Happy Moments – Interlocking Fingers and Cyber Awareness

Sometimes it is difficult to draw 2D shapes in geometry. But of course, I asked my students to do just that. On a recent test I asked each of the guys to draw two planes crossing or intersecting on a line. The drawings were mostly terrible (and I don’t blame them in the least!). To bolster the poor drawings, the students were also asked to describe their artwork. Here’s my favorite description:

Interlocking Fingers Explanation

The other cool thing that happened this week was an assembly on Cyber Awareness. It turns out that NJ is the first state to actually have its own government division dedicated to cyber awareness and safety. Also, Princeton Academy was the first school on its tour! The kids asked a lot of good questions even though some were redundant. (We just couldn’t get away from phishing and clicking on spam!) At the end of the assembly, there was a giant group selfie, which brought smiles to everyone’s face. For cyber safety purposes, I redacted/blurred out the image. Gotta walk the walk!

Redacted Cyber Awareness Selfie


Happy Moments – Maker Space, Crazy Hats, Mental Fortitude

This past week was full of wonderful moments. Here’s a recap of some of the standout stories.

First, Princeton Academy created a room in our building called the Maker Space. It’s a place where our boys can create, explore hands-on talents, and learn in a way that is different than a standard classroom approach. I’m super excited that the boys have this opportunity, and it’s another example of what sets our school apart. It’s based on this Ted Talk about a Tinkering School. It’s only 4 minutes, and totally worth checking out.

The teachers actually got the first shot at the Maker Space. We were given an envelope of a piece of blue paper, a shell, a tube of glue, and a crayon. The point was to work in groups of 4-5 and create anything that displayed one of Princeton Academy’s five goals (think mission statement). After that brief, hands-on demonstration, I can only imagine the things the kids will create.

Secondly, the boys had an opportunity to raise awareness and money for Pediatric Cancer. The boys brought in money and were able to wear crazy hats. Not only did the boys learn more about this type of cancer, but they were also exposed to some cool survivor stories while keeping the atmosphere light with so many fun hats. My school snapped a great shot that’s posted on its Facebook page.

Raising awareness and money for pediatric cancer

Crazy Hat Day for pediatric cancer awareness

Finally, and perhaps my favorite moment, happened during math class. The boys in 7th grade are split into two different math tracks: a one-year and a two-year algebra class. Some of the students in the two-year class were starting to think of themselves as the “dumb kids.” I found it highly important to address this issue and set aside 10 minutes for a discussion. It truly paid off when one of the students said,

We all have different gifts. Math is the only class split into different groups. Just think if all the classes were split. I know many of you would be in the ‘better’ class if it were a different subject and many of the top math students might be in the ‘lower’ class. Don’t let math affect who you are as a person. We’re all talented, so let’s just do our best.

Wow. they get it. I’m impressed, and I love that the boys are capable of such maturity and positive, mental fortitude.

Happy Moments – Go America!

Soccer Practice, Friday after school

Me: “C’mon boys! We’re not communicating. Let’s talk more during this passing drill!”
Kid: (kicks the ball) “America! Woohoo! I love America!”
Me: “I don’t think that’s what I meant. Why did you say that?”
Kid: “Because in America I can get a double bacon cheeseburger. I’m hungry”
Me: (face palm)

Happy Moments Baba Ganoush

I had a wonderful and busy weekend playing ultimate with my club team, Jughandle. We finished 4th out of 16, which was way above our 9th place seeding. My wonderful weekend continued into Monday, and I was able to take my 7th grade students on a service trip to Baldpate Mountain, a nature preserve in New Jersey. We cleared trails, removed invasive species, and helped maintain the garden and meadow.

While hiking, I noticed my students singing a song…

I couldn’t help but ask more about this song.

The kids proceeded to tell me that Baba Ganoush was not a food. A baba ganoush is a mythical creature that lives in the woods under old pieces of fence and wood. The baba ganoush can either be good or evil, and their morality is determined by the color bubble they incubate in. Whoa.

I asked what they look like, and the baby ganoush has the head of a cat, the body of a hawk, the tail of a snake, and the end of the tail has a spiny ball that is used to kill its prey. Well, only the bad baba ganoushes use their tail because the good ones are herbivores.

I love middle school.

Happy Moments Day 3

Happy Moments Day 3

There were both good and bad moments at school today. I’ve already realized that it can be easy to get sucked into the negative and the gossip, but I’m really liking this idea of focusing on the positive stuff during the day.

Two things really made my day.

First, I had my students play a game called 31-derful. It’s a great way to foster communication in groups and logical thinking. Most of the groups successfully completed the task and were pretty stoked with themselves. I love seeing kids persevere and get excited in math class.

31-derful puzzle

The other exciting moment of the day was kicking off soccer tryouts. It was a mess of a day, and New Jersey received a ton of much-needed rain. The wetness certainly kept things interesting and separated the kids that could control the ball versus those that had to chase it down.

First Day of Soccer 2015

Bonus moment: Some teachers require the students to remove a shoe in order to borrow a pencil. I told my kids that I trust them to simply borrow and return, NBD. One student was particularly upset because they really enjoy removing their shoes. I let him know he can take them off any time as long as his feet aren’t stinky.

Happy Moments Day 2

Day 2 was quite the success. I’m going to let the vignettes stand for themselves.

My students don’t have their digital devices yet, and the textbook is online. Therefore, I couldn’t get started on math quite yet. (In fact, nobody wants to start math right away on the first day!) The kids completed a survey about themselves, and here’s my favorite response:

Biker Gang Teacher

Four other things really stood out:

  1. All of my students were present and EARLY!
  2. 43 kids signed up for soccer tryouts (out of 111 possible students)
  3. When considering his favorite taco topping, I overheard a student say he “couldn’t decide between sprinkles and cinnamon”
  4. We had a school unity function today called “Kettle Up!” (Our school mascot is the hawk, and a gathering of hawks is called a kettle.) It was a wonderful success, and one of the cool moments was when students placed a bunch of their school promises into a cage. We’ll check them out near the end of the year

Kettle Up Bird Cage

Happy Moments Day 1

How many times have you ever felt better ranting and raving about negative things that happened during the day? Well, sometimes this feels good and necessary. However, I think it keeps me down in the long run. I’ve decided to keep a running log of the good things that happen during the school day at Princeton Academy. I believe it will help me appreciate my job and love my colleagues and students just a little more.

I promise to do the following for my readers:

  • Keep the posts short. I don’t want any TLDR thoughts popping up
  • Change the names of my colleagues and students to maintain anonymity
  • Keep things positive

So here it goes…
Today I heard an update about a former 8th grade student that is running cross country and is off to a good start at boarding school. I’m so glad he’s happy and adjusting well.

The school bought fruit and bagels for today’s open house. I was able to eat a bunch of pineapple and blueberries.

New posters for my classroom arrived today. Now before students enter the room, they will see, “I ❤️ Math. It makes people cry.”

Some co-workers and I collaborated to put name labels and new schedules in student planners to be handed out tomorrow. Quick and efficient!

Woot. Day 1 a success.