Tuesday, September 1, 2015

And more lessons...

I thought my Math 3 kids were doing well on the characteristics of functions (domain, range, increasing, decreasing, intercepts, end behavior, extrema) until I gave them a little check today with an online "quiz" that I'd built.

And now I know the truth.

Sure, some are doing great! But a lot more aren't and are trying to hide behind the kids answering the questions.

This just shows how important it is to do intermediate checks despite how a class "feels".

Formative assessments, anyone?

The grading is great online for matching, multiple choice, and true/false questions. But I wanted to see the kids' notation, so I left the questions as short answer. More of a pain to grade but so much more evidence!  So glad I did it that way.  With almost 90 kids to do this for though, that's going to be something I'll really have to consider in the future.

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Lessons from the first 2 weeks of school

1. There are a lot of details about starting school that you don't remember until you do it. Seating charts, health plans, IEPs, basic organization. I think I have it down now.

2. Whatever I plan for Math 1 or Math 3 is going to take 2 - 3x as long to actually accomplish in class. It's good that I'm writing my plans for the week in dry erase marker on my board so it's easily editable. And I use google calendar to keep track of my long-term plans, so it's easily movable.

3. Days go amazingly quickly when you're busy from 6:50 am to 3:00 pm.

4. Telling kids that I'm going to let them be responsible for their cell phone use (or lack thereof) in class is one thing. Them following through with that is another.

5. Kids are not shy about emailing at all hours of the day. Especially at 11:00 the night before an assignment is due.

6. I have to put exactly what is due on Schoology (our LMS) each day; if I just say it in class there are students who get confused.

7. There's nothing like back-to-school tired.

8. The feeling of having a former student come to my room saying "I missed you!" and giving me hugs (3 of them) is amazing. That's what makes #1 - 7 worth it!

Monday, August 3, 2015

If I didn't have Adult-Onset ADHD before this summer, I do now.

I made a list the other day of all that I want to get accomplished in the next 13 days. Because that's when summer as I know it is over.

Those tasks ranged from packing boxes and picking out paint colors for our upcoming move to figuring out what to take camping this weekend to packing the kids for their 9-day trip to Niagara Falls with my parents to figuring out exactly what I want to do in Math 1 and Math 3.

No biggie.

I sat down the other night to try and figure out this whole Math 1 General thing. It's technically the second half of Math 1 (for those kids who needed it spread out) but I think we all know that these kids haven't mastered the first half yet. And being that I have no idea what their EOC test will look like (because of Ohio's recent removal of PARCC from the docket), I feel like I have a little leniency. (Is that spelled right? Because it doesn't look right but it doesn't have the little red squiggle underneath it showing that it's spelled wrong.)

We don't technically have a book for the class, but I have a copy of Pearson's Math 1 that I'm going to use as a guide. Although I love not being required to do a specific set of sections, I feel like I have an outline to merge with my Pacing Guide.

So my plan is to start the year with the following topics:
I'm thinking we could spend a quarter of the year on that. While I might feel guilty about not doing what I'm "supposed" to, I think these topics are the backbone of any math class the kids will take in the future. So I'm making myself ok with it.

I haven't done a whole lot more with Math 3, except that I talked to a friend of mine who taught Math 2 last year. She's the teacher who tries her hardest not to do any school work over the summer (which is foreign to me) and I had to apologize profusely to make her get back in school mode. I'll make up for it with chocolate in a few weeks. :)  I was curious about how much they got to last year in terms of quadratics and was relieved to find out that she factored, solved, and graphed. Again, that doesn't mean that it "stuck" over the summer, but I think a nice little quadratic boot camp will be sufficient.

Oh, and I spent some time editing my foldable. Hopefully the third time's the charm!  (Here's a link if you'd like it.)

And because it would make too much sense to work on either of these classes tonight, I've been thinking about how I'm going to do my warm ups/exit slips. I tweeted out a query:
I've gotten a nice variety of responses, plus a suggestion to mix it up. That's what I think I'll do, especially at first when I'm trying 'em out in real time.

And another on the generosity of the #mtbos: Mary Bourassa is sharing her documents of warm ups. That's what I call generous. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I need 3 more months of summer. For realz.

I took off with my  kids to Florida last week for a last-minute vacation. And to escape reality for a few days.

But now I'm back and have a lot of work to do.  (Oh, and we're buying a new house and moving in the next week or so.)

I have a lot of decisions to make; things that used to be natural or "easy" decisions now seem harder. Maybe it's because I haven't had to make them for a couple of years now?

What's big on my mind right now:
1. I'd like to incorporate some of the Mathematics Vision Project's materials in my Math 1 and Math 3 classes. I'm thinking more about the Math 3 at the moment because I have 3 of them and it's going to be harder to make them more inquiry based. I'm tempted to just go straight through the MVP Units but I think I'll try to merge them with the Math 3 book we have available (as a teacher edition).

I started by making a list of the MVP topics and am trying to match them up with topics in my book. I have them in an excel spreadsheet so I can sort them to my heart's content.  I really like that MVP has an "honors" level - I think I'll be able to pull in a bunch of them to my Precalc class, too.

2. How (if) I want to do the requiz option this year. I like it for the Math 1 kids; I think it's really important for them to "get" these topics before moving on to Math 2. This Math 1 class is actually the 2nd half of Math 1, but my plan is to revisit solving equations and graphing lines pretty hard before moving on to anything that relates to the second half of Math 1. I don't know that these kids would take advantage of requizzing but it needs to be an option.

3. Notebooks. I'm not stuck on the idea of using a composition notebook - the smaller size gets annoying. What I'm thinking is that I'll have the kids use a 3-ring binder and looseleaf. That keeps it much more adaptable - we can add things in like an INB but have the flexibility with looseleaf. If that makes sense.  It does in my mind. :)

4. I'm going to use Sam's idea of folders for each table group. Even if I don't get them pre-stuffed with materials every day, it would be a nice easy way to turn in materials and help me keep a little more organized. So now I just have to decide if I want to have one color per period or have a rainbow of colors. I'm thinking one.

And then there's a lot of random little things
  • I need to get new pizza boxes for barriers when the kids take assessments.
  • Do I want to make copies of my pre-made notes for the kids or just post them online? That way some kids can write it all out (if they'd like), some can download and use their computers (we're a BYOD/1:1 mashup), or I can have some copies available in class.
  • I need to buy fans. I'm not sure where mine disappeared to and the school doesn't have a/c.
  • I need to print and laminate my SMP posters.

BTW - it was announced today that next year's Twitter Math Camp will be held July 16 - 19 at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. You should go! Just don't take my spot. :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


With another gloomy rainy day, the kids and I headed into school for the purpose of grabbing a book that I wanted to bring home.

But after a quick stop at Walmart (I found a cute little string of chalkboard flags and grabbed a black tablecloth) then Target (I found orange tape and a sign that I forgot to take a picture of), there was plenty for me to do in my room.

And the kids had their kindles, so they were totally entertained.

I worked on the walls a bit.
I started with this (how did Seiler stare at this for the past year?!):

And left with this:

I obviously need to get another black table cloth to finish it up. And then search for some cute orange borders for the bulletin board.

And then put stuff on it, of course.

On the other side of the room, my boy and I measured and marked closely and ended up with this assignment board - love the orange tape!
And then I found out that I'll actually have 3 different preps in the room, so I'll have to adjust the spacing. I'm going to put Monday through Friday across the top, plus a "next week" column. Each row will then represent a class.

I checked in with one of our assistant principals and found out the actual classes I'll teach - CP Math 3, General Math 1, and Honors Precalculus. There was a possibility of teaching AP Stats (and I was freaking out a bit about it) but a coworker of mine has taught it before and wanted it back.  Phew.

I spent a few hours this afternoon working on Math 3, and I'm feeling pretty good about it. Much better than a few days ago, anyway! I've gotten courses started on Schoology (our LMS) and old stuff populated and organized a bit. I might actually be ready when school starts! 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Getting started planning

I'm still not sure if I'll be teaching AP Stats or not, but I will have 3 sections of College Prep Math 3. My district went with the integrated CCSS pathway, so Math 3 is the previous Algebra 2 course that also includes some geometry and statistics (and trig - yay!).

The bad:  It's never been taught before at the College Prep level and we don't have books.

The good: I have a chance to create my own course, guided by the standards and the pacing guide (that I put together this spring). So that's fun! Albeit a lot of work.

We do have electronic access to Pearson's Math 3 book, and we use a program called MathXL that the kids can use for customized homework problems. They can even take tests/quizzes on it.

After looking at what was covered in Math 2 (a lot of geometry with some quadratics at the end of the year), here's my plan.

1. Start with a Parent Function foldable.  I want the kids to see the basic types of functions we'll be working with and learning about. I don't know if I can make 3 classes worth (85 kids?) using card stock, but it would be nice if the kids could keep them all year to add to and use as a resource.  I'd include linear, quadratics, cubics, square root, cube root, and absolute value functions. Probably not in that order.

After spending an embarrassing amount of time creating this foldable, it's done to my current satisfaction.

(Here's a link to the basic format if you'd like it. I just copied the one page back to back and upside down 3 times to make the six different pages.)

2. After going over the functions, we'll rewind back to linear and quadratic functions. Solving, graphing, etc. We'll also talk characteristics (increasing, decreasing, maxima, etc) and add that to our foldable.

I also started looking for some Math Practice posters to put on my pretty bulletin board and wasn't happy with anything I found. So I made my own! They have the standard, some more student-friendly tips, and key vocabulary. They're pretty plain, but I'll probably put an orange background around each. Again, here's a link to all of them.

ETA:  I couldn't stand it... I redid my Math Practice Posters.

And then there's a second page for each with the practice in more student-friendly terms.
I feel better now.

Friday, July 3, 2015

With a new classroom comes new decorations!

I'm super pumped that my new classroom has a bulletin board. Because I'm a geek like that.

But with a bulletin board comes a responsibility. It needs to be filled!

I picked this up at Walmart months ago because it was $.10 and I was feeling hopeful that I might need it someday. Looks like that was a good buy! It won't fill the whole bulletin board but I'm pretty sure I can find a simple black (or orange, the school colors) one to fill the rest. And a border, of course.

I've pinned a lot of stuff on Pinterest that I need to go back to. Here's my classroom decorations collection. Lots for me to sort through!  I love this "Be Who You Are" board, "Instead of I Don't Get It. . .", "Transform Thinking", "Teachers Definition of Talking", and pretty much everything else on there. It would also be fun to get some math involved... comics, graphs, etc. I'm sure I have some of those pinned too!

I have a set of two whiteboards in the front of my room and two on the side (where I'm going to put my desk). I like the idea of posting a schedule for classes so kids (and I) can see what's coming up for the week. I saw this board in a school I was nosing around in while my kid was at baseball camp one day and liked it. Though I don't think I'll include that second section in.  And I'd probably try and find some cute tape to use. I see a lot of those patterned washi (?) tapes at the store.

I'd also leave some room for me to be able to jump up and do a quick tutorial for kids. That could go in the blank section.

Now if only the AP Stats were as easy to figure out as decorating the room...