Like most teachers, I like to do tutoring after school for those who need it, and are not in my class. I will usually meet a student at the local library for about an hour once a week in the evening, answering any questions they have about the week’s assignments or working ahead in the curriculum if there’s time.
Since I live and work in different cities, I can tutor students from both cities. But I never thought I would be given an opportunity like this:
I received an email from a father who was concerned about his daughter’s success in a junior level IB math class. The difference is, they live in Florida!
He ran across my name by doing a search of IB math teachers online. It’s a good thing my online presence is positive, because I think I was one of the first teachers he contacted, if not the first.
Once I agreed to tutor his daughter, it was time to figure out logistics. How would we communicate? How could I watch her work and point out errors as they come up? How could the father compensate me for my time?
After doing some research, we (the student and I) decided to communicate face-to-face using Facetime on our laptops. We also downloaded BaiBoard 3, an interactive whiteboard app, to our iPads so that I could watch her work and give written feedback on the spot as well. Surprisingly, the easiest part was working out the transfer of funds. Most banks have this and make it easy for customers, regardless of the bank they use, to transfer money from one account to another.
So, it’s all set up now. We met briefly yesterday just to introduce ourselves, and the father paid me in advance for the first three hours. We even tested the BaiBoard app by writing “Hello” to each other. And everything went very smoothly.
Our first session is on Monday evening, and I’m very excited about this new way of tutoring. Perhaps if I’m successful, I could look into tutoring more students in other states, and maybe other countries.
If you would like to follow my progress, please let me know, and I’ll post more as the sessions progress.
Today I had the pleasure of serving in my official role as an ambassador of Global Math Week. More than 910,000 students participated from around the globe, and the lesson was one that had applications for all ages.
The lesson was the idea of Exploding Dots. Rather than explaining it, I’ll share this link with you, since the creator, Dr. James Tanton, explains it much better: https://vimeo.com/204368634
I worked with our district’s Math Director, Mary Kemper, to visit as many campuses as we could to see how they were teaching and applying Exploding Dots in their classrooms.
Our first stop was Lee Elementary, where educator May Voltz had clearly been teaching this for a while. Students began with a review: Several machines of different bases were drawn on the whiteboard with dots already filled in. The students were required to figure out the value in each machine. Students shared their answers with the class by writing on the whiteboard.
Students were then given four new questions, again with different machines, and dots filled in. Each question was outlined in a different colored square. The question was, which of these values was different from the others, and why? Students made short work of calculating the values. But then they had to compare and contrast with the other answers to see which was different. Once the choice was made, a student could stand under a colored ball hanging from the ceiling. The color of the ball of their choice matched the color of the machine value that was different from the rest.
As you can imagine, there was reasoning why any of the four answers were different, and none of those reasonings were incorrect. Students were successful by simply having a justified opinion.
photos by Ian VanderSchee
I then ventured to Middle School East, where several teachers were participating in this event. A presentation had been made with animations and sound, and shared with all teachers.
Mary and I were was able to visit the classrooms of Amanda Cooper, Brooke Apple, Leia Poskey, Shawn Reck, Donna Arnold, and Kindal Renaud, all of whom shared their enthusiasm for Exploding Dots with their classes. It was quite an inspiring sight!
All of the teachers were starting at the beginning – explaining the “2 to 1” machine. Since these were middle schoolers, they learned how to apply it to long division. Students learned how to group dots together according to what the divisor was, and they discussed what to do if there were leftover dots that couldn’t be grouped. It was a problem solving activity, but most if not all students agreed that this method of dividing numbers is much easier than the old way.
photos by Mary Kemper
What a rewarding day!! I can’t wait to get back to my classroom and work on Exploding Dots in my own classes. Now that I’ve seen the excitement it created, I look forward to seeing that same excitement from my own students!!