This summer, I had the experience of attending three conferences/workshops. While there are always a few dry parts to any professional development, overall I had a great time learning new things and thinking about ways to improve my teaching.

Over the next week or so, I intend to describe a number of the ideas I gleaned from interesting sessions, lectures, and discussions. [I figure that I’ll be more likely to post if I describe here what I intend.] Here is a description of the conferences, together with my planned posts:

In mid-July, I attended the National Academy Foundation (NAF) annual conference, which I wrote a bit about, before attending, here. Our school is working with NAF to become an Academy of Engineering site, so the conference was helpful both in gaining an idea of what it will be like as we go through our year of planning, and in understanding how the AOE academy model works.

Two sessions really stood out for me, and I hope to describe those two presentation-discussions in follow-up posts: one on integrated units that tie many subjects to the Principles of Engineering curriculum, and the second on incorporating project-based learning in math.

In late July, I participated in the TEAACH (Teachers and Engineers for Academic ACHievement) 4-day training, run by engineering firm Northrop Grumman. The goal of the TEAACH workshop is to increase awareness of and interest in the engineering field/career among math, science, and technology education teachers (and thereby among students of those teachers). This is done by presentations of what engineers do, activities that give students & teachers a hands-on experience with the engineering design process, tours of engineering facilities, and discussion of ways to connect engineering ideas, activities, and skills to math/science/tech ed classes.

Over the next week, I shall write a post describing a few of the cool activities we learned about in TEAACH. I have already linked to a few of the activities and similar short engineering projects on my STEM page.

In early August I attended the Mathematical Association of America (MAA)‘s MathFest. This is an annual gathering of mathematicians to present new research mathematics as well as strategies for teaching (mostly undergraduate) mathematics.

I attended some great lectures, most especially the keynote Hedrick lecture series on “Complex Dynamics and Crazy Mathematics” by Bob Devaney of Boston University (for a taste, see the first three slideshows here). Most applicable to my teaching was a mini-course I took part in at MathFest on teaching with GeoGebra, a free web-based graphing/geometry/mathematics software. I plan on blogging about what I learned in that session.

Anyway, hope some of those ideas sound tantalizing. Due to plans I already have for the weekend, I am publicly committing to have my first of these blog posts up by Monday 8/16. Let me know which you’d like to hear about first.

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