Another One Bites the Dust

As I was finishing my preparations for my cell phones in education presentation today, I was checking my QR Codes, and I found out that he site I had been using for generating my QR codes has ceased operations. This also means that the QR codes I had created to show do not work anymore, as they work through the site snappr.net (don't go there, they have been shut down). While I understand that services such as this may not be able to survive in the current economy, it would have at least been nice to have received some notice about their impending doom (they did get my email address when I registered). But that's neither here nor there, and I appreciate that they did exist at one point in time so that I could become aware of QR codes.

So, I am now in search of a new QR code generator. The first one I am going to check out is Kaywa. I hope it works well. If you have any suggestions for other ones to check out, let me know!


Reflections on a Math Day: November 17, 2009

I don't know why I don't take the time to reflect more often. I may think some of the things in my head, but once that thought has passed, what else can I do with it? I could come up with excuse after excuse as to why I don't do this more, but that's not productive.

In my Integrated Math 2 classes, we have been working on distance, midpoints, and slope. As a math teacher, I feel that these are relatively easy concepts to work with, and many of my students have expressed that they know what slope is, blurting out "y = mx+b!" Of course, slope is only a part of the slope-intercept form (which we will cover later this chapter), but it gives me some insight into what my students know, and what they think they know.

Now, with my Math for Standards class, I have them blog about what they think they know before we begin a unit, and then have them reflect upon what we covered at the end of the unit. It helps me to better adjust the unit to their needs, and it allows for them to see their growth through the unit. (Visit my class blog here, student blogs are linked on the right). I also plan on using the blogs more with my Integrated Math 2 students as we move through the year.

Hearing the students yell out the slope-intercept form when we are only looking at slope gave me the idea that my students had indeed learned about slope before and knew a way to apply it. Yet, when I asked them what slope actually was, they stumbled. So we did some math calisthenics. We discussed how slope represented the ratio of change in vertical distance to change in horizontal distance. Of course, many of us teach it as "rise over run." So, from their seats, I asked them to run across the room. Of course, they all started by rising first, so I stopped them. Right there, they realized that before they can run (horizontal), the have to rise (vertical) when dealing with slope. The light bulbs came on.

Today, the Integrated students were working on a graded worksheet on distance, midpoint, and slope. One of the students (who, coincidentally had not completed the practice problems assigned for the concepts) looked at the midpoint formula and noticed something. He raised his hand, saying, "Mr. Lamb, there's a comma in this formula!"

"Why do you think that is?" I asked him.

He paused, thinking about what we were covering, what he was trying to find, and what was given to him in the problem. He was not coming up with an impulsive answer. I could tell he really wanted to understand this. "Well," he replied, "since we're looking for the midpoint, that means we need a point, and a point is given as an ordered pair. And, the midpoint is in the exact middle of the other two points, so if we know the distance between the points, we just cut it in two, so that's why each part gets divided by two!"

He had a smile on his face. Can you imagine it? A student enjoying understanding math! We continued our conversation (which also happened to be loud enough for the rest of the class to hear) about being able to understand the formula. I asked if he'd be able to choose the correct formula from a series of formulas, and he was confident he could, as he now understood why the formula worked.

I wish I had more time to have these types of discussions with my students. This is where the real learning occurs for some of them, and the boost in confidence on one skill can go a long way in the classroom, especially for students who feel they cannot do math.

One other change I have implemented is with the comments I place on report cards. I was sitting and typing the comments last week as I always have: "Timmy should..." or "Mary needs to..." when I stopped. Something hit me, and I had to ask myself, "Who am I writing these comments for?" I have always written them as if only the parent would see them and directed them to the parent (And yes, I am a firm believer that a parent/guardian should be an active participant in a student's education). But I want my students to realize that, ultimately, they are responsible for their own education. So this year, I am writing comments for the students, not about them. I have already gotten input about this from a few students, as they seem to be thankful that I am talking to them.


Google Wave Invites

I received a Google Wave invite not too long ago, and to go along with it, I also received some invites for some friends so we could all try it out. I posted on twitter and quickly got responses for all my invites, but then others rolled in after I passed them all out. I felt bad, as I only had so many.

So, this week, I received twelve more Google Wave invites. I first reached out to those I didn't get the first time, and two of them still hadn't been invited, so they each got one. This left me with ten more to pass out, and I wanted to be a bit more fair. The solution I came up with was to ask for the best reason why anyone should get the invites. I received fifteen requests from people I know, plus 8 from spammers and people I don't know. I am posting the ten best responses now. If one of these responses is yours, watch your inbox for your Google Wave invite (or check your twitter/facebook for me asking for your email so I can invite ya)! Spammers, you can ignore, because I'm not inviting you to Google Wave!

Top Ten Why I Should Give You A Google Wave Invite (in no particular order):

  1. Yes, please! ...b/c I need to contact this Nigerian Prince to complete the transfer of my life savings.
  2. Because in 1 year I went from using little tech in the classroom to embracing Moodle, wikis, Twitter, and the like. Bring it on!
  3. As tech coach at GS, I want to share the possibilities with my teaching staff. Giving it to one will inspire 75.
  4. Um - I'm not gonna feed you a load of BS. So putting it simply... Cause I really want to play around with the technology :)
  5. I finally had chance to research what Google Wave is and it looks awesome!!! I am in a technology department at work, so always looking for new collabaration tools. If you have any invites left, please send one my way :-)
  6. One word...KINDNESS :)
  7. Send me an invite and I'll try to figure out what it is. I assume something to do with the tides or hairstyling.
  8. three things: 1) i played EP soccer and i was on your dad's indoor team with your sisters 2) I will use google wave to somehow feed starving children 3) you know that hole in the ozone? I know who's causing it. now, unless you want al gore on your [butt], you should probably invite me.

    Plus, i know who the jelly bricks are, lol, and that makes me worthy of google wave
  9. because you saw me get drilled on the side of the head with a softball? Does that work?
  10. I would like to petition you for a Google Wave invite, but for my boyfriend, not for myself.

    Christmas is coming up, and being a broke grad student, it is unlikely that I will be able to get him (or anyone else, for that matter) a gift this year. This makes me sad because he is very nice to me, and always does nice things for me. He even takes out the trash without me having to nag him.

    I know he wants a Google Wave invite because he is a Sys Admin and I have heard him lamenting his lack of Google Wave capabilities. He would be ecstatic to receive an invite.

    So that is my plea, Jimbo. I would like you to give me one of your invites so Ben can have it. As an early Christmas present. Because free is the only price point I can swing right now.
So, there you have it! Sorry for those I couldn't get this time around. If I get more, I'll ask you again!