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To Solve Real-World Problems

The Back-Story

My sister-in-law called in a panic the other day:

Come help me with math! Now!!!

Good thing we are a family of math nerds. Between my husband and myself, we got her covered all the way from long division to calculus and perhaps even differential equations if the need should arise.

No sweat, Mary! We’re on the way!

We immediately donned our superhero capes and raced across town in the Batmobile.

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The Gift of Allegory


GODZILLA.

Forty-nine versions of the film exist. Each one as newly interpretive as the next. In most of the films, Godzilla faces another creature. In the rest, beast vs. man.

I gave Elaine (yeah…Never Summer co-brain, Elaine) the 2014 Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe version of Godzilla for Christmas. At the time of this post she doesn’t know it yet, so…

If you have followed us on Twitter, you have noticed an occasional #Godzilla or #UnleashGodzilla. We use them to remind ourselves of our mission. Our mission to wreak havoc on EdWorld. Our mission to spew metaphorical fire and destroy the old to make way for the new…in a good way, of course. (We are very nice people)godzilla-2014-pic

The allegory continues…

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Teams vs. Non-Teams

Fascinating Dynamics

Last week was my turn for morning duty outside the building. I was watching these two groups of 7/8 boys play football when my brain exploded!  I noticed the deeper dynamics of the games at hand.

I usually stand in front of the doors to have a good vantage point at all the potential antics. On the left is a patch of grass dominated by 7th grade boys in a fierce duel — two teams going at each other in a competitive game of touch football — full-on with positions, play-calling and raucous cheering when either side claims a small victory. They all start the day hot and sweaty after a fast and furious gridiron battle.

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The Parallel Tale of a Student and Teacher

This One Student

I have this one boy in my 7th grade math class just like that one you have in your class. He’s a ringleader. He’s an instigator. He always wants the spotlight. Bottom line: he’s just difficult.

Altogether, he is pretty bright in math.  Intellectually, this young man is head and shoulders above many of his classmates. Academically, he is a successful student. Emotionally, he is quite immature. [Par for the course as far as adolescent boys go.] We can easily go the distance on this one and surmise that he is bored in my class, so his behavior is too often less than stellar.

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A Tale of Two Students

Let me give you descriptions of two typical students and see if you can relate.

First Case

The first is an 8th grade boy in my math class. Veteran teachers know that classroom behavior is critically dependent on seating placement — where and next-to-whom a student sits is often an accurate predictor of how much learning will sink in. But with this kid, it doesn’t matter in the least. Front / back / side / middle / friends / no friends, he will not learn. Even if he brings paper and pencil, he won’t use them. [He showed up empty-handed to the last test.]

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Marshmallow Physics

You Want Us to Do What?!?!

Among students at my school, I am famous for making them build bridges out of popsicle sticks. [Or infamous… however you want to look at it.] Then we break the bridges by hanging free weights to see how strong they are.

So when I recently told my students that we would be building more bridges, I got eye rolls so big that eyeballs nearly rolled right out of their sockets. I heard Do we hafta? way more than once or twice.

When I pulled out the supplies, a magical glow quickly filled the room and immediately, seventh graders become eerily quiet. But let’s get real… that only lasted for about one breath. Then… raucous joy.

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Yes. We are going to build bridges out of marshmallows and toothpicks.

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Green Hands Brigade

#DesignThinking in Action

ICYMI.. this is how it all started: HMW start a recycling program at our school?

Green Hands 2A fiery group of 7th grade math students want to make a difference at their school, so they have decided it’s time to put the words into action. All it took was a bunch of empty copy paper boxes and some green paint.

We worked through the design-thinking process:

Empathy — Define — Ideate — Prototype — Test.

MindMaps led the way as each student took a turn writing ideas and questions on the whiteboard. After a lot of excited discussion and strategizing, they are ready to test the plan.