Month: May 2008

Total 18 Posts

Show and Tell: Week 33

I show two excellent photo sets and two excellent videos in my class every week. I have no idea why I haven’t made this a regular fixture around here.


  1. Refacing Government Tender

    Don’t deny you ever did this. Pictured here is “Emo Lincoln,” which is spot on.

  2. Youngme/Nowme

    Look, I don’t consider myself an emotional dude. I only the learned the spelling of “emotion” a month ago and internal reconnaissance has yet to discover any beyond “road rage.” Yet I tell you truly that “Youngme/Nowme” obliterated me. I’d like to believe I appreciate Ze Frank’s Internet icebreakers more than the average Web 2.0 fanboy/girl but I probably kid myself.


  1. Nike Soccer

    Nike spot directed by Guy Ritchie, putting you first-person into the world of professional soccer . All sorts of name-brand soccer stars show up, though, as with emotions, I’m only reporting second-hand here.

  2. Syncing Metronomes

    via Jason Kottke, who writes “If you only watch one metronome video in your life, make it this one.” Someone please explain how this happened. ¶ I pinned the video to this study for good measure.

You See The Problem, Right?

This is true:

It is May. Aaron has attended 20% of my classes this year. His grade is a C+.

This scenario is uncomplicated but it illustrates precisely the philosophical chasm between me and my colleagues (local, national, maybe international, too – who knows) and how we teach math.

[Update: I’m a little less coy in the comments.]

Has Anyone Ever Seen Ken Rodoff And Dina Strasser In The Same Room At The Same Time?

Ken Rodoff, comment #14 on Doug Johnson’s post on Twitter etiquette, where the comments know no permalinks:

Take the origin of this comment:

  1. Log on to Twitter
  2. Click on Darren Draper
  3. Click on the link to his blog
  4. Click on his ‘hey, read this’ little blue widget
  5. Read your post
  6. Think about your point
  7. Read the comments (okay, only two…wanna guess?)
  8. Type my comment

Total time so far (Verizon Fios Internet…just thought you should know): 12 minutes.

So, what did I lose over these past 12 minutes:

  1. The washer to dryer exchange that my load of darks so desperately craves.
  2. Making lunch for work tomorrow.
  3. Cleaning something in this house…anything in this house (myself included).
  4. A chance to talk with my wife as all 4 of my children sleep.
  5. A peregrination
  6. The top of the 9th inning of the Red Sox – Twins game.
  7. The beauty of disconnectedness

And it’s #7 here that irks me most of all because it’s the constant addition of things that makes me realize how much I had in the first place.

Dina Strasser, with question #7 in her post, The Skeptic’s Seven Questions About Technology:

Have I sufficiently balanced the use of the tech with the things tech has inherent danger of obliterating:

  1. Environmental sustainability?
  2. An authentic human connection to the students’ local community: home, school, society, and ecosystem?
  3. A multi-sensory, diverse experience of the world?

Sometimes I guess I don’t mind the echo chamber so much.

Yesterday’s Other Moment Of Clarity:

The Law of Cosines is a beastly formula, which, yesterday, for the first time in five years, I didn’t ask my students to memorize.

I gave them my reasoning: basically, that ten years down the road, ten months, maybe ten days, they’d forget this formula. It’s inevitable. I’d rather them pour their guts into creatively operating the formula than memorizing it, since, in the Google era, that’s an appropriation of resources I could no longer defend.

At the end of my monologue, I wrote the formula on the board and started passing out tests. One student in the front held up her hand, smiling, the Law of Cosines written brazenly across it.

On Nailing/Blowing Assessment

Blowing It

Me, on our last concept quiz, balling both Law of Sines and Law of Cosines into the same heading:

I watched kids tear Law of Sines apart and then get torn apart by Law of Cosines. I was about to toss 2 points out of a possible 4 into the gradebook for, like, seventy students.

But then they come in for help a week, maybe two weeks down the line and what? How does that 2/4 direct my remediation? Which don’t they understand? Law of Sines or Cosines?

And here I try so hard to imagine: how in the world did I ever lump a dozen skills under the same “Chapter [x] Test” heading, the preferred grading strategy of the world’s math teachers?

Disaggregation is the name of the game. It empowers students and teachers. So, on the next test, I did:

Nailing It

Frank N., from the comments, co-opting this assessment strategy for physics.

Now, has all this craziness made a difference? I can tell you this: the kids don’t feel defeated by physics as they did in years past. They can get a 2/10, realize that they didn’t know what they thought they knew, and come back to get a 9/10 and feel great. Plus, when it comes down to grades, there isn’t anything stopping them from getting a 100 each quarter. The ball in in THEIR court. How can a parent argue with a system like that?

In addition, I can immediately tell which topics need re-teaching by me and which the kids get right away.