Sunday, May 24, 2009

To Answer your Question

I am so ready to be done with this school year. My students are driving me absolutely crazy. And from the looks of it, I'm driving them crazy too. The freshmen are especially displeased that unlike their past nine years of schooling, this one will not conclude the year with parties and field trips, but with exams. Welcome to high school! I think we all agree that summer is long overdue and are unsure how to get through the next three weeks (seriously, there are THREE more weeks?!) without killing each other.

My personal coping strategies revolve around revised classroom management strategies. After about 32 weeks of resisting temptation, I finally sprayed a girl with my overhead projector spray bottle when she wouldn't stop talking. When kids say something obnoxious or stupid (yes, there are stupid questions and stupid answers) I've been responding with complete and full-on sarcasm. Did you miss anything when you were absent? Nope; we canceled class when we realized you were gone. Oh, you don't like it when you have to graph? Well I don't like it when you whine, so I guess neither of us gets what we want today.

Then I realized that I might be slipping away from funny-sarcastic to just-plain-mean-sarcastic. I had to think of a new way to let kids know how ridiculous their complaining is, but in a less abrasive way. And what is the least abrasive thing I can tell them? How much I love them. So that is my new response to everything.

"Why do we have homework?" "Because I love you."
"Why are you giving us hard problems?" "It's because I love you."
"Can we just do nothing today?" "I love you too much to let that happen."
"I hate math." "That's too bad because math loves you."

They're not giving me a lot of reasons to love them these days, so I have to take every possible opportunity to remind them--and myself--that the love is still there.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Living Well

What would happen if you took a whole bunch of factors that I don't care about and used those factors to rank the top towns/cities in the United States? Well, according to Forbes magazine, you would find that my current location comes in at #10.

Turns out Sarah and I made a good decision to move here if we want to "live well." Indeed I thank my lucky stars on a daily basis that Visa International and Sony Computer Entertainment America are right in our backyard (or at least I will begin to be thankful for this now that I actually know about it). And now I know that the reason I always feel so inventive when I'm home is that Foster City is in the top five for patents per capita. Score! Unfortunately, I don't quite meet the Foster City "live well" criteria that put us on the list in the first place, given that I don't even make half of the median income. Maybe because I haven't come up with that patent yet.

I do have to take issue with Forbes' assessment that the City "offers few restaurants or cultural institutions." If Rickshaw Corner, the "Chinese" place down the street doesn't fit both those criteria, I don't know what does. Take that, Boulder.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Singing a New Tune

I happened to have observers in my classroom today as we were doing a review activity for our quadratics unit and one asked me whether I'd taught them a quadratic formula song. Obviously that was the only way I know how to teach it (this year my 4th block was even treated to an R&B remix courtesy of another math teacher).

Then the observer had a brilliant suggestion. He noticed the Michigan shirt I was wearing and asked if I'd taught the QF to the tune of the Michigan fight song. How did I not think of that earlier? Indoctrinate my students into math AND blind athletic fanaticism at the same time? This is definitely happening next year.

X equals opposite b (Hail to the victors valiant!)
Then plus or minus square root (Hail to the conquering heroes!)
B squared (Hail!) minus (Hail!) four A-C (to Michigan)
Allll over two (the champions of) A (the west!)

On the other hand, I actually do want to raise little wolverine fans, so I'm not sure I want them to associate something so completely un-fun as the quadratic formula with something so awesome as U of M. I can only imagine some poor student attending a Umich sporting event--or enrolling in school there--and spending the entire time with the quadratic formula running through her head. It would ruin football season in a way that I don't want to be held responsible for.