Monday, December 22, 2014


Hello vacation. I have a love/hate thing going with time off. 
* Love the 9 hours of sleep each night. 
* Hate not having so many people to interact with. 
* Love being able to read good books. 
* Hate that at the end of a day I sat too much ("worse than smoking" is now a thing). 
* Love that I have time to cook non-frozen things. 
* Hate that the refrigerator is right there. All the time. Waiting. Calling.

Last week of school. There is a student that hangs out in my room before school starts each day (to talk with her other friends who I actually have in class). I was chatting with the kid, and she was groaning, "I shouldn't have come today. It's going to be so boring. We're watching movies all day." It reminds me of a great piece of advice I got from my math supervisor in NJ long ago, "you need to give students a reason to be here. Otherwise, who could blame them for staying home." She mentioned this around vacation times, and it always stuck with me. Even when the kids groan, "what?! you're making us work?" I think they're just yapping and are secretly glad to have something productive to do. That's what I tell myself anyway. 

Goals for break:
* Map out how I'm going to use my SparkFun Redboards in CS and DE. 
* Try acupuncture. Have always been curious, and I saw a discount for teachers.
* Do yoga daily.
* Not sit all day.
* Be a movie matinee glutton.
* Continue drinking my 16 glasses of water a day. (link to what got me)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Crack Kids....

I was not in my classroom some time two weeks ago, and for whatever reason, I had various kids come up to me that I had to record their names. It was a mix of kids I teach and don't teach. I don't know about you, but in those situations, I panic and for the QUIET kids in my class, those who NEVER speak or never engage me in side conversations or never disrupt class or never cause a ripple and fall through the cracks of my attention, I feel time pressured and blank and either can't remember if they look familiar because I've seen them in the halls or if I actually teach them.

I mean, sure, if they are in my class, and quietly in their seats, and in a context my mind links with their names, GREAT! I remember their names. Otherwise, it's a 50-50 shot.

So I was recording names after looking at their faces, and for the ones I didn't know who were just standing there, I said, "who are you?". Well, of course, this one student got all wide-eyed, and her friend who I also taught looked at me, and there was red egg on my face as I slowly realized who she was. I made a joke about it, "well, you are SO quiet! Your homework is now to talk to me in class."

But then I festered on this situation later. Here is what I did in my classes this past week (when I remembered). If time and lessons allowed, I walked up to the ripple-free student in my class and said, "tell me 3 Laura facts" .... or "tell me a Judy fact". That opened up a short conversation and I actually heard their voices that I would not recognize ... yet.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Calculus f and f Prime graph information

Surprise! This is a hard topic for my students. I have adjusted some things and through various conversations I've had and pondering I've done, I came up with this activity that I tried today. This is after a couple of days of activity and discussions and problems related to:

If you see THIS on ____ graph, what does it mean about ______ function?

Here's what we did today for a while. I took it problem by problem and then we discussed it and for each problem I had them draw the "eggnog height vs time" graph after they had ruminated for a while. I also then introduced up and down arrows under the curve to represent "magnitude of rate of change".

In one class, we had a heated discussion about whether when you start or stop pouring, if it's an immediate leap to some rate of change or gradual.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

End of the Semester

I'm loving the switch over I've made from doing a paper copy to a GoogleDocs Form of student surveys for my classes. Now all the survey responses are online and easily searchable/readable without having to find the papers and remember them from years past. 

I also have them do this in class after I discuss "constructive criticism" and "helpful comments" and the fact that I have found previous comments very useful and have even changed how I run class because of some comments. I think that if I didn't have them do this in class, many would forget to do the survey, and I wouldn't have enough information.

Here are the questions I ask:

Useful feedback so far. For example, I recently started uploading my flipped class videos a different way, and I wouldn't have known it was not as helpful if it were not for some comments kids made. I also try to keep my videos short, but some comments asked for my creating extra "showing examples" videos that would be optional. I think that is a useful comment.

And because I just copied this form from the year past and changed the name, I have last year's comments to refer back to to refresh my memory. Win. Win.