Monday, July 27, 2009

Math Rules

Everything around me...

Want to get PAID? Read this about the most lucrative college degrees.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Can you motive students?

From Dear Auntie Siobhan at

In Quebec's high school system, like many others, it's very difficult for a student to fail a course, even if he doesn't fulfill all the requirements. So if there are no real consequences to doing what one likes instead of doing what the teacher asks, and if the benefits of doing what the teacher asks are not otherwise obvious, why would a student do what the teacher asks?...We can do everything we can to engage students: we can talk to them about what would help them individually, and try to meet them where they are. We can try to speak to their interests, to make learning "fun," and otherwise try to give immediate gratification to grab their attention. But there's no way to appeal to everyone all the time. Some students, sometimes, are not going to do the work. It's possible that years from now they'll look back and regret that they didn't try harder. It's possible that they'll look back and will see that they did in fact get something out of your course, although they didn't know it at the time. And it's also possible that they'll never think of your course again and will never believe that anything useful came of it. As teachers, we need to accept this. We do our best. We care about our students, we try to reach them where they live, and we try to help them in every way we can. In the end, though, we can't make their choices for them, and we can't take their choices personally. If our professional satisfaction is based on things we can't, ultimately, control, then sooner or later, we're going to have to leave the classroom.

Thoughts on Assessments

Here are some interesting formative assessment ideas for quizzes from this blog posting.
  • Quizzes should let the students know what they need to work on.
  • Quiz marks given half way through a unit should not count in the grade book. I primarily use test and retest results as the indicator of student understanding.
  • Many students do not do their corrections.
  • Give students a quiz. Let them write it in isolation.
  • Put up the answers. Students mark their own paper and also give themselves feedback as to whether they made silly or real mistakes.
  • Student puts mark at the top of their page.
What do you think?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Here is footage of the infamous dunk.

Here is a clearer version from the other end of the court.

Was it worth all of the "crybaby" comments that Lebron got for having Nike confiscate the evidence?

In the News...

When one of America's most prominent black intellectuals winds up in handcuffs, it's not just another episode of profiling — it's a signpost on the nation's bumpy road to equality...Summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale. MacArthur "genius grant" recipient. Acclaimed historian, Harvard professor and PBS documentarian. One of Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Americans" in 1997. Holder of 50 honorary degrees...If this man can be taken away by police officers from the porch of his own home, what does it say about the treatment that average blacks can expect in 2009? -- MSNBC

Will it ever get better? Really?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Flatland: The Movie

Has anyone read the book "Flatland" by Edwin Abbott?

How I Got Over

My favorite MC.

Video plays after the commercial -- sorry, I couldn't find a clean youtube version.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Know You Got Skills...

Wayne killed this track but this here is incredible. It's done in one take...rhymes, singing, instruments, camera-work, everything.

"Dudes acting like they street when they barely sidewalk."

Mad Props to Nyle.

Friday, July 17, 2009

No One Has Written Your Destiny For You

President Barack Obama gave a speech at the NAACP Centennial Convention today. Here are some quotes...

In the 21st century -- when so many jobs will require a bachelor's degree or more...a world-class education is a prerequisite for success.

And yet, more than half a century after Brown v. Board...African American students are lagging behind white classmates in reading and math...Over half of all African American students are dropping out of school.

We've got to say to our children, yes, if you're African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that's not a reason to get bad grades -- that's not a reason to cut class -- that's not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands -- you cannot forget that. That's what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses. No excuses.

You get that education, all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can.

It also means pushing our children to set their sights a little bit higher. They might think they've got a pretty good jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can't all aspire to be LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers -- doctors and teachers -- not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court Justice. I want them aspiring to be the President of the United States of America.

How does a speech like this make you feel?

Should Everyone Go To College?

Here is an interesting story from NPR -- National Public Radio.

President Obama wants everyone to have at least 1 year of education beyond high school. Because he said that most new jobs require at least a two-year college education, he unveiled a plan that would push more students to graduate from community colleges.

Some people like the idea that President Obama didn't say that everyone needs a 4-year college degree, but instead acknowledged the trades, 2-year community colleges, and certification fields.

However, some call this an "impossible dream." They argue that not everyone has the desire or the ability to pursue a college degree.

How do you feel about the president's plan?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Did You Know?

I read this in the SunTimes.
In fourth-grade math in 2007, white Illinois students scored 32 points higher than their African-American counterparts on the 500-point national test. The national gap was only 26 points.

By eighth grade, white Illinois kids scored 38 points higher than black peers. Nationally, white eighth-graders outpaced blacks by 31 points.

Some studies have tied the black-white achievement gap to the fact that African Americans are more likely to be poor, come from single-parent homes, face less classroom rigor and have less-prepared teachers.

The graph above (taken from the New York Times) does show that the National achievement gap for 8th graders have decreased by 2 points in math and 3 points in reading -- BUT, this took 17 years!

How many more years will it take before the gap is eliminated? Do you think the gap will ever be eliminated?

Monday, July 13, 2009


Last year I started grading differently. Instead of breaking things down into categories like tests, quizzes, and homework, I focused more on skills. What skills did I want my students to master? I have put a lot of thought into this skills-based assessment approach -- I read a bunch of resources and worked out the process with my colleagues.

How would you feel if your classes were ruled by this principle: It doesn't matter when you learn it, so long as you learn it?

Or, what if you convinced me that you mastered a skill before the Final Exam, then you were exempt from that portion of the Final Exam? That's exactly what one class at MIT decided to do.


Negative Garbage Trucks

Do you like math but hate math in school? Read this interesting article.

CPS Draft?

Should schools actively recruit black male teachers like an NBA draft?

Did you know...
One in four CPS students is an African-American boy, but just one in 16 teachers is an African-American man. And the percentage of black male teachers is on a downward spiral, creating a teaching gap despite evidence that African-American boys benefit from the presence of male role models with similar backgrounds.
Read more about this article at Catalyst Chicago.

"Shout Out" to Mr. Evans for doing his thing...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Do You Tweet?

If you do tweet, what do you like about it?

Your Math Experience

What has been your experience in your math classes?

Several of my students have expressed that they USED to enjoy math -- until fractions.

This drawing is from Justin, a second grader
Do you feel this way about math?

It's Not About A Salary, It's All About Reality

"It's not about a salary; It's all about reality."

That's one of my favorite quotes from THE Teacher, KRS-ONE. Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone.

I stumbled across a blog posting that reminded me of KRS and got me thinking...

How many Black male teachers have I had? And to tell you the truth, I could only think of 3. One was a librarian I had in grammar school, one was my drafting teacher in high school, and the third was a gym teacher in high school. Pretty sad if you really think about it -- over 18 years of school and I had 3.

Read this blog posting and tell me how many Black male teachers you've had.

And here is an article from the Washington Post about the lack of Black male teachers.