The Exeter math conference continued to be exceptional. It is a unique combination of smart, driven people and has the feel of my other favorite conference (Educon).
Carly Ziniuk from The Bishop Strachan School.
We did an activity that compared the relative population by continent between 1994 and 2025. It was a follow-up activity to a tactile project she did with her eighth grade class based on global inequity. The project was well-suited for mathematics because students needed to figure out how to create a stacked bar graph for both years. This involved accurately partitioning the graph into proportional rectangles based on the data. There is decimal arithmetic involved as we needed to know the running total to accurately draw the graph. We worked in pairs and each group member took one of the two years. I am a huge fan of this approach. It uses authentic data and allow students to collaborate without one student doing all of the work. In fact, I would like each student to have their own data. This sets up opportunities for them to compare and contrast their results with peers. Data for each student puts a larger burden on the teacher, but I am confident that a spreadsheet can be created with the individualized answers.
We used Google Earth for several projects. We traced Greg Mortenson's route in Three Cups of Tea, from where he tried to ascend the K2 to where he built his first school. His path has lots of opportunity for mathematical analysis (e.g., rate, climate, etc.). Carly discussed a similar use of Google Earth, where each student tracked a persons' route on the Underground Railroad. I need to do more work with Google Earth and learn how to create realistic 3D buildings using Google SketchUp.
Bishop Strachan School grades it's students on knowledge, application, thinking, and communications. The relative contribution may vary by assignment and the overall subject grades is equally weighted. This is smart. Students are driven by grades and they will adapt their study habits to the system. On a side note, the Chris Lehman's Science Leadership Academy uses a similar set of core values for grading and curriculum design: inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection. This is very helpful for creating teacher accountability at the assignment level. In addition, these common skills facilitate curriculum mapping and interdisciplinary projects. It is clear from Carly's activities that real-world data can be woven into any math context. Moreover, data can used to raise social issues. Maybe during the course of solving the math problems, they will develop a sense of empathy and start to raise legitimate questions.
Ron Lancaster (see part 1) had more excellent examples of math in the read world. Today's marque problem involved distance and time graphs. We worked on understanding the distance between two people on escalators. One person stars at the top (and goes down) and the other person starts at the bottom (and goes up). The distance between them is a quadratic, which we used Sketchpad to simulate.
In closing, I shared with the class a few links of my Delicious links: