Common Sense – Where did it go?

I’m not a counselor, but I think I have a pretty good idea if a kid belongs in my class or not.  Since math is a sequential type of subject, it’s even more important that the student is in the correct class.  It really isn’t that difficult to comprehend.  A student will be successful in Pre Calculus if they have successfully completed Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2.

Another indicator of a student’s ability is their score on standardized tests.  The test in my state for graduation has been deemed so difficult, that the legislators ruled that if a student doesn’t pass the test, they need to remediate and take it until they pass it, or at most, three tries.

I have a student that has not passed the state standardized test after his three tries.  He also failed a quarter of Algebra 2.  At the beginning of the quarter, I could tell that he was on shaky ground (before I put these puzzle pieces together).  To add to the problem, his parents took him to Merced, CA for a funeral and he has now missed 8 days of class out of 19.  (By the way, his brother who is in my other PreCalc class did not go to the funeral.) For some strange reason, this student is only registered for 1 quarter of my semester long class.

Call me crazy, but my assessment of the situation is that the student doesn’t belong in the class and is so far behind that he should drop the class.  If you don’t have the pre-requisite knowledge and you’ve been gone a significant amount of time, you’re not going to succeed.  This is aside from the fact that he’s not registered for the entire course.

I emailed the counselor to inquire about the student dropping my class.  The response?  He’s committed to taking the class so it’s too late to switch out now. Is it more important that there is a place for this kid to sit during that particular class period?  If we’re being honest about where he should be, he should be repeating Algebra 2.

I wonder what our results would be if we were honest with kids and put them in the class where they belong, instead of just moving them along and finding an open space for them, even if it’s not the right space?


Did I really see that?

So I’m doing some homework problems with my Pre Calc class today…

I look over and I see a kid ripping his homework out of his spiral notebook. He takes the fringies of the edge… Then he puts the fringies into his mouth and starts chewing! Huh? My multi-tasking abilities were working at their max at this point and I couldn’t keep watching to see if he swallowed it.

I’ve heard of kids eating paper before, but I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed it.

I’m addicted

I can’t help it.  I tell myself that I’ll not do it, then I do.  I’m losing sleep.  But I can’t seem to stop myself.  I’m an Olympic junkie.

I remember being a 10-year-old, watching the US Hockey team win in Lake Placid.  I was so disappointed when Jimmy Carter made the decision to boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1980.  I was ready with the VCR to record the skating performances in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  I think I kept my own medal count in a notebook for the summer games in Los Angeles.  That was the year of the US Men’s gymnastics – ah the crush on Mitch Gaylord…

In 1988 the Seoul Olympics were later in the summer.  I had moved to college and didn’t have a TV and hardly saw any of it. The year before I had actually been inside the Olympic stadium in Seoul. (photo below) Still a TV-less college freshman, I didn’t see much of the Calgary games.  1992 was the year I graduated from college.  I remember watching Albertville and Barcelona. Barcelona was the year of the first “dream team.”


One of my college friends was living in Norway and attended the opening ceremonies in Lillehammer in 1994.  I had visited the year before and seen all of the countdown hype in Norway.  That was the “bonus” Olympics where they switched to a schedule so they were on alternating even years. Here are a few photos from Lillehammer. One is a stave church and the other is hiking down toward the town.


Atlanta, Nagano, Sydney, Salt Lake City, Athens, Torino, Beijing and Vancouver have all happened during the span of my teaching career.  I love the human interest pieces where they talk about how the athletes train and all of the technical stuff they do.  I’ve even video taped some and shown my classes.  Some of these stories are highly mathematical.  🙂

I told myself on Thursday that I wasn’t going to stay up and watch the men’s figure skating final.  But I did.  I at least was ready for bed so I could make an easy transfer from the couch.  I suppose I’ll be in the same boat for the next week…

I love watching the Olympics.  The spirit of the games and the excitement is intoxicating.  The determination that it takes to be an athlete at that level is incredible.  My students and I have our olympic updates each day.  We compare what we saw and what we thought.  It gives me a chance to talk about the engineering and mathematics that go into designing the equipment, various aspects of the courses, and what goes on behind the scenes.  I’m no expert on any of this, but it’s something cool that the kids enjoy and does bring a little “real life” into math class.

Not Again…

Checking my email today…

Message sent from Facebook…

“Hi, how have you been? I just wanted to know if you’d like to go out and have dinner sometime soon? I was thinking Italian Garden next weekend.”

Normally this would be a good thing.  But I’ve dealt with this one before.  Several times.   I’ve been direct.  And again, been direct.  I’ve also ignored a few attempts to friend me and odd messages.  Should I be concerned about this one?  My gut instinct says that he’s harmless and socially awkward.  But now that I look back and see that I’ve written three (now four), posts about it, I wonder if I need to re-evaluate.

What do you do when a student has developed a crush on you and they are now an adult?  I am not interested in dating a 25 year-old – especially a former student!  I’ve already been direct.  How hard is it to understand the word no?  It has been about a year and a half since this started.

Any suggestions?


We started a new semester this week.  Because we are on a block schedule, I have all new classes.  It is a bit of an adjustment.  Last semester I had all Algebra 2 classes.  Now I have two Pre Calculus classes and a Geometry.  Guess what is different about my new bunch?  They care.

It’s such a nice change!  Almost every student turned in an assignment today.  They take notes.  They listen.  They remember exponent rules.  They try.  They smile.