First year of teaching: Survival. Don’t die.
Middle years: Improve. Make a few dozen memorable lessons that you enjoy teaching.
Curriculum Adoption Year: Survive. Attempt to cram your memorable lessons into foreign molds, like Michelangelo building a swan from the tin foil wrapped around Mexican leftovers.

Sometimes, though, it works okay.

Given all the recent discussion on real-world vs. fake-world in math education, it’s tempting for teachers in the middle years (this author included) to try any means necessary to create engagement out of half a steak burrito.

Let’s try saying that another way:

8th Grade Standard 8.F.2:

Compare properties of two functions, each represented in a different way (algebraically, graphically, numerically in tables, or by verbal descriptions).

Okay. Those examples could go horribly or great.







Middle and high school are where the social development of students flexes dramatically from day to day.

Can I wear this? What happens if I wear this? How much makeup is too much? What will my friends think if I date this person?  Does this matter? Who should I talk to? Where do I fit in?

Michael Pershan absolutely nails something about students that few discuss (outside of my youth pastor wife and me): adolescents still aren’t quite sure which things are real and which aren’t, which things matter and which don’t.

What? No! You cannot drink radioactive waste to grow gills!

What? No! You cannot drink radioactive waste to grow gills!

Teachers, how many of your students have mentioned ghosts, superpowers, or the Illuminati this year? While it’s less than half that ask the questions like, “Mr. Vaudrey, are vampires real?”, the entire class is silent while I answer. I think that’s because:

Students aren’t certain what’s real and what’s not, so grappling and applying meaning are core tenets of a successful math curriculum.

More on that functions lesson later this week.

~Matt “There’s a reason Harry Potter has sold 400 million copies” Vaudrey