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Showing posts from July, 2009

The 830 at PCMI

PCMI is a 3 week program; each day from about 830 to 1040 we have what can best be described as a math class. But it's unlike any math class most people have ever had.
Each day starts with its own problem set designed by the class' organizers, folks from the Education Development Center and Harvey Mudd College. The problem set is well structured, beginning with a simple idea or concept and then continually developing in both depth and breadth, although this may be obvious only several days later. The questions are also in categories: Important (things you'll need to know for upcoming days), Neat and Tough (can be really tough! Clay Prize tough!) -- we aim to get through at least the important stuff in our morning together.
The classroom is composed of 12 tables of 5-6 people each (we do have guests from the other programs) and as a table we tend to worth through things together; there's a table sandbox monitor who is there to ensure that the teachers exercise all tho…

Precursor to PCMI

I've had the opportunity to come early to Park City and help set things up: there's actually a lot of infrastructure to put in to place. With (at least) 7 different groups running simultaneously around the conference centre, there's the usual classroom/lecture facilities to complete but nowadays we add on a considerable amount of technology: LCD projectors, wireless & wired networks, speaker systems, the typical. And, because we're mathematicians... a lot of chalk boards and coloured chalk. Lots. And old school overhead projectors.
But in the teacher room, because we've got at least 60 participants spread across 12 tables, we have a desk-based microphone/speaker system so that they can hear each other across the room, two Mimio electronic whiteboards (an excellent alternative to Smartboards!) tied into an ELMO document camera and three LCD projectors and, because we break this large room up into three smaller rooms, the need to have it all work as a common …

Going back six weeks...

So the end of school was a bit of a flurry and I left meetings early to head out to Park City, Utah (home of the Sundance Film Festival) to participate in the Park City Mathematics Institute for the seventh time. If you're a math teacher and never been... you're missing out!
I first attended PCMI in 2002 -- by pure luck. I was teaching Ontario's Linear Algebra course and stumbled across their webpage which discussed that summer's topic, Gaussian Integers. I cross my fingers & applied. After attending as a participant for two years I got invited back to help out as staff. It's a lot of work and I don't get all the fun that participants have but I learn about math and teaching and learning in a different way. And I get to work some amazing people, both staff and participants, and great friends.
PCMI is hard to describe. I call it "math camp" when asked just to make things easier. Let me try to be more descriptive since I have the time: PCMI i…