Tonight my great students start a well deserved Christmas Break. I'm sitting here watching the Hoosiers and reflecting back on the first 4 months of school with great joy. I am so proud of my students. They have worked really hard and done everything I have asked. My Algebra classes put out a great effort to pass the State ECA test. We will know early in January who passed. I have kept it no secret that I am not a fan of Standardized tests. My students and I don't need a test to tell who struggles with Algebra and who doesn't. Yet, every single student has worked hard to try to pass. I am so grateful for that effort. I am so blessed to have students who work hard, ask for help, and TRY. I have had an average attendance rate of 94% and 100% during the ECA test. WOW! that is great effort.

I have had virtually NO PROBLEMS with attitudes or lack of focus during our class periods. We have accomplished much and will end the 2nd term with a flurry.

Today, we ended the term with a Math Rummy Card tournament. It was fun watching students enjoy the challenge of math within a Card game. RYAN HATHAWAY was the Algebra Champion followed closely by EMILY KENNEDY. Ryan, Don't eat all that Chocolate by yourself. Thank You to my wonderful Wife Stephanie for baking Chocolate Hip Cookies as a reward for all their efforts.

Thank You Students. Enjoy your time away from school Enjoy this wonderful time of the year and enjoy your time with family and friends.

It may seem silly or UNCOOL, but I will miss you and truly look forward to getting back together on January 3rd!

Merry Christmas and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

## Wednesday, December 19, 2012

## Wednesday, December 12, 2012

## Monday, December 3, 2012

### Count Down?

I love the count down to Christmas. We have 22 days left and now the television is filled with Christmas Specials and Movies. I'm in the middle of watching a "Classic" -- Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. I can't count the number of times I've seen this movie, it's still hilarious!

BUT, the count down I'm talking about is NOT Christmas. I am counting down the days to my Algebra Class ECA test. 8 days left until the BIG DAY! The Algebra portion of the test is December 13th and 14th. My Algebra Classes are covering some new material this week, but we are mostly spending time reviewing concepts and covering practice problems.

I feel confident my students are ready, but just like a basketball team. Preparation is one thing. Putting it all together in a game is another. In the end, my students have to apply what they know.

In Geometry, our House Finishing Project is nearing completion. The groups make their presentations tomorrow. In many ways I have loved this project. Secretly, my students have learned to read blue prints, apply area and perimeter, converted units of measure, and used numerous 21st Century Skills like collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving.

The project hasn't been easy and there has been some stressful situations. But, I am proud of what my students have done. I also have learned quite a few things about PBL by doing this project. So, it has been a good FIRST PBL project.

My Geometry class will head back to more "pure" Geometry for a while and spend time studying TRIANGLES!

I have been back in the classroom for over 3 months and I could not ask for better students. They are learning and I am learning right along side them. I am blessed!

BUT, the count down I'm talking about is NOT Christmas. I am counting down the days to my Algebra Class ECA test. 8 days left until the BIG DAY! The Algebra portion of the test is December 13th and 14th. My Algebra Classes are covering some new material this week, but we are mostly spending time reviewing concepts and covering practice problems.

I feel confident my students are ready, but just like a basketball team. Preparation is one thing. Putting it all together in a game is another. In the end, my students have to apply what they know.

In Geometry, our House Finishing Project is nearing completion. The groups make their presentations tomorrow. In many ways I have loved this project. Secretly, my students have learned to read blue prints, apply area and perimeter, converted units of measure, and used numerous 21st Century Skills like collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and problem solving.

The project hasn't been easy and there has been some stressful situations. But, I am proud of what my students have done. I also have learned quite a few things about PBL by doing this project. So, it has been a good FIRST PBL project.

My Geometry class will head back to more "pure" Geometry for a while and spend time studying TRIANGLES!

I have been back in the classroom for over 3 months and I could not ask for better students. They are learning and I am learning right along side them. I am blessed!

## Thursday, November 22, 2012

### Thankful for my DAY FAMILY!

I took my Geometry class on a field trip to Home Depot, Menards, Sherwin Williams, and Sears on Tuesday. We also had a great conversation with Tim Marshall of T&T Heating and Plumming. Our House Projects are nearing completion and I am thrilled with how hard my students have worked.

My Algebra students worked with the substitute teacher on Tuesday. Thanks to the great tech tools GKB has provided, I was able to teach while not being at school. I used Camtasia, my Hitachi Interactive Whiteboard, and YouTube to teach. The class worked on problems via Khan Academy and some real education went on, not just busy work! I was able get on Khan and see what work they completed and how well the lesson went. Although, I believe face to face education is truly the BEST way to teach, I can see how this has appeal to many people. Like most teachers, I hate to be out of the classroom. Being out always seems like a wasted day. Tuesday was not wasted, it was just another day of learning.

The last assignment I asked my Algebra students to complete was a Blog Post on Thanksgiving. I have been so amazed at how great my students love to blog and their posts are amazing. I gain great insight on their lives and thinking beyond Algebra. I really think this helps me as their teacher. These blogs are just another tool to connect and go beyond the "traditional" classroom.

I am so very Thankful for my students. I am overjoyed to spend my day with these young men and women. I often hear teachers complain about their kids. In many ways it disgusts me. If you can't find the good in the students you teach, you need to look to another profession. If you get so bogged down with late assignments, lack of discipline, confrontation, dress code violations, and poor academic performance that you can't build a positive caring relationship you need to do something else. If you can't care for the least of your students, how can you teach them or expect them to learn? I don't have the top students in my class. I love them. They are my "day family". They aren't perfect. My classes are the same as most other classes. I have students who don't work hard, they don't complete all their work, they give up, they have too many absences, and have bad attitudes. We ARE family. Like most families, we have good moments and bad. I wouldn't trade them for anyone else. I love technology and what it allows me to do with my DAY FAMILY. But, that only goes so far. There is something special about the relationships teachers build with students that aren't measured on a standardized test. You can't get the caring, personal relationship students need from a computer. You can get great content. Life is more than what you know. Life is about relationships with people.

Thanks to my classes I get to spend my life building relationships and teaching students how to live life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Algebra students worked with the substitute teacher on Tuesday. Thanks to the great tech tools GKB has provided, I was able to teach while not being at school. I used Camtasia, my Hitachi Interactive Whiteboard, and YouTube to teach. The class worked on problems via Khan Academy and some real education went on, not just busy work! I was able get on Khan and see what work they completed and how well the lesson went. Although, I believe face to face education is truly the BEST way to teach, I can see how this has appeal to many people. Like most teachers, I hate to be out of the classroom. Being out always seems like a wasted day. Tuesday was not wasted, it was just another day of learning.

The last assignment I asked my Algebra students to complete was a Blog Post on Thanksgiving. I have been so amazed at how great my students love to blog and their posts are amazing. I gain great insight on their lives and thinking beyond Algebra. I really think this helps me as their teacher. These blogs are just another tool to connect and go beyond the "traditional" classroom.

I am so very Thankful for my students. I am overjoyed to spend my day with these young men and women. I often hear teachers complain about their kids. In many ways it disgusts me. If you can't find the good in the students you teach, you need to look to another profession. If you get so bogged down with late assignments, lack of discipline, confrontation, dress code violations, and poor academic performance that you can't build a positive caring relationship you need to do something else. If you can't care for the least of your students, how can you teach them or expect them to learn? I don't have the top students in my class. I love them. They are my "day family". They aren't perfect. My classes are the same as most other classes. I have students who don't work hard, they don't complete all their work, they give up, they have too many absences, and have bad attitudes. We ARE family. Like most families, we have good moments and bad. I wouldn't trade them for anyone else. I love technology and what it allows me to do with my DAY FAMILY. But, that only goes so far. There is something special about the relationships teachers build with students that aren't measured on a standardized test. You can't get the caring, personal relationship students need from a computer. You can get great content. Life is more than what you know. Life is about relationships with people.

Thanks to my classes I get to spend my life building relationships and teaching students how to live life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

## Saturday, November 10, 2012

### Veterans Day 2012 -- It's about Honor!

My classes spent the day. Watching Veterans Videos and blogging about Veterans Day on Friday. I know it's Algebra Class, but there is nothing more important than making sure the next generation knows the sacrifices made by our military.

We first watched a shortened version of this Dad saying goodbye to his son who is leaving for Afganistan:

I just thought they should know how much a sacrifice it is for a family. I then shared this video from CBS Sunday Morning in 2011 about the Militaries Dignified Transfer procedure for those military personnel that gave the ultimare sacrifice. This is a great video:

I then had the opportunity to share with them the TWO times I have participated in the "Dignified Transfer" this past summer. Most of my students knew or knew of Jabraun Knox who was killed in Afganistan this past May. We talked about that sacrifice and the emotions of that loss.

I also shared with them the video SPC Nick Talyor of Berne killed in action just 2 months after Jabraun. I shared this video with them and also shared how I knew this young hero and how close this hit to home for me.

At the end of class, my students wrote in their blogs to thank our veterans. As always, my students did a great job and I am honored to be with them Every single day. It is because of Military Heros like Nick and Jabraun that I have the opportunity to teach and help the youth of our community prepare for their future!

I have shared some of those posts on Twitter @ghsmath2012

We first watched a shortened version of this Dad saying goodbye to his son who is leaving for Afganistan:

I just thought they should know how much a sacrifice it is for a family. I then shared this video from CBS Sunday Morning in 2011 about the Militaries Dignified Transfer procedure for those military personnel that gave the ultimare sacrifice. This is a great video:

I then had the opportunity to share with them the TWO times I have participated in the "Dignified Transfer" this past summer. Most of my students knew or knew of Jabraun Knox who was killed in Afganistan this past May. We talked about that sacrifice and the emotions of that loss.

I also shared with them the video SPC Nick Talyor of Berne killed in action just 2 months after Jabraun. I shared this video with them and also shared how I knew this young hero and how close this hit to home for me.

At the end of class, my students wrote in their blogs to thank our veterans. As always, my students did a great job and I am honored to be with them Every single day. It is because of Military Heros like Nick and Jabraun that I have the opportunity to teach and help the youth of our community prepare for their future!

I have shared some of those posts on Twitter @ghsmath2012

## Friday, November 2, 2012

### HammondVictor's Blog: What is School for? Why is School Important in Soc...

HammondVictor's Blog: What is School for? Why is School Important in Soc...: Question to ask: What is School for? There are some days where I do question myself about the point of school. Sometimes I ...

### Ashley Peaslee: What is school for?

Ashley Peaslee: What is school for?: What is school for? Teachers, parents, and students all wonder why we really have school and what's the point? I honestly think we shoul...

### Second Nine Weeks is underway!

It's been over a week since my last post. Parent Teacher Conferences are over, Halloween is behind us and we are pushing toward the Holidays full steam ahead.

We are working extra hard on Linear Equations, graphing, and Real World Applications. 80% of the ECA (End of Course Assessment) will deal directly with Linear Equations. I have been greatly encouraged with how hard the ENTIRE class is working on this topic.

I have also started to produce a couple video lessons of my own using Camtasia. It is not exactly what I want, but it's ok to start with. I really am trying to produce Khan like lesson videos. I have noticed, and so have my students, his videos are not always the best. I just do things differently than he does. I will keep working to try to figure out how to do it in a better way.

Here are a couple examples:

Today we watched another TED video on "Failure" . The question of the day is, "What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?" We will blog about this on Monday. I am really enjoying mixing writing in with my classes.

Next week we will prepare for a Linear Equation Assessment, participate in Acuity testing, and continue to prepare for the ECA. It's sad that we put so much emphasis on the test. But, our state and country put so much value in this high stakes testing. This testing gets in the way of REAL LEARNING taking place.(Just an opinion!)

This class has grown by 3 students since the end of the first term. I was a little worried about changing the dynamics of this class by adding students. During the first nine weeks we have grown to be a pretty close family. Even the students voiced their concern, (before the students started). But, the "Newbies" have been accepted into the family and we are moving on. Unlike the Algebra class, I have some great freedom to take my time and really work at teaching critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication through Geometry.

We have just started are first REAL PBL lesson. We have divided up into teams. Each team has been assigned a NEW HOME to finish. They will propose flooring, wallcoverings, lighting, and appliances for a newly constructed home. The teams have been given construction blue prints and will be providing a detailed bid to "Finish" the home.

Teams have made group contracts and are in the midst of compiling TASK LISTS. Next week they will organize these lists and develop a time table for the tasks to be complete. I just love this type of real life work. Students take this work very seriously and have already impressed me with their brainstorming plans.

I love coming to these classes and being with my students everyday. My students are the greatest. They challenge me and encourage me every single day. They stretch me and my preparation and I hope I am stretching them also.

**Algebra I**We are working extra hard on Linear Equations, graphing, and Real World Applications. 80% of the ECA (End of Course Assessment) will deal directly with Linear Equations. I have been greatly encouraged with how hard the ENTIRE class is working on this topic.

I have also started to produce a couple video lessons of my own using Camtasia. It is not exactly what I want, but it's ok to start with. I really am trying to produce Khan like lesson videos. I have noticed, and so have my students, his videos are not always the best. I just do things differently than he does. I will keep working to try to figure out how to do it in a better way.

Here are a couple examples:

Today we watched another TED video on "Failure" . The question of the day is, "What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?" We will blog about this on Monday. I am really enjoying mixing writing in with my classes.

Next week we will prepare for a Linear Equation Assessment, participate in Acuity testing, and continue to prepare for the ECA. It's sad that we put so much emphasis on the test. But, our state and country put so much value in this high stakes testing. This testing gets in the way of REAL LEARNING taking place.(Just an opinion!)

**Geometry**This class has grown by 3 students since the end of the first term. I was a little worried about changing the dynamics of this class by adding students. During the first nine weeks we have grown to be a pretty close family. Even the students voiced their concern, (before the students started). But, the "Newbies" have been accepted into the family and we are moving on. Unlike the Algebra class, I have some great freedom to take my time and really work at teaching critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication through Geometry.

We have just started are first REAL PBL lesson. We have divided up into teams. Each team has been assigned a NEW HOME to finish. They will propose flooring, wallcoverings, lighting, and appliances for a newly constructed home. The teams have been given construction blue prints and will be providing a detailed bid to "Finish" the home.

Teams have made group contracts and are in the midst of compiling TASK LISTS. Next week they will organize these lists and develop a time table for the tasks to be complete. I just love this type of real life work. Students take this work very seriously and have already impressed me with their brainstorming plans.

I love coming to these classes and being with my students everyday. My students are the greatest. They challenge me and encourage me every single day. They stretch me and my preparation and I hope I am stretching them also.

## Thursday, October 25, 2012

### Hot Topic #2: What is School for?

Another great hot topic is answering the question, What is School for?

What a marvelous question to ask parents, teachers, and students. This really should be the primary question of everyone in our community. If we don't know what we are here for, then why do we do it? As teachers are we just here to earn a living? Can we really boil it down to a simple Mission Statement: "To graduate Responsible, Productive Citizens"? I personally hope it's much deeper than that. Watch this great video from Tedx to look deeper into this question:

What a marvelous question to ask parents, teachers, and students. This really should be the primary question of everyone in our community. If we don't know what we are here for, then why do we do it? As teachers are we just here to earn a living? Can we really boil it down to a simple Mission Statement: "To graduate Responsible, Productive Citizens"? I personally hope it's much deeper than that. Watch this great video from Tedx to look deeper into this question:

## Wednesday, October 24, 2012

### Hot Topic: Is Algebra Important?

I love Math. But, Math, Algebra, and just about anything connected to it, get a bad rap from almost everyone. There has been a war of words lately about the value of Math. It started with the New York Times article by Andrew Hacker: Is Algebra Necessary?

To say several people have responded to this Article doesn't do it justice. But, I wonder what students have to say about it. Below is a rebuttal by Hemant Meta who wrote an article in Patheos arguing the other side of the debate. Read the New York Times Article and then the article below (I had to edit it slightly due to some inappropriate language in the comments.) Then give me your opinion!

This is a VERY HOT TOPIC and worthy of debate!

Tomorrow, my Algebra and Geometry students will weigh in on their own blogs. I will link some of their responses. Here's a great video to get your Brain in motion!

#

To say several people have responded to this Article doesn't do it justice. But, I wonder what students have to say about it. Below is a rebuttal by Hemant Meta who wrote an article in Patheos arguing the other side of the debate. Read the New York Times Article and then the article below (I had to edit it slightly due to some inappropriate language in the comments.) Then give me your opinion!

This is a VERY HOT TOPIC and worthy of debate!

Tomorrow, my Algebra and Geometry students will weigh in on their own blogs. I will link some of their responses. Here's a great video to get your Brain in motion!

#
**Why Algebra is Necessary: Rebutting Andrew Hacker**

**July 31, 2012 By Hemant Meta , Patheos.com**

I teach Geometry. I’ve taught it for years. I’ll have two sections of it this year. Probably 65 kids. Every year that I’ve taught the subject, kids have freaked out at the mere mention of the word “Proof.” Without actually knowing what they are or how to do them, they want to give up immediately. And they rationalize their fear by asking me when they’re ever going to use it in life.

My response has always been something like this:

“You will probably never need to prove that two triangles are congruent to each other, but this unit isn’t really about that. What we’re doing is proving something that you only intuitively think is true. You’re using a logical, step-by-step approach, justifying every single argument you make. Furthermore, you’re only allowed to use a basic set of rules to justify your thinking. Can you explain your answers to me in a way that is easy to understand and impossible to refute?”

And then, inevitably, the next day, they forget that speech and ask me when they’re ever going to use this in life. And then I slam my head on the desk.

The worst part is that a number of math departments that I know of are pushing to de-emphasize proofs, spend less time on them, make them less rigorous, or get rid of them altogether. Which is the worst possible way to deal with the issue since, in my mind, proofs are the most important part of the class.

So you can understand my rageface as I read Andrew Hacker‘s article in the New York Times asking, “Is Algebra Necessary?”

(Quick note: Andrew Hacker wrote a *wonderful* book with Claudia Dreifus calling into question how colleges are run — I can’t recommend it enough. Awesome book.)

Back to Hacker’s article, which I’m not a fan of. Here’s what he writes:

“A typical American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t.

…

The toll mathematics takes begins early. To our nation’s shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school. In South Carolina, 34 percent fell away in 2008-9, according to national data released last year; for Nevada, it was 45 percent. Most of the educators I’ve talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason.

…

Algebra is an onerous stumbling block for all kinds of students: disadvantaged and affluent, black and white. In New Mexico, 43 percent of white students fell below “proficient,” along with 39 percent in Tennessee. Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.”

…

Yes, young people should learn to read and write and do long division, whether they want to or not. But there is no reason to force them to grasp vectorial angles and discontinuous functions. Think of math as a huge boulder we make everyone pull, without assessing what all this pain achieves. So why require it, without alternatives or exceptions? Thus far I haven’t found a compelling answer.

His argument can be boiled down to this: A lot of people suck at algebra and we hold them back because of it, but most students will never need to know the specifics of algebra to do their jobs later in life. So why put such a big emphasis on the subject?

My response is the same one I give my Geometry students: It’s not about specific calculations. It’s about being able to take a set of rules and apply them in different situations.

This idea of not teaching kids things that might be difficult and that they won’t directly use in life could justify getting rid of damn near every class. But we ought to approach them the same way as we do math. English shouldn’t be about the specific books we read — it should be about how we analyze them and what we take from them. History shouldn’t be about specific dates — it should be about the patterns and trends that emerge.

It’s hard to convey all that to students (and some teachers) and most of them will never pick up on that when they’re in school. But that doesn’t mean we should skip out on these subjects.

As Evelyn Lamb at Scientific American puts it, “Math education needs to improve, but if illiteracy were on the rise, I don’t think we’d be talking about eliminating reading from the curriculum.”

(Of course, there are also all the standard math teacher responses: Every career uses some form of math. You’re gonna have to know some basic algebra when you’re buying a house, or creating a budget, etc. Even if you don’t think you need math later in life right now, you may change careers.)

Hacker says later in the piece that requiring all students to take some form of statistics would be more worthwhile, and I agree with him, though not at the expense of ignoring core math subjects.

Art Benjamin actually gave a wonderful and really short TED talk on how schools ought to restructure their curriculums so that the pinnacle of math is Probability and Statistics instead of Calculus. I show it to my AP Stats kids the first day of school:

Benjamin is saying something not too far removed from Hacker — let’s make sure the math we’re teaching to students is relevant to our society. I agree — Statistics is far more relevant to the public discourse than Calculus — but even Benjamin is only suggesting a realignment of our priorities, not avoidance of a tough subject.

(Not to mention you really can’t do basic Prob/Stats without an understanding of basic algebra.)

One of the problems we have in the math world right now is that the standardized tests that are used to evaluate schools and teachers force students to focus on the wrong things. They focus rote calculations instead of critical thinking. Hell, there’s an entire test-prep industry built on helping students get high scores without necessarily knowing all the material.

But, again, the solution to all of this is not avoiding the subject. It’s teaching it better.

For example, one of the things my department is working on this coming year is getting away from spending all our time on skills that just require mindless work — plugging and chugging — and spending more time in class on one or two problems that require a lot more thought. Let’s see how far the students can get on their own (or with a group) and help them when they get stuck. That would force them to think in a much different way, which gets to the heart of why we teach math.

We also have to revise our teaching because we live in a world with graphing calculators and Wolfram Alpha — and we want students to use them. So let’s teach them when and how to use those tools. Again — less regurgitation of skills, more critical thinking.

Will it still be tough? Absolutely. But if we don’t challenge students, why should we expect them to work hard and push themselves? Math isn’t supposed to be easy. But it is logical. And the students who understand the rules tend to do pretty damn well.

…

A few more notes.

Hacker writes this:

What is needed is not textbook formulas but greater understanding of where various numbers come from, and what they actually convey…

It’s true that mathematics requires mental exertion. But there’s no evidence that being able to prove (x² + y²)² = (x² – y²)² + (2xy)² leads to more credible political opinions or social analysis.

Riiight. Reading Jane Eyre and studying the periodic table doesn’t help with any of that either. Should we kick English and Chemistry to the curb, too?

Does anyone know what that formula is? Because it’s actually pretty amazing. It’s Euclid’s formula for generating Pythagorean triples (like 3,4,5 and 5,12,13) — it even resembles the Pythagorean Theorem, c² = a² + b² — and it can be very useful if you’re studying Geometry. But if you just think of it as a series of variables without any context, as Hacker does, it’s pretty meaningless.

Andy Soffer elaborates on that formula:

To be fair, I don’t think we should expect non-mathematicians to recognize this formula. It’s beyond what I think is necessary to be a well-rounded citizen. But I do think we should expect the average American to be able to do the basic algebraic manipulations to prove this identity. This is the sort of mathematical literacy I would deem the rough equivalent of being able read, or being able to write in complete sentences.

…

Hacker also says he thinks all students should be able to do things like “long division,” that they should know basic arithmetic skills. But the students who don’t do well in algebra usually struggle precisely because they don’t know basic arithmetic.

Show me a student who can’t find x and I’ll show you a student who needs an iPhone app to calculate a 20% tip.I teach Geometry. I’ve taught it for years. I’ll have two sections of it this year. Probably 65 kids. Every year that I’ve taught the subject, kids have freaked out at the mere mention of the word “Proof.” Without actually knowing what they are or how to do them, they want to give up immediately. And they rationalize their fear by asking me when they’re ever going to use it in life.

My response has always been something like this:

“You will probably never need to prove that two triangles are congruent to each other, but this unit isn’t really about that. What we’re doing is proving something that you only intuitively think is true. You’re using a logical, step-by-step approach, justifying every single argument you make. Furthermore, you’re only allowed to use a basic set of rules to justify your thinking. Can you explain your answers to me in a way that is easy to understand and impossible to refute?”

And then, inevitably, the next day, they forget that speech and ask me when they’re ever going to use this in life. And then I slam my head on the desk.

The worst part is that a number of math departments that I know of are pushing to de-emphasize proofs, spend less time on them, make them less rigorous, or get rid of them altogether. Which is the worst possible way to deal with the issue since, in my mind, proofs are the most important part of the class.

So you can understand my rageface as I read Andrew Hacker‘s article in the New York Times asking, “Is Algebra Necessary?”

(Quick note: Andrew Hacker wrote a *wonderful* book with Claudia Dreifus calling into question how colleges are run — I can’t recommend it enough. Awesome book.)

Back to Hacker’s article, which I’m not a fan of. Here’s what he writes:

“A typical American school day finds some six million high school students and two million college freshmen struggling with algebra. In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail. Why do we subject American students to this ordeal? I’ve found myself moving toward the strong view that we shouldn’t.

…

The toll mathematics takes begins early. To our nation’s shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school. In South Carolina, 34 percent fell away in 2008-9, according to national data released last year; for Nevada, it was 45 percent. Most of the educators I’ve talked with cite algebra as the major academic reason.

…

Algebra is an onerous stumbling block for all kinds of students: disadvantaged and affluent, black and white. In New Mexico, 43 percent of white students fell below “proficient,” along with 39 percent in Tennessee. Even well-endowed schools have otherwise talented students who are impeded by algebra, to say nothing of calculus and trigonometry.”

…

Yes, young people should learn to read and write and do long division, whether they want to or not. But there is no reason to force them to grasp vectorial angles and discontinuous functions. Think of math as a huge boulder we make everyone pull, without assessing what all this pain achieves. So why require it, without alternatives or exceptions? Thus far I haven’t found a compelling answer.

His argument can be boiled down to this: A lot of people suck at algebra and we hold them back because of it, but most students will never need to know the specifics of algebra to do their jobs later in life. So why put such a big emphasis on the subject?

My response is the same one I give my Geometry students: It’s not about specific calculations. It’s about being able to take a set of rules and apply them in different situations.

This idea of not teaching kids things that might be difficult and that they won’t directly use in life could justify getting rid of damn near every class. But we ought to approach them the same way as we do math. English shouldn’t be about the specific books we read — it should be about how we analyze them and what we take from them. History shouldn’t be about specific dates — it should be about the patterns and trends that emerge.

It’s hard to convey all that to students (and some teachers) and most of them will never pick up on that when they’re in school. But that doesn’t mean we should skip out on these subjects.

As Evelyn Lamb at Scientific American puts it, “Math education needs to improve, but if illiteracy were on the rise, I don’t think we’d be talking about eliminating reading from the curriculum.”

(Of course, there are also all the standard math teacher responses: Every career uses some form of math. You’re gonna have to know some basic algebra when you’re buying a house, or creating a budget, etc. Even if you don’t think you need math later in life right now, you may change careers.)

Hacker says later in the piece that requiring all students to take some form of statistics would be more worthwhile, and I agree with him, though not at the expense of ignoring core math subjects.

Art Benjamin actually gave a wonderful and really short TED talk on how schools ought to restructure their curriculums so that the pinnacle of math is Probability and Statistics instead of Calculus. I show it to my AP Stats kids the first day of school:

Benjamin is saying something not too far removed from Hacker — let’s make sure the math we’re teaching to students is relevant to our society. I agree — Statistics is far more relevant to the public discourse than Calculus — but even Benjamin is only suggesting a realignment of our priorities, not avoidance of a tough subject.

(Not to mention you really can’t do basic Prob/Stats without an understanding of basic algebra.)

One of the problems we have in the math world right now is that the standardized tests that are used to evaluate schools and teachers force students to focus on the wrong things. They focus rote calculations instead of critical thinking. Hell, there’s an entire test-prep industry built on helping students get high scores without necessarily knowing all the material.

But, again, the solution to all of this is not avoiding the subject. It’s teaching it better.

For example, one of the things my department is working on this coming year is getting away from spending all our time on skills that just require mindless work — plugging and chugging — and spending more time in class on one or two problems that require a lot more thought. Let’s see how far the students can get on their own (or with a group) and help them when they get stuck. That would force them to think in a much different way, which gets to the heart of why we teach math.

We also have to revise our teaching because we live in a world with graphing calculators and Wolfram Alpha — and we want students to use them. So let’s teach them when and how to use those tools. Again — less regurgitation of skills, more critical thinking.

Will it still be tough? Absolutely. But if we don’t challenge students, why should we expect them to work hard and push themselves? Math isn’t supposed to be easy. But it is logical. And the students who understand the rules tend to do pretty damn well.

…

A few more notes.

Hacker writes this:

What is needed is not textbook formulas but greater understanding of where various numbers come from, and what they actually convey…

It’s true that mathematics requires mental exertion. But there’s no evidence that being able to prove (x² + y²)² = (x² – y²)² + (2xy)² leads to more credible political opinions or social analysis.

Riiight. Reading Jane Eyre and studying the periodic table doesn’t help with any of that either. Should we kick English and Chemistry to the curb, too?

Does anyone know what that formula is? Because it’s actually pretty amazing. It’s Euclid’s formula for generating Pythagorean triples (like 3,4,5 and 5,12,13) — it even resembles the Pythagorean Theorem, c² = a² + b² — and it can be very useful if you’re studying Geometry. But if you just think of it as a series of variables without any context, as Hacker does, it’s pretty meaningless.

Andy Soffer elaborates on that formula:

To be fair, I don’t think we should expect non-mathematicians to recognize this formula. It’s beyond what I think is necessary to be a well-rounded citizen. But I do think we should expect the average American to be able to do the basic algebraic manipulations to prove this identity. This is the sort of mathematical literacy I would deem the rough equivalent of being able read, or being able to write in complete sentences.

…

Hacker also says he thinks all students should be able to do things like “long division,” that they should know basic arithmetic skills. But the students who don’t do well in algebra usually struggle precisely because they don’t know basic arithmetic.

Show me a student who can’t find x and I’ll show you a student who needs an iPhone app to calculate a 20% tip.

## Wednesday, October 17, 2012

### Parent Teacher Conferences! -- Wed. Oct. 24th

A week from tonight, October 24th, will be GHS Parent Teacher Conferences. PLEASE, come!

I really would love to meet with every students parents. I love ALL my students and have great things to say about all of them. Parents don't get to hear those things very often and students need to hear those things. But, I also want parents to come and see what we're doing. From the guitar project to the twitter project, I want them to see what we are doing to bring math to life in the 21st century. Come and ask me about khan Academy, twitter, green car projects, blogs, powerschool, homework, and how we are trying to teach criticsl thinking and collaborationI at GHS. I want to help connect parents with their students on Khan, read this blog, and open the doors for them to be involved on a daily basis with educating their students at GHS!

SO, students and community members, get the word out. Parent Teacher conferences are Wednesday, October 24th from 3:30 - 7:30. You can call for a specific appointment or just drop in.

You can contact me at stvrhoades@gkb.k12.in.us or call the school. The phone number is 357-4114. My extension is : 3217

I really would love to meet with every students parents. I love ALL my students and have great things to say about all of them. Parents don't get to hear those things very often and students need to hear those things. But, I also want parents to come and see what we're doing. From the guitar project to the twitter project, I want them to see what we are doing to bring math to life in the 21st century. Come and ask me about khan Academy, twitter, green car projects, blogs, powerschool, homework, and how we are trying to teach criticsl thinking and collaborationI at GHS. I want to help connect parents with their students on Khan, read this blog, and open the doors for them to be involved on a daily basis with educating their students at GHS!

SO, students and community members, get the word out. Parent Teacher conferences are Wednesday, October 24th from 3:30 - 7:30. You can call for a specific appointment or just drop in.

You can contact me at stvrhoades@gkb.k12.in.us or call the school. The phone number is 357-4114. My extension is : 3217

## Thursday, October 11, 2012

### Hard Work Matters! Great Week!

Tomorrow caps off a great week in my Math Classes. My students continue to amaze me with their hard work and dedication. I was raised that hard work pays off in everything you do. My students that are working hard are doing a great job. MOST of my students ARE working hard. I have only a few that are struggling academically. The number one reason for failure in my class is not doing your work. Parents can check on students to see how HARD they are working. Just get on the school website and check the grades. If you start seeing a bunch of zeros you can bet they are NOT working hard. Here's a recap of our week:

ALGEBRA

We spent a lot of time on KHAN ACADEMY this week working on Linear Equations, Slopes, Y-intercepts, and X-intercepts. Tomorrow, we will take a mini break from skill work and apply what we've learned about slope. We are having a "Slope Scavenger Hunt". Students will break up into groups and measure slopes. I have a list of 10 slopes for them to measure on our campus. The TEAM of students that accurate complete the list in the shortest amount of time win. My lovely wife has baked a great batch of cookies for the winning team!

I know students LOVE these equations. But, if we want students to be able to evaluate complex data and statistics they will need to be comfortable with linear relationships. We spend an enormous amount of time on becoming comfortable with linear equations.

GEOMETRY

We have had a busy week with constructions this week. Students are getting more comfortable with the compass and straight edge. We started out just copying segments and angles. We concluded today with constructing a Square, Pentagon, and Hexagon. Tomorrow Students will design a "Personal Logo" using only a compass and straight edge. We haven't spent ANY time on Khan this week as they do not have a section dealing with constructions. The students have done a great job learning how to follow step by step instructions. I was asked the famous question "When are we ever going to use this?" In my recent discussion with other teachers, we all find students can not follow directions very well. Learning GEOMETRIC CONSTRUCTIONS is a fun way to help students learn to follow step by step instructions. When I teach this it always reminds me of my days "Helping Santa" put together toys at Christmas. We had many a late night following step by step instructions. I can't think of too many jobs where employees aren't required to follow a detailed set of procedures.

Looking forward to a FABULOUS FRIDAY!

ALGEBRA

We spent a lot of time on KHAN ACADEMY this week working on Linear Equations, Slopes, Y-intercepts, and X-intercepts. Tomorrow, we will take a mini break from skill work and apply what we've learned about slope. We are having a "Slope Scavenger Hunt". Students will break up into groups and measure slopes. I have a list of 10 slopes for them to measure on our campus. The TEAM of students that accurate complete the list in the shortest amount of time win. My lovely wife has baked a great batch of cookies for the winning team!

I know students LOVE these equations. But, if we want students to be able to evaluate complex data and statistics they will need to be comfortable with linear relationships. We spend an enormous amount of time on becoming comfortable with linear equations.

GEOMETRY

We have had a busy week with constructions this week. Students are getting more comfortable with the compass and straight edge. We started out just copying segments and angles. We concluded today with constructing a Square, Pentagon, and Hexagon. Tomorrow Students will design a "Personal Logo" using only a compass and straight edge. We haven't spent ANY time on Khan this week as they do not have a section dealing with constructions. The students have done a great job learning how to follow step by step instructions. I was asked the famous question "When are we ever going to use this?" In my recent discussion with other teachers, we all find students can not follow directions very well. Learning GEOMETRIC CONSTRUCTIONS is a fun way to help students learn to follow step by step instructions. When I teach this it always reminds me of my days "Helping Santa" put together toys at Christmas. We had many a late night following step by step instructions. I can't think of too many jobs where employees aren't required to follow a detailed set of procedures.

Looking forward to a FABULOUS FRIDAY!

## Monday, October 8, 2012

### Should students be allowed to fail!

We had a great week last week in Algebra and Geometry ending with our first twitter project. Students did a nice job of picking apart the CDC report on Student Drinking and Driving. We had a great class and twitter discussion.

In Algebra we started work with Linear Equations, slopes, graphing, and the coordinate plane. This week we continue building on that while learning to manipulate the equations.

In Geometry we finally got through areas, perimeters, and circumference. After a little work everybody was successful on the assessment. We now get to move on to constructions. I love working with a compass and straightedge.

In Algebra, we had a discussion about "Should teachers let students fail?" Im not talking about students who work hard but still struggle. I'm talking about students who choose to fail. Teachers really struggle with students who just WON'T work and fail because of it. Most teachers at GHS won't fail a student that works hard. They give opportunity after opportunity to be successful. Math can be difficult and I provide many different methods for students to learn the material. I use tests and assessments as only one of many ways To demonstrate students have learned a concept. Projects, daily work, writing, collaboration, communication, engagement, and organization are all keys to being successful in my class. You could be weak in one or two areas, but still be successful.

The students all shared my thoughts that most students have to work pretty hard at failing in school. Several mentioned we should let them fail and suffer the consequences. But, I just can't give up looking for ways to help them see success. I love the challenge!

I am fortunate to have many great students who work hard in my classes. I love going to school and love the opportunity to work with my colleagues!

In Algebra we started work with Linear Equations, slopes, graphing, and the coordinate plane. This week we continue building on that while learning to manipulate the equations.

In Geometry we finally got through areas, perimeters, and circumference. After a little work everybody was successful on the assessment. We now get to move on to constructions. I love working with a compass and straightedge.

In Algebra, we had a discussion about "Should teachers let students fail?" Im not talking about students who work hard but still struggle. I'm talking about students who choose to fail. Teachers really struggle with students who just WON'T work and fail because of it. Most teachers at GHS won't fail a student that works hard. They give opportunity after opportunity to be successful. Math can be difficult and I provide many different methods for students to learn the material. I use tests and assessments as only one of many ways To demonstrate students have learned a concept. Projects, daily work, writing, collaboration, communication, engagement, and organization are all keys to being successful in my class. You could be weak in one or two areas, but still be successful.

The students all shared my thoughts that most students have to work pretty hard at failing in school. Several mentioned we should let them fail and suffer the consequences. But, I just can't give up looking for ways to help them see success. I love the challenge!

I am fortunate to have many great students who work hard in my classes. I love going to school and love the opportunity to work with my colleagues!

## Thursday, October 4, 2012

### Twitter Project GHS Math tomorrow!

I am nervous and excited about my first ever Math Twitter project tomorrow in my Math classes.

We will analyze a new report from the CDC about Teen Drnking and Driving. We will debate, comment, critique, and question this report and the data collected. We will attack the bold claim made by the CDC that student drinking and driving has decreased by 54% over the last 20 years. All of this debate will take place over Twitter.

Math class?

I know many people might question the VALUE of this project for Math class. "It has nothing to do with our current study of Linear Equations or Geometry." Or Does it? Besides the rich data in the report, the abstract also talks about linear and quadratic relationships of the data. Where else should students learn how to analyze data and apply reasoning to REAL life? They might need to know y = mx + b for the state assessment, but they need to know how to analyze data to make informed decisions as future citizens in our state and country. At GHS we have our mission statement "To graduate responsible, productive citizens." In my opinion, this helps fulfill that mission. If you get a chance join in the conversation!

Twitter?

Twitter is the second largest social media site on the Internet. I want my students to have an AUTHENTIC audience. I don't want them limited to "performing" just for me. Commenting in 140 characters will take some thought!

Even though this is a serious topic, it will be fun to communicate using the Internet, while sitting in the same room.

Wish us Luck!

We will analyze a new report from the CDC about Teen Drnking and Driving. We will debate, comment, critique, and question this report and the data collected. We will attack the bold claim made by the CDC that student drinking and driving has decreased by 54% over the last 20 years. All of this debate will take place over Twitter.

Math class?

I know many people might question the VALUE of this project for Math class. "It has nothing to do with our current study of Linear Equations or Geometry." Or Does it? Besides the rich data in the report, the abstract also talks about linear and quadratic relationships of the data. Where else should students learn how to analyze data and apply reasoning to REAL life? They might need to know y = mx + b for the state assessment, but they need to know how to analyze data to make informed decisions as future citizens in our state and country. At GHS we have our mission statement "To graduate responsible, productive citizens." In my opinion, this helps fulfill that mission. If you get a chance join in the conversation!

Twitter?

Twitter is the second largest social media site on the Internet. I want my students to have an AUTHENTIC audience. I don't want them limited to "performing" just for me. Commenting in 140 characters will take some thought!

Even though this is a serious topic, it will be fun to communicate using the Internet, while sitting in the same room.

Wish us Luck!

## Monday, October 1, 2012

### This Week - Week #5 in Review!

Now that the Dekalb County Fair is over, Homecoming is behind us, and College Go Week has gone, we can actually get back to MATH! I love all the festivities at school, but they do have a tendency to distract students.

Algebra 1

I am in the middle of grading the "Green Car Projects" that were turned in on Friday. I loved this project and what it trained our students to do. It is so important for "Consumers" to research and analyze products before making major purposes. With the internet, we have access to such a vast amount of information. We have no excuse for making a poor choice when purchasing Cars, Homes, or other "Big Ticket" items.

This week we will start with reviewing for our second Assessment. The Assessment will take place tomorrow and we will collect Data Notebooks. Students should review Khan Academy skills practice sets on Absolute Value, InEqualities, Multi-Step Equations, and solving for a variable.

We will be jumping into MORE Linear Equations and Graphs of Lines. This has to be one of the most useful units we will learn about all year. Data Graphs are everywhere and a clear understanding of Lines, Slopes, and Linear Relationships is CRITICAL.

Here are the Khan Academy Skills we will be working on in this next unit:

Graphing Points

Graphing Points and Naming Quadrants

Points on the Coordinate Plane

Identifying linear relationships

Indentifying slope of a line

Line graph intuition

Solving for the y-intercept

Solving for the x-intercept

Equations from tables

Slope Intercept form

Point slope form

Converting between slope-intercept and standard form

Geometry

We are also to the point of our next Assessment. We will review today and Assess tomorrow. Data Notebooks will be collected on TUESDAY. From there, we will do some work with constructions using Compass and Straightedge. Then we will begin our first BIG PBL PROJECT.

Khan Academy does not have any skill work for constructions. HOWEVER, we will continue to work on our Algebra and Math Skills in between working on Constructions and our PBL project.

My classes are doing GREAT! Just remember to KEEP WORKING HARD. Students need to keep notebooks up to date. Weekly Progress Reports are graded on the amount of time Students work on Skills IN-CLASS. If we work 60 minutes in a week, a student will need at least 54 minutes to get an A. Life Skills are graded on participation in class. That MEANS how much a student focuses on MATH during class time. WE DO NOT ASSIGN HOMEWORK AS LONG AS STUDENTS WORK HARD IN CLASS!

I am greatly impressed with the Positive Attitudes of the students in my classes. I look forward to learning with you EVERY DAY!

Algebra 1

I am in the middle of grading the "Green Car Projects" that were turned in on Friday. I loved this project and what it trained our students to do. It is so important for "Consumers" to research and analyze products before making major purposes. With the internet, we have access to such a vast amount of information. We have no excuse for making a poor choice when purchasing Cars, Homes, or other "Big Ticket" items.

This week we will start with reviewing for our second Assessment. The Assessment will take place tomorrow and we will collect Data Notebooks. Students should review Khan Academy skills practice sets on Absolute Value, InEqualities, Multi-Step Equations, and solving for a variable.

We will be jumping into MORE Linear Equations and Graphs of Lines. This has to be one of the most useful units we will learn about all year. Data Graphs are everywhere and a clear understanding of Lines, Slopes, and Linear Relationships is CRITICAL.

Here are the Khan Academy Skills we will be working on in this next unit:

Graphing Points

Graphing Points and Naming Quadrants

Points on the Coordinate Plane

Identifying linear relationships

Indentifying slope of a line

Line graph intuition

Solving for the y-intercept

Solving for the x-intercept

Equations from tables

Slope Intercept form

Point slope form

Converting between slope-intercept and standard form

Geometry

We are also to the point of our next Assessment. We will review today and Assess tomorrow. Data Notebooks will be collected on TUESDAY. From there, we will do some work with constructions using Compass and Straightedge. Then we will begin our first BIG PBL PROJECT.

Khan Academy does not have any skill work for constructions. HOWEVER, we will continue to work on our Algebra and Math Skills in between working on Constructions and our PBL project.

My classes are doing GREAT! Just remember to KEEP WORKING HARD. Students need to keep notebooks up to date. Weekly Progress Reports are graded on the amount of time Students work on Skills IN-CLASS. If we work 60 minutes in a week, a student will need at least 54 minutes to get an A. Life Skills are graded on participation in class. That MEANS how much a student focuses on MATH during class time. WE DO NOT ASSIGN HOMEWORK AS LONG AS STUDENTS WORK HARD IN CLASS!

I am greatly impressed with the Positive Attitudes of the students in my classes. I look forward to learning with you EVERY DAY!

## Saturday, September 22, 2012

### Week #4 -- Geometry

Geometry

This week we spent the first part of the week on some Algebra Skills that were hurting our work with supplementary and complementary angles. We introduces a project where the students are to give a brief 3 minute presentation where ANGLES are seen in sports, work, or other activities. I met with students on Friday to check on their progress. They are researching Hair Styles, Basketball, Softball, wrestling, and many other areas. The Presentations are DUE on Thursday. I can't wait to see what they have found.

We also started working on Area and Perimeter in terms of Squares, Rectangles and regular shaped polygons. My favorite part of the week was the Area of a Triangle Rap.

YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS! It's great. (OK, the kids think I'm nuts. But it is a pretty crazy way to learn a formula!)

Flocabulary Triangle Area RAP!

This week we will work with more BASIC Geometry CIRCLES. We will also work on improving our Math and Algebra Skills.

This week we spent the first part of the week on some Algebra Skills that were hurting our work with supplementary and complementary angles. We introduces a project where the students are to give a brief 3 minute presentation where ANGLES are seen in sports, work, or other activities. I met with students on Friday to check on their progress. They are researching Hair Styles, Basketball, Softball, wrestling, and many other areas. The Presentations are DUE on Thursday. I can't wait to see what they have found.

We also started working on Area and Perimeter in terms of Squares, Rectangles and regular shaped polygons. My favorite part of the week was the Area of a Triangle Rap.

YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS! It's great. (OK, the kids think I'm nuts. But it is a pretty crazy way to learn a formula!)

Flocabulary Triangle Area RAP!

This week we will work with more BASIC Geometry CIRCLES. We will also work on improving our Math and Algebra Skills.

### Week 4 GHS Math 2012 -- Algebra 1

Another great week of Algebra 1 and Geometry at GHS.

My Algebra 1 students really worked hard this week on skills. We continue to work with Inequalities and solving for variables. I really threw some TOUGH problems at them. Even though we had one frustrating day, we are making through and getting better. We had some fun with Dy/Dans 3Acts - Cheese Cutting Problem. I am convinced my students think I'm nuts. But I had fun working this RIDICULOUS, but interesting problem with them. Click the link and see what it's all about!

Lucky Cow - 3 Acts Cheese Cutting

We also started a GREEN Car search project. The students need to research 5 cars for their impact on the environment. They then need to analyze the data and make a choice of the 5. They MUST use Mathematical Reasoning to justify their decisions in a written report 1 page in length. They also need to use a spreadsheet to present the data and a graphical representation of that data. Projects are due Thursday!

The students work will be judged on the Scoring Rubric Below:

We will continue to work on this project this week along with more work on Algebra skills!

*Algebra 1*My Algebra 1 students really worked hard this week on skills. We continue to work with Inequalities and solving for variables. I really threw some TOUGH problems at them. Even though we had one frustrating day, we are making through and getting better. We had some fun with Dy/Dans 3Acts - Cheese Cutting Problem. I am convinced my students think I'm nuts. But I had fun working this RIDICULOUS, but interesting problem with them. Click the link and see what it's all about!

Lucky Cow - 3 Acts Cheese Cutting

We also started a GREEN Car search project. The students need to research 5 cars for their impact on the environment. They then need to analyze the data and make a choice of the 5. They MUST use Mathematical Reasoning to justify their decisions in a written report 1 page in length. They also need to use a spreadsheet to present the data and a graphical representation of that data. Projects are due Thursday!

The students work will be judged on the Scoring Rubric Below:

We will continue to work on this project this week along with more work on Algebra skills!

## Tuesday, September 11, 2012

### Back to the drawing board!

I just got done grading my Algebra 1 first Skill Assessment of the year. Not what I was expecting. One of the things I noticed today when they were taking it, they are in such a BIG hurry. Many, many silly mistakes and a lot of negative signs wrong. So, we go back to the drawing board. No sense moving forward until we get this! We'll re-teach and re-assess! I will NOT let them fail!

On a bright note, the Notebooks are getting BETTER. I saw major improvements on organization and completeness!

My first Geometry skills assessment is on Friday, I hope they're ready. They will turning in notebooks on that day and taking the assessment. REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW.

I Can say most of my students are working hard. The ones that have been putting in the GREAT efforts did great on the assessment! Go figure!

On a bright note, the Notebooks are getting BETTER. I saw major improvements on organization and completeness!

My first Geometry skills assessment is on Friday, I hope they're ready. They will turning in notebooks on that day and taking the assessment. REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW.

I Can say most of my students are working hard. The ones that have been putting in the GREAT efforts did great on the assessment! Go figure!

## Friday, September 7, 2012

### Great Week!

It was just a 4 day week but it was productive.

The Algebra 1 classes spent a solid 100 minutes on Khan working on skills. We were able to work through several problems and I was very happy with how focused the students were at getting work done. Today, we started a GUITAR DESIGN project. Yes, this is a Math Project. We watched a great video how making Custom Guitars is a VERY MATHEMATICAL process. We are focusing our MATH on the design and location of the FRETS. Students were given a worksheet with ratios for the Fret Positions. They had to make some calculations, convert to fractions, recognize a pattern, and then apply the information to the Guitar MODEL they were asked to design and build.

Getting students to THINK CRITICALLY is not easy. I hear a little "whining" when I wouldn't give them answers! Sometimes STUDENTS are so "Teacher Dependent". I saw the work they were doing and thought they were making good progress toward their designs. The FINISHED Guitars are to be done by next Friday. I can't wait to see the finished products!

We nearly wrapped up the INTERIOR DESIGN project and will complete the final wall on Monday. We went back to working on some KA skills yesterday and today. I am impressed with how hard this class is working. Most of them are on schedule with their skill work. I turned notebooks back over to them, but STILL some have to really work on their organization.

As a reminder, here is what they need in their notebooks, (both Algebra and Geometry)

1) A copy of the Course Map - list of Skill Topics we will cover

2) Section for Notes - Worked examples, and "How to" notes I give in class as well as notes they take on the KHAN videos.

3) Vocabulary Section - Special Vocabulary and definitions covered in class

4) Scratch Paper Section- Paper where they show their work making calculations during skill work

5) Project Section - Special Project Assignments

6) Teacher Comment Section - Scoring Rubrics for the Notebooks, Work Progress Reports, and Life Skills.

GHS really believes in Data Notebooks and this information along with their Khan Academy Data really help a student KNOW where they stand in class.

Great week with GREAT students. I LOVE MY LIFE AT GHS!

**Algebra 1**The Algebra 1 classes spent a solid 100 minutes on Khan working on skills. We were able to work through several problems and I was very happy with how focused the students were at getting work done. Today, we started a GUITAR DESIGN project. Yes, this is a Math Project. We watched a great video how making Custom Guitars is a VERY MATHEMATICAL process. We are focusing our MATH on the design and location of the FRETS. Students were given a worksheet with ratios for the Fret Positions. They had to make some calculations, convert to fractions, recognize a pattern, and then apply the information to the Guitar MODEL they were asked to design and build.

Getting students to THINK CRITICALLY is not easy. I hear a little "whining" when I wouldn't give them answers! Sometimes STUDENTS are so "Teacher Dependent". I saw the work they were doing and thought they were making good progress toward their designs. The FINISHED Guitars are to be done by next Friday. I can't wait to see the finished products!

*Geometry*We nearly wrapped up the INTERIOR DESIGN project and will complete the final wall on Monday. We went back to working on some KA skills yesterday and today. I am impressed with how hard this class is working. Most of them are on schedule with their skill work. I turned notebooks back over to them, but STILL some have to really work on their organization.

As a reminder, here is what they need in their notebooks, (both Algebra and Geometry)

1) A copy of the Course Map - list of Skill Topics we will cover

2) Section for Notes - Worked examples, and "How to" notes I give in class as well as notes they take on the KHAN videos.

3) Vocabulary Section - Special Vocabulary and definitions covered in class

4) Scratch Paper Section- Paper where they show their work making calculations during skill work

5) Project Section - Special Project Assignments

6) Teacher Comment Section - Scoring Rubrics for the Notebooks, Work Progress Reports, and Life Skills.

GHS really believes in Data Notebooks and this information along with their Khan Academy Data really help a student KNOW where they stand in class.

Great week with GREAT students. I LOVE MY LIFE AT GHS!

## Sunday, September 2, 2012

### This week!

Another week, I think my classes and I are finally getting to know each other. This week we worked on organization. I helped students organize their google docs and their Data Notebooks. I wish students knew how important a life skill it is to be organized. I have never seen a job where it wasn't important. When I reviewed the notebooks on Friday, I realize we have more work to do. Oh well, it's early.

In Algebra, we did a team building activity called, "What bothers you?" This is a fun activity where I can get some ideas about future POTENTIAL projects for class. It is also helpful to get students working together and open up during class. I had some great input on our second week of WPRs. WPRs are weekly progress reports completed by students as feedback for me. They did a great job completing these. I am happy with our skill progress and teamwork. I am still wanting students to work on positive attitudes and the "Happiness Advantage". I want my students to work on positive interactions with each other, teachers, and community.

In Geometry, we had to restart our class project. But, we made some good progress on Friday. I feel this project is as important or more so, than the skill work we are doing. I also collected notebooks from this class. They were a little better than my Algebra class, but we still need to work on organization. With a small class like this we are really able to work on our teamwork. But, I still want to have them work together more when they don't understand something. This class also gave great input on our weekly progress reports and many examples of positive things that happened in and out of class this week.

Parents of both Geometry and Algebra students should get on Khan Academy to follow the skill

progress of their student. I can't wait for the start of another week!

In Algebra, we did a team building activity called, "What bothers you?" This is a fun activity where I can get some ideas about future POTENTIAL projects for class. It is also helpful to get students working together and open up during class. I had some great input on our second week of WPRs. WPRs are weekly progress reports completed by students as feedback for me. They did a great job completing these. I am happy with our skill progress and teamwork. I am still wanting students to work on positive attitudes and the "Happiness Advantage". I want my students to work on positive interactions with each other, teachers, and community.

In Geometry, we had to restart our class project. But, we made some good progress on Friday. I feel this project is as important or more so, than the skill work we are doing. I also collected notebooks from this class. They were a little better than my Algebra class, but we still need to work on organization. With a small class like this we are really able to work on our teamwork. But, I still want to have them work together more when they don't understand something. This class also gave great input on our weekly progress reports and many examples of positive things that happened in and out of class this week.

Parents of both Geometry and Algebra students should get on Khan Academy to follow the skill

progress of their student. I can't wait for the start of another week!

## Thursday, August 30, 2012

### Problems, Problems, Problems

We are nearing the end of the first FULL WEEK of school. I am very impressed with how hard my students are working. We have gotten past the REVIEW and have started working on some NEW skills. In ALGEBRA, we attempted to do some Critical Thinking and problem solving with the "Mars Rover Problem". In all honesty, I can say it didn't go very well. This problem came from the Futures Channel. It was a great APPLICATION of ALGEBRA in the real world dealing with why the Mars Rover has 6 wheels instead of only 4. Getting the students to problem solve was not easy. Students hate the traditional word problems like "Train A leaves the station and travels west at blahblahblah...." BUT, they really hate these REAL WORLD problem solving applications. My theory why? Because they're hard! This PROJECT asks students to use a couple of GIVEN PROBABILITY EQUATIONS and given measurement numbers to analyze the engineering design of an object.Then with that information the are asked to draw conclusions to anser the DRIVING QUESTION. It's HARD WORK!

My Geometry students are also struggling a little with our "Interior Decorating" project. It's not easy to plan and organize a MATH PROJECT. However, I am determined to help my students learn to REALLY THINK!

It's sad to say that students have not been TAUGHT to problem solve or think critically as much as they need to. It's not their fault. It's not their teachers fault either. Our society is so driven by the "Standardized Test" , we don't get to much real world CRITICAL THINKING. We are too busy teaching "Drill Work". Just because a student can solve 5x + 7 = 32, doesn't mean he can think critically or is prepared to be a "Productive Citizen" upon graduation.

Hanging Pictures on a WALL is a very low level basic skill. It's not a skill that's going to make you rich. It's not a skill that will get you a scholarship or admitted to colleger. It's not a STEM problem. However, it is a useful skill and truly is a REAL LIFE application. It takes some planning, organization, and practical skills with a Tape Measure. YES, IT IS A MATH PROBLEM and specifically a GEOMETRY problem. It is WAY beyond identifying a Ray, Line, or Plane and is infinitely more useful.

Well, enough rambling for one night! Tomorrow, we forge ahead. We will collect Notebooks, Weekly Progress Reports, Reflections, and Life Skills Evaluation for a grade. Then we ge back to work on some Critical Thinking Skills and TEAM PROJECTS. I love my students and look forward to the challenge!

My Geometry students are also struggling a little with our "Interior Decorating" project. It's not easy to plan and organize a MATH PROJECT. However, I am determined to help my students learn to REALLY THINK!

It's sad to say that students have not been TAUGHT to problem solve or think critically as much as they need to. It's not their fault. It's not their teachers fault either. Our society is so driven by the "Standardized Test" , we don't get to much real world CRITICAL THINKING. We are too busy teaching "Drill Work". Just because a student can solve 5x + 7 = 32, doesn't mean he can think critically or is prepared to be a "Productive Citizen" upon graduation.

Hanging Pictures on a WALL is a very low level basic skill. It's not a skill that's going to make you rich. It's not a skill that will get you a scholarship or admitted to colleger. It's not a STEM problem. However, it is a useful skill and truly is a REAL LIFE application. It takes some planning, organization, and practical skills with a Tape Measure. YES, IT IS A MATH PROBLEM and specifically a GEOMETRY problem. It is WAY beyond identifying a Ray, Line, or Plane and is infinitely more useful.

Well, enough rambling for one night! Tomorrow, we forge ahead. We will collect Notebooks, Weekly Progress Reports, Reflections, and Life Skills Evaluation for a grade. Then we ge back to work on some Critical Thinking Skills and TEAM PROJECTS. I love my students and look forward to the challenge!

## Tuesday, August 28, 2012

### Work Day

Really, every day is a work day.

But, at the beginning of school we spend so much time getting everything set up, we get very little MATH work done. The class rules for each class have been finalized and are attached below.

Geometry Class Contract

Algebra 1 Class Contract

It was a quite a cooperative effort developing these two contracts. Congress should work together so collaboratively!

All students completed weekly progress reports for last week and did a great job providing feedback about how things are going. We have now opened Khan Academy accounts to work on our Algebra and Geometry Skills. We will combine this "Skill" work with projects and connections so we can work on Critical Thinking Skills.

Here are two examples:

We opened class with this on Friday and discussed why this was true. We even tried it in class!

On Thursday we used this picture to problem solve. We asked" How tall would the person be that could sit Comfortably in this chair. (Picture from Dan Myer Blog 101qs) We came up with 72 feet tall. The class came up with some assumptions and did a good job justifying their answer. (We really used some basic algebra skills when we were planning how to solve it.) What do you think?

We are really trying to get everyone to THINK to solve all sorts of problems. Math isn't just about numbers and shapes. It's about solving problems and thinking critically. We want to combine skills with these "Thinking Exercises" throughout the class.

My geometry classes just started an "Interior Design Project" to decorate the classroom walls. We will plan a layout, use measurement skills and organization to complete the project. We had our first Brainstorming session today. We will continue working on the project tomorrow!

My students are AWESOME! They are working hard and have been focused! I look forward to every day!

But, at the beginning of school we spend so much time getting everything set up, we get very little MATH work done. The class rules for each class have been finalized and are attached below.

Geometry Class Contract

Algebra 1 Class Contract

It was a quite a cooperative effort developing these two contracts. Congress should work together so collaboratively!

All students completed weekly progress reports for last week and did a great job providing feedback about how things are going. We have now opened Khan Academy accounts to work on our Algebra and Geometry Skills. We will combine this "Skill" work with projects and connections so we can work on Critical Thinking Skills.

Here are two examples:

We opened class with this on Friday and discussed why this was true. We even tried it in class!

On Thursday we used this picture to problem solve. We asked" How tall would the person be that could sit Comfortably in this chair. (Picture from Dan Myer Blog 101qs) We came up with 72 feet tall. The class came up with some assumptions and did a good job justifying their answer. (We really used some basic algebra skills when we were planning how to solve it.) What do you think?

We are really trying to get everyone to THINK to solve all sorts of problems. Math isn't just about numbers and shapes. It's about solving problems and thinking critically. We want to combine skills with these "Thinking Exercises" throughout the class.

My geometry classes just started an "Interior Design Project" to decorate the classroom walls. We will plan a layout, use measurement skills and organization to complete the project. We had our first Brainstorming session today. We will continue working on the project tomorrow!

My students are AWESOME! They are working hard and have been focused! I look forward to every day!

## Thursday, August 23, 2012

### Teamwork in Math Class

Another great day for Algebra and Geometry. We didn't tackle "Math" on day 2, but we worked together to start building the TEAMWORK atmosphere of these classes.

The Algebra class were broken up into 5 teams of 4 and were given "THE WASHER CHALLENGE". They had to devise a system to transport a tennis ball across the room and place it in a cup. They were given a large flat washer and 4 strings. AS TEAMS they did a great job being very creative and tackling critical thinking skills. The winning team made it in 17 seconds!

The Geometry class had a different challenge. They were broken up into teams to design and build SPAGHETTI TOWERS. The winning tower was 34 inches tall.

In both classes, I had a group also monitor and evaluate how the teams worked together. THey provided great insight and did a wonderful job.

In both classes, we then began BUILDING our class rules. The students took a class rules survey and with that information I have created a rough draft of our rules. We will edit them tomorrow and then put the CONTRACT into place. I loved the discussion and openness of the students. We shared a google doc so EVERYONE had the chance to give their opinions. We also began discussion about our CLASSROOM TWITTER account and Twitter agreements were sent home to get signatures.

NEXT UP, we will create mission statements AND create our Khan Academy Accounts. We will begin working on some basic math facts to see where everyone is BEFORE we start work on Algebra and Geometry.

What a great start to the school year. I am absolutely excited about the positive attitude of my students. They shared some great things they were grateful for, sent some positive emails, and performed some random acts of kindness. WE WILL DO THIS ALL YEAR! I can't wait to see the great things these classes will do!

The Algebra class were broken up into 5 teams of 4 and were given "THE WASHER CHALLENGE". They had to devise a system to transport a tennis ball across the room and place it in a cup. They were given a large flat washer and 4 strings. AS TEAMS they did a great job being very creative and tackling critical thinking skills. The winning team made it in 17 seconds!

The Geometry class had a different challenge. They were broken up into teams to design and build SPAGHETTI TOWERS. The winning tower was 34 inches tall.

In both classes, I had a group also monitor and evaluate how the teams worked together. THey provided great insight and did a wonderful job.

In both classes, we then began BUILDING our class rules. The students took a class rules survey and with that information I have created a rough draft of our rules. We will edit them tomorrow and then put the CONTRACT into place. I loved the discussion and openness of the students. We shared a google doc so EVERYONE had the chance to give their opinions. We also began discussion about our CLASSROOM TWITTER account and Twitter agreements were sent home to get signatures.

NEXT UP, we will create mission statements AND create our Khan Academy Accounts. We will begin working on some basic math facts to see where everyone is BEFORE we start work on Algebra and Geometry.

What a great start to the school year. I am absolutely excited about the positive attitude of my students. They shared some great things they were grateful for, sent some positive emails, and performed some random acts of kindness. WE WILL DO THIS ALL YEAR! I can't wait to see the great things these classes will do!

## Wednesday, August 22, 2012

### I Love Math - Day 1 in GHS MATH 2012

Today was the first day BACK in the Classroom. I had a great day and look forward to working with my classes this year. As always. the first day schedule is crazy. Class meetings, handbook meetings, issuing lap tops, and abbreviated schedules add to the chaos of students trying to find rooms and teachers. Add on to that a BRAND NEW Building, it was a wild day. Even with all that, we were able to accomplish a few positive things today.

In Geometry we talked about a few of the projects we are going to start here at the beginning of the year. We will be "Decorating" my classroom with posters, signs, and "Rhoades" items. This first project will help us start out applying some basic geometric principals. We will measure, scale drawings , collaborate, communicate, and use some critical thinking skills in designing the layout.

We also talked about a future project of designing a residential sprinkling system using what we learn about circles, arcs, sectors, line segments, radii, diameter, and other 21st century skills.

In both Algebra and Geometry, we covered the syllabus and basic housekeeping along with implementing a standards based grading system.

My students were great. They cooperated, participated, and seemed enthusiastic about the class.

The most important part of the day was the presentation and discussion about being positive about Math. I challenged the students to follow Shawn Achors "Happiness Advantage" system. Our homework assignment was to find 3 things were grateful for, email someone with a compliment, and do some type of random act of kindness. I will ask them tomorrow about the results. We will continue to do this and maintain a POSITIVE attitude about life and MATH class in the 2012-2013 school year.

Tomorrow: We will work on Team Building and then build the class rules and mission statement for the class. Can't wait!

In Geometry we talked about a few of the projects we are going to start here at the beginning of the year. We will be "Decorating" my classroom with posters, signs, and "Rhoades" items. This first project will help us start out applying some basic geometric principals. We will measure, scale drawings , collaborate, communicate, and use some critical thinking skills in designing the layout.

We also talked about a future project of designing a residential sprinkling system using what we learn about circles, arcs, sectors, line segments, radii, diameter, and other 21st century skills.

In both Algebra and Geometry, we covered the syllabus and basic housekeeping along with implementing a standards based grading system.

My students were great. They cooperated, participated, and seemed enthusiastic about the class.

Tomorrow: We will work on Team Building and then build the class rules and mission statement for the class. Can't wait!

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