Saturday, April 19, 2014

In case you haven't noticed...

... I've been a bit absent on the blog-o-sphere. I know I don't have a ton of readership, but I feel horrible for not blogging and every day that goes by makes it easier to put it off for just one more day. :(

It's been a rough semester and there are 6 weeks left to go. I am having an awesome year in general and I love my classes and students, but 3 preps plus the other supervisory positions that I have are all adding up to too much on my plate. I am ready for this summer, even though it will be just as busy with the AP Reading, AVID training, and TMC14.

But enough whining... I want to talk ramble about #EduRead! :)

This past Wednesday, we met on twitter for a trial run of #EduRead, which is a weekly twitter chat where we read an educational article and discuss it. You can see the transcript and article on the #EduRead blog.

The article was about writing in math class and I really enjoyed it. I am very intimidated by the idea of writing, but I would definitely like to do more. On my drive home this week, I spent some time thinking about how I could incorporate writing in my classroom. I know I really want to do a better job with Exit Tickets next year, so I'm really looking forward to the #EduRead discussion on Exit Tickets on 4/30, but I know I won't be able to read those on a daily basis. I do think that a 3-2-1 on Fridays might be doable, and if it's a quiz/test day, they can do the 3-2-1 on the test/quiz paper. Maybe I need to come up with a 'schedule' for each day of the week so I don't have to do too much thinking about what to do each day.

One of the other things mentioned in the article was a portfolio. Several years ago, I created a "How To" notebook for my AP Stat classes, but I never could make it work the way I wanted to. I think it might be useful for my AP Students to have some sort of portfolio, but I'm at a loss of how to make it work. One of the former AP Calc teachers at my school using to do a "How To" type notebook that actually inspired mine and she loved it for calculus. She gave the students a list of topics, then gave them a prompt to fully answer for each topic. When I tried it, I was very disappointed in the student output, which led to me giving them something to copy down instead of doing it themselves, and I know that's not a good solution either. Of course, now that I'm thinking about it, it reminds me of earlier this week when students were working on some review material. I was so impressed with how they were using their class notebook to go back and look for the information from this fall, so maybe their portfolio is actually their INB? *Mind Blown* If that's the case, maybe I need to incorporate some writing assignments into the INB like the 'clock questions' and the 'parent review page' from some of the AVID training

So... Many... Thoughts...


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Crossposted - #EduRead - Trial Run - April 16, 2014

Crossposted from Read..Chat..Reflect..Learn!

#EduRead will officially start on April 23, but since the book chat for Powerful Problem Solving (#ppschat) wrapped up a week early, we are doing a trial run this Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 8pm Central.

This Week's Article:
This week we will be reading the article 'Advanced Math? Write!' from the November 2002 edition of Educational Leadership. The theme of the magazine was Reading and Writing in the Content Areas and this article presents an easy to implement way to encourage writing in the math classroom.

About #EduRead
If you would like to submit an article to be read, please click here!

How it works:
1. Each week, we will post an article to be read here on the blog and publicize it on twitter using the hashtag #EduRead

2. We will have a weekly chat to discuss the article on Wednesday nights at 8pm Central.

3. If you choose, during that week, feel free to publish a blog post reflecting on the article or how you applied it to the classroom.

4. If you blog about the article, please post a link to your blog post in the comments section here so that we have an archive of blog posts relating to that week's article.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

#EFAMath Challenge

So I kind of failed at writing my #EFAMath Challenge post by Thanksgiving... sorry about that! :) This year hasn't been my best one blogging wise. I need to get back into the habit! I think I have to agree with Megan that writing a #180blog has really taken its toll on this blog. I am going to *try* to be better. I know I do better when I have challenges, so if anyone wants to post a blog challenge for me to try... (#mathmeme, Tina??)

Here's one of the strategies I tried as part of this challenge...

Red, Yellow, Green
Over the summer, I had posted about purchasing red, yellow, and green cups from a local party store and then posted again about putting them into my group buckets, but I had never actually TRIED the strategy until recently. As AVID Coordinator for my school, one of my weekly duties is to write an email to share best practices with my district and so near mid-October I shared the Red/Yellow/Green strategy the teachers in my district. The email mentioned several ways that you could use RGY, including the cup idea that I had yet to try. The next day I received an email from an entry-year teacher (that I happened to have taught about 10 years ago) and she was gushing about how much she loved the strategy and that she had used it during her observation lesson and the principal also loved it. Okay, that's it, time for me to put my thoughts into action and try it as well. A few days later came an opportunity to try the cups...


Now I understand why the entry-year teacher gushed about it! The use of the cups let me immediately gauge how groups were doing without a need for me to be constantly eavesdropping and swoooping in to save the day! One student even said "Teacher, we need the cups to be a permanent part of group work!!" Even when the students don't have cups on their desks, they will raise their hand and say "Red Cup Alert!!!" LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

For more on the Red/Yellow/Green strategy, read the entry on my #180blog - Day 64

Sunday, December 1, 2013

TMC14 Speaker Proposals

We are starting our gear up for TMC14, which will be at Jenks High School in Jenks, OK (outside of Tulsa – map is here) from Thursday, July 24 through Sunday, July 27, 2014. We are looking forward to a great event. Part of what makes TMC special is the wonderful presentations we have from math teachers who are facing the same challenges that we all are.

To get an idea of what the community is interested in hearing about and/or learning about we set up a Google Doc ( It’s an open GDoc for people to list their interests and someone who might be good to present that topic. If multiple people were interested in a session idea, he/she added a “+1” after it. The doc is still open for editing, so if you have an idea of what you’d like to see someone else present as you’re writing your own proposal, feel free to add it!

This conference is by teachers, for teachers. That means we need you to present. Yes, you! What can you share that you do in your classroom that others can learn from? Presentations can be anything from a strategy you use to how you organize your entire curriculum. Anything someone has ever asked you about is something worth sharing. And that thing that no one has asked about but you wish they would? That’s worth sharing too. Once you’ve decided on a topic, come up with a title and description and submit the form.

If you have an idea for something short (between 5 and 15 minutes) to share, plan on doing a My Favorite. Those will be submitted at a later date.

The deadline for submitting your TMC Speaker Proposal is January 20, 2014. This is a firm deadline since we will reserve spots for all presenters before we begin to open registration on February 1, 2014.

Thank you for your interest!

Team TMC

Sunday, November 10, 2013

#EFAMath Challenge

One of my favorite parts of the #MTBoS is reading a book and discussing it with other math teachers. This past summer, we read Embedded Formative Assessment and I can honestly say that it was one of my favorite books of all time. If you would like to see our archive of chats, look HERE

With that said, it's time for an #EFAMath Accountability Challenge! Sometimes it is easy to be gung-ho about an idea over the summer, but once the year starts, things fall by the wayside. It's time to fix that!

The Challenge
Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to select at least once Formative Assessment strategy, try it out in your classroom, and blog about it before Thanksgiving. Then, tweet the link with the hashtag #efamath and/or post your link in the comments here.

If this Challenge goes well, let's continue with a monthly (or twice monthly) challenge. By the end, we'll have a great source of strategies to try!

Challenge Accepted.... Are you with me??

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Comparing Distributions in AP

One of the toughest topics for AP Stat students is the idea of comparing distributions. I know this is a tough topic for them because it consistently shows up on the AP exam and students consistently make the same error... they don't COMPARE the distributions! Most of the students have been taught to describe a distribution using Shape, Outliers, Center, and Spread (SOCS in my classroom), but the *compare* part is a struggle for them. This year, my partner teacher and I decided to try something new to help students with this topic...

The Setup
We had already taught this topic, but from previous years, I knew that students would forget. We had worked problems in class, they had a homework problem the night before on comparing distributions, and we had talked over and over about how important comparative language was. We had done "notice/wonder" but decided to reinforce it differently this year....

The Stations
Since this topic has appeared on several AP exams, I pulled 4 of them to use as questions in class. I intentionally chose problems with different kinds of graphs (dotplot, boxplot, stemplot, and histogram) and asked students to compare the distributions. I set 6 minutes on the timer and away they went...

(I love these plastic frames! I have them in portrait and landscape. They are on my "must-have" classroom list)

After the timer buzzed, we traded problems and they repeated the process.

Time to Grade!
We graded the problems one at a time. Each time, I projected an "ideal" student response from the AP Central website and conducted a whole class discussion on why that response was scored "Essentially Correct." Each student was given a Peer Grading paper that Partner Teacher created and asked to grade their partner's paper and give them feedback. Honestly, if I had a bit more time, I would have created some "less than ideal" papers and walked them through how I wanted them to grade the paper in more detail. Maybe next time! Overall, it was a good experience on writing legibly and checking for the required elements.

The "Real" Assessment
When I graded the quizzes for that chapter, I actually left this question for the last because in the past, it has been a real weakness of my students. I am so pleased to report that of the 95 students, only a few students forgot to write using comparative language (higher/lower/wider/narrower/etc). This is such a change from previous years that I truly feel this activity was a huge part of the difference.

Overall, I was very pleased with this activity and need to figure out how to use it more often. Thanks to my #efamath friends for encouraging me this summer to use more strategies like this! :)

Being Intentional is HARD!

If you follow me on twitter, you might remember that one of my goals for this year was to "Be Intentional". In fact, I even submitted that as my actual goal for my principal/evaluation process. After 9 weeks of school, I can officially tell you that "being intentional" is hard work!

Explain please!
This summer, after reading Embedded Formative Assessment and Teach Like a Pirate, I knew that I wanted to make sure that every decision was carefully thought out, making sure that I spent time planning activities for maximum instructional time and having a better idea of where my students were on a daily basis. In some ways, I've been successful, but in other ways, I've been an utter failure!

Progress Report - 1st quarter
  • 180 blog - This summer I really wanted to make sure that every day, I was doing something photo-worthy in my classroom. Some days this works out really well, but I've had too many days where I forgot to take a photo. On the upside, there have been very few days where absolutely nothing is worth a photo! Overall, I would give myself a C+. When I do remember to take a photo, I often forget to blog it. :(

  • Integration of AP questions - This has been an utter failure. It was my hope/dream to use my ABCDE cards on a daily basis, integrating AP level Multiple Choice and Free Response questions and I've failed. I've done a couple of each, but overall, I would give myself an F on this topic. Maybe this quarter will be better.

  • Warmups - Last year in AP, I wasn't extremely happy with how I did warmups. I had them pre-printed and students turned them in each Friday for feedback. I did like that it was a spiraled review for students, but for many kids they copied their neighbor's work and lost the benefit that was there. This year, I am being very intentional about the Warmup activity that I choose. Sometimes it's a problem from the previous day, sometimes it's an introductory activity, sometimes it's some practice AP questions, but each day (for the most part) is very intentionally chosen to fit an instructional purpose. I would give myself a B+ or maybe even an A here.

  • Homework - This year in AP, I've redone how I do Homework. I swear, every year I have a different policy! :) This year, I chose to do Problem Sets that go with each Learning Target. Other than I sometimes forget until the last minute, I do overall like how I've done Homework this year. Again, I think I've earned a B+ or A.

  • Classroom D├ęcor - My classroom is beautiful this year and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. My biggest disappointment so far is that I'm still missing the "Evidence of Learning" that I really wanted to be displayed by now. I'm still trying to figure out how to handle this. When you walk into my room, you do see a comfortable environment, but there's no student work displayed, which is disappointing. Overall, I give myself a C.

  • Whiteboarding - Another utter failure. I need to figure this one out. I've read the posts, but need to figure out how to implement it. Another F. :(

  • Formative Assessment - To be perfectly honest, I need to go back and do some more reading on EFA. I've done better with exit slips than ever before, but I've not kept up with FA the way I wanted to. This really needs to be a post all its own... In fact, I think that shall be my next post! Overall grade is a C.

  • Blogging and Twitter - This is another weakness. I know that I need to read blogs and interact on twitter because I grow professionally when I do these. However, my reader has almost 700 posts and more bloggers are popping up daily thanks to the #MTBOS challenge. I can go days without reading Twitter because the time just isn't there. I need to find time for these vital communities. I give myself a D- here.

    Overall Grade - C
    Thankfully I use SBG, so this grade isn't final (YET) :)

    Shout out to @kathrynfreed for the topic of this post! :) Thanks for making me blog!