By Beth Alexander, Curriculum Leader
Attending a conference is an important way to learn about emerging research, and also a chance to share our own work with educators across the province. On May 3–4, 2018, I attended the annual Ontario Association for Mathematics Education (OAME) conference at Humber College to learn from fellow STEM teachers, and to present a workshop entitled "Electric Math!: Integrating Math in the Design Technology Lab."
I attended two days of thought-provoking sessions, including a keynote by Peter Liljedahl about the importance of vertical space in "thinking classrooms" and a session with Cathy Bruce, who presented findings from her research on mathematical reasoning in primary school. Inspired by the sketchnote skills of Linden parent Kathryn Maxfield, I experimented with this method of note-taking myself. I need to work on my lettering skills, but I really enjoyed this way of organizing ideas during a lecture.
My own workshop, held on Friday afternoon, was attended by teachers working in diverse classrooms—from Kindergarten to high school technology. Beginning with an overview of Linden's CERES programme and using examples from my classes, I discussed practical ways to link math skills to tasks in engineering, electronics, and woodworking at different ages. Small groups then worked on an exploration of the relationship between variables like surface area and resistance in circuits—using Play-Doh as a conductor! For some attendees, it was their first time building circuits. For others, including senior science teachers, using a multimeter was easy, but working with the Play-Doh was a novel electronics experience.
After the conference, some of the attendees let me know how they planned to use what they had learned. "This activity is perfect for my Grade 11 physics class, when we study Ohm's Law," explained one teacher. Ginny Bartlett, who teaches in Cambridge, later tweeted: "Thank you for such an enriching session today! My own kids and I have already explored Play Doh and the multimeter! I would have pics but we were too deep in exploration!"
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