Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mathletes? Cool!

I took my math team to Prior Lake on Monday for our last traveling meet of the season (we're hosting the last meet). When we got to the school that was hosting the meet, there was a big group of kids standing outside the entrance. They looked at us as we got off the bus and headed towards the entrance.

A couple kids piped up and asked, "What sports team are you guys with?"

I told them that we weren't a sports team, we were our school's math team.

The group's response? "Wow...COOL!!!"

Now THAT'S not a response you hear every day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The New Property

I'm going over the assignments my students turned in today. The homework was about different properties of addition. For a few of the problems the students had to identify which property was shown (Additive Identity Property, Property of Opposites, or Opposite of Opposites Property).

I looked at one student's answers for those questions and couldn't figure out why such a kind, respectful student would write such inappropriate words as answers to the questions he didn't understand. And then it hit me.

"POO" = "Property Of Opposites"

As my 7th grade math colleague put it, "Would it really kill them if they wrote down the whole property?"

Smiley Faces

As I was teaching my last block today, I looked over at a couple of my students and noticed that the back of one of their necks had a smiley face drawn on it. I saw a brown marker in the hand of the boy sitting behind him and came to the correct conclusion that he had drawn the face on the kid's neck.

I asked the boy with the marker when he had drawn the face. He looked at the clock and cotemplated for a few moments and said, "Oh, about...five minutes ago."

Later that hour I looked again and the face had become a whole person!

I was able to take a picture of the little person on the kid's neck before the bell rang.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

If These Walls Could Talk...

Oh, the stories I have to share!!

Let's start with yesterday morning, shall we?

I got to school and heard an announcement on the PA system letting us all know that the server was down. Fine. I had to type up my algebra PowerPoint lesson for the day anyway, so I'd just use my laptop. Not a big deal. No Internet access, which really stunk, but I'd live.

I finish typing up my lesson, pull up the LCD projector tool on my computer, hit the power button to turn it on and..."The projector is not connected." Crap. I forgot that the projector was hooked up through the network.

I gave my first hour students the option of which "old school" way we'd go with the lesson: whiteboard or overhead. They chose whiteboard. Granted, one wanted me to use a blackboard, but sadly, that was not an option, as there is no chalkboard in my classroom.

Second block came and I had two students who had to make up a test. As always, I had them work in the classroom at first while the rest of the class took the pre-test for the next chapter. When it was time to hand back the tests, I had the two who were still taking the test go out into the hallway to finish. When they were done with their tests, they came back in and gave the tests to me. I set them aside as I finished teaching the lesson.

I had a chance to correct the tests during worktime at the end of class. I found it quite interesting that the answers both tests had the exact same answers except for one problem. I had the two students come up to my desk and spoke with them about it, having a good idea of what had happened. One confessed right away, which actually surprised me quite a bit. I had the other sit down and spoke with the confessor about why they had done it. The response? "Well, I didn't really get it, so [I was told] I could get a couple of answers from [the other student]." Uh huh.

Confessor sits down, other student comes to my desk. I ask said student to tell me what happened. Silence. I explain what the confessor said and the student agreed with that story. Right.

I kept both tests, and told both of them that they will have to retake it. Now I have to find out what the policy is on cheating and go from there. How fun.

Last block. Technology was up and running again (yay!!!), so things should have gone quicker compared to my first algebra class of the day. Of course, my last hour kids are WAY chattier and love to get off on tangents. They always say they want to do better than first hour, though. Go figure.

I had told the class that they should have no problem finishing quicker than first hour and should have more worktime at the end as well, IF they stayed on task and were quiet. They thought that was the greatest thing ever.

I was going through a homework problem students had questions on at the beginning of class when some students began to talk loudly enough for me to need to raise my voice to be heard. So I just stopped talking. One student yelled, "Hey, guys! Stop talking!! We're trying to get through this!" Talking stopped and one student asked why they should be quiet. "Because," was the response, "Ms. Grivna knows what she's talking about and she's pretty."

Dead silence.

For like, a millisecond.

I knew that the class would latch onto that comment and milk it for all it was worth if I didn't veer them back to the math at hand FAST. I started talking at the same time my students started moving their mouths. Somehow, I managed to bring them back to the math without laughing (which I was fighting very hard), without going red in the face (which was almost more difficult), and without letting any cracks get in edgewise to the boy who had made that comment (who was sitting almost in shock with the realization of what he had just said). Poor kid.

I told this story to my sister on the way home from school yesterday. She practically died laughing. It's funny...I've heard about student crushes before. I never had a crush on a teacher...probably because they were all quite old or just plain weird. I know of some of my classmates who had crushes on teachers, though. I always thought something was seriously wrong with them. And now, somehow, I've become victim to one. Me. Of all people. I find it funny, flattering, and disturing (I was going to write "frightening," but that didn't really describe it) all at the same time.

Math Team practice was held yesterday after school.

Towards the end of practice, I had the answers to the sheet my team was working on projected onto the screen in my room. I exited out of the answers and my desktop could be seen. My wallpaper is of the pit orchestra I played with for "State Fair." The kids got to talking about it and music in general.

The discussion ended up coming around to marching band. One of my new mathletes said that her cousin, who played the bassoon, marched bass clarinet. She couldn't quite remember the school that he went to, though. The one she said that she thought was it happened to be my high school. Whoa. She told me his first name (couldn't remember his last name) and told me he had a younger sister still at that school.

A few minutes later she remember the color of his marching uniform - blue. I called my sister on my way home and asked her about this guy. Turns out that yup, she marched with him!! He was a year behind her in school, but definitely knew him.

I told my mom the same story when I got home and she knew him, too! Now I need to remember to find my mathlete sometime this week and tell her of this funny connection.

Fast forward to this morning.

I got to school this morning and helped one of my students study for a math test re-take that she was going to do after school today. As she worked on a couple problems, I dropped off my lunch in the teachers' lounge and made some copies of a couple slides from today's lesson for my trans math kids. I got back to the room and worked out a few more practice problems with my student.

My first hour kids started coming in and dropping off their stuff. One student came in and said that there was yoghurt all over my door. I looked and, sure enough, there was yoghurt all over my door. Wonderful.

I ended up bribing two of my students to go get some paper towels and clean off my door. The bribe? They didn't have to do the warm-up problems for today's class. Heh. That's probably the easiest bribe I've ever made.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Seating Charts

Oh, the nightmare of trying to figure out new seating charts!!! But, oh, the amazing rewards to such a change!

My kids all got new seating charts today, as we are starting chapter 5. Seating charts change every two chapters. I chose the first eating chart, my students chose their second seating chart, and I chose this third seating chart. The pattern keeps going throughout the year.

We went out to lunch today, as today is the last day for one of our language arts teachers' student teachers. All of my colleagues were commenting on how loud and out of control their kids are today. I said that I was really surprised to hear that because my kids have all been almost dead today - completely in another zone.

It hit me shortly into my last class that the subdued nature of my classes today probably has a great deal to do with the new seating charts. For the most part, they really don't like their new seats (good!) and have very little to say to their new tablemates.

It was a beautiful, much needed day of quiet. Especially with my last hour. I actually enjoyed teaching them today!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

NO Lip Gloss!

All my classes were taking a test today. The Absolutely No Talking rule is in effect until all tests have been turned in. I don't care if students draw on my small whiteboards (as long as they use their own markers), read, do other homework, or even sleep. As long as they are not talking or disrupting their classmates who are still taking their test.

My last hour always finds this a bit tricky, but they usually do a pretty good job with it. They were fine again today until one student wanted to get my attention to show me something. Does he walk up to my desk to quietly speak with me like he should? No. He calls out my name instead.

"Ms. Grivna, look!"

I looked.

"Do you like my lip gloss?" Please note: he was wearing the lip gloss on his lips.

I asked the girls (and the couple boys who were playing with the girls' makeup) to put ALL the makeup away and sit down. A few minutes later the same boy who called my name before started laughing about who knows what. I spoke with him, telling him he had to be quiet, and made him put his head down on the desk and not talk for the remainder of the hour.

When all the students were finished with their tests, I let everyone talk and visit with each other for the remaining 15 minutes of class, except for my one boy who still had to be quiet with his head down.

A few of my students had questions about missing work, so I helped them figure out what they needed to do and turn in. As I was doing this, I hear my boy-who-should-be-quiet-with-his-head-down-on-his-desk start whining about something. I looked up and saw him rubbing one of his eyes quite hard and a group of girls giggling.

The makeup was being quickly put back into purses and pencil bags as I approached the table. The boy rubbing his eye looked up at me and told me that the mascara got into his eye and "it really, really hurts!" Uh, yeah.

After explaining to him that, had he followed my directions and kept his head down on his desk in the first place, none of this would have happened, I kindly let him go to the bathroom and rinse his eye out, letting him know that if it ever happened again, I would not be so kind.

I then told the girls that if I saw any makeup out in my classroom again, except for Chapstick, the makeup would become mine and would be thrown away at the end of the day. Oh, they got so angry with me!

"We can't even have lip gloss out????? I apply my lip gloss, like, five times every class period!"

Deal with it.