Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
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Inspired by this post, I wanted to share a little bit about how I introduce circles. When I pose the questions that follow, I usually use PollEverywhere to survey the entire class at the same time. I find this encourages table discussion. Keep in mind, when I show the students these equations, students HAVE seen the Pythagorean theorem, but other than that, this is the first time they have seen anything resembling the equation for a circle. The answer is not at all immediately clear and many students take a "guess and check" approach to finding the solution
When I started my teaching career, I taught the constructions that were required on the state exams by providing my students with an overview of the conventional steps. I soon learned my approach was completely ineffective. No matter how I varied my instructions, many students perceived constructions as little more than "pictures" that needed to be memorized.
In my fourth year of teaching, I completely abandoned my traditional method. On the first day of the constructions unit, I have students take out their compasses and given them one goal and a few rules:
I would say my most developed unit in geometry was my logic unit. I took it as an opportunity to introduce geometry in a refreshing way for student who may have been turned off to math prior to taking my class. For the first several weeks, we focused on logic puzzles that we not "mathematical" in the traditional sense. This encouraged thinking and problem solving, but it also engaged all of my students, as all of the puzzles were approachable and had an accessible solution. The aim of the unit is to get students to write up the solutions to the puzzles in a two-column, "statement-justification" format.
For this activity, students must first be familiar with exam free response scoring rubrics. (I teach AP Computer Science A, which has plenty of resources available online for free response rubrics and scored samples.) When students have seen the rubrics enough to know how to earn partial credit on questions that would otherwise seem to difficult to approach, I turn it up the rigor: students work in groups to write their own rubrics and canonical solutions. The extra tasks turns familiarity into mastery.
I have a review activity that I love. I just started doing it a few weeks ago and I'm pretty sure I'll be doing it a lot more. Simple concept, great effect. After having students complete a multiple choice exam, (as a review, not for a grade) I put them in groups and have them take it again. When they are finished for the second time, I use answer sheets that I can scan with my phone (ZipGrade specifically) to give them instant feedback, telling them only the problems they got wrong but not the answers. They continue to work on the questions until a perfect score is achieved. Lastly, I return their original answer sheets (which I have already scanned) and they use their "answer key" to grade their own papers.
The decision to allow students to retake exams and every conversation surrounding it should be based on the best path for learning. Always remember that.
Lately, I was grappling with the question: "Is a full exam retake necessary and effective for each student whose score is almost perfect?" The question came up because, invariably, every class has those students who earn a 94% but still want to retake the exam and shoot for 100%. I will always allow this, but recently I was wondering if a retake is the best way to earn that extra 6%. I asked myself, "What would help this person increase his or her understanding from nearly perfect to perfect?" For such a student, I think retaking the exam is too mechanical, an trivial item on a checklist to achieve perfection. By contrast, I've heard it said you've never truly mastered something until you can teach it.
This game is astonishing. The base game (no cards) is already unlike anything I've ever played and deeply strategic. Furthermore, the components are gorgeous. If the entire game was just the base game, I would already highly recommend it, but the designer went a step further by adding the cards and including a three- and four-player mode. Some of the cards even allow alternate victory conditions. Though the game is designed for two players, four-player with cards is my favorite. As you can probably imagine, the cards provide too much information to keep track of and it can be a riot trying to plan moves with your partner while considering the abilities of your opponents. We've had some good laughs over the four player games. For people who like more strategy, removing the cards and playing the base game is a serious battle of cunning. I'm floored by all the game offers and its replayability.
If you are visiting this site for the first time, let me introduce myself. My name is Ben and I am a teacher. In 2014, I started advising an after school club. Because students who attended club regularly could earn a credit at the end of the year, I needed to take attendance. Unlike an official class, there was no official attendance sheet so, as was the custom at my school, students signed in by writing their name on a clipboard.
Whether you work in a classroom or an office, if you collect meeting attendance on paper, you understand how tedious paper attendance is. It's messy, difficult to read and especially difficult to enter into a computer. Like me, you may have already attempted to find an app or some sort of small-scale solution to your problem, only to find yourself sorely disappointed. I was disappointed but sometimes if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself..
When I was new to teaching, a mentor challenged me to consider an strategy about the career that lay before me. He said that once a year, I should select the most boring or challenging unit of my curriculum and carefully craft it into something more interesting and engaging. He said even if I had to spend all of my creative efforts on revitalizing that one unit, if I could manage to do that once a year, with some time I would have a some pretty exciting curricula!
Whether or not you teach computer science, you can take my word: teaching sorting algorithms is not very exciting.
About me and my school
When I started teaching AP Computer Science A in 2015, it was easy to approach a subject that was new to me in a way unlike how I had been teaching mathematics. Initially, I allowed students to retake their exams simply because I knew I lacked the experience to write fair exams on my own first try. I kept the policy because it seemed almost natural, the course itself seemed conducive to a policy that allowed students to resubmit code until it worked. At that time, I could not see how the same policy could carry over to my math classroom and a discipline that is notorious as a harsh exam environment. Finally, in 2017, having grown frustrated with feeling that I was perpetuating a culture that rewarded exam performance over learning, (mind the distinction: it’s one thing to take an exam for the sake of one’s learning, I take issue when students perceive they are learning for the sake of their exams) I decided I could try what I was doing in C.S.
God doesn’t create inquisitive minds just to disappoint them. Answers are in the Bible if you are willing to think. This series is about how, once I began to think about the Bible, logically and analytically, my faith was made stronger as I became convinced that the Bible is practical, coherent, consistent, and profound. I have ordered this series in such a way that the most common and fundamental questions are first. The focus becomes more and more narrow as you read through the series.
Some prophesies in the Bible are fulfilled twice. The first time is in an immediate but transient way and the second time is in an ultimate and eternal way. For instance, as Isaac follows Abraham up the mountain and asks about the lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham answers that God will provide a lamb. On that day, God does provide the sacrifice, but in Jesus Christ, God truly provides the sacrifice. When the Israelites cover their doors with blood at Passover, they are saved by the blood of the lamb, and in Jesus Christ, they are truly saved by the blood of the lamb. Throughout Kings, when God sheds mercy on Judah, he cites his promise to keep the line of David on the throne forever, but then we read about the travesty of the line of kings following David. In Jesus Christ, God truly keeps the line of David on the throne forever.
This pattern can also be observed in the case of a particularly striking prophesy made by Isaiah during the reign of Hezekiah's father, Ahaz. Recall when Judah was invaded by the kings of Israel and Aram. At that time, Ahaz was approached by Isaiah and told not to fear but to trust in God and ask for a sign. Ahaz turned from Isaiah and took matters into his own hands, but Isaiah would not be ignored. As Ahaz turned his back, Isaiah proclaimed that there would be a sign despite Ahaz' disobedience. The sign he gives him is one of the most famous prophesies in the entire Bible and is even quoted in the very first chapter of Matthew.
If I asked you to name a miracle in the Bible, you might say "the ten plagues" or "the parting of the Red Sea" or "the resurrection of Jesus". These miracles are more than just well known miracles, they are moments that shaped history. The ten plagues are remembered every time Passover is celebrated. The parting of the Red Sea was an event that liberated the Israelites and gave birth to a new nation. Easter is the grounds upon which all of Christianity is founded. Even for someone who doesn't believe in miracles, these mysterious and unexplainable events undeniably changed the world.
This story is about a miracle that is no less awesome or deserving, but no one ever thinks of it. Personally, I have never heard it taught in church. It won't be found in an illustrated children's Bible and, while it is printed in every edition of the Bible, most people who read it either skim over it or forget it entirely.
I saw Avengers: Infinity War last night and, because I was working on this study, it gave me pause as I thought about movie trailers. Why are they so enjoyable to watch? When I see a see trailers in the theatre, I often think, "Oh! I have to see that!" If or when I see the film, if it disappoints, I think, "The preview was better." Or, "All of the best parts were in the preview." If I wanted more enjoyment from the movies, I should honestly just stop watching trailers, but I won't. Why is that?
The interesting think about previews is, no matter how good they are or even how much content they contain, they can never stand in for the actual movie. Previews aren't stories, they are just teasers for a story. It's the story we crave. Never have I ever watched a preview and thought, "That was so wonderful, I won't even see the movie." While I know that is literally the job of the people making the preview, I also think the reason it is so effective is because we, the audience, want the details filled in. We want the context for the joke or the story behind the dramatic one-liner. I've seen previews that give away virtually the entire plot, but I still don't think it deters from the craving to see it filled out. Audiences love stories.
First, let me just say Part 2 is about my all time favorite Bible character, Elijah. I could write a series on just Elijah, but the purpose of this series is to focus on the overarching story. I omitted details from Part 1 to achieve this and I intend to treat Part 2 the same way, despite my utter fascination with 1 Kings 17 - 2 Kings 7. If you are interested in anything you read here, I would encourage you to do your own study of these chapters.
The books of Kings tell at least two stories. As the name implies, one of those stories is a chronicle of the kings of Israel and Judah. This story is corroborated by the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles. The second story is that of the prophets. If the first story is about what is happening on Earth, the second story is about what is happening in heaven. The first story describes the evil reigns of Jeroboam and Ahab, the second story describes God's response to them.
This is a story from the Tanakh, or what Christians call the "Old Testament". I'm actually growing rather fond of the former of these two names because 'Old' Testament seriously downplays its relevance. For reasons that will be made clear, I would frankly prefer to call it the "Awesome Testament" or maybe just the "Wow, That's Both Terrifying and Amazing" book. Anyway, I've chosen to call this story "An Epic Bible Story You've Never Heard" because it comes from two books of the Tenakh that get very little attention in church, but definitely deserves to be heard. This series is a condensed version of about 35 chapters. I've broken it into six parts: one part per week for six weeks.
Two years ago, I attended a weekly dinner party put on by a church called C3 Brooklyn. A dinner party is not an uncommon thing for me. Some churches call them "connect groups", I've heard "community groups", or even just "Bible study". Most groups that I've attended are conducted according to some sort of written leader's guide. My first C3 Brooklyn dinner party defied that expectation.
That night, the discussion leader opened with, "Since it's near Easter, I feel like asking, 'What does the cross mean to you?'" His question resulted in a lively discussion and formed quite a strong, positive impression upon me. We even ended up attending the church regularly, but that is not why I am writing.
I am writing because, since it is Good Friday, I find myself thinking about that question again and about one of the most powerful illustrations in the Bible. I wanted to share that today.
When Noah was born, it was said he would comfort us concerning our work and toil. (Genesis 5:29) While this can be interpreted literally, (One can imagine Lamech thinking, "This son of mine will grown up and help on the farm. I could use some comfort from the work and toil.") In this case, I think the comfort "concerning our work and toil" means much more. It is relief from the one thousand years that have passed since the fall of man. It is the "toil" resulting from the curse, the "old world." (2 Peter 2:5) Somehow, Noah is about to change all that.
To some people, the Biblical story of creation is loaded with traps and controversy. Was it a literal six-day creation? If Adam and Eve were the only two people, who did their sons marry? Why did God refuse Cain's sacrifice? Some of these questions used to bother me, but I've learned a powerful argument that answers all of these questions satisfactorily and even encourages me to read more carefully.
Hands down, there are people who fully believe in the "power of prayer" (whatever that might mean) there are cynics of varying degrees, and there there are those like me, who engage in it while wondering if they even understand what they are doing.