Tag Archives: A Day in the Life

[DITL] 2/22/17


I got up this morning with trepidation because my son was sick with the stomach bug a day ago and it seems to have spread through every other family quickly. I’m just waiting to get sick.


I head off to school a bit later than usual. At the inservice yesterday I heard about blended learning with stations, so I wanted to try it. That mean getting lots of different resources together in a short amount of time.


Students start streaming in and I have stations ready for ELT (like a bonus period — 5th period today) but none else. Fortunately I have planing 1st and 2nd period, but 2nd period is CFIP (meeting where we show we’re growing as teachers) so I really only have 1st period planning.


During ELT time the counselor comes in and lets me know that a student left our school suddenly. I’m sad to see him go even though he’s currently my most difficult student to reach. My feelings are mixed and I’m able to convey sorrow to the counselor with honesty despite a part of me thinking how much easier my day and my job became (upon reflection I’ve decided it’s only slightly easier).

10:20, 3rd period, Merit 8th Grade Math

Student rejoice at being asked to do the warm-up “in their head” (every other week this year they’ve had to write down the warm-ups). We do Estimation 180 every Wednesday and this week is estimating the length of Charlotte’s Web followed by To Kill a Mockingbird. Upon reflection, that’s a great opportunity to talk about the books a bit, but we’re too busy.

After the warm-up, I explain the stations: (1) Quiz Corrections, for students who didn’t do well on Friday’s quiz, (2) Watch some KA videos to review for Friday’s Test, and (3) work independently on the study guide.

I assign the students to stations randomly, except for the Quiz Corrections station.

After half of the class time passes, we rotated stations and instead of a “Quiz Correction” station, I had a “Go over the study guide” station.

11:10, 4th period, Honors 8th Grade Math

We’re nearly a month ahead of merit at this point so we’re doing geometry transformations. After a good presentation last week about STEM, I decided to have the students try their hand at some programming, which includes some transformations (mostly translation and rotation, but it also includes lengths and angle measurements, so I feel good about what I’m doing!)

Stations in this class include: (1) Working with Mr. Newman to learn about dilations, (2) Practicing Dilations (this station didn’t really happen because I didn’t find the materials by the time class started!), and (3) Programming through code.org.

In theory one third of the students were at each station. In reality, just over two thirds of the class did programming through code.org and one third worked with me.

12:00, 5th period, Algebra

The stations in this class were a continuation from the morning, so I worked with ~8 students to teach them completing the square within an equation, a third of the students did the Desmos Penny Circle activity and a third of the students practiced completing the square.

We rotated half-way through the class and few of the students who were ahead got to work on their HW in TenMarks.

12:50, Lunch

I have opened up my classroom every day for students to come in and ask questions. I had 3 students in there and a discussion about politics opened up. I mostly ignored it because (1) I’m still unsure of what the boundary is with students and politics and (2) I had a lot of work to do in getting the students for 6th and 7th period placed into stations.

1:23, 6th period, Honors 8th Grade Math

Just as with 4th period, they enjoyed the programming as well, and the students did even better in the small group on dilations (I had explained it twice before, so I was getting better at explaining dilations).

2:13, 7th period, Merit 8th Grade Math

For some reason, nearly half the class needed to finish or take the quiz from Friday, so that became it’s own station. Unfortunately most of the students took the entire period to finish, and I still had behavior issues in the small group that was left over. To give an example, one student in particular was tardy, stepped outside of the class through the door that leads to outside the school, walked into the door that leads into another teacher’s classroom and walked into that teacher’s room as she was teaching, and also left class with 5 minutes left in the school day. Oh, and I email this student’s mother every day and last week was mostly positive reviews. Fortunately I was able to verbally redirect him every time, but that’s more verbal redirections than I care to give to a single student in a single day.


The end of the day school bell rings. I start the after school checklist:

  • Put HW on remind.com
  • Make sure I put in attendance (I didn’t all day…)
  • Check to see if I have to give out any PBIS steps (discipline)
  • Email student 1’s parents
  • Email student 2’s parents
  • Email student 3’s parents
  • Email student 4’s parents
  • Email student 5’s parents (yes, I do all 5 every day!)
  • Plug in HW grades (none today because of the weekend)
  • Enter tutoring list (this is for the ELT time)
  • Take a picture of the notes and the agenda and put them on Google Classroom
  • Make one good phone call home (I have to remind myself that I enjoy making these phone calls, and that parents enjoy hearing good things about their children)
  • Collect the Ticket Outs (I didn’t do any today–I really should have because I’m trying to do blended learning!)
  • Write up tomorrow’s Daily Agenda on the wall

This checklist takes me about an hour and a half, depending on how much cleaning up I have to do today.


I notice an reminder email to write this DITL blog post (I’ve forgotten the past 2 months entries!). I sit down for 30 minutes to type this up.

It’s now 5:00 and I need to do some more grades before I leave. I usually go home around 6:00 but I want to get home sooner today because a friend is coming over to visit with us after dinner and my wife’s parents return late tonight so I want to be home to help her clean up the house a little.

Successes from Today

I think the stations went well, and I especially liked teaching in small groups.

My positive phone call home was on a voicemail, but it was for a girl who worked really hard who’s hit or miss.

We also moved faster in Algebra than I had expected, so we can get deeper with some of the quadratic stuff, which is exciting.

Room for improvement for Today

I was unable to reach the one student in 7th period (sent an email home) and the students taking the quiz were talking way too much. I was tutoring with my back to a majority of the class and I was better during 3rd period about having my back to the wall so I could see everyone, so I just need to be more aware of that. I’m also exhausted by 7th period (and I empathize with all the students who are, too!), so maybe I just need to pace myself better throughout the day.


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[DITL] The Last Day Before Thankgiving

6:00 I wake up to my watch alarm and get ready for school. I turn my phone alarm off before it goes off and notice Glenn Waddell’s reminder email to blog a DITL today. I brush my teeth before eating breakfast because I’m not quite awake. I’m surprised I don’t do that more often.

While showering I debate the ethics and usefulness of doing a warm-up on the Pythagorean Theorem very similar to one of the county-mandated Benchmark tests. I decide to do the warm-up for Merit but not for Honors.

7:05 When I get to school, a fellow teacher comes in to get the Chromebook cart back. I had taken it out of her room since I signed up for it today, but I didn’t notice that she had it signed out for ELT (homeroom). I apologize and later she even brought the cart back to me.

Last night I had the idea to post the agenda to Google Classroom each day. It took 15 seconds and has the HW on there as well as our “essential question” and what we did for the day. I think I’ll do that more often as a resource for absent students.

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I make copies for the day: test correction forms for ELT, quizzes for Algebra I, and Mathcounts materials for after school.

7:52 Students start coming in for ELT–the 10 minutes when they hear the announcements and see which classes they’re going to (sometimes students are pulled for tutoring). I always have to quiet down one pocket of boys. I patiently “shush” the same student over and over during the morning announcements.

8:05 My 7th period comes in (it’s their turn in the ELT rotation) and we start working on test corrections. They took the test over a week ago, but this was the first time I was able to work with them during ELT, and it took a long time to grade online, so I decided to wait until now. I would write the work up around the room and they copied down the right answer onto their test corrections. I wonder how much they’re getting out of it just copying down what I write, but when I ask them to figure it out on their own, I end up helping them all out and saying the same thing 18 times. On the sheet they have to answer summary questions such as “how do you find the slope from an equation”, so hopefully that helps.

8:38 I have 1st and 2nd period planning. I talk with the other 8th grade teacher about what we’re doing next week and finish what I didn’t get printed earlier. I make keys for Algebra I so they can grade themselves after they take the quiz.

10:17 My 3rd period students start trickling in and I try to direct their attention to the problem on the board that is so similar to the benchmark question that it makes me queasy thinking about it. I’m optimistic but I fear that at least 1/3 of the students in the room won’t understand it even though I go right over it and another third will forget how to do it 15 minutes later when they see in on the test.

The students start out by finishing their test they started yesterday on paper. When they finish the paper, they’re to get a Chromebook and put their benchmark answers into the computer test (setup on Google Classroom). One of the problems is tricky to type in so I ask every student to show me #7. Yes, it’s faster to do that than for me to go back afterwards and change every student’s answer.

Once they finish with the test, they’re to check their grades online and look for missing assignments/missing quiz corrections.

After they do all of that, they’re allowed to play Prodigy.

Algebra is the only class that’s not taking a benchmark rigth now. I try a different warm-up today: Warm-up by checking your HW answers with the other students at your table. It works okay. We quickly go over the HW. Then I show them “my favorite mistakes” from the tickets out, the day before, encouraging them not to make the same mistakes on the quiz.

After the Algebra students take their quiz, they check their work and get a TenMarks username and password to start some practice problems on TenMarks.

12:10 At lunch I offer to tutor a student who was really struggling with 2-step equations. I like to avoid the (often) negative atmosphere of the teacher’s lounge, so this is a double bonus for me.

After lunch, we repeat with my last two classes.

3:00 Mathcounts has a small showing today (only 5 of the 12 members) because the morning announcements sounded like “afternoon activities are cancelled” when it really said “afternoon activity buses are cancelled”. It’s fun doing the math with them and seeing the expressions on their faces. This time one student had 2 riddles for his fellow students, so I printed them off and let them go at it the last 10 minutes.

4:15 I start to tackle this “end of the day to-do list”. It only takes about an hour. I use Google Keep for this, so I can “uncheck all boxes” when I’m done to reuse the list the next day.

  • Take attendance
  • Send Remind.com message
  • Write the next day’s Daily Agenda on the Wall
  • Get Tickets Out
  • Make One Positive Phone Call (remember that parents CARE about their kids and you enjoy this!)
  • Enter Tutoring List
  • Steps? (this is for behavior)
  • Email *****’s parents (student)
  • Email $$$$$’s parents (student)
  • Email %%%%’s parents (student)

I have three trouble students who I’ve found that a daily email home is the best strategy to keep them focused as much as possible. Also those three parents really appreciate the emails.

5:15ish I start to tackle my “end of week” checklist, again on Google Keep.

  • Print New Attendance Sheets
  • Get All the Turned in Work
  • Write next week’s Birthdays on the wall
  • Plug in HW grades for the week
  • Put Warm-ups on Google Classroom
  • Mentor Log?
  • Clean Up
  • Put times next to anything on the to-do list for the weekend

Most of these are faster because it was a 2-day week.

I get to go home around 5:30pm. There’s just a tiny bit of light from the sun which set a while ago when I step outside. I notice that my car is the only one in the lot and briefly wonder if I’m doing something wrong. I’m working full-time after school to get all those things above that NEED to be done: so why am I last to leave? I’m a fairly fast worker.

I play with Benji (2 and a half years old yesterday) and Daniel (4 months) in the evening and type up this blog post at 11pm, when I should be sleeping. We’re driving to Roanoke, VA tomorrow to visit family for Thanksgiving and I need the sleep for the drive. At least I have 5 days off before the next day of school.


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[DITL] A PD Day in Frederick Co.

6:00 am

I wake up to my watch alarm because I was too tired the night before to set it for an hour later. I usually try to get to school by 7 am, but since it is a PD day, I can get to the “Symposium” by 8. All of the teachers across the county go to one of six sites. I am sure that this was explained to me earlier in the year, when I was not worried about this because it was months away.

6:45 am

I finally get up and enjoy the extra rest. The previous two nights I was working up until midnight, which is much later than I am used to. Last night, knowing I did not have to do anything to get ready for today, I think I went to sleep around 9:30 pm.

After a short breakfast, I hop in the car and drive to a local high school–one of the six locations around the county that teachers will be going. This location is focused on secondary teaching and assessment. We signed up for two classes online (weeks before) for the morning. The afternoon will be spent working in my classroom.

8:30 am

I arrive at my first class and am pleasantly surprised that it is a teacher from my own school leading the class! The class is on MobyMax and the teacher does a great job of introducing us to the program, hitting the highlights of what she enjoys most of it, and then letting us mess with it the rest of the time while answering questions. I really want to use it now, and think this will be much more appropriate for many of my students who struggle with the difficult level of reading that TenMarks requires to answer their questions.

10:20 am

A keynote lecture is sandwiched between the two morning classes. I really enjoyed Michael Gorman. He talked about “initiative fatigue”, after listing several dozen initiatives that had been started over the past few decades. Things like PBL, 21st century skills, DOK, etc. He boiled “good teaching” down to the 7 areas that he considered most important, and tossed a few good tools or ways to do each of the seven main points. He asked us to try to take at least one thing away, and I grabbed a few: trying word clouds, commonsense.org, and QFT (see http://rightquestion.org/education/).

11:15 am

My second class was on Peardeck.  I had used it half a dozen times in class, so I was hoping to “go deeper”, but the class was an introductory class. It was a good reminder that I can use it again because it is great for making sure students understand what is going on!


I drive home since my house is sort of on the way to school, where I get to work in the afternoon. I get to eat with my wife and two sons (well, Daniel is only 2 months old, so he just hangs out while we eat).

1:00 pm

I get to school and have grand plans of getting all my grades and lesson plans done so I can enjoy the weekend! I turn in my emergency sub plans, which is about a month late, and talk to my co-teacher about some grading stuff. I get to grade two classes, but have a good talk with the 8th grade counselor about some students. Somewhere in there I talk to our librarian and the principal comes around and hands out muffins that she baked. I mess with MobyMax a little to see what the students would experience. After cleaning my classroom, I look at the clock and realize it is 5:00. Four hours disappeared and I only got 2 of my 5 classes graded.

5:00 pm

I use keep.google.com to make a to-do list for the weekend. My latest attempt to stay on schedule includes me putting times next to each item on the to-do list. This keeps me from telling myself “I’ll get it done later” to so much stuff that I get overwhelmed. Friday night includes creating next week’s quizzes so that I can start planning on Saturday.

5:15 pm

I get home and get to play with my 2-year old, Benji, who is at a great stage of life. Everything is fun and anything can be funny.

10:00 pm After dinner and some more time with my family, we all pray together at 9:23[1]. I can get started on lesson planning, but I get sidetracked by looking at the news (news.google.com). I decide on which quiz to use from the county[2] for 8th grade math and outline the Algebra quiz. It’s now 11:00 and way later than I meant to go to sleep. I will have to do more grading and quiz creation than I had planned on Saturday.


[1] The purpose of this is to remember Luke 9:23. Though I only remember the verse numbers, not the actual verse.

[2] Our county, Frederick County in Maryland, has great teacher resources.

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[DITL] September 22nd

6:05 am

I wake up to my phone alarm (my back-up alarm) for the first time this year. Guess I’ve been “thinking about too much” this year to get a really good night’s sleep.


7:00 am

After getting ready, I’m driving to work. Only a ~10 minute commute.

7:10 am

I get to school and begin getting ready. Today is a half-day (end of mid-term/quarter) so there’s no ELT (homeroom). Here’s schedule. (I only put up my classes, 3rd – 7th pd.)


9:20 am

The morning has flown by, but I got organized and was proud of how “ready” each of the things on my desk were. See photos.



Also had the agendas ready. I’ve been better about that this year.


10:36 am

3rd and 4th periods went pretty smoothly (you can see the agenda for a synopsis). I’m really excited to be using Pear Deck and I hope I am able to get it ready for many future lessons.

I announced the winners of the “Amazing Amusement”, my weekly challenge, and I made the girl in 4th period excited. When you win my weekly challenge, you get to a bag of fruit snacks (no candy allowed at our school) and you get to put your name on the Wizard Wall. I’d show you a picture of it, but it has student names on it. Here’s the winner’s work (shortest, most accurate route).


Unfortunately the 6th period student wasn’t in school today, but she does read my blog so maybe she’ll find out she won right here!

For 5th period (Algebra) I got a short 3-act lesson on taxis ready and, though we didn’t finish it, the students enjoyed using the VNPS (whiteboards on the walls). See photos.





And the results of their work:


1:00 pm

The bell rings for the end of the day and I’m a little frustrated at my 7th period because they began putting up chairs and packing up with 2 minutes left while I was showing a video (meat-o-morphosis intro to functions). Well, I guess I should have known: the end of a short day before a long weekend.

4:30 pm

I’m typing up this post because I really want to get home so we can head to the beach! I’m not nearly ready for Monday yet, but I’ll bring grades with me to the beach and hopefully, despite not having internet, I’ll get some work done in preparation for Monday. Where did the last three and a half hours go?!? At least my room is somewhat clean.


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[MTBoS Blaugust] A Day in the Life

I really want to reflect more this year, and various challenges like MTBoS Blagust are a great way for me to encourage myself. I also signed up for Tina’s “Day in the Life” book/challenge/compliation. Since it is Friday, I finally have enough time to do one of these, so here goes!

6:15 am Wake up. Pebble watch buzzes and wakes me up so I do not have to wake up my dear wife. Unfortunately she wakes up anyways. I am wondering how many more mornings I will still wake up to just a buzz on the wrist. My phone is my back-up alarm and is across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off.

7:00 am Arrive at school. Today is our last day (of 4) teacher workdays, so it is the day that admin gives to ourselves to get ready for the year. Since I just moved into this school and have a new classroom (and did not have my own classroom before) I started two weeks ago with nothing. I got some things laminated last night, so all morning I am laminating more, printing more signs, and putting them up. Yes, I stole liberally from Math Equals Love. She has awesome stuff. Here are some of my results:


My first time teaching GEMDAS!


Mindset poster, Student Supply Center, Class Norms, Vertical Non-permanent Surfaces, and Ticket outs!


I still need to put up an explanatory poster for the students: green is “Got it!”, blue is “Almost”, yellow is “Not sure”, red is “Nope!”

11:45 am Our PTA sponsored lunch is announced “ready to be served”. I sit down and talk a little Star Wars with the 8th grade counselor. The food was good and it’s always very kind of parents to volunteer and support teachers.

12:15 pm A question about “where the EL students are” comes up. (EL = English Learner) I am supposed to have EL students in my 3rd period, but the other 8th grade teacher is finding them in her 6th period, and there is no label for them in the online student database. After an hour of talking with various people (counselor, EL teacher, assistant principal, and the principal), it comes out that she’s the EL teacher and not me. I feel really badly for her because she’s also co-teaching the with the SPED teacher (SPED = Special Education, though it’s not labeled that anymore in this district, I think), so she has to organize and plan for 3 classes: 2 with one teacher and 1 with another teacher.

1:15 pm I meet with the other 8th grade math teacher and her SPED co-teacher. And on top of that we’re expected to have very similar grading practices and lesson plans. Fortunately I had a rough outline of week 1 for 8th grade math (26 squares, shortened version, followed by Cheez-it rational approximations of roots followed by a quiz), and fortunately the other two teachers liked many of the ideas. They both believe strongly in massed practice, however, and especially for the “lower” students, so I am not sure what to think. I would love to try lagging practice/HW with mine (therefore doing interleaved practice instead) and compare, but we will have to see. It will not be a fair comparison because of the number of SPED in those classes. However, I really appreciated the feedback they gave me–especially when it came to their approximations of how long activities would take and whether our students would have certain skills (i.e. know their multiplication tables? or be able to rationalize a fraction?)

We ended up roughly planning the whole first week, which made me excited. We will make that process more efficient the more we work together, and I will continue learning about the ability level of the students.

2:45 pm I get back to working in my classroom. I still have more posters to put up and more busy-work to do. I create sign-out sheets, tutoring sign-ups, etc. The AP walked into my room and asked if they could borrow some of my whiteboards on hooks because apparently some of the other classrooms do not even have somewhere that the teacher can write, so they were sort of in panic mode. The AP was very appreciative and it was at no cost to me because I will probably not use those whiteboards until next week. We are using manipulatives in our activities today, so it would be harder for the students to be at the wall and their tables at the same time.

My wonderful wife made me an awesome wizard for the “Wizard Wall”, where I’m going to allow students to sign their name when they are the first in their class to complete the “weekly challenge”. I got the idea from my father-in-law who did this nearly every year he taught for the 24 years he taught. He is a deeply respected teacher in the community and at his school, so if he says something worked well, I thought I should try it out. See photo below:


I plan on putting the agenda up high, at the “back” of the room, so I can see it during the class!


Those are tutoring sign-ups!


It looks great!



5:30 pm I head home (the first time). I get home to hear that my 2 year old behaved very well today though my 2-week old was very fussy in the afternoon. I was able to play with the first while holding the latter, yay!

7:00 pm After dinner I go back to school.  Because I cannot get into the school on the weekend, I need to make sure that I have my materials printed for Monday and my classroom is cleaned up a good bit.

8:15 pm I head home (the second time). I get home in time to play with my 2 year old before putting him to bed. I sit and talk with my family for a while and then sit down to type this blog around 11 pm. It’s now 11:30 as I type these words.

1. Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?

I was proud of how I worked with my colleagues in deciding the details of next week’s lessons. I am worried that I am not pushing enough for interleaved practice rather than massed practice, but it is a hectic time of year to be having that conversation. Maybe if the school year gets under way, we can talk about the differences in a few weeks or months.

2. Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?

Challenge has been finding time to do all the different things. I feel I’ve dropped the ball on memorizing students’ names. I want to know them all by Monday but that might not be possible, as I still need to lesson plan for an entire class all week, including Monday!! I am looking forward to meeting the students, and seeing them interact with the warm-ups, ticket outs, and my 1st night’s homework (a get-to-know-you sheet).

3. We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

I tried to comfort my fellow 8th grade teacher when she was stressed about now having to teach EL. I kept looking for ways to help her, though this will be something that I will need to do for a while. Even though she has far more experience with middle schoolers and more experience at this school, I can look for ways to help her and build that relationship.

4. Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year.

    • First post: What is a goal you have for the year?

One personal goal for the year is to do ticket outs, read them, and use them to inform my teaching. With a watch that buzzes at the right time, I think I will be better than I have been in the past.

5. What else happened this month that you would like to share?

Well, we had our second son, Daniel, born on August 1st.  Wohoo!


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[2016 Blogging Initiative] Week one: A Day in the Life

A day in the life: 1/13/16

6:30 am My watch buzzes and wakes me up. I have an alarm clock across the room that buzzes at 6:31 just in case I don’t wake up, but this way I have 1 minute before I have to wake my wife up. Of course on Wednesday she’s already out the door at the gym until 7:30 I shower, eat, and get dressed, all hoping not to wake our 1 1/2 year old son. If he wakes up, I have to change & feed him, which means I can’t get to school 15-30 minutes early and make sure all my plans are ready for the day.

7:30 Benji (my son) wake up just before Anna (my wife) arrives home and I spend 10 minutes with them before heading out. Benji still gets really upset as I’m walking out the door, which makes me feel loved and sad for him at the same time.

7:40 I arrive at school. Since I live on campus, it takes about 90 seconds for me to walk and get to school. If we ever leave this place, I’m going to miss the commute. A few students have already arrived and one comes in to ask me how she did on yesterday’s quiz. I get ready for the lesson today in Precalculus, which involves making boxes out of 8.5 x 11 paper and comparing the volume to the size of the square in the corner, so I need paper (easy), rulers (little harder), and scissors (I knew I had a box somewhere… 5 minutes later I find it).

8:10 First bell rings, student pour into class as I give them high fives @gwaddellnvhs style. Some students still grin, even though I’ve been pretty good about doing it every day.

8:15 Class starts. I pray and then I demonstrate, silently, how to make a box from 8.5 x 11 paper without wasting any paper. Here’s a picture.



We didn’t get as far as I’d like, mostly because students really struggled to come up with creative math questions after I showed them how to make a box. Even after I made a second one with different dimensions, they still took nearly 15 minutes to say anything remotely close to “Which box has the most volume?” I need to work on improving their creative thinking. We’ve done a 3Act lesson nearly every week and yet they’re still quiet after the think-pair-share, which often gets off-topic very quickly in the “pair” part of that. At least we made a table on one whiteboard and a graph on another (though only half the students actually put their “point” on the graph. Ignore the student names, ha.


One new twist this year is I had students figure out how many cubes go in the box, which helps many of the students to get a feel for volume. It shocked me how many students forgot how to find the volume of a box (rectangular prism) in Precalculus.

9:50 Class ends. I have 10 minutes to get 12 iPads across the street (yes) to my 2nd classroom before Physics.

10:00 First bell rings. Second bell rings at 10:05, but I don’t wait until then to start class since you can’t hear the bell from the classroom anyway. I just wait until all 12 students are there. Today there are only the 9 boys–all 3 girls are absent at the start of class. We start the mistake game and this is the first year that I feel the activity has been a success (I’ve tried it 3 or 4 years in a row now!). The primary thing that helps, which I can’t remember whether Kelly puts this on her blog post or not, but I would highly recommend, is to make everyone’s situation different. We did this today (this is the 2nd time in this class I’ve done it) by having students go outside and shoot a tennis ball into a basketball hoop. They recorded each other using Vernier Video Physics and because each partner pair shot from a different location and threw it different heights, they each started with different values, so it wasn’t as simple as “oh, that’s what was different from our board”. Some students had really neat mistakes, stumping the entire class, even though (a) it’s only the second time we’ve played the mistake game and (b) many students make these mistakes in their own work!

The second part of physics involved setting up the momentum transfer model and intro experiment, but we didn’t get to actually do any of the experiment since the mistake game took so long (which is OK!). [1]

11:35 The bell rings and I have 35 minutes to get to the lunch hall (we get a free lunch once a week) and get home (90 second walk, remember?) to eat with Anna & Benji and get back to class, but a student stops me and asks to see his Physics exam from last semester, which is in my first room of the day. I get it for him and do all the above and am walking back to school just as…

12:10 The first bell rings. I now have a “class” of 2 remedial students who both failed my Chemistry last year. Jealous? Well, this is supposed to be my planning period [2], so don’t get too jealous. Oh, and we meet in the computer lab because there isn’t a classroom free for me to have them in, so I’m kinda in my 3rd classroom of the day. These two students really, really failed Chemistry, so I’m taking a different approach in the form of 3 steps: (1) get them excited about science, (2) jump into chemistry via a modelling-like curriculum [3], (3) make sure we’ve covered all the parts of chemistry and that I feel comfortable passing them. Today they were working on this PhET simulation and playing the game. They both got 10/10 on all 4 games. I told them “let’s do a quiz on this on Friday” (their smiles faded), “where the quiz is you have to get 10/10 on all 4 games again” (they smiled a little more), “and you get as many chances as you want to make it” (they broke into huge grins again). These smiles coming from students who hated chemistry last year when I taught it. It’s amazing how successful students can feel when they’re not comparing themselves with others who just get stuff before they do. Here’s a list of “atom rules” that they came up with just a little prompting from me.


1:50 The first bell rings for the last class of the day and I move across the hall (again) to teach in my 4th classroom of the day. It’s Precalculus again, but since this mostly group is juniors (the other was mostly seniors), we’re a little ahead of the other class and we’re working on exponential growth. I showed them, and we have a good discussion about, this graph of the Ebola outbreak from 1.5 years ago [4]. We talk about why ~4,000 (a small number compared to the number of people in the world) people having such a contagious disease is a very frightening thing. They take a quiz on exponential functions and all work on an old practice AMC test for “fun” while waiting for others to finish. When everyone is done, they divide into groups and talk about the “homework”. I’m trying a flipped classroom, so it’s really about the guided outline they had to fill out and answer questions on as they watched a video I created. The topic was an intro to logarithms.

3:20 The bell rings to go home but I hang out and answer a few students’ questions. We’re supposed to stay until 4:00 (or 3:45 if you arrived at 7:45 in the morning) but our boss is away on a trip and I think the secretary and myself are the only ones in the building by 3:50.

4:00 I get home and play with Benji in a “cave” we’ve made out of our comforter and one of his pack-n-play cribs. See photo.


5:25 We go to Wednesday night dinner, which happens to be in the same building as where the students eat lunch earlier in the day.

6:30 I finish eating and help wash the dishes. There’s a lot of help this week since it’s the first one of the semester so we get done early and I go home at…

7:00 This is the time that I have to prepare for tomorrow, but I foolishly hop onto ESPN.com, among other websites and follow Wake Forest basketball. We lose to VT :/

8:00 We go across the street to visit our elderly neighbor as we do every night. We do that because he doesn’t have family that lives nearby, but he loves seeing Benji every night.

8:30 I go play pick-up basketball with several of the teachers and locals which include some alumni, whom I’ve taught.

10:15 I get home from basketball, take a shower, ignore the grades I was planning on doing cause I’m tired, and go to bed.

6:30 am My watch buzzes…


[1] Yes, I steal almost my entire Physics curriculum from Kelly O’Shea.

[2] No, this semester I don’t technically have a planning period, but one class of mine is 1 student and another is 2 students, so I plan around them while they’re working.

[3] I’ve never done a modelling curriculum for chemistry, though I’ve done some modelling-like lessons in the class.

[4] I did not create that graph and I’m sorry that I’ve lost where I got it from. Please let me know so I can credit them if you know!


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