Archive | August, 2012

Staying Sane …

26 Aug

… and It’s Only Been Teacher Day 1!

Friday we had our first teacher meeting, 4 hours of overwhelmingness! I think my motto this year may just have to be Keep Calm and Carry On (thank you British government). So for this post I am going to provide some vainglorious advice about my ways of staying sane through the school year.

1. Plan. We all know how to plan for our classes. You may forced to use (turn in?) some form or just meet the ever-changing requirements of the PPP (what does it say when a district needs 30+ pages to describe how they will grade teachers and we are still confused?!) But, for me planning our dinners for the week makes my life seen sane. Instead of driving home thinking about what we are going to have for dinner and do I have all the ingredients … every weekend I spend time planning 4-6 meals for the week, making a shopping list, and hitting the markets (farm and franchise). Lucky for us the farm market is Sunday morning and we usually his the grocery store Sunday evening on the way home from dinner with my family. So that leaves all day Saturday for this rather enjoyable planning, and I even allow make the hubby contribute his ideas each week. Me, as executive chef, has the right to nix any suggestion.

In addition to providing organization and a sense of sanity to my week, it also provides time for me to read and use the 4+ cooking magazines I get each month. Usually the weekly meals come out of these magazines.

2. Play. There is nothing more centering, relaxing, and fun than spending some quality time with a super cute 2 year old! It usually ends up with me building MegaBlocks structures and him destroying. Parking Garages, Tunnels, and Tower Cranes … oh my!! Or reading I am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle six Imagetimes in a row! (It really is a cute book for a little one interested in big equipment).

3. Read. Read anything but usually some non-Hemingway-esque novel. Usually it it something from the “New” section at the library, but I will also peruse the stacks. And, yes, covers matter. I admit, I choose a book by its cover.

4. Cook. Okay, not everyone is into this, but I find my nothing more centering and relaxing than cooking those pre-planned dinners. And, I my wonderful spouse is usually my sous chef as well as chief bottle washer. What more could I ask for! I can definitely tell it is end-of-summer as the bounty of peaches, corn and okra has diminished, but in its place is apples and winter squashes. I love the seasons of food found at our local farm market!

5. Ignore … the dust bunnies. Yes, they will continue to multiply as all rabbits do. But dust bunnies don’t each much. When the time is right, the vacuum will do its job!

6. Make Time to do something special with someone special. Whether it is a morning hike at a local park, going to a museum, or dinner at someplace different, we try to make time to do something out-of-the-ordinary on a fairly regular basis (every quarter?). The hard part is remembering to write down and consult previously identified ideas.

I also try to make time to work on my cross stitch. Currently I am doing these Santas for my mom (1-6 she has, #7 this Christmas). #7 is stitched, just needs mounted as an ornament, which I do myself. And this one I hope to finish time to give to my Aunt and Uncle for Christmas. I have adjusted the pattern a bit to have the border go all the way around. I also may make a some other adjustments. I would say this one is just over 50% complete. I find spending time on this gives me


both an artistic outlet and a sense of accomplishment. Image 







This bit of avuncular advice not only for any readers, but for me, to go back and remember how to get centered, to keep calm and carry on!


Card Games & Board Games

21 Aug

Two weeks ago a fellow math teacher came for a visit. While we were playing a board game we had a very interesting conversation about our students, board games, and calculators. Do they play games or cards? If so, do they sit with a calculator next to them? Does that take the joy out of playing games?

This past weekend while my spouse and I were away, we played many games of cribbage. To pass the time while waiting on others, to pass the time before breakfast was served at the B&B, and to pass the time after dinner (the sidewalks rolled up tight at 5 pm on a Sunday evening). We enjoy playing cards and sometimes even get together with other couples to play pinochle or board games. But these games all involve keeping score and adding one-and-two digit numbers. And, come to think of it, most of our board games also involve keeping score. So, do students of today play board and card games, or has that become “old fashioned”?

The Beginning Is Near

14 Aug

The annual “I hope you are having a wonderful summer … but school is about to begin” letter arrived in the mail the other day. That means it is seriously time to start thinking about the details of the new school year.

Last year we did correction/retake game on EVERY assessment. Consequently, my room was crowded with students in the afternoons wanting to increase their grade but not necessarily wanting to work for it. I would venture to say that most did the minimum of corrections but did not attempt any other learning activities as their grades were generally the same or a few points higher, especially those who began at a high C or B level. And I was BURNT OUT before Christmas with the overload of grading. Often, even before taking as assessment they would ask “can I retake this?” This system did not work for me (or many of my colleagues).

This year’s idea … the climbing reassessment system:

1. Quizzes

2. Unit Test … if you do better on the unit test section than the same for the quiz, your quiz grade will be changed up; no down movement

3. Quarter Test …ditto as above, but both the unit test and quiz grades will be changed up. We did tentatively plan a retake week after school for the quarter test.

This will give students 3 chances at each topic and should not add as much additional grading as last year.

The downside? In laying out the first quarter of quizzes, tests, and quarter test for Algebra 2/Trig:

Quizzes (10 @ 100 points each):

  • Equations of Lines ( unit 1)
  • Functions (unit 1)
  • Systems of Equations (unit 1)
  • Matrices (unit 1)
  • Variations (unit 1)
  • Piecewise Functions (unit 2)
  • Absolute Value (unit 2)
  • Complex Numbers (unit 2)
  • Solving Quadratics (unit 3)
  • Graphing Quadratics (unit 3)

Unit Test #1 (items marked unit 1 above) – 5 sections @ 100 points each

Unit Test #2 (items marked unit 2 above) – 3 sections @ 100 points each

Unit Test #3 (items marked unit 3 above) – 2 sections @ 100 points each

Quarter Test – 10 sections @ 100 points each

That is 40 grade book entries!! I guess we won’t have difficulty meeting the minimum 18 grades per quarter and no one grade can count 20% of the total quarter grade.

But, in addition, we are going to be required to give at least 10 short, graded review assessments like on the state exams in order to increase scores. Since our exams are 85% multiple choice, mine are going to be 3 multiple choice questions and one short answer per quiz.

We are now up to 50 entries per student (x 150 students).

How can I simplify all of this? I think I may go crazy before September even gets here!