## Mathematics in Civilization (1/n)

I picked up a great-looking book a few years back and I’m just now getting a chance to dig in. It’s a freshman math textbook for college folks: Mathematics in Civilization (H.L. Resnikoff & R.O. Wells, Jr.). It’s a 1973 book that shows how mathematics came to be and how it has shaped and continues to shape our civilization.

A few wise folks have recommended some number of times that I learn more about the history of math, and as folks usually are, it was wise advice.

This book is intended for students and others who desire to understand the role that mathematics plays in science and society. (p 3)

Way to start it off with a bang, fellas.

The purposes and consequences of mathematics are of serious concern for the growth and health of society and therefore are a proper and necessary part of the workaday intellectual baggage that must be carried about by every educated and effective participant in civilized life. (p 5)

I had no idea that folks teaching math up in the ivory towers saw numbers in that light. This was fascination, beautiful stuff, and I wish I had understood this aspect of it earlier.

And if you want connections to ELA (it obvi includes art and science, as both are requirements for math to work), here’s some explicit evidence:

It is conceivable that mathematical needs for notational symbolism were later developed into full-fledged pictographic writing systems. (p 11)

Wow.

You can place this initial blog post analysis of my book on the following rubric. I’ve used grade 12 standards for this rubric, which I would use if I were studying this book for an adult course.

Standards Expert Proficient Apprentice
Art.Anchor.11.CConnectingRelate artistic ideas and works with historical context to deepen understanding.
Related artistic ideas and works with historical context to deepen understanding. Evaluated the historical impact of artistic ideas and works.
Related artistic ideas and works with historical context to deepen understanding.
Identified the historical context of artistic ideas and works.
Struggled to identify the historical context of artistic ideas and works.
HS-PS1-1Physical SciencesUse the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
Used the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms, including quantitative understanding of ionization energy.
Used the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
Used the periodic table as a model to explain the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
With support, used the periodic table as a model to identify the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
HS-PS4-2.APhysical SciencesEvaluate questions about the advantages of using a digital transmission of information.
Evaluated and refined questions about the advantages of using a digital transmission of information.
Evaluated questions about the advantages of using a digital transmission of information.
Asked questions about the advantages of using a digital transmission of information.
Identified questions relevant to the advantages of using a digital transmission of information.
HSA.APR.D.6.AAlgebra: Arithmetic with Polynomials & Rational ExpressionsRewrite simple rational expressions in different forms.
Clearly demonstrated and explained how to rewrite simple rational expressions in different forms.
Rewrote simple rational expressions in different forms.
Understood simple rational expressions in different forms.
Struggled to understand simple rational expressions in different forms.
HSS.ID.A.1Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative DataRepresent data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
Represented data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots). Applied this concept to solve real-world problems.
Represented data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
Understood data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
Struggled to understand data with plots on the real number line (dot plots, histograms, and box plots).
HSS.ID.A.3Statistics & Probability: Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative DataInterpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers).
Clearly demonstrated and explained how to interpret differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers).
Interpreted differences in shape, center, and spread in the context of the data sets, accounting for possible effects of extreme data points (outliers).
Understood how to interpret differences in shape, center, or spread in the context of the data sets.
Struggled to understand how to interpret differences in shape, center, or spread in the context of the data sets.
MP.2.EMathematical PracticesPause as needed when manipulating symbols.
Did not rush through manipulations. Paused and double-checked as needed when manipulating symbols.
Did not rush through manipulations. Paused as needed when manipulating symbols.
Did not rush when manipulating symbols.
Rushed when manipulating symbols.
MP.2.FMathematical PracticesProbe into the referents for the symbols involved.
Looked deeply into and explained the meanings for what the symbols represent. Evaluated how well the symbols represent what they mean.
Looked deeply into and explained the meanings for what the symbols represent.
Described what the symbols represent.
Identified what the symbols represent.
MP.2.GMathematical PracticesCreate a coherent representation of the problem at hand.
Created a coherent representation of a complex or real world problem.
Created a coherent representation of the problem at hand.
With some support, created a coherent representation of the problem at hand.
Created a coherent description of the problem at hand.
MP.2.HMathematical PracticesConsider the units involved in a problem.
Clearly explained the units involved in a complex or real world problem.
Explained the units involved in a problem.
Identified the units involved in a problem.
With support, identified the units involved in a problem.
MP.2.IMathematical PracticesAttend to the meaning of quantities in a problem, not just how to compute them.
Explained to the meaning of quantities in a problem, not just how to compute them. Evaluated how well the quantities represent their meaning.
Explained to the meaning of quantities in a problem, not just how to compute them.
Identified to the meaning of quantities in a problem, not just how to compute them.
Understood the meaning of quantities in a problem, not just how to compute them.
MP.2.JMathematical PracticesKnow and flexibly use different properties of operations and objects.
Evaluated when to use different properties of operations and objects.
Flexibly used different properties of operations and objects.
Identified different properties of operations and objects.
Understood different properties of operations and objects.
MP.4.BMathematical PracticesWrite an addition equation to describe a situation (Elementary).
Wrote and solved an addition or subtraction equation to describe a complex situation.
Wrote an addition equation to describe a situation.
With support, wrote an addition equation to describe a situation.
Identified the situation that a given addition equation represents.
MP.4.EMathematical PracticesKnow and make assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later.
Made assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. Checked assumptions and approximations against other situations.
Made assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later.
Made assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation.
Made assumptions and approximations to simplify a situation.
MP.4.FMathematical PracticesAnalyze relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.
Analyzed complex relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.
Analyzed relationships mathematically to draw conclusions.
Identified mathematical relationships and created assumptions.
Identified mathematical relationships.
MP.7.AMathematical PracticesLook closely to discern a pattern or structure.
Looked closely at complex problems to discern highly useful patterns or structures.
Looked closely at problems to discern a pattern or structure.
Recognized a pattern or structure in a problem.
With support, recognized a pattern or structure in a problem.
MP.7.BMathematical PracticesStep back for an overview of a problem and shift perspective.
Generated an overview of a complex or real world problem. Considered the problem from multiple relevant points of view.
Paused to look at the overall problem and to get an overview. Looked at the problem from different points of view.
Paused to look at the overall problem and to get an overview.
With support, understood the overall problem.
RST.11-12.4.AReading in Science and Technical SubjectsDetermine the meaning of symbols as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Clearly explained the meaning of symbols as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Explained the meaning of symbols as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Identified the meaning of symbols as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Struggled to identify the meaning of symbols.
RST.11-12.4.CReading in Science and Technical SubjectsDetermine the meaning of domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Clearly explained the meaning of domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Explained the meaning of domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Identified the meaning of domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context
Struggled to identify the meaning of domain-specific words and phrases.
W.HST.11-12.4Writing in Science and Technical SubjectsProduce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Produced clear, coherent, and engaging writing in which the development, organization, and style are best suited to task, purpose, and audience.
Produced clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Produced writing that was sometimes clear and coherent and the development, organization, or style was somewhat appropriate to task, purpose, or audience.
Struggled to produce writing that was clear or coherent or where the development, organization, or style was appropriate to task, purpose, or audience.

## Ferguson

I’ve been following the news in Ferguson as closely as I can manage, and I just wanted to be upfront and honest in sharing I anticipate conversation around it will come up in class.

I know this is an emotional situation and that events are still unfolding, and although I know half of you have not had students in our class before, I hope you will discoverÂ our class prides itself on being a community of respect and trust. Potentially intense conversations happen in an age-appropriate, respectful manner.

I’ve facilitatedÂ our students’ difficult conversations about tragediesÂ such as the Sandy Hook shooting, the September 11 terror attacks, Trayvon Martin’s shooting, and the SPU shooting. I’m always available and eager to engage in conversations with our families too (Ms. Stock and I have started planning our home visits so we can find out your preferred style of communication). You can also drop by our daily class meetings, which are usually from 9:00-9:20 AM.

I know that every family reacts differently based on their personal history, so let me give you a bit of my background. I’m a former newspaper reporter. My father is a retired police lieutenant who defied every possible cop stereotype (I do mean EVERY one â€” he liked bagels). I grew up in Metro Detroit and didn’t feel equipped to learn more about or understand the racial tensions around me.

I want my students to feel empowered to grapple with the important issues of their time in an age-appropriate way, regardless of the individual position they arrive at.Â Our yearlong guiding theme is Systems, Cycles, and Relationships. The protests in Ferguson highlight that our theme is timely indeed.

Our work with Junior Great Books gives students the chance to learn Socratic tools to discuss folklore and legends that have multiple perspectives. The protests in Ferguson are a real-life application of this work.

I’m always growing and learning, and if I realize I’ve misspoken, I always explore how my views have changed. Please help keep me honest through productive feedback.

Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to seeing you at our barbecue this Sunday!

## Update!

Here’s a copy of an e-mail I just sent my students’ families.

Hi there, and happy Thanksgiving week!

A few updates for you! (Just kidding, there are kind of a lot of updates. This is super long. I’m sorry.)

First, your students DID NOT bring home theirÂ superbright folderÂ today, which they normally do on most Mondays. That’s because this is a short week, so they’ll bring them home on Wednesday. The folders should be blue or purple.

Speaking of Wednesday, we haveÂ early dismissalÂ on Wednesday at 1:20 PM. Students have lunch at 11:00 AM, so they will eat breakfast and lunch at school.

Secondly, some of my 3rd grade families know I spent last year working on my National Board portfolio. After submitting my portfolio in May of this year, I FINALLY heard back this weekend, and I’m glad to report that I am now aÂ National Board Certified TeacherÂ in middle childhood! You can learn more about the process and about my SWEET new credentials here: http://www.nbpts.org. Other NBCTs at Wildwood are Mrs. Stock, Ms. Willard, Mrs. Gray, and Mrs. Choi.

Thirdly, I imagine your students have mentionedÂ CSI WildwoodÂ to you. We have finished our first unit in social studies, so we are starting our first unit in science. This unit is Changes, and it usually focuses on the states of matter water can have. Borrrrrrring.

In addition to states of matter, we’re going to talk about the chemical and physical changes that happen when detectives and scientists investigate a crime, and we’ve enlisted the help of MANY teachers and staff members! This week and next week, students are detectives investigating an arson in the library. They interview teachers as the suspects and witnesses, take notes, examine evidence, and determine whodunnit.

We’re integrating this project into social studies (timelines), math (attend to precision) and English Language Arts (writing, communicating clearly and accurately). You canÂ follow our updatesÂ on Twitter by using the hashtag #CSIwildwood, and all our tweets are posted on our class website at www.mshoughtonsclass.com. You can read more about the CSI curriculum here:Â http://www.prufrock.com/Crime-Scene-Detective-Arson-Using-Science-and-Critical-Thinking-to-Solve-Crimes-P278.aspx

Also, I spoke atÂ Ignite SeattleÂ last Wednesday, and I had a chance to talk with many people about the impact of their elementary school math instruction on their math identity as adults. Many people shared painful, embarrassing math experiences with me, and for a lot of these folks, the turning point was 3rd or 4th grade. I know this is a critical time for your students, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with them to support them. My talk will be posted online in the next month or so, and I’ll share the link when it’s available.

Phew. I know that was long. Thank you so much for reading (or skimming) all the way through this. Thank you as always for giving me the privilege of learning with your students every day. They are remarkable young people, and I’m honored to help them grow.

Shannon

——————————————————————————————
Sent from the desk of Shannon Houghton
2nd & 3rd Grade HCP
www.mshoughtonsclass.com
Currently Reading:Â The Wig in the Window, Kristen Kittscher
Just Finished:Â The Dead Boys, Royce Buckingham
I believe all students have the right to a rigorous and relevant
education that prepares them to follow their passions.
——————————————————————————————

## Seattle Commuting Tips for ALAMW13 (and otherwise)

I’m SO EXCITED you’re coming to Seattle! Yes, you! You’re going to have such a fantastic time! Yessssss! Books! WOO! And I’m hoping I might be able to help you out during your time here!

So I’ve been bus commutingÂ a 70-mile round tripÂ pretty regularly for two years now, most of those with cumbersome teacher bagsÂ in tow and wearingÂ overdressed teacher clothes. Based on my experiences, I would like to humbly offer a fewÂ transportationÂ suggestions if you’ll be coming to Seattle later this month for ALA.

To get around without a smartphone, I cannot help you. Seriously. Sorry. I truly don’t think I would be able to bus commute without my iPhone. I CAN tell you that bus drivers (and most riders) are VERY willing to help you puzzle out where you need to go. So if you DO have a smartphone, you should get One Bus Away and make sure you have the most recent version of Google Maps, which provides directions using public transit.

A word about Seattle distances: things might seem close, but distances are different than what you’d encounter in a suburban community. I’m from metro Detroit, where driving nine miles for a restaurant wasn’t a big deal. In Seattle, that distance puts you WAY out of the downtown core and up into suburbia. My parents stayed at a hotel that was four miles away from us, and although it was close, it was also six neighborhoods away. I tell you this not as discouragement, but just so you have some perspective.

Next: light rail from the airport. DO IT. It’s cheap, it’s roomy, and you’ll feel good about the environment. If your organization is comping you for transportation (ha?), help a pal out and share a taxi with them, but otherwise, LIGHT RAIL. A word of caution, the distance between the Sea-Tac terminal and the Sea-Tac light rail station is a littler longer than you might expect. Your hotel is probably at the University Street or Westlake Center stop.

You should get an ORCA card if you plan to use public transit any more than once during your time in Seattle. Seriously. Even just having an epurse (loading up the card with money) is cheaper than getting a physical ticket for light rail. You can even do this before you ever leave home!

Don’t bring an umbrella. Seriously. Coat with hood, yes. Umbrella, no.

Speaking of coats, I alternate between a puffy vest over fleece, a wool car coat, and a rain coat. They all serve me just fine; the only reason I choose one instead of the other is based on my outfit for the day, honestly. I don’t have a multiseason squall, but if you do, you’ll be set.

Boots would be nice, yes, but none of that heavy duty Sorel or L.L. Bean business. Complete overkill. These are the besssssst. For one thing, it’s not that cold here. For another, you probably won’t be walking outside THAT much. And one last thing: if you have sweaty feet, you will HATE YOUR LIFE in boots that long. I usually wear cowboy boots in the winter if I’m not wearing my rain boots.

If you get frustrated with the bus system, keep in mind, Seattle wasn’t really designed to be an enormous city. Our interstate goes underneath the Convention Center and can’t ever be widened, for goodness sake. So although our mass transit system is pretty rad, we’re obviously nothing like New York or D.C.Â

Cabs will be easy enough to find downtown, but I lurrrrrve using Uber. They almost always have a deal going on, so run a search to see what you can track down.

You’ll be close enough to the walk to the legendary Seattle Public Library. You should. Obviously.

A few other caveats, because I always like to hear those when I receive advice. I’m not terribly in shape, but I am pretty slim. Bus commuting for the larger among us, particularly with luggage, can get a little cramped. Nothing to the point where I’d advise you AGAINST it, but again, I know I’d want to know that in advance.

Also, just a friendly general public transit reminder: If I have somewhere I need to be RIGHT on time, I always try to catch a bus one earlier than I’d need just to be safe. That said, unless the weather is awful, time estimates from both One Bus Away and Google Maps are pretty darned accurate.

Any other transit-related questions? Just ask in the comments, or track me down on Twitter!

## Room 103 –> Room 202

So I’m moving across the school, and it’s a bit of a chore, considering the vast amounts of crap I have accumulated in the past five years. But I’ve been inspired by Mr. Schu’s updates of his enviable library environment, so I figured I’d share how things are going on this side of the country.

My new classroom faces the front parking lot and is pretty close to the office, which will mean an increase in foot traffic outside and inside the hallways. Which means I will need to have freaking inspiring book advertisements/displays posted everywhere. All in due time. Here’s what I have so far. My new classroom is basically a mirror image of the room I vacated, which you’ve seen featured here. Although apparently it gets hotter than my old room, which is pretty bad news for a prolifically sweaty teacher like me. Yech. Anyway:

The next few photos are taken from my vantage point standing in front of the laptop you see in the first picture and turning 360 degrees.

I hope this was interesting/useful. I’m still not entirely moved out of Room 103, so there’s plenty to still be done. What’s your favorite book that you catch a glimpse of in the images?

## The Power of Three

Today, I talked with three people from three different passions in my life. Today blew my mind.

I met Betsy Bird for lunch. I know Betsy from the reading fangirl part of my life.Â She’s sort of a librarian, but she is way more than that. Yes, she is as friendly, intelligent, and nimble-minded as you think she would be. We talked about lots of bookish things. I wish we would have lived on the same floor in the dorms, she’s the kind of person I just want to be able to randomly pop in on and start up a conversation with.

I corresponded with Chip Brock. I know Chip Brock (I mentally call him Dr. Brock but he has indicated that he’s fine with Chip, but I feel weird calling him Chip so I compromise by using “Chip Brock.”) from my science fangirl part of my life. Chip Brock was my Navigating the Universe professor at MSU, but he is way more than that. He also does work with CERN, WHICH YOU MIGHT KNOW ABOUT BECAUSE THEY FOUND THE EFFING HIGGS BOSON (-like particle). We talked about science and making it accessible (but also way more than that). And I will be writing way more about that. Tomorrow. Featuring a graphic organizer for Gae Polisner (someone else I only feel comfortable referring to with both first and last names).

I approached Damon Gupton after seeing Clybourne Park. I know Gupton from the theater fangirl part of my life.Â He is an actor, but he is way more than that. I told him that I enjoyed the show and that it resonated with all the work we’ve been doing with equity at Wildwood and I got a little teary and he said that this conversation had to continue, so he invited me along with other cast folks to a pub across the street and we talked about Michigan and Detroit and race and prejudice and it was wonderful.

I am so grateful for wise, kind, fascinating people who are willing to talk with me to try to make sense of this overwhelming world, whether we make sense of it through literature, science, or art.