Thursday, December 08, 2011

Triangle Quilt

Last year I realized that even though most students claimed familiarity with the types of triangles from middle school, they still didn't really know them (especially isosceles and scalene).  Plus, many were not adept at accurately constructing examples.  As a week before winter break activity I had all of my geometry classes fill a square piece of paper with examples of all the triangle vocabulary we had studied, then I took all those squares and filled a section of the hallway, making a 'quilt.'  This year I assigned the activity again, but instead of a review I used it as an introduction.  It was a great way to make sure up front that everyone had a solid experience with the vocabulary, not to mention I always enjoy the down time of a coloring activity (especially with my CP class who did this after they finished a test).

The assignment:

Triangle Quilt
The finished product:
The first round of submissions.

Final Result (Progress reports were due today
so nearly everyone has theirs in now)

Marginally related:

I love putting student artwork up in my classroom.  Whenever I see a student doodling something cool or showing off a drawing I ask them to contribute to my art gallery.  It all started last year with a centroid sailboat and has grown to take over a corner of my classroom.  I enjoy pretty things on the wall to look at, and it makes the kids feel appreciated when their work is on display.  I didn't remember to take a photo of it yet, but I do have some photos of the pieces my homeroom created after a discussion on bullying.  (These are in a separate corner.)

Aren't the birds beautiful?

The top left one says "Don't be an angry bird!"
Lots of birds because it was just before Thanksgiving and I suggested drawing hand turkeys.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Know Your Limits

By the time Friday rolled around I was lagging, I guess it's a post-Thanksgiving phenomenon but it seemed like an endless week.  I'm not proud to admit that I yelled at one class on Friday when they were floundering.  I tried to do some open ended experimentation (which I will share once I've tried again with my other class tomorrow) and they weren't having it.  Whether I should have given more structure, support or time is yet to be determined, but getting mad is never the answer.  At least I recognized that I was getting grumpy and spent my prep block coloring bubble letters and hanging more squares in our triangle quilt (I'll share that once it's done as well).  I also forewarned my last class that the well of patience had run dry and we spent the beginning of class brainstorming what an A student looks like so they could be sure to be on their best behavior (which enabled me to be on mine).

As soon as the last student left after school (he stayed an hour on Friday, and he was one of the ones I was mad at earlier - can't stay mad at dedication like that!) I called my friend who I knew would still be in his classroom and announced it was time to leave the building.  Several hours at a coffee shop with a good friend, mint hot chocolate, crepes and parcheesi (that's a game, not a food) and I was on my way to recovery.

The rest of the weekend I did nothing.  I don't just mean no school work, but all day yesterday and today I did absolutely nothing productive.  I lounged, played games, napped and read.  I might break out a bit of grading this evening, but no guarantees.  I'm not worried, I know all the work will get done.  And I'd much rather have an hour of productive work tomorrow than 3 hours of not getting much done but feeling like I should be today.

Why am I telling you about my failures Friday and totally boring weekend?  Because I worry that everyone is running themselves into the ground.  We're not yet halfway through the year and we shouldn't be sprinting toward June with the knowledge that we can recover in the summer.  Cold and flu season is coming, for many the holiday season means extra stresses and December break is always too busy and too short.  Stop, take a break and give yourself some time off.  I always declare Saturday my school sabbath, but this weekend that needed to extend into a longer break.  You know you could teach all of your classes without any prep on any given day- sure it wouldn't be a great lesson, but your students would learn something.  So, cut yourself a break, do whatever it is that you find rejuvenating and know your limits.