Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy Thanksgiving Week

Listen to them. Love them. Even if you don’t or can’t.

Some random thoughts from today.

I want to get better at differentiating. I have some meager ideas, but it’s a start.

Let them pick which homework problems to do. Assign some level 1, level 2, and level 3 problems, and they pick x of them to do. Any x that they want.

And be really frank about the levels and what they can expect from working at that level. Be direct about everything.

I need more challenges for the upper end. The kids who are bored.

Tell them the minimum requirements and what grade they can expect by doing that.

Get them hyped about level 2, level 3, and beyond. They want to be challenged.

Constantly remind them of positive behaviors. If you want to be an A student, do this. Or just tell them to pretend to be an A student even if they’re not.

I want to get better at soliciting responses. I want to get better at letting them do the talking.

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Take Aways from Green Lake

Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending the Wisconsin Math Council Conference for the first time, and it was a lovely experience.

I went with my colleague who is also a first year teacher, and we ended up in some really great sessions.

My favorite session was definitely Get Up and Move, which was exactly how it sounds. I learned some great new strategies for getting kids out of their seats and moving, including Bucket Sort, Musical Math, Relay Race, and Clue. I think my kids sit too much, and I want to get better at doing fewer, chunked activities rather than long work times, so doing a practice activity where they’re out of their seats and moving sounds like a win-win.

I also went to Jo Boaler’s keynote. I’ve been following Boaler’s work for awhile now, so I didn’t really learn anything new, but her presentation was so lovely and her message so true. I can’t agree with her more, and I hope to see a major shift in mathematics education soon that encompasses her ideas on mindset, mistakes, and success in the math classroom.

One session that I wish would have existed is lesson planning or unit planning. I feel like maybe I should have learned that in teacher school, but whatever. I want to get better at planning.

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Proving his knowledge

I just received the following email. It made me smile, so I thought I’d share.

— Hi Ms. Cummins, this is ______ from your 2B Geometry class. I was wondering, would it be worth my time to go back and complete the Classifying Triangles assignment, even if I have proven my knowledge on the subject with a perfect unit test grade? I want to know because my mother is unsatisfied with the current state of the assignment, and has taken drastic actions until the “problem”is resolved. Thank you for being an awesome geometry teacher, and before you ask, this is a serious question. —

I’m glad he felt comfortable asking me this, and I agree- it wouldn’t be worth his time. He demonstrated mastery on the unit test, so why bother with an old incomplete assignment?

Kids are the best.

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Functions. Also, snowboarding.

Two things are occupying my mind right now: functions and snowboarding.

First, functions. Just finished up the unit on functions and transformations in FST (2nd half of an extended Alg2 course) , and I’ve been reflecting on what was good and what was bad.

The good? Using Desmos and sliders to see the effects on the graph. Doing a simple but effective investigation on f(x)=1/x. Color-coding graphs of transformations when there are multiple happening at once.

Could be better? I didn’t start color-coding until we were transforming sine and cosine. Kids like colored pencils and picking out what color to use. Next time I’m going to start doing this right away. I also did a function wall project where the students had to transform a function and add it to the wall (see picture). This was OK but I waited until the day before the test and had them do all at once. I should have had them add to the wall gradually, as we did each function.

photo (4)

The bad? My review day. I feel like I didn’t do much of a summarizing activity. I threw the function wall project at them and then gave them a practice test. Not the most helpful. Next time I’d like to culminate the unit with a final summary. Maybe some sort of writing activity or graphic organizer.

What else? Curriculum. The curriculum I was given just confines the idea of functions and their transformations to one unit, which is ok, but I’m intrigued by the idea of examining the functions and their transformations one by one, a la Greg Waddell.

On to snowboarding. I had the crazy idea to start the snowboard and ski club at my school. It turns out the idea was popular enough that I’m taking 30 kids to a ski hill on Friday. Organizing everything and collecting money has been annoying (I don’t have the patience for record keeping, unfortunately), but it should be a really fun trip. I’m glad so many students are interested, and I’ve had two students step up as leaders. It’s been a good experience so far, and we haven’t even hit the slopes yet!

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