I’m writing this for myself as much as for you, dear readers, because each day is filled to the brim with mathematical, pedagogical and interpersonal stimuli. I am certain that when I return to Brooklyn, I will not remember half of what seems so clear and immediate today. As the days go by (all three of them), fewer people show up early to breakfast. I love coming in and sitting with someone different at each meal. Today the conversation ranged from state assessments to finding thrift stores in Park City (I found some kindred spirits ready to go on the hunt with me).
During today’s morning math session, I felt that patterns that have been spiraling the problem sets each day begin to take shape in my mind, and had a burst of insight. When we discussed some examples as a whole group, I saw that there were more mathematical dances going on in the work than I had currently grasped. I think I need to take some other time out of the day to continue working on these sets, but choosing what NOT to do in order to find that space in the schedule? Hard choices, but lucky ones to have to make. Tomorrow we switch groups, and the work habit adjustment will begin again. I am discovering that I like to work through things by myself, I think. It is challenging to work on a math problem, develop insight into it, and formulate a solution at the same pace as anyone else, and the admonishment ‘not to teach our colleagues’ in the norms we were given proves difficult to follow. I wonder if there will be a conversation about this at some point during these morning sessions.
Instead of watching a video of students solving problems in our Reflection on Practice session, today WE were the students, and worked first solo and then in pairs on several problems that appear regularly in middle and high school classes. I unwittingly provided a sample of a typical student misconception in the first problem (it involved working backwards using fractions and a bag of marbles, a word problem subject of frequent choice), and got a completely wrong solution, much to my chagrin. As a group we explored different types of solutions – mostly correct ones – and discussed the conflict between how the Common Core standards view fractions (along a number line) and the area or ribbon models which can be effectively used to create visual representations that are not pizzas. Our task for pair work was to develop both explicit and recursive sequences for the Handshake Problem, and then to choose from among the various solutions three to present to a class (and to justify those choices) to further a particular lesson goal. Tomorrow we are moving on to formative assessment (I should be doing my homework reading right now…). I’m looking forward to really digging in to that conversation.
There was no formal programming this afternoon, and buses ran back and forth to Park City. As lovely as the Zermatt Resort is, it was equally lovely to move off the grounds of this Tyrolean Wonderland (with its varied amenities, including goats and footmen) into the semi-real world of Park City. My colleagues and I roamed the center of town and made our contributions to the local economy, and enjoyed speaking to the shopkeepers, many of whom were transplanted from elsewhere but did not live in town due to the high real estate values. Main Street in Park City is a super clean version of a Western town – a quaint and upscale commercial strip with unusual boutiques and art galleries. My friend Irene almost scalded herself trying to embrace this fellow in the 85˚ heat, but found someone a bit more accessible in one of the shops.
The Kimball Art Center was a highlight of my day; it is a cultural center which runs, among other things, art classes for children and adults, exhibits of photography, mixed media and other art, an annual art festival and other events. The current exhibitions included a series of reproduction WPA-commissioned posters for the National Park Service and a quilt and felted wool exhibit by Faith Hagenhofer, an artist who explores issues of culture and contested land, and uses wool from her own sheep in her art work.
On the bus back to Midway, our bus driver advised us to keep our eyes open as we drove back; he claimed he had seen a lot of wildlife on the move that evening. And sure enough, we were treated to an elk. We shared stories of our day in Park City, and in doing so, shared even more of ourselves, moving from tales of the classroom to tales of our lives. What a rich, rich day it was.