Sunday, June 1, 2014

Quadratic Emergency
By:  Melissa Tomlinson
Recently one of my coworkers was involved in a wonderful project.  He is a bit of a math geek and has managed to spark a love for mathematics in his students for years.  Now he has taken that a step further.  He, with several of his classes, have produced a great math rap video about the quadratic equation called “Quadratic Emergency” 

Why do I think it is important to highlight his video?  (Besides the shameless plug for my school.)  I see events like this becoming less and less frequent as the time that we are required to spend on testing and related test prep classroom time increases in our schools.  Teachers are even more afraid to step outside of the box to coordinate events like this because it is not on the test.  The quadratic equation isn't even something that is taught at our grade level.  But learning it now through this song will help them in the future.  Teachers will not see the benefit of actions and future planning like this as we become for and more fearful of our evaluation rankings that are tied to the student standardized test score. 

This project was completed when testing was done for our NJ ASK.  Next year it is planned that we will participate in the PARCC test.  Currently the schedule of this requires a testing window of about a month long chunk of time, twice during the school year.  This is a month that events such as this will be discourages.  Classes cannot be disrupted to allow students to be taken out to participate in the video.  Outsiders cannot be allowed to come into the building to record the video.  Events, such as the video release party will not be planned as teachers become more and more demoralized by the bullying atmosphere that they are currently operating under grows more oppressive. 

Another question regarding this event comes to mind.  Would a Teach for America intern be willing to go to all the extra trouble of carrying out a project like this?  To them, teaching is just a job, a way to reduce their student debt.  For some it is a stepping stone to 'bigger and better' things. 

Eventually, teachers will be more and more afraid to step outside of their curriculum and embark upon projects such as this.  In the end, what we will have if we are forced to continue along this path is the death of great teaching. 

This will be the real emergency!

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