• instruction

    teacher for a day

    Our class of 2012 was our first IB Diploma  Programme cohort. Students and teachers both felt unprepared for the onslaught of the DP External Assessments. We’ve never had a school-wide exam period with exams lasting more than 53 minutes. Some teachers have given final exams over a period of multiple days, but students have yet to experience hour-plus exams on days that are dedicated solely to exams. The habit of independent review isn’t yet a strong one in our school culture. I focused a lot in the junior year on the Internal Assessment, thinking “we’ll get to the External Assessment when the time comes.” In the senior year, we went…

  • instruction

    be less helpful

    I commented on Kristen Fouss’ blog  the other day regarding the having kids work individually and as table groups. I found it interesting that she said “I’m wondering if I can get even lazier and make this even easier on myself. :)” because I think it takes more thoughtful prep work to design activities that students can do independently, be able to gauge their progress, and stay engaged in. One of my former students was visiting school today, and he mentioned that he didn’t like his psychology professor’s style of putting up a PowerPoint every day and reading off it. He asked how people could come up with all that stuff…

  • instruction,  musings

    hen day observations

    Photo Credit: http://www.littleabout.com/Science/chicken-or-egg/98133/ One of the presenters at the Guild of IB Schools (GIBS) conference yesterday posed the following problem in his keynote speech: “A hen and a half lays an egg and a half in a day and a half. How many eggs does one hen lay in one day?” We knew the answer wasn’t going to be “one egg” because that would be too obvious. He gave us this problem right after giving us the problem “A train travels 500 miles in 10 hours. How many miles does the train travel in one hour?” and explaining that the next one would be richer. He asked for answers from the…

  • instruction

    Evaluating and Graphing Exponential Functions

    I borrowed this from Sam Shah to use as the introduction to exponential functions. I liked the self-guided aspect of this activity. I’m working on instilling more self-sufficiency in my students and learning to let go of the urge to have each minute of the class accounted for.  I would like to work on clearer directions, however. In the second section of class, I demonstrated the first few folds of the paper because many students in the first section just started trying to find the patterns without folding. Additionally, I would like to be able to guide discussions better on the “questions” and “properties” sections. Unit 3, Lesson 2 (Evaluating and Graphing Exponential…

  • instruction

    Jeopardy: The Makeover Edition

    I like Jeopardy as a review game, but have found that students get caught up in the idea of “winning” more than they retain knowledge from the review game aspect of it. I updated my Jeopardy plan to make it more about the review. Having explicit directions and clear expectations helped a lot. Cutting down on transition time also helped a lot (i.e., by having the teams pre-selected, having a plan to combine teams if students were absent, creating a graphic organizer so students wouldn’t have to write down the problem before solving). Materials: – Jeopardy – Jeopardy handout with problem “shells” – most of the structure there, but blanks…

  • instruction

    The Cost of College

    One of the syllabus topics in IB Math Studies is financial mathematics. I teach this unit in 12th grade (right around the time of college applications). This year I had the students research a college to which they are applying so that they could examine costs of college using the math they have learned (particularly inflation and compound interest). I wish I’d been able to include more of the topics (depreciation, currency conversion, simple interest, loan repayment tables). How Much Will College Cost Me? The goal of this project is to prepare you for the costs of college life. After high school graduation, it will be very important to keep…

  • instruction

    changing up “after-school” help

    Because of standards-based grading and switching from lunch duty to tardy duty this year, I have been able to help a lot of students on math at lunchtime and after school. However, lunch is only 20 minutes and many students have after-school jobs or sports. I saw this article on a common study hall for students *and* teachers on the ASCD SmartBrief from a few weeks ago and thought it would be great for my school. We have an advisory period at the end of the day, but not all students and teachers are free at the same time. For example, if I advise 11th grade, my 12th grade math…


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