Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Klingenstein Summer Institute

A while ago, through Sam Shah's blog I learned about a program called Klingenstein Summer Institute, which is a professional development workshop that runs for a couple of weeks each summer, and is geared towards teachers in independent schools who are still within their first five years of teaching. I researched the program briefly on the web and decided that it was probably unrealistic for me to apply and be accepted, but I went ahead and did it anyway. (I am trying to practice being a more aggressive version of myself -- if that makes any sense.)

So, long story short, here I am sitting in Lawrenceville, NJ, which houses the Klingenstein program. The first few days were pretty hectic, but I think it's calming down. Thought I'd take a few minutes to jot down some of the things I've been learning/thinking about since my arrival at the institute.

1. Math-specific stuff: The old way of organizing topics around content chapters needs to be replaced by organization around themes, to facilitate the development of effective schema in the students' minds (which increases retention and all that good stuff). I am obviously a newbie at this, but I'll try to organize Geometry units to illustrate these. I'm not quite fleshing out everything.

  • BIG IDEA: Measurement
    --> Dimensions and quantities
    --> Conversions
    --> Measurement methods
    --> Indirect measurements such as Pyth Theorem and similarity ratios
    --> Trigonometry

  • BIG IDEA: Conjecturing
    --> Induction
    --> Deduction
    --> Layered math formalism (definitions --> postulates --> theorems)
    --> Making conjectures about circles and triangles and angles inside parallel lines
    --> Multi-step solving of diagrams using various known pieces of info

  • BIG IDEA: Multiple Representations
    --> Coordinate plane concepts and skills

  • BIG IDEA: Transformations
    --> Both inside/outside of coordinate plane
    --> On objects as well as "functions"

  • BIG IDEA: Proofs
    --> Basic postulates
    --> How do we prioritize info?
    --> Formal Geometric proofs (both algebraic and geometric)
    --> Meta-cognition: How do we assess a proof/argument?

  • BIG IDEA: Spatial Visualization
    --> Proportional reasoning
    --> 3-D to 2-D, or 2-D to 3-D
    --> irregular area/perimeter/volume/surface area

Thoughts? That's my first stab at re-organizing the topics of a course based on this idea.

2. Small changes in the classroom can make big impacts on student learning. Things I am going to try this fall: slowing it down (wait time/questioning) and being positive/encouraging/empathetic. I'm going to ask a colleague to observe/evaluate me on my goals and to hold me accountable.

3. We do (individually) have the power to substantially affect school culture. One Klingenstein alum once started the first Gay-Straight Alliance (I forget the name) as his year-long project. Now there are GSAs all over the country, in private and public schools, and they help to foster awareness and compassion. I need to believe in the power I have to change the things that I think are problematic in the school.

Ok - dinner time. :) Ciao!


  1. Hi Mimi --

    Great post! I came across your blog while in a graduate class. I am looking for 'teaching math' blogs to subscribe to. I was happy to see you are at Klingenstein. You must have met Noureddine, Jose, and Greg...I work with all of them in CA. I hope Klingenstein is going well, I have only heard amazing things about it!

    And to comment on your reorganization of Geometry...I have taught that coruse for seven years and I think you have done a great job with the different categories. I am not sure if you have put thought into the order of the "Big Ideas" but I would consider having the Conjecturing idea go first. This will give students the oppurtunity to use the inductive and deductive reasoning throughout the whole course. Just a thought.


  2. Thanks for your post. Looking forward to learning more from your experience there. There seems to be some overlap between what you're doing and what we're reading for #sbarbook. Would like to see how the big ideas get implemented/manifested.

  3. @Megan OMG I love them! You work with some great people!! BTW I thought of putting Measurement first because the unit doesn't depend on other pre-req big ideas, and I think it's good for helping kids keep in mind that all of Geometry is actually developed to help people measure stuff! I can see flipping conjecturing with it, but the conjecturing unit can actually get kind of hairy (good to not have as Unit 1?).

    @Mr. H I don't think I'll be teaching Geometry next year, sadly. I'm just throwing it up here as an exercise for myself in organizing topics. Once I figure out what I will be teaching, I'll be sure to blog about the actual course org...

  4. Hi Ms. Yang

    I've been following your blog and I know you do a unit on measurements. I was wondering if you'd be willing to even send an efile of what you do for that unit. I know you're super busy with all your summer stuff and the move, so I totally understand, but what you've got outlined sounds really interesting and I would love to be able to use something that has already been created!