This is what Theoni Pappas writes on page 108 of her Magic of Mathematics:
"A perfect square is a number which can be written as a whole number times itself. For example, 36 is 6 * 6 and 49 is 7 * 7."
This post fulfills my monthly posting requirement for Tina Cardone's "Day in the Life" project. My monthly posting day is the 18th. At my old charter school, today is the day that the students return to school after spring break. But at the district to which I returned to sub, this week is spring break. The day-count in the title of this post refers to my old school calendar, but I'm actually on spring break.
So this counts as yet another post on a non-school day. As usual, it's time for reflection questions. (I am surprised that Cardone didn't count "day before spring break" or "day after spring break" as special posting days.)
1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?
The first day in my return to subbing was in a middle school classroom. I covered three sections of seventh grade math and two sections of eighth grade math. (I actually posted the worksheets from that day in my April 3rd post.) The eighth grade worksheets were on one of my favorite geometry topics -- translation, rotation, and reflection. But in this post, my focus is on classroom management.
I didn't have problems with the seventh graders -- these were technically honors seventh grade classes, so naturally they were the better-behaved students. Some of the eighth graders, though, wanted to talk loudly that day. I tried my best not to yell at the students, since the first thing I want to eliminate is my yelling.
2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?
There was another day when I subbed in another eighth grade math class. The school was on a block schedule because state testing has already started there. (The testing won't start at my old school until next month!) As it turns out, that day's test just happened to be -- the new 8th grade science test!
As much as classroom management was a problem for me, another challenge was science. I'd been asked to teach science at my old school, but I struggled because I didn't know what science I was supposed to teach. I knew that I had to prepare my eighth graders for the California Science Test, but I didn't know what would be on the test. So when I subbed for a group of eighth graders who had just finished taking the test, I couldn't resist asking them what topics were tested.
The overwhelming response was "the rock cycle." I knew that this was a sixth grade topic from the old California standards (and indeed the students remember it from sixth grade) and a seventh grade topic on the new Next Generation Science Standards. The fact that this wasn't an eighth grade topic by any stretch implied that the new test covered all three years of middle school science, unlike the old test that covered only eighth grade science.
After school that day, I sent an email to my successor at my old school. For most of the year, she'd been teaching a combo K-1 class, but she actually used to teach middle school math in another state several years ago, so she was qualified to take my old position. In my email, I told her about how the rock cycle would be on the state science test. Ironically, I did more to prepare my old eighth graders for the test by sending that email than anything I did while I was still at the school!
3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.
The following day, I subbed in a high school P.E. class. All the P.E. classes met outside, and so I spoke with some of the regular P.E. teachers about my predicament. One teacher was confident that I'd be able to land a new teaching position in math. He told me that even in P.E., "classroom" management is important. It's necessary to watch the students and stop them whenever any of them begin to misbehave.
I also met a student teacher who was preparing to video a lesson for her credential program. It reminded me of my own days as a student teacher, and I told her this -- but I couldn't help her choose a good lesson to video, since this was P.E. after all. Nowadays student teachers can use the cameras on their phones, but I had to use an actual camcorder (and this was just a few years ago)!
4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What have you been doing to work toward your goal? How do you feel you are doing?
On the last day before spring break, I covered an art class. I ended up playing two movies for the class, Coraline and Big Fish, so there wasn't much opportunity to practice classroom management.
But spring break itself is an opportunity to read about classroom management. The instructional aide at my old school recommended that I read Lee Canter's books, and a few weeks ago, I found one of his books at the library book sale for a quarter. So I can read Canter during the break.
5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?
Here is the worksheet on tangents to circles, with a review question on square roots: