Monday, 12 November 2012

Week as Math Educator - Day 1

I've been having some strangely vivid/memorable dreams of late. Last night, it was me trying to sneak into a country with a jack o' lantern or something, which I naturally did by talking to people at customs. Meaning what, exactly?

I woke up this morning at 6:45am, fifteen minutes before my alarm went off.  Welcome, everyone, to Day 1 of "A Week in the Life of a Math Educator".

...I need theme music.


6:45am - Being awake, I sneak out of the bedroom (my wife's still asleep and doesn't need to go to work today) to check my email for any info about possible Strike Action in Ontario. (See yesterday's post regarding this.)

6:55 - Having checked email and Facebook, I now check out Twitter. @standupmaths is up to some new tricks.

7:05 - Actually go to shower, dress, and such things. Wearing black today. Decide on the Star Trek tie. No, the black one.

7:20 - Breakfast; bowl of cereal. Having already checked Twitter, follow some LinkedIn emails to threads.

7:30 - Teacher job action is the lead story on this radio station.  No mention of Prevention of Bullying week.

7:40 - I brush teeth, kiss my wife, head out fifteen minutes early. Radio stations now mostly talking, feel like music. Flip to my anime CD, hit random. Here's what I get. Sweet.

7:55 - Orleans Traffic Circle.
8:00 - Flip back to CBC News
8:05 - Arrive at school. Head to the prep room.

ASIDE: Math shares our prep room with Family Studies. It's a long, thin room with desks down either side, also with room for a small table near the sink and fridge.

8:06 - Brief commentary about me being in earlier than usual. One person even remarks that I'm not the only one, and was there a memo, or something? I make a quip and head to the main office photocopier.

ASIDE: Broadcasting students play music in the morning, heading to the office it's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody".

8:10 - Photocopy student solutions of the test I finished marking on the weekend to put together. Colleague comes, wonders about how long I'll be; not long. They copy as I splice things together, someone else comes.

8:20 - Head out, checking mailbox for any notices. Stop by prep room again on the way to class.

8:23 - In class, going to actually time how long for my computer to boot up.
8:23:15 - Switch on.
8:25:00 - Log in.
8:25:15 - Norton running. I hate it.
8:27:30 - I can finally open folders. (This is why we log in then go do something else.) I enter the marks for the recently corrected tests.

8:31 - Try to check my mail... system's running real slow. Oh, Norton's still busy with it's Startup Scan. Sigh.

8:35 - Warning bell. Respond to the 'hello' from first student in, head to the door to have a look at what's happening in the hall. The "get to class" music today... sax music. Alright.

8:37 - Student arrives, says practice went long, can she still go to her locker. I ask her to wait until after the next bell.

8:38 - Admin person walks by, remarks "it's still wrong". Teasing me about the correct answer to the math question posted on my door, which was different than what they worked out in detention last week. Heh. (Also, mental note, new week, put up the new question.)

8:40 - START PERIOD 1. My Mixed 11 class; 17 students. First, the playing of 'O Canada'. Hats off.

8:42 - Anthem over, I close the classroom door; TV's already on. "Laurier Live" broadcasting students have a self-described "Intense Morning Broadcast!" including a mustache special, and misinformation about strike action. Well, can't win 'em all - they got it from the media.

ASIDE: "Laurier Live" is on YouTube, but I hesitate to provide the direct link myself, just for privacy.

We're in the Finance unit now, so I have students check work with the TVM Solvers of the Graphing Calculators once Announcements are over. Which is good, as I now recall I didn't work out the next set of questions. I do this in time to give them to the student who has to leave at 9am.

Handout the next sheet to everyone even though only a couple probably ready for it. Students start asking me questions about it. (Yeah, I'll be talking about it, but it builds a bit on stuff that you still don't have finished from Friday so maybe do that first.)

Talk about the new sheet (Present Value of Annuities) from about 9:20 to 9:40, soliciting responses as I go. We're not ready for a test Wednesday (suspected as much from the start), so it'll be Thursday. Give them another ten minutes here to start the new work or ask questions about what we talked about.

Return the tests at 9:50, with five minutes left in the period. Gives me enough time to hit the main errors and tack up the solutions I copied that morning. Finish right at the bell. Timed it perfectly! Except didn't give time to retrieve the graphing calculators. Crumbs! Handed in on the way out.

9:55 - Period change. Take the opportunity to load up my SmartBoard lesson for next class. Use metre stick to turn on the projector that has no remote.

10:00 - START PERIOD 2. My Data Management 12 class; 29 students.

Start by taking in Media Assignments. I now have more marking piled up for this class than any other - need to put a dent into two sets of tasks and one test at some time today. Also need to go around and talk to students about their Summative Topic.

Give handout that goes with the lesson for them to work on while I check with students. Do half, then pop up the graph they need, then talk with the other half. One student is leaving for a few weeks, and has extra stuff to give me that we discussed previously. Another student arrives late at 10:30 for valid reasons.

About 10:30, start talking about the correlation coefficient and related items. Handout is corrected, other questions addressed, new questions given. Finished by 11:10 to deal with anything else. One student remarks on extrapolation, which, right, need to adjust something tomorrow. Another notes a few people will be away tomorrow for a field trip. Okay, I can work with this.

11:15 - End of class, start of lunch. Save the SmartBoard file to upload to the website; also need to enter Attendance.

11:20 - Get paged. Question from the office about a student; can be done over the phone, but I have to go there anyway to get some coloured paper that I forgot this morning. So I do.

11:25 - Head back from office to the prep room. Grab lunch from fridge to chat with colleagues. Some of them are in a lunch club where one person brings food for the group.

ASIDE: The staff room in the school is way off in the far corner by the gymnasium, so I don't go there much; nor I think so many other staff (aside from phys ed teachers).

People are a bit in and out at this point. Topics range from food to the weekend to the Remembrance Day assembly last Friday to, yeah, politics.

11:50 - I head back to my class to check my internal email (which I haven't done yet today) and to do attendance.

11:55 - Student from afternoon class drops by with some questions, she won't be there last period. We talk briefly.

12:00 - Back to email.


12:05pm - Warning bell for Period 4 (it's a day 2, afternoon switches).

ASIDE: This is my prep period. I could spend it in the prep room, but there's only two computers there, and my classroom isn't actually being used this period. (That's rare - usually another teacher would be in here.) So I stick around on this computer.

12:10 - PERIOD 4.  I poke my head out once to encourage students to be in class, then once again about 12:15 as I hear another teacher saying something similar.

Make the little change to my MDM lesson, now I need to plan a Finance summary for my period 1 based on what I saw this morning. I use some examples from a previous teacher of this course as a basis. (Did I mention I haven't taught the 11 Mixed before? Some similar material to other courses, admittedly.)

1:00 - I think I'm good to go for Tuesday now. Go to update the website with this morning's stuff and some homework in advance. End up putting the wrong stuff in the wrong course area. Fix it.

1:10 - Back to the prep room, where I can get my printouts. Also check my voicemail on the communal phone since no one's using it. No messages. Also visit the washroom.

1:15 - Can now start on marking... I have ten minutes left in my prep.

1:20 - Another teacher arrives (there's now four of us in there total), and we end up chatting briefly about Remembrance Day yesterday.

1:25 - Period change. I head to class. My University level 11 class; 29 students. Field a few questions before class even starts.

Some new work on the SmartBoard as I walk around to check on how things went with Friday's homework.  We're doing Exponentials, and I created the handout myself from pulling together a bunch of other sources; I'll try to include it here if anyone likes... uh... okay, think this failed. Email me if you want it.

1:50 - Regroup to talk about common problems, and to solve the new work on the SmartBoard. Ask for equations. Three separate students give three separate valid equations which is AWESOME, and an amazing starting point for conversation. Things going well especially as we're preparing for a Task tomorrow (an evaluation that's not a test).

Was going to intro word problems, then work on help sheets, but instead (about 2:10) launch from this into them writing up their help sheets. Sensed momentum. Regroup again at 2:25 for a bit of word problems. Student asks whether there's any supplemental questions. Right, the homework; give questions. Also say I'll be available from 11:50 tomorrow.

In last five minutes, as students are finishing the sheets and packing up, I remark on the medals a couple of the guys are wearing, as they won the football championship on Saturday. Yeah, they've been wearing them the whole period, only noticing now - I'm not the guy you want as dress code monitor.

2:45 - Last bell; school day over. Tally up; one student didn't give me their help sheet. Sigh. Will need to figure out who.

2:50 - Student returns to talk briefly.

3:00 - Have now done attendance and uploaded the day's lesson to my site. Get tomorrow's handouts together to photocopy.

3:05 - Care staff member comes to empty the trash. We chat briefly. She notices a Yop container left by a student, and I notice a muffin wrapper. Sigh. Into the trash. The down side of not sharing the classroom is I know it has to be someone I teach doing this.

3:10 - Back to the prep room. Again talk briefly with people there before heading to the office to photocopy.

3:15 - En route to office, see some teachers I know discussing political situation. Stop briefly to hear/join discussion. We stop as a student approaches from the hall to ask something, I continue on my way.

3:25 - Leaving office with necessary photocopies, and a student assignment left in my mailbox. Back to prep room; normally would hang around longer, but have a meeting to get to.

3:30 - In class, checked mail before shutting down computer; office message regarding the math contests running next week is good. Student sent a message - I reply quickly.

3:35 - Out to the car, just missed the 3:30 news. Catch the weather and traffic... apparently traffic is light, which is good news.

3:40 - Passing site of @174Sinkhole while listening to the radio. Is Kristina Maria getting playtime outside of Ottawa?

3:55 - Reach downtown for my meeting at least 10 minutes sooner than I expected, traffic really was light. Probably due to people in government not working owing to the Remembrance Day observation.

4:00 - In room for meeting, there's light refreshments. Realize I have had NOTHING to drink since a glass of water at 7:30am. (Tend not to remember at lunch.) Rectify that.

4:15 - Meeting starts. It's the local chapter of the Ontario Association of Mathematics Educators; I'm secretary.

4:45 - Meeting ends. Faster than I'd thought - plan had been to find somewhere to mark papers for an hour before meeting friends, but now I've got almost two. Decide to go home.

4:55 - Heading out of parking lot, MATH PARODY SONG COMES ON THE RADIO. Time to sing along!

5:15 - I get home. And it's dark now. I need my map light to scribble the math parody song into my notes of the day.


5:20 - I say 'hi' to my wife, take off my tie, drop my school keys, head into my office room to mark papers. Listen to the radio while I do so.

6:35 - Knock at our door. Helpful passerby noting that I left the map light on in my car. I'm a tool; I go to turn it off.

7:00 - Finish one of four pages of the set of tests. That took about 1.5 hours, which means about 3 minutes per student, which is a under a minute per question. (Though there WAS that five minutes from 1:15-1:20 also...)

7:05 - Check home email, and scan through Facebook mostly because I figure it'll be faster than scanning through Twitter. Someone's posted an article I flag to read later.

7:20 - Head out with my wife to meet with friends. We do this every Monday night; group of Shad Valley Alumni.

7:35 - Reach downtown venue of choice. Chat about life. Actually outside for longer than 2 minutes too; apparently a record high was set today. I can believe it.

8:50 - Depart downtown, head back home.

9:00 - Take out the trash for tomorrow. Go in to read that article I flagged earlier and check Twitter. Bunch of tweets about it too (comparison of East vs West Cultures in teaching). I retweet something about blogging.

9:30 - Start work on this blog entry.

10:00 - Start multitasking this Blog Entry with Canada's Worst Driver (Season 8). Wow, host actually swore (censored) at one point, but that did look damn scary.

11:00 - Change channels to The Daily Show, still multitasking.

11:30 - Finished. Now to post, and Tweet, and prepare for tomorrow.


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm changing perspectives daily. Tomorrow I'll be going Polynomial.  Wednesday will be CONIC, but I'll leave it up to those who comment as to whether you'd prefer:
 CIRCE (the circle) or ELLY (the ellipse).
Thursday will be TRIG, but again, you can comment to choose either:
 SINE, COSINE (her twin sister) or TANGENT.

Vote now!  (Vote often! I don't get many comments.)  Also feel free to join in on the fun this week with an entry of your own.

Tina has put up a data entry website here.
Also Prime Factors blogged today (faster typer than me...).  Until tomorrow!


  1. Wow! You're really going to log an entire week? I'm beyond impressed.

  2. Looks like the handout did appear. At least I see it.

    The sax music, was it Yakety Sax perchance (

    That is a long day. If you hadn't gone out with friends, how much of your evening would've been spent on marking alone?

    For Thursday, I vote for Circe. Friday, why not Tan-tan? :)

  3. @TinaC - Thanks! Possibly I'm beyond insane, but we'll see. Still fun.

    @Scott - I "png"ed the handout, so it's not a modifiable document; the sax music was not that, no, but that would have been funny. If I hadn't gone out with friends (or blogged) I probably would have emptied the dishwasher or something instead of only marking... I have limits.

    Friday you don't get to vote, I have ideas. :) Wednesday/Thursday votes registered. Anyone else want to chime in, particularly about Thurs Trig? And this is what I mean by narrative perspective for those wondering:

  4. Elly!!! and tangent (the forgotten one)

  5. Ah, okay. But it does give me an idea of what the homework was.

    And, I meant to ask earlier, but which anime is that first demotivator using?

  6. Poor Tangent - not forgotten apparently! Tried to accommodate the votes today.

    I actually don't know the anime, I just wanted something splashy to start things off, and that was in my Posters folder. Also in trying to respond I just unposted and reposted this entry, so I should probably sleep, oopsie. ^_^;;

  7. Jealous that your students get to play music in the morning over the loudspeaker! Fun way to start the day!

  8. The ones involved in the broadcasting/announcements course anyway! It's one that takes place slightly outside of the school day, like band for credit after school. They also do music at lunch. Thanks for the thought!