Hello, reader! If you intend to post a link to this blog on Twitter, be aware that for utterly mysterious reasons, Twitter thinks this blog is spam, and will prevent you from linking to it. Here's a workaround: change the .com in the address to .ca. I call it the "Maple Leaf Loophole." And thanks for sharing!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Geometry: Wrapping up similar triangles including proofs, finding missing proportional sides, and the mean proportional. I finally gave up on an investigation I wanted to like so much I tried it for three years that I called Hands on the Mean Proportional. They would cut out two congruent right triangles, and then slice one at the altitude to make three similar right triangles, and then use the cut out shapes to investigate which segments were geometric means. The whole thing was just too confusing. This year I modified a more straightforward investigation originally created by a colleague here at school. It worked nicely. On the second day, we solved some by setting up a table of the three triangles and three sides to see which would make a proportion we could solve.

Alg2/Trig: Finishing up statistics, which is basically standard deviation and the normal distribution. A new thing this year was I had students submit three survey questions they wanted all their classmates to answer. These had to go through a few revisions to remove ambiguity (for example, "How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?" turned into "How many minutes from when you wake up until you leave the house?"), and so that we would get numerical answers (for example "Do you use drugs?" turned into "What drugs have you tried?" turned into "How much money do you spend per month on drugs that are illegal for you to possess?") I whittled the questions down to the dozen or so most common ones, and all the students responded. I put each survey into its own Spreadsheet page on the Nspire, and sent the document out to all the kids' handhelds. Boom! I still did the remaining lessons with the required coverage as planned, but instead of made-up who-cares examples, we had all this interesting data to explore. We were able to grasp the meaning of sources of bias, standard deviation, histograms and box plots, and distribution functions in context. I think it really helped the cherubs assign meaning to the concepts.

I know you are all dying to know how my work visa process is going. I mean, it's half of what I think about, so it must be important to everyone else too, right? Well, update: I no longer feel like a rat in an unsolvable maze. Now, I feel like Zeno. Every time I think I am one step away from having all the paperwork in order, I find out there are two intermediate steps that have to happen first. There's not a government official with a stamp at the town, county, or state level that I have not met in person. They are nice people, if a bit harried. Tip: the Onondaga County Clerks like donuts, but the Manlius Police prefer peanut butter cups. The New York State Department of State (yes, that's a real thing) are all on low-carb diets. The Syracuse Police do not like anything.

In other moving news, my new school sent a list of things I should think about bringing or else live without being able to buy for the next year. (I'll save you lots of reading: clothes, shoes, OTC medicine,  skin and hair care products, and peanut butter.) That threw me into a stress tailspin from which my pancreas has not yet recovered. I never thought I would be ordering luggage in bulk, but that seems to be the next step.