Friday, March 30, 2007

Playing Catch Up

Hey, maybe someday soon I can come up for air from beneath all the piles of grading that are taking over my classroom desk and spreading to other pieces of furniture. I sure miss having my student aid (who got pregnant and left and is now only coming to school part time). It doesn't help that I went on my 3 trips (2 over spring break and one to NCTM) and didn't take papers to grade. ... Get over it and grade.

I remember when I first came to Texas 4 years ago and went to a local math workshop and somebody casually mentioned that she collects and grades homework EVERY day. Me, coming from another school district in another state, who only glanced at homework in class at most 3 times a week, I was stunned. Who has the time? Ew. Now I've joined the land of daily graders (only on completion and effort, though). Apparently, I'm not a full-fledged active citizen yet, though.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I just got back from NCTM, and as usual, absorbed some great math and bought some potentially useful books. I loved Steve Leinwand's talk. He made several good points. For example, he does (did?) 5 minutes of cumulative review EVERY day. That adds up to 15 hours of instruction a school year, and his argument was that no one learns a topic after 2 lectures and 2 homework assignment. They need refreshers. He also uses the review to pause and point out meanings of various vocabulary terms, indicating that the really low-performing students are stunted by their lack of knowledge of what you're talking about (meanings of math terms).

I also learned a great calcululator trick. To graph a piecewise function, you can do it all in Y1 as:
Y1 = (x+1)( x<2)
+ (3x-7)(x>2)
all on one line to graph x+1 for values less than 2 and 3x-7 for values greater than 2.

A North Dakota teacher discussed how she teaches polar graphing of limacons and lemniscates and flowers so that it sticks in the students' heads.

I bought books on differentiating instruction for high school math (woot woot, you never find it for this level and this topic) and a "share & compare" strategy book for math. There's also a math joke book from Nasco for calculus I had to have.

Someone shared with me that the fun math ladies (?) instead of always putting name_____ on the top of tests vary it like:

math star ______
_______ loves fractions
future mathematician _______


So all in all, useful conference.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Saving Weekend Time

I used to be so excited that I found a way to wash my overhead slides on the weekend. I'd put them in the sink with water, and then swoosh them around one by one and rinse of the excess ink and then put them in between pages of a large phone book.

I used to be so excited ... until it started taking about 45 minutes or so every weekend ... that's when I started slacking off on the job and cursing the slides.

It finally clicked in my head, and what I'd seen many others do and I hadn't been "ready to learn yet" ... well, I finally got it. So last weekend I bought a small spray bottle (5" high or so), and confiscated some of my husband's tired old holey socks, and this week so far, right after each class, that's me. Spritz, spritz, spritz. Wipe, wipe, wipe. No weekend slides. If my calculations are correct: about 5 slides per class x 5 classes x 5 days each week = a bazillion slides I now don't have to dread cleaning each weekend. Bring it on.