Friday, October 30, 2020

Experiments In Teaching and Learning by Christopher Havens

The meetings with Edmonds are becoming something truly special. I refer to these meetings as the Edmonds collaboration. Here, we strive to change from within through our exploration of math. It's beautiful because of our dynamic with each other. Each other in this context is community. Here I refer to both the staff and the inmates. We all work and explore math together during this precious three hour block. To me, the act is beauty.

This quarter, our meetings have a focus on Counting and Probability. This had always been my weak area. Probability has become something different to me lately, since over the last several months I have embraced it and made it a part of my every day. The content we cover is basic, but we study at a deep level, capturing the philosophy of math and even its history. The lessons we learn are often applied to life in some way.. My group is unique because many of them are anomalies in our prison system. That is, they are dedicated to self-rehabilitation, and they focus on seeing that justice is given as they pay their debt to society. Some of them are not very mathematical either! But I am using their strengths in the teaching and hoping that it affects the way they learn.

Three of my group are public speakers.. All writers you have all been following. Each HumanMe writer was tasked to give a 5-7 minute speech on very specific problems. I passed the problems to the speakers according to their level of understanding of the problem. First, Rory had a very specific difficulty with a problem asking to find the number of positive integers between a and b inclusive, when a<b. Marshall stumbled with a problem asking how many multiples of a specific number lay in a specific interval. Ruth took an intuitive leap and asked why she couldn't short cut in a certain way. Each of them were given 1 week to prepare speeches on their problems.. much like you might see at a Toastmasters meeting. The rules are the speeches must last 5-7 minutes. You may use visual aides. You can use a white board.

The idea behind my thinking is that in planning a speech, they would be forced to describe and speak of the problem, and the nature of the problem in an intuitive way to themselves, thus helping them to understand the problem at a deeper level. They will also learn to present in front of a class. They will learn where to stand so that the class can follow their thread of thought on the whiteboard, so that they are not obstructing their work. How to speak clearly and articulate math to an audience. This can be applied to any situation where they must convey complicated chains of reasoning to a group.

So here we get to the learning experiences... We'll need feedback from you as you read this. And please, don't be afraid to ask questions. I'm signing off, leaving you to the experiences of Rory, Marshall, and Ruth. Have a wonderful day.


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