I am thrilled. I am hopeful that in the next 4 years I see the real movement that I voted for to come about 4 years ago. Let's move forward powerfully and courageously.

I have tried many ways from discovery, to begging straight up: "these are the rules" to help my Algebra students work through properties of exponents. I had some success with a process I called, "1 by 1." We did 12 problems in shadowed boxes:

Given an Exit ticket of 5 problems where the average went from 3 to 7 out of 10, I'd say it was successful! Yay!

Hot tip of the day: in your windows "accessories"  you will find the "snipping tool."  It is so easy, even I can use it:

You can capture what is on your screen, like a screen shot, and save it as a Jpeg to use in...your blog posts!

I made this Tarisa Puzzle:

It takes a 18 x 24 piece of construction paper to complete: Here is the first part:
The next thing will be for me to write Tarsia Puzzle and this will be live for you to download. Anyone? Anyone?

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
Do you all know the Ipad Ap: Educreations? For all I know it is a program for Macs and PC's too, and, er, I am not the expert, yet...

So on Friday I promised my students that I would leave the Smart Board notes for them on the class website. Yeah, but guess who hit the "Don't Save" button before she left for the day? Yup, yo. So I recreated the main points on little video. Can't say it is the most watchable thing out there, yet it is me, and there is always the pause button for the kids.
Just wanted to share this doozy of a response to the question Can you teach Algebra and still be a good human? from Rick, a Graphic Designer, Semi-Pro Bike Racer, and award winning 3-D animator:

Algebra makes us better humans because it helps us figure shit out, so we don't have to rely on what some body says or what some Iphone App tells us. Algebra is like a language of reason. Not what makes sense but what works.
I use algebra like EVERY DAY. estimating speed when I go on a bike ride (TxD=R) and also working in 3D or 2D animation. Further, if you want to call it algebra, I use some geometry to figure out angles and such via the pythagorean theorem: asquared plus bsquared = csquared. Super cool stuff.

My Husband (not Rick)
I have great and smart friends!
    What is the best philosophy for building the most effective math curriculum? While I don't profess to be any kind of expert, I do have 26+ years experience of teaching high school math in a variety of schools, so I am claiming my expertise of 1.

    What variations have I been involved with? Five or more teachers teaching at least one section of a subject, NO other teacher besides myself teaching what I am teaching, no subject meetings (that sucks), subject meetings by department no matter what math class you are teaching, and the outside consult leading the subject meeting. 

     Hands down my most productive years have been working with one or at most two other teachers focusing deeply for an entire year on a single course.

     Although I want to get my little (well, medium) sized nose into everyone's business from not wanting to miss a single thing, the most productive time has been with one or two other teachers digging deep into what has been done, what worked, what can be done, what does the research show us, and tweaking. Algebra is thousands of years old, so why do we keeping hitting it over and over, tearing it apart like some secret held in DNA? We want to get it right, that's why! We are paying more attention to brain research, social research, philosophical changes to education, technological advances and newer teachers.

     Last year it was Algebra 1A...building from scratch, this year it is looking at curriculum that has already been reworked (meaning, teacher hates book, sees all its weaknesses and has developed section by section hand-outs to supplement the crap out of the book) by a very successful teacher...and yet...there is no scaffolding for emergent language learners, little in the way of applications, and no focus on the Common Core State Standards. It is not fun. For me, it is overwhelming. I appreciated its thoughtfulness, as in, "The students have to get more experience with this..." and yet, there are few investigations, no integration of technology, (don't think there has been one Google, Mathblogosphere, or Pintrest search in the hundreds of pages ) and did I mention, no fun?

  The other new-to-this-school teacher colleague and I have been trading notes, looking at what is coming down the pike and asking ourselves how can we investigate this? How can we prepare the students for the CCSS? How can we make this more...FUN? She is an expert with the technology (what 27 year old these days isn't?) I have the deep pockets...no not money silly, the deep resources...not not money silly, the deep folders (that's it) of projects, investigations, past curricula to go along with our ideas. (She has some deep folders too, don't get me wrong). Between us we teach 7 sections of Algebra 1, enough to make every minute thinking about it worth our while.

    How do you rock subject curriculum?
Just listened to this amazing TED talk:ludwick_marishane: A Bath Without Water. Why is this mathematical? The great big large numbers. It is about a young man in Africa with very little means who takes an idea and turns into a reality that saves Eyes and Water. I can't wait to show this 5 minute video it to my students tomorrow...just to give them an idea on the power of large numbers. (We began with a "grain of rice" story spin-off using doubling allowance, thanks to Kate, blogger of http://tothesquareinch.wordpress.com/.)

I watched the video clips that go along with Teach Like a Champion, impressive, and decisively not me...I have little rhythm and am way too "stiff" to have routines that include clapping and call and response...but thank goodness some folks do...I did take away a lot from the book...especially about giving exact instructions, "look forward and be silent," vs. "pay attention!" It is good that we have a variety of talents...

Lastly, I want to share with you a cartoon from New Yorker Magazine by Roz Chast:
Totally hilarious! Now I want to jump off with student on the left and teachers on the right.

Left Side                                                                Right Side

Student doesn't have                                             Teacher signs student up to sing Hakuna Matata
homework                                                              in the Talent Show

Student asks, "we had homework?"                     Teacher "forgets" she is on "Attendance by picture"
                                                                               and turns on the Smartboard with student's 8th grade
                                                                                picture even though student is now in 10th grade.

Student falls asleep in class                                   Teacher sends kid into the hall just under the      
                                                                              speaker right before the bell rings

You are all talented, smart and funny, What other mix and match Crime and Punishments can you add?
Below is re-post of a comment I made to Sam Shah (I bow to thy Great Gen X-ness) when he asked for Problem Based Learning materials:

Hi Sam,
I am a new Math Intiative blogger. (But gosh no, not a new teacher, oy). I appreciate your commitment to stretching and finding the best way to do most everything.
Please forgive my “old schoolness,” in contributing a project. I have tons of enthusiasm for curriculum, sometimes I don’t have the most current methods of delivering/retrieving them. Here goes:
After ride-sharing with the Environment and Sustainability teacher in our High School’s 11-12 core, the WISE Academy, (Windsor Institute of Sustainability and the Environment) we had a lot of time to talk shop. Between the two of us, we came up this project for teaching Scientific Notation, Unit Analysis, and an introduction to Exponents: (Algebra 1 or 1A)
Exponents, the Environment, and Consumerism in the USA
Students watch: http://www.storyofstuff.org/movies-all/story-of-bottled-water/
Students work alone, in pairs or triads to come up with a question of their own. They must research the answer for the town of Windsor, and expand it to the United States.
It must contain a visual…all the unit analysis…commentary…etc…(forgive me for not having any pictures at the moment, I am still on vacation (hello Lake Tahoe!)
Here is an example: One of my Algebra 1A students used deodorant sticks. If each person went through three sticks a year, and if each stick were 3 inches in height, he figured end to end they would cover the distance from Windsor High School to the Statue of Liberty.
Okay, so it wasn’t EXACT science, yet it did get the two ideas across I was trying to make: We need big numbers (or really small), we need unit analysis, and we need to be aware of how what we use effects the Earth.

Here is his response:

Forgive shmorgive! You are awesome. Thanks for this idea. I love that your project emphasized the “big picture” ideas (unit analysis, big numbers, sustainability). I often feel trapped in these minutae and you’re reminding me that projects allow us to get to bigger picture things. At the expense of time and other parts of the curriculum. But these bigger picture things are important and I often skip them because they are hard to do.
I read two moving items in the SF Chronicle today: the column: http://www.sfgate.com/living/article/Thank-GOP-legislator-for-Kwanzaa-comeback-4168297.php by Callie Millner, highlights the good that can come from embracing educating ourselves about Kwanzaa. I had no idea that the seven candles used during Kwanzaa stood for following seven principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. 

and the article: http://www.sfgate.com/art/article/Lisa-Kristine-photographs-slavery-4167748.php about local photographer, Lisa Krisitne, who travels the world photographing the atrocious reality that slavery still exists, everywhere. Even. Here.

So why is a Math Blogger compelled to write about being moved by reading humanitarian articles? Because I want to know how I, as an Algebra teacher (this year), contribute to 
A) Helping students become better humans and B) Saving the Planet? I am sick of my own lame answers, "  

Fawn from http://www.fawnnguyen.com/ answered her own question: Is Algebra necessary? Yes she says with great eloquence and aplomb. Loved that. 

So I went out on my own search to find the answer, and not the same ones I use to "rationalize my existence so I don't have to think about it" like: What happens if you don't make the team? and My friend R. lost his index finger in a construction accident, now what? (I do have my own, more enduring believes...those later.)

I took a random sample from a cross section of friends: 

From RJE, JD, Advertising Exec, NY:

We don't need algebra. In fact, as the world becomes more complex, simple questions like 'what does x equal' become even more superfluous.
HOWEVER, what we do need is what algebra leads its students to.
-the ability to nourish their curiosity;
-the desire to think and solve and feel the gratification of an answer that is finite and within ones grasp
-the opportunity to recognize that while some problems are unsolvable, algebra teaches us that some are very solvable.
-in other words, algebra is a tool of building self esteem, of enjoying solvability, of celebrating the fact that while so much of life is beyond comprehension...other parts are delightfully finite!

(By the way, I got 100% on my algebra regents exam, and 800 on my math sat test.
I live for algebra!)

From Judy, MA, Foundation Board Exec, Magazine Contributor, and Movement Educator:

As a movement teacher, it is clear to me that everything we do requires learning patterns that are body-mind related.

If nothing else,the process of learning Algebra gives us exposure to ways of thinking and that is a "patterning" of conceptual influence.

So is the question Why do we need to KNOW Algebra, or how can we best facilitate mathematical patterns of thinking, doing and knowing so education becomes a source to facilitate and lead forth the greatest capacity for that child and thus our society?

More as they stroll in...hopefully they will...

How do you teach Algebra and still be a good human?