Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Whiteboard Review and Test #3 (Days 38-39)

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. the other day that Los Angeles schools, including my own charter school, is closed. Notice that this closure has nothing to do with Columbus Day. As we've seen in past years on the blog, some California schools completely close for Columbus Day, while others have a Professional Development Day for teachers.

Even though my school doesn't call it Columbus Day, my school does refer to the day off as "Indigenous Peoples Day." When I was looking up the Kevin Cormier article on Huffington Post last week, I found another article about the origin of the name "Indigenous Peoples Day":


As it turns out, the author of this article is another high school teacher -- Bill Bigelow. He writes about an activity that he does in his history classes:

I taught high school social studies for almost 30 years. One of my first activities in my high school U.S. history classes was to steal a student’s purse. Yes, I wanted to capture students’ attention at the beginning of the school year, but I also wanted them to think about whose lives are valued—and whose aren’t—in the traditional curriculum.

Bigelow explains that many schools and colleges have chosen to observe Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day -- and that list includes my own charter school. My home state of California doesn't recognize Indigenous Peoples Day, but two states do: South Dakota and Vermont.

I've mentioned before on the blog that Columbus Day is on the second Monday in October because October 12th is the day that the explorer landed in the New World -- not because of his birthday. It's just a coincidence that October 12th this year is Yom Kippur, allowing my school to recognize it as Indigenous Peoples Day.

Next year, Rosh Hashanah is on Thursday, September 21st, 2017, and Yom Kippur is a week later on Saturday, September 30th. When either High Holiday falls on a Sabbath, the district does not take an extra day off (as it does for Veteran's Day, also on a Saturday in 2017). So I'm not sure whether there will even be any Indigenous People Day holiday on the 2017-18 calendar.

Today's lesson is a whiteboard review for Thursday's test, which is on exponents. I continue to have my students write down which law of exponents they are using to simplify each expression.

Here is today's song, which refers to the 6th-7th grade lesson as well:


Take a ratio table,
Fill it in if you're able.
Take a ratio graph,
Count it up, just for laughs.
Remember everyday,
How to find the constant k.
Hurry now, don't wait,
Divide to find the rate.

Please don't be sad,
To multiply powers, just add.
And it is a fact,
To divide powers, just subtract.
Zero powers are fun,
'Cause the answer's always one.
Don't be negative, don't frown,
To get rid of them, move down.

The "Day in the Life" blogger for the 11th of the month is Bernadette Scheetz. I couldn't find her home state quickly from her blog, but I do know that she's a fellow middle school teacher!


Here's a link to her October 11th post:


No, Scheetz isn't teaching her students about exponents, but one of her lessons sounds familiar:

9:13 am - 3rd period. My honors kids come back, and work on practicing the skill of changing decimals to fractions. This time I throw some terminating decimals in there just to make sure they are attending to precision (Math Practice #6). With 10 minutes left to the period, we talk about the answers, and challenging questions. Homework is passed out/discussed.

Here "Math Practice #6" refers to the Common Core Standards. As we've seen before, the Math Practices are controversial among some Core opponents.

Scheetz writes that her 7th graders are supposed to be learning about adding and subtracting integers, but it ended up turning into fraction practice. Recall that the standards refer to operations on rational numbers, not integers. She writes:

My students have shown a lack of fraction concept understanding. At the 7th grade level, they should be fluently doing all operations with fractions so that when it comes time to have positive and negative fractions, they can build on previous understandings.  However, that's not always the case.

More accurately, she should write "However, that's almost never the case." We already know that hardly any student is actually fluent with fractions.

This is a two-day post, and with Yom Kippur tomorrow, the second day of this post isn't until Thursday, which is the day of the test. Therefore my next post will be on Friday.

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