Math Teachers “Reenergize”
by Melissa Bailey | Aug 17, 2012 8:34 am
Posted to: Schools
Jim Barbarito stretched a pliable parabola on a computer screen, as he picked up a few new tricks before students return to his classroom.
Barbarito, who teaches algebra and geometry at Hill Regional Career High, was one of 40 math teachers, almost all from New Haven Public Schools, who took part in a free summer training this week. The four-day Exeter Mathematics Institute took place at the Bishop/Woods School just two weeks before students return to school on Aug. 29.
Eric Bergofsky, a math teacher at the elite Phillips Exeter Accademy in New Hampshire, led a room of teachers Thursday afternoon through an exercise with parabolas.
Bergofsky (pictured) had his “students” solve a quadratic equation by hand. Then he gave them “instantaneous feedback”—he had them check their answers using a program called The Geometer’s Sketchpad.
Using the program, students drag the mouse to change three variables, changing the parabola’s shape and starting point.
Barbarito and Karen Kirby (pictured at top of story), who teaches at Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy, conferred over the answers to a problem set Bergofsky had assigned them.
The institute, which trains urban educators across the country, focuses on rigor, problem-solving, and “making connections to big ideas,” according to Ken Mathews, New Haven Public Schools math supervisor. The Ned Lamont Foundation put up the $20,000 for the program.
While several teachers already said they use The Geometer’s Sketchpad, Mathews said the district has bought the program for all high schools as it rolls out new math standards in line with the Common Core State Standards. The new national standards focus on teaching math “an inch-wide, and a mile deep” instead of vice-versa, Mathews explained.
To adapt to Common Core, the district already rolled out Singapore Math in its elementary schools. Now it’s revamping all Geometry and Algebra I classes, Mathews said.
Teachers will end the week with a database of lesson plans and step-by-step instructions they can use with their students.
Barbarito said he has used the program before, when he can get his class into the school’s computer lab. He said plans to find a way to incorporate it into his teaching this year.
“It’s very interactive,” he said.
Barbarito said the program gave him better ways to explain how higher math concepts connect to simpler operations.
“It’s always good to get reenergized after summer,” he added.
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posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on August 17, 2012 11:52am
Way to go, Barbarito!
Ken Mathews always endeavors to support his teachers for the betterment of all.