Statistically speaking, Julie de la Fe is an outlier. Her teaching methods are not mean and the majority of her students would say her teaching style is highly correlated with academic and real world success.
So what makes Mrs. de la Fe such an anomaly in the world of modern day mathematics education?
Julie de la Fe holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Ministry from Moody Bible Institute and a Master’s degree in sport and exercise management from The Ohio State University. In other words, her educational background is roughly two standard deviations below the norm. What’s not below the norm, however, is Mrs. de la Fe’s command of her classroom – one which cannot be plotted, but exhibits a linear relationship between fun and mastery. When asked to explain her personal journey in statistics, Mrs. de la Fe humbly admitted to “testing out of all of her college mathematics courses” and being “self-taught” in statistics. Her self-taught approach to statistics may just give her an advantage over other math teachers because she presents math in a real world context and works hard to integrate fun activities and technologies into her teaching repertoire. De la Fe says, “We work with every day scenarios in class…talking about [the use of stats] in medicine and sports.”
All statistics jokes aside, Julie de la Fe is a great teacher and a model digital educator.
Using technology to both showcase student work and to enhance their educational experience, Julie de la Fe uses several technologies to compliment her curriculum. The primary technology that Mrs. de la Fe relies on in the classroom is the Ti-Nspire™ calculator and associated software. Students use these calculators to assist them in graphing and plotting advanced statistical functions and can record, capture, and export the results. Many students have taken it one step further, learning to print from the calculator and handing in the work rather than recreating it by hand. Mrs. de la Fe is no slouch on the calculator either. Recently, she took to exporting calculator data and graphs to Apple’s Keynote presentation program. She then converts the Keynote presentation into a Quicktime movie for student review. Using this workflow, Mrs. de la Fe gives all of her students, including those who were absent, the ability to review lessons on their own time as presentations are posted in Canvas.
To showcase student work, Julie de la Fe uses the Pathbrite website to create digital portfolios for her classes. Her AP Stats portfolio is a growing collection of the kind of “real world” statistics projects de la Fe’s students produce every year. Reflecting on the project work, de la Fe is proud of the personal nature of many of the projects. One AP Stats student project centered around the student’s struggle to understand their own fight with Diabetes. Another student, a volleyball player, calculated hitting percentages for two collegiate teams in the same division – one of the teams was her future Alma Mater and the other was a divisional rival. That’s about as real world as it gets for high school students.
Aside from her teaching duties Julie de la Fe is a mother, a wife, and a basketball fanatic. She also happens to be the head coach of the women’s basketball program at TFA and has a sweet jumpshot. Her husband Alex, a physical education teacher at First Hope, is her assistant coach. Together the de la Fe family is statistically significant at The First Academy.