This was my first year doing meet the teacher night in my current school and division; I taught middle school science here for three years, but moved up to upper school math last year. However, I did not attend meet the teacher night last year as I was on paternity leave.
So I needed something to do!
My school gives me 7-8 minutes with parents. I like to follow the following pattern, perfected with engineering projects in middle school:
- Give them an activity to work on. Have them work on it for a minute or two.
- Start talking about how the process they are doing connects to themes in the course.
- Get them to actually answer some questions and think as if they are students
- Bell rings. Profit!
The hard part is finding something that they can see enough of in 3 minutes to lead to a productive discussion about overarching themes for an entire year! But I found some, for geometry and statistics, and now I share them with you.
Geometry Class – Defining a Whatchmacallit
The pictures in this assignment, and the general idea, come from the Discovering Geometry textbook that used to be published by Key Curriculum Press. The questions are mine. What I like about this for meet-the-teacher night is that it allows you to see SEVERAL of the Habits of Mind (to use CME’s expression) that I emphasize in geometry – looking for commonalities / invariants, looking for differences, looking for “loopholes”, finding counterexamples, analyzing other answers. It goes on and on. My most interesting takeaway here was how much better adults are at writing minimal definitions – every adult who shared gave me the simplest possible definition – a shape with one of those triangly things inside – that works. I had exactly one student out of 30 give me that definition. The rest of the definitions all mentioned the things that were allowed but not required, which adults did not do. Interesting!
Statistics – Hiring Discrimination in Airlines
In statistics, I decided to do one of the earliest activities from my text – Hiring Discrimination. This is great because it lets us get at the concept of statistical significance, and the idea of “how unlikely does it need to be for YOU to think they cheated?” – that is, the idea of p-values. The opinions on this one are strong!
Both of these worked really well. A win! I will probably do exactly the same thing next year, as it seemed positive across the board. Yay.