Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dry Erase Practice Folders: Made 4 Math

A while ago, my calculus students were working on derivative shortcuts. I was trying to think of a good way for them to practice and self-check independently. Assigning problems out of the textbook to be checked in the back doesn't work because those answers are simplified. I really want students to just practice the rules without getting distracted by algebra.

I ended up using recycled file folders and dry-erase contact paper to make these re-useable dry erase folders. They were a huge hit.

To make the folders, I cut off about 2/3 of the front flap of a file folder. The inside of the back of the folder is now exposed. I covered it with a small sheet of dry-erase contact paper. I found a big roll online for about $20. There is enough in the roll for 60 folders, so it will last a long time.

I cut the remaining portion of the front flap into tabs, one for each problem. I lifted up each tab and wrote the solution underneath. This took a long time. Next time, I will try to use a set of problems that I already have typed up. On the up side, it is a one-time thing. These can be re-used again and again and again.

Now students can work out a problem in the dry-erase area. 

When they are done, they can flip up the tab and check the answer.

Then erase and move on to the next problem.

My students really loved these. Since I had made multiple versions, they asked if they could take home an extra one for practice. 

In the future, I can envision a file crate full of these . . . labeled by skill . . . so that students can just grab  and work on whatever as needed. It hate to think about making all of those, but I it just might be worth it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Story

Today is national adoption day. I would like to share a personal story. If you are not into that kind of thing, feel free to move on. I will be back to my mediocre math-ed musings in no time.

This is a story of a math teacher (that's me) and her husband, a principal of a small K-12 school. These two were struggling with infertility. There were four years of wanting to be parents, and no babies appeared.

This is the story of a courageous 16-year-old. She had an unplanned pregnancy, and she didn't know what to do. Others told her to end the pregnancy. She didn't want to. Instead, she carried that baby for nine months. She endured the judgmental stares of strangers as her stomach grew and her discomfort increased. She said no to the usual high school fun while she stayed home, ate healthy foods, and made regular doctor appointments.

She chose the principal of her little K-12 school and his math teacher wife to be adoptive parents. She went through hours (and hours) of labor. And then, she put her baby in that math teacher's arms.

Today, I am just so thankful for the gift that she gave us.
I am thinking about the sacrifices she made for the baby she wouldn't take home.

That baby is now three years old.
She's beautiful. She's smart. She's vivacious. She's hilarious.

We are pretty much head over heels.

And we were given the honor and privilege of guiding her through life.

I am feeling pretty grateful today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Typical Tuesday

I had grandiose ideas of capturing my day in photos. The truth, as you will see, is that the dream was lost somewhere between first bell and the end of the day. But here's what I managed to capture:

5:25. I meet my "running partner" via FaceTime. I'm in my basement on the treadmill, she's at her house down the street on the elliptical.

7:15. Time to get out the door. I grab the chocolate chip cookies I made last night. They'll be doing what chocolate chip cookies do best . . . bribery. All week student council (I'm the sponsor) will be asking our students to donate so that we can buy gifts and Christmas dinner for families in need. I'll be exchanging cookies for donations.

7:25. My commute. Note to self: Clean windshield.

7:40. Deliver cute little girl to daycare.

7:48. Arrive at school. Students are waiting for me at the door. One needs to work on test corrections, another needs help catching up, a third has questions on his calculus assignment. I open my email, but there is no time to read it. A girl comes in with posters she made advertising our student council fundraiser. The student council president has a question for me, and another girl needs to take a makeup test.

8:10. My principal walks in. Would I mind attending a panel discussion this morning? Our school is having some type of efficiency/improvement review and they need teachers to talk with the visitors. I am willing, but surprised and unprepared. Thankfully, this isn't typical at all. I quickly write out some notes for my colleague who will be taking my class.

8:18. My first hour class begins. I give them quick instructions and record their assignments that were due. Thankfully the lesson involved a self-guided sheet. Students were reviewing horizontal and vertical translations of parent functions and discovering the "flip" transformation.

8:30. Off to the meeting. I grab a few items to copy in case I have time while I am in the office.

10:00. Meeting over. It lasted longer than expected and my planning period is now over. I make a few quick copies, quickly finish a student council fundraiser display in the teacher's lounge, and head to my third hour class.

10:07. Bless their hearts, they started without me! I am thrilled to find that students are already working on the bell work when I arrive. I walk around recording assignments, checking bell work, and signing off on check points on the new lesson.

10:53. Sit down at my desk. Prepare envelopes for donation collections, take my first glance at my agenda for the day, notice the email from my principal asking if I'd go to that meeting this morning . . .

10:58. Advisory class. They have AR time. I catch a breather, record some test grades, collect my thoughts, and check a couple of items off the to-do list.

11:28. Calculus class. Implicit differentiation review.

12:16. Lunch. Chef salad.

12:51. Physics class. Discuss work and kinetic energy.

1:45 - 3:25. Two more Algebra 2 classes.

3:25. School is over. Several students come in for makeup work and extra help. A few of these are regulars. I am really proud of how hard they've been working.

3:45. I count the donations collected that day and email the total for tomorrow's announcements.

4:06. I have so very much to do, but I have to pick up my daughter so it is time to call it a day.