Take My Hand

Team on 3… Source

I covered a class on my prep earlier this week (evergreen tweet, amirite?). It was a freshmen Power Hour class, kind of a college/career readiness/study skills class. They mostly got down to business, but there was a liberal sprinkling of typical freshmen silliness. One guy grabbed up a girl’s phone (freshmen are so cute when they flirt) and ended up laying on the floor between two desks.

I headed over to defuse the situation and immediately offered him my hand. “Can I help you up?” He’s a football player so he knew what that gesture meant. There’s respect there, even if you are nominally on opposite teams. Poof. Phone returned. And things settled back down.

Daily reminder to self: reaching out smooths over a lot of rough spots.

Our geometry team has been generous with sharing materials and plans and quizzes this year. It’s a small thing, but a big thing. When you are making everything you use, a set of notes and practice problems is like finding a little gold nugget. My instructional coach (who is picking up a couple of sections of geometry, and filling in on her prep as well) shared out her CPCTC package with us this week. It was perfect timing. Saved me an after-school of work, for real.

Then last week Cathy Yenca (Queen Desmos Creator) shared a cool review shell tool. With semester finals coming up after break it looked like something I definitely wanted to use with my geometry classes.

You know what happened next. A pairing like chocolate and peanut butter.

Took my coach’s pencil/paper problems, used the first half for a bellringer and uploaded the second half (paired problems, so each one mapped back to something we had done for the warmup) into the Spinner review.

Magic. At least in my mind. Angel choirs sing and everything.

Reality: messy and cool. Learning occurred. We took probably 15 minutes all told to recap CPCTC, work the bellringer, and check answers. Then 20 minutes for them to work the eight exercise problem set. I had ample time to be able to move around the room, sit with students, help get them unstuck, check in. That was a powerhouse segment. I need to make more time for that every day.

Then students logged into the Desmos activity, spun to select their problem, and entered their work into their slide. It was our first go-round with the Desmos math type update to the sketch tool, and that won converts across my seven classes.

Then the big money payoff: Student presos. I had classes full of prospective actors who hammed it up, and shy kids who tried to sneak back to their seats, and kids who preferred to present from their desk. But all flavors of student got to talk math to their friends and that was a good day.

All told a really appropriate way to close out the 2021 calendar year portion of the school year. We had just quizzed and I dreaded a day of “regular” math on the next-to-last meeting before break probably as much as they did. My team bailed me out. Wouldn’t have thought of the lesson design on my own, that is for sure. That’s the ethos of the group I’m connected with, both online and IRL: make stuff and share stuff and remix to fit your needs. All the good things happen when you’ve built your team.

#Together (As my principal would say).


It happened again today. Tomorrow’s an Amnesty Day in my class, given over to students to retake quizzes and make up missing assignments. But students are also going to inquire about extra credit around this time of year, and they did. I’m not opposed to offering points, especially since I’ve seen how hard they work on make-ups to earn back points. I wanted something triangle-y and digital and independent, and I couldn’t find anything that I was excited about. I started digging back through last year’s Classroom pages and stumbled across something I borrowed from somebody (name lost to history unfortunately) that ended up being called “Best. Thing. Ever.

Long story short, kids make a two-slide presentation of something that is important to them outside of school. Lots of pictures and color. That’s it. That’s the extra credit. Whoever made it originally: thanks. Just what the doctor ordered. Then we can all head out for a couple of weeks off.

We haven’t had much of a winter around here yet. Lots of monochrome late fall days. A White Christmas is a longshot at best according to the weather folks around here. Which is fine. It’s been a rough year. It’s almost time to rest.

Morton Courtyard, late fall. Photo cred: me.

Author: thedullguy

High School Math teacher, Morton High School, Hammond, IN. Football and wrestling dad. Opinions mine.

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