Day 95: A bit of everything

Over the last few weeks I have been using openers as more of a tool for review than anything. This time of the year is tough and I get caught up in all the madness of deadlines and content expectations.

I pulled myself together and gave students this opener today:

Day95.1Here is a list of the estimates


All of these make sense to me. What I get crazy for is watching the answer. If you haven’t clicked on the link above here is another opportunity.

The spoon crushed all hopes and dreams across the board in my 5 classes. Watching student’s reactions to the video was the highlight of my week.

What is interesting to me was how much student engagement increased since I started getting back in the swing of openers from visual patterns and estimate180. I believe students come into class expecting an 50 minute chunk of bookwork/lecture, which isn’t fun for anyone. But lowering the entry point of math class by giving students a low-risk opportunity has had a huge impact on my classroom even this far into the year.


Day 94: Conditions for Parallelograms

Geometry is right in the middle of exploring quadrilaterals. The last few days have been a lot of fun. Today, students explored what it takes for a quadrilateral to be a parallelogram. I found a great worksheet over at Math Teacher Mambo, that you can find here. There were some great discussions on the student’s end of things, on in particular involved fingers as manipulatives.

I was looking for some practice for students and came across this


The second sentence bothers me; students can take a lot more away from a problem in discovering that there is more than one correct answer, instead of just being told so. Always add more later, don’t give it all away in the beginning. The wording above holds students hands and screams: “HEY, LOOK, THERE IS MORE THAN ONE ANSWER” and “Reach one solution, then call it a day”

There is more power and value in rewording this to:

What additional information do you need to conclude the figure is a parallelogram?

Then add a nice extension later on…

Rectangle? Rhombus? Square?

Day 93: Work Day

Both algebra and geometry ended up having work days today. I have a bunch of different strategies for handing these (station review, bingo, jeopary…ect) but today ended up just being book work and worksheets. Students seemed relaxed; an easy day for them here and there is always good.

I was in kind of a funky mood anyways; one student made my day though…

“Mr. Burfeind, you have a pretty great job…. you get to hang out with a bunch of teenagers everyday”

I totally agree.

Day 92: Parallelograms

Algebra started parallel/perpendicular lines today while geometry dove into exploring parallelograms.

The Geometry Teacher has some great explorations for several concepts in geometry. I pull his exploration on parallelograms and used it in class today.

It was fun to see students struggle in creating a parallelogram without any knowledge of their properties. There were a lot of methods used; I had to restrict students from creating rectangles/squares because they ALL jumped to that solution first.

After they created a parallelogram, they measured the sides/angles and taped them up to a whiteboard (I messed up in not asking them to spread them out further).


Students then gallery walked and filled out the table attached to the worksheet.

We talked about the properties and came up with a list hitting four big properties.


Tomorrow we will prove a couple of these and practice using them.

Day 91: Polygons

Geometry started talking about polygons today.

I broke the class into groups and had them sort these polygons from least to greatest number of sides:


Every group had the first 8 or so correct. After that they were everywhere. There were some interesting discussions on what polygon had the most sides and what that number was. Some said 20, other said 90.  Also, some great discussion on how to sort/classify.

After, they started working towards discovering the Polygon Angle Sum Theorem


They copied down the table and started working. Again, some very interesting discussion/methods of completing the table. Some based it on recursion others saw it as linear.

In the end everyone settled on 180(n-2). Why this worked though was another story. Eventually they got it and found out (n-2) is the number of triangles each polygon can be broken into.

For example


Today was a lot of fun, it sure beat just telling them the rule and practicing 30 problems after.

Day 90 (Halfway there): Teacher Report Card

Halfway through the year.


Earlier this week I posted some student responses from my Teacher Report Card. I wanted to dig a little deeper into that survey.

A quick rundown; 1 = not at all and 5 = definitely. Here are the the top and bottom three based on student feedback (numbers only).

Mr. Burfeind…

Bottom Three

  • Spends enough time on each concept = 3.83
  • Makes me feel important = 3.84
  • Gives fair punishments = 3.87

Top Three

  • Gives tests that reflect the material in the unit = 4.82
  • Seems to enjoy teaching = 4.69
  • Grades fairly = 4.69

Pacing, student relationships, and classroom management are my weakest areas, I could have nailed that without any feedback. HOWEVER, it is eye opening to me that my students are 101% aware of the areas I struggle with. Not really a surprise, just hard to admit that they see my struggles on a daily basis.

I received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback on grading and the fairness of class:

Click to enlarge

Concept Tests seem to be a thing students really enjoy; good thing I like them too! I got some… interesting… responses as well and need to just brush those off. But, the responses were fun to read and I look forward to this survey every semester (I will give it to the same group of students at the end of the year and compare responses).

Here are a few responses to my favorite question on the whole thing.

Again, click this to make it bigger.