So, our school works on a trimester system with Thanksgiving Break (a full week) marking the end of the fall term. We also have fall term finals, so my last full day of classes was November 12. I set myself some lofty goals for the break and met about 80% of those goals. My number one goal, by far, was to do what I could to plan out our next fourteen days for all three of my preps. We have fourteen days of class until the long winter break begins.

I found out late in the summer that I was teaching a new course (around August 10) and I also have two brand new colleagues in my  department. I have not been able to spend as much time mentoring them as I had planned to. The combination of this disappointment, along with perpetually being only a few days ahead of my Discrete class made the fall term a pretty stressful one. I have three preps, five sections, and my chair responsibilities. Luckily, I have a pretty light student load this year.

So, I have my calendar mapped out for Geometry and AP Calculus BC and I have about ten of the fourteen days of Discrete taken care of. Overall I am pretty pleased. Add in the naps and the time with my wife and kiddos and it has been a good break with just enough productivity thrown in.

# Rock, Paper, … Chi-Square!

So I tried to start the conversation with  a simple question – Should you do better when you think about the game or should you do better by random number generation? This lead to a quick decision that the expected value of a random number generator would be an equal distribution of 8 wins, 8 ties, and 8 losses for each set of 24. Now the table is set for the important principles of the Chi-Square test. Let’s talk about the difference between observed results and expected results. We also had a great conversation about how it appeared that the random number generator actually outperformed many people – especially in the expert mode. We talked about the fact that the expert mode was trying to predict behavior and how the randomness involved here might actually play in our favor.

In the week plus since this experiment I have been able to refer back a number of times to this experiment and it feels like my students have a pretty good handle on their task here. We have our unit test tomorrow so I hope that my optimism will be supported by some data.

In addition to thanking Bob Lochel I also want to thank a new twitter pal, Jennifer Micahelis (@MichaelisMath) who engaged me in a conversation about this experience and prompted me to gather my thoughts and write about it. I definitely will revisit this experiment the next time I teach this unit.

# Why Do I Blog?

Once again, Dan Meyer has me thinking. This time the blame can be passed along to Michael Fenton. Michael raised a question on twitter.  His question to Dan was

Could you have written a list of 5 reasons you blog 5 years ago? And a list of 5 reasons you blog now? Lists match? What’s changed?

As usual, Dan’s page is generating some great responses. You can jump to that page here.

As I write, I am on my first day of spring break. It is a quiet, beautiful morning on my mom’s back porch with everyone else sleeping. Let’s see if I can make sense of this question.

So, I realize that most of what i have just said explains why I read blogs and prowl twitter. Why do I write my blog? A much simpler answer. I think that there are two reasons.

1. I want to give back – at least a little – to this rich world of ideas.
2. I want feedback on my ideas as they develop.

Not profound, but it feels good to chime in. Now, I’m off to breakfast.