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...


OMG - I LOVED IT!!!

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 (http://bit.ly/TMC14-1). 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!
  • Monday, October 14, 2013

    #Made4Math - Normal Distribution Cards



    When you've been gone for a while, it gets harder and harder to write a post. I don't know why that is true, but it is! This year, I've taken on more administrative responsibilities and as a result, I've been working my tail off! I'm afraid to open my reader because I know I've missed some amazing posts by the MTBoS, but it is just so overwhelming! This week is Fall Break and I'm SO READY FOR A BREAK! :)

    But I did finally have time this weekend to create a Made4Math post, so that's a good thing, right? :)


    We're working on Normal Probability problems in AP Stat right now. This is one of those topics that kids just need lots of practice and I love this activity since it is self checking! There are 18 problems total and the students start with the answer side up. They flip over a card, work the problem, then find the answer in the answer pile. Flip over that card and work that problem and repeat. :)

    If you would like the file, get it HERE :)

    Maybe with Fall Break this week, I'll have a chance to catch up! Have a great week!

    Monday, September 9, 2013

    #Made4Math - Table Folders



    This is one of those "short and sweet" posts... :)

    Remember all that time spent pinning awesome ideas, just waiting until you could use them? Well, this pin from last summer caught my attention a few weeks agao...

    So, this weekend, I made Table Folders for my classes as well. I'm really excited to try them out! Thanks #MTBoS for such awesome ideas!


    Your turn! What did YOU do for your classroom this week? Head on over to the Made4Math blog to see the other submissions!

    Monday, September 2, 2013

    #Made4Math - Reassessment Request



    Happy Labor Day!!!

    This is a late post for me because I spent the day with my family, leaving the house this morning before 8am and just now getting home. I hope all of you had an amazing holiday weekend and ready for a great start to September!

    My project this week deals with Reassessments. I haven't been really happy with how I did reassessments in AP Statistics, but I strongly believe in SBG, so I needed to find a way to make it work for me. On the way to work last week, I had a brainstorm... how about a menu-type system? I had the opportunity to bounce the idea with the other AP Stat teacher after school on Friday and together we were able to come up with a Reassessment Request that we are happy with.

    Here's the finished product:


    The students will fill out the form for each Learning Target they wish to reassess and show their work on this paper. Then, they bring this paper in to me and I will give them the reassessment for that objective. I'm really eager to see if this works better than what I've tried in the past :)

    Your turn! What did YOU do for your classroom this week? Head on over to the Made4Math blog to see the other submissions!

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Made4Math - First Day of School!



    Ready or not, it is Monday... that means that kiddos come today! I spent all day on Sunday working on last minute details to prepare for today! I just pray that it goes as well in real life as it does in my head. :) I am also trying to remember to capture a photo every day to document my year, so make sure you visit my #180blog linked above in the header bar.

    Anyway, while I worked on a LOT of projects today, several of them were "borrowed" projects, such as the course information guide from @msrubinteach. I'm also borrowing heavily from her first day plans, so if you don't already read her blog, go do it now! She rocks!

    So, on to today's projects...

    Project #1 - Name Cards

    One of the things that I am REALLy bad at is keeping track of student names! It takes me several weeks to learn everyone's names, so this year, I decided to do Name Cards. When they walk in, each group of desks will have 4 pieces of white cardstock and a set of markers. These instructions will be on the board:


    I'm really hoping this will help me keep track of kids, plus it's built in formative assessment/exit tickets for the first week! WIN! :)

    Project #2 - Seating Chart Cards

    It was originally my intention to actually go through my rosters and assign kids to seats. Then time kept slipping away, so that idea got nixed. In the past, I have used a deck of cards for assigning seats, but that requires me to do some explanation. So I created a set of cards that is (hopefully) self explanatory!


    Project #3 - Evidence Envelopes

    If you have ever talked stats with me, you probably know that my favorite first day of school activity is the story of Kristen Gilbert. I first learned about Ms. Gilbert from the book "The Numbers behind Numb3rs". As soon as I read it, I knew I would be using it in my stat class. Graphs, contingency tables, probability, inference... it had it all! However, after talking to @approx_normal, I liked how she did the 'Evidence Folders' to present the data, so this year my students will have a similar setup as we go through the case.


    So what did you make this week? Head on over to the Made4Math blog to see the rest of this week's goodies! Don't forget to submit your post HERE

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    My Classroom... 2013-14

    This has been a weird year so far. Due to some scheduling issues, we had 4 teacher days this week and then kids start on Monday. I have never started school on a Monday in my entire life. Typically, teachers start on Monday and kids on Thursday, until this year. I really hope this isn't a trend that continues in future years because it has been the most stressful start of the year ever! Even with an extra official day, I don't feel ready for kids on Monday and that really freaks me out!

    Either way, I took a couple of pictures of my room to share with you guys :)

    Walking into my room, here's my door, inspired by @rachelrosales...


    From the front of the room, here is the view from my podium...


    And finally, the view from my desk...


    You may notice that my room looks a lot like it did last year. That's because all of the math classrooms in my building are identical to each other. The only difference is that the math rooms at the end of the hallway have doors that open up into a science classroom for collaboration. I'm sure I'll post pictures of that collaboration during the school year.

    I just wish I felt as ready on the inside as my classroom looks! :)

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    Made4Math - Exit Tickets



    Holy moly, where did summer go? Today is my last day of summer and it has been a crazy, busy day! I've done laundry, some cleaning, a lot of last minute school things, and just in general feel very stressed and overwhelmed! I had hoped to get a lot of this done over the past week, but one of my good friends and long-time neighbors has decided to get married.... in two weeks! So I spent my weekend shopping for wedding dresses and bridal party dresses... I'm so NOT a dress person and I thanked my hubby via text many, many times for us eloping! :)

    Anyway... on to today's projects!

    Project #1 - Exit Tickets
    First off, a shout out to @pamjwilson. If you don't follow her, go do it now! Pam blogs at The Radical Rational and almost everytime I read her blog, I find something to pin! Earlier this summer, she blogged about the 2 minute Assessment Grid and mentioned that she was making different posters for each class in their class color so she would have their exit tickets handy at the end of the day. I loved her idea, but was worried about storage of 5 poster boards, so I decided to make my exit slips as quarter sized pieces of paper.


    The idea behind the "Type" option is for students to choose one to write about..
    Pushpin = an idea they want to remember from the day
    Lightbulb = something that "clicked" for them today... a lightbulb moment
    Question Mark = a question they still have

    Want the file? Get it HERE

    Project #2 - The W's Foldable
    I like foldables... I like the way they look, the way the kids respond, the cutting and folding that goes into them...

    Next week, one of our first lessons is on the "Ws" of the data, the Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and by Whom that give context to a set of data. Here's the foldable they will be using to take notes :)


    Some unrelated notes
    A few weeks ago, I posted that server that hosted my blog files had gone belly up. I finally had the time to go through every post and restore most of the links in the older posts. I may have missed one or two, so if that happens, please drop me a line to let me know! Sorry for all of you that have followed links from pinterest and Made4Math hoping to download files, only to find the links were broken.

    Also, last week, the rules to Made4Math did change. The original idea to Made4Math was the group accountability of getting things ready for school and to share ideas among the MTBoS. If you look back at my contributions to Made4Math, sometimes I have shared a file, sometimes it's just a photo of my classroom, and that variety is a great thing! I love that we are a community of sharing, because often a comment or a photo sparks an idea. In order to perserve that community of sharing, I did implement a new rule on Made4Math, inspired by one of the rules for the Manic Monday linky at Classroom Freebies. I am asking that if you choose to offer a file to your readers, that you post the actual link on your blog (scribd, box, g-docs, etc) rather than link to a store (such as Teachers Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook), even if the file is free in your store. I appreciate all of the support and amazing ideas I have received from the Made4Math/MTBoS community and I want to do all I can to continue that cycle of sharing!

    So what did you make this week? Head on over to the Made4Math blog to see the rest of this week's goodies! Don't forget to submit your post HERE

    Monday, August 5, 2013

    Made4Math - More Classroom Pretties!





    Welcome to another wonderful Monday! I can't believe it's August!!! Where the heck did summer go??? And to make it worse, today is the 8th anniversary of my 29-and-holding-on-with-dear-life birthday. As the old country song says... I'm much too young to feel this damn old! :) Anyway, let's move on to happier topics, because I just have to say that my room makes me smile everytime I walk into it! :)

    Project #1 - The Hall Pass
    While browsing Pinterest one day, I ran across THIS PIN, which linked to the cutest hall pass from The Brown Bag Teacher. She was very awesome and had the hall pass in downloadable format on her blog, but I really wanted to add my name/classroom and the instructions for the students to sign out on the hall pass log. That meant a few changes were in order and I needed to do some searching. I used Colour Lovers for the background and found the awesome frame at MyCuteGraphics. After printing it out and putting it on some purple paper for a color pop, here's my new hallpass:


    I'm so pleased with how it turned out! I had some leftover badge holders from #TMC12, so I used those to hold the girls and boys passes, then used ID clips, so the students can clip it onto their shirt and I don't have to worry about where they are laying the pass down when they use the restroom. (EWWW) To make it easy to grab, I used rubber bands (hey, it was all I had available... don't judge!) and they are hanging on black push-pins on my bulletin board. I'm eager to see how this works this year :)

    Project #2 - The Table Buckets
    If you read the past from last week, I had some helpers on Tuesday that really knocked a lot of things out for me. My students are seated in groups of 4, and last year I used pencil boxes for each group to hold various supplies. I really wasn't a fan of that, so I purchased some buckets at Dollar Tree and got to work on making Table labels...


    Again, Colour Lovers for the background and Digs My Hart as the font... Gosh, I really love that font! :)

    Of course, the inside of the bucket is pretty special too...


    Here you can see the 4 sets of scissors, a set of Green/Yellow/Red cups for group work, and Project #3...

    Project #3 - Formative Assessment FlipCards
    I have really loved reading Embedded Formative Assessment this summer (twice so far!) and I've always wanted to use clickers in my class, but it just didn't work out. I hated the transition time, the management, etc. So here are my low-tech clickers...




    I made them colorful so that I could ask questions based on color (Red if you are stuck, etc), multiple choice (A-E), or on the back, true/false, agree/disagree, or a "?" if kids had questions or no clue where to go from there. Again, this is in Digs My Hart font and I really appreciate my helpers last week laminating, cutting, hole punching, and binder-ringing them together for me!

    So what did you make this week? Head on over to the Made4Math blog to see the rest of this week's goodies! Don't forget to submit your post HERE

    Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    Projects Galore!

    On the way home from school today, I really debated with myself about posting tonight or waiting until next week's Made4Math post. However, I'm just so pumped at how my room is shaping up that I couldn't wait a week to share!

    Yesterday, I had a meeting at 3pm and since I live 30 minutes from my school, I decided to go up and work in my room prior to the meeting. I knew I was going to have some student helpers today so I was trying to get things ready for them.


    I knew I would have the students (2 girls) for 2 hours, so I was really hoping we could get it all done! Over the weekend, I had spent time getting things printed off and organized so that today would be mostly assembly, and you can see all of the various components on the table above.

    Poster Project
    This morning I got to school about 30 minutes before the girls arrived, which gave me time to warm up the laminators, etc. When the girls showed up in my room, I quickly put them to work on a traffic light poster (inspired by @pamjwilson) and told them they had creative control. Thankfully one of the girls is as OCD as I am about how things look, so here's the final product:


    Group/Table Project
    While they had been working on the poster, I was laminating a ton of things, including a new calendar set because when I moved rooms, my "31" of my calendar set went missing! So after the poster was done, it was time to cut, cut, cut, and cut some more! Here's a shot of some of the work the girls did today:


    You can see the table signs that I posted on Made4Math, plus my new trash pails for each table, and my new group buckets. I really LOVE the way this all turned out and how classy it looks!

    Bulletin Boards Project
    While they worked on that, I worked on cutting out the calendar set and getting it all assembled. (Can I just say that I love this set? Thank you Dollar Tree!)


    Shoutout here to @pamjwilson -- the black hanging file is where I put absentee work... note the color coding! :)

    You can also see the new poster on the big doors. Those doors open to a science classroom on the other side. Second semester, the science teacher and I will be team teaching a Forensic Science class, so that's why we both had to move rooms this summer! I'm not sure what to put on the other door yet, so I'm open to suggestions!

    And finally, the last picture is a plea for HELP!!!


    I need ideas for that bulletin board over on the left... please please please help me!!! :)

    My room isn't totally done, but I'm making progress :)

    Monday, July 29, 2013

    #Made4Math - Sprucing up the room!


    Welcome again to another week of #Made4Math! :) This week, I don't have a ton to share with you because I've been gearing up for having some helpers this week to assist with #Made4Math projects! :)

    So as I was browsing pinterest this week, I ran across this eCard and I have to say, it sums up my attitude perfectly!


    I am so far behind in curriculum, but I have been working on making my classroom beautiful! :) I can't wait until it's done and I can unveil the finished project. :)

    Framing my ideas...
    If you know me at all, you know that two of my favorite places are the Target Dollar Spot and Dollar Tree. :) A few weeks ago, hubs and I were in Dollar Tree and found some clear acrylic 5X7 frames. I already have a set of 8x10 frames that I use often for stations, but I snapped up 15 a few of these frames to use in my classroom this year!

    The first 8 frames are now my table signs so that students can quickly find their groups on the first day of school!


    The adorable chevron frame was borrowed from HERE. However, I zoomed in on the pdf to about size 200%, then used the snipping tool to copy/paste it into Word in order to add a textbook. The font is my current favorite Digs My Hart.

    Another frame went to a quote for my desk. Shoutout to Rae, a coworker of hubby, who made this one for my classroom :)


    Since my theme this year is black and white, it fit in perfectly! And definitely a quote I need to remember on those "grrrr" days :)

    Stay Tuned!
    I have lots of great projects in the works for this next week... so excited to share them with you! :)

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Teacher Binder 2013-14 Edition


    Welcome again to another week of #Made4Math! :) I really thought that I would have several goodies to share with you, but this week's project took longer than I expected. :) However, I'm SO excited about how it turned out and hope you enjoy it too!

    ** Disclaimer - I have shared the files with you at the end of this post, but when I uploaded it to Google Drive, the font obviously did not come through. I thought of doing it as a pdf, but then it was close to 5meg and you would lose the editability. :( **

    Font Credit: The font used below is called Digs My Hart and is my current FAV font! Download it HERE

    Background Graphics Credit: The background graphics are from the ColourLovers website. Thanks to @mathtastrophe's post HERE for guiding me through the process!

    And of course, thanks to all of my twitter friends that listened to me hem and haw about what I wanted in a binder! :)

    Finally.... on to the binder itself!

    The Cover...


    Honestly, the cover is what started this whole thing! Following @mathtastrophe's instructions, I set out to make just a binder cover (or 20 of them, but who's counting??) :) The back cover looks the same, just doesn't have the text oval in the middle :)

    That lead to...

    The Dividers...

    For my binder, I made three of these... one for the calendar pages, one for my gradebook, and one for meeting notes.

    The pages...
    I knew I wanted a monthly calendar in there. However, from last year's binder, I knew that if the monthly calendar was in a separate section, I never used it! (P.S. - In the file, you'll see a blank page before the left hand August page. That's where you can copy/paste your district calendar or leave it as a notes page or whatever.)

    The thing I really used my notebook for last year was my lesson planning. So I recreated the lesson plan format that I liked, but put it side by side with a weekly agenda. Now I have plenty of room for notes, to-do lists, and more!

    In my last divider, I have space for meeting notes. I redid my meetings page from last year to fit a bit better based on a year's worth of work :)

    To bind or not to bind?
    I have to give kudos to my twitter buddies and my hubby for listening to me as I was so indecisive about how to bind this thing! I really like the look of the coil binding (see my #Made4Math post a few weeks ago), but since I wanted my gradebook in here too, I knew that coil binding would be impractical. Last year I used a Mead FlexBinder, but wasn't really crazy about it, especially as it got thicker towards the end of the year. Traditional binders can be annoying since they don't fold back like a spiral. In the end, I decided just to try binder rings and so far I think I'll like it! I printed the front and back covers on white cardstock before laminating them. The dividers are also laminated, but not on cardstock. The binder rings will allow me to have the notebook similar to a spiral if I wish, but still should be thick enough to provide some stability during those faculty meetings in the auditorium!

    The file
    If you want a copy of my binder, get it HERE :)
    **Note: The file is on google docs, so you will want to go to File:Download to get the PPT file!

    Now head on over to the #Made4Math blog to see what others created this week!

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    One Month... Time to get Serious!


    School is just ONE.MONTH.AWAY!!! It seems like I just got out of school yesterday! Of course, technically with all my travel/workshops, I have been "in school" for most of the summer. Last week, I was in Albany, NY attending a Forensic Science workshop and wowzers, that's going to be an AWESOME course!!! However, we won't teach it until spring semester, so I stiffled my excitement to start working on some other items.

    Target Time!!!
    Oh man, oh man, the BEST part of summer is scouring the Dollar Spot at Target! As soon as I got home, Target was on my must-go-to-right-away list! And I'm so glad I did... check out the awesomeness that is The Dollar Spot!


    Now this is a very small selection of the goodies I picked up because the next day, I decided to visit a few more local stores looking for pocket charts. (For those of you wondering why I want pocket charts in high school, make sure to check out this post from "i is a number".)

    Now back to the goodies above. See the mini composition book in the middle? Well, it's really a sticky note pad that looks like this:


    Let's pretend for a moment that you are an algebra teacher... (oh wait, I *am* an algebra teacher!) Can you imagine how awesome it would be to help a kid work a problem AND graph it without swapping papers multiple times?? Oh, and best part, they also had a dry erase version of the same thing for use under a document camera! WIN!! :)

    Shopping Time is over... on to the Creating

    Honestly, when I work up this morning, I had *no* idea what to do for my #Made4Math project. So after giving my kitty her medicine and feeding her, I came up to my office to start working on my to-do list. Throughout the course of the day, I got a few projects done, so I thought I'd share them! (Fair warning... these are only going to be useful to AP Stat teachers... sorry for anyone that is looking for general items of mathy-ness!

    Formative Assessment
    If you've followed me at all this summer, you know that one of my goals is to increase student engagement and the use of formative assessment tools in my classroom. After reading Embedded Formative Assessment, I knew that one thing I really wanted to do was add in more multiple choice questions to my lessons. In particular, I wanted to use more released AP questions and AP-inspired questions to gauge student understanding. So one of the first things I did this morning was to print off all of the released Multiple Choice questions and read through them to classify them by chapter in my text book. Then I created this handy "cheat sheet" to help me stay organized...


    If you teach out of BVD 3/e and want a copy, send me an email or leave a comment and I'll forward it to you. (Disclaimer: I do not promise that this document is typo-free!)

    Also, isn't the font just ADORABLE? After a Twitter discussion yesterday on fonts, I totally started crushing on this font and couldn't wait to use it in a project! (thanks @kathrynfreed for the link!). I also made a binder cover using it... totally my new favorite!

    AP Stat Live Binder
    Also today, I was looking through my notebook from last year and decided I needed a better way to organize the articles that I like to use in AP Stat. Sometimes these are articles I print off for students to read, sometimes it's a news clip that I use in class, etc. I had been wanting to try Live Binders for a while, so here was my chance!


    This was really easy to make and I can see great uses for LiveBinders! Over on the left, I organized by the units in my curriculum, then did subtabs for each article under the unit. YAY for organization!! :)

    So what did YOU make this week?
    Head on over to the #Made4Math blog and check out the other submissions!

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    #Made4Math - Custom Notebooks :)


    If you know me at all in real life, you know how excited I am about this #Made4Math post! I *heart* (with big puffy pink/purple hearts) school supplies!!! If you need convincing, feel free to check out this post... or this one... :)

    At the AP reading, one of the ladies in my reading room shared that Staples or Office Depot would do a spiral bound notebook for a fairly reasonable cost. My wheels started spinning with the ideas of things to be bound! Lesson Plan book! Meetings book! Oh my, oh my, oh my!!! The possibilities!!!

    However, with all of the possibilities, I hadn't actually gone to have anything bound... until Saturday came and I realized that I really needed something to take with me to the Forensic Science workshop. Preferably something that would let me take notes, do graphs, etc. So after some searching, I found a custom notepaper generator that did Cornell graph paper and lined paper. SCORE! :)

    I tinkered until I had what I wanted, then printed 100 pages and off to Staples I went. Here is my custom notebook:


    You will notice that I forgot to print a fancy cover... whoops! :) The binding has a plastic cover on the front and you can choose the color of the back cover. When you open it, on the left is lined notepaper and on the right is the Cornell graph paper.

    Best part? It cost me under $5 to have *exactly* what I wanted! YAY!!! :)

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    New Preps.... and the search for collaborators!

    For this next year, I will be teaching two new preps and now that it is July, I guess I should start thinking about them!

    Prep 1 - Intermediate Algebra

    Over the past few years, my district has noticed more students struggling with Algebra 2 for various reasons. Our first intervention plan involved enrolling the students in an Algebra Lab class, which meant that weaker students were enrolled in 2 hours of math a day. This was good for some students, but with only 6 hours in a day, increased graduation requirements, and some really awesome elective options, many students that needed Algebra Lab were not enrolled in it.

    To combat this issue, particularly as we transition to CCSS and increased rigor in the standards, our Math Curriculum Specialist pushed for an Intermediate Algebra class to replace the Algebra Lab program. The course is designed for sophomores and juniors who have completed Algebra 1 and Geometry, but are not ready for the rigors of Algebra 2 quite yet. The students are expected to enroll in Algebra 2 the following year.

    We will be using the "Bridge to Algebra 2" textbook below:



    Honestly, I'm really excited about teaching this course. The text we have chosen is very hands on and seems to be project/problem based. I have the freedom to build the course and there is no end-of-course standardized exam. (YAY!) I would like for the class to really help the students make connections, have fun with math, and really apply what they learn.

    However, I'm also a tad nervous! I've never taught in a problem based setting. How will I adapt SBG to this course? How will I structure the class? I've searched for other schools doing something similar and have come up mostly empty. I'll be working with students that don't really like math, which is okay, those are the kids I love. But that can be another difficult hill to climb alone. :(

    If you know of anyone teaching a similar course or using this text, PLEASE let me know, either in the comments or send me a tweet (@druinok). If you are just interested in helping me figure out it, that would be awesome too! :)

    Prep 2 - Forensic Science and Data Analysis

    You know that moment when you realize that you are piloting not one, but TWO brand new courses that no one has ever taught and then you think to yourself.. "Self - YOU ARE INSANE!!!" Yeah, that's where I am right now :)

    My building was built to foster math/science collaboration, which means we alternate Math/Science in an effort to open lines of communication, etc. When they assigned us rooms, they tried to pair up people based on curriculum in order to help this collaboration. Of course, as a Statistics teacher, I had the luxury of being able to collaborate with just about anyone, but I already had established partnerships with the AP Environmental Science teacher and the AP Biology teacher, so I was placed near them in order to continue the collaboration.

    So earlier this year, the APES teacher, who also pioneered our Biotechnology program, and I were talking about how cool it would be to team teach a class someday. She mentioned that often in their science classes, they gather some really cool data, but often times just tell the kids to "look! how cool!" and move on to the next unit. From that discussion, we brainstormed a Forensic Science and Data Analysis course. We presented it to our curriculum specialists, then to our principals, who helped it get approved by our district. It will be a one semester course, with a pre-req of Biotechnology and Algebra 2. The two of us will team teach it during the same hour with about 50 kids total. Thankfully, we have classrooms that open up to each other via a huge doorway in our shared wall, so that the management of 50 kids won't be too difficult (I hope!).

    I should probably admit here that science is NOT my strong point and I'm terrified of teaching science, but I think the class will be awesome! Thankfully my district is sending me to a forensic science workshop next week, so hopefully some of my fears will be alleviated! :)

    Pretty please...
    If you know of ANYONE that teaches courses like these, please send them my way! I need some major help getting things together before school starts! :)

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    #Made4Math - Student Engagement Flipchart


    Can you believe that a year has gone by since we first started the #Made4Math project? In that time, hundreds of ideas have been shared by the Math Twitter-Blog-O-Sphere that have truly transformed classrooms across the world! I am so blessed to have been a small part of that and I am grateful everyday for such a caring community that truly has a "gift culture". Daily, I am pushed by my fellow bloggers and tweeters to be a better teacher and a better person and for that I am forever grateful!

    Now, on to this week's project...

    I have to say, I am SO excited for this week's project! As you may know from previous posts, I read Embedded Formative Assessment earlier this summer (and am currently re-reading it!), as well as Teach Like a Pirate. Both of these books were excellent and really pushed me to re-examine some of my teaching practices, particularly in the area of student engagement.


    A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with @pamjwilson and @rachelrosales about using formative assessment strategies and how to have them 'at my fingertips' for quick reference. Rachel shared that she used index cards on a key ring which first got me started on this week's project. I really liked the key ring idea and not too long after that, I saw a spiral bound notecard pack at Dollar Tree that I also liked. Then one of them tossed out the idea of using baseball card sleeves to organize strategies... hmm, that would be a nice way to be able to see the strategies listed out! *Insert the sound of wheels turning in my head here...*

    But no matter what the idea, it just didn't feel *right* to me, so back to the drawing board I went...

    This past week, I was at the Dallas AVID Summer Institute, and on the way back, was reading through a book that a colleague had with her called Summarization in Any Subject, which cemented some of these ideas of wanting to incorporate formative assessment and engagement strategies.

    On Saturday, hubby wanted to do some errands and one of the places we ended up was at a used book store. It was there that I finally got my A-ha! moment. There was a small flipchart book of Literacy Strategies for the Content Areas and that's when I knew what this week's project would be. I mean, the bells were going off so loud in my head that I know the other patrons of the store had to hear them!

    Please let me introduce my #Made4Math project... a formative assessment/summarization/engagement flipchart!


    I took a plastic file folder and used index cards upside down for my strategies. I did many Google searches on summarization strategies, formative assessment strategies, etc, and used those documents to narrow down the list to ones that I truly felt I would use and that I felt would work with my classes. On each index card is the name of the strategy and a short description. Sometimes I included variations of the strategy as well. This will stay on my desk so that I can refer to it often. I'm really excited to use this as I'm planning lessons this next year!

    If you have other ideas for strategies to add to my folder, please let me know!

    What did YOU make for #Made4Math?
    Head on over to the Made4Math blog to see other awesome ideas!