I let the kids teach today. They (well, most of them, anyway) rocked it out of the park!

#MTBoS30 A simple review activity created positive energy in the classroom today.

This is a difficult week: End of Course tests are done, finals are a week away. Students tend to relax and give into the end of the year lassitude. There are still a unit test and a performance (writing) assessment to go before the finals, but the students are completely burnt out on anything with the word review in it.

To combat the blahs, I designed a student teaching assignment. Students were paired up and given three brief instructions: create a lesson, teach it to the class, and ask the class to perform a brief activity to show understanding. We assigned each pair a problem from the sheet of review problems for the unit (on probabilities) and gave them 15 minutes to create their lessons.



Some students required help with their understandings, and as I walked around listening to the students planning their strategies (20 points for sharing the teaching responsibilities), I was able to discern which students needed help and which ones didn’t. It was an enjoyable day of formative assessment for me, and having them teaching freed me up to spend more time facilitating the learning.

It was fun to watch the students mimicking me (and boy did they!), but I also saw a different side of many of the students as they led their peers, answered questions, and walked around the room helping other students understand the problem. They were reviewing without a single complaint! (Well, maybe just fewer complaints!)

This lesson took a block period, which for us means two 50 minute back to back sessions (a regular geometry and a strategies class). This gave us time for a brief introduction to the types of problems that we were going to review, a setup of the task and partnering, and 15 minutes for the pairs to plan. The students really needed about 2O minutes to plan, and we were able to give each pair about 5-7 minutes for lesson presentation and follow up.

Assigning the problems was made easier by taping the problem number to every pair of desks. As students came in, we sent the students where we wanted them to sit, which streamlined both the pairing and assigning problems portion of class.





The photos show the wide range of visuals the students employed to teach their lesson. They also used the smart board, however, that was more an electronic chalkboard for them!

Kids passionate about triangle proofs!


Yes, the title is a bit like “man bites dog”, but it really happened! #MTBoS30

My fifth period is a group of the most interesting, undisciplined, rowdy bunch you will ever meet, and when they get stuck on something, they are passionate about defending their position. Tuesday that defense had to do with a simple triangle proof.

The image was similar to the one above: two slightly overlapping triangles, ABC and XYZ. The given: angle A is congruent to angle Z and segment AB is congruent to segment ZY. The question asked students to provide the one other statement that would prove congruency.

The students leapt into defense mode with both feet, convinced that the answer was segment BC congruent to segment XY.

Two students were convinced they were right. Two other students went crazy trying to convince them (and the rest if the class) that a pair of congruent angles was the solution. One young man was carrying around a piece of paper and illustrating his position to anyone who would listen. Postulates were being quoted, and terms like SAS and SSA and SSS were flying about like paper airplanes! Wow! I ‘m looking for the next argument – I wish they would be as passionate about math everyday!

What is your solution to this problem? How would you defend it?

My passionate, argumentative students were taking the image at face value. They also weren’t reading the question correctly. This was a great problem from the standpoint of “what error(s) are we making? What assumptions? It was also a great segue into a brief reminder of ambiguous triangles and why SSA is NOT a postulate!

I was thrilled – It was a proud moment in proof-dom!!! I think we will argue about probabilities tomorrow!

My students take their EOCT test tomorrow

I feel like a parent sending their child out into a storm. I’ve made sure their coat is buttoned, they have dry boots on their feet, and a good umbrella. They are prepared…. Or are they?

The state says this is an important assessment. I tell my students to answer the best they can, and leave no question unanswered. I think, I could have done more; why didn’t I go over this or that; we should have done more with probability; will they remember what capital B is in the area formula?! Oh well, it is their turn now. I want them to taste success, to let their grade reflect what they truly know, and, at the same time, afraid that their grade will reflect what they truly know!

EOCT : end of course test or end of career terrors…. Either way, we will know soon! No matter what, I’ve seen my kids grow. I am proud of what I’ve seen them learn. They will be okay, No Matter What! That test is just a snapshot of tomorrow, and after that it will be a blip in history. In the meantime, I hope they remember to use their umbrellas!!


Drat! I have to start over! #MTBoS30

I can’t believe I only made it three days in a row! I missed yesterday!

With this week being Teacher Appreciation Week, I’d like to take a moment to thank MY teachers:

My grandmother, who taught for many years in Milton, FL at Berryhill Elementary, and taught me to read before I turned four! My first grade teacher, Mrs. Baer, who had to put up with my incessant chatter! Mrs. Millard, second grade: you made me love school; to my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sanders, who cast me as the Queen in our play, and this was a time when we still had Bible instruction! My fifth grade teacher: you put up with my reading in class, instead of my work ( every time I encounter such a student, I remember your firmness with me, and I pass on the favor!) To my 8th grade English teacher: I know how you must have cringed as I recited “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” at rapid fire speed. I wasn’t the only one, and yet you are still teaching! I give special thanks to two of my high school teachers Ms. Vick and Mrs. Roby, history and English, respectively. To this day I love history and the hidden stories, and I have a healthy respect for the ability of mankind to descend into communism and chaos. I also have a better than average grasp of good grammar, and a love of writing courtesy of those magnificent stares from Mrs. Roby. She would NOT let me do less than my best! I made A’s in every English class in college – thank you Mrs. R! And I can’t forget Ms. Peer and Mrs. Thomas – yep algebra and geometry – I am now them, gasp! A math teacher!

My college years were not as filled with memorable teachers, or maybe I was more focused on the learning (okay, playing!) than the teachers. My last degree, at Lee University in Chattanooga, TN, changed that in a hurry. Every professor I studied with affected me profoundly: Dr. Kamm, Dr. Nerren, and Dr. Riggins just to name a few. Thank you for showing me how to grow into an awesome teacher! You set the standard that I hope to live up to.

Each of my school teachers contributed to me. But I want to also remember others who were my teachers: the young man who taught me to swim when I was five; my big brother who taught me how to ride my bike, and brought my bike back home after I crashed on the gravel and ran screaming to the house ( okay, I didn’t say he was a good teacher!); the woman who taught me to play the piano and the organ, patiently enduring my stopping and starting, and stopping….. And starting again; my art teacher, who taught me water color and oils, and oil pastels, which I still love! And I thank my mom and my dad: I learned a lot about how to love my own children, AND how to clean a bathroom (some of us are just lucky, I guess!)

Within my thank you’s is a message I’d like to leave with each of you that read these posts: we are all teachers of something. I pray your students will learn strength and goodness; perseverance, honesty and integrity; how to give selflessly, how to share, and how to give and receive love. A tall order, I know, but for each of us who have learned just that, there is a teacher in the wings, smiling the biggest smile we’ve never seen…

Thank you to all my teachers. I could not have done it without you!

I Teach: What’s Your Superpower?!

I always enjoy MJ Gormans’ posts. Today I was reading his post It’ True!: I Teach Because I Can’t Do Anything Else!. Here’s my comment (and my Day 3 #MTBoS30 ):

I didn’t become a teacher until after: AFTER I worked as an interior design consultant (my first degree) because while I enjoyed designing beautiful spaces for others, I enjoyed teaching them how to do it themselves; AFTER being a human resource professional, (my second degree) hiring good people to work in jobs I knew were a good fit, I realized I enjoyed teaching them how to get the most out of their job even more; AFTER working in operations for several companies over a 20-year span, I found that I preferred teaching others how to do the various jobs, or how to invest their money, or how to plan an event; AFTER owning a restaurant and cooking great food for wonderful customers, I realized I really loved teaching people to cook and be professional servers

so They could do it for themselves (and hopefully take it even farther than I did!)

Teaching was just way cooler! One of my beliefs is that very old one about giving a man a fish, which will feed him for a day, or teaching him to fish, so that he can supply food for the rest of his life! It may have taken me a while, and a few professions, but I have found what I really want (and can) do. I TEACH. (My third degree, by the way!)

The title is courtesy of the great sweatshirt my daughter gave me. Kudos to all who teach- you are all superheroes!!!!

Who knew cooking was discrete math?

#MTBoS30 post two.

I was trying to help a student understand the reasoning required to find the shortest time possible to complete a project. His assignment had a chart and a map like grid of lines. The chart showed pre-requisites using letters, with the time to completion given. The student was struggling to understand what he was doing. I chose to assign context. Together we planned a thanksgiving dinner complete with time frames for everything from cranberry compote to pumpkin pie. The oven controlled the overall plan, as we determined the minimum time possible to complete the preparations! I think he got it, as he quickly completed three more paths. Interesting. Who knew all those Thanksgiving dinners were good for more than overdosing on Turkey and whipped cream covered slices of pie!


Paper Cup Probabilities…

This is my first entry in #MTBoS30 Today I asked my 10th grade geometry class three questions (review time!)
1. What is the probability of rolling a one (using a regular six-sided cube)?
2. If you flipped a coin, would you expect it to come up heads?
3. What is the probability that a paper cup tossed in the air will land on its side?

The ensuing discussion involved certainty. First question:
1Ss: one out of six
Several other students chimed in in agreement.
Me: who can tell me how you can be so sure?
2 Ss: because the cube has six sides, and the sides are numbered one, two, three, four, (she is ticking off on her fingers; other students were nodding in agreement and telling her what to say) five, six, and there is only one side with one!
This class is usually not this involved. I think it had to do with the fact that they really KNEW this! (Confidence is a wonderful thing!)

Second question (key word here”” “expect”)
1 Ss: yes, well, no, (???) it could be heads or tails. I mean, you could expect a heads or a tails.
Me: why can’t you expect just heads?
1 Ss: because it’s 50%. (At this point, other students begin chiming in:
“Yeah, it’s 1/2!” “A coin has two sides” and similar statements.) The question wasn’t a straightforward question about a probability fraction, so I think that caused them to not feel as confident with the answer, until one student decoded it. Think: lemmings!

It was the third question that really threw them. I held up one of those small cups, like you find in a bathroom cup dispenser. I asked them to tell me what they thought the probability would be of the cup landing on its side when tossed. The guesses ranged from 1/2 to 340/500. As we looked at the cup, the guesses got more specific. Several students noticed that the cup had a top, a bottom, and a side. The reasoning followed that there should be a 1/3 chance of landing on its side. At this point there was quite a bit of agreement. This seemed very logical (and if the strongest kids in the class said so, it must be right! Lemmings, I’m telling ya!) Multiple students jumped on the bandwagon and agreed. (No one talked about surface ratios – I figured we could tackle that later!) Then I gave each student a paper cup and asked them to create 20 trials each. I deliberately refrained from telling them instructions for tossing the cup. I just walked around and watched. Some kids tossed (across the room!), some kids tossed on their desks. Some dropped the cups on the floor. I heard disappointment as Ss complained, “it’s landing on its side every time,” how do you make it land on its top?” “There is something wrong with this cup!”

The trials were listed on the board and tallied. The students really seemed puzzled as to why the results weren’t anywhere near what they expected. They were already arguing why this was so, so I put them in groups with the instruction to:
1. Compare the actual probability from the trials to the expected.
2. Come up with some reasons for the difference.
3. Pick a spokesperson to share their ideas with the class.

Then the bell rang! Okay. The debriefing happens Monday…