Cartman, South Park

FACK! [Or, 5 Ways To Handle The Day Before The Big Math Test]

Jose Vilson Jose 3 Comments

To new math teachers, this sort of stress only compares to that getting injected with a thin, long needle for the first time or sitting in a dentist’s chair with your mouth full of something-caine waiting for a root canal. You know it’s going to benefit you in the long run just to be over it, but the the closer you get to the moment, the more you’d prefer to …

Because the difference between six and five can be very damned important

The Real Purpose of Math Is …

Jose Vilson Jose Leave a Comment

Anyone who’s ever had to fill in this blank understands my pain: “The real purpose of learning math is _____” I have a variety of answers, but usually, it’s straight-forward: much of the math you learn is applied to real-life situations, and the ability to do it yourself with no need for a calculator makes sure you’re independent of technological devices to a point. Also, even if it’s not necessarily …

Tin Foil Rex

Tearing the House Down pt. 1: No (Limiting) Math Gimmicks!

Jose Vilson Jose 12 Comments

I could have easily declared the following as a math teacher, but I’m being more demonstrative now: No. More. FOIL. Anyone who’s followed these posting in the last couple of years knows that I’m all for finding efficient ways of remembering how one works through different elements of math. I’m also for remembering processes so long as, later on, there’s a stronger element of true understanding there. Yet, what inevitably …

Def Squad

I Need Your Full Cooperation and Total Attention

Jose Vilson Jose 4 Comments

Just a few things I’d like to mention. I came into my classroom ready to breeze through the last few standards before the NYS Math Test (probability, permutations, and the like). I came in with a vengeance, remembering the things I needed to cover before those two dreaded words: Test. Prep. I’m officially nervous about the NYS Math Test 9 school days from now. I don’t think my kids are …

Einstein

Open Thread: What Makes a Good Math Teacher?

Jose Vilson Jose 9 Comments

Here are a few good questions for everyone. At the behest of brran, I’ve decided to start an open thread about math teachers. As the title says, what makes a good math teacher? As someone who considers himself a good math teacher, I often wonder what takes a teacher from good to great, or even from adequate to good. What are your criterion for good math teaching? I think this …

King Henry the 8th

A Life’s Perspective on Ratios

Jose Vilson Jose 5 Comments

You know you’re a math teacher when even I’m even starting to make the small parts of life mathematical. A few instances: Friend Quality vs. Quantity Ratio I had a long conversation with a friend of mine who was looking at someone’s profile on Facebook and mentioning how many friends this person had. This person apparently had tons of people from all across the Northeast and even into the Midwest. …

Kids In Front of School In Rain

Ojala Que Llueva Cafe En El Campo (Hope That It Rains Coffee In The Field)

Jose Vilson Jose 16 Comments

Juan Luis Guerra’s quintessential song is “Ojala Que Llueva Cafe En El Campo,” a song that comes across more as a incantation that the poor and hopefully at the least have coffee somehow fall from the sky to bless them, as if to say that G_d might bless them with their basic necessities to relieve them from their hunger, strife, and sorrow. Riddled with metaphors and as passionate as any …

Ace of Base

Ace of Bases

Jose Vilson Jose 4 Comments

This week, I’ve taken Greg Tang’s advice from the NCTM Conference and started working with the kids on different bases. And by different bases, I mean different ways of looking at the number systems we use. One of the biggest reasons why kids don’t get math in general is because the numbers themselves don’t make sense to them. For example, a child who looks at 1,234 can tell me that …

Abstracting the Concrete

Jose Vilson 5 Comments

Last week in the classroom, I started dreading the idea of the two worst words for any regular teacher in this country: test prep. I hate it because it’s a contrived barometer of what they’ve truly learned, and en masse, becomes the data for metrics used to evaluate student progress, teacher competency, school preparedness, and demographic success rates. Unfortunately, only the people on the bottom of the totem pole ever …