I love teaching and finding new ways to reach students. I try to use all technology available to make learning interactive and (hopefully) more informative than traditional methods.
What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?
Students should be comfortable with math basics and have strong number sense. They need to recognize when a value from a computer may be wrong. Students should also be good navigating around technology tools: graphing calculator tricks (and their are many), spreadsheet use, and hopefully some understanding of introductory programming.
I tell my students this all the time, “I have to have a reason to spend all my life teaching mathematics to you when I know most of you won’t be graphing parabolas at 30.” Math is just the medium to create better problem solvers and algorithm followers. Math class is the weight room for brain.
For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?
Start with what you already do. If you are comfortable using Word and Google search, make a simple guided web lesson. If you love your iPad, then find apps that could be used to help with a lesson.
Keep exploring and trying new things. This year alone (after 20 years in the education and technology fields), I have tried 3 or 4 new tech-related curriculum enhancements.
What is the best part of your job?
The best and the hardest part of the job is often the same thing. I enjoy finding multiple ways of explaining a math problem and helping students realize that it is not as difficult as they think. It is rewarding to see a student ‘click’ after several ways of questioning, illustrating, and/or detailing the problem. That is one reason I maintain a web page and create video lessons.
Second best: my school’s willingness to let me explore all the new ways to reach the students. iPad (to post notes, make video lessons, and more), Smartboard (to post notes and provide interactive visual instruction), and great computers are just some examples of the support Seattle Academy provides to allow me further my abilities as an educator.
What was your path to your current position?
Loyola High School in Los Angeles played a big part of my desire to learn and teach. University of California at San Diego gave me a mathematics degree, the desire to surf or be on a board all my life, and my first taste of programming. La Jolla Country Day School gave me my first job in teaching. Middle school computer classes with the Apple IIe. I also helped teachers learn how to use their Macs, set up and run the schools first email server, and first learned that very young minds can understand programming (with HyperCard).
After a few years at Seattle Country Day School (with Ethan Delevan) as a math teacher, I made the move to my current position at SAAS. I have taught math from 6th grade at SCDS to Calculus at SAAS and everything in between. I also enjoy teaching Statistics and Software Development.
*Editor’s note: David freely shares many of his resources with other educators via www.ElectricTeaching.com. The following video introduces the website, its purpose and uses in the classroom: