# Rookie Year: Day 124

I managed to get my final block locked down today and then my first bell acted up. Insert cliché about whack-a-mole similes here.

Today was South Carolina Day and I was required by the state to spend at least 10 minutes learning about the history of South Carolina, so I had my students google Kelly Miller, a mathematician from South Carolina, and give me 3 facts they learned about him.

After that they submitted their IXL standards for the unit and then we began the unit test.

I have been leaning on IXL heavily for the “drill-and-kill” style practice for concepts instead of giving a lot of homework problems every night. My assignments are usually 6-10 problems, and I never ask questions over material that students haven’t seen already. I leave new problems to the classroom where I at least have a say whether students attempt it and they can talk to me about the problems.

Instead of assigning IXLs to be completed the next day, I give the students a few at a time, and tell them roughly when they should have finished them, but I don’t have them submit until the end of the unit. I am hoping this way it gives students more time to work on them and the IXL can also serve as review as we move through a unit.

Of course, many of my students do not complete the IXLs because they do not do anything outside of class or even in class. I debated whether I should make the IXLs worth a greater portion of their grade to create an incentive to complete them, but I have seen many students cheat on the IXLs and so right now I have them worth enough so that it hurts if you don’t do them, but not so much that doing them saves your grade. Although it would seem many students think that the reverse is true.

I did get a lot of my students to slow down on the test today by threatening them with mountains of busy work to do once they submitted the test. This deterred most of them from submitting before the 35 minute mark, which is almost double the average submit time from the previous unit.

So I count that as a win. And also I don’t have to check mountains of busy work now. (Although I wouldn’t have anyway.)

We are moving into factoring trinomials next week and I am nervous. I know this is going to be hard, not just because the topic is difficult, but also I have never taught factoring before and I have no idea how to foster the “feel” for it that makes it easier other than to just bombard them with practice problem after practice problem. And if I think it isn’t going to be fun, most likely the students won’t either. I will need to work on my attitude over the weekend and try to find ways to make the material engaging next week. I am pretty sure that I am going to hit the area models of factoring HARD and treat them like puzzles you have to solve. This strategy has worked well for keeping my more advanced students engaged, but I am worried about the others. Especially the ones who are still struggling with addition and subtraction of integers. We need to do more diamond math problems too. I’ll figure it out.