Life’s Inequalities

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photo 1 (1) photo 5 (1) photo 4 (1) photo 3 photo 2 (1)After many years of teaching Algebra, I often know when my students are going to hit a road block with new material.  In order to avoid the same pit falls and slow downs; I now plan ahead.  (What a concept!)  My Algebra 1 class is working on Graphing Linear Inequalities.  A concept that they understand until it is time to graph their answers.  You might recall from your own Algebra days, you had to first graph the line and then shade the region above or below the line.  In any case, I want to make sure that they not only learn and understand the lesson, but are able to apply and transfer this information when needed.  I began by reviewing the lesson on Graphing Linear Equations and Graphing Inequalities.  These lessons are a must in order to move on.  We then went on a mini-field trip to the outdoor basketball courts.  We took with us a rope, colored chalk and worksheet.  The students had to first create a life size Cartesian Plane – more commonly known as an an X & Y graph or Coordinate Plane.  Then, they were asked to solve a variety of problems and graph the inequalities using the rope as the line, and their bodies for the shaded region.

Although, this activity took longer than a simple worksheet done in the classroom, it provided a hands on approach to learning.  The students had to physically walk the graph, visually see the line (rope) and then stand in the region that needed to be shaded.  They were able to solve the problems and then “see” their answers.  As a teacher it was great, to see them walk the wrong way and then realize that the answer was negative and they had walked up the y-axis instead of down.  Just to hear my students talk about math made the lesson a success.  They were able to then transfer the human size graphing activity and make connections to their classwork and homework.  On the test for this unit, I had several students ask if they could “walk it out” to double check what they had done on paper.

I am always trying to plan ahead and figure out new ways to help my students learn and have fun in the process.  Over the years, I have realized that when I have fun, my students have fun and they learn more.  Which just so happens to be one of my ultimate goals!

Smartphones

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The use of smartphones in school is an interesting topic!  Everyone has an opinion on whether it is a useful tool or not.  I feel it all depends on how the teacher approaches the topic.  I have a “cell phone jail” on my desk and as the students walk into my class they place their phones in jail.  It stays in jail until we “break” them out.  Some days they are in jail all period, while other days we use them constantly.  I have had my students use their smartphones for things as simple as taking a picture of the textbook assignment(so that they do not have to carry the book home and I do not have to make copies),

to a more involved task of creating silent films about Conditional Statements in Geometry.  As an educator it would be insane not to take full advantage and embrace the opportunity to use a tool, that a)is free (the students pay for it) b)has endless applications c)students are interested in d)is cool and e)did I already mention free!  We are always looking for new, innovative and free ways to help our students learn new material; with smartphones we literally have it ALL at our fingertips!
 

New Year’s Resolution

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January 17th is the most common date to give up on your resolutions, it is the official Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day.  In an attempt to not join the 88%* of people who will break their New Year’s Resolution today, here I go, on my Blogging Adventure.  
 
*I heard that number once.  As a math teacher I should be accurate with my stats, but I’m going to go with it for the sake of keeping my New Years Resolution!  🙂
 
The title of my blog, Teach With Pride ~  The more I learn, the more I teach; the more I teach, the more I learn, are words that I live by.  It is the foundation of my teaching philosophy.  I have always been interested in how people learn.  How they process information and then more importantly how they use the information they have learned.  Whether I am working with my students in an Algebra class or I am presenting to my colleagues, I feel a constant drive to learn more.  Why did he not understand this?   Why did she understand that?  Why did she do it that way?  Why did he not do it that way?  The questions go on and on.  I am constantly reassessing my approach to teaching and learning.  It is one of the many things that keeps me going and keeps me excited about teaching.  
 
I have often been asked the question, “How do you do it?” (It, meaning teach).  My answer is usually something like . . . I love it; it is something different everyday.  I never know what my day will bring.  I interact with over 250 people a day, ranging in age from 3 to over 60- each with a story of their own.  They bring into the classroom different emotions, thoughts, ways of thinking, issues, and feelings.  My co-workers also bring with them different emotions, thoughts, issues, and strategies.  The dynamic that is created each day in a school is priceless. As a teacher, I help create an environment that allows individuals to be themselves, free to explore, free to learn, free to make errors, free to enjoy the process of teaching and learning… all while teaching and learning limits, boundaries, responsibilities, consequences (good & bad), and last but not least, math!  My answer always ends with, “How can I not do it?” 
 
More about “it” to come… Only 348 more days and I will be part of the 12% who keep their New Year’s Resolution!  
 
Wish me luck and follow my blog. You will learn more about what I do and my ideas about teaching and learning (some crazier than others)!