Thursday, April 19, 2012

Confession Time

I've had a lot of positive response to the "spoon pencil" strategy I've been using this year. (Thanks, Sam!)

I waited 8 weeks into the year before posting, just to make sure it was working well. This was the result at the end of the first quarter, and I couldn't wait to share the genius of it all.

But, I've been feeling a little guilty.  I think I need to confess the truth of my "genius" plan.

It doesn't work.

At the end of the second quarter, I replaced about half of the spoons and doubled the tape.

And here it is now, with four weeks left in the year:

On the positive side, my knife erasers fared much better. Five of the eight originals remain.

And the green fork pens?  Seven out of eight originals are still intact.

Still, I have enjoyed an entire year of not hearing "Mrs. Gruen, I forgot a pencil", or "Mrs. Gruen, do you have a BIG eraser?", or similar distress calls.

For next year, I have decided to step up my game with indestructible spoons:

If this doesn't work, I am attaching pencils to bricks.

I am not even kidding.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Visualizing Volumes

My calculus class is working on volumes of revolution. I have found that success with this particular topic is related to a student's ability to visualize in three dimensions. I always have a few who struggle with that.

Fast forward to last week. I was shopping, and I found these on clearance:

For decorative use only. I am such a rule-breaker.

I traced out the shape of the region I wanted to rotate.

Cut it out. Open it up. Voila!

You have to hold it a certain way or it will sort of fall apart, but I thought it was a nice visual and tactile representation of a volume of rotation.

This one fell apart when I opened it up. I learned that you have to make sure some of the original glue is left intact when you cut out your shape. I tried running a bead of glue along one side, but then it wouldn't open very well.

Another drawback is that the semi-circular shape of the original pieces is somewhat limiting. I am sure these must be made in other shapes? I am going to raid a party store before we get to this topic again next year.

Still, my students were really intrigued to see what would happen as we cut and unfolded each one.

This one turned out really nice:

Happy rotating!

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Fools!

This morning before school, two of the sweetest girls walk into my classroom to tell me they saw two boys (one of whom is my nephew) messing with my car. I knew there was some sort of late April Fools joke in the works, so I took the bait and hustled out to the parking lot to catch them in the act. Nothing. My car looks fine, so I return to my classroom to find that my nice comfy chair has been replaced with a bucket.

Well played, nephew and his friend. Well played.

The use of two innocent girls as accomplices was particularly brilliant.

As soon as I think of a very good prank, I am totally going to get even.