Meet TI Teacher of the Month: Daniel Wilkie
We’re celebrating teachers, like you, who make a difference in the classroom on a daily basis. This month, join us in getting to know Daniel Wilkie, a high school IB math teacher who gets his students involved in coding activities with “Coding Fridays.”Fast Facts About Daniel:
- TEACHES WHAT: IB math, probability and statistics, 11th-12th grade
- TEACHES WHERE: Woodmont High School in Greenville, South Carolina
- TEACHING FOR HOW LONG: 23 years
Daniel in his own words:
Why did you become a teacher?
I had a couple of good role models when I was going through high school math classes, especially when I was a sophomore. I had an excellent teacher who just made learning easier. Since I was comfortable and good at math I thought, ‘I could share this ease-of-learning with others.’ Of course, I changed my mind about six or seven times, but then, I came back to being a math teacher.
What advice would you give to your first-year teaching self?
Don't be afraid to use technology. Your college professors might have scared you, saying, ‘you can't do this with technology,’ but that’s not correct thinking. It's not just about giving you the answer, it's a tool to aid in the process.
The other thing I’d say is, just get help. Put yourself out there and ask for help. There are so many people older than you that have experienced so much more and can help you through the teaching process. You don't have to do it by yourself. You don't have to always reinvent the wheel, especially in the beginning, because it's going to take you about five or six years to become a decent teacher.
What do you love most about teaching?
I love that there are so many different ways to answer a problem. I can give my students a question and I will get five different ways on how to get to that solution.
"Some people might think there's only a right answer or a wrong answer, but it’s not just about the end result, it’s about the journey of getting from start to end."Daniel Wilkie, TI Teacher of the Month
What TI technology do you use in the classroom and how do you use it?
For the last four of five years, I’ve been using TI-Nspire CX handhelds and the TI-Nspire CX Navigator System in all of my classes. Our class starts with students taking attendance by logging in and then they do a little quick poll question to start the class. We then go into either an activity or lesson.
Now, every Friday has been dedicated to “Coding Friday.” We started with the basics with 10 Minutes of Code and then over time started incorporating coding with the TI-Innovator Hub. In the fourth quarter, I’m excited to introduce my students to the TI-Innovator Rover so they can learn how to code with Rovers.
I think coding is a skill that students are not going to learn in their other classes, but it could open doors to possibilities of what they might want to do in their future. Plus it’s just fun. I love getting to Friday and students asking me, ‘Are we going to code today?’ It's a good feeling.
What is most important to you about being a teacher?
Since I've been teaching for 23 years now, I'm finding it more and more important to work closely with my peers. If I can instill what my passion is into another math classroom or into the science classroom then our teachers are going to be better and the students are going to be better.
How do you help your students learn difficult concepts?
During the year, my students have a project where they pick a topic they present to the rest of the class through their TI-Nspire or Navigator System. When students become the teacher, they tend to learn more and their peers tend to listen more.
My favorite example is I had two very quiet kids, who did not talk much in class, present 60-70 slides on conic sections to the entire class. They basically taught my opening conic sections through cool, 3D modeling that showed cones stacked and then sliced at the plane. They showed what the different conic sections were, what they meant and the equations that went with them. I was blown away!