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- Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash. -

“Who is that 3D printer for?” Glenn asked me through a wry smile.

“What…?” I murmured back, throwing a quick glance in his direction barely acknowledging his sincere and challenging question. I went back to my task quickly, feeling that maybe this time I’d finally leveled the damn printer bed.

“Who is it for?” He repeated, this time in a pointy-er tone.

“Glenn…what!? It’s for the kids. What are you even talking about!?!” I snapped back, now frustrated with the printer AND my prying teaching partner.

“You’ve had that thing on your desk for two weeks now, fiddling with it. How many kids have seen it, let alone had the chance to use it?” …


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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Elly wasn’t having it, her shrill vocalizations ensuring we were fully aware of her disapproval. Out flew Mr. Pigglesworth, followed by her blanket, pacifier, and the last shreds of her composure. We’d been warned that this day was coming, as new parents we’d done what we could to prepare.

But you can’t really prepare for how this feels, other than knowing it’s coming.

The term “Extinction burst” swelled in my brain. I first learned about it in Dr. William’s Educational Psychology class as an undergrad at Whitworth. Wikipedia has a nice summary, quoting Raymond G. …


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“Seattle public schools just decided that math is racist.” She told me over a plate of almost-warm powdered eggs at our table in the back of the room.

I attended the Idaho School Board Association Convention earlier this month and was told that mathematics doesn’t have culture by a frustrated school board member over breakfast one morning.

She peppered me with sincere questions about how Mathematics could have anything to do with culture. Our conversation about what Mathematics is and what it means to “be good at it” was positive and passionate. Sadly, the more we exchanged, the more entrenched she became. Like so many Americans, her experience as a student has allowed her to believe that Mathematics is only skills and procedures, demonstrated by her passionate rehearsal of that one time a girl couldn’t count her change back when the power went out. My issue is not with this board member, she is a product of her education. …


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Tim keeps the supplies in his classroom for the math department. He finds joy in being the person to anticipate and provide for our daily dry erase marker and mechanical pencil needs. Tim is a caretaker.

On a Tuesday some years ago I quietly entered his second period to grab a few black and purple dry erase markers. It had to be a Tuesday because during first period, every Tuesday, Tim would descend from the math department’s perch on the top floor, to the basement on his weekly resupply mission.

On this Tuesday in particular, I grabbed my markers and a fresh green 0.5mm Pentel mechanical pencil, as mine hadn’t turned up over the past week of desperate searching. Normally, I’d endeavor to duck in and out as efficiently as possible but on this day I was stopped, caught by the answer being given by a freshman in Tim’s algebra class. Her hands moved, rotating and shaping the space above her desk (row 3, column 4). …


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On Tuesday & Wednesday August 17th and 18th, I participated in the Great Idaho STEM Together conference here in beautiful Coeur d’Alene. These fantastic experiences impacted me.

Opening Keynote


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I finished reading “What School Could Be” by Ted Dintersmith on our family vacation earlier this week. I needed it. He breathed life into my teaching soul as I’ve been struggling with the loss of my beloved Riverpoint Academy which despite great community support and a focus on doing better things, was closed due to budget cuts.

I’m hurting.

I left a far more progressive school district in Spokane with a long track record of innovative programs to work at RA. I gave six incredible, (and incredibly challenging) years to it, and it’s just… gone. Promises made to “suspend” the school and to build a “Task Force” to determine how to best make something new for kids, have been left behind. Most recently we were told to wait and see if our replacement levy passes before beginning discussions on what’s next. This, was of course, a measured and safe choice on their part, but also demonstrated a lack of urgency. …


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Scott Swaaley is one of the High Tech High teachers in the film Most Likely To Succeed, from Ted Dintersmith. As I finished Dintersmith’s book: “What School Could Be”, this week I was reminded of when my colleague John Marshall and I interviewed Scott a few years back.

We first met Scott through our colleague, Riverpoint Academy’s founding teacher, Regan Drew. Regan and Scott are Allen Distinguished Educators, and their collaboration brought Scott to RA. It was amazing to have the chance to see our school through his eyes and talk shop — the literal and metaphorical kind.

Scott embodies the “Do Better Things” idea of what school could be that Dintersmith is advocating for in “What School Could Be.” Scott is a creative tinkerer and iterative thinker. He is the Founder and CEO of MAKESafe Tools, makers of the universal power tool brake. I had the chance to test an early prototype, it’s rad. …


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Ted Dintersmith makes a clear and compelling call to our American education system in “ What School Could Be.” He bemoans “doing (obsolete) things better,” in favor of “doing better things.” I had the privilege of doing better things at Riverpoint Academy (RA) for six amazing years. More on that in a moment.

I love this book. I love Dintersmith’s clarity and focus, but I think he is missing some nuance in how we go about navigating this “entrenched system” at the classroom level. As fate would have it, I read Dintersmith’s story of his interactions with Sal Khan and the KA staff in Chapter 7 of his book on the same day I read his indictment of Khan Academy on Twitter. As a result, a few things came into focus for me. …

About

Matthew Alan Green

I learn and I teach. matthewalangreen.com

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