Training, Fire Drills, Paper Placemats, and Animal Functions … oh my!

22 Sep

By 8 am Friday morning, I thought the day was going to be AWFUL! I had to deal with a bout of tears before school and a student barfing during 1st period. Luckily, the day, and the week now that I reflect, was pretty darn good!

1. Training Pays Off

First period Friday, my Functions/Trig (pre-calc) class was working through problems in prep for Monday’s test. I was AMAZED at how engaged they were … I heard talking about math, I saw students going to other student’s desks to explain. I am a proud momma bird math teacher!

Looking back I realized that I have been setting the stage for the last few weeks. First the classroom is set up in “pods” of 4 all facing the board (need a picture) and I have encouraged the students all year to “work with your group”. WOWZERS! It paid off. I put the solutions on the board and circulated. I did help some students, but I found many going to their groups before raising their hand.

2. Fire Drills Aren’t All that Bad

Since we are required to have a fire drill weekly for the first month of school and monthly thereafter, I took the opportunity this week to use the time to get to chat with a student about their non-math life! It was nice to get to know something personal about one student and their interests – turns out our schools Robotics Club is so popular that they have to limit the membership. So my student, who has been part of this for the last 2 years, was in a tie because it was “selection day”. We talked about the club, its purpose, what they do and why he was interested. Now I want to go to one of their meetings after school to show my interest in that student, and maybe I will find others in my class who share this interest.

3. Paper Placemats

Thursday the hubby came home, asked wha’ts for dinner and decided he wanted to go out. No big deal since I was grading papers until he walked in the door and had not even thought about which dinner from the list I was going to make. So down to our local greek/italian/family restaurant just to find out it was family night with face painting … not good for us for that night. So to other local place we come and they have paper placemats. Well, I was explaining some things that had come up in class, using the placemat as a scratchpad. When our server cleared the table we got into a conversation about high school math. Our server revealed that he was worried when his kids got to high school math because he could not do it. That lead to the rather than say I don’t know how to do ____  change the comment to why don’t we google ____ (or ask the teacher for some sites/resources) and figure it out together!

If I changed one parent from the “I can’t do it therefore  you can’t do it” mindset, I have made progress this week!

4. Animals in the classroom

I realized that some of my Algebra 2/Trig students still don’t understand function notation. So I put the following on the SmartBoard:


(minus the blue mathematical interpretation which came after they solved the problems). Surprisingly, not a single student struggled when I gave them the problems with pictures, but once we change it to letters/letter combinations …. “it’s confusing” “that’s not the same”. Next time I am going to start pictorially and teach them the language of mathematics! Maybe, I’ll do a matching game of some sort where they have to match the pictorial representation to the mathematical representation.

All in all, it was a good week. I learned that training pays off, about a students, and came up with a new approach to teach a (review) topics. Now I am going to trade the school circus for the real one, literally. We are off to the Big Apple Circus today … with clowns and a ringmaster and hopefully lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!


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