My budding love of teaching, stemming from my larger love of math and learning

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Comments from a Geometry Classroom

I don't have time for a post about academics, but here are some comments from the last two weeks in my classroom:

Statements from 3 boys in my Geometry class as they get ready to take a test: 
1) "I have been waiting for this test my whole life"
2) "I should probably stop feeding my cat anti-freeze"
3) "If I don't do well on this test, I'll be locked in the basement for 7 months" 

As we work on a WebQuest on Pythagoras:
1) My grandmother could run a marathon faster than this computer is loading!
2) What kind of witch craft is this triangle?

  • "This class is pretty awesome...not the whole math part, but it's pretty awesome."

Friday, December 9, 2011

One More Reason To Help Me Know I Am Doing Something Good

Another dedication...and this one I know to be for real. 

It helps remind me that I am doing good things by being a teacher. I am realizing that I do have some great student/teacher relationships this year. Of course I have bad days, but each little conversation that is positive keeps me going. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Preparing for Tests

Recently, I have been really trying to stress "STUDY" and what it really means. In math it doesn't just mean, "oh I'm going to look through my notes", and it doesn't start the night before the test. But my kids don't get it. And I am not sure that I figured it out in math until grad school. But I am trying to communicate what I know now and had wish I had known then...
I have started giving out a "preparing for tests" review sheet about a week before the exam (hoping that next year I can be organized enough to give it at the start of the chapter, but I don't always know if I am going to use the Mid Chapter Quiz or Practice Test as take home items). 

Last test, I know that at least 1 student used it because I got an email from a parent when she didn't do so hot on her test saying she studied and even used the review sheet. 

But freshmen and sophomores don't really know how to study and freshmen don't even understand the idea of a cumulative final. 

This needs work, but I think it is a good start.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Math Videos

I'm trying to write a rubric for a 2nd semester project in geometry. I don't want everyone to do videos, but the ones below are sooooo funny!!! And I know that I have creative enough students if I give them enough time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thank Goodness for Thanksgiving Break

Those who are not teachers are always saying, "...but you get so many breaks...", and thank goodness we do. As I was heading into this week off I was so thankful, because I was starting to be ornery to my kids, to my coworkers, to friends. 

But one great thing happened this week: A young man, who misses a lot of school, who is troubled in so many ways, but is more intelligent then he gives himself credit (or other people give him, for that matter too!), walked into class on Thursday with a 52%. He walked out with a 71%. Turning in missing work does wonders!!!!!!!  He beamed when I told him his updated grade.  Hopefully, he keeps up the work through the rest of the semester.

I also received this dedication: 

For the record: I always want to help him, and he does come in to ask, although this student spends more time in the hallway then he does him class. And not that he is a behavior issue because he is mean and defiant, he just has some focus issues. 

I can't decide if this is suppose to be funny, sweet, or if its making fun of me?!?!?!?!?!

Oh and this was on his English project...nothing to do with actual math class. 

Last week, this same student move their desk into my "space" (aka right up next to my desk) because he missed me. This was during a quiz, so I tried to not make a big deal of it. I wish I had had someone else take a picture because the situation can not be described in words. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

All or Nothing Quiz

A few weeks back I gave the students an opportunity to get 100% on a quiz. The catch...I was super picky on formulas, work and notation, and if they were not 100% correct, they got a 0% (which I never put in the book, but the students still freaked out). I called it an All or Nothing Quiz.

I have 4 Geometry classes and about 70 students in those sections. I gave the kids an incentive of a sweet treat if everyone in one section got 100% on the first try. I was sure one of the classes could do it. Boy was I wrong!!!

Only 8 students got 100% the first try and boy did I upset some kids.

The type of problems that I put on the quiz: Draw an angle of a specific measure; Measure an angle; distance formula; 2 multi-step, variable on both sides problem.

Students didn't get 100% for things like: not writing the distance formula (and a formula is an equation, NOT an expression!!!!), not labeling the angle correctly (including arrowheads on the rays), giving a positive answer when it should have been negative.

I got responses of the sorts: "you gave me a zero because I didn't write d =?", "Just because I didn't label the angle I have to do this again?", or "my negative is up here, just not on the answer!"

I kind of felt bad, but I wanted them to be aware of the little things that effect their grade. These are things that they normally loose points for, but very little in the scheme of their entire grade. But those little things will be really big things later on. And actually the writing the whole formula is huge because they don't know how to work backwards in equations...because they do not write the ENTIRE formula!

I felt bad until one of our book study sessions. We are reading two books, which is another whole post in itself. But I did get something from from the book that my group is reading: Driven By Data - A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction. There is a section called "Increasing Rigor Throughout the Lesson", and guess what? I AM DOING SOME OF THESE THINGS!!!! YAY!!!

From the document:
Model "Right is right": press to get the 100 percent correct answer.

I take this as, "I can do these all or nothing quizzes and the students hate them because they hold them accountable".

I still have 3 or 4 kids that haven't got a 100% yet, I am going to have to follow-up with them this coming week.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

TIME: ‘Digital Literacy’ Will Never Replace The Traditional Kind Read

I follow Education Nation put out by MSNBC. I think that they post great articles and are a supporter of educators. Not that I agree with EVERYTHING they put out, I would say I probably agree with 90%.

This morning they posted an article by Time Magazine by Annie Murphy Paul talking about how digital literacy is important but not as import as traditional learning.

Some of my favorite quotes from the article:

1) "It would seem clear that what Leu’s seventh graders really require is knowledge: some basic familiarity with the biology of sea-dwelling creatures that would have tipped them off that the website was a whopper (say, when it explained that the tree octopus’s natural predator is the sasquatch)."

HAHA Sasquatch!!! Although I shouldn't laugh to hard, because my father makes a really convincing argument on the existence of such a creature.

2) "In their view, skills trump knowledge, developing “literacies” is more important than learning mere content, and all facts are now Googleable and therefore unworthy of committing to memory."

I think that learning "how to learn" and "literacy skills" are important. I am not a huge proponent of the need to plug and chug to just have to regurgitate the knowledge for some end of the year assessment. But that is where are education system is and that is what is expected of our students when then entire post secondary institutions. But then again, I do believe in a classical type of education. So I guess I am a little wishy washy.

3) “But if you focus on the delivery mechanism and not the content, you’re doing kids a disservice.”
I agree, so maybe I am not as wishy washy as I thought.

4) "Just because you can Google the date of Black Thursday doesn’t mean you understand why the Great Depression happened or how it compares to our recent economic slump."

WHY WHY WHY? Even in my math classes I ask my students "WHY?" They hate it! HAHA

5) But such skills can’t be separated from the knowledge that gives rise to them. To innovate, you have to know what came before. To collaborate, you have to contribute knowledge to the joint venture. And to evaluate, you have to compare new information against knowledge you’ve already mastered.

TRUE THAT!!!!!!!!!

6) At Google and all these places, we make technology as brain-dead easy to use as possible. There’s no reason why kids can’t figure it out when they get older.” What they won’t figure out is deep reading, advanced math, scientific reasoning — unless we teach them.

YES, they NEED US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great Article...and it mentions Sasquatch.