Let’s Get Radical!


Kudos to you all for your hard work and discipline throughout this year!  You truly are a great group.  It’s time to get Radical; no, literally….you will be continuuing your study of exponents this week by simplifying the reverse of the square exponent- the radical or the square root.  So where should you be?  Well, if you had your yellow belt for at least a week or so, you should be working through the 2nd Part of the Orange Belt- simplifying Radicals.  Most of you are expected to take the Orange Belt Advancement this Friday!  So, study up.

Other things happening this week:

  • Balloon Cars- you and your partner are designing your balloon cars and building starts this week.  So, I hope you all are talking about what parts you need to build and plan to bring into class.  I’ll have some supplies but certainly not all supplies.  Think about making your own parts like with the laser cutter, or 3d printer.
  • Stanford MOOC- you should be working through this and it is due this Friday.  You will finish the MOOC and then write a 100 word reflection about what your learned and things that struck you.
  • Reflection Journal Math/Science- I rolled this out to you yesterday.  It is a way for you to reflect on your learning and growth as a student throughout the year.  It will provide me and your parents to hear your thoughts to various prompts and project reflections. So, make sure to share it with your parents.

****Lastly, grades are in full effect and if you notice that your are not passing….I have two words for you: Math Lab.  Come to math lab (afterschool tutoring) to see what the heck is going on.  Usually, it comes down to 2 things:  1.  You need to pass an Advancement  2.  You have a 0 for a single or multiple homework grades (due to that didn’t turn in, I don’t have it or something else).  Moral of the story….you need to take the initiative and seek me out to figure out what is wrong.

Just do it….Be Radical!

Mr. Holmes

Rolling on….Be Ready!


We are rolling on this week after a great first project that we wrapped up last week: The Eye of the Beholder.  I’ll have some pics of your ‘eye’ soon but all did a great job!  Hopefully, you became aware of how you learn and took our work on percents/parts of a whole to apply to your circular eyes.

Now, we are rolling on from the Yellow Belt of Fundamentals to the Orange Belt of Exponents.  This week we have moved into a block schedule where we hit the math hard in the morning and in the block, we are moving on to our next project:  Balloon Cars.  We had some fun measuring our velocity last week and now, you will take your engineering know-how and study of Kinematics (how things move) to build the fastest ballloon car.  You and a partner will build a car following the project protocol sheet outlined here.ballooncarsprotocol

This week, you will be researching and planning your balloon car design and next week, you will start building.  So, let’s get ready to roll on…haha!

A few housekeeping items:

  • if you earned your Yellow Belt last week, you should be working on your Orange Belt Scroll (that was given out this week).  You will take your Orange Belt Advancement next week.
  • If you did NOT earn your Yellow Belt last week, you can come afterschool to retake or wait till this Friday to retake your Yellow Belt….so be ready!
  • Stanford MOOC- due next Friday, Oct. 1st.  Keep watching and completing the reflection questions at the end.  Make sure to create a Google Doc to record your FINAL REFLECTION at the end of the course- Share it with me.

Things are moving quickly and if you ever have any questions about your work or work that I return to you….please see me or email me.

That’s it for now,

Mr. Holmes

Keeping Pace, Be Mindful


Can you believe we are already into our 4th week of school?  We are wrapping up our Eye of the Beholder Project with one more day to add the finishing touches to Eye Models.  Along with this project has been the application of Part of a Whole where you converted your Multiple Intelligence assessment to the 360 degrees eye models.  Many of you retook your Percents Advancement on Friday and you’ll know how you did on this advancement tomorrow.  Mastery is the Key!  If you need more help, stop by the math lab any day after school to clarify your misunderstandings and as always, do your reworks.

This week we are working towards our Yellow Belt Advancement on Friday!  All should be keeping pace by working on the Yellow Belt Scroll Part 2- evaluating expressions, distributive property, and combining like terms.  Therefore, to be ready by Friday you need to work through page 23 tonight….make sure to read through the information provided on the Distributive Property.

Starting on Wednesday, we will launch our next project:  Balloon Cars.  This project will kickoff a 3 project series called  The Fast & The Furious where will embark our science unit on physical science and physics….its all about putting things in motion.

So, manage your daily work including your Yellow Belt Scroll work and doing some work on the Stanford MOOC course.  It will all seem a little fast and furious so keep pace and as always, ask me questions and help when you need it!

Good Luck,

Mr. Holmes

We are taking courses at Stanford! Math Course!!


Yes, you will be taking a course at Stanford (it’s just one of the most premier colleges in the country)…. How to Learn Math: For Students (click this link for access).  This is called a MOOC….Massive Online Open Course.  The purpose is designed to help you develop some different ideas about math.  The course is managed by Jo Boaler, a renowned math education professor.   You should have already registered for the course in class….you will register and then look for courses and make sure to click on How to Learn Math:  For Students.  Then once you are in, click on Courseware and it will take to the course.

What will you do?  It has a table of contents or menu at the top….see here:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 6.40.57 AM

You will click on the first topic “Lesson 1” and then watch the videos, read and write a response when prompted.  At the end of each major chapter, you will be asked to write a longer reflection.  When you finish the reflection, copy and paste what you wrote into a Google Doc entitled  “Name Stanford Math”  and share with me.    You will have approximately 4 weeks due Friday, Sept. 25th to complete the course.  But, you need to do at least a topic per week to stay on track.

I hope this helps and we will discuss some topics throughout in the interim.

Good Luck!

Mr. Holmes

The Yellow Scroll has been Unleashed!


It is full swing into week 2 with the start of your first Yellow Belt Scroll:  The Basics.  You will be covering the essentials of numbers and operations including Rational and Irrational, operations, square roots, and simplifying algebraic equations.  Today, you received 1/2 of the scroll and you need to have completed up to page 5 by WEDNESDAY!  Remember, you only have to complete the EVENS! (the odds are for extra practice, if you so desire it or if you don’t pass your first advancement).

We are talking norms for math learning and I hope you are seeing that we will be interacting, taking notes, sharing thinking and having whole class discussions to make sense of all this.

For your brain training, work on the Yellow Belt Scroll and you should start working through the Stanford course How to Learn Math.  We will start working on our Problem of the Week tomorrow plus jumping into our first project:  The Eye of the Beholder.

Do your training Grasshopper,

Mr. Holmes

Cranking it up….Our first Homework (or Brain Training)

Ok Students,


Let’s crank this up!  You have your first Homework assignment due tomorrow.  It is the Syllabus Grade Calculation.  Homework is really just practice or training for your Brain which is why I call it Brain Training.  In each of your assignments and in our projects, you do have the option of taking on the Deeper Dive.  You have one on the grade calculation and I gave out the St. Ives problem on Wednesday.  The Deeper Dive pushes your thinking more on the concepts we are studying.

You also are now logged onto computers and your Gmail account.  Now, that you have that going; check your email and register for the Stanford University Account called How to Learn Math I gave you some directions in your email about how to register.

You should have also seen the email on how to register for Google Classroom where I will send out assignments, and helpful hints on how to do the Homework.  Please join google classroom.

There will be more digital learning resources to come so be prepared to check your email daily and use it as a resource to complete work, push your thinking and learn.

**Remember, Friday is P90X Workout…..”Do your Best & Forget the Rest”  X-treme Team!

Welcome Back! “Is this Math?”

Welcome Back and Welcome to 8th grade!

The first day back is always filled with nervous anticipation both for students and teachers.  Today was an indication of great things to come.  We have an incredible team of talented, driven and most of all engaged students.  We started the day with a game of Rock, Paper Scissors “Evolution” style and the tone is set that the 8th grade year is a time of transition to a young adult where independence, freedom go hand in hand with meeting your responsibilities.

We jumped right into the work of math/science by reviewing the essential expectations and students tackled some tough problems right on Day 1….in fact, noting from some student’s observations: “Is this Math?”  The question was prompted from some intriguing problems that pushed their critical thinking and problem solving skills.  It is indeed the essence of math- a combination of critical thinking, sharing thoughts with others with some essential mathematical know-how.  There will lots of challenging problems and the point is to make your brain work, think and sort out things.  Students immediately saw the benefit at making math visual, communicating with others and collaborating in order to “make sense” of the math.  Making sense is the bedrock of all higher-order thinking and I was glad to see all jumping into the work immediately.

The syllabus was sent home for student and parental review so please make sure you look through it.  It outlines the coursework, grades (yes, we do have grades), key expectations and course materials needed.  I am asking that each student have a scientific calculator as well to support their computational skills…..See below…just a basic one…NOT GRAPHING!  This is about $10 at a local wal-mart or target or office supply store.

Above all else….students must have at least a pencil and a spiral for class!!  That is essential!!


Looking forward to a great year….and I have office hours after school if you ever need to see me or feel free to email me for further questions!