Monthly Archives: October 2012

Dig a Hole to China

The Description:

Show them this website and ask them if they can figure out what it is all about:

This site shows the exact opposite side of the earth from anywhere on earth.  So if you dug a hole straight down through the center of the earth, this site shows you were you would end up.  Every student in my class had heard the old saying about “dig a hole to China”, where it is believed that if you dug a hole straight through the earth, you would end up in China.  Apparently it’s not true, you would end up in the middle of the Atlantic.  Students will definitely ask you to find where you would need to start digging if you wanted to end up in China (Argentina).

That is about all you need to pose the question “If you were to dig a hole to China, how deep would the hole be?”

I give the students the circumference of the earth.   This lesson is teaching them to find the radius from the circumference.

C = 2(pi)r

The Advice:

At the end of class come back to the fact that if you give them radius, they would be able to give you diameter and circumference.  If you give them circumference, they should be able to give you radius and diameter.

The Goods:

I do not give any handouts.

Long and Short Forms – A Discipline Overview

Before I describe these forms I want to restate that classroom management is driven mainly by content (engaging lesson plans), and secondly by making students feel welcomed and appreciated, and keeping ourselves positive and energized.    For me personally, if classroom management ever became a process of making a bunch of rules, and figuring out how to enforce them, then I would probably quit teaching because my heart is not into it.  But that being said, a discipline structure is needed and this post is the beginnings of a description of mine.

The Description:

My main tools for handing out discipline in my class are Long Forms and Short Forms.  These forms generally take the place of referrals and detentions.  The Short Form has entirely eliminated my need for detentions, and the Long Form is generally used in replacement of referrals.

I save all forms in class folders.  Students who are behavior problems generally get their own folder.  This is great for me and administrators, as I can bring the folder to parent / teacher conferences, and provide it to administrators as a record of student behavior in class.

Here are brief descriptions of each:

Short Forms (Student Behavior Reflection):  I give students Short forms for minor distractions.  When they get a short form they must stop whatever they are doing and fill it out immediately.  They are not allowed to protest a short form, and if they feel they receieved it in error, they must write that in the form.  At the bottom of the form there is a place for their signature and mine, which I will only do after class.  Thus after class I quickly touch base with each student and let them know why I gave it to them.  I also be sure to listen to their explanations of why they acted the way they did, or why they thought they didn’t deserve it.

Long Forms (Student Self-Diagnostic Referral):  Long Forms are for more serious infractions.  Some examples would include defiance, and name calling.  I also do not give two short forms to the same student on the same day.  Thus if a student already has a short form, then any distraction could result in a Long Form.

If a student gets a Long Form, they must leave the classroom to fill it out, and they must come back into the classroom when they are finished.  The Long Form also has a place for Parent / Vice Principal signature.   I do not always require the student to get those signatures.

The Advice:

Students who recieve these forms must stay after class and talk to me.  These conversations are incredibly important for a lot of reasons – diffuse any possible hostility, help further explain to student why certain behaviors are not acceptable, and so forth.  I will write a post all about the importance of these conversations , and how I approach them, at a later date.  (see update below)

If students refuse to stay after class to talk, then it is an immediate referral.

I added that little box at the bottom of each form this year.  I check the box if I think the form did not change student behavior.

The Goods:



The Update:

Here are some thoughts on discipline discussion you should be having with students who receive these forms.

Straw Bridge Challenge

This year I used the Straw Bridge Challenge on the first day of school as an ice breaker, an introduction to engineering, and a way to get their minds engaged.  There are several versions of this activity around, I used the one that was given to me by an engineer at Lockheed.

The Description

Goal:  Build a bridge that can span a 12″ gap and hold a 1lb weight for 5 seconds.

Materials:  20 straws.  24 inches of tape.  That’s it.

Design Specifications:  

  1. The bridge must span a 12-inch gap between two desks.
  2. The bridge must be free standing, meaning it may not be taped to the desk
  3. The 1lb weight is a full 16oz water bottle.
  4. The bridge must support the weight for at least 5 seconds without the bottle falling over and without the assistance of humans.
  5. Only supplied materials may be used.  Nothing else.

The Advice

My first class struggled the most with it because I had no examples to show.  I was able to use my 1st classes bridges as examples for the rest of my classes, and the bridges got progressively better as the day went on.  You may want to have a couple examples available for the students to look at.  Although expect the a lot of the groups to try to copy the examples, rather than create something new.