My Dilemma

I just gave a test in my advanced geometry class. I’m not feeling the advanced part of that right now.

Half of the class aced the test. The test was over trigonometry, you know, SohCahToa. Guess what the other half got on the test…

F’s. There wasn’t even that much in between. And it was half and half. Well 60% good 40% bad.

What do I do? 2 of the F’s were below 10%. Do I stop moving forward to get that 40% of the class up to par, making those who get it frustrated? Or do I move forward having that 40% come in during my tutoring time and/or before and after school to work on it and then retake the test?

I’ve never had a topic so divided. HELP!!!


Guiding the Way

I used to teach at a high school that had block scheduling. I loved having all of that time during one class period. I didn’t like having the students every other day. I now teach at a high school that has 48 minute class periods. That is 3 minutes more than half of what I was used to.  AHHHHH!!! Talk about the need to change how I teach.

The first thing I noticed was that students take WAY too long to take notes.


Guided notes. Makes more work for me the first year doing it, but saves an amazing amount of time in class. Plus, we don’t have to wait for those really slow writers to catch up.

Here is a couple of examples of my guided notes.

Advanced Geometry 7.4 Notes

I use Cornell notes for my Advanced Geometry classes.

Geometry 6.1 notes

My Geometry classes’ notes are made to cut in half and be taped inside their composition notebook. (I’ll explain this later.)

Pre-Calc 7.1 Notes

For Trig/Pre-Calc I just go through the beginning of the section and use the main things they need to know and examples that will help them do the type of problems they will need to solve.

There are a lot of advantages to using guided notes, but one of the big disadvantages I see and regret that it causes, is that students don’t know how to take proper notes without guidance. How will this help them in college? I’m torn about it.

I teach Sophomores in Geometry and Juniors and Seniors in Trig/Pre-Calc. I make guided notes for ALL of them.

What is your opinion of this?

What do you do when they just don’t care?

Last week I gave finals to my high school students. I was “blessed” this semester to have a couple of students repeat my class. One of which really tried this time. He only had to repeat first semester and passed with a C.

That’s a great math grade for him! Seeing as though he was a senior in Geometry.

The other student was taken out of my class last year before the end of the third quarter. He had a 4% with no chance of passing the semester. He had already failed first semester.

This year he started off turning in homework and getting A’s and B’s on tests. I was super proud of him. Then one day he just stopped trying. He never turned in another assignment, but he barely passed the tests. I tried talking to him and he’d just shrug at me.

Well Friday was his final for the semester. How do you think he did?

HE SLEPT THROUGH THE WHOLE HOUR AND A HALF. When I woke him up 4 times he would just sit there. About 10 minutes until the end of the test I woke him up and just stood there trying to get him to answer one question, any question on his test. He just sat there. The bell rang and he walked out.

If he would have answered 33 out of the 60 questions right on the final he would have passed my class. It was multiple choice for crying out loud. At least fill in some bubbles.

I talked to the principal about it because this semester he is my ONLY F. (I can’t believe I have just 1.) And even the principal is at a loss. He said he has talked to him and the boy just doesn’t care. He doesn’t care if he passes, he doesn’t care if he graduates.

This saddens me greatly. What can I do to help this student? HELP?

Students Teaching Students

Our schedule this week consisted of Monday-Wednesday on the normal schedule and Thursday and Friday on a Finals schedule. For the first three days of the week I didn’t want to worksheet my students to death with review packet after review packet. Though I’d love to do that. How easy for me, right?

Amy Gruen, a fellow math teacher at the high school I teach at, gave me a great idea.

Give them one review packet and then have them start teaching each other.

I probably translated the assignment different than she did, but oh well. I think my activity turned out great. At least I felt that way when students came in the day of the final and said it helped them a lot.

So here is the activity!

I gave them that HUGE dreaded review packet (almost exactly like what their final will look like) on Monday. That day they were to just sit and work the problems they knew how to do and skip the rest. No notes, no help, nothing. At least not until the last part of class when they already completed the ones they could remember how to do.

Tuesday I assigned them 2 problems each from the packet. They were to make sure they mastered those two problems and then make an educreations video explaining each of those problems. I set up a different educreations account for Geometry, Advanced Geometry, and Trig. That also meant that first I had to set up an email for each of those, but hey, google doesn’t seem to mind that I have a ton of those.

educreations student review

They were to post their 2 videos onto that subjects account. That way if another student was at home working on this they could just get on the account and watch the video for that problem and BOOM, they get it, hopefully!

Wednesday some students still needed to finish their videos, so they did that and/or worked on their packet.

Overall, it seemed very productive. Students seemed to enjoy doing it. During class I also saw a student or two watch other student’s videos first instead of coming straight to me for help.

I think this week was easier on me and them, than it would have been if we just did worksheets all day, everyday!

Where do they go?

Every year I face the choices of what battles I will pick to fight with my students. No, I don’t go to blows with them. I like my job. But there are some rules that some teachers enforce that I find, in my classroom, can cause other problems.

I know this, because I’ve tried them. Maybe I’m just not the best enforcer when it comes to certain things.

This year I chose to throw out my rule of no drinking and eating in my class until it becomes a problem. I’m just tired of getting on the students about it. And I want and snack and a drink every now and again, so what is the harm, really?

I am also really tired of getting on students about not having a pencil for class. So last year I decided to use tin cans covered with colored duct tape. My desks were pushed into pairs of 2, so for every pair I put a can = 12 cans. Each can had 2 pencils, 2 red pens, 1 eraser. All of which were duct taped to a plastic eating utensil. I thought, “This will be great! No one will have any excuses for not being ready for class.”

It turned out to be a great failure. By the end of the first semester I had 2 pencils left, 4 pens, 6 erasers and even a can went missing. This all happened with me talking to them everyday about how that stuff is mine, I have it there for them to use, but please return it for the next class.

Needless to say, the next semester they had to bring their own pencil or ask another student for one. I still had some students who refused to ask others. Geesh! I don’t get it.

At the end of the year I asked the shop teacher to make me a holder for around 10 pencils. He made me one and it holds 11. PERFECT!

12-19-13 pencilsNow I’m not battling students who don’t have a pencil, but mysteriously about 8-9 of those pencils go missing by the end of the day. First semester I went through every pencil I ordered through the school. And I thought that would last me a couple of years.

What’s the deal kids? Your high schoolers. Sophomores. Juniors. And Seniors. Be responsible.

Any advise from other teachers out there helping me with my pencil problem? I’m up for trying anything. HELP! SAVE THE PENCILS! and my sanity.


"Math is crazy fun", said the nerdiest teacher ever!