First up, the next time I post about my teaching day...I think I should include my non-teaching day, like the 6 takes I took to make this simple video to solve a simple system of linear equations using Edureations. I really like the software...I lost my pen, so I had to use my finger. The author can edit the script, but not the that is why it took so many takes! I never knew how much noise one makes just talking!

When I got to school and asked if any of the students saw the videos, the few who said saw them said they were really helpful. Such Luck!

The second piece of good luck came when I had an epiphany during a performance task I was having my Algebra 1 students complete BEFORE a test. I figured it was a good way to get them talking to each other about how to graph and solve a system of linear equations. You know the drill: two car rental companies, Plan A lets you rent a car for $30 plus .60 per mile, Plan B lets you rent a car for $55 and .35 per mile. After how many miles will the plans cost the same? Which is a better deal?

First period, fine. Next one fine too. Ah the next one after that, just before lunch, not so fab. So I called a few students at a time...and showed them with an Excel spread sheet HOW the rental company would devise a spreadsheet to calculate how much you owe. Watching their faces light up when I took their equations and showed them how fast the "system" could do the work was...Cool.
I can't wait to take them into the lab and fiddle with this themselves. Perhaps some smarty pants can figure out the entire treasure hunt at the end of the unit with a computer graphing program. I would love that.

Wow! Color! I have been looking for this my entire blogging life, all three month of it!

I totally stole the next idea from Teaching Statistics.
She had her students trace their hands and then write 5 ways to solve quadratics, one in each finger and then decorate the hands as turkeys for Thanksgiving. I morphed this idea into four ways to solve a system of two linear equations and the thumb for what I am thankful for. My fabulous creation on the smartboard is below:

To which one of my favorite lovebugs gayly proclaimed, "Excuse me Miss Zimmer, but your turkey looks like it is passing wind."

I am oh so thankful for this Math Blogging Initiative community. What are you thankful for? 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


A Day in the Life of a Math Teacher

5:30am Hit snooze button 3 times
6:00am Rise, do a few sun salutations, Pilates 100, and a few planks
6:15am get dressed, change 6 times, ignore DH's comment, "it is just school, wear clothes," He obviously doesn't understand that I teach at the same school as two High School daughters.
6:30--7:15 make coffee, three lunches, change again, wash acetates that I forgot to wash last night, stick soggy newspaper with acetates in school bag, round up 2 teen girls, head out.
7:20 arrive at school, wait in traffic from top of parking lot to my assigned parking place across from from front door of school where parents with large trucks drop their kids off even though they aren't supposed to
7:30 (no lie!) exit car
7:33 text colleague to loan me 30 copies of chapter 7 review until I can make copies at break
7:35 first period Algebra starts with new seats! Woot!
Bell ringer
Pair homework check
Radio Tower problem
Chapter 7 review--small groups, I wonder around, giving helps and hints, sending peer tutors to do damage control
Fill out basketball players progress reports
9:10 break...take roll from period 1, check email--contact counselor, freshman struggling, still no work, draws all period, run upstairs grab a cup of tea
9:25 second class of Algebra begins, see 7:35 am--add an argument between a Sophomore and Junior Boy--Ms. Zimmer, does an engineer use Algebra or Calculus? 
11 am class ends, scramble to finish seating chart for next class that I fell asleep making night before
11:05 third class of Algebra, see 7:35am
12:40 class ends, lunch begins. Take roll for two previous classes, give lunch to freshman daughter, look for the keys that are already in my pocket, check box, have meeting with colleague, bathroom or box, box or is closer and takes less time, hold it.
1:10 pm fourth class of Algebra, see 7:35am
2:50 pm excuse classes for day, clean off boards, trade freshman daughter book bag for tennis racket and gear, check email, cell phone, take soggy newspaper out of book bag and put away acetates I didn't use, Senior daughter comes down, wants to get home, stop by Dept. Chair's room, finally go to bathroom
3:15 pm head home via vegetable market
3:45pm make a cuppa, leash up dog, walk around the one mile block
4:15pm head back to school, pick up freshman from tennis, take her to singing lesson
5:00pm take second walk without "pee mail" stops every 5 feet.
5:30 pm text senior daughter how to make fajitas
5:45pm take freshman home from singing lesson
6:15pm arrive home, make a snack, leave to return to school for Nicaragua Service trip meeting I am chaperoning over spring break
8:00pm arrive home, eat dinner, scrub stovetop, update website, scan review worksheet one blank, and one with answers, upload to website, delete spam comments, fold towels and blankets that have been on couch since Sunday, check email
10pm Bath!
10:15pm Physical Therapy exercises to recover from broken humerus
10:35pm type day in the life
11:10 pm give/ receive kisses from daughters and DH (darling husband), kiss puppers, kick cat off bed, lights out!

Friday while we were making Hexaflexagons:
"I am going to be a Hexflexa Mast-a"
"This is going to be Hecka hexaflexa fun."
"This is Hexaflexa confusing."

And on Monday, one of the least "mathy" students brings me a perfect paper hexaflexagon, and the other students can't wait to get their grubby hands on it. Go Jon! (Now please do your homework)

So I was given another hand-out for studying systems of equations with "ticket" problems. (You know, 7 adult tickets cost and blah, blah, blah) Now that I've Dan Meyer's mantra of "no pseudo context," Who in the heck cares about ticket sales of the fall drama production? (Besides a geek-meister like me, giggle) Instead, I threw out this problem as a "goal," without much context:

Plan A: $60 per month
Plan B: $40 per month and a $200 one time joining fee

After how many months will the plans cost the same? Which one is the better plan?

I didn't really care if the students thought it was a Health Club or a Phone plan. Whatev...
What I cared about was what they constructed after they found the answer.

I asked them to use equations. Easy. They got it...but then I asked them to compare guess and check tables from month 10 onward, all the while asking which was a better rowdiest, most immature class (right before lunch, 46% upper classmen...the kids the middle school teachers hip-hip hurrahied about when they socially promoted out of 8th grade and then the Juniors that are grasping at a last chance to graduate) were the MOST thoughtful and opinionated students! We talked about how long we were planning to use the gym/cell phone/whatev, what about if we wanted to join but didn't have, how much, $240, at the time, but did have $60? Oh, so this isn't real enough for you, let's talk about a renting vs. owning a home! Boy did those kids go for it! Here was the proposition:
Own: $2000/month

Rent: Not responsible for repairs, can come and go,  no taxes, don't have to worry about economy, no big initial investment
Own: Do whatever remodeling you want, more stable, no jerk landlords, build equity, can make noise

I may have started with "semi-pseudo" context, but we ended up getting real. I think my students are so darned smart, don't you?