Lesson 0.2 of Michael Serra's

*Discovering Geometry*is called "Line Designs." In this lesson, students learn to draw amazing designs with nothing but straight lines. Serra writes:

"The symmetry and the proportions in geometric designs make them very appealing. Geometric designs are easy to make when you have the tools of geometry."

Serra explains to the students that there are many tools used in geometry -- including the compass, straightedge, ruler, and protractor. As a second day of school assignment, this is a great time to tell students to purchase these tools for use in this class.

Today's assignment officially requires only a ruler. Technically, the compass or protractor could be used to ensure that the angles are right angles, but I expect the students to have access only to rulers for this assignment.

The first question directs students to re-create two designs using only lines. Notice that the first one can also be completed using graph paper. The last two can be drawn on isometric graph paper if it is turned sideways. (Yes, I still recall the problems my class had with isometric graph paper.) One of these is Sierpinski's Triangle, a famous fractal.

Serra also writes about several famous architects -- Ustad Ahmad Lahori, the designer of the Taj Mahal (and a mathematician!), as well as Frank Lloyd Wright. I include the project based on architecture on today's worksheet.

Meanwhile, I skipped Serra's question on the symmetries of the benzene molecule. Of course, this question would be related to yesterday's and today's Pappas pages.

Here is the Blaugust prompt for today:

How I used something unexpected in my classroom to…

In a way, today's lesson fits this prompt. The unexpected object is a ruler, and it is used to make some amazing designs as part of an opening week project.

But in my second day of school post last year, I wrote about another unexpected resource -- a UCLA college student -- whom I'd been able to use the previous year at the charter middle school:

Cell biology, of course, counts as life science. Therefore, if I had taught science the way I was supposed to, this topic would have been covered in my seventh grade class. Instead, I attempted to teach it to my eighth graders under the NGSS standards.

I've admitted before that life science isn't my strong suit. And so I tried to use my Bruin Corps student, a molecular biology major from UCLA, to explain the details of this topic. In reality, I should have come up with a stronger science program from the

*start of the year*-- well before the arrival of my Bruin Corps student -- and then had him

*supplement*that curriculum, rather than try to have him

*be*the curriculum.

Of course, I couldn't make the students enthusiastic about science if

*I*am not enthusiastic about it. To increase my interest in life science, let's try to tie it to my best subject, math -- enter the mathematical concepts of patterns, sequences, relations, one-to-one correspondence, all playing a role in unraveling the codes and mysteries of the living cell.

Again, this purpose of this is to engage

*myself*with the lesson by tying it to my stronger subjects. But the next step is to engage the

*students*with the material.

In 1994, the first

*Jurassic Park*film had just been released. Since then, it has expanded into a full franchise, with

*Jurassic World*having been released two years ago and the fifth movie,

*Fallen Kingdom*, which was released around the start of this summer. So surely it wouldn't have been that difficult to tie the movies to the science lesson. "Have any of you watched the newest

*Jurassic Park*movie? Do you know how the scientists in the movie brought the dinosaurs back to life? It's called genetic engineering...." This might have sparked an interest in learning the science and convince the students to let me teach them even though I wasn't a true science teacher.

I owed it to my students to teach them life science -- after all, I'd never know how many future doctors I had in my classes. One seventh grade girl once told me that she wanted to become a veterinarian when she grew up. Obviously, vets need to be familiar with life science -- and this includes genetic engineering (what is dog breeding after all).

Today we mourn the passing of a famous singer -- Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. (It's also the 60th birthday of another famous singer -- Madonna. Originally, a local radio station was planning on devoting today to the Material Girl on her birthday, but instead she and Aretha are sharing the spotlight on the radio.)

It's perhaps only fitting that Aretha would leave us around the first day of school. After all, her most famous song is probably "Respect," and that's a word that is commonly heard in classrooms during the first week of school, when teachers are telling their students the rules. Two years ago, I posted some proposed classroom rules in preparing for my first year of teaching, and naturally many of these rules began with the word "Respect."

One of these proposed rules was terrible -- "Respect order." What in the world does it mean to "respect order" anyway? To me, a classroom with "order" is one in which the students choose to sit down, do their work, and behave. In short, the teacher is in charge of the class. Therefore, the rule "respect order" really means

*respect the teacher*-- and that's how I should have stated the rule.

By the time school actually started, I never actually stated "respect order" as a rule -- but neither did I ever state "respect the teacher." But the idea that "respect order" was a rule pervaded my thinking -- and today I believe that this negatively affected my classroom management. In the end, "respect order" isn't as strong as "respect the teacher."

For example, one girl -- our future vet -- regularly questioned my authority. She often asked why she had to sit down in her assigned seat and why I couldn't give her a calculator to answer her basic arithmetic problems. My answer was something like, "because it preserves order in class" -- that is, because the class would run more smoothly if the students weren't running around the room or doing whatever they wanted. This only led to arguments -- basically, she insisted that order could be maintained even if I let her sit anywhere she wanted and gave her a calculator.

What I should have told her was "Because I said so." After all, students who act orderly in class don't do so because they "respect order" -- they do so because they respect

*the teacher.*And so "respect the teacher" should have been my rule, and "Because I said so" my most commonly response to a student who questions the teacher's -- my -- authority.

Since I left this school, I continually think about how I would be running this class if I had stayed on at the school. This would have been the start of my third year at the charter -- the first day was Tuesday (as it was in the rest of LAUSD). So today is the third day of school there. Just as I did two years ago, I would plan on discussing the classroom rules on the third day.

On the way to school, I would have heard about Aretha's passing. And so during music today, I would write a new song -- a parody of her song "Respect," both to honor the Queen of Soul and to introduce the rules to my new classes.

Here are the lyrics to such a parody:

Respect THE TEACHER

(A parody of "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, RIP 1942-2018)

What you want

CLASS, I got it

What you need

Do you know I got it

All I'm askin'

Is for a little respect when you get TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

Hey CLASS (just a little bit) when you get TO SCHOOL

(Just a little bit) STUDENTS (just a little bit)

I ain't gonna do you wrong while you're gone

Ain't gonna do you wrong cause I don't wanna

All I'm askin'

Is for a little respect when you come TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

CLASS (just a little bit) when you get TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

Yeah (just a little bit)

CLASS, I got it

What you need

Do you know I got it

All I'm askin'

Is for a little respect when you get TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

Hey CLASS (just a little bit) when you get TO SCHOOL

(Just a little bit) STUDENTS (just a little bit)

I ain't gonna do you wrong while you're gone

Ain't gonna do you wrong cause I don't wanna

All I'm askin'

Is for a little respect when you come TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

CLASS (just a little bit) when you get TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

Yeah (just a little bit)

I'm about to give you all of my LESSONS

And all I'm askin' in return, CLASS

Is to give me my propers

When you get TO SCHOOL (just a, just a, just a, just a)

Yeah CLASS (just a, just a, just a, just a)

When you get TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

Yeah (just a little bit)

Ooo, YOU KIDS

Sweeter than honey

And guess what?

So ARE my LESSONS

All I want you to do for me

Is give it to me when you get TO SCHOOL (re, re, re ,re)

Yeah CLASS (re, re, re ,re)

LISTEN to me (respect, just a little bit)

When you get TO SCHOOL, now (just a little bit)

And all I'm askin' in return, CLASS

Is to give me my propers

When you get TO SCHOOL (just a, just a, just a, just a)

Yeah CLASS (just a, just a, just a, just a)

When you get TO SCHOOL (just a little bit)

Yeah (just a little bit)

Ooo, YOU KIDS

Sweeter than honey

And guess what?

So ARE my LESSONS

All I want you to do for me

Is give it to me when you get TO SCHOOL (re, re, re ,re)

Yeah CLASS (re, re, re ,re)

LISTEN to me (respect, just a little bit)

When you get TO SCHOOL, now (just a little bit)

In this parody, the capital letters represent the changes from Aretha's original song. The main changes are "baby" to "CLASS" and "home" to "SCHOOL." Oh, and of course, students should "LISTEN" to me (the teacher), not "sock it" to me. The third-to-last line is "YOU'RE IN TROUBLE" to show what will happen if you don't respect the teacher. I wanted to preserve the rhyme "honey" and "money," but I couldn't think of any rhyming words that fit the song (and besides, the rest of the song doesn't rhyme, so why should these), so instead I changed "money" to "LESSONS." Meanwhile, I preserved "TCB," meaning "taking care of business," since that's indeed what needs to happen in class.

Here is a YouTube video -- with the original lyrics, of course:

Throughout this month I will link to real Blaugust participants. Here is Jessica (last name not given), a Chicago middle school teacher:

https://algebrainiac.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/posters-2018/

Jessica definitely demands respect in her classroom. In this post, she mentions a poster containing one of her most important procedures:

"Borrow a calculator, leave a shoe. It's the law."

And I can easily see her seventh graders complaining, "Why do I have to take off my shoe?" or even "I don't want to take off my shoe!" Of course, the reason is to maintain order in the classroom -- and a classroom without calculators isn't ordered. But if Jessica were to say this to a seventh grader, the student would insist that order could be maintained by giving her a calculator without taking a shoe -- just as my own seventh grader, the future vet, replied to me two years ago.

Of course, Jessica would never say that. Her real response to "Why do I have to take off my shoe?" is probably "Because I said so." Her system isn't perfect -- she writes that last year, she lost four calculators from her room. But that's much better than my class that year. Like hers, my class was short a few calculators, so one day I purchased several new calculators. All of the new calculators had disappeared the very first day. Fortunately, the calculators had come from the 99-cent store, so it wasn't as if I'd lost much money. The only thing I'd really lost was the respect of the future vet, the other seventh graders, and the rest of my students.

Aretha said it best -- "All I'm asking is for a little respect." And that's what I'll need from my students if I want to be a better teacher.

Here are the worksheets for today: