Tag Archives: about me

The Dance

I have the odd little habit of finding the prime factorizations of numbers that come across my path (mile markers, page numbers, etc.). I regularly factor whatever page number I’ve told my students to turn to in their textbooks. For some reason, this is awe-inspiring to them.

Yesterday I was speaking with my calculus class about a particular number being prime, and I explained why I stopped checking factors once I got to the number’s square root. “Wow,” they said. (Note that my calculus class is comprised of three students, all of whom have gifts in mathematics, but only one of whom would say he likes the subject.)

I replied, “Aren’t numbers beautiful?”

They asked if I had considered decorating my two-year-old daughter’s room in numbers. While I acknowledged the awesomeness of that suggestion, I corrected them: “Not numerals. Numbers are beautiful…the mathematics, the relationships between the numbers, the way they work with one another.”

D said, “But it’s a cold beauty.”

No, I said, it’s not cold at all; it’s a dance.

He countered that language is a dance.

I replied, “But what is mathematics if not a way of expressing ideas? Isn’t that what language is, too?”

D answered, “If only there were a way to test the temperature of a dance!”

They may, and likely will, graduate without having a love for mathematics. But they’ll know that it’s possible to have such a love, because they’ve seen it from me…and maybe they’ll be a little more likely to look for the beauty, to watch the numbers dance.

Potpourri

Teachers at my school report back today – summer is officially over for me. Our kids don’t start until the 23rd, and normally we wouldn’t be back until Monday, but this year we’re having some additional professional development today through Friday. I expect it’ll probably be related to global things like our school improvement plan, but I’ll find out for sure in less than an hour.

I’m still having difficulty thinking of myself as a Math Teacher. I guess it’ll seem more real once I’m actually teaching kids math, but right now, I’ve been a History Teacher for seven years, and it just seems weird, even though it’s what I have been wanting to do. I chatted with a stranger in a fabric store yesterday, and when she asked what I teach, I said “math” and it sounded odd to have that come out of my mouth.

This next month is going to be pretty intense for me, with school starting up as I try to get my thesis completed. I had a great meeting with my advisor yesterday, and we decided that I’m going to narrow my focus to just Descartes rather than all four mathematicians. I’m feeling excited about getting the work completed, even though I know that the next few weeks are going to be a challenge to get through. (There’s also a quilt top I’ve committed to piecing soon, not to mention a husband and little girl who like to see me from time to time, and various other things that seem to pop up demanding my time. It’s that “life” thing, ya know?)

Anyway, I mostly just wanted to get a post up here. Since I’m starting back today, I’ll hopefully have more things to write about in the near future. :)

Thesis work

Assuming that Little Precious* does not spike a fever tonight (which is entirely possible with her), I should be going back to my thesis work tomorrow following my statistics class. What is my thesis on? So glad you asked! :)

I am looking at four French mathematicians from the seventeenth century (Rene Descartes, Girard Desargues, Blaise Pascal, and Pierre de Fermat). I am examining their mathematical writings with an eye for the pedagogical techniques they used to describe their ideas, and seeing what (if anything) those mathematical writings reveal about their beliefs about pedagogy.

What’s that? Your eyes glazed over? Sorry about that. I think it’s interesting, and I won’t make you read it. ;)

Anyway, I am just at the point where my prospectus has been approved by my committee and I’m coding the texts for instances of particular pedagogical techniques. I have a set of questions with which I plan to analyze my data once it’s collected. I’m hoping I turn up something interesting. If not, well, I’ll be able to say that there’s nothing interesting in that direction. ;)

The goal is to finish the thesis by the time my school year starts back (mid-August), defend early-Septemberish, and then receive my Master of Science in Mathematics Education in December. The summer has included some unexpected things that the goal didn’t take into account, but I’m not counting it as lost yet.

*Her name is not actually Little Precious, just for the record. This is a pseudonym for my 17-month-old daughter. I just wanted to disclaim in case anyone thought I had named my child Little Precious.

About me (and this blog)

Hello out there! It will probably be a while before anyone is actually reading this, but I figured I’d post an “about” post to get things started anyway. :)

My name is Amanda. I’m a math teacher. It feels really weird to say that, because for the past seven years, I’ve been a history teacher. I’m almost finished with my master’s in Mathematics Education, though, and my administrators are moving me to math for 2010-2011. I teach at a small Christian school.

I have been reading math teacher blogs for a while and love the idea of using this medium to reflect on what I’m doing and make it better. So I’m jumping in there. The blog title is both a math pun and an indicator of what I want the blog to be – a place where I take action through reflection on what I have done and on what I plan to do. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education says of praxis,

It is not simply action based on reflection. It is action which embodies certain qualities. These include a commitment to human well being and the search for truth, and respect for others. It is the action of people who are free, who are able to act for themselves. Moreover, praxis is always risky. It requires that a person ‘makes a wise and prudent practical judgement about how to act in this situation’ (Carr and Kemmis 1986: 190).

This is my goal as a teacher, and I want to use this blog to help me achieve it.

Thanks for reading!