Monday, June 26, 2017

Student/Parent Survey

I just spent an hour or so revamping my beginning of the year student survey.

For the most part it's the same. I do it via a google form because I love having a spreadsheet of their answers! So I ask the basics - name, grade, class, parent name and email, previous math classes, etc. I also ask what some of their thoughts on math are:

This year I added a part 2.  Using FormMule (a google sheet add-on), I'm sending an automated email to their parent once the student submits the form.  Just a nice little welcome. The cool thing is that using FormMule, I can customize the email a bit. It will enter both the student's name and class where indicated.

Here's the email the parent will receive:

You'll see at the bottom of the email a link to a Parent Survey for them to fill out if they'd like to give me more information about their son/daughter.

I'm finding that as my own kids grow up (my son will be in 8th grade this year!) I appreciate all of the information I can get from their teachers. So hopefully starting the year with this will show my student's parents that I'm open to communication. And if I can get my act together, I'd like to send out emails throughout the year with information about what we're doing in class. Maybe at the start of each unit?

We'll see!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Desmos part 2

I woke up to a parent email the other day.

Not only is it summer right now (so I don't have any students), but this was the parent of a student I'd had in class two years ago.  This parent happened to be reading Education Week and ran across an article that I was interviewed for a few weeks before school was out.

(Did you think that non-teacher parents read that? I didn't.)

I was flattered that they thought to send the link to me, especially since the author had promised to but hadn't yet (she did later that afternoon).

And not only was I mentioned often in the article, but my picture was on the top!  Crazy.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

If this is what summer is going to be like... (Desmos part 1)

The first two weeks of summer have been quite a whirlwind!

On January 12 I received an email from an old college friend and classmate, Bob Batty. Bob is currently the Pk-12 Math Specialist for Darke County (Ohio). He'd been talking with another college friend, Scott Mitter, a teacher and department head at Kettering Fairmont High School about running a one-day conference for math teachers about using Desmos in class. They were wondering if I would want to jump in and help. And thus the Southwest Ohio Desmos Institute was born.

We put out a request for speakers and got an amazing response. After setting up a tentative schedule of sessions varying from a Graphing Intro to Creating Your Own Activities to Applications in Your Classroom on a google site, we opened up registration. We thought it would be good to cap attendance at 200 because of the facility (Scott offered to host); I don't know about the other two, but I never thought we'd hit that number.

And yet hit it we did. We even had to set up a waiting list!

There was an awesome variety of attendees...

(The big blue piece is the "I can spell Desmos" group. Apparently Dan isn't tweeting anyone for ideas.)

I'm not going to say that we didn't have some problems on the day of. Of course there were some tech issues (aren't there always?!), the building was in summer-cleaning mode and so the bathrooms were a little hard to find, but for the most part things went great.

We had a 10-minute intro to start the day, then two 75-minute sessions. Scott had arranged for some food trucks to arrive for lunch (that was cool!) and then we were happy to have a Google Hangout with Dan Meyer as our "keynote".  People were pretty excited to see him!  It's not every day you get to see a math "celebrity". :)  We finished up with two more 75-minute sessions.

Of course there are things that we would do differently (if this happens again). But for 3 math teachers to organize this I think we pulled it off pretty well!

And the feedback seems to agree.
(I have to say, I looked to see what the person who ranked the day as a "2" said. The complaint was that the day only addressed using Desmos for math, not for other subjects. I don't feel too badly about that because we only billed it as a way of learning how to use Desmos in a math classroom. The person didn't leave any feedback about individual sessions.)

Scott, me, and Bob post-conference

(Scott even had shirts made!)

So we'll see what happens next summer... or maybe during the school year?