Saturday, November 30, 2013

Six Word Saturday

The truth will out - tests are coming.

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I have tried as many ways as I can to teach material. It's called differentiation - but I would do it even if that wasn't this year's buzz word.

I have trouble teaching you the material, darling, if you insist on doing someone else's homework during the instruction (something that was assigned a month ago and you just decided to do), insist on reading a novel during the practice, and refuse to lift a pencil to help yourself. I can know everything (I don't) but if you won't DO something, you will walk out of here just as obtuse as you walked in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Since Thanksgiving and Chanukkah fall on the same day for the first time in like forever, there have been some interesting recipes. I love the idea of sweet potato latkes and pumpkin kugel.

You never did math in high school

Good article on what high school math is and is not.

Monday, November 25, 2013

17 things rich people do

This list came from the San Francisco Chronicle

They eat less junk food
70 percent of the wealthy eat less than 200 calories of junk food a day, and 97 percent of poor individuals eat more than 300 calories of junk food a day.

They gamble less
Just 23 percent of wealthy people gamble and 52 percent of poor people gamble.

They keep planners
About 81 percent of wealthy persons keep a to-do list and 19 percent of the poor keep planners.

They exercise
About 76 percent of the wealthy perform aerobic exercise about four days a week and 23 percent of poor people do the same

They don't just read
About 63 percent of the wealthy listen to audio books while commuting to work and 5 percent of poor people do the same.

They make their children read
About 63 percent of the wealthy make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month and 3 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They make their children volunteer
About 70 percent of the wealthy make their children volunteer at least 10 hours a month and 3 percent of poor individuals do the same with their children.

They read to get smarter
About 88 percent of wealthy individuals read at least 30 minutes a day for education or career reasons and 2 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They don't speak their mind
Only 6 percent of wealthy people speak their minds while 69 percent of poor individuals say what they think.

They get up early
About 44 percent of wealthy people wake up three hours before they have to go to work compared to 3 percent of poor individuals.

They network
About 79 percent of wealthy persons network at least five hours every month while 16 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They don't watch reality TV
About 6 percent of wealthy individuals watch reality TV while 78 percent of poor individuals do watch it.

They only watch a little TV
About 67 percent of wealthy individuals watch a maximum of one hour of TV a day and 23 percent of poor individuals do the same.

They think good habits mean opportunities
About 84 percent of wealthy people think having good habits means more opportunity luck while 4 percent of poor individuals believe the same.

They think bad habits lead to bad luck
About 76 percent of wealthy people believe having bad habits means detrimental luck and 9 percent of poor individuals feel the same.

They believe in life-long education
About 86 percent of wealthy people believe in life-long educational self improvement and 5 percent of poor individuals feel the same.

They read a lot
About 86 percent of wealthy people love to read and 26 percent of poor people love to read.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Punishments and Rewards

This week several kids decided to make my life difficult in a way I would prefer not to detail.

It left me feeling worthless and run over even when I felt it was not true.

I went to school the next day and did my best, really not feeling that I could do anything - or that I even did anything worth doing.

This is not a school where gifts are frequent. In fact, in the previous 6 years, I may have gotten five small presents, mostly homemade, at Christmas.

Friday, one student came by to give me a thank you note for teaching her and two others gave me bath oil. They were thanked - and I will write notes - but they will never know how valuable those gifts were to me and how perfect the timing was.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Six Word Saturday

You can't pass on what I know.

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OK it's seven words. It is still true.

UPDATE: just reread that and it could be taken two ways. First, feel free to pass on (share) what I know. But you will not pass if you do not learn some of what I know. My knowledge will not result in you passing unless you work to grow.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Future All Star Negotiator

On the way home I stopped at the local grocery store. A mother was carrying her young daughter into the store and I heard the following conversation.

Mom: You can't have a cat.
Girl: But Suzy has a cat.
Mom: Suzy is 10. She got the kitty when she was 9.
Girl: Can I get a kitty when I turn 4?
Mom: No, you can't have a cat.
Girl: Can I have Sebastian?
Mom: No, he belongs to Dawn.
Girl: But I like him.
Mom: No, he belongs to Dawn.

It was so sweet. The mom kept her cool - it was all said in conversational tones. And the girl was negotiating not whining.

She is going to be a handful when she gets older.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The inmates are running the asylum but savor this thought

The inmates are running the asylum but savor this thought God loves you - even when the world is melting (or maybe that is when he loves you the most)

On level seniors want a recipe card math course - one where every step is written out by me and they do not have to think or practice. And the administration sees nothing wrong with their request.

It's sad. I used to really like math.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pictionary with Geometry

Lsquared posted a thoughtful comment on my last post. As i do, I went to see if she/he has a blog (no) but I did see a pointer to this blog. I like the idea of pictionary with geometry. Have to think how, if I can use this with trig.

Out of touch 2

I wrote about feeling out of touch earlier this school year.

I walked into a room this week to talk with a teacher I rarely see. It was the end of the day and another teacher was talking about one of her students. Apparently the student lives with his father and father's girlfriend. And father's ex-girlfriend lives there also because she cannot afford to move out. And the night before the ex-girlfriend was in a fight with the dad, throwing and breaking things.

The first teacher said "How can we expect kids to learn under these circumstance? They live in chaos, they don't eat right. They get no parental support." And the second teacher comment that her description sounded like second teacher's homelife growing up. She said she didn't do well in school or care at that point.

And I feel out of touch.

I think education is a key to open the door to escape your circumstances.

I grew up comfortably middle class. I started working at 16 and haven't stopped but I was raised with that as an expectation - as well as that I would get an education and keep learning.

I work hard to break down the math into bite-size pieces. I link it to what they are supposed to have learned before. I reteach what they are supposed to have already learned. I ask that they 1) not talk while I am teaching and 2) practice the math in class. I give up on assigning homework - very few do it and it is just another fight.
I am teaching Algebra 2 and Precalculus. How do you learn this without doing something?

Instead they gripe that I don't teach, I have to give them something to raise their grade (the grade they earned because they work the problems for the first time on a test).

Okay - they have a lousy homelife. Their parents belittle them, kick them out, set bad examples and give no structure. So, you pack my classes to the brim with people who have already failed the course, set it on block (so we do 2 hours a day for a semester instead of 1 hour a day for a year), give me no resources except what I can find for myself, do not give me common planning so we can share the load, expect me to teach to a test that by law I cannot see and yet counts for a quarter of their grade - and then wonder why this is a struggle every day.

Maybe I am not the one out of touch.

Note: I just looked in the gradebook for something else and noticed a student I hadn't seen all week is marked as transferred. I have lost 19 kids in 2 classes and 2 others have announced they are dropping out - they just haven't yet. I am not liking this year.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Different perceptions about "the woman who raised that monster"

Suzy DeYoung, a woman who lives in Newton, CT, has an insightful article about perception. If we see Adam Lanza as a monster - we let him off the hook for his actions. If we see him as mentally ill - and take a lesson from the behavior he exhibited before the attack, we might save someone else.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Six Word Saturday: Zombies

Zombies are coming! The end's near!

For more Six Word Saturday participants, click here.

It is getting close to Thanksgiving.

I am trying to wrap up the semester by the time we leave for break so that I can spend the time we come back (when they have their high stakes testing) preparing them for the test.

I have told these students at least once a week that I prepare them for the tests, I provide ways for them to raise their grade, and that I have no intention this year of turning myself inside out at the last minute so that they can pass when they have done nothing this semester.

I have a lot of repeater classes. A wise teacher told me last year thst there is a reason they are repeaters.

No kidding.

Dear student:

If you are on your phone while I am going over something I tell you that you will see again on a test, it is your choice.

If you choose to be absent when a test is scheduled, it is your choice. (If you are spending it in school detention because you refuse to get to class on time or drop certain words from your vocabulary, it is your choice.)

If you decide to sleep in my class or talk about sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll while I am teaching, this does not make me a lousy teacher. This makes you a lousy student. And it is your choice.

I have done what I need to do. There is no magic ring that will allow you to do one tiny thing and pass. I just hope I do not have to try to teach you the same things again.

And that is my choice.

So, now I start calling parents and emailing the same assignments I have been handing out for 3 and a half months.

And I know I am not alone. Math Teacher Mambo describes a Calculus student doing exactly the same thing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You can't fix stupid, the administrator version

I was selling tickets for an event at our theater this week - you know one of those extra duties as assigned things they stick in your contract.

A group of parents were there to volunteer - parents that we see at the school all of the time because there is not much parent involvement. There has always been a list we work off of so that a parent gives us a name and we let them in if their name is on the list.

New administration didn't like the idea of a list so instead a certain number of tickets (determined by the admin) are given to the teacher in charge to dole out to the parents. Well, these parents had not gotten their tickets because the teacher in charge hadn't picked them up and we were told to tell the parents to buy a ticket so they could volunteer.


So the parents asked to speak the admin who dithered around and blamed the teacher for not getting the tickets. Dithered some more. Talked to another AP. Dithered some more. The principal came by. I explained the issue. He never acknowledged the parents. He talked to the AP. Wandered over and talked to somebody else (totally unrelated to this) and walked back past me and never acknowledged the parents.

Did I mention there is not a lot of parental involvement in this school?

AP comes back, sighs deeply and says he will go get more tickets from the office and disappears for about 10 minutes. While the parents wait.

Then he carefully hands out the tickets and leaves.

There were several solutions that were so much better. Wonder if we will see those parents volunteering again.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Six Word Saturday

An extra hour this weekend - reward!

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