Monthly Archives: January 2011

Student teacher

My student teacher began this week.

(This is semi-astounding, considering that it was only ten years ago that I started taking math classes, motivated primarily by the desire to stay ahead of my kids as they began high-school math. My interest evolved into an inkling that I might want to do this for a living and then into a new career. I now have a teaching credential and a master’s degree — plus the student loans that go with them — a student teacher, a health academy, and a math department to chair. And I’m starting a competitive robotics club on campus.)

The student teacher completely took over two periods for me today while I attended meetings on campus. She’s even doing her own planning. I’m almost bored!

JK. We cruise different parts of the room, pull out groups of kids for special remediation, discuss upcoming lessons, …. I’m still busy. But it’s always nice to have another adult in the room, even if it’s only to roll eyes with.

Online collaboration in real-time

A software developer asked, “As a teacher trying to use this in the classroom with students, what would be your ideal way to set up accounts and document access for sharing, collaboration, etc.?”

I said:

Ideal? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that what I imagined as I began working with this was automatic View access from my owner account down to student accounts. I.e., I could see a list of user accounts, and when I selected one, I would see a page populated with thumbnails of their documents. I could click on one and view it. Of course, there would be a setting (which I could control) to bump up my own access to that document, including Edit and (possibly) Own.

Chat is an interesting separate issue. Currently in the world of adults & children and technology, teachers should not be communicating privately with their students. Teachers get fired for extended chats (not solely because they’re extended, but because they involve inappropriate content) or other digital communications, including IMs and text messages. provides a sort of sandbox for this kind of communication. Districts (including my own) set up individual student and teachers accounts through Gaggle that accommodate communication that is filtered and monitored.

Not sure how the chat in [your software] would fit into all this. It almost seems like there should be a “disable” option for chat — default On — that would prevent chatting between teacher and student. Between student and student might even need to be disabled. A student with good Alt-Tab skills could then use the chat facility in Gaggle while working on a document.

This all presumes students have the keyboarding skills (not just thumb-only T9) to make use of chat. As an old fart, I can hit 60wpm when I get going. Not everyone can. đŸ™‚

Obfuscatory elucidation

What is it about this email that kept me irritated all night? Something more than the verbosity, I’m sure.

This is from one of my 8th graders who always needs to be the exception:

  • I shouldn’t have to re-take the test because I just made dumb little errors.
  • Sorry I’m late (for the 10th time this semester). Can you check my homework now?
  • Can I turn in the assignment late since we had to drive to San Diego over the weekend?

In this latest example, it’s “can I use different software since my computer plus my browser won’t do what you’re asking?” (For the record, every one of my Internet assignments includes the warning, “Do this wherever you can. If your system at home isn’t working, use the one at the school library/your friend’s house/my classroom.”)

It seems to me that my server or browser is of the “lesser-compatible side of the scale” next to the lucidcharts system. I believe that the creator(s) are aware of the software’s slow-speed and inability for Internet explorer, thus I have taken notice to a window in the top left corner of the screen advertising to “run lucidcharts 20% faster”. Most, if not all of these options are highly unlikely to take effect on my computer, due to recent computer crashes from foreign software (my father had grown rather cautious, thus he is reluctant to install unknown software onto our desktops.) With your permission, I would think it more efficient to create a powerpoint “lucidchart” and to email you the file link early tomorrow as my rough-draft, rather than use the lucid chart system. The final item of business that I am uncertain of is the time the file must be emailed by. Must it be emailed by late tonight, or by early tomorrow morning? Either way makes no difference to me, because it will be done by then.

Also, I think that I should raise the fact that I need to take my chapter test, as well as retake a few quizzes that might help my grade. I figured I would do these tasks after school at the high school, with your convenience and permission. As the last item of work to be brought up, I never requested you to stamp the homework I did over my absence. Would it be possible to receive full credit for completing it, even though it wasn’t stamped right away?

Thank You.

I think this warrants the direct approach: “Little Johnny, as you go through life, you’ll find people don’t appreciate this. You may have noticed that I don’t appreciate this. This will be the last exception I make for you.”


We’re all familiar with two chronic misconceptions in our math classrooms:

  1. Students interpreting the equal sign as an abbreviation for “and the answer is” or “do the things on the left, and then write the answer on the right”;
  2. Students failing to recognize fractions as numbers that have all the same characteristics as integers.

This fascinating article describes “part-whole” as a way to address both of these issues. Looks kind of simple, doesn’t it?

LucidChart: Take a difficult concept, and make it better

Can’t wait to assign this to the Algebra 2 kids so they can develop flowcharts to explain how to simplify radical expressions.

Happy New Year


A sum of 11 consecutive primes. How often does something like that happen?

BTW, 2011 itself is prime.

(Thanks, Audrey!)