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? :)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Made4Math - Geometry Fun!!

It's been a while since I've written a Made4Math post, but I have a feeling this year will be a year FULL of new files and fun stuff :)

I am having a BLAST teaching Geometry this year.  The last time I taught it was about 10 years ago - before the #MTBoS entered my life and before I knew Interactive Notebooks even existed!!

This weekend has been kind of crazy.  I left school on Friday thinking I would get *so much* accomplished... HA! :)  By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, I thought I might get an hour of work in while waiting on my mom to come down to go shopping.... I tinkered with it before she came down, then again after she left.  Before I knew it, I had spent close to 3 hours making a single flipping foldable!!! :)

Of course, I had to tweet it out last night... I am pretty darn proud of this thing! :)

I swear I printed it about 20 times before I got it to line up correctly and figure out how to "flip" it correctly on my printer!  Here's what the actual file looks like:

Once I had it figured out, I had to make a blank template for next time.  Here it is in Word format. :)

Today, I got on another kick of creativity and started working on this week's lesson plans.  We have a modified block schedule that has a traditional 6 period day on Monday, Thursday, and Friday and a block schedule that meets on Tuesday and Wednesday.  That means that tomorrow we head back to a block day with 100 minute periods.  

On block days, I try to do a lot of activities and I like to have the kids up and out of their seats at least once during the period to restart their brains.

For Geometry, one of the activities we will be doing tomorrow is a "Find Someone Who".  This is an activity that is often used as an ice-breaker, but I like to throw in a concept-twist.  The idea is to help my students remember all of the symbols and vocabulary we've worked on for the past week :)

Here is the PDF file if you want it! :)

Hope you've all had a wonderful and productive weekend!  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Organizing the Classroom

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 "Classroom Organization"

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!  But since one of my yearly goals is to blog more, this is a great way to get myself back into the groove!

Organization tends to be one of my strengths.  I'm excited to share some of my favorite organizational tools and strategies and then go read about yours! :)

Hanging File next to my Desk:
I picked up this hanging file YEARS ago at Big Lots in their Back to College section.  This photo is really old - mainly because I forgot to take a picture of it when I was at school tonight. :)

This Hanging File holds my Attendance / Seating Chart folder (bottom pocket), my notebook for each course (the middle pockets), and our Advisory Sign-Out sheets (up at the top).

This is one *must-have* item for my classroom!

Storage and more Storage:
Some of this has changed slightly, but not much.  Along the bottom are file crates that I picked up at Target and these hold student files.  I am horrible about passing papers back to students or sometimes they will have a paper that isn't going in their notebook, so all of those papers go in these crates.

On the top shelf, you will see baskets from Dollar Tree for Extra Handouts.  I typically make 2-3 extra copies just in case a student misplaces their copy, and all of those get stored here.  You'll also see the Table Buckets on the right top cubby, but those have now changed... (see below!)

Table Buckets:
Here's the new version of Table Buckets and the contents.  Each group has a set of Red/Yellow/Green cups, a tape dispenser, glue sticks, scissors, dry erase erasers, Response Cards (Always/Sometimes/Never and MC), and a baggie of markers (Regular, Dry erase, and Highlighters).  Having all supplies handy on their desk at all times is a HUGE timesaver for me!

Table Folders:
This is an idea that I stole from Sam Shah and I *love* it.  Each of my classes has a color, each table has a folder.  This folder is how I pass out papers for their notebook, collect and return assignments, and organize missing / absentee work.  This is an old photo, but because it's purple, I know it's a 6th hour folder.  On the left you can see student work that is being passed back, plus 3 papers that we will be using in that day's lesson for their notebook. During the beginning of the year, their name tents are in these folders as well, because I'm still learning names. :)  If a student is absent, their papers are gathered up and paper-clipped and left in their folder for them to pick up the next day.

My Planner:
I've blogged before about my planner, but I definitely couldn't get through the day without it!  I combine my lesson plans with my personal planner to keep everything in one place.  This is always open on my desk and helps me keep track of meetings, to-do lists, blog ideas, and my lesson plans!  The monthly pages also have a habit tracker that I love.  I think the only thing I really should add is an hydration tracker, but to be honest, I rarely have time to drink water during the day! :)

Storing Activities:
This isn't the best photo in the world because I haven't really had time to straighten up my cabinets yet after pulling out all of the stuff that I stored over the summer.  In the mini file crates, there are about 10 of the index card boxes. Each box contains the cards for an activity, such as a card sort.  On the far right is vertical storage for the task mats.  Inside the 3 drawer container are things that don't store easily, such as inflatable globes. :)  You'll also see tons of dice both on the left and in the drawer because we use a lot of dice in AP Stat! I decided to snap this photo as I was pulling out the Types of Bias card sort for Monday in AP Stat, so that's why there's a set just sitting out. :)

I can't wait to read about the organization hacks from your classroom!