How I Spent My Summer Vacation…

One of the committees I serve on at our school is a group consisting of department chairs and other academic leaders at the school. Late in the winter of this past school year our administration approached this group with an offer/request. A little background first will set the stage. A number of years ago our current science department chair wrote his own set of class notes for his Chemistry Honors class. Since I have been at the school I have seen students with three 3-ring binders (one for each trimester) that contain their Chem Honors notes. These are legendary at our school by this point. Our administration approached this curriculum group and asked if anyone was interested in creating something similar for one of the courses in their department. My department was already in the process of searching for new texts for Geometry and for Precalculus Honors. There were some precalc texts which made us happy enough, but there was little agreement for the Geometry search. I have also been trying to move myself in our curriculum so that I would teach some younger students. I have mostly been teaching AP Statistics and AP Calculus in my four years at our school. This offer seemed like a way for me to work with younger kids AND begin to create a Geometry book that we would be happy with. One that would grow and adjust as we worked with it. So, I took on this challenge and spent most of my summer writing a Geometry book. I leaned heavily on the wisdom of our MTBoS army and I scoured the web for activity ideas (many of which are living in my Virtual Filing Cabinet here) to try and enrich the book. I have always been bothered that students seem to treat their math texts as simply a source of HW exercises and not as a resource to help learn the material. So, I chose to include very little in the way of practice exercises in the text. I will be working with two of my department colleagues to put together HW assignments and activities to help make this course come alive for our students. Writing this was a great deal of work and I am reasonably proud of it at this point. It’s not a work of art yet, but it is my hope that this text will morph and become more meaningful and beautiful in the next few years. This is where you, my dear readers, come in. I want to share my public dropbox link to a PDF of this text. I want to encourage all of you to look it over when you can, to borrow any ideas that seem helpful, to point out where I goofed, and to share your experiences and activities that will make this a better experience for my students. I will keep updating this text based on our experiences teaching it and based on the suggestions/comments.compliments/complaints I receive from students, from colleagues (both here at school and out in the world), and from the parents in our community. 

I am excited to launch this project. I am thrilled to share it with some of the people who have shared so many ideas already with me. I am anxious about the warts we’ll discover as the year unfolds. I am too exhausted by the whole project to have a clear eye for it at this point.

Thanks in advance for any wisdom and advice you are able to share. August 25 is when we launch – this will surely be a regular topic of conversation on this blog for the upcoming academic year.

 

I would be severely remiss if I did not make a special thanks to Jennifer Silverman (@jensilvermath) for her inspiration throughout this project. She gave me the first significant nudge down this path.

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