After much thought and research,  I have decided to have a “Fan Page” on Facebook.  It will take a lot of work on both OUR parts to make this a success.

Mr. Mac’s Math Class

Lets go over some ground rules:

  1. I do not want to be your “friend”…on Facebook, that is!  It is nothing against any of you, it is just a personal choice that I am making.
  2. Please do not post anything to the wall that you might later be ashamed of.  This is a new venture for me and I want to make it perfectly clear that I will censor any and all comments that are vulgar or not conducive to learning.  If that is not what is happening I will have no choice but to shut it down.  I really want this to work out because I think it will be beneficial for YOU!  I want this to be a place that you can come to to stay updated about class.  I will be checking it regularly via iPhone, therefore, if you have something to say, please send it to the wall and not a message.
  3. Tell your parents about it!  I will still update the blog, in fact, the posts will also post here as well, but this is a way that I can update more regularly.

Again, I hope this is a successful project, one that will be helpful to you and your parents!

Mathematician/Inventor Project

[A copy of this assignment can be downloaded here.]


Today in class we talked about the importance intellectual property as it relates to researching.  Students are to research a famous inventor and create a report and visual aid to the class.  I asked the students, “How do I avoid plagiarism?  I received several answers:

  1. Reorder the words
  2. Add some of your own thoughts and delete some of theirs
  3. Rewrite in your own words

I had not planed on doing this, but I thought it would be fun to see what each of these would look like.  So I copied a sentence from Wikipedia article on Leonardo da Vinci.

 Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.

We discussed the fact that merely rearranging the words was still plagiarism.  What we needed was to, in their words, “rewrite it in our own words.”  What did that look like.   Someone had the bright idea to use MS Word to create some synonyms of some of the words.  I thought that this might present a good lesson, so, here it is, in our own words:

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath: watercolorist, sculptor, draftswoman, player, scientist, mathematician, trick, creator, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and journalist.

Kind of changes the mood of the entire section, doesn’t it?

After making comparisons, we came up with the following sentences.

Leonardo da Vinci was a genius in his time.  He was extremely talented in the arts, mathematics, and sciences.  Because of his deep involvement and expertise in all these fields of study, he is referred to as a polymath, which is someone with a “superior knowledge” in a variety of fields (Wikipedia).

It ended up to be a great class.  I hope everyone has a deeper appreciation for intellectual property and a better understanding of what “in your own words” means!


polymathBy the way, here is a sneak preview of the next great polymath:


Probably not, but a future father can dream, cant he?

“So what happened to the other dollar?”

From Belle Prater’s Boy, by Ruth White, Page 72.

“There were three men, see?”  Woodrow began.  “Went to a hotel in New York City, where I hear tell everything costs more than anywheres else.  Anyway, they were charged thirty dollars just to sleep one night in a hotel room, if you can believe it.  They grumbled, but each man paid his ten dollars, which makes thirty dollars, right?  Then they went up the stair steps to their room, which, by the way, had three beds in it, so nobody had to double up.  it wadn’t no sleazy place.’

“After they went up, the hotel manager suffered a ‘cute attack of conscience, and he thought, well, maybe he might have overcharged the men.  So he took five one-dollar bills out of his money box there under the counter, and he told the boy he had to run errands for him to take the bills up and refund the gentlemen some of their money.”

“So the boy goes, and on the way he puzzles over how he can divide the five ones evenlyh amongst three men, and he sees no way to do it.  So what did he do?  He stuck two of them ones in his own pocket.  Then he gave each of the three men one dollar apiece.”

“Now, if you’re following me, that means each man paid nine dollars for his room, right?  That’s twenty-seven dollars.  The boy had two dollars in his own pocket, right?  That’s twenty-nine dollars.  So what happened to the other dollar?”

Nothing shady, going on here…it’s all in the math.  Who can explain where the missing dollar is?

iPhone Apps and Cell Phones in School

Not long after school started, I posted about my iPod Touch and some of the apps that I have downloaded that have educational value.  Today, I thought I would write an exhaustive list of apps to date.


As you can see, I have accumulated several apps.

For this post, I have decided to divide my list into

Function: Items in this category speak to the function of the iPhone/iTouch.  Items listed in this category are MUST HAVES for the iPhone/iTouch.  I use 15 of these items multiple times per day.

Top item for this category is a four way tie between my home screen apps…Phone, Calendar, Messages, Mail.  Without these, the iPhone would be just a cool gadget.

Educational: Items in this category are informational by nature.

Top item for this category is Dictionary.  I just downloaded this app last night and love it already!

Educational Games: Items in this category are fun games but are educational in nature.

Top item for this category is Physics Free.  It is a cool game that implements Newton’s Laws of Motion very nicely.

Games: Items in this category have little to do with “learning” per se’.

Hands down, Catan.  It is my favorite board game.  Well worth the $4.99!

Cool stuff (to me at least): Items in this category are things that I really enjoy but realize others might not.

Top item for this category is MobileRSS.  This app allows you to read your Google Reader feed on the go.

Stuff I never use but can’t delete: Hopefully, this category is self explanatory.

Top item for this category is Compass.  Why would you need a compass if you have Google Maps (a pre-installed app)?

I continue to believe that the iTouch and the iPhone would be a great asset to students in schools.  However, you [students] are the ones who have to prove to everyone that you can and should be trusted with this responsibility.

Currently, students are not supposed to be carrying cell phones or wireless devices during school hours.  However, I have collected and turned in many cell phones.  The rule says that they need to be in your lockers.  Keep them there.

Surely, there are many rebuttals to this rule, some of them might even be valid.  Here are three of the most common ones that I hear on a pretty regular basis:

  1. What if I need to get in touch with my parents?
  2. What if there is an emergency?
  3. I think it is a stupid rule.

I think I can come up with a pretty good response to each of these, however you might not like them…

Getting in touch with parents

The school has phones.  If there is a valid reason to contact a parent, the school has always been more than willing to allow you to use its phone.  However, I would suspect, many times you “need” to get in touch with a parent, it is to do one of two things: bring you something you should have taken the responsibility to remember to bring yourself or to get them to come and check you out.  In my opinion, neither of these is a good reason to call home.

Emergency Calls

Have you ever used your phone for an emergency?  A true emergency?  Was someone in danger of losing life or limb? Was there a fire?  A terrorist attack?  I didn’t think so.  In case of emergency, it is the responsibility of the school to contact the proper personnel.

Stupid Rule

Many of you would argue that not being allowed to carry and use your cell phone is just a stupid rule.  In life, there are going to be rules and laws that you think are stupid.  For example, I think that going 55 miles per hour on Highway 64 between Bald Knob and Memphis is ridiculous.  However, it is the law, so I follow it.  If you ever want to be allowed to use your cell phone to its full potential, it would be wise to show those who make and enforce the rules that you are mature enough to follow and respect them, even if you do not agree with them.

There are many appropriate uses for cell phones in the classroom, however…

  • Texting when the teacher is giving instruction
  • Updating your facebook status
  • Taking inappropriate/unwanted pictures of classmates
  • Taking a picture of a test for a classmate
  • [make up your own]

…is probably not one of them…

The best way to show decision makers that you are ready for cell phones in the classroom is to act responsibly with the rules that are already in place…they will notice!

By the way, from what I have seen, we are not quite ready yet…

Photo Credit

the first 101

I was looking at my blog stats today and realized that my last post was the 100th post.  I had fully intended to make a big “to do” about the milestone rather than posting a lame reminder about a project.  So, here’s to 101!

Here are the links to my top 5 6 favorite blog posts:


Welcome Post.  Blogging, for me started when I was in college with Xanga (Blocked at school, kids).  It was a place where I recorded my thoughts on things.  I got the idea of starting a classroom blog in 2004, but I was never really committed to it.  Math Error, is the result of many hours of planning, and thought over the past three years.  I am very proud of what it has become.  One day, I hope to take it to the Principal’s office. 


Reflections on Election Day.  Despite your political beliefs, the 2009 election was a historic one for three reasons: the first African-American was elected to office and record voter turnouts, and for the first time ever, social media played a big part in both informing people and getting people out to vote.


Chicago Trip. I will remember the summer of 2008 for one reason and one reason only: I was blessed to drive a 15 passenger van full of Gifted students to Chicago for a trip.  It was truly an experience of a lifetime!


Educational Poverty.  Read the post, it speaks for itself!  The comments are great too!  I think that this was my first post that generated international commenters!


Using RSS to Make Your Life Easier.  Google Calendar has truly made my life easier.  From posting assignments to the blog to keep students and parents informed to syncing the calendars on my family’s iPhones, it has kept me more organized than ever before!


Am I Proud? You Bet I Am. I would not be the person I am today without the influence of my family.  My parents taught me many things growing up, so much that if I began making a list, it could go on for quite some time.  At the top of that list would be the lesson to never give up!  That lesson has effected my life in more ways than anyone could imagine.  It all began one spring in Little League, I had a coach who was less than desirable.  He smoked and cursed.  Picture Billy Bob Thornton on the Bad News Bears…yup, that’s him, minus the drinking (but who knows, he might have done that too, I was young, remember).  I wanted, so bad, to quit the team.  My dad would NOT let me quit.  That lesson has stuck with me in every aspect of my life.  I am grateful to him and my mother to sticking to their guns.

So much for the stroll down memory lane.

-Here’s to 100 more!

I would like to thank Sue Waters, the EduBlogger, and EduBlogs for the inspiration and platform to begin classroom blogging.

Also, Wes Fryer, Scott McLeod, and Will Richardson, three edublog pioneers, have been HUGE inspirations in this journey.

Now that is cold!


This is what I woke up to this morning to drive my bus.  I think this is the coldest weather I have ever been in.  Keep in mind that I grew up in Florida!

I began to wonder, what the coldest weather on record was for the state of Arkansas.  So, I went to my friend, Google!  This is what I found…

State Record
Date Place Record
Date Place
Alabama 112°F
Sept. 5, 1925 Centerville, Al. -27°F
Jan. 30, 1966 New Market
Alaska 100°F
June 27, 1915 Fort Yukon, Ak. -80°F
Jan. 23, 1971 Prospect Creek
Arizona 128°F
June 29, 1994* Lake Havasu City -40°F
Jan. 7, 1971 Hawley Lake
Arkansas 120°F
Aug. 10, 1936 Ozark, Ar. -29°F
Feb. 13, 1905 Pond, Ar.

*you can find the rest of the data here.

WOW!  I thought it was cold this morning!

By the way, in case you were wondering, Alaska had the lowest (-80°F) and California had the highest (134°F).  The coldest my home state ever got was -2°F (which is the second highest low, if that makes any sense).

Reuters reports about the freezing temperatures, even in Florida, and how it is effecting citrus farmers…

I hope everyone has a safe weekend!