AP Euro at The Met, NYC

The Met is an AP Euro toy box. There are so many works of art and artifacts on display that it is impossible to take it all in. If you’re a student of AP Euro in NYC, the Met offers an opportunity like no other to see history in the textbook with your own eyes.

There’s the suit of armor of Henry VIII of England:

Standing wider than other suits on display, this monarch gained a few over the course of his turbulent reign.

Henry Tudor went from this:


To this:


There is also the parade armor of Henry II of France:

The extraordinarily ornate design of the armor is simply incredible, clearly not to be used in battle or even in jousts. Speaking of jousts, seeing the suit of armor of Henry II brings one eerily close to this monarch’s demise. Henry died during the celebratory joust after the signing of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis.

From France-Pub.com:

“Henri II, aged 40 in 1559 decided to organize a huge tournament for the celebrations of these two unions. During the hot day of the 30th of June 1559, the largest street of Paris was transformed in a joust place where population and nobles alike admired the finest knights jousting.

The Young lion will overcome the older one,
On the field of combat in single battle
He will pierce his eyes through a golden cage,
Two wounds made one, then he dies a cruel death.

( Century 1, Quatrain 35 )

Henri II’s wife, Queen Catherine de’ Medici fervent admirer and protector of the famous prophet Nostradamus had heard the predictions of threats against the royal family and the King in particular. Near the end of the tournament, while the crowd was already leaving, the chivalrous King Henri decided to show his valor by jousting. The Queen, feeling that only misfortune would come out of this urged her royal husband not too put his life at risk. But the monarch who had taken a lion as his emblem heard none of it and decided to joust with the colors of his mistress Diane de Poitiers.

The opponent, Count Gabriel I of Montmorency, the captain of the King’s  Scottish Guard also had a lion as his symbol. The young Count who was not very enchanted to face his sovereign had no choice but to joust. In a hurry, the monarch had not closed the visor of his helmet and de Montmorency’s lance ended in the eye of Henri II. A piece of the lance was even stuck in the King’s head and with him fallen on the ground, a general panic invaded the street. The best royal surgeon, Ambroise Paré ( whose work was a great improvement in surgery and anatomy ) was called to the side of the agonizing King. Soon after, Felipe II’s own doctor Andreas Vesalius arrived from Brussels to Henri’s side. Not knowing how to remove the piece of wood stuck in the head, Paré was authorized to reproduce the wound and train on the head of several men previously sentenced to death and executed for the occasion. Despite the horrible fate of these men and the work of two brilliant doctors, Henri II of France died ten days later the 10th of July 1559 after a long and terrible agony in the Hôtel des Tournelles ( actual Place des Vosges in Paris ).

Henry II’s shield is also on display:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met is so gigantic and so filled to the brim with artifacts from every time and place that navigating this ocean of treasures of history is not a simple task.

The interactive map here will give you a general idea of where things are.

First floor (Technically not the ground floor, even though it is the floor where the main entrance off the street is, because you’ll walk up many stairs to enter the museum. It sure feels like the ground floor.):


Second Floor:


As you can see from these screenshots of the two floors, Europe is right in the center of the museum.

Walking through the galleries from 600 to 644 on the second floor, you will clearly comprehend the stark changes that occurred in the world of painting over the course of a few centuries. From proto-renaissance to renaissance to baroque, romanticism and realism, classifications that for many high schoolers are a little more than vague, are clearly felt by the museum visitor as he or she switches from one room to the next.

If you live in NYC and are studying AP Euro, a visit to the Met is simply a must!

PS. Many are unaware that admission price to the Met (and many other museums in NY) are a suggested donation. You can give a quarter for the ticket to one of the greatest museums in the world.

AP Euro Video List – Age of Exploration

Video list for the AP European History course unit The Age of Exploration:

History of Navigation

Columbus – History Channel



Ferdinand Magellan – BBC

AP Euro Videos – Part I

Feel free to watch some or all of these videos to add additional color to all those things, people, events we study in class:


Crash Course

Crash Course


The Medicis

Birth of a Dynasty

Secrets of the Most Powerful

Renaissance Art

BBC – travels with Vasari

Northern Renaiasance

BBC Albrecht Durer


PBS – Empires Special

Part 1

Part 2

English Reformation

Henry viii – mind of a tyrant

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

Part 3: 

Part 4: 

Maker Faire New York 2015

The  ‘Greatest Show and Tell’ on Earth is once again coming home to NY! And once again it will take place Saturday and Sunday September 26th and 27th. In other words, not on a school day!! 

I  expressed my utter disappointment about the scheduling last year. I still fail to understand why the organizers would not stay open another day on Monday and allow wider access for students, many of whom cannot afford to pay the event’s exuberant entrance fee!!

But to make matters worse, this year’s date is particularly inconvenient for Orthodox Jews. September 26th is a Saturday, and September 27th is eve of Sukkot. In other words: sadly, no Maker Faire for us this year, even if Monday is added to the menu.

To the rest of you out there: if you have not been, definitely go; the World’s Maker Faire is a spectacular event!

Algebra 1 Common Core Regents Exam

 In this post, I’d like to discuss the Algebra 1 exam from the June 2015 regents exam administration. Not the old Integrated Algebra exam, but the new Common Core exam. That’s not to say that the strong criticism which is to follow is leveled at ‘Common Core’. In fact, I am a big fan of the general idea and the educational shifts that underlie the Common Core standards. A bad test can be designed within any standards, and this Algebra 1 exam was a bad test. What’s additionally unfortunate is that in these early stages of Common Core implementation, when the fate of Common Core is not yet certain (NJ, for example, just changed their mind about it), one would think it more prudent to design a test that would not serve as yet additional evidence for Conmon Core critics that the whole idea is a bad one.

But let’s move on to the test itself.

Where should we start?

Let’s look at the last, six point question first. 

This question is testing a student’s ability to use a graphic calculator. The equation uses fractions that cannot be calculated accurately without one. Except that this equation, if not absolutely properly entered into the calculator, will yield very wrong results, and thus causing the student to lose most or all of the points on this most valuable problem of the exam. Is there truly a need to use such fractions? And that, on the last problem of the exam.

Most students taking this exam used all of the three hours allotted for it. That’s three hours of continuous concentration! And then you come to the last, most valuable problem, and they give you numbers that are prone to throw you off!

But wait, that’s not all!

“The goal post is 10 feet high and 45 yards away.” The entire problem up to this point was presented in terms of “feet”, but here they sneak in “45 yards”! Again, when a student has been struggling for three hours straight, it is very unlikely that he or she will catch that switch. Dear test designers, next time try “CTRL I”! Would it be so difficult to italicize yards? By the way, most math teachers I spoke to, overlooked the yards in the problem.

A Letter From A Math Teacher Regarding the Common Core Algebra 1 June 2015 Regents Exam

I came upon a letter from a math teacher to the parents of her students that perfectly summarizes how I feel about the recent Common Core Regents Exam in Algebra, and I am reposting it here just to say: “ditto”.

Dear Algebra Parents, 
The results from this year’s Common Core Algebra exam are now available and have been posted on the high school gymnasium doors. They are listed by student ID number and have no names attached to them. The list includes all students who took the exam, whether they were middle school students or high school students.  

I’ve been teaching math for 13 years now. Every one of those years I have taught some version of Algebra, whether it was “Math A”, “Integrated Algebra”, “Common Core Algebra”, or whatever other form it has shown up in. After grading this exam, speaking to colleagues who teach math in other school districts, and reflecting upon the exam itself, I have come to the conclusion that this was the toughest Algebra exam I have ever seen.

With that in mind, please know that all 31 middle school students who took the exam received a passing score. No matter what grade your son or daughter received, every student should be congratulated on the effort they put into the class this year. 

Although everyone passed, many of you will not be happy with the grade that your son or daughter received on the exam (and neither will they). While I usually try to keep the politics of this job out of my communications, I cannot, in good conscience, ignore the two-fold tragedy that unfolded on this exam. As a parent, you deserve to know the truth.

I mentioned how challenging this exam was, but I want you to hear why I feel this way.

Let’s start with question #24, which was a multiple choice problem. 30/31 of my students missed this problem. Why? Because it was a compound inequality question, which is neither in our curriculum nor is it found anywhere in the modules. As a matter of fact, this is a topic that was previously taught in Trigonometry.

Or how about #28, the open response question that required students to subtract two trinomials, then multiply by a fractional monomial? While that may sound like Greek to some of you, what it means is that there were several steps involved, and any slight miscalculation on any step would result in a one-point deduction on a problem that was only worth two points in total. 

Additionally, the only 6-point problem on the test was a graph that used an equation so ridiculous that it didn’t even fit well on a graphing calculator. The list of examples like this goes on and on.

Additionally, students were met with the toughest curve I’ve ever seen on a Regents exam as well. Typically you think of a curve as something that will add a few points onto every student’s exam to account for the difficulty level of that exam. All Regents exams have some version of a curve or another, and while this curve did help the lower-performing students, it also HURT the highest-performing students. For example, a student that knew 94% of the exam received a grade of 93. A student that knew 86% of the exam received an 84. When you look at the class as a whole, only two students met the “85 or above” that they were striving for all year long.
As if that isn’t alarming enough, let’s look at the difference between a grade of a 70 and a grade of a 75. You may look at those two and think that they are just five points apart, right? Well the way the scale works, a student who knew just 47% of the material got a grade of a 70, while a student who knew 71% of the material got a 75. Therefore, a student who got the 75 may have actually gotten almost 25% more of the exam correct than the student who got the 70! This creates one of the worst bell curves I have ever seen. 
Now let’s put that into perspective. The old-style (Integrated) Algebra exam was also given this year to a small subgroup of students. None of the middle school students were eligible to take this exam. However, were I to apply the curve that was assigned to that exam (which was a MUCH easier exam), a student who knew 78% of the exam would be given a grade of an 85. All in all, over half of the class would have gotten an 85 or above had that scale been used instead!

Let me sum up what the last three paragraphs really say: the exam did a serious disservice to your child and will be reflected in their grade. It’s not a fair representation of what students knew, what they did all year, or what they were capable of. There is nothing that your son or daughter could have done to have been better prepared for this exam. Words cannot describe what an injustice this truly is to your child.

So instead of just sitting back and accepting it for what it is, I’d like to offer you the best that I have. I’m willing, I’m ready, and I will be running review sessions free of charge this summer prior to the August administration of the Common Core Algebra Regents. This will be open to any student who wishes to retake the exam. We will take a look at every question that students missed on their individual test and talk about why they missed them, in addition to reviewing topics from the school year. We will also take a look at some of the wording that showed up on the exam for the first time that likely threw off many students. It’s the least I can do for students that worked so hard during the year. They should not be penalized for the state’s ridiculous examination.

I know that this has been an extremely long email, but I hope you understand the importance of what I had to say and that you can be proud of your son or daughter no matter what grade they received. Although I had promised that this would be my last email to you, expect one more with information about tutoring and the date of the August administration of the Regents. Thank you for listening.

NMS Math Teacher

Revolution in Education

“The question is what experiences PROMOTE the kind of THINKING required for learning.”

Yes, the job of a teacher is not to “teach” but to make learning happen! The tools in the teacher’s toolbox are just that … tools. A good teacher – not unlike a good handyman – has a variety at his or her disposal; tools that are best suited for the task at hand.