Math = Love: Focus...

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I don't know why, but this whole blogging thing seems to be getting harder.  I start posts, but I can't seem to find the inspiration/motivation/time to finish them.  Today, has been one of those days...

I've spent a lot of time recently on student council duties.  But, I finally got the basketball homecoming t-shirts ordered today.  I got a bullying assembly scheduled, and I found out that we will have the funds to bring Victims' Impact Panel in to present to our students before prom.  

We had our first student fight of the year today.  I'm incredibly thankful it didn't happen in my classroom.  I'm also amazed it was this late in the school year!  And, it was all the students wanted to talk about today...

Algebra 2 started polynomial long division today.  I found it really helpful to have my students work through several regular long division problems, first.  I was surprised when some of my students told me that they didn't know what long division was.  But, they seemed to all remember the process with a little review.  At first, my students told me that polynomial long division was too confusing.  I heard multiple students say that they would just always divide polynomials by factoring and cancelling.  (Of course, these were the same students who told me that they hated factoring and couldn't remember how to factor yesterday.)  I tried convincing them that they wouldn't always be able to factor and cancel, but I'm pretty sure my reminders fell on deaf ears.  By the end of the class period, my students were actually starting to become comfortable with the process.  Tomorrow, we'll do a lot more practice and look at some word problems that can be solved by polynomial long division.

Something really cool happened, though, in my Math Analysis class that pretty much made my day.  One of my Algebra 2 students is also in my Math Analysis class this semester.  These students had also been struggling with remembering how to factor.  So, today we worked through the Polynomial Puzzler problems from NCTM Illuminations.  It changed things up a little bit, and it gave my students more practice before we continue our work with quadratics.  My Algebra 2 student was having trouble figuring out how one of the quadratics factored, so she asked me if she could do the "division thing" from this morning.  Incredibly surprised and delighted, I told her that she could use polynomial long division to find the missing factor.  It was a proud teacher moment.  Later, when she turned in her assignment, she told me that polynomial long division made solving the puzzles much easier.  

I did have to confiscate something from one of my students this afternoon which was disappointing.  Then, another student stole the confiscated item from my desk.  I caught it, but I was even more unhappy.   My students told me it was the first time that they had seen me mad.  Apparently, I look evil when I get mad.  Usually, I would focus on this one bad thing when reflecting on my day.  But, today I'm choosing to focus on the good.   Student Council is going well.  And, whether it feels like it or not, I am making a difference with my Algebra 2 students.


  1. Thanks so much for your blog. I enjoy reading your thoughts and seeing all the creative ways you come up with to teach your students. They are truly lucky to have you as a their teacher. I love your attitude of focusing on the positive. I look for to reading many more posts.

  2. Sarah,

    Thanks for your blog! I found it while swimming through the depths of the mathtwitterblogosphere. I recently started my own and am feeling the same trouble getting a new post out. I've spent the last couple days digging through your archives and I can only hope my blog is as helpful to other teachers someday.

  3. You may not feel motivated or inspired, but your energy, creativity, and dedication that comes out through your blog is inspiring. This is my third year to teach and it gets... overwhelming; however, I truly love what I do. I am also viewing your archives. I want to thank you for your creative approach to Algebra. I have taught Geometry (LOVE IT) and Math Models for the last two years. I can journal and do all kinds of things for those. This is my first year for Algebra 1 and 2 and I can't seem to get it going. Please continue to share your teacher moments and creative ideas.
    Thank you.