Tag Archives: Bryn Mawr College

Notes and pics from #edcampIS at @BrynMawrSchool this a.m. Thanks, @MontySays! #NAISac

@edcampIS is a traveling edcamp which follows the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference. This year’s location was sunny Baltimore, Maryland, and my fellow organizer, Shannon Montague (@MontySays), hosted #edcampIS at her wonderful school, The Bryn Mawr School. It was awesome to visit such a special learning environment which was apparently founded to be a feeder school for my alma mater, Bryn Mawr College. Thank you, for the history lesson, Shannon! Many thanks to the Edcamp Foundation for providing an Edcamp-in-a-Box which includes $200 towards the event. Due to Shannon’s uncanny knack for ordering from @PaneraBread, we had a magnificent spread for all of us that was within 47 cents of our total budget!

It was an intimate group that gathered in the Upper School Library this morning (“small and mighty” as tweeted by Jonathan E. Martin). Besides Shannon and me, our group consisted of Chris Shriver, Peter Gow, Jonathan Martin, Tammy Rice, Jen Cort, Amanda Macomber, Kristen Kennedy, Molly Smith, and Alex Northrup. As per any edcamp or unconference conversation, I always say that any and all who show up are the right people. We remained in a circle for much of the morning, enjoying a robust conversation which included: Sharing key takeaways from NAIS, thinking about school design, fostering a culture of innovation, educating students to be awesome grown-ups, getting out of our bubbles, embracing vulnerability, and sustaining social justice initiatives throughout the curriculum. Later in the morning, we divided into two groups for either a tour of Bryn Mawr School’s wonderfully impressive innovation spaces given by the incomparable Kristen Kennedy or a little more conversation and carbs in the library.

Here is a link to our GoogleDoc of shared notes that are also embedded below:

Below are some photos from the Upper School and Middle School spaces. Check out all the Harkness Tables that are all over the high school and also in 8th grade classrooms. I posted images of the Innovation Lab where Kristen Kennedy works her magic in a separate post….

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Proud to represent @BrynMawrCollege at #EducationUSA Women’s Colleges panel in Bangkok today. #anassakata

Chawadee Nualkhair (aka @BangkokGlutton) was my freshman roommate at Bryn Mawr College, and I’ve stuck like glue to her for the last 24 years. I’m currently on a personal leave and based in Bangkok as a guest of Chow and her family. Chow and I were proud to represent @BrynMawrCollege as panelists for an event encouraging young women to consider the unique benefits of a women’s college.

Many thanks to Chris Schultz for introducing us to the amazing and dynamic Liz Jacobs! Liz graduated from Bryn Mawr in 2012 and is currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand working with EducationUSA to help to provide “international students with accurate, comprehensive, and current information about how to apply to U.S. colleges and universities.” http://www.educationusa.info

Liz totally wowed us at last night’s dinner and this afternoon’s panel with her smarts, travels, passions, choices, wits, and social intelligence. She organized and moderated the event today, and it was great to be amongst interesting ladies from Wellesley and Smith too. Yay for the Seven Sisters representing in Bangkok, Thailand!

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Tessellations with Geometer’s Sketchpad in 6th grade Math


I spent a few days this week with the 6th grade math teachers/students. At The School at Columbia University, 6th graders study Islam and Mecca as part of the grade-wide theme: How History Shapes my Identity. For the last few years, I’ve worked with the math teachers to show the kids how to design tessellations on the computer. Then, the students take their creations to Art class and build a physical model out of clay and/or paper. It is one of my favorite integrated projects. (All of our K-8 Themes and Concepts can be found here: http://theschool.columbia.edu/about/curriculum.)

Katie Hildebrandt, often confused from behind for one of her students (à la Macaulay Culkin), is an energetic and supportive member of the 6th grade team and has a natural gift for breaking down mathematical concepts for her students. Before Winter Break, we met and planned a 3-day mini unit for our first week back; It bridged a unit on solving equations with her next unit on the Cartesian Plane. We briefly went over how to make transformations and use specific menu options in Geometer’s Sketchpad, as Katie is one of those independent teachers that initially explores on her own rather than rely on my tutelage. Power to the people!

On the first day of the mini-unit, Katie led a class on reflecting a polygon over the x-axis and y-axis. Students explored the resulting coordinates and stated the formula as an algebraic expression. For example, reflecting over the x-axis means (x,y) becomes (x, -y).

The second day, Katie showed how to rotate a polygon 90, 180, 270, and 360 degrees around the origin. Again, students analyzed how rotating the figure affected the coordinates of the original shape. For example, rotating 90 degrees meant that (x,y) become (-y, x).

On the third day, I stepped in, and we talked about how a tessellation is a pattern of repeating shapes that do not overlap and have no gaps in between. I showed them some of M.C. Escher’s artwork, and we talked about how classic Islamic art would rely on geometric patterns rather than animal or human forms. Because of the nature of our curriculum, the students had similar discussions in Art and Spanish among other subject areas. I showed the kids how to use Geometer’s Sketchpad to build an equilateral triangle, alter one side, and rotate that side 60 degrees to create a new shape. Then we rotated this altered triangle 60 degrees 6 times to form a hexagon before we tessellated the whole hexagon.

For my tessellation activities, I use two online lesson plans that I located years ago:
http://ww3.wpunj.edu/icip/itm/Lessonpl/sketch/rotate.htm – Triangle Rotations by Janet Mae Zahumeny of Roselle Park High School
http://mathforum.org/sum95/suzanne/tess.gsp.tutorial.html – Parallelogram Translations by Cathi Sanders of Punahou School

I started exploring/playing with Geometer’s Sketchpad in 1994 as an undergrad at Bryn Mawr College. To this day, it remains my favorite piece of educational software. Not too long after, I learned about The Math Forum – an amazing resource for math teachers and students founded at Swarthmore College and now seems to be hosted by Drexel University. There is a great link about Exploring and Creating Tessellations: http://www.teacherlink.org/content/math/activities/skpv4-tessellation/home.html

Geometer’s Sketchpad resources:
General Resources: http://www.dynamicgeometry.com/General_Resources.html
Resource Center: http://www.dynamicgeometry.com/
Sketch Exchange: http://sketchexchange.keypress.com/
Workshop Guide: http://www.dynamicgeometry.com/Instructor_Resources/Workshop_Guide.html


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