Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dueling Exponents

Remember my post about gender classes? How it would be perfect because you could create a competition for the boys with every lesson. This is what their brains are thriving for anyway. Today we played a game involving exponents. It was true double elimination. This was to keep the hope alive in those students that lost early in the contest. In all of my classes the championship round was between 2 BOYS........ what is even better is that these BOYS are low C students. They struggle to grasp concepts, but yet they were able to defeat some of the more competent students in their class.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bathroom Etiquette

Yes, teachers do have to use the rest room just like everyone else. We do not have bladders that obtain super the ability to stretch like a water balloon, or magically make the liquid disappear. The reactions students give a teacher who walks into the restroom to take care of business are priceless.

1. The amazement on their face when I walk up to the urinal, immediately followed by the standing at attention as if the toilet was a drill instructor!

2. The uncomfortable tone in their voice when you try to have a conversation about the day, or it may be that they are in the deepest concentration mode ever!

3. Followed by the instant red color in their face as they try to dialogue with their math teacher!

4. The hand washing success rate increases dramatically as the business is taken care off.

5. The instant silence of gossip, followed by the most serious students in the world! (All about the business! Donald Trump would be proud!)

6. The paper towels actually find the correct place of disposal!

The list can go on and on, but I think the best two reactions are when you follow a group of students into the bathroom and they instantly decide they do not need to go. Of course my favorite is reminding them to wipe and wishing them good luck!

Remember Middle School: The more gross the better teacher you are!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Gender Classes!

What a great idea! A math class with all girls. This would be fantastic. I can only imagine the math concepts that could be tackled. Not because girls are smarter, but because developmentally their brains are able to handle it.

What a great idea! A math class with all boys. This would be fantastic. I can only imagine the math concepts that could be tackled. Not because boys are smarter but, because developmentally their brains are NOT ready to handle it.

Ok let me explain, I have read a few articles about gender specific classes. Some of the research says that this is the ideal way to teach. Mixing genders in middle school creates a really weird atmosphere. First, for the boys: How can I impress on the girls that I am the stud they need to be dating? How badly can I humiliate my friends?  How badly can I beat you at anything?  These are the thoughts of the little adults running around in the halls. IT is all about competition!

Now for the girls: I guarantee they are more worried about their self image than the math concept being taught that day, and its the boys that drive this thought. The girls are far less to compete and more likely to socialize together; however they are also more likely to socialize about the math concept. The pressure will be off, they can be smart and show it!

The last 2 days I divided my class up one side of boys and one side of girls. So far the girls side has been more productive and has demonstrated a deeper understanding of concepts. The boys side have not accomplished much ok nothing and all are behind in the work. Is this little experiment telling me that I need to find a way to have gender classes?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scientific Notation Flash Mob

Have you ever heard of a flash mob? I didn't until I watched "Friends with Benefits" starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Don't judge me Timberlake is my hero! Anyway, ask any teenager that has a heart beat, and they will be able to tell you what a flash mob is. If you need a visual here you go!

 I decided to use that to my advantage in class. The students were having trouble adjusting the exponent when a number was not in proper scientific notation. So I used Beyonce's song "Irreplaceable"  as a back drop to a dance that helped the students remember what to do.
Keep in mind I din't show the video.....that might of got me a visit from the principal. The new lyrics to the song went like this:

To the left, To the left, moving the decimal adds an exponent.

To the right, To the right, moving the decimal subtracts an exponent.

As we are singing were are moving to the left and right and throwing some sweet moves in. 

So once the kids had it down I told them that when they hear my bell to stop what they are doing and bust into this flash mob! It was a blast and we all had a great time! Maybe there will be a video in the future.......after a lot of practice!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Originally, I wanted to post some opinions about bullies in our schools because that seems to be a recurring theme these last few days, not only locally but nationally as well. The opinions I have may ruffle a few feathers, so I will save that for cold day this winter.

It was picture day and all of the students looked their best for the camera. Not sure how I lucked out, but pictures did not interrupt my math classes at all this year.  The first 4 periods were great then came 5th. This is the hardest period of the day, not because it is advanced 8th grade but because it is after lunch. The kids are full and the last thing on their mind is math! I spend a lot of high energy in this period just to keep the little buggers awake.........and also to keep me awake; after all I just ate lunch also! So I was excited, the lesson was going spectacular, the kids were paying attention and actually using their pencils instead of chewing on them. (That is if they brought them) This was a great lesson on adding and subtracting in scientific notation. The kids were understanding while I was guiding them through the steps. Success, or so I thought. When it can time to the independent practice the Stuka's started their decent! It was very clear that I was the only one convinced that this lesson was great!

Yes I was not successful with this lesson, I believe I might even had said some choice words after they left for the day. Like I told my students the first couple days of class, "you will fail, but it is what you do after the failure that really matters!"


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pigeons Love Math!

Pigeons love math!!! No I am not going nuts, the picture above proves it. Today during 4th period this pigeon, who from this point on, is Alfred landed on my window sill. The window was open and the screen was the only thing that was preventing Alfred from pulling up a desk and finding the LCM, GCF, and Prime factorization of numbers. Alfred is not scared of math or humans, cause as I approached the window in full mathematics talk he just cocked his head from side to side, up and down. I had his full attention and he was totally understanding the math concepts leaking from my mouth. Alfred stayed on the window sill the rest of the day. In fact he just flew off about 20 minutes ago.

Here is the great thing...........Middle school kids have a hard time keeping things a secret. Remember my post about the hallways? The students talk in a voice level that my grandma could hear, and they don't really pay attention to who is standing by. Plus I do have pretty good hearing even though my wife would disagree, especially on Sundays!
The kids are always in amazement when I know the latest gossip. Who is dating who, who likes who, or what happened over the weekend. I always tell the kids that a little bird tells me so be careful. It drives them nuts, but now that I have Alfred......I have proof.

Maybe if Alfred returns tomorrow we will sing him a song. Check it out!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reality Sets In!

Friday was the first real test for my students, especially the 7th graders. For the last 2 weeks the students have been practicing the expectations that will lead to success in the math classroom. For the eight graders, this is mostly review although I have thrown a few curve balls their way. The 7th graders are a whole different story. Learning what it feels like to work hard and accomplish tasks that challenges them on a social and intellectual level does not happen overnight. Until there are some learning pains (failures) and reflection the students struggle in upper grades where high expectations are not only set and expected but, crucial.

Back to Friday.......The students had their first opportunity to prove what they know. (aka a quiz). The kids didn't do terrible but their scores were not off the charts either. What this quiz did tell the students is this........nothing is given out in my classroom. You earn everything you get, so you better bring your A game. I expect your best each and every day because that is what I am giving you!

P.S. Only a few students were in tears because of their quiz scores!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Metal Mouth, Brace Face, Train tracks, or Zipper Face

Yep, the braces are on and I got a lot of street cred for having them. My GRILLS are the bomb, and I feel like a bomb went off in my mouth. My students enjoyed the fact that I was struggling to talk today, and yes maybe I even drooled a little in front of the class. One student was quick to point out that it sounds like I have a lisp now! I guess I would say lithp!!!!LOL
Flashback......before I was going to be gone I wanted to talk about expectations for my students with the guest teacher. There is nothing I hate more than a bad report from the guest teacher saying that my students were off task and rude. So, they day before I talked to the kids about how they have painted a picture of who they were the past 11 days or so (thats how long we have been in school). I told them that they are kind, respectful, hard working, all about business, prepared, and ready to learn. (of course that was the 100% truth)........I was told this summer that it is ok to lie to your students.
I told them that just because I was not the one in front of them teaching that that should not change. That when I get back the sub should say that this was the best class I have ever had the pleasure to sub for and will come back anytime. (Yeah and monkeys might fly out of my butt)
The report was good from the guest teacher so the front-loading...........and lying......... helped the students stay on task and be respectful to the person willing to sub not only in a middle school classroom, but a middle school MATH classroom.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Teaching Theme Song

Just a really short post today, and probably no post tomorrow. I will be getting braces on in the morning and am not sure if I will be feeling up to typing. I am sure I will have something to chat about on Friday since it will be the first guest teacher this year. Oh and the fact that I have braces!

As for the theme song.......I was heading to school this morning and I changed my radio to the 90's channel, cause that is how I roll and the song Tubthumping was playing and the chorus of the song is the perfect song that explains educating middle school kids.

P.S. Teaching has nothing to do with going out and drinking the night away, although there are times where that sounds pretty darn AWESOME!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Licking my wounds!

As I returned to school today, I was greeted with students ready to rub it in that the Denver Broncos lost. The kids know how much of a fan I am or should I say obsessed. My wife would agree with the second part of that statement. Anyway I was always told that there is no stupid question and if you have a question you need to ask. Well, because I am so Obsessed I believe asking me if I watched the Denver Bronco football game is a Stupid question. Of course I did, what else would I be doing? Grading papers? As a matter of fact I did grade some student work during this game.
All the students enjoyed taking their shots at me today! I just smile and take what I probably deserve!

Dear Denver Broncos,

Please win so I don't have to deal with more anguish from my students!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Start Me Up

Weekends go by faster than a NASCAR race. Getting back into the swing of things is often difficult on a Monday morning, especially if you are in math class. Nothing like a little Rolling Stones action to get the kids up and moving. Once the kids got going a lot got accomplished. Everything from Greatest Common Factors to Laws of Exponents were discussed.

I was able to point out to one of the main differences between 7th grade girls and 7th grade boys today. I asked the kids to write down the names of two celebrities that they have a crush on. The girls giggled and the boys didn't understand. (THE DIFFERENCE) So, I demonstrated; I picked Sara Evans and Sandra Bullock. The girls giggled and the boys didn't understand. I wrote down the characteristics I admired about each lady. I then underlined the common characteristics. The kids got to work, but I was asked about 100 times if my wife knew about these crushes. (I told them no and to keep it a secret)........ Its not like I am heading out on a date with either one anytime soon.
The girls were gitty with excitement because they got to talk about Justin Bieber and the boys well they didn't understand.

Now, One might ask what the heck does a crush have to do with greatest common factors? It got the kids to list and underline the characteristics that were common in both crushes. That is the first step in finding the GCF.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Cheers!!! Here's to the Weekend!

Week 2 : COMPLETE - the good news is that I still love my job and do not want to strangle any students YET!

Next week will be the first full week back to school, so we will see if my body will handle it?? As for now I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend with the fam and SUNDAY football on the couch. Go Broncos!!!

In the mean time check this out, Quick Response Codes in the Classroom I would like to try this in the near future!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Smells Like Strawberries

The hallways of a middle school can be a great place to obtain insight into the lives of these fantasizing creatures called adolescents, aka students with attitudes. The 3 minute passing time between classes, and lunch recess provide some much needed humor throughout the day. Everything from the latest crushes, to what are the plans for the weekend are being discussed. Not being discussed like adults, but being discussed like creatures high on a hormone injection!

I have the luxury of having a classroom right next to the girls bathroom. I hear a lot of giggling, cans of hair spray being dispersed, and of course the smell of perfume in the air. It is amazing to watch the transformation that can happen in between classes. With all that being said, today I had impeccable timing. As I was leaving to head to lunch, I walked out into the hallway at the exact time two 8th grade girls were leaving the bathroom. One girl said to the other "That smells like strawberries". I couldn't resists and pointed out that, that was not the best sentence to be spoken given the location. The girls' face turned as red as a strawberry, and yelled "oh gross Mr. D"' then giggled their way to lunch.
Now I dont know another profession where I can make comments that only middle school students understand. The more gross the better. I believe the saying is if you can beat them join them. Gotta love middle school.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Double Dice To the Rescue!

Man it was a hot one today! I knew it was going to be a great day because I got to unveil my new hot, pink, polo and believe me when I say hot pink I mean the hottest, pinkest, of hot pink! (I kinda felt like singing "If You Think I'm Sexy" by Right Said Fred)... Lets just say I took a small risk by wearing this shirt down a middle school hallway.

If a math teacher is gonna have and use manipulatives in the classroom.......wait let me back up. A great math teacher will have manipulatives coming out of you know what!!!! They are an important part of the learning process and need to be available at the drop of a hat. With that being said, Double Dice are a must have. I used them today when reviewing exponents. The inner dice represented the Base and the outer represented the Exponent. Students rolled the dice and evaluated the problem. This got the kids moving and all were engaged in a math lesson, which is AWESOME. Tomorrow, I will have the kids pair up against each other and Duel. One roll of the dice and the first student to answer correctly will win. The other student must die a honorable death with as many sound effects as possible. There will be a prize for the winner of Dueling exponents and a prize for the most over the top death. This should look and sound interesting, my luck the principal will walk in at the exact time a student croaks! Just another day at the office!

Now that I think about it, I got many compliments on my shirt today and even a you look cute from the wife at home! Pink may be my new color? NOT!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Deer in the Headlight Look and a Receding Hairline!

After a refreshing Labor day weekend with my family, I was introduced to two facts as I returned to the grind! The first three days of class were all about how the classroom was going to be operated and what procedures the kids need to know to be successful this year. These are not the funnest days of school, but they are important. In order for the students to learn the class needs to be managed.
Today was the first day the kids really tackled some middle school math concepts. I gave all my students a pretest based on the first unit of study. The pencils were sharp, and the students were sitting up in their desks ready to show what they know. The tests went out and in a matter of minutes their eyes went from full of excitement (OK maybe not excitement, but a teacher can dream right), to the blank stares that can only be described by what a deer looks like when it is about to be pummeled by a speeding vehicle. Now keep in mind I like to see the students struggle a bit because it gives me a chance to work my magic, but today I just plain felt sorry for them. I can see them freaking out about if this test will be graded. I always say yes first, then explain that it will not have an effect on their overall grade. (Try this....the kids will freak out even more).
As the students left my class I assured them that they will fail in math class and that it is OK. It is what we do after failure that counts.

Now what the heck does this have to do with a receding hairline? Nothing really I just know that my head got a little sun burned at the Rodeo this weekend and realized that my hair line is a little further back than it has been.

Is that because of age or my profession?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Friday! So glad to have survived the first 3 days of school. I can't say I have made it a full week yet, but it has been a great first few days. All of my energy has not gone into teaching math concepts, or assigning homework. It has all been about building the relationships and making deposits into my students lives. CHA CHING!!!!!! If I make enough deposits I will be able to make withdraws from them at the most important times! Teaching in a small school I have the advantage to teaching other staff members children. At first this scared the CRAP out of me.....but it is so rewarding when the staff members let you know how excited and pump up about math their kids are! Puts a smile on my face and makes me puff out my chest a little!

I will continue to build this relationships with my students because that is where a good education starts. Just call me Mr. D the Builder!

PS I may need a theme song!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Role Model

I am a role model.
I am a role model.
I am a role model.
I am a role model.

What a huge responsibility. It is amazing the power a teacher can have over his or her students. One comment or action can change the thoughts or feelings of my students. It is with this power that I will be the role model every student deserves. I am not a mega athlete, and I am not a celebrity. I am a person that cares, that will be there, and that will set the right example for my students!

I am a role model!
I am a role model!
I am a role model!
I am a role model!