Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Blogging my Guerrilla PLC

My district has mandatory PLCs but I hate being told what I have to do to grow as a professional. Anyhow, I am rejecting the official PLC and going guerrilla (which is my understanding about how PLCs work best anyway).

So, I'm teaching Algebra 2 for the first time in a long time. (Not to get too far off topic here, but I hate it when teachers say, "I haven't taught that in 10 years. I don't know any of it." Really?! You don't remember the big ideas of Algebra 2? I haven't taught it in 10 years and I'm pretty sure that it hasn't changed that much. I get that you might forget a formula here and there, but the entire curriculum?You obviously just memorized it and didn't really know it in the first place.) I remember that Quadratics always give kids a hard time. And, I know that other teachers feel the same way. Fortunately, Twitter to the rescue! James Tanton (who I've reference elsewhere) has a free, online Quadratics course.  I asked a few colleagues to join me in watching some videos and trying to create a good, cohesive, conceptually based unit on Quadratics. 

So, we made some goals: (1) We need to create a good unit on Quadratics. (2) Students should understand something about the history of Quadratics, it helps to ground the unit. (3) We're going to watch/do everything ourselves but will probably adapt for our students.

This might not be the best goals so far, but I think they'll get adjusted through the process. 

Then we got down to work. Watched a few (pretty awesome) videos and learned some (pretty awesome) math. Some of it I had seen before, some of it was new to me. I'm excited about the possibility of making something fun and interesting for class. We didn't make it through all that we intended because the practice problems were pretty challenging, both computationally and conceptually. Then we gave ourselves homework. We have to watch three more videos each and do the practice. When we get together next week, we can go over stuff together, share what we've learned and then go on to the next section. 

I'm pretty pumped. I think this is going to be awesome. And I think to myself, isn't this what teachers in other countries do all the time? Why did I have to carve out personal time to learn something for my job? Whatever... my new motto: when it comes to professional development, go guerrilla!

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