Second Breakfast: Day 148 Or Home Sick

I was not feeling great on Thursday and it affected my teaching. When I got home, I found out that my wife Lauren felt bad too and both of the kids were oozing snot all over the place.

I felt even worse on Friday morning and took the day off. This messed up my lesson plans and pushed my geo kids back–argh–but there was nothing I could do. Just felt like crap. I slept almost all of Friday. The family is feeling better today, but we’re still using a lot of tissues.

Hopefully I’ll be back to 100% by Monday.

Thanks for reading.


Second Breakfast: Day 147 Or Geometry Connections

I taught the triangle inequality and the hinge theorem in geometry this week. I was thinking about how the geometry textbook did a poor job of making connections to previous material on these topics. One of my analysis professors would always tell us that mathematicians don’t just prove theorems, they examine each assumption in a theorem and relax it or strengthen it to see what happens to the result.

The triangle inequality (if you do not allow for degenerate triangles with zero area) is an extension of the Segment Addition Postulate. “If the two pieces AREN’T equal, what happens?”

The Hinge Theorem is a relaxing of the angle congruence condition in the Side-Angle-Side congruence postulate. “If we have two pairs of congruent sides, but allow the included angles to not be congruent, what happens?”

Or at least, I realized while teaching this week that I wanted to try to help my students make those connections. The textbook I have and the pacing guide for our district might not align that way, but I plan to adjust my lesson plans in the future accordingly.


Also I felt like an absolute slug of a human being today and was not a very dynamic teacher. I still feel crappy right now. Luckily tomorrow is a unit test day so I won’t need to run around the classroom too much. I can’t tell if I am getting sick or if I am still adjusting to my blood pressure medicine.

Anyway. Thanks for reading.


Second Breakfast: Day 146 Or What’s My Motivation?

Okay, so a few thoughts from today:

  1. Getting students to talk to each other in a productive way and dialogue is FREAKIN’ HARD and although it is an important goal, it’s okay for a second year teacher to fall short of it. My money is that it is one of, if not THE, hardest skill to master as a teacher. Anyone can get up front and talk the kids’ ears off.
  2. How often am I choosing a task based on how easy it will be for me to make the kids comply instead of how effective if it is in helping them learn? Kahoot, Quizlet, and the like are great (I really love them and they are effective tools when used correctly) but I found myself thinking about a Kahoot I had planned as a “break” in my lesson for me. And I think it’s okay to have “breaks” built in for both the teacher and the student, but I had to examine my motivations for choosing the task.
  3. I tried a variant on function auction (I had them evaluating function notation and they needed to buy lots that had non-negative outputs given a function rule and an input) and it went okay. I was kinda bummed because I got observed during the build up to the auction, but the admin was unable to stay for the auction itself due to time constraints.
  4. This job is really hard.

Thanks for reading.


Second Breakfast: Day 144 Or Function Auction

I ran across this wonderful activity from Sarah Carter (whose blog is absolutely brilliant) while writing my lesson plans over the weekend. I decided to try it today.

It went really well! The students really bought into it and got into bidding wars. They clearly didn’t have a lot of experience with auctions (I mean, why would they?) so they blew through their $1000 really quickly. But this probably wasn’t helped by the fact that I had a student who was more interested in trolling the class than winning the auction. He knew which relations were functions and which ones were not and would purposefully pump the bid up on non-functions. He got burnt a couple times and got stuck spending $350 on a dud, but obviously didn’t care. (Although his partner did, poor girl.) The hilarious thing was that half the class caught on to his ruse, but the other half didn’t. So he’d start a bidding war, a bunch of groups would bite, and then they would spend $4-,5-,600 dollars on a non-function and then went nuts when we went over the lot as a class.

To help their poor bidding skills, I stopped after lot 6 and offered money bounties for correct answers to questions. I asked a few vocab definitions and gave $200 or $300 prizes. On one of the final lots I had two groups in a bidding war that went all the way to $1000. I was skeptical they had that much, BUT they had answered a few bounty questions so maybe they did. But when they went to pay, they only had $800! I gave the lot to the next highest bidder.

We had a lot of fun. At the end, a student who is extremely intelligent but is almost always disengaged and on his phone said to me “I’ve never laughed that hard in this class.”

I think if I do this activity again I will want to create a sheet that has “Lot # and Reason” so that students have to write down the reason why the relation in each lot was a function or not a function. They were so excited after the bidding portion that they struggled to calm back down and discuss as a class why the lot was a good buy or not.

I also wonder if would be interesting to start all of the teams with a base amount of cash and then begin with a question round to offer bonus cash and then not do that again. Now that the students have played at least one time I think they have a better idea of how long the money will last, but they didn’t have a sense of that for this first attempt. I did the question bounty on the fly today to make up for the fact that they overspent, but I’d like to them to spend more carefully next time.

I was also thinking about having the students themselves create lots and then get PAID the money from when their lot sells. Maybe they make a function and a non-function lot and whoever makes the most money at the end wins. So they would have to be tricky and make the non-functions not obvious.

I’m sure that this activity could be easily adapted to another identification skill and I hope I have some time play around with it for a little bit. Maybe I have a function f(x), give a few sample inputs and outputs, and then students bid on lots of inputs based on what they think they outputs will be. Perhaps you only want to buy outputs that are 0 or at least non-negative. I don’t know. But I think you could really do a lot with this.

Thanks for the wonderful activity, Sarah!

And thanks everyone else for reading.


Second Breakfast: Day 143

I gave a midterm in all of my classes yesterday. It did not go well for a lot of students, but I had a few in every class who clearly knew their stuff.

I am not sure how to assess my own performance in the face of the clear lack of understanding in most of my pupils. Is it me? Is it them? Both?

Michael Pershan said once to me and some others on Twitter that student learning is 100% student responsibility, 100% teacher responsibility, and 100% parent responsibility and that has stuck with me. I have repeated it several times on this blog and on my twitter account.

But I’m not sure what to do here. The students who did well seem to tell me that I was successful at teaching the material, but many more students did not do well. By one definition I did not succeed in teaching them, but how much of that success is outside of my control? How much was a lack of preparation or work on their part and how much was me not figuring out how to help all of my students?

I’m always willing to help a student who doesn’t understand, but I don’t know what to do with a student who doesn’t work. But even this sounds like an excuse, because I HAVE students who work and yet they didn’t do as well as I would have liked.

Bah. I don’t know. I’m just going to keep on chugging along.

Thanks for reading.


Second Breakfast: Day 142

Some days it is really frustrating to teach students who




My 6/7 was a little chatty today, which was frustrating, but even after I got them wrangled and back on task, they were extremely exasperating today. We were attempting to do an exploration in geogebra and they were the most helpless group of teenagers I have ever seen. I don’t know how to explain it other than to say their inability to just TRY was incredibly aggravating.