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January 2010

Questions: The pipe dream

There’s this trope, mostly appearing in martial arts fiction, of a learning process where tasks that appear menial and pointless are actual lessons that impose the skills or knowledge needed without the student being aware that they’re learning anything. My favorite of these is in The Matador series by Steve Perry1. In it, neophytes try […]

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Questions 1

My students sit at tables instead of individual desks. To reduce the incidence of cheating, I create two versions for each test. I’ve learned in the process that similar looking problems actually can vary quite a bit in their effectiveness. Here’s my first example: -4 – 9 = -9 – 4 = Similar problems, same […]

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I’m Helping!

Had a discussion with another math teacher here the other day. We were both in favor of increased observations in our classrooms, both by administrators, and by other teachers. We both think that having more feedback would allow us to focus our efforts at growth. Where we differed was in how we’d like to have […]

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Side effects

I teach two remedial prealgebra classes. One of the biggest hangups for these kids is that they never learned their basic multiplication tables. It’s hard to develop any sort of number sense if you can’t even make a quick guess at how many Xs are here: X X X X X X X X X […]

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There’s a different lesson here than I expected. This Tuesday, I had one of my former students return to my classroom. He had gone off to a charter school, and lasted less than 3 months. The post was going to be a rant about charter schools being able to pick and choose their students, compared […]

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I like puzzles. I used to do sudoku puzzles. I tried bringing them into the classroom, even though it wasn’t math, because I figured it would be better than word searches or mazes for those times when you need to give some of the kids a filler activity. It didn’t work all to well – […]

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The Eyeballing Game

I’m not teaching geometry this year, but one of the biggest hurdles the kids had to overcome was that they’re expected to have some facility with recognizing midpoints, angles and so on, but that they’re not allowed to assume that what they see actually is that way unless it’s labelled as such. Matthias Wendel has […]

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The 20% problem

I want to respond to a comment left on one of my other posts: I want the kids to learn and retain it for more than the test. I am a first year teacher, and my biggest struggle is getting the kids to do homework or even study for a test. Without a major makeup […]

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Where in the hell have I been?

So, I suck at New Year’s resolutions. We’ll see how this one (to resume regular blogging) sticks. I’m at a new school. I mentioned that. I’m loving my new school. The teachers are collegial, the kids are kids, and my administration takes the job of creating a good learning environment for kids seriously. It’s been […]

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