Today we had our extended class periods; we arrange the schedule this week so that I get to see my 1 hour classes for 2 hours on one day during the week. We do this mostly to allow AP teachers time to give practice tests, but I usually use them for a lab or project day.
Today we worked on our CodeHS capstone problems: two tasks that showcase student learning from the past 3.5 weeks of learning Python. A few photos from today:
Today was just a run-of-the-mill day in my classroom. Absolutely nothing spectacular happened, just the usual day to day learning.
What made today awesome is I felt like hell this morning. I almost called in sick. I. Did. Not. Want. To. Be. “On.” Today. When I’m feeling sick being extroverted is painful. I didn’t want to put on my usual bubbly/happy math teacher persona today. I wanted to be in a blanket burrito on the sofa and not talk to another human until 5pm when the hubs would get home with Z.
But I went to school anyways. I knew the allergy crud would subside after the Benadryl kicked in (I take seasonal meds at night but the pollen gods hate me so I have to double up) and then I’d begad I went in. After the allergy meds and coffee were coursing through my veins I wasn’t as bubbly as usual, but I was excited to see their coding process. I was happy to watch them push through some tough coding problems. The kids were so awesome today! I’m so glad I pushed through.
Today’s highlights: 4 of them committed to colleges/companies for next year and told me so I can print out their school’s logo and add to the back wall. Another student came in with a cool Tracy code to solve a problem in a way I hadn’t thought of. And my geometry students are showing their creativity skills by coming up with really cool mediums for their coordinate geometry proofs project.
So in summary:
Somedays I don’t have the energy to be a teacher, thankfully some days the kiddos sense that and give me some of their energy to keep going. For this I’m eternally grateful.
As I sit here being a pillow for my 3 year old about to drift off to the sounds of her rhythmic congested breathing (I think allergies have her down) I realized I never posted from today.
Geometry did a card sort for coordinate proofs of quadrilaterals to help scaffold the level of detail we strive for. I think the visuals helped them connect the need for showing the math and summarizing your findings in words in an organized fashion.
They then had a chance tot ru their own proof and well look at them tomorrow.
As you can see some groups were more detailed than others. So a critique tomorrow will help us all find a middle ground.
Hen in AFM a student absolutes my mind when she came up with a MUCH more elegant solution for a Tracy challenge than I did.
She wrote a loop that drew a triangle with 3 colored sixes. I wrote a code for the red line, a loop for the green, and a loop for the blue 😬🙄🤦♀️.
I legit jumped with glee when I walked behind her desk and caught the code running! I am so loving that the students are out-shining me with elegant codes ❤️
So in coding today a kid call me over and said “what the heck Tracy?!” And showed me this:
He wanted help fixing the leaning tower of Tracy and I looked for approximately 4 minutes and could. Not. Find. The. Error.
Now, I think I was suffering from coding fatigue as this was near the end of my last class of the day, but I just wasn’t seeing it. So I took a picture and took the screen shot to a student who’s blowing through this course (he’s a coding nerd ❤️) and asked him to take a look.
30 seconds in her goes, “that 85 is the problem” :
And I was all “welp, I’ll be damned. True story.”
So todays What-I-Love-Most-About-Coding is:
I routinely don’t know the answer, or the most elegant way to do/fix something. I LOVE not knowing all the answers.
Case a point, here a student did a task a TOTALLY different way than I did. And I’m 100% certain their method is more elegant than the way I did it ❤️
A sigh from across the classroom followed by something that almost resembled a chuckle and then the phrase:
I’M SO MAD AT THIS LITTLE COCKROACH AND HOW I HAVE TO TELL HER EVERYTHING!
The classroom giggles.
A burst of laughter from the other side of the classroom:
BAHAHAHA! I was laughing at this damn turtle she’s spazzing out because [of the code I wrote].
This is apparently life in a coding classroom, or at least our lives in my 2:35 AFM class when we are coding. I am loving that my students are, for the first time all year, talking out loud as they process their task and listening to each other. I saw more than a handful of students stop what they were doing to help a peer with a frustration.
So what I wonder is: Are they collaborating more because we’re coding (and presumably the playing field has been leveled by a new skill for all) or are they talking more because we’re 2/3 the way through the year and the weather looks nice outside so we’re all happier people?
(Full disclosure, my morning class is still very much the quieter of the two groups and doesn’t give me nearly as many funny quotes while they are working.)
Okay. Real talk:
I was so freaking nervous about adding coding to my curriculum. I’m a math teacher. I was a math major, so sure, I learned some MatLab back in the day to do some pretty stellar matrix things, but nothing like Python.
I was scared the kids would know I had no idea what I was doing. And I’d never taught a course with an online curriculum before so I had no idea how to lace kids or help kids along the way. So I guessed.
The first plan was to do this like a flipped classroom:
- They watch videos at night
- We do exercises in class
But that didn’t work for 2 reasons:
- Some didn’t watch the videos
- Other can blow through 2-3 lessons in an hour.
So new plan today:
- You go at your speed following the cycle: video, quiz, in class activity, online exercise then repeat.
After only one day with this new plan I’m happy.
There are 4 kids who are overly joyed with coding and needing out so hard their HW for the weekend was to not code because I think the free plan for this platform only gives them 20 lessons and I need this to be at least a 2.5 week unit.
Also, even my most mathematically reluctant student seems to be enjoying this. Thanks Tracy the Turtle.
Today was a wonderful day, not just because it was my first “normal” day since the return from Spring Break (one without meetings or 1/2 days or a sick kid). In geometry we had an absolute BLAST playing around with Poorly Drawn Quads (found here) in geometry. An amazing conversation happened around this shape:
We were given the information in the diagram, and based off the one set of parallel lines the entire class’s first thought was a trapezoid. Most even went so far as to move on to the next problem, but then I started to hear some push back on the congruent angles. The class was divided. Half believed with all their soul it was a parallelogram, half was still team trapezoid. Neither side was making an argument that swayed their peers so we turned to Desmos.
We constructed a trapezoid:
And played with it until we convinced ourselves the only way to get opposite angles congruent is if we had a parallelogram. Since I wrote that in a sentence you may think it was an easy convince, but it took about 8 minutes to get 99% of team trapezoid to switch quadrilaterals and I think one student is still thinking on it, but I told them we’d check in tomorrow to see if she has a rebuttal.
Here’s the “proof”:
Then in AFM we did the first real day of CodeHS’s Intro to Python course and I can tell the kids are having a blast. My initial thought was to have kids stay on pace with me, but after one day I can tell that is going to be impossible (yay!) because most of them are letting their inner nerd shine and I love it so very much!
Thanks Tracy the Turtle!
The last problem in the AFM modeling unit is another Project Management style Problem; I call those any task that’s mathematical rigor isn’t necessarily on grade level but the quantity of decisions is WAY higher than in a normal task. So for this one students were given $30,000 hypothetical dollars to build a custom tiny home or a full stocked food truck. The details they have to keep track of are staggering, but they’re doing a great job. And I’m getting a kick out of using the random food service and tiny home knowledge I have acquired in my life.
Also it’s REALLY fun watching students count out floor tiles (1 sq ft) and lay down to see if that’s enough room for a bed. Or pretend to shower and look around and determine the necessary elbow clearance.
And students get creative with laptop usage for food truck drawing
The last two Mays my dean has invited presenters from Olin College of Engineering to our campus to lead us in what is one of my favorite Professional Developments. I love the Olin presenters for three reasons:
- They make the COOLEST handouts for brainstorming on these HUGE pieces of paper
- They encourage the use of post-it notes for draft thinking bc you’re more likely to write it down and “see” if you know it can be un-sticker and moved around
- They encourage thoughtful reflection on your teaching practices by routinely having you ask “yeah, but what if…” questions.
One of the tasks they had us look at was defining sustainable and then brainstorming a plan of action to make America more sustainable. My group thought of renewable energy- namely solar panels. We wanted to see if we could replace the US’s fissile fuel powered energy use with Solar Panels. After a quick google search, some number crunching, and double checking we discovered: nope. Solar’s not gonna cut it.
But to me what was delightful was my utter shock at our findings. Like. I know how hard it is to think about big numbers on a grand scale. But even my best Estimation180 skills had me thinking solar was possible…until I realized it wasn’t.
I knew I wanted to replicate that task with my students this year, as one of my focuses for AFM is project management kind of tasks-organization and delegation of minutiae tasks to result in a big product. So I challenged students to find me a renewable energy source that could replace the US’s dependence on Fossil Fuels.
We’re on day 3 of research, with most groups moving to writing their proposal. Here’s my favorite title slide at the moment:
They’re researching hydroelectric energy ❤️