Sunday, November 5, 2017

MTBoS Sunday Funday - Self Care Tips

Just a reminder that the #MTBoS Sunday Funday challenge is back!  This is a weekly blogging prompt that is hosted over at Julie's blog and this week's theme is "Self Care"

Every week, Julie will push out a new topic, you blog about it and submit your blog post using this Google Form.  On Sunday, there will be a huge list of awesome blogs to go read! :) YAY!

As always, this is a no pressure blogging challenge, so feel free to join in anytime, but if the week gets away from you, that's okay too!

This Week's Topic:  Self Care

I'll admit that I almost didn't blog today.  Self Care is definitely one of the topics where I fail miserably.  I am pretty bad about putting my classroom ahead of myself and my family, but here's some things I try to do on a regular basis:

Self Care Tip #1 - Exercise regularly
This is a tricky one for me and I'll admit there are some years I do better than others!  Meg Craig (@mathymeg) does a FitBos challenge each year with an easy to use spreadsheet that does help with tracking your goals.  This year, I have done really well, meeting my 120 hour goal by the end of October!  (YAY me!)  I'll admit though, that I've had some motivation to keep walking, even as the cooler weather has set in.  In the summer, I'm really good about getting up and walking 2+ miles per day before hubby goes to work.  This past summer, there was an elderly gentleman in my neighborhood that would walk his dog right at the same time, so we struck up a small friendship.  As we got to know each other, I found out that his wife of 59 years has dementia and he had just moved her to a nursing facility in the early summer.  It's now part of my daily walk to visit with him and hear the stories of his life, which is definitely a huge highlight of my day!

Self Care Tip #2 - Pamper yourself
At least once a month, I take the time for a girls day.  Sometimes this is with family, sometimes with friends, but it almost always includes a pedicure, dinner, and some shopping.  If you've never had a pedicure, it's a must!  There's nothing better than sitting in a massage chair while your feet are in the warm, swirling water.  Sometimes I go with a good friend and we sit and visit, other times I go by myself with a good book - either way, it's a wonderful way to relax!

Self Care Tip #3 - Relax with a Good Book
There's very little in this life that relaxes me as much as curling up with a good book, a fuzzy blanket, and a purring kitty.  If you ever come to my house, don't be shocked to see books everywhere.  There's a huge bookcase of novels in the bedroom, even more bookcases of professional books in our offices, even stacks of 'to-be-read' books in the living room.  And of course, that doesn't even include the thousands of books that I have in my Kindle library!  As a kid, my happy place was our public library and I even volunteered for many years there.  As an adult, my happy place is still when I am surrounded by books and I try to "read for fun" on a daily basis, even if it's only for 10 minutes.

Self Care Tip #4 - Find your People
Teaching is a stressful job.  I know I'm preaching to the choir, but it's a never-ending string of lessons, grading, management, answering questions, more lessons, more grading, etc.  It's so easy to get burned out, to find yourself isolated, to feel like you are drowning and not sure how to surface from all of the demands.  To combat this, it's important to reach out and find your people - the teachers that have a similar philosophy of teaching, that can ease some of the burden, the people that you can text at a moment's notice to ask if they have a worksheet over topic XYZ and know that it will fit your style with minimal change.  For me, I am blessed to have a few of those people in my real life, but my main source is the MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog o Sphere).  If you find someone online that resonates with you, reach out - tweet to them, comment on their blog - and I promise you won't regret it!

Self Care Tip #5 - Push Send
Sometimes, we can't see how far we've come because we are too close to the situation.  It's easy to get discouraged and frustrated when we are in the middle of the year, feeling like we are treading water and going nowhere.  Often, if we were able to look back, we'd see the progress we've made, the victories that have been won, and the successes of our students.  Because of this, I highly encourage all teachers - new or veteran - to journal their year.  This could be a private paper journal or a public blog / Instagram account.  This year, I'm trying Instagram for my #teach180 posts and I have to admit that I love it!  I've tried to blog more this year as well because I know that I grow professionally from blogging, from the active reflection and sharing, even though I've not done it as much as I should. 

If you have additional self-care tips to share, feel free to comment or even blog your thoughts and submit them to the #MTBoSSundayFunday post!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

#MTBoSSundayFunday - Photo of the Week

Just a reminder that the #MTBoS Sunday Funday challenge is back!  This is a weekly blogging prompt that is hosted over at Julie's blog and this week's theme is "Photo of the Week"

Every week, Julie will push out a new topic, you blog about it and submit your blog post using this Google Form.  On Sunday, there will be a huge list of awesome blogs to go read! :) YAY!

As always, this is a no pressure blogging challenge, so if you don't feel like blogging, that's okay!  I've had many weeks already where I've failed at blogging, so I'm right there with you!  However, this week is one I just couldn't pass up :)

This week's theme is is "Photo of the Week", but this was a tough one for me.  I couldn't narrow it down to just one, so instead, I took a screenshot of this week's Instagram #teach180 posts! :)  (Can I just say that I LOVE using Instagram for my #teach180 posts... it's super simple to use and it's been a great tool for me to easily look back at my progress over the year!  Plus I shared it with my students, their parents, and my admin so they could follow us virtually!)

This week was great!  Last week was our Fall Break, so coming back on Monday was bit rough, but as you can see in the photos above, there were so many good moments this week!

To go chronologically, we'll start from the bottom right :)

Bottom right:  This was Monday in AP Stat.  After a break, we needed to do some mixed review over the chapter topics.  There were 3 problems, each one in a dry erase sleeve.  Students were up on the whiteboards working through the problems... so many good discussions!

Bottom center:  Tuesday in Geometry... You'll notice the little white box in the corner - we had a really active day!  This was a block day and we had color coded notes, some dry erase sleeve practice, and then a "Question Stack" set of cards on angle relationships.  So much awesomeness!

Bottom left:  Tuesday in Forensic Science... We had just finished a lab on the Bertillion Measurement System and read a great (yet lengthy) article on Bertillion, so we followed up with some summarization strategies.  This photo shows "Give One Get One", which is one of my favorite strategies!

Top right:  Wednesday in AP Stat... We had just finished z-scores and normality and were preparing for a quiz.  However, practice problems often get dull in worksheet format, so instead we did the same problems in card format.  Groups could choose to work on the vertical whiteboards or get one of the portable boards for their table.  So many good discussions and many of them scored perfect scores on the quiz!  yay!

** There isn't a photo for Thursday because my sophomores were taking the Pre-ACT and my Stat kids took their quiz... not a photo worthy day!

Top center:  Friday in Geometry... Thanks to the MTBoS, Friday's lesson plan was super simple... Katrina Newell (@MrsNewellsMath) had already blogged an Angle Addition / Angle Bisector foldable that all I had to do was print and use!  (Thanks Katrina!).  I do love foldables and add it to some color coded notes and you have a happy teacher on your hands!

Top left:  Friday in AP Stat... We've finished our unit in Stat, so next week we will be taking Test #2.  There were 10 stations posted around the room with 2 MC questions per station.  The students went from station to station working problems, checking with me, and going to the next station.  The hour flew by and on their exit ticket, several students even asked if we could do it again. :)

I know I didn't do quite what the prompt asked me to do, but it was such a good teaching week that I wanted to share! :)  Now to work on next week's lessons... hopefully it will be just as awesome as this past week! :)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Reflection on my Professional Goals

Hope you don't mind, but I need to "talk" through something and well, that's what this blog is for, right?  A place for me to think, to reflect, and to get the random thoughts out of my head so I can figure out where to go from here. Plus, if someone out there reads it and has some feedback for me, then even better! :)

(Note:  This is one of those posts that is mostly just for me... but heck, why not #pushsend?) :)

For the past 17 years, my yearly evaluation has required us to set a professional goal and complete the PDSA (Plan / Do / Study / Act) paperwork that went along with our goal setting.  I've done a variety of things over the years, aligned them to my site and district goals, and tried to follow through with them.

This year, I've been chosen to be part of a pilot program, called a Professional Learning Focus (PLF).  Apparently, our state is moving from the traditional goal setting program to one that is more individualized with a focus on professional learning.  This year is a pilot year, with full implementation in the 2018-2019 school year.  I'm super excited about this overall, because anyone that knows me knows that I love professional learning and reading educationally focused books and journals.  In addition, I am the PD coordinator for my site, so I will have the chance to develop some great learning opportunities for our staff that align to their PLF.

The overall idea is that each teacher will choose one of the 20 indicators from our teacher evaluation system that they want to work on, then write a goal focused on that indicator, identifying the professional learning / research that they would need for their goal.  This might be a book study, webinars, traditional PD sessions, PLC, peer observations, etc.  

Here's my dilemma... I don't know which of the 20 indicators to choose!  I've narrowed it down to 3:

Indicator #9 - Involves All Learners
This indicator seems right up my alley.  It's about active learning, student engagement, high quality questioning techniques, wait time, etc

Indicator #13 - Monitors
This indicator really gets into some of the Formative Assessment techniques that I've been working on for the past few years which leads to Indicator #14 with adjusting the instructional program as needed.

Indicator #15 - Establishes Closure
Closure has always been a weakness for me, but it is something that I've slowly improved on throughout the years.  

All three of these indicators tug at me... I love researching active learning techniques as well as better ways to make thinking visible through formative assessment and summarization skills.  I know that I have room to grow with each one of these indicators, so it's really just a situation of "decision paralysis" :)  

If you have any ideas or suggestions, including any good books, articles, etc that relate to these indicators, please let me know in the comments on catch me ton Twitter :)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Favorite Education Books - #MTBoSSunFun

Just a reminder that the #MTBoS Sunday Funday challenge is back!  This is a weekly blogging prompt that is hosted over at Julie's blog and this week's theme is "Favorite Education Books"

Every week, Julie will push out a new topic, you blog about it and submit your blog post using this Google Form.  On Sunday, there will be a huge list of awesome blogs to go read! :) YAY!

As always, this is a no pressure blogging challenge, so if you don't feel like blogging, that's okay!  I've had many weeks already where I've failed at blogging, so I'm right there with you!  However, this week is one I just couldn't pass up :)

When I first saw this week's prompt, I was like "YAY!!  I've got this one!!!", but as the week went on, I stressed more and more.  I struggle so much with figuring out my "favorite" anything - be it song, movie, book, TV show, etc.  I have so many favorites!  So here goes... my top 5 must-read books for teachers.

Must Read #1 - Make It Stick

This book was an #EduRead several summers ago.  I first learned about it from Daren Starnes at the AP Statistics Reading when he spoke about it at Best Practices night.  I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle and started reading.  Oh my goodness - game changer!  This book transformed my classroom like no other.  It combined assessment strategies with cognitive psychology with statistical research.  We did a Twitter EduRead on it that summer and this book has been the focus of several talks at various TMCs.  If you want to help your students be active and successful learners, this is the book for you.   Just writing about this book makes me want to read it again! :)  

See the storified Book Chats here

Must Read #2 - Embedded Formative Assessment

Dylan Wiliam is one of the educational gurus on formative assessment.  This was one of my first Kindle edu-reads and I still refer to my highlights many years later.  Formative assessment has been one of my ongoing professional learning goals and this book is one of the best books out there for formative assessment.  There is a newer version called Embedding Formative Assessment while I own, but haven't fully read - maybe that's a book to tackle soon!  The original EFA (pictured) was one of those books that I recommended over and over and over again to colleagues and administrators.  Man, I wish it were summer so I could have all day to read again! :)

See the storified Book Chats here

Must Read #3 - Mathematical Mindsets

I doubt there is a math teacher out there that is unaware of Jo Boaler and her work with YouCubed, mindset shifts in mathematics, and innovative teaching methods.  This book was one of our EduReads last year - See the Storify on Beth's blog - and once I got into it, there were so many provoking thoughts that I sent a recommendation to our district curriculum director to read this book immediately. Dr. Boaler definitely pushed my thinking on several topics, but she also opened my eyes to some of the damaging methods that are commonplace in k-12 education, specifically in tracking and middle school advancement.  I'm definitely not in the norm at my school with my beliefs on open enrollment and Dr. Boaler's work really pushes the fixed vs growth mindset as it comes to learning mathematics.  

Must Read #4 - Literacy Strategies for Improving Mathematics Instruction

This book was one of our very first Twitter EduReads, back in the summer of 2012, even before we had the #EduRead hashtag and we used different hashtags for each book (this one was the ultra creative #lit4math).  You can read my book reviews here (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4) and the book chat was Storified over at Pam's blog.  This book is a small one, but it really packs a wallop.  In fact, I can see it sitting under my coffee table right now, ready for me to read it again!  (So.Many.Books!!)  

Must Read #5 - Every Minute Counts

This tiny book (and its sequels - Making Minutes Count Even More and Motivation Counts) were some of the first educational books I owned.  At the time I purchased them (back in the late 90s), I picked them up for about $5 each at my local teacher supply store.  That store has been closed for many years and these books now cost a bit more, but they are still some of my favorites.  For at least the first 10 years of my career, I read and re-read this book series every summer and every time I picked up new nuggets of wisdom.  Each of these booklets contains only about 70 pages, but so many ideas.  Some of ideas are now dated, but practical advice never goes out of style!  The author's down-to-earth writing style and ready-to-use suggestions are what originally drew me to this book and continues to draw me in 20 years later.

What are your must-read books?  Blog about them, tweet about them, share them with us on the #eduread hashtag - I have at least 3 stacks of books to be read, but after writing this post, I just want to go surround myself with some old favorites :)  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Warmups and Closures

I totally fail at this blogging thing.  Every week, I want to blog, I know I should blog, but time gets away from me...

But, better late than never, right? :)

This past week's theme was Warm-ups and Closures - you can go read the rest of the submissions over on Julie's blog, just click HERE

Next week's theme is classroom tour - I hope to get that one done BEFORE the deadline! :)

The first few and last few minutes are the most important time of class, in my opinion.  I do a pretty good job of warm-up activities and I am trying desperately to get better at closure!

In Stat, each day has a theme:
Monday - Multiple Choice Monday - quick 5 question MC reviews over any previous material
Tuesday/Wednesday - Analysis & Reflection of MC Monday
Thursday - Throwback Thursday - short answer review questions over previous material
Friday - FRAPPY Friday - a released AP Free Response question

In Geometry, I'm not quite as organized, but they do have:
Monday - Mental Math Monday
Tuesday/Wednesday - Throwback Tuesday or Wayback Wednesday over previous material
Thursday - Think About It Thursday with a problem solving / critical thinking question
Friday - No theme yet :)

Closure is one of those areas where I feel I can always improve.  Over the years, I've tried various things, now I tend to do a combination of exit ticket prompts:

The first one on the left is a summary prompt with an area for questions and teacher response.  This template came about after a discussion on Twitter years ago!  The middle one is the one I use most often, which is a generic Exit Ticket quarter sheet.  The one on the right is based on an AVID Reflection page.

Summary Page
Generic Exit Ticket
Reflecting on Today
Weekly Exit Tickets

For my actual prompts, I tend to use my "Ring of Prompts"  or other prompts that I've blogged about before.

I'm always looking for new strategies for closure, so please blog yours and share them! :)

#Made4Math - Conditional Statements

I know... it's not Monday... :)

This year is kicking me in the tush, BUT, I'm having a *blast* teaching Geometry.  I have some really awesome kids and I love the hands-on aspect of Geometry.  Last time I taught Geometry was about 10 years ago, which was well before I found the MTBoS and started using Interactive Notebooks :)

Anyway, on Sunday, I spent 5 hours on lesson plans for Monday only.... oh my goodness! :)  I tweeted out a comment that I could get a LOT more done if I didn't care how things looked or if I was willing to have a boring lesson. :)  Of course, having a new prep means lots of new foldables and creations and they have to look just right with a fun font! :)

Each Monday, my Geometry kids have a Mental Math Monday where I project a game card from the game 24 and instead of just coming up an expression to equal 24, they try to come up with all of the values from 1 to 24.  I decided to have them start doing it on their whiteboard sleeves and one group even made all of the values within the warm-up time (~5-7 minutes)

If you would like the Mental Math Monday file for your dry erase sleeves, click HERE

After we were done with our warmup time, it was on to conditional statements in Geometry!  I had scoured pinterest and the MTBoS Search Engine looking for some fun stuff to help my kids practice, but nothing was really catching my eye for their notes.  I ended up making a super simple foldable in a Word table that created a "flashcard" like foldable that was blank inside to allow us to take notes and write down the definitions.

If you would like the Word Document, click HERE

To follow it up, we practiced with the statement sort that I found on MissCalcul8's blog - See her post HERE

Then, we practiced some more using a free speed dating file from TPT, but I did it more as a Quiz Quiz Trade activity - See the activity HERE

And finally wrapped it up with a Kahoot!

All it all, it was a good day :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

#MyFavFriday - One Month!

Oh my goodness - we've now been in school for a *month*!!  I swear, every year, time goes by faster and faster!

It's been a long week, full of very tired moments, but overall, I am having a great year.  I have another group of fabulous kids, I'm teaching subjects I love, and I just feel at peace with a heart of joy this year.  That doesn't mean that every day is sunshine and roses, but I am so excited to see what this year brings!  My only regret so far is that I've been really bad at blogging.  :( :(  Maybe as the year progresses, I'll get better! :)

This morning, while browsing Instagram, I ran across a post from @bybmg that referenced her "High Five Friday" of the week, where she celebrates 5 favorite moments.  I'm totally stealing that idea this week! :)

I also love that this ties in to the "High Five Friday" theme of my classroom.  I even had a kid yesterday say "This is my favorite part of the week!" as they walked by and received their High Five! :)

(P.S. - Yes, I know that I have yet to post a "My Favorite Friday" post on an actual Friday... But by Friday night, I'm totally worn out! :) )

High Five Friday #1 - Back to School Night
Tuesday night, after a VERY long block day with no planning period, we had our Back to School night.  When I say it was a long day - it was a day that I made it to 10K steps and I didn't even exercise that day!  But the best part was visiting with some amazing parents - one parent came up to me with tears in her eyes and said "I just want to thank you.  You were our child's math teacher last year and I'm so glad our child has you again this year.  Our child actually *likes* math again!  Thank you for all you do!"  Then, between "classes", the young lady that last year came by every Friday to get a High Five comes by with her parents and says, "Mom!  This is the teacher that gives High Fives every Friday!!"  Remember, I've never even had this student in class, I don't know her name at all, but every Friday, like clockwork, she is there for her High Five and it was important enough that she had even told her parents about it.  As teachers, we often don't know the impact we make on our students and parents.  Every day, I am grateful that I am blessed to love what I do and to be able to share that love with my students.  What an uplifting night, even though I was *exhausted* the next day! :)

High Five Friday #2 - Dry Erase Sleeves
I purchased my dry erase sleeves several years ago when I found them at the Target Dollar Spot for $1 each.  Since then, many people in the MTBoS have posted about them.  I have used them pretty much every day in Geometry and even have kids that ask for them if I forget.  In Geometry this week, we were working on the distance and midpoint formulas.  I had found this template on Pinterest and quickly made one for my students.  I have some students that definitely struggle with integer operations, so the template was very useful for keeping everything in order.  In fact, this student found it so useful that they borrowed one to take home to finish up their homework problems.  Even better - when I glanced at this student's quiz on Friday, they had everyone of the distance formula problems correct!  WIN!! :)

High Five Friday #3 - First Lab is Done!
In Forensic Science, we've got our hands full with 48 students and 2 teachers.  This is the largest class we've ever had and my co-teacher has been fabulous, even though she had to hit the ground running with only 2 days notice that her entire schedule had changed.  We tackled our first lab this week with kids going out with a clean, new sock and exploring Locard's Exchange Principle, which leads us into the analysis of trace evidence, both macro and microscopically.

High Five Friday #4 - Coffee?  #YesPlease
Friday morning, one of my students comes up to me in the hallway with a cup carrier and says "I didn't know what kind of coffee you liked, but here's a coffee and a chocolate doughnut to start your day!"  Oh child, you are a true blessing!  After a long week, I knew I would need some extra caffeine to get through the day and some added sugar didn't hurt either! :)

(For anyone that isn't local - QT is QuikTrip, which is a convenience store / gas station chain that is simply amazing.  This was a French Vanilla Cappucino, but their hot cocoa is quite yummy as well! :)

High Five Friday #5 - #teach180
This year, I'm trying to do a better job with #Teach180 and I've finally found the platform that works for me!  I tried several years ago to do a #180blog, then I tried Twitter, but I really struggled to keep up with it and the character limitation on Twitter was difficult plus it was hard to monitor my own progress over the year.  This year, I am trying out Instagram and I *LOVE* it.  I shared it with my principal earlier in the week as a way he could virtually visit our classroom and I shared it with the parents at Back to School night, encouraging them to follow as well.  I've received some really positive comments from the parents and administration team.

What were the highlights of your week? :)