Friday, December 26, 2008

Load O' Photos (That rhymes, right?)

This is a nice post of family photos from Christmastime.
Aiden, my nephew, made his way up with his parents (Cory and Kelly) on Christmas day. Check out his Nike Shocks.
Ben and Aiden

This picture is supposed to focus on Cory and Kelly (Cory perfected the Chandler face from Friends).. but if you zoom in, Aiden is grabbing Dad's nose and they look really funny. Almost as funny as Dad looks when he dances to Aiden's Jumparoo jungle ditty.


I don't really know what's going on in this photo. Kristi? and Chris... who doesn't appear to be that affected by her at the moment. Maybe this is a normal occurrence?


All of us kids... after this photo, we were all instructed to "look normal." Don't know why. Kevin, Kristi, Dan, Julie, and Chris. (Kevin recently texted me saying "ya i know it sucks." To which I responded - "Did you mean to send that to me?" Kevin: "my bad homie.") I'm so glad I have friends in my life to educate me so that I'm not such a n00b.

My last picture for the Christmas spirit, and then the bitter swimming-spirit will show up soon - Remember my desire for a hippopotamus? I have learned that hippos are very angry people. While teacher says they are vegetarians, they have gored people to death and are very hostile and aggressive. But doesn't this hippo just make you want to scoop him up and adopt him? Some people think I should set lower goals in life than to own a hippo, but if they're all this cuddly - I just don't know any more.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Christmastime in Chicago

Downtown Chicago over the weekend.
At the bean - SURPRISE!
The ice skating rink is in the reflection of the bean - it was at Millennium Park, and you can skate for free. Skate rental costs money, but I have a lovely roommate who owns ice skates so we just carried them in on the train and skated around.
In case there is any confusion, here is a lovely sign instructing us at the ice rink.
Are you ready for the grand finale? I got to meet SANTA!! Who knows how to ice skate, although... not very well. This put us both in such a festive mood that Josh sang Christmas carol after Christmas carol. I had to say, "Josh. There is only so much that one can listen to Christmas carols. Especially the versions by Jessica Simpson and Taylor Swift. Come on, sir."
To which he responded "ONLY FIVE LINES OF CHRISTMAS SONGS! NOT FIVE WHOLE SONGS!"
To which I really have no response to, because it's 'true'.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why I like my house.

First, I went to MSU yesterday for a grad school open house - thing. I really enjoyed it, and there's a number of interesting projects going on. The fact that I was invited out there early looks promising, but I have yet to visit other schools, so I don't have anything to compare it to. I would appreciate prayers in the next few months when I actually have to start making decisions as to what I want to do with the next few years of my life.

the white skates leave treads on the thin ice
in eights, infinities, glasses, two-thirds of an equally-distributed snowman-
the plain circular rink leaves (surprisingly) more options than one would think
see there, the scuffled shavings head straight to the wall, the easiest instinctual brake for the uncoordinated
I would think that Red Gloves follows Furry Ears follows Christmas Scarf again and
around and around. but Red Gloves follows who Red Gloves wants
without incident.
no formula for scores here, this round has rules but no One Way to twirl.
and I -
I stand in the middle.

Next, I have started a fad in my house... I love pajamas and long johns (as stated earlier, I believe.) And two of my housemates bought onesies from Target, and two of my great friends gave me a pair from Target for Christmas. So, here is Tessa, Cara, and I in our onesies... waiting on the steps to come down, like real kids.

Cara and Tessa playing with Einstein, another housemate's dog. I guess they're actually done playing here... He's tired.
This is a video - not terribly exciting, my photography skills need a bit of work - of what we did for the last 30 minutes in our basement. Post-picture time.
video

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Rolle's Theorem and hippopotamuseses

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

I observed three other teachers (because I'm done acting as a teacher, I am finding things to do to fill my time during the school day.) The two AP classes that I sat in (calculus and comparative literature) were a lot of fun listening to the different opinions and making jokes with the older students. I was able to help a few people in the calc class, and they enjoyed my "42-7?" comment when they groaned about me being from Ohio. And more good things came from it - the teacher introduced me as a new student and they didn't believe him! That meant (I'm taking it to mean) I look older than them!

Also in good news, I heard my favorite Christmas song in the middle of practice (embedded here for your enjoyment) today.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bring on the Christmas music!

Happy Thanksgiving!




In the Fort Worth stockyards, there is a cattle drive at 4:00 pm every day - pretty much amazing; all 11 of them.


Above: putting the polo on Sammie (well, Dan is checking the score.)

Here's Sammie's one and only trick! ... She kind of knows the command "sit" but she thinks it means "Run to the tv room!" If you tell her to sit in the tv room, she just kind of stares... but if you tell her to sit in the kitchen, this is what she does.

video

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Lucky One (Reflections on a pond...or high-school math course.)

Dear Lucky One,

As I have just spent fourteen weeks learning the balancing act between being a student and a teacher, an informational source and an informational dumping ground. In this letter, I provide you with some of my best insights. As you read these, note that many of them are invaluable truths of which you are already aware. You may even raise one eyebrow and think, “Really? She thinks I don’t know that?” To that, I respond with a condescending shake of the head. Take special notice of the ones that appear most obvious: those are the ones you need taped to the steering wheel or the bathroom mirror, written at your desk or on your hand. Those are the ones that I forgot about on a daily basis and remembered only after I ignored or avoided the truths somehow, so they are included in your advice.

· Believe in the students first.

No matter what experienced teachers, administration, previous report cards, or your personal beliefs may tell you, you need to believe in the students first. Believe in the students before you give up, and believe in the students even if other teachers, parents, or the students themselves do not. You may not be the only person believing in them, but if you are the only, you are the student’s first. The students may not live up to your expectations or dreams for them: do not see that as a direct consequence of you as a teacher. There is always more that one can do for the students and the course, but we will never reach perfection. Use the students who are not meeting your expectations as one source of your motivation to improve, but do not let those students dictate your attitude toward the course, the class, the teaching profession, or your outlook on life. We are attempting an impossible task – to go to the “lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:6), whichever students you view as the lost, discouraged, lonely, or unheard or misheard lost sheep, have them understand and perhaps even enjoy mathematics. The task is daunting, and my apex was realizing that not all students will meet my expectations. I would much rather have some students miss the mark than have no mark or expectations for those same students. Believing in the students is much more important than lowering your standards to fit the lost sheep in your classroom.

· We face a daunting task: students believe in math’s bad rap.

Times it appeared to be okay to like math:

1. As a joke – This is indicated by a smug glance around the classroom and a smattering of chuckles from around the classroom and the student himself or herself.

2. When a difficult objective is suddenly understood – This is indicated by an “OH!” or an “Aha! I like this!” almost immediately followed by a sudden self-awareness of what was just said. Then self-awareness is followed by silence, and perhaps some blushing, depending on who heard the student’s positive attitude toward math.

3. When it’s “okay.” – This only happens on your best-planned, best-enacted lesson. Hours and hours will be put into engaging activities that encompass multiple levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, stopping just shy of teaching your students to save the world. In this case, a few students may admit, even openly, that the lesson, perhaps even math in general, is “okay, I guess.”

Because math has a bad reputation, due to proofs, right answers, a certain brain that American students appear to lack, among other things, it is important for you as a teacher to be excited about math, all areas of it. Being excited for a piece of a lesson will incite students to catch onto your excitement. For example, I gave a very awful math pun at the end of a slideshow lesson. I cautioned the students to not share the answer with other classes, making a very big deal for such a small portion of the lesson. By the third class, students were walking into the class telling me bad puns and mockingly saying, “I know the answer to your joke!” If only the students had realized they were actually excited to get to class, even if it was just to know what the acorn said when he grew up. (“Gee, I’m a tree!”) Excitement is contagious, even if the students do not want to admit it. It is important to like math and to have lessons that you don’t have to pretend to enjoy, but that you actually do enjoy. The students will feed off of your energy and enthusiasm much better than they do your apathy or disinterest.

· Review past course material whenever possible.

Remember the readings you have done reporting ’80 percent of algebra material is new’ compared to ’70 percent of pre-algebra material is review’? They are true. Students are given new ideas – letters as changing numbers? Only if they’re at the end of the alphabet? Constants at the beginning? Adding and dividing and exponentially increasing the alphabet? Greek letters as one number? Greek letters? And students who understood enough to not fail algebra were still placed in geometry. Purposely creating problems that combine algebraic knowledge and geometry offer moments to re-teach and remind students about algebra, along with showing uses of algebra. I learned to go through the algebraic steps to solving geometrical problems, at least the first few times, before skipping over the steps. Students do not learn the geometric concepts if they are focused on the algebraic steps and mistakes. When finding area of a regular polygon, do not take it for granted that students know how to multiply to find perimeters, or complete the algebraic steps necessary to find a leg of a triangle with the Pythagorean Theorem.

· Use technology to your advantage.

Many teachers shy away from the internet because it might allow students to cheat and find answers: don’t succumb to that belief! Students can find answers on the internet, and they might. Use it to YOUR advantage – make the questions a little harder or a little more in-depth. Give students a website to look at; it will really throw them off. They are often shocked when you know what’s on the internet, just like they are shocked when you know the answers to the odd problems are in the back of the book. I also really recommend playing with blogs, wikis, or educational social networks (ning.com.) If students are provided with time in class to prepare their sites or additions to the class sites, they will spend time learning when they do not realize they are learning. Wikis allow students to edit a main page, and have a history so the moderator can see who made which edits. Blogs are great sources of information; I designed one describing the class projects. Students can click on a “label” that interests them and see what projects fall into that category. Ning.com is a social networking site, allowing each student to have an individual page and a classroom group or page that all students can edit. It is simple to post word documents, podcasts, or updates with this site, and one English teacher found that a number of students were entering in interesting discussions with their comments on other students’ profiles.

One last benefit to accepting technology: Word’s 2007 automatic formatting is a lot less annoying. Those extra spaces? Better formatting for online work.

· Emphasize that more than one road leads to Rome.

Sure, there are wrong ways to work math problems. But there is typically more than one correct way. If the students give explanations of their procedures, especially if students have differing procedures, then they will see solving math problems is not just about one procedure and one answer. Math is not as cut-and-dry as people like to believe! By pressing for “hows” instead of just an answer, you have shown students the importance of math as a constructed area of knowledge and not just something that pops magically out of the heads of those with the “math gene.”

· Be interruptable, aware, and helpful.

Jesus allowed himself to be interrupted by a man whose son was dying in John 4:43-54. The story does not say what Jesus was doing when the royal official came up to him, but one can imagine that Jesus was not sitting alone in Cana simply waiting for the official. Instead, He allowed himself to be interrupted and I assume it was even without a frustrated sigh or an “okay, but make it quick” qualifier. He was interruptable, and therefore welcoming. He was also aware of the man’s shortcomings, not fooling Himself to think that the royal official was perfect. The first thing Jesus says to the man is, “You will not believe without signs and wonders.” Jesus was honest, not na├»ve, and aware of the sin in the world around Him; that makes His approachability and interruptability even more awe-inspiring, as it does the story’s end: Jesus is helpful. He does what He can for the official, healing the son. Should we go doing everything people ask? No – notice that Jesus does not subscribe to the man’s request of returning to Capernaum in order to heal the son; Jesus heals Him in a way unexpected by the royal official. With preparation and a God-centered focus, we can consistently make judgments on our own actions to best help the students and all we interact with. It may not always be what is asked for, but at the same time, action is taken with what we see as beneficial and helpful. The issues are not forgotten, set aside, ignored, or downplayed, but we react accordingly and provide the help we are capable of giving.

Using a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Crack-up, I conclude my pearls of wisdom with a grain of salt. After all, it is a single grain of sand irritating an oyster that creates a pearl.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”[1]



[1] Fitzgerald, F. Scott. (1936). The Crack-Up. Esquire, February-April.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You lack a lot of quality...

Today, in the LAST LESSON I teach the geometry kids, we were having a discussion as to whether I should be their sole source of information for mathematical knowledge. I said no, then gave an example of when I was wrong - (I had told them there were no known integer Pythagorean quadruples, but then we had one in the homework.) I told them I'd expected them to notice it and tell me I was wrong: they enjoyed that.
Girl: "Miss Wolfe, you're WRONG!"
My cooperating teacher: "Name, that's not a nice way to put it."
Girl: "Miss Wolfe, you lack a lot of quality."

Somehow, I don't think those quite mean the same thing. But I did have them playing with anamorphic art today, and some of the students thought it was difficult. Anamorphic art is actually pretty interesting. Click on that link to see a few different things, but you can also just search google images for anamorphic art.

I also got really excited this week about online learning tools. So, if you want to see what's been taking up my time, you can go to geometryatcity.wikispaces.com. That's how I would do-over one lesson from this semester. Also, you can go to citygeometry.blogspot.com and see some project ideas that students could pick from. I'm hoping these sites come in handy, but they're also fun to make.

Last piece of information - a professor from MSU emailed me inviting me to a recruiting day on Monday, December 8th. I'll be able to go! That's promising, and I'm really excited for it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A little something for everyone...

For my cat friends (and lolcats fans, and Mark especially): Click here.

For people who frequently have to "fix" my computer or use a special, magic touch to turn it on: Click here.

For people who like laughing at dumb mistakes and failblog: Here this time!

For synchronized swimmer friends (slash anyone who did not get this emailed to them by my swim coach): Fake Olympics video located here!

For the pessimists who think musicals don't happen in real life: THIS link does not lead you to Enchanted.

And, for my math friends, HERE!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today was my last 8-10 pm practice, I think! Starting tomorrow, there is a free lane after school, so I no longer have to practice until 10, come home and eat dinner, and then wake up for school at 5:40. Yay! Swimming is going well too - I split a 59.9 on 400 medley (butterfly) which is, as much as I can remember, the first time I've ever been under 1:00 untapered (= tired).

Then, because we were already in Chicago, I stayed in Chicago for the night and got to MAKE PUMPKIN COOKIES with the Boumgarden family (graduated swimmer now doing Teach for America in St. Louis; he came to watch the meet.) It was amazing - sometimes, I forget how nice it is to relax, have fun, and just eat cookies and icing. Also, seeing John talk about his third grade classroom made me remember that I have awesome kids. Sure, there's a few that wouldn't be considered a favorite, but on the other hand, these kids are awesome. And I'm starting to (tangent here) get the question "what are you going to do?" a lot now. My answer?
"I'm a math major for secondary education."
Pitied Questioner: "oh, so you want to teach?"
"Er, well - maybe? I like a lot of things? Almost everything in my twenty-one years has pointed me directly on the path to nerdy math jokes and knitted cat- sweaters, but I know one thing: I'm pretty sure that I'm thinking I might not want to be a teacher." And a good mentor/friend of mine pointed out that I don't have to pick anything "for the rest of my life." I can just pick for a year, a few years, at a time. So my answer for the future - I am applying to a couple graduate schools for Ed Psych programs, which would prepare me for research. (Similar to what I did this summer, only leading the program instead of tagging along behind.) I am also looking at various non-profit organizations and community development programs that have educational and research-based components. Last, I am waiting until after student-teaching is over to reflect without the stressors of teaching; then I will be a little more decisive and opinionated about teaching, even just for a few years.

Oops, big tangent. Anyway, had fun in Chicago - pumpkin cookies and visited Josh's friends in Lincoln Park to watch their two little girls dedication ceremony at church.

And if you are looking for things to pray for, here's a mini-list:
- finishing up teaching - being excited about it and enjoying it; showing the kids that I love them and the subject of math.
- John teaching - patience, more love, for the kids to respond to the work he's putting into it.
- futures. they're crazy. As for this, I have a quote that I always think of - "God seems to do whatever he pleases with little regard for my schemes, and that is utterly disconcerting" -Winn Collier
- Norovirus to STAY AWAY - Hope College, our main rival, has been quarantined for 5 days due to an outbreak of the Norovirus (I think it's like a really bad case of the flu). No documented cases at Calvin yet, but we've been warned.

And if you're looking to respond, does anyone have any fun ideas about spatial relationships/ 3D geometry? Like 3D coordinates, polyhedra, etc... Short, fun activities that don't take up a whole lesson space.



Me, utterly disconcerted. (in my new glasses.)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pin the tail on the ...

Today, we taught a lovely lesson on geometric probability. I (er, my mother) had a great idea to play "Pin the tail on the donkey." Making a donkey out of mostly non-overlapping geometric figures is much harder than one might think. But, as I told all the students, "Pin the tail on the cat" sounds much more inhumane and horrific, so we're keeping it a donkey. It went over pretty well; I even got to play once! Also, I told my students that I talked a lot over the weekend (lost a little bit of my voice) and quoted my friends who apparently said, "Miss Wolfe, quit talking!" My students responded with "... Your friends call you Miss Wolfe?" Yes, of course.



This weekend was good, between two swim meets (won one, lost one) and my mom and Grandma visiting. I swam fairly well, better than last weekend, and even went a best time in the 200 fly on Saturday. We also had the swim team Halloween party. I went with Monica, Jordan, and Allison as the Golden Girls. It was enjoyable and I really like my friends, it turns out.



My last point of interest is what I heard in church yesterday. The pastor quoted someone who said, "Mountain climbers are tied together to keep the sane ones from going home." I really liked that quote. It was not the main point of the message, but I took from it the need for friends and a church family especially who keep you moving even when everything around you seems hard. They're not just letting you give up when it looks impossible (and you feel like you're the only sane one). It was kind of a fun metaphor. REACH for the top!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Aphorism

"A positive attitude may not solve all of your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
- Herm Albright

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's NEVER too early for reindeer pants.

And I mean early in terms of both time of day and month. I love pajamas and long underwear: reindeer and everything. Not everyone agrees with me on when to wear them, it seems, as I was told I "sit on a throne of bad fashion." Thanks. It doesn't take the reindeer pants to know that. As a side note, if you ever don't know what to get me for Christmas, long johns (the waffle-print kind) are always welcome.

Yesterday, I had a real ethics-bomb dropped on me. (Someone must've taken intro to philosophy - twice.)
Would you rather be stuck on a desert island with a boatbuilder or a supermodel?
Here are the parameters we clarified:
1. Supermodel can be either gender.
2. The supermodel does not know how to build boats, conversely, the boatbuilder is not a supermodel.
3. The boatbuilder does not have with him all the items necessary to make a boat. The island does have trees.

The only real decision made was that the boys would not want to be stuck with me on a desert island. But really, I don't want to be stuck on a desert island either, so I'm happy not to be there when they get deserted.

This is from freshman year... But seriously, if those hadn't been girls ages 8-10, really would've bought them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

How much is too much?

I had a "FIRE-UP!" conference for student-teachers today. I went to a number of sessions - it's pretty easy to tell what I'm interested in from the sessions. I attended "Connecting with kids in Crisis", "Urban Education", "Students of Poverty as Diverse Learners" and then a froofy one about your 'true colors' (a personality test). (Dad, I think you and I are gold.) I say froofy because it doesn't seem like a personality test if they ask you to look at the typical description and place yourself in it.
But I really valued it because I needed a reminder that it's okay to care about people. In fact, I have some questions about life that I'd like to hear your thoughts about. I know that, as a teacher, I will not reach everybody and get everybody to succeed in math or even get everybody to understand that I actually care about them, or potentially, I probably won't care about everybody like I should. As a naive little teacher, I have that as a goal of mine: not just to care about everybody, but to attempt to show them.
How much is too much in caring for the students? Am I setting my goals too high? Not high enough? How do I stop from becoming complacent? Or is complacency not always a bad thing (am I using a poor word choice here?) I would love to know your thoughts or advice.

Random update: first swim meet on Saturday! It's a girls-only meet against St. Mary's at Notre Dame's pool. Which can only mean two things:
1. Awesome pool experience.
2. Hot seat (i.e. mushy engagement stories) with the coaches over the bus microphone.


Too much math on the brain... This happens to me. Every night.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Marathons and polygons

With swimming going on, it's been quite busy for me the past few weeks. Taking naps so that I can practice from 8-10pm and then still wake up at 5:30 to be prepared for school every day... Lifting, remembering to eat dinner... But, I'm still having fun and I'm about halfway through the semester, which is weird.

I went to Chicago this weekend. Ran in the Chicago marathon! (Keep reading, please.) To get to the brown line, we had to cross the runners' path, which meant running at a diagonal so that we didn't intrude on anyone's running space. Diana, I didn't see any hot dog costumes or barefoot people. (Morgan, I didn't even see any creative anniversary shirts. Toronto must have been better.)
Josh and I were heading to see his family friends (the mom swam for Michigan, actually!). The two girls were very cute - and Ayla, who would duck her head under the table if Josh so much as made eye contact with her, wanted me to hold her and sat on my lap eating french fries at lunch. Also, she wanted to show me her elephant costume. (See below.)



She's in the middle of putting her arm up to be an elephant trunk, which is apparently the noise an elephant makes.

Lastly, this Wednesday I'm playing with Geogebra.org with the classes. If you're ever bored, you should go play around with it... Especially the people reading this who like math. You can make all sorts of polygons and slide points around and stuff. Lots of technology-laden geometry.

And, I'm still wasting my time splendidly looking at graphjam.com and failblog.org. Here's one from each as a little teaser:
English class, anyone?

And, yes, there are some people who know that I'm making fun of them with this one.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Get Smart

I saw Get Smart yesterday - turns out, it's a pretty good movie. I recommend it! There are some pretty funny quotes by Steve Carell. I then spent a while this morning eating my banana-chocolate chip muffins and watching SNL versions of the debate and bailout crisis, which also provided some good quotes. Next I'll be looking for recaps on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I feel a little fake reading up on the political news because my motivation for watching the debate was so that I could get all the jokes on SNL...

And in fun news, I'm going to Waco for Thanksgiving! We found tickets to Dallas that are not that expensive, so Mom, Mark, and I are going to see Kristi and Dan (and SAMMIE!!!!) over Thanksgiving. The unhappy part means that I won't see the rest of you until Thanksgiving, but we do have a meet in Detroit November 15 that Dad usually comes to; and another meet Saturday, December 6 at Eastern Michigan that Dad usually comes to. So if you want to come there... it's just as bad as my high school meets. I apologize in advance. Kristi's already sent me various things we can do - visit the ex-cult site, go to a winery, see the Bush house, the Homestead Craft Fair, and do something with World Hunger Relief.

Another funny site is graphjam.com. They put up new graphs quite often. If you've heard of being rickrolled, that graph is funny. Otherwise, it might not be.

song chart memes

Also, I went to a tea party hosted by some of my friends a few weeks ago. Here's a photo of Allison and I in our best tea party costumes.



The other girls forgot to clarify which type of tea party we were having... They apparently assumed a classical music and pearls- type of tea party.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

If I had just ONE more angle, and ONE more side - Life would be more interesting.

How I anticipate feeling tomorrow morning as I have my first early morning practice after 2 drylands, 2 lifting sessions, and 3 swim practices: I think "awesome - I ran with diana and friends this summer; I'm in GREAT shape." And then I bend down to pick up papers - or stand up from my bed - or try to put my arms in streamline, and I think OW. Ow ow ow.

Or, perhaps this video more accurately sums it up after Saturday (haha, get it, sums it up?) Skip to 2:15. That's where it comes in. Enough of my fake whining - I love feeling sore.

I had my first surprise observation today by my professor, and I think everything went well. The class was quiet and figuring out interior angle sums. I brought them back to kindergarten and read "The Greedy Triangle" to them as an introduction. I received a smattering of applause in two of the three classes for my dramatic reading of the triangle who wanted 'just ONE more angle and ONE more side.' It either had a moral of being happy with yourself, or that triangles are the best shape ever. Not sure which.

Last thing of the day is conversation I overheard from some little swimmers in the locker room, verbatim. Enjoy. Learn something, maybe.

Girl 1: Did you know that everything you've EVER dranken was pee?
Girl 2: Gross! Even fridge water?
Girl 1: Yes, even fridge water. It's, like, evaporation or something.
Girl 2: Is fridge water still pee?
Girl 1: No, it's not pee anymore! Sheesh.

At this point, I'd done so many confused/ half-laughs/ raised eyebrows that I have nothing left to do but go swim in a giant pool of water (water?) that these girls just got out of.

Monday, September 29, 2008

My pecan rolls! pretty yummy.

Maggie and I made walnut-roasted pork loin for 10 on Saturday night. A group of 8 of us went to see Avenue Q. (Tessa, my roommate, and her fiance Ryan ate with us but didn't join us for the play.) Notice the sutures sticking out of the pork - we didn't have any wooden skewers to hold it together, so we used... paper clips? You might want to zoom in for that. And then, we (I) forgot to count how many were put in, so we really hoped that they all made it back out. And they did. And we received lots of compliments on the finished product.
Some of the group - Monica is in the red, looking at our kitchen; Josh is wearing my apron and making pudding; April and Flo are working on the salad; and Michael is... working on his beer.

On a more serious note,I ate with a new-to-City Spanish teacher. She’s Hispanic and grew up in either the DR or Haiti; I can’t remember. She taught at Central in GRPS the past four years after graduating from Grand Valley. I really enjoyed our conversation. She’s a Christian, and told me how she never said anything to her students about her faith, but kept a Bible on her desk at Central. She said that many students would notice that and come up to her, asking her to pray for them, for tests, for situations they were in, etc. She sees herself as a role model to the Hispanic students especially, because the majority of Hispanics at Central were in gangs, and she was an adult who was Hispanic, still spoke with an accent, but was not involved with drugs or crimes. I told her a little bit about my desire to help students, but I feel disadvantaged because I come from a white, upper-class family/upbringing. That’s where the conversation about the Bible came in – she told me that I can be as effective as I want by showing the students that I care about them; for me, that is how I can break the stereotype as she is doing. God put me on the earth in this color; thus, it’s obviously the color I will best bring His kingdom to earth. That’s true, but I’d never thought of it in those words.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Odds Get Even

Today's good news:
- No one dislikes me for moving the test back

- The teachers' union did not call for a strike during their all-union meeting yesterday.

- I woke up from an amazing dream (quite funny in numerous places - there was a horrendous play, but even as an actress in it, I left, so I'm not quite sure of the plot. I came back for the end. In addition, somehow it involved my friend Maggie ripping my teacher's pop-up book. (Pictured below, not ripped.) So I'm glad it was just a dream.) But waking up happy, even early, is a great start to the day.

In other news:
- I have some students that I caught cheating on their homework. I know that happens often (and I know I do it too) but it really is disappointing to see they're not even putting forth any effort. I wish there was a way to motivate students other than grades so that they are challenged to learn the material, not just get good grades. It's a vicious cycle.
- I have a particular student, Student A, whom I really like. He ihas turned in two assignments out of about 24, sleeps in class, etc... But he's really bright. He's been answering questions recently and always answers them correctly. His favorite subject is listed as lunch, and he likes singing. I also think he likes/ doesn't dislike me. So I'm off to an okay start with him. But I don't know how to motivate him.
This got me thinking - the most basic motivation would be to say, "You need this to graduate." But she may not even have graduation as a goal. And, if I really want to go off on a tangent here - is there anything wrong with NOT having that as a goal? I want it - for money, or good jobs... But really, those are telos (plural of telos, anyone?) I've developed. Should I expect everyone to hold the same? I read a short story - thanks, Randall family for the book - named "How to Win" by Rosellen Brown. Her particular story is about a son with a learning disability and his 'only way to win' at school is to take daily drugs that completely change his personality, so it's kind of a sarcastic win. Good connection.

the odds protest.
like my students yesterday.
but not like grand rapids teachers (yet).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bike - Bike Seat = ?

Apparently, bike seats are something worth replacing when they fall off.

I hope you all take my advice if it becomes useful. 

On the plus side, now my quads will be extra-ready for swimming (6 days and counting!) due to all the standing and pedaling I have been/ will be doing until I make it to the bike store.

And I think I'm going to make these yummies this weekend. Please provide tips if you can, because I've recently begun making a mess of everything I've baked. (Although my meatballs did turn out okay, they're still nothing compared to Diane's.)


Sunday, September 21, 2008

I can't believe now I'M writing something about Sammie...

My sister makes me laugh.

I just talked to her on the phone, and she was telling me about a chicken hat that Dan wouldn't let her buy. I had to ask - for Sammie, or for you? (For her.)
She then proceeded to tell me that Sammie's birthday is coming up next month! And her wishlist is on Petsmart, just so I'm aware! Then, I hear Dan in the background reminding Kristi that his birthday is next week, and maybe I should be reminded of that.
This just goes to support my theory that she really, really, REALLY likes Sammie. In fact, if you look at her blog, the most recent update consists of pictures of Sammie along with Sammie's "captions." Dad and I had a mini-discussion about the amount of times he and I are mentioned in her blog - I had a shout-out on my birthday, and then was mentioned when I visited (but if you look at it, it turns into a story about Sammie, including her most recent height and weight.)
So, Kristi, I'm halfway making fun of you, but realize if I had a dog as cute as Sammie, I'd do the same thing. I'm kind of doing the same thing with all my little students, except I like to combine them into one entity.
this picture seems appropriate, since it looks like Kristi and I are a happy married couple with our big-boned baby. Kristi and Dan, how about a pose like this for Christmas cards this year? Or you can dress Sammie up in her raincoat...

http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/090708/cornhole-timeline.gif

Friday, September 19, 2008

Why did the pirate walk out of geometry class?

Today happened to be "Talk Like A Pirate Day." Thus, everything that used a variable somehow used "r" and when I needed another variable, I often used "rrrr" but had the class repeat after me. My pirate joke fell a bit flat, so I asked the class for any. I did learn that pirates thought gold hoop earrings made them see better. I did not learn any good jokes.
That was pretty much my excitement for the day, talking like a pirate and moving them through their first proof, the Overlapping Segments Theorem. (Yes, it's really just as exciting as it sounds.) But Monday should be a lot of fun - doing some student-led explorations of hyperbolic and spherical geometry (making triangles on a sphere and a hyperbolic plane, along with some other cool mini-explorations.)

This weekend is the swim team camping trip up at Silver Lake Sand Dunes in Michigan - my last one ever! That seems weird... I'm a senior. We start practice on the 29th of September.

And here's my last link. This is a funny site: Brown Sharpie.

And the answer to the joke I was given as the last class walked out the door?

"because class was over."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


my Euler diagram.

Quick anecdotes for the day:
I read "If You Give A Moose a Muffin" to demonstrate if/then statements and logical chains. It was a dramatic reading.

In addition, we did some Lewis Carroll logic puzzles (he's quite smart) and so I spoke with a British accent. Er, my best adaptation of one. Someone told me that it sounded a bit Australian, so I replied with, "Crikey! You're right!" (In accent, of course.)
It is kind of cool that he was a mathematician and an author - English and math, like me. Or, as I said in one of my classes - English and math and British, like me! - to which they all responded with a "...No, Miss Wolfe." My teacher loved my book of choice, and proceeded to give me various links and catalogs containing information on math-related children's books. I'm kind of excited to look at some of them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Michael Phelps doesn't get wet....


Girl: Miss Wolfe, why you all dressed up for something?

Miss Wolfe: This is my "Math Teacher Outfit." And when I wear it, I mean BUSINESS.

She just laughed.

I learned today that I am out of the loop on my lingo.

This boy made a comment about never sleeping, so I said, "Who are you, Chuck Norris?"
And he just looked at me like he couldn't believe I would say that, responding with, "Chuck Norris jokes? Really? It's Michael Phelps now."

I was unaware that Michael Phelps is the new Chuck Norris!

In that case...
Michael Phelps doesn't get wet when he dives in the pool. The pool gets Michael Phelps.

As a tag-along to the above wonderful stories, here is what I sent out in an email to some people - read it if you wish.

My first day of teaching was today! I've been sitting in the classroom, but today I took over the three geometry classes as they started chapter two. Today's topic was "An Introduction to proofs." I was not as nervous as I thought I would be.

At the end of the first class, the talkative boy said, "Miss Wolfe, did we even learn anything today?" I told him that we'll see tomorrow – but I spent the first 50 minutes of the class going through some logical thinking, so hopefully, he just didn't realize that he was learning. I also did Grandpa's proof that 2=1 and made them find the mistake (you can see this if you haven't already; it's all algebraic steps.) The first two classes eventually saw the error, but the third class never figured out the trick, so I didn't tell them.

Then I thought, "Hey! This is a good learning opportunity!" So I went up to board, wrote down "Schadenfreude – taking joy in other people's misery" as a vocab word. I told them that described me as they were trying to figure out how I could get two to equal one. One of the less-motivated students furiously copied it down (others did too, actually) and said "I'm TOTALLY going to use this!" So, at least they learned something, right?