All posts by Josh Seamon

3 new teachers!

Three new teachers have joined the Williston Math Department! They all may be new to Williston, but they are not new to teaching.

Fun facts: The Williston Math department has a combined 245 years of teaching experience. Each teach in the department has been teaching for an average of 18.8 years!

Karla Schaffer – Karla taught math and worked at the Webb School in Tennessee for the last six years. Karla earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Psychology at Mercyhurst University and earned an MEd. in Teaching and Learning from Vanderbilt University. She will coach in the girl’s soccer and tennis programs. Karla and her husband Teddy will live in Clare House.

kschaffer@williston.com

Teddy Schaffer – Teddy is an experienced math teacher who joins Williston from the Webb School in Tennessee. Teddy earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Economics from Furman University and a M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech. Teddy will teach math, and coach ultimate frisbee and water polo. Teddy and his wife Karla will live in Clare House.

tschaffer@williston.com

Dr. Rajendra Shrivastava – Raj comes across the country from California to join the Williston community. He has taught math, physics, and computer science at both the high school and college level. Most recently, he has been teaching math and computer science in high schools. He holds several advanced degrees including a Ph.D in Computer Science from Louisiana State University. In addition to teaching math and computer science at Williston, Raj will lead the Robotics program and coach in the spring season. Raj will live on Main St. in Easthampton.

rshrivastava@williston.com

 

 

Dr. Shrivastava presents in Orlando!

A couple weeks, one of Williston’s newest teachers, Dr. Shrivastava, traveled to Orlando to present at the International Symposium on Sensor Networks, Systems and Security!

During his presentation Dr. Shrivastava inaugurated the conference, introduced Dr. Iyengar, reminisced about what it was like to his student in the 80s,  and talked about the theme for the event: “Generations and Continuity.”

US Mathematics Students of the Trimester – Spring 2017

I am excited to announce the Upper School Mathematics Students of the Trimester – Spring 2017!

Each math faculty member was free to choose whichever student of theirs they thought best exemplified what they are looking for in a model mathematics student. The official description of the award is as follows:

“Awarded to students who exemplify the math department’s core values of competence, confidence, and perseverance while helping their peers realize the relevance and importance of an exceptional mathematical education both for its beauty and for its practical application.”

The following students have been recognized as the Upper School Mathematics Students of the Trimester for Spring 2017.

Please join me in congratulating these outstanding mathematics students!

Ethan Huang – Ethan is a very curious math student. He is always interested in fully understanding the concepts behind a problem rather than just knowing how to solve the problem. Ethan also is also always eager to help others understand the material as well as he does.
Kohmei Kadoya – Kohmei’s work in the Electronics, Circuitry & Programming course was exceptional. He was well prepared for each class and asked probing questions on topics that required clarity. Kohmei’s classwork in the electronic’s labs and circuit labs was outstanding and included many well thought-out answers and observations. Congratulations to Kohmei for his fine work in this class!
Caitlin Keefe – Caitlin did a wonderful job pulling together all of the material that we covered this year. Her average in the third trimester was a full five points higher than she had earned for T1 & T2 – when she already did well! The questions that Caitlin asked and her overall participation set a high level of expectation for her classmates. Very well done – especially for senior spring!
Oliver Lawrence – Beyond excelling mathematically in pre-calculus, Oliver came to be a leader in the classroom. He could always be counted on to posit an answer to a challenging question or to come up to the board to present a solution. Moreover, Oliver often went out of his way to explain topics to his peers, both in the math classroom and outside the classroom. His patience and dedication to helping his classmates was a great boon for our class.
Fin MacDonald – Fin was not only a hardworking student but he also showed a genuine interest in Geometry. He looked at the material in depth every day and always pushed himself and others to do the same.
Nat Markey – Nat works incredibly hard in and out of the classroom to master the material taught. He is helpful to those around him and is always willing to participate in class. He is an incredible student and friend to his classmates.
Anna Moran – Anna has just completed a fantastic year in Geometry. She is a diligent student who always strives to be her best. She has a natural enthusiasm for learning and she challenges herself to deeply understand each and every concept. Anna has been a class leader in terms of participation and the energy and enthusiasm she brings to the classroom is contagious. Well done, Anna!!!
Yana Pyryalina – Yana did an exceptional job this year as a student in Advanced Programming in Java. Her dedication, excitement, and enthusiasm for coding shined through in all aspects of her engagement with the course. She worked hard to understand the concepts. participated in our conversations deeply and fully, and shared her “aha” moments openly with her classmates in ways that demonstrated her generosity as well as her curiosity. She was also an excellent group member and shared her expertise both in class and out.
Erika Sasaki – Erika did a phenomenal job at stepping up this trimester! Her work remained remarkably consistent and she did an impressive job helping her classmates as we transitioned into the world of Origami. He careful explanations, patience, and folding technique were appreciated by everyone. Origami is very hard to teach and Erika made the whole process easier! Thank you Erika!
Ter Sawatyanon – T did a great job in TPS this year. He was the only 9th grader in a predominantly Junior and Senior class. This term, we did a major data analysis and T chose to study health and wealth of selected countries of the World. He worked very hard and discovered interesting insights which he was able to articulate clearly in his final presentation. Great work, T!
Molly Solan – Molly is always engaged and eager to learn every class. She patiently works with all member of the class and brilliantly explains her own solutions with ease. She has performed remarkably all year and is a model Williston student. Molly brings passion and a sense of humor into the classroom and any teacher would be lucky to have her in class.
Risa Tapanes – Risa has been so diligent all year. She always does the homework; she sits at the front of the room; she asks questions; she seeks help as soon as she doesn’t understand a concept. She had a lot of success with descriptive statistics this spring, and I so enjoyed working with her. I was particularly impressed when she emailed me two days before the play (for which she was stagemanaging) to tell me that she had worked for half an hour on the homework assignment between scenes but just had not been able to get it all done. She was so apologetic, but I was just amazed she had been able to get started on it at all, given her schedule that week.

Past students of the trimester can be found right here: Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017

US Mathematics Students of the Trimester – Winter 2017

I am excited to announce the Upper School Mathematics Students of the Trimester – Winter 2017!

Each math faculty member was free to choose whichever student of theirs they thought best exemplified what they are looking for in a model mathematics student. The official description of the award is as follows:

“Awarded to students who exemplify the math department’s core values of competence, confidence, and perseverance while helping their peers realize the relevance and importance of an exceptional mathematical education both for its beauty and for its practical application.”

The following students have been recognized as the Upper School Mathematics Students of the Trimester for Winter 2017.

Please join me in congratulating these outstanding mathematics students!

Graham Allardyce – Graham has performed well in Algebra II all year and really shined in trimester two. What impresses me most about Graham is his desire to teach others around them. He is frequently helping his peers with their homework and in class during group work. He is a true role model as a student and embodies Williston’s motto of living with purpose, passion, and integrity.
Elin Blomquist – Elin is a natural mathematician, but she started out with some gaps in her background that made the trigonometry unit in the fall difficult for her. Nevertheless, she worked diligently and, by the beginning of winter term, was really starting to emerge as a leader in the class. Then, in the winter term, her facility with mathematics really came through as she showed an intuitive understanding of probability and its applications. She always works hard; she’s always prepared; and she always seeks help as soon as she has any difficulty. She’s a wonderful addition to the classroom, and I so enjoy teaching her.
Noah DeVos – Noah has been one of the most consistent and highly motivated students in AP Statistics this year. He always gets an early start on homework and ask insightful questions during class. He supports his learning with excellent study skills and works hard to understand the underlying principles of probability and statistics. His frequent contributions to class discussions show me that he is willing to take responsible risks in order to further his understanding of some very challenging concepts. He always brings insight to our conversations and serves as an excellent model for other students.
Dylan Fulcher-Melendy – Dylan has become an impressive student of geometry. She has excellent deductive reasoning skills and enjoys creating proofs. A wonderful classmate to her peers, Dylan can explain how problems tie together in clear, concrete steps. Her attention to detail is outstanding and she is relentless in her pursuit of knowledge. Despite outstanding test and quiz results, Dylan has never missed an extra help opportunity even if she has to sprint from squash practice in the freezing cold. Congratulations, Dylan, on your selection as math student of the trimester and thank you for your positive impact on our class.
Robby Hill – Robby showed great determination and work ethic this past term. We learned new intense material that challenged him. Instead of settling for an okay grade and understanding of the material, he went home, searched for practice problems and past tests on the topic, and mastered his understanding of the content. This is the definition of an honors student! His work ethic, determination, and constant class participation is why I chose him.
Sabrina Liew – Sabrina did an outstanding job this trimester, dedicating herself to fully understanding the material. Her end of term project with Destiny was well done. Her last two quizzes and last test were perfect and she had a near perfect assessment. That accomplishment came because of Sabrina’s hard work. She regularly came for extra help and asked questions in class.
Aidan McCreary – Aidan has consistently set the bar high for the quality of work submitted in this class. He is always well-prepared and asks questions that help him (and the class) to understand the finer points of robotics and programming. His Engineering Notebook is highly-detailed and carefully completed. Aidan is certainly a joy to have as a student!
Mary Kate O’Brien – Mary Kate is always attentive and engaged in every activity every day. She enjoys the challenge of every problem and her approach to class has been contagious with her peers.
Natalie Richard – Natalie has maintained a remarkable level of success throughout the entire class. Her work is impeccably organized, her focus never waivers, and she readily works with others. She also never takes her abilities for granted, always coming into all assessments more than fully prepared. She helps anchor the class and move us through particularly challenging material. All the while she is always humble about her abilities.
Alexis Ryan – Alexis was a diligent student, an engaged member of the class, and a determined and creative game designer. She executed the assignments of the class thoroughly and pushed herself to extend her understanding through each project. I was particularly impressed with her final project and how fiercely she worked toward accomplishing the very challenging design she chose for the game.
Emily Warren – Emily has been a consistently strong student throughout the year. She is very inquisitive and always willing to lend her insights into the material with the rest of the class. She is able to learn material quickly and apply what she has learned with great confidence.
Harrison Winrow – Every day, Harrison arrives in class with a cheerful attitude and an eagerness to learn more mathematics. His engagement in class is exemplary. Not only does he go out on a limb to answer challenge questions, but he frequently posits his own questions: Why does the function behave that way? What would happen if we changed that piece of the function? His questions have raised the level of discussion in class and helped create a vibrant mathematical classroom.

Past students of the trimester can be found right here: Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016

2017 AP Calculus BC Free Response Questions & Answers!

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 11.36.37 AMA few days after each AP Calculus BC exam, the College Board releases the free response questions from the exam. They don’t release their very succinct answer keys for a few more weeks… so… I had my students make their own answer keys as well as screen recordings of their solutions!

All 2017 released free response questions and answer keys are online right here. Questions and answers for past years can be found right here.

Here’s the direct link to the 2017 AP Calculus BC free response questions.

Here are the answer keys and videos that my students created:

Many more Williston student screencasts can be found online right here.

AP Stats Bingo!

This just in from Mrs. Baldwin!

As we prepare for the AP statistics exam, we need to review several terms and concepts. One way we can do this is with BINGO. Students complete their grids with a list of terms, in an arbitrary (not random) order. Then they are given definitions and examples. They must match the definitions and examples with the core correct terms in order to win. It is very exciting!

Sidewalk math!

With awesome weather all around, we just had to work on math outside, in chalk, on sidewalks around campus!

From Mrs. Baldwin:

The Trig/Prob/Stats class learned about describing data with numerical summaries and graphical displays. We took our work outside to practice these skills. We studied a data set of travel times to work for 20 NYC residents. We found that the median travel time was 22.5 minutes, the minimum was 5 minutes and the maximum was 85 minutes. Students also learned to use a new measure of spread called the interquartile range. This measures the range of the middle half of observations. We found that the middle half of travel times for these New Yorkers vary from 15 minutes to 42.5 minutes. Working outside in the chalk brought a kinesthetic element to our learning that was fun and engaging.

From Mr. Seamon:

Math Classroom Success Stories (16-17, T2)

Here’s a glimpse into the world of the Williston math department from the second trimester of 16-17:

Mr. Matthias: The loved the level of engagement my Engineering & Robotics students showed during the last Trimester. Students asked many questions and demonstrated success with the last set of Challenges. I will certainly miss each one of them!

Ms. Baldwin: Three students wanted some extra help before their final assessment for the Winter term. We were not able to meet in person, but planned a time to meet using Skype for Business. We spent about an hour the night before the test going over problems and addressing their questions about all that we have been studying in probability. They were able to share their screens with me and with other members of the group and I did the same with them. Our time together was extremely productive and it was so convenient to meet in this way. We got a lot of good studying done and had a few laughs at the same time. It’s good to have one more way to connect with kids and support their learning.

Mrs. Whipple: One of my students, who works really hard, was discouraged that they were not getting the grades they would have liked on every test. We worked all trimester on their strategy and their confidence when approaching the material and by the final assessment they received a near perfect score!

Ms. Schneider: One of my favorite memories from class this past trimester was when one of my students became the teacher for part of the period. We often begin class by reviewing what we have learned in our previous lessons leading up to that day. This frequently includes discussing the homework assignment. At times the students get into small groups to review; however, on this day one student came to the front and lead the class throughout this activity. She walked the class through each problem, and kept every student engaged. Not only did her classmates gain valuable insight through her explanations and leading questions, but this student, who actually is considering a career in teaching herself, showed excellent leadership skills!

Mrs. Conroy: My Geometry assessment consisted of two parts, a group portion and an individual portion. The group portion of the assessment required students to stretch their problems solving abilities while doing geometry in a collaborative setting. As I described it to the students, “There is little you can do to prepare for this section. It will challenge you. Embrace the challenge.” The first question on the group portion was particularly challenging and involved proving triangles congruent after creating a diagram from specific instructions. Each group had the correct diagram but then the problem became interesting. Not a single group earning full credit on the problem but what I witnessed in the classroom during that question was the best math we had done this year. Students were questioning each other, everyone was participating and incredible thoughts were being debated. I was thrilled to sit back, listen and watch young minds at work. Well done my Geometry students. I am proud of your fighting spirit!

Mrs. Hill: I found a stats textbook that used a real trial from 1964 to illustrate the problems of assuming independence to calculate probabilities. A woman had been mugged in CA, and the prosecutor used the assumed probabilities of a man “driving a yellow car,” and being “over 6 feet tall,” and “having a beard,” etc to calculate that the odds of the defendant NOT committing the crime were less than one in a million. Unfortunately though, as the appeals court later determined, the prosecutor was wrongly assuming independence of events when, in fact, there was no way to be sure of that fact. It was a real life example of issues of conditional probability we had been discussing in class. Moreover, we also got the chance to discuss how, in modern times, DNA evidence is based heavily on probabilities. We were not all in agreement as to the legitimacy of that approach.

Mr. Seamon: The math team has been enjoying a very active and successful year! In additions to competing in the 6 rounds of the New England Math League, returning to the Harvard Math Competition, as well as participating in the AMC8/10/12 competitions, the team has also added in the Middle School NEML competition as well as heading to Yale for their spring HS competition. Not only is the team competing in more competitions than ever, the team is scoring as well as ever currently holding strong at 28th our of 140 teams in NEML, scoring in the top 1/3 of teams at the HMMT, and also qualifying a student for the American Invitational Mathematics Exam!

Mrs. King: I have a student who has been away at ski school during the entire second trimester and will return next Monday. Before she left her family and I had a discussion about what math class she should take, an Algebra 1 class at ski school or work with a tutor to complete our curriculum. Wanting to come back fully prepared for the third trimester she chose to work with a tutor and complete our notes, homework, quizzes and tests. I set up One Note Notebooks for both her and the tutor. After a little bit of a slow start she was off and running. The tutor and I communicated each week about what was due, what was coming up or any questions or concerns that we had. The tutor was wonderful and read all of the notes and assisted Arden after she did her assignments. Arden did a great job! It was great that she was willing to take on extra work so that she would be able to transition back into class next week. I can’t wait to have her back in class.

Ms. Smith: At the end of our unit on transformations of functions, my Pre-calculus students spent a class period designing a mathematical roller coaster. That is, using their knowledge of the parent functions and transformations, they created one continuous, piecewise-defined function that traced the vertical height of the roller coaster with respect to horizontal distance travelled. As students discovered, the trickiest part was ensuring that the functions linked up, that is, there were no unplanned gaps in the track. However, after a period of work there was a wide range of functions (or should I say roller coasters). Highlights included underground tunnels, death drops, and even a loop-the-loop made using logarithmic, exponential and even elliptic functions.

Mrs. McCullagh: We finished the winter trimester with a project in Calculus. The assignment was for each student, or student pair, to decide what they wanted to hang and from where and then find the minimum amount of wire needed to hang their object. They needed to decide how far apart their two attachments should be and how far down they wanted the object suspended. They needed to find, using calculus, the minimum amount of wire needed for their own scenario. It is a challenging calculus problem for students as they are learning how to solve maximizing/minimizing problems. Then they needed to present their findings with all calculations clearly shown and diagrams labeled with the minimum and extremes. They also needed to produce a model made to scale. The projects were outstanding! We had a target hung from a tree, donuts hung for a birthday party, a chair hung is a bedroom, a rubber ducky hung (just because), as well as a number of others. The students all reported that they learned a lot from the project. It is great to have their work on display!