Monthly Archives: September 2012



What I love about this blogger thing, now that I have all the new bloggers in math on the reader, is that I feel as if I have a load of minions to mine the web (yes, I am pretty certain this is what we all look like). So thanks for Colin Dodds and thanks for that tarsia puzzle thingy.

And thanks for everything else.

Observation cookie? When you go out for chinese food in the US, you get a fortune cookie. “You will meet a tall dark stranger,” is a fortune cookie. In our family, “You are a sensitive soul who nourishes the world with your insight,” is not a fortune cookie, it’s an observation cookie, and is considered to be a cheat.

Obviously, blaming the minions.


Google doc hero, the student teacher


So, what we learned:

1) kids don’t have a good grip on email (password? actual address? who knows!)

2) kids will deny having cell phones when you need them to actually have them

3) There’s a limit on the number of google doc accounts you can create with verification  from one teacher phone number.

She persisted all the way to the whole class being on one google doc, projected at the front of the computer lab. (It was all fun until I told them that Google Docs lets us see who edited what.) I hope she went home and felt fabulous. It was not quite the lesson she hoped, but it was a fantastic example of the triumph of persistence. I am lucky to have her working with me.

I blame stupid facebook (again).

questions are working…unbelievable!!


First time it happened! This was one of our pictures today, and so many kids asked – hey is this even a possible number of minutes? So we said – yes, that’s a good question, write it down.

And Then they said, “But, we want to know!!”  OMG goosebumps! I almost cried. If they are very lucky maybe we will let them try and answer some math questions next week. If they BEG. Hahahaha.

(If you want to know, I did not even think they would notice the minutes numbers. I thought teachers had to point out everything.)

I blame the students for developing curiosity.

Student teacher suffering


We’re sort of loose in this non-math class math class. Project based, no lectures, no curriculum, helping students over and over and over again (anyone else remember learning Excel? Or Lotus 1-2-3?). Stupid hidden secrets.

Anyway, the poor little student teacher has to be observed presenting a lessons tomorrow. She has tried to explain that their 30-year format, which has worked perfectly well up to now (don’t argue with us), doesn’t really fit, but she has been told that she has to make it fit. Sigh. So we have decided that she will present grid-style logic puzzles. We’ve got puzzles in as one of our requirements for the class. I told her I will do whatever we need to do to make it work for her, just comply until they give her the certification.

Much more beneficial to me (the most important person, let’s face it), I am going to have her teach the students to use google docs. She says she’s going to do this on Friday, after which she will deserve a weekend off. We have managed to have all kids able to log on to school computers, open Excel and Word in 2003 and 2007, and create graphs. Almost everyone can attach a file to email, even though my children tell me this is as outdated as faxes.

I am pleased that the kids get to see us ask each other how to do things (“Assistant, how do I see this document in gmail? It won’t open.” “Crazedmummy, how do we find the data analysis choices again?”), and it’s okay. The kids we have in the morning who see this are much more collaborative than the afternoon group, who don’t.

I blame the college of ed, who have no idea how to change.


A better idea


I didn’t like my idea from yesterday. It smacks too much of taking it back.

So my new idea is to collect all the questions that students asked about each picture, and republish the picture with all the questions. Or maybe just post them around the room. Perhaps someone will decide to answer them. I think I’ll see.

I blame Daniel Pink, because now I’m reading “Drive.”

How do I get questions?


Phew! I asked for one good question, and what you would have to know to answer it. I got, “Why would someone make that?” ,”Where is this?” Very, very few kids were able to come up with ideas for “how to figure out the answer” to their own questions. You have to go there, or ask the guy who made it. Since you can’t, you may as well give up.

So, next week, I think I’ll give a picture, ask 3 or 4 questions, and then they can pick a question and try and come up with what they might need to know to answer it. Clearly, students are not interested in questions they might be able to figure out. They are interested in, “Who is this guy sitting on the bench?” but only to google it and move on.

Kids did actually spend time googling the (Pearl River) bridge, as “bridge shaped like an 8.” They were proud of finding it, so I guess that’s something.  This whole question thing is hard. I am not sure what to do with people who don’t ever ask questions that they cannot figure out the answer to. Here we are, asking questions like mad. Is this a microcosm of teachers, or is this the difference between adults and children (who feel they have no control), or between people who make a living wage and those who live in severe poverty (where there are no choices)?

Hey, we’re having a hard time just trying to get kids to figure out that they need the average of a set of  numbers, without using the word “average.”

  And, for those who care, Dan Meyers referencing your blog gives sends people to read it (for my reference, that’s the sudden huge spike in reader stats). For sure I blame Sam Shah (again), who told me that I could write as if nobody would read it.

mouth completely out of control


“So, it’s a local event, we can walk there, I think we ought to all go as a school.” Stupid, stupid mouth. It has NO connection to brain. Now I’m doing a field trip for 350 students, dealing with the cafeteria staff, who are going to have a meltdown, and a bunch of whiny teachers suffering from teacher butt, who don’t want to walk a mile with 10 students; they’d rather stand in a classroom and whine that the kids aren’t learning. If it rains we won’t go, as our kids are all made of sugar (eyeroll) so then I’ll have done it all for nothing.

Obviously, I blame the mouth. The rest of the body has dissociated itself from that idiocy.