Friday, January 23, 2015

IBL Workshop 2015, July 7-10, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Attending a four-day IBL workshop is one of the best ways to get started with IBL or take the next big step in your teaching.  Long workshops are like retreats.  Away from the daily routine, faculty can focus on how to implement IBL methods, build up a target course, collaborate with colleagues, and build IBL-specific teaching skills.  

Full details are available at

The 2015 IBL Workshop is part of the Mathematical Association of America's PREP program.  More information about MAA PREP and registration for the IBL workshop can be found via this LINK.

*The IBL Workshop is funded by NSF DUE 1225833 (SPIGOT), and space is limited to faculty who teach at colleges and universities.  Early-career faculty (assistant professors, postdocs, and grad students) are especially encouraged to register!  A limited number of travel scholarships are available for early-career faculty.  

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Looking Back at the Previous Term: Reflective Practice with Efficiency

Just a quick post here as we start another year that applies to all teaching, not just math and IBL...

At the end of the term (or recently after a term ends), I like to look back at the courses I have taught and reflect on the successes and productive failures.  What I like to do is set aside 30 minutes or 1 hour, and write down my thoughts, go over my notes, look for patterns, and try to identify areas I can work on.  I look at the problems that were successful and the ones that were not so successful.

Then I put them into my to-do list manager (Omni Focus).  A variety of programs and workflows are out there related to to-do list managers, and the choice of software is not important.  It is important to use some system, however.   The upshot is that I like to put my ideas and thoughts into my to-do list app, and then set a date for to add more things in.  Repeat every week or so for just a few minutes.   Then when it's time to get moving with the next course prep, I have my thoughts about what I can improve ready for action, which leads to me adding in something new that is good or improving something much more frequently. 

Small bits of time used efficiently and computer-aided organization can help us learn faster and grow faster as teachers.  These small bits of time are like prepping the prep time.  This idea can be adapted to suit your needs, and I can see it as part of regular, ongoing reflective practice.

I don't think I'll ever be done learning about teaching, and truthfully that's a good thing.  It's akin to craftsmanship or being an artisan, where the work spans the arc of a career.  It's an enjoyable, fulfilling way to look at the profession, and it's a component of what makes teaching fun, positive, and optimistic (at least to me).

Warm wishes for a successful 2015!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Instructor Voices Part 4: "What Makes a Good IBL Instructor?" (Video)

Here's the fourth episode in the Instructor Voices series on the AIBL channel.   This time just a quick take on what a handful of IBL instructors think about important attributes or skills of an effective teacher.

I'll add on to their good comments by saying that these aren't a complete list.  What goes into becoming a solid IBL teacher isn't the size of a sound bite.  If you're interested in taking the next steps, please consider attending the IBL Workshop in July 2015. Registration opens in January.

Careful listening, providing appropriate structure for exchanging ideas, restraint, patience, understanding the learning process, and compassionate joy.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Instructor Voices Part 3: Importance of Failure (Video)

In an earlier posts, I wrote about de-stigmatizing mistake.  Some of us are now  doing things (when appropriate) in our classes now to raise mistakes to their proper place in the learning (Productive Failure).  This post is a continuation of this theme.

Here's another short video of IBL instructors sharing their thoughts on the value of mistakes or getting stuck.  Thanks again to the interviewees for sharing their beautiful insights!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Instructor Voices Part 2: "Benefits to Students" (Video)

What is IBL's biggest benefit to students?  A groups of IBL instructors give us their perspectives.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Instructor Voices Part 1: Your Most Memorable IBL Experience (Video)

At the RLM and IBL Conference last June, we asked a handful of IBL instructors to tell us about one of their most memorable IBL experience.  Here they are in their own words.

What is one of your most memorable IBL experience?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Other Blogs Strategies for Grouping Students, Student Resistance, Teaching Math Through Immersion,...

Some useful links from recent posts in the iBL blogosphere:

Strategies for Grouping Students by Chriss von Renesse is a great post on how to use grouping to develop an environment to increase student success.

Matthew Jones has a nice post on strategies for dealing with student resistance.  The shift from traditional, passive learning to active engagement can be hard.  Students can say, "I don't learn this way."  Matt has a nice post on how to handle these situations.

AMS blogs have really been interesting to follow.  Here's a nice post by Priscilla Bremser on Teaching Mathematics Through Immersion.