Math = Love: December 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Things Teenagers Say...Volume Six

Previous Volumes of Things Teenagers Say

Me: You must show your work.  No work equals no grade.
Student: But, Jesus didn't have to show his work when he built the ark!
Me: Nice try, but Jesus didn't build the ark.
Student: Oh, I meant Moses didn't have to show his work when he built the ark.
Me: Yeah,  Moses didn't build the ark either.
Student: I really thought Joseph was the one who built the ark.
Me: You said Jesus earlier, not Joseph. But, Joseph didn't build the ark either.
Student: Okay.  Last try.  Marco Polo is the one who built the ark.

Yeah...  I guess I should be impressed that they have heard of Marco Polo.  

--

I always have a tray of loose leaf notebook paper for students to use if they need it.  Some of it is a little old.  But, it still works.  

Student: Can I use this prehistoric paper?

--

Me: Please stop pulling out other people's hair.
Student: Well, she pulled a hair out of my face, so I had to pull out one of her hairs.

No words.

--

A lady at my church asked me to give my students some Family Feud style questions for a Christmas party she was planning.  This was one of the questions. 

Me: Name an animal you would find in the desert.
Student: A cactus.
Me: A cactus is not an animal.
Student: Yes it is.  They move.
Me: Cacti do not move.
Student: Yes they do.  I saw it in a movie.  If it wasn't true, they wouldn't have put it in the movie.

--

Me: I went to the zoo this weekend.
Student: Did you see your cousins?
Me: No. 

--

Student: Your legs look nice.  Oh, you're wearing panty hose.  That's why.  I'm going to have to get me some panty hose so my legs look nice.Me: And, that's not awkward at all.
Student: It's only awkward because you just made it awkward.

No, I'm still pretty sure it was just awkward to begin with. 

--

One of my student's theory on my future:

First, he buys you flowers.  Then, he buys you chocolate.  Then, he buys you jewelry.  Then, he proposes.  Then, you get married.  Then, you have kids.  Then, you start fighting.  Then, you get a divorce.  Then, you die alone, surrounded by your cats.

--

Math is so terrifying.  It shows me how big and scary the world really is.

--

Student: Have you ever had your house egged?
Me: No.
<Laughter>

And, this is why my students do not and should not know where I live!

--

Me: Today, we're going to calculate the probability of winning the game of craps.
Student: Don't you mean the game of crabs?
Another Student: Yeah, I'm pretty sure the game is called crabs.
Me: No, actually it's called craps.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stats Semester Projects

Instead of giving my statistics students a semester test, I chose to assign them a project.  After a quick google search, I ran across Josh Tabor's First Semester Response Bias Project.  I gave my students the instructions and set them free.

I was very impressed with how they carried out their projects.  It was fun for me, as a teacher, to watch them grapple with results that didn't necessarily match their hypotheses.

I can't wait to hang these up in the hall.  I'm hoping they will help spark other students' interests regarding statistics.  

This first project explored the impact of anonymity when asking high school students if they had ever smoked a cigarette.  

Have You Smoked? Project Poster

Have You Smoked? Hypothesis 

Example of Anonymous Survey Sheet

Survey Results - Anonymous
Example of Not Anonymous Survey Sheet


Survey Results - Not Anonymous
Another student explored the question, "Does adding a fact affect the answer?"  We had to have a discussion on the difference between affect and effect.  I used a silly sentence I learned years ago to illustrate the difference:  "The arrow affected the aardvark.  The effect was eye-popping."  

This student surveyed people about how many hours they spend on their cell phones each day.  Some students were given a survey sheet that only featured the question.  Other students were given a sheet that had a fact regarding the potential dangers of cell phones before the question.  

Does Adding A Fact Affect The Answer? 

The Hypothesis

The Two Survey Sheets

Results from Survey With Fact

Results from Survey Without Fact
This student was especially distraught about the results she obtained.  When she added the fact to the survey sheets, the mean response rose!  We had a good discussion about why the results didn't necessarily line up with her hypothesis.

Conclusion
The final group chose to survey students about their alcohol drinking habits.  They, too, explored the impact of anonymity on survey results.  Interestingly, they got almost the same results from both their anonymous survey and their non-anonymous survey.  The boys concluded that the students had lied in both surveys.  

Does anonymity change the response to sensitive questions? 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Taking The Flyswatter Game Up A Notch

Remember my giant coordinate plane?  I am just so ridiculously proud of this thing.  I love it.

Giant Coordinate Plane

I'll be honest.  Not all of my kids thought it was as cool as I did.  A bunch of them had a "Ms. Hagan, really?" expression on their faces when I introduced it to the class.  But, I'm used to that expression by now.  There were also the students who stayed after class to graph points by standing on the coordinate plane because they wanted to have a turn even though we ran out of time.

Remember the fly swatter game?

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to combine the two.  We played the fly swatter game on the giant coordinate plane.  Two students would come up to the coordinate plane.  They could stand anywhere around the coordinate plane that they wanted.  I would show them an ordered pair.  (I reused my flies that I had hung around the room for this.)  The first one to slap the correct place on the coordinate plane with their fly swatter won.

Coordinate Grid Fly Swatter Game
I had to make several rules to keep students from just slapping random places.  For example, only their first slap counted.  If they slapped the wrong place, they could not win the round.  The competition was intense.

This activity definitely worked better for my smaller classes.  I even turned this into a quiz for my smallest Algebra 1 class of 10 students.  Each student had to come up to the coordinate plane.  I asked them three questions similar to these: 1. Show me where (-3, 2) is on the coordinate plane.  2.  Show me where (0, 4) is on the coordinate plane.  3.  Choose a point in the fourth quadrant.  Show it to me, and tell me its ordered pair.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Algebra 1 - Introduction to Relations and Functions

Unit 5 for my Algebra 1 kiddos is an introduction to relations and functions.  My goal with this unit is to review pre-algebra concepts such as ordered pairs and graphing points on the coordinate plane and emphasize vocabulary.  The EOI my students will take in the spring will have questions that specifically ask them to identify which relation is or is not a function, identify the domain or range of a given relation, and classify variables as dependent or independent.

After we get back from Christmas Break, we will finish up this unit with notes on function notation and determining the rule that a function follows.  I can't wait!  I'm soooo ready to get to Unit 6 - Rate of Change and Linear Functions.  I think I love to teach about slope and graphing more than anything else.  With Common Core, that will be shifting to eighth grade which makes me extremely sad.  When that happens, I guess I will have to find a new favorite unit to teach.

Here is our table of contents for this unit so far...



I already posted pictures and templates for the ordered pair foldable and coordinate plane foldable.

We made a frayer model to discuss an important vocab word: relation. 

Relation Frayer Model

Then, we discussed various ways to represent a relation.  I focused on the four types that my students will see on their end-of-year exam: ordered pairs, input/output table, coordinate plane, and mapping diagram.  My students were convinced that an input/output table was the same as a stem and leaf plot.  At least they have heard of a stem and leaf plot...

Ways to Represent a Relation Foldable - Outside
Ways to Represent a Relation Foldable - Inside
Once we had defined a relation, we could now define a specific type of relation: a function.  

Function INB Pages
Can you tell I love the Frayer Model for vocabulary?  We made one to summarize what we learned about functions.  I gave them the definition of a function and nothing else.  Then, I went through all of my released EOI test questions and copied and pasted all of the relations and/or functions into a Smart Board file.  I asked for a volunteer.  I showed them and the entire class a picture of a relation.  I instructed the students who had not volunteered to write down function or not a function.  Once everybody had written down their answer, the student who volunteered said their answer aloud.  Next, I had all of my students hold up their dry erase board to show the student.  After seeing the responses of their classmates, the student had to decide whether they should keep their original answer or change their answer.  Only after going through this process did I reveal whether it was a function or not.

This was a new way of doing things for me, and I kinda liked it.  I have students write their answers down and show them to me a lot.  But, I rarely have students show their boards to other students.  It reminds me of the "Poll the Audience" feature of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  I guess you could say that the person who has to voice their answer aloud is in the "Hot Seat."

Function Frayer Model

My students loved this.  I had lots and lots of students wanting to volunteer.  The conversations that ensued between students were AWESOME.  I also did something new this year.  I didn't teach my kids about the vertical line test to begin with.  I sort of let them discover it for themselves.  Of course, this worked better in some classes than others.

We ended this day's lesson by completing the function/not a function card sort that I love and have used a lot.  I used it last year with both my Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 classes.  And, I used it with both classes again this year.  This card sort is available from Math Tales From the Spring.

Function / Not a Function Card Sort

The next day, I had students create examples and non-examples of functions.  And, we summarized the vertical line test strategy that we had arrived during the previous lesson.  To give my students further practice, I assigned an error analysis task from Algebra's Friend.  My students are terrible at following directions.  Even though I told them that they were grading the answers given on the paper, I still had students who answered function or not a function instead of correct or incorrect.  My IEP students were especially bad about making this mistake.  I just don't know how to get them to slow down and read the instructions.

Domain and Range INB Pages
Next, we moved into our discussion of domain and range.  I used the DIXROY mnemonic device with my students.  I don't really know how many students even use this to help them remember the meaning of domain and range.  DIX: Domain, Inputs, X-Coordinates. ROY: Range, Outputs, Y-Coordinates.  I did see a student write the acronym on their index card to use on their semester test, so I guess at least one student has found it helpful.

Domain and Range (DIXROY) Notes

Domain and Range / Representations of a Relation Practice
This half-sheet was stolen, ahem, borrowed from Mrs. Hester.  She posted a picture of this organizer from her 8th grade interactive notebook, and I fell in love.  So, I typed up one at the last minute.  I uploaded the template for you below.  Everything isn't perfectly aligned and centered, but it was the best I could do with the limited time I had.  If I wasn't such a procrastinator, my notebooks would be better.

Independent and Dependent Variables INB Pages
Last year, some of my students really struggled with the difference between dependent and independent variables.  So, this year, I set out to teach this topic better.  I'm pretty sure I failed, but I'll share with you what I did anyway.  

Independent and Dependent Variables Notes
We took notes over the difference between independent and dependent variables.  I filled out the arrows above three different ways for the three different sections of Algebra 1 that I teach.  None of the ways led to universal understanding.  When I look at a scenario, I can easily tell you which variable depends on the other.  This is the dependent variable.  Thus, the other variable is independent.  Easy.  

Many of my kids cannot do this.  I will think I have come up with the perfect example that will make all things clear to all students.  Ms. Hagan's Outfit.  The Weather.  Which one is dependent?  Which one is independent?  They will tell me something like this: "The weather depends on Ms. Hagan's outfit."  This leads to me saying, "So, if I change my outfit, the weather will change?"  It sounds crazy.  But, they will answer yes to this and truly mean it.  I don't think my kids understand the word "depend."  Or, maybe they don't understand cause and effect.  

There were basically two groups of students in each section where I taught this lesson.  The students who thought this was the most obvious thing we had ever done in Algebra 1.  Why in the world would we spend an entire 50-minute period on this lesson?  Then, there were the students who missed every single question.  They would flip the dependent and independent variable.  Every single time.  I was almost tempted to tell them to just write the opposite of what they thought the answer should be.  Okay, that's terrible.  And, I would never actually do that.  But, why can't my students get this?  

I created a card sort that I thought would take 10 minutes tops.  We spent at least 35-40 minutes on it.  And, some students still didn't finish.  

Independent and Dependent Variable Card Sort

* I accidentally glued one pair on backwards.  The number of songs performed should be independent, and the duration of the concert should be dependent.  Oops.  I was in a hurry, and it shows!  
I did a quick google search for sets of independent and dependent variable scenarios.  I found such a set on www.ixl.com.  I copied and pasted these scenarios and edited them to remove the names.  I thought this activity would be too easy for my students if I left the names in the scenarios.  I think I could have left the names in, and my students STILL would have struggled.

I passed out a sheet containing the 20 statements.  I gave students these instructions:
1. Cut out the 20 rectangles.
2. Recycle your trash.
3. Pair up the statements.
4. Have Ms. Hagan check to make sure your statements are paired up correctly.
5. Classify each statement as dependent or independent.  Arrange these in two columns.  
6. Have Ms. Hagan check your classifications.
7. Glue these in your notebook on page 52 and 53.  Be sure to label the columns as dependent and independent.  

Students were okay with steps 1-2.  But, Step 3.  Oh my goodness.  "How am I supposed to know how to pair these up?"  "This is so hard."  "What's a potluck?"  "Is that where people get together and smoke pot together?"  "This is impossible."  "What does the word duration mean?"  "You mean pickles come from cucumbers?!?"  

I would go around and check my students' statements to make sure they were paired up correctly.  It was not out of the ordinary for students to only have 3/10 pairs made correctly.  They were pairing up statements that had NOTHING in common.  It was a nightmare.  

A few of my high-achieving students caught on early and were able to complete this activity with little assistance.  The rest of my students.  I just don't know.  This isn't supposed to be that hard.  They couldn't get them paired up let alone classify them as dependent or independent.  I was frazzled.  My students were frazzled.  

If you have any insight on how to teach independent and dependent variables, please leave a comment.  I'm begging you.      

I have uploaded the PDF templates that I created for my students to use below.  If you can't get them to load, please make sure that you have Flash/Shockwave installed.  If problems persist, feel free to send me an e-mail.  I will be happy to attach the files and send them to you!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Ending Our Unit On Radicals

My Algebra 2 students have moved into logarithm territory, so I guess it's best time I post the rest of our interactive notebook pages regarding radicals.  We sort of got off to a bad start with logarithms.  I seriously blame it on the winter weather.  But, I think most of my students have finally caught on and realized that logarithms only look scary.  But, more about them in a future post.

Radicals.  Earlier, I posted pictures of the pages we made that dealt with prime factorization, parts of a radical, simplifying radicals, adding and subtracting radicals, and multiplying radicals.  The latter half of our unit covered dividing radicals, rationalizing the denominator, and converting between radical form and rational exponent form.

I shared with my students the reason why standardized tests require them to rationalize the denominator.  I gave them a long division problem to do by hand.  It was not pretty.  They cannot divide.  At all.  If I had more time, I would have had them write a persuasive paper over whether students should be required to rationalize the denominator in this day and age of technology.  I hate the fact that I have so much to cover in Algebra 2.  The majority of my students' Algebra 1 background is extremely lacking, however.  So, I've had to do some necessary reteaching.  Plus, I still have to make sure I teach all of the Algebra 2 standards.  It's a lot to do, but I'm doing the best that I can.

Multiplying and Dividing Radicals
  
Dividing Radicals Interactive Notebook Page

Rationalizing the Denominator and Converting Between Radical Form and Rational Exponent Form
Rationalizing the Denominator Interactive Notebook Page
Converting Between Rational Exponent Form and Radical Form INB Page
I gave this page to my students, and I instructed them to choose a variable of their choice for the index of their radical and for the exponent of their radicand.  One of my students thought it would make sense to use the variable e for the exponent and the variable i for the index.  When you convert to rational exponent form, the exponent goes over the index in the fraction that forms the exponent.  Exponent Over Index.  EOI.  The standardized tests that Oklahoma high school students take at the end of the year are known as End-Of-Instruction (EOI) tests.  So, this mnemonic device really only has special meaning to Oklahoma high school students.  But, I was so proud of my student for creating something to help her remember something she deemed important and sharing it with the class.  I was so impressed, I shared the idea with my other Algebra 2 period.  They didn't seem too thrilled or impressed, but I saw some students writing "EOI" on their quizzes.  So, I think it helped.  

I'm thinking that you could maybe find a way to relate it to Old MacDonald???  "Old MacDonald Had a Farm.  E I E I O."  Okay, maybe that's stretching it.  

PDF templates have been uploaded below.  You will need Flash/Shockwave to view.  If you cannot view these files, send me an e-mail, and I will be happy to send them to you in an attachment.



Dividing Radicals (PDF)




Rationalizing The Denominator (PDF)




Converting Between Rational Exponent Form and Radical Form (PDF)



Sunday, December 15, 2013

One day, I'll learn.

One day, I'll learn.  I'll learn to always finish the word I'm writing on the Smart Board BEFORE I stop to answer a question.  This is especially important when you're determining if a relation is a function.

Yeah, I might have only wrote the first two letters of the word function before stopping to answer a student question.  When the entire class starts laughing and you haven't told a joke, it's never a good sign.

That's a tough one to recover from.  One day, I'll learn.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Things Teenagers Say...Volume Five

Actual Conversations of Late

(Some of these are from a couple of months ago.  I write them down on post-it notes when they occur, and these post-its got buried on my desk.  Imagine that...)

Previous Volumes


Student: Do you believe in ghosts?
Me: No
Student: You know this school is haunted, right? 
Me: We need to move on with our lesson.  If it was Halloween, I would be more than happy to talk about ghosts.  Sadly, it's Christmas.  And, Christmas has nothing to do with ghosts.
Student: What about the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future?
Me: Well...you've got me there.  We still have to get back to our lesson, though.
Another Student: You just got boomeranged!

Apparently, one of our English teachers calls it boomeranging someone when you prove them wrong.  I guess they did boomerang me...

--

Me: Put up your phone.
Student: Okay.
<Two minutes later>
Me: I can see that.  Put up your phone.  
Student: Oh, I really thought you weren't going to see me that time. 
Me: Don't you know I have an all-seeing eye?
Student: What?  
Me: I have an all-seeing eye.  
Student: You have an ulcer in your eye?
Me: No...

--

I don't know why I'm like this today.  Usually, everything you say is NOT funny to me..  But, today everything you say is funny.  I guess it's the Christmas spirit inside of me or something.

Thanks...

--

<While discussing a future relationship situation that I might find myself in someday.  For this to make sense, you do have to know that I'm a vegetarian.>

He'll be eating a 48 ounce steak, and you'll be eating a 48 ounce salad.

This was followed, of course, by uproarious laughter from my entire class.  Oooh...what would a 48 ounce salad look like?  What size bowl would it be in?  I can see a math problem forming...

--

While making an ordered pair foldable:

Me: When you open up the outside flaps of the foldable, you will find another foldable inside.  Isn't it just adorable?
Student: I see what you did there.
<Laughter>
Me: I don't get it.
Student: A"door"able
Me: Pun unintended.  That time.  It will be definitely intended, though, for the rest of the day!

--

Me: Can you believe that tomorrow is November?
Student: No.  What month comes next?  January?

Obviously, this conversation took place on Halloween...

--

Student: Why do we have to go to school on Halloween?
Me: Because it's not a National holiday.
Student: But, they celebrate it all across the US.  Doesn't that make it national?

I guess I should have said federal holiday.  They did have a point. 

--

After telling students a joke that a kid at my church shared with me:

"That's so funny I fell off my pet dinosaur."

"That's so funny I have tears running down my leg."

--

I named my fish "Smithy."  It's actually short for "Will Smith."  I named him that because he's my only black fish.

So terrible.  

--

So, you drive a grandma car, you own a bunch of cats, and you have a box of barbies in your cabinet.  I'm worried about you.

My students make me feel so loved.  And, for the record, I do not own a cat.  And, I don't think I drive a grandma car.  I do have a box of barbies, however.  How else could we do Barbie Bungee later in the year???

--

One day, I didn't notice the lights flicker.  This led to this proclamation:

"Either we're all on meth and you're not, or you're on meth."

--

Ms. Hagan, I have something I need to get off my chest.  My cousin thinks you're cute, and he wants me to ask you out for him...but he's kind of a blank space...

I have no idea who her cousin is, and I don't even want to know.

--

Me: Why does everybody keep commenting on my hair?
Student: Well, it does look like you just woke up.
Another Student: Have you been outside recently?
Me: No.
Yet Another Student: Maybe you've stood by an open window recently?  (I think this girl was really trying to make it better...)
Me: No.

Next time, I will just keep my observations to myself!

--

Me: If you can't be kind, be quiet.
Student: Wait!  I thought it was if you can't be kind, say two nice things.

--

I saw hexaflexagons in my dream last night.

Yes!

--

Student: Ms. Hagan, can I come in here at lunch?
Me: Yes.  You can always come in my room at lunch.
<Student stalks off, angrily.>
Student: I have black contacts in.  No one has noticed my different eye color all day.

--

While going to the water fountain to refill my water bottle:

Student: What's the name of your bottle?
Me: George
Student: Mine is named Franklin.

And, for the record, his bottle was ghost-shaped because it was one of those Halloween party favors.  And, I actually don't refer to my bottle as George.  I made up a name on the spot just to see how my student would respond.  

--

Student: What day do we get out for Christmas Break?
Me: December 20th
Student: You mean they're making us come to school on Christmas Eve?!?
Me: No, we don't have school on Christmas Eve.
Student: What day is Christmas?
Me: What day do you think Christmas is?
Student: Well, I thought it was on the 21st, but that would make Christmas Eve on the 20th.  And, you said we didn't have school on Christmas Eve.

--

Student: Are you Amish?
Me: No
Another Student: Just to be honest, you do look Amish.  You have an Amish haircut.

Because side-swept bangs and lots of layers just yells Amish, right?

--

Student: I'm so excited.  The Dallas Cowboys are going to be playing the Green Bakers.
Me: Who are they going to be playing?
Student: The Green Bakers.
Me: Are you sure they're going to be playing The Green Bakers?
Student: Yeah.
Me: I don't know a lot about football, but I'm pretty sure they're going to be playing The Green Bay Packers.
Student: That's what I said.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pin the Index on the Radical

Do you ever have an idea and fail to follow through on it?

Remember my birthday a few weeks ago?  I had grand plans.  I was going to plan mathematically-themed birthday party games.  I don't ever really remember having a birthday party when growing up.  Sure, there were the family parties when I was a toddler.  And, my parents always did something to celebrate my birthday.  But, I never got to invite my friends over for cake and games and party favors.  I guess part of me was wanting to recreate this experience that I feel like I missed out on.

Birthday Cake


Thanks to my students, we did end up having cake, but I failed to follow through on the party games.  Instead, we just went ahead with the planned lessons.  Yes, I made my students do math on my birthday.  Yes, I love them that much.

My Algebra 2 students were studying radical functions at the time, though.  And, I'm really starting to wish I had taken five or so minutes out of class to play a game of "Pin the Index on the Radical."  It would have been like "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."  Except, we would have had a giant radical sign on the board, complete with a radicand that corresponded to my age or the day of my birthday or something equally cool.

A student would be blind-folded, spun around x times, handed an index (maybe on an INDEX card!), and instructed to pin the index on the radical.  Yes, the variable is intentional.  I have no clue how many times you are supposed to spin someone around.  

Points would be awarded based on the proximity of the index to its correct place on the radical symbol.

Or, what if the radicand was decided after the person was blind folded?  An appropriate index was placed in their hand.  And, after they pinned the index on the radical, they had to simplify the radical as much as possible as quickly as possible?

Hmmm... Maybe next year...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Blogging has changed me.

Blogging has changed me.  I do things in my classroom, and I want to share them.  I want to share them with the world.  I want to have a bigger impact than the 85 students I see on a daily basis.  I learn from others.  I take from others.  I am a better teacher because of blogs and twitter and the #MTBOS.

Blogging has raised the standards I have for myself.  I don't want to just teach the way I was taught.  I don't want to lecture at students who really aren't listening.  I don't want to be content with the way I taught something before.  It has opened my eyes to the various tricks I was taught in school that do a disservice to my students.

Blogging connects me.  I get e-mails and comments and messages from people, sharing a wealth of knowledge.  I'm the only Algebra 2 teacher in my school district.  But, I am not alone.  I am not alone in this quest to make math fun and exciting and doable.  I am not alone in my struggles.  I am inspired by others.  I am inspired to be better.  I am inspired to do more.  I am inspired to focus on what is truly important.    

The more I take from this community, the more I want to give back.  I give because others have already given so much to me.  I give because I don't feel like any of this is 100% mine.  I read the ideas of others.  And, my subconscious rearranges the ideas into something that I *think* might work for my students.  Sometimes, it does.  Sometimes, it doesn't.  When I think I do have an original idea, I usually later find something somewhere on the Internet that I hadn't realized had inspired me.  So, I share what I create, and I try to link back to those who inspired me (when I remember who they are.)

I take pictures of everything.  My students (except for maybe three or four) still don't know about my blog.  I'm not quite sure what they think when they see me snapping pictures of activities with my camera.  Okay.  I guess that's why I always try to take my pictures when nobody else is around.  I've been known to shut the door of my classroom when I'm working in there after school so no one notices the flash of my camera.  I only made it public knowledge to my facebook friends that I have a blog a couple of weeks ago.  It's just not something that I go around telling people.  I don't introduce myself as "Sarah Hagan, high school math blogger."  I'm definitely the only teacher in my district who blogs.

One of my students did find me on twitter the other day, though.  "Ms. Hagan!  You're on twitter?!?!?  How in the world do you have 695 followers?  I'm an officer in a national organization, and I don't even have that many followers!"  I just laughed and said, "What?  You didn't know I'm famous?"

A few months ago, I was driving down the road on my way home.  I take the same way home 99.9998% of the time.  One day, I noticed something new: an American flag sculpture made out of some type of bark or driftwood.  After driving past it five days a week for several weeks, I decided I needed to take a picture of it.  My sister is an art major, and I thought I would share the picture with her.  Now, deciding to take a picture and actually doing it are different things.  You see, this beautiful piece of artwork is at the corner of an intersection.  So, I would need to sort of stop my car in the intersection to take the picture.  I do live in a small, small town, so that's not that big of a deal.  But, then I started thinking, "What will people think if they see me taking a picture of this?"  I didn't want people to think I was crazy.  (That's kinda funny because I don't care if my students think I'm crazy.  In fact, if my students don't think I'm crazy, I haven't done my job!)  So, I would make sure I had my camera out and ready.  If I saw anybody nearby, I would chicken out.  Finally, I decided the coast was clear one day, and I took this picture.

American Flag Yard Art

This picture is a reflection of my blogging journey.  I used to fear putting myself out there for the world to see.  I feared that I wasn't good enough.  I feared my inadequacy.  After all, I'm only part way through my second year of teaching.  I'm still figuring things out.  I am a work in progress.  And, there are days when blogging isn't so fun.  There are the comments that are cruel.  There are the blog posts that I have ran across that criticize my approach to teaching.  But, I've decided I don't care.  I'm not blogging for you.  I'm blogging for me.  I'm blogging because I feel like I need to give something back.  If you choose to use something in your classroom, that's great.  I'd love to hear about it.  If you disagree with what you read, that's okay, too.  I have still achieved my purpose.  I have shared.  And, I have been changed in the process.     

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Veterans Day Assembly 2013

I've been on a bit of a holiday kick lately.  I've blogged about Halloween and Christmas and my birthday and Celebration of Mind Day.  So, why not add Veterans Day in there, too?

Hand Print Flag Poster
As Student Council Sponsor, I have a role to play in preparing the Veterans Day Assembly.  Thankfully, I'm not in charge of the entire thing.  This year, the three schools in our district (yes, we're that small!) got together and had one assembly instead of two or three separate assemblies as in years past.  We rounded up all 600 or so of our students from K-12 in the high school auditorium.  We invited an esteemed veteran from our town to speak.  The elementary school students provided artwork to decorate the wall.  Each school (elementary school, middle school, and high school) chose a student to read a special poem.  The band performed.  My student council kids served as ushers and helpers.  They hung decorations.  They introduced speakers.  They helped clean up.  Our family and consumer science classes at the high school prepared a meal for the veterans to enjoy.  They directed the veterans from their cars to the elevator to the room where the meal was being served.  They tried, in a small way, to serve those who served this country with their lives.  I was so proud of them!  And, I'm so thankful for all those who have served so that I can live in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.  

Podium for Our Speaker
I am a visual person, inspired by the things I have seen.  Maybe that's why I love pinterest so much.  Anywho, it is my hope that these pictures might inspire someone in some way.  Plus, this will be here for me to read next year when we're planning the next assembly.

Want to see how we celebrated and showed our thanks?  Scroll down!

An Attempt to Class Up Our Folding Chairs

Patriotic Dividers

America Is In Our Hearts...

Honoring Our Vets

We Love Our Veterans

Hand Print Flags - So Creative!

More Hand Print Flags

Flags Flying.  I love this picture because you can see our town's giant flag mural in the background.  It's painted on the side of our fire station.  

Flags and Pinwheels at the Entrance

Tiny Flags Along the Sidewalk...  I love how these small flags line up with the giant flag that was constructed by the town on the second-highest place in town.   
Goody Bags for the Veterans.  These were filled with soft and hard peppermints as a small token of our thankfulness for their service to this country and to each and everyone of us.   

Each bag was adorned with a tag that read, "Home of the Free Because of the Brave."
The tag was downloaded from here

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Those Students...

As a teacher, I know I'm not supposed to have favorites.  But, there are those students who go out of their way just to make you smile.  There are those students who notice the extra things that you do.  There are those students who ask you how your day is and truly take the time to listen.  There are the students who bring you cake on your birthday.  There are the students who laugh at your jokes and tell you new jokes.  There are the students who put forth effort on every assignment, who ask for help when they need it.  There are the students who come to visit you just to say hi.  There are the students who invade your classroom before school, at lunch, and after school to talk, to listen, and to be heard.  There are the students who come to you for hugs, band-aids, and advice for their future.  

I love all my students, but there are some who have earned a special place in my heart.  These are the students I will remember always.  These are the students who are more than my students.  They have become my friends.

Yes, I know they taught me in college to never become friends with my students.  There is supposed to be that clear line between teacher and student.  But, they weren't exactly honest with me in college.  They didn't tell me how hard teaching was going to be.  They didn't tell me about the politics that come with working in a school.  They didn't tell me about the drama.  They didn't tell me how much my life would be impacted by high stakes testing and teacher evaluation programs.  They didn't tell me about how much I would grow to care for the students that call me Ms. Hagan.  They didn't tell me that some days there would be more important things than achieving the objective that I spelled out on my lesson plan.  They didn't tell me how emotional teaching was.  They didn't tell me what it would feel like to constantly give of yourself, with no guarantee of anything in return.        

So, maybe I am breaking the rules.  Maybe I will regret this some day.  But, then again, maybe not.
Last Week's Holiday
Most days, the holiday I research and write up on the board goes largely unnoticed.  But, some days, my students surprise me.  This was one of those days:

A note from a friend...
Encouragement From A Friend...