Thursday, October 15, 2009

quotes of the week

i don't know if any of these translate without audio and facial expressions, but here's hoping:
"jesse come look come look! i have my own rule for doing this now, let me explain it to you!"
"this class is so sexy...erhm, i mean, i just really love math class."
"when you sing, it makes angels cry. CRY!"
"there are 10 days in a week"
"there are 12 hours in a day"
and, finally, no one asked why their math teacher asked them to draw a picture of a flying monkey.


  1. Jesse, I really enjoy your blog, I find it extremely thoughtful. RE: "when you sing, angels cry"... was a student talking about you singing in class? Do you sing in class? Do you sing about math?

  2. To all you fans of Jesse: I spent the afternoon in Jesse's class yesterday, and if you had the impression from her blog that she is a wonderful teacher, you are absolutely right. She is wonderful.

    And a student (a 9th grade boy!) did really actually say the class was sexy.

    But what I really want is this: in "smarter than 2" Jesse wrote that "I want them to see each other as resources, sometimes surprising and unexpected." Well I think I saw a moment in her room yesterday that built toward that. She entertained a conversation about whether 0 was an even or odd number. Several students said interesting, insightful things. Then a girl at the back raised her hand. I don't know if this girl sees herself as a powerful mathematical mind or not, but I had the impression she didn't especially, since she began her commentary with "I don't know what you all are talking about, but..." Then, she said "I think it's even" and proceeded to give an argument as compelling as any so far: "The odd numbers start at 1 and skip 1 - 1, 3, 5 ... the evens start at 2 and skip 1 - 2, 4, 6 ... if you go backwards, you see that 0 fits the evens: 4, 2, 0. But not 3, 1, 0." (I'll take a QED with that.)

    I'm reading in because I don't know the kid, but what I loved about this moment was that this girl seemed to feel free, invited, to put forward a mathematical argument she believed in, even though she didn't particularly give the impression of being the kid with the answers all the time. This is what I feel like it's all about! Everyone (whatever their "math identity") understanding math as something they have the right to reason about. So go Jesse, and go girl-with-the-argument, and let's all fight for this spirit every time we teach.