# 4-3-21: NPM #3

On the days when I am in the classroom, I am always paying attention to the potential mathematical patterns the date provides. And I have to admit, I’m sad that this great date fell on a Saturday (and during our spring break to boot!). Here’s my rough attempt at celebrating this rare mathematical date pattern in verse.

April 3, 2021

4, 3, 2, 1…blast off!

Numbers descending

stepping down

decreasing

by one

A date

marking time

beating out a rhythm

marching down the street

Eventually circling

holding hands

standing shoulder to shoulder

bow and begin

a dance of numbers

4, 3, 2, 1

®Douillard

# SOLC Day 11: What’s Your Angle?

As we swam through the complication of terms used to describe and classify angles and triangles, it became clear how unfamiliar this language was to my third graders. How many adults know that there are three kinds of triangles that can described by their angles: right triangle, acute triangle, or obtuse triangle. Or by their sides: scalene (all sides of different length), isosceles (2 sides of equal length), or equilateral (all sides the same length).

There’s nothing like a novel tool to make learning more fun–and so, we pulled out the protractors and set to work creating and measuring some “angle fish.” After a quick demonstration, students set to work…trying hard to remember to trace and draw a semi-circle on the fold (there were only a couple of oopses!). I gave them each an angle measurement on a post-it note…and they used their protractor to measure the designated angle to cut out as the mouth. And then the fun began as students used scraps to create colorful, unique fish with definite personality!

We later sorted the fish into their angle category–discovering that my careful distribution of angle measurements (dividing the class approximately equally into acute and obtuse angles) didn’t quite work out in practice. Using a protractor actually means you have to know some things about angles before using the tool. It’s quite easy to measure 110º and end up with an acute angle instead! But the point was the learning–not perfection, and learn they did!

To top things off, we started singing a new song…another one penned by the Bazillions called Triangular Triangles. Songs are always a fun way to learn new information and my students are not shy about belting them out!

My angle in all of this is to convince my students–all of them–that math is fun! Everyone can learn math and make continual improvement if they engage with the ideas. My students were already suspecting that I would be having them do some writing (as I do with almost every kind of art we make)–I’m also always working to convince them that writing is both fun and meaningful. My students know I always have some kind of ulterior motive for my lessons–and I guess they are right! My goal is to impact each student I teach in ways that positively impact their success as contributing members of society, whatever they decide to do in their futures…and of course, to make learning enjoyable each and every day at school!

# More Found Poems: Day 18

As promised in yesterday’s entry, today’s post will include some of my students’ found poems. This was not an easy process–many students expressed frustration with not having all the words they wanted to use.  Many stuck to the topic of the Wonder they picked, a few branched out to a different topic.

Koa read Do You Like Grapefruit? and “found” this poem in it.

Grapefruits

Grapefruits are

so sweet

so large

and kind of sour

the forbidden

fruit sinks

a citrusy snack

of wonder and joy

growing

in big clusters

grapefruits

Koa

Grayson chose to learn about pandas and wrote this poem:

China Pandas

Cuddly bamboo lovers

black and white

with love and peace

they climb giants

in China.

Grayson

And Avi, who has a passion for motorcycles, choose an article about motorcycles to “find” his motorcycle poem.

The Motorcycle

Complex

physical

a motorcycle

full of force

maintaining stability

keeping upright

a motorcycle

Avi

I sent my students home today with an invitation to explore a math wonder and “find” a math poem in the process.  Here’s my poem, “found” in this article about triangles.

Geometry

Sides, angles

square, rectangle, triangle

mathematicians

great minds

classify, name

a variety of triangles

equilateral

isosceles

scalene

and angles

acute

obtuse

right

combine and count

it’s geometry

the experts decided

Douillard 2018

And all that thinking about triangles and angles reminded me of the bridges I saw and crossed in Portland last week.  So here’s some geometry in action!

Take a look around for some mathematical inspiration for your poetry!

# A Day of Love and Learning

They practically danced in this morning, clutching bags of carefully labeled Valentines for their classmates.  Anticipation of candy, trinkets, and a day of celebration made the energy palpable.

I’ve spent years dreading Valentine’s Day.  Not because the holiday makes me feel sad or because I have any real complaint with the holiday overall, but because it has felt like a wasted learning day.  The high of Valentines and candy overshadowing math and reading and writing.  I tried ignoring Valentines, banning them outright, shoving them off to the side…none resulting in a satisfactory outcome.  I kept coming off as the Ebenezer Scrooge of February, ruining everyone’s fun.

So I decided to try something new this year.  After much thought, I approached my students a few weeks ago to talk about a potential plan for the day.  I started by asking my students if they wanted to bring Valentines for their classmates.  It was unanimous.  Every student wanted to bring them–some had already purchased them or started making and/or planning their hand-crafted gifts.  So I asked if they were interested in using their Valentines as a learning tool and having a Valentine’s themed day of learning.  Again, it was unanimous.

I didn’t want to just add hearts to math problems and read a Valentine picture book.  I wanted whatever we did to fully incorporate the actual Valentines and push our thinking and learning forward.  I decided on graphing and spent some time Monday and Tuesday reviewing the essential elements of a graph.  My students are already adept at interpreting graphs, but not quite as confident building their own.  Yesterday we explored creating a data set and practiced constructing our own graphs as a class.  Today, once the Valentines were all distributed, I asked students to sort their Valentines into 3-5 categories to create a data set for the bar graph they would create.  I loved watching the focus as the Valentines were sorted for a reason, data sets recorded in their math notebooks, and graphs created on “real” graph paper.  They willingly put the Valentines back into their bags and put them deep into their backpacks for the rest of the day.

After recess I pulled out Love by Matt de la Pena.  I love a book that makes me think…and makes kids think.  I loved watching their faces as I read each page and showed the pictures.  Looks of confusion showed as they tried to figure out love defined as adults blocking the view of the TV and love as burnt toast.  Smiles appeared as the story turned to love as a game of horseshoes.  I heard a student gasp as the beautiful brown face appeared in the mirror. The discussion that followed brought up understandings about loss and love, death and memory.  We decided that we will re-read the book tomorrow, there is more that we want to explore.

The day flew by, we didn’t have enough time for all I wanted to accomplish today so we will continue tomorrow.  In my 29th year of teaching I continue to learn from my students.  When I listen to their needs and desires and combine them with my own goals, magic happens.  That crazy holiday energy that can make teachers want to pull our their hair became my friend today, pushing students to think and create…and yes, to learn. I’m already thinking about next year’s Valentine’s Day and how I will include my students in the planning to make the day productive and have fun doing it!  I #loveteaching every day, even on Valentine’s Day.

# Weekly Photo Challenge: STEM

Here’s the week 7 Weekly Photo Challenge prompt for the NWP iAnthology!  (Here are weeks 12345, and 6 if you want to look back.)

Probably because I have been busily writing a grant this week for state funding for our writing project site, all the current educational buzz words are bouncing around my brain.  One that has been getting lots of play lately is the acronym, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

So that has me thinking, what does STEM look like in my photographs?  Today I happened to attend a technology event at the new public library in downtown San Diego called Innovation Day.  The goal was to bring technology leaders of all sorts (from superintendents to ed tech and IT folks to classroom teachers) together to examine some products from vendors and to hear some short presentations about the use of a variety of technological tools.  Walking around the beautiful new library building was a treat in itself, featuring breathtaking views of the city and the bay and some unique architectural features.  This fits the “E” in STEM for me (could probably include some “M” too!)

The beach seems to fit every photo category for me.  This pairing of seashells shows symmetry and the fibonacci sequence.  We don’t always think about math when we look at seashells…but they are perfect examples of those mathematical concepts I just mentioned. Do you know which is which?

And then there are the intricacies of science.  The biology of grasses that grow on the sea cliffs, the slow and constant wearing of erosion on the geologic features, the physics of waves…

So this week’s photo challenge is to represent STEM in photos. Where do you find science, technology, engineering and math?  How does looking through your camera lens through the lens of STEM impact what you see and what you share?  Share a photo (or several) that pictures STEM in some way.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo.  I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography.  I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #STEM and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy.  You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602.  I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below.  I am excited to see how you represent STEM through your lens!