Wednesday, May 27, 2015

#SummerList

The longer I go without blogging, the harder it is to start... :)

Summer is one of the best perks of being a teacher. I sleep in a bit, go for a walk, then tackle my to-do list at my own pace. I use the summer time to really think through activities I want to add to my curriculum, changes I want to make, books to read, etc. For accountability, I've decided to blog my list here rather than write it down in my handy, dandy, little notebook. :)



Books I plan to Read (or Re-Read):
I'm sure there are others, so I'll update this list as I read them :)


Things I want to explore
  • Better integration of the Chromebooks (1:1)
    • Exploring Google Forms for Quick Formative Assessment
    • Learn to use/integrate various online tools such as Plot.ly, Desmos, and StatKey in my classroom
    • Create some Kahoot games to use for review activities
    • Spend some time playing with Chrome apps that might be useful, such as a flashcard app, etc.
  • Work on more Free Response writing - this is a weakness due to my class sizes... grading 100+ of these is a killer!
    • Integrate whiteboarding activities
    • Use mistakes and error analysis
    • Expose students to the rubrics more

To be honest, I was pretty pleased with how things went in my classes this year, but I always have room for improvement. A lot of the things I've scribbled on my list are minor tweaks, but tweaks that I feel can make a huge impact in my classroom.

What's on your #SummerList?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

#MTBoSChallenge - Weekly Challenge - Week 17






Welcome to the #MTBoSChallenge! 

Each week there are two options:
  • On Saturdays, you can choose to blog on a weekly prompt.  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 recent purchases I've loved:
  • Tights!  My wardrobe currently consists of way more dresses/skirts than pants.  I haven't worn "hose" since I was a kid with my church dresses, but I have to say that I am loving tights this year!  (Bonus.. there's a 30% off coupon on Cartwheel this week!)
  • Ramen Noodle Cooker!  I honestly thought my dad was crazy when he told me about this invention.  Pretty much it's a rectangular pan that you put a brick of ramen noodles in, fill it up to the water line, cook for 4 minutes in the microwave, and you're done.  Yay for easy school lunches!
  • Camis!  We've had a pretty chilly fall and I stocked up on cotton camis from Walmart for $2.97 each.  It's crazy how much warmth can come from a thin little tanktop thing!  I now wear them under every outfit! :)

2 things I accomplished this week:
  • Lots of grading!  Grading is the bane of any teacher's existence, but I was able to whittle down my pile to where I just have a few projects left to go.  yay!
  • My yearly observation!  My principal came in this week to observe me.  It wasn't my favorite lesson of all time, but it was okay.  :)   

1 goodbye:

Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our baby girl.  We got "Sasha" when she was 5 weeks old and hubby and I were newlyweds.  I was teaching 7th grade at the time and as every teacher knows, there are some names that you never want to name a child because of the memories it brings.  Sasha is one of those names for me, so the only people that knew her as Sasha were the people in the vet's office.  Her real name was ******** (Censored because this a family-friendly blog *grin*).  She was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism 2 years ago, so we knew her time would be limited, but when we took her to the vet yesterday, we were not prepared for the vet to tell us she had a huge mass in her abdomen.  As a result, we had to make a decision about what to do.  My baby girl wasn't a pretty kitty, but she was an amazing snuggler.  I'll miss her sleeping on my pillow with her deep purr that could put me to sleep within minutes. 









Sunday, November 30, 2014

#MTBoSChallenge - Weekly Summary - Week 16






Welcome to the #MTBoSChallenge! 

Each week there are two options:
  • On Saturdays, you can choose to blog on a weekly prompt.  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 goals for December:
  • Exercise more!  I've figured out a few ways to get more steps in my day, so my goal is to get back to hitting 10K steps on a regular basis.  It will help me lose the couple of pounds gained this week, too! :)
  • Wrap up the semester!  There are only 3 weeks left in the semester and I have a ton to get done before final exams.  
  • Get my shopping done early! I'm a slight procrastinator when it comes to holiday shopping, so this year, I would really like to get it done well in advance. We'll see if it happens! :)

2 things I accomplished this week:
  • Cleaned out my closet!  One of the things I really wanted to get done this week was to clean out my closet and take out the things that no longer fit.  While I was at it, I decided to inventory the clothes I have.  I have too many clothes... :(
  • New cut and color!  After a family gathering this weekend, I saw the pictures and realized I really needed a haircut!  I went to my hairdresser and thankfully she had time for a cut and a color.  She chopped off about 3 inches (maybe more?) and gave me a new color job that I love! 

1 thing I'm thankful for today:
  • My family!  This week was a time of fun, food, fellowship, and family.  I ate too much, laughed a lot, and in general, truly enjoyed my Thanksgiving break.  I hope all of you had a very restful break!






Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 19 - High Praise from a Kiddo

You know those days when you just want to take a moment at the end of the day and yell, "NAILED IT!" at the top of your lungs?

In #EduRead, we've been reading The Highly Engaged Classroom, so I've been thinking even more than usual about student engagement and how I can design lessons that incorporate movement and other engagement strategies.  Yesterday afternoon, as I was putting today's lesson together, I was trying to figure out a way to use the first 20 minutes of the block period to review for a quiz that we were having today.  In the past, I've given the students time to study on their own, but this time, I decided to do something a bit more structured.

Enter in the awesomeness that is Kate Nowak.
(Someday, when I grow up, I want to be like Kate... and Sam... and Pam... and Hedge... and Julie...and Beth.. and Elizabeth... and Glenn...  and all my other amazeball MTBoS friends!)
(P.S. I did not mean to leave anyone out... but I would totally run out of room if I listed all 400 or so of you!  Please realize that I love and cherish all of you!)

See, Kate wrote this little blog post over at her blog back in 2009 called Speed Dating.  Little did I know that 5 years later, I would be finally figuring out how to use it in my classroom!

Kids came in the room today and the desks were not arranged like they were yesterday.  It cracks me up to see how much kids freak out when the desks are moved!  Instead of 8 groups of 4 desks, there were 2 long rows of 8 pairs of desks facing each other.  Since they knew they had a quiz today, the immediate question that I answered (over and over and over again) was, "Are we having a partner quiz?!?!"  ummmm, nope!

On each desk, I had a laminated card that dealt with this chapter's material.  Mostly stuff like interpreting slope, y-intercept, r-squared, using their calculator, finding residuals, etc.  (Note, if you're an AP Stat teacher and want the file, just leave me your email in the comments and I'll get it to you!).  Last year, I used the cards to do Quiz Quiz Trade, but this year, I wanted to do something different.  I gave the students 3 minutes to work the problem on their desk, check the answer on the back, and become the "expert" on that problem.  Then they exchanged cards with their partner, worked that problem, got feedback and help from the "expert", etc.  All in all, I allowed time for them to work their original problem, plus 5 more from the partners.

During 3rd hour block, I had an even number of students, so I simply observed.  At first, I was worried that maybe it wasn't working, but no biggie, it's a learning curve.  After we were done, we rearranged the room to take the quiz, and low and behold, the kids were all done with plenty of time to spare and no grumbling afterwards!  At the end of the hour, one of my students said, "Mrs. Teacher, can we do that before every quiz?  That really helped me!"  I was happy to hear the praise, but honestly I wasn't sure how much it helped.  Then 6th hour rolled around and I only had an odd number of students, so I had to join in to be a partner.  My original card was about calculating a residual, then my other 5 problems were about interpreting slope (twice), interpreting r-squared, calculating y-intercept from the formula and interpreting it, and using my calculator to find the regression equation.  I was shocked at how many things I reviewed (and reviewed well!) in that 20 minute time span!  Again, I had kiddos praising the activity as a great way to review for the quiz.  In my 17 years of teaching, I have learned that if the kids give kudos to an activity, then it's something that I want to use again!

If you haven't tried Speed Dating, I definitely encourage you to give it a shot!  This will definitely be a keeper in my play book.

Thanks Kate!

Today I'm Thankful For:
The amazeball teachers of the MTBoS.  I'm so happy that I'm part of a community that really cares about me as a person and as a professional.  We have a little (or not so little anymore) family that really wants to help everyone become a better teacher.  There is genuine concern in helping others grow as professionals, as seen through the constant sharing of resources and lesson plans on the blogs and twitter accounts of the MTBoS members.  The best part is having a network of people around the globe that truly GET me.  I struggle to "turn off" my teacher side and it's awesome to have people around me that understand that struggle.  Thank you for opening up your classroom virtually so that I can share in your joys and frustrations.  But most importantly, thank you for being you!! :) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 18 - A Fly on the Wall

From Chapter 2 of The Highly Engaged Classroom by Marzano:
When presenting new content, it is important to consistently monitor the pace at which information is being presented.  Detailed attention to content students already know may bore them, creating a slow or dragging pace.  However, moving too quickly through new content may frustrate students because they will not feel they have had adequate time to process what they have learned.  In general, teachers should present information in small pieces or chunks of knowledge.  After each chunk, students in small groups interact by summarizing or answering a question about what was presented.  Some teachers refer to this sequence as "chunk and chew."
This paragraph from Marzano made me think... If I were a student in my classroom, what would I think about the pacing?  Is it too fast?  Too slow?  Do I have enough processing time between activities? 

I know that I try to incorporate processing strategies in my class, such as Turn and Talk, but do I do enough of them to really allow students to process well?  I need to incorporate more QuickWrites and other quick summarizing strategies. 

I wish I was a fly on the wall in other classrooms - how do other teachers incorporate these strategies?

Today I'm Thankful For:
Warmer weather!  After a very frigid start to the day where we actually set new record low temps of 14 degrees (OMG!), the afternoon warmed up to a balmy 48 degrees!  It was like a heat wave!  I even walked outside without a coat!  I'm so ready for winter to be over :(


Monday, November 17, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 17 - Winter, Go Away!

I know I had several ideas pop up throughout the day to blog about, but sometime between then and now, they floated away.  I'm going to blame it on my chilly classroom.  When I got to school this morning, the thermostat said 65 degrees and it didn't go much higher than that all day.  I know it's hard to keep the room toasty warm when the daytime high is 34, so I'm really looking forward to warmer temps later this week.

Thanksgiving is almost here.  It's always been my favorite holiday - food, family, and minimal drama.  However, this year will be a bit odd as our family transitions to the first holiday season without several key people.  As a result, our Thanksgiving plans were definitely up in the air until Hub's cousin messaged me yesterday to invite us to her house for dinner.  I'm rather jealous of Hub's family in general... he is the oldest of 6 or so cousins that are all within a few years of each other and they are just some of the most genuine people in the world.  I told the cousin that I would help with the cooking, so please send any favorite appetizer or dessert recipes my way!



Today I'm Thankful For:
Pinterest!  From outfit inspiration to yummy recipes, Pinterest always comes through for me.  Tonight I made brownies and found an outfit for tomorrow.. how awesome is that? :)  I'm such a visual person that I really love being able to bookmark pictures.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NaBloPoMo - Day 16 - Sunday Summary Week 14






Welcome to the #MTBoSChallenge! 

Each week there are two options:
  • On Saturdays, you can choose to blog on a weekly prompt.  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 I'm excited about this week:
  • The return of warmer weather!!  After a week of 35 degree days, I'm done with winter and ready for the return of higher temps.  By mid-week, we are supposed to be back in the 50s, which is MUCH closer to our typical November weather!
  • Baking!!  I have some new recipes I want to try out before Thanksgiving.  That means that my coworkers will be reaping the benefits :)
  • #EduRead of course!  Last week was such an awesome chat that I'm really looking forward to this week too!  Read the Storify of last week's convo:  Click here

2 things on my to-do list:
  • Catch up on grading!  I gave a project last week and now I have 130 posters to grade... UGH! :)  On the positive side, they look really cool!  To top it off, my kids have a quiz this week too! :(
  • Work on Making Thinking Visible!  I have fallen down the past few weeks on this one.  I really would like for someone to be able to walk into my room after hours and be able to see what all we have done.  Right now, it feels very generic in my room once the kids are gone. :(

1 thing I'm thankful for today:
  • Snow!!  Today was the first snow of the season, which is way earlier than normal.  However, there is just something peaceful about watching the snow drift down and cover the ground.  Thankfully our ground temps are still warm, so it will go away soon! :)