29 January 2009

The Effects of Snow Days

Thanks to our snow days, quizzes that were scheduled for Tuesday have been postponed to Friday. Congrats!

The Geometry quiz is covering area of rectangles, parallelograms, triangles, trapezoids, and kites. You will have your formula book available to you during the quiz, so if yours is up-to-date, then you will have a valuable resource!

The Algebra I quiz will require you to:
  • look at a system of graphs and determine if there are one, zero, or infinite solutions.
  • graph a system and determine the solution
  • solve a system using the substitution method
  • write equations for a system from a word problem

There is also an extra credit using substitution.

24 January 2009

MLK - Inauguration EXTRA CREDIT

One week remains to snag your 5 points extra credit by posting to the forums. Don't miss out! While Kyle the Magnificent's post was magnificent, please remember that your post does not need to be that long. You only need to respond to one of the bullets on the list. I look forward to hearing from you!

Want to make sure you always get updated class news? Subscribe to the class blog using the link at the end of the post or the orange icon in the address bar of your browser.


I'm sure, 15 years later, that she said it in passing, but her single sentence has overtime become one of the paramount principles in crafting my character and personality today.

We were smack dab in the middle of the 6th grade class Spelling Bee, whose top finishers would go on to represent the two classes in the school-wide Spelling Bee later that week. Class sizes had not yet been legislated smaller, so when we were all instructed to line up our chairs in a row, there were close to fifty of us. Mrs. Steinmann went down the row, one at a time, giving us a word to spell while the others waited; some in restless anticipation, others in restless boredom and disinterest. As you can guess, I belonged to the former, but we'll focus on a member of the later.

"I'm bored," Jim Bennett said while kicking his legs underneath his plastic blue seat. "This is taking for-ev-er."
"Only boring people get bored," Mrs. Steinmann replied to him, and went about her business of letters.

Again, I'm sure it was a phrase she had perhaps heard from someone in her life a multitude of times in her childhood, but it was the one and only time I've seen it used. Only boring people get bored. It started in sixth grade as a matter of marketability. Boring people are not cool, I reasoned, and I want to be cool, therefore, I should not be boring. It's formulaic nature appealed to my deepest core. It didn't go well those first few years, however, because (1) this moment was bookended by junior high, and (2) my approach to the principle was erred from the onset. I sought to be "exciting" by trying to reflect "cool," which as you'll remember in 1996 was ridiculously baggy pants, plaid shirts or giant t-shirts, and long hair parted down the middle. And I did far less than excel at reflecting. But my failures in posing were moot. (ed. note: I didn't find out until today when perusing freerice.com, but who knew in 8th grade that when a girl called me a poseur, which I would have spelled as "poser," that she was using such an impressive word?)

Not being boring, is of course, not about copying the un-boring, but in finding a passion within that drives you to action. It's about finding a niche in your life to be extraordinary. Discovering an obsession in your life to thirst for may give you heartache, but it will never leave you with nothing to do.

Go be extraordinary, because only boring people get bored.

19 January 2009

"I Have a Dream Because..."

I cannot bear the thought of self-righteous contentment.

When I started school at Townsend Elementary in the Hazelwood School District, every year to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr Day our teachers would have us write an essay with this title, presumably to enter into some regional or national contest. I hope there were different grade levels, because when a 1st grader tries to sit down writing about the dream of MLK, one of two things was bound to happen: (1) said 1st grader would probably write about the dream he had last week while snug in his bed about monsters, lollipops, dinosaurs, sports, or racecars, or (2) said 1st grader would go about plagerizing a report about Martin Luther King lifted primarily from the first encyclopedia he found at the library.

By the time I was in 4th grade, now at Commons Lane in Ferg-Flor, the MLK essays were gone, and instead our class did extensive (for 4th graders) poster board projects during February for Black History Month. Although our class was doing projects on a wide range of historical black figures, from politicians to athletes, to doctors and soldiers, I wound up with another project on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Beyond the photocopy of a picture the office secretary made for my poster, the only thing I really remember about my project is that my father made a point to note that I was doing "another Martin Luther King project." As a nine year old, my impression of "another MLK project" was that it was a perfectly natural thing to study yearly - the same way grade school students study the pilgrims every year. Looking back now as an adult, I still don't completely know what to make of my father's words.

Did they mean nothing?
Were they similar in rhetoric to the crowd that questions why there is not a "White History Month?"
Did he wish I could study a different black historical figure?

I guess I've spent fifteen years questioning my father's racial prejudices (or lack thereof). I noticed when we stopped going to some restaurants because "they weren't as clean anymore." I heard my mother say that a certain place was too "dark." On the other hand, I saw him build a new house in Florissant several years ago when it would have been easier to flee to O'Fallon or St. Peters like so many others this decade. Even the fact that we settled in North County in 1987 when we moved here instead of whiter, south county could account for something.

However, a man's questioning of his father and his youth is not what's really important today - its much too insignificant and of much too small a scale. Tomorrow morning at 11am Central Time, Barack Obama will be sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, looking back in the direction directly opposite where King gave his "I Have a Dream..." speech in 1963. I hope that the historical poetry of that is not lost on him tomorrow. But how did we get here, and why was this day so long in coming?

"We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Many people have evaluated the 2008 election and judged that Obama getting more than 90% of the black vote was his key to success. That is a true statement. Kind of. The significance, however, is not in what percentage of the votes he obtained, but in the number of votes he created. Democratic candidates have historically gotten about that percentage of the black vote in elections, so that is nothing new. The difference, I believe, is in the words from King's speech. The Voting Rights Act of 1964 guaranteed that "Negro in Mississippi" federal protection to vote, but perhaps that "Negro in New York" did not believe he had anything to vote for until 2008.

It's important, also, to not confuse the increase in voting from black communities with the mere presence of a black candidate. If merely inserting a black candidate onto the ballot were the answer, then the Rev. Jesse Jackson's efforts in the 1980s would have been more successful. I think the difference was Obama's ability to inspire. President-elect Obama was able to inspire the public's belief in vision and dreams similar to the way Dr. King inspired in the 50s and 60s. It's also worth noting that Obama and Dr. King both have also been criticized as radicals and socialists. The lessons of history also show that it is never the moderate who changes thoughts and actions, but the revolutionary, or the radical.

My final hope for President Obama is the same that King had for the civil rights movement. For so many buying into the hope that Obama represents, 2008 is not the end, but rather, the beginning.

08 January 2009

Textbooks issued!

Textbooks have been given out to most everyone by now, so you can all do your homework!

Homework is listed on the calendars on the website under each class.
Remember, you can also view your Algebra 1 or Geometry textbook online so you can leave your book at school. If you need to know the password for your book, email Mr. Baker.


CD-rom copies of the textbook can also be issued to Algebra 1 students if you are interested. Ask Mr. Baker.

06 January 2009

Mr. Baker will be out on Monday, Jan. 12th

Dr. Hopper has chosen me and a few other teachers to attend a professional development seminar at UM-St. Louis on this day called Nonviolent Crisis Intervention Training.

All I can really assume is that I'll learn some good techniques for diffusing conflict in the class when personalities rub the wrong way or the peace and respect in our class breaks down. Hopefully we'll be getting Mr. Mueller as our sub, so he'll make sure we're still able to get something done.

Best of luck!

05 January 2009

Welcome to the New Semester!

Welcome back (or for the first time) to Mr. C Baker's math class. This semester in Geometry we're going to be covering topics from chapters 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.

Of course, your ol' friend the conjecture will be making a return, as well as investigations and even a little bit of constructing. Don't forget everything you learned about triangles, quadrilaterals, and other polygons!

As always, remember one of the hallmarks of Geometry study - how do you know what what see is true?