Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Types of Triangles

This week my students have been preparing for their geometry CSTs, and since all of the different types of triangles/angles can get confusing, I had the students complete a group activity to help them remember: They wrote a song, poem, story, or rap about 4 out of 6 possible triangle types. Here are some samples:

Obtuse triangle has one angle that is more than 90 degrees
one side bigger
acute triangle has an angle under 90 degrees
almost too tiny to see
equilateral triangle has all equal sides and angles
easiest to describe
right triangle has one 90 degree angle
real easy to draw

I like that big 90 degree angle
her name is obtuse
but I don't like isosceles
because she has only 2 equal angles
I look past that right angle
and, woah, I see that acute
it's so small - smaller than 90 degrees

Jay, the obtuse boy, had a goose. "Ahoy," he said as he played with his computer toy when he opened his laptop with an angle of 95 degrees because Jay, being shady as the obtuse boy, likes only numbers that are more than 90, but less than 180. Now his goose was acute and he plays a green flute, and played it almighty, he didn't have loot. In fact, he had less than 90. The goose's name was Abel, they were best friends, 2 parts of 1, like a right angle.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


What is our students' motivation to learn? Too often, the easiest thing to say to off-task students is, "You'll get a zero." Though this is motivating enough for some students to do work, they'd consequently be doing it for the teacher and simply to completion, instead of doing quality work for the purpose of their own learning. The past 2 weeks, I have noticed that sometimes it is difficult to get students to work and sometimes very easy. The reasons for this could be so many things, including the student's mood, their interest, the importance of the content, and so on. Ultimately, as teachers it is our duty to motivate and inspire our students to want to learn what we are teaching.
To get students more excited about the content, it could be actually detrimental to offer rewards. As you'll see in this video I found on YouTube,  people do not reach their full potential when they are offered rewards. This takes the fun out of it; students no longer think creatively or do the work to see how awesome it is that they solved a problem. One way I have been getting students excited about geometry and business math is relating to their interests, or at least real life. Another thing I do is show how their current math class connects to many different higher levels and subjects of mathematics.
The best thing we can do is make lessons that are interesting to our students, but we cannot always get students enthused about the content, so we have to be prepared to offer other incentives. These incentives are hard to determine because it depends on the student. I have been trying to observe teachers and see how they motivate without bringing up points or grades. I have heard some great motivating sayings to on and off task students, such as:
"If you worked for me, you would get a raise" or "If you worked for me, you wouldn't get paid today"
"You're a great student"
"In high school, you learn how to learn" (in response to "why do I need to know this?")
I have had to give a few talks in my classrooms as to why it is important that they do their work and succeed in the class, and it was something that I hadn't really thought of planning so frequently and carefully for until recently. It is a huge part of this job, and it shows how important our role is - our students really need us, and most of the time, they don't even know it.

Interesting video about motivating students (the first 3.5 minutes is sufficient to watch):


Monday, April 2, 2012

CP II: Week 2

This last week I planned for one class and felt more comfortable in the other. I have enjoyed making exciting lesson plans  for geometry, but it is a little stressful wondering if the plan will work out. It also makes me anxious planning far ahead and spending a lot of time on plans if I will have to change them later depending on the pace the students' understanding. However, as I write more and more plans, they are getting easier and evolving. The feeling of being a teacher is more prominent and I feel like I get more content about my career everyday. In business math, we are almost done with a couple chapters, on investments and insurance, and I enjoy teaching very applicable topics. It isn't too difficult gaining students' interest, but sometimes they are off task, and I had to have a talk with them expressing the importance of utilizing class time and being efficient as if working for a business. On top of my classes, I have also been tutoring for the after-school mastery learning program for students who fail a test in algebra. I love that I can gain experience in another subject and grade level. Last, but not least, my cooperating teachers are wonderful. I learn a lot from their teaching styles and the random conversations we hold between classes and at lunch.

Monday, March 26, 2012

CP II: Week 1

This week went splendid. The two courses I am assigned to teach are geometry and business math, and I am transitioning into being the full-time teacher for each at different paces. On Monday and Tuesday, I continued to observe my two cooperating teacher's lessons and walked around to help students individually. On Wednesday, I started teaching for business math a chapter on health and life insurance. It has been fun learning experience working with seniors. Most of them think the class is pretty easy and just need to pass to graduate, so it has been somewhat challenging classroom management and keeping everyone interested. So far, I already am making great relationships with the students and my cooperating teachers, and loving lesson planning. In geometry this week, the students have been finishing up a chapter and reviewing for their test. I did a few problems with the class on Wednesday, passed out permission slips for TPA 4, and administered my student survey via GoogleForms. In AVID, I tutored. Mostly, the students work with one another and the tutors walk around waiting for questions or probing the students to ask questions. Finally, I help out and want to continue to help in an algebra class for English learners with a teacher who is involved with Math for America. I get some additional insight from his teaching and helping his students. I am excited for this second week, and the many more weeks to come.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Business Math Rap

So, I am lesson planning away for the business math class I'm teaching this semester. Everyday there is some vocabulary to go over and I am trying to teach it so the students remember it and so it is fun! I wanted to share a poem/rap I wrote for a life insurance section's vocabulary words: 

Whole life insurance is for
When you die or need more…cash
Cash value is the money you get when you cancel
These lines don’t rhyme
But, different types of life insurances are
limited payment policy where you pay for a certain amount of time
& universal life insurance, you pay a minimum, the rest earns interest
What do you think, should this go on Pinterest?

Monday, March 19, 2012

One Teacher's Friday Ritual

Some of you may have seen him in the Twitter world, John Berray, a math teacher from Santee (check out his blog: http://johnberray.wordpress.com/). I read one of his posts, "My Friday Ritual," where he writes about the fun stuff he does between classes on a Friday, and like the sub-title of his blog, tries to "make math class awesome." Every week, Berray chooses one or two students, who have shown him something notable. This can be something like a student asked good questions, improved greatly, or showed consistent hard-work. This could also be something like a student helped another with an academic or life problem or stood up for a peer. Berray creates a slideshow that he plays between classes, complete with music!

Example of one slide:

His rationale for doing this is that the students "deserve more attention than they get." As teachers, we are often the people who get to interact with young people the most, so we should praise them. Something else interesting that Berray noted was how having to pick students every week made him a better teacher. Usually deciding on which student to choose is easy, but when it's not, that's good. During those times, he gets to dig deeper and find something positive about everyone. He has to be reflective about his students and get to know them better. The lessons get to be tailored more and more to the students' interests and skill-levels. Anything to make the school day more exciting, make the students feel good, and help the teachers design better lessons should be a wonderful adaptation. I love this idea!