My name is Bowman Dickson and I am a math teacher who is constantly looking for ways to improve myself and improve my practice. I believe in optimism and enthusiasm above all else. I currently teach Calculus, and AP Calculus at King’s Academy, a co-ed 9-12 boarding school located right outside of Amman, Jordan. Whenever I say that, I always get asked the same questions, so I’ll save you the trouble…

Me: I teach at a boarding school in Jordan.

Questioner: Cool! How long is the program?

Oh it’s not a program, I work directly through the school, so I have an annual contract like anywhere else.

So you’re teaching English then?

No, I teach math actually.

Oh, at an American school then?

Nope, the students at the school are mostly Jordanian, and almost entirely Arab, but there are students from 24 different countries.

You’re teaching math in Arabic then?

I’m honored that you think I could do such a thing, but no, I’m teaching in English. Being able to operate in English is a requirement for getting into the school.


  1. How far is the school from Iraq?

  2. Hey bowman,
    I do not know if you remember me but Sarah and I were 4rth yrs in SPS when you were president. Armour right? Any way, I might be completing med school in Bahrain while Sarah (twin) will be finishing at UVa. I’m in Bahrain at the moment.
    Anyway, it would be great to get in touch,

  3. Hi Bowman. I recently read your guest post on Sam’s blog about grading tests to mine learning data. I really liked the idea, but was especially interested in what you said about being a SBG-Hybrid teacher. Although I am just beginning a teaching career in August, I having been thinking about SBG for over a year now, especially how I can realistically implement it in my classroom.

    Recently I built a site to try to answer a massive list of questions I have about my classroom next year. One of the questions asks about one’s grading system. I wrote my ideas on how I could use a system that I believe might be similar to your SBG-hybrid system. Either way, I would love the chance to pick your brain on the specifics of your system, what worked well and what could need improvement, and your ideas on how well the system helped you accomplish your goals. If you would like to to talk, my email is zacharyshiner@gmail.com, otherwise I would be just as appreciative if you could post your thoughts on your SBG-hybrid system to the site.

    P.S. If your wordpress site is anything like mine, this post will be flagged as possible spam for having so many links. If that is the case, all I really planned on doing was send you a message, not leave a comment on your blog. You should feel in no way obligated to post this to your blog.


  4. You actually didn’t answer all the questions. The first one that came to my mind was: How did you get that job?

    • ha, well, the king of jordan founded the school in 2007… he had gone to deerfield academy in massachusetts when he was in high school so he founded the school as a similar school for Jordan. there was lots of buzz about it in the boarding school world (i went to a school very similar to deerfield) so i heard about it through that. i majored in arabic in college, so it was a natural choice to apply and… voila! here i am!

  5. Hey, just wanted to let you know about an interesting piece of software we developed to help kids do math exercises. It uses Facebook time as a reward for performance. Check it out at http://getaftermath.com and please drop me a line if you’d like to discuss or write an article about it.

  6. Hi,

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show about math that we’re putting together. “The Number Hunter” is going to do for math education what Bill Nye The Science Guy did for science education. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We’re teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you’d be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on StatisticsHowTo.com which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We’re also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

    Thanks in advance for your help,


  7. Help us promote math education with the Math Video Challenge!

    Dear Bowman,
    As a proponent of math education in the United States, we need your help to promote our nationwide math competition by blogging or posting about it on your blog/forum.

    As you probably already know, despite the fact that the US spends the most money on education per capita, our students are ranked 25th globally for math proficiency. The MATHCOUNTS Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to improving that statistic. MATHCOUNTS’ third annual “ Math Video Challenge” is a math competition for 6th to 8th graders that encourages student innovation as they create and star in their own math videos, thus exciting them to pursue higher education in math.

    As the webmaster of this blog, we are asking you to help support this effort by mentioning us in your next blog or forum post or promoting our logo with a link to the site. So far this contest has gathered over 500
    submissions and millions of views on the videos. Our goal this year is this year is to do even better. With your help, we are confident we will reach this goal.

    For more information on MATHCOUNTS or the Math Video Challenge, visit our webpages at mathcounts.org and videochallenge.mathcounts.org/math-camera-action.



  8. Tracie Fitzpatrick

    I am preparing a presentation for first year teachers. May I use your “letter of advice for a first year teacher” as a handout? I found it very helpful and right on point.

  9. Bowman, Would it be alright if I borrowed your Angry Birds pictures for an SBG presentation. Credit of course.

  10. Can I use your angry birds photos to explain SBG to my students? I will attribute them to you.

  11. Hi Bowman – did you ever post a link to the Moodle you made for the AP Cal review? It is a “shareable” thing? Thanks so much for your blog. Lots of great ideas here!!

  12. THE SPREAD OF SENIORITIS: A couple of students are collecting data from their friends about their GPA throughout the year to see how real senioritis is. Then, they are going to use the idea of differentials to expand on the data and predict students’ GPAs in future terms (college?) given their current slide.
    I was looking for calc project ideas and I found your website with this project, and I was wondering how it worked. My calc teacher and I can’t seem to find a way that makes sense that using differentials would predict future data.

  13. Stephen Burrows

    Best wishes, loved your blog. FIrst saw your class page while searching for Standards BAsed Grading in Calculus.
    Would love to pick your pind a little if you don’t mind.
    Stephen (Captain Canada Math)

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