Saturday, October 31, 2015

Related Rates take 1,353,577

This is TOTALLY going to be the year that I teach Related Rates *so* well, that the students will wonder what all the fuss is about its difficulty. Right? At least it keeps me busy picking apart and analyzing what they are struggling with and trying to address all issues. 

I started with a flipped lesson just showing applets of related rates. The next class I had planned was walking through these notes:

Then we would do some back and forth translating between words and math expressions. We would also practice implicit differentiation of formulas that now do not involve x and y, but A and r and t and h and the like.

Mother Nature had her say on Friday in Texas, and our school was on Tornado Watch Lockdown and classes were shortened of time. We got through 1/2 this sheet. 

But I am keeping my fingers crossed. This. Is. My. Year.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Nine Weeks In....

Time (as always) flies and before you know it, there are only 2 weeks left in the 2nd 6 weeks. Thank goodness I've taught all of my preps in one form or the other before, so I can pull some dusty memories from my brain and then adjust what and how I do things instead of starting from scratch.

Here are some things I've changed and liked so far this year (or have done before and tweaked and am on the road to liking):

* Answer Banks! Heavens bless the answer banks. The students get immediate feedback and are willing to work harder on the problem. Of course, this is barring any teacher mistakes, ahem. They are used to the *few* mistakes I make, and my rationalization is that it makes them think a wee bit more carefully to justify their answers before they check with me. Then the NEXT year's class will think I'm SOOOO perfect (once I fix the mistakes) and .... who am I fooling, there will be new worksheets and fresh new exciting mistakes.

* Peer Checking! In my project-based classes, I have jumped on the peer checking band-wagon I observed in an English class once. For every step of their projects, they have to get another student to check the part and make sure it is correct before they get me to sign off on it. We have a discussion on why this job is important and how you don't want to let the check-ee down. It also gets kids to talk to each other and to see how others do things. I make it so that they can't ask the same person to check everything. I also like to break the projects down to little parts, and sometimes I grade the little parts, so that their WHOLE grade is not dependent on JUST the final product but on the process.

* Writing and Justification questions! Oh my was I in for a surprise when I asked some "gimme" questions on a calculus exam (or so I thought). What it "gimme"-ed to me was the fact that even though the kids MAY be able to get the right # answer, they did not have a deep understanding of the meaning of things or how things fit together. Oy. I have started the slow process of adding such questions to their homework assignments. This I hope will further their deep(er) understanding.

* Taking time to just enjoy the kids and all their goofiness. My 9th grade IED class during the last block of the day is basically a room full of little wriggly puppies that bounce around and have joy in their eyes and just want to be scratched behind the ears. I love them. They are a salve to my hurting heart. I make sure to keep a nice voice and humor when I redirect them for the 9,999th time each class to get back to work. They do get their work done, but I am so used to the 11th and 12th graders who are just so much more low energy and quiet. It's a nice mix of kids of all kinds in all my classes.

* Focusing on being present. With 6 preps to plan and 31 recommendations to write and yoga to teach and NHS duties and PLTW duties and after-school duties and spanish class homework and ...... well, you've been there. I just put my blinders on and for the most part just concentrate on this day or this block or this span of time. So far I haven't dropped too many balls. I'm also nicely distracted during the week. I also remember that in all the previous years, everything always seems to get done one way or the other, and I will not stress too much about it. Deep breathes and just doing my best.

* Time for fun. I make sure I have things to look forward to outside of school. I am loving my Spanish class, and one day will be fluent and travel to all sorts of Spanish-speaking countries. My art class is awesome. I get to work on what I want and the time flies. I am also doing the Kayla Itsines exercise program and am on week 20 and LOVE it and am seeing some body changes. I also binge shop for books and see movies and LOVE all of the sudoku books by djape. Then there are the puzzle and game apps on my iPad. ...

Okay, super proud of my art class so far, here are two exercises I did:

(copied from a pinterest picture)

(unfinished 1/2 my face copied from a black and white iPad selfie)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Life Update...

(Wedding Day, New Jersey, 11/4/94)

Periodically, I realize that I haven't been blogging much. I am participating in the #teach180 tags on twitter, and that seems to be as much as I can handle for the moment.

The school year started out semi-great on August 24th. Sure I had 6 preps, but I had an awesome teacher friend that was teaching 2 of the preps with me (precalculus and Intro. to Engineering Design) and keeping me on track with planning and resources. Life was good. Then came Friday, 8/28/15. I was getting ready for my last class of the day and just starting them up, when our security officer came to my room to mention that I was needed in the office. Life has not been the same since. 

I was informed that my husband had died in a plane crash when he was practicing for the New York Air Show. He loved flying. He was great at flying. He was an awesome person. His plane broke while he was doing aerobatics. That weekend is still surreal. People came over off and on. A dear friend from DC came down to stay with me in TX for 9 days. His brother and family came from Canada as did my dad from California. I continued working that next week, so that I would have a break from the overwhelming nature of everything. Also, as teachers know, it is more work to be absent and make sub plans and copies and such than just to go in and dive in. Plus, did I mention the distractions and wonderful people I get to hang out with?

The time since then has been a blur and a balance of processing the horror and sadness and mixed emotions of how nice and compassionate and giving and loving everyone has been to me. And in addition, balancing school and doing right by my students. I'm so thankful I love my job and have people looking out for me and students being extra gentle and loving. I'm also thankful for friends that check in and let me ramble about the latest detail that I have to take care of to transfer things out of his name to my name.

I imagine it will be a long journey of getting used to this new reality. Maybe you never get used to it, you just live it. Andrew, I miss you.

Our trip to San Malo last spring break.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Trig Match Up Activity

My awesome coworker and I made up a trig matching activity. I know it's not a novel idea, but here is another resource for precalculus teachers to solidify angles in standard position. You can find the file HERE

 Via our internet math community, I learned that it's easier to leave one of the pages uncut (the pink sheet here), and then the students can place the matching cut up green and gold cards on the page. Before, I used to cut up all three, and then that took up too much space on the student tables. Thank you virtual PD friends for the great tip.

My buddy and I also decided to break up the teaching into 2 class periods with degrees one day and the dreaded radians along with their devilish friends, FRACTIONS (duhn DUHN duhhhhhhn) for the next day. Hopefully, this will allow the fraction/radian goodness to seep into their resisting minds more readily.

I didn't share the word document because it seems to mess up when you download it via (or maybe I'm wrong). If you want the word document to play around with, send e-mail. 

Another thing I like about this is that we didn't use all special angles. We also didn't indicate which was up or down on the pink sheet, so that stumped some kids and they had to think and justify the direction. Yay math.

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. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Calculus Concept Map

This past semester, I did an online course related to this (link):

and I learned things I will use in my math classes. Of course I waited until the last minute to finish the course and was then furiously reading/skimming the online tests (since I had done the physical copy reading but had to click things for credit) before the district mandated deadline, but I digress. 

I highly recommend it (not the last minute stuff, but the book). Unlike some other PD that speaks a good game of, "oh yes, you can use this for any school subject. Math? Of course!" and then proceeds to not provide useful examples of ideas or validation that it has been used effectively in math, this book actually had genuine math examples of various HS subjects.

One of the sections involved Top-Down Topic Webs. Quotes:

"Teaching students to organize ideas in a systematic, visual graph improves their ability to remember what they read."

"Many students become overwhelmed by too much information, focus excessively on details, and lose sight of the big picture when they read."

"Students often have difficulty connecting material taught from day to day and week to week."

This all is confirmed by me when I recall various things my kids said about calculus:

"Oh, why didn't they just call the class derivatives and integrals?"

"Wait, I get mixed up on the difference between ...."

So with all this in mind, I created a Concept Map for AP Calculus AB:

 I'm sure I will edit it somehow, but for now I'm happy with it. I plan on handing it out the first week and continually referring back to it, so the students always have a clear idea of the big picture. Now maybe I'm the last person on this knowledge boat and maybe everyone is already doing this. If so, then it is a well-kept tidbit, and I don't know the secret hand-shake.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Summer Excitement

Things I am excited about for this summer:

1. Getting enough sleep.

2. Continuing with the Kayla Itsines (here) exercise program. I started in January, and during the school year, I could only get myself to do one full round in the mornings, but I still feel stronger, and there is an insulated 6-pack in there somewhere. I just know it. Come out, come out, wherever you are.

3. Get serious about the Amanda Bisk (here) stretching routine. She made some new-to-me comments about why stretching your muscles is important - boosts circulation, balances your nervous system, ... during the school year, I was not able to carve out daily time to do this, and now I can.

4. Going to APCS training with Maria Litvin (well, we are not going together, but I have heard she will be there ....). Our APCS class "made" for the following year. I'm going to have a mix of newbies and kids who took CS1 with me. For that reason, I am going to flip the class. Lots of work, but hopefully way more useful.

5. Going to Rochester, NY for continuing ed on DE. Whew! This time around, I won't be the slow person in the room, and I may even further my skills and things I can bring back to the students. I've never been to Rochester, and I hear it's beautiful.

6. Doing solo studying of drawing. I started art lessons in May, and have to take the summer off due to fun travel, but I LOVED it. All the classes were/are differentiated, and I'm interested in pen/ink drawing, like this and this. We were taught out of the "Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain" techniques, and it was/is so fun.

7. Continuing to improve my Spanish. I started to take classes in January, because my attempts at solo study always got pushed aside for other more pressing tasks. With the classes, I had homework and I didn't want to be THAT student in class that was unprepared. We talked every week for 2 hours in class while we were learning. There were also Happy Hours where we had to only speak Spanish. I am also learning via Rocket Languages (which I love). I had used this program to learn a bit of French this past year, and found it effective. I then signed up for the 14 lessons of Spanish, and now that I'm near the end, I wish I had gotten the reduced price for buying all 3 at once.

8. Taking this online Python course. A former student made me aware of the 9 week free course, and now we will be virtual classmates..

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Calculus Final Project

If I were in Harry Potter World, I would expand time between when I teach Volumes of Revolution and the AP Exam. This way, I could do a hands on project to actually embed the knowledge in the student brains. But alas, I'm just stuck with regular old days and a time-crunched teacher and students who are teenagers. 

This year, I had my students do this project for the days they were in class. 

It's the first time I've done it, so I made notes in my document for when the inevitable things went wrong this year that I want to improve upon for next attempt of this project:

You'll be shocked to learn that students can't convert between ruler tick marks and decimal numbers. SHOCKED, I tell you. You will also be floored by the fact that directions are for "other people", when you are doing a project, you should just keep asking about the next step.

Anyway, I liked how they turned out:

It was a good mix of freedom for their creativity, an in-depth practice of regression and degrees of polynomials and piecewise functions and graphing. It was a sad awareness of just how shallow some of the students' knowledge was of how to find a volume of revolution. I don't have a grading rubric (everyone is a winner!), but I think I may add one next time.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mystery Grid Puzzle

As part of my year-end activities, I made this Mystery Grid Puzzle. I figured it was a way for my students to be careful, be observant, and be artsy all at once. I found a pixelated picture I liked, and then slapped a grid over it. Here is a copy if this sound intriguing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Advertising Idea

My CS1 class is finishing up their original Greenfoot games, so I had them make advertising flyers to "sell their game". They had to have screenshots, descriptions, customer reviews, and developer bios.

I love how creative the students are. I'm thinking I want something like this to be my first day activity next year for the math classes. Maybe something to the effect of "selling math" or "math as a movie" (pick your genre) and have various necessary spiels they have to include. ... Something to think about over the summer. (Who's the GREAT photographer?)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

End of the Year Calculus Project

Whew! That's done. We celebrated Cinco de Mayo by having an AP Calculus AB exam. Aye yai yai yai! After the exam it's a mix of attendance and other issues for students, and every year I have done slightly different things. This year, I wanted to revisit "projects". I had an awful time the last time I did this. Granted, I let the kids have free reign with their time, and shockingly, some chose to waste it (who would have thought), and this resulted in the most memorable string of e-mails from a parent who claimed it was all my fault a student got a bad grade and the kid would now not get into his choice school and his life was ruined and what kind of monster was I? So you can maybe see why I hesitate to do a project. 

Flash forward to this year. I wanted to do a project (because I never learn), but I wanted a Volumes of Revolution project. My specs:
* Must be cheap.
* Must be done only in class with no homework.
* Must involve creativity.
* Must involve calculus.
* Must be fast.
* Must be original.
* Must pull some other math topics from bygone years.
* Must use technology.

And voila! Here are the benefits (I hope) of this project:
* Involves scratch paper and tape/scissors and MAYBE pretty paper.
* I believe it can be done in 2 or 3 block schedule classes.
* Students create their own functions.
* They have to calculate the volume of revolution.
* They have to know how to calculate the radius if given the circumference.
* Regression website! Desmos!

 So I give you THIS. Let the fun begin.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Limits ... I have reached it!

We are done with our limits unit, and I made some changes (thanks Meg Craig!). Our summary day was today with a mix of everything. Here is the sheet the students worked on to see what they understood. I like it because it has a mix of algebraic limits, graphical limits, limits they have to draw graphs first for, piecewise functions .... HERE it is. Let me know if you want a word document copy.

 Funny story about #15. I actually had a problem there and had put the answer in the answer bank. Then I started pasting and changing the graph for #14, and then realized later that the #15 problem disappeared. So, since there was only 4 minutes until class started, and I had to make copies, I came up with THIS #15.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Cross Sections Homework...

If you teach calculus, there is a newish private group on facebook for us. The name is AP Calc Teachers AB/BC, and I'm sure you can navigate your way around to get access. 

Anyway, Happy Easter and all that, and the Easter Bunny is leaving a Cross Sections Homework Egg for you:


Friday, April 03, 2015

Volumes of Known Cross Sections

Last unit of AP Calculus AB .... big (temporary) sigh of relief. I changed up how I am teaching it this year. I do a flipped class, but even so, in the last 2 years I was not flipping and then yapping at them in class. I can't think of why other than I didn't think through how I could flip it and still show them the 3D aspect of things. Then I got it and came up with this.

I made a template for them to take home:

This would allow them to cut various shapes in the right size. Then I "flipped" these 3 pages of notes:

See how the half circles pop up! That makes me so happy. Maybe you need a closer look:

And pages 3 and 4:

 Now they can have a "forever" reference to a 3D model and not just see it in class one time when we introduce it.

 Hopefully, this will lead to a clearer understanding in their heads.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fractions?! Still?!

We are winding down in AP Calculus AB. In our last (flipped) class, the students were practicing area between 2 curves, and I had them do some problems by hand and some problems by calculator. 

Teacher Mistake Number 1: putting the 1st problem as one to be done by hand that involved .... wait for it .... gasp ..... fractions! I had an answer bank (as usual), but in this case, the answers were actually in order. 

Can I tell you that some of my students, though I admire their dedication, were still stuck on that problem for 20 minutes or so, because the fraction adding/subtracting was NOT. WORKING. OUT. We are NOT talking about 31/29 + 441/17 here people. 

We are talking about */4 + */2 - (INTEGER - */16) or something to that effect. Oy! I gently suggested that they may want to move on to some other problems so that they would have a chance to discuss set ups and such, which actually involved calculus, with other students, rather than being all OCD about it and not wanting to move on to the next problem before they finished the first problem.

Note to self: maybe I should have a tiered answer bank for such tortuous, why-does-my-teacher-hate-me type problems: one answer choice for the correct set up, one for the actual integral taking, and then a third for the hideous (51/16) answer!

Another idea: on my IR quizzes, instead of testing calculus-y things for the remainder of April, maybe I should have quick problems such as 1/4 + 1/3 .... or 2/5 * 3/8 .....

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Precalculus Sequences & Series

We had time for a mixed review day in Precalculus. ... As I type that, I wonder why it always seems rushed to teach this class. Last year, my colleague and I seemed to speed through things and didn't give things a fair treatment. But the flip side is, what do you leave out? There are too many cool things the students have never seen before and this class always seems like the last high school chance to showcase things. Anyway, I revived this sheet I'd made a long time ago. It has some nice challenging problems (#6 will floor you .... Hah! #clickbait) gathered from a ton of places.

I tried to make sure that the way the questions were asked forced the kids to look for efficient ways to find first terms and sums and such.

 On a "make you feel old" note, they had never heard the term "boob tube" for television. Some students thought the term referred to those tops that were elastic for girls that had no straps. Hah! So I told them to look it up.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Calculus Motion and Accumulation Combined

I made up a new worksheet for the students to practice straight line motion problems combined with their accumulation function knowledge for AP Calculus AB.

 I really like problems 7, 8, and 11. It's very interesting that they forget they can find the equation of a line to substitute in for the v(t) function on 7 & 8.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Half Century

I turned 50 years old a month ago today. Probably like most people who get here, I'm still a little dazed that this number is associated with me.
I'm the young whippersnapper. I'm not the old geezer. My friend jokingly got me this shirt: 

I think it was jokingly. But I'll go with it.

I've also been teaching a long time; this is my 18th year. So in celebration (or reflection) of all this, I am challenging myself to list "50 things I've learned about teaching" ... notes from an old geezer / village elder wannabe.

(in no particular order other than what popped into my brain and when)

And also, obviously, these are just things that are "true" because of MY experiences and the schools I have taught in. Mileage may vary for you.

1. Enjoy the students. They're pretty amusing.

2. Try to separate the behavior from the kid/adult. I'm still working on this all the time (after I grumble and curse and have a pity party about what's been "done to me").

3. It really IS true that they will remember how you made them feel other than what you taught them.

4. If a kid is sleeping in my class. It's more effective to say, "___, wake up. I'm sorry you are tired, but I need you to be here." versus
    "$(&*($  ____ you will NOT sleep in my class!!!!" (though sometimes the second one feels better in the short term ... so I act it out in my head)

5. Just because they are staring at you while you are talking, it doesn't mean they are processing what you are saying. (I wonder what the % breakdown is ... or maybe I don't want to know.)

6. Every day is a fresh start and a fresh chance to do it right. (and to screw up in other ways)

7. Keep reflecting on what and how you are doing things. Never settle.

8. It's fun to learn new things along with the students. (and I am always "joyful" in my multitude of mistakes I make ....)

9. When I show my excitement about a topic, it adds to the lesson.

10. Even if I "learn something" about teaching one year ... that doesn't mean I remember it or put it into action consistently.

11. Just because other teachers seem to be successful doing things one way, it doesn't mean that EXACT thing will work with my students.

12. Even if I think something is obvious as a teaching practice, it doesn't mean it's obvious or even useful to others.

13. Share share share and borrow borrow borrow and adapt adapt adapt.

14. I teach students not subjects. 

15. I need to keep teaching learning skills along with topics.

16. I need to keep acknowledging to the students that learning is hard, and they should be proud of their effort.

17. Keep a large binder for each subject. Put copies in sheet protectors. Put the keys in there. Do it chronologically. Make sticky notes about changes for the following year.

18. For anything out of the ordinary in my daily schedule, make a google email reminder to help you not forget.

19. Humor humor humor is a nice wheel greaser.

20. Just because you taught it to them last year AWESOMELY, it doesn't mean they remember it instantly this year. Review, scaffold, and acknowledge that it's human. (and secretly be shocked that they don't know how to do fractions. Still.)

21. Teachers of non-math topics are also a source of great material to adapt to math teaching.

22. For big projects, I have found more success with having many stepping stone grades to ensure completion.

23. For big projects, I make a "contract" that has stepping stone due dates and a place for peer checking first and then my grading.

24. Gallery walks are great because the students get to see others' work and they also get to show off their work to more than just me.

25. I have been extremely fortunate in the schools I've taught in and the people I have taught with and the kids I interact with.

26. Even if something "bad" has happened to me in teaching/life in the past, it's great fodder for "stories" to share with the kids.

27. I try to do the big projects along with my students. That keeps me honest in what's involved, and I think I get more buy in from the kids.

28. I don't let students talk poorly about other teachers/students in my class. I try to gauge the situation to see if they can constructively resolve things.

29. People have to eat and go to the bathroom. I have rules that work for me and don't seem too jail-like, and then mostly everyone is happy.

30. Just because students are silent, it doesn't mean they are not participating.

31. There needs to be quiet thinking time, and students need to be reminded of it, as in, "okay, to yourself, figure this out, to yourself" .... "silently" ... "alone".

32. This has worked for me: "okay, now turn to someone and either give them the deer in the headlights look, or nod your understanding of what I just said". "discuss".

33. It's okay not to have lunch with other teachers and to just be in my room doing my thing in the middle of the day without being "on".

34. It's really helpful to have things to look forward to during the week. (hello Spanish lessons and breakfasts out each week)

35. I need to try out new ideas immediately, or else they usually don't get tried out after a conference.

36. For all my answer keys, I highlight the edges on both sides of the paper, so it's easy to find and identify as the key.

37. Answer banks are awesome. I mix up their placement, but it gives kids immediate feedback on their work.

38. Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. (thank you, basketball coach, math teacher from another school)

39. Hurt people hurt people. Kindness rules. 

40. Make eye contact with ALL students as much as possible. It's too easy to only engage with the students that are always the contributors. I don't want anyone to feel invisible. I still need to remind myself of this when I am staring at the back of the room when I'm talking and trying to keep straight what I'm saying.

41. I like to exercise in the morning because I know then it will get done. It doesn't hurt that I'm a morning person. Mwa ha ha.

42. My clothing choices are fascinating. Apparently. New clothes? New comments!

43. I need to have good reasons for what I am teaching and why I am teaching something the way I am.

44. "When am I ever going to use this?" responses: you may not use this, but this is how it is important ..... or, you never know what you will do when you grow up, so it's nice to have options.

45. You are apparently never too old for stickers.

46. Every class has their own personality, and what works great with one may not work with another. (what's WRONG with them?????)

47. It takes me about 3 passes through to "perfect" a lesson so that it's actually effective in the way I want.

48. People Before Paper. I need to not multitask when a student is talking to me and give them my full attention.

49. My attitude affects the class. If I'm cranky and tired (which happens), I let the kids know, hopefully in a joking way, and I try to get over it.

50. Sheesh, what a wind bag .... bla bla bla .... okay, LAST ONE ... digging deep .... wise words ... stalling .... Every school has its own challenges, and parts of the grass may actually be greener elsewhere, but other parts are covered in fire ants.

Okay, look for the sequel to this in 10 years .... "60 things I've learned and maybe remember about teaching mixed in with a list of my aches and pains".

Monday, February 16, 2015

Inverse Trig Graphs Take 2

Even with what I thought were great manipulative tools (patty paper to be used to help teach inverse trig graphs), there were students that still did not grasp the overall concept when they had to put it to use. During the times that they came in for corrections on their test, this strategy SEEMED to work. I first had them sketch (say) the sine graph:

 Then I ask them to color in the restriction that will allow the function to have an inverse function (this part they remembered).

 Then we get to the part they couldn't apply successfully, so we broke it down. First I asked them to find (say) 200 degrees on their graph. This seemed a nice challenge for them and it was nice to hear their thought process.

Then I asked them to find sin(200deg) on their graph. Also, enlightening.

 Then I asked them to reason through finding arcsin(sin(200deg)), and I had them talk out their reasoning as to why it was placed where it was.

And finally, we took it to the unit circle, so they could summarize and wrap it up.

I think I may start with this technique the next time through because it shows everything on one page and they can work through the visuals of WHY even through you MAY have an angle in the first quadrant, it still is not valid for an arcsin function because the angle is more than 360 degrees (for example).