Friday, September 20, 2019

#MyFavFriday - September is Zooming By!

Holy moly - how has another week gone by?  I was looking at my Lesson Plan book today and and it's only like 3 weeks until Fall Break! 

This was another great week overall.  It went super fast, probably because it was packed from top to bottom with meetings, Meet the Teacher night, and a to-do list a mile long! :)  This weekend is shaping up to be a weekend of grading, so if you have any favorite TV binges, please let me know! :)

Now, on to this week's favorites...

My Favorite Warm-Up Activity
This week in Geometry, we've been working on Angles and angle pairs.  One thing that I've noticed over the years is that students struggle with using a protractor and often don't take the time to make sure their answer makes sense.  I found this Angle Game at NRICH last year and decided to do it as a warm-up the day after we refreshed on measuring angles.  The energy in the room was electrifying!  A student insisted I capture the picture on the left when they nailed the angle exactly.  Best part of it all?  I caught one of my students playing this later on in the week because it's just that addictive! :)


My Favorite Downtime Moment
Typically, the Puzzle Table has a puzzle of some sort.  But this week, I put out the little hexagon things that someone from the #MTBoS shared about a few years ago and wow, what a response!  Every day, there were people crowded around the Puzzle Place just to build and play and explore.  My favorite was probably the little fidget spinner / top that a student made as seen on the right side of the photo.  This week, Aldi has some building toys that might show up in the Puzzle Place sometime in the near future - assuming I make it to Aldi this weekend! :)  (Note - I have no idea what these toys are called - I purchased some at the Target Dollar Spot a few years ago)


My Favorite New Technology
This summer, I blogged about a RocketBook hack but it was still theoretical at the time.  It is no longer theoretical and it has transformed my classroom! 

I printed a blank Rocketbook page, laminated it, then cut out the inside.  I then set up the RocketBook app to send files to a folder on my Google Drive that I shared with my students.  Each day, I put the homework and notes inside the frame, color in the correct circle, and the App does the rest!  It pretty much instantly sends the file to Drive and my students have access to the daily notes for when they are absent and complete homework solutions to check their daily work.  This frame just lives on my whiteboard with a magnetic clip and I use my desk as a background surface before taping the work into my notebook.  My kids have responded very well to this and have thanked me for making it so easy to get their notes / homework! :)


My Favorite Lab of the Week
This week in Forensic Science, we were talking about types of evidence - direct vs circumstanstial, physical vs biological, and class vs individual evidence.  We found a lab activity online and modified it for our class. Students had to go from station to station, reading the case file informtion and examining the evidence to classify by type.  In the station at the right, paint chips were taken from a "crime scene" and a paint can was recovered from the suspect's garage.  Students had to determine if the paint chips could be matched to the paint can or not and justify it.  The conversations were so awesome to listen to!  Other stations included footprints, tire tracks, a handwritten note, a torn t-shirt, etc.  Next year, we plan to add a couple more stations like a carpet sample / fibers, tool marks, and bite mark analysis. 


My Favorite Interactions this week

  • Last night was "Meet the Teacher" at our school and one of the best comments came at the end of the night, when a parent stayed after to tell me that her son had come home and told her, "Mom!  You have to follow my math teacher on Instagram!"  The mom is an Early Childhood Teacher and we had a wonderful chat about student engagement strategies and our mutual passion for teaching and learning.  
  • One of my students wrote me a note this week to thank me for emailing their dad a positive note home.  I have started emailing 5-6 parents each weekend with a Student Shout Out and the feedback I've received has been very positive.  :)
  • During a passing period today, a former student was walking by with a friend and got a "high five".  After they passed, I heard the friend say "I got my high five earlier today!"
  • A couple of first hour students were in my room early today.  One of them decided I needed some "pump you up" music and proceeded with a dance party in my room for 30 minutes before school.  It was an interesting mix of music as he tried to find school appropriate songs on his playlist which included "Staying Alive" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"! LOL


How was your week?

Until next time - Happy Friday!! :)



Saturday, September 14, 2019

#MyFavFriday - Good Things are Happening!

How is it already mid-September and I've failed to blog since #MTBoSBlaugust ended???

Back to school this year has been rough!  I LOVE my kids and I've had the same preps for the past 3 years, but we changed our bell schedule this year, so that has taken some adjustment plus very full classes means more papers to shuffle and honestly I'm just trying to keep up on a daily basis!  Good things are happening though and that's the thing to keep in mind! 


My Favorite Homework Response
This year, I am checking HW a bit differently.  In the past, I have taken the first few minutes of class to go over HW but it often seemed like a waste of time.  This year, I am having students discuss their HW at their tables, compare answers, and check with my solutions (uploaded via Rocketbook - OMG, LOVE!!!), while I walk around eavesdropping on their conversations so I know what topics to talk about as a whole group.  I have really loved the conversations that have happened and reading their responses, but I also know that next year I will assign group roles to this to help with mangement and leadership.  Any suggestions on group roles?? :)


My Favorite Exit Ticket Prompt
Back to School brings with it new students, new names to remember, and new opportunities to make connections.  In general, my Friday exit ticket this year has two parts - a "getting to know you" prompt and a "One Good Thing" prompt (shoutout to the amazing @RebeckaMozdeh).  I love this with huge puffy heart loves!  For the Fun Fact, I learned that one of my students is on a Curling team, another student has 9 3/4 fingers, another student travelled Europe last year, etc.  It was such a fun way to get to know something about them beyond the classroom.  The OGT allows us to celebrate small and large victories, from "I survived this week" to "I learned I was a National Merit Semi-Finalist". 


My Favorite AP Stat Activity of the Week
This week in AP Stat, we wrapped up the "Collecting Data" unit with the Distracted Driver activity based on an activity years ago from NCSSM and an AP Free Response question.  The idea was to develop what statistical signficance means plus an introduction to the idea of a p-value and the 5% level of signficance.  One of the things I love about this activity is that it truly builds a deep understanding of using simulated results to know whether something is unusual.  But from a purely human side, it's really fun to watch students try to figure out how to shuffle a deck of playing cards, as game nights were something very common in my family growing up.  :) :)


My Favorite Geometry Activity of the Week
There were so many awesome moments happening this week in Geometry and honestly, we were so engaged that I forgot to take a picture more often than not!!

But one thing that remained the same throughout the week was how much I just enjoyed eavesdropping.  I know that sounds weird, but there were some powerful mathematial discussions going on this week in Geometry!  From students working through an "Around the Room" multiple choice activity from Katrina Newell to arguing over the math in the Wild Wonders Amusement Park to helping each other find patterns in midpoints, the level of collaboration and engagement was one that I just wanted to bottle up and keep for the days that we aren't feeling it.  I could literally watch each child this week as they grew as mathematicians and it was just beautiful.  I know that is sappy, but true :)


My Favorite New Parent Outreach
Last weekend, I ran across this tweet from Lauren Johnson about sending home parent emails each week.  Last year, one of my goals was increased parent communication and I wanted to do more this year.  Lauren's email came and just the right time!  Last weekend, I sent out 6 "Student Shout Out" emails and this morning I sent out 7 more.  I am *LOVING* this idea to just send a quick email to the parents about their child and I have no idea why I didn't do it before!  The responses I've gotten back from parents have been so positive and I just can't say enough good about this method. :)  Thank you Lauren!!!



This was our first 5 day week of the year and I'm exhausted by excited about the fun yet to come!  I hope all of you have a blessed weekend!!

Happy Belated Friday!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Goodbye August!



This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.



Tis the end of another year of #MTBoSBlaugust.  I am so grateful to all of those who participated this year, either through blogs, Instagram, or as a commenter / cheerleader for others!  I didn't post quite as often this month as I had hoped to, but this is post 14 of the month, which is almost more than I've posted in the past year, so I'm counting that as a win! :)

As is often the case, this post is serving as my #MyFavFriday post, even though it's Saturday. :)  To be honest, by the time Friday night rolls around, I'm often too exhausted to post and I am often crashed out on the couch before 7pm.  This week was no exception!  I'm so grateful that it's the holiday weekend so I can hopefully catch up on some sleep and maybe attempt to get ahead for the next week.  I'm not holding my breath on that one though... lol! :)

So here we go... my favorite moments of this week :)

My Favorite Student Comment:
I am trying really hard this year to be better about Exit Tickets and Closure activities.  Right now, I'm still in "Getting to Know You" mode, so the question on Monday was "What is a goal you have?  It could be about this class, your personal life, your future, etc."  This student chose to share their mindset goal for math!

Last week, I tried really hard to impress on the students that they ARE math people and we can ALL improve through hard work.  We watched videos from Jo Boaler's Week of Inspirational Math and did several mathematical challenges to show that speed isn't our goal - understanding is.


My Favorite MTBoS Resource:
In all of my classes, I really try to focus on group communication and exploration before we formalize.  Points, lines, and planes are really tough for students to grasp, even though I know they have heard those terms before.  Before teaching anything about those concepts, I used this matching activity from Katrina Newell as their warmup.

This group really engaged with the activity with "all hands in".  When we started the activity, I did do a quick reminder of what they had worked on the previous week with regard to what makes good group work and how to be a good group member.  This also made a good formative assessment for me plus an illustration of how mistakes help our brains grow.  Looking back, I wish I had repeated the activity a few days later to see if they were able to do it without errors...


My Favorite PD Day:
The Friday before Labor Day has traditionally been a PD Day for our district.  For the past several years, it has also been our District Back to School Rally.

Rally Day is always a fun one because we get to celebrate the start of a new year with our band, a fun surprise entrance from our Superintendent, and usually a great keynote speaker.  This year's keynote was one of the best ones we've had and I'm super excited that two of his books are on Kindle Unlimited, so I'll be able to read them for free with my subscription. :)



My Favorite Quote:
The keynote speaker I mentioned above kept us laughing during the entire presentation, but he also dropped some major truth bombs.  

The quote at the right is from his presentation - our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness.  Think about that for a minute.  Profound, isn't it?

From a teacher perspective, what if we stopped focusing on those little details that drive us crazy about our students and started seeing those as strengths?  As elements that make each child unique and wonderful?  Stop trying to get our students to conform and instead accept the weirdness?  Think about the powerful shift that could take place in our classrooms and our schools.  

This idea really captivated me during the entire talk and I even came home and made hubby watch a couple of the videos I found.  (If you would like to watch one of them, click here)



And there ya have it - my last post of MTBoS Blaugust 2019.  And Happy belated Friday to all!





Saturday, August 24, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Back to School!



This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.



Whew!!!  What a week!  Kids came on Tuesday and I feel like I've been running ever since.  I am hopeful that this weekend allows me to get ahead and be proactive versus the being reactive like I was all this week!

Anyway, I know it's not Friday anymore, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open last night to blog, so we'll pretend it's Friday, k? :)



Student Information Google Form:
I tried something new this year and *I LOVE IT* :)  Before school started, I was on a panel during New Teacher Trainig to talk about classroom culture and building relationships.  One of my colleagues mentioned a blog he had read this summer talking about "A Million Words or Less".  I stole his idea, asked about it a bit on twitter, read a bit more about it, and here's what I did.

Last Friday, before kids arrived, I emailed all of the parents to introduce myself, share about school supplies, and to invite them to tell me about their kiddo via a Google Form.  The form had 6 questions - name, student's name, course, best time to contact the parent, and then two questions about their student - personal and academic.  The responses have been so insightful and I have really appreciated having that extra information as I get to know the students.  I will never start school without this again!  It was a way to establish some positive parent contact plus collect valuable information.


Quotes from Kids:
Throughout this week, I have been *so* impressed by my students!  In Geometry, we watched several of Jo Bolaer's mindset videos and the kids had some amazing insights.  In Advisory, we watched a couple of videos on grit and determination and the reflections were just powerful.

The picture at the left is from one of my Advisory kiddos..

From another Advisory kiddo with regard to playing the guitar:
"No, I was not born with it; I put in the work to get good. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's a struggle. I don't let it stop me. I keep going. That is what made me good."

From a Geometry student: "Math is like... cooking for the first time by yourself, you mess up but you'll learn"

From another Geometry student regarding the Jo Boaler Week 1, Video 5:
"In order to succeed you need to learn and in order to learn you have to make mistakes."


Favorite Lessons:
In Stat, my "go-to" first day lesson is Kristen Gilbert. I have used her since I first read about it years ago in the book, Numbers behind Numb3rs. It's the story of a nurse who was suspected of killing her patients and it has a fabulous statistical side to it! Highly recommend reading about her if you've never heard of Kristen. :)

In Geometry, I love love love 31-derful as a way to talk about Group Norms and that it's okay to make mistakes and try new ideas. This year, I also found the 16 Quadrilaterals task, which was another great task for persevereance. It will come in handy when we look at area and perimeter in the first chapter too! :)

In Forensics, we did a great timeline activity, but I forgot to get a picture of it! :(


So, there's week one in a nutshell. I need a nap... :)


Hope you had a great week!






Monday, August 19, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - A Puzzle and Some Forms



This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.


Today was our last work day before kids come tomorrow!

To be honest, when I left on Friday, I was feeling pretty good.  Then I got to school day and it's like, "Wait, what??? Kids TOMORROW??" and my brain totally shut down and wigged out on me!

So instead of getting my lesson plans done (which I finally finished a whopping 10 minutes ago), I had a flurry of activity getting some forms and such for organizing purposes done. :)

M4M #1 - QBits Puzzle

As you know, I've been working on my puzzle table to make sure I have some fresh puzzles available for my returning students.

I ran across this puzzle last week in one of my Puzzle Books and it reminded me a lot of Panda Squares, so of course I had to type it up! :)

The idea is to put the 16 smaller squares into the grid so that matching colors touch along each side.

If you would like the file, click here


M4M #2 - Forms and More Forms
I'm a list maker... and a form maker... :)

If I can figure out a way to put something into an organized format, I probably will!

At the left, you can see my Student Aide To-Do list, a "Why were you Tardy" note, and a "Please put away your cell phone" note.  I realized after the fact that I should have made the cell phone note into a laminated paper so I could reuse them... Oh well. :)


Now it's time to head to bed... those kiddos will be there tomorrow!! :)  Have a great night all!


Sunday, August 18, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - My Classroom 2019-20



This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.



School starts this week and I *think* my classroom is mostly ready! :)  I still have some work to do on lesson plans, but that's what tomorrow is for, right??? :)

Here's a sneak peek at my classroom:

The Doorway area...

Moving clockwise from the door...
  • You can see the Puzzle Place again :)
  • On the cabinet doors / wall, I absolutely love, love, love the Women in STEM posters I printed from online.
  • On the podium, you'll see the "How to be a Math Person" poster from Scaffolded Math and a Ladybug welcome sign from my mom. :)  (I'm not sure the Ladybug will stay there though... we'll see!)
  • And of course stacks and stacks of textbooks!


Continuing clockwise...
  • You can see the right edge of the Promethean board, but what I didn't get a photo of was the Levels of Questions posters underneath. :(
  • My desk area... it's the messiest part of my room, but I promise it's organized chaos!  I've sectioned off part of the whiteboard to use as a bulletin board.
  • It's hard to see, but I use the window sills as additional shelving.  On the window sill at the right, there are various books, including Patterns of the Universe and a curve-ahedra from @gelada :)

The back corner...
  • You can see the books on the windowsill a bit better here. :)
  • In the corner, you can see the student supply area, although those table buckets and group whiteboards are typically on the student tables.
  • On the shelves below, you can see the file crates where I pass back papers and some various storage areas.  
  • On the bulletin board, you can see the Mental Math Challenge, which is one of my favorite boards ever!  Using 4 numbers, they try to find all of the values from 1 to 24. :)

The view from my desk of the back wall...

Most of what you see here has already been discussed, other than the big set of double doors.

On those doors is the peel and stick whiteboard roll that I got several years ago from Hobby Lobby.  I did not peel / stick it though - I left the back on it and used sticky tack to put them up.  The left panel on each door is for the weekly agenda.  The right panel on each door is for annoucements.

Through those doors is my partner teacher for Forensic Science.  We team-teach that class and have 47 students enrolled this year.  During class, those doors are usually open and kids are moving back and forth betwee the two classrooms.  


Thanks for visiting my classroom!  Hope you have a fabulous day and a great start to the new year! :)

Friday, August 16, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - It's Friday!



This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.



It's Friday and the first (partial) week of school is done!!! :)  We reported Wednesday and it's been a super busy week of meetings, visiting with colleagues, and cleaning / organizing my classroom.

For the past few years, I've done a "My Favorite Friday" post as a way to reflect on the week and to focus on the positive reasons that create our "why".  Last year, I fell off the blogging wagon around mid-October and as a result, there was much of the year that I didn't spend time in reflection and celebrating victories.  I definitely want to bring back #MyFavFriday this year though!

So here we go...

My Favorite Classroom Decoration
To be honest, it's *really* difficult for me to choose a favorite part of my classroom.  From the Puzzle Table to the walls, to my desk area, I'm constantly reminded of my #MTBoS family.  But if I had to choose a favorite new addition, it woud have to be this corner :)

Three things I love in this corner...
1)  The Women in STEM posters are just absolutely gorgeous!
2)  The Puzzle Place got a make-over with new wall puzzles to encourage more problem solving
3)  The "How to be a Math Person" poster finally got printed and put on my podium.


My Favorite Gifts
I received two lovely gifts this week that really shows how well the givers know me! :)

This afternoon, a colleague down the hall brought me this amazing mug and said she saw it and thought of me.  If you don't know me very well, I can easily get stressed and I do love my cats.  In fact, one of my cats came from this colleague and that very cat woke me up this morning at 3:30am and wouldn't let me go back to sleep! :)

This morning, I had a parent stop by with a gift from her son who is now in college.  I was so extremely touched that he took the time to write me a note and send a gift during the back to school craziness when he is getting ready to start classes himself.


My Favorite Hack of a  Hack
My last blog post was about a Rocketbook Hack that I figured out and how I plan to use it in my classroom.

But wait - there's more! :)

That night, I was laying in bed, almost asleep, when I had a "moment".  I literally sat up in bed to share my moment with hubby (who was NOT as impressed as he should have been).

I realized that I could use my Rocketbook frame and assign one of the icons at the bottom to go to a Google folder for Student Work.  Then, as students are working, I could put the frame on their whiteboard, on their notebook, on their notes, whatever and easily send it to my computer / projector and share with the class!  I can't wait to try it with students!!!

Oh - just to note, the laminated page worked fine at home, but had a glare issue at school.  I ended up printing the RB page on white cardstock, cutting out the inside and putting the frame into a non-glare sheet protector - problem solved!!!


And a statue...
The statue at the left is Hector.  I have the pleasure of hosting Hector in my room for the next month as the teacher equivalent of the Spirit Stick. :)  I was awarded Hector on Wednesday as a sign of a "True Trojan" by a dear friend and colleague.

While I don't get to keep Hector, I did want to be able to remember him, so he's now a #MyFavFriday :)


Now it's time for the weekend and some rest before the kids come next week!  Happy Friday y'all!!!