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Teaching

What the hell are we doing here?

There’s a bit of a stir about Natalie Munroe’s blog. (Sure, it’s been deleted, but the cache lives on). For all the handwringing about how a teacher could say that about a student, that’s not what concerns me. I’ve heard similar in every faculty lunchroom I’ve been in. I’ve heard the same sorts of justifications […]

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Tenure

I didn’t feel like a proper member of this school until just now: The woodshop class made me a sign:

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Point loans

I have a couple of kids who came into my class this year with a huge deficit. They had to make it up, and a large number of them did. (One of my students was failing horribly, about 20% on his tests or so, for the first month). A lot of them have put in […]

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Next Year’s Number Line

Like most math classrooms, I’ve got a number line. My kids use the hell out of it after we learn about negative numbers, some up to the end of the school year. We’ve got a week and a half left, and the kids are restless. I didn’t like the number line I bought this year, […]

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Factoring, up or otherwise

SamJShah posted about factoring up, and his concerns that it relies on some magic that hides deeper mathematical understanding. I share his concerns about that method. Fortunately, I’ve found a way to do it that builds on prior knowledge, rather than relying on legerdemain. It goes back to teaching binomial multiplication – I rely mostly […]

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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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Patience

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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