## Trying to find math inside everything else

### The Downside of Incorporating Student Interests…

So in my quizzes I like to include some interests of mine that also happen to be student interests. My quiz this morning involved translating sentences from English into Mathematical Symbols. So I had sentences like:

Luigi can jump higher than Mario.

The Water Bending of Katara is greater than the Water Bending of Aang.

Knuckles can stay in the air longer than Tails.

The downside, of course, is that the students want to argue with me about the content of the sentence rather than translate the structure. Which is silly, because I am always right.

### The Start of the New Year

The kids come in on Thursday and, unlike last year when I felt like floundering, I’m looking forward to it, head held high. One of the major reasons is that the 9th grade team has met several times this summer and we put together an awesome project for the first two days.

That’s right! A project, right away! And it even involves a field trip!

We wanted to start this year with a launch into something meaningful, and not just paperwork. So we are having a study of perspective that will feed into each of our opening units. The idea is to take notice of what some people find important and others do not, and see how yours are different.

What started all this was a trip to the High Line. The Friends of the High Line have a map on the pamphlet they give out, and I noticed many things on the High Line weren’t on the map, and some things (like the Wildflower Field) I wouldn’t have even noticed without the map. So we’re going to bring them on Friday morning and have them walk through, taking pictures and making observations on what they see, and comparing to how that’s different from what other people see and notice.

On Thursday, they’ll need to prepare, so they’ll be visiting stations that give them the tools they need:

• How to make observations
• How to take good photographs
• How to compare points of view
• How to set up a field guide and take notes
• How to interpret a map and make your own

As well as some stations about perspective and point of view. (One involves examining the HSBC Different Values ad campaign, which I always loved.) On Friday we bring them to the entrance and let them go in groups of five, camera in hand, while the teachers fan out to stations along the line, every few blocks, so they have the freedom to move on their own, as long as they stop at the checkpoints along the way. (Don’t worry, the stations are by the exits to monitor them.)

We created this great field guide (mostly the work of fellow teacher Ms. Barnett for the layout) and we all hope to launch from this opening common activity. ELA to talk about identity, Science for scientific observation and experimentation, Global Studies for maps and geography, and myself into the Trip Line and benchmarks.

If the rest of the team agrees, I’ll see if I can put up the field guide here.

### This is vacation?

I can’t stop thinking about school. What I did this year, what I’ll do next year, how to change my assessment, my curriculum, good problems…a recipe for burnout? Or a dedication to the profession? I dunno, but it’s hard to get into the spirit of vacation. Maybe it’s because I still went into work on Wed and Fri (to interview new teachers) and I know Tuesday is the 4-day conference in DC, so it’s not really vacation yet.

### The End of the Year

The Regents exams are over, and tomorrow is Rating Day, but for me I somehow have a whole lot to do. I’ve managed to become in charge of programming a schedule for next year, just by dint of being good at it, and willing. I have a bunch of student work to grade and get those grades in, because I kept pushing back the deadline for them to hand in essays (math essays! They loved them, I need to use them more next year) as much as I could, as it’s never too late. Which I tell them often, and they like to hear.

But maybe I pushed them too far? It’ll be a busy day tomorrow. I’ll have to follow my own catchphrase advise. I have 7 hours in the work day, I need to “use my time wisely.”

(By the way, isn’t it great when students can finish sentences like that without you? It really makes me want to have more routines like in next year. Besides, you know, for the classroom management benefits. Those…would also be nice.)