Aug 152015
 

At #TMC15 I shared my favorite of the “High 5”. Richard Villanueva is awesome enough to record them all and post, so I will just share the video of what I said. It is short and sweet:

There is the video. I want to stress a few points.

  1. Giving high fives to my learners absolutely changed me. I got 150 high fives every day. How can you NOT be in a great mood getting 35 high fives several times a day, every day.
  2. I am serious. I didn’t teach math. I taught people the subject of math. The high fives was just one step that demonstrated this philosophy.
  3. This was an evolution of my approach that on the first day of class scared me to death. I was freaked out and thinking that it was going to be a massive failure.
  4. I was wrong.
  5. It was the single thing I did all year long that had the greatest impact on my classroom environment, my relationship with my learners, and my own personal attitude.

I wrote about it last year as it occurred:

Before school started: August 10th: School started on the 11th.

After 1 week of school: August 20th

After 1 month of school: August 27th

I finally EARNED a high five from my one holdout: September 10th  : This is the one high five I am most proud of.

That was last year. Then #TMC happened. After #TMC15, several teachers told me they were going to try it. We had several Twitter conversations about it at different times with different teachers. A sample is below. And this is ONLY a small sample of the more relevant tweets.

 

   

 

 

 

And here are some captured images from @misscalcul8.

Elissastartpic2Elissa2 elissa3  Elissa1  

And finally:

pic1Elissa  

Let’s pause and reflect here a moment. 

What effort did it take me to give a high five?

Very little. I had to get over my introvertedness. I had to fight my impulse to just stand there and say hi, and I had to make the effort to actually acknowledge each learner one at a time with the motion. I had to grab some hand sanitizer afterwards as I was walking into class.

…. Yea, that is really what it cost me. That’s it. Not to diminish the fright / frustration / and uncomfortableness that the introversion creates, but getting over it did not damage me in any way.

What did I gain?

My learners received the one on one acknowledgement from me every day.

They walked into my classroom looking forward to the personal contact that went beyond the subject and touched them personally.

Learners who were just standing in the hallway saw it and started asking for a high five every day. They recognized that it was something to get and feel good about themselves.

It changed my outlook on the class period. Every period be came a 1st period of the day. Every period was a “good morning” because every period started with 30 to 35 high fives. How could every period NOT be a fresh start, a clean slate, and a new beginning.

It changed the class outlook towards me. I wasn’t just that weird math teacher (and I was) who wore strange socks everyday (because I did). I was also the math teacher who treated them like human beings. I also was the math teacher who acknowledged they were weird learners (because they were) who struggled with the ideas (because they did) and who needed the reassurance that if they kept trying they would get it (because they absolutely DID.)

The cost / benefit analysis there is pretty clear. What it cost me was very little. What I gained was huge. What my learners gained was even greater.

—————-

I am not teaching high school anymore. I am teaching college and the standards are different, the expectations are different, and the stakes are different. Guess what I am NOT going to give up. I think these outcomes are too valuable. It will definitely be a radical departure for the college setting. It is worth it.

————————-

Edit: Some research to back up why it works: http://www.teachers.net/wong/OCT13 More teachers on board! Yay!  

 

 

These next three go together. Wow, the power in these three tweets.

—————

Amy posted on her blog the following paragraph.

High fives at the door. Glenn’s “my favorite” has been popular for good reason. It is simple, but we have already discovered it is powerful. My colleagues and I decided to make it a department thing, and also roped in the two non-math teachers in our hallway. So the 200 hallway is officially the “high-five hallway” at our school. I am surprised by how something so small has already helped me feel more connected to my students, and how the classroom atmosphere gets an immediate boost. You just can’t be too grumpy after a high-five.

Chris Shore said:

High 5’sGlenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs): Glenn was right. Offering the High 5’s at the door does more for my mood and mental preparation for the class than it did for the kids.

 

————————-

[And yes, that graphic is golden, and will be stolen and reused. Forever.]

highfiveclub Thank you @conniehamilton.

(h,k) form – setting the stage

 Alg 2, CCSS  Comments Off on (h,k) form – setting the stage
Jun 102015
 

Functions

I begin the class with a “what do you notice?” “what do you wonder?” session. This is probably the 5th or 6th day of class, and sets the stage for the entire rest of year. What do you notice? What do you wonder? I document all the noticings and wonderings, and then we discuss the mathematical questions.

Every year, the question of “I wonder how the 2 and the 1/2,” “I wonder how the 3 and the 1/3,” are related is asked. The best two questions that are always asked are, “Why are they all the same?” and “What changes when we change the exponent from 1 to 6?” I always say that I will answer every question by the end of the year; I will never lie to them and tell them something is impossible when it isn’t, but that some of their questions may need to be addressed in a future math class and not this math class. That honesty goes a long way.

I spend an entire period exploring the different functions with them, showing graphs on Desmos, asking for values to put in for a, h, and k. I ask questions like, “what do you predict the h will do?” and “Did your prediction come true?” The learners who are the typical aggressive type A learners hate it because they want the answers and want it now, but they will come around and start developing ideas on their own.

I start with lines for the (h,k) form because I think this form shows some reasons why to use the form, the benefits of using the (h,k) form over y=mx+b, as well as a simple function to cut our teeth on vocab.

I introduce this form first thing in the year as we get started. Fully Explaining & Understanding functions blank (double sided .docx file). I print off hundreds of this form, and we use it regularly. Some days I have the learners write the functions in their notebooks when I don’t have the forms, but I try to have a stack on hand always.

explaining This is what it looks like. There is A LOT of info asked for, and I start with lines so we can establish the understand of what the different elements are.

It always bugged me that we rarely talk about domain and range of lines. Why not? Why start introducing that idea with absolute value? Just because that is where it changes from all real numbers for both to only one, does not mean we shouldn’t introduce it earlier. Same thing with asymptotes and even/odd functions.

If I can get learners to identify the x and y intercepts on the line, and then connect those points with the standard form, so much the better.

Same thing with intercept and (h,k) form. Cut the teeth on a line, that is familiar and safe, so that as we move forward with quadratics, cubics, cube roots, etc, the learners can see the vocabulary does not change. What changes is the shape of the parent function.

I make sure every learner has one copy of this that is complete, pristine, written clearly and fully in their notes for every single function. When the learner puts them all side by side, they can see there is only one math, one set of ideas through the entire year. What changes is the amount of effort needed to get the intercepts for a cubic vs intercepts for a line? Why?

Another rich focus of questioning is “What makes the line unique?” “What makes the quadratic or cubic unique?” Some answers I have received are, “Only the quadratic always has a vertex form. The cubics can have that form, but usually not,” or “Every point on the line is a critical point, but we can’t always use every point for other graphs.”

Or can we? Hmmm. Leave it at that. Don’t tell them. Plant the seed and let it grow on its own.

This is a big picture post. Philosophy of teaching, approach to the topics, etc. No details yet. Just a pouring out of my thoughts on how I start. I will go more in depth. Notice that there is not enough room to work on the page. Only the results go there. The work is separate.

 

Additional Plot.ly v. JMP comparisons

 APStats, Failure, Technology  Comments Off on Additional Plot.ly v. JMP comparisons
Jun 082015
 

My learners have been using Plot.ly for a week, and have asked me a ton of questions on how to do certain things with their data. I wanted to add details to my last post on Plot.ly v. JMP and tell you the decision I made regarding the issue. All of the questions I have below are actual questions / issues  my learners ran into using Plot.ly.

Issue 1. How to add % totals to the columns of data in a graph?

One group of learners had a beautiful graph made in Plot.ly. It was nice, communicated well, but had lots of information in it. They wanted to put the % of each column in the graph to make it more informative.

In other words, they had this ……….and wanted this. (the reason for the arrow in a sec)

graph1 graph2

Yes, these are JMP graphs. Why? Because after an hour of looking, I could not find a way to have Plot.ly do it. Their help is silent on this issue, and I looked through a whole bunch of graphs shared on their website and found not a single one to do that.

As far as JMP, it took two clicks. I can’t show the menu because it is a drop down and as I tried to screen cap, it went away. You click the red triangle I pointed to, hover over to “Histogram Options,” and click on “Show percents.” If you want to “Show counts,” you can do that too. One or both! Two clicks. This was incredibly simple to do in JMP, incredibly difficult in Plot.ly.

Issue 2: Chi-Square test

I already dealt with the fact that Plot.ly calls graphs that use categorical information histograms in my last post. This has caused so. much. confusion.

But now my learners are trying to do the statistics for their data and see if there are significant differences in their samples. They are trying to DO statistical inferences. If their data is quantitative, they can do a t-test easily. Well, they can do a two sample t-test easily. They cannot do a one sample t-test or a matched pair t-test. They cannot do a z-test in Plot.ly, and as it turns out, you cannot do a Chi-Square test in Plot.ly unless you already have the summary counts.

Really? I can do the “histogram” to get the counts, but I cannot import those counts into the table to do the Chi-square? It won’t count the instances of words to count them for the test?

For example, if the learners data looks like this:

data1  Plot.ly will do a histogram for it and tell me what percent or what counts there are for Gender and AP/Honors.

If I want a Chi-Square test for these two columns, the only way I could make it work was to look at the graph of counts, write down the information into a two-way table, and enter the counts as a matrix in the graphing calculator.

To do the same thing in JMP, we do the following steps:

1.  Go to Analyze, Fit y by x JMP1

 

2. Click on OK. That’s it. The output contains the following:

JMP2  A mosaic plot of the graph which is nothing more than a stacked bar chart, except the width of each column is proportional to the total number of things in the column.

Next, we get the contingency table. If I click the red triangle, I can choose other values to include or exclude from the table.

Finally, the Chi-Square test p-value.

That was around 6 clicks, instead of making the graph, counting from the graph and writing a table, and then inputting the table to the calculator.

Issue 3: separating data by a response

The group who was doing the AP/Honors and work in Issue 2 had another problem. They asked for GPA and the number of hours you worked. But they needed the mean GPA of only those in AP/Honors and those not in AP/Honors, as well as the number of hours worked.

Plot.ly will give us the total 1 variable stats for the column of hours worked, but it will not give it to us in two groups of Y/N based on type of classes taken. It will not do it.

Enter JMP. 6 clicks. Analyze, Distribution, put the variable where you want them, OK.

JMP5

That’s it. You get a 1 variable stats for those who are in AP/Honors, and a separate 1 variable stats for those not in AP/Honors. Doing a two sample t-test is simple and easy once this information is obtained. This is not information Plot.ly can give us.

Issue 4: Linear Regression t-test

Last issue, and then I will stop. I have several learners doing quantitative projects that lend themselves to linear regressions and linear regression t-tests.

Plot.ly makes beautiful scatterplots. You can adjust the axis, overlay the regression line, insert the equation into the graph, etc. They are pretty.

But, if you want a residual plot. No go. If you want to reinforce the statistics of y=a + bx. No go.

This is what it looks like in Plot.ly.

plotly1 You have y=mx + b from algebra, you cannot do residuals, and you CANNOT do a linreg t-test.

In JMP, it looks like this:

JMP4 5 clicks, Analyze, Fit Y by X, put the variables in the correct spots, and hit OK. Notice this is the exact same dialogue box you use for categorical data. JMP uses the same path for different types of data, but tells you in the bottom left corner HOW it will act on your data.

You get output that looks like this:

JMP3 If you want the residual plot, hit the red triangle next to “Linear Fit” and show residual plot. That easy.

Bottom line

Although I fully understand that every single complaint I have had with Plot.ly can be solved by learning the programming language and learning to program the software, I don’t think I can ask high school learners, in the last 4 weeks of class, to learn it so they can do a project on statistics. Honestly, I don’t want to take the time to learn the programming language of Plot.ly so that I can do it for them, either.

Plot.ly makes BEAUTIFUL graphs. It is a powerful platform to show connections between quantitative data sets. But, it does a so-so to bad job on statistics.

JMP makes graphs that may not be beautiful, but the statistics is primary to the operation of the program and makes doing the statistics easy. I think without some major changes to Plot.ly to work towards the statistics side instead of the data representation side I will go back to using JMP next year.

It was just too difficult to teach the way Plot.ly handles or mishandles the stats.

 

AP Stats learners using Plot.ly

 APStats, Success maybe, Technology  Comments Off on AP Stats learners using Plot.ly
Jun 052015
 

Capture

I pushed my AP Stats learners to use Plot.ly this year for their projects instead of JMP as I have in previous years. I am not sure if I like it better or worse, but I definitely have some frustrations.

Let’s go through the good points first.

1. After the learners had their data in Excel, it was very easy to import the .xlsx file into plot.ly. The learners had to make some changes to the first row, but that is to be expected.

2. As long as the learners hit “save” then they did not have to worry about losing their project. I have had previous years where learners lost flash drives or computer files the week before the project is due and had to start from scratch with their hard copy. I appreciate the fact that plot.ly saves the data IF the learners hit save.

3. Once the plots are present, downloading or screen capturing the plots are easy and quick. My learners liked the ability to  quickly make many different plots and then examine them and decide what they plots were really meaning. Changing colors, counts to percents, and other elements of the graphs was easy, fast and very user friendly.

All in all, not too many downsides from the learner’s perspective.

Here are my frustrations with the program as we have been using Plot.ly.

1. Many of my learners did surveys that had categorical Yes, No or Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior Senior responses. After compiling their survey responses, their data looked similar to this:

data

What kind of graph would you make with this type of data? You are correct a bar chart. Bar charts are for categorical data, histograms are for quantitative. So, I do that.

badgraph Not it.  I struggle with this for three days, tweet them for help, more than 4 times, and nada. Zilch. Don’t hear anything back, and am ready to give up on Plot.ly. However, I notice they have a “contact us” in the lower right of the screen. I email them, and a very nice person responds the next day and with instructions on how to make a Histogram.

What. The. Hell. A histogram? I follow her instructions.

data2 (you get the “choose as G” by the “Group by” button) and get this:

goodgraph The y axis is in percent (which takes an extra step to get), clearly what I wanted, but it is not a histogram. I do have a problem with a “Statistics” program that calls a bar graph a histogram. The instructions to make it a stacked bar chart are easy to follow and find, I chose not to do it for this comparison.

2. Ordering the x-axis is a pain. Many of the questions my learners had dealt with the difference between freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Plot.ly ordered the x-axis based on the order of the data in the spreadsheet. Which means to reorder the x-axis we had to sort the data in excel, (but we don’t want them in alphabetical order?) and reupload.

Really Plot.ly? You don’t have a way to specify the order of the axis? I searched. Trust me I searched long and hard. I ended up just telling my learners to not worry about it.

As a comparison, this is what it looks like in JMP (version 8 is what I have).

jmpdata graphing a “fit y by x”

jmpgraph After hitting “OK”, look at all the stats automatically generated! Also, in the contingency plot (made by default btw) the width is proportional to how many in that column, so the widths AND heights are informative unlike Plot.ly. JMP also automatically generates axis by percent, not counts.

jmpsort Ordering the data is as simple as clicking on Value Ordering under column properties.

I guess what I am saying is that clearly Plot.ly is not meant to be used as I am using it in class. There are easier, faster, and more statistically correct software to use. I will have to figure out what to use for next year because I am not completely sold on Plot.ly, but JMP has to be installed on computers. There are always gives and takes to every decision.

edit:

And right after I posted this, one of my learners walks in tearing her hair out. She has a mixture of categorical and quantitative data, and Plot.ly will not graph the categorical data at all for her. The menu options work completely different for her than for everyone else. She is installing JMP and getting it done that way. Sigh.

Jun 042015
 

My last post was about the three rules I use in my classroom. I developed the how and why in that post. In this post, I will explore some detailed “how I use them” in the classroom. I am careful to never say the word “rule” except for these three. We have exponent shortcuts, log shortcuts & properties, but never rules.

To do this right, I am going to use my Surface and do a lot of handwriting and posting of screenshots. If you are wondering, this is all done in OneNote with a Surface Pro 3. The bad handwriting is my own.

What really drove this point home for me, and made me codify it as something that needed to be talked about every day in class is the fact that if you do the “why?” for every step, you write down a “1” or a “0” for almost every step every time. Sure, you write down “I distributed,”  “I found the value to complete the square,” or “I factored” but why you do the next step is almost always a 1 or a 0.

See what I mean below.

To see how  I connect the rules, let’s start with an expression. It is not a very complex expression, but it sits solidly in the Alg 2 curriculum and throws learners for a loop often.

expression1 You can see that the expression is changed through the use of multiplying by one, and the convenient value we selected to use is a value that gets us a 1 when added. Why add? Because of the properties of exponents when we are multiplying bases.

Compare this to the rational expression of adding:

expression2

Here, we take the adding expression, and multiply both terms by 1, but a different one each time. Why? because we select the ones to use based upon the convenient terms to accomplish a common denominator.

Let’s move into some solving. Here is a straightforward quadratic that is in vertex form.

quadratic1 Yup, look at the bracket of zeros and ones.

How about turning a quadratic into vertex form?

Quadratic2 Here I explicitly used the first rule (I used it implicitly above as well, and I have the extra “I chose the 9 because it completes the square” step. Of course, these are bracketed by a zero and a one.

Finally, a log solving equation. I have just one, although I can do more. I chose an moderately ugly equation to solve, so it could not be solved any other way.

log1 [OOPS! I just realized I switched the 3 and 5 in my bcs statement. Damn dyscalculia. Sorry about that.] Here we have a double whammy. I conveniently chose to use Log base 5 to do to both sides. Why? Because Log base 5 of 5 equals 1! From experience, I know that taking the log of the more complex side reduces the number of steps. I don’t tell my learners that. They play and figure it out by doing the one problem both ways.  We also used Rule 1, do unto both sides.

In looking at the commonality between all of these problems, you can see the connection of “1” and “0” throughout. I stress this all year long, and have the learners write it all year long. This is the minimum requirement of writing I ask of my learners as they progress. We start writing much more, but I demand they write it. It reinforces the identities of addition and multiplication over and over again all year long. As the year goes on, they write less, but still write it.

Also, I almost never write a radical symbol until the final answers. All radicals are transferred to fractional exponents immediately all year. This helps explain why cubes are inverses of cube roots, and we don’t need to worry about notation. This is a big deal when dealing with some money problems and the exponent is 377 or some such nonsense  and we are solving for “r”. The “you just raise both sides to the power of 1/377 because the exponent will be 1” is automatic at that point.

I hope this gives a better understanding of what I mean by “zero’s” and “ones”. Please leave me questions here or on Twitter; @gwaddellnvhs.

Jun 022015
 

In Algebra 2, I start with my 3 rules. They really are not “my” rules they are just restatements of the multiplicative identity, additive identity and balancing equation. I believe how I use them to set the tone and stage for the entire year is different, however.

On the second day of class (the first day I usually do a problem solving activity, cell phones, or other type of activity) I introduce the “rules”.

2014-08-10 15.43.10 You can zoom in, or you can grab the files from here. I had a long discussion with several teachers about the wording, and Meg Craig made up the files once we settled on the phrasing. Can they be tweaked more? Absolutely. I would love to improve them. Leave the suggestions in the comments.

Back to how I use them, and why I think I use them differently. I will say with 100% assurance that I use these rules differently than I have seen others, and I absolutely use them differently than I used to.

This grew out of the frustration of having a nice, simple equation to solve like, y=5x+2, and needing to solve it for x. I really wondered why learners would mess up the math on such a simple equation so frequently. And don’t even get me started if the equation looked like v=ba-d, because that was impossible.

And I realized that although I was teaching the idea of inverses and identities, I was not connecting learners with or building the idea that these things are used.

So, I turned to the “SADMEP” idea. (this link is a google search for SADMEP. That is sad, huh.) But as I worked with this a year or two, I realized that the SA always made a zero, and the DM always made a 1, so I added that to my SADMEP poster (sadly, there are no pictures of this, I threw them all away several years ago).

Which lead me to the idea that it is NOT subtraction or addition that is important, it is the ZERO! Same thing with the ONE, those are the important ideas. Those are the identities. Why do we subtract 2 from both sides of the equation above? Because 2 – 2 = 0. No magic. We can actually subtract ANY number, but we chose to subtract 2 because that is the most convenient way to reach zero in one step.

And then I stumbled upon another magic word that goes hand in hand here; convenient. Why do we chose the values we chose to add, subtract, multiply, or divide? Because those values are convenient ways to make a zero or one the fastest.

Back to the ugly equation above: v=ba-d. Solve it for ‘a’. Add ‘d’. Why? because -d+d=0. Do we care what d is, or represents? No, we know how zero works. Same goes with multiplying by 1/b.

Then, show this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seUU2bZtfgM up to the point where he goes into transcendental numbers (approximately minute 6).

I reach for my physics and chemistry books right about now, and find some ugly equations. These in fact. This is the file I start with to get the learners thinking about solving.

And then I go nuts. Put the formula sheet for AP Physics under the elmo. Do the same with AP Chem. Pick one. Pick another. Solve for any variable. Then solve the same equation for a different variable. For every single function / formula, the only thing they can write to justify their steps are “blah because it makes a zero” and “bleep because it makes a one.”

And we discuss that every single problem I can possible give them is solved simply by using these three simple rules. I make a huge deal of this in the log unit because they learn a NEW way to make a 1 in that unit. That is exciting.

All year long, my learners are shouting out, “because it makes a one” when we are working with exponent procedures (note they are not exponent ‘rules’) because that is how math works. Why do square roots and squares “cancel?” Well, they don’t. 1/2 exponents raised to the power of 2 means 1/2 times 2 which equals 1.

That’s it. I use it all year long. I rarely write a radical symbol, just fractional exponents. It just makes sense.

This is a couple of days of work, and I really think pulling from physics and chem texts helps. I have never had such success with solving and literal equations (in fact, they stop thinking literals are any different) as I have had the last two years.

There is a reason they are framed so nicely at the front of my room. They matter, and they solve every problem we encounter.

 

Some of the CCSS standards this idea hits:

A.SSE.1-4

A.REI.1-4a

A.REI.5-7

 

May 302015
 

I tried to do a 180 blog, and made it to 90. I really don’t know how people like Justin Aion and Sam Shah do it. It is very difficult to find something to day for 180 days without it sounding boring and forced. They pull it off though. That is amazing.

Knowing I can’t pull of the 180 thing isn’t bad, however. I know I can do topics, and I have a topic I really want to crystallize for myself (as well as others.) I have really been toying with the idea of “one maths” the last three years, and I convinced / forced one of my fellow teachers in my building to start doing it as well. The results are amazing. The connections between the different topics are astounding, and the learners see them, are motivated by them, and create further connections as well. To see why the connections are so important, one just needs to read this “Math with Bad Drawings” post. The connections are vital.

Some tools I will use regularly in class.

1. The Three Essential Rules – from day one, these are the only “rules” I will ever talk about. Log “rules”? Nope, don’t have them. Those are shortcuts to understanding why the properties of logs work. Exponent rules? Nope, nothing more than shortcuts. The only rules we will ever explicitly say are these three: Additive Identity, Multiplicative Identity, and balancing equations. How I implemented them can be found here.

2. Desmos.com – This is the first website I load every morning as I get ready for my day. It is essential to visualizing and discussing function families. The main difficulty I have with desmos is I have so many ‘files’ created it is hard to find them all! That is a great problem to have I think.

3. My structure of functions: This is how I organize the entire year. We move from topic to topic, but as we move, the connection to the prior topic is constantly referred to and stressed.Functions
This list is the core of the connections I want to explore and develop this summer.

Some things I want to make explicit for myself.

1. How to connect this list to the CCSS standards and Essential Understandings explicitly.

2. How to connect each step to prior knowledge in a stronger way.

3. How to connect each step with the breadth of knowledge required (for example, quadratics have many ways to solve).

4. Finally, why in the first place! It seems odd to put the why at the end, but I think it is easier to think about the why once it is all laid out. Does this curriculum have an advantage over the standard “textbook” curriculum? Anecdotal evidence suggests yes, but it needs to be better explained before others can weigh in.

It is a large project, but well worth doing. I think it will really make me understand the mathematics better, and enhance my teaching tremendously.

edit:

I better not slack off. Lisa and Meg both called me out. http://www.teachesmath.com/?p=765 and http://www.megcraig.org/?p=394. Stay focused Glenn!

May 292015
 

Wow, it has been a while since I posted anything, and I need to share a ton of things I have done. I predict that I will post a lot in the next several weeks. The school year is winding down, but my learners are ramping up. Grad school is down for the summer (with the exception of an independent study on activity theory) so I have much more time to write.

My learners are working on their final exam / projects, and they are hating me right now. They realize that the stats has a purpose, and that it is far harder than they thought. The handout for my assignment is here if you want to use it, or see what I required.

The only reason I veto projects are because it is too easy, too hard (and it is my opinion for that, although we discuss the reason why so they have an opportunity to revise and make it appropriate) or if the subject matter is just too sensitive / personal and it is in the realm of professionals, not high school learners.

Below is the list of surveys / observational studies / experiments that my learners have decided to undertake this year, broken up by period. It is a rather impressive list!

———Period 2———–

  • Social media use / grades
  • How do adults / teenagers differ in choosing restaurants
  • Does quizlet or flashcards help more in learning vocab (using ancient Sumerian words?!)
  • Does education really affect income (using census data from several zipcodes in the city)
  • Is there an association between a school’s weightlifting records and win/loss at sports?
  • Is sex ed successful?
  • Does involvement in club cheer affect grades (4 different age groups)
  • Do taller people run faster, looking at high school, college and Olympic atheletes?
  • Does appearance have an impact on grades?
  • General questions about tobacco use and quitting
  • Which costs more, male or female beauty products?
  • Quality of life of the parents / learners in school
  • Which area of the city has more trash on the sides of the roads?
  • Does music affect memory (experiment)?
  • How do you use social media?
  • What is your perception of LBGT issues?

———Period 3———–

  • How does sports affect grades?
  • Are oreos really double stuffed? (I never showed my class the story on this, this team came up with it on their own! Love it)
  • Is bullying an issue, how large?
  • Are drivers more likely to stop at a stop sign when they are being watched?
  • An experiment on what type of information changes learners opinions on drinking age.
  • Does work hours affect GPA?
  • Does being exempt from an enrichment class at school affect GPA?
  • Are cheetos packaging regarding number of pieces correct?
  • Does social media use hurt GPA?
  • Is the dress code at school appropriate?

———Period 5———–

  • Does the sugar content of cereals affect the placement of the cereals in the grocery store?
  • Does music affect memory?
  • An experiment on whether or not gender effects whether or not people help with dropped books in the hallways.
  • How does our school compare to other schools in the community service of the learners?
  • Does sexism exist in the high school population?
  • Does the perception of animal rights change from learners to adults in the building?
  • What kinds of social media is most prevalent & how should the school use social media?
  • Who is bullied most over social media, males or females?
  • How does M-M vs. F-F & hair length affect the attitudes towards GLBT youth in stores (a very daring observational study)
  • What drugs are prevalently used in the high school per grade level?
  • Is marijuana use a problem in the high school?

As you can see, there is a huge variety (and some major overlap) between the different classes and projects. Each group is working their way to answering their questions, with the final exam being a presentation of their results.

Always exciting.

NV Legislature speech take 2

 CCSS  Comments Off on NV Legislature speech take 2
Apr 012015
 

I always tell my speech and debate competitors that a good speech takes multiple drafts, and this speech is no different. After sleeping on it overnight, and re-reading it today I realized that my speech was fighting itself in the wording, so I rewrote some key sections.

I like this version much better.

I really did not expect to spend spring break doing political activity, but here I am anyway. I also was just asked if I would do an interview for another local news story. Wow, say yes to one thing and more activities pile on. At some point I need to put this aside and start reading for my classwork. I need to do that soon!

This is the text of the final version of the speech. It is better than the previous one, I believe.

For the record, my name is Glenn Waddell, Jr., and I am the department chair and teacher of AP Statistics and Algebra 2 Honors at North Valleys High School. Chair Woodbury and members of the committee, thank you for allowing me to address you today and explain why I oppose the sections of AB 303 that delete reference to the common core. I NEED the core standards to be an effective educator. Most importantly, my learners need the common core state standards.

I need the core standards because the prior standards had different “enhancements” in Washoe and Clark counties; which means that I could not collaborate with teachers in the southern part of the state, let alone elsewhere. Today, I work with teachers in other states as much as I collaborate within my building. The internet facilitates connections with math teachers, the sharing of lessons, and pooling of resources with teachers in Oklahoma and New York as easily as teacher across the hall.

My needs pale when compared to the needs of my learners, however. My learners need the common core for two reasons. First, high standards create engagement. The current standards provide this through the shifts, the practices, and the standards themselves. An example of how much can be accomplished with the standards is two weeks ago, my learners were working on the A.REI group; solving systems of equations algebraically & graphically. My learners had a graph of two functions with solutions that were easy to find one-way and impossible to find other ways. They worked for over 30 minutes individually and in groups before they finally gave up and asked me for help. The understanding we found was; there was no algebraic way to find the solution, and they refused to believe it. The mathematical practices served my learners well. They showed perseverance, appropriate use of tools, making arguments, regularity of structure, and critiquing the reasoning of others. This is the heart and soul of a successful math classroom. My learners need and deserve this high level of rigor.

Secondly, my learners need the standards because they are working. All learners need a solid foundation beginning in elementary school upon which to build future mathematics content, and math teachers in my school agree the learners coming up from middle school are better prepared for high school algebra. The standards are not the maximum, they are the minimum body of knowledge that learners must know. The standards create a foundation that is stronger, substantive, and more demanding than we had in the past. My learners need the core standards so they can build their foundation, and launch themselves to higher mathematics with confidence. My learners do not come into my room to be average, they come into my room to be awesome, and the core standards allow and encourage them to be awesome.

Thank you.

 

Speaking to the NV Legislature

 CCSS  Comments Off on Speaking to the NV Legislature
Mar 312015
 

Tomorrow I am speaking to the NV Legislature on the Assembly Bill 303 (pdf text) that would eliminate the end of course exams that I don’t like, but would also eliminate the Common Core State Standards from all NV schools.

Can I complain for a second on how difficult it is to give a 3 minute speech? OMG! My first draft was around 8 minutes long, and I finally have it down to 3 minutes on the dot. Below is the text of my speech. If you have any suggestions, I am open to tweaking or rewriting. I leave tomorrow at 2 pm for Carson City!

There may also be an opportunity to be on a local PBS channel show about this bill as well. Who would have guessed that I would have spent this year’s spring break in political advocacy? Not this guy, that is for sure.

For the record, my name is Glenn Waddell, Jr., and I am the department chair and teacher of AP Statistics and Algebra 2 Honors at North Valleys High School. Chair Woodbury and members of the committee, thank you for allowing me to address you today and explain why I oppose the sections of AB 303 that delete reference to the common core. I NEED the core standards to be an effective educator. Most importantly, my learners need the common core state standards.

I need the core standards because the prior standards  had different “enhancements” in Washoe and Clark counties; which means that I could not even collaborate with teachers in the southern part of the state, let alone elsewhere. Today, I work with teachers in other states as much as I collaborate within my building. The internet allows me to connect with math teachers from across the United States and share lessons and pool resources with teachers in Oklahoma and New York as easily as I can with the teacher across the hall.

My needs pale when compared to the needs of my learners, however. My learners need the common core for two reasons. First, my learners need a solid foundation beginning in elementary school upon which to build future mathematics content. The current standards provide this through the shifts, the mathematical practices, and the standards themselves. An example of how much can be accomplished with the standards is two weeks ago, my learners were working on the A.REI group; solving systems of equations algebraically & graphically. My learners had a graph of two functions with solutions that were easy to find one-way and impossible to find other ways. They persevered for over 30 minutes individually and in groups before they finally gave up and asked me for help. The understanding we found was; there was no algebraic way to find the solution, and they refused to believe it. The mathematical practices served my learners well. They showed perseverance, appropriate use of tools as well as making arguments, regularity of structure and critiquing the reasoning of others. This is the heart and soul of a successful math classroom. My learners need and deserve this high level of rigor.

The second reason my learners’ need the standards are because the core standards are not the maximum, they are the minimum body of knowledge that learners must know. The core standards raised the bar tremendously from prior standards, and in so doing created a foundation that is stronger, substantive, and more demanding than we had in the past. My learners need the core standards so they can build their foundation, and upon this foundation launch themselves to higher mathematics with confidence. My learners do not come into my room to be average, they come into my room to be awesome, and the core standards allow and encourage them to be awesome.

Thank you.

Any suggestions? Comments?