In My Classroom: Exciting News + Museum Trips

First off, happy weekend!!!! I hope everyone got a restful sleep last night and slept in this Saturday morning. Even just 5 minutes later than weekday wake-up time. Take what you can get!

Let’s start off with the good news: I recently found out that I will be teaching Math classes full-time next year! After teaching 3 of my own Math and co-teaching 2 Chemistry classes, I’m SO ready to be teaching all Math, all the time. I mean, I went to school for Math and that’s my end goal, so I’M PUMPED!!!

This week has been strange because the majority of our freshmen and a few of our faculty are off on the yearly trip to Europe. My wing of the school is super quiet because the teachers next to me are on the trip, and the students that usually walk past my door aren’t around. It’s been kind of lonely, but also very peaceful.

On Tuesday, my co-worker and I took the remaining six freshmen plus two other students to the NYC Transit Museum. It was my second time there and it was much more enjoyable this time around. The students had a blast sitting in the old train cars, playing with the different interactives, and just being out of school for an hour or two. I got a lot of great pictures and the kids enjoyed themselves so much.

Check out some of the old ads that used to be in the cars. My, how times have changed! Or maybe not: ’84 out of 100 women prefer men who wear hats’.

Subway ads

And then there are these ones that have just been aesthetically changed. I see the ones on the right everyday, but look at how far they’ve come from the 50s and 60s! Although, it seems as if people have not changed…

Subway ads 2

Also, did you know we used to have a ‘GG’, ‘LL’, and ‘KK’ train? A lot of the double letters were dropped, so we have a G train and an L train, but we don’t have a K train at all. And, look: an H train!

H Train

Anyways, my Algebra I class went from nine students to four with the freshmen gone. On Wednesday, I gave the remaining students a project about their ethnic backgrounds. They are to choose a country of their ancestry to research, create a poster, and present to the class (of four). The project focuses on the statistics of a country (such as population, economy, and climate) but they have the freedom to include some history, pictures, personal stories of visits to their countries, etc. The students seemed really interested in the project, got right to work on their computers, and worked quietly the entire rest of the class! It was fantastic!

My Algebra II students made the connection for transformations of a graph (in this case, absolute value functions) when a constant is added or subtracted within the function or outside the function. It was great. I used Desmos graphing calculator to allow them to see the graphs and make the connections, so they were a lot more receptive seeing as they’ve already graphed a bunch of functions and disliked it a lot.

I’ve decided to begin a “reading maps and giving/receiving directions” unit for my MIEL class. I started by getting them to write down directions from my classroom to the lobby. As they read their directions to me and I followed, they quickly realized that their directions weren’t as clear, specific, and thorough as they needed to be. We will work on that!

Yesterday (TGIF!!!) I joined my co-worker to take the small group of “left behind” freshmen to the American Museum of Natural History. We ended up with only five freshmen boys on our trip. Due to an “investigation” up in the 100s of Manhattan, we ended up taking 3 different trains to get there when it should’ve just been a straight shot on the C train. We missed our original exhibit time, but they ended up giving us tickets for a later time, so it worked out fine.

We ate lunch around noon outside, looking over the planetarium. I had some funny conversations with a couple of the boys, including them asking me about if I use social media and if what they were saying would be shared with anyone. I told them if it was funny or interesting enough, then maybe. And if it was ever about anyone getting hurt (hurting themselves, hurting another person, another person hurting himself or herself) then I would be obligated to share it with someone at school. Luckily, it was only the silly social media commentary, so that’s okay.

After lunch, we went to a 3D movie about a chipmunk in the forest and a grasshopper/scorpion mouse in the desert and all of the predators and harsh conditions they have to endure to survive. No cute, furry creatures were killed during the movie (thank goodness) but I can’t say the same for the scorpion (good riddance).

 I was so exhausted by the time we got on the subway for the trip back to school. And I went right home after school because this week kicked my butt. Even though it felt pretty low-key with the freshmen gone and the weather getting nicer, I worked out FOUR DAYS IN A ROW this week (high-five Mary!) and have started coming down with a cold or something, so sleep has been pretty sucky too. Here’s to a restful (and apparently gorgeous weather-wise) weekend!

In my classroom this week: FoodBank NYC, Conferences, and Good Feelings

This week was a weird one. And (do I even need to tell you?) an exhausting one. But it was also very fulfilling.

We started the week off by traveling up to the Bronx to volunteer at the FoodBank of NYC. Seven adults and about 30 students all helping an organization that feeds millions of people every day. Seriously, millions. We were shown a video before we got to work at the warehouse, giving us an idea of just how much FBNYC gives and helps the people of New York City – 1 in 5 New Yorkers are helped by them. And they don’t “just” provide food – they also help adults file taxes for free, provide families education about healthy meals on a low budget, as well as helping families file for the food assistance program (SNAP).

Foodbank NYC logo

For about 3 hours, our group of teachers and students unboxed pallets full of donated items (food and non-food), sorted out the opened and unusable items, replaced the acceptable items into FBNYC boxes, and reloaded those boxes back onto the pallets. It was a great time and I think the students actually enjoyed it.

I have a bunch of great pictures and would love to post them, but that’s what sucks about being a teacher is the privacy issues that go with pictures of students. I mean, I understand the reasoning and all, but it stinks that I can’t share their work and how awesome they are! So that’s why I will only use the one someone took of me (I wasn’t posing 😉 I swear) while we were there. Anyways, we had some great conversations when we returned to school, talking about our experience, what we enjoyed, what surprised us, etc.

Tuesday was a regular day of school. Algebra II started a review packet on linear inequalities – they may be having a test this coming week before spring break, we’ll see. My MIEL students continued rounding to practice for their test on Wednesday.

Wednesday was a half day of classes, with the other half dedicated to parent-teacher conferences. I saw all three of my math classes, Algebra I doing more function stuff, Algebra II working through their review packet, and MIEL taking their rounding test. We had an hour between students leaving and conferences beginning to eat lunch and get ready for our meetings with parents and students. I really only had one very stressful meeting and the rest were all pieces of cake.

My last one was the best and it made me remember how much I love my job. Actually, a few of my students told me I was a really good teacher and they really liked math this year in comparison to years before because I make it fun and understandable.

Aww Lauren Conrad reaction

When I finally got home around 8pm, the sheer exhaustion set in. I showered, ate, and went to sleep, just to go back to work bright and early Thursday for more conferences. But I can’t complain because it was a really easy-going day. Students were required to come to their conferences, and I think they really benefited from that one-on-one time for me to tell them how well they were doing and then what they should try to work on. I only had a handful of conferences between 8am and 3pm, so the enemy was boredom and sleepiness.

I worked on some crosswords and Sudokus to keep myself awake between conferences and decided to workout during my long 4-hour gap from 11am to 3pm. The weather was pretty crummy, so I was hoping that my last conference would cancel, especially because they were heading in from Staten Island. I didn’t have anything other than good things to say about that student anyway, so when I got the notification that they canceled, I was pumped.

My co-worker and I worked out pretty hard; like, I haven’t sweat that much in quite awhile, and it felt amazing. Then, I went home and crashed. Hard. One more day. That’s it, one more.

Friday was a surprisingly easy day; Algebra I worked on determining function rules and whether a table actually represented a function or not. No Algebra II on Friday. I started working with number bonds with MIEL students so we could start working with making change (example: What number would you add to 20 in order to make 100? 80.).

This week is our last before a two-week spring break! Woot! I don’t have any plans other than going out to Long Island to see my in-laws, Tom’s cat Finster, and some friends out there if they’re free (yay!). I also have a couple doctors’ appointments, and, oh, I’m getting my taxes done. All super riveting stuff. No trips to any exotic or warm places for me. But that’s alright because I’m ready to just sit and relax and see people I haven’t had the time to see since Christmastime!

Do you have any spring break plans? Let me know so I can live vicariously through you, pleaseandthankyou.

In my classroom this week: Frustration, Budgeting, and Basketball

This week was seriously never-ending and super frustrating. But thank goodness it ended on a high note and I can’t complain too much. So I’ll complain just enough.

You know when you spend a bunch of time on something only to realize that all of that hard work (physical, mental, and emotional) was a waste? That happened a lot this week.

Students and adults alike who don’t want to/can’t be helped even after spending so much effort on doing everything in our power (within reason, duh) to get something accomplished. That’s the most frustrating of everything that happened this week, and I was ready to pull my hair out. It didn’t just start this week either; it’s been culminating since September, but this week just exhausted me beyond belief. I mean, I was physically drained by Monday afternoon, each day becoming more and more drained.

I’m human, so I’m not perfect either – you wanna know how many times I created a lesson, typed up the note/worksheets, and made copies only to realize that I had made some sort of mistake that wasn’t easy to just have the students make small edits? Too many. For example, in Algebra II, the coordinate grid I included on the word problems didn’t work with them (totally Desmos’ fault because why, oh why would they only put 3 grid lines between 0 and 5?), so then I had to re-make the grids, re-print, and re-copy the notes. I know it sounds like I’m complaining about stupid little things, but as a teacher without much time to spend doing something more than once, it’s annoying. I just made so much extra work for myself because I wasn’t careful and instead I hurried through. Dumb-y.

This week was all about introducing functions to my Algebra I class – we talked about what functions are, practiced filling in function tables given a function rule, and on Friday we learned how to create the function rule given a full table. They’ve been doing really well, and even those students who struggled in the beginning have improved so much!

Algebra II focused on solving, graphing, and answering questions about systems of linear inequalities word problems. They’ve been really disliking this mostly because each problem is very involved and takes quite awhile to solve. But they’ve also liked it because they get to use colored pencils to color in the shaded regions.

My Math in Everyday Life (MIEL) students finished their budget component this week; I asked them to each choose two jobs: one was a job they really want to do in the future, and one in a fast food restaurant. They chose movie actress, veterinarian, TV sports broadcaster, ASL interpreter, and surf-lesson instructor for their desired jobs. For fast food, they chose places like McDonalds, Starbucks, and Five Guys.

They were asked to find the average salary for each of their two jobs, and from there we calculated the monthly salaries. I then gave them a list of expenses they could choose from and the corresponding prices (estimated, of course). They could choose things like owning a car versus buying a subway ticket every month, owning a pet, having a cell phone, having cable TV, and other things.

When they added up their expenses, they then were to calculate the amount left over every month when subtracting expenses from their salaries. They quickly realized that they were spending way too much, even with higher salaries at their “desired” jobs. None of them could afford their desired expenses when working solely at fast food (which we calculated came to about $15,000/year or about $1250/month).

My student who wants to be an actress realized that with the starting salary, she would not be able to afford her expenses, so I asked about where she thinks the term “struggling actress” comes from. She made the connection that usually actresses are also waitresses, and that’s because they can afford their expenses if they work two jobs. This was true with her acting and fast food salaries combined. It was really cool for them to see all of this and realize that they can’t always have everything once they’re out on their own.

Finally (FINALLY!), yesterday was Friday. We had a student-faculty basketball game after school to raise money for an organization in Red Hook – people had to pay to play and to watch. I signed up to play but was actually quite nervous because I’ve never been good at basketball. I’m better at the endurance portion necessary for running back and forth, bursting down the court to knock the ball out of students’ hands. I don’t think I played horrible, but I didn’t play amazing; I did a good job on defense, and also almost made a basket.

But it was really cool being in a different setting with students, seeing their talent up close, and having fun with them while also getting to be aggressive with them. Teachers won by about 5 points, still holding the championship 2 years running now (it started last year, so teachers have had it from the beginning). We also had a great crowd including a bunch of awesome teachers with signs and other paraphernalia to cheer us on. It was a great time.

This week is going to be crazy – we have a volunteer project Monday, regular day of school Tuesday, half-day with parent-teacher conferences following Wednesday, full day of P/T conferences Thursday, and a regular day on Friday. Only 2.5 days of lessons to prepare, but P/T conference days are exhausting. I’m just hoping it’s not as frustrating as this week was.

I hope everyone had a great week; what was the most (or least, we can be positive here!) frustrating or fun thing that happened to you this week? It’s good to let it out, get it off your chest, and seek help of others – I’ve learned that big-time this year working at my school with some amazing co-workers acting as my rocks to vent to and lean on.