From the Just Hanging On Files:

School is great plus or minus a few off days. Today we played battleships in Algebra but instead using the traditional letter-number grid format, we practiced coordinate geometry. Instead of B4, for instance, they say (2,-4). We played boys-versus-girls. The losing team had a minor-league homework assignment over the weekend. My first period class had a nail-biter straight to — I’m serious — the last shot. Watch for the highlights on Sports Center, they were that crazy.

An example gameboard:

Last year, I was prompt to bed. Every minute awake past 2300 meant ten minutes the next day spent slowly zoning out in front of a pack of distracted Algebra students.

This year, I’ve gone several nights in excess of midnight and 2330 is kind of the norm. If I noticed any consequences I’d quietly readjust and find a little discipline about it but none so far.

At first I chalked it to a quieter, more subdued population. I think that still holds. These kids have so much less emotional baggage than the ones I left. But the largest issue, I think, is that I spend so much time pre-planning my lessons this year that I spend my actual in-class time pressing the button on my wireless remote, enthusing over concepts, entertaining, having fun. I’ve minimized paper passing-out, note-writing, overhead futzing-with, and technical drawing.

With Keynote, I dress-rehearse every lesson before I teach it. No wonder six hours a night is sufficient.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Every lesson is delivered in Keynote?! Goodness, that’s a lot of pre-planning, and also potentially a worrying degree of uniformity to your lessons. But it sounds like it’s working very well indeed.

    I like to vary prepared material with impromptu notes on the whiteboard that can be developed partially in conversation with the students, and take into account their questions, etc.

    I just (Jan 08) discovered this blog, and am reading through it in chronological order. Thanks for the great effort!

  2. The potential for uniformity should worry the outside speculator but it doesn’t have to be this rigor-mortised, constraining thing.

    The key, I think, is to make uniform the stuff that doesn’t really matter. Stuff like, where a figure is placed on the screen, or what font you put definitions in, or the background gradient, or default transitions.

    Once that stuff recedes to the background you have to make everything else very, very interesting.

    Welcome to the show, Gavin. I reckon you’ll hit some lesson posts eventually and can see what I’m saying for yourself.