Week 1: Discussion Question (Option 1)

01 Nov 2017 7:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Take a look at the word cloud generated by dine & discuss participants. In what ways is it similar to or different from the mathematicians' word cloud (page 5)?


  • 02 Nov 2017 11:45 PM | Anonymous member
    The Mathematician's word cloud presents divergent thinking, with boundless possibilities. It feels positive, playful, and free. This is never how math felt to me, not in school, ever. Yet, I am drawn to mathematics more and more, as I am older, and want to find the means to understand and comprehend its complexity.

    This is in contrast to much of how elementary mathematics is presented and experienced. Often math problems have finite solutions, found through a strictly followed procedure. Students want to solve problems and enjoy numbers, but are stifled by procedures they don't understand. When the procedure doesn't work for them, they feel bad. They feel cheated out of their fun with numbers. They also feel like they can't do math.

    The Participants' word cloud seems to reflect the notions of our society in general about mathematics. It's a slice of mathematics experience that falls short of the "ideal" experience of mathematics expressed on page 5. It does include a range of feelings from Positive to Not So Positive. It shows more of the possibilities to explore, and the obstacles to overcome in mathematics instruction.
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  • 03 Nov 2017 3:58 PM | Anonymous member
    The mathematician's word cloud expresses joy and wonder. It shows how mathematicians find pleasure in the effort. words like '"invent," "play," "wonder," "free" show the boundless opportunities mathematician's feel. There is not one single word that expresses a "math skill" in their words.

    In contrast, the words from our Dine and Discuss reveal underlying (or overt!) stress and anxiety (boring, confusing, anxiety) although there are some bright spots (interesting, enjoyable). They lack joy and identify with procedures and skills.

    One of the reasons I am involved in this Dine and Discuss is to discover ways to bring joy to my math classroom because my students definitely view math more like our Dine and Discuss word cloud than the mathematicians word cloud!!
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  • 03 Nov 2017 5:19 PM | Deleted user
    There is a huge contrast between the Dine And Discuss participants’ word cloud and that constructed using words from mathematician’s writing about math. The participants expressed many negative emotions such as anxiety, confusion, boring, frustrating, scary, and anxiety. They also associated math with memorizing, procedures, and rote learning. Mathematicians, on the other hand, expressed feelings of delight, joy, wonder, and passion, and associated mathematics with creative processes such as adventure, games, play, and discovery. Clearly the mathematicians love what they’re doing and get great satisfaction from exploring the relationships and mysteries of numbers.

    I am saddened by this, for clearly teachers want students to love math. But if we, the teachers, did not appreciate the beauty of math in our own learning, are we really equipped to create an exciting, creative learning environment for our students? I think it has to go beyond posting a student math menu that includes games and problem solving. We teachers also need to mess around with the numbers and discover the beauty for ourselves.
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    • 08 Nov 2017 8:44 PM | Deleted user
      Hi Sarah,

      I'm sure that most of the teachers, that felt a dread for math in the past, will do their best not to allow history to repeat itself. Maybe that is what brings the passion to teach it in a different way. Certainly the textbooks have become more colorful over the years, with pictures of real-life math. How many of us work on a Sudoku when time permits?

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  • 04 Nov 2017 1:52 PM | Anonymous member
    The P. 5- Teachers words to describe their experiences as a math student

    More words describing very negative, personal feelings:
    Dread, humiliation, hate, embarrassed, ashamed.
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  • 04 Nov 2017 4:22 PM | Anonymous member
    The teachers’ experience as math students is very negative. It has no purpose, can only be done on a chalkboard, or on paper and is demoralizing.

    The mathematicians’ word cloud is positive. It is upbeat, fun and inspiring.

    The word cloud we created on the first night, included positive and negative words. I had chosen ‘challenging’ meaning it in a positive way but this could also be interpreted as negative. We need to acknowledge the feelings and dread students feel then we can move forward. I tell my students math is everywhere and we have the power to do it!
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  • 05 Nov 2017 5:05 PM | Anonymous member
    Reading this chapter and how Tracy's mom reacted to math made me sigh. When I tell some people I teach math, they actually take a step back and the look in their eyes tells me they had a negative experience in math too! I tried to ask why as a student and was not praised for it but told if I just did it the way it was on the board I could learn. As a teacher I never wanted my students to feel that way. I thought our word cloud that we generated held much more promise than what is presented here. This is old thinking and I hope some more change is in the air!
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  • 05 Nov 2017 5:33 PM | Anonymous member
    It's pretty clear that the words used in our Dine and Discuss Word Cloud are mostly negative and focus on the anxiety caused by the fear of doing math "wrong." The words used by mathematicians are completely the opposite. Mathematicians embrace the task of exploring problems they don't understand. They wonder about mathematical ideas and find delight in math. Our students have a wide range of feelings about math. Some come to class with negative feelings about math and others have a passion for math. It is my challenge to close that gap and lessen the anxiety and frustration by showing student the wonder and delight as they discover and explore mathematical ideas.
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  • 05 Nov 2017 5:51 PM | Anonymous member
    The word clouds are similar in that they both show that Math can be enjoyable, fun, imaginative and contain interesting problems.

    They are different in that the Word Cloud generated by the mathematicians does not contain anything negative. Their word cloud shows their delight in the wonder of math. It shows the many forms of math and what learning math can be like.

    The word cloud made by the participants of the dine and discuss class contains some positive words about math, but many more negatives about math. It shows the frustration and negative experiences many of the participants have had in math. My personal experience in math classes were all positive ones. I loved the problem solving and puzzle element of math, but I do remember some of my classmates really struggling in math and hating it. I could never really understand why. It made me sad to see how they felt. Seeing this word cloud brings a lot of that back to me. I also don't see a lot of comments about real world problem solving, hands on learning, or games in the class word cloud. In my generation, there was not a lot of that type of things going on in math class. It was a lot of worksheets and memorization. I would like things to be different for my students so they can experience the fun of math.
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  • 05 Nov 2017 9:39 PM | Anonymous member
    The words from the mathematicians all describe the beauty and wonder of mathematics. It sounds like a game where you explore and enjoy the adventure. The words from the participants have some of those words but also include words of frustration and boredom. It makes me wonder why so many of the participants ended up in the math field if their experiences were so harsh. Maybe it just shows that a great experience with one teacher can overcome many years of bad experiences. Memorizing is a large word in the wordle. I don't remember spending time in math class memorizing compared to other classes. I think as math teachers we need to spend some more time exploring math that we don't use every day so that we can rediscover the engagement and wonder of it all.
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    • 06 Nov 2017 3:47 AM | Anonymous member
      Hi Ellen! I agree with your statement, "I think as math teachers we need to spend some more time exploring math that we don't use every day so that we can rediscover that engagement and wonder of it all." Math is so much more than a worksheet. Math at high school level is so much more different that at my 3rd grade level but how we approach it could change how students feel.
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  • 06 Nov 2017 3:43 AM | Anonymous member
    The word cloud from the Dine and Discuss confirms our thinking that math at school is very different than how mathematicians describe mathematics. Since beginning to read The Math Teacher You Wish You Had my vision and thinking have begun to change and it is evident in what I am bringing in to my students or incorporating in my lessons and activities.

    For many people just the word alone....math...stirs up panic, anxiety, and other negative feelings. When creativity, fun, and wonder enter the mathematics picture it changes how students and teachers feel about math.
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  • 06 Nov 2017 7:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    It's interesting to read the comments here. It's also interesting to read how the words from a single dine & discuss group (of maybe 13 people) might be very different from the whole collection of the 8 sites (of about 100 people).

    Personally, I had a pretty positive experience in math class, though it was very procedural. I was good at the procedures, didn't ask too many questions, and did well on my report cards. It's only after teaching for so long that I've learned how much I didn't truly understand about mathematics. I was a good calculator, but not a very good mathematician.

    Like so many here, I work hard to offer my students different experiences that will push them from being calculators toward becoming mathematicians. It's encouraging to hear from so many who also want to change these experiences for their students.
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    • 08 Nov 2017 8:37 PM | Deleted user
      Hi Pamela (Pam),

      Bringing up calculators is interesting because teaching students to be successful at a mathematical process (beyond math facts) is one of our goals. They can use calculators to perform the calculations, but work at higher level thinking and learning. I try to remind them that their cell phone apps don't just work by magic. Someone is writing the code to allow that to happen.

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  • 06 Nov 2017 8:34 PM | Anonymous member
    The mathematicians' word cloud is almost entirely made up of words that make math sound positive and like something you would enjoy spending your time doing. Who doesn't want to be playing, exploring, and delighting in their discoveries? I'd imagine it would be inviting for students to see these words posted in their math classroom or in the directions for a learning activity or assignment. The word cloud generated by dine & discuss participants has some encouraging adjectives, but there are just as many (or more) that have a negative slant. The word "game" shows up in both clouds, but it's very difficult to find words that are the same.
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  • 07 Nov 2017 7:24 AM | Anonymous member
    It seems that the words on page 5 had lots of feelings that are more on the negative side, the one the dine and discusses did had some positive words that go along with math. Math seems to have lots of people say that they didn't like math, hopefully we can change that.
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  • 07 Nov 2017 3:33 PM | Anonymous member
    I find that the word cloud from the dine and discuss is much more similar to the types of words in the teachers' word cloud than the mathematicians'. You can see a distinction between our word cloud and the mathematicians. Sure, some of us had a great math background that led us to be interested in math and found it fun and enjoyable but most of the participants didn't feel that way about their math classes. I find it rather interesting that people who thought math was frustrating and boring decided that they wanted to spend money on math classes in college. One could say that educators are always trying to better themselves intellectually and overcome any hurdles that are in their way.
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  • 08 Nov 2017 4:05 AM | Anonymous member
    The Dine & Discuss word cloud is a combination of teacher/student reactions - as a student myself I felt a lot of the negative feelings that are posted when I was growing up: frustrating, hard, anxiety - but now as a teacher and have become to understand the challenges that math creates I feel more success, joy and look forward to the challenges. I feel that when I introduce math to my middle school students I need to change their "thinking" of how to learn math versus just instructing and they practice. I want students to realize that math is a process of making mistakes so they are able to create a better understanding as they gain more knowledge. How I want students to "think" is how the mathematicians feel when they described math.
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  • 08 Nov 2017 11:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    I think that over time, my own personal word cloud has changed.

    At the dine and discuss, I wasn't sure what words to say. My experience in school mathematics over 35 years ago compared to where I am now after 25 years of teaching are very different. I think I answered based on where I am now.....looking back. So, in that, I'm not surprised by the mix of words from our dine and discuss kick-off sessions.

    I feel like I am moving toward the mathematician's word cloud because of some fortunate experiences I've been able to take part in. I was a good memorizer/follower of procedures and I remember being successful at math in K-12 and college. I was rewarded for my abilities to follow procedures but realized as I've taught that I had (and still have) so much more to learn. For example, I remember a major aha when I discovered that the square root actually had something to do with the geometry of squares.

    Over my career, so far, I've been fortunate to work with colleagues who get excited by the "palette of problems" in our middle school NCTM journal, people who discuss problems we are using in class, and over the years was in a local group that used the Annenberg "How to Learn Math" courses together for our own mathematical learning. These activities and colleagues really have helped push me in a positive direction.

    Most recently, a major influence on me has been being part of the Casco Bay Math Teachers' Circle. We get together and put ourselves in our students' shoes where we don't know how to solve a problem and have to get creative. I think it is probably the closest match for me with how mathematicians work and think. I feel like the words in the mathematician's word cloud more closely resemble my "math circle" experience.
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    • 08 Nov 2017 9:39 PM | Deleted user
      Hi Shawn,

      It would be great if we could give our students a glimpse into the future. I hope to continue working with my students to give them a foundation that will meet their needs in an ever-changing world. Their cell phones do a lot more than "my first calculator" in Physics class my senior year in high school.

      I'm so glad that your experiences have had a positive outcome. Your students will benefit from your look at math from their perspective.

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  • 08 Nov 2017 8:23 PM | Deleted user
    Book Study - Chapter 1: Breaking the Cycle

    The word cloud on page 5 (Figure 1.2) emanates what I wish for all of my students to experience in math class, but getting them there takes “passion, creativity, imagination, and time”. By high school, students bring along accumulated attitudes toward math (and school in general). Some of the students are “frustrated, anxious, bored, and/or simply lack interest” in mathematics. In turn, I see that the dine and discuss group also included some of those same feelings toward math in the word cloud.

    I do see more positives in the dine and discuss cloud, like “engaging, welcoming, satisfying, interesting, motivating, and exhilarating”. So I am sure that there were some math teachers that brought out the best in these people along the way. Additionally, was there a positive attitude about math in their lives at home? I know that there was in my family (even though neither of my parents were school teachers), but that’s not always the case.

    One thing that I see in the classroom reflecting past math experiences is a student’s apprehension to answer more than a few questions on an assignment without asking, “Am I doing this right?” They are only willing to proceed, when they get that confirmation. They want to feel confident about what they are doing. So lately, I ask students to do one or two specified problems and have me check them. That feedback seems to help take away some of the “scary” and the fear of making a mistake. Since I check in all around the classroom, students don’t feel as “embarrassed” when I come by their desk.

    I notice that “algebra” is on the dine and discuss cloud, but I don’t see “proofs”. Usually when I talk to adults in general that did not like math they mention geometry proofs as a major dislike in their mathematical pasts. Other adults (and students) that I talk to said that they stopped liking math when “x” arrived. Algebra for some seemed to be the cutoff point. I find it ironic when some of the 9th and 10th graders get help from their younger siblings in elementary school. So kudos to those teachers for teaching algebraic processes.

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  • 10 Nov 2017 1:32 PM | Anonymous member
    What stands out first to me is the word cloud generated at the Dine and Discuss has emotionally charged words... "scary" , " anxiety". The word cloud generated by mathematicians on page 5 has no emotionally negative words. The cloud focus on the excitement math generates and continues to generate in these individuals lives. However, both word clouds admit that mathematics is difficult and challenging, but when I look at the body of surrounding words I get the sense that the mathematicians from page 5 use these descriptors not as a negative but as part of its thrill and beauty.
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  • 10 Nov 2017 3:36 PM | Anonymous member
    Although there appear to be some negative experiences with mathematics, our dine & discuss word cloud appears to be far more positive than the one in the book. Figure 1.1 primarily displays words that relate to negative experiences or experiences lacking value. Our word cloud has words like challenging, engaging, rewarding. I'm curious is these have been skewed by our teaching experiences in mathematics, which are probably different than the experiences we had as children, or if we found math more enjoyable than others, and that's why we became mathematics teachers. Hmmm, something to ponder.
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  • 11 Nov 2017 7:51 AM | Anonymous member
    Well, obviously the two word clouds have different feelings in them and as Tracy said she filled them with the most "extremes of a continuum". When reading what mathematicians have to say about math I was surprised to see things like explore and curiosity and imagination, to me these words fit more in a science class. These same words certainly don't show in the cloud as math students, instead memorization, lost, boring. I don't see any similarities between the two clouds and I am guessing that is the point.
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  • 11 Nov 2017 9:36 AM | Anonymous member
    I joined this Dine and Discuss book talk, because I want to change the way I teach, while still meeting the overwhelming needs of the current math curriculum. I don't think "magnificent", "delight", "play", or "wonder" are what my students are feeling when they walk into math class and that needs to change. Students shouldn't be asking the question, "When are we ever going to use this?", as though the discovery in learning is not worth their time. I want my students to think like mathematicians and ask, "What have I got in my tool bag that can help me in this situation?" I want them to feel that challenging, fun, and successful can go hand in hand.
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  • 12 Nov 2017 5:44 PM | Deleted user
    This word cloud had both positive and negative words in regards to teacher's feelings about mathematics. At the dine and discuss in Waterboro doing this activity made me think about my own experiences in learning math. I was one that was always told that I was not good at math. Math always came to me but it took a lot of time and many of the words in this word cloud resonate my experiences as a student. Now that I am teaching first grade I understand my role as a teacher and want my students to love math and to realize that they can do it.
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  • 14 Nov 2017 12:02 PM | Anonymous member
    Humiliating caught my eye in the negative word cloud. In eighth grade, I took Algebra I. Math never came easily but with great effort and concentration I could usually figure things out. What I saw from my classmates was everyone else seeing the answer without even lifting a pencil. Looking back I know this was not actually the case but I often feared being humiliated if my struggle was exposed to others. I emphasize to my students that they will struggle and make mistakes. It is part of the process.

    Watching Trevor Muir’s video “The Day I Quit Math” I am reminded how important it is to moderate my reaction to misbehaviors in class. Jane Kenyon’s “Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School,” had a similar message. The students are young and make impulsive, often poor choices. Teachers can redirect without imposing punishments that have unintended, negative consequences.

    Chapter 2 asks “What Do Mathematicians Do?” While students understand what writers and scientists do, what mathematicians really do is a mystery to most people, not just students. I appreciated all the resources offered, especially the TED Talks.
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    • 14 Nov 2017 6:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
      Very thoughtful response Mary. I am interested in "The Day I Quit Math." Do you have a link?
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      • 14 Nov 2017 7:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
        Oh, I just found it on Tracy's site, and watched it. Powerful. I don't want that much power.
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  • 29 Nov 2017 1:31 PM | Anonymous member
    The Dine and Discuss mental map definitely did not fall at the extreme end of the continuum like the one by the mathematicians. But I did see some similarities. Fun, engaging, and interesting were quite prominent in the Dine and Discuss model. Challenging could be considered a positive glance into math—is it another way to say absorbing or is it just about negative feelings? Boring is very large (unfortunately)in the Dine and Discuss model and seems to reflect the many missed opportunities for words such as invention, curiosity, imagination, exploration and discovery to shine. I hope through continued discussions about math...and our instructional practices, that we are able to take the word procedural out of the limelight!
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  • 03 Dec 2017 12:37 PM | Anonymous member
    OMG, can you say that these two word clouds could not be more conflicting? What are we doing to our students? This is in such contrast to how we approach literacy in schools. We refer to "real" writers all the time with phrases like, "this is how a real author starts," or "let's see if we can get an author to come in and talk with us about their own writing process." I don't think I have ever heard a teacher say anything about mathematicians and talk about how they work. I wonder if part of the reason for a lack of connection to "real" mathematicians is that most people don't know what jobs a mathematician does. If someone tells you they are a mathematician it does not define their work as clearly as someone who says they are a writer. Afterall, what type of jobs do mathematicians really do?
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  • 11 Mar 2018 12:54 PM | Anonymous member
    The "dine and discuss" word cloud above reflects a modicum of optimism or delight in these people's collective experiences, whereas the Fig. 1.2 (mathematicians' version)is free of any negative connotations to mathematics: can they get anymore enthusiastic?

    These two clouds clearly are different in that the mathematicians cloud is a fair weather cloud and the "dine and dicuss" cloud is predominantly a storm cloud that has conversed with a fair weather cloud, but can't seem to see the sun from the particles!

    They are alike in that the "dine and discuss" word cloud is evolving to become the other!
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