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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week 2 Odds and Ends

I don't have any dramatically awesome lessons to share or anything. I'm kind of reusing old stuff with tweaks, for the most part. I am feeling like a new professional challenge is in my near future. Because in class I'm kind of like: plan the lesson, teach the lesson, assess the lesson…and feeling like I have this shit on lockdown. Not to sound like an arrogant jerkface, but it's year eight and I'm sort of on top of it. Not that there aren't challenges, but I am ready for a new challenge. Seriously the challenges are like: this one kid doesn't try that hard, and so I have a talk with him, and then he shapes up. It's not that I don't love what I'm doing, I'm just temperamentally someone who enjoys a challenge and quickly tires of an insufficient level of difficulty. I am not that interested in administration, so. Either I will keep comfortably doing the same thing, or I will do otherwise. (Monumentally large disclaimer: I teach privileged kids who are very easy to teach in a school that makes my life very pleasant.)

Living overseas is pretty great and the bad parts are not all that bad. I mean honestly the worst of it is, you can't buy all the things you are used to buying, because you live in a third world economy. (Which, you know, get over it, princess. No one is going to die because they can't have a bagel.) It makes you notice how utterly, just, convenient every aspect of life is in the US. For example, you can't be like "I need clean underwear in two hours." It's more like, "I will need clean underwear on Tuesday." And, there are lots of things here that are way better. Dairy, wine, beef, pork, salads which turn out to be some shredded lettuce covered in beef, ham, and cheese, cafes with free wifi that will let you order a coffee and sit there for four hours. I did have a minor crisis in a large hardware store this morning over the lack of availability of telescoping curtain rods. They had 3 meters which were the exact width of the wall I was working with, or shorter ones which were far too short. I bought the 3m ones and am going to make it work. Somehow. I even got used already to using a 2-hole punch/binders instead of 3-hole punch/binders. I mean sure the 2-hole binder situation is floppier, but the 2-hole punch is like KAH-CHUNK-KAH-AH vs the 3-hole punch which makes complete holes through all the pages only when it is in the mood.

It will take me a while to get used to being on the block. I saw my A block last Tuesday, and due to my having to go in person to the bank Thursday morning for complicated Argentine banking reasons, and a holiday on Monday (dear Blessed Virgin: thank you for all the school holidays) I won't see them again until…Tuesday. I'm going to be like, "Hi, my name is Miss Nowak…" 

I did have some fun things happen in class that are probably worth talking about. Last Friday, all the freshmen went to freshmen orientation, leaving me with half-a-geometry classes for two blocks. So, I showed Flatland. I'd prefer to show it to everyone, but you know beggars choosers, and if I'm going to lose instructional time I'd rather spend it on something interesting and cool. This version is very, very well done, and I can attest that it holds the attention of teenagers the world over. At least in the Western hemisphere. It leaves them with the lingering question "what about the fourth dimension?" which is fun to seize upon. In periods, you barely have time to show the movie and that's it. But in blocks, you show the movie and then you still have 45 minutes to kill. So, best bet, start making you a table of vertices, edges, faces, cubes, etc in 0, 1, 2, 3, etc dimensions, and set them to looking for patterns, and wondering whether a fourth dimension exists and what we can infer about it. The verbiage about how you can see a 2D shadow of a 3D object, therefore if there is a fourth dimension we could see a 3D shadow of a 4D object, is very useful. They will have GREAT fun with this, and you will mostly have fun watching them.


  1. This post makes me look forward, really look forward, to year 8. Keep up the good work.

  2. "Not to sound like an arrogant jerkface, but it's year eight and I'm sort of on top of it. Not that there aren't challenges, but I am ready for a new challenge."

    This is the thing that scares me about sticking around the classroom. Not that I'm anywhere close to that yet. I hope you'll post when you figure out what's next.

  3. Had a conversation with my students last year about whether we deserve the weekend. As in, did we work hard enough, do we really need a break or has the concept of happiness been completely supplanted by the concept of convenience.

    Not going to lie, I'm a little jealous of your time in Argentina.

    Fun dimensions assessment, have them read about string theory (quacks and scientists) and see if they can talk about it without using the quacks' language.

  4. A student showed me a neat I-Pad app that shows the 4th dimension by using the shadows. I forget the name, but it was worth the time.

  5. Hi Kate...

    I'm not sure what the environment is like at your school, but have you considered creating a project or problem-based unit to use with the class? Not like a "let's make tessellations" or "we're going to make an icosahedron" type project, but a project/problem that solves a really big question. A project where students create mathematics to try to make sense of the question. Maybe you've tried this already?


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