Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Riddle For You...

I told this riddle to an EE at my work recently and strangely he exploded angrily claiming that this riddle was a lie and impossible to solve or he would have solved it instantly. Yea, fat chance.

This riddle has no secrets or cheesy endings. No tricks, no mirrors, no one telling other islanders the answer. It can be solved completely through reasoned logic. So have at it...

On an island are 201 people. 100 of them have blue eyes. 100 of them have brown eyes. 1, the "leader" as it were, has green eyes. No one knows the color of their own eyes but of course they do know the color of everyone else eyes. For all they know, their eyes could be red. No one can tell an islander his/her eye color.

These people are trapped on the island until they can deduce their own eye color. Everyday, a ship comes by to pick up anyone and everyone who has figured out his/her eye color.

They are all perfect logicians and it can be said that if it could be figured out through logic it will be instantly deduced and therefore you can count on the islanders to act in the most advantageous way (that is, the way most likely to get them off the island).

Exactly 1 time in their entire existence, the leader may say something to the crowd. One day she stands before them and without looking at anyone in particular says, "I see someone with blue eyes."

The question then is who gets to leave the island and when do they get to leave? There are other interesting questions to answer like to specifically note what about the statement provides enough information for someone to escape?

Ok like I said, there are no tricks, no sign language, no showing up on the boat to see if you get kicked off. I'll leave this up here for a few weeks before posting some multiple choice answers as a vote. If you know the answer or figure it out, comment your answer but don't include your reasoning. It's an interesting puzzle in that the same kind of logic you use to proof this riddle forms the foundation of a type of computation called recursion that is fundamental to my discipline.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

where should we go on vacation?

ross and i both have some time off around christmas time and we have been planning to take our first real vacation post honeymoon. you might be smiling to yourself that my thoughts have already turned to christmas break only 4 weeks into the semester, but really we are just making travel arrangements, don't worry! its an unfortunate time to have vacation because of the weather, travel prices, etc. its also unfortunate we're not exactly sure where we want to go! we have considered going back to jamaica, going on a cruise, or visiting a city somewhere in the US thats on our list of ooo we should go there sometime. we've considered san francisco (but afer thursday are banning all things fran...jk), boston, and currently the frontrunner is hot springs, arkansas. there are obviously lots of factors in our choice, but if you'd like to lend your expert readers guidance/opinion/vicarious wishful thinking about any of these places or another place you think we'd have a blast vacationing at...let us know!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

progress report

well, i have now almost made it through 4 weeks of the school year...1/9 of the way through! so far, so good. my feet are hurting less, though still hurting, and the 6am wake up call is getting somewhat easier.

you may recall that my afternoon classes had a substitute last week while i had a curriculum development meeting. i surprised my last period class by returning early and were they glad to see me! they, being my torturous class, were not behaving all that well (though my other classes were perfect angels and the sub told me their behavior reflected highly on me) so i had to whip them into shape. i had to assign my first 2 lunch detentions because this was the somewhat severe consequence i had set up for any misbehavior for the sub. friday afternoon when that class returned they came in and were sitting there smiling, so glad to have me, their beloved teacher back...they were the most well behaved they have been all year so far. but monday they were back to their usual selves.

i continue to be more strict than i would prefer to be...i insist on the highest level of respect for all people in the classroom. today a young girl raised her hand (as is appropriate for anyone who has a question or comment) and informed me she had a paper cut. in my most sincere tone, i said 'i'm sorry' and continued on. but i did not turn away quickly enough to miss the nasty mocking 'i'm sorry' that she whispered to herself. i calmly asked her to step outside for a conference. i then informed her that the number one rule in our classroom is respect and she had broken it. i asked her, what exactly, she wanted me to do for her paper cut, to which she replied 'nothing'. so i explained to her that since i couldn't do anything for her, i had replied with the most respectful comment possible to let her know i was sorry it had happened to her. her disrespectful response was disappointing and absolutely unacceptable. and besides, i added, it hurt my feelings. and i sent her back inside. if i had it to do again, i might give her a piece of tape to put on it, b/c this is just as effective as a band-aid on a paper cut b/c its the air that makes it so painful. i'm serious. try it out.

i had also informed my students that i didn't want to lend them pencils and pens anymore b/c i didn't want to take the time out of class to track student's names who borrow materials and they were not being returned to me. they knew that my super cool pink, purple, and blue pens had been given to me by my sister and they really enjoyed borrowing them. they started to disappear and i occasionally see a student writing with a suspiciously similar pen in my class, but i refrain from confronting them. this morning between classes 2 girls that i have later in the afternoon came excitedly up to me with one of my purple pens that they had found on the floor of another teacher's classroom and they wanted to make sure i got it back. so kind! i am also starting to feel like somewhat of a celebrity as i walk through the halls as choruses of voices call out to greet me. its silly, i know, but it does make one feel loved. if not by rude secretaries, nurses, teachers least by 12 year olds.

believe it or not i actually teach math amongst all this classroom management issues. i am finally feeling like we are getting through some important material. progress reports went home today, which has lit a fire under some students hineys. tomorrow and friday the students will be taking a district landmark test that i really hope they are prepared for. then monday morning we start a 7 week unit focusing mainly on FRACTIONS. everyone's fave. i'm looking forward to it actually.

this week i learned an important lesson. last week i introduced rounding of decimals with an elaborate story of how i spent my birthday check from my grandmother when i was in middle school that contained, among other fun things, information about drinking dr. pepper through sour punch candy straws (amazing! by the way). the kids were falling out of their seats excited...literally. after them mentally rounding my prices of my birthday purchases, i showed them the rounding rules and made the connection that these were the same answers. we had a great friday afternoon of rounding. on monday i got a little less enthusiastic about introducing a couple of dry methods of estimation. i read the definitions, did examples and did some guided practice. monday was okay. tuesday i attempted a very similar lesson with a slightly different method of estimation, and i had more distracted/restless/talkative student problems that day than any other day of the year. lesson learned. creative lessons regarding fractions...coming right up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

School, School, House, Yard, House and Car

well the third week of school is nearing completion and i'm still hangin in there! today i impressed the students by bringing in 'guest checks' that the waiter keeps your tab on and menus to chili's and olive garden that i'd printed off the internet. i let them take turn being the waiter/waitress and calculating the total price for their group's meal. it was a big hit with the number one question being 'are these real??' about the guest checks...which i'd picked up several hundred of at walmart for $3. my favorite question however was 'ms. do you have another job?' i said, 'no, why?' and the girl said 'o i wondered if you brought these from your other job.' no, actually this job keeps me plenty busy.

last nite was open house and i was pleased to see that my classroom procedures had been instilled properly in the students little heads. as i quizzed them in front of their parents about what they do when they initially walk in my classroom, without fail they all promptly responded 'we do our get it started.' and i had prepared a get it started activity for their parents as well. get it started is simply my bellwork, warmup, do now...whatever. i call it get it started simply for the sake of being able to walk in to class each day and say 'ok people. get it started. get it done. no laziness. get it started. get it done. take care of business.' :)

between ross' grad school, my school's open house, grading papers, housework, yardwork, small group, my teacher certification class, and trips to college station...ross and i have been having to carve out some time to hang out and also get some sleep! one evening last week ross called me on the way home from work and we met at our sailboat. ross grilled some dinner on our awesome propane stove and then we just hung out at the marina for awhile on the boat. we fed some ducks that like to hang out at the marina, watched the sunset, and then headed home. also, as of about 10minutes ago we are caught up on House, M.D. just in time for the new season that starts sept 25th.

last weekend i was able to go straight to college station after school on friday and hang out with jennifer and then go to the football game on saturday...yes, the whole game. i announced our victory in all my classes as i had told all my students i was going to the game (alot of them mentioned it to me on their way into class as well), but tried to be fair in that i also mentioned the longhorns victory and the cowboys victory. but not the red raiders. that gets to be a little too generous.

yesterday we had quite the rainstorm starting about 5.30am and continuing through 6.30am when i left the house. about 7am (halfway to work) my windshield wiper broke off my car. always fun! i got to school on time (7.59am) but was soaking wet. i got great leverage out of my story in all my classes, and that night at open house a lot of parents asked me about it so i guess word got out. i told them that i drove the rest of the way with only one windshield wiper because i knew they would be so disappointed if i wasn't there. they laughed. tomorrow they get their first sub (the afternoon classes only though) as i'll be across the street developing some math curriculum with a consultant and other teachers from the district. we'll see if they're still laughing when i return.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


i'm sure that my 6th graders are elated that i have not yet subjected them to my lesson plan on respect/social norms in the classroom. the lesson plan i created for my certification class this summer that involves, among other things, the playing of a certain song performed by aretha franklin. i have, however, consistently reinforced that in my class, i will be respected, classmates will be respected, you will respect yourself and the school property. and you will respect very well. if not, you will have a small chat with me outside the classroom or i will glare impatiently at you until you start respecting or your classmates inform you that i'm waiting for you to be respectful. in my class, respecting the person speaking (whoever it may be)involves not rummaging through personal belongings, not even holding a writing utensil (unless instructed to take down notes), and certainly not talking, and looking at the individual speaking. i realize this is slightly extreme as most are capable of multi-tasking, but i hate repeating myself. plus i just enjoy enforcing my will upon these poor students. just kidding.

so today i busted out the new textbooks and the base 10 blocks. manipulatives are so cool. i hated them as a student b/c i didn't need them to help me understand the concepts so i found them boring. i tried to preemptively combat this feeling in my pre-AP class by explaining that solving a problem in one's head or on paper and modeling a problem with blocks are 2 separate skills and they need to be able to show that they have both these skills. most of my classes did well, and they had no difficulty with my long speech about maturity and not throwing blocks, not chewing on blocks, not hitting people with blocks, not building tall towers with the blocks, working together and sharing the blocks,etc.

then came last period. this is a TAKS prep class i teach to help out some kiddos that didn't pass the test last year. i don't know if its b/c its last period or if its because this is their 2nd math class of the day which i'm sure they find annoying, but this is a rough class. today i gave them a chance to work with the blocks. we had some issues, blocks were everywhere...not cool. so i stopped the class about 20min in, waited for respect, and then said, "i'm really sorry. i think there's been some mistake. i was supposed to have a 6th grade class this period. somehow things got messed up and i have a 3rd grade class. let's line up at the door because its time for my 6th graders to come to class and learn something." and so they did. everyone lined up at the door. when class begins i greet my kids at the door with a little knuckle smash and hows it goin. so they all stood in line, got their knuckle smash and hows it goin, and had a seat. i then began class like i normally do, adding, "the weirdest thing happened earlier. some 3rd graders were in my class and i didn't like it very much. i'm so glad i have my 6th graders back!" the kids played right along, and were like "really? thats so weeeird!!" i hope that they were playing along anyways, and not really that lost.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

labor days

well i finished off my first week as a teacher last week.

deep breath.

it went very well. i was very pleased with the students attitudes and academic performance. i was shocked at the amount of paperwork and thought and preparation that goes into a class day. this led to very long days. long hours i mean. the days themselves fly by, it feels like a huge whirlwind, kids coming & going, papers EVERYWHERE, and i wonder how kids learn anything in a 54 min class period.

i would say the hardest parts about last week were getting up at 6am, which was quite difficult for me. also, going to bed early so i don't pass out from fatigue was hard for me. and standing all day i also found feet hurt so badly!

the best parts about last week were coming home 2 nights to find my husband had cooked dinner on the grill and had it ready when i walked in. also, i enjoyed tripping up almost 100% of my students with the following statements during 2 Truths & 1 Lie Activity on the first day-

1. I was born in Texas
2. I have 5 siblings.
3. I have been white water rafting on the Nile River in Africa.

100% of my students guessed incorrectly which statement was false all day long, until the very last period. I guess word got out because 100% of my students in the last period got it right. Other favorite parts of last week were beginning to learn the students names and see them smile when I could remember, and having students come to my class to be greeted by me and then run out because they didn't actually have me this class period, they just wanted to say hi.

It was super awesome to have the long labor day weekend. Ross and I were able to meet up with my family on Saturday for a barbecue and the A&M football game. We were then able to join up with some of Ross' family for an all day birthday bash barbecue on Sunday. There was some serious food going on there! Shrimp kabobs, jalapeno poppers, various other side dishes for lunch. Then the fun continued on into the evening when we had prime rib and other sides for dinner, before topping off everything with 4 different types of cake to choose from! We had a great time. Monday we spent catching up on things. Ross ran errands and did some work on the boat. I spent most all of the day grading papers, writing lesson plans, and generally getting organized. I'm hoping this week I will have to spend less time in the evenings preparing because I have my lesson plans done for the whole week already. Which will give us more time to finish up House, Season 3 on DVD before the new season starts at the end of the month!!