My name is Sarah Hagan, and if you asked my high school math students, they would tell you that I am weird. (Seriously, somewhere in the world of facebook, there is a photo of me floating around that has the caption "This is my weird teacher.") Why do they think I'm weird? I love math. And, the more time students spend in my classroom, the more they start to love math. Okay. Maybe I'm taking that a little too far. A more accurate statement would be that they start to hate math less.

Recently, a student from last year came by my room to visit. She is enrolled in Geometry this year which I do not teach. These were the words that came out of her mouth: "I wish I could have you for Geometry. I miss your class, and I NEVER thought I would ever say that about a math class." I am more than a math teacher. I am a difference maker and a life changer.

I teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Statistics in the tiny, oil field town of Drumright, Oklahoma. It's a former boom town with a lot of history. I get to experience part of that history on a daily basis; the building I teach in has been around since 1919. I teach in a small school of around 175 students.

I am obsessed with making math as fun as possible. I believe that life is better when things are colorful and chocolate is abundant. My laminator is my best friend, and I can't imagine teaching math without using an interactive notebook. I'm pretty sure I've started thinking in terms of foldables and graphic organizers.

I have been teaching for 18 years, with my first 10 all at the same school in a small town in northern CA. I taught middle school then, and one year out of the blue I started using the "Math = Love" meme in my classes. The kids found it corny at first, but eventually I got classes trying to out-do other classes by claiming different versions of this equation. Students speaking:

ReplyDelete"For *this* class, Math is greater than or equal to Love!"

"Fourth period said that, well we're going to use Math is congruent to Love. That's more geometric."

That sort of thing. It was a lot of fun. I still have a t-shirt one class made for me with MATH = LOVE on it and everyone's signature from that class. (That's middle school for you. You rarely get that kind of emotional attachment to your class, at least in my experience, with high schoolers.)

I tried to use the idea again the next year, but it mostly fizzled out. I find that such gimmicks (if that's the right word) usually only work once. I don't know if it's because I only come upon them and present them with the right amount or type of enthusiasm when they are new to me, or what, but it feels like catching lightning in a bottle when one of these ideas sticks.

I teach only high school now, by choice, but the title of your blog reminded me of one of the things I really did enjoy about teaching middle school. Thanks!

I love your blog! I teach Pre-Algebra and Algebra to 7th and 8th graders and your blog has sparked my imagination. Thank you!

ReplyDeleteAs a side note, I invite my students to send me emails when they need help. I've set my signature line to be:

Even if you think you don't love Math, Math loves you.

Don't believe me? Solve for "i".

9x - 7i > 3(3x - 7u)

The Algebra students can figure it out pretty quickly. My Pre-Alg girls are desperate to understand how find the answer.

Just realized I never replied to this... I love your e-mail signature, and I totally stole it and made it mine!

DeleteWhy can't I figure your Math love you equation?!!! It is making me mad. Can you please divulge the answer because I think I did everything right but I can't figure out?

Delete9x - 7i > 3(3x - 7u)

Delete9x - 7i > 9x - 21u

-7i > -21u

i <3 U The less than and 3 make a sideways heart.

It says, I love you. :-D

Totally stealing this! I don't know if it will be a signature for my work email, personal email, or both.

I am also a first year teacher this year, teaching Algebra I and Geometry at the High school level.

ReplyDeleteI just used your HOY-VUX foldable in class, and they loved it!

Thanks! Hope your first year of teaching is going swell!

DeleteSarah, thank you for your notebook ideas! You are a real math master! You are helping my students and I in big ways! Keep up the excellent work! Please keep sharing your insights and ideas for 8th grade math! You are a phenom!

ReplyDeleteValerie

Thanks for sharing. You are a true blessing.

ReplyDeleteWow! Bless you for sharing all these wonderful ideas! I tutor students and these materials will be fabulous. Keep up the great work you're doing!

ReplyDeleteFinally! Someone who loves math! I'm in the works of becoming a middle school math teacher and its so hard to find others as dedicated and passionate about the subject. You go girl!

ReplyDeleteFrivolousrambling.blogspot.com

Thanks for your kind words! It sounds like you are entering the right career field! If I could offer you some advice, I'd definitely recommend that you blog throughout all of your student teaching and observation experiences. Good luck with your studies, and make sure you keep that passion!

DeleteI just found your blog via pinterest, and immediately felt connected. I just graduated and signed a contract at the same school I did my student teaching at. I'm equally excited and nervous to be starting my first year of teaching. I'll have both regular and honors Algebra 2 classes, so I will definitely be using your blog as a resource! Bookmarking you now! :)

ReplyDeleteThank you for your blog. I can relate to so many of the struggles you faced your first year. Reading your blog took me back to my first year and I admire how you reacted to so many of the situations; you handled the stress and frustration better than I did.

ReplyDeleteThis fall I will be entering my third year teaching Alg 1 and Geometry. I have been trying to find ways to better engage the students, improve their note taking and study skills and get them to refer back to their notes more. The interactive notebook sounds like a great idea! I have never heard of it before and have been doing a lot of research since reading your blog. I will be stealing many of your great ideas :) You are doing an awesome job caring about your students. Keep it up and keep blogging! You are a great encouragement to your fellow teachers! God's blessings on your work and Thank you!

Megan B. Deactur, IL

Hi Sarah,

ReplyDeleteI really enjoy browsing through your blog. I recently contacted you through the "contact me" tab. I was wondering if you had a chance to read it. I'm conducting an action research project and would really appreciate your input. Thank you,

Lori Boyd

7th grade math

Siloam Springs Middle School

Siloam Springs, AR

Dear Sarah

ReplyDeleteThank you for taking the time to share your love of mathematics and teaching it. Your blog is doing the rounds here in South Australia and hopefully some our teachers will start sharing their ideas as well.

Susan Hyde, Principal, Australian Science and Mathematics School

Wow! It's still hard for me to believe that others find my ideas worth sharing. Definitely encourage your teachers to share their ideas. So many of my ideas have been stolen from countless other teachers who have shared their ideas!

DeleteYou are a hot looking math teacher!

ReplyDeleteHi Sarah,

ReplyDeleteI have just spent several hours devouring the ideas you have in your blog and making plans for the new year when I will be starting my 4th year of teaching Math. I didn't enjoy the subject at first (I wanted to be a Science teacher) but it's blogs and ideas like yours that make me excited about getting the kids excited about Math! I can't wait to start using foldables!

Thank you so much!

From an Aussie Math teacher. :)

Thank you so much for your kind words! It's great to hear that you're excited about getting kids excited about math! We need more teachers like you!

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ReplyDeleteCame across your blog when looking for a vertical number line. Thanks for sharing your ideas, will be using them with my students in Wiltshire, England. Have a look at the following English sites Mr. Reddy, Numberloving and Mr. Barton - some of the best British Maths sites.

ReplyDeleteThanks for the blog suggestions! I'll definitely be looking into these! And, thanks for stopping by my blog.

DeleteCan you tell me if you have a beginning point with your interactive note book? I would really love to implement these in my classroom, but trying to figure out where to start.

ReplyDeleteThanks for your time, I love your blog!

Hi Nicole!

DeleteI begin by having my students decorate the very first page of their notebooks. They have to include their name and something that tells me more about themselves. Some students write. Others draw. In the past, I've had students glue in a syllabus or rubric. This year, I just jumped into the curriculum. We start off each unit with a table of contents and a blank page that is made into a concept map at the end of the unit.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions!