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Category: Being a good teacher

Anything about what I should be doing as a teacher next time I interact with a student or make a resource for students.

Questions with a morally wrong answer

I think asking students questions is an important part of my job of helping students succeed. Good questions can help me see where they are in their journey so I can choose how to guide them to the next step, or can help to make clear the skills they already have that will help them […]

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The memory of His Royal Highness

Once upon a time, I met a His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.
The story of how that happened was pretty cool from my perspective, but every so often I wonder about it from his perspective. The Duke is the patron of the Royal Institution of Australia, and was in Australia just as they were […]

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Twelve matchsticks: focus or funnel

One of my favourite puzzles is the Twelve Matchsticks puzzle. It goes like this:
Twelve matchsticks can be laid on the table to produce a variety of shapes. If the length of a matchstick is 1 unit, then the area of each shape can be found in square units. For example, these shapes have areas 6, […]

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Twitter and how not to treat my students

I have learned a lot from Twitter about how to treat my students, and most of it has been through being treated in ways I do not like. Recently I have been searching my own tweets to find things I’ve said before, and as I’ve dipped into old conversations, several unpleasant feelings have resurfaced when […]

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Context fatigue

Context fatigue is a particular kind of mental exhaustion that happens after having to make sense of multiple different contexts that maths/statistics is embedded in. I feel it regularly, but I feel it most strongly when I have spent a day helping medical students critically analyse the statistics presented in published journal articles.
The problem with maths […]

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The curse of listening

I am often saying how important it is to listen to students, and that I am fascinated by student thoughts and feelings. When students say I am a good teacher my usual response is to say it’s because I have spent the last eleven years in a situation where I get to listen to lots […]

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The importance of names

Three years ago, my university’s Student Engagement Community of Practice collectively wrote a series of blog posts about various aspects of student engagement. I thought I would reproduce my blog post here, since it is still as relevant today as then.
There is a lot that staff can do to engage students in the university […]

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Struggling students are exploring too

I firmly believe that all students deserve to play with mathematical ideas, and that extension is not just for the fast or “gifted” students. I also believe that you don’t necessarily need specially designed extension activities to do exploration — a simple “what if” question can easily launch a standard textbook exercise into an exploration.
This […]

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Teaching people to play SET on the fly

Amie Albrecht recently posted a most wonderful blog post about SET, and it reminded me there were some SET-related things I should post too.
The first is this little reflection on how I go about teaching people to play SET. Amie talks here about a very excellent way to do this, which is to get people […]

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Who is worthy to ask stupid and smart questions?

This post was going to be part of the Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavours, which you can see all the keynote speakers and presentations here: https://samjshah.com/mathematical-flavors-convention-center/. The prompt for all the blog posts that are part of this conference is this: “How does your class move the needle on what your kids think about the doing of math, or what counts as […]

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