Episode 101: Mathy McMatherson

Happy Pi Day!

We are live on iTunes, though it may take a while for the rss feed to filter into iTunes with the latest episode, so for now check out this link. To find the podcast on iTunes, just search for “infinite tangents”. [Update: it’s on iTunes now!]

Many thanks to Daniel for being a willing subject for this one. He’s amazing fun to chat with and is making a great practice for himself. Check out his blog (though I suspect you already have).

Prompt for next week: How do you start your teaching day?
To submit a response for the prompt, find a mic (usb ones work great!) and record your response in a quiet place. Don’t forget to include who/where you are (your choice on how detailed you are here) and if you could keep your response to the prompt around 30 seconds, it would be much appreciated. Mp3, Aud, and Wav formats are preferred for recording but if you record using something else just ask. Prompts can be sent to my email (ashli (dot) black (at) gmail (dot) com).

As mentioned in the podcast, I’ll be switching up formats so next week is focused on news and info in the edutwitterblogosphere (Greader is going away?!) and responses to the promt above. And maybe other things. The podcast is young, and I am so changeable.

Thanks everyone!

Learn more about this sculpture at http://www.philomorph.net/

Learn more about this sculpture at http://www.philomorph.net/

ps If you like the podcast and have a twitter, send a shout out with the link and #8tangents

pps Don’t forget to answer Daniel’s question in the comments below!

10 Responses to “Episode 101: Mathy McMatherson”

  1. At this point in my career my definition of “good feedback” is “less feedback” I have most students grade their own quizzes (the now famous orange pen method) so in those cases they can give themselves as much feedback as they’d like. On tests and projects that I grade I’ll scan through the work trying to find an error, and then decide if I want to highlight the error or have students find their own error (if a precalc student drops a negative or a geometry student copies a number down wrong I will circle it). I write very little other than checks and circles though, since I want students to analyze their own work. The only reason this is effective is because students correct their papers and resubmit projects or retake tests/quizzes. I am happy to talk through mistakes with students, or have them compare work with a neighbor, but in order for my limited feedback to work there needs to be that level of engagement after getting back a piece of paper.

    • I’m glad you said this – I feel like this is the direction my teaching style is moving, but I have a hard time articulating that this is a form of feedback. If someone were to ask me how I give feedback to my students, I pretty much have to respond with ‘I don’t – they give feedback to themselves’, and I’m never sure if this is a valid answer. I agree that this system relies on a culture of reassessments and resubmissions, which I guess is what makes it work.

  2. […] Infinite Tangents 101: Mathy McMatherson […]

  3. I agree with Tina that “less is more.” And as a shattered but excited 15-year veteran, I agree that individual and peer feedback leads to better learning outcomes than lots of written, teacher-directed notes.

    For younger students (and older students still struggling with foundational skills) I suggest building off your standards-based gradebook.

    Often individual students don’t have full mastery, but groups of 2-4 kids have the skill set needed to complete certain important tasks.

    Collect some formative data and sort your class into groups who have the prerequisite skills to complete a challenging task that they couldn’t do alone.

    Next class, rearrange your seating chart and give your kids the full period to work on this collaborative activity.

    This increases the level of math talk among my students and often leads to better individual understanding.

    This doesn’t work for every unit, but 2-4 times per year, I find it’s worth my time to follow this process. Pick your course’s 2-4 most foundational skills and see what happens!

  4. […] and there’s that Podcast thing that is now up. There will be a new one up this Thursday, 3/21 that’s a shorter format focused on a prompt, […]

  5. I suppose I try to give verbal feedback on an ongoing basis, as students work in class. I generally give two quizzes (which don’t count towards the grade) leading up to a test (which does) to allow for written feedback… though I’ve started to even have them correct quizzes themselves, more on account of drowning in paperwork than any deliberate shift towards student analysis. Oh, I also photocopy correct student test solutions for them to use as their answer key. (Others in my department also offer remediation for students after a test; I tend more towards looking back over those sections of their exam. Grading without a points system takes me FOREVER sometimes as it is, I’m always second guessing for no real reason.)

    That said, there’s the looming issue of buy-in, and some students just don’t buy in unless it counts for marks… and if they haven’t practiced by then, it’s really too late… so on the one hand, it’s really impossible to say “this method works for all students in the class”, yet on the other one needs to have something consistent for all students to avoid showing favouritism. I’m not sure I’ll ever figure that one out.

    • Greg,

      I want to zero-in on two things in your comment: you give two quizzes emphasizing feedback before building up to a test; you have correct solutions for them to check their answers.

      I think a big part of feedback is having a place where students _expect_ feedback – and this is part of my struggle too. In this ideal classroom I have in my head, I have some sort of activity or classroom space where students just KNOW: this is where I get my detailed feedback from the teacher. It seems like for you, that’s with quizzes and having an answer book.

      I’m with you on the answer book – I have that too – but I need a designated point-of-feedback for my students. I’m thinking of giving consistent quizzes next year as my designated point-of-feedback. I used to think homework would do this for me, but I’m realizing there’s an equity issue – I want _everyone_ to get my feedback, not just the students who turn it in.

      Anyway – those are my thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

  6. […] The awesome new Infinite Tangents Podcast is already on week 2, but I want to take a moment to return to week 1. […]

  7. I jumped into SBG cold turkey, just like Daniel did, and it was encouraging to know that he found it to be just as hard, but also as rewarding as I have found it to be. I loved the gift of a like-minded teacher with whom to “talk math”. This podcast provided some like-minded teachers with whom I vicariously shared a conversation. One suggestion–make them shorter! An hour is a huge time commitment for a busy teacher.

  8. […] The episode that started it all: @mathymcmatherso […]

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