Archive for the ‘mathematics’ Category

Algebra Unit: Exponential Relationships

Brief note: a time-out from art-related items to post an assignment for a Coursera class for assessment by peers.

Unit: Exponential Relationships

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click for link to image

9th grade, but 8th graders are welcome!

Investigation 1: Exponential Growth

Welcome to our new unit in Connected Math, Exponential Relationships! We have five different investigations, and you will find yourself doing a lot of comparisons of exponential relationships with linear relationships. (Told you linear would never go away!) You can see an overview of the unit by clicking on the link above to see the parent information letter. DO NOT WAIT TO GET YOUR NEW UNIT BOOK from your district office – you don’t want to get behind!!

Here are two key pieces we will focus on:

UNIT GOALS (Specific Arizona Standards for this unit at the end of this investigation):
You…have previously studied linear growth, in which a fixed amount is repeatedly added to a beginning quantity to produce a sequence of values.
Exponential growth involves patterns that are based on multiplication rather than addition. For example, in the sequence 3, 9, 27, 81, 243, …, each term is 3 times the previous term. The basic goal in Growing, Growing, Growing is for…you…to learn to recognize situations, data patterns, and graphs that are modeled by exponential expressions, and to use tables, graphs, and equations to answer questions about exponential patterns.
You will ask yourself the following questions as we go through the unit:
  • * Is the relationship between variables an example of exponential growth or decay? Why?
  • • How can this relationship be detected in a table, graph, or equation? What is the growth factor?
  • • What table, graph, or equation would model the data or the pattern in a graph relating the variables?
  • • How could I answer questions about an exponential situation by studying a table, a graph, or an equation of the exponential relationship?
  • • How does this exponential relationship compare to other relationships between variables I have studied?
Stuck? Email: ***************@***************
Now to the fun stuff: Investigation 1
  • You will need: scissors and a sheet of paper (regular paper is fine, and you might be happier with a blank sheet)
  • Your journal for record-keeping, notes, and solving problems
  • A new anchor chart for vocabulary on a separate page in your journal – use a stickie tab on the page for easy reference to it.
  • [Reference for peer readers on anchor charts – http://www.julieballew.com/A_Literate_Life/Photos/Pages/Anchor_Charts.html. Students will have other samples, since what I use I cannot share publicly (only in a classroom/online teaching setting) because of proprietary agreement with past employer)].
(Students have experience with anchor charts, and throughout the online lessons, I will have links to the unit anchor charts.)
1. Read on page 5, 1.1 Making Ballots and complete the short experiment.
2. Answer questions in your journal from page 6. Remember to indicate the investigation, number of the problem, and use complete sentences!
3. Upload your problem to the dropbox by ____________ for feedback from Mrs. Moran. (This should take no more than 1 day.)
4. Begin working on homework problems for this investigation: Practice problems on page 11 – 18: Everyone do #1-14, and then 3 others of your choice. Everyone do #33 – 38. (Due at the end of the week.)
Stuck? Email: ***************@***************
5. Read on page 6, 1.2 Requesting a Reward and add the new vocabulary to your anchor chart for this unit.
6. Complete the “Getting Ready” on page 6 in your journal.
7. Complete problem 1.2 on page 7 in your journal. Remember to indicate the investigation, number of the problem, and use complete sentences!
8. Upload your problem to the dropbox by ____________ for feedback from Mrs. Moran. (This should take no more than 1 day.)
9. Continue working on homework problems for this investigation: Practice problems on page 11 – 18: Everyone do #1-14, and then 3 others of your choice. Everyone do #33 – 38. (Due at the end of the week.)
Stuck? Email: ***************@***************
10. Read on page 8, 1.3 Making a New Offer and add the new vocabulary to your anchor chart for this unit.
11. Answer questions from page 9 in your journal.  Remember to indicate the investigation, number of the problem, and use complete sentences!
12. Upload your problem to the dropbox by ____________ for feedback from Mrs. Moran. (This should take no more than o1 day.)
13. Check out this video and try experimenting with values. Think about what you notice and try and make a connection between the video and the investigation.
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Stuck? Email: ***************@***************

 

14. Continue working on homework problems for this investigation: Practice problems on page 11 – 18: Everyone do #1-14, and then 3 others of your choice. Everyone do #33 – 38. (Due at the end of the week.)

15. Log onto the class discussion forum (*******************address) and complete two responses. a) What are you discovering so far about exponential growth? and b) what differences do you notice between linear and exponential growth? (Due by the end of the week.) (Rubric http://www.mtsu.edu/ltanditc/docs/Discussion_Board_Rubrics.pdf)
16. Check out this video and see about exponential growth in real-world examples. You might get a few ideas for your Mathematical Reflection.
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17. Start your draft of your mathematical reflection on page 19.
18. Read page 10, 1.4 Getting Costs in Line.
19. Answer questions from page 10 in your journal.  Remember to indicate the investigation, number of the problem, and use complete sentences!
20. Upload your problem to the dropbox by ____________ for feedback from Mrs. Moran. (This should take no more than 1 day.)
21. Upload your homework problems to the dropbox by ___________ for feedback from Mrs. Moran. (Due end of the week.)
Extra video – if you want to dig a little deeper and are interested in growth in businesses –
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22. Complete your mathematical reflection on page 19. Use your word processor to complete the assignment. Use complete sentences – FOLLOW THE RUBRIC you already use for these! This is due by the end of the week – allow yourself two days for draft and final copy.
23. Breath Deeply and congratulations! You’ve made a major start in understanding a very practical application of algebra!!!!

Deadlines:

Investigation 1.1 should be completed within a day.
Investigation 1.2 should be completed within a day
Investigation 1.3 should be completed within a day.
Investigation 1.4 should be completed within a day.
Homework Problems due  end of the first week.
Discussion forum responses due the end of the first week.
Mathematical Reflection due the end of the first week.
STATE STANDARDS:
  • HS.F-LE.A.1a. Distinguish between situations that can be modeled with linear functions and with exponential functions.
  • HS.F-LE.A.1b. Prove that linear functions grow by equal differences over equal intervals, and that exponential functions grow by equal factors over equal intervals.

Mathematical Practice Standards:

  • 1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • 2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • 3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • 4.Model with mathematics.
  • 5.Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • 6.Attend to precision.
  • 7.Look for and make use of structure.
  • 8.Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Copyright notice: all links are public domain and links are included by clicking on pictures. This unit is directly from Connected Math 2, published by Pearson. The conversion to an online format is the work of the instructor, Linda Moran, and cannot be reproduced without permission of the instructor.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday

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Lots of items bookmarked and ready to show you. I so love all the things you can learn online – and all the places you can go!

First up, The Trouble with Bright Girls – being one, as well as teaching many of them, I can relate to this article. We need to be so careful of the messages we send.

“Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice.”

Animals playing around – gotta watch!

The art of Jim Dingilian – filling a bottle with smoke and creating art!

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I’m always looking at business sites and mentoring opportunities for my own marketing. Came across Gary’s site and am thinking about buying the book as gifts for two friends looking to start small businesses. Check out Gary Bizzo – www.garybizzo.com.

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Also in marketing, a new site I found on line for printing – looks like quality work, and they’re in Canada, which is great when I move to Vermont! PrintingPeach at http://printingpeach.com.

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Absolutely LOVE this close-up of the creation of a Dior bag – amazing!

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This next poster is really cool, even if you don’t understand all of it! Science and art together!!

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10 Mathematical Equations that Changed the World – fascinating, again even if you don’t understand all the math.

You know I love math – The Magic of Fibonacci!

Once again, science, art and math – Dance on the Circle.

Till next time, enjoy the web!!

Top Ten Tuesday

DSCN4597 Spring in the desert! In fact, it is almost summer – 91 today, and I think we will break down and put the air conditioner on for a bit this afternoon. Went through Saguaro National Park on Sunday tosee the cactus in bloom – always a treat this time of year. I still have lots in the bookmarks for cool stuff on line. So sit back and enjoy!

Hubby and I have always been a fan of Roy Orbison, and he especially of k.d. lang, so here’s the two combined.

I loved this next site, especially since we are planning to move back to Vermont in about a year. New England towns – they sure are gorgeous!

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I am not a tattoo person – never have been, but I certainly can recognize art when I see it – even if it is a little creepy……

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Swinging hits new heights (sorry, couldn’t resist), but an interesting take on cooperativeness.

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Subway art in Sweden – makes transportation into an art experience.

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Water sheets in space – – an experiment on the space station.

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Some untold stories of World War II:

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Seriously LOVE the Fibonacci numbers…..check this out!

 

Incredible pics of icebergs – they’re actually paintings….. Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 2.18.13 PM

And finally, the utmost in recycling – twist-tie toys!

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Top Ten Tuesday

It has been a bit, what with the holidays and all, but I am slowly getting back to being regular with the blogging. Mostly I’ve found some really cool videos that I hope I can get up here. Enjoy, and send me what you find on line.

First up is eye candy from the 365 Project. I’ve actually been to this spot – during the day, but it is gorgeous at sunset.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse by Jerry Plume

Also from 365 Project are their theme winning photographs for the year. The math person in me loves this geometry winner.

From Cool Hunting comes a look at a paper artist, Irving Harper. I love the texture that he is able to create.

Here is a pretty amazing video of driving in Norway along the Atlantic Coast. How would you like the job of building this road?? The road is built on several small islands and reefs, and is crossed by eight bridges, several roads and overpasses. This road is a view of the open sea, which is rare on the roads along the Norwegian coast. You can see fjords and mountains near the road. The spectacular road quickly became a tourist attraction, insofar precautions should be displayed while driving, because of the attendance of the road by the local population and visitors.

This is reminiscent of the art of Andy Goldsworthy, but even more fleeting. This is the balancing art of Michael Grab, from NPR.

 Ice palaces in Harbin, China – really gorgeous…..and oh, so cold!

I LOVE Chris Jordan, and he has some new work available on his website. He uses common objects to depict waste of one type or another to tell a story. He is amazing. Be sure to zoom in on each picture.

School Dropouts…..done in blocks

New video from recreational mathematician Vi Hart – whom I absolutely love – use her videos in college algebra a lot! Here’s a look at fractals….

Speaking of math, I thought this was pretty cool: (If you know the source, please let me know….)

And finally, one of my favorite math videos on how easy it is to misunderstand some of the basics of mathematics……

Have a great week!

Top Ten Tuesday

An interesting web week…watched a lot of humor on YouTube, as well as a lot of math videos for my algebra class. Here’s one on exponential functions in real life – earthquakes.

A tour of the Google Data Center – colorful, just like the logo!

How cool are these! From Alisa Burke – stone sugar skulls!!

This from Letters of Note is heartbreaking. A reminiscence of the Pam Am explosion over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Interested in education issues? Harriete talks about a show opening that deals with standardized testing. If you are at all familiar with the bell curve, you’ll appreciate one of the art works.

This juggling is fabulous!!!! One ball, who knew?

A whale of a tale, from the Great Whale Conservancy – beautiful story.

Put Johnny Carson and Dom DeLouise together, along with some raw eggs, and it’s just hilarious! They don’t make ’em like this any more!!

If you are not familiar with Design Seed, check out the interesting color combinations – some colors I would never have thought to put together.

And finally, if you haven’t visited Craft Gossip, you need to put it on your lists. Posts every day, and then some! Lots of great craft ideas to try, especially for and with kids.

That’s it for this week. Send along great links that you find out there on the web!

Top Ten Tuesday

So I am not a video gamer. Couldn’t even master Pac-Man, and I hurt my wrist trying Frogger. Plus, I hate the amount of violence in video games. This week I discovered an article about a gun-free video game. Who knew? Called the Unfinished Swan, it has lots of elements of art within it. Fascinating.

“Ian Dallas was a comedy writer who cut his teeth at the Yale Record, then The Onion, before moving into TV and working on Comedy Central’s Drawn Together. But his plan was always to make video games. So he went to grad school and created a prototype for an unusual game wherein players are confronted with a white void of a world to which they give form by splattering paint around to reveal the objects and environment around them. ”

I’m finally working through all the cool things from Cool Hunting. Here’s a neat item from Vermont: Battenkill Brittle, gluten-free energy bars, and they look yummy.

Here’s a wonder of the world a lot of people don’t know about: The amazing Bay of Fundy in time-lapse.

Have trouble with deciding what colors look good together? Check out Design Seeds – a collection of pictures that have identified the color palette within. Lots of inspiration here.

From Origami Joel comes another very interesting paper artist, Matt Shlian. Absolutely beautiful!

The Biological Advantage of Being Awestruck – beautiful video from my friend Amethyst, who minored in the philosophy of science. It sounds like she did some incredibly interesting reading in those classes! I could take those classes now…..

This is an interesting blog from the Surface Design Association on feng shui for your studio. I need to reread this at lenght, and I also think I will investigate the books she mentions efore I look at repurposing the garage into a wet dye studio.

Jamie Ridler guides artists to authentic creative living. Here’s a post about learning from the Olympics that has some really good thoughts in it. Olympic Lessons for Non-Athletes – Or What I Learned from the Olympic Games.

If you are running a small business, hopefully you know about Handmadeology – an online collection of articles on all aspects of marketing. Some really great stuff here….and I say that even though I write a regular blog for them!

Finally, for all my math friends – Prime Number Patterns. I can SO see a bunch of quilts from this!!

Have a great week! Let me know what cool things you find on line.

Top Ten Tuesday

Slowly getting caught up on blogs, as well as working on a class at Quilt University. If you are interested in online learning in quilting and other fiber art techniques, check out QU. This is my 5th class with them, and I have been very pleased with every single class. I mostly focus on the design classes, and right now I’m doing a class on design with Elizabeth Barton, whose work I really like. Pretty great stats, wouldn’t you say?

I discovered a new photography blog, Sun Gazing. Great list of resources. Actually this is more a New Age site, and a lot of Buddha images, but the photography is amazing.

Look at this amazing photo!

Once again from the 365 Project, some glorious photography.

Oh My God, It’s Full of Stars by Alexis Birkell

I’ve just discovered Alison Schwabe’s blog, and this post on making samples was very good. One other blog has talked about stitching things out ahead in samples, and I think I’m looking at a new piece of my process. Should at least keep me from pulling out several inches of thread……

Readers of this blog know I love TED talks, and on the TED blog today is a list of the top 20 TED talks. There are a bunch here I haven’t seen, so I have some fun stuff to watch this week!

Discovered a new quilting blog this morning, with examples of some of the motifs being used for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Inspired patchwork! The blog is With Heart and Hands by Michele Bilyeu.

Animals Talking All in Caps is exactly what it says. Folks send in a picture with animals in it, and our moderator does a caption. Some are hysterical – well, most of them are. And some are very poignant.

I’M SORRY I KICKED DARREN IN THE FACE FOR CHEATING ON YOU.

I’m sorry I yelled at you for doing it. I was just startled.

HOOF TO GOD, I THINK HE DESERVED IT. YOU’RE A PRINCESS.

I love you, Shelly.

I LOVE YOU TOO.

Not every parent appreciates the pursuing of a liberal arts education, especially if it involves the classics. From Letters of Note is this letter to Ted Turner from his father, questioning his stupid quest to study Greek.

I love Vi Hart. She’s a recreational mathematician, and she teaches you stuff about math that is fun, simply through doodling. Here’s her latest video….warning – you need to concentrate!

And we’ll end with an interesting tidbit of history: Who Stole Helen Keller? How has history rewritten her story?

“Helen Keller worked throughout her long life to achieve social justice; she was an integral part of many social movements in the 20th century. Yet today, she is remembered chiefly as a child who overcame the obstacles of being deaf and blind largely through the efforts of her teacher, Annie Sullivan. While she may be hailed as a “hero” in lesson plans for today’s children, the books recount only a fraction of what makes Helen Keller heroic.”

Have a great week – let me know what you find on line that’s interesting!

10 Things I WILL NOT Miss About Teaching….

I will no doubt spend some time in reflection over these last 40 years in some form of public education. I found an interesting editorial I had written about 8 years ago that I will probably recreate here. Mostly this week it’s been about things I am not going to miss.

1. Short lunch periods. Some of the schools I’ve been in had 20-minute lunch periods, which makes it tough to have any kind of a leisurely lunch, especially when you factor in having to use the bathroom and set up for the next class after lunch. I still eat fast at lunch; it’ll be a hard habit to break!

2. Lack of accountability on all parts. Teachers – there are so many in the profession who shouldn’t be there. I find myself at times taking shortcuts just to survive the daily grind, and I lose sleep over it. Students who do not take responsibility for their work and behavior. Parents who let kids get away with anything they want. Makes me scared for the future….

3. Spending most of Sunday doing lesson plans and marking papers for the coming week. I don’t see myself getting depressed anymore on Sundays, trying to get ready for the week and resenting upwards of 8 hours spent on paperwork and lesson plans.

4. The next “new thing” – everything old is new again….Professional development, for the most part. If I had stayed, I would be taking Essential Elements of Instruction for the third time in my career – doesn’t matter that I can prove I have taken it already, and that I use the information when I plan classes. I am also spared Restorative Practices and Circles……

5. “Teenage drama.” Especially from the girls. Oy, teenage girls and cat fights and gossip. Perhaps not as bad as middle school level, but I have to keep telling myself the frontal lobe is not completely developed…..

6. Sagging pants on the boys. Do you realize just how stupid we think you look? And grabbing your crotch to hold your pants up makes you look even more like an idiot….

7. NCLB – good ole No Child Left Behind, that has managed to remove any joy from learning completely. I can prepare kids to pass tests with the best of them, but that isn’t an education.

8. Bathroom on a bell schedule. I gotta tell ya, bathroom breaks with 90 minute classes? No wonder teachers don’t get all the water they need in a day. If we save it till we get home in the late afternoon, then we’re up several times at night.

9. Unresponsive school districts and wacko state legislatures (yes, Arizona, I’m talking about you…). This is the worst time in my career for teacher-bashing. I’m tired of no support, large class sizes, out-of-date technology, especially when we are evaluated on how we use the technology.

10. Whining students. No more “do we have to?”, “that’s too much work,” “I didn’t do it” and ad nauseum.

Ah, retirement!

On Rethinking Retirement……

Today was the first day of two for professional development on Understanding by Design, or UbD. The staff at the school all has to have this training as part of our three-year plan, and I was resisting this because I’ve read through elements of this on my own, as well as tried to apply some of the “big ideas” to a museum project several years ago. I am here to say today is causing me to seriously rethink retirement – the day was amazing, and I do not say that lightly about professional development.

Understanding by Design is a three-stage program to develop more meaningful curriculum that is effective, engages students, and promotes enduring understanding, as Howard Gardner would say. We spent the day on Stage 1, unwrapping the curriculum in order to plan for the end result. Duh. In 20 years of doing student theater, I always did what I call “backplanning,” but NOT ONCE did I think to apply that skill to my classroom teaching.

As we continued through the day, I kept seeing lights at the end of the tunnel, answering for me ways to fix what I am unhappy with in my algebra classes. I do too much direct instruction, I don’t have the kids do enough inquiry, and they aren’t engaged enough or see algebra as a meaningful course of study. I actually wanted to read through standards and try to cluster some of the performance objectives so the planning  makes more sense. The warm-up we did would make more sense than the (to be honest) drill and kill I usually do for practice (and, really honest, management…). In fact, I have some ideas for small group bell work for next week to extend some of the understanding.

All through the day I was (and still am) very conflicted. I am planning to retire in two and a half more years. I have been dealing with some health issues that may make me retire early. Plus, I realized if I go the full years more I will actually end up hurting my retirement benefits, as there hasn’t been a raise, and nothing is in sight. Two and a half years would cut off one of my higher salary years. So I am looking at numbers.

But then I sit in a workshop and get truly excited about trying some new strategies and ideas for teaching algebra, and I don’t want to leave. Retirement is an ending, as well as a beginning. I started teaching 40 years ago this September, and while it is probably time – age-wise – to go, it feels like “the end.” I don’t think I’m ready for closure, even though I want to seriously expand my art work and licensing. I’m not sure I can “let go” of 33 years of teaching, when I still feel like I have a lot more to offer. I still love this stuff – workshops, class management, curriculum, and all. I miss the teaching teachers that I used to do. I have all these skills and experiences (and endorsements) from all these years, and I’m not sure I can give it up…..

So just when I think I am coming to decisions, something happens to change it all. Darn you, Dr. Larry….now what do I do?

Fibonacci Poetry

I love Fibonacci – I discovered his math sequence about 15 years ago when teaching in a gifted elementary program. I was reading the curriculum and was astounded that I had never heard of him before. Since then I am always astounded at how Fibonacci shows up in nature….and now in poetry.

I was pulling materials today to take back to school, and I rediscovered these poems, from my bulletin board of favorites. The task was to use the Fibonacci sequence and create a poem, with each line having the requisite number of syllables – 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on. Just a little something different this week, as we get ready to go back to school

Here’s Elizabeth Kinn:

Mind,

Words,

Phrases,

Poetry,

Dances on the page.

Put together makes a meaning.

It’s from the full heart of a poetic writer’s soul.

A great mind full of creative twists ad turns makes a black pen whirl on a blank page.

Hre’s Sarah Walling:

Books

Are

The best!

They take me

From reality,

Places beyond imaging.

Enough subjects to let me read to jy heart’s content.

Boks are made to extend the imagination, made for the mind to travel away.

Here’s Rebecca Edmonson:

I

Love

Theater!

Best to act,

Dancing and Singing.

Characters and music change/

Putting on a new face and stepping out of the box.

The stage: a fantastic place to be yourself and just let loose in a different world.

The Joys of Math – and a Big What-if….

I know, you’re thinking, there she goes again with her oxymorons. How can math be joyful? I used to agree with you, until I started teaching algebra, and especially now that I am preparing for a rather important – and long – math test. The more I study, the more I am amazed at how I can teach myself all this new stuff. I will work on something new, and low and behold I can trace parts of it back to beginning algebra, and then build from there.

The joy is two-fold: I can actually teach myself this math, and I am ENJOYING it! This is fun – I can lose myself for hours in trying to make sense of how the math works. I still want to know why it works, and I also find myself in the position of the kids with the question “When are we ever going to use this?”

Were I to continue with more advanced math, I’m sure I’d see when we use it. For now, I’m having a very different kind of fun and creative work. The big what-if came over the weekend, as I said to hubby that I still amazed myself at being able to do this. My next comment was, “How would life have been different had I been able to ‘do math’?”

That’s a pretty big question. I kind of stunned myself. What would have been available to me? I am always talking to the kids about having options for their futures. At my time, it was nursing, secretarial, or teaching. I didn’t want any of them. Women in mathematics would have been quite a stretch for the early 70s, and I didn’t have the support. I remember how hard it was for me when I was the only female in a political science trip off campus to a county system to look at the day-to-day workings of government. I knew that all the males with me were trying to behave because of a “lady” present, and consequently I felt all the more uneasy.

Maybe all really does work out for the best. I love what I am doing, and with teaching algebra I know I am providing valuable options for children’s futures. Go and be whatever you want – revel in that ability.

That said, I want the test over so I can get back to making some art!

The Beauty of Mathematics


The more I work with mathematics, the more entranced I am by how everything works together. I’m trying to decipher and understand conic sections, only to find a little bit of the quadratic hiding amidst all the formulas. I had no idea this stuff could be so beautiful.

I know, I know, many of you are thinking oxymoron, and at one time I would have so agreed with you. Geometry was a killer in high school, and I still fear proofs….even though I tend to be a pretty linear person, very concrete – I have grown so over the years in being able to use more parts of my brain! Yet now I look at the geometry and am amazed at how little information you actually need to make sense of so many practical problems. 90, 180, 360 – basic degree measurements needed, knowing what happens with angles and parallel lines – you can now do so many different computations.

In one day less than three weeks, I face my biggest math challenge ever – I am taking the high school math qualifying test, because according to the Bushies, I am not highly qualified to teach algebra without proving it through this test. Here’s the kicker – all my math knowledge now is pretty much self-taught. I never had any of those required courses. So I am teaching myself yet again all I hopefully will need to be able to do. And….

…I’m loving it! I look at something that seems so foreign, find a little piece that looks familiar to what I already know, and work from there. I have “ah-ha” moments all the time…so that’s why that works, and so on.

“Course, I still dream that the first thing Obama does on January 20th is repeal all the testing we have to do to be highly qualified and make it effective immediately. The $130 I would lose would be so worth it!

The Loss of Creativity and Meaning


Eric Maisel, a creativity coach, talks about the need to make meaning in our work. One of the things I notice about creativity, art, and teaching, is that to be really good in the classroom and create meaning for kids, you have to be an extremely artistic person – your creativity is in the brain power and not the art as we would normally think about it. Which is one of the reasons my blog talks about teaching, because I see that as my major art form at this time. I create other art, but trying to create educated, capable children with untold options for the future is to my way of thinking one of the highest art forms.

That said, math kept me awake last night, because I kept getting so angry at the school district. I spent about three hours working on my math plans for the first three weeks back, and since I have to cover four specific objectives, I looked carefully through the pretest on these objectives. Normally I concentrate on the math concepts and how best to work for understanding these concepts.

But nooooo – not with this district and school. I have to actually teach to this specific test, screw understanding. The first thing I have to decide is how to meaningfully get across all this new vocabulary – a minimum of 10 words just to get into this objective, which is all about surface area and nets. Now, the Connected Math unit does an exceptional job of volume and teaching surface area (filling and wrapping), but I have to deconstruct the unit to pull out what is essential in these next three weeks. So a program that has 15 years of extremely successful results is no longer valued in the attempt to raise stupid test scores.

This next week will be spent on various strategies for teaching vocabulary (and attempting to get understanding), as well as drawing nets and trying to understand the concept of wrapping for surface area and filling for volume. I am diagnosing the test, in an attempt to get the kids to really look at these questions and see that with a little bit of new knowledge they can easily do this. The kids are not supposed to write on these, but I’m sorry – that’s not gonna happen. The kids are going to write all over these, make their notes, and so on. At least if I have to teach the stupid test, I can also teach basic study skills that will carry over to other disciplines and tests.

This makes me so angry I could spit. I can do this, no question about my abilities, and I can no doubt sneak in lots of other information to help make this meaningful and maybe have it actually “stick” for the kids. There is no doubt that this deconstruction of public education is a deliberate effort to change how our society educates children. Sure there are things wrong with public education, but teaching to a test is not going to solve any issues. (Too bad you didn’t see the draft of this sentence – it was a pretty ugly condemnation……..)

A Busy First Day


A very busy morning – did lots of shredding of old IRS stuff, old business stuff – several bags for recycling. Did some cleaning (still have a very long way to go….) And I got a walk in – the weather is nice and breezy. We burned sage in several of the spots around the house – get the good energy flowing.

As I reflect back on 2007, it was a good art year. Not so much in terms of actual fiber created, but we were able to finally solve our marbling problems, I started on Photoshop, and I finally got into doing digital work from the marbled fabrics. We sold an art piece (Night Eyes, from some of our first framed attempts), had some good ebay custom orders, and felt like we had momentum with Marble T. Now it’s time to look at the coming year and what we would like to accomplish. Which I think will be our goals for this week – we definitely want to reactivate our Preferred list, so we get more hits on the website, as well as add more fiber work. I want to get a fiber portfolio completed, and I would like to enter a minimum of five different shows this year.

Lots to think about, and trying to balance the momentum with school with be interesting – as usual. I completed most of my art plans today – looked through standards, sketched out the semester projects, and developed the rules for art class – which I think are pretty good. One of the things that amazed me as I was working with the art standards is how much my kids were actually in the intermediate set of standards, between the various discussions and projects. I feel really good about that.

Math – that’s another thing to think about over the next few days. I’m avoiding it because teaching to the test really is morally and ethically against everything I believe that makes a good education for a child. Heard from Kathy in Vermont that the new principal is even thinking about doing away with their exploratory classes in favor of more academics. Who was it who said a society is judged by its art? The Bush years have not been good ones for civilization…..

I’m working on another piece off a freeform pattern – here it is in original, black and white lines, and then as the genesis of a Rainforest piece.


Mathematics as a Language


We had a full day of inservice on mathematics in reading, which was better than I expected. Since I do a lot of professional development, especially in Connected Math, I wasn’t looking forward to doing this, but the literacy information was helpful. We were working on vocabulary strategies, and going through the division problem from Bits and Pieces 2 was good. I never realized just how fine the line is with sharing and grouping when it comes to division. In fact, I never realized until just recently that there was a difference. Quite a lot of finesse to those words, and two different situations. I was concerned about spending that amount of time on two vocabulary words, only to find out that there is a lot of prior knowledge build in Bits 1.

The great thing about Connected Math is the building of prior knowledge; the problem is that until you teach the units, you don’t really see how everything fits together. Which is what the district is refusing to see, especially when it comes to my school and having to show immediate progress this year in math scores.

Overall, an interesting day. I want to have more time to plan my lessons, so I can really begin to incorporate the strategies I have been learning.

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