STEM

Roundtable

Removing the Ceiling: Empowering Highly Capable Middle/High Schoolers with Extended Math Writing Assignments

Friday, November 10
3:45 PM - 4:45 PM
Location: Exhibit Hall Roundtable 8

In most math classes, students are expected to find specific answers to specific questions. These pre-determined questions often serve to discourage student thinking--leaving gifted students bored, rather than empowered to find and explore their own Rabbit Holes. This presentation invites middle and high school educators to incorporate writing assignments into their curriculum, opening doors for student inquiry and creating a mathematical dialogue in and out of the classroom. The presentation describes one classroom's experience with such assignments, including pedagogical motivation, classroom implementation, student feedback on their experience, and various writing samples from student work.

Paul Gafni

Mathematics Instructor
Robinson Center for Young Scholars, University of Washington

Paul Gafni's primary professional aim is to share his passion for mathematics with K-12 students. Paul excelled in his undergraduate math program, receiving departmental recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics both as a sophomore and as a senior. After graduating magna cum laude with a B.A. in Mathematics in 2011, Paul has (so far) opted out of pursuing further academic degrees in favor of a career teaching mathematics to highly capable youth.

Paul teaches the Transition School's mathematics class at the University of Washington's Robinson Center. Transition School serves highly capable students who aim to enter university early; Paul's students generally become full time university students at age 15, if they are successful at Transition School. Aside from his work at Transition School, Paul has been working with Math for Love since 2012, running a handful of Math Circles around the greater Seattle area. He also teaches online classes with Art of Problem Solving, and works privately with a handful of students. He has been teaching since 2008, and his primary mathematical interests are Combinatorial Game Theory, Abstract Algebra, Number Theory, Graph Theory, and Combinatorics.

When he's not teaching or learning math, you might find Paul out of the country or working on art in a variety of forms. Since 2011, his travels have included Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Colombia, and Guatemala. His art focus lately has been on designing and fabricating fractal jewelry, using laser cut acrylic and birch. Past art projects include a motorized couch and a 6 foot flower wooden with 3+4+...+10=52 pentagonal petals.

Presentation(s):

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Removing the Ceiling: Empowering Highly Capable Middle/High Schoolers with Extended Math Writing Assignments

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