Monthly Archives: October 2012

proportions and ratios


So, I was thinking about patterns, and looking for patterns, and how we always talk about patterns in math. I thought proportionality and scalability was at the basis of math – that making things bigger and smaller but retaining their relative scales, is the basis of all our modeling and exampling, and equationing. If you don’t understand proportionality, then everything else is a waste of time. (maps, drawings, plans – all useless.)

So I have been stunned that students from 9th to 11th grade have no stinking idea about proportionality. I also have found out they have no stinking idea about estimation. So there goeth the plans to move on to linear equations. I am stealing proportional ideas all over the place (if the world were a village of 100, the perfect man, 180 days of estimates…)

End of marking period, reboot.


aiming for computer skills


I asked to use Logo and Scratch on our school computers. As part of my request, I have to justify the effects of use with academic research. All the research is on elementary grades.

I hope it gives pause to those who complain that our students “aren’t achieving.”  Gosh, they’re high school students and we are arguing about whether they should have access to computer tools that are useful for elementary students. How ridiculous is that?

I am excited that this year we are being allowed to run science olympiad again. For the last 3 years we had a program in place that bussed the kids around the district for the last hour of the day, so we could not run after-school activities. I have 2 kids, no old team members, and the two new ones have no idea what science olympiad is.

I blame the administration – really, they are completely out of touch with the world.


moving forward


We had a little confrontation with some of our older students, who refused to do the project work. They wanted to get credit for one person working, while they played on Facebook. The student teacher spent the entire hour helping them,and in one hour they are half done.

I told her I thought the project was a week-long project, but the students have spent 6 weeks on it. And the students who were “helped’ did not learn the most important thing – how to get themselves to work.

At some point, surely, students decide to get themselves organized to work. I see it in every class, but not in every kid. Some kids are more stubborn than others. I really don’t know what could be so interesting about playing on facebook for an hour every day (I mean, they’re 14. Really, they have such exciting lives?), instead of learning, but maybe the kids are just too tired out from their difficult classes to join in anything for this class. I can’t remember the last time a non-core class had half the kids fail at mid-semester, but mine will.

Not giving in is hard. I blame all the learning the kids have had so far, in how to get someone else to do the work for them.

we have the technology


I have a ceiling mounted projector in my awesome room. It’s about 12 feet up. The tech team took away all the tech stuff  a year and a half  ago. When I asked to have it back, they made all kinds of noise about how they couldn’t.

Last week I gave up and got a 100 foot m1-m1 cable, which goes from the projector to the computer. I installed it with blue masking tape, as I didn’t want to be installing wires in the cable conduit (pretty sure that would be a union violation). I am getting a pointy extension stick from the custodian until I get a remote.

Oh yeah, I really hate heights. I got the lovely custodian to lend me the 12 foot ladder. I went up there and stuck the wire up all by myself.

I sent an email to the principal, so he knew what I had done. (I didn’t want someone to go to him and say “do you know what she did?” and have him be surprised.)

In about 6 hours, I had the tech guys in there, telling me they were going to install my original controls for the actual wiring. And they’ll give me a remote. So I whined for 6 weeks, but spending the $100 for a wire was what did the trick.

If this works out, I’ll have a 100 ft m1-m1 wire that I’m willing to sell for only$50. What, did they think I wasn’t serious? I’m all the way up to the 1960s,folks (moving color pictures in my own room!!). I can show video snippets!!

I blame the bosses (really? they really thought I would not fix it myself? Really?)

Using the whale


Among my interests, I count scuba diving. I get a feed from the Flower Gardens National Underwater park, and they have a link to making a whale representation. I told my student teacher I want to find some excuse to make one. Where would we put it? I don’t know. The gym? The basketball players might object.

The problem with a full-size what model is that apparently it is whale-sized. I still want one.

I blame the antigravity effect of water.

Getting to done


It’s been a long haul for this marking period. 5 weeks for some people for the first project, that I thought would take about 2 weeks. But more motion in the second project, which builds on the first – some people were done after 2 weeks. And zippy skippy through the third project for those who have reached it already. We’re having to prep for an additional project for the masters of math: actually we are just starting them out on the next marking period work. My life would be much easier if things weren’t divided up so badly by administration.

I can’t imagine how the SBG people run their gradebook in a system like this. Just explaining that I’m making kids do it until they get it right is a non-stop job: explaining to the kids that it won’t go away, it has to get done and understood before you move on. But this year nobody’s telling em I can’t do that. Someone finally understands the goal!

I blame the grading scheme. It totally screws up learning.


Missing my boy


It’s his birthday tomorrow: he’s 25. I spent years teaching him to grow up, be independent, persuaded him to move away. So this summer he did. It’s a great job, a great place to live, and a great move for him. But I miss him.

It’s what I persuade my students to do too. I can see why parents who never went to college are resistant to their kids leaving home. Even if they’re living in a house of poverty, sharing a room with 6 siblings, it’s noisy and dangerous, at least their parents can see them and know they are okay.  Or not.

I’m sure he’s okay, I want to check every day. When he lived here we maybe saw each other once a week. I don’t call, I don’t want to intervene that much. My daughter rolled her eyes and told me I could not go to his work conference to say hi. I know, I just want to.

I blame motherhood.