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Highlights from Vacation Week

April 17, 2020 pm30 10:31 pm

New York City Public Schools just finished spring break. Except we didn’t get a break. In my school we taught, but went easy on kids. Most did fewer lessons, fewer assignments. I ran discussions in three categories: games/puzzles, discussion of the world and how we are doing and how’s the world doing, and math – review or enrichment. Three sessions (half an hour each) and no outside work, and your week was done.


  • I advised myself and everyone to “go slow” – and I followed the advice this week, and I shared it with students.
  • I learned that in my school, among my students, the idea of Pass/Fail grading is not very popular –
    which I only learned by engaging students in real conversation. A lot.
  • Monday, conversation veered to the feuding between the Mayor and the Governor. I offered that it was inappropriate. One student, a political junky, offered that no, it was incredibly entertaining, and was a nice diversion from the regular news.
  • I learned several new logic puzzles, including a bunch of liar/truth-teller ones, and beautiful wolf/sheep multiple point of view logic puzzle (I love those).
  • I extended deadlines, and when kids asked for more time, I asked how much more they needed, and gave it to them, and offered more help.
  • I offered extra math, and some kids really wanted more…
  • For the first week since this started, I did not fall further behind on grading. I caught up a little.
  • Now I’m considering how to blend more discussion and less assignment into my teaching for the duration.
  • I’m reeling from the number of people I know who got sick, and the number who died. And this thing has not hit me nearly as hard as it has hit others.
  • I advised myself and everyone to remember those we lost, not to just move on. This week I made a point in some discussions of remembering a professor, John Horton Conway. I shared a story. I showed them Randall Munroe’s tribute. And I asked them to play with Conway’s Game of Life.
  • I got outside every day. I got in two hikes. I startled a grouse, who returned the favor. I found beaver tracks. I looked into the next state.
  • I wrote thank you notes to a couple of former students who are now health care workers.
  • And I wrote, every day.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    April 18, 2020 pm30 2:04 pm 2:04 pm

    Can you post a link to the logic puzzles or liar truth teller or wolf/sheep puzzles? i would love to see them and use them with my students

    • April 18, 2020 pm30 8:22 pm 8:22 pm

      You see my five go to multiple points of view questions? (I have linked them through the phrase “I love those” in the text). A kid suggested that there was a similar problem involving wolves and sheep – and I found this: I also found other versions, but I like this the best, and will adapt it.

      As far as the liar/truth-teller problems, it was a page of 6, and, alas, I cannot find it – but good news – I cannot find it because the internet is LOADED with them. They go way beyond Smullyan. I liked what I found because the later problems could only be solved by:

      Assume A is true. Show that this leads to a contradiction. Therefore A is false.

      which is a line of reasoning I would like my students to feel more comfortable with.

      If you find anything you particularly like, please share!


    • April 18, 2020 pm30 11:49 pm 11:49 pm

      I found the Liars/Truthtellers activity I used:

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