Friday, July 3, 2015

With a new classroom comes new decorations!

I'm super pumped that my new classroom has a bulletin board. Because I'm a geek like that.

But with a bulletin board comes a responsibility. It needs to be filled!

I picked this up at Walmart months ago because it was $.10 and I was feeling hopeful that I might need it someday. Looks like that was a good buy! It won't fill the whole bulletin board but I'm pretty sure I can find a simple black (or orange, the school colors) one to fill the rest. And a border, of course.

I've pinned a lot of stuff on Pinterest that I need to go back to. Here's my classroom decorations collection. Lots for me to sort through!  I love this "Be Who You Are" board, "Instead of I Don't Get It. . .", "Transform Thinking", "Teachers Definition of Talking", and pretty much everything else on there. It would also be fun to get some math involved... comics, graphs, etc. I'm sure I have some of those pinned too!

I have a set of two whiteboards in the front of my room and two on the side (where I'm going to put my desk). I like the idea of posting a schedule for classes so kids (and I) can see what's coming up for the week. I saw this board in a school I was nosing around in while my kid was at baseball camp one day and liked it. Though I don't think I'll include that second section in.  And I'd probably try and find some cute tape to use. I see a lot of those patterned washi (?) tapes at the store.

I'd also leave some room for me to be able to jump up and do a quick tutorial for kids. That could go in the blank section.

Now if only the AP Stats were as easy to figure out as decorating the room...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Let the freakout commence!

So far this summer I've seen quite a few changes...

1. Hubby and I are buying a new house. It's only 3.7 miles away from our current one, but it's got more land and a huuuge garage for him to hide out in. And a place to put all his stuff.

2. Which means we are getting the current house ready to sell. Kinda. I feel like I'm in limbo; we have so much stuff that we don't feel like we can list it with a realtor so I think we're going to wait until we're in the new house until we put this one up. And it's too early to pack, so I've just been purging all the stuff we don't need. Amazing how it collects.

3. Although we're staying close, the kids will be going to a new elementary school. They're good with it (now), and I found a babysitter for them so I'm good with it too.

4.  (The biggie...) I am officially back in the classroom! I've been waiting for the dominoes before me to fall before something opened up, and yesterday it finally did. I'm going to be back at my former school teaching math. Not quite sure what yet, but the open position was scheduled for Math 3, AP Stats (ack!!) and a blended learning version of Math 2.

So all of that time I've had the past two years to read and gather ideas will hopefully help me out. Unfortunately, my brain is a crazy place right now where I try and figure out how exactly I want to do things. The kids and I went into school today and took some of my stuff... I even rearranged the desks into groups of 4 before we left - that was a given.

Otherwise, here's what I am considering:
A. Not doing the formal Interactive Notebook. I'm strongly considering requiring the kids to have 3-ring binders with looseleaf paper. Much more versatile. We can still keep components of the INB without being stuck with the comp notebook (I found that scaling down to it was a pain.).

B. Creating a document for kids to do their warm-up problems on, then collecting weekly. Some accountability is helpful for those who think it's just free time. (I just threw this together. Now I need to think about it and make sure it's what I want.)

C. The constant collecting/grading of homework is always something I'm thinking about. I know that a lot of #mtbos'ers are in the same predicament, so I really need to dust off my blog reader and see what's going on. I saved one of Sam's posts about how he does homework (here), and I'm pretty sure Elizabeth addressed it too (found it!). (If anyone else has created the perfect system, can you please share?)

Going back to school today and starting to set up my classroom was fun but weird. But I'm so excited to be back!

I'll just need to remember this when it's October and I'm already tired of grading. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015


My boy and I took a quick trip to Pittsburgh this week to visit some family (and watch the Reds lose to the Pirates - boo!). As we were driving across Ohio, I tweeted out to see if anyone had any ideas for activities for us, and several people mentioned asking Justin Aion. Duh! We ended up meeting for lunch at a yummy Thai place. In case you didn't already realize it, he's a fun guy. :)

My fingers are crossed that there will be some big changes for me next year! Hoping to know soon...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Polar Coordinates and a fun #tbt

I covered a couple of Precalc classes today and got to teach about polar coordinates. I started with a clip of Crimson Tide (remember that movie? It's a great one!) so they could "see" some math.

"Math!", one of the kids yelled.

Then I handed out a couple of polar coordinate grids and told them there was an enemy sub right there. (I drew it on my projected computer.)
Where are we? (the origin)
How far away is the enemy?  (they counted the circles)
In which direction?  (we discussed using east of north vs an angle (measured from where?))
And then,
Is there any other way we could describe this location?  (Yep, with +360 angles, negative angles, etc)
So then we plotted a couple other points and came up with all kinds of different ways to get there.

Then, we got to the teacher's notes.  Because I spent so much time on the intro stuff, I didn't get completely through what she wanted me to. But I like getting them to think about what they're learning instead of just showing them, so hopefully she's ok with it.

And then on twitter today, there was this:

I guess freshmen aren't so bad. . .

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

5th grade math....

My son is currently finishing up 5th grade (only 12 more days for him!) and last week forgot to bring home his math workbook. I mean, it's not like having homework has been a habit for him; maybe once every other week does he have an assignment.

I put a plea out on facebook to see if anyone could send me a picture of the page and was thankful that a friend of mine obliged.  (He was too, considering that the punishment for not having an assignment is 50% off and having to sit during recess. Grr.)

I normally don't check over his assignments too closely because he does so well, but because I was copying from a picture that my friend sent onto a separate sheet of paper I obviously knew exactly what the problems were.

#1 - 4 were multiplication.
The next section went to this:
(Point E was drawn in by my friend's son.)
My guess is that they were working on plotting points.

The page finished up by asking the students to plot Point E so that BDEC was a square. (FYI, my boy was able to do it correctly. :) )

And the kicker? Find the area of the square.

This caught me off guard. I don't think the kids have done Pythagorean Theorem or (most definitely) the Distance Formula. So when my boy looked at me with a blank look on his face, I decided I'd talk him through it.  

I started by asking him what shapes he knows how to find the area of. The answer? A square/rectangle and a triangle.  We drew a big square around BDEC so that he could see some extra triangles.  He figured out that the big square was 5 x 5 and each triangle had a leg of 1 and a leg of 4. Taking the area of the big square minus the four triangles, he ended up with area 17.


I followed up the next day and asked how his math had gone (I basically wanted to make sure that she accepted the homework even though he'd written it on a different piece of paper.)  The first thing that he told me was that "my" answer of 17 for the area was wrong. It was supposed to be 16.

Um, what?! [You know what she did, though, right?]

I tweeted it. (Of course.)

I was happy that everyone agreed with me.  And Mike Lawler even YouTubed his son solving it!

(Check out Mike's blog here!)

I sent the video to my son's math teacher (thought it would be a nicer way than saying nyah nyah nyah) and haven't heard anything back.  [I did put it nicely; said it was such a great problem that I tweeted it and this guy made a video!]


Monday, April 27, 2015


I'm in a funk.

I miss math, I miss teaching, I miss feeling like I'm contributing to a school.  I was hopeful that a teaching position would open up and I could slide right back in but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

My last couple of weeks have consisted of subbing (the lack of subs right now is crazy), running calculators around the building for our second round of PARCC testing, selling Prom tickets, and organizing the After Prom ticket data. Not too fulfilling.

I need it to be summer so that I can start thinking about other things. But I got a summons in the mail last week to report for jury duty in June (yes, the whole month). That's not going to make me happy. I'd actually like to see what the whole court process is like, but not during summer! Especially considering I'd have to pay for a babysitter for my kids and that wouldn't be cheap. I'm supposed to call in the Friday before each week to see if I'm on the list to report. Fingers crossed that it won't happen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Individualized Quizzes and g(Math)

I'd heard of g(math) as an Add-on for Google docs and forms, but I ran across this post talking about how you could use it to create individualized quizzes for students.

Although it might be a lot of work, maybe it would be a way to create quizzes for students who are re-quizzing topics (if you go SBG)?

Just a thought.

Here's the post that got me wondering.