Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SOC Life Lessons

I saw "Straight Outta Compton" last night as a pre-HS-kids-are-coming-monday-so-soak-up-the-end-of-summer treat, and I can say it's the best movie I've seen all summer year. 

Disclaimer, hope you are sitting down for this shocking piece of information, but I'm a 50 year old whitey and I don't know my rap music history/musicians/themes. And yet, still the best movie.

Here are some life skills that were phenomenally shown in SOC:

  • Just because someone seems like they know what's good for you and how you should live your life, that doesn't mean they are right, even if they love you.
  • Friends are important. If they screw up and hurt you, be willing to get past it and keep them close.
  • People in power that don't do the work are so tricky in finding ways to make money off of your hard work.
  • If you have a passion and talent, pursue it in some form, not just to make money, but to live your life fully.
  • Movies are teaching tools and don't have to be preachy to teach(y). (like I said, I knew nothing going in, but I can discuss Dr. Dre and NWA and such with you now without a deer in the headlights look.)
  •  Be willing to stick to your guns about what's right and wrong.
  • Even potty mouths (long live potty mouths) have something important to say.
  • The path you are on now is not necessarily your path for the rest of your life.
  • There are many ways of changing the world.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Calculator Contract

I am fortunate enough to teach at a small school and only have about 30 or so calculus students every year, so that I can hand out TI-nspire calculators for the year for their work. This has been happening for about 4 years, and I was a little lax the first year and a couple got stolen or "lost". Then the next year, one student brought one back all wide eyed and just stated that it stopped working. Finally, like the slow person I am, I mentioned MORE strongly from then on that they were responsible for them and owed the school money if they were damaged or lost. One student actually did end up paying for one. 

This year, I want to make it more official (sheesh, I am really slow), and have them sign a contract at the beginning of the year. Here is what I came up with. Hopefully, there won't be any incidents.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

First Day Precalculus 2015

And so it begins again. Next week we go back for teacher/school work, and on August 24th the little kidlets come and join us. I'm not doing so well on having an "Epic Last Week of Summer", or maybe I am just thinking about it the wrong way. 

* I tried to find matinees to see. Eh, seen all the movies I wanted to. 
* I thought about going out to lunch, but I have delicious recipes I tried at home (Hello Sizzling Vegetarian Fajita Salad ala Chevy's recipe, and thank you Google search for an Apple Chipotle Salad Dressing recipe). 
* I thought about shopping for back to school clothes, but I decided to alter 2 dresses I already have at home (again thank you Google for showing me the how-to's and benefits of lengthening a dress that has shrunk to "slutty proportions" in the dryer .... Who wants to see too much "older lady" leg?).

So I'm at home, finishing (finished) my Python edX online course, doing my exercises (thank you, Kayla Itsines), and thinking of new first day activities. Here's what I have come up with for Precalculus.

.........  and the back page: ............

 My goal is not to have them come up with some definitive answer, but rather to think about the problem and discuss it with each other and see what they think they need to do and to know how to check for reasonableness and units. I'm expecting a lot of false starts (yay!) and miscalculations and restarts and discussion and thinking. Hopefully, it's intriguing enough to want to try things out. I know that I played around with it some.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

APCS Concept Map

For the same reasons I specified in this post, I've created a concept map for my APCS class this coming year. I'm excited about teaching it again (after a year break), and hopefully, I can garner enough interest to have the class again in 2 years. We are a small HS, our kids are overbooked, and we all have to work for getting our elective classes to make each year.

Here is the file if you want to modify or use it. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

First Day Homework 2015

I've been reflecting on kindness this summer just for the world in general and for my classes more specifically. I remember when I've been feeling out of sorts and how that may come across as grumpy or "female doggy" or such, but what I really was was sad and on those occasions when someone was kind to me in some way that went a long way in making my day better. 

I also happened across the book, Everyday Kindness by Stephanie Dowrick, and am enjoying reading it so far (uh oh, death knell for my liking the book if my history of book praising has anything to do with it).

Anyway, I would like to hang a big sign with the saying:  

Sprinkle Kindness Like Confetti 

outside my classroom, and I had the idea of the students creating little 3"x3" squares with ideas, you know, like confetti! Then I would pixelate using this alphabet:

Here is my handout that I will print on a variety of light colors of paper, and here are the first and second pages that the kids will get.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Voices in Your Head

We’ve all been there and will probably be there again, and if this doesn’t describe you, then I would sincerely like to know your secrets. I’m talking about that mean and defeated little voice inside your head that has the tendency to take any awesome accomplishment of another teacher or a perceived failing of yours and then start a non-ending dialog about it to make you feel bad.

I don’t know a long-term solution (if you do, PLEASE share), but I thought some guided meditations and humor might help alleviate some of the stress of the moment.

Situation: So-and-so had an awesome idea/task/accomplishment (again!) via school/twitter/blog.
Close your eyes and take a nice long deep breath and hold for a beat right before you exhale.
Picture that teacher being praised by everyone.
Take a deep breath.
Maybe it’s not too late to switch careers since you obviously are just taking up space.
Deep breath.
Your puppy likes you.
One last deep breath and open your eyes.

Situation: So-and-so got on your last nerve in class and you are now frazzled.
Close your eyes and take a nice long deep breath and hold for a beat right before you exhale.
The NERVE of that kid. I KNOW they got up this morning wondering, “How can I be most annoying today?”
Take a deep breath.
They succeeded. Kudos to them!
Take a deeper breath all the way down to your pinky toes.
At least you have no nerves left for anyone else to stomp on.
One last deep breath and open your eyes.

Situation: Your class just bombed and you may have to reteach later.
Close your eyes and take a nice long deep breath and hold for a beat right before you exhale.
Holy Cow! What were you thinking?
Take a deep deep deep breath.
On the plus side, you make other teachers look good. There is that!
Make sure your deep breaths reach all the way to the tips of your fingers.
And you are lining the pockets of future therapists of the traumatized children to rehash this experience.
One last deep breath and open your eyes.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Math In Real Life

I think that part of a life skills course should include the following: In any social situation you are in, find what percentage of the present people YOU are, and then make sure you are trying your hardest to only hog that percentage of the conversation without giving quiet space for others to participate if they so choose. Also, use your inside voice. 

That is my summer blogging contribution. 

I have been to 2 workshops so far this summer, one for Digital Electronics and one for APCS. I am currently at the AP Annual Conference. They have all taught me things or enlightened me on things in one way or the other. 

For example, I had students last year in various classes indicate that they felt stupid. That should never happen. I don't know that I did much more than reassure them that they were not stupid, but I didn't prove deeper to find out how to shift their perceptions. 

This came up in my DE training. No one was stupid, but there were some teachers that were rushing through the curriculum and being very vocal and thus there were other teachers who were going at an appropriate pace but who felt stupid because of the inevitable comparison. I need to reflect on how to alleviate this situation when it happens in my classes. I also need to scaffold more or provide more scaffolding available for various learners and to make sure the kids take advantage of this. It is not a race.