Thursday, March 27, 2008


Have you ever felt like you have tried everything to reach a student? Maybe you have tried positive reinforcement, or calling home, or even a contract? I have. Often when I think these things, I am at the give up point in which I start my negative "self-talk". You know, the speeches we give ourselves when something happens to us. The natural tendency is to say to ourselves "this kid is not going to change". I have been battling this "self-talk". I believe very strongly that what we "self-talk" will usually happen. Therefore, I think it is so important for us to shake our mind of the negative "self-talk". Here are somethings that I do when my mind drifts to all the negative things regarding a student:

  1. Try to think of one positive thing about this student. (sometimes this is hard)

  2. Find a time in which to communicate this positive thing to them. (this is really hard)

  3. Try to find an obstacle that this student has been battling and empathize with them. Maybe it's their home life. Maybe it is a lack of friends. Or maybe it is a lack of self confidence that is coming out in the wrong way. Then I use this to understand their situation a little better.

  4. If you think this about this student, then probably others think the same. Therefore who is going to stop the cycle?

  5. Think back to when you were in 8th grade. Do you remember? It was tough. I would like to think the adults in my life were rooting me on, instead of giving up.

  6. Make a point to say hello each time you see this student.

  7. I pray for this student and my attitude towards them.

"Whether you think you can or can't, you are right". Henry Ford

What are some techniques you are using to stop your negative "self-talk"?

I still believe each student can change,


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Magic Squares

Magic Squares have been around a while. It just takes me a while to find good things. For me, I just used them for the first time in my class today. Wow. They are awesome. There is so much algebra in them.

A magic square is where you can add the columns and rows as well as the diagonals to be the same number.

First, I gave the magic square problem with pieces missing. Which by the way was excellent for my introduction to algebra students. They had to do a ton of integer addition.

Then, the students who figured it out quickly, I challenged them to figure out the algebra of the square by placing an X in the middle square and branching off from there.

If students needed more challenges, I asked them to used this template and make a new magic square with their own numbers starting with X.

For me the next step is to ask what else can I use magic squares with? Polynomial addition? Fractions? What do you think?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Voice Thread

I just came across the site Voice Thread. Basically, it allows people to comment in words or with audio about a picture or video. You can see from this picture that many people have commented on the sides of the visual image in the center which happens to be a picture that a student had drawn. I have not used it yet. However, I was listening to a great podcast about it today and it sounded really exciting. Check out the podcast at: example to the right is at the link below:

Thinking Blocks

Reading a Blog called Tumbl'n Teachers today I saw a great site for teaching a visual approach to algebra word problems. And a bonus is that it would be interacitve for the Interactive White Board (IWB). It is flash based and there are some problems done already on it, or you can create your own problems. There is a video tutorial if needed.
Check it out.