Diarra Bousso Guey, Senegalese Mathematician
Careers, K-12, Math

More Math Inspiration

One hashtag that is always sure to reveal exciting math resources is #MTBOS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere). That’s how I discovered Nathan Day (@nathanday314), and a couple of his great shares. With his permission, I am putting the links in this post as I really want more people to become inspired by math and mathematicians. If you’re a teacher with a few blank spaces on your wall, some of these might be great additions!

First, here are Nathan’s files for 50 Mathematical Quotations. You can access them as a Powerpoint file (which can be added to Google Drive and converted to Slides if needed) or PDF:

Next, these are his files for 82 famous mathematicians from around the world:

I love seeing the diversity and representation (53 countries), and I think it will help your students to see that as well.

Thanks to Nathan for putting these together and sharing them! He also gave some shouts out to @DrStoneMaths, @SimonYoung10, and @Desmos for the versions/blog post on which he based his Famous Mathematicians posters, so thanks to them, too. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.”

from Famous Mathematicians, compiled by @NathanDay314
children showing love for their teacher
Careers, K-12, Motivation

Back to School Inspirational Videos for Teachers

Even though I’m semi-retired and summers now tend to be my busiest time of year, I still fall back on a few of my old habits from my 29 years of teaching. One of them was to organize my home closets every summer, and so I started going through my memory boxes this year in the hopes of weeding out some things and gaining back some storage space.

Over those 29 years, I kept every card or letter from my students that included something they drew or their own handwriting. Going through the boxes of those notes has been bittersweet as my heart fills up with the beautiful memories. I think about the fact that I no longer have a life that is constantly enriched by a mosaic of personalities who could astonish me with their incredible insights, keep me grounded with their honest feedback, and sometimes make my eyes well up with their generous outpouring of love.

Many teachers who are about to return to work for a new school year may wish they were in my current shoes: semi-retired, often working from home, finally the one who decides on my own schedule. I remember beginning every school year with a mixture of hope and mourning, excited to work with students again but sad to lose the sense of balance and control I temporarily regained during my weeks away. And every year it seems there are more challenges and more concerns.

But you are needed and you are appreciated, teachers. It’s hard to hold on to that when you are in the midst of it all, and when you look at all of the sacrifices that you make. There isn’t a lot of physical evidence to collect that proves your worth. I suppose it’s true that most of us didn’t choose teaching for the money or validation. It’s still nice to have, though.

That’s why I went through some of my Inspirational Videos for Teachers, and added a few to my Back to School Wakelet. I tried to look for the ones that are good reminders of what it really means to be a teacher. Some are funny and some are serious. Some are classics and some are newer. But re-watching them, along with re-discovering notes from students, has reminded me about why I did what I did for 29 years. I can’t give you any extra money, but maybe some of these videos will give you the validation that too often seems to be lacking.

If someone asked me, I’d go back in time and do those 29 years again. (Just not now because I’m menopausal and grumpy and have a Great Dane who would chew the house down if I left her for that length of time each day. And I’m really fond of getting up at 8 am instead of 5 am. And going to the doctor when I need to instead of putting it off until summer break. And having some semblance of control over my thermostat.) Teachers can be treated unjustly and have to endure untenable conditions. I certainly went through my share of that during my career. The system needs to change.

But there are a lot of us out there who are grateful for teachers. It’s not tangible and it doesn’t make up for abuse and poor working conditions. But it can help to look through those memory boxes, watch those videos, and remember you are making a difference.

Careers, K-5, Science, Videos

Ada Twist, Scientist is Now a Television Series!

It has been five years since I first reviewed Ada Twist, Scientist on this blog, and I even recommended it back then for my Gifts for the Gifted list in 2016. The book, which is one in a series of collaborations between author, Andrea Beaty, and illustrator, David Roberts, in the Questioneers Series, is a delightful story about a young girl who embodies the curiosity and experimental personality of a S.T.E.M. hero in the making. Now, Ada and her friends (Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck, who also star in their own books by the dynamic duo of Beaty/Roberts ) are featured in a new animated series on Netflix that officially drops on September 28, 2021 — but don’t despair if you don’t have a Netflix subscription. You and your students can watch two episodes right now on YouTube: “Cake Twist” and “Garden Party.” The adorable cast of characters plus the real-life scientists who appear at the end of each episode will engage pre-school and lower elementary students while showing them how to brainstorm, problem-solve, and deal with mistakes. This mixture of fictional and authentic role models that are brought to you by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, are the perfect inspiration for our next generation of change-makers!

Ada Twist, the book, has a website with teaching materials. (Hey, Netflix or Higher Ground, if you want a teacher to write some materials for the animated series, reach out!) And, don’t forget that I have a Wakelet collection of books for Maker Ed and Design Thinking in case you are looking for more resources!

crop chemist holding in hands molecule model
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com
Careers, K-12, Teaching Tools

What’s Next?

In yesterday’s post, I admitted that I reluctantly left the classroom about 15 months ago because my mental health was suffering dramatically. I was fortunate to be in the position that I had qualified for retirement and that our family could afford this change. This was about three months before the pandemic shut everything down in the United States, and I was congratulated on my prescience by many – despite the fact that I obviously had no idea of what was to come. Though I knew I was fortunate, I found it hard to be thankful because the hardships that unfolded for so many of my colleagues made me feel even guiltier that I had walked out on a career I once loved and people I continued to admire.

Since that time, of course, conditions continued to worsen. Some colleagues have resigned, some others are deciding this will be the last year, and some are actively looking for new opportunities. With demands on teachers increasing – while support either remained the same or decreased – many educators have sadly come to the conclusion that I did – that our system in the United States makes it nearly impossible to maintain a healthy personal/work balance.

I taught for nearly 30 years before I came to the above conclusion, so I am not advocating for teachers to abandon classrooms in droves. But if you have reached the same point in your journey where you feel you are no longer able to do a good job in either your work or your personal life, you may be looking for a change. I saw a post on Twitter where a teacher confessed this, and asked for suggestions. I thought it would be helpful to include the post here.

There were many great responses on the thread, so I want to mention a few here that are outside the usual sites such as LinkedIn:

I hope this post is helpful to anyone who is seeking a new adventure related to education. Students need great teachers now more than ever – but you can’t be great if your mental and/or physical health are suffering.

Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels.com
Careers, K-12, Science

Find That Lizard!

If you’ve got a budding herpetologist at home or in your class, I would recommend you turn them on to the #findthatlizard challenge on Twitter or Instagram. Self-proclaimed “lizard lassoer,” Earyn McGee produces this visual puzzle on Instagram and Twitter under the handle, @afro_herper. She posts pictures of various lizards in their environments with a few facts, and invites followers to find the lizard in the photo. Since these little guys are so good at camouflage, it’s often not easy. But it’s quite satisfying when you discover them! You can read about the origin story of this friendly competition here. There are also some coloring pages and even cute merch!

McGee, who hopes to host a television show about natural history one day, also has a YouTube Channel. To learn more about Earyn McGee and her important work on conservation and increasing diversity in science careers, read her bio.

And tell me if you legit found the lizard in the above Tweet – because I had to look at the thread for some hints!

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

Anti-Racism, Careers, Videos

YouCanBe ABC’s

Fridays have typically been my day for publishing my weekly anti-racist posts. I almost saved yesterday’s video about engineering for today because I know that we not only have small number of women in STEM fields, but also people of color. But then I saw “Sam’s ABC’s”, and knew it would be a perfect Friday post.

Sam White raps potential careers for each letter of the alphabet in this video. If he doesn’t inspire you to become a gastroenterologist to solve “problems in the gut,” you might want to become a university president and “the future of your nation.”

I have seen too many stories of black students talking about being discouraged from pursuing careers, and spoken to too many high school students who never imagined all of the possibilities out there. Sam already knows at least 26 things “you can be,” and I am certain he is going to be great at whatever he chooses.

For a list of my previous anti-racist posts, click here.