This last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of attending Picademy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Picademy is a two day professional development workshop that teaches teachers how to unlock the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi single board computer.
While I’ve been using the Raspberry Pi for quite a while now, I’ve never been able to make the leap to physical computing. I’ve always wanted to be able to make robots and play with sensors and other gadgets that I knew the Pi was capable of doing, but I never knew how. In the past I taught programming in a very dry way. I expect my teaching to be very different this year from previous years. Students will be more focused on what they can make with programming instead of doing assignments in programming.
I’m really looking forward to this year and seeing what my students will accomplish.
If you’re in the giving mood, please help make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed. Donations of any size will help my students, and right now any contribution you make will be doubled by Tom’s of Maine. https://www.donorschoose.org/project/stem-physical-computing-with-raspberry-p/2664110/
During my break I’ve been thinking about the nature of school. I’ve read a lot of articles and I see a lot of posts on social media about the nature of education. The basic gist is that everybody is unique, therefore standardization is bad. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but, generally speaking, I think it’s a true statement. Continue reading
I’ve had a lot on my mind to post about. I’ve just been too busy to actually post anything. A lot of exciting things are happening right now. However, I wanted to discuss a little bit of the opposite of that.
I just finished the Resident Educator Summative Assessment, or RESA for short (I love how this stupid buzzword “summative” still gets caught by my spell check). In Ohio newly licensed teachers are required to go through a residency program. During this time the “resident educator” is paired up with a mentor teacher who helps guide the new and inexperienced teacher.
Well here I am, still waiting for my computer lab pieces to come in. I’ve been having meetings with a lot of different people who are all giving me really great ideas on how to create this custom class exactly the way I want, but alas, here I am still teaching pencil to paper.
Perhaps it’s my own impatience, but my students’ questions have started to become my own, and I’m beginning to ask myself “what is the point of this.” Continue reading
In Ohio computer science (CS) is allowed to count as a math credit. Any certified math teacher is officially allowed to teach a CS class. That’s old news, but a whole lot of things all fell into place at the same time in a really exciting way this week.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between performing versus learning. This seems to come up more in math than other subjects due to the obscure nature of mathematics– we always need to legitimize why students need to learn it. That’s its own conversation.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the way I want my class to operate. For a long time now I’ve wanted to move away from the classical model of lecturing, practicing, and testing. It’s been a rough ride for me because I’ve been at 4 different schools in as many years. However, this year I have a school with excellent resources and a very supportive administration. I also expect to stay.
One thing I tell my students as they’re learning the math I’m teaching (and I’ve mentioned on this website time and time again) is that they’re not necessarily learning to be able to use math in everyday life (unless you’re a mathematician when was the last time you used a logarithm?), because they may not ever use i after the SAT and ACT. Rather, the reason they’re learning is to make connections and structure their thinking. While that works for some students it doesn’t for others. Continue reading
I haven’t been editing my book as I had originally intended to. I’m more tweaking it as I go on teaching the material a second year. I’m also thinking about open sourcing the LaTeX source code. I never really intended to make money off this project anyways. Any thoughts?
I was just at another school where I had the opportunity to talk about the mathematics involved in communication. One of my favorite subjects in math is number theory, so when I was asked to speak my mind when straight to encryption.
The class was fun, and students (and teachers) had a great time manipulating the cipher wheel. One student even shouted out “Can all of the teachers please leave so Mr. Wolf can teach us this encryption without them knowing how to decrypt?”
I only had the opportunity to speak about a simple shift cipher; how to encrypt, decrypt, and break the code. I also had about 1 minute to speak about the Vigenere Cipher, but alas, I ran out of time. If I had a whole semester I would have spoken about public key cryptography, the discrete logarithm problem, Diffie-Hellman, and RSA.
What fascinates me about encryption is that such simple math can be the cause for extremely tight and secure encryption. Until you get into complex code breaking and sieves, the entire process of encryption and decryption is totally arithmetic: anybody with half a high school education can learn it.
Wow, there have been a TON of updates to my website this week, and they will continue to roll out. My lessons are now being posted on static pages instead of a blog post. The static pages also present the lesson on the page itself instead of having to open a pdf like before. For an example look at General Angles. I can even embed a tikz picture.
Thanks for using wolf-math, and come back to see further updates.