Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Random Ideas for Next Year

June 21, 2015

I want to put this stuff in one place so I don’t lose it!

  • Figure out the setup I want for Canvas
  • Instead of math journals – have them make flip charts!

Good Advice For Seniors

July 16, 2014

I am sometimes at a loss when students ask for advice on career/college goals. I read this today from Jerry Pournelle, and I thought it offered some good, practical ideas:

Our neighbors’ house is sold and they’ll be moving, and their boy is entering his senior year at a good high school. He’s interested in technology and will be taking AP calculus and such. Top 15% of this class, so not Cal Tech, and not interested in leaving university with enormous debts. No father in the house, and I’ve known him and his mother quite literally all his life. Took him to lunch at the Oyster House to talk things over.

Interested in technology, not really interested in being a teacher, wants to do something in technology, not sure what. Good at math, but not a theoretical type. I suggested electrical engineering. Not as much theory as physics, but based on good science. Maxwell’s equations are a great example of scientific theory at work doing all kinds of practical things. Chemistry is more empirical, and mechanical is more practical. Electrical, then, but be sure to take chemistry through organic, and biology beyond the non-major survey course. And don’t bother with computer science as an undergraduate. You have to learn how to use the little beasts, but teaching them to do things is getting to be a pretty wide spread ability; better to learn how to build them and design chips and practical stuff on the one side, and be able to think of things you want to teach them to do on the other. Get an EE degree and you can have a job or almost anything you like in grad school, and learning organic chemistry and better than elementary in biology puts you in a good place if you decided to go into nanotechnology.


How MTBoS Has Spoiled Me

July 12, 2014

As I mentioned previously, I should get to teach Astronomy this coming year (I’m a little nervous because I just found out our principal was fired). Based on my math teaching experience, one of my first steps has been trying to find other astronomy teachers so that I can swipe learn from their experiences. So far, the only blogger I have found hasn’t blogged anything since 2010.

This whole search has really made me appreciate my fellow math bloggers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences, successes, failures, and emotions! I won’t be able to make #TMC14 this year (my travel dollars were spent going to Europe), but I will be with you in spirit.


Now That It’s Summer …

July 1, 2014

**sigh** Every year I tell myself that I will blog during the school year, and every year something comes up that derails me. This year it was a combination of a house fire, trying to create a problem-based, SBG Honors Geometry course, and finding out I could teach Astronomy next year if I passed the Science 8-12 certification test.

As per usual, I plan to blog more often this summer to help me collect my thoughts from this past year and make plans for the upcoming year. Coming up: Year-end Reflections.


Counting Down to D-Day

August 7, 2013

To Make

  • SEEC proposal
  • Group whiteboards
  • Graph whiteboard
  • Viking head wallhanging
  • Circle design wallhanging
  • Make posters
    • “What do you notice…what do you wonder?”
    • “Let’s get better and do it on purpose!”
    • Scott Kim’s “Mathematics” inversion
    • Scott Kim’s “Alphabet” inversion
    • To Understand the Universe…
    • “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein
    • “Whereas at the outset geometry is reported to have concerned herself with the measurement of muddy land, she now handles celestial as well as terrestrial problems: she has extended her domain to the furthest bounds of space.” – W.B. Frankland
    • “No human investigation can be called real science if it cannot be demonstrated mathematically.” – Leonardo da Vinci
    • “The knowledge of which geometry aims is the knowledge of the eternal.” – Plato
    • Learning Objective posters
    • SBG grading scale explanation
  • Print posters
  • Practice wall
  • Group table labels
  • Group question stems
  • Penny Floor tile

Curriculum Materials

  • Parent letter and signature sheet
  • Rules and procedures
  • Finish google student info forms
  • Set up blog/livebinder (decide)
  • Penny Floor Tile WS
  • Unit 1 Test and Review

How My New Handheld Computer Has Changed My Life

August 4, 2013

While I have always been a tech-savvy person who likes new devices/technologies, I also have a serious dislike of, and prejudice against, mobile phones. Part of this stems from my general dislike of talking on the phone; part of this dislike goes back to when I was a network administrator and my company needed to be able to get ahold of me 24/7. My students are always shocked when I tell them that, while I do have a cell phone, it’s usually locked up in my car or my scooter and always kept turned off.

Even as cell phones became smart phones, I felt no desire to join the crowd (in addition to being an introvert, I’m also an iconoclast). As more and more people seemed to walk around with phones held to their ears or staring down at their hands, I just could not see the attraction.

I started to do a little bit of rethinking during a staff development when one of my fellow teachers just took a picture of the powerpoint slide with his phone instead of writing everything down. I also found it useful when my friends could look up some info or find an address, but again, I had no desire to spend all of that money (plus the monthly charges) for some phone.

Then, I had my “Eureka!” moment. I’m not sure what started this thought process, but it finally occurred to me that a smartphone wasn’t really a phone at all–it was a handheld computer that took pictures, gave directions, played music, and oh, by the way, also could be used as a phone. When I started thinking of it as a mini-computer, I suddenly realized how handy it would be! The next hurdle was the price. Since I didn’t even know if I would find it useful, I didn’t want to be tied to a contract for two years. Fortunately, I found a no-contract plan that I can live with (Virgin Mobile).

One of my favorite book series is the “In Death” series of futuristic detective novels by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts). In them, everybody carries around a PPC (portable personal computer). I joke with my friend S that I am not carrying around a smartphone, but a PPC, so that’s what we call it.

Here’s why I am writing this essay: I was pretty sure that I would find my new smartphone handheld computer to be useful and maybe even fun. What I had not realized is that it would make certain things that I had previously done on my desktop or laptop so much easier to do. I enjoy Twitter (@sandramiller_tx), but I had fallen off on keeping up with it because I wouldn’t always think of it when I was on my computer, and so many messages would accumulate that it just seemed futile to try to keep up. On my PPC, I can easily scroll up the list and keep up with what’s going on. This made an incredible difference as I went into #TMC13. What some have called the “back-channel” conversations were almost as important as the presentations, and I would not previously have been able to watch or participate in them.

Tieing in with what a couple of other people have written about introverts and extroverts, as I said, I’m definitely an introvert. I joke with my students that I’m anti-social, but I’m not that far along the scale (my father definitely is, however). I agree with Greg’s post that online writing and collaboration is easier for the introvert because there is a distance and an implied lack of obligation (on both sides). I love to lurk on both Twitter and Facebook, but I rarely post on either. What my “handheld computer” has allowed me to do is to access those conversations more easily, which makes me feel more a part of what’s going on, even though I rarely share anything.

In the month or so that I’ve had my new phone, I’ve only used it as a phone three times. I’ve been somewhat shocked that I have texted S as much as I have. I can see the attraction–if I have something short I want to tell her about, but don’t want to bother her with a phone call (the introvert again). More than that, though, this new electronic device allowed me to participate more fully than I would otherwise have been able to do in a truly incredible professional learning event. (And the Amtrak app kept me from going crazy waiting on trains.)


Made4Math Teacher Ruler Caddy

July 15, 2013


It’s almost Tuesday, but I made it!

Since I teach Geometry, I often need my big compass and ruler up at the board with me. The most inconvenient thing about this is finding somewhere to put the ruler while I use the compass and vice versa. My old room had a counter near the board that I usually used. My new room, however, has nothing nearby. I happened to remember the M4M post about making ruler caddies out of Pringles cans, and I remembered that I had a spare 2′ length of PVC pipe that I had planned to use to make an arrow caddy — thus was born the board ruler and compass caddy.

I picked up some hardware and spray paint:

I actually drew the perpendicular bisector of a chord on the circle to find a diameter and then marked the center of the base:

Next, I used L-brackets to attach the PVC coupler to the base:

I attached the pipe to the coupler:

I spray-painted the coupler and the base a gloss black. I had planned to use some black wrapping paper on the pipe, but it was too flimsy to stand up to the adhesive and clear finish. Instead, I used some cool-looking fabric from my stash, which I attached with spray adhesive. Once everything dries, I’ll finish off the top with some black duct tape, but here’s the mostly-finished product: