Ugh, Why, after 26+ years, must I have school nightmares? Last night it was that I missed teaching my first period class. Just forgot the schedule and decided to come in time for the third period. I avoid everyone and park around back. Get to my classroom and the darn music teacher and his students have left their music stands and chairs in the middle of the front of the room. My room is HUGE, carpeted and I have green chalkboards, not whiteboards. The kids are stealing chalk, painting themselves with chalk, and I EXPLODE. Someone turns on the VCR and TV and when I turn them all off, the sound is still coming out of the stereo. I pull out the plug and I take one kid out who is covered in a thick layer of chalk on his face and arms, who of course is saying, "what did I do, I didn't do anything!" I walk him down to the office, and now I am having to face my principal who isn't happy that I was late and now I have an unruly kid. I go back and forth in my brain. "I have too many students. That is no excuse. I have to share with a freakin' history teacher. That is no excuse. The band teacher didn't even put his crap away. That is no excuse for not controlling your students..."
And did I mention that I had taken my lesson plan out of my bag and brought only personal papers with me to school and I don't have the hand-out to copy?"

Maybe I will do some planning today after a long, long run...I paid for and signed up for EnVoy training, I haven't had a tune up in years...Any other suggestions to clear out school nightmares?

PS: I was reading the end of  Heft
before I had this nightmare with tears streaming down my face...I don't know if I recommend it or not, it is too new for me to review. Well written, I like the heady vocabulary. I doubt if I empathize with any of the female figures in the book. I want them all to "man" up and take care of their shit.

My daughter, a Senior in High School, asked me to post her Tufts 1 minute application video. The prompt is:

You may have heard the quote "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter, don't mind." We don’t mind. Who are you?"

Here it is:

I don't know how one minute consumed our household for an entire week, not counting all the whining and pleading and putting aside time that disappeared, that it took to get it polished finished.

So did she nail it or what? Advise, comments, compliments and views appreciated!

Happy Holidays! Phew, right? I wanted to the end the year with some positive activities.

The first one is an INB entry I called "Cuff and Link" to remember the difference between less than and less than or equal to: (Why Cuff and Link? Guess the movie reference and I will send you an amazing freebie!)

The next one is a project I stole borrowed from some amazing math teacher who took her students on a journey to save a princess using all kinds of equations of lines and line inequalities. I didn't have that much time, so I shrank it for a one-two day project. I was super pleased with the outcome...well, 99% of the time...So basically there is an Evil Tower hiding the prom tiara and crown, a magic key that opens the tower, the prom castle, the rival school boundary where they tie up people and paint them red and black (our colors are blue and white), and the limo graveyard filled with quicksand. Here are some of the treasures: Leave a comment if you want the hand-out.

One of my love bug Freshman...currently a D student with 99% if this project correct and a lot of heart.

This one missed the, uh, boat.

This Freshman did some of her best work, ever! (a C student)

And well, this Junior, with all his issues, has amazing drawing skills and a delightful imagination.

I, too, love my students. I love my job.

Now if I had a magic wand so I could protect, rescue, and save all my Algebra students.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

If I only I had read Teach like a Champion 27 years ago. Okay maybe 10 years ago. I wasn't probably ready to read it sooner. It is still intimidating for me to think about being consistent. I am consistently kind. I am consistently thinking about food. I am consistently thinking about how I can make the content more meaningful. I am consistently thinking about how I can become a better leader. How do I let that kid and oh, that kid too,  know that they off task, what the consequences are, and at the same time, not interrupt myself or the learning environment? Is it okay for the other students to chime in and monitor each other, as in, "hey be quiet, the teacher is talking." I am consisting believing that 14 and 15 year olds can monitor themselves, be respectful, helpful, do their homework, and all want to work as hard as necessary to master the material. I did...Okay, so I was really weird. I wanted my teacher's approval. I wanted them to know they could count on me to be prepared, to answer questions, to be want to know what they had to say. I thought my teachers were the most intelligent, honest, important people, ever.

So the teacher next door asked me "what have you done? It is so quiet next door!" It helps that we have been studying for finals. It helps that I have adopted the "100%" strategy for giving instructions. It helped that I asked my students," What does a learning environment look like?" as an exit ticket.  I was so touched that EVERY student had a positive idea about what this looked like!

This student is quite the chatter box. Very smart and came to me mid-term from a Geometry Teacher.  She has a major crush on a Junior in the class. He has had his up and down moments, from being thoughtful to walking out of class with a bathroom pass and not returning.Hers is a pretty traditional look at classroom behavior:

Here is his:  "A learning community likes like a room where people are working together to open their minds to something new. It is taught by somebody interested in their subject and is willing to help. I don't care if he is the biggest BSer in the world. I love him and how his mnd works. I don't think I could have said it better. I think I will send this to his mom.

This student is struggling significantly. He has a particularly hard time in math. In my class he is either trying to sleep or bugging his best friend. He has A and B's in Ag Science, Digital Media, and Physical Education. He has grease under his nails. I am sure, although he is only 15, he can drive a motorcycle, a truck, and tow skiers on a boat. I would trust him with my car, to build a fence. I am jealous that when the world comes to hell in a hand basket, he will survive because he's got skills.

Whether or not these kids lived by the rules they see are necessary, they sure in the heck know what it takes for an entire class to be a learning community. Maybe they just needed a reminder that they knew.

I saw a friend of mine after the Winter Choir Concert who has beaten breast cancer. She is an amazingly sunny-outlook person. She allowed herself to be sad and angry and ask "why me?" only one day...then she went for the radiation and kicked cancer's butt. I said to her how much I admired her because always being positive is hard. We both had a good teary hug after that.

I got called into the VP office's Friday afternoon."There is a complaint that your classroom is too noisy." I was stunned. Not stunned at all that my classroom is too noisy...I am a sucker for the ADHD student needing to move around...I am a sucker for the enthusiastic shout out...I speak loudly...I have a high tolerance for active learning. What was stunning is that the student never spoke to me directly. The counselor who brought the complaint to the principal's attention never brought the complaint directly to me. That is what hurts.

I am in a new school, with new ways of doing things. I want to take responsibility that I have not provided for a student an environment that works for him or her too. I am always sitting on the fence between squashing a student's spirit and getting more help (ie referrals or phone calls home if the evil eye and one to one conversations in the hall do not work). I admit this fallibility of mine.

The VP asked me to come back on Monday with a plan. I ordered Teach Like a Champion. I read some websites, checked Edutopia. I know an engaging lesson takes care of its own discipline. And I need more information.

My 27th year of teaching, and I am still hanging in there, I am still loving it, and boy, do I still have a lot to learn.
First up, the next time I post about my teaching day...I think I should include my non-teaching day, like the 6 takes I took to make this simple video to solve a simple system of linear equations using Edureations. I really like the software...I lost my pen, so I had to use my finger. The author can edit the script, but not the that is why it took so many takes! I never knew how much noise one makes just talking!

When I got to school and asked if any of the students saw the videos, the few who said saw them said they were really helpful. Such Luck!

The second piece of good luck came when I had an epiphany during a performance task I was having my Algebra 1 students complete BEFORE a test. I figured it was a good way to get them talking to each other about how to graph and solve a system of linear equations. You know the drill: two car rental companies, Plan A lets you rent a car for $30 plus .60 per mile, Plan B lets you rent a car for $55 and .35 per mile. After how many miles will the plans cost the same? Which is a better deal?

First period, fine. Next one fine too. Ah the next one after that, just before lunch, not so fab. So I called a few students at a time...and showed them with an Excel spread sheet HOW the rental company would devise a spreadsheet to calculate how much you owe. Watching their faces light up when I took their equations and showed them how fast the "system" could do the work was...Cool.
I can't wait to take them into the lab and fiddle with this themselves. Perhaps some smarty pants can figure out the entire treasure hunt at the end of the unit with a computer graphing program. I would love that.

Wow! Color! I have been looking for this my entire blogging life, all three month of it!

I totally stole the next idea from Teaching Statistics.
She had her students trace their hands and then write 5 ways to solve quadratics, one in each finger and then decorate the hands as turkeys for Thanksgiving. I morphed this idea into four ways to solve a system of two linear equations and the thumb for what I am thankful for. My fabulous creation on the smartboard is below:

To which one of my favorite lovebugs gayly proclaimed, "Excuse me Miss Zimmer, but your turkey looks like it is passing wind."

I am oh so thankful for this Math Blogging Initiative community. What are you thankful for? 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


A Day in the Life of a Math Teacher

5:30am Hit snooze button 3 times
6:00am Rise, do a few sun salutations, Pilates 100, and a few planks
6:15am get dressed, change 6 times, ignore DH's comment, "it is just school, wear clothes," He obviously doesn't understand that I teach at the same school as two High School daughters.
6:30--7:15 make coffee, three lunches, change again, wash acetates that I forgot to wash last night, stick soggy newspaper with acetates in school bag, round up 2 teen girls, head out.
7:20 arrive at school, wait in traffic from top of parking lot to my assigned parking place across from from front door of school where parents with large trucks drop their kids off even though they aren't supposed to
7:30 (no lie!) exit car
7:33 text colleague to loan me 30 copies of chapter 7 review until I can make copies at break
7:35 first period Algebra starts with new seats! Woot!
Bell ringer
Pair homework check
Radio Tower problem
Chapter 7 review--small groups, I wonder around, giving helps and hints, sending peer tutors to do damage control
Fill out basketball players progress reports
9:10 break...take roll from period 1, check email--contact counselor, freshman struggling, still no work, draws all period, run upstairs grab a cup of tea
9:25 second class of Algebra begins, see 7:35 am--add an argument between a Sophomore and Junior Boy--Ms. Zimmer, does an engineer use Algebra or Calculus? 
11 am class ends, scramble to finish seating chart for next class that I fell asleep making night before
11:05 third class of Algebra, see 7:35am
12:40 class ends, lunch begins. Take roll for two previous classes, give lunch to freshman daughter, look for the keys that are already in my pocket, check box, have meeting with colleague, bathroom or box, box or is closer and takes less time, hold it.
1:10 pm fourth class of Algebra, see 7:35am
2:50 pm excuse classes for day, clean off boards, trade freshman daughter book bag for tennis racket and gear, check email, cell phone, take soggy newspaper out of book bag and put away acetates I didn't use, Senior daughter comes down, wants to get home, stop by Dept. Chair's room, finally go to bathroom
3:15 pm head home via vegetable market
3:45pm make a cuppa, leash up dog, walk around the one mile block
4:15pm head back to school, pick up freshman from tennis, take her to singing lesson
5:00pm take second walk without "pee mail" stops every 5 feet.
5:30 pm text senior daughter how to make fajitas
5:45pm take freshman home from singing lesson
6:15pm arrive home, make a snack, leave to return to school for Nicaragua Service trip meeting I am chaperoning over spring break
8:00pm arrive home, eat dinner, scrub stovetop, update website, scan review worksheet one blank, and one with answers, upload to website, delete spam comments, fold towels and blankets that have been on couch since Sunday, check email
10pm Bath!
10:15pm Physical Therapy exercises to recover from broken humerus
10:35pm type day in the life
11:10 pm give/ receive kisses from daughters and DH (darling husband), kiss puppers, kick cat off bed, lights out!

Friday while we were making Hexaflexagons:
"I am going to be a Hexflexa Mast-a"
"This is going to be Hecka hexaflexa fun."
"This is Hexaflexa confusing."

And on Monday, one of the least "mathy" students brings me a perfect paper hexaflexagon, and the other students can't wait to get their grubby hands on it. Go Jon! (Now please do your homework)

So I was given another hand-out for studying systems of equations with "ticket" problems. (You know, 7 adult tickets cost and blah, blah, blah) Now that I've Dan Meyer's mantra of "no pseudo context," Who in the heck cares about ticket sales of the fall drama production? (Besides a geek-meister like me, giggle) Instead, I threw out this problem as a "goal," without much context:

Plan A: $60 per month
Plan B: $40 per month and a $200 one time joining fee

After how many months will the plans cost the same? Which one is the better plan?

I didn't really care if the students thought it was a Health Club or a Phone plan. Whatev...
What I cared about was what they constructed after they found the answer.

I asked them to use equations. Easy. They got it...but then I asked them to compare guess and check tables from month 10 onward, all the while asking which was a better rowdiest, most immature class (right before lunch, 46% upper classmen...the kids the middle school teachers hip-hip hurrahied about when they socially promoted out of 8th grade and then the Juniors that are grasping at a last chance to graduate) were the MOST thoughtful and opinionated students! We talked about how long we were planning to use the gym/cell phone/whatev, what about if we wanted to join but didn't have, how much, $240, at the time, but did have $60? Oh, so this isn't real enough for you, let's talk about a renting vs. owning a home! Boy did those kids go for it! Here was the proposition:
Own: $2000/month

Rent: Not responsible for repairs, can come and go,  no taxes, don't have to worry about economy, no big initial investment
Own: Do whatever remodeling you want, more stable, no jerk landlords, build equity, can make noise

I may have started with "semi-pseudo" context, but we ended up getting real. I think my students are so darned smart, don't you?

Hey, Hey, I have been sewing my fingers to the bone. I show at ONE craft fair each year. It is a groovy fundraiser with no crocheted tissue box covers or starched doily angels. Each year the unaffiliated group chooses a local charity to sponsor. We all donate an item that is worth at least $20, then gift baskets are made and a raffle favorite kind, you put the tickets in the tin in front of the basket you WANT. Love that. Last year I won the only basket tin I put my tickets into: jam, a tin Obama altar folkart thingie, a lapiz necklace, hair doo-dahs (kids get to make stuff too and sell it!) and an amazing lamp globe that was Tom Waits themed (he lives in our county, and shops in our town). (See what what I I treated myself with all my profits to a messenger bag made from bicycle tires. So without further ado, a picture of the fused recycled plastic and men's shirt sandwich wrappers I will be hawking:

They are school related, right? The Giant's one is the one I am donating...that bag is a vintage booty bag from the 70's. The wrappers stay together with velcro. (I am so excited...cuz I think that baby will bring a chunk of change!)

 Okay, on to the math stuff. So we are finishing up our unit on writing equations of lines with Scatter Plots and the Line of Best Fit. (Really, who cares how many people are going to the swimming pool based on the temperature outside?) I was listening to my FAVORITE podcast, APM's Marketplace Money while walking the dog, and there was the inspiration. An interactive program on their website  starting with 2012, and $35.47 in groceries. Oh man, and they reported how much that food cost in 2002, and 1992, and 1982, based on census data and adjusted for inflation. REAL useful data.
Not enough points really for a fabulous Line of Best Fit, but enough for the students to plot and find one! (And predict what that same bill will be in 2032 when they will be 35 years old or so.) I had the kids make their predictions, then multiply that by four (family of 4) and then by four again for a month. Pretty dang eye opening. Of course if I were going it alone and I had tenure, I would have the kids in the computer lab looking up their own data. But for now I am pleased that I could make it real. Hopefully. How far will $35 go? Groceries through the decades

We woke up this morning to the patut-patut-patut of the local field hands shaking and picking the last of the apples. I was too tired to stop them, even though this year I was determined to pick and can every last apple myself. By the time I got out to the car, the beautiful folks, two women and one gent, laughing and teasing had filled their last buckets and dumped them into the crate on the back of the tracker.

 Bye apples! May you make sweet juice.

Every last apple is gone, all the rotting ones, the wormy ones, and the bird pecked ones too. A bittersweet exchange, my decomposing piles gone, the yard free from fallen apples, and no more walking outside to pick the girls' lunch apples.

I left the classroom a mess yesterday, bits of cut out paper, wads of those bits of paper, mixed in with dirt from returning from the football stadium after a real fire drill (smoke from basement, though it was not really smoke, just steam, that tripped the smoke detector, that tripped the fire alarm). What did the students get from cutting out the examples of scatter plots and correlations that they couldn't of gotten out of regular notes? Does a matching activity mean they know what they are doing, that they understand why they are doing what they do?

I share my room with a lovely teacher who has been at the
school for many, many, many years. He likes the 36
desks in 6 rows of 6. Kinda challenging to move easily in and out of group work, make stations keep buckets of supplies out and such (we are packed in!). I am up for the challenge, AND taking any and all suggestions!

I am hydrating for a run, so I have two minutes to write (Drinking watered down orange juice with Postassium Chloride Powder--yummy). Ha-ha! I also have 2 minutes to grade those papers. And two minutes to hang the laundry and two minutes to play with the dog, and two minutes to check school email and two minutes to grade the last of the trickled in INB's, and two minutes to find that resource page for rotating a trapezoid to SHOW how the area formula works (anyone, anyone?)...oops that is 20 minutes for 2 minutes and there-in lies the how the whole problem with AOADD teacher brain. (Adult Onset of Attention Deficit Disorder).

I wanted to collect pictures of the latest round of INB's, however there is nothing at all new in them, so instead I will include this amazing and silly picture of my cat helping me grade papers.

Dac isn't much help
I am in love with Mr. Wadell's ( idea to forget point-slope form and slope intercept form in favor of graphing form: y=a(x-h) + k...why not have all forms of equations consistent, we make kids remember stupid and archaic stuff anyways...

This cartoon is for the Parent who came in during tutorial and stared me down as punishment to his kid when I had a zillion kids waiting for their tests to make test corrections to EARN the chance to retake the only test they will be allowed to retake this semester as quarter grades are due Monday. Oh, so that is 2 more minutes to be working on THOSE things...

The dog was mightily jealous and asked why he doesn't get a super cute picture on the website...

And while I am on the topic of AOADD, and teacher brain. I sure have fun with the Smart Board (my first year with it), but it is just the same for the students sitting there. I am NOT impressed, I like my document camera and a notebook computer (had to leave it behind, belonged to former school, dang) Last note...On Monday I tried to use one of the department hand-outs, I should know better. My brain just doesn't think in "linear equation types," it thinks in Frayer-model vocabulary and pictures.  So on Wednesday, I told the kids this would be NOTE heavy...get ready for it...get ready for it...and you know, it was so much better! And by the last class we took some notes,  watched an "up" of Giant's baseball, took some notes, watched another, "up."

 And Crap! I forgot to write down the assignment I made up on the fly from the text yesterday, and erased it off the board! Was it 3-21 every third or odd?

Lastly it is Halloween: 

Cheers, Amy

Dang, no pictures, but wanted to add:

Saturday: Ravolis with pesto and tuna melts on English Muffins

Sunday: Ginger Carrot soup with Cauliflower and Potato, Garlic Bread and Salad

I didn't want to cook Sunday. Nope wasn't going to do it! Then my Senior came home with a sore throat and wanted soup. Over to the stove I went with garlic, onion, ginger, carrots, 1/2 jalepeno, one potato, half a small head of cauliflower, and some organic chicken broth from Trader Joe's. 25 minutes later with submersible wand I had soup! None left, not even a drop! Proud mom! 

Next up, the Interactive Notebooks I am collecting Wednesday.

My very best friend in the kitchen this week is my Black and Decker Mini Chopper ( the only food processor I own). Ever since I was told by a relatively sane person that tomatoes in cans were bad for you, I have turned to my mini chopper for all recipes calling for cooked tomatoes. In goes the garlic, in goes the tomatoes, onions, zucchini, red bell peppers,jalapeños, whatever! I hid zucchini from my 14 year old using that thing!

On Monday I cooked 1.5 pounds of  organic chicken "tenders" and used them for the next two nights.
My only big "cheat" was to buy an already roasted turkey breast. Everyone in the family was just soooo excited and happy to have fresh turkey! All of us dug into it the minute we got home from school because it smelled so good...I am still thrilled every time I go to the grocery store and get to buy pretty much whatever I want. How rich is that?

I must say that I live in abundant Sonoma County. All the tomatoes were given to me, I grow the apples, zucchini, lemons, and basil. Armenian cucumbers were $1 per pound at our farmer 's market this past Sunday. The chevre is made by a colleague who milks goats in addition to teaching full time! Drool, enjoy, and leave a comment if you want any of the recipes!

Sunday: Yum Bowls: warm rice, cannelli beans, shredded cheese, carrot, cucumbers, tomatoes, wasabi sauce, tamari, avocado, vinegarette, mushrooms, steamed Swiss chard, 
Italian Chard Salad

Monday and Tuesday: quesadillas, lightly breaded sautéed chicken, cheese, corn tortilla, home made salsa, avocado, tomatoes, cabbage, refried beans, 

Wednesday: baked potatoes, cheese, carrots, chard, salsa, Zatar, steamed brussel sprouts, roasted beets, tomatoes, salsa

Thursday: fresh veg spaghetti sauce with tri- color noodles or brown rice wth radish seeds, salad, garlic bread

Friday: Italian chard salad, curried turkey salad with apples and walnuts, and roasted beets with peppered chèvre. 

All Gone--Curried Turkey Salad with Apple and Walnuts, Roasted Beets with Chèvre

The cousins from the previous Great Teaching Day got New Year's money again, however, this time, they got different amounts of money, but saved or spent at the same rate...and guess what? Wha-La! The students found out about parallel lines and I didn't "show" them anything. Phew!

This is a student with an IEP, who had a graph in last post, and this is a EVEN better!
Be sure to read his conclusion. Wow.

This next next student has about 28% in class...not anymore...well, okay, it is a step up.

And the last student I am showing off today is test-taking challenged. And her work is simply amazing.

The alternative that was given to me to me was a three page hand-out that began, "Now watch as I graph..."

I am linking up with #MyFavFriday to share my favorite ways to assign tasks and sometimes groups.

If I am working in groups of 3and 4 students, I like to find ways for them to get to know each other so I always assign the group tasks with a bit of either having to talk to each other or at least interact. Here's a starting list:

The person...

With the  oldest living relative

With the  youngest sibling

With the oldest sibling

Who woke up earliest

Who got the most sleep

Whose first name costs the most (a = 1, b= 2, etc...)

Whose middle initial is closest to A

Whose product of their birthday month and day are the least/greatest

With the Most pairs of shoes

With the Longest/ shortest name

Whose sum of their last 4 digits of phone number are the greatest

Has the most pets

Whose house number is greatest/ smallest

Whose been the furthest away

Quicker Method:

The person who...

Is tallest/shortest
Has the smallest / largest feet
Has the smallest /largest hands
Longest hair
Longest thumb
Lightest backpack
Longest span from thumb to pinky

These are designed so that you can assign tasks from one to all group members (ie from least to most or vice versa)

The kids LOVE to know what I will be asking for from day to day and will actually come up with their own if I am not so quick on my feet.

Please oh please come visit me on my Blog...I know you are already here, but I just made my first video using Educreations! I have a sub today (It is Yom Kippur...frustrating that one teacher said to me, "I hope you have fun on your day off! And my husband must attend a city council meeting...I realize we are a very small population...just makes me feel isolated...but for those of you out there that are MOT's, Happy New Year!) and wanted the kids to have any other resources available to them...I was at school until 8:30 pm, putting the lesson all together...yipes...fingers crossed.

Anyway...without further ado, here is the 4 minute video featuring...ME!

                                  Click on the Graph to Watch Video! (how cool is that???)
Finding Slope of Line
PS Julie! I did it!

PPS Next, the kids will do the videos! 
As promised, here are the amazing cooperative graphs my Algebra 1 students made. Not only are they beautiful, they were made during the last period of the day before the homecoming football game!
The students were given very little direct instructions. When enough groups had the same questions, I stopped, had a little pow-wow with them and sent them back to work. The students were so proud of this work. I must, must, must give credit for the inspiration for this problem from CPM.
 (Math 1, BR 23)

The basic idea is 6 cousins get $20 put in a savings account for the New Year. I made one error in the directions and had all the students use a full sheet of paper and one set of axes, not the first quadrant.

This young woman is an ELD student. What! Check her out! (her test average is 50%)
This young man has an IEP. He has fallen asleep (I mean no amount of noise would wake him) several times. Watch out!

This is the work of a very quiet young man who is currently sitting in the back. (That we change soon) Check out his answer to number 4.

So this was a successful day. Not so much today. The Monday after the Homecoming Dance. Three steps forward, 1.5 back...I'll take it.

I should be loading grades. I am planned. First period papers are graded...nothing I can do about making copies at 10pm on Sunday night, so I might as well tell you all what I made for dinner! (Can't wait to show the pictures of Group Graphs we did on Friday...will bring Ipad in tomorrow and post pictures tomorrow night)

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup with heirloom tomatoes, basil, and greek yogurt, Bean Salad (my 14 year old's fave with my dijon vinegrette and lots of parsley) and roasted Delicata Squash rounds.

I woke up and make Chocolate Zucchini Cake too.

Friday we shared Shabbat Dinner with a friends...they hosted us...yummy Middle Eastern faire,
Homecoming was Saturday Night, we all ate open-faced homemade pesto, hard cheese, and tomato sandwiches, and

Thursday night, I made the most heavenly Ground Turkey Stuffed Zucchini Boats (The 14 year old had her stuffing with Pasta because...)

Wednesday night we had Fresh Ground Turkey Pasta Sauce with Spaghetti (I had my sauce in corn tortillas) and Salad and

Tuesday night we had the left over Corn Tortilla "Lasagne" with fresh salsa.

It was a good week. Oh I remember what else we had for "dinner" Saturday night...Banana, Maple yogurt, orange juice, and frozen fruit smoothies.

Please Note: I live in Sonoma County, California...Sebastopol to be exact...I live in heaven.

AND...please leave a comment if you want any of the recipes!


Today I am meeting with a friend who has never taught Middle School before. She is a military mom and moves a lot. She is always last hired, nearly always temporary, and although a mighty fine teacher, never is usually anywhere long enough to get tenure.

So today, I am hanging out with her and getting her started on INB's, projects, and other fun stuff for middle school. It is my way of saying THANK YOU to all of you who have inspired me.

I hope I will posting her Middle School Math goodness here.
Wow. This has been wonderful. I hope we can keep connected. For week 4 I would like to share some student work from my Algebra 1 Classes.

I had an epiphany about how to get students to see the difference between solving these two linear equations:

 3/4(p + 1) = 6 and 3/4p +1 = 7

So I had the first student in each row of six (I share a room) come up to the front and Pow- Wow with me. I made the diagram and told them that they were going to go back to their "pod" (row) and take the students to the white board and lead them in a discussion about the similarities and differences in solving these two problems.

Here is "Group Awesome's response:

I was introduced to the anagram: SFDCVAM as "PEMDAS-ean" way to get students to think about solving a linear equations. Here are the notes:

I don't if you can see too much, but it starts with S--clear double signs, F--Fraction Bust, D--Distribute, C--Collect like terms, V-- bring variable to one side, A--add or subtract, M--multiply or divide. My department chair, Betsy came up with this (I think). So I used her example: Some Fat Dumb Cows Vacuum and Mop. Here are three student versions:

From the C student:
"Some Friends Drive Crazy Vans Around Mountains"

From the B student:

"Some Fat Ducks Can't Verify Any Math" (Did you check out the duck's eyes?"

From the A Student:

Well, you can read that one.

I love when math students get to shine using all their intelligences.

Anyone else have a INB week?


Math Blogger Initiative Week 3

I was super excited to have my week 2 post picked up by one of the blogging initiators. Lots of hits, 2 comments, one of which is mine...insecurity settling in...but wait, writing is for me...right...carry on!

Have you ever read an article you just didn't want to end? I have, I did...and I want to share it with you all. The best darn article I have ever read on math education, that made me drool with desire for similar discourse, is by Jerry A. Ameis in the March 2011 edition of Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. So here is what I did after reading The Truth About PEMDAS:

The second day into teaching Algebra 1 I asked the students to write down the solution to
2 + 4 x 4. Thankfully I got the two responses I was looking for evenly distributed among the students, 18 and 24. A debate ensued and eventually the group that answered 24 buckled with, yeah,yeah. Then     I told them a rocky the squirrel story, how Rocky stored 7acorns in one tree and hid two sets of 6 acorns in another tree. I then had them illustrate the scenario. Every single kid got the correct answer and we had  good fun laughing at the "asparagas" trees one student drew for us on the board. We agreed the expression 7 + 2 x 6 was the correct one.

What was so empowering is that I could show them how smart they were and that they intuitively know that multiplication takes precedence over addition. I am sure the kids had new confidence going forward with working with order of operations.

I wish every lesson I teach could be as fun and empowering as this one. Please Mr. Ameis, tell me the rest of the story.
I am sooooo proud of my Algebra 1 Syllabus!

Most kids get 4 pages of "Blah, Blah, Blah" like when the teacher talks in a Peanuts Cartoon.

I made mine into a flip book that goes straight into their IN Notebooks (is the redundant?) (okay, so it doesn't exactly look like a flip book in this format, but at least the graphics showed up and it is in order. 

Hope it looks the way it is supposed to here. It is a bit of work to cut out (oops, for my TA's to  cut out), but so worth it. Excited for Back to School night Next week. Woot!

Here is the text:

Course Syllabus

Hi there,

This is my first attempt at content blogging, outside of my teacher pages and our travel blog. Glad to be here.

Thank you for inviting me and making this sound easy. I am about to start my 27 th year of teaching math, and fell as though it were my first...except that I do have some experience under my belt! And I have plenty to learn!

I am trying to stay in the Algebra 1 realm this year.

To those, who like me, can get overwhelmed by all the deliciousness of curricula and how to deliver it, I offer this bit of advice that is something I plan to stick with this year :
     I break up the days of the week by " type, "  Monday madness is heavy notes, Tickler Tuesday is for introducing the problem of the week ( I do every two weeks) or a problem solving strategy, Wacky Wednesday is for a brain teaser bell ringer, Testy Thursday, and Fun Friday. This really helps me organize activities and makes sure I don't get stuck in a "chalk and talk" mode.

As for  something I love About teaching, again with Algebra 1 emphasis, is solving systems of linear equations. I always start with word problems, and I always start with a price list from the cafeteria. There are lots of comments, but we start with guess and check, then I immediately move to having the students write their own problems...when they have the power to manipulate the total costs and items, the rest doesn't seem so scary. Ex: Oliver was hungry after football practice so he ordered 3 hot dogs and two bags of chips for....the next day he wasn't so hungry so he only ordered two hot dogs and one bag of chips much does a hot dog and a bag of chips individually cost?

Cheers, Amy in Mathland