Day 5 – End of first week – OR – all the things I thought I would talk about

Posted on August 9, 2015


Week one down. Day 5 of 180 down. Or, as people who apparently hate the jobs OR people who love counting things (I have long suspected is a math person at heart, no matter how much they try to bury it deep down)…175 days to go!

This week was way more fun than I thought it would be.

Mostly, it was crazy fun to do the High Fives that @GWaddellNVHS shared with us at #TMC15. It has truly transformed attitudes and moods of EVERYONE on my hall, whether they are students or not. I have unknown students giving me high fives. I have other students teaching me (partly by psyching me out) new high fives. I do the turkey, fist bumps, waves…and my hallmate John (the Physics teacher) told me that it has transformed his classroom and students too. I can’t say I have students lining up outside the door to give me those high fives like Mr. Waddell (yet), but I can get grouchy students who just walk by me to at least turn around and give me one (“maaaaan, got left hangin'” can usually get it). That has been fun.

A short summary: Last year gave me a bad taste for freshmen, and I had even more freshmen this year, plus a new prep that no one knew anything about.

Students coming from middle school can be placed by recommendation into Honors Geometry. The middle school teachers are pretty good at placing their fast-track, likely-to-make-it-to-Calculus kiddos there. But last year, I was given non-Honors Geometry freshmen based purely on District standardized test scores…and the fact that one can be a master multiple choice test taker but not actually know anything meant that I had a few students who should have been placed in Honors Geometry but weren’t, and more who could barely add, could certainly not do basic Algebra, and couldn’t figure out why they were there and not in Math 1 with their friends. A somewhat bipolar class…and since it was the first time I had freshmen in any form in more than a decade, I didn’t really know what to do with them.

End of rambling excuses about why last year’s freshmen sucked…

I wasn’t looking forward to this year of Math 1. Our district has written RCD (oooh, an acronym!) plans because we had no books for Common Core. Now we have books (Pearson), and those plans and the texbooks don’t align. Hmm…
Our District also has My Big Campus. They gave it to us last year and promised it would be available to us by the end of First Quarter. Last year. It still isn’t, but all the RCD plans are in there.  So, if one knows the secret passageway (through the Conservatory, I believe) and one is on a District campus so the firewall isn’t an issue, then one can see them.
Wanna see ’em at home, you heathen? Bwaahahahaha! We all know teachers don’t work at home!

Believe it or not, I have one of the better attitudes about this mess in the District. The bitter teachers…let’s just say I hear “You can’t teach with that Pollyanna bull$*!t”  a LOT. Thus, my lack of wanting to talk to any of my colleagues or share anything with anyone.

But then I hear @fawnpnguyen’s voice in my head, and I am getting better about sharing all the lessons…or I see @TooTallTrees tweet with the awesome cartoon from the book whose name escapes me. That annoys my colleagues even more. So I will.

Back to the awesome.

I did remember to take pictures before the kiddos arrived the first day. One corner looking toward the opposite corner that has my desk I never sit at:

classroom - looking toward desk

Front and center looking back:

classroom  - front looking back

Opposite corner toward door:

classroom - looking toward door

It is fairly unorganized but tidy in these pics. I predicted it would be a hot mess of messiness after the first day, and indeed it was. That’s cool.

I did move the table in the back (and the chairs) to the middle of the room, and slightly organized the desks (since they won’t buy me couches and beanbags) on Friday.

I also have very tall whiteboards than can be removed and put anywhere in the room. My hubs was afraid to leave them leaning against the wall, and he thought half of the board — the bottom half — would be wasted, so he found braces to lift them off the floor:

vertical whiteboards - brackets holding off floor

They naturally would fall over, so he took the 3M hooks (the ones with the removable sticky stuff) that are too fat to use with anything with a hole, and kept them against the wall:

vertical whiteboards - hooks holding vertical for storage

Now they can slide out, get used, then slide back in for storage:

vertical whiteboards on wall


Now I have more whiteboard space for the students to use! Yaay!

Also on Friday was a group project from The Overland Trail unit in the Interactive Mathematics Project Book I. 01 – Group work plus a bit of writing 02 – Individual Writing so I can learn a bit more about the students.

I went over reading directions that might give them a hint with them, and told them that they were largely on their own: they had to Figure It Out. Fawn’s voice again. (Thanks Fawn!(

But…I can’t wait to get my Google Classroom going so I don’t have paper. I don’t like paper.

Monday, the freshmen will get their textbooks, plus we will discuss the weird rules I have with iPad and Classroom issues based on what happened with them last year.

Example: in late April, I had a student say “I wish I could do it at home”…I said you can do this anywhere you have Internet access…”Really?”…and there was a chorus of “I didn’t know that! I thought it had to be done in here!”s. No wonder so many were so far behind…

I should be able to have them use the iPads starting Tuesday. I hope that I can kill the paper at that time.

The Statisticians on Friday started to separate from each other. I am using The Practice of Statistics (5th ed.) for AP, and we started with Chapter 4 (Designing Studies). The books aren’t here yet. I have a copy of the TE though. Whatevs…I’ve used the 4th edition for years, and have that book nearly memorized, so lack of books ain’t no thang. The District, in a  book-buying frenzy, adopted Pearson’s Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World for non-AP Statistics. Those books are here. I’ve used Josh Tabor’s Statistical Reasoning in Sports for a couple of years, and since the seniors from the football team are nearly ALL in that class, I’m sure supplementing the Pearson book with Josh’s book will happen. Frequently.

But the seniors in the Statistics classes have the iPads already. I love that I can grade their stuff without any paper cuts.

And finally, also arriving Friday, after I was home, natch, were the stickers I ordered. I stole borrowed the idea from @samjshah (I did change the name so it can look like my idea):

sticker - cat sticker - superduper sticker - fruit

I hope they make the students smile. But after this week I probably won’t have paper from the students to put them on…

Now I have to work on Fawn’s Fast. Time to grade!