Friday, February 28, 2014

Big day in small school math meet

So the Six Rivers East Conference Math Meet happened last week.  And it was a big day in our small school conference.  All the schools have enrollments in the High School from 95 (that's Juda!) to about 140ish. (that is 9 thru 12 total, not per grade).   The teams are set up to be large - each team is 16 students (8 Juniors/Senios & 8 Freshmen/Sophomores) - and I encourage teachers to get everyone and anyone interested to the meet.

This year, out of the 7 conference schools, we had 14 total teams -- or double the number of schools in our conference.  That is a big deal.  And while my school had more than a few teams (53 students did it), lots of the schools had 2 teams this year.  Math is contagious!

Instead of only getting around 100 students doing math for the day, we nearly had 200 students doing math for the day.  Reviewing answers, talking strategies - and just having fun with math.  Some of the students who participated only expect to get 1 or 2 right out of the 20 problems they see and that is okay, because everyone's math journey is along their own timeline. 

It shows that reasonable expectations and passion sell. It shows that everyone can be part of the fun and festivals tied to a math meet. 

It was a good math day.

PS - results at

Friday, February 21, 2014

How I started a big STEM project.

Here is a clip (made by one of my students) of me addressing a question on how I started our large Green Initiative STEM project. 

Just in the past week a group of students worked on mapping our school for energy saving opportunities beyond lighting.  Now they are working on gantt charts to define their deliverables.  It really is exciting to watch them take charge. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Math Meet!

Every year for the last six years Juda hosts a conference math meet (could say I do).  The first meet was a ton of work, and it is still quite a few hours - especially creating keys.   This post stared as just a break from the hours of making solutions three nights ago.  It is always a lot of work - but it always works out well.  I think this something every conference should do - it is a great way to do mathematics - to celebrate academics.

The meet ran yesterday and was a really nice time.  Our small school of about 95 students, had about 205 mathletes doing problems.  It is a fun math day.

The hardest part is creating the tests.  With that knowledge I would offer anyone who wants help with getting tests made for their first year.  I am willing to help whoever get this running in their school and/or area.  It is a fun day for my students and the other conference schools. 

For me it is just chance to tie what we do in class, to something outside of class.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Professional Dress

Read an article about teachers dressing down (jeans and t-shirts) to protest pay.  And I don't want to enter the discussion whether this is a good idea or not. I have no idea what is happening at any school but my own.   But there were comments that some teachers wear jeans daily and others are required to dress up - and there is something to think about, but beyond the simple dress code question.  There lies a bigger issue beneath the surface  - what makes professionalism?  Education's professionalism and the "edge of the sword" teachers are walking is where I find myself thinking this morning.

Coming out of an engineer environment, I expected teaching to be a like-minded, like-respected professional.  It is not.  But I always dressed the part in my previous job, you look like you should be respected and it is easier to get respect.  I have found the same true in teaching.

That is why - even in a district without a code - I dress business formal every day -- shirt, tie, slacks - I may wear jeans once or twice per year, then I usually wear a blazer so that I still look professional.  I look like I should be respected, I demand the respect - I play the part.  I also feel it makes me a better role model.

That obviously begs the question - do jean wearing teachers make poor role models?  NO!  But when I reflect on what I think is important, what I can control (a big one) --  how I dress is an easy one. 

You may disagree, and that is okay.  But when students look at me they see someone who has become an expert in his area of study, with a passion for it, and wants them to succeed -- and for me, how I dress is part of the persona.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Watch for our Samsung Solve For Tomorrow Video Soon!!

We post our video tomorrow and it will be on youtube in the next few days!  My students are owning this project and I super proud, approx 5% green energy ---- 10 % is coming!  Again contact us for information so your school can do it too!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Math Mob Mondays

So I am considering a new idea - Math Mob Mondays.  Being in a rural district means some classes do not fill all the desks (or any class fills all the desks).  I have been thinking of ways to show our parents and our community what we are doing in my room.

My idea is to offer some "Math Mob" days where I invite (or coerce) adults to fill my room.  I think I would start with Algebra 1 (an afternoon course) - have them come in.  Do a lot of review, introduce a new lesson, have my students be helpers, etc.  I like the idea - it would make my students help others.  It would also give curious and coerced community members a  first hand look at what we do, my expectation - and I think it would just be fun.

I think Facebook could help me out, take a little video and just have some fun with it.    I would have to get 8-14 commitments, so it is "big enough."   I think it could be some fun, especially if I tap some people to come on in and have fun.

Not sure if and when but I will post any more work I do on this.