Week 7

So thanks to my Twitter bff, my week started out more organized than the previous ones. I pulled out my planner, wrote in it, and actually looked at it. I know right! On one side, I wrote who was absent in each class. On the other side, I wrote the homework assignment for each class. This works especially well with the class whose behavior determines how many homework problems they have each night. That way I knew who needed to make up quizzes and I actually knew what homework problems we were doing.

I found that this week with my algebra classes, I tended to use less paper and did more class discussion and using the whiteboards, which hopefully means students were more engaged. That makes me happy. =) I taught solving equations and I really enjoyed it. I know now that I did not set it up well at all but I liked a lot of the things I did. Next year, I will do it better. I really liked this slide:

I had students come up and move the pieces around and put them in the correct order. In one of my smaller classes, we even did boys against girls. This was easy for the students but strangely enough, I put this exact problem on the test and they struggled with it. Then we did the steps to solving an equation:

As a homework assignment, I gave them each a piece of construction paper. They had to solve their own problem, write it out in steps, and then cut it apart. The next day they took turns solving each other's problems. I have to be honest, I only did this with one class and it got pushed to the side in my other classes. Something else to work on. But, I liked the idea. I also used an idea from @druinok to do partner problems. The worksheet has two columns of problems. One partner does the left column and the other partner does the right column. The problems are different, but the answers are the same. If they don't get the same answer, they know they made a mistake and they help each other find where they went wrong. Another thing I did, was to write a couple of problems out the wrong way and each student had to sit down with me individually and tell me if the problem was right or wrong and then how to correctly solve it. This helped me to better diagnose who was 'getting it', who wasn't and what the common mistakes were.

Then on Thursday, thanks again to the help of my twitter bff, I made my own webquest! I actually did make one during college but I can't even remember where it's at or how to get to it. I made this one from PowerPoint. I uploaded my PowerPoint to box.net and gave that link to the students. From there, they each downloaded the PowerPoint and completed the tasks. First, students had to solve 5 problems and show their work on paper. Then they input their answers to the website which showed them the solution and how to work it. I found two really cool games for solving equations. The first they timed you to see how many problems you could correctly solve in 1 minute. My requirement was that they reach 80% accuracy. (They quickly figured out if they did one problem correctly, it would give them 100% accuracy.) The other game was battleship but each time you hit a ship, you had to solve an equation. The students really liked this one. The Webquest went over pretty well but I tried to accomplish way too much in 50 minutes and so they didn't even get close to taking the final quiz which I wanted to count as a grade. On the plus side, they were actively engaged the whole time and were solving problems, which is always a bonus.

Friday's quiz, I broke down very simply, or so I thought. I did one-step problems, then two-step problems, then decimal equations, then multi-step. Again, I made it too long. One class didn't even get finished and others barely made it before the bell rang. I may have spent too much time reviewing beforehand.

My applied geometry class was a fail this week. I spent the whole week on one section, parallel and perpendicular lines. I didn't even teach slope or theorems or anything. Just determining which lines are parallel, perpendicular, or skew. It wasn't even that the students were struggling...I really don't know what happened. I came up with a cool assignment to make a collage of geometric figures found in real world objects. I thought students could do this when I had a meeting. When I came back, only one student could get the website to work.

My regular geometry class went better. We started the week out learning about the converse. I came up with this idea during student teaching and I still love it:

The converse is flippin cool so we flip the if-then statement around. Also, for my examples, I tried to use as many of my students names as possible. They absolutely love to hear their name in a positive light and see it in print. It truly does make a difference.

Then to teach properties of congruence (reflexive, symmetric, and transitive) I broke students up into 3 groups and had them act out or explain each property. This was a good way to break up the routine of my lecture and to give them a more active role in the learning.

From there, I skipped to parallel and perpendicular lines, and had students write their own notes to teach themselves and then do the homework.I had this class also attempt the collage project which went over better but still, for some reason, the site wouldn't work for all students.

My geometry quiz (I actually call them quests because I can never decide if they are quizzes or tests) turned out to be super easy. I had tons of 100's and students in finished in about 10 minutes or so. I guess eventually I will figure out the right balance.

I'm also doing much better at tentatively planning what I'm doing for the week and putting thins in my binder as soon as I copy it. I bought hanging folders for my chaotic desk drawer but haven't had time to put them in yet.

My geometry classes are starting to branch off and become more differentiated.  It's hard for me to decide which theorems or postulates to teach if we aren't doing proofs. My main focus is to prepare them for the ACT and for college entrance exams.

I'm still horrible at getting things done over the weekend. I usually work til 6 or so on Fridays amd for some reason, my Saturday always slips through my fingers. Then on Sunday nights, I am glued to the computer trying to get everything done at once. Not good. If it wasn't for my beloved Sunday nap, I could get a lot more work done. ;)

And my closing reflection for the week...interesting conversation on Twitter resulted in @stoppedupmath changing my whole outlook on what school really is:

stoppedupmath @misscalcul8 I redefine the purpose of high school 4 kids the first week of school. I remind them that it's not job training, but exposure. That way, when students ask the "when" question, I get to tell them, "I don't know, and neither do you. Remember: exposure." Yes, exposure to everything possible. When we start exposing them to diverse topics, they will find SOMETHING they enjoy enough to possibly choose a career path/college major. That's totally different from job training which is teaching students the exact skills they are going to need for a job they have already taken.

stoppedupmath @misscalcul8 Telling HS kids in Alg. we're preparing them for a career is no more true than if we told that to elem. kids during spelling. We're still teaching basic skills. Real job skills come either in college or in trade school, or actually on the job.
What? School ISN'T job training?? Now I have to redefine the purpose of high school for myself. I love thinking about this. How are you working to expose more and more of life to your students?


  1. I love the idea of exposure. . . thats what I want my students to get from World History. . . exposure. . . it will make them more literate, it is amazing how many things they will "get" when out in public. There a some many references to history in popular culture.

  2. Love this post. Weeks that run smoothly are fantastic.
    As for the concept that high school is not job training.. welll what else is to be expected, and this is not surprising. Public education has a lot to do before it can catch up to the real world, it needs to begin by thinking about changing it's expectations of cultural climate.
    What do we do to expose students to real life skills through core content (Reading,writing and math, and art and science and character traits and leadership and..), well that is the cornerstone of our business, Kigluait Adventures (http://www.kigluaitadventures.com). We create and share content and experiences to demonstrate the use of standards in the real world. We specifically provide examples through our passion, dog mushing, but we also train and teach others to do the same through their passions, whether it is through computers, gaming, biology, history. We have begun helping others to open what we call Windows into their passions, Teaching WoW (Teaching windows into other worlds.) (Http://www.teachingwow.org).
    So this is not meant to be a marketing ploy, but more simply the sharing of the need to catch the public schools up to what is really happening in the real world..

  3. Chum,
    The whole job training thing has really rocked me. It flips my whole philosophy of education on its side and changes my purpose of why I'm here. I feel empowered to be able to explain this concept to students.

  4. I love your post very much! I know of a wonderful website which speaks about classroom management. This site offers free behaviour tips and resources for teachers, head teachers, lecturers and classroom assistants.