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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Estate Planning (97-Word "Flash Fiction" Story)

As she carefully examined the contents of the small fireproof safe, it was all there - wedding ring certificates, wills, life insurance policies, asset ledgers, account number lists (including eBay and Amazon passwords), tax returns, passports, social security cards, copies of his films and manuscripts - EVERYTHING.

"That meticulous man of mine", she quipped as an assured smirk spread across her relieved countenance.

As she prepared to return the safe, her husband raced into the study. "Wait a minute! I just finished archiving our pictures!"

Smiling and shaking her head, she headed upstairs to pack for Maui.



Copyright 2011 Derrick Brown (derrick.s.brown@att.net) and KnowledgeBase, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Re: Remembering Ed Brown

Mrs. Brown and Alexis,

I do not even know what to say, but know that Keisha and I are here for you both. She and I have talked about you all quite a bit for the last week.

Please know how much I admired Mr. Brown and always wanted to know more about his life. I have told Keisha all about his cool hand and eloquence that day we had to discuss the classroom situation with Alexis' calculus teacher, and what an example of humility and diplomatic skill that set for me.

It's funny - resolving that situation gave me the opportunity to work with Alexis as much as I did, and gave me the chance to know you and Mr. Brown. "Fighting fire with a feather" is my adopted slogan, and I am so glad to now know about the "protection of the asbestos gloves" :-). It's that protection that allows us to endure and prevail!

When we came to your home for Alexis' graduation celebration, I could see and feel the culture, history, and spirit of the griot everywhere I looked. I would love to help tell the world Mr. Brown's story. We can talk about that when the time is right.

Until then, please call on me and Keisha if you need anything. We love you!


Sincerely,

Derrick and Keisha Brown
678-467-1256

At 08:38 PM 11/27/2011, you wrote:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Valinda Brown <vbrown@atlbeltline.org >
Date: Sun, Nov 27, 2011 at 8:36 PM
Subject: FW: Remembering Ed Brown
To: Alexis Johnson <alexisjohnson5@gmail.com >



From: Valinda Brown
Sent: Sunday, November 27, 2011 12:22 PM
To: amsaesq374@aol.com
Subject: Fwd: Remembering Ed Brown


From: SNCC Legacy Project < info@sncclegacyproject.org>
Date: November 26, 2011 7:25:06 PM EST
To: Valinda Brown <vbrown@atlbeltline.org >
Subject: Remembering Ed Brown
Reply-To: " info@sncclegacyproject.org" < info@sncclegacyproject.org>

Having trouble viewing this email? Click here



EDDIE CHARLES BROWN, JR.
(1941 - 2011) http://bit.ly/ed_brown





"His devotion, eloquence and generosity of spirit has ennobled and adorned the movement in our time. Because of his quiet self-confidence and humility he never sought publicity but thousands, especially poor folk, here and on the Continent have had their lives vastly improved by Ed's effectiveness and compassion. He is truly one of the great unsung heroes of our generation. We shall not soon see his like again."

 



Ekwueme Michael Thelwell





 









 

"Fighting Fire with a Feather"

Ed Brown



Eddie Charles Brown, Jr., a great-souled human being committed to fighting the oppression of all people from Mississippi to South Africa, died at his home on November 23, 2011. In political circles, Ed was respected for his enduring commitment to our people. As a consequence of his tireless devotion to, and success in advancing the culture and economic progress of poor Black folk, Ed Brown was widely recognized as among the most, incorruptible, responsible, resourceful and effective of the activist leaders of the Movement. As his SNCC colleagues said of him, "More than most Ed's life embodies and exemplifies to a remarkable degree, the principle of undying love for our people both here and in the Motherland. "



Although the consummate organizer and community activist in matters of the aesthetics of Black musical culture and the southern oral tradition, Ed had the soul of a poet and the eloquence of a griot.  Similarly, his great sensitivity to African cultures is reflected in the quality of the extraordinary collection of traditional African religious art, which he and his wife Valinda have painstakingly gathered over many years.



A year prior to his passing, Ed gave his Shahada (acceptance of Islam) to his younger brother the Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown) to whom Ed's observable devotion, loyalty and commitment was widely seen as an unconditional and admirable example of brotherly love. The janaza (last rites) were held on November 24, 2011 at the West End Community Mosque in Atlanta, Georgia.



A native of Louisiana, Ed was born on August 19, 1941 in New Orleans to Thelma Warren and Eddie Charles Brown, Sr. and raised in Baton Rouge.  Ed's historical efforts to fight segregation and all forms of oppression as well as to empower Black people started in 1960 when he was a young student at Louisiana's Southern University. He and 16 other classmates confronted the University and staged a sit-in protesting the racial segregation prevalent in Louisiana at the time. After he and the others were arrested, expelled and banned from enrolling in any university in Louisiana, Ed began the ongoing struggle for justice, which would define his entire life. This expulsion led Ed to Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1961where he landed on the front line of the Civil Rights Movement. Ed was an active member of the Nonviolent Action Group, the SNCC affiliate at Howard.



As a leader and field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) he fought to win constitutional rights for Blacks and all disenfranchised people. Ed always proclaimed that he was "fighting fire with a feather," but he knew he would prevail because he often said, ironically, he was protected by "asbestos gloves."



A Life of Service



Ed never held a job not directly concerned with human advancement. Highly regarded in white political and philanthropic circles for a selfless incorruptibility, Ed bridged the gap between both communities and was able to direct very significant financial resources into poor Black communities. The three abiding concerns of his professional life, both here and in Africa, can be seen as: democratic political liberation; economic empowerment; and the celebration and enhancement of our cultures. Through Ed's efforts thousands of people have had their lives significantly improved.



Among fellow workers, he is remembered for his uncommon diplomatic skill, personal charm and political tact. Kalamu ya Salaam, who served with him on the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage commission recalls, "What I most remember is that the respect he commanded coupled with a delightful sense of humor enabled him to soothe the most outrageous egos, resolve conflicts and bring apparently irreconcilable warring factions together."



In 1965 as a staffer at the Citizen's Crusade Against Poverty in Washington, D.C., Ed developed information networks among community-based organizations to support anti-poverty legislation.   In 1967, he organized efforts to improve the political and economic conditions of Blacks in the Mississippi Delta as the Executive Director and founder of the Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE) and The Delta Foundation in Greenville, Mississippi. At MACE, he developed community-based enterprises, producing Fine Vines blue jeans and establishing catfish farms in the Delta. He was the first executive director of the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival. In 1974, Ed raised funds and helped organize the Sixth Pan African Congress held at the University of Tanzania at Dar-es-Salaam's Nkrumah Hall with delegates representing 52 independent states and/or liberation movements in Africa, the Caribbean and other people of African descent.



As Executive Director of the New Orleans Area Development Project in 1976, Ed organized advocacy groups to work for reform by organizing communities to fight police brutality and creating parent-teacher committees for education reform. Ed went on to serve as President and CEO of the Southern Agriculture Corporation in the 1980s where he worked to organize and gain capital funding for small Black southern farmers. In the 1990s as Executive Director of the Voter Education Project in Atlanta, Ed continued his tireless efforts to register Blacks and poor people to vote and to fight legislation restricting poor and disenfranchised people of all color from voting.



From the 1990s through 2006, Ed took his "asbestos gloves" to nations outside the United States. As a senior consultant to the National Democratic Institute, Ed designed and implemented civic and voter education programs to prepare for national elections in Ethiopia, Namibia, Zambia, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. He was especially involved in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa which resulted in the freeing of Nelson Mandela. As an international election observer for The Jimmy Carter Center, Ed worked in Ghana, Zambia and The Dominican Republic. As a human rights activist in corporate board rooms, Ed served on the World Council of Churches and Emergency Fund for Southern Africa raising funds for humanitarian relief; at the Center for National Security Studies monitoring American defense policies and budgets; and with the American Friends Service Committee, U.S. Department of Agriculture Citizens Advisory Committee Equal Opportunity and Atlanta Council for International Cooperation. He also consulted with the Asian Council of Churches and participated in the Consultation of Minority Peoples of Japan in Tokyo.



In addition to his international work during this time, from 1994 until 2003, Ed moved into the arena of municipal and city planning as southeastern marketing director for Sidney B. Bowne Engineering. He served as the strategic planner developing relationships between the company and city and state officials in the company's negotiation and establishment of Geography Information Systems. He worked on transition teams for the mayors of Macon and Albany, Georgia, in 2003 as a consultant with ABC Management where he evaluated and recommended management of staff for city departments and developed strategic plans for incoming mayoral administrations.



A Lover of Art



Ed developed an early appreciation and love of art while studying at Howard University under Professor Sterling Brown. He became especially interested in the history of African art and cultures. During his later journeys throughout the continent, he began collecting African sculptures and masks which he and his wife, Valinda, expanded with African and African-American art. Ed became a co-owner of Boston's Harris/Brown Art Gallery, which exhibited major African-American artists. He is widely known for furthering dialogue regarding the importance of nurturing artists of African-American and African descent. As a board member of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, he was especially proud of being instrumental in helping to establish the annual David Driskell Young Artist Award. He also served on the board of the Atlanta Photography Group where he chaired the Youth Education Program and as chairman of the Funding Committee of the Academy Theater. Ed's many years of advocating the ascension of African-American artists has resulted in their inclusion in successful exhibitions at various art venues.



Ed's love and dedication to Black culture embraced music of all kind. He established and promoted the Mississippi Delta Blues Festival while at MACE. He especially enjoyed jazz and gospel and he and his wife made annual pilgrimages to New Orleans for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. But Ed's most enjoyable times at his home with Valinda were preparing deliciously wonderful New Orleans cuisines and sharing those absolutely satisfying meals with friends and family who prized the opportunity to get a cup of Ed's Gumbo. Ed was a master New Orleans chef who was admired for his seafood, duck, or pheasant gumbos; quail in rich brown sauce; and turtle soup with sherry and crawfish bisque; fried catfish; spinach shrimp dressing; and sweet potato pone. His demonstrations of affection for food and sharing led to his wife's publication of a loving cookbook. Ed was an elaborate storyteller, so with each meal came colorful adventures with Ed Brown. Ed was a passionate historian of African culture and he accumulated a large library of African history. He spent many rewarding years studying Yoruba culture. During the 1970s with an extended stay in Nigeria, following an elaborate ritual that included him running alongside camels with a net over his head, Ed was initiated into the ruling Ogboni Society of Yoruba manhood.



Ed is survived by his loving wife, Valinda; three sons, Michael Johnson, Kevin George and Keith George; two sisters, Pat Brown Leak (Alex) and Cheryl Brown Hill (Donald); brothers Jamil Al-Amin (Karima) and Lance Brown (Pat); grandchildren Alexis Johnson, Aliyah Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Kristin George, Christopher George, Brandon George and nieces, nephews, cousins and a host of other family and friends.








This email was sent to vbrown@beltline.org by info@sncclegacyproject.org |  

Update Profile/Email Address | Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe| Privacy Policy.

SNCC Legacy Project | info@sncclegacyproject.org | Washington | DC | 20017

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Talk to Me" - Teaching the Language of Math! ( GCTM Conference Fri 10/21/2011 9:15 - 11:15 AM)

-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - October 18, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------


-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. THE MIGHTIER SWORD. This FREE guide introduces teachers to playing the (math) language skill-building game "Talk To Me"! "Talk To Me" creatively addresses the critical need to build language and communication skills in math classes that will allow students to "do math", and to also understand what "math does".... http://bit.ly/tpt_ttmg


2. UPCOMING EVENTS. Check us out at the 2011 Georgia Mathematics Conference @ Rock Eagle (Eatonton, GA) on Fri 10/21/2011!

TI-83, 84, 84+ for Beginners
Keisha Lanier Brown, Georgia Perimeter College
Fri 10/21/2011 9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Calling all beginning math teachers! Do you want to know how to use your graphing calculator more effectively? If so, this session is for you. Bring your calculator so we can cover the top 20 skills you need to know when teaching any middle school or high school mathematics course. Some of these topics include finding points of intersection, solving systems of equations, using applications such as Conics and Inequalz, evaluating expressions, and much more.


"Talk to Me" – Teaching the Language of Math
Derrick Brown, KnowledgeBase, Inc.
Fri 10/21/2011 9:15 AM - 11:15 AM

Participants will learn to play "Talk To Me" - a game that requires teams to guess math, language arts, or computer vocabulary terms from verbal, nonverbal and / or pictorial clues presented by a single teammate (the clue giver). "Talk To Me" creatively addresses the critical need to build language and communication skills in math classes that will allow students to "do math", and to also understand what "math does".


-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - October 18, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------



[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 9)

-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - October 14, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------


-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. THE MIGHTIER SWORD. This FREE guide introduces teachers to playing the (math) language skill-building game "Talk To Me"! "Talk To Me" creatively addresses the critical need to build language and communication skills in math classes that will allow students to "do math", and to also understand what "math does".... http://scr.bi/ttm_guide


2. UPCOMING EVENTS. Check us out at the 2011 Georgia Mathematics Conference @ Rock Eagle (Eatonton, GA) on Fri 10/21/2011!

TI-83, 84, 84+ for Beginners
Keisha Lanier Brown, Georgia Perimeter College
Fri 10/21/2011 9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Calling all beginning math teachers! Do you want to know how to use your graphing calculator more effectively? If so, this session is for you. Bring your calculator so we can cover the top 20 skills you need to know when teaching any middle school or high school mathematics course. Some of these topics include finding points of intersection, solving systems of equations, using applications such as Conics and Inequalz, evaluating expressions, and much more.


"Talk to Me" - Teaching the Language of Math!
Derrick Brown, KnowledgeBase, Inc.
Fri 10/21/2011 9:15 AM - 11:15 AM

Participants will learn to play "Talk To Me" - a game that requires teams to guess math, language arts, or computer vocabulary terms from verbal, nonverbal and / or pictorial clues presented by a single teammate (the clue giver). "Talk To Me" creatively addresses the critical need to build language and communication skills in math classes that will allow students to "do math", and to also understand what "math does".


-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - October 14, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 8)

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NOW YOU KNOW - September 20, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front
© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. GRIOT'S CORNER. Defining new paths are more important than following old patterns.

Please take a few minutes to digest this video. The medium (a technique called visual scribing) is even more powerful than the message (the value of divergent thinking).

Changing Education Paradigms (by RSA Animate)
http://bit.ly/nyk_rsa


-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - September 20, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front
© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

Monday, September 12, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 7)

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NOW YOU KNOW - September 6, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front
© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. THE MIGHTIER SWORD. An open letter outlining
recommendations to improve the culture, climate,
and community of our school ... http://scr.bi/kb_mib

I am publishing this essay to share my
perspective on lessons learned from perhaps the
most troubling experience of my life.

I share this with my subscribers to affirm my hope.
This hope is necessary to facilitate the growth
that comes only through the questioning and
informing of our own assumptions and perceptions.

This questioning can begin once we embrace and
then release our arrogance (thinking that we know what we do not).

I welcome your feedback. Civil discourse is
needed to discover that sometimes we are just
diametrically opposed points that lie on the same
circle ... and that the preservation of the
circle is more important than our "points".

-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - September 6, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front
© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

Friday, August 26, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 6)

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NOW YOU KNOW - August 26, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front
© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------
1. THE MIGHTIER SWORD. Why oh why can't Johnny
read? ... Probably because the brother's name is Khalid ... http://scr.bi/nyk_j

-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - August 26, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front
© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

Friday, August 19, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 5)

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NOW YOU KNOW - August 19, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------


-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - WOLFISH SHEEP (OR SHEEPISH WOLVES)
2. GRIOT'S CORNER (Homespun stories about what matters to me)
3. [NEW!] THE MIGHTIER SWORD (Food for thought in this hungry world)
4. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE


1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - WOLFISH SHEEP (OR SHEEPISH WOLVES). There are quite a few villains disguised as heroes, and probably just as many heroes who look like villains.


2. GRIOT'S CORNER. Look once, but think twice! Enjoy this classroom video clip! http://bit.ly/wiwihk_look


3. THE MIGHTIER SWORD. Many published articles are researched and written only to justify a preconceived position. Nevertheless, read with discernment to gain insight from other perspectives.

This article (forwarded by a friend and college classmate) reminded me that creating accountability (both in performance and in working relationships) and engaging in thoughtful, balanced civil discourse (especially with those determined to take one side of an issue or the other) is the only approach to positive change that I trust nowadays.

Super Teachers Alone Can't Save Our Schools (from the Wall Street Journal - August 13, 2011)
Extraordinary educators are rare and often burn out. To save our schools, says Steven Brill, we have to demand more from ordinary teachers and their unions.
http://on.wsj.com/nyk_aug19


4. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE. This week's feature ...

A Teacher's Guide to HISTORhYmes
http://scr.bi/db_HISTORhYmes

HISTORhYmes is a 1-2-week literacy activity that enhances reading comprehension, grammar, and writing skills by using the creative imaginations of young people to present stories about historical and contemporary figures.

W.E.B. and Booker T.

(By Kwame' Baldwin, Gerzzell Carter, Tia Moreland, Ricky White, Jimmie Fair, and Derrick Brown)

(Chorus 1) W.E.B.
Founded the NAACP
'Cause he had a beef with Booker T.
'Bout how Black folks could be free

(Chorus 2) Now Booker T.
Wrote "Up From Slavery"
Used the money to fund Tuskegee
To create our Black bourgeoisie

W.E.B. called the "few and the bold"
To impart wisdom to the young and the old
Perhaps this theory is a bit oversold
'Cause are we really free, or have we just been paroled?

(Repeat Chorus 1, Chorus 2)

Now Booker T. said, "To lift up a man,
You take him from 'I can't' and teach him to say 'I can'
Teach him how to fish, put him down with the plan"
But does my business sense make me more than "less than"?

(Repeat Chorus 1, Chorus 2)

-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - August 19, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------




Friday, August 12, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 4)

-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - August 12, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------


-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - THE EDUCATION PARADOX
2. GRIOT'S CORNER (Homespun stories about what matters to me)
3. [NEW!] THE MIGHTIER SWORD (Food for thought in this hungry world)
4. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE


1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - THE EDUCATION PARADOX. It is possible to be highly educated while lacking the wisdom to articulate original thought, and the courage to confront injustice. That makes it quite easy to be controlled.


2. GRIOT'S CORNER. I would much rather be a student than a teacher. Enjoy this clip! http://bit.ly/wiwihk_too


3. THE MIGHTIER SWORD. This is a powerful article - not because it criticizes President Obama, but because it offers a deep, probing, level-headed insight to his character, personality, and temperament that may help us all to grow in our capacity as leaders.

What Happened to Obama? (from the New York Times - August 6, 2011)
(By Drew Weston, Professor of Psychology, Emory University)
http://nyti.ms/rtt_obama


4. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE. This week's feature ...

Reach - Then Teach (Character Education Guide)
Download it for FREE at http://bit.ly/tpt_rttbook!

This 25-page ebook challenges students to think critically about life, freedom, and the pursuit of success and happiness by introducing them to fundamental principles that define their character. Formal education is practice for participating in the game of "real life".








 


 
















-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - August 12, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://bit.ly/rtt_front

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------




Friday, July 29, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 3)

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NOW YOU KNOW - July 29, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://reachthenteach.blogspot.org

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------


-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - AUTHORITY VS. POWER
2. GRIOT'S CORNER (Homespun stories about what matters to me)
3. [NEW!] THE MIGHTIER SWORD (Food for thought in this hungry world)
4. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE


1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - AUTHORITY VS. POWER. Authority is not power - it is the right to exercise power. Power is the ability to work efficiently. Those who work efficiently amass considerable influence in the workplace.


2. GRIOT'S CORNER.

NOW YOU KNOW - What I Wish I Had Known (July 28, 2011)
http://bit.ly/wiwihk

(July 28, 2011, Athens, GA) Excerpt from the intro of "NOW YOU KNOW - What I Wish I Had Known", an address by Derrick Brown to participants in UGA's Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summer Bridge Program.


3. THE MIGHTIER SWORD. Of all the education world's curious buzzwords and trendy jargon, the catchphrase that makes me wince the most is "data-driven instruction" - for two reasons ...
1. Data are simply facts and figures - which in and of themselves do little more than fill unread reports that cover desktops and clog computers. On the other hand, information (well-understood data) and the resulting insight are the higher goals for which we should strive, which require us to work smarter - not harder.
2. Using data to drive the instruction sounds about as awkward and as obvious as
Using the hammer to drive the (home) construction
Using the baton to drive the (orchestra) conduction
Using the donation to drive the (tax) deduction
Using the alcohol to drive the bars
Using the gasoline to drive the cars
Be careful of glorifying the means in ways that obscure the end.

4. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE. This week's feature ...

Math Crossword Puzzle Language Diagnostic
http://bit.ly/rtt_mathpuzz1



Use this creative diagnostic as a formal or informal assessment! It can visually demonstrate your students' level of math proficiency by measuring their command of its language!

Learn the story of its creation and use at http://bit.ly/rtt_mathpuzz1 !











-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - July 29, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://reachthenteach.blogspot.org

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

Friday, July 22, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 2)

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NOW YOU KNOW - July 22, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://reachthenteach.blogspot.org

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------


-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. BIG IDEA - ACTIVITY VS. ACHIEVEMENT
2. GRIOT'S CORNER
3. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE


1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - ACTIVITY VS. ACHIEVEMENT. Do not mistake activity for achievement. A dog that chases his tail looks busy, but accomplishes little.


2. GRIOT'S CORNER. A love letter to my wife ...

D&K's Adventure (1080p)
http://bit.ly/d_and_k


3. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE. This week's feature ...

Equation Proverbs: Volumes 1-3 (Character Education Posters)
http://bit.ly/rtt_eqprov



This collection of 20 11" x 8.5" (resolution of each is 3300 pixels x 2550 pixels) digital posters uses equations to illustrate 20 character themes.


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NOW YOU KNOW - July 22, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.
http://reachthenteach.blogspot.org

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Equation Proverbs: Volumes 1-3 (Character Education Posters)



Purchase this at http://bit.ly/tpt_eqprov!

This collection of 20 11" x 8.5" (resolution of each is 3300 pixels x 2550 pixels) digital posters uses equations to illustrate the following character themes:








Equation Proverbs: Volumes 1-3 (Character Education Posters)
Table of Contents

Success 4
Power 5
Education 6
Courage 7
Genius 8
Excellence 9
Writing 10
Wisdom 11
Vision 12
Insight 13
Relationships 14
Discipline 15
Effective Leadership (Management) 16
Effective Leadership (Production) 17
Effective Leadership (Tact) 18
Effective Leadership (Authority) 19
Effective Leadership (Boundaries) 20
Effective Leadership (Ideas & Planning) 21
Effective Leadership (Communication) 22
Effective Leadership (Perceptions) 23


Also check out ...

  1. Character Education Visual Dictionary
  2. Math Visual Dictionary
  3. NOW YOU KNOW - Money Math Edition

Friday, July 15, 2011

[NOW YOU KNOW] Teaching & Learning Edition (Volume 1, Number 1)

-------------------------------------------
NOW YOU KNOW - July 15, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
-------------------------------------------


-------------------
IN THIS ISSUE
-------------------

1. BIG IDEA - PERCEPTION vs. REALITY
2. GRIOT'S CORNER
3. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE


1. BIG IDEA OF LEADERSHIP - PERCEPTION vs. REALITY. Perception is not reality, but perceptions *shape* reality. Just as perceptions shape reality, though, reality also shapes perception. Search for and speak the truth in love to inform both your own as well as the perceptions of others. Those who think only with their eyes are often easily fooled. What a fool believes, he sees ... and no wise man has the power to reason away.


2. GRIOT'S CORNER. The perception - we are excelling ... the reality - truth is often stranger than fiction, and is always buried in the details :-).

The 'Texas Miracle' (January 2004)
http://bit.ly/nyk_tx


3. PUBLISHER'S CLEARINGHOUSE. This week's features ...

Math Visual Dictionary (Geometry Edition)
http://bit.ly/tpt_mvd

Language (how we use words and sounds to communicate) and discourse (verbal expression in speech and writing) are more important than vocabulary (knowledge of words). This Geometry visual dictionary presents 50 key terms along with descriptive photos on 8.5" x 11" slides. The slides are suitable for posting on word walls and bulletin boards!

Character Education Visual Dictionary
http://bit.ly/tpt_cevd

Maturity is achieved when your character and personality complement and illustrate a loving heart. This character education visual dictionary presents 78 key terms along with illustrative images on 8.5" x 11" slides. The slides are suitable for posting on word walls and bulletin boards. The PDF can also be displayed on teacher and/or student computers!


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NOW YOU KNOW - July 15, 2011
Teaching & Learning Edition
A Publication of KnowledgeBase, Inc.

© 2011 KnowledgeBase, Inc.
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Character Education Visual Dictionary

Purchase this at http://bit.ly/tpt_cevd!

Maturity is achieved when your character and personality complement and illustrate a loving heart.

This character education visual dictionary presents 78 key terms along with illustrative images on 8.5" x 11" slides.

The slides are suitable for posting on word walls and bulletin boards. The PDF can also be displayed on teacher and/or student computers.
Table of Contents

ACCOUNTABLE    6
ACHIEVEMENT    7
ANGER    8
ASSUME    9
ATTITUDE    10
AUTHORITY    11
CALM    12
CAPABLE    13
CARING    14
CHARACTER    15
CITIZENSHIP    16
COMMIT    17
COMMUNICATE    18
COMPASSION    19
COMPOSURE    20
CONFIDENCE    21
CONFLICT    22
CONFRONT    23
CONSIDERATE    24
CONSISTENT    25
CONTENT    26
CONTROL    27
COOPERATION    28
COURAGE    29
COURTESY    30
CREATIVITY    31
DECENCY    32
DEPENDABLE    33
DETERMINATION    34
DIDACTIC    35
DILIGENT    36
DIPLOMACY    37
DISCERN    38
DISCIPLINE    39
DOGMATIC    40
DUTY    41
EFFORT    42
EMPATHY    43
ENTHUSIASM    44
EQUALITY    45
ESTEEM    46
FAIR    47
FEARLESS    48
FEELINGS    49
FORGIVE    50
FRIEND    51
GENEROUS    52
GENTLE    53
GOSSIP    54
GRATITUDE    55
GROWTH    56
HABITS    57
HAPPINESS    58
HARMONY    59
HEAL    60
HELPFUL    61
HONESTY    62
HONOR    63
HOPE    64
HUMILITY    65
HUMOR    66
IMPATIENT    67
INDEPENDENT    68
INITIATIVE    69
INTEGRITY    70
INTELLIGENT    71
KNOWLEDGE    72
LAZY    73
LEADER    74
LIKE    75
LOVE    76
LOYAL    77
PEACE    78
POWER    79
PRINCIPLE    80
PROBLEMS    81
PURPOSE    82
WORK ETHIC    83

Also check out ...

  1. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 1)
  2. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 2)
  3. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 3)
  4. NOW YOU KNOW "Jeopardy"-Style Powerpoint Game Template

Big Ideas About Math Education: Math Crossword Puzzle Vocabulary Diagnostic

By Derrick Brown (Email) (follow on Twitter @dbrowndbrown)
Download Math Crossword Puzzle Vocabulary Diagnostic (Free Preview Available)

This week, we move from "Big Ideas" to "Best Practices" for math education.

Learn how a simple crossword puzzle (of elementary and middle school math concepts) can be used as a creative diagnostic, or as a formal or informal assessment.

This resource can visually demonstrate your students' level of math proficiency by measuring their command of its language.

Background

I was named Math Department Head at my charter high school during Summer 2009. This new role made me directly responsible for catalyzing improvement in student achievement, and provided me with the opportunity to begin to formally research, evaluate, and implement language-based approaches to teaching mathematics.

To qualify and quantify the current level of language proficiency, I designed this 25-word diagnostic language test of math terms commonly used from kindergarten to eighth grade. The test was first given in July 2009 to 25 incoming 9th-grade students during our week-long Summer Orientation Camp.

Early results of the test indicated a remarkably low level of math language proficiency.

Less than 10% of the students tested were able to define terms like "square", "volume", "sum", and "circumference".

None of the students were able to define terms like "addition", "subtraction", "multiplication, "division", "area", "line", "circle", "diameter", "principal", and "interest".

One frustrated student put it best as she scribbled the following message at the top of her test: "Some words I could not define because I cannot explain, but I know how to do them."

This rude awakening convinced me that we have to stop congratulating ourselves for drilling our students on rote memorization and pattern recognition techniques to achieve short-term success, and to retain little fundamental understanding.

Students must learn to do math, and must then learn what math does. Establishing that level of proficiency requires a steep, uphill climb that is facilitated by sobering honesty, and a committed work ethic displayed by all school stakeholders.


Also check out:
  1. Reach - Then Teach (Big Ideas About Math Education)
  2. Math Crossword Puzzle Language Diagnostic (Alternate Download from Scribd.com)
Please share your thoughts on these "Big Ideas" and best practices by leaving comments below. Email us or follow us on Twitter @dbrowndbrown to submit your own "Big Ideas" and best practices!
 
Copyright © 2012 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.


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Character Education Crossword Puzzles (Volume 1)

Check it out at http://bit.ly/tpt_charpuzz1!

Puzzles 1-4

These puzzles present the following 110 important interpersonal qualities in a fun, interactive, easy-to-complete format:

ACCOUNTABLE
ACHIEVEMENT
ANGER
ASSUMPTION
ATTITUDE
AUTHORITY
BRAVE
CALM
CAPABLE
CARE
CHARACTER
CHEERFUL
CITIZENSHIP
CLEAN
COMMITMENT
COMMUNICATE
COMPASSION
COMPOSURE
CONCERN
CONFIDENCE
CONFLICT
CONFRONT
CONSERVATIVE
CONSIDERATION
CONSISTENT
CONTENT
CONTROL
COOPERATION
COURAGE
COURTESY
CREATIVITY
DEPENDABLE
DETERMINATION
DIDACTIC
DILIGENT
DIPLOMACY
DISCERN
DISCIPLINE
DISCIPLING
DOGMATIC
EFFORT
EMPATHY
ENTHUSIASM
EQUALITY
ESTEEM
FAIR
FAVOR
FEARLESS
FORGIVENESS
FRIEND
GENEROSITY
GENTLE
GOSSIP
GRATITUDE
HABITS
HAPPINESS
HARSH
HONEST
HONOR
HOPE
HUMILITY
HUMOR
IMPATIENT
INDEPENDENT
INITIATIVE
INTEGRITY
KINDNESS
KNOWLEDGE
LAZY
LEADER
LOVE
LOYALTY
MINISTRY
MODERATION
NEGATIVE
OBEDIENCE
OPTIMISTIC
PATIENCE
PEACE
PERSISTENT
PLEASE
POLITE
POSITIVE
POWER
PRIDE
PRINCIPLE
PROBLEMS
PRODUCTIVE
PUNCTUAL
PURPOSE
RELATIONSHIP
RELIABILITY
RESPECT
RESPONSIBLE
RUMOR
SACRIFICE
SELF-CONTROL
SELF-DISCIPLINE
SELFLESS
SELF-RESPECT
SPORTSMANSHIP
STEWARDSHIP
THANKFUL
THRIFTY
TOLERANCE
TRUST
TRUTH
WISDOM
WORK ETHIC
WRATH

Puzzles 5-6

Based on author Derrick Brown’s e-book Reach – Then Teach, these puzzles present the following 50 important interpersonal qualities in a fun, interactive, easy-to-complete format:

ACCEPTANCE
ACCOUNTABILITY
AFFIRMATION
ANDRAGOGY
ARROGANCE
AUTHORITY
AWARENESS
BODY
CHARACTER
CRITICAL THINKING
DISCOURSE
EDUCATION
ENTREPRENEURSHIP
FAITH
FORGIVENESS
HONESTY
IGNORANCE
KNOWLEDGE
LANGUAGE
LEADERSHIP
LITERACY
LOVE
MATH
MIND (CONSCIENCE)
MINISTRY
MISSION
MONEY
NAME
OBEDIENCE
PEDAGOGY
PERSONALITY
POSSESSIONS
POWER
PROBLEM SOLVING
READING
RELATIONSHIPS
SELF-DISCIPLINE
STEWARDSHIP
STUDENT
TALENTS
TEACHER
TEMPERAMENT
TIME
TRUST
VISION
WEALTH
WISDOM
WORK
WORK ETHIC
WRITING

NOW YOU KNOW History Quiz Bowl (Volume 1)


 
Check it out at http://bit.ly/tpt_nyk_hqb!

NOW YOU KNOW is a gameshow played (using a Powerpoint template) in the tradition of "Jeopardy" that presents the exploits of extraordinary people in an inspiring, "edutaining" way.

The History Quiz Bowl (Volume I) presents 26 (5 per category, plus 1 in the final round) inspiring people in a fun, interactive, easy-to-play format that includes these categories:

EDUCATION
FILM, TV, THEATER
FREEDOM FIGHTERS
SISTAH SOULJAHS
SPORTS

The preview file is a read-only, abbreviated version of the game. Check out the vibrant colors, great pictures, the easy-to-understand "answers", and the compelling stories told about each historical figure!

Also check out ...
  1. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 1)
  2. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 2)
  3. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 3)
  4. NOW YOU KNOW "Jeopardy"-Style Powerpoint Game Template

NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 2)



Check it out at http://bit.ly/pVNObS!

NOW YOU KNOW is a gameshow played (using a Powerpoint template) in the tradition of "Jeopardy" that presents the exploits of extraordinary people in an inspiring, "edutaining" way.

The Character Education Edition (Volume 2) presents 26 (5 per category, plus 1 in the final round) important interpersonal qualities in a fun, interactive, easy-to-play format that includes these categories:

"A" WORDS (accountable, achievement, anger, etc.)
"C" WORDS (citizenship, commit, courtesy, etc.)
MORE "C" WORDS (considerate, consistent, control, etc.)
"D" WORDS (dependable, determined, disciplined, etc.)
"E" WORDS (effort, equality, enthusiasm, etc.)

Check out the great pictures and the easy-to-understand "answers" that accompany each interpersonal quality!




Check out the other "Now You Know" Editions:

  1. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 1)
  2. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 3)
  3. NOW YOU KNOW History Quiz Bowl (Volume 1)
  4. NOW YOU KNOW "Jeopardy"-Style Powerpoint Game Template

Microsoft Excel Functions Workbook, Volume 2

Download it at http://bit.ly/tpt_exv2!

This is an Excel 97-2003 collection of 15 project-based, problem solving spreadsheet exercises (with complete keys - SEE PREVIEW) that help students learn to use the following powerful Microsoft Excel functions:

SUM
AVERAGE
IF
COUNTIF
COUNTBLANK

Each exercise generally takes between 1 and 2 full class periods to complete. I take 10-15 minutes to explain the problem, the deliverable, and the tools, and then let the students work independently or in small groups.

I created these for the Microsoft Excel portion of my 9th-grade Computer Applications class, but also integrated them into my Geomtery, Algebra 2, and Pre-Engineering classes as projects in later years.

Developing a Microsoft Excel skill set is just that important for college-bound students and teachers!

Check out Volume 1 at http://bit.ly/tpt_exv1!


NOW YOU KNOW Math Edition (Money)


NOW YOU KNOW (http://bit.ly/nyk_money) is a gameshow played (using a Powerpoint template) in the tradition of "Jeopardy".

The Money Edition presents 26 (5 per category, plus 1 in the final round) fundamental money problems in a fun, interactive, easy-to-play format that includes these categories:

BORROWING (DEBT)
BUDGETING
COST, REVENUE, & PROFIT
EARNING & SAVING
INVESTING
SHOPPING

The preview file is a read-only, abbreviated version of the game.



Check out the other "Now You Know" Editions:

  1. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 1)
  2. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 2)
  3. NOW YOU KNOW Character Education Edition (Volume 3)
  4. NOW YOU KNOW History Quiz Bowl (Volume 1)
  5. NOW YOU KNOW "Jeopardy"-Style Powerpoint Game Template

Math Visual Dictionary - Geometry




This Geometry visual dictionary presents 50 key terms along with descriptive photos on 8.5" x 11" slides.

The slides are suitable for posting on word walls and bulletin boards. The PDF can also be displayed on teacher and/or student computers.

Check it out at http://bit.ly/tpt_mvd !





Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teachers Pay Teachers Weekly Newsletter Feature (June 12, 2011)!

Meet Derrick Brown!

Subject Areas: Math, Balanced Literacy, Character Education
Grade(s): 5-12

I am the newlywed founder of KnowledgeBase, Inc. - a group dedicated to creating innovative learning content that emphasizes reading, writing, math, leadership, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking skills.

I believe that language mastery is the key to content mastery, for students excel when they can *do* math, and can also explain what math *does*.

Four Great Products by Derrick Brown!
"Big Ideas About Math Education" Handout / Poster
Talk To Me (General Math Edition)
Talk To Me (Grades 1-2 Math Edition)
Talk To Me (Character Education Edition)


See the entire newsletter at http://bitly.com/mJRuRG

Thursday, June 9, 2011

TPT KeyWord Strength Index (2010-2011) - Downloadable PDF ($1.95) and Spreadsheet ($3.95)!


Downloads
PDF ($1.95): http://bitly.com/tbt_bi2
Spreadsheet ($3.95): http://bitly.com/tbt_bi1

What are the strongest keywords on TpT?

1. free downloads
2. Deanna Jump
3. math

Neither #1 nor #2 are surprises, but #3 (math) was certainly a surprise to me!

This report analyzes TpT's 2010-2011 keywords using a measure called "keyword strength".

The measure is based on a keyword's average rank, as well as the number of times it appeared in the 2010-2011 "Top 100" TpT search engine rankings.

This can be a valuable tool to help sellers understand TpT's marketplace supply and demand!

The PDF preview lists the top 20 keywords, while the PDF download provides the top 100 keywords.

A separate Excel spreadsheet download is also available. It allows alphabetical and numerical sorting, which can provide even more insight to TpT authors!

Downloads
PDF ($1.95): http://bitly.com/tbt_bi2
Spreadsheet ($3.95): http://bitly.com/tbt_bi1

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Talk To Me (General Math Edition) - Teach the Language of Math!


Talk To Me (General Math Edition) - Teach the Language of Math!

Visit my TeachersPayTeachers store to purchase!

Language (how we use words and sounds to communicate) and discourse (verbal expression in speech and writing) are more important than vocabulary (knowledge of words).

"Talk To Me" is a game show (in the tradition of Taboo and Pictionary) that requires teams of contestants to build language and discourse skills by guessing vocabulary terms from verbal and/or pictorial clues presented by a single teammate.

The clue giver is provided with the term's formal definition (which does not always help)!

Teams take turns giving and guessing clues for 30-90 seconds per round. The game host and commissioner decide the actual length of each round, as well as the number of rounds per game. At the end of the game, the team that guessed the most terms correctly wins!

Required Materials & Suggested Roles

• Talk To Me card sets (DOWNLOADABLE PDF FILE)
• Whiteboard with markers (one for clues, one for scorekeeping)
• Egg timer (30-90-second) or watch
• Scorekeeper
• Timekeeper
• Commissioner (peacekeeper)
• Host

Purchasers must use a laser or inkjet printer to print their 130-card set on Avery 8371 perforated business card stock, which yields 10 cards per page.



How Was "Talk To Me" Developed?


1. The Motivation

As an elementary, middle, and high school student, I developed a strong love affair with the structure, innate beauty, and applicability of math. I enjoyed the challenge of being assigned the even-numbered problems for homework (the ones whose answers were not in the back of the book), and enjoyed solving word problems of any kind.

As a college (Clemson University) and graduate (Georgia Tech) electrical engineering student, math seemed to change. It no longer seemed to be comprised solely of numeracy and problem solving. It started to take on a more verbal, logical, proof-oriented form. Algebra gave way to The Calculus, Probability became Random & Stochastic Processes, and Linear Algebra morphed into Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces. Equations with two unknowns were replaced by systems of equations, the average became the expected value, and the number-filled matrices were replaced with eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Definitions and notation were now emphasized much more than processes, rigor, and repetition.

The change was difficult as first, but my transition was eased by a work ethic that required me to do whatever I had to do to survive, advance, and succeed. The trial I experienced deepened my admiration for math. I was made steadfast in my pursuit of the new, more mature verbal and analytical approach to learning by the wise words of a fellow graduate student who told me that "In grade school, you learn how to *do* math ... in college you learn to *speak* it, and then you learn what math really *does*."

My college and graduate school experiences motivated me to understand why the language of math was not introduced sooner - in order to prepare students to engage in the higher-level thinking required to engage in the more rigorous math courses. Discovering the answer to this question motivated me to volunteer at several elementary and middle after-school programs from 1999-2003, before finally becoming a high school computer programming teacher in 2003, a math teacher in 2004, and an pre-engineering teacher in 2005.


2. The Problem

The direct interactions that I had with students and teachers as a Summer academic program director (1998-2003), after-school program volunteer (1999-2003), high school math & pre-engineering teacher (2003-2006), and high school administrator (2006 – present) suggested that the instructional approach to math had not changed much in the 15-20 years since I was in middle school. Middle and secondary school math instruction still followed an approach that emphasized mastering problem solving processes through rigorous, repetitive, and often rote methods. The emphasis placed on problem solving methods was not accompanied by an equal emphasis on developing language skills that facilitated the translation between natural language and math notation.

My informal conversations with teachers never yielded a satisfactory answer as to why language was not emphasized more. The most frequent response was that teaching mandated state standards did not leave enough instructional time to devote to building math language skills. The second most frequent response challenged the very notion that there was this inextricable link between language and math.


3. The Initial Solution

I initially saw the lack of emphasis placed on building math language skills as a problem that might best be addressed by creatively demonstrating the prevalence, importance, and sheer beauty of language to math teachers and students.

To this end, in May 2003 I created a game called "Talk To Me" to promote the creative and systematic development of students’ verbal command of subject-specific language via an educational, entertaining game. I created and tested early versions of the game as classroom manipulatives that augmented the subjects I taught as a roving instructor (in the Cobb County, GA Public Schools) and long-term substitute (at Tech High, an Atlanta, GA Public Charter School) teacher in 2003-2004.

About "Talk To Me"

"Talk To Me" is a game that requires teams of contestants to guess math terms from verbal and/or pictorial clues presented by a single teammate.

The clue giver is aided (in some cases) by having the term's definition provided. The clue giver is also, in some cases, prevented from giving certain verbal clues.

Teams take turns giving and guessing clues for 30-90 seconds per round. The game host and commissioner decide the actual length of each round, as well as the number of rounds per game. At the end of the game, the team that guessed the most terms correctly wins!

The name "Talk To Me" was coined during an early test of the game. A frantic clue giver was frustrated by opposing team members distracting her team members by purposely giving them the wrong answers. During a stoppage in play, she admonished her teammates to "Talk to *me* ... do not worry about him or them ...". That moment symbolized the awareness I wanted to promote to math teachers and students – that building language skills and learning to communicate effectively were critical components in mastering all subjects, but especially in math.

Required Materials & Suggested Roles:
Talk To Me card sets
Whiteboard with markers (one for clues, one for scorekeeping)
Egg timer (30-90-second) or watch
Scorekeeper
Timekeeper
Commissioner (peacekeeper)
Host
 
Current Versions:
Tech High School Culture, Climate, and Community (July 2009)
Character Education (December 2004)
Christmas (December 2004)
Intellectual Property & Piracy (April 2004)
Math
(Grades K-5, Grades 6-8, Problem Solving, Algebra 2, Geometry) (May 2003, December 2004)
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access) (March 2004)
Nonprofit Organizations (February 2004)
Visual Basic (February 2004)


4. Back To The Drawing Board

As stated above, I created "Talk To Me" to informally address what I perceived as the lack of awareness of the critical need to build language and communication skills in math classes. At first, I paid little to no attention to using it as a formal tool of instruction. I would soon be motivated, though, to correct this error of omission once I saw the way students played the game.

Early tests of the game in my classroom and several other classrooms and school assemblies at Tech High from 2004-2006 yielded a few key, but painful observations:

1. Students rarely described the game terms using the appropriate academic context. They would instead use the first context that came to mind - which was usually a popular culture reference. For example, when describing the term "line" from the Geometry version of the game, they would often use clues like "These are too long at the movies!" or "The electric slide is what type of dance?". These methods were creative and often humorous, but strayed from the game’s true intent.

2. When students did attempt to describe game terms using the intended academic context, they would often use related (but incorrect) terms. For example, when describing the term "isosceles triangle" from the Geometry version, students would give clues like "this is a triangle with only two congruent sides". Students would then shout "Scalene ... equilateral ... ISOSCELES!" After I saw this approach repeatedly, I began to humorously call it the "Right Church, Wrong Pew" method.

3. Students would be distracted from the game's more didactic intent by the lure of competition. Beating their opponent often overshadowed learning the terms the game attempted to reinforce.

No matter what I tried (incentives, penalties, smaller teams, extended time), the games would often become wayward and out of control due to the above observations. I became frustrated, and retired the game for almost a year to allow time to refresh my perspective and redirect my approach. This coincided with my promotion to school administration, so my new role complemented my need for a design break.


5. The Iterative Solution

For our faculty retreat in Summer 2007, my principal asked me to lead our staff in a discussion about key issues that we needed to think about creatively and constructively. Our staff is comprised of several strong-willed, independent thinkers from rather diverse backgrounds, so any open-ended discussions often strayed from their focus quickly.

I had not worked with "Talk To Me" for a while, so I decided to try it in this context by adding a slight change. Instead of dividing our diverse group of independents into teams, I asked them to all play on the same team, and to allow me to give the clues.

To my surprise, this approach proved to be effective in two key ways:

1. It allowed me to lead a controlled, directed discussion by giving clues that "spoke to" key staff members who may have had attitudes and opinions that they were reluctant to share. By "talking to them", and getting them to correctly guess the term, I then started a forum that had them "talk to me" so that I could present an alternative view that then facilitated a balanced discussion.

For example, the word "discipline" has always carried multiple meanings to our faculty members. By giving the clue "our system of rules", those who held this view quickly chimed in with the answer. I then followed up the answer by asking if there was room to also view discipline as an "affirming manner of teaching and training proper behavior", which then allowed faculty members with that perspective to join the discussion.

2. For terms included in the game to give our faculty firm, gentle redirection, I would use a purposely vague, open-ended clue, and would then clean up the improper responses with the correct answer. For example, for the term "tardy", I said "If you arrive at work at 7:50 A.M., you are ...". After the room shouted "ON TIME!" in unison, I then informed them that they needed to arrive at 7:35 A.M.

This alternative design environment serendipitously armed me with a new approach to the game I called "Cheese and Broccoli" - because it basically presented a formal lecture disguised by an entertaining, interactive, and attractive presentation format.

This new approach would now allow me to actually model the proper way to play "Talk To Me" for students by giving clues in the appropriate context using simple, illustrative examples that would help to teach them the terms in a given game version at the beginning of a unit of instruction. We would then play the game using that version at the end of the instruction unit, which would allow time for students to rely on the illustrative example to help them generate the appropriate words to describe terms.

This new approach was the missing element I needed to motivate me to start using "Talk To Me" as a formal teaching tool that could catalyze improvement in student achievement. However, my responsibilities as Dean of Student Services would not allow me to test the potential impact of this new approach until Summer 2009.


6. Evaluating the Status Quo of Math Student Achievement At Tech High School

I was named Math Department Head at Tech High during Summer 2009. This new role has made me directly responsible for catalyzing improvement in student achievement, and provides me with the opportunity to now begin to formally research, evaluate, and implement language-based approaches to teaching mathematics.

To qualify and quantify the current level of language proficiency, I designed a 25-word diagnostic language test of math terms commonly used from kindergarten to eighth grade. The test was given on July 20, 2009 to 25 students entering Tech High School during our week-long Summer Orientation Camp.

Early statistical results of the test indicated a remarkably low level of math language proficiency.

Less than 10% of the students tested were able to define terms like "square", "volume", "sum", and "circumference".

None of the students were able to define terms like "addition", "subtraction", "multiplication, "division", "area", "line", "circle", "diameter", "principal", and "interest".

One frustrated student put it best as she scribbled the following message at the top of her test: "Some words I could not define because I cannot explain, but I know how to do them".

I will now compare the baseline data obtained from the diagnostic test with the following achievement data (as it becomes available) to identify any possible correlations with low math language proficiency:

1. Georgia 8th-Grade Criterion-Referenced Competency Test Math and Language Arts Scores (CRCT) (Available in August 2009)
2. Applicable Algebra I and Geometry I End-Of-Course Test Scores (Available in August 2009)
3. Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) Scores (Available in December 2009)
4. Numerical Grades from 8th-Grade Math Classes (Available in August 2009)


7. Influential Anecdotal and Research-Based Support for the Solution
7.1 Marva Collins' Views Regarding Teaching Vocabulary vs. Teaching Language & Communication

In January 2006, noted innovative educator Marva Collins participated in a live interview in front of a studio audience that I attended during the Georgia Charter School Association conference in Atlanta, GA.

As a response to a question that asked her to name the most important component germane to all subjects, without hesitation she encouraged the audience to "... Cease teaching vocabulary, and start teaching language and communication". She went on to explain that vocabulary focused solely on "the proper meaning of words", while language focused on "the proper meaning and proper use of words". Communication focused on "properly using words to convey thoughts, ideas, emotions, and information to others". Her definitions became my definitions on that remarkable day.

7.2 Robert Moses' Algebra Project Transition (6th-7th-Grade) and High School Algebra and Geometry Curricula

In June 2007, I began to study the work of MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant winner Robert Moses through his organization "The Algebra Project" (http://www.algebra.org). The Algebra Project is a vehicle for implementing the standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) such as "Mathematics as Problem Solving", "Mathematics as Communication", and "Mathematics as Reasoning".

Transition Curriculum

In particular, I studied their Transition Curriculum. Designed for use in 6th or 7th grade classrooms, the Transition Curriculum helps students make the shift in their conceptual thinking from arithmetic to algebra. It effects this shift by engaging students in the construction of mathematical concepts. The curriculum helps students build their understanding of mathematical concepts through a five-step curricular process that begins with familiar concrete experiences and progresses to abstract mathematics:
1.     Participate in a physical event.
2.     Make pictorial (graphic) representations or models of the event.
3.     Discuss and write about the event in intuitive language(s).
4.     Discuss and write about the event in structured language (identify key features).
5.     Develop symbolic representations for the key features of the event, make presentations to the class and apply these representations.

High School Algebra and Geometry Curricula

Per my research in June 2007, The Algebra Project was producing a high school curriculum with funding from the National Science Foundation's Instructional Materials Development, and the GE Foundation’s Fund for Math Excellence. The curriculum's empirical learning methods and careful analysis of participant's language ground it solidly in recent instructional research.

The curriculum has improved student scores on traditional state-administered standardized tests. At the first year trial at Lanier High School in Jackson, MS, 55% of the students following this curriculum passed the Mississippi Algebra I Examination in their first sitting, compared with the 40% of students following the regular course.

Examples of materials can be seen at http://www.math.siu.edu/budzban/TripLine.html.

7.3 A Program For Raising The Level Of Student Achievement In Secondary School Mathematics [Professor Frank B. Allen]

In April 1996, Professor Frank B. Allen (Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Elmhurst College, and Former President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)) published a position paper entitled "A Program For Raising The Level Of Student Achievement In Secondary School Mathematics". The paper presented an eight-point improvement strategy (omitted here for brevity's sake) that included the following recommendation ...

"The teaching of mathematics should be regarded as an extension of the teaching of language, in which facility in two-way translation between language and mathematical symbolism is emphasized. Efforts to develop an awareness of the intimate relationship which exists between grammar, mathematics and logic should begin with games of "How do we know" in the early grades, continue with the introduction of formal proof not later than grade nine and culminate in the ability to read and write valid essay proofs not later than grade twelve."

NOTE: Literature reviews do not widely cite Professor Allen's position paper, so I will regard his ideas as a source of internal guidance.

Copyright © 2018 Derrick Brown and KnowledgeBase, Inc. All Rights Reserved.