Archive for March, 2013

Quadratic Introduction: Baseball Math

March 30, 2013 4 comments

I recently was selected to be common core coach for TN for Algebra 2. I have tried to incorporate the philosphy into my classroom. I handed out the worksheet below and put the students in small groups. I had not spent any time in Algebra 2 on quadratics and I wanted to see what they remembered from Algebra 1. I asked them to work individually first. After approximately five minutes, I let them work together to answer the questions. I was amazed with what they could figure out without me having to teach a lesson. After 10 minutes, I asked different groups to come to the smartboard and present their findings. I had some students use their graphing calculators to find all of the answers. I know this seems bad to some teachers, but it was helpful for students who could not remember quadratics from Algebra 1. It provided them with a way to be successful. I had one group who remembered the quadratic formula and used it and found the vertex by hand.  You can get the worksheet here.

Baseball Math


I love teaching quadratics becasue of the real life applications.  I need help with finding real life like the one above.  I really want questions that can be solved using different methods.  I’m trying to prepare for the new common core tasks.  Does anyone have any good resources and wouldn’t mind sharing?  Thanks.

When Teaching Hits Close to Home

March 22, 2013 11 comments

This has been one of the most difficult years I have spent in education. I have considered leaving the classroom more than once. I should have known this semester would be difficult when the guidance department informed me that several of my students were hand selected for my class.

One of the problems with being a proponent of Standards Based Grading in a school that does not unilaterally embrace it is that you provide multiple opportunities for students who struggle. Students who have never experienced success in the classroom show great gains when the philosophy of mastery learning and multiple attempts at mastery permeate the classroom. What’s the problem with that? You get more at risk students than you can possibly handle. You get more special cases and more troubled students than you can possibly handle. Word gets out when kids and their successes are the driving force in your classroom. Be warned.

I became jaded and slightly cynical and a little burned out. I felt like a failure that I could not reach each one of these students who had become jaded with public education. To add insult to injury, I was awarded Southeast Tennessee Teacher of the Year this semester. I felt unworthy of this honor.

It is amazing how God can humble you and rekindle your passion and calling for students. It is heart wrenching how He chooses to do it. My own son started experiencing neurological issues last summer. It was obvious to all; and students started making comments to him at school. Sixth grade is difficult enough without adding obvious facial tics to the list of awkward middle school attributes. My son is on medication and the tics are gone,but one of the side effects is the inability to retain information and difficulty processing information. He describes it as working through a fog. My once honors student who scored advanced on standardized tests is struggling to remember to write his name on papers. He forgets to turn in assignments. He still rocks a standardized test and is currently earning A’s and B’s on most tests, but he is struggling with the day to day workings of school.

After a tremendous grade drop this nine weeks, he begged me to take him off his medication. He told me he would rather face the teasing of kids over his tics than to disappoint me or his father with these poor grades. I told him I would talk to his teachers about accommodations, and his response was that he didn’t want his medication to be an excuse. I’m so proud of this young man. We go back to his doctor and my hope is that we can find a new medication or adjust the dosage. In the mean time, my son and I have been blessed with some amazing teachers in his classrooms. They were all quick to work with us on this issue. My son is not lazy and I believe they would attest to the fact that this is not typical behavior for him.

As an educator, it was difficult for me to ask for any special consideration for my son. I was reminded that there are several students out there just like my son. Most of those students do not have a teacher for a mom. Several of them do not have advocates in the house. A few of them do not have encouragers in the house. I teach for them. I teach for the student who has never experienced success. I teach for the child who used to be successful, but for different reasons, can’t seem to achieve. I teach for my son.

So, please give me the at risk kids. I want the students who struggle and hate math. I want the young man who doesn’t understand why he needs Algebra 2 to graduate. I want the young lady whose home life doesn’t foster learning. I know it will be difficult and I know I won’t always be successful, but I can plant a seed. I write this for myself so I can remember. The next time I’m frustrated that a student turns something in late, forgets to put their name on a paper, or needs to retest another assessment, I will remember my son and the grace his teachers showed him. He is not another at risk kid. He is my son.

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