Escape Rooms - in and out of the classroom.1. My department purchased a Breakout Edu box, and my Honors Problem Solving Seminar students "broke out" twice this semester, once in the beginning of the semester and once at the end. I have to say that most students loved these challenges, and I plan to do it in my Algebra 2 Honors classes at the beginning of second semester. We ended the semester by going to a local escape room for a field trip. We had a blast!!
Play Table. Again.2. I have always had a few puzzles laying around my classroom for students to pick up and touch, but this year, I have a play table. I think the biggest hit has been Connect Four because it brings back some childhood memories for students...however, the cool thing is that now that kids are older, they are really understanding the strategies behind winning the game. Students also love the metal Tavern Puzzles (for lack of a better name...I believe they were played in taverns back in the day), where they have to separate what seems like one piece into two.
HQ3. My period G class falls at the end of the day. At first, this class came in quite sleepy and not as engaged. I always find that my least engaged students become my most engaged students at the end of the year. I think it's because I work harder at getting them motivated, but who knows. Anyway, we started talking about the viral game HQ and played once during our brainbreak. What a hit. While we can't play a lot (what could really be a 2 minute game can easily turn into 20 minutes with the commentary of my new fave Scott Rogowsky), I thought it was worthy to donate to the MS Society and have Scott do a cameo video for the class...SO FUN!!
"Breakfast Club"4. My Mu Alpha Theta students have been peer tutoring a lot (I require 10 hours a year), but we have been holding a special session on Thursday mornings called "Breakfast Club." I got the idea from Sarah's post about Cookie Club. Math teachers don't offer extra help Thursday mornings, so I pick up donuts and about 10 - 15 of our members either help each other or are available to help any students who pop in. We've averaged only about 3 non-club member students a week, but it is a start. My officers want to continue it next semester. My classroom is not centrally located so we may move it to a better location, such as the new Entrepreneurial Center. However, no food is allowed there so we may need to rename the club! In February, the club will be hosting its first Math Games Night for either the Lower School, the Middle School, or both...stay tuned!! I'm very proud of my officers this year!
3D Printers5. Our school bought three 3-D printers, and I'm excited about the prospect of having students create. I am not sure I want to sacrifice my conics project on Desmos, and it's too late to do something with parent functions, like what I read about in Heather's post, but I am psyched for the future. I am hoping to get John Stevens to do a workshop for us. Stay tuned on this as well!
Former Students6. This is the time of year when former students come back to visit. What a treat! It's great to hear what they are up to. I love seeing the babies or marriages on Facebook, or just getting a quick rundown in person. I have one former student that I closely consider to be the daughter I never had. We see each other maybe once a year (she lives across the country), but we catch up here and there with a quick text or through social media. She was one of those students who laughed at every joke and whose eyes lit up during that lesson that you prayed would work. I taught her in Algebra 2, and she quickly rose to the top, getting A's on her exams and skipping over the next math class to get directly into Pre-Calculus. I actually first met her during her freshman year, on our Pathfinder school trip. I was trying to roll up my sleeping bag to fit in this impossibly small bag (something my husband always does for me), and to no avail, I could not do it. She quickly earned the name "Macgyver" as she rolled it up in about a second and proudly displayed the sleeping bag in its case, holding it by the string.
We have kept in touch ever since. Perhaps the hardest time seeing her after she graduated was when she flew back for a classmate's untimely death. The funeral was unbearable, for a life lost too soon. He was one of her best friends, and we still talk about his antics. That was a sad day, indeed.
I caught up with her last week, listening to her delightful stories of rubbing elbows with stars in LA (I am easily starstruck). It was a lovely start to winter break.
These are just a few of the cool things going on this year. Nothing remarkable. Which is just the way I like it.