Sunday, August 30, 2020

Making a White Board Desk!

 New school - new things.  Just wanted to post a video about how to make old desks into white board desks.  

My plan is to have all students working bell-to-bell in my classroom - right on their desks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

COVID19 - High School Math Assigment - Project 2 - Puzzles!!

So I keep looking for different things to do during this time of change... Projects that can be read by email and done without internet (or sometimes I mail the page).

This is a project for 9-12 grade, Algebra, Geometry and Algebra 2.  

Here is what I email the students (allowing 2-3 weeks):

To: Students:

Hello gang!

I hope everyone is well.  I want to intro the new project for this week!

I like math puzzles!! 
So I want us to solve one and create one!  

Step 1 - solve the following!!  (Taken from Facebook)   If you can get me an answer - if you struggle send me your thoughts on it.....

Step 2  -- Create your own Social Media post-able math puzzle (so I should be able to snap a picture without your name like above)
This can be on paper,  on Microsoft word, on google doc....  Whatever medium you would like to use!  You most likely will need to start with a rough draft, then make a final copy!!

It can be like the one above (if you do a lock like the one above please do 4 digits instead of 3, which would take more steps to solve).  You could also do a lock like your gym locker, or anything you want to try. 

I will comment how it goes!! 

Friday, April 3, 2020

2020 - No more High School Math Homrwork (for my students)

HS Math classes don't (necessary) need homework....

About 3 years ago I migrated to no outside of class math practice (no homework).  And after some bumps have had success and student's continued to grow.  For me and my students a real positive!  Had presented about it a few times at conferences.....
This post really deserves to be better, but instead I am posting about what happened next.....

A parent contact the Channel 3000 local news about my teaching without assigning homework in HS math courses (Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus).   They wanted to do an interview and good PR for the school is always welcomed.

They came down and did a 3 minute segment and article. - here.

But then it really caught fire, had a Smart-brief wtih ASCD about it - here
then, probably received 80 emails about how....

And finally an NEAtoday article - here

Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs, 2nd edition

by Cathy A. Vatterott  - here  
(My Hitchhikers Guide to No Homework - yes 42....)
My goal for this post is to simply connect these for any teacher considering changing.  There are always naysayers, but I run on data and while HW for HS math is good - I skip good for great....

I am always open to discuss -   It can be done and I know my students are better because of it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Things to do in COVID19 for math that are not rote

So as this school year finishes online the challenge for all of us is huge.  I have decided that the rote practice of worksheets or an online practice program are not what I want my students to remember.  So we will practice here and there (short sprints to maintain skills) but instead will spend more of our work time on open ended projects.  Some will be hits and others failures --

This is the email for my first:  (For Algebra, Geometry, Algebra 2 & Senior Math)

Subject: Decision Matrix   Sent 3-30

So we are going to alternate between videos/IXL/OMS (Other Math Stuff) and projects!  

This week is a project!!!

The first project I want you to do is create a decision matrix to select the best option from a list of choices.

To do this project you will need a question that needs answering between solutions (you pick the question and tell me - we will work together on this project).

Examples (and you can use these questions if you like)
1) Select the best Overwatch Character 
2) The best group of properties to have in Monopoly.
3) The best cell phone (Samsung-Android, Apple, Trace)
4) Best car brand
5) Best candy bar
6) Best soda
7)  Best Superhero (see start of my list below, I like a spreadsheet for this but pick what you want)
8) ANY QUESTION!!!   You can pick.

So here is the timeline of deliverables:
By April 1st - email me your question/list/idea and research what a decision matrix is!
By April 3rd - email me your factors and scoring system
By April 7th - Rough Draft of matrix (paper or excel or sand-tablet)
By April 9th - A final decision using a matrix!

I picked this because decision matrices are used all the time in the world.

It is a good skill   (and continue your IXL stuff, I will email more on April 2nd or 3rd).

Thanks all

Start of Mr. A's Best Superhero Decision Matrix!
Probably should add 'School Appropriate column" since it is a tie.

I am sharing this in case it helps someone.  You will also see lots of time to do, students have enough happening - I also mailed this to some students....

If it helps great -- this is what I am doing... (for the moment)

Monday, February 18, 2019

There in no teacher shortage...

As myself many of colleagues approach retirement (thus meaning old), I worry about the profession.  I worry about teachers, students and the overall trend.  We continually hear about there not being enough teachers.  Today I read an interesting article "There Is No Teacher Shortage" and if you take the time to read it - I agree with it.

1) It is simply supply and demand - what schools want: great people at rock bottom prices is not achievable.  Especially when the teaching profession has gone from highly respected to... well... what it is today.  And it used to be a job where you would put in a career and your retirement was there - it was not great but it was consistent.  And that too - it least in Wisconsin is gone.

2) So states lower standards so more people can be teachers - and eventually that will have an effect.   In my opinion it will start in urban and rural areas because they have less resources - teacher cuts, teachers will move to the suburban schools... And the spiral will begin.

So the question becomes what now - will we react prior to the bottom or not.  And it really comes down to one thing:  Those brave people who become teachers should be able to have a middle class living after a short period of time and right now that is not the case.

Eventually this gap between job requirements and pay can only result in one thing - the standards equaling the pay.  Meaning if it is not treated importantly, financially, it will become a second class job and our students will reap that prize.

If students are number one - the teaching career should be paid like it.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A different PLC... Programmable Logic Controllers - in Geometry!!

We have started working on Mechatronics at our school in our Intro to Engineering/Problem Solving Course.  Thanks to an NSF grant, Maryland Design, and our local tech school - BTC.  I was able to train last summer in Florida, and then my boss took the leap and we purchased the trainer below - only $567.  And then our local tech school, BTC took the leap to start a dual enrollment path and reimbursed our school for the trainer.  Below are our first two videos for 

Next is working thru the curriculum for the trainer - but you notice the difference - get it first - use it and then figure out the details!! The experience for the students has been great - even if we struggled with the path occasionally.

And the really important next big step is to have every math student do a bit of programming!! Most likely in Geometry - tied to logic and proofs (which we don't do much of).  I think a bit of programming like this really develops a students "if-then" thinking!
But is starts with willingness to say there are better things to do than we been doing....  A tough statement.

My plan is to have videos up of Geometry students doing some programming by May!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Back to blogging, finding reflection time....

Lately I have found myself is a funk.  And while I put my best foot forward everyday this funk is holding back my ability to let things roll off - meaning - things are annoying me lately.  And in education that can take a toll.  And I think it has a correlation to my reduced blogging time.

While I have not blogged much in the last year - I still have been doing reflection, just thru other sources - PLCs and twitter mainly - but I think that finding time to blog, time to have the thoughts flow thru my fingers is a necessity for me.   For me it prioritizes where my energy goes, what I am thinking about and what should be next.

So in the next few weeks I plan to write about the following things:

1) No homework in HS Math -- I have not assigned any homework in my classrooms this year.  I assign projects - but daily practice we are handling differently - mostly bell-to-bell, coupled with retest and requiz as some students take more time.

2) Infinite requizzing - why it works and why you don't have to worry about "what will happen in college."

3) Our school just went to one-to-one (as of last week) in our HS, how should I utilize this in my math room?

4) Engineering in HS, how to get students problem solving....  Not worrying acout curriculum but finding opportunities.

For me, it is simply time that needs to be taken....