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...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Let the freakout commence!

So far this summer I've seen quite a few changes...

1. Hubby and I are buying a new house. It's only 3.7 miles away from our current one, but it's got more land and a huuuge garage for him to hide out in. And a place to put all his stuff.

2. Which means we are getting the current house ready to sell. Kinda. I feel like I'm in limbo; we have so much stuff that we don't feel like we can list it with a realtor so I think we're going to wait until we're in the new house until we put this one up. And it's too early to pack, so I've just been purging all the stuff we don't need. Amazing how it collects.

3. Although we're staying close, the kids will be going to a new elementary school. They're good with it (now), and I found a babysitter for them so I'm good with it too.

4.  (The biggie...) I am officially back in the classroom! I've been waiting for the dominoes before me to fall before something opened up, and yesterday it finally did. I'm going to be back at my former school teaching math. Not quite sure what yet, but the open position was scheduled for Math 3, AP Stats (ack!!) and a blended learning version of Math 2.

So all of that time I've had the past two years to read and gather ideas will hopefully help me out. Unfortunately, my brain is a crazy place right now where I try and figure out how exactly I want to do things. The kids and I went into school today and took some of my stuff... I even rearranged the desks into groups of 4 before we left - that was a given.

Otherwise, here's what I am considering:
A. Not doing the formal Interactive Notebook. I'm strongly considering requiring the kids to have 3-ring binders with looseleaf paper. Much more versatile. We can still keep components of the INB without being stuck with the comp notebook (I found that scaling down to it was a pain.).

B. Creating a document for kids to do their warm-up problems on, then collecting weekly. Some accountability is helpful for those who think it's just free time. (I just threw this together. Now I need to think about it and make sure it's what I want.)

C. The constant collecting/grading of homework is always something I'm thinking about. I know that a lot of #mtbos'ers are in the same predicament, so I really need to dust off my blog reader and see what's going on. I saved one of Sam's posts about how he does homework (here), and I'm pretty sure Elizabeth addressed it too (found it!). (If anyone else has created the perfect system, can you please share?)

Going back to school today and starting to set up my classroom was fun but weird. But I'm so excited to be back!

I'll just need to remember this when it's October and I'm already tired of grading. :)