Today was an incredible day – I don’t even know how to describe it. I have been surrounded by math teachers before, but at this conference, I am surrounded by people who are interested in learning, sharing, exploring, and elevating the level of their own and their classroom discourse, and doing so with a good-humored spirit. Everyone seems to be open to an exchange of information and ideas, and so many people are friendly. There are people from all over the country – all over the world in fact – including several teachers on their first visit to the U.S. The academic facilities are incredible; this skeleton of a humpback whale is suspended from the ceiling of the Phelps Science Center, where most academic activities are held.
I am taking 2 courses, which seem to be at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. The first course – Greatest Hits of Higher Mathematics – is taught by a woman from Brown University; the topics include Real Analysis, Number Theory, Topology, and Proof – and a project!!! I am completely intimidated by the material – we began by proving that √2 was irrational (just in case you weren’t convinced). In fact, when I am done with this post, I have homework to do!! Did I mention that the teacher looks like one of the student volunteers? No matter – I am here to tackle this higher mathematical inhibition of mine.
The other class – iPads in The Classroom – is completely hands-on, much more relaxed, and I am much more in my element. We had a lot of fun today uploading pictures of ourselves to a wall on padlet.com, and doing the homework assignment (yes, homework in BOTH classes!), which involved scanning QR codes and downloading a series of color-coded messages. Very cool.
The social hour before dinner and evening program was very lively – lots of laughter, mathematical banter, discussions of classrooms and standards – with graphing calculators, iPads and other mathematical toys in evidence. And dinner – oh wow – a Middle Eastern station, a carving station, an Indian station, a dessert station and a fresh fruit table – oh, I forgot the shrimp and sushi table. Amazing!!
I am sitting now in my room, which is sort of like a monk’s cell – very bare bones – unlike the rest of the opulent campus. I guess a dorm is a dorm is a dorm, even if senators’ children live in it. However, it does boast a commemorative shrubbery.
No more procrastinating – must face my homework! More on the morrow.