At the 2008 ECOO Conference I had the pleasure of attending a performance by Talyor Mali. Taylor is a teacher and poetry slam artist. He had some inspiring and hilarious spoken word poems to share. His spoken word performance means that his poems were written to be heard as a performance rather than be read on a page. His performance was great and inspired me to have my own “spoken word” moment in my grade 9 math class. Although it has nowhere near the eloquence of Taylor’s work, I’d just like to share this. At the time, the students were working silently on problems involving opposite angles.
“Synapses at the end of neurons. Trillions of synapses connecting neurons in your brain, give rise to your thoughts, your calculations, and your dreams. And these tiny branches work to help send tiny electrical signals across your brain to allow you to think. And when you work wondrously silent, amongst the sound of pencils scrawling across paper, I hear the dull roar of trillions of synapses firing across the classroom. Like the dull roar of the ocean, it may only be barely audible, but it fills my soul with joy.”
Naturally this gave rise to some odd stares and smiles. Apparently I wasn’t done, as later when discussing their homework, I emphasized opposite angles.
“Yes I suppose it is odd that they are called opposite angles – considering they have equal values. Usually things that are opposite are not the same. Maybe whoever came up with the name was thinking of ways to confuse 14 year old math students. Or perhaps it was because the angles are formed by intersecting lines; and the left hand side of one angle, becomes the right hand side of the other. They are mirror images of the other. You know, when you raise your right hand in the mirror your reflection raises its left hand. So if you’ve ever had the dreamlike I have, where your reflection comes to life – if you are right handed, your reflection would be left handed.” This gets some puzzled looks and giggles about my ‘reflection’ dream. I can’t resist the opportunity to continue. “And naturally you have to fight your reflection to the death. So if you ever come to class and notice I am left handed – it means that I have lost.”