Monday, December 10, 2007

Now I find it

I was getting set to write a post about my successful puzzle proofs, when I discovered that the people at Regents Prep already have it done. I left more pieces out than their example, making students fill in blanks in their proof, but they do seem to like the training wheels. Now I just need to let them ride the proof-cycle on their own.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fidget toys

I'm a huge fidgeter. My hands want to be doing something all the time. Since I learned how to knit in middle school, my preferred method of fidgeting is working with yarn. It gives me an outlet for that energy that actually serves a purpose. I move my hands and then something appears!

Because of my penchant for all things yarn I learned about modeling complex maths back in high school. I didn't always pay attention to what was really going on in the articles I read, but the pictures looked cool. Still, it wasn't until my college hosted a version of this exhibit on hyperbolic space that I was motivated to make any of my own. The pictures don't do models justice. Seeing them behind glass it was so frustrating not to be able to pick them up. I did the only thing reasonable and started making my own.

The models are as amazing to play with as I'd hoped. Twisting. Turning. Following the edge around. My personal favorite creation (though it's mathematically insignificant) is a small hyperbolic plane, twisted and sewn together to become a moebius strip. I like it enough that I made one for a friend's birthday present.

Knowing that not every fidgeter finds an outlet for their energy, I decided to stock my classroom with fidget toys. The models are great because they're quiet. They're not impossible to throw--and my classroom management is still at a point where that's a consideration--but they're not going to hurt anyone if you do throw them. And they are math related!

I have not used them as much as I'd hoped before school started. Partly because I don't have the classroom set up so that they're accessible and visible. Partly because I only have one student who has fidgeting needs. He seems to like them, though I still need to figure out how to reach him with my lessons.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

made it through THE dreaded day

Crowning royalty for homecoming was very "alternate universe." The court sat on stage in the typical theater crowns while the entire school filed by to shake hands and the drum group sang an honoring song. Just the mixing of cultures.

Somehow the hallways actually look decent after the entire school took two hours decorating them this morning. How this chaos got approved is beyond me. But better than feared.

The whole "Fear Factor" game this afternoon, also somehow turned out okay. I don't understand the appeal of eating disgusting things/making yourself sick. Nor does watching do it seem fun. But students stayed in the gym and pretty much behaved.

Finally, even though I didn't really have time to get nervous about parent night, I was impressed with how smoothly it went. If we count the parent I talked to during the day as a follow through to a referral earlier this week (my first, ugh) then I talked with ~20% of my parents today. Everyone seemed to like my grading strategy. Though some students might be getting lectured tonight about how they're not doing work for class or for not doing better on tests. (Yay parents who support teachers!)

So if we can make it through quizzes and pep rally tomorrow and whatever happens on Friday then I'll be set for my long weekend. Visit and prep.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Don't ask why I'm behind schedule already

According to the calendar, we've had 15 days of school. Growing up that would mean 15 days of class in each class. Maybe 13 for some assembly or other.

My seventh period has had 10 days of class. For those of you who don't remember your math, that means they've missed 33 percent of possible class days. Never mind that because the first two weeks were spent figuring out schedules only one of my students has been in that period since the first day of class. (Granted, there are only three students in the class. That's a post for a different day.) Never mind that attendance is enough of a problem that every student has been absent at one point or another.

I'd still be disturbed by this thought, but what makes it most maddening is how often I'm not told that we're going to be missing class until the day of. Yesterday there was an announcement right before lunch that instead of seventh period we would be having class meetings. Instead of teaching my geometry class, trying to catch them up with my other section, I would be coleading a meeting of all the sophomores in the school. I'd planned for class. I didn't know what I was supposed to do at the meeting.

When did this make sense?

The outlook for next week doesn't look good. My aide warns me that I shouldn't expect anything from students next week. We'll be missing seventh period at least another thee days. At the end of the week, I'll get to submit grades for progress reports.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

How to maximize the help I have

I have an aide in my class this year. On the one hand it's amazing for her to be there. For example:
  • I don't have to worry about taking attendance.
  • She knows the community and can tell me what's going on. (Like learning that one of my student's has been absent for over a week because his brother died unexpectedly. When was the school going to let me know?
  • She already knows most of the students and so can help talk with them. This is especially helpful when there's someone who doesn't want to do the work because of this excuse or that one.
  • I can ask a local parent if my actions are appropriate. Sure the students complain I'm too mean and some of the other teachers say that enforcing the rules is tantamount to chopping off my own head. Being validated by a parent who thinks her son was passed along because this school bended rules to easily allows me to continue to say things like, "No, the deal is, you are in your desk working on your warm-up journal when the bell rings." Or, "You know better than to pull out your binder to look up how to do things on a test. That's a 0. You'll get another chance next week."
All of that is to say that I'm not sure how I'd be holding up without her.

But I'm not sure how to maximize her help. Technically, she's there to help me teach the class, especially to help the students on IEPs. (Not that I've seen the IEPs to know who they are. I think there's only one all day, and he just picks up the assignment and goes to the resource room. What they do there, beyond me.)

She doesn't have a strong math background. If I want her to be able to help the students at all with assignments, I need to teach her the lesson before class. This is next to impossible now that the resource room has decreed that aides should always be helping a teacher in the classroom, so we cannot talk during my prep. Before school we have our guard the halls duties. Afterschool she needs to go take care of her family or work the detention room to earn some more money.

She is able to see and hear the lesson multiple times a day. I try to have any assignments worked out for her to look at. But I still feel like there should be some way have her help the students with the math. Any suggestions?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

It all starts tomorrow

Tomorrow's the first day of school and I'm trying to make sure I have everything together. It's crazy enough trying to be a new teacher. But a new teacher in a new school building where nobody's really moved in nor had time to prepare....Yikes.

Stealing liberally from the dans and I Love Math. While it may be a while before I get anything together enough to share, I wanted to start this space so I'll be prepared.