Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We Got Another One!!

Another one of my colleagues has taken up blogging.  Head on over there and let him know why you blog (not to push your ideas on other people).

Mr. Pod

Friday, April 19, 2013

Your Suggestions are Welcome - 20-Questions Algebra Edition

I have this idea where I would tape an index card to each of my students' backs as they walk in the classroom.  They go around the room asking their classmates Yes or No questions about whatever is on their back.  On a piece of paper, each student writes down what question they asked, if the answer was yes or no, and who answered the question.

Here's where you come in.  What is on the index cards that I tape to their back?

Keepin' in Real

Teaching a learning Mean, Median, Mode, Range, Stem and Leaf, and Box and Whiskers is so incredibly boring.  I'm not moving mountains in my class, but doing this did liven this topic up a bit.

My largest Algebra 1 class has 13 students (I know, you're jealous), so I created 13 questions for the students to answer on a google form.  Here are the questions:

How many Facebook friends do you have?
What is your locker number?
What is the combined age of your siblings?
What is your favorite number?
How many video games do you own?
How many minutes does it take for you to get to school?
How many text messages do you send in one day?
What time do you usually wake up in the morning?  (6:30 --> 6.5)
What time do you usually go to sleep?  (10:15 --> 10.25)
How many people do you usually sit with at lunch?
How many miles do you live from school?
What is your current grade in math?
How many months old are you?

I had the students complete the questions on my website at the end of class one day.  It was interesting how the students were more concerned with getting the answers to these questions correct than they are about test questions.  There were some things we needed to review even to answer the questions.  Such as, converting their bed time to a decimal or finding their age in months.  You gotta love those teachable moments.

In preparation for the next day I printed out the results and cut them apart so that each student had his very own set of numbers and complete the problems below:

We also had some discussion about outliers.  Such as the student who claims that she sends 2000 text message every day.  Or the student who believes that he lives 100 miles from school.  Keepin' it Real leads to great discussions that the students actually want to have.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Yesterday I did something that I'm embarrassed to admit.  A student got to me.  I kicked him out of class and to make matters worse I told him to not come back.  What provoked this response from me?  Laziness.

It really bothers me when I see students not working, but yet I work SO HARD for them.  I will meet them 75% of the way if they'll just make it the other 25%.  But from this students, I'm not even getting 1% anymore and let's face it, that's heartbreaking.

Here's what happened:

I see this student twice a day.  Once during homeroom for remediation and again during 7th period for regular class.  During homeroom he completed 2 multiple choice problems in 30 minutes.  I had to constantly remind him to get to work and at the end of the 30 minute period I let him know that my expectations for him were higher.
Then during 7th period he comes into class and puts his head down right away.  I don't give him much trouble during class, I just nicely remind him of his duties as a student.  But when I handed out the exit ticket and he quickly circles three answers and hands in the paper, I lost it.  I would tell you word for word what we each said, but that's irrelevant.  What is relevant is that I lost my cool and now it will be that much harder to help this student who obviously needs help.  Perhaps I'm not entirely qualified to help him (I don't know his story).
So now I'm concerned that he may not show up to class today because it a fit of rage I told him to not come back.

This kid totally ruined my day.  I thought about him after school on my commute home.  I thought about him at the dinner table.  I thought about him while playing with my kids.  I thought about him before I fell asleep.  I thought about him the moment I woke up in the next morning.  I thought about him on my commute to work.  And I was miserable.

I'm in the wrong here.  I'm the adult.  I have no idea what his home life is like.  Maybe he was tired that day because he was up all night hearing his parents fight.  Maybe he was tired because he was up all night because of a crying younger sibling.  Maybe he had to work late last night because he helps support his family financially.  I don't know.  But I do know this.  There's got to be a better way.

A few hours later....
So the kid comes into class and is a perfect angel.  He is cooperative, attentive, and participates.  WTH?!?!?!?  Is this what works?!?!  I have to lose my cool and have my ENTIRE day ruined so that a student will cooperate?  I don't get it.  Why doesn't nice work?