I checked my mailbox before school today, which I never do. Inside was a beautiful bracelet and kind note. It made my day and helped me get through another test day.
The stress of trying to get everything ready both at home and at school before break begins (yes, I realize the irony of what I just wrote) was starting to give me a little bit of anxiety. I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to get all of today’s calc tests graded on top of all the other grading and planning that needed to happen. However, my sweet Intermediate kids just colored their hearts out today while I graded (now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take pictures). They worked on a color-by-numbers sheet that I made my first year teaching Intermediate that makes the Union U. It’s very cute, if I do say so myself. Anyway, they colored, I graded, we listened to holiday music. It was so peaceful.
And tomorrow–we decorate the classroom for the most wonderful time of the year!!!! Yippee!!!!!!!
With only a couple of lessons left this year, my year 9 students have embarked on personal projects building on concepts and skills learned this year, including coding.
My one good thing today is finding 2 precocious students who have only started coding this year and acing it. They can manage more complicated problems requiring complex algorithms.
As it turned out, they’re both pretty good mathematicians and musicians, too. So, I got them to watch this video of Andrew Sorensen doing a live coding demo composing music using Extempore programming language. I find the content of this video magical – it shows how maths (e.g. modulo, cosine, random, set theory) can add texture and change dynamics in music, through code. To see students share the wonder, and be curious how and why it works, is stuff of rainbows and unicorns.
I recently acquired a Silhouette Cameo machine at school and my first big project was making vinyl for our cheerleading jackets and backpacks. Another teacher literally GAVE us a heat press to use so we wouldn’t have to iron. 🙌🏻
She taught us how to use it one time and two of my senior girls went to town. I was doing study guides so I could help too but in fifth hour I was actually teaching. In the middle of class I went over to answer a question and I was ignoring my actual class a bit too long. One of my boys went to the board and advanced the PowerPoint for me. We were just practicing so he literally just took over running the class and was even helping students who were confused too. It was so lovely and organic that I just let it go on. Then THEY told me that they were ready for their quiz.
The seniors finished all the jackets! I was so nervous about messing them up but they actually enjoyed helping.
In sixth hour we were practicing the same thing as fifth hour but they were struggling more. They did a great job of advocating for themselves and letting me know that they felt rushed and were having a hard time separating the types of problems. I made a list on the whiteboard and then we started identifying the type as a class before they actually solved. It went really well!
Tonight we had a blue and white scrimmage game to start off our basketball season. The first game is always rough but overall it went well.
We came early to iron on monograms to our back packs and there was so much laughter and practicing cheers and chaotic girls and I just thought- these are the moments high school is made of. *warm fuzzies*
I was super busy all day but I was able to get everything done on my plan period and I have everything ready to go for next week which means I don’t have school work to do this weekend! But I do have more vinyl to cut. 🙃
For years I’ve wanted to integrate computers into my lessons but haven’t really because we’re not one-to-one. This year I’ve gotten to house a laptop cart in my room, and even though the laptops are ancient and they are far from my ideal, I’ve found ways to still make them useful, largely thanks to the patience of my students.
Today I tried something simple, but I feel like it was really useful. I made a google doc (here) with review questions from the year so far. Hyperlinked to most questions was a way for the kids to check themselves through Desmos. For example “Find the value of b that makes this function continuous on its domain. Once you’ve got it, check by going to this hyperlink; slide b to the value you got to see if you’re right.” More or less. What I loved about this was that I gave the kids the answers without giving them the answers. They still had to do work–even just to check themselves. They had to know how to analyze graphs; they had to know what to look for, even when looking at the right answer. It was kind of magical, actually. Often I would go up to a partner group to check on them and they would say, “We’re not quite there but we’re definitely close. Give us a bit.”
“Sure, sure,” I said calmly, while I danced a happy dance in my little head.
We all know the people doing the work are the people doing the learning.
But what’s even better is when the people doing the work hardly realize they’re doing work.
We had Friday Games again today during lunch, and I just love it so much. It’s all fun and silly. It’s not like we get into serious conversations. But I sure enjoy a good game of Uno with some of the greatest students I know…
I spent six hours yesterday watching students take final exams. Three two-hour shifts. Sigh…
My last group taking an exam was my AP Calculus BC team. They had 24 multiple-choice questions and four free response questions, so they had to be efficient in their problem-solving. One of my students asked me about a multiple choice question that troubled him. It was an infinite geometric series question. This student joined our school, and our country, last year as a freshman. He place tested so highly that he started in AP Calculus AB. However, it has become apparent that there are a few facts/skills that he does not have at his command. This is rarely a problem since he is so creative. On this question, he did not have the formula in his brain for calculating the sum of an infinite geometric series. He could have listed out a handful of terms to look for convergence. He could have shrugged his shoulders and guessed since it was one of twenty-four questions. Instead, he wrote a short program on his TI-84 that gave him increasingly good approximations until he saw one of the answer choices emerge. He did this in the middle of a two-hour exam! He asked me afterwards and just laughed when I showed him how easy this problem could have been. I am convinced that he will remember this formula forever now, but I am also convinced that I will remember this story forever now. His ability to problem-solve in this situation is SO much more powerful than having a formula at his command. It is interesting that this happened on the same day that I sent our a question on twitter about the use of formula sheets on assessments. I am disinclined to use formula sheets, but I could be convinced otherwise. Here is a story that would have never happened if a formula sheet was present.
I am going to cross post this over at my blog space.
We took twenty-seven kids to the University of Oklahoma today for their Math Day. It’s always a good day. OU does such a good job presenting the kids with fun and interesting mathematics. Our kids took second in both geometry and algebra.
In the chaos of getting ready for a sub and having everything ready for when I get back tomorrow, I totally forgot to contact past students who are now at OU. So on our way to campus, I posted a screenshot from OU Math Day’s website to Instagram, in a last-minute effort to see some of my favorite people during our lunch break.
They didn’t disappoint. I got hugs and stories and updates. They interrupted their busy day to see this little high school teacher.
These were my kids before I ever had a kid of my own. They’ve become my friends. And I am so very grateful for each of them and for what they have offered and will offer to the world.
I’ve said for a long time that the worst part of this job is saying goodbye to kids who have stolen your heart.
But one is the best parts is keeping in touch with them and watching them take the world by storm.
My heart is so very full.
At our faculty meeting this morning, we were served coffee and muffins. After a couple quick announcements, we were given the rest of the time to write three thank you cards: one to a support staff member, one to a peer, and one to a student.
Anyone who knows anything about me will know that I loved this faculty meeting with all my heart. Coffee and thank you notes? My love languages.
My calc kids got more practice today matching the graphs of f and f’. They did so well. I heard a lot of students use words like fun and easy.
A former student who is studying to be a high school math teacher taught a geometry lesson today (all day) in her college town. I anxiously awaited her text to let me know how it went.
She’s humble, but it was clear by the excitement in her texts that she killed it.
To top it off, one of her exit tickets was for the kids to write one good thing.
And that’s my one good thing. ❤