the mathsmith collage

the mathsmith collage

Saturday, November 10, 2012

#Made4Math Monday - No Cell Phones

It's been too long since I participated in #Made4Math Monday...I know it's Saturday, but now is the time that I have to do this.

Our trimester ends on Tuesday.  We have exams on Monday and Tuesday and a "teacher work day" on Wednesday.  I use quotation marks because the morning is filled with meetings.  I'm getting a crash course on data director since we use that to grade our exams, etc.

With the trimester ending and new classes starting up on Thursday, I've been evaluating how things have gone so far and creating goals for myself for next trimester.

My main issue with the students has been cell phone use.  Our policy changed this year for using cell phones that allows students to use them in the hallways during class changes, etc.  Also, we can let the students use cell phones in the classroom at our discretion (mainly for academic purposes).  However, we teachers reserve the right to not allow cell phones to be used during instruction, etc.  With the change in policy, when I catch students using their phones when they are not supposed to, they seem to have this attitude of entitlement.  "We are ALLOWED to have cell phones now." is one of many excuses I get from students.  I've had several instances where students REFUSE to give up their cell phones and end up being sent to the office for insubordination and receiving in-school suspension/restriction all because they couldn't live without their cell phones for a day or part of a day.  Also, I think they are somewhat concerned that I'm going to go through their phone to look at their texts and pictures, etc.  (like I have time or care about doing that...)

In an attempt to make my policy clear, I created a sign to add to my classroom.  You may access it here.  If you want the word document, let me know and I will email it to you.  The picture that I used is from Luke's diner in the TV show Gilmore Girls.  Also, to promote more trust with them, I plan on changing how I handle a first offense: the first time I confiscate a phone, I'll keep it and give it back at the end of the day without involving the office.  I'll even let them take the battery out of the phone.  After the first offense, the phone will be sent to the office on repeat offenses.  I hope this will decrease my number of office referrals.

Also, on a completely different note, I tweaked my syllabus signature page to have parents to give me more contact information instead of giving them the option to do so.  You may access that here.  Again, if you want the word document, let me know. :-)

One of my projects for this weekend is to go through my class binders and streamline them for use in the upcoming trimester(s).  I will be teaching Algebra 1 B again 2nd trimester and will be teaching Algebra 1 C 3rd trimester.

In the spirit of opening up discussion, is there anything you want to change in your classroom management or policies?  Often times we think about things throughout the year but forget to change for the next year.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

#myfavfriday - more like myfavfrunday - Watson Street Loft

So, this past Friday, we went to a wedding reception at Oak Openings Lodge.  We had a good time, particularly because the local band Watson Street Loft played.  They generally play the type of music that I listened to back in college (so mainly late 90s - early 2000s).  However, they had some fun surprises in store for this particular event.  See, the groom is the bass player, so they had a good friend substitute for him most of the night (the guy in blue on the right):

They Rick Roll'd the event, saying that song best described
the love the newlyweds shared.

For a few songs, the groom stepped in on bass.

Right before my husband and I left, their other surprise was revealed: Call Me Maybe...thought you TMC12 folks would appreciate that...some people even started a conga line for this song.

Here are some pictures I took of the band back in August when I first saw Watson Street Loft:

 I also featured them in my photoblog post...scroll down to #9.
I can't wait to hear them play again.  If you are ever in the Toledo area, check them out.  They are quite talented and worth a listen.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

#MyFavFriday - err MyFavFraturday - Ukulele

I love when we have unexpected plans.  My good friend from college, Merry, called me on Thursday asking if she, her dad, and her friend could crash in our living room on their way up to Traverse City, MI for a ukulele concert.  Naturally, we said YES!  They are on their way to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain...seriously jealous.  At one point this past summer, I played a bunch of their songs on youtube as my soundtrack to making birthday cookies for my husband:

Side note: that vanilla is from the Dominican Republic.

Anyways, I think I have finally found my hook for teaching math, making it beyond interesting, and have an excuse for making youtube videos about it: Math Ukulele...err Mathulele!  

I play guitar:

So, I think I could easily pick up the ukulele.

Any thoughts?  Any song ideas? 

What's your hook?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Spinning Plates

So, now that it's October, I must confess that it's getting difficult to balance grading papers, lesson plans, etc. along with trying to maintain the habits brought forth by the summer...including #made4math  Mondays and #myfavfriday.  Sometimes I feel like this...minus the dress:

This week is no exception.  Tomorrow after school, we have a faculty meeting AND parent teacher conferences.  I found out that parent teacher conferences are in the gym, so I can't even use my computer when I don't have parents to talk to.

Anyways, I hear the 2nd trimester is always easier...

(cliche pregnancy joke...NO I'M NOT PREGNANT...our school is on trimesters.)

Anyone else feeling the same way?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

#made4math M-Tuesday - Course Binders

Since I am going backwards in technology this year (I'm using an overhead projector instead of a computer projector with an interactive whiteboard or tablet), I am compiling printouts into binders for future use.  Also, since we have trimesters instead of semesters, I'm going to be teaching the same courses a few times this year.  So, it'll be extremely helpful to have everything together in one binder.

 Recognize this syllabus?

Review Packet

We start Algebra 1 B in chapter 3.

I printed out guided notes on paper 
for the original AND transparencies.

Filing worksheets and fun activity sheets

Keeping all quizzes and tests together, including
originals and keys.

Monday, September 24, 2012

#made4math Monday - Bazinga!

So, truly inspired by @NoraOswald, I created a Bazinga board:

The darker spots on the black posterboard is glue drying.  :-) 

If you want the instructions for Bazinga, check out Nora's post.

The only thing I changed was the pushups...I changed the pushups to jumping jacks.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

#myfavfriday Hilarious Moments of the Week

So, my first funny moment of the week was from today.  We were reviewing how to graph points on a coordinate plane.  I had students come up to the board to plot points.  The kids said it sounded like the Price is Right, so I went with it...I said, "Student So-And-So COME ON DOWN AND..."  without missing a beat, a kid yelled, "GRAPH! THAT! POINT!"  HILARIOUS!!!

My other funny moment was while grading their test on writing and solving equations:

Friday, September 14, 2012

#myfavfriday - Student Created Math Puns

So, I wasn't sure what to write about today, but I've been hearing a lot of math puns created by students lately, so I figured I would share:

A fellow Algebra 1 teacher in my building had this on the board (student created):
What is an owl's favorite subject?  OWLgebra!

A geometry teacher in my building told this one:
They were discussing transformations and students referenced the transformers.  Then, a student asked, "If there are 8 transformations, would that be Octomus Prime?!"

Sadly, there were a few told in my classes this week, but I can't remember any right now. (sure sign it's Friday after school)

Do you have any to share?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#made4math Monday Week 11 - Absent Work Bulletin Board

I updated my "Currently in Algebra" board to be more resourceful:

I posted the bell ringers for the week 
along with folders (from Target) for absent work.

Between this and printing out guided notes, 
this helps catch absent students up pretty quickly.  
So far, it's working well.

Addition:  I updated/revised my teacher binder:

I replaced the grade book section with discipline.
This includes office referrals and homework excuse notes.
I found that with my "fluid" rosters (changing a lot due to transfers),
it was easier to just use progress book.

I replaced the front "My Weekly Planner" with the current week's lesson plan.
When I used the dry erase marker,  it got smudged by the pencil pouch in front of it.  
I look for the current week's lesson plan the most, so I moved it to the front.
When this week's over, I'll move it back and move the next week's plan forward.

Friday, September 7, 2012

#myfavfriday High School Student Randomness

So, my favorite moment after school today (which I needed):  I was walking down the hallway after calling a student's parent regarding grades, etc.  A student said something about parkour.  I turned and asked, "Did you say parkour?"  His reply: "YES!  Wanna see?"  Skeptically, I asked, "Will it hurt anything or you?"  "No," he answered.  Then, he did a somersault (somewhat resembling a 4-year-old), ended with jazz hands and exclaimed, "PARKOUR!"

Kids are so weird...I love it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Algebra Quote

"The human mind has never invented a labor-saving machine equal to algebra." ~ Author Unknown

We, as 'mathematicians' (I use this term loosely here), take a situation, a set of numbers, a relationship, and find a pattern.  Then, we express that pattern as an expression or an equation.  We do this to make predictions and represent these scenarios in a concise manner.  When we see a graph or a table, we translate these into a simple equation that sums up what is there.  We save ourselves more work later by making generalizations...which is a big part of algebra.

On a slightly different note, as 'mathematicians', we even develop patterns in how we, as individuals, solve problems.  For example, the problem 1/3(x + 5) = 5x + 12, some people choose to distribute the 1/3 while others choose to multiply both sides of the equal sign by 3.  Both are correct, and, assuming one does his/her math correctly for the rest of the steps, both will receive the same answer.  However, different people choose different approaches based on their preference and how their minds work.

Any thoughts/comments on the quote?
Are there any unique approaches you have developed for problem solving over your teaching years?

#made4math Monday Week 10 - My First Attempts at Foldables

So this past Friday, I did my first foldable with students.

In my Algebra 1 B class, which is basically the first "semester" of Algebra 1 that covers writing and solving equations, slope and graphing linear equations, etc., we had a lesson on writing equations from words.  Before we got into the examples, we did the foldable reviewing the key words that indicate addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  So, I decided Thursday after school to do a foldable on it based on Sarah's blog post (see the portion about translating algebraic expressions).

To fill in the outside with words that describe the math operations, I asked students to call out words that they remember.  They came up with some that we didn't!  Some examples:

Half (times 1/2 or divided by 2)
Greater than (adding)
Take away (subtracting)
Of (mulitply...full disclosure, I added that one)

Tomorrow, I plan on doing 'to the square inch's system of equations foldable with my Algebra 1 C class (2nd "semester" that covers systems of equations, exponent rules, etc.).  I bought colored printer paper for the occasion because the colored paper selection in the office is somewhat limited and I liked the bright colors shown on the blog post.  I will update with the results from tomorrow.

Update: The students really seemed to enjoy this activity.  They even referred to the foldable when we did example problems.  I even talked with some of the students about color with a purpose.  One student said, "I should start color coding from now on instead of randomly using highlighters!"


Also, in an attempt at procrastinating from grading review work for tomorrow, I decided to make a few posters based on word press' mathsmith's post.

And, finally, this past weekend, I did a screenshot from's teen girl squad when I noticed this:

This is now my twitter profile picture.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

#hssunfun Algeopardy - favorite review game

My favorite default review game is "Algeopardy".  Since I mainly teach Algebra, it was easy to smush that word with Jeopardy to create Algeopardy.  Beforehand, I create the game board with the different main topics of the chapter/unit as the categories.  I use notecards for the questions and cover them up with post-it notes that have the dollar values written.  (I don't have the answers written and have the students say the question...that would be a bit challenging and would stray from the point of the review.)  I split the class up into 3 teams.  I don't have the buzzers, so the teams are "Crash", "Boom", and "Bang".  When a team writes their answer on a dry erase board, they call out their team name.  I acknowledge the first team name I hear.  They hold up their answer (instead of saying it).  If they are correct, they are awarded the "money".  If they are incorrect, that "money" is subtracted.  Negative money is possible.  I have 2 daily doubles.  At the end of the class period, the team with the most "money" gets 3 bonus points on their test the next day.  Second place gets 2 bonus points on their test.  Third place gets 1 bonus point.

Here is a picture of a student made Algeopardy board.  They used tissue paper instead of post-its (and had different dollar values as you can see).  I think they gave candy instead of awarded money since they didn't have extra credit power when they conducted their review game.  Plus, they all like bringing in candy.