Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Innovation Day and other Stuff!

Well , all my students have decided on an innovation day project. They will start working on them this Friday. They are doing all sorts of activities. Learning massage, writing songs, doing art work, minecraft education tutorials, cooking, and more! I have great students. I can't wait to see the end products.

My Geometry classes have been working on Trigonometry and they have struggled. They had to turn in an infographic with Properties of Triangles. My expectations were pretty high. I was a little disappointed. BUT, we move on! Monday students will start a bridge building design and engineering project. I have done these projects in the past. However, I have never used manilla file folders as the construction material. We will talk about the engineering and measurement of stress on the parts of the bridge. Westpoint Bridge Building Projects are very well organized and worth the time. They also have a great downloadable Bridge Design program available for students to test their designs.  This unit will fit nicely with our recently completed unit on Triangles and Trigonometry.

In MATH APPS, we have completed two units, one on game playing and probability. Have you ever played Pig Dice? What is your strategy for winning DEAL OR NO DEAL or  YAHTZEE? Our other unit has been: FERMI problems. I have to give credit to Ethan Bolker and Maura Mast, authors of COMMON SENSE MATHEMATICS: a quantitative reasoning course. They have given me permission to use the material from their College Quantitative Reasoning Course. I love the way they present great REAL LIFE MATH. I have been learning along with the students. Did you know you can pay for a Harvard Degree by collecting cans and bottles. It has been done and we proved it is possible. OR, did you know you can actually get paid to plant trees AND you can make great money doing it? How many trees do you think you could plant in a day? How about 4,000 trees? The range is between 1,000 and 4,000 trees. Can you verify that we throw away enough plastic silverware to circle the globe 300 times? We have looked into drop-out rates, FBI fingerprints, and more. Let me say, "You can't believe everything you read on the internet, but you can do a lot of MATH checking facts!

I am having a great time teaching this small class of students. We have been blogging, tweeting, researching, calculating, and THINKING about numbers and math. Our newest unit is about MONEY. We are studying Payday Loans, Rent-to-Own, Mortgages and foreclosures, Interest rates, and cost of living comparisons now vs 50 years ago. Again, I would love to take credit for this unit, but I was able to compile this unit from a book called 25 Real Life Math Investigations that will ASTOUND Teachers and Students. I can't express how fun it is to TEACH MATH IN CONTEXT of real life.  I also LOVE TO SEARCH for classroom resources. I remember the drudgery of teaching out of a textbook every day, trying to answer the question, "When am I ever going to use this?" I don't hear that question when we are going through these types of units. It is not always easy and it takes a lot of TIME. However, it IS worth it!

I love teaching and spending time with my amazing students. I can't think of a better way to spend my day! 

Resources on Payday Loans

My Math Apps class is studying payday loans. The Math is amazing. The appeal of these loans to the poor or emergency use over-rules the logic of NOT paying a 400%+ interest rate. Here are some resources:

How Payday loans work

Payday Loans - National Consumer Law Center

No Loan Sharks

Huffington Post Article: Banks Increasingly Use Payday Loans Despite Crackdown On Predatory Lending: Study

CNBC: Crackdown Needed in Predatory Lending

How short term lending becomes long term debt

Friday, February 1, 2013


Today you need to finalize your "INNOVATION DAY" Project Details in your blog.  You need to describe your project including the following:

WHAT is the main focus of your project? - Summarize in ONE SENTENCE, what your project is about. 

WHY is this important to you? - describe why you chose this project, how it reflects your interests and how it fits into your future plans.

HOW are you going to complete this project? - make a list of things you need to complete this project. Include the details of the format of your project. Will you make a video, Powerpoint, recording, an ACTUAL product, or some other product.

WHEN do you need to be done with your details? - set goal dates to reach your deadline. You have the following dates in class to work on your project: February 1st, 15th, 22nd, March 1st, 8th, and 15th.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Student Ideas for INNOVATION DAY






Write the answers to these 30 questions in your own BLOG.

Are you struggling trying to find an IDEA for Innovation Day? Here is a link that might spur your GENIUS:

Kreb's Class Blogs

If you still aren't sure come to me. Maybe together we can figure it out!

Innovation Day #1 - The Beginning

Friday is INNOVATION DAY #1 in my Math Classes.

I want to see this implemented school wide. But, I need to experience it myself. So, my classes are having Innovation Day every Friday for the rest of the year.


I got the idea from Josh Stumpenhorst, Stumpteacher Blog. Other schools have called it "Genius Hour" and you can even follow #geniushour on Twitter. The idea is based on the 80/20 Rule at Google.
 Google give it's Engineers 20% of their work week to spend creating things that interest them. This work is completely separate from their usual daily assignments. Other companies have done the same thing. This policy has helped Google remain the leading Search Engine and true Internet leader. It is the GOLD STANDARD for companies across the world.

I'm bringing Google's 80/20 rule to Garrett High School.

My students have been given every Friday through the end of the year to Innovate, Create, Research, Study, and learn about what THEY want to learn about. Tomorrow, we will begin the road to teaching CREATIVITY to students through practicing CREATIVITY. The other 80% of the time we, as teachers, will lead and guide students in the paths WE CHOOSE. Tomorrow they will do the leading.

I introduced this topic on Monday and already MANY of my students are planning their projects. I have a student who is going to work at creating an IPAD app for me. Neither of us know exactly how to do this. But, he has already been researching how to make an APP. Frankly, this student is brilliant in many ways. He has a great mind for computers and programming. He has already TAUGHT HIMSELF some pretty complicated computer programming. I can't wait to see what he creates.

I have another group of students who will be working on a film. They are also pumped and have done some preliminary work on their project. I do have a LARGE number of students that DON"T HAVE AN IDEA WHAT TO DO! Unfortunately, this is a SAD commentary on education. We have sucked the creativity out of our students. Many of our students struggle when we leave them on their own to create. I even see this in my traditional math lessons. When we do "DISCOVERY" types of lessons, I get the most whining and complaining. Students would prefer to be given a text book full of identical problems that they can workout like a factory. BORING! and not very LIFE LIKE! Students have learned the system. Most of our students have figured out "THE SYSTEM" and are comfortable with it. Then here comes "Mr. RHOADES" and he changes the system. It really stretches them and makes them uncomfortable. If we want students to create, we are going to have to help them to RELEARN their creativity.

SO, what does this have to do with MATH? One of the most important objectives I have for my MATH students is to teach them to plan, organize, and problem solve. Math teaches you to take problems, break them down into small pieces, organize the pieces, and follow theses pieces to a logical solution. In real life, problem solving, producing, or creating may or may not involve a lot of numbers and formulas. But, all the things I teach my students are crucial to creating and being successful. They may never have to use the Quadratic Equation again after they graduate. But, the REAL math skills we teach them will be used everywhere!

Tomorrow is the start of a very SCARY day for me, the traditional MATH teacher. I am already apprehensive. Do you  know why? Because I'm not going to be in control, the students are. That is scary for this 52 year Math Teacher. WISH ME LUCK or should I say, WISH MY STUDENTS SUCCESS!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Geometry / Algebra Final Week of Term 1!

It's been quite some time since I posted on my Math Blog. I got busy over the Holidays and the Girls Basketball Schedule has kept my pretty busy.  I wanted to post since we are nearing the end of the 2nd term. I think it's important to take some time in REFLECTION as we have only 4 days left to the end of the term. This means I will be done with Algebra 1 and adding Math Applications to the daily schedule. I am excited and nervous about this new class. Teaching REAL WORLD MATH is new to me and new to education, for the most part. I am 52 years old. I spent my k-12 career in the standard classroom. Then I spent my college years and my teaching years in "TRADITIONAL" math classes. Even this year, my Algebra 1 class and Geometry class have been more traditional than I like.

I'm not against TRADITIONAL Math Classes. I think they have an important place in the education of our students. However, if we are to TRULY prepare our students for their future, we need to walk a balance beam between the Abstract and the REAL WORLD. I know this is hotly debated. Again, I am not against traditional ABSTRACT Math education. I think it is important to stretch our students by abstraction. But, the attempts to interject Real World Math into our education system has been weak. So, I'm delving into the world of TEACHING REAL WORLD MATH to High School students. It will be a learning experience for all of us.

As we enter the last week, we will spend our 4 remaining days, preparing and taking the final exams in both Geometry and Algebra. This will be the last chance for some of these students to overcome their poor performance on the ECA to try to salvage a passing grade. Geometry is an all year class and we will take some time this week to reflect on what we have done and what we will do in the 2nd half of the year.

The most important reflection tool for this week will be the Student Course Assessment tool. Thursday, I will get some very important feedback from my students about Algebra and Geometry. I feel it is so important for my students and I to BOTH be LIFE LONG LEARNERS. I need to understand their thoughts about education and use them to make a more meaningful course.

Here is the schedule for the week:

Geometry Schedule -- January 14th-17th

Algebra 1 Schedule -- January 14th-17th