Sunday, August 31, 2014

#MTBoSChallenge - Week 3 - Sunday Summary



Welcome to the #MTBoSChallenge! 

Each week there are two options:
  • On Saturdays, you can choose to blog on a weekly prompt.  This week's prompt wants you to share classroom photos!  I love looking at other people's classrooms!  Go check out the awesome and amazing posts submitted this week at Middle School Math Rules.  No worries if you didn't blog yesterday, you can still submit your post using the linky at the bottom of her post.
  • On Sundays, you can choose to blog a Sunday Summary of your week.  The idea for the Summary is to provide you a way to reflect on the past week and share what you are looking forward to this coming week.
Feel free to choose either option (or BOTH!), add it to the linky on the host page and don't forget to tweet it with the hashtag #MTBoSChallenge as well!

Now on to my post for the day...

My Sunday 3-2-1 Summary

3 things that happened this week:
  • I figured out the basics of Canvas.. YAY!  Now to start tackling the bells and whistles.  Much thanks to @lbburke for her help!
  • I finally found some clothes.. DOUBLE YAY!  I met my weight loss goal this week, which was exciting, but I was super happy to find some clothes!  After going from store to store to store last week with no results, I was so excited that I found some great stuff this weekend at Goodwill!  YAY for thrifting!
  • I really enjoyed my classes this week.  I love listening to kids as they discuss while doing a Card Sort! 

2 things that I enjoyed this week that were not school related:
  • My sister came into to town last weekend.  I rarely get a chance to see her because she lives in an RV and travels the USA working at nuclear power plants and such.  We went to dinner and had a grand ole time chatting and enjoying each other's company. 
  • A student from last year came by to see me and bring me the book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  She wanted me to read it because it had a lot of math in it and felt I would enjoy it.  I read it yesterday, it was quite interesting! 

1 thing I'm looking forward to this week:
  • Our area Math Teacher Circle starts back up this week!  I get to spend Thursday evening doing math with @mathequalslove!  YAY! :)

What is YOUR Sunday Summary?  Add it to the linky below!










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Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Thoughts On Homework

I don't like it...

At all...

But that's my opinion and I know I am in a minority for most teachers. :)

Over the past couple of weeks, I've received some emails from fellow AP Stat teachers with some suggested blog prompts and one question in common was regarding Homework and how I handle it.

I've tried about every possible Homework method... grading for completion, grading for accuracy, Homework quizzes, and every other idea I've read and I hated them all.

My philosophy is that if I use my time in class well, very little time should be needed outside of class.  My class is active from bell to bell, with very little downtime.  I have the opportunity to work with my students for over 250 minutes a week... that's a lot of learning time! 

Do they have "outside of class time" requirements?  Sure!  They need to study for tests and quizzes, work on some projects, come in for tutoring if their grade falls, etc, but I don't assign traditional Homework.

Here's an example of how my class works from this week:
Monday/Tuesday - we worked on the JellyBlubber activity to learn the different sampling methods.  Students took samples using each of these methods and graphed their averages on the board.

Wednesday/Thursday (Block Day) - We started class with a card sort of 32 sampling designs that they had to sort into the 7 sampling methods.  Great discussions happened during this time and the ideas from Mon/Tues were solidified.  We did some reading/writing in our Chapter Reading Guide to summarize what we had learned. We did an AP problem on Cluster vs Stratified to further clarify the differences between those and did a Gallery Walk to read how others explained the differences in the two methods. 

LONG WEEKEND... We had a PD day yesterday plus Labor Day weekend...

Next Tuesday - Our warmup will be a problem set with 10 sampling designs that they have to identify.

Why do I do this?  It's the idea of the Curve of Forgetting...

If I had only mentioned Sampling Methods on Day 1, then never again, the student retention would be low because it only went into Short Term Memory and quickly forgotten.  However, by reinforcing it on the Block Day and again next week, and then again when we study for the Unit Test, it moves it into Long Term Memory and each time the amount of "remembering time" is reduced.

I don't assign traditional Homework because I don't want them only to see the concept on Day 1 (and that night), never to see it again.  I use "Problem Sets" most days as a warmup so that we get that 24-hours-later boost in memory instead of using those problems for traditional Homework problems.

I also don't grade "Homework".  The grade in my class comes almost entirely from tests and quizzes.  That way, the kid that doesn't need as much practice isn't penalized, and since most work is done in class, I get higher completion rates than I did before.  :)

All in all, I'm happier without the "Homework" beast and my students and parents are happier, and to me, that's the part that is really worth it! :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

#MTBoSChallenge - Week 2 - Sunday Summary



Welcome to the #MTBoSChallenge! 

Each week there are two options:
  • On Saturdays, you can choose to blog on a weekly prompt.  This week's prompt asks about your favorite professional books.  Go check out the awesome and amazing posts submitted this week at Middle School Math Rules.  No worries if you didn't blog yesterday, you can still submit your post using the linky at the bottom of her post.
  • On Sundays, you can choose to blog a Sunday Summary of your week.  The idea for the Summary is to provide you a way to reflect on the past week and share what you are looking forward to this coming week.
Feel free to choose either option (or BOTH!), add it to the linky on the host page and don't forget to tweet it with the hashtag #MTBoSChallenge as well!

Now on to my post for the day...

My Sunday 3-2-1 Summary

3 things that happened this week:
  • Students arrived!  It was a great first week of school, although my feet and legs hurt!  #IBelieve it is going to be an AMAZING year!
  • I LOVE my Exit Ticket Jar!  This was definitely a "win" for Made4Math!  While planning my lessons, I just flip through my Exit prompts to select one for the day.  It makes the integration of Exit Tickets sooooo easy!
  • Week 1 of "WICOR-izing" my classroom was successful!  I was able to integrate writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization, and reading every day!  I am nervous that I won't be able to sustain this, but I'm going to try!

2 things on my to-do list:
  • Shopping!  I have lost quite a bit of weight over the past 18 months, which means I don't have many clothes that fit!  (Sidenote.. where are your favorite places to shop on a frugal budget?  I've been really struggling to find things I like this year!)
  • Setting up Canvas!  Our school went 1:1 and we adopted Canvas as our Learning Management System.  I haven't even touched it yet..  (Shh, don't tell my principal!)

1 thing I'm looking forward to this week:
  • A four day weekend!  On Friday, we have a "Professional Day", which consists of our yearly Welcome Back Bash where each school in our district competes for the Spirit Stick.  We also have inspirational speakers and we award our yearly Vision of Excellence awards.  It's a great way to start the holiday weekend.

What is YOUR Sunday Summary?  Add it to the linky below!









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Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Week Recap

Kids came back to school on Tuesday and we hit the ground running!  By the time Friday rolled around, I was exhausted!  However, this exit ticket answer really validated my efforts this week:


(This is going to be a long post.. sorry about that, but I really want a record of the activities I did this week)

My Theme for 2014-15:
Every year, I find a quote to guide me that year.  This year, my focus is on student engagement, active learning, and formative assessment.  After I find the perfect quote, I make it pretty and then put it in a photo frame next to my computer.  This year's theme:


I keep this quote next to my computer in order to have it close by when planning lessons.  I also share the quote with students so they can help keep me accountable.

Day 1:
When students walked in on Tuesday, there was a post-it pad on each table.  Instructions on the board asked students to take 6 post-its and answer the questions around the room.  I picked up the post-its at Dollar Tree.  They were packs of 4 different colors, which worked out great since I have 4 periods of AP Stat this year!


The 6 prompts said:
Qualities of a good teacher...
Qualities of a good student...
My goal for this year is...
This will be my BEST year of math because...
I learn best when...
Mrs. T can help me best by...

After completing the post-it activity, students created their nametag, which helps me learn names, get to know something about them, and provides a way to do exit tickets for the first week.  Our main activity of the day was the Kristen Gilbert story, which is a great way to get kids excited about statistics.  By the end of the day, my feet were killing me, but what a great first day!

Day 2/3:
Our school is on a modified block schedule.  On Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, we see all 6 classes for roughly 55 minute periods.  On Wednesday and Thursday, we see 3 of our classes each day for 100 minute classes and our Advisory class. 

When students walked in, they had to locate their nametag from the day before.  Each day, I randomly place them around the room so they can meet new people.  I teach in a very large district and this is a way that I can make sure that students get to know the other people in our class.  Overall, I believe it aids in classroom community, even though it makes it very challenging for me to learn names! :)

We spent the first 45 minutes or so setting up our notebooks.  During this time, we also talked briefly about the syllabus, my classroom expectations, and I shared with them my theme for the year.  I told the students to hold me accountable for more student DOING and less teacher TALKING. 

Then we were off to Chapter 2.  Each chapter, I give them an "information sheet" with the essential questions, the vocabulary for that chapter, and some reading questions from the textbook.  The students numbered off in their groups 1-4, then each person was assigned a question to answer by skimming/reading the text. 


After about 5 minutes, students got out of their seats and went to an assigned corner to talk to the other students with the same assigned question.  This allowed the students to feel more confident that they had the "right" answer before going back to their original groups to be the "expert" on that question.  This was a great way to incorporate the textbook without being overwhelming and it provided students a way to get up and move/talk with peers, thereby restarting their brains for learning.

Back in their home groups, they shared out the answers to each question, then we discussed them as a class.  We took a few clarifying notes on the "Ws" and then we were back to the students "doing" instead of me talking. 


Each group received a problem where they were asked to identify the "Ws".  The answers were on the back so the students could gauge how well they were doing, then we rotated to another problem.  The exit ticket for the day was a "6 word memoir".  To read some of their exit tickets, check them out HERE.

Day 4:
When students walked in today, they were again seated with a new group of people, and this time their warmup was Problem Set #1, which had 2 additional problems on identifying the Ws.  I gave the students 7 minutes to work the problems, then they had 2 minutes to share answers within their group, then 1 more minute to check their work with my answer key.  We briefly talked about the "Curve of Forgetting" and how doing this as a warmup boosted back their knowledge on the Ws and moved it to more long-term memory. 

Then we started in how HOW to collect data from an unknown population.  One suggestion is take a census, so students became "census-takers" and were asked to count the number of Gs in a story.  Here's 6th hour's results:


Students were shocked at how many different answers they had and even more shocked when they were told that no one had the right answer!  I wanted them to reflect on what they learned about a census from this activity, so I introduced a new thinking routine to them.  I asked them to "Pause and Think" and write down 2 things they learned from this activity.  After giving them time to process via writing, then they had to "Turn and Talk" and share their learnings with a partner.  After each partner shared out, then as a table group, they had to select one thing that their table would share out to the rest of the class.  The general consensus of all 4 sections was that "counting is hard!" and that "a census isn't as accurate as we thought it would be."

I then shared @gwaddellnvhs's graphic of a population/sample and talked about how a sample of the population does just as good of a job if the sample is representative of the population.  We watched this excerpt from the Against All Odds series on the Literary Digest poll of 1936 to illustrate the point that large samples do not always yield better results.  To finish out the hour, we again cracked open our books and summarized by answering a few questions on our Chapter 12 Introduction Sheet.

Favorite Comment of the Week:
On Friday, 5th period, I had a young man ask to use the restroom.  I looked at the clock and said, "You only have 2 minutes left in class.. can you wait?"  His response was, "Oh wow!  I had no idea class was almost over!  It went so fast!"

:)


Friday, August 22, 2014

Six Word Memoirs

I plan to post more about the first week of school this weekend, but I wanted to share some of the "6 word memoirs" that my students wrote as their exit ticket yesterday...
 
  • To learn you have to DO!
  • W’s are very important in Stat.
  • I loved discussing answers in groups.
  • Today we did lots of practicing!
  • Doing contributes for learning and fun!
  • Working in groups helped me greatly.
  • Quantitative and categorical define Stat class.
  • Way far above your average lesson!
  • W’s describe the meaning of data.
  • We learn by doing not listening.
  • I expanded my personal comfort zone.
  • Categorical has categories, quantitative has numbers.
  • Doing is more fun than lecturing.
  • Who, What, and Why are important!
Have a great day! :)
 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Never Thought I'd Get Excited About a Pencil Sharpener!

It is no secret that I LOVE School Supplies... like with big puffy heart loves!

With that said, I NEVER EVER expected to fall in love with a pencil sharpener!

In May, my electric pencil sharpener was on the verge of dying.  In order to get it to stop sharpening, you literally had to pull the electric plug out of the wall.  While it was somewhat comical to see students put their pencils in the hole and then wave their hands at me... "MRS T!!!  The sharpener isn't working!!!"  Umm, you might try plugging it in :)

Anyway, I knew I was going to have to replace it this year, so I asked on Twitter if anyone had recommendations.  (If you know anything about MTBoS, you totally get why I asked Twitter for the answer!)  Right away, I had answers from @pamjwilson and @KLBoles strongly recommending that I look into Classroom Friendly Supplies.  I read some reviews, watched the video, and thought, hmmm.. that looks interesting!  It turns out that Troy (the awesome owner of CFS) was looking for people to review the sharpener on their blogs and I fit the criteria!  (YAY for all of you readers out there... woot woot!)

Later that week, as Hubby and I were walking through Target, my phone buzzed.  I pull it out of my pocket to see who it was and turns out it was an email from Troy saying that I had been selected to do a review on my blog in exchange for a sharpener!  OMG - I totally did a happy dance in the middle of Target with my husband looking at me like I had gone INSANE! :)  (To his credit, when we got home and I showed him the Classroom Friendly Supplies website, he totally understood my excitement and was jealous that I got to have a sharpener and he didn't!)

A few days later, I was working at school when my phone buzzed again, saying I had a package delivered.... YAY YAY YAY!!  I

When I got home, I had a box on my doorstep with THIS beauty inside...



(Note:  You will notice that I was too excited to take a photo when it arrived... I forgot until I had already tested it out!)

It took me a few days to get my room settled in a place where I felt I could adequately try out the new sharpener...

Finally, I pulled it out of the box, and set it on the countertop.  Look how pretty it is next to my old, ugly, barely functioning electric sharpener!


So then I was on a hunt to find pencils.  For some reason, I totally missed the fact that I had some pencils in my spare pencil cup in the photo above!  Instead, I found some extra Mirados that I had from last year's AP Stat Goody Bags.


OMG!!!  Do you see those points!  Holy moly, those suckers are SHARP!!  I kept grabbing new pencils, trying to figure out how this sharpener worked...

Then, I noticed the dull ones in the cup... Hmmmm... what would happen with a yucky, old, dull pencil?

Let's try it.... 

The target:  A dull pencil


(Note:  I had to go scrounge in the teacher's lounge to find a dull one.. I had already sharpened all of the ones in my classroom!)

Prepare to sharpen:


Honestly, at first, I was like 'What the heck?  I don't get the whole pull out the guide thing!!"  That attitude changed once I sharpened a dull pencil!

After turning the crank a few times, you literally feel when the pencil is sharp.  No more pulling it out, checking sharpness, put it back, turn the crank some more!

After feeling that moment when the sharpener was done, you release the pencil to see this perfect point... What a thing of beauty!!


WOW!!!

If you want your own Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener, Troy sent me a 5% discount code to share with you.  When you order, use the code P3LT5R to receive your discount!  Hurry though... this offer expires on November 1, 2014!

Happy Sharpening! :)






Sunday, August 17, 2014

#MTBoSChallenge - Sunday Summary



Welcome to the #MTBoSChallenge!  This weekly blogging challenge was created when participants of the #July2014Challenge decided they wanted something to challenge them to post on a weekly basis.

Each week there are two options:
  • On Saturday, you can choose to blog on a weekly prompt.  This week's prompt asks about your lesson plans for the first five days of school.  Go check out the awesome and amazing posts submitted this week at Middle School Math Rules.  No worries if you didn't blog yesterday, you can still submit your post using the linky at the bottom of her post.
  • On Sundays, you can choose to blog a Sunday Summary of your week.  The idea for the Summary is to provide you a way to reflect on the past week and share what you are looking forward to this coming week.
Feel free to choose either option (or BOTH!), add it to the linky on the host page and don't forget to tweet it with the hashtag #MTBoSChallenge as well!

Now on to my post for the day...

My Sunday 3-2-1 Summary

3 things that happened this week:
  • I went back to school!  Well, honestly, I don't know that I ever left this summer.  :)  But we officially reported back on Wednesday and even my principal joked in the faculty meeting that he had asked his administrative assistant if I had been changed to a 12 month contract because I had been up there all summer.  It was so good to see all of my friends that I hadn't seen since early June. 
  • My classroom is 98% complete!  I still have some organizing to do, especially with filing AVID documentation, but I'm almost ready for students!  If you want to see pics of my room, check out this post.
  • Literacy Training!  We had a PD session this week on Literacy and one of my personal take-aways is the difference in "Math Literacy" and "Literacy in Math".  I can't wait to integrate more literacy strategies in my classroom this year.  This tied in perfectly with some of the strategies from #EduRead this year.

2 things I'm nervous about this year:
  • Chromebooks!  My school is going 1:1 this year with Chromebooks.  I'm pretty excited about it, but I'm nervous too.  I want to make sure that I'm implementing them effectively.  I have some ideas about StatKey, Google Forms, etc but having ideas in my head vs actual implementation scares me a bit. 
  • Making Thinking Visible!  One of my goals this year is really going to focus on active learning, making thinking visible, and formative assessment.  I want to make sure I am "WICOR-izing" my classroom completely by integrating Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading.  I already have some awesome lesson plans started, but I worry that with the stress of the year, I will fall into old habits.  I will be leaning heavily on my accountability group to keep me focused this year.

1 thing I'm looking forward to this week:
  • My students arriving on Tuesday!  I love back to school... new supplies, new beginnings, a chance to start over.  I already know several of my students this year because I had them in Algebra 2, so I'm really excited to see them on Tuesday!

What is YOUR Sunday Summary?  Add it to the linky below!







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