Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Follow up...

I haven't heard back from my son's teacher (who I emailed over 2 days ago). I'm wondering if she'll just choose to ignore my email, which is not what I would advise as a teacher. Just three days left in their quarter!

I'm considering holding back her Christmas present (a Tervis tumbler full of homemade caramel.... what a nice mom I am!).

I was somewhat looking forward to a nice finish-up-December-easy week, but it wasn't meant to be. On Friday our Secondary Curriculum Director called and asked me to work on a new project. The course guide is scheduled to be put online in mid-January so the kids can get ready for scheduling next year's classes (can you believe it's almost time for that?!). He asked me to put together some 3-4 minute videos explaining our new course pathways to help parents see what's going on. As a district we decided to go with the Integrated pathway, which is troubling to a lot of people. We're such a traditional, high-achieving area that parents are freaking out when they see "Math 1" as their freshman's math class. I've got a start on what I think he wants but am waiting for confirmation before I continue.

Yesterday I met with our Curriculum Director (the earlier guy's boss) about a different Math Course of Study project she'd like me to work on. She wants to put together a website for K-12 showing the whole scope and sequence of Common Core math. This one's a biggie!  But luckily no mid-January deadline!  I'm meeting with our Middle School Math coach (who is a friend of mine) on Thursday to get her take on it; she was in on the organizational meeting for the project.

Today I spent some time with 4 freshmen biology classes who are doing research on geneticists; they'll use their information to create a timeline via Timeline JS (If you haven't seen it, check it out! It's really a neat tool that is based on a google spreadsheet.) I showed them a couple of websites (DHMO.org and thedogisland.com) so that we could talk about the validity of websites and always checking multiple sources.  Check out DHMO.org; some of the kids were visibly concerned about it!  :)

Then I shared with them resources we have available to us on INFOhio (a state database). Hopefully next time they're looking for information they won't automatically go to google. But I wouldn't bet on it!

I'm offering to re-do my previous Tech Thursday sessions on Friday during our work day. So far 3 people have signed up. So there's that.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Kids and late work and recess

As my oldest kid gets older and older (despite me asking him to stay little) I find myself struggling with how other teachers run their classrooms. He's in 5th grade now - heaven help me when he reaches high school! And although I try my hardest not to be "that mom", I also feel the need to stand up for my boy. It's the balancing act that I have a hard time with.

So far this year I've been pretty good, I think. I emailed his math teacher after I felt like I had no idea what was going on in class - her response wasn't pleasing, but I can deal. It's hard going from the lower elementary years when we as parents know so much of what's going on to upper elementary, where I feel like I have no idea what they're doing. His teachers very rarely assign homework and only send papers home once a week (on Fridays). I couldn't tell you what he's studying in most of his classes at any given moment. That's tough.

On Monday after school my son told me that he hadn't been able to find the social studies assignment that was due in class that day. I checked the recycling bin outside (that was fun - ick) and luckily found the packet that he was referring to. So he took it to school on Tuesday and turned it in.

The next day I checked and noticed that his social studies grade showed a 70% on the packet. I assumed he'd missed a bunch and left it at that.

Until today's Friday folder came home. The late assignment was in there, graded. His grade? A 95%. But adjusted for turning it in late? 70%. I know I haven't taught math for over a year now, but that seemed like a huge penalty to me. Especially for a 10 year old!

Here's the kicker. They only "do" social studies for part of a quarter and have had a total of 50 points of work. The late penalty dropped my kid's grade 10%. He went from a 100% to an 88% with five days left in the quarter.

Oh - and he had to sit out a recess for turning in an assignment late. For a kid with ADHD, recess is probably a salvation. I HATE that it's held over them as a 'behavior' thing, especially when we're just talking about turning in a paper late!

I can't let this go without registering my disapproval... Here's my draft email to his teacher:

I haven't hit send yet. I can't decide how to close the email up. 

I hate being "that" mom. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Organizing Your Google Drive

You may not know it by looking at my house all of the time, but I like to have things organized.  As a teacher I kept all of my files within folders that were within folders that were within folders. And you know what? I could find anything when I needed to.

Organizing my Google Drive has been a little trickier, and thus is the impetus for Tech Thursday this week.

Here are my tips:
There's nothing like having someone show you their google drive with a list of hundreds of documents. It causes me anxiety (almost as much as seeing hundreds or thousands of unread emails!).

There are three ways to move files into folders:

  • Drag them over. You can select as many files as you'd like, then drag them into the applicable location.
  • Select the file (by clicking on the box next to it). This will create a new menu across the top of your screen. Click on the folder.  This will give you the option to choose where you'd like to put it.
  • If your file is already open, click on the folder at the top next to the file name. This will allow you to choose a folder.
Now that you have folders, you need to be able to find them.
  • Color code. You can change the color of your folders; maybe have different colors for each of your courses? Or make the most-used folders a certain color?  In your list view, select the folder then go to the "More" menu at the top. One of your options is "Change color".
          I don't have a nice organized color-coding 
          system yet. I just like to see a variety of 
          colors for fun.
  • Starring.  I'm guessing you knew you can star emails that you deem important; did you know that you can star files and folders? Check out the star next to the Title. Click on it, then go to "Starred" in your left column. That will bring up any files or folders that you've selected.     
  • Grid view. Within a folder, check out grid view; it will give you a visual of what's in your folder without having to open several different files. I tend to re-use file names a lot (which google doesn't have issues with) so I get confused about what specific file I'm looking for. If I can see the file that tends to help me narrow it down.
Grid view
  • Re-ordering your list. Google Drive defaults to an alphabetical list with your folders shown first. If you'd like to change that order, click on the applicable category across the top. I think seeing "Last Modified" is nice, especially if you're trying to find a recent file.
  • View recent activity. If you click on the little i in the top menu, a new sidebar will open on the right side of your screen. It shows all activity for your documents; a great way to access any files you've used in the past few days!
Even if you're using and organizing your folders, there may still be times when you can't find a specific file. Knowing how to search is a big help. 
  • If you enter in some keywords in the search bar you'll see options populate as you type. Clicking on the magnifying glass will produce a list of files/folders with those words in the title OR in the document itself. 
  • If you click on the dropdown in the search bar you can specify exactly what type of file it is that you're looking for. [It's even better in the new drive, but I'm guessing my peeps here are in the old, so that's who I'm catering to.]

The last couple of items I'm intending to share tomorrow are just comparisons of the old and new google drive. I read yesterday that the major change they made was to add images to file names to make them more easily viewable, especially because people are uploaded so many media files.  I'm still mostly stuck on docs (and sheets and forms) so the visual isn't as important to me.  I still feel like I need to do some research on that, though!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Google Forms revisited

A couple of people mentioned to me yesterday that they won't be able to make my after-school session and wanted to. And then someone else asked if I would screencast it so they could catch up.

Well ok!

That's what I did today... and it's amazing that producing 2 videos (of < 20 minutes each) took me ALL DAY.

Without further ado, Google Forms.
(Is there anyone who actually likes hearing their own voice?)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Google Forms FTW

I do love me some Google Forms!

It's the topic of tomorrow's third installment of Tech Thursday.... here's what I'll be sharing!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tech Thursday follow-up

I ran my second Tech Thursday after school today with some exploration into Chrome extensions and a quick glimpse at Google Add-Ons. I'm happy with the numbers - I had 8 attendees last week and 9 today (3 repeat customers from last week). It's interesting to see the variety of people; today there were two lunch ladies, our ESL teacher, a Spanish teacher, a math teacher, the school psychologist, an administrative assistant, and one special ed teacher.  And the 9th person was a lady who was subbing for our Media Center secretary who wanted to see what we were doing. 

What an interesting group! 

My only difficulty was that I didn't want to show them extensions that would only be helpful in a classroom setting, but I also didn't want to neglect my teachers. I'm hoping I found a good balance. 

I had several people email and say they couldn't make it for various reasons but said they wanted to be there, so that makes me happy too. 

He school psych told me that his favorite Thursday activity used to be eating wings and watching football. Now it's Tech Thursday. (I feel like I should use that on ads for the sessions. :) ) I told him that next week he can eat turkey and watch football and I'd see him the week after for Google Forms. 

Gobble gobble!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

#gafesummit KY

I've spent the past day and a half in Louisville at the GAFE summit in Kentucky. There have been some really great sessions full of ideas and resources. Here are my notes... if you find something you like or have any more ideas let me know!

(The topic sessions are bookmarked, so just click on a link to get to my notes for that session!)
  Or here's a link.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What I'm Doing

My GAFE sessions yesterday went great! At least, that's what I heard from most of the participants. Several people told me that they learned a lot, and others even said that it was the best PD they'd had (this was from multiple people, so it must be true, right? :) ).  They were happy to learn things that they could use immediately.

I have several different random projects I'm working on now:
1. Next week I'm going to spend 4 class periods with one of our special ed teachers. She'd like her kids to learn about and set up symbaloo accounts & webmixes.  (Here's what I have so far.)

2. A science teacher asked me yesterday about the possibility of finding a program they can use to create PARCC-like tests. We have Schoology to do the simpler types of questions (multiple choice, true/false, matching, short answer) but there are other types of interactive questions she'd like to have the kids practice with.  I did some looking and found iSpring QuizMaker (which I couldn't get to download) and EdCite. I thought EdCite looked decent; it has a lot of different question types and was FREE but I'm going to keep looking.

3. A math teacher asked me about the Random Number Generator in the Stats Toolpack in Excel. I'm not a big excel user, especially the stats stuff. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

4. Another science teacher had asked me about the availability of a MathXL-type program that is science (specifically Chemistry) based... I've been doing some searching on that one and found nothing.  I'm going to keep looking, but that makes me sad for the science teachers.

5. I want to check out the new Kaizena Add-On for Gdocs. One of our English teachers is interested in using voice comments while grading papers.

6. I spent several periods last week with different math teachers. As part of the Math Course of Study this year (which I'm participating in on the "tech side" but enjoying the math side too!) we were given a Math Practices Look-For Tool  and asked to observe another teacher or two to try it out. I decided that I was going to try and get to as many math classes as I could, so I asked last week if I could come observe. I really enjoyed being the classroom and seeing what they were doing. I'd like to get to a few more this week, which means I need to check the schedule and see who has what when. I've been checking for the same type of tool for other subjects but haven't been too successful. Yet another thing to add to my list!

So I'm keeping busy!  I also was asked to cover for a special ed teacher today while she had a meeting (there was a note in my mailbox which I didn't see and so I got a phone call telling me about it after I was a little late...). But then I also heard that I will be asked to cover more classes as needed. That makes me sad.  I don't mind helping out but I think it takes away from my role here.  We'll see what happens.

Have you ever heard that one insult can cancel out 10 compliments?  Yep.

Today might call for a milkshake on the way home. Maybe that will help cheer me up.

Monday, November 3, 2014


We have a PD day tomorrow (it's election day, so they don't want the kids in the schools as they're being used as polling places) and I'm leading a session on Google Apps for Education. Because I don't like to just stand and talk unprepared, I threw some information onto a Google Presentation.

I'm embedding it here for your reading pleasure. :)

(Let me know if you have any feedback! Especially before tomorrow!)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Baby steps

I just spent 5 minutes with a math teacher at school. He was excited to show me a story one of his students had written to match a distance/time graph (it was about a crazy sloth who traveled light years to lose weight...). The teacher was telling me that the only problem he had with assignments like this was that all of his students wanted to share their stories out loud in class and it killed the rest of his day.

I suggested that he set up a discussion prompt on Schoology (our LMS) with the graph so that the students could type in their stories and read/respond to their classmates' entries. The teacher was excited about the idea.

Then we talked about using Google Forms (or a Schoology quiz) to ask open-ended questions. Our math department primarily uses MathXL for the Common Core courses, but it doesn't allow for anything open-ended.

What got me most about this teacher (aside from his never-ending enthusiasm, which I LOVE), was something he said on his way out of my office.

"I love getting better."

Don't you wish all teachers felt this way?!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The changing face of the math class...

Have you heard about the new app called PhotoMath?  You can scan over an equation and the app will solve it for you... it will even show the steps in solving!

I added the free app to an iPad that we have available at school, grabbed an Algebra 2 book, and tried it out.  My observations:
1. The app doesn't support hand-written equations. So that takes out the option for the kids to scan their homework. (A teacher here discovered that it won't scan a computer screen either, which removes our kids use of it with their MathXL assignments.)
2. It has a pretty large scanning window which makes it hard to scan any specific equation. And it sees the problem number as a part of the equation, which obviously changes things. (Thanks to Dan Anderson, who informed me that you can change the size of the viewing window, making it more precise.)
3. The app is very quick to show the solution to the equation (I was wondering what kind of lag or solving time there would be) and offers the option to show the steps involved.
4. It appears to only support linear equations; I tried a quadratic, an absolute value, and an inequality with no luck.

So my summation? It's pretty cool but very limited. It would be helpful in an Algebra 1 classroom for a few weeks, but that's about it.

I'm sure there are math teachers scared by this technology... but is it offering anything new that students haven't had available to them before?  WolframAlpha has been around for years and will solve all kinds of equations, including absolute values and power equations. For a nominal fee ($3.75/month for students, $5.49/month for adults) you can even get step-by-step instructions.

And yet if you google "PhotoMath app" it's showing up on a lot of different news sites right now. People see this as another way for students to cheat.

So let's assume that kids start using this app. What can math teachers do to combat it?
1. Stop grading homework. (That's hard for me to say, honestly.) Are the kids legitimately doing it? Or are they googling the answers? Or copying from a friend?  (C'mon, we've all done it.)

2. I've become a big believer in the use of formative assessments; warm-ups, exit slips, quick checks of understanding during class. Make the students accountable for what you expect them to know.

3. Assignments need to change. Don't let the kids' homework tell you what they can do. Make them tell you. Make them explain how they solve a problem. Give them the steps and the answers and make them justify everything.

4. Apply the learning. It took a student-teacher of mine for me to see the light. I like doing the math just to do the math, but most people (especially teenagers!) aren't that crazy about it. Help the kids see how much math they're doing every day without even thinking about it.

Just my $0.02.

(And I can always count on Dan Meyer to put it in words better than I can!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I've been pretty busy at school the past few weeks!

For several weeks it was all about ACT Aspire testing.  As it was the first round of online testing for our kids (around 600 9th and 10th graders), we put in a lot of work to prepare. A good solid two weeks was spent getting directions together to check kids' devices, bringing them to the media center to go through those directions, organizing the school devices that needed to be issued, tracking down kids who were avoiding us, etc

And then came the two days of testing.

Day 1 was a mess. Student devices that we thought would work with the test didn't. Settings on the school network didn't allow some students to access the test. Kids didn't read the directions that the had previously gone through and got confused.

Day 2 was much better. We didn't have the network issues, planned ahead for kids who had previously borrowed a school device, and things ran much smoother. One thing though, was that we loaned out over 200 school Chromebooks for the test... and we were lucky to have that many!

We got some major props from our administration in how we prepped for the test, which was nice. And it's also nice to be done with the online testing. For a few months, anyway!

I've been somewhat busy with teachers; there's a new math teacher at school that is actually interested in what I have to share with him (he's loving the class openers from Bob Lochel!), and another one is going to use the Desmos Carnival today in class. The big kicker is that he's being evaluated and chose to use it; I think that's pretty gutsy! I'm going to his class to help troubleshoot his first time through before he's evaluated.  My fingers are crossed!

I've done some organization in the resources that I'm sharing with the staff. I know it's not the best way, but it'll work for now.

So those are my two steps forward.  And back?
I was told today that one of our teachers doesn't allow devices in his room. He said there's too much cheating going on. So how to get around that?  I need to get better versed in using Turnitin.com... and maybe find some workarounds for him to use. That is, if he'll let me.  That remains to be seen (I've offered before and gotten a big fat no.).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why I don't want my daughter to be like me.

This is where she got stuck and cried tonight - and it's where she stops every night.
She whips through the majority of the page with no problems, but when she gets to that last question that asks her how she did them, watch out! Tonight's episode involved an hour-long dinner break while she calmed down and was able to listen to my questions about her process. 

This is why I like Common Core. Sure, I'm not happy with the testing (I'm sure you can imagine the gasps and groans from the staff at my school when we saw what the kids will have to do this year!) but if you take a look at the Standards themselves and especially the Math PracticesI hope you'd agree. I don't like the drama of that last homework problem but I like that she has to think about what she's doing. 

Would I have liked them as a student? No way. I was one of those "Just give me the assignment and let me start the 50 problems and I don't want to do the group work" type of kid. It worked for me. I made it through all of my schooling not understanding (or caring) about the "why" and just doing the rote memorization of the process. But I don't want that in my kid. I want her to be able to think, to generalize, to look for patterns, to communicate her thinking, to understand why she's wrong. 

And (unfortunately in her way of thinking), this kid's mom isn't going to let her (or her big brother) be like me. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sharing Resources... the Google Site

I spent some time last week messing around with the Google Site that I put together last summer for my school. The original intent was twofold:
1. Give teachers the opportunity to reserve space in the Commons (Media Center) electronically.
2. Share resources with the teachers.

They seemed to embrace the idea of making their own reservations. I thought it would be nice to give them the ability to reserve space (and computers, if necessary) whenever the impulse hit them. Otherwise they would have to email to see if there was space available (and wait for a response) or stop in during the school day. There was no reason for that!  I created a Google Calendar and set up appointment slots with all of our periods listed. They click on the time/day they want and hit save. Voila! The only problem is that they can't cancel the appointment - we have to do it. But I'll take it!

As for sharing resources, well... I don't think that happened so much. I found a way to embed all of my diigo tags on the site so that they would automatically update. I even set up some cute tabs across the top that were subject specific:

I'm guessing that no one ever clicked on one. But I could be wrong (though I doubt it).

On Friday one of the teachers (who is very tech savvy) emailed to suggest I create a repository for all of the resources that I've been sending. She didn't want to lose track of them if she didn't have a chance to check something out immediately.  So I responded, reminding her of the site, and told her I was keeping everything there too. I was able to embed my Google Drive folder of all the resources and how-tos I've put together for them on one of the tabs.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

We have a staff meeting tomorrow; I'm thinking of sharing this with them (again). Just as a little reminder. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Resources, Take 2

I just sent some resources out to the teachers (and I'm excited to use them, too!). I totally agree with the comments that were left on my last post; I'm going to send specific department links to that department only (but I don't think I'll get to it this week... to much little stuff to do).

Need to combine pdf's into one file?  Try http://www.pdfmerge.com/
Need to split pdf's into separate files?  Try http://www.splitpdf.com/
Want to type or write on a pdf?  Try http://www.pdfescape.com/
If you are a user of Google Forms but haven't checked them out lately, you need to! Google has added some fun new themes and added customization. You can now change fonts, background colors, and add your own image to the header. (Go to your drive, then Create -> Form)
On that note, any data that is collected in Google Forms ends up in a Spreadsheet. But I just discovered an add-on called "Save As Doc" that will take all of your spreadsheet data and turn it into a Google Doc.  This converts your info into a much more readable format. (In your spreadsheet, go to Add-Ons -> Get Add-Ons, then search for Save as Doc)

I'm excited to be heading to a math classroom tomorrow to help him with some of the Desmos activities. Woo hoo!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Resources, Take 1

I'm still trying to decide how to share resources with the staff this year....

My first thought is to do a weekly-ish email with resources, both general and subject-specific.  Here's this week's:

ViewPure - showing a YouTube video in class? If you input the url in ViewPure you get a nice clean screen (no ads, no sidebar) to display.

Public Domain Review - a collection of images, books, essays, audio recordings, and films found in the public domain

Plickers - A low-tech way to collect student input. Each student gets a "paper clicker" barcode to indicate their answer. You use your device (android or iOS app) to collect their data. You can even see a real-time bar code of answers and see individual student data.

Flipped Classroom Tools - If you're flipping your class (or thinking about it!), check out these 7 tools.

Random Name Picker - a fun colorful wheel that you can use to randomly choose students in class

Social Studies
Map Making Tools for Students
Assessment Resource Center for History
An Interactive Map of the Napoleonic Era

Human Footprint Interactives

Google Books

Using trendlines in Google Spreadsheets

(If you're wondering, I found these sites either on Twitter or on Richard Byrne's Free Tech 4 Teachers blog.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


My kids' Open House was tonight at their school. It's a great opportunity for them to meet their teachers and see the classrooms before school starts in a couple of days. It's nice as a parent to put a face with a name, too!

After we arrived at the school, I ran into a friend of mine who asked if we'd heard the announcement. None of the teachers were there; apparently they're in the midst of ongoing contract talks and were advised not to show up for this unpaid time.

As a parent I was disappointed and I know my kids were too. As a teacher I'm proud of their efforts to stand up for themselves.

We went to a local chili place for dinner where there were a couple of tables of families talking across the restaurant to each other. The one dad was pretty vocal about how those teachers want $100,000. Heck, four years ago his son's kindergarten teacher made $87,000 for teaching red, green, and 1,2,3. Their pediatrician doesn't even make that much. (Said kindergarten teacher just retired after what I'm guessing is 30+ years and a master's degree. But remember, she only taught colors and numbers.)

And then I came home to find someone commenting about it on Facebook. Most of the discussion was that parents would have liked to have known that he teachers weren't going to be there beforehand because some left work early. Unfortunately, then I saw this and I couldn't resist.

When will the struggle for respect be over?

ETA: I couldn't stop. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

#ISTE2014 Impressions - Take 1

I feel like ISTE has barely gotten started but I wanted to get down some first impressions.

I arrived at the GWCC yesterday a little before noon to register and figure out the lay of the land. I wandered around inside a bit then headed outside - Centennial Park is just down the block. My walk lasted longer than planned when I got caught in a freak rainstorm (seriously, Atlanta?!) and had to take cover for a while. I made it back in time to plant myself by an outlet to charge various devices and then get in line for the first session.

It was an Ignite session in which 13 people talked for 5 minutes (each had 20 slides). It was good for someone with late-onset ADD; by the time I was getting bored it was time for the speaker to change. I enjoyed most of the talks and found several new people to follow on twitter. The place was packed - I'm guessing because it was the first session and nothing else was going on but I got a nice seat up in the balcony.

After that I resumed my search for a comfy chair next to an outlet but had to settle for a patch of carpet. It was close to the beginning of the line for Saturday's keynote speaker, Ashley Judd. Yep, that Ashley Judd. She was billed as an actress and humanitarian, and I am still wondering why exactly she was speaking at an EdTech Conference. (I was reminded last night that she was a fill-in for America Ferrera.) I saw tweets that people had gotten in line 3 hours early, and I swear the line for the keynote was a mile long (in this building, that isn't stretching things that much!). During that wait I had a tweet from Megan Hayes-Golding asking if I wanted to meet up for dinner before our scheduled tweet-up, so I headed out to meet Megan, who so graciously picked me up.

After a quick dinner we headed to Stats to meet with some other math/science peeps. What a fun evening! It was so cool to talk with people that I'd only seen on Twitter, including Eli Luberoff, Rafranz Davis, and Riley Larke. I also made some new friends that I'll be happy to continue to get to know on the interwebs!

After a short night (<6 hours of sleep!) I headed back into the city early. Unfortunately, my phone charger decided that it was tired of working so hard and decided to take a vacation, so I got to go on a nice little tour this morning of stores actually open at 8 am on a Sunday morning that might carry phone chargers. Thank you, Target!

I've tried to get into one session but was closed out, chatted with Robin Matthews (whom I met last night) and ran into Ann Gregson, whom I haven't seen in years. I don't know about the tech aspect of this conference, but the social part sure has been fun!

I'm hoping to actually make it into a session today, but if these crowds hold up I'm definitely not going to be able to even come close to sticking to my schedule!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#ISTE2014 - Coming Soon!

Isn't it amazing how quickly summers go?!

My days have been a mixture of softball, baseball, trips to the pool, and boating on the Ohio River for the past several weeks.  School hasn't been much in my mind, honestly.  But that all will change in a few days!

On Friday I'm heading down to Atlanta, Georgia, for the #ISTE2014 conference. I'm pretty excited - I've heard that it's a great place to be (and I'm also getting the chance to not be "Mom!" for 6 days). I downloaded the conference app on my phone and iPad and a couple of weeks ago started going through the sessions to get an idea of what I wanted to see. Tonight I thought I should start to get my "Must Pack" list together along with a more concrete idea of how my days could go.

My problem?  There's TOO MUCH I want to do!  I started making a list in a spiral notebook but it was getting out of hand so I turned it into a gdoc. Hopefully this will be a nice way to keep my notes (and links and whatever) all in the same place.

If you'd like to follow along, here's my "schedule". I know it's not going to happen but I'd rather be over-prepared than under!

And you know it's not going to be all business! I'm meeting up with some friends on Saturday night (can't wait to see @mgolding again!) and heading to the Braves game on Monday night... wearing my favorite Reds shirt, of course!

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Year Later.

Last year at this time I was really excited (and nervous) about starting a new job at a new school. So how did it go? (Because I didn't do well at blogging during the year.)

It was ok. Not great, not horrible.


  • I met a lot of nice people. I made some new friends, especially the ladies I worked with closely every day.
  • I had a lot of time and freedom to do what I wanted - I explored, I researched, I looked for ideas for people.
  • I had a lot of time to just help out. Need someone to attend a meeting? I'm there. Need someone to check out a tool and write directions?  Got it.
  • The lack of grading/planning at nights and on the weekends was amazing.
  • At the end of the year I was surprised at how many kids I recognized and knew, even from just checking in/out books and computers.
  • I realized that I can do more than teach math - that was definitely something I was worried about. Over-confidence is not one of my problems.


  • I missed my old colleagues and friends. There's such a feel of community at that school that I didn't get at the new one... and it's totally possible that it's because I'm new. I often attended happy hours with my old peeps, which was a mixed bag. It was great to see everyone and catch up but it mad me sad to hear all of the fun stuff they were doing.
  • It was harder than I imagined to get people interested in making change and using technology. I realize that people "don't have time"  but that excuse can't last forever.
  • I missed "my" kids. Even though they change every year. 
  • I missed teaching! I offered to take a class if there was a "leftover" but it didn't work out. That made me sad.
So what's up for the future? I don't know. I'm definitely staying put for the next year - I refuse to flit from one job to another after one year because things aren't perfect. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Testing Wolfram Demonstrations...

I'm working through some of the "Technology in the Secondary Math Classroom" resources that I put together for a workshop session I did a few years ago. The plan is to present it again this summer, and we all know that there's no need to re-invent the wheel. So I'm tinkering.

I haven't messed with Wolfram Demonstrations (if you haven't played with them, please do! They were a lifesaver for me when trying to show kids what a vector projection really did)  for a while and was happy to see that they now offer the ability to embed an interactive demonstration. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work in Schoology, so I'm going to give it a shot here; I don't know if it's user error, Schoology error, or Wolfram error.

It worked! But I only realized that after it posted. Happy to see it, but I wish I could figure out how to get it to go in Schoology.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Embedded Formative Assessment

We had some wifi issues at school this morning (no fault of our own, actually!) and I decided it was a good time to break open Embedded Formative Assessment, by Dylan William. I've heard a lot of good things about the book on twitter and got a copy of it a few weeks ago.

I'm a big reader, but I don't pay a whole lot of attention. With a book like this I wanted to make sure the time spent reading it was valuable. So what I decided to do was take notes as I read. Then maybe other people will get something out of it too!

Let me know what you think! I'm excited to get to the applications/ideas part of the book.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

We're back!

After an extra-long winter break (16 days scheduled plus 2 "cold" days when the temps were below zero), today is my first day back at school. I arrived to find everything in my office upside down and big paper flowers with my face as the center taped to my window. You gotta love co-workers (who have to be here on snow days)!

I plan to be much more intentional about taking time to find resources for my students. I feel like I started out doing that this fall and then fell off the wagon. So today I opened up my tweetdeck and am checking out the #sschat column to see what interests me.

1.  What You Get When 30 People Draw a World Map from Memory  (Mine would be horrible... how about yours?)

2. Student Projects on WWII - Choose Your Own Adventure

3. American Memory Timeline from the Library of Congress (A collection of primary sources)

4. An interactive map that illustrates the Jamaican slave revolt in the 1760s

5. 21 Top Websites for Social Studies Teachers

6. Wealth Inequality in America (YouTube video)