Odds and Ends from a New Semester

A new semester for me started last week.  Lots of excitement, new faces, new classes, and much going on professionally. So many feelings coming from all directions….


Last fall, I participated in an Ingite session with the awesome folks from the Math Forum at the Association of Math Teachers of New Jersey conference.  Thanks to Suzanne for her kind invitation to share with a group of math leaders I have admired from afar.  The videos from the Ignite are finally available. Enjoy my flailing arms in a talk related to a blog post from long ago on math phrases I’d like to expunge.

While you are on YouTube, check out talks from the rest of the panel especially Max Ray and Annie Fetter. I marvel at Max’s ability to weave a math story cleanly and effectively about a theme. And Annie always provides ideas I need to try the next day in my math class.


This new semester brings me 3 new classes, which are 3 completely different preps: AP Statistics, Academic Prob/Stat (which is co-taught) and CP Pre-Calculus. Are there 3 classes which could be any more different? I feel troubled when I have a schedule like this, since I feel like none of the classes get the attention they deserves, and I spend most of my time chasing my tail. Also, CP Pre-Calc is a course I have never taught before. Does anyone else have trouble becoming invested in developing inquiry lessons for a course, when you know you may never teach it again?  Tough days….


For my new niece, who may be born any second now!


Our school adjusted the bell schedule this year; the result being structured time in the middle of the day where all students have lunch and/or study time. This semester, I am organizing Hatters’ Discovery Time – an opportunity for teachers to share their passions with students – modeled after the Genius Hour concept.  So far, our No Place for Hate team has facilitated an open discussion on race – a well-attended event with productive, positive discussions. This month, one of our science teachers who is also an EMT will share lessons on medical diagnoses, while a fellow math teacher offers an introduction to juggling. My session at the end of February will feature codebreaking, inspired the movie The Imitation Game, and just in time for Oscar season. Sessions on medidation and woodworking are also in the hopper. Such great ideas from my colleagues and hope students enjoy the offerings!


The last month has brought a flurry of professional plans for the summer and beyond. I’ve been invited to attend the AP Statistics reading for a 4th year, which is one of the highlight of my year…it’s summer camp for the Stats Kids!  Late in June, I have been accepted to share Desmos ideas for the classroom at the ISTE conference in my hometown of Philadelphia. And plans for Twitter Math Camp in July are taking shape: a team of 3 math professionals whose work I all admire and I will team to present morning sessions on “Next Steps with Desmos”, while I have been accepted to present a session on tackling those “tricky statistics concepts”.  Should be a blast in LA.

But, today also brought rejection from NCTM, as my session on Standards-Based Grading in Algebra 1 was rejected for 2 regionals. Last year, I was rejected for a Desmos session, and the year before for a session on encouraging writing skills in math class. At this point, I really think I am being punked.  But congrats to all of my friends and colleagues who have been accepted, I’ll be curled up at home with a box of cookies while you all enjoy the conference……

All is not lost though. I think it’s time to put the SBG talk away, as I have done it at PASCD and a local conference now. I never got around to editing the video of this talk from our fall ATMOPAV conference, but I’ll share it now for old time’s sake.  Enjoy!


By Bob Lochel

HS Math Teacher. Hatboro-Horsham School District, Horsham, PA.

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