Today was the first day of school at my placement high school. I arrived around 7:15am, greeted by the campus security person. It was good to see him out and about. My CT was in the classroom already with another math teacher. As soon as I arrived, the other teacher disappeared though. I made some coffee for the department and the day began…

My CT has a great way in the classroom. I enjoyed how she handled the new students and her returning students. I took copious notes…on MY desk which she was nice enough to order installed for me.

She advised me that period 2, my primary placement, has the more challenged students, as will period 3, the Alg2 class. That is fine with me. I look forward to the challenge. She also suggested that I introduce myself to the P1 – P3 students tomorrow so I spent some time putting some slides with interesting factoids together introducing me to the class.

I also learned that one student has gone through difficult emotional challenges due to an ongoing family situation; he is one of the, if not the, brightest in the class according to my CT. I hope to help him overcome his challenges as he progresses in class and will look to my CT for guidance as well.

I also noted that there were several D and C students (based on last year’s grades) that were having difficulty with today’s assignment: determining lengths of seven iterative layers of isosceles triangles formed within nested squares given an outer square’s dimensions. The problem looks ominous at first glance, and even seemed so to me so I am not surprised some students had difficulties, however, they worked in teams which seemed to help some. Many students knocked it out pretty quickly, it seemed, but I’m not sure all of them “got it” though.

For the P3 Alg2 class, there was an another assignment where students were given a figure composed of geometric shapes and had to give verbal instructions to another student so they could reproduce the figure. It was a great exercise and revealed how important “specific and concise” directions were to communicating. Their homework was to repeat the exercise with their parents using another figure.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

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## About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Secondary math teacher teaching math intervention, algebra 1, honors precalculus, and AP Calculus AB. I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.

The assignments that your students have tackled seem so interesting! I’m interested to know how your CT chooses her materials? Is it common across the department for teachers placed in the same subject?

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Carryover material from prior years. She’s been teaching at this HS for 16 years, I believe. They were very interesting, indeed. Reminded me of one of our C&I type group problems and one from orientation. She shared one of the activities with the math chair who is Hellen’s CT. There does appear to be a concerted effort to align curriculum across subjects within the department, however, it is a new effort so time will tell how it turns out. Have a great tomorrow!

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That’s really cool that your CT had a desk installed for you. I would think that helps to establish a cooperative nature between you and your CT rather than a hierarchy (though I’m not sure that you have to worry about that as much as others). I also really love the assignments you mentioned. One thing I am curious about is the setting of the isosceles problem. Was it a worksheet for the kids to complete? A single problem in a large set? You mention it was done in pairs. Was group work a vital aspect of the lesson?

I look forward to reading about other lessons in your classroom.

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Hey Mr. Z. There was a multi-page handout for the isosceles problem that has been around since early 1990s. Essentially, start with a square of any dimension, inscribe another square within that square where the inscribed square connects midpoints of the outer square and is rotated 45 degrees creating 4 isosceles triangles between the two squares. Repeat this N times. Each successive set of isosceles triangles can be colored or shaded in a variety of cool-looking ways. [An extra credit problem for the students is to create their own “quilt pattern” using whatever artwork they choose as long as it adheres to the prescribed rules.] There were multiple problems within the handout essentially scaffolding the students through the elements of a geometric series. It was critical that students could work in groups. Some students could do it themselves but many needed the others to help. I believe some still missed the concept. I want to identify these students ASAP so I can intervene with them.

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