Summer update: Programming camps, plans for next year, PD,, and more

It has been two months since I posted. Almost looks like I’m actually NOT working during the summer, but that really isn’t true! I’ve done a lot!

Summer Camps

I taught four short summer camps this summer. Each one ran 3 hours a day for five days. Girls only. I did a Scratch programming camp for 5th-7th graders called “Animation Station” (see some of our projects here!), a Lego robotics programming and building camp for the same age, a scratch and camp for younger girls, 2nd through 4th grade (their projects!) and a 3D Printing and Design camp. The programming camps went really well; my second time teaching a camp like this went much more smoothly, and Scratch is really accessible and fun all the way down to 2nd grade.  The robotics camp went okay but needs some structural work. The 3D Printing camp went decently too, but managing 14 girls and 2 finicky 3D printers mostly by myself was extremely stressful. Next year I will need to co-teach that camp I think. Either way, lots of fun – a nice mental stretch, over quick.

Professional Development

Besides the usual obsessive twitter-following (arguably the BEST PD), I am also doing two online MOOCs. One for the new AP CS Principles course run through the University of Alabama as well as Jo Boaler’s Stanford How to Learn Math course. Both free, materials available well after the official course dates. I like them both! I’m a little behind in each of them right now because of other projects and the summer camps, but I hope to finish them both by the end of the summer. The AP CSP one is great for those (like me) curious about the course or just diving into teaching computer science at all, and the the “How to Learn Math” course is a fabulous introduction to brain-based learning in mathematics. It is a little bit preach-to-the-choir in my case with its focus on problem-based and project-based learning, but that is hardly a bad thing!

Personal planning

I really want to shake my Geometry course up next year. I am planning to do a LOT more problem-based and cooperative learning. To prepare for that, I’ve read dozens of blogs, looked at several texts that employ it (including CME and IMP), and simply started to think it through. The only complication is that I can’t go totally off the beaten path, since there is another teacher who teaches the same course and we are supposed to give similar if not identical exams in the fall and spring. He is definitely willing to try some new things, but I don’t think he’s interested in going all-in on anything. So I can’t, for example, completely change the order of the curriculum. But still, I’ve got a lot of great ideas and knowledge for next year and I think it’s going to be much better. Once I have a scope and sequence for my course figured out, I will share it!

For statistics, I don’t plan to change too much other than to ALSO do more cooperative learning and problem-based learning. But I was already doing way more of that by the end of last year, and the only reason I didn’t do more earlier in the year was ignorance of the subject and stress. I’m honestly not too worried about it; I have dozens of great activities lined up, a much better sense of the curriculum, and in general feel like I will mostly be honing, rather than completely redoing, my AP Stat teaching next year. My AP Scores this year left lots of room for improvement (no 5s, more 2’s than I would hope) which is a little demoralizing, but I already knew I had lots of room to improve so it wasn’t really surprising. Mostly I was holding out some hope to be surprised in the OTHER direction, which didn’t happen.

I wanted to get my own domain for my blog ( wasn’t really giving me the customizibility my dorkier side craves) and on a whim I registered . You can see my blog is now hosted on a subdomain there. I don’t really know exactly what I’m going to do with the main domain – right now it’s basically a virtual link drawer for math-related pages, which is certainly not useless. If you have a great idea for links to add, things to do on it, OR would like to host your own blog at, let me know! I’m contemplating making a “interactive activites” directory that can be organized (like the MTBoS directory) to find things like custom Desmos graphs and activities, geogebra projects, and other computer-based interactive resources. (And, yes, even Khan Academy would probably make the cut). Would that be useful?

Stay tuned for a post about my own custom Desmos graph/activity I just made regarding histograms.

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