Teachers Facebook Across Europe for Love of Math

By Ashley Ball, Classroom Chronicles

Ten years after Facebook first hit the web, educators are still navigating a tricky relationship with the social media site. Some teachers create professional accounts to post class assignments, while other educators avoid it completely. But rarely do you find a teacher who posts pictures and academic challenges during the summer, let alone from abroad. Enter Chuck Jones, math teacher at Red Bank High School in Chattanooga. Jones spent nearly one month traveling through Greece and Italy, posting to Facebook all the while.

Jones and fellow Chattanooga math teacher Bryan Phillips traveled to Greece and Italy to follow in the footsteps of the great mathematicians of history. They created a group Facebook page for colleagues and students to track their adventure. It is littered with candid snapshots and math challenges using real world context.

Phillips and Jones planned their journey after receiving $10,000 from Fund for Teachers, a national organization that grants summer professional learning grants. The grant, managed through the Public Education Foundation in Chattanooga, allows teachers to create their own professional development that will enrich their instruction and school environment.  According to their Facebook page, Jones and Phillips set out to visit famous sites and places that were wondrous feats of mathematical construction.

As they posted along the way, Jones and Phillips tested their own knowledge. After arriving at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a lifelong dream of Jones’, the duo used a level app on their iPhones to predict the angle the tower was leaning at. Disappointed their answer of 5.5 degrees didn’t match the standard facts in their tour books, they continued on their twilight tour of the landmark. However, both were pleasantly surprised when the tour guide informed them crews were slowly working to prevent the tower from falling further, now giving the tower a lean of 5.5. degrees. Math in action.

For the skeptical math student that asks, “How will I ever use this in real life?” Jones says scenarios like this help answer that question.

Back in Jones’ Chattanooga classroom we watched him hook a class of senior students with a short video he filmed in Greece and with pictures of real life parabolas in Rome.

It’s real world pegs like this that help Jones root his students in his daily math lessons. Jones calls the experience the “trip of a lifetime,” one he hopes to relive with his students throughout the year.

You can find more information about Jones' journey on the Facebook page he created to chronicle his adventure. There is also still time to apply for a learning grant to use this summer. The deadline for 2014 applications is Jan. 30. 2014.

While the Fund for Teachers grant is open to all Tennessee teachers for the first time ever, teachers in Hamilton County, Bradley County, and Cleveland City Schools can receive additional insight through the Public Education Foundation (PEF) in Chattanooga. PEF has managed the application and selection process since the grant began in Tennessee. They have worked with 58 Chattanooga educators to help distribute nearly $200,000 for adventures in summer professional development. This year, PEF will continue to serve as the major Tennessee partner with Fund for Teachers.

If you have additional questions about the application process, please check out the PEF website for their contact information.


Ashley Ball, Classroom Chronicles

Ashley Ball, Classroom Chronicles

Ashley Ball manages content for Classroom Chronicles. She is a journalist turned educator.

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