Monthly Archives: December 2015

#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge Day 6


#MTBoS12days   Yule Blog Challenge  Day “a tried and true task/strategy – I can always count on”

I’m quite a traditional teacher mostly using direct instruction with about 44 minutes per day (except on Thursday with 35-40 minutes).  I do try to ask good thinking questions to help the students explore the concepts, provide some variety of activity occasionally such as desmos or geogebra, card sorts, etc.  About a year and a half ago, I mentioned to my colleague I was thinking about getting some white boards.  She had a class set of small boards that she gave me to try.  The students really enjoyed them – yes, some classes more than others.  So when I feel like I need to spice up the class a little or just wanting them to review some skills such as factoring or graphing rational functions or differentiating implicitly, I bring them out.  Sometimes I have a few problems on the smartboard, but often if a spur of the moment, I just make up some problems and give then orally.  Sometimes they “buddy up,” sometimes work alone.  Sometimes it’s a quick time, sometimes longer.  Occasionally we look at a mistake – especially common ones.  Mostly done at the beginning of a class, but occasionally at the end to see what they know from the new lesson.


#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge Day 5

#MTBoS12days   Yule Blog Challenge  Day 5  “Reflection on last semester… What will I start, stop and continue in the new semester?”

Stop – getting down on myself  – can’t rescue/fix everyone, can’t inspire everyone, can’t work super long hours without affecting my health – physical and emotional,  etc.

Start – getting back to enjoying the students again – find the good even in the annoying ones  🙂   I started the semester off ok but declined when I was battling health issues.  Relax more!

Continue – making small changes of adding things such as Desmos activities which I really enjoy, Which One doesn’t Belong, Patterns, Geogebra, etc.



#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge Day 4

#MTBoS12days   Yule Blog Challenge  Day 4  “A book I’ve read… a book I’m reading… a book I want to read…”

  • A book I’ve read…   Mathematical Mindsets:  Unleashing Students Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching by Jo Boaler.  I took her MOOC course a couple of years ago and saw her in person at the ICTM conference near Chicago this past October.  After the conference in October, I placed a hold on it at my local library (the library had it on order from another request!).   I got it the 2 weeks  before end of semester.  I do want to check it out again since I did a quick read without jotting/thinking through as much as I would like in the midst of the end of semester busyness.  It’s always good to have the ideas, research, activities in one place.  I do like her bilingual approach with maths and math 🙂   I still occasionally say maths and zed (for the letter z) and trapezium instead of trapezoid, etc.
  • A book I’m reading…  The Biblical book of Isaiah – Our church hosted a group for a Handel’s Messiah sing-a-long a few weeks back.  A passage I remembered hearing sung several years ago from Handel’s work was from Chapter 40  so I thought I would read through the book again – fairly lengthy and rich in content.  A verse in chapter 41 was an encouragement during my first year of teaching over 30 years ago ….‘Do not fear, for I am with you;  Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,  Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  It was a good year!
  • A book I want to read… Redeeming Mathematics … A God-Centered Approach by Vern S. Poythress  I always am thinking WHY –  and I do appreciate some good philosophical thinking.  I have read some chapters of an earlier work by him although it may get postponed to summer reading.  I’m always looking for ways to mention backgrounds of mathematicians although briefly to show how worldview affects our thinking and doing.  Pascal, Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, Napier, Russell, etc.  Since it’s Christmas time – the lyrics of the Christmas carol “Joy to the World” were written by Issac Watts.  He also wrote  the lyrics to “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and many more English hymns.  In Geometry class I mention his book, Logic, or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. It was used as a text on logic at Oxford for many years (and other places).

I usually am reading some mystery book, but not currently.  Sometimes it’s nice just to relax with some of the Christmas movies on TV and read some blogs.


#MTBoS12day Yule Blog Challenge Day 3

Challenge 3 of #MTBoS12days   “How I relax and rejuvenate over the break”

I enjoy a mix of the following not in any particular order:

  • Reading – a good mystery or suspense,  a book on theology, the Bible, blogs, etc.
  • Watching African live streaming webcams especially Africam and WildEarth.  I got hooked on these back in 2008 – and early 2009 signed up for Twitter to get tweets  when animals were at the waterholes.  And got recruited to tweet via the Africam website for a couple of hours a day.  Although once school started up that fall, I stopped.  WildEarth streams safari drives twice a day.  I took the following screen capture a couple of nights ago (early am there)  Love the sounds – heard lions roar also this week and saw giraffes.

NK  Cheetah  12.20.15

  • Time with my husband, friends, visits to Panera
  • Celebrating Christmas with church family
  • Cooking/Baking and Cleaning – yep – I think it’s relaxing as much as I can stay on top of it during the break and not feel like I’m behind.


#MTBoS12days Day 2 Success Story

Challenge 2 of #MTBoS12days  “a success story from this semester”

My first reaction is to say that my greatest success is that I survived the semester – teaching 7 classes – 6 preps (2 sections of geometry) – and supervising a study hall.  It has been tiring and it has affected my health more than usual including a bout with pneumonia – took 2 sick days – first in about 6-7 years .

A goal has been to incorporate more technology into lessons using chromebooks – the school has 2 carts of 25 shared by elementary – secondary.  So sometimes it’s a challenge to schedule where it fits into the chapter unit nicely.  Another cart of 25 hopefully will be available next semester.  Geometry classes explored Geogebra .  I had to teach myself Geogebra by just playing with it (which helps me see the struggles kids will have even with my guidance) and occasionally resorting to other helpful resources online.    If students finished early, I encouraged them to play on these sites : Euclid: The Game  Alien Angles .  I’ll probably use Geogebra with upcoming transformations and also the game Shape Mods.  (Love low tech patty paper  for transformations.  We had a chapter on each kind of transformation when I taught maths in southern Africa – the British influence was strong – we also did stretches and shears at the O’level)  Geometry classes also used Socrative to review for the semester final exam since I was able to upload pics for some of the questions.

Desmos was my go-to favorite for both levels of Algebra 2, College Algebra, and Pre-Calculus.  Algebra 2 classes explored system of equations using the Desmos calculator for the first time.  Then we explored quadratics using Desmos Polygraph: parabolas and a couple of activity builders including my own.  Pre-Calc and College Algebra explored higher polynomial functions and rational functions with Desmos and Desmos Activity Builder.  AP Calculus did use Desmos for a project for curve sketching.  At least they can keep their skills practiced from last spring.

I did try to scatter into various lessons  Which One Doesn’t Belong and Michael Serra’s What’s Wrong with This Picture and  Mathercise  (I have  older copies when Key Curriculum Press printed these).  Little time involved but great successes with class engagement.

#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge

A few folks are doing a challenge – since I rarely blog, I thought I would be challenged but not feel overwhelmed.


#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge Day 1

“My Holiday favorites” (you choose)

  1. treats & recipes to share
  2. inexpensive gifts to give
  3. holiday memories

When my husband and I taught in southern Africa, we came back to the States for Christmas/summer break for 5 weeks to visit family and friends.    We visited a small bookstore that had a thin paperback cookbook of Scandanavian home recipes – mostly family recipes.    When we returned to Africa for the new school year I experimented with some of the recipes.  I always enjoyed sweetcorn since childhood (my dad grew some for a local canning factory on the family farm).  And scalloped corn or corn casserole or corn pudding was a favorite for the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays and throughout the winter season.   After trying various ingredient amounts, I settled on the following:

Scalloped Corn

2 Tbsp butter/margarine

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp flour

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs- slighly beaten

1 cup milk

1 can = ~15 oz of cream styled corn (I like Green Giant the best)

1 can – ~15 oz of whole kernal corn – drained

1 pack of saltine crackers

Melt butter in a large casserole dish, add sugar, cream corn.  Then add eggs.  Add flour, salt and pepper.  Add whole kernal corn and milk.  Add  some broken crackers to the mix – maybe 1/2 package to start with and add as much as you want.  Stir.  I usually break a few crackers on top to make a crunchy top.  Bake about an hour at 350 F  (Preheated)

Definitely high on my comfort food list 🙂