat about 1st grade science standards.

Then we looked at state test sample answers. Part of the "official" criteria included "uses more than 2/3 of the available space."

Not "is legible".

Update: Those who can, do. Those who can't, run the State DOE.


  1. This was yesterday: Limacon

    Felt worthwhile to me. You might even find the bit where I talked.

    Here's a neat problem I encountered in another workshop: A circle is inscribed in a right triangle so that the hypotenuse is divided into segments whose product is 2009. Find the area of the triangle.

  2. You described all the reasons I stopped going to conferences.

    I remember going to a TI 83 workshop with a presenter, an AP, who was lucky he knew how to turn the machine on.

    Another presenter, a guy from Texas Instruments deleted all my programs.

  3. But was there a buffet?

  4. Limacon - You know a math teacher developed that name and made the acronym work. Very cool. Looks like some good presentations, too, and less of a waste of time.
    At least I got re-certification hours for attending.

  5. And no, there was no buffet. It was bring your own food, print your own course materials, "Help us save paper."
    How printing it myself helps the environment has got me puzzled.

  6. There are a handful of worthwhile conferences out there. Often they have garbage and good stuff mixed together, and you have to ask other people which speakers are which (and I often choose sessions based on speaker, not topic)

    I think there may be one (?) in your state. There was one in your neighbor to the south, but I think it got run down over the years.

    But I've never seen good stuff brought directly into a school. It must happen. Just not where I've seen it.