Why Am I Teaching This?

I’ve had the privilege to engage in some fantastic conversations with math teachers of every grade level in and out of my district. I’ve discovered that sometimes teachers feel that some of the objectives they teach serve no purpose, which leads to frustration. They may think “there’s no real-world application for it”, “it will be done later with a calculator so why bother”, or they feel the objective will never “appear” again anywhere down the line. To be honest, I’ve thought the same thing in my own classroom. Sometimes I was right, and sometimes I was wrong. But I needed someone else (usually a grade/course or two higher) to show me WHY it was important and it led to great discussions that really opened my eyes.

If you feel that way about an objective in your curriculum, please fill out this Google form. I’d also like your Twitter ID to contact you later with questions (if you’re willing).

My goal is to (hopefully) start helping making connections and developing relationships across the grades. I think it would be really amazing to see some collaboration between K-12 teachers**. I want elementary and middle school teachers to see how important they are to laying the foundation to higher level mathematics and also allow high school and college math teachers to see where concepts are being introduced in the lower levels. And maybe (pretty please?) foster ideas for student collaboration between a high school class and an elementary class.

Thanks in advance for your input!

**special thanks to @druinok for helping me work out the kinks of this idea!

Mental Math Application: Archery, believe it or not

Confession: I drank too much coffee around 8:30 pm or so and my brain is going 90 to nothin’. So this isn’t like a “profound blog post” or anything, just a “you might be able to work this in somehow (or maybe not) but if you do, holla and let me know how it goes”.

Confused?

You should be. You’re reading MY blog and you know how my brain works (or doesn’t work – I know you’re thinking it, I’m sayin’ it). Basically, I know what I MEAN, but it might not come out of my brain that way. But if I don’t blog it NOW, I’ll forget later and then I won’t do it at all and…. Anyway.

Here we go:

Archery in a nutshell = shoot 5 arrows at the target. Quickly calculate your score, remove your arrows.

Lemme show you what the target looks like with scoring points:

So, if you’re shooting 5 arrows, the highest you can score in one round is 50 points.

Let’s say Billy Bob Joe Mack (BBJM, from now on) shoots 5 arrows and goes to the target line to score. He may see something like this:

You can see that BBJM, has two 9 point shots, a 7 point shot, a 6 point shot, and the last one (far right) is also technically a 6 point shot (because it hit the border, so you take the higher one). Figuring out what each arrow scored isn’t the issue – IT’S THE SUM (yes, that’s in all caps, if you don’t like it, STOP READING MY BLOG) that takes forever during practice. Students try to take their phones to the target line to use as calculators. I’m like, “No, sweetie. Your coach is also a math teacher. You’re gonna need to do this in your head quickly.” Another reason: at some tournaments, they make students put their phones in a secure location so they don’t accidentally get shot while texting (because they didn’t realize they walked right into the live range).

So BBJM has 18 + 7 + 12, so here’s where you can show students where commutative property is beneficial by mentally adding 18 + 12 + 7 to get 37. Or your students might think a quicker way to calculate this round would be to use negatives. So instead of 9 + 9 + 7 + 6 + 6, it could be thought of as (-1) + (-1) + (-3) + (-4) + (-4) because of the loss from the bullseye. Therefore it’s -13 + 50 or 37. You could also get them to calculate their percent score (out of 50). There are several extensions to this, and you could even do some more advanced questions: What percent of the circle is yellow? Blue? Red? Concentric circles are pretty freakin’ cool. 🙂

Anyway, I’m getting off track (as usual).

When BBJM competes at a meet or tournament, he shoots 6 total rounds: three at 10 meters and three at 15 meters. So you could ask your students to figure out what the total possible score would be for BBJM (and it is, of course, 300).

So each time BBJM shoots and scores, he must fill out an official scoring card. His card at a local meet looks like this:

Problem: most schools don’t have a scanner yet. Coaches have to score them all quickly by hand. The way I score and the way Coach Birdbrain scores may be completely different but, because it works for us individually, we can score at approximately the same rate*. So you might give your students a sample score card in groups and ask them to come up with strategies to quickly calculate the total score for BBJM. Coaches are allowed use of a calculator, but efficiency and accuracy are a must. If you have 3 schools competing, you may have 72 student scores to do by hand before the schools can leave competition so you gotta BOOK IT and it has to be LEGIT. 🙂

*Possible rate problem: If Coach Hedge can score 8 students in 5 minutes and Coach Birdbrain can only score 6 students in 8 minutes, how long will it take them to score 72 students if they’re working together? (By the way, none of the coaches I’ve met are dumb – they’ve all been awesome. I’m just making stuff up.)

However, BBJM is just one student on the team. Your team’s score is determined by calculating the scores for all students and then taking the sum of the top 12.
There’s another nice mental math question: what’s the total possible team score?

Here’s a real problem I deal with every day at practice:
“Hedge has ______ students come to practice. She only has 9 targets, so only 9 students can shoot at a time. Each student needs to be able to shoot at least 3 times before the end of practice, which only lasts 50 minutes. How many groups will she have? How much time should each group be allowed to shoot?”
I have anywhere from 20 to 32 kids of my FIFTY FIVE show up for practice every day. Ermahghersh – it’s crazy sometimes.

If you teach AP Stats, that might be a cool random variable problem with an application to normal distributions… Hmmmm. That’s a good idea for my quiz. Sorry – A.D.D. brain. Refocus, Hedge – refocus.

Where was I going with that…. I dunno. There are probably several dozen other applications of math to archery, BUT it’s 12:20 a.m. and I need to sleep… at some point. If you use any of these ideas or have more, please let me know. That would be cool – I miss teaching middle school a lot, and this would be one of those things I know my kids would love to use. And you could tie in the Marshmallow Guns with this and make your own targets.

For those interested, the “official” score cards (to use in your classroom) are HERE.

If you’d like to start a competitive archery team at your school (hint hint), you can check out more information HERE.

It’s going so right, something MUST be wrong.

Ok – I apologize for the sense this will not make as I write. I’m exhausted, sweaty, bruised, covered in mud/grass, I don’t want to see a deck of cards for a LONG time and I have very little brain left (see the end of the blog for why – it’s not as bad as you’re thinking).

By the way, some of you don’t know me very well or this is your first time to my blog, so welcome to the crazy – my apologies in advance. Do not come here looking for divine inspiration and professionalism. My A.D.H.D. needs an outlet and, because I prefer to KEEP my job, I just ramble about whatever’s on my mind. So unlike other amazing bloggers you may know who overwhelm you with awesomeness, my blog is NOT written that way. You’ll love it or hate it and I’m ok with that.

Anyway, I’ve taught Algebra 2 at my current location for about 5 years. I mostly get the 10th graders who already think they’re hot snot in the intelligence arena. Quadratics, however, has always been a challenge for them. They’ve never had to REALLY THINK before and the introduction of quadratics is usually where the “fit hits the shan”. Every semester I change it up a little hoping to tame the beast, but they always freak regardless of what I do.

…until this semester… they’re kickin’ butt and taking names. And I don’t know why. So I’m gonna give you the outline/lowdown on what I did in the past and what I’m doing now. I’m only really blogging this for the 12 or so people that asked me to – I still think you’re not going to get anything out of it, but here ya go:

What I’ve done in the past:
1) Graph quadratics (standard, intercept, and vertex form)
2) Real world problems re: graphing quadratics (w/ and w/o graphing calc)
3) Factoring quadratics
4) Solve quadratics by factoring
5) Real world problems re: solve by factoring (w/ and w/o graphing calc)
6) Solve quadratics by taking square root
7) Real world problems re: square roots (w/ and w/o graphing calc)
8) Non-real numbers (imaginary/complex)
9) Solve quadratics by quadratic formula
10) Real world problems re: quadratic formula (w/ and w/o graphing calc)
11) Graph quadratic inequalities (include word problems)
12) Quadratic regression (lots of word problems)

So basically I started with the picture of a quadratic, introduced the algebra, and intertwined the algebra and the graphing and the word problems. Logically and by scaffolding, that SHOULD work and make connections to the kids, but it just didn’t (or I just SUCKED at teaching it). They weren’t used to doing many intense word problems in previous classes and I guess the combo of the two just blew their minds.

So this is what I did this semester:

1) “Fast and Furious Factoring” (or F^3).
Factoring SHOULD be a review, but most of these kids haven’t factored anything since 8th grade Algebra 1. I started with quadratics in the form x^2 + bx + c. We “muscled” through a review of about 5 of those together as a class, then they did 5 on their own and discussed their answer with a partner. THEN it was a F^3 challenge: 10 factoring problems (all the same type) and they had 3 minutes to do it. Three minutes sounds like a lot but it really wasn’t for them. They don’t like being “timed” (even though the SAT and ACT are timed) and they have issues with it. So I would loudly announce 2 minutes remaining, 1 minute remaining, 30 seconds, 10 seconds, then TIME. As students finished during the 3 minutes, they ran to bring me their papers. If they got them all right, they got a sticker (one of those old school foil stars – I was out of cool stickers). If they got ANYTHING wrong, I could tell them how many were wrong, but not which ones. But they could still correct and get a sticker AS LONG AS they got me the correct 10 within the 3 minutes. I wish you could’ve heard them. “GAAAAHHH, Ms. ApproxNorm!! This is so stressful!!” “Grrrrrr!! I thought I wasn’t gonna get done! You kept SHOUTING time at us, it stressed me out!!!” “Um, yeah, Ms. ApproxNorm. You’re annoying. No offense.” heh heh heh
So after we finished that form, we did the same pattern for the following forms, each time discussing what would have to change and WHY:
** x^2 – bx + c
** x^2 + bx – c
** x^2 – bx – c
Then all crap broke loose because after the last set of F^3, I threw in a “Double Jeopardy” round (that’s right, TWO stickers) and I mixed all 4 forms. I gave them four minutes to do 10 problems, but I just did totally random crazy junk during that four minutes. Loud stories about crazy crap that happened to me that week, out-of-tune songs, whatever I could think of to just throw them off their game. Ohhhhhhh my word, they HATED me for that. But it was crazy with a purpose they didn’t understand yet. Then I hit them with the same format, now introducing a coefficient for the quadratic term:
** ax^2 + bx + c
** ax^2 – bx + c
** ax^2 + bx – c
** ax^2 – bx – c
Then here we go again – a Double Jeopardy round. Before I started the round, I started this crazy “people of Wal-mart” story that went on and on and on… and the kids were FREAKING out. “Ms. ApproxNorm?!! Just start the round!!! Geeez!!” And JUST when they thought I was going to ramble for another 5 minutes, I said, “GO!!!!” and they all went, “AUUUUGHHH!! Ms. ApproxNorm!!!!!”

So why all the craziness?? They need to control their anxiety when under time constraints. If they can be quick and accurate under THOSE conditions, then there’s hope that the SAT/ACT won’t have such a hold on their insecurities. Or at least that’s my idea. 🙂

For the FIRST time, no one failed my “First Round Factoring” Quiz. Or my 2nd… or my 3rd. Blew my mind.

2) Solve Quadratics by Factoring
I actually left this as a challenge for my students while I was at a meeting. I left a hand-written sheet (no, I’m not proud, but was out of ink) to complete after a quiz where I’d showed them about the zero product property, I worked a few problems for them, and then challenged them to teach each other how to do it before I got back. I didn’t expect them to even put any effort into it. But I got back and they said, “Ms. ApproxNorm… where was the challenge?” Yeah – my kids addressed ME in a #childplease moment. So that was that. Two objectives down.

3) Solve Quadratics by Square Roots (and unexpectedly, by Quadratic Formula)
This usually takes me an entire block to teach all the different crazy ways they might have to do this. From x^2 + 7 = 15 to (x – 4)^2 = 28, kids have historically STRUGGLED with this topic (which to me is a “no brainer”). Both my Alg2 classes picked this up in no time whatsoever, so I was completely caught off guard. So I thought, “Ok, I can stop class 40 minutes early and let them be bored after they finished homework. Nope – I was about to take this good luck for a spin and see where we went with it. So within the same class I started the next topic – solve by quadratic formula. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Girl, you haven’t covered non-real numbers.” Yeah, I know that. I stuck to the ones that would only have real solutions and hoped it wouldn’t come around and bite me in the butt later. They rocked that too (thanks to a jingle they learned in Algebra 1).

**again, this is KILLING me to just do algebraic manipulation. BUT I’d tried the other way 10 different times with the same results, so in my mind I’m thinking, “Let me show them how to use all the tools in the toolbox first (algebraic stuff) and THEN we’ll build a treehouse (real world stuff).” I’ve never done this approach before and it made me feel like a total “drill ’em and kill ’em” LOSER. But to be honest, the kids were entertained (mostly because of the competition, challenge and the fact that I’m goofy as heck) and they were doing GREAT. Plus, as freakin’ clumsy as I am in real life, you HAVE to show me how something works before you expect me to APPLY it.

4) Non-real numbers, graphing quadratics (sort of) and quadratic formula (again).
Ok – at first this was a halting point. They could do all the algebraic manipulations, but they couldn’t understand how the HECK people came up with that crazy imaginary number, i. THANK GOD for @gwaddell’s presentation at TMC12! (Link will go here) Once I showed them how the non-real numbers were related to the reflected parabola’s intercepts and the “shared” line of symmetry, they were GOOD TO GO. So non-real numbers were non-problemo and FOR FUN, they wanted to go back to quadratic formula and use their new “knowledge” on solving quadratics w/ non-real solutions. Who the heck ARE these alien children????

So now we’ve covered all the tools of the trade and know what quadratics look like algebraically – let’s see what these suckers look like in 2-dimension function world.

5) Graphing quadratics.
Do your kids freak about the different forms, finding the vertex, etc.? Mine do too… or at least they DID. The kids were amazing. “Ok, Ms. ApproxNorm, well DUH. Vertex form allows you to start with the vertex, intercept form allows you to start with the intercepts (and then we find the vertex on the symmetry line which is half-way, so no big deal). And then you’ve got this standard form – finding the vertex is related to quadratic formula, so what’s the big deal? #MsApproxNormPLEASE” I’m FLOORED. I did an exit pass to check to see if I was crazy, but no – THEY GOT IT.

6) Welcome to the Jungle, er Real World
So here we go… GAME TIME. Did my “method to the madness” work? Or will it bite me in the butt? Let’s see…
So we talk about the h(t) = -16t^2 + v0t + h0 formula, where it comes from, what the “pieces” mean… and then I intro’ed their first “real world” problem. “Some rogue former student with a grudge is holding Ms. ApproxNorm by her ankle from the top of a water tower. She is literally HANGING 168 feet above the ground. Assuming no superhero (or boyfriend musician *cough* GAVIN *cough*) swoops in to save her, how long until she becomes a red spot on the pavement below?” –> I realize this is gross and morbid… and gross. But the kids LOVE this and it works for me, so back off. 🙂

Anyway, I honestly cringed inside and thought, “Ok – THIS is going to kill them. You’re about to see where you ROYALLY screwed up, Hedgiepoo.”

But it didn’t happen… They got it. I changed it so I was shot in the air and they got it. I was thrown to the field from the press box of the football field and they got it. I shot myself from a cannon. I was dropped by the CIA from a stealth bomber and they got it. Sometimes I was caught, sometimes I wasn’t. Didn’t matter.

THEY GOT IT.

I’m not finished with quadratics (midterms and all), but this is just NOT the norm for what I’m used to in Alg2. Is it good? Is it bad? They all had the same teachers as every other sophomore before them. So what’s different?? I refuse to think any of this has to do with my awesome teaching skills (because let’s face it – I have none). But maybe the “tools in the toolbox” method actually WORKED?????

Holy cheeze-its – that would be AHMAHZHANG if I finally found the solution to the biggest zit I’ve ever faced in Algebra 2.

But only time will tell if it was the right decision. I hope I didn’t screw ’em up. I know a lot of you will disagree with my layering, but I SWEAR I’ve tried it every other way over the last 11 semesters. I’m still not 100% convinced THIS was right.

I guess we’ll see.

************************************************************************************
For the NONE of you that care, I started doing athletic training a few weeks ago. Hardest and most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done, but HOLY CRAP it’s also the most amazing and rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

But I’d invest in band-aids, Epsom salt and Icy Hot prior to starting. 🙂

I wrote this blog after we played “Poker”. Every suit represented a task (burpees, situps, butterfly kicks, pushups, jokers were suicide runs). Our trainer shuffled the deck (seven times at MY request). Whatever suit he pulled was the task we had to do – whatever card he pulled represented the number of times we had to do it (aces were 11, in case you wondered). So, for example, he pulled the 10 of hearts (which is torture because hearts = burpees and WE ALL HATE BURPEES) so we had to drop and immediately give him 10 burpees. Then he pulled the 8 of clubs, so we had to drop and give him 8 military-style pushups). I’ve never felt so “useful” and so challenged in my life. “Ms. ApproxNorm?! He pulled a heart? What’s the probability it’s a low number?” Dammit – WHY did I tell these people I taught math??? But it was amazing. We had to go until we went through the ENTIRE deck (which took about 27 minutes). No workout is ever the same but ALL are completely brutal. The day before, we did our “usual” warm up (run 400 meters, 50 jumping jacks, 20 squats, 20 lunges, 20 pushups, high knees for 10 meters, butt kicks for 10 meters, punter’s kick for 10 meters, karaoke slides for 10 meters, run 200 meters),then we did had to do 12 rounds of 20 squats, 15 sit ups (all the way back up), 10 pushups rotated and completed within less than 2 minutes (so you could catch your breath before doing another round). HOWEVER, I’ve gotten more from this in a few weeks than I’ve gotten from randomly going to the gym over the last few years. I have muscles in places I didn’t know EXISTED, hahahaha.

It’s a great way to clear your head and get all the “grrrrrr” out of your life. If you have a CrossFit-type gym in your area, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s WORTH the cost, trust me.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

"This one time… at Hobby Lobby…" (#made4math 7/2)

Ok, I say all the time that I’m NOT creative. But I actually was ONCE.

I’m extremely intimidated by this whole #made4math thing because I’m not “girly” – I’d rather go to a ballgame than go shopping, I have NO desire to figure out what “magic” Mike has and I can barely match my clothes which is why I usually buy black, denim, and khaki (cuz THAT’s easy).

Having said that, there WAS this one time at Hobby Lobby when I got somewhat creative.

I wanted a sign for my door. All the “cool kids” on the faculty were doing it, and I wanted one, too. But they had theirs made and I’m just NOT giving someone $50 to do something I can do trashier for a cheaper price. Here some examples I found on Pinterest to show you what kinds of signs I was going up against:

 

So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a canvas. All the other teacher signs were kind of small and I have a SLIGHT Napoleon complex, so I wanted mine to be larger. Then I went to a ribbon isle for the first time in my LIFE and, miraculously, found a blue, green, and yellow plaid ribbon that was pretty cool.

So off to the paint section I went to find colors to match this ribbon. This wasn’t as easy for me as you’d think. Not gonna lie, I had to ask three different people, “Is this paint the same color as this?” I decided to make the background of the sign blue and green and that I’d paint my name in yellow.

Oh crap… paint my name?? WHAT AM I THINKING??? I can barely WRITE my name neatly, much less PAINT the frackin’ thing PERMANENTLY on a SIGN!! So I started putting things back – this was NOT going to work for me. As I pouted, I happened to accidentally go down an isle where I found wooden letters cut out in this really funky font. **AHA!!** THAT is what I’ll use for my name!! My last name is 9 letters long, but most kids shorten it to 5. I grabbed those letters, sat on the floor of Hobby Lobby (I kid you not), and arranged them until they all fit.

So I came home with the following supplies I bought and scrounged up from around the house:

1 big ol’ canvas
3 spools of ribbon
1 roll of painters tape
2 sponge brushes
1 can of yellow spray paint
1 bottle of blue acrylic paint
1 bottle of green acrylic paint
hot glue gun and sticks

1. Day 1, you’ve got to figure out your inside shape. I didn’t trust myself to do an oval or anything with curves, I went with a rectangle. Then you need to figure out how large you want that inside shape to be. I didn’t really care. 🙂

2. I put the painters tape down to outline the inside rectangle and I painted the inside rectangle one night. Painted, let dry, painted 2nd coat, let dry.

3. Day two, I took the painters tape off and put NEW tape down on the edges of the inside rectangle so that I could paint the outside one. Painted, let dry, painted 2nd coat, let dry.

4. In the meantime, I spray painted the funky letters for my name and let those dry as well.

5. So at the beginning of day 3, this is what I had:

Looked pretty good to me, but I realized I needed to put the ribbon on BEFORE I put the letters on. I took the ribbon and hot-glued it to the border of the sign, folding over the corners and hot-gluing the corners so that they weren’t visible from the front.

6. So then I thought, “how am I gonna hang this sucker?” I took the leftover ribbon, cut a long strip, hot-glued the ends to the frame on the back of the sign and thought, “well, THAT was easy.”

7. Not gonna lie, the letters were the hardest part. That’s the predominant part people see first so it has to be perfect. The letters were really thin so that made it a little tougher. Aaaand, I might be somewhat of a klutz, so some burns were involved. Don’t worry – you’ll be fine.

And here’s the end product:

So even though I did this a while ago, it’s my submission for #made4math so far. I’m off to Home Depot for my next project.

New Semester Resolutions (thanks @druinok)

It’s sad when I have to ask someone what I should blog about. It’s not that I don’t have an idea – I have TOO MANY. Remember that song, “You down with OPP?” I need to rewrite the lyrics to “You down with A.D.D.? Yeah, YOU KNOW ME.” Well, the two of you that READ this blog know that I have a LITTLE trouble focusing on one thing at a time. My brain goes 90-to-nothing. Sometimes that’s GOOD and sometimes (well, MOST OF THE TIME) it’s bad. But I had to ask @druinok what to write about because we’ve been talking about SO much the last few weeks. She suggested New Semester Resolutions.

The good thing about block scheduling is a new start. Those of you that have been with me for this semester know that I had some SERIOUS issues with one student that almost took me to the court room. Although I would have LOVED to fight that battle (because I would have been COMPLETELY vindicated 1000 times over), I have got to get over that. After 11 years of teaching, I need to come to the realization that I CAN’T reach all students. Some are going to hate me for absolutely no reason because they have their own personal issues and I am an easy target because I DO bust my @$$ for all students. The bad news is that the student is still in my math club and will be going with me on trips to competitions the rest of the year. So I’ve decided that I will NOT be sponsoring the math club after this year is over (or at least until that student graduates). I have no desire to put myself in situations where I have to be around someone so poisonous and I have nothing to prove to the student or the student’s parents ANYMORE. It’s bad for my teaching mojo.

So, what will be awesome about Spring 2011?
1. AP STATS!!!
2. TWO sections of AP STATS!!
3. Two FULL sections of AP STATS!!

What am I afraid of for Spring 2011?
(See #1 – 3 above)
hahahaha

What do I want to change for Spring 2011?
1. I want to delete all my videos and start over. I want more videos of STUDENTS teaching – not me.
2. Algebra 2 needs more cool stuff. It’s too boring. I don’t like boring. Boring sucks – for them AND for me.
3. Students need more ownership in the learning. I don’t want to stand up there and teach all class. Crap, I wouldn’t want to watch me do it either. Ugh. I don’t even like looking at myself in the mirror every morning.
4. The only way to make students understand the power of practice is to MAKE them accountable for it. I hate paperwork, so I’m thinking they could Jing some of their homework. Now how will I manage that? I have NOOOO clue. I wish I had some WACOM tablets that students could check out and take home. It’s REALLY hard to work problems with just a mouse and Microsoft Paint.
5. I’ve got to be on my “A” game with Stats this year. I have a ton of smart kids who are going to challenge me (which is a GREAT thing). I need to pick @druinok’s brain aboug SBG in Algebra 2 and talk to @jasonchri about SBG in Stats. I’m not sure if I can manage the retake paperwork nightmare that I have envisioned with this process. I believe in SBG, but it terrifies me to no end.
6. Organization. What can I say? I SUPER SUCK at this. After 11 years, I still can’t organize worth a crap. I’m guessing I will need to have 3 boxes of file folders – one for each class. Students will put their work in those boxes so that when I need to pull for documentation, I can put my hands right on all of their work. But I am just awful at keeping up with original tests and keys. And I HATE grading!! OK – I said it!!! I’m sorry!! I know it makes me a horrible teacher, but I DO NOT like grading at all. I feel like I destroy the students’ confidence everytime I make a mark on their paper with my purple pen! No matter what you say, they cannot understand that the NUMERIC grade on their paper doesn’t determine their worth. That’s a whole other blog post, though.
7. I would love to redesign my classes so learning is by discovery – not lecture. (Did I say that already? Probably so.) If you read Teaching Statistics, you saw her latest blog about effective integration of technology and the link I gave her on the Flipped Classroom. I wish she and I could find a way to do this (even though we live about 650 miles away from each other).
8. I would like for my students to build an online wiki-textbook for statistics. That class is SO awesome and amazing, but it’s so unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Although I LOVE my textbook, it would be nice for them to have an online reference to look back on that THEY built themselves in THEIR own words.
9. I need to learn how to say “NO”. I’m on about 10 committees for my district.
10. OMG – I need to tame the academic vocabulary demon that has invaded my district. UUUGGGHHHH.

I have more, but none that I can say publicly (heh heh heh). Anyway, I am totally excited for January, which is a real positive in my life. I dreaded the last two months of school last semester and that’s just NOT me. I love teaching, I love my students, and I MISS the “WOW!!” factor. So I’m hoping that I can bring that excitement back into their lives and my own!

Giving Back to Those From Which I’ve Stolen So Much

My title may/may not be grammatically correct. I’m, uh, testing YOUR English skills. I should tell you that my A.D.D. is RAMPANT today so none of this will make sense.

But here’s the main point – I felt guilty last night.

Once again I was stalking my favorite blogs for a great idea to help with inverse functions this week. To be specific, I “super sucked” at explaining how the horizontal and vertical line tests are related with functions and their inverses, but that’s beside the point.

Back to the guilt!

I started looking through the stuff I’d “stolen” from @druinok, @samjshah, @k8nowak, and countless others. I know that’s what we do – we help each other. Problem is that aside from my witty attention deficit disorder remarks (which aren’t that good, anyway), I haven’t CONTRIBUTED to anything. Other than create the AP Stats wiki, I’ve done NADA. And the only thing I DID on that wiki was set it up. Think I had anything really awesome to contribute?? NOOOOOOOOPE.

To right that wrong, I am posting the only “cool” idea that I can find on my computer today (honestly I’m REALLY just trying to avoid grading some quizzes…).

BUT it may suck, I dunno. This used to be my “BIG” project in 7th grade pre-algebra. I have examples (somewhere) on another computer that I will upload as I find them. My equation calendar project didn’t necessarily NEED the length of time I gave the students, but I tried to format the schedule so that they would have more than enough time to finish it. Check it for errors, ask me questions – you know I don’t make much sense the first time around. 🙂 Also, remember that I haven’t taught middle school in A WHILE, so you’ll have to change the dates.

Cool thing is that kids I currently have in Algebra 2 had this project. They’ve told me many times that even though they HATED me during that project, they really felt like they learned how equations work because of it.

Now that I think about it, I am POSITIVE I have some stuff for a “marshmallow projectile” that I could share. If you attended NCTM in Atlanta around 2007, that was me. 🙂

Twitter Mathemati-CON

I am jealous.

Living in the backwoods of the South has one major disadvantage. It doesn’t allow me to get to conferences where most of my tweeps are going. They meet, have math proms, down a few drinks and learn some vulgar sign language. I scowl in envy as I read updates on my phone. I want to learn how to sign “hot dog” in a way that would make my mother cry!

But one thing I realize when I read: most math conferences are BORING. I thought it was just me, but apparently I am not alone. We sit in sessions about “group work” where the presenter lectures for 90 minutes. We hear about amazing Internet resources and are given a 40 page handout (in Comic Sans font – YAY!) and are not allowed to see or experience what the guy in the REALLY bad tie is talking about.

But that’s not what I want. I want a Mathemati-CON with all my tweeps – just to have the ability to hang out and B.S. For example, I want to:
-build catapults with @SweenWSweens and learn some awesome dance moves
-talk about calculus, unicorns and rainbows with @Samjshah
-learn how to curse at my students without them knowing from @jbrtva
-drink a beer with @sarcasymtote as he talks about life
-see @dcox21 in action (as he pulls up to the convention with his 40 kids and the -Swagger Waggon)
-have an 80’s lyrics war with @MSeiler (and pray he brings the Bret Michaels wig)
-talk football with @calcdave and figure out how to find an excuse to watch it during class
-make up more math-almost-cuss-words with @EightFalls (who is no longer @Eightfalls)
-play trashketball against @Fouss
-learn dollar origami from @k8nowak just to hear all the awesome remarks that will come when people screw up – I live for that.
-have a “Who’s more A.D.D.?” contest with @jreulbach
-see @druinok again and flip/throw/shoot some freakin frogs
and meet so many other awesome people I talk to and read about every week!

Do we create our own convention? Do we make plans in 2011-2012 to take over one NCTM conference like a flash mob? How can we make this work?