Thursday, November 6, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 6 - Student Engagement

I know I've mentioned multiple times that my focus this year is on Student Engagement and tonight, that focus really hit home for me...
Once a month, I get to spend time with the awesome Sarah from Math=Love and we get to do math together.  I know that totally sounds like a nerd thing to do, but hey, what can I say... I'm a nerd! :)  Tonight was the monthly meeting of our local chapter of the Math Teachers Circle and one of the opening problems was this one:
I was fascinated by this idea of a Friedman number.  It reminded me of the game "24", which I've always loved.  My engagement level during this part of the evening was extremely high.
Then, the discussion moved to some other topic and involved proving something about relative prime numbers.  My attention started to waver as people that are WAY smarter than I'll ever be jumped right into an abstract algebra proof.  My engagement level started to decline, which reminded me of yesterday's blog post about productive struggle and the importance of talking things out with your peers.  I found it interesting that the presenter even made the comment that he was talking too much instead of us.  As lost as I was in the conversation, I decided to go back to my Friedman number list and see how many of them I could figure out.  736 totally stumped me and I finally cheated by looking online.  :)
My experience made me think about what it feels like to be a student in my classroom.  Here are some thoughts from my day:
1)  Deep thinking on a critical level is hard to do late in the day.  7:30 pm at night after a day of work and meetings is not the ideal time for me to think on an abstract algebra level.
2)  From yesterday's ASCD reference... the person talking is probably thinking. 
3)  A problem does not have to be real world to be engaging.  The puzzle aspect of the Friedman numbers fascinated me.
4)  How can I make sure to keep student engagement high?  How good am I at "reading the crowd" and making sure things are accessible to all levels?
I walked away tonight with a newfound appreciation for the works of Martin Gardner and with a ton of questions and thoughts on how I can engage my students at a deeper level.
Today I'm Thankful For:
My #EduRead book club!  Last night was the return of #EduRead after a month (or so) hiatus.  We will be reading and discussing the book The Highly Engaged Classroom by Marzano and last night we did a preview chat on what we believed student engagement to be, what we hoped to get out of the book study, and shared strategies we use to get kids up and moving.  You can read last night's chat archive via Storify.  If you would like to join us, we'd love to have you!  We use the hashtag #EduRead on Twitter at 8pm Central time on Wednesdays.  Next Wednesday, we will be discussing Chapter 1.

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