Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review: The Tourist

I don't recommend movies here often, and I'm fairly sure that your typical 9th grader will find it bit slow, and a bit too clever, and a little bit light on the explosions.

However, in it Johny Depp plays an American Math Teacher who is singled out by Angelia Jolie's International Woman of Intrique as a cover.  Wackiness ensues.  It's not a blockbuster but it will probably be the best movie I see over the break.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Gift Drive

Good on everyone who particpated!

This Week on Car Talk

This weekend on NPR's Car Talk they had a math puzzler.  Here's a short retelling of the puzzle:

In a particulcar club you can get a free drink if you know the code.  The waitress gives you a number and if you give the right number back, you get a free coke.  Here's what you observe:

She says 6.  Someone says 3 and gets a free drink.
She says 12.  Someone says 6 and gets a free drink.
She says 14.  Someone says 8 (not 7) and gets a free drink.
She says 22.  What do you say to gedt a free coke?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holiday Traditions

As we slide into the holiday break I thought I'd take some time to be personal and share some stuff about how this particular teacher spends some of his two weeks off.  Obviously there is the required "Call of Duty Online during Nap Time" that most of you probably already assume I do.  And Xander has developed a deep love for Bon Jovi and Journy by way of "playing" Rock Band 2.  Mostly it involves him jumping around holding a microphone and shouting "Shot through heart!  You blame.  You give wuv a baname, baname."

Friday Fun: Legos!

I was really struggling to come up with a good holiday themed Friday Fun since you won't get to see one of these until we slip into the new year.  So I thought about what I always asked for, as a kid, for Christmas:  Legos!  And that, with the help of the Mythbusters, lead me to these two videos:

Then the Mythbusters take it on:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Algebra Review One Stop

Below the cut are a series of vidoes that hit the following topics from the study guide.  They are ~not~ the study guide problems but rather ones we did when we covered those topics in class.  To see the vidoes, click on the "read more" below:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Late Live Review: Geometry

Feel free to post a question here and check back at 9:00pm for answers for tomorrow's BA test in Geometry covering chapter 5.

Tuesday Pre-algebra First Meeting on Thursday

To better help students move through the Algebra curriculum I am offering a once a week review/ reteach session on Pre-algebra skills.  We will be looking closely at the primary skills required for success in Algebra that were covered in the various Pre-algebra classes students took in middle school.

This review is not a tutoring session for Algebra.  We will not be discussing anything from the Algebra class during these weekly review sessions.  Students who want specific help in class are invited to seek tutoring mondays, or wednesdays through fridays, or by other arrangements.

We will, at the beginning be working through specific review of core variable concepts, expressions, evaluation, and subsistution.  As our group grows comfortable, we'll look to other areas that may need focus.

Thsi group is limited to 20 seats and if those seats are filled, students will be put on a waiting list.  Students who are absent from a session without a parent note of excuse will be dropped from the program.  We will meet every Tuesday from 2:30 till 3:30.  Tardiness is unacceptable.

Geometry: Commonly Missed

To help students prepare for tomorrow's BA, here are some of the more commonly missed problems from the last quiz and from the review. These are pulled off the YouTube channel to help you guys focus.

Finding the Perpendicular Bisector:

Also here are the answers to the Practice Test from class:
Quiz #1 1c 3a 8g #2 2g 5a 7c 8j 9a 10g 11b
Test:  1b 2h 8j 9c 11d 14g 15c 16j 17c 18g

100th Post!

Wow. This is the 100th post to this blog. That feels very active considering we are only in the 4th month of school. Now to be fair a ~lot~ of the posts here are "friday fun" and other off topic things but at the same time, it's good to have this milestone.

Here's to the school year continuing and brining success to everyone who seeks it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Operation: Keep Up

This is the post I'll be updating throughout the day with more information to help Algebra try to keep up with where we are in the course so we can be ready for Thursday's Test.  We are going to have to hit the ground running on our next day back.

7:43 am:  Review Sheet is now Posted in Skyward.  Students should review it; it will be 'due' on Thursday.

Check back later for some home video explaining translations.

Snow Day Extra Credit

Due to the blizzard that kept us home, the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis failed and the game there will instead be played tonight in Detroit.  Let's do the numbers:

Assume the following:
  • The game in the Metrodome was sold out.
  • 1/8th of everyone who has a ticket for the game in the Metrodome shows up tonight for the game in Ford Field
  • 1/2th of everyone who was at the Lions win over the Packers yesterday also shows up for the game.
  • 1/16th of the total seats in Ford Field are also claimed by people who just want to see a game of NFL football where you don't know who's going to lose.
Compute the percentage of Ford Field seats that will be filled tonight for the square off between the Giants and the Vikings.

Go Vikings!  (because, ya know, we're the Vikings....)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In case of a Snow Day

If we should have a snowday on Monday 12/13 (which is not impossible given the current state of the roads), the following will apply:

Geometry:  Your BA test will be on the second block day of the week.  That is Wednesday for 4th hour and Thursday for 1st (assuming that the schedule for the week is Blocks A, B, C then SRT).

Algebra:  Your BA will still be on the second block day which will be Thursday.  That means we will have ~ONE~ block day before the test.  Students should do the following:
Check the website for video lessons of Translations and Rotations
Check Skyward for the Study Guide for the second half of the Chapter.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Fun: OK Go Homage

I'm not linking the original video so you can spare yourself the commericial, but here is a fun bit of coregraphy to the song "Here We Go Again" by the band OK Go.

Geometry Rocks

Students in Geometry are tasked with writing a song based on one of the concepts that will appear on their upcoming BA test next week.  I do not expect them to start from scratch but to take an existing song and change the lyrics to fit their concept.  For example here is a short ditty about the Pythagorean Theorem:

The Itsy Bitsy Triangle (to the tune of the Itsy Bitsy Spider)
The Itsy Bitsy Triangle, had three-e sides.
The two little sides were scared and so did hide.
But then they found out, that they could both square-up
So A squared and B squared equaled C Squared, Yup!

It's not going to win a grammy but it's got a rhyme and it includes the formula.

The best inspiration for this really comes from Bill Nye the Science Guy:

It's the same song as Sweating Bullets by Megadeath, just with the lyrics changed.
For students who are stuck I suggest they look to rap songs as well because you get away from the musical and more towards the concepts of rhyme and meter instead.

Do Not Bully the Jedi!

There is a little girl named Katie who used to proudly carry a Star Wars water bottle to her first grade classroom.  Until she announced she wanted a plain pink one.  Why?

Kids at school insisted that "Star Wars" was only for boys, [Katie] wailed. She was different enough already -- the only one who was adopted, who's Jewish, who wears glasses, who needs a patch. If sacrificing Yoda for the color pink would make her fit in again, so be it.
Fortunately, Katie was not alone and thanks to the instant information spread of the internet, she learned quickly that girls could like Star Wars and that no one should be bullied for being different.

Read the full story here: "The Force is with You, Katie"

BA Days and Schedules

Here is the upcoming schedule for lessons, tests and quizzes for all classes over the next week.  Students are advised that this is no longer flexible as the Winter Break creates a clear end to lessons.


12/10 Friday:  Finish Piecewise Functions, begin Translations and Rotations.
12/13 Monday:  Continue Translations and Rotations.  Quiz on all of Chapter 5 (includes 5A and 5B)  Students will get review sheet for chapter 5B.
12/14 Tuesday (6th hour) or 12/15 Wednesday (3rd and 5th hours):  Review study guide.
12/16 Thursday:  Chapter 5B Benchmark Test.  Students will also have the opportunity to review their chapter 5A test in the same period.  Students should bring work for a different class, or recreational reading material to occupy themselves after the test. 
12/17 Friday:  TBA


12/10 Friday:  Review chapter 5 material.  (in 4th hour assign Geometry Rocks Project)
12/13 Monday:  Finish review of Chapter 5 Material
12/14 Tuesday:  Chapter 5 BA, Geometry Rocks Projects due
12/15-17:  TBA

When we return from holiday break we will have 2 weeks before finals and all material from before break will be on that test.  Students will be expected to work on an assignment over that 2 week break to ensure that all of this knowledge and skill mastery is not lost.

Monday, December 6, 2010

BA Dates


Geometry will be on the First Block day that class meets on next week.

Algebra will be on the Second Block day that class meets on next week.

Mark your calendars!


I wanted to write a public and personal note in relation to some of the comments made by students in class over the last few weeks to their classmates:

The Bullying Will Stop.

I eluded last week that this is not a small problem, and it is one with exceptionally wide reaching and permenant consequences.  Just doing a very quick google search yields a distrubing trend, and the names seem to mount over and over.  In Ohio, 4 took their own lives in reaction to bullying at their school.  Victims are boys and girls.  It can involve common classroom put-downs, and it can involve the use of the internet.  I wrote about this earlier this year in reaction to the death of a Rutger's student.

Students who feel that they are the subject of bullying are asked to seek out an administrator, a teacher, their counselor or the school social worker.  I, for my part, will follow our school no-tolerance policy and will be referring students as needed to adminsistration.

We can stop this.  We ~will~ stop this.

As said by Dr. Jared DeFife, at the beginning of his article for Psychology Today:

No high school student should ever be in a coffin instead of in a cap and gown


Friday Fun Delayed

In 2001, Jeep released the Jeep Liberty, coinciding accidently with the 225th anniversery of the signing of the US Declaration of Independence.  This document made the case that all Englishmen (and thus all Americans) were entitled to Life, ~Liberty~ and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Oddly, the men and women in the adverstising department decided to overlook this coincidence and let the year pass with the usual commercials of Jeeps making quick work off road in the mud.

Well, it only took 9 years but they finally decided to tap the historical potential of adveritsing.  However, they didn't do it to advertise the Jeep Liberty......

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Algebra: Quiz on Thursday

As a reminder there is a quiz tomorrow, Thursday, 12 / 2 in all algebra classes.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Algebra Answers

So those working as they should be over the short holiday, here are the "answers" to the 4 riddles on your worksheet:

Did you hear about...
"The farmer who named his pet rooster Robinson because he crew so?"

Why does a poor man drink coffee?
"He has no proper tea"

Why Did Gyro Go into the Bakery?
"Just for the smell of it"

What happened when two fruit companies merged?
"They made a perfect pear"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Talk about Math: Thanksgiving Football

Happy Thanksgiving!

While the day is traditionally about giving thanks for the blessings upon our families there is another tradition:


Watching the game with my In-Laws, my Brother-in-Law's wife (which techinically is different than my Sister-in-Law which I don't have), mentioned that she teaches Points, Lines and Planes using football.  After all, the rule is that a touch down occurs when the ball breaks the plane of the goal line.  So you can imagine a plane that extends upwards from the field, perpendicular to it.  If the ball (a point) hits this plane or passes through it and is is possessed by the team, then it is a touch down.

In both Algebra and Geometry we've been talking about these terms:
  • Parallel
  • Perpendicular
  • Plane
  • Point
  • Skew
As I watch the game it's hard not to see these terms illustrated on the field, in the plays, and player's movements.  I won't give them all away now, but there are brownie points available to everyone who posts an example of terms from class (and not just the ones above) in reference to football.  It's one point per definition/ example with a max of 3 points per student.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun - ASL is back

Okay so here's another fun video to round the day out. I know I posted two fun videos from our school's pep assembly. This video was actually posted as the Friday Fun video a few weeks ago, but sadly Ally had had her YouTube account closed while they debated what to do about her use of the full song in her videos.

So here it is as the "Official" Friday Fun Video.

Have a great long weekend guys and Algebra kids, check back on Sunday for the answers to the riddles on your homework.

The Canned Food Drive Reward

Becuase in the 11th hour our Students stepped up, we had a very special pep assembly today to honor their commitment and to see the benefits of their labors.

Yes, they raised 60,000 lbs of food. Yes they reached out to the commuity as a group.

And for that we have:

The Hender-Sundae!

And the infamous Morg-hawk!

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to use this Blog: Reminders

Happy Monday on a short week!

Here's a quick break down on where and how to find a few things that people seem to be getting confused and confuzled on:

For Homework Assignments:
  • Check your Skyward Account.  Homework is posted as it is given.  Worksheets are usually attached.
For Grades:
  • Check your Skyward Account.  I cannot post grades here.
For discussions and additional examples:
  • Check here at the website
For Brownie Point Opportunities
  • Check here at the website
For Class Announcements which include test days, reminders, suggestions, points of clarity, and general information:
  • Check here at the website
Some students are still coming to the website, not finding their homework and then assuming that we don't have any.  All assignments are posted in Skyward.  Occassionally I'll post one here if I feel it is Very Important and I don't want any students to miss doing it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun

So.... what did you do with your weekend?

Talk about Algebra: Mini Essay

I rarely post assignments to the blog but this was one I wanted to share because I think part of its power will be to create dialogue about one of the most basic tools in a student's box:  The Note Book.

Note Book Mini-Essay
Write a short essay that describes the following things:
·         Two things you do in your notes that make them useful. 
o    Examples might include things like “Good diagrams”, “I write more than what’s on the board”, “other people find them organized”.
o    Provide specific examples, such as “Last Monday (11/8) I used a highlighter to help me find the formula for slope” or “When we were studying Zelda said that my examples were really easy to read”.  You must have one example for each of your two points.
·         One thing that you will do better in your notes.
o    Be specific.  “Take better notes” does not count.
o    Consider:  “Writing down what is said as well as what is written”, “organize my notes by making more outlines”, “I will write my questions in my notes as well as asking them so I don’t ask again”.
This should be considered an Essay and not an outline.  Use complete sentences.  Use proper grammar.  They may be handwritten; typed is easier to read.  There is no minimum length; maximum is one page.

This will be due the first day of class next week (Block A for 6th hour, Block B for 3rd and 5th)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Geo and Alg: Live Review

BA's tomorrow in all but 1st hour.  Feel free to post your questions and check back later to see what answers have appeared.  There are two BP's for answers provided by students that are good enough to mean I don't have to answer myself.  :)

Click on Comment below to enter your question.

Internet Hunt Starts here

This is the internet scavenger hunt we completed in 5th hour.  It's posted here to bring students in to the website first and for those reviewing for the BA tomorrow who want one more collection of ideas to help prepare for the exam.

Linear Functions Review

Hello Algebra 1 students.  In this Internet scavenger hunt you will be reviewing the topics covered in the first half of Chapter 5 on linear functions.  You will receive a handout from your teacher that will help you organize and answer the questions below on linear functions. The questions relate to the websites directly above them. 

Points on a graph
1) Take a look at the graph on this website. Answer the questions next to the graph.

Point Plotter
2) Click on the activity that says “Point Plotter.”  Take 1-2 minutes and plot points on the graph.  On a scale of 1-5 (5 being awesome and 1 being not so great), how did you do at plotting points?
Circle One
1  2   3  4  5    What do you need to study?________________________________________________________________________

3) What is the vertical line test? 
4) What does it show us?
5)Which linear equation is NOT a function?

6) What does it say ALGEBRAICALLY about intercepts?
7) What does it say SPECIFICALLY about intercepts?
8) Give an example of an ordered pair for x-intercepts and y-intercepts.

9) Write down your answers to the questions.
10) On a scale of 1-5 (5 being awesome and 1 being not so great), how did you do at finding intercepts?
Circle One
1  2   3  4  5    What do you need to study?________________________________________________________________________
Slope and y-intercepts
11) What is the equation they give for slope?
12) What are the two points they use for positive slope? What is the slope? Draw a picture of the line that goes through the two points.
13) What are the two points they use for negative slope? What is the slope? Draw a picture of the line that goes through the two points.

14) What is the definition and the equation that they give for slope?
15) Out of this website and the previous website, which definition/formula of slope did you like better?  Why?

16) Take a look at the graph on this website.  Answer the questions next to the graph. 
         What do you need to study?

Real-Line Linear Function
17) What is the real-life example the website gives?
18) What is the equation?
19) What is the slope?
20) What is the y-intercept?
21) Draw a graph of the equation.

Line Plotter
22) Click on the activity that says “Line Plotter.”  Take 1-2 minutes and create lines on the graph.  On a scale of 1-5 (5 being awesome and 1 being not so great), how did you do at plotting points?
Circle One
1  2   3  4  5    What do you need to study?________________________________________________________________________

TutorVista. (2010) Graph of Linear Equations in One Variable. Retrieved from

Failed to PLAN: 1st Hour BA on Monday

Due to the PLAN test this morning removing 2/3rds of my students and robbing them of a critical 90 min review, 1st hour's BA test in on Monday.

4th hour is still on Friday. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Algebra: Class Notes and Quiz Questions

I have to admit a small amount of frustration:

Tomorrow 11/18 we'll get back our quizzes in Alegbra.  These were open note quizzes, as in students could use anything in their notebooks.  We are getting them back so students will have tomorrow night to rework missed problems as part of their prep for Friday's BA test.

The quiz was announced twice before it was given on the website, once on Wednesday the prior week, and again on Friday.

Two quiz items asked students to identify if a set of data was a "Linear Function".  In class we defined this as "a collection of points with a common slope" and reviewed how to get this slope.  We did several examples in class, some of which made it onto the YouTube channel are are top of the playlist for chapter 5, or can be directly found here and here.

I am disappointed at how many students, given 3-4 class examples that should have been in their notes, given the mulitple practice problems that were assigned and reviewed the next day, given the fact that the quiz was open note, only wrote for their answer a "yes" or a "no" or just had a few words of justification.  Very very few actually showed a hint of the work that we modeled, practiced and reviewed.

Students would be well advised to take this warning seriously:  These are on the BA on Friday.  There is no partial credit for not following the equations and set up.

Friday: BA Day!

I'm not sure how it is that Algebra and Geometry seem to be on the Exact Same Schedule, but here it is again:

All classes:  BA test on Friday Novemenber 19th.

Algebra:  Chapter 5A (5-1 through 5-6)
Geometry:  Chapter 4

Students will want to review all the formulas and all the definitions.  In Algebra it boils down to basic equation skills and knowing what formula to use when.  In Geometry it's a matter of knowing the theorems and the definitions inside and out.

You may also want to look at my article from last month on test preparation.  Thursday evening will again be doing a Live Review period.  The live review thread will go up at 7:00 pm Thursday evening and I will be checking, posting, and answering questions until 9:00pm.  Finally I will be staying afterschool on Thursday until around 5:00pm.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Talk about Algebra: Cat-applications

Who says you never use this stuff in real life?

Researchers wanted to know how fast a cat's tongue moved while it was lapping up milk.  And being a funny sort set out to find out.....

The engineers worked out a formula: the lapping frequency should be the weight of the cat species, raised to the power of minus one-sixth and multiplied by 4.6. They then made friends with a curator at Zoo New England, the nonprofit group that operates the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Mass., who let them videotape his big cats. Lions, leopards, jaguars and ocelots turned out to lap at the speeds predicted by the engineers.

Read more here and giggle.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Talk about Algebra: The Intercepts

The skill in question goes like this:  Given an equation in standard form, identify the intercepts and provide their meaning.

Let me try this example (which comes from our class notes) to help explain this and provide means to talk about it:

Photo Credit:  Cedar Point Amusement Park

Suppose you have $500 to organize a family reunion at Cedar Point.  Tickets to the park cost $20 for adults and $15 for kids under the age of 12.  (Disclaimer:  I have no idea what the prices are, but work with me.)  So that means that as we consider how many kids and how many adults are going, we have a limited number of tickets we can buy.  If we have a lot of kids, that means less adults.  More adults?  Less kids.  In the end the total we can spend (the sum, the two numbers added up) on tickets is (equals) $500.  So the equation might look like this:

20a + 15k = 500, where a is the number of adults and k is the number of kids.

Now the Intercepts come in as the extreme points in our example.  Literally an intercept is where a graph crosses either the X axis or the Y axis on the co-ordinate plane.  But fundamentally, the intercept is where one of the two variables (quantities) is 0, and we have to figure out the other one.

So the question is this:  How many kids can we sent into the park if all the adults decide to do something else with their day?  That would be a = 0, and after a little algebra we see the answer is 500 / 15 = 33.3, or 33 kids.  We might also ask, how many adults can go if we simply forget the kids and let them hang out at the hotel pool (with proper lifeguarding of course)?  That would be k = 0, and so 500 / 20 = 25 adults.

The actual intercepts would be the points (0, 33.3) and (25, 0), and their 'meaning' would be "If there are no kids, 25 adults can go, and if there are no adults, 33 kids can go, with a few dollars left over".

If you or your student would like to contribute another such example of two things that can be set up in a form of inverse relation (that is one goes up as the other goes down), please share it by clicking on the "Comment" button bellow.  Students attached to an example can pick up 2 Brownie points, but please only leave a First Name and class period, do not leave a last name.

Discliamer:  Inverse variation is actually defined by a slightly different formula and I only use the term here to suggest "a case where as one goes up the other goes down".  In true inverse variation there are no intercepts because the graph is a hyperbola and not a line.

Off Topic: Friday Fun Flash Mob

This week's Friday Fun features the kind of thing you don't always see at your local student union. Check out a fairly atypical day at Ohio State University (~cough Go Blue cough~)

Conference After Action Report: Responsiblity

After, I think, a productive evening at Parent Teacher Conferences I have a few additional thoughts to get out there for all of us, parent, student and teacher, to reflect on.

First of them is the reminder that this website and blog is intended to be a tool that serves a variety of uses.  It is a communication tool to share upcoming test and quiz dates.  It is a supplement to my classroom teaching with additional examples.  It is a means to share ideas with parents and gaurdians to help them communicate with their student not just about grades, but also about the actual "stuff" of our classes.  It is a place where students can earn extra credit by becoming participants, and contributors, and it is a place for them to ask questions and discuss.

It is not a garuntee of success, but it is another arrow in the quiver for each student. 

As such I do have the expectation that students make a habit coming to this site at a minimum of once a week.  I think this is a reasonable expectation given the general accessability our school and community offer.

And this leads to my other primary thought:  Responsibility.

Students have many opportunties to review the material in class, to get additional face time with myself, or with an NHS tutor, and to demonstrate their understanding in their own way.  This includes reworking missed problems on quizzes (which provides good study opportunity) as well as the option to retake a BA Exam after showing that they've mastered the material they had not when they took it the first time.  These are opportunities, however, that students must take the initiative to persue.

I will continue to update this blog with things I find interesting, relevant, funny, timely, and engaging.  I will continue to post problems from class to YouTube, and remind students of the online text book that they can reference for additional help and examples.  I will continue review every homework problem every day with students.  I will continue to review every quiz item with them, and provide them a place and time to ask for additional help and understanding.

And I will continue to believe that this can be a great year for all of us.

Photo Credit:  Government Archive

Monday, November 8, 2010

Out of the Office: 11/9

As we continue through two intense chapters in Algebra and Geometry I regret that I won't be available Tuesday 11/9 afterschool for help or review as I'm flitting off with my little guy to the dentist at 3:30.  Ah, 3 year-olds and dentists....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Off Topic: State Champs!

How do you not blog about our State Champion Viking Marching Band?!?!?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Talk about Algebra: Make your Own Problems

How often are you told that it's a "Good Thing" to create problems for yourself?

Here's your challenge:  Write a story problem following the model shown below.  Then compute the slope for that set of data and, of course, show your work.  You have to have at least 4 data points (and thus 3 slopes to calculate and compare).

You may even find one of your problems snuck onto Monday's Quiz, which while your classmates may dislike, you at least will know the answer!

Here's a sample with solution:

A local indoor play center can be rented for kid's birthday parties.  With Xander rapidly approaching the ripe ol' age of 3, we decide to investigate one.  Asking some people who've been to Jungle Jim's Jamboree, we find that they've had parties there too and here is the data we got:
10 kids, $70
12 kids, $82
15 kids, $100
20 kids, $130

Does this follow a linear relationship?  What's the slope?

Now on to the solution:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun in ASL

I have always been impressed and amazed by American Sign Language.  On my list of things I want to do "someday" is to learn ASL to the point of fluency.  As it was the closest I have is that last year I signed a song along side one of the seniors performing at the spring pops concert.  And this feat was only possible as the result of watching the video of the song signed over and over and over until I had it down.

So following up on Halloween, I bring you a pair of ASL videos I like:

Algebra: Help Post

There is still a quiz on Monday in Algebra as posted here.

This will cover topics from 5-1 (What is a Linear Function?),  5-3 (rise and run) and 5-4 (the Slope Formula).  As you work through your homework if you have questions you can email them to me ( RobertOsterman (at) or you can post them here as a comment.

To post a question, click on the link below that says "Comment".  Then type in your question.  You will need to check back periodically for an answer.  Depending on the complexity of the question I may video tape my response and post the video to YouTube Channel.

Geometry Help Post

There is still a quiz on Monday in Geometry as posted here.

This will cover topics from 4-1 (classification of triangles), 4-2 (angles of triangles) and 4-3 (congruent figures).  As you work through your homework if you have questions you can email them to me ( RobertOsterman (at) or you can post them here as a comment.

To post a question, click on the link below that says "Comment".  Then type in your question.  You will need to check back periodically for an answer.  Depending on the complexity of the question I may video tape my response and post the video to YouTube Channel.

End of the Marking Period

Here are some thoughts as the 1st Marking Period comes to a close.  It has been an exciting time, with interesting classes, fun lessons and some wonderful conversations (most of which are on topic too!)

BA Retakes can be done through the end of the Semester

Students may retake any BA all the way through January.  However they can only retake a given BA once.  One time.  It is absolutely essential that students take that re-test seriously and prepared better for the retest than they did for the original test.

Students must show their study and review notes before I schedule a retest.

I have some concerns that many students are scheduling retests without showing me any review notes and when pressed have dug up old homework to say is their "evidence".  This worries me because I fear that some aren't really putting the time in to take maximum opportunity here and are instead taking what I call the shot gun approach:  aim in the general direction and hope you hit something.

I appreciate students taking the time to stay after school or come during SRT to retake a test they did poorly on.  However, they will be turned away if they cannot show ample evidence that they learned what they needed to learn and demonstrate on the BA.  This is consistant with my posted and oft-repeated rules.

I am a last minute kind of guy

I'm not horribly proud of it.  But the reality is that if I'm told grades are due at 1200 on Monday, then at 1158 I push the post button.  It's a personal quirk I'd like to work on and get better at, but I'm currently putting "get things done more in advance" behind things like "get homework posted when it's assigned", "respond to emails within a day", and "plan lessons a day or two out."  I'm still getting those three things mastered so....

It has been fun!

Honestly.  Despite some tensions in some classes it has been a fun 10 weeks.  I'm blessed with some amazing students, some of whom even have made a habit of checking this website out.  As far as this semester goes, we're half way there... ooo oooo livin' on a prayer...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weekly Update:

Mon (PLC Day)  Started chapter 4.
Block 1:  Reviewed 4-1 and did 4-2.
Block 2:  4-3 - Definition of Congruent Figures and Triangles

Mon (PLC) - Started chapter 5 - What is a Linear Function?
Block 1 and Block 2:  What is Slope?

All classes there will be a quiz on Monday 11/8 covering this week's content.  It will be open note.  Also the "word of the day" for the quiz will be an animal that shares the same first letter as your first name.  In other words, my "word of the day" could be a Robin, or a Rhino, or a Rat.

The marking period ends on Friday.  Students wanting to retake BA's must do them by Thursday if they want a chance of me grading them before grades are due.  Please reveiw the retake rules.  Many students are still ignoring these.  I find it vexing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun - Halloween Double Episode!!

Micheal Jackson's video for Thriller was ground breaking.  It was the longest music video by far and represented some of the most intense story telling to help sell a song.  I still remember being all of 10 years old and having horrible nightmares at a sleep over where the last thing we did was watch the video on MTV (it used to show music vidoes back then) before turning out the lights.  Two hours later, Mr. Kohler was knocking on my parents' door with me in tow; I needed to sleep in my own bed.

So this week's Friday Fun features this classic creation with a few twists.

Both are under the cut to save on space though so click and see!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Algebra and Geometry: Live Review

This is the official Post for Tonight's Live Review.

To ask a question, click on "Comment" below and leave your question with your first name and hour.  Please don't post your last name.  Then watch the official YouTube channel for updates.  I'll try to post the links as they come up here as well.

Post #1:  Do we have to graph points that are not in a function?  Short answer:   No.

Algebra: Independent vs Dependent

We've spent a lot of time talking about how to tell the difference between the two.  We need to fix that.

While chatting with a student afterschool today, I checked out wikepedia and found this:

  • Independent variables answer the question "What do I change?"

  • Dependent variables answer the question "What do I observe?"

  • Simple.  Concise.  Clear.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Off Topic: A storm not seen since 1975

    Tonight's gales are being reported as on the level of those that sank the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.  This got the history nerd in me got digging around for information on it.

    To save on the space I'll put it under a cut:

    Geometry: Vocab Pop Quiz Redos

    Please note that this is different than what was announced in 1st hour.

    Okay, so those were not as good as they should have been.  The reality is, folks, that we can't start to move towards success on Proofs if we don't have these rules memorized.  If we're working on a car together and I tell you I need a 3/4 in ratchet and I need it now, it doesn't do either of us any good for you to go online and look up what a ratchet is.  It's just something you need to know.

    Because of how important vocabulary is I'm adding one more requirement for recovering lost points:  Posters.

    Here's the breakdown:

    If your quiz grade was 11-15:
    Do the normal quiz redos.
    If your quiz grade was 6-10:
    Do the redo AND do one Theorem/ Postulate poster.
    If your quiz grade was 5 or lower:
    Do the usual redo AND do Two posters.

    The requirements for the poster are:
    • Use roughly a half sheet of poster board (so about 1.5 by 2.5 feet)
    • Write out one theorem or posulate, including the name, and page number from the text.  The theorem should be in "If _____then ______" form.
    • Include an appropraite diagram.

    All redos for chapter 3 content are due by Friday (test day)

    BA Friday

    All classes:  BA Test on Friday.

    Algebra:  Chapter 4 - Functions.  See your review material from Block 1 for a good overview of what's on the test. 

    Geometry:  Chapter 3 - Parallel and Perpendicular Lines.  You must, must, must have all definitions, posulate and theorems memorized for the test.  Trust me on this.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Algebra: Live Review Thursday

    My car is in the shop which is making it hard for me to schedule tutoring time with students in as much as I'm going to try something different.  It may not work.  It might.

    Thursday afternoon I'm going to post the official "Live Review" post.  Students are welcome to post questions in the comments section.  Questions should be specific to our review material, either the study guide, the end of chapter review or an older quiz.  Starting at 7:30pm I will begin answering questions on YouTube and posting them as I answer them.  I will remain doing this until 9:00pm.  If there are no questions posted, though, I may take a few breaks but I will do my best to be available to not only respond, but to explain.

    We'll see how this goes and if this is a useful resource or not.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Geometry: Status Update

    I just thought you guys should know, this is my current Facebook Status:

    Rob Osterman is writing a pop quiz for his Geometry class

    Enjoy your Sunday!

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Student Responsibilities

    This is a short update on a few expectations for class:

    1) Books are required in class.

    This is for a few reasons. One of those is access to the book as a practice bank. Rather than relying on worksheets and handouts I would like to have students use these resources as well.  In addition I would like to start working with classes to make the book a more useful tool and do some reading activities based in that text.  Simply put, many do not know how to read a text book.

    For those who ask, I will, next week, have CD's with copies of the book on them electronically if they would like to use those rather than the Holt Website.  Students have also been given a login and password for the Holt Website to access their online book through.

    2)  Students are responsible for their own absent work

    I post every assignment in Skyward when it is given.  I attach the worksheet to the assignment.  If your student is absent it is their responsibility to get the work they need from the website.  For the cases where internet access is simply not available, I will, of course, make accomondations.  My primary concern here is for students who miss class for a field trip, and then come in the next day with the common question "Did I miss anything?"

    With this a few friendly reminders:

    A)  There is no pure extra credit, however students can 'earn' breaks with Brownie Points.  These are most easily earned with board work, but also by participating in online discussions, helping organize the hard copies of class notes, and by other activities.

    B)  Students should be checking the website every few days for updates on tests, quizzes and other key events.  I will continue to post heads up for announced quizzes and other items here.

    C)  Notebooks are not optional.  Students should be painfully aware of this on Monday.  I won't say why, only that we did take a lot of notes on Friday and it would be a shame for a student to not be able to show me their copy of those notes on Monday.  Hint Hint....

    D)  Do check the YouTube Channel if you need additional help.  The same problems are there laid out and the lesson can be paused, rewound and reviewed.  In addition I can be easily emailed with something such as "In 3-4 Example 2 I got lost at 3:12.  Can you explain that?"  Then I know to go to the video, and to review what was happening at the 3 minute, 12 second mark.

    And as one final reminder I am promised to be here afterschool every Tuesday if a student needs help.  Mr. Cox has gratiously garunteed Thursdays, and we have NHS drop in tutoring on Wed.  I'm of course available at other times, just let me know a day or so ahead.

    Oh, and the Algebra BA on chapter 4 is not on Monday.

    Off Topic: Friday Fun

    It's friday and it's time to infect you with one of the most annoyingly catchy songs on the internet!





    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Talk about Algebra: Variable Types and the Mythbusters

    First:  I did remind students not to try anything from this video at home.  I said it, they said it, I said it again.

    Now, on with the discussion.

    Due to the MEAP testing this week,* some classes got a little off from others.  We did our review as planned in 6th hour but with a little extra time and many many student questions on Dependent vs Independent variables I thought it was time to tap my favorite TV Show:  Mythbusters.

    The myth we watched and discussed was one that had to do with how much of a fire ball would be created by pouring water onto a grease fire.  The Mythbusters were experimenting with different materials, different pans, and different ammounts of water with the intent to try to create the largest ball of fire possible.  This worked prefectly with our discussions of Independent and Dependent variables in class.

    For example, in the "mini" experiement (linked below) they varied the size and shape of the pan to see what was the effect on the fireball.  In this case the "Shape of the Pan" is the Independent Variable (the input) and the fireball height was the Dependent Variable (the output).  If we were to draw a graph, we'd plot the shape along the bottom of the graph, and the height of the graph, convienently, would be along the side, literally showing the height.

    Now to be fair, Domain and Range is problematic for students as well.  Domain is the set of values for the Independent Variable, and Range is the set of values for the Dependent.  For this experiment it'd look like this:

    D = {wok, sauce pan, stovepipe}
    R = {20ft, 22 ft}  (or some similar numbers)

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    About BA Retakes

    A student asked me this:

    "If I didn't get it on the BA how am I supposed to do the work to earn a retake?"

    It's a fair question and one I want to be sure everyone has an answer to.

    In short the whole purpose of the "Evidence of Improvment" is to force students to do work to get better and to get ready for that retake.  Without that, it is very easy for students to show up for a re-take and say that they think they'll do better but have done little to any preparation.  In fact, my experience has been that students are less prepared for a re-take than the original becuase of the time difference between the two assessments.

    For this reason I encourage students to take the evidence portion of the preparation seriously.  Do real work to get ready.  Work with a tutor or a friend.  Double, triple check answers.  See me or another teacher for help.  Do what needs to be done to be better prepared.  And if the poor first run at the test was simply a matter of bad luck, then use this as a chance to be sure that you are still ready.

    This week in Algebra

    Thanks to my son's illness on Monday (lost day), and MEAP testing on Wednesday, this week is a bit wonky.  My plan is to have us all back on track by Friday.  Here's what I've got planned by class for the week:

    All Three Classes - Focused Review on Algebra
    6th hour - 4.4 - Graphing Functions
    3rd Hour - MEAP.
    5th Hour - More Algebra Review/ Graphing Practice
    3rd Hour - 4.5 - Graphing Functions
    5th Hour - 4.5 - Graphing Functions
    6th Hour - More Algebra Review/ Graphing Practice
    All three classes:  Quiz Chapter 4 - 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    In the News: Facebook Privacy. Again.


    As if there aren't enough things to worry about line, Facebook is in the news again.

    Not for the recent movie fictionalizing its creation, and making Mark Zuckerberg look like a world class jerk.

    Not for the documentary revealing how easily someone's online persona can be improved, manipulated and falsified.

    Not for teachers using it inappropriately.

    This one is all about companies getting to know you, and selling that data to others who want to have it for their own use, mostly to sell you more stuff.

    From ABC.Com:
    The Journal found that in 25 instances the third-party app companies were taking in users' Facebook identification numbers. The number then tied into a user's profile and could identify the person by name, no matter how secure his or her privacy settings were.

    The companies tracking you could then build a clear profile of your habits. If they used other Internet tracking technology to keep a record of the websites you visit and then married that to your name, this would be a clear violation of Facebook's policies, which has consumer groups up in arms.
    So why should any of you care?

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Geometry: Attack of the Vocab

    Section 3-1 is all about terms.  Students need to feel confident with the following words:
    • Parallel
    • Perpendicular
    • Skew
    • Transversal
    • Corresonding Angles
    • Alternate Interior Angles
    • Alternate Exterior Angles
    • Same Side Interior Angles
    Now it's really important to note that the pairs of angles apply to all cases when you've got two lines that are cut by a transversal.  The lines do NOT need to be parallel.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Talk about Algebra: Independent and Dependent Variables

    Today's vocabulary includes two terms: Independent Variable and Dependent Variable. When given a situation with data, students are expected to know which set is the Independent (often called Control) and which are the Dependent.

    If you think of a function like a machine, the Independent Variable is the input set, and Dependent is the output. So if this were a factory, The Independent Variable would be the metal going in, and the Dependent Variable would be the cars coming out the other side.

    Another example, more grounded in our lesson, is the comparison of the money we make, with hours worked. The longer you work, the more money you make. Hours is Independent, Pay is Dependent.

    We do this all the time in education research. Some reserachers experiment with class sizes, comparing how many students are in a class with how well they do on standardized tests. In this case the Independent variable is the number of students, the Dependent is test scores.

    In short, anything we control going in is the Independent, and the results of that is the Dependent.

    Tied to this I raised a question towards the end of our lesson:

    When you compare the number of stocks sold, with the value of those stocks, which is the Independent, and which is the Dependent?  In other words, which one Determines the other?  Which one is Dependent on the other?  Do sales drive price, or do prices drive sales?

    Feel free to post your own answer to this in the comments.  As usual participation is worthy of Brownie Points, and please no last names.

    Off Topic: Friday Fun

    One of my favorite episodes of Mythbusters involves the myth that a man's house was destroyed when his water heater overheated and shot out of the basement like a rocket.  Here's a short clip from that episode where they have taken a heater, removed all the safety devices and seen what happened.

    Test Prep

    Disclaimer Applies

    Everyone likes to talk about how to raise student test scores.  It's the big news, and the media is all over how important it is for us to get better scores out of our students.  With the internet there's no lack of articles with advice, notes on what principals can do to help, even books on the subject.  Intrestingly, just doing a Google search on "How to raise test scores" three of top 5 results were not how to raise scores but on how teacher bonuses would not raise them.  As the kids say, "Go fig".

    That all said I'd like to share a bit about how I prepared for an exam.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Talk about Algebra: Functions

    Classically in mathematics we talk about functions using language like f(x) and f o g (x) or "as long as the domain of the fuction remains consistant with the real numbers, then the range will occupy the same solution set as the subdomain."  If you want your head to spin, do a google search for "calculus functions" and go down a few hits.

    But as we showed in class today there are easier ways to think about this.  I'd like to toss out another one here:

    A function is just a way of pairing things from one group to things from another group.  There are two catches:

    Catch one:  Every item in the first group has to be used.
    Catch two:  Every item in the first group can only have one thing in the second group paired with it.

    Here's an anlogy to help frame this as you talk to your student:

    Say you have a cupboard that is full of Tupperware (or something similar).  It's been a long time since you organized it, so it's all piles of bowls, boxes and random lids.  So you set out to clean it.  You put all the bowls and boxes into one pile (our Domain), and you put all the lids in the other pile (our Range).

    Now the important thing is to be sure that every bowl you have has a lid.  That hits rule 1.  So you pick up a bowl, find a matching lid, and set it asside.  The other thing is that even if you find two lids that fit the same bowl, there's no real need to keep both lids.  You have a bowl.  You have a lid.  You're good.  Drive on, private.

    In other words, every bowl gets exactly one lid, every bowl gets used, and you use the rule of "bowl and lid have to fit together" to pair them.  The rule becomes known as a Function.

    BA Test Reminder

    There is nothing fun or interesting here, just a reminder that tomorrow, Friday Oct 15th there is a BA test in both Geometry classes (1st and 4th hours).  The test will take the entire period, but students should bring something to work on quietly incase they finish early.

    Spread the word!
    Photo Credit Here

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    New Link: NHS Tutoring

    If you look in the sidebar you'll see a link to the NHS tutoring page with a file that has all of our NHS students organized by subject that they are interesting in tutoring.  These students need to earn community service hours and represent the best and brightest of our upper-classmen.  Many even had me as a teacher.

    I advise students struggling that now might be the time to consider making arrangments to meet with one of them on a weekly basis if their schedules make coming for afterschool help too challenging.

    Photo crecdit:  Click Here

    Crowd Source: Geometry Review

    If you have questions, post them here in the comment section.  Please leave your first name (hour and last initial are optional).  If you have an answer to any question posted, post it as a comment as well, and address it to the question asker.  Comments are open for Anonymous Posting.  Do.  Not.  Abuse.  This.

    Participation in this online activity will earn you between 2 and 4 Brownie Points which will be awarded on Friday.

    Also the BA test has been pushed back to Friday.  If you are looking for the Chapter 2 Review Guide, you should head over to Skyward, and look for it as an attached file to the assignment.  If you need your Skyward Password they are available before school in the media center.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Geometry: Vocab Practice

    The following are terms that you will need to know for the Geometry Vocab Quiz on Monday.  This list is not complete so don't think that because it's not here, you don't need to know it.

    Students may earn 2 Brownie Points by posting a definition in the comments area.  The first correct Definition earns a point, and please only one definition per student.

    • Conjecture
    • Inductive Reasoning
    • Deductive Reasoning
    • Hypothesis (for Geometry)
    • Conclusion
    • Converse
    • Inverse
    • Contrapositive
    • Conjunction
    • Disjunction
    • Law of Detachment
    • Law of Slyogism
    EDIT to add:

    Just give your first name and last initial please.  Steve H in 1st Hour already has Conjecture which is a statement believed to be true based on Inductive Reasoning.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Big Bang Theory: Inductive Vs Deductive Debate

    Tonight we finally watched this week's Big Bang Theory (airing on CBS, Thursday at 8:00) and I was amazed at how well a lot of the episode played into what we have been talking about in class.  Because this might not be relevant, I'll put it under a cut.  Click below to read.

    Off Topic: Friday Fun

    I make no secret of my dislike of Twilight.

    But when you pair the melodramatic story with an overly catchy pop tune you get a video that's actually pretty entertaining.

    Test and Quiz Date Updates

    For next week these are the plans:

    Monday:  Review Chap 3
    Block 1:  Finish review/ Chapter 3 BA Test
    Block 2:  Begin Chapter 4
    Friday:  Continue Chap 4

    Monday:  Truth Tables / Vocab Quiz
    Block 1:  Review Chapter 2, Finish Truth Tables
    Block 2:  Chapter 2 BA Test
    Friday:  Begin Chapter 3

    Talk About Math: Which is better?

    Constructive participation in this discussion will earn a student 2 Brownie Points.

    I wanted to ask the question, which is a "better" form of argument, inductive reasoning or deductive reasoning?

    By way of review, inductive reasoning is the reasoning based on experience and experiement, while deductive is based on logical steps forming an arugment.  For example a research scientist tends to use inductive (he tries things) while a theoretical scientist uses deductive (he writes things down on the white board to see what he can calculate and predict).

    I am inviting students to leave a comment saying which one they think is the "Better" of the two and to provide some kind of explanation of why they trust that kind of reasoning more than the other.  Parents are also encouraged to leave a comment (which can earn 1 additional BP for their student).

    Dr. Sheldon Cooper (theoretical scientist) and Penny.
    Photo:  Warner Bros TV


    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Comments and the Mystery of Math

    Watching TV tonight I had the thought to do a non-class specific post. First I'd like to invite people to use the comments feature provided. If something I post is not clear, or you wish to comment, contribute or continue a conversation, feel free to click on the Comment link, and post your thoughts. Yes, it requires you to enter an email address and yes it is moderated, both of which would be consistant with our school policies and my own sense of "common internet sense". But that shouldn't be a roadblock to sharing a thought or two.

    It will also help me feel like these updates have some value.

    The primary thing I wanted to focus on, however, was the new TV show airing on ABC: No Ordinary Family. In this show, the son discovers that his super power is the ability to quickly and easily comprehend Mathematics. Watching the show I realized that they are using a similar effect to one used in the movie A Beautiful Mind and in the TV show Numb3rs.  They are making mathematics appear magical. As the problems are being solved, the words on the page just rearrange themselves. Images appear in space, working out a solution right there in real time, with little or no effort.

    This is a small point of concern because little I have seen about mathematics education says that it has to be that way.  I'll explain further under the cut:

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Talk about Geometry: Airline Flights

    To help students ease into the idea of a logical chain of thoughts (and the Law of Syllogism) we did a short activity involving planning a flight from one city to another using a limited set of options.  This might be a way to spur some conversation about the basics of proof. 

    Test Days

    The following will be our next Benchmark Assessments:

    Geometry:  Block 1 next week
    For 1st hour and 4th hour that will be on Tuesday 10/12

    Algebra:  Block 1 Next week
    For 6th hour that will be on Tuesday 10/12
    For 3rd and 5th Hours that will be Wednesday 10/13

    News: Longer School Year?

    As always these opinions are expressed to inform and raise awareness and are not nessecarily those of WL Central HS, or Walled Lake CSD.

    Last week it was said again:  American students need a longer school year.

    Washington -- Barely into the new school year, President Barack Obama issued a tough-love message to students and teachers on Monday: Their year in the classroom should be longer, and poorly performing teachers should get out.

    American students are falling behind their foreign counterparts, especially in math and science, and that's got to change, Obama said. Seeking to revive a sense of urgency that education reform may have lost amid the recession's focus on the economy, Obama declared that the future of the country is at stake.

    U.S. schools through high school offer an average of 180 instruction days per year, according to the Education Commission of the States, compared to an average of 197 days for lower grades and 196 days for upper grades in countries with the best student achievement levels, including Japan, South Korea, Germany and New Zealand.

    "That month makes a difference," the president said.
    This is not a new idea from the President.  He said the same thing last year at this time.  What will be interesting is to see how much traction it gets during an election year, or if we'll see some action on it during the winter months when schools are far from everyone's minds again.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    WMRO is up and running

    I now have an official YouTube channel for my classes.  At this time I'm planning to run a single channel for both Geometry and Algebra,  but the files will be grouped by subject if you sort them alphabetically.  The model go like this:

    "Alg 3-5 Prac B #4" is for Algebra, section 3-5, Practice B worksheet, #4.

    "Geo 2-Review #10" is for Geometry, Chapter 2, Review problems, #10.

    Hopefully that should keep it easy to find what you need when you need it.

    Talk about Geometry: Death Rays

    Kids... you need to study Geometry before you build multi-million dollar hotels...

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – MGM Resorts International is taking the heat for an intense beam of searing desert sunlight, jokingly dubbed the "death ray," that some hotel guests say poses a risk of severe burns to bathers lounging poolside.

    The beam is actually a concentrated reflection of solar rays bouncing off the gleaming glass facade of the concave-shaped, high-rise Vdara hotel and condominium, which opened on the Las Vegas "strip" in December.
    Read more here.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Talk About Math: Valid vs Invalid

    In geometry we're currently discussing Valid Vs Invalid and this is creating some interesting conversations and with it fair confusion. So here's a few ideas for keeping things straight:

    Here is a sample valid agrument (using the Law of Detachment):

    "Not a wizard gone bad wasn't in Slytherin. That one is a wicked evil wizard, so it only makes sense he was one of them Slytherin." (stolen slightly from Harry Potter)

    Let's clean that up and put it into the format we use in class:

    If they are a bad wizard, then they were in Slytherin.
    That is a bad wizard.
    Therefore, they were in Slytherin.

    This follows the Valid arguement we call the Law of Detachment and thus is a valid argument.

    Now this gets a little tricky because we can argue with someone about whether or not the argument is True. For example, let's say that the second statement is not true. Let's say that due to a case of mistaken identity, we get a good wizard confused for an evil one. Does the conclusion that they were in Slytherin still fit? Of course not, making the statement that he was in Slytherin, and the whole argument overall False.

    But it's still a Valid argument.

    The hardest thing we face is seperating True conclusions from Valid conclusions. Students frequently focus on True/False (which we also covered in the first few sections) instead of Valid/Invalid which is the newer topic.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    Homework Problem

    As a bit of modeling for my video homework pilot, here is one of the problems from the Algebra Homework for the weekend. Recorded with me holding the cam in one hand, and my pen in the other. I did record it directly to YouTube, but once there I have the option of downloading the file itself. If this were a student project, at this point, I would prefer them to download it, mail it to me, and then I would re-upload it, unless we have parent consent to do direct recording and posting.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Friday Fun

    Today's Friday Fun is a video I made of my son far too long ago, made up of pictures from the first 6 months of his life.  He's nearly three now and I really need to make another one of these montages.  Part of why I posted it was to show that you can turn still photos into a video using Windows Movie maker, which ties in with the Video Homework Pilot I mentioned earlier.

    Have a good weekend everyone.

    Policy Postings

    If you check over to left right I have posted two new pages.  One is an explanation of how I handle students re-taking a BA test.  These rules should be reviewed and it is important to note that the process is more involved than a student simply showing up afterschool for a re-do of the test.

    The other page is an explanation of a pilot program for students to show their understanding of the work in a unique way, and sharing that work with others.  I encourage students and parents to review this as well because it will be, I think, a useful alternative.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Quiz Announcements


    Monday 10/4 - Sections 2.1 through 2.3  It will include Valid vs Invalid, the Law of Detachment and the Law of Syllogism.


    Friday 10/1 - Sections 3.1 through 3.3.  Focus on your old homework.

    Also, the word of the day for Algebra is "Networked".

    Sticks and Stones

    The following is my personal opinion, and shared here out of concern for our students.  It is not
    necessarily that of WL Central HS, or Walled Lake Schools.

    "Sticks and stones
    May break my bones
    But names
    Will never hurt me."

    We teach this to our children to help them cope with bullies at school when they are little.  It seems that all of us were made fun of at one time or another on the playground, and perhaps this little saying was enough to remind us that they were just words.

    But, did our parents ever envision a day when these words would be heard throughout the world?  A day when with a single mouse click that teasing would be heard not by the four or five nearby kids, but by every visitor to Twitter, or Facebook?  Facebook boasts 500 million active users, which is staggering when you consider that the population of the US is 300 million, give or take a few.

    The news is now reporting on a young man at Rutgers who took his life after his roommate alegedly videotaped him sharing an intimate moment, and aired the tape on the internet.  To the roommate this was a fantastic prank, a great chance to tease the man he shared a dorm room with.  I doubt that Ravi, the roommate who alegedly placed the camera, envisioned such an end to this story. 

    Cyber-bullying is not new.  On occassion we even glorify it in film. It is not often this tragic.   But when it is, it reminds us that it is something we cannot ignore.  These actions have real consequences, and our students and children have access to the world in ways we could not even imagine five years ago, let alone twenty.  We are trying to stop it.  California has passed a law that will make it illegal to impersonate someone online for malicious reasons.  But there are doubts that this law will survive a challenge due to considerations of Freedom of Speech.

    This is an age of the viral video, where we are all looking for the chance to make the next big splash, to push the envelope, to get our names known.  Instead of competing with a few others in a class, we are competing with the world.  How much were these two motivated by vitriol and how much of it was a naive pursuit of fame at being the ones to post this video?

    I have no answers, only more and more questions.  I am left watching my 2 year old play with his dinosaurs and wonder what the world will be like for him.