## 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.
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.

## #booklove for Valentine’s Day

This weekend, I realized it was time for me to take care of my Valentine’s Day cards. I’ll be out of the classroom Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and it would be just my style to wait until Thursday morning to pull something together. I decided to combat this today instead of working on my National Boards. (oops)

These cards smiled at me at Target this afternoon. The handwriting is all done using a Lamy fountain pen from Goulet Pens with Deep Magenta ink by Diamine.

I was originally going to write some quality about each student that I loved, but I decided to do book recommendations instead. On the inside, I wrote “I love ______________, and I hope you will love it too!” Here’s what I came up with for my 2nd and 3rd graders:

Here’s wishing you a happy early Valentine’s Day! Support VDAY if that’s your jam. Which it should be.

## ThirstDay 01/03/13

Awwwwwww yes. All I ever do is drink beverages while I read. Thanks to David Etkin at {Eat the Book} for hosting. Here’s what we’ve got today:

I was fortunate enough to receive an Aeroccino from Toby for Christmas this year, which means that I no longer have to douse my espresso shots with a splash of cold milk. (Toby received a Nespresso machine for his birthday. It’s pretty much the best thing ever.)

So I’m hecka spoiled, although in Seattle this sort of thing is kind of par for the course.

I have a bunch of picture books that I want to shuttle back to the library today, so I’m going to work my way through those. I’m also halfway through The Hound of Rowan. Which is excellent.

The mug is from my trip to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in 2009, funded by the Cultural Exploration Program.

## Regarding My Time Out of the Classroom

I’ve spent the last two days out of my classroom.

Yesterday, I was looking at the ELA Common Core standards on a committee that’s looking to identify power standards and learning targets. We’ll see how that goes. For now, we’re still looking at the anchor standards themselves, and I’m glad our facilitator is relying pretty heavily on the excellent book Pathways to the Common Core. We’ll continue to meet through the spring.

Today, I served as a union representative on our district’s evaluation committee. As part of its application for Race to the Top money, Washington state passed legislation that rolled out a new teacher and principal evaluation system. The Race to the Top folks didn’t think our plan was rigorous enough so they didn’t give us the money BUT! We still get to implement the new evaluation system! So there’s that.

Now. You could argue that the purpose of having each of the aforementioned committees is wrong, either because standards are a bunch of malarkey or because union business is a mess no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole or because district admins have no clue of what’s actually going on in schools so it’s a waste of time to talk with them.

And all that’s fine, but I’ve actually been thoroughly impressed with the folks facilitating and populating the committees I’m serving on. Federal Way is doing a lot of really great things that have KIDS in the forefront, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Right, you say, but the bottom line is that I’m still out of my classroom. And that means I’m not providing my students with high-impact instruction. Oof. So that’s bad, several people have told me.

Now, I’ve thought about this a lot, and if our motto this year is “WE ARE WILDWOOD,” then I think it’s important to have a representative from our school on these committees, advocating for OUR children and OUR high-poverty population and OUR common concerns. I’ve actually had two teachers in the past week come up to me: “Thanks so much for going to these meetings — I really am glad you’re the one there for us; I’d have no clue what was going on.” “The way you say things makes so much sense, so you’re totally the right person to be on that committee.” I take those comments not only as kind compliments to me personally, but also as a reinforcement that sometimes, the critical work DOES happen outside of the classroom.

Believe me, I know the impact being out of the classroom can have on kids. During my third year of teaching, I took long-term disability to grapple with depression. So I wouldn’t have to explain to well-meaning (but gossipy) staff members that I was taking medical leave, I missed schoolÂ a few days at a time spread out over the course of several months rather than being out for one chunk of time.Â My classroom was a mess. My students were a mess. And my weekly absences, combined with me not really “looking” sick, led to some stress with my colleagues as well. One particularly organized teacher put together a tally sheet where she kept track of the number of days I was out.

So with that as baggage in my past, why do I continue to serve on committees, even when they pull me out of instructional time with my kids? I’ve narrowed it down to four main reasons.

Teaching is hard. It takes a lot of brainpower. In the day-to-day maelstrom that I wind up getting caught in, yes I do reflective processing and TONS AND TONS of casual reading, but not the kind of deep academic thinking that makes me all tingly and excited and energized to continue to carry on with this huge undertaking called public education.

I mean the kind of REAL thinking and problem solving that happens when you’re trying to work through dense academic language or trying to make sense of a legal document. The kind of processing that happens when you synthesize a team’s ideas. My brain NEEDS the kind of thinking that happens on these committees.

I’m a white, middle class woman. I’m fully aware of my privilege (and my occasional all-consuming white guilt). But although Federal Way tries pretty hard to focus on equity, issues of social justice don’t always make it past the lip service stage. I’m part of an amazing group of educators at Wildwood who are committed to SHIFTING THE DISCOURSE and having the difficult conversations we need to have to close the achievement gap and ensure a rigorous educational experience for all our students.

The National Equity Project has been working closely with Wildwood, and they have absolutely shaped my thinking. Every committee I’m on, I make sure my comments and ideas are always given through an equity lens. I also try to make sure our gifted students get a voice, and lately I’ve been trying to speak up more about educational technology, although that’s really more Cheryl’s passion than mine.

With all my aforementioned baggage related to absences, I asked a few former students what they thought of me missing school for committee meetings.

Me: When I’m out of class, even for a few days in a row, did you think that I was avoiding you or that I didn’t want to be teaching?
Sam: Um, noooo. I mean, it’s not like you’re out there having a great time without us or anything.

So apparently meetings are universal for “dull, necessary evil” even to 11-year-olds. Despite what my kids think, I do get good information from these meetings.

We don’t GET professional development at our schools. I mean, we get PD time, but it’s inevitably filled up with required business and other garbage. News about the evaluation system probably won’t be rolled out to teachers until next fall. Depending on their building’s administration, it could be even later than that. I know about it NOW.Â I mentioned during our meeting today that in SIX YEARS of teaching, I have received ONE HALF-DAY of training on writing, ONE DAY of training on science, etc. That’s insane.

Plus, I get plenty of amazing information when I pick the brains of other passionate educators. I mentioned before that Federal Way has some incredibly talented people. A brief list of appreciation: Angie Neville, Shawn Smith, Cindy Black, Christine Corbley, David Brower, Jerry Warren. I get stir crazy when I’m in my four walls too long, even when my four walls contain brilliantly flexible children and hugely supportive fellow teachers. I need to get out. And…

I’m not looking toward a future as an administrator, which is the path many talented (and less talented but overconfident) teachers take when they want to have an impact on a larger number of students or educators. But I still want my work to have a more wide-reaching, global impact. So I’m creating assessments and rubrics and exemplars and contributing to district-wide recommendations. I’m at meetings telling the assistant superintendent that AmeriCorps is a service our district MUST continue to invest in. I’m THOROUGHLY not satisfied with the current state of public education, and I do see myself as a leader, but I see myself as leading from within, not as an “official” leader.

Teacher-leader is my personal favorite new buzzword, because it acknowledges that I’m takingÂ impassionedÂ steps to help staffs shift the discourse, but I am still, FIRST AND FOREMOST, a teacher.

Both inside and out of the classroom.

I recently led a mini-PD on reader’s workshop for my district’s new highly capable teachers. I was concerned about making the material relevant for them, as I knew they were already familiar with a five component model of literacy instruction.

I also know that personally, when I receive a handout on white paper, it will get lost. If it’s hole punched, that chance is reduced by about 30%. So I try to make sure any information I give out is either on nonstandard-sized paper or is on colored paper.

Back when I did SFA, I shamelessly bribed my students into being interested in texts they’d already read 289365 times by making and handing out trading cards related to the books they were studying. So the day before the HCAP training, inspiration struck! Literacy resource trading cards!

The document is available here:Â HCPguidedreading

They’re not the most beautiful cards ever, but they suited my purposes just fine. I was also able to use them as a mini-assessment when I asked teachers to hold up the card they were most excited about using and a card that didn’t strike them as particularly useful.

## 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.

## It’s Monday! What are you reading?

What fun! I had more time than usual to read this week as I headed across the country for my cousin’s wedding, but I unfortunately spent most of my time reading trashy magazines and sleeping. I fly out to Seattle tonight, so if I can’t sleep, you know what I’ll be doing.

PICTURE BOOKS / GRAPHIC NOVELS / EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS

I read several upcoming/recently released books on NetGalley this week. I still need to figure out how to get Adobe Digital Editions onto my iPad, but until then, I’m going through every book on my laptop…

GROWN-UP BOOKS

I’m not actually anywhere near done with BuckyWorks, but I’ve skimmed every chapter and now I’m going back and reading it. So I’ll be reading it more this coming week.

As far as what I’ll be reading this week, I’m not planning on setting any lofty goals as I need to hunker down and get my classroom packed and my gradebook organized as the end of the year swiftly approaches. It’s also the first week for Teachers Write, which should be pretty rad.

## It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Thanks as always to TeachMentorTexts for hosting this! It’s my first time participating FOR REALSIES.

I’ve been mentally busy this week. My mind is racing and it’s really hard to stay focused on school stuff. So here’s what I’ve been reading. Each image links to my GoodReads review.

Picture Books

I need to read the Colby/Jen discussion of the book — I’d been waiting to finish reading it first… Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Grown-Up Books

I’m in the middle of reading The Hobbit with my husband, and my class and I are right at the GOOD part of The Mysterious Howling, so I hope to finish those this week. ALSO, I got my copy of Squish 3 when I met Jenni Holm yesterdayyyyy, so I need to read that too!

It seems like more and more publishers are releasing their new books right to OverDrive, the Seattle Public Library’s eBook service, and I’ve been able to snag some new titles faster than I would if I placed a regular hold. Here’s my partial bookshelf:

But some titles I apparently need to still see in person, as Mr. Schu mentioned on my review of How Many Jelly Beans?.

This weekend, I also updated my NetGalley account, so I have a bunch of goodies there that I’m saving for my travels to Michigan this Thursday night. Yessss.

All images are from the best bookstore on the planet, Powell’s.

## Babymouse for President

Today we learned about the Marty McGuire Book Club on this Wednesday, as well as the #babymouse4prez photo contest. If you want to enter, you can tweet a picture of yourself with the hashtag #babymouse4prez, or you can e-mail your photo to babymouse4prez@gmail.com. I got some great inspiration from my students for what my picture might look like!