My first high school grad in 7 years

I’m teaching high school again, this time at Superior Heights C & VS in Sault Ste. Marie. Our graduation was last week, and it was the first I’ve attended since my previous school, Alexander Henry, in 2008.

I wasn’t really involved with the planning of grad (several other teachers worked like crazy to make it happen – major kudos to them). That’s probably just as well, since the veterans have a good system and don’t need me mucking around with it. 

The ceremony was lovely, the keynote was good (the Sault mayor), and the logistics were smooth. I was one of the people handing out programs at the door, and I held that same door for the graduates as they entered the gym. I also gave out high fives to all of them, which was super fun. 

A colleague asked me on grad day if I could hand out a couple of awards on stage, and I was happy to help. It was only afterward that I realized what an honour it was. I understand that in the past the awards have been handed out by other stakeholders, such as trustees or superintendents, and I think having a familiar face on stage helped to reduce the kids’ nervousness. I was so proud of them as they came up to shake my hand, accept their award, smile for their parents’ photography, and accidentally hug me in confusion (you know who you are).


But for me the highlight of the afternoon was mingling with the grads and their families after the ceremony. Our Bistro teacher (restaurant services) organized a fantastic spread for everyone to enjoy while we talked, shook hands, snapped photos, and generally had a good time. I grabbed as many selfies as I could with the kids I taught or spent a lot of time with. 

I met one young lady’s parents and older sister, which was a real treat. I worked with her Semester 1 in my MDM4U class, and then in the spring for a few weeks to prepare for the Euclid Math Contest (she did very well). She has a brilliant mind and is a wonderful person. She’s the one who made me cry after the ceremony. I’ll miss her a lot. 

It’s tough to watch these kids, now adults, venturing out into the world. They finish grad, mingle, then move on with their lives. I was so proud to watch them, but they’ve left an emptiness behind them. I felt a little down for a couple of days afterward. I know I’ll see many of them again, whether next year or sometime later. It’s still painful to let them go. 


I love you all, and I’ll miss you. Be safe, be happy, and come back to visit sometimes, okay? 


Ready for an M15-KTK-FRF-DTK Pauper Draft

I recently boughts playsets of every common from Theros forward. I found them on ebay, along with 100 basic land, with free shipping (yay!). My LGSs (LGSes? I dunno) don’t carry this sort of thing, so I couldn’t buy them here. 

The cards were packaged nicely in cellophane by set, one of each card in order by collector number: 


This meant I didn’t have to sort them at all. This was fine, and expected, but I wouldn’t have minded having to sort them myself; I like to organize stuff. 

My daughter and I opened one bundle from each of M15 Core, Khans of Tarkir, Fate Reforged, and Dragons of Tarkir. We were both excited to see the cards and organize everything. 

We separated the cards into six piles: one for each colour, then one more pile for the non-basic lands, colourless cards (like artifacts), and multicolour cards. We then shuffled each pile and made up little booster packs with two cards from each pile (12 cards per pack) and had a little draft. I drafted mostly Black-Red, with a splash of Blue, and Tori drafted Blue-White. This part was a lot of fun, more than I thought it would be. 

We played a game with our custom, drafted decks and then discussed how best to randomize cards into the packs to cut down on the predictability. We agreed to shuffle all of the cards together before splitting them into packs. This means the packs won’t be as uniform (exactly two of each colour), but it’ll hide what has been taken and it’ll make the process more interesting, we think. 

I made 21 packs of 14 and 5 packs of 15 (otherwise there would be 5 unused cards): 


So we’re ready to have a big drafting party. Lots of fun in our father-daughter geekery. :)

Hey, PLN: What’s the best high school day structure?

I had a good conversation with another teacher at my school yesterday about the pros and cons of the different schedules that are possible within our high school system. 

Our school has the same Day 1/Day 2 structure that I experienced as a student (four periods a day, Day 1 ABCD, Day 2 BADC). She had a desemestered high school with six classes a day on some kind of rotation (I can’t remember the details now).

We discussed MSIP, repeated block (like ABCDA), Cooperative Education, homework completion, prep time, and the possible impacts on science, math, language, Bistro (restaurant services class), lunch, sports, and so on. 

But in the end we concluded that we don’t know a lot; we just speculate a lot. 

So I’m looking for two things:

  1. What’s your high school’s schedule like, and what are the pros and cons from your perspective?
  2. Can you point me to research or books about the impact of different schedule structures on achievement, well-being, satisfaction, special programs, etc.? 

If it matters, my school has around 1000 students in grades 7-12, and there is a significant population that is bussed every day. 

Thanks, PLN!

Life Protip: Let people like what they like


I played some music today during my math class for the first time this semester. We were completing some exam review and I thought it might be nice to have some tunes on to lighten the mood (which is sometimes a bit leaden in that class, unfortunately).

Remember that I work with teenagers, so I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I tell you that students complained about the music. I played a mixture of current “hits” of various genres. Some vocal students griped about this or that artist, claiming that “he can’t sing”, etc. I switched to music they would be less familiar with but which I knew was “classroom safe”. As I anticipated, the leaders of tomorrow didn’t like that either.

They nearly all listen to music, but they each listen to their own music, which is supreme in their eyes, and everything else is, of course, absolutely terrible.

I tried to impart words of ancient wisdom, but I don’t know if anyone really agreed with me. “Let people like what they like, and you can like your stuff,” I said. “As long as they’re not hurting anyone, it’s fine.”

This isn’t just about music, though. I have dozens of interests, and many of them are niche or “weird” for most people. That doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of them, but often I don’t have many people to share with.

It took me many years to understand that it’s great when people like something, and it’s even better when there are lots of different things that people like. Let people like what they want to. If you’re lucky, they’ll share it with you, and you can learn to appreciate it the way they do.

Not a PB, but I beat my goal

I participated in Run The Great Lakes today. I ran 5K in about 27:28 (based on the clock at the chute – I took a while to dig out my phone and stop Nike+). It wasn’t my best race, or the best weather, or my best time, but it was better than my goal. 


The Route

I wanted to beat 28 minutes, since I haven’t run a race or run very regularly in a couple of years. Add in the accidental detour at the end (I went to the wrong parking lot and had to backtrack over a grassy divide), and I’m pretty happy with my performance. 


The Detour

I think I’ve said this on here before, but you don’t always have to do better than you’ve ever done before. It’s good to reevaluate your situation and set goals based on where you are, not where you’ve been. 

Of course, if I’d run a PB (like my wife did!) this would have been a very different post :)

You probably Googled this

I’ve had this blog since November of 2012, about three and a half years. very kindly offers me a bunch of interesting statistics, and today I noticed a trend in the “Referrer” area.

There are a bunch of referrers, but the top two are always “Twitter” and “Search Engine”, like this result from May 2015:


The Trend

Here are the annual statistics since the blog started:

Year Search Engine Referrals Twitter Referrals
2012 12 53
2013 653 637
2014 5893 1281
2015 (to date) 4056 318

There’s about a 90% chance that you arrived here via search engine.

The Why

First, I don’t tweet out links to old stuff very often. If you followed a Twitter link to get here, it was probably new content. Old stuff is always available by search engine. I think think is the most important reason.

Second, I’m not as active this year as I have some other priorities. I’m not as well connected with the rest of the province. The blog is more intermittent.

Last, a lot of people are searching for my blog, not just “assessment in math” or some other topic. So the search engine referrals are both intentional and incidental visitors.

I find this interesting to think about, although I don’t imagine it’ll change how I do anything.