Day in the Life of Ms. Kohn

Here’s my #DITLife Challenge from Tina C. and Sam Shah

5:21 am Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

5:30 am Alarm goes off again. Get out of bed and get ready for the day.

6:03 am Drive to school.

6:12 am Arrive at school (7th car in parking lot). Walk in with a teacher I’ve never met before, we introduce ourselves and chat about tonight’s parent/teacher conferences. Check mail in office and walk to my classroom. Pick up 2 pencils on the hallway floor on my way…. I brake for pencils… does anyone else do that?!

6:16 am Log onto computer. Put lunch in math department fridge. Make copies for Algebra 1 lesson and place a copy order for next day’s lesson. Finish writing guidelines sheet for Geometry Buried Treasure project and place a copy order. Chat with a STEM team colleague about our Term 2 project and make/copy the group selection sheets we are going to distribute during homeroom.

7:00 am Students enter the building and some of my homeroom students are in my room within a minute. They chat and play on their laptops while I finish setting up for my A period class. One student asks for help on last night’s homework and a student from last year brings me her Mythbusters video that I asked her for the day before. Math colleague swings by to say hi.

7:20 am Homeroom starts. Listen to pledge and daily announcements. Pass out and explain Mythbusters project group selection.

7:25 am Homeroom ends. Students leave for Period A. Chat with world language colleagues about conferences while supervising hallways.

7:29 am Period A begins (Algebra 1). I check off last night’s Piecewise Functions homework and students get ready to play “Writing Equations MATHO” by setting up their grids (I let them choose where to place all the numbers). They write 14 equations (from standard form, slope and y-int, slope and one point, two points) throughout the class period and there are 7 MATHO winners awarded a homework pass. When I try to wrap up class with 5 min remaining to assign homework, half the class begs me to “Please please please put up one more equation!” Love this. So I do.

8:21 am Period B begins (Algebra 1). Same lesson as last period but we only get through 13 equations and there are only 4 MATHO winners. Two students from last year come in and ask if they can come for extra help during Period D, OK.

9:12 am Period C begins (Prep). Input attendance from first two periods. Eat granola bar. Refill water. Empty recycling. Waste 10 minutes trying to hide Roy (fisherman statue the math department plays a “hot potato” style game with) but fail because all of them are alert in their classrooms. Chat with math colleague in her classroom about Algebra 1. Attempt to respond to emails and plan for next day’s lessons but computer decides it doesn’t want to work right then. Give up and go bother another math teacher on her prep.

10:03 am Period D begins (Senior Topics). Meet students in library computer lab to create tables and scatter plots of “Texting Olympics” and “Pass the Books” collected data. Students follow printed directions and I run around and help. Students from last year show up and I also help them on a geometry assignment. Last 5 minutes are semi chaos as we attempt to save and/or print everyone’s work.

10:51 am Lunch! I eat with the math department (plus one health teacher) and we have a great time. Sometimes we chat about students and curriculum. Most days we don’t. Today’s conversation ranged from Movember to The Bacon Underground to the upcoming school rally to book clubs to shingles….

11:21 am Period E begins (STEM Common Planning Time). We compare conference schedules and assign each other specific parents to discuss the Term 1 rubrics with. We finalize our plan to introduce the Term 2 Mythbusters Science Project the next day and start choosing groups to have in our homebases.

12:17 pm Period F begins (Geometry). We review last night’s Geometer’s Sketchpad assignment on Triangle Congruency Shortcuts and take some notes on flowchart proofs. I give students an exit slip at the end of class and correct some before they leave.

1:04 pm Brief meeting with 2 other STEM teachers regarding the selection of the Term 2 groups…. one student has expressed great concern over selecting a team and we brainstorm a few other student names we could partner him with. Crisis averted.

1:08 pm Period G begins (Geometry). Same lesson as before but it takes us longer. This class is chatty today.

1:55 pm End of school day. Math colleague comes to chat about Geometry curriculum and  since I’m ahead I give her my most recent activities. Also chat about conferences and catch up on our lives.

2:10 pm NEASC Committee Meeting. We discuss the brainstormed student academic, social, and civic expectations and attempt to combine all ideas into one document. Also discuss recommendations for our 2 year report.

3:00 pm Back in classroom. Create a NEASC survey monkey survey (in English and Spanish) about the student expectations. Link will be distributed to parents at conferences.

3:45 pm Meet with STEM team to finish dividing students into Term 2 groups. Disagree a few times but finish placing all students in teams and homebases we think will work well.

4:05 pm Student appears in classroom to tell me she missed the late bus and doesn’t know how she can get home. We call an uncle who comes to pick her up. 2nd crisis averted.

4:15 pm Run out to grab some baked potato soup and bread from Panera! Pick up two more pencils on my way back into the building.

4:45 pm Eat at desk. Respond to emails. Receive 39 throughout the day and send 14. Write sub plans for next morning (math department is being given time to write curriculum) and set up W-R-I-T-I-N-G Equations Stations Lab.

5:50 pm Parent/Teacher Conferences begin! I have 16 appointments scheduled and they last 10 minutes each. Time actually flies by.

8:35 pm Last parent leaves. Shut off computer. Pack belongings. Another impromptu STEM teacher meeting in the hallway. We all walk out together.

9:00 pm Drive to bar. There is usually a very large teacher turnout after conference night at our favorite local establishment but tonight only 9 teachers show up. We chat about so many things I can’t even keep track. But we do eat nachos and ice cream.

10:37 pm Drive home.

11:00 pm Asleep.





Piecewise Functions

The objective of the Senior Topics course I teach is to review/extend math concepts my seniors have learned before, and to prepare them to do well on college Accuplacer exams. There is a lot of flexibility in the topics I teach and I am always looking for new fun ways to approach each concept, especially since the students will have seen some of the topics (like systems of equations) at least three times already.

When getting ready to review writing equations of lines this year, I decided to approach the topic from the standpoint of piecewise functions, a topic I knew they had never seen before. I adapted my lesson activity from X Y Pi and divided students into groups. I told each group that a girl named Ann was going on a seven hour walk, and gave them each one piece of the story. Some groups were given two hours of the story. The task: write and graph an equation to represent the hour of her journey you were given. I cut large graph paper into skinny columns and marked the y axis so that each group would use the same scale.

When they had finished, we pieced the graphs together on the board to make one large function. Then we talked about the number of pieces we were looking at, and how we had seven different equations. And how what they just did created what’s called a piecewise function.

There were some oohs and aahs and even one “That makes so much sense!” When I passed out another graph, they immediately jumped into action to find the equation of each of six pieces that comprised the new given function. Definitely an activity I will be doing again.

Here are the stories I passed out to each group (adapted from a Pre-AP Laying the Foundation Module 1 Activity):