Ms. Zimmer and Maddee are waiting for AERIES to load (don't even get me started)...the whole program drops and we hit "refresh" and start over:

Maddee: Doesn't it take the internet FOREVER to connect down here?

Me: What? Really, you did not just say that in MY classroom...

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...

Well here is my idea for cramming in a topic we won't really get to cover until AFTER STAR testing...I am sooooooooooo ready for the Common Core Assessments, however they look. Real math, real thinking...


for f(-2) and f(0) and f(4)


for f(-2) and f(0) and f(4)

What do you notice?

Now Simplify                                       
And evaluate for f(-2) and f(0) and f(4).

I am guessing I will get something looking like this:

(or whatever other permutations your imagination will drum up)

OH NO MR. BILL!!! What just happened?????

Hopefully now they will be a tiny bit motivated ( beg even?) for the math. 

Cousin Manny is in Sales in Silicon Valley.  He came to the US with parents when he was 5 years old. He has worked his BUTT off. In high school, in college, in his whole adult life. He never, ever made any excuses, EVER. He invested wisely, went to school, choose his jobs wisely, and is living the American Dream.

Manny: I know teachers should get paid more and I agree my taxes should be used for the common good, but it makes me so mad while some teachers work their asses off, some, sit on their tenure, and pretty much are not effectively doing their job.

He was SHOCKED that I only partly agreed with him.

Amy: Manny, I think I make pretty good money actually. I have worked in the field 25+ years, have awesome health insurance, a fair amount of personal necessity days and summers off. My room is usually clean, and my computer runs. I make a fair hourly wage. (And I agree with you about those stinky teachers who don't even put their homework up online and call the "inconvenience" a "change in working conditions.") I also LOVE MY JOB.

And for someone like me who has a Master's Degree (I get $500 per year stipend for it. It cost about $10,000, public Uni)  it would be nice to have 1 hour of secretarial support per day AND it would be nice if my industry reimbursed me for the professional development expenses I incur so I continue to be the most effective teacher I can be. (For that, I would even give up my secretarial support)

That's all.

Manny: OOOOHHHH that is so can we accomplish that? We would probably have enough money for that if schools were run more like businesses and teachers were paid for what they produce.

Manny is one heck of a smart person. 

Do you teach to your teenage self? I definitely do.

I always had something to say, so I let my students pretend to raise their hands while they shout bad.

I like working on math, I love puzzles and conundrums,  I enjoy parallel play, I get sparked from the direction others take, so I do a lot of group work and partner work.

An "Ah-ha" is my addiction, so I guide others to make them as often as possible.

With Nancy Kerns 1981, Seniors!
I have always been crafty, so I use interactive notebooks.

I always want to know up front the point of what I am doing and where I am going, so I give the big picture and show the students where they are along the path.

I loved the teachers who shared stories with us, and brought us in, just a little bit, like we were special, so I tell my students stories.

I have never been able to sit still, not barely a moment, so I give my students purposefully planned times to move around and take 2 minute social breaks.

I was pretty much on my own my Senior year, oh and my Freshman year (traveling back and forth between Santa Rosa and San Francisco by bus on Monday morning and returning on Friday afternoon. Okay, probably for a lot of my Sophomore and Junior years too, but in my Sophomore year I couldn't drive yet. So I let tardies slide for students who come in and get to work without a fuss, I let students turn in two assignments the next day if they come up to me quietly and say the were overwhelmed or explain the situation (I don't announce this as the protocol, I just let be). I think their time is Uber valuable and try to mitigate busy work.

I think there should be some way to self assess, because I did that constantly. (No one else cared about my grades or how much I understood), so I try to make them THINK about how they are doing.

I was brought up in a house where teasing was NOT allowed and shame was not in our vocabulary. I never want to embarrass a student or shame them in public, so I don't do random calling on students. I also make sure everyone has a chance to read to themselves silently before I ask for or "volunteer" volunteers.


I have a colleague who uses the Call and Response Method of Teaching, I think it is more professionally referred to as RTI. Hey! Jason at Always Formative straightened me out! The inservice was about EDI not RTI. (We had some kind of inservice for it years ago, it wasn't me and I left early.) She is 27 and I would call her a master teacher. She also teaches Algebra 1. Her room is so quiet. Her students know exactly what to do.

T: I would like you to take out your homework now. What are we doing? S's:Taking out our homework. when we get a negative number under the radical sign we have no real solutions. Repeat after me...Weak! Try that again...
S's Louder and more voices:
T: There is extra credit if you sing the quadratic song to your parents. How do you get extra credit?
 S: We sing quadratic song to our parents. 

She is walking around the room with her air platform thingie. She can't see what she is writing, but it's always neat and goes on the page projected on the wall where is should go.

I wonder how my teenage self would have fared in this class environment. For so many students it is calming and safe. I don't recall ever being taught in this manner. As there is very little possibility I could consistently provide this for my students, I wonder if that means I probably wouldn't have liked it that much, or it is just my adult self making excuses...

In what ways do you teach to your teenage self?

This is the Friday Pic from the Smartboard. My kids worked hard this Friday and I let them play!

Cuppla things. On Tuesday evening, I came back from my last class in a 5 part series on Common Core Math Instruction, facilitated by Josh Deis and Krista McAtee (how cool is that, she is a former student, who is now paving the way...she teaches 4th grade). I came home so refreshed! Full of energy! Excitement for the next day!

We got around to talking about homework. Most of the teachers are elementary and middle school teachers in this cohort, AND, still, I find nearly all of our discussion totally relevant.

Josh showed us a typical textbook page: "Simplify," and then literally 44 questions about adding or subtracting fractions. Yip! Not! He explained a new way of thinking about these directions, as we are all money strapped and no one is getting new CCCS textbooks this year. So this is what I did with the icky picky hand-out from my department: (Stay with me, don't fall asleep yet!)

Side 1 
 Side 2--Lest you think we forgot ANYTHING...and like the (!) will make doing all 28 any more fun.

Are you sleeping yet, please don't be, bare with me, because this is what was so freeing:

Shhhhh....I changed the directions.

1. Silently study all the problems but do not solve them: Put a CIRCLE around the number of the ones you will need to combine like terms for. Put a  TRIANGLE around the numbers for the ones you will need to rationalize the demoninator for. Put a HEART around the number of the ones that will be perfect square factors themselves. 

2. Now in pairs, come to consensus about problems you marked. 

3. Now get out your highlighters or crayons...make all the circle problems Green, make all the triangle problems yellow and make all the heart problems purple. Go home and do two of each kind. 


I know just how geeky this sounds, but man, it was beautiful!

PS: I learned about "clock" partners. Anyone use this successful in Algebra 1 and beyond?