Monday, September 29, 2014

Math "Aha" Moments

In fifth grade, to teach multiplication, my teacher used "of" instead of "times." In other words, he said, "4 of 6 equals 24." All of a sudden, I understood multiplication. He also used "fit" instead of "divide." "How many 6s fit into 24?" Again, suddenly, I "got" division. Those were two "aha moments" for me.

Good teachers find ways to make difficult things seem a lot more simple.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Answer to Math Problem

Answer to Math Problem about Three Ladies and the $30 room (previous Posting)

Few have been able to provide the answer to the question, “Where is the missing dollar?” 

The $2 the bellman put in his pocket is not part of 3 X $9. The $3 he kept in his pocket is part of that equation. The $2 is part of the equation, $2 plus the $3 the bellman gave the ladies, plus $25 equals $30.  

Math Puzzle

The Three that Checked into the Motel

Three women came to town to attend a friend’s wedding. They found a motel and walked in to get checked in. They wanted to share one room to save cost. The clerk told them, “The room is $30.” All three women paid the clerk $10, received their room keys, and went up to their room. 

Moments later, the clerk realized he had overcharged the women for the room. It’s was actually $25. So he gave the bellman five, one-dollar bills, and instructed him to reimburse the tenants. 

As the bellman climbed the stairs, he realized it was going to be impossible to divide $5 three ways. So, he put two of the dollars in his pocket. He knocked on the door, told the ladies they had been overcharged, and gave each a dollar. 

Now let’s do the math. Each lady originally paid $10 but, after receiving the dollar, ended up paying $9. There were three women. So, 

3 X $9 = $27, plus the $2 the bellman put in his pocket, equals $29. Where is the missing dollar? 

(Answer coming soon)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Big Things, Little Things



“Daddy, come and play with me.”

He begged with outstretched hand.

He was so small—below my knee.

He didn’t understand.


I had far bigger things to do

Like further my career.

Instead of him, I chose to view

The corporate frontier.


“Later, son, I’ll be there soon,”

I hoped that would appease.

I had a meeting right at noon,

But I heard, “Daddy, please!”


“The babysitter’s waiting, son,”

I said, with plastic smile.

“She’ll read you books and let you run.”

“Dad, just a little while?” 


I tied my shoes and tied my tie,

And draped my suit coat on.

While, from the floor, he caught my eye:

My one and only son.


“The Army guys in red are bad,

And the good guys are in blue.

I’ll let you be the good guys, Dad.

I’ll let you beat me too.”


“Rrrunga rrrunga rrrunga rrrung,

The bad guys tanks did blare,

And toward the good guys troops they sprung,

Who had no leader there.


Five or ten were counted dead;

The siege was under way,

Until the good guys’ general said,

“I’d better sit and play.”


The battle waged and fierce it was;

Both sides were holding fast.

There was no stop; there was no pause,

Just guns and tanks and blast.

I saw my watch and I was late,

“Son, cease this army brawl.”

I jumped up, and said, “Son, please wait!

I’ve got to make one call.”


I dialed the phone; he looked so sad.

I said, “It’s Larry Burr.

You know that twelve o’clock I had?

Well, I can’t make it sir.


“Yes, sir, I understand the cost.

Yes, sir, I’ll be surpassed.

But I’ll be poor if I have lost

A son who’s growing fast.


“I’ll see you in the morning, sir.

When day defeats the night.

But now, will you excuse me, sir?

I’ve got a war to fight.”

                        Swen Nater

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Miracle at Jefferson Junior High

The Miracle at Jefferson Junior High


I learned to fight at an early age. Born in Holland in 1950, I was one of three children, the middle one. At age three I remember my parents divorcing and my older sister and I moving in with a friend of the family. My little brother stayed with my mother. In time, she found a husband and the three of them left for the US, promising to bring my sister and I over soon.


Five years later, a nationally-televised program brought my sister and I to America, surprising my mother and stepfather on national television. It was one week from the start of fourth grade at Roosevelt Elementary School in Long Beach, California.


My fighting started a few years before that, in Holland. I don’t remember exactly when I began to want to fight every boy in the school, but I do remember, at recess, every recess, fighting six or seven kids at the same time, almost every day. They hated me and I hated them.


I remember being taken to visit a man in an office, who had me play with toys and asked me strange questions like, “Why did you get mad at that wooden train? Do you hate trains?” I don’t think it did any good because the fighting continued and got worse. Luckily I went to America, away from all those bad boys, right? Wrong.


I loved Roy Rogers. His show was on TV every Wednesday in Holland and all the kids in the neighborhood (we lived in Foster Homes for three years) gathered at the one home with the TV and watched that show, with eyes wide open, everyone wishing he was a cowboy. So, on the first day of school in America, I wore my little brother’s revolvers and holster (he warned me not to) and walked onto the campus thinking I was cool. About twenty kids saw me coming and began to point and laugh hysterically. Lucky for me, the vice-principal saw me and redirected me to his office where I lost the firearms and went to class.


But the damage was done; I hated those kids as much, or more, than the ones in Holland. They began to pick on me during recess and lunch because I was different. That’s when the fighting began again, every day.  


This continued into junior high school. I didn’t fight every day there, just once in a while, because there were some pretty tough kids there and I knew I would lose. But, at the beginning of ninth grade (three year junior high school), I was bigger than anyone and fought for fifteen days in a row. In one of those fights, I got my rear end kicked all the way down the hall by a kid I never thought could fight so well. Both of us were sent to the office.


There (I know now), the decision was made, Washington Junior High was not the place for me. I was transferred to Jefferson Junior High and, in early October of 1965 I walked into my new school.


I was met by the principal who introduced himself and told me he was glad I was there and that I was going to do just fine. He introduced me to a wonderful lady who was going to help me make the transition. She was a certified counselor. Every morning for thirty minutes, for the entire school year, she and I talked. She helped me talk through my issues and it really helped. I didn’t have one fight the entire year and my grades went from a C average to almost straight As.


The only class I earned a B in was Poetry and Journalism, taught by my favorite teacher, Mrs. Rochte. When she introduced the class to “Richard Cory,” I fell in love with rhyme, rhythm, and generating emotion. One class, when we were focusing on Journalism, the hour started with a fellow male teacher storming in the room and yelling at Mrs. Rochte about something. He threw chalk at the board and smashed an eraser on the floor, then angrily left the room, slamming the door behind him. We were stunned with mouths wide open.


As soon as he left, Mrs.  Rochte quickly, and with a smirk on her face, moved in front of us and said, “Take out a piece of paper and a pencil and write down everything you heard, smelled, and saw. I want details down to the color of his shoelaces.” We moaned to show our disapproval of how we were not given pre-warning but she said, “If you’re going to be a journalist, you have to learn how to observe.” Many of Mrs. Rochte’s class sessions were like that.


I’m pretty sure the principal told all of my teachers about me and my issues. They all paid special attention to me, acknowledging my effort and encouraging me in many ways.


As I said, I didn’t have one fight at Jefferson and that continued until my senior year at Wilson High School. I had one fight there, when a huge football player “chose me off” in front of the entire school at lunch. I was 6’4” by then, but skinny as a rail. I was so thin, when taking a shower after PE, I almost slipped through the drain. He was about 250 pounds. Unfortunately for him however, he didn’t know I had been taking boxing lessons.


I thank everyone at Jefferson Junior High for what they did for me. It was quite the turnaround for me and truly changed my life.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Seven Needs of a Student

The Seven Needs of a Student


There are basic essentials a laborer needs to be successful at his or her job such as the proper tools in working condition, good training, perhaps attire, and a safe workplace. Likewise, a student has basic needs that are foundational to success. One might actually call them “rights.” Whatever they are called, when a teacher provides all of these needs consistently, the student’s chance for success has been greatly increased.


One: To Know the Rules

Clear boundaries and consequences, in addition to known expectations are important to establish the culture of the class.


“We are a family. Everything we say and do in this room is to help each other.”


Two: Challenging Achievement Expectations

Tough but reasonable expectations for all students that prevent them from selling themselves short.


“Don’t compare yourself to someone else but never cease trying to become the best you can be. You are you. You will always be a second-best somebody else. What is your potential?”


Three: Thoughtful but Sustained Pressure to Meet Expectations

Persistent and incessant monitoring of student progress and reminders to keep striving for the goals. Don’t let them give up. Keep refueling in whatever way necessary.


“We both know this last paper was not your best. You are way better than this. Please take the time to check your work, polish it up, and bring it up to your standards. If you need help, ask me or another student. Don’t let yourself down. Come on.”


Four: A Safe Environment for Expressing Opinions and Ideas

Freedom to contribute verbally. Don’t tolerate suppressive comments about what someone has said.


“Class, a big part of gaining knowledge in this world is hearing what others have to say. That’s what we do here in this class. If you have something you want to contribute, everyone here, including me, wants to hear it and it won’t be judged negatively by anyone. Keep ideas flowing.” 


Five: A Feeling of Belonging to the Group

Students need to know they are important to the class. Being able to contribute is important. Recognize effort every time you see it.


“We missed you yesterday.”

“Yes, Andrea. Thank you for saying that because I would have forgotten.”


Six: A Legitimate Chance to Earn More Responsibility

Give students jobs but make them earn them. Provide a way for a student to earn the right to a more difficult and, perhaps more important job.


“If you have perfect attendance this month, you’ll have earned the right to take roll for me.”

“When these problems get easy for you, I have some more challenging ones and we’ll consider them extra credit.”


Seven: A Exemplary Role Model

A teacher whose ethics are above reproach, has deep subject knowledge, and loves students as well as the subject being taught.


(Appreciation to Wendy Ghiora, Ronald Gallimore, and Brad Ermeling