In my classroom: Ultimate Pi Day Week

As I write this, I am officially on spring break. That’s right, I don’t have to work for 2 weeks. Although, teachers’ work is honestly never done. I don’t just say that to sound philosophical or righteous. I say it because it’s 100% true.

During these 2 weeks, I will be entering grades and writing some comments about said grades for upcoming third quarter reports because they are due the Monday we come back from said break. I will be planning lessons that I will teach the week we return. I will be looking through student outlines about organic compounds for Chemistry. I will be grading a recent test I gave my Algebra I students. And so on, and so forth.

Then again, I don’t have to go to school for 2 weeks. As mentioned in my last post, I will be going out to Long Island today to see my in-laws and Tom’s cat, Finster. And that’s only for a couple days, which leaves me with a whole bunch of time to do whatever I want!

Finster and Holliday

Backing up, though, let’s talk about this week…

Monday was long. I was at school for 13 hours straight because we had an inaugural Language Festival at 7pm. It was fantastic. Students in Spanish and ASL (American Sign Language) classes prepared skits, stories, and songs via real-life interactions, videos, and writings. They did great and it was wonderful seeing our students do such awesome work. Great job Language Department!

That day I had started reviewing with Algebra I students for the functions unit and continued reviewing with Algebra II students for the linear inequalities unit. My plan, as long as everything went smoothly, was to give my Algebra I class their test on Friday (I know, awful teacher giving a test on the Friday before break) and to give my Algebra II class a take-home test to do over break (again, awful).

BUT Algebra I students were totally understanding, especially since they had a long period on Friday, so of course it wouldn’t take the entire 70 minutes, and once they all finished we would just relax on the day before spring break. And Algebra II students appreciated the ability to use notes (no classmates, other adults, or the internet) for this test because some of the material was very difficult.

So there.

Tuesday was fine, more review for those two classes, and I kept going with number bonds in MIEL. Everyone in the Math department met during lunch and we started really getting down and dirty with the logistics of our inaugural Pi Day celebration. We started planning a while ago, but this week was crunch time. We began delegating tasks, getting the big picture taken care of, and started getting some details worked out.

Wednesday: again, more review, more number bonds, and more meeting during lunch with Math department folk. Excitement was building – not only for spring break, but also for our Pi Day plans! I sent out an email to students about becoming Pi Day pie judges – it would cost $3 to be a judge and it would be a first come/pay, first served basis.

Thursday: you guessed it; reviewing and reviewing and number bonds. Thursday was our regularly scheduled time to meet during lunch as a department, so we figured we would get the rest of the details taken care of and be all set for the next day. But, instead, it turned into a meeting about next year’s classes and how many of each section would have to be created based on how many students would be going into each level of math. Something pretty shocking and bothersome came up about my schedule for next year, so that kind of threw off the rest of my day.

We ended up meeting again right after school to make last-minute plans before Friday came around, and we each had a job to do. We needed materials for pies to be thrown at teachers, we needed a plan for the pie-tasting competition, we needed some emails sent out, and we all needed to create our page of math tasks for each of our math classes. That night, I created my “Pi Day tasks” sheets, and baked two pies – pumpkin and pumpkin chocolate chip. I was super unsure about how they turned out because the filling seemed runnier than I remember it being when I made it with Mom as a kid. Hopefully that meant it would be more (ew) moist?

Friday: THE BIG DAY! I was so excited to see my Pi Day t-shirt in my mailbox, just in time for the festivities. Unfortunately, Friday was so nuts, I don’t have any pictures of said shirt! All of the math teachers either bought or made a shirt for the day, but I don’t think we got a picture of us at all! Sad.

Anyways, for my classes, Algebra I students took their test and we ended up with about 15 minutes left in the class, so we played “Man in a box”, the Quaker version of Hangman. They all seemed pretty confident, so we’ll see when I actually start grading them! Algebra II was really chill, even though we went through two word problems dealing with systems of linear inequalities to prepare them for the take-home exam. We had a few minutes left after we finished, so we watched “Mean Tweets” videos on YouTube.

MIEL students worked on more number bonds and then we went on a walk and talked about our spring break plans. My next period (time before lunch) I had a free/planning period, so I was racing around the school collecting pies people had baked so that I could set up the pie sale in the kitchen/cafeteria. We had a great spread – (from bottom L to R) chocolate cherry, pumpkin and pumpkin chocolate chip; (top L to R) a mixed berry yogurt-y one with a lemon-y crust on top (student-made), apple, black-bottom oatmeal, and another apple.

Students had been informed about this since the beginning of the week, so they were aware that if they wanted a slice of pie, it would cost them $3. In the email I sent out, it said each slice would be $3.14, but we would give them a discount for Pi Day and give it to them for $3. All money raised was going to an organization our school has been raising money for since February – Red Hook Rise. “Its mission is to provide sports, educational and physical fitness programs that empower and educate youth.”

Pies pies pies pies pies

So we had a lot of students come during lunch to buy pies, and thank goodness my colleague Jen came down to help because it was insanity with cutting and serving and taking money and explaining all the pies and preparing the plates for the judging later on. Overall, it was a success.

I missed most of my next period co-teaching because I was cleaning up and then was seeking a colleague’s advice on the situation that had come up during our math department meeting the previous day. I’m not going to lie, there were tears. As of right now, I’m hopeful that the situation will be worked out. Fingers, and toes, and legs, and eyeballs crossed.

THEN. IT WAS PI DAY TIME!!!! For those of you who have made it this far, thank you! Glad you made it! I would offer you a cup of coffee or tea, but this feature of teleportation is not possible. Yet. If you’re confused on what Pi Day is, let me briefly enlighten you. If you recall from your days of high school (and maybe even middle school) math classes, you may recall the number π (pi). It is an irrational number, meaning it is a decimal that goes on and on and on forever and ever without repeating. It is the ratio of a circle’s circumference and its diameter (circumference ÷ diameter) and there are a few fractional estimations, but they match up with a minute number of decimal places.

π = 3.141592653… Mathematicians (and now computers) have been able to calculate pi to trillions of decimal places. Every year, March 14 is considered Pi Day because March 14 = 3/14 is like 3.14. This year (technically today, Saturday, but obviously we had to do it Friday) was Ultimate Pi Day because not only would it be 3/14, it would be 3/14/15. And going further, at 9:26:53, it would be the absolute ultimate time on the ultimate day of pi. This exact sequence of this date and time will not occur again for 100 years. It is a once in a lifetime thing!

Now, going back to Friday, I ran down to the gym because I was one of the MCs. Once everyone came down, I began explaining to everyone what they would be required to do. They were to get into their math class groups and find the teacher they were assigned to. That teacher would have a folder with their tasks in it, so they were to complete as many of the tasks as possible in order to possibly pie a teacher. The teacher had an answer key but could not give them any help other than to tell them whether their answers were correct or not.

During the 10-15 minutes that they were all solving their problems, the math teachers set up the pie-ing station. We laid a plastic covering on the gym floor and started filling empty pie tins with Cool Whip. I also cut in every few minutes with a corny math joke to keep people entertained. Students started filing back in the gym, having answered the questions and/or realizing time was up. Then the pie-ing began.

Five of us teachers signed up to be pied – me, John (another math teacher), Vicki (Spanish), Will (music), and Kirk (Director/Principal). Three ponchos had been made out of some more plastic sheeting, so we took turns – John, Vicki, and Will stood in for 3 rounds of pie-ing, and then Kirk and I switched in and endured 4 rounds of pie-ing.

There were plenty of pictures and videos taken during this time, so here are just a few…

This first picture is a prologue to the video that comes next…

John in waiting

This first video is from Sue who got an amazing shot IN SLOW MOTION!!! This video shows John getting a pie straight in his face. This is actually round 3 I think, so this is the first pie that actually made it right on one of their faces.

 Thanks to Jeannine for the following picture of students who are totally ready to pie us:

Determination and Fear

And this one. It’s a gif, so you have to click on it for the full experience. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Pi Day gif - fear relief pie

This video was submitted by a student and it shows the two pie-ers totally cheating by coming right up to Kirk and I with their pies. This was the last (thank goodness) round of pies, so it ended on a messy note.

As we were cleaning up, students made an announcement about student government. I ended up getting a total of 8 students that signed up and paid to judge the pie-eating competition, so during this time those students tasted the pies and voted on their favorite. And guess who won? My pumpkin chocolate chip!!! Woot! I had whipped cream in my hair and on my clothes (and in my nose from that last pie) but I didn’t care.

Everything went as planned, although it was a bit hairy the entire time with last-minute hiccups, but it was a blast. Messy, yes, but the students and teachers alike enjoyed every second of it. Plus, we ended up raising about $80 for RHR! Not bad, not bad at all.

Overall, this week was beyond overwhelming, beyond stressful, but beyond fun, exciting, rewarding, and tasty (I got to eat a lot of pie and whipped cream). I have the best crew of teachers to work with and the best students to be pied by…although some of them are total cheaters. Now I’m off to go do anything I want for 2 weeks!!!!!

Be Positive? Challenge Accepted.

I’ve decided to make a promise to myself and the people around me. I want to be a more positive person. Now, hear me out because this is part enlightening commitment, part self-doubt-inflicted rant.

Thumbs Up

Get ready for a mathematical representation of my dilemma:

Picture a number line; you have zero in the middle, negative numbers to the left, and positive numbers to the right. Well, boys and girls, adding negative to anything positive brings you closer to zero. You will eventually get to zero (no, zero is not asymptotic in this analogy) and you only become more negative from there. At this point, I feel as though I’ve passed zero (and no, you don’t collect $200 when this happens) and am continuing down the line.Right or Left?

My problem (at the moment) stems from the fact that I’m really unsure of what I want to do in life after graduate school. I realize that I am only 23 so I don’t need to have my life planned out to a T. I mean, I wake up and have no idea what I want to wear most mornings, and it usually works out just fine. But, come on, this is my life we’re talking about. Meaning, like, until I die. It’s not a debate between an everyday T-shirt and a cute summer-y top.

While browsing jobs online, I find ones that sound intriguing. And, hey, look at that! I even meet the basic qualifications! But then I start asking myself questions that a potential employer might ask. “What sets you apart from other candidates?” “What one word best describes what you have to offer our company?” “Why do you think you would be better qualified for this position?”

Essentially, I start asking myself, “What makes you think you’re so special that you would be able to perform this job better than anyone else?

And it’s not in a polite tone, either. Go ahead, reread that previous statement in the meanest, most patronizing way. Got it? Yeah, I can get pretty rude to myself sometimes.

So, naturally, since I try to stay away from rude and condescending people, I decide to walk away from this uncomfortable situation.What's wrong with me?

Well, there goes another job opportunity that I didn’t even press the “Apply Now!” button for.

Now reflecting on these repetitive situations, there is a common denominator.

No, it’s not the type of job I applied (or almost applied) for.

Yes, on paper I meet the basic requirements for education.

And no, I didn’t miss the application deadline.

The common denominator, the greatest obstacle, the one thing that keeps me from searching and applying for jobs is ME. That scoundrel Holliday (that’s me Holliday. I’m referring to myself when I say Holliday) makes me feel like complete poo every single time I open my internet browser and start searching for potential jobs.

I usually start my searches with an open mind, freshly pumped up after a pep-talk (usually not from myself) about how smart and great I am. I look for jobs in math – both teaching and non-teaching – and might find a few that seem interesting at first. There are even some that I click just because I don’t know what the heck they entail. I might narrow it down to a couple that I would actually be interested in applying for, so I get my resume and cover letter ready to upload.

I'm ready!

And then I reread the qualifications:

Two years experience a must? How am I supposed to get said experience if everyone requires said experience?

Must be a good communicator? Shoot, my mom tells me I mumble a lot.

Leadership experience a plus? I mean, I was usually the first of my suite mates ready for dinner in college, and therefore the first of us in line.

Honors, awards, and certificates? I still have my diploma from kindergarten, does that count?

You know nothing.

Now, all joking aside, getting this far in life and being in graduate school for mathematics education should say something, right? But no matter how qualified I may be I always find faults in myself that start pushing me away from submitting my required documents and information.

No, I wasn’t the president, vice president, or even a back-up treasurer in any groups in high school or college. I worked from my senior year of high school through my four years of undergraduate, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get super involved in clubs and intramural sports. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was nine, so I did a lot of growing up before I was a teenager. Does that count as leadership?!Going mental.

And see, that’s not something you put on a resume. And I wouldn’t say anything like that during an interview. So, aside from my resume, my application would seem to be very sparse. So then what’s the point of applying since they’ll probably have fifty applicants who are much more qualified?!

And that’s how it ends. I exit out of my browser tabs of potential jobs and go on Facebook or YouTube, stewing for the rest of the day/night. I dwell on my employment inadequacies until another week passes without any progress on figuring out what I would like to do with my life and my Masters degree I will earn in December. And I gotta tell you, it’s annoying, exhausting, and ridiculous.Exhausted.

I realize how ridiculous it is. If someone else were going through this problem, I would assure and reassure them of their positive attributes and remind them of their experience and all that jazz. I would be more than happy to pump up my friends if it means they’ll apply to a job they want. But do this for myself? Unheard of!

Thankfully I have friends and family who constantly boost me up. I hear more positive stuff from them and yet I’m more willing to listen to all of the negative garbage from myself. I am the outlier. And in statistics, we don’t consider the outliers to be helpful in finding trends or making relevant conclusions. Boom. Math application.

So here’s a pact to myself. I will only say positive things about myself for the next week. If some negative comment or putdown comes to my mind or lips about myself, I will write it down and try to figure out two positive reasons that it is wrong. I will do my best to follow these rules when applying to jobs as well because I am sick of talking myself out of potentially awesome opportunities.

Positive words

And my goal is not to become arrogant or conceited, but positive and uplifting. I think that if my positivity starts with myself it will be so much easier to be positive for others. If you’d like to join me in this challenge, please feel free! Here’s to positive thoughts. Cheers.

Making Math Fun: Experience MoMath

Pythagoras, polygons, and fractals – oh my! By the title, I’m sure most are rolling their eyes, and maybe even feeling anxious at the thought of math.front

There is such an unnecessary fear about math felt by many. Children and teens in school dealing with fractions and algebra, reading to simply lay down their pencils because, I mean come on, “Where am I ever going to use this in my daily life?” Adults with bad memories of their own school experience with math, although that might be due to the fact that teachers used to be able to hit them with rulers.

For us residents of New York City, we don’t have to look farther than the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). Located on 26th Street, MoMath is “North America’s only museum dedicated solely to math.” The museum, which opened back in December, only has 2 floors with maybe 20-30 stations (exhibits) so it is not so overwhelming, but it also covers an exponential number of bases (kind of a math joke…exponents…bases…ha?).tricycle

Although my trip to MoMath was a requirement for an assignment for my summer class, it has been on my list of places to go here in the city. Go ahead, call me a nerd. I am a proud math nerd. I am a mathematician, and you can be too! Sounds like an advertisement, huh?downstairs

As you can see from the photos, there were many age groups represented here – children and adults come to find out just how fun and useful mathematics is. And it’s fantastic! If you don’t believe me by now, check out the MoMath website to get a sense of what all is there, hours, and prices. Do it. I dare you.

Halfway There

So I have not written a post in a couple of weeks. I have a good reason, I promise. Just hear me out!

I started graduate school this past January at Teachers College, Columbia University. And just an hour ago I finished my last final for the semester. I survived a semester of graduate school in New York City!

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I had planned on getting my degree next May. However, 2 weeks ago, I realized something. I am only 1 credit shy of being halfway done with my Masters requirements. What the what?! After crunching and re-crunching the numbers, reading and rereading the requirements, I spoke with my advisor just to make sure I was not overlooking something. Sure enough he confirmed that this is more than doable.

I kid you not, the clouds opened, the angels sang, and God said, “Holliday, you shall finish in December.” So that’s what I plan to do.

How awesome will it be to save a whole semester worth of housing and credits and the God-forsaken ‘College fee’ that is mandatory but no one knows what it is used for. Oh, maybe to supply us with those goofy ‘Student Senate’ plastic Ray-Ban wannabes. And our 20 “free” printed pages per week.

Anyways, so saving money will be fantastic. Except then reality hit:

“I will be done in December. That means I have to be an adult that much sooner. I will need somewhere to live. I will need a job to support myself. Not to mention, student loans will kick in that much sooner. Gah, what did I get myself into?!”

But, in all honesty, I am excited to see what will happen. I am over the moon that I get to start my “real-world” life sooner. I have been exploring careers outside of the typical ‘math teacher’ realm; coming to TC has really opened my eyes to the possibilities outside of the classroom.

funny_math_teacher_womens_light_tshirt

I am not completely abandoning the idea of becoming a classroom teacher (especially because I totally want that shirt!), but it is exciting what new and improving technology is creating in terms of jobs and experiences.

So the point of this post was:

1.  To apologize for not posting in awhile. I’ve been a good girl, telling myself that instead of writing a blog post I should be studying and doing homework.

2.  To let out some built-up fear and excitement for the future.

3.  To share this journey and hopefully help others who may be going through or will go through similar situations and may have similar decisions to make.

So what are your thoughts? Any ideas about what future endeavors a Masters in Mathematics Education could possibly explore? What do you hope to do by the end of this year?