Thursday, April 24, 2008


Actually it is I love this site because it is a way to organize all my favorite sites and allow them to be seen by others. Most importantly, they are all kept online so that I can use them from any computer. This site is perfect for the person who browses the web and finds a sites they like. All they have to do is click on a button (this is a quick install and goes directly into your browser) to TAG your site. This tagging system will give you suggestions of what categories to put your site in. Tagging gives you the ability to access your site through multiple names. For instance you might have a site on factoring. You would might tag this site with these names: algebra trinomials teaching factoring interactive.
There are other sites that do the same thing. I know that also does some of the same things. I started on delicious and like it so I will probably continue with it.
One thing that was a great relief to me was that I can import from my browser all of my current favorites. Also, I can export them back if need be.

Here is my delicious account:

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Magic Squares Revisited

Remember that magic squares are where you can add the row, column or diagonal to be the same number. You could use guess or check or a systematic algebra method.

Guess and check works and is fun.

However, our algebra students will like the systematic method of solving these.

Check out the solution using systems of equations.

Now you can go try using these with your students.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Growth

Our house has 4 houseplants. They all have remained about the same size for as long as I can remember. Most of the plants look old. They have jagged leaf edges. Sometimes the leaves are brownish. I've thought it was amazing that they didn't grow. Also, I thought it amazing that they didn't die.
For some reason, I decided to make an effort to water the plants on a regular basis. Actually, it has been Sundays. Every Sunday, I am watering the four plants. Something very amazing happened about 5 weeks after I started. New Growth. These plants had new shoots growing. I couldn't believe it. The big plant is like a tree and it has a new growth upward. The little table plant regained it's color. Incredible. All I did was give them some regular water and they have done things that I never thought possible.
So after I had been inspecting the new growths for about a week it hit me. Plants are like our students. They need constant attention to grow. They need daily/weekly attention just like my plants need weekly watering. If our students don't get that attention, they often don't grow. I think of just a simple word of encouragement. I think we can "water" our students by showing interest in what they are doing. Also, we can notice when they are absent. I realize that I not only need to make random acts of encouragement, but I need to schedule these acts so that growth can occur. I know the math is important, but it is also important to genuinely care for my students.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Google Reader

I found out about Google reader at a tech conference recently (ICE). It has been awesome. I get all the updates on many of my favorite websites by only going to Google Reader. It is like a customized newspaper. You can subscribe to many different publications like your favorite newsletters, newspapers, and blogs.
Here are some of the things that I subscribe to:
Focus on the Family
Teachers Love Smartboards
The Whiteboard Blog
What is School 2.0
Bulls Basketball Update
How do sign up? Just get a free gmail account at This will sign you up for all of the google services. Once you have a Google gmail account then you just go to and you will see some Google services at the top. Click on where it says more. You will see Reader as an option. Click on that and you will be ready to search for all of your favorite publications for free. Now when you go to Google Reader you will be able to see which of your sites have new posts. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Change the Atmosphere

Why is it that some people have a knack at understanding driving directions? For instance, if you are explaining where a restaurant is and the person is completely engaged in what you are saying and can find it. Others will look at you with that glossy eyed look (we teachers see this from time to time) that says I have no idea what you are saying. I think it is because we learn differently. Another example of this is when someone says to me “do you know where Main and 15th streets are?” For me immediately I think of the picture of that intersection with the landmarks. I even remember the conditions of when I saw it the first time like cloudy or rainy. Others might remember the intersection from a map view. So, let’s relate this to the classroom. We set our classroom up to be the same for every learning experience. Maybe, just maybe, if we changed the atmosphere of when they learned something, they would remember it better. Just as I remember the conditions of an intersection, I think students remember the conditions of our classroom. So let’s alter it! I just thought of a few that I’m going to try:

  • Turn off the lights, and use flashlights to study the lesson.
  • Push the desks back and have everyone (even the teacher) sit on the floor
  • Turn on music while learning.
  • Have students bring in their favorite plant from home for the day
  • How about blindfold hour? You must learn only with blindfolds on.
  • How about everyone can only write with their weak hand for 30 minutes?
  • Turn all the desks 180 degrees.
  • Have all the students bring in a pet day
  • Teacher must sing directions.
  • Students must sing questions.

We will not reach everyone with this. However, I might reach some students that I have never even come close to getting through to. As teachers, let’s get ourselves out of our own comfort zone, because when we do, others are probably in theirs.