After school today, we had consultants come talk to us about the new 7-day rotating schedule that we’re adopting next year (each class meets 5 out of the 7 days, and those five classes will be 50, 50, 50, 50, and 90 minutes. (Yup, one big block.) The reason that this is under “one good thing” is that the consultants were actual normal teachers who have undergone this transition — and they focused on specific challenges they faced and what worked to deal with these challenges and what didn’t work. The best part was that one of the four teachers they brought in was a math teacher, so for the hour they gave us to think some stuff through, me and others in the Upper School math department just talked with him. Love it!
Today was the deadline for kids to send me revised proposals and rubrics for their second Explore Math. (I just sent emails with feedback to each student on their proposals/rubrics tonight.) This is optional and involves doing one in-depth exploration on something they are passionately curious about or interested in. Thus far, some of the ideas that students are considering exploring:
- Powerball Lottery
- The Player Efficiency Rating in basketball
- “Park effects” on how that affects hitting averages in baseball
- The Lorentz contraction (weirdnesses in space-time)
- The Collatz conjecture
- The mathematics/accounting behind the scenes of a restaurant
- Creating meaningful math questions that provoke conversations around social justice
- Creating a 5-piece photography exhibition where each photograph illustrates an interesting mathematical idea
- Creating 3 mathematical sculptures, and then doing a little work calculating the angles that polyhedra faces make with each other for a few simple polyhedra
- Analyzing a weird phenomena that a student noticed in a physics program he wrote which has a bunch of wheels connected to each other, each spinning with a motor
The honest truth is I don’t know if any of these will actually get done. But I’ve met with each of these students, and they’ve expressed their ideas and we’ve refined them, and they have each written a mini-prospectus and their own rubric on how they want to be graded. So I think they’re invested. They’re definitely interested. We’ll see how the follow through is, however. But heck if I don’t even care. Just looking at this list, and meeting with my kids, has made me so happy because it shows me there is intellectual curiosity still in them, and that school hasn’t killed it all. I sometimes worry about that. Yeah.
 It can boost their grades, but not by extra credit. It will count as a mini-mini assessment that will be graded and added to their quarter assessments… so if they do well, it can boost their assessment average by adding an additional mini-mini-assessment to the mix.