Monday, August 31, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 31 - Done!

August is over!  I didn't quite make my 31 day goal, but I'm a heck of a lot closer than I was a month ago. :)  I had hoped to blog every day and it just didn't happen, but I blogged more days than not, so I declare Blaugust a success! :)

I really don't know what to blog about today, so I'm going to ramble a bit about how it's going this year :)

Things I'm liking so far this year:
  • I have the best collaborators!  The teacher that has taught across the hall from me the past few years is now teaching calculus, so we again have a new teacher teaching Stat.  However, it's a good thing because she's an experienced teacher that I've known for years!  She and I met many many years ago at an APSI and I was so excited when she joined our staff last year.  Now she's teaching Stat again and it's been so fun to collaborate with her and the other stat teacher.
  • I've really enjoyed my lessons so far!  I am still waiting on the year where I get to re-use the previous year's lessons! :)  Seriously though, I have a tendency to try to improve on everything every year and this year is no exception.  For many years, I've believed in active learning, but this year it seems like I've done that more than previous years.  The kiddos took a quiz today, so I'm hoping that their level of enjoyment comes through in the quiz scores.
  • Make It Stick!  This book has potential to be a huge game-changer in my classroom!  I'm using a lot more forced recall, frequent quizzing, reflection opportunities, and mini-quiz exit tickets than I've ever used.  I'm exhausted, but it definitely is worth it!
  • High Five Friday!  I am just not a daily person, but I've be doing a High Five Friday and my kids are responding so well!  I'm hoping this really builds a sense of community and caring in my classroom.

Things I need to improve:
  • I am horrible at learning names.  This seems to be harder and harder for me every year and I really don't know what else to do to force my brain to remember the names.  
  • Balance!  This is a yearly goal... lol!  I am always thinking about school, so this is a never-ending challenge and goal :)
  • Tackling my to-do list!  I have to figure out a way to get more things marked off my to-do list... ugh! :)

 Alrighty... The last post of the month is over!! :)  Happy Blaugust! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 30 - Sunday Summary

Blaugust is almost over!  I didn't blog every day, but this is my 23rd post of the month, which I'm pretty proud of, considering I had 7 for the first 7 months of 2015! :)

Thanks to all of the people that joined in this month... I'll try to be a bit more organized next year for it! :)

My Sunday 3-2-1 Summary

3 things that went really well in my classes this past week:

  • We used Kahoot to check homework this week... what a fun app!!  My students begged to play again!
  • I've been using the mini-quizzes and reflection as described in Make It Stick.  My kids did great with their "Multiple Choice Monday" and their reflection activity on Friday
  • To learn about Bias, I had the kids read their textbook and do a Concept Map... they really got so much more out of it than they would have had I lectured over the same material.

2 things I'm looking forward to this week

  • My admin team has decided to start a Staff Spirit Committee to help with planning activities and staff morale.  I am excited to see the fun new activities that we can come up with!
  • Next weekend is a holiday, so we already get a long weekend but our school has off Friday for Professional development as well, so 4 day weekend!!! :)

1 great weekend!

  • This was one of the best weekends I've had in ages!  Dinner with friends on Friday night, then an afternoon/evening of shopping with another friend yesterday, then a day of fellowship at church with a pot-luck and singing.  I haven't sang publicly in 20 years, so I totally butchered my first song, but after that, I finally stopped shaking and did okay :)  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 27 - Table Folders

A few years ago, there was a Made4Math post on student table folders.  I really loved the idea, rushed out to buy folders, and then really didn't follow through with them.

Then, last year, I decided to use my folders for sub days and I really loved the simple organization, so I decided to make an effort to use them this year.  I spent a lot of time running around my classroom passing out papers and it was wearing me out.  Here's an example of my Table Folders from today:

Each day, I put that days handouts in the folder and return any papers from the previous day.  In the photo above, the left pocket holds a handout of notes and yesterday's exit ticket.  The right folder holds two problem sets (today was a block day), one problem set was for mid-block, the other problem set was for homework.  The cardstock at the top are their name tents until I learn names well. :)

So far, I really love the table folders, although it does put pressure on me to stay organized and on top of the paperwork. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 26 - Concept Maps

Repost from my 180Blog...  (See link in the top header)

Today was one of those days where you just want to jump and scream "Nailed It!"

In AVID, we worked on our first major project and the kids were so engaged and invested that it was magical.  I asked them to create a presentation (video, poster, song parody, skit, etc) for the Freshman class to introduce them to the big ideas of AVID.  The kids really took it and ran with it.  By the end of the block, they had very solid plans in place plus started planning some social activities and discussing fundraiser ideas for AVID.

In Stat, we started by playing Kahoot to check our homework, which was an absolute blast!  The students were so engaged and one kid was in the lead until the last question when he was bumped to 2nd place.  Such a sense of excitement and competition that came from doing the homework! :)  On block days, I try to do several mini activities to break up the time, so after Kahoot, we some short mini-lessons, including a reading assignment and a concept map to process the reading.  We did a Gallery Walk to read the other maps and add to them, then back to their normal seats to summarize their learning in their notebooks.  Many kids chose to replicate their concept maps in the notebook, which is why the student below has his/her phone out... it was easier to take a photo then to continue rotating the paper so all students could read the poster. :)  All in all, an awesome day! 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 25 - One Good Thing

I finally found them...

Cotton Candy Grapes.

Yes, you read that right. :)

Green grapes that taste like Cotton Candy... oh my, so yummy!

It's been a rough start to school so far and I'm really struggling to find my groove.  Last week, one of our ag teachers posted about the grapes and I've been on a mission to find them ever since.  Multiple grocery trips later, I finally found them at the grocery store around the corner from me.  I won't buy them often since they are crazy expensive, but oh my goodness, they are yummy!

They almost made working a 12+ hour day worth it.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 23 - Sunday Summary

My Sunday 3-2-1 Summary

3 things I'm looking forward to this week:
  • This week will be the first week to really delve into the "Make It Stick" plans that I've made... I'm hoping it goes well!
  • In AVID, I'm assigning their first big project... to make videos for the younger students!
  • Dinner and a movie with great friends to end the week... if I can make it to Friday! :)

2 awesome things that happened this week:
  • High Five Friday!  I didn't get up the nerve to high five my students daily, even after multiple internal pep talks.  However, on Friday, I decided to make it a weekly celebration of getting through another week.  My students responded very positively, so I think it's something I can keep up each week!
  • Some former students came back to say Hi this week on their way off to college.  I always love seeing my former students and appreciate that they took a moment to pop in!  Yesterday was also the Class Reunion Tour for the Class of 2005, so I had an opportunity to see some former students there too.  It's always fun to see them "grown up" since in my head, they are frozen at age 18.  To see them at age 28 with spouses and children just messes with my mind. :)

1 thing I'm not looking forward to:
  • This is going to be a VERY busy week, with meetings every single day after school, then plans with friends on Friday.  I'm hoping that I can juggle everything successfully and get through the week without being too grumpy :)  I know I will eventually get back into the swing of things!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 22 - Week 1 is DONE! :)

I had all intentions of blogging last night, but I got home from school around 7:45 and by 8:30, I was asleep in bed!  That first week back of 12+ hour days is a killer after a relaxing summer.  Hopefully I will adjust soon!

One of my goals this year is to blog more often.  I've been posting a photo to my 180blog, but thought I would reflect on this year so far...

Happy first day of school!  It was a rough start with no internet until after 2pm, but we made it through!
AP Stat:  In AP Stat, we started by making our table tent name-tags, then for the lesson, I went with my go-to of Kristen Gilbert.  I have toyed with changing to a different first day activity, but Kristen pulls me in  every time.
AVID:  Today was a day of "Getting to Know You" as I'm new to this group of kiddos.  I have several of them in my AP class as well, but it was fun to get to know them on a more personal level.

Today was a much better day.. the internet worked! :)  One thing that I am doing differently this year (and really like) is going around from table to table to take attendance each hour with eye contact and a "Hello, (Student Name Here)".
AP Stat:  Our warmup was an AP problem from several years ago and the kids worked on it independently at first, then did a table-share out and revision.  I talked to them about my homework expectations (max 10-15 minutes), then we set up our notebooks.
AVID:  After finishing up the "Getting to Know You" questions, we watched an AVID Student Speaker Video and did a Learning Log.  Several of them seemed surprised at how quickly you could do a page of notes with a Learning Log! :)

We made it!  Week 1 is in the books!  I declared today "High Five Friday!"
AP Stat:  After starting class with "High Five Friday!" (which my 6th hour totally loved!), we got down to business with starting a chapter, taking our first notes, and getting our first homework assignment.  The kids did a great job of working with their groups.  The exit ticket today was #myfavoriteFriday and there were some great responses, including one table in 6th hour where everyone said "High Five Friday!" was their favorite thing from the week.
AVID:  We did some work on Cornell Notes vs Learning Logs and when to use each one.  These kiddos are experienced at C-Notes, but trying to get them to *use* them effectively is more difficult.  Today I worked in my classroom most of the day and made bookmarks for this class with C-Note instructions on the front and Learning Log prompts on the back.  So much fun! :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 20 - First Days

This daily blogging thing isn't too bad this month other than I'm exhausted at the end of the day!  I'm not stressing out about it though... I've tripled my post count for the year, so I'm going to count that as a success! :) 

Year 18 officially started yesterday as the kids came in the door.  I couldn't bring myself to do the high five (YET!), but I'm okay with that.  Maybe it will be a Friday special event now that my kids know me a bit better. :)  This year started out rough with no internet access in my room yesterday, but thankfully none of my lesson plans required the internet.  :)  My students seem like really awesome kiddos so far and I've enjoyed some of the fun quirkiness of the new group.  For example, here's a conversation from today:

Scene:  Beginning of 6th hour, while going around to take attendance and working on learning names...

Student:  Mrs. T, I have a question for you.

Me:  Okay, (Student name), what's up?

Student:  What was your favorite grade in school?
Me:  Grade?  Like Grade Level?
Student:  Yes
Me:  *thinking*  Probably 5th grade
Student:  Yeah, that was a good grade.  Why?
Me:  I had a great teacher and it's that age where you are old enough to be independent but young enough that you are still a kid.
Student:  Good answer!
Me:  So turn about... what would be your answer?
Student:  I don't know yet - I'm not done with this year!

I have a feeling that my kiddos this year will be a blast!  :) 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 18 - My Classroom

Kiddos come tomorrow, whether I'm ready or not!  This morning, I had *most* of my room ready (at least physically) for them to arrive.  

Starting from my desk area, here's the view toward the back of the room.  To the immediate left of this image is the wall of windows and to the immediate right is the classroom doorway to the hall.  Notice my new "Be" bulletin board!  I'm really excited about this addition! :)

Moving on around the room, here's the view toward the classroom door.  One change I really like this year are the desks that are turned at an angle for better viewing of the front of the room.  Ignore the big pile of stuff in the "nook" area.  That's all AVID stuff that is waiting on our new professional library area to be finished! :)

Continuing on to the front corner of the room, you can see my podium with the "Change Your Mindset" poster and yet another shot of the AVID/laptop mess in my "nook".  My poor student aide's desk is in that mess somewhere. :)  Also note the Exit Ticket pocket chart that I posted about yesterday!  You can see the corner of my desk with the snowflake tissue box. :)

Here's my desk area and the messy countertop and desk that haven't been dealt with yet.  I could use about another week before kids come!  Honestly, we had 4 days of "prep" time, but today was the first day that I was really able to be in my classroom.  

The window wall is one of my favorite features of my classroom.  I love the storage space and the countertop.  Below you can also see my "Classroom Friendly Supplies" pencil sharpener and the instructions above it on the wall.  :)

One of my favorite new additions to my classroom is my Normal Model Plushy from the wonderful Kay Endriss.  I can't wait until we get to that chapter and kids realize the fun that is hiding in the window sill with the ladybugs! :)  Thank you, Kay! 

Thanks for stopping by for the tour!  I hope you enjoyed it. :)  Now I'm off to bed before a long day of high fives and lots of stress! :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 17 - Made4Math Monday

It's been a long time since I've done a Made4Math post, but with school starting this week, it is time to get things done! :)

Project #1 - Organizing the MC Problems
On my "to-be-done-someday" list was to organize the released AP Multiple Choice questions so that it would be easier to use them in class.  I've tried random ideas throughout the years, but on Friday night, I randomly had the idea to use sheet protectors.  On Saturday morning, I made sheet protector "envelopes" for each chapter of my textbook, then started the long process of printing out the AP problems and organizing them.  I'm really excited to see if this helps me use more questions this year to help prepare my students for the AP exam.

Project #2 - Exit Prompts
(I don't know why this is sideways.. I'm so sorry!)
I purchased this pocket chart at Target earlier this summer in the Dollar Spot and had it on my "to-do" list for a while.  (Off topic, but I wasn't impressed with this year's Dollar Spot goodies as compared to previous years.  It made me very sad!)  Since kids come this week, it was time to narrow down my choices, so I asked the MTBoS for help!  Justin, Kathryn, and Emily came to my rescue and together we created the prompts above.  I will admit that the handwriting drives me crazy, so I will probably type it tomorrow and replace the strips. :)  My idea is to roll a die and that becomes the exit ticket on those "unplanned" days.  :)

One more day of planning and then kiddos arrive... Wish  me luck! :)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 16 - Sunday Summary

My Sunday 3-2-1 Summary

3 awesome things that happened this past week:

  • Our Staff Meeting on Friday was "EdCamp" style and I loved it!  Our principals gave us a reflection paper to keep track of ideas as well as asking each session to have a "scribe" to record the main ideas.  I really got a lot out of it!
  • I had an opportunity to spend time this weekend with my mom, which was a lot of fun.  We did some shopping, had dinner, then went to a "singing".  Lots of laughs and good memories :)
  • The weather this week was *gorgeous*, which means I had the opportunity to sit outside and read.  I got a tad bit sunburnt, but at least I have color on my legs now! :)

2 things that I keep telling myself:

  • For some reason, I'm not as pumped about this year as I normally am.  I think part of it is that I actually took the month of July off, which hasn't happened in about 5 years.  I keep telling myself that it's okay to not be 100% ready yet.. the kids don't come until Wednesday! :)
  • I've been batting around the "Daily High 5" from Glenn (@gwaddellnvhs) for a few weeks.  Several Tweeps (Meg, Elissa, etc) have tried to encourage me, but I've been resistant.  I'm such an introverted person that this idea really scares me.  Then I had a realization this week that I ask my students to do all sorts of activities (Jigsaw, Give One/Get One, etc) that would have driven me crazy as a student, but I am able to pull it off through lots of faking. :)  I keep telling myself that the high 5 will be the same and that I can fake it until it becomes part of the culture of my class.  Based on Glenn's reports, it can really transform a classroom and that's what I really want.  

1 thing I'm looking forward to this week:

  • This year, I've taken back on an AVID elective class.  I will have the seniors and I'm really excited about working with them.  It's been several years since I've had an elective class, so I'm nervous (like REALLY nervous), but I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, August 14, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 14 - Sheer Exhaustion

I have so much going on in my mind today and so little energy to do it. :)

This morning started with a 2 hour "EdCamp" session that was probably one of the best PD sessions I have attended in many years.  I walked away with a lot of strategies that I want to think about and incorporate into my classroom.

One strategy that I heard today that I like a lot:
"I think..."
"I wonder why..."
"This reminds me of..."
The teacher that shared this strategy is an ELL teacher (I think) and was referring to reading a text or looking at a photo.  It reminded me a lot of "I notice.. I wonder.."

I wrote myself a ton of notes but then left them at school :)

Sorry for the rambles... I think I'm going to bed... #snore

Thursday, August 13, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 13 - Reflection Grid

Today was the first official day back from summer and I must tell you, I am *tired*!! :)  We had the time to work in our classrooms this morning, but I spent most of it running around helping others with technology.

However, one thing I did get finished today was the MC Monday sheet.  If you recall, a few posts ago, I asked for your opinion on how to handle the reflection piece on the back.  After some great feedback and such, I decided to use a modified Reflection Grid, similar to those that @pamjwilson uses in her classes.

This is now the back page of my MC Mondays:

Thank you to everyone that shared their ideas!  I really appreciate it :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 12 - Last Day of Summer

I didn't blog yesterday.  I thought it about several times, but it just didn't happen.  I'm going to consider that making it 10 days in a row, after only having 8 posts in the previous 7 months, is pretty darn good!

Today was the last day of summer.  After a 9:30am presentation to some of our new teachers, I headed home to enjoy the gorgeous weather (89 degrees in August in Oklahoma is unheard of!)... rocking chair, sunlight, breeze, good book... it was a glorious afternoon... well, until I got sunburnt LOL!  :)  When hubby got home, his response was "well, you wanted some color on your legs!" :)

Tomorrow starts my 18th year in the classroom.  That's so scary to me.  My students this year will have been born during my 1st year of teaching.  I find that crazy because I do NOT feel that old! :) 

As a shout-out to the new teachers I worked with today, here are 18 tips, one for each year I've been in the classroom!  (These are in no particular order!)

  1. The most valuable person at your school is your site secretary.  Get to know him/her really well!  This is the person that knows where everything is stored and can answer 99.99999% of your questions.  Always be nice to him/her and show them respect.
  2. The second most valuable person is the custodian.  Go out of your way to find out their name, ask about their family, and treat them well.  My custodian is a lovely lady who was a math teacher in Columbia before moving to the States.  
  3. Your classroom is your home away from home.  Make sure it is a place that you enjoy, because you will be spending many hours there!
  4. Take time to write and reflect on a regular basis.  Some people journal daily, others jot down thoughts on a post-it, but whatever works for you, just make sure you do it!
  5. Take advantage of the resources of the MTBoS!  There is no need to reinvent the wheel, nor do you  have time for it!  When lesson planning, I always have a tab open with Tweetdeck so that my PLN is just a click away.
  6. Take time for you.  It is really easy to let this profession overwhelm you.  Each week, find time to do something fun... go for a hike, go to a movie, get a pedicure, whatever it is that helps you relax!
  7. Relax!  You can be the biggest perfectionist in the world, but no one is perfect the first time (or the first ten times!)  It's okay to make mistakes, to learn from them, to learn to do better next time.  Your administrator knows that you didn't walk out of college 3 months ago and have it all figured out already.. heck, 20 year veterans don't have it all figured out!  Give yourself permission to fail, to pick yourself up and try again.
  8. Spend quality time in lesson planning.  Think through how a lesson flows, plan out the questions you will ask, determine the formative assessment strategies that fit best.  Put yourself in the student chair... would you be engaged with this lesson?  If not, what can you do to fix it?
  9. Find a mentor.  Chances are, there is a veteran teacher nearby that would love to help you.  If not, MTBoS to the rescue!  We have a ton of people from every walk of life that are passionate about teaching and learning and will help you out.
  10. Develop routines.  Think about all the little details... what if a kid needs to use the restroom?  What about absent students?  When can they sharpen their pencils?  How do you want to structure your class period?  It's better to think through how you want to handle things before kids arrive.
  11. Be a "bell-to-bell" teacher.  Some of the most valuable (and wasted) time in the class period is the first and last 5 minutes of the day.  I highly encourage you to develop a warmup and exit ticket routine.  If you use that time wisely, it can add up to 50 minutes per week... that's an entire class period!
  12. Find your "people".  A lot of advice columns will tell you to avoid the teacher's lounge and for good reason!  Often, the lounge is filled with Grumpy Gus and Negative Nancy.  However, it is vital for you to have adult conversation at least once a day!  Find the people that you identify with and I guarantee you will find some of your dearest friends.
  13. Sometimes you have to prioritize and that's okay!  While I'm not advocating for letting papers pile up for days on end (guilty!), remember that your health and well-being is important.  When it comes down to grading Friday's test or attending Grandma's 85th birthday, please choose Grandma every time!  Those tests will still be there tomorrow, but your time with Grandma is limited.  
  14. Speaking of health and well-being, take time to exercise and eat right.  I've struggled with my weight for years and years, but daily exercise is really important.  Beyond the obvious reason for exercise, there is also research about how the oxygen and movement is important to brain function, particularly creativity.  I'd also recommend putting a pair of comfy shoes in your classroom so you can go on an afternoon stroll with a colleague.  It's a great way to get some exercise in while chatting!
  15. Other things to have in your classroom:  house-shoes for those days when your dress shoes are giving you a blister; bandaids for those pesky papercuts (or the blisters!); needle and thread because you never know when they might be handy for sewing on a button (safety pins are handy too!); jacket or lap blanket for those cranky heat/air systems
  16. Never underestimate the value of a good pen!  I love pens, like really love pens!  I have container after container of pens.  However, when I'm grading, I can't stand pens that bleed, skip, or are "scratchy".  For grading, my go-to is the Papermate Flair.  They may be pricey, but they are SO worth it!
  17. Collaboration is important.  Find the teachers that teach your subject and work with them.  Share assessments and lessons.  You do NOT have to do this alone!  If no one at your school teaches your subject, then ask the MTBoS for help!   
  18. Don't be afraid to ask for help!  I have known too many new teachers that ended up leaving the profession because they were overwhelmed but didn't want to be a bother to the veteran teachers.  You are NOT a bother!  We want to help, but don't want to seem too pushy.  Sometimes we all get wrapped up in our own lives and forget how it feels to be a new teacher.  Please do not let that stop you.  I promise that we love helping people or we wouldn't be a teacher! :)
Whew!  I wondered if I would be able to come up with 18 tips, but there you go!  Now go out and conquer the world.  You can do it!!


Monday, August 10, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 10 - Unique Jewelry

So this is a huge deviation from my normal posting tendencies, but one that really made my day!

My birthday was last week.  Between running errands, I came home to find a package on the doorstep.  I wasn't expecting a package, but hubby orders a lot from Amazon, so it really didn't shock me until I saw that the package had my name on it!

When I opened the package, I found a card (or two!) from one of my dearest friends plus lots of back-to-school goodies!  I finally got the chance to wear one of the gifts today...

Check out that awesome "Oklahoma" bracelet made from an old license plate!  My dear friend, @pamjwilson, found it at a boutique and decided that it needed to find its way back to Oklahoma and sent it to me.  I've really been into bracelets this summer, and I can't wait to style it this year!  I received a ton of compliments today on my unique accessory and I loved that it had a fun story behind it, and I especially love the looks I get from people who don't really "get" Twitter or my "friends who live in the computer". :)

(On a side note.. we are 1/3 of the way through August... stay strong my #MTBoSBlaugust friends!)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 9 - Sunday Summary

My Sunday 3-2-1 Summary

3 things I will miss about summer:
  • Each morning, after hubby gets ready for work, he makes our coffee, then brings my cup in to my bedside table.  *puffy heart*
  • After waking up with my coffee, I get dressed and head out for a 45 minute walk.  This is my quiet time and I treasure it greatly.  Sadly, when school starts, I leave the house at 6:30am, so it would be too dark to walk in the mornings at that point.
  • Living life on my own schedule versus a school bell.  Eating when I get hungry, using the restroom as needed, all the little things that most adults take for granted. :)

2 awesome things that happened this week:
  • My birthday was on Wednesday and it was one of the best birthdays I've had in years!  I received an awesome package from a dear dear friend (who know who you are!) and we had a birthday party at church, complete with the yummiest cake!  I had no idea that Sam's Club did cakes until this summer and I will definitely use them in the future!
  • On Friday night, a friend and I went to a gospel signing here in town.  It's been years since I have been to one and it was just restorative to my soul.  It definitely put me in a good frame of mind for the weekend and upcoming week!

1 thing I'm looking forward to this week:
  • Tomorrow is Senior Schedule Pick-Up Day.  I'm excited to meet some of my new students for this year!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 8 - Busy Day!

It has been a crazy busy day around here, although I will say that I have very little to show for all my hard work!  It's "tax-free weekend" in my state, so I knew I didn't want to go out shopping today, so I worked in my office on my school to-do list.  :)  I didn't get much crossed off, but I'm pleased with my progress so far!

Thinking about my notebook:

Title Page
I started the morning thinking about changes I wanted to make to the INB.  I knew that I wanted to move the Table of Contents to page 2 because as the notebook gets thicker through the semester, it gets harder and harder to write in the table of contents when the ToC is opened to the inside.  As a result, I needed something for the first page!  I know!  A Title Page!!  I do not understand why it is so difficult for seniors in high school to write their names on their notebooks, but hopefully this title page solves the issue.  After some looking at Pinterest, I decided to use the "Who I Am" that was inspired by the MTBoS several years ago.  
To download the file, click HERE.  Note:  This is a view only file, so you'll need to save it to your computer to edit!

These will be on the student tables when the kids enter the room.  They will work on completing this as I go around the room meeting the students.  When we set up our notebooks, this will be on page 1.  I hope students will enjoy reading back over their day 1 thoughts at the end of the year.

TI84 Page
While browsing Pinterest looking for Title Page ideas, I ran across an idea from MissCalcul8's blog that used a TI84 template to remind students of their calculator functions.  I'm excited about this idea and can't wait to add it to our stat notebooks!  Here's the prototype I did today and I would also include page numbers for the student to reference:

Thinking about Assessment:

MC Mondays
One of my other goals today was to think through how MC Mondays would work.  Here is my current thinking:
The front would have 5 Multiple Choice questions.  At the beginning of the year, it will include questions from our previous End of Course exams regarding stat/prob questions.  The back is a blank template that will be used each week.  On Monday, the kids will answer the 5 questions on the front and turn that in.  On Tuesday, we will do the Analysis and Reflection as our warmup.  

The back is adapted from the TPS Review Guide written by Jason Molesky and Michael Legacy.  I did change their "Simple Mistake" column to "Type of Mistake?" after being inspired by MathEqualsLove's blog post this morning.  The Reflection part I'm thinking will probably change to a 3-2-1 structure:
  • 3 things that I need to remember for future assessments (could be anything from content details to distractors to computation, etc)
  • 2 ____________________ (I'm stuck on this one... ideas?)
  • 1 concept that I need to review and my review plan
I'm not tied to any of these, so if you have ideas, please pass them along!

Thinking about Day 1:

Kristen Gilbert
After a lot of tossing back and forth ideas for a new Day 1 activity, I decided to stick with my beloved Kristen.  I did find a great article written by George Cobb and Steven Gehlbach about Nurse Gilbert for any of you thinking of using this activity in your classes.  For Day 1's homework, I've decided to do the AP 2000#1 because it also ties into the idea of "Make a Picture" and it's very accessible for kids right away.  I want to set the tone from Day 1 that this is going to be a class where you have to read, think, and write.

So much left to do... but I'm happy with the progress I made! :)

Friday, August 7, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 7 - My Favorite Friday

I had so many moments this week that would definitely qualify for a "My Favorite".  From a birthday party at church (complete with a ladybug cake!) to a great time tonight with a dear friend, it was definitely tough to determine a "My Favorite" for this week! 

This week has been busy with setting up my room and preparing for kids in 1.5 weeks.  (EEEK!)  Definitely one of my favorite classroom supplies and one that I could *not* do without is my trusty little laminator!  I have a slightly larger one at home, but the one I have at school is an Amazon Basics and I even purchased one as a graduation gift for my student teacher last year. 

As for all of the words... well, that will have to wait until next week's "Show Off Your Classroom" post! :)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 6 - My Yearly Mantra

Prompt #19 from the mega-list of prompts says:  What is your focus/theme/mantra for the year and why? Create and share a notecard for your desk as a reminder.

Every year, I really spend a lot of time thinking about my teaching mantra for the year.  Two years ago, it was "It's not supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be worth it."  Last year, it was "The best way to learn is to do, the worst way to teach is to talk."  I love my yearly mantra because it gives me focus for the year and I need all of the focus I can get!  I knew that I really wanted to work on better relationships this year, so I narrowed down my choices and ended up with two strong contenders:

 First off, I totally love (with puffy heart loves) the leopard background! :)  However, both of these quotes really resonate with me as a teacher, so it was really difficult to decide on which one would be the final choice.  

But, after lots of thinking, here's the winner:

I love having my yearly mantra where I have to see it multiple times a day!  

The thing that really tipped the scale was that I have felt very convicted personally this summer to try to "Be the Change" by showing love and serving others in their time of need.  I want to work on building better relationships with my students, colleagues, and administrators.  I want to remember that every journey begins with a single step and that the Butterfly Effect is real and that I have the power to create great change by taking one small step each day towards making my classroom a place of positive energy and self-affirmation.

What is your mantra for the year?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 5 - All About Me

I'm totally stealing today's blog post from @algebrasfriend! :)  I love the #MTBoSBlaugust prompt about 20 facts, but I was stumped on what to share.  That's when Beth came to the rescue with her alphabet facts.  :)  Thanks Beth! :)

A - Age: Ugh... do I really have to tell that?  :)  I did realize today that I am now half of my mom's age.  :)

B – Birthdate: Today!!! :)  Happy Birthday to ME! :)

C - Chore you hate: Washing dishes!  Although to be honest, I'm really not a huge fan of any chore :)

D – Drink: If I'm drinking pop, then Diet Mtn Dew.  But a few weeks ago I had the plumber out to run water to my fridge, so I've been drinking tons of water (with 2 squirts of Mio Lemonade!)

E - Essential to start your day item: In the summer, a cup of a coffee, a morning walk, and quiet time! When school is in session, same thing minus the walk. :)

F - Favorite color: Purple :)

G – Gent:  My wonderful hubby, who does this blogging thing daily and I still can't figure out how or why! :)

H - Height: 5'8"

I - Instruments you play: None.  In 6th grade, I tried to play the clarinet and flute... my poor daddy's ears :(  Then in 7th grade, I begged my mom for piano lessons... that lasted two years and I was still pretty rough around the edges.

J - Job title: Math teacher plus many other hats (AVID Coordinator, PD Coordinator, Tech person, etc)

K - Kid(s): None... unless fur babies count!  In that case, we have 3 cats and 2 ferrets :)

L - Loves: hubby, my family, my friends, my church, reading, the MTBoS

M – Music: rarely.  But I grew up on old hymns and southern gospel.  My mom played the piano for our church (still does actually!), so those are my go-to when I'm stressed

N - Nicknames: None really that I can think of

O – One wish: I would love to be a bit more "happy-go-lucky" sometimes.

P – Pet:  See the Kids prompt above :)

      Pet Peeve: Lack of ambition

Q - Quote from a movie:  "I can't talk now, we have cows!"  -Twister :)

R – Residence: Oklahoma.  I've always lived within 90 miles of my birthplace.

S - Siblings: 2 biological sisters, 1 step-sister, 4 step-brothers.  My parents divorced when I was a toddler and married my step-parents the following year, so my step-siblings have been around my entire life.

T - Time you wake up: Officially my alarm is set for 5:30 :)  I aim to leave the house during the school year by 6:30.

U – University:  A small regional university in Oklahoma.

V - Vegetable you dislike: Peas.  They have zero flavor to me

W – Worst habit: Oh my, there are so many!  How about "not saying NO!" :)

X - X-Rays: Not in years that I recall.  I've never broke a bone

Y - Yummy food you make: My go-to recipe is pulled pork

Z - Zoo favorite: The monkeys... and the big cats :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 4 - Exhaustion

This summer I worked really hard to not get out of my normal sleeping routine. Actually, that's a lie, kinda. :)  Instead of waking up at 5:30, I rolled back over after hubby's alarm and slowly woke up until I was out of bed by 6:30 and out for a walk by 7.

School starts officially next week, so this week I decided to go to up school.  I've been getting up around 6 and out on my walk by 6:30, then up at school at some point after that.  Thankfully, I did a really good job shutting down my room in June, so it hasn't been much effort to set it back up this time around.  I have a few things to still tackle, but in general, my room is ready for kids. 

Today, I was there until 4:30 and I'm exhausted.  I know this is a horribly short blog post and I promise to make up for it tomorrow, but at least something is getting written after staring at a blank screen for 2+ hours! :)

On a separate note, does anyone know how to wax a whiteboard?  I keep hearing that waxing will recondition the showerboard style whiteboards, but I don't know the details on how to do it.  What wax do you use?  Does it matter?  Thanks in advance!

Monday, August 3, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 3 - To Do Lists

Can I just say that I love to-do lists?  I mean, like big puffy-heart loves!  My day never feels right until I have a to-do list going!

While I'm definitely one of those girls that can write a to-do list on anything.. tiny post it note, scrap of paper, back of a business card... I really like pretty to-do lists.  I usually find cute ones at the Target Dollar Spot, but I've been pretty sad at this year's selection and haven't purchased much at all in my beloved Dollar Spot!

But... I am totally loving my new ARC binder system and thought to myself... "Self, you could totally make a to-do list that matches your beautiful new teacher binder!!!"

(Full disclosure.. I tried to find a cute one on pinterest first, but no go :(

Anyway, here is the result of about 30 minutes of work this morning:

Isn't it just the cutest???  I made it two to a page, then punched it with my ARC punch and I'm good to go!

If you would like a copy, click here... you'll need the font Shadows Into Light as well

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#MTBoSBlaugust - Day 2 - What is your mission statement?

We officially report back to school next week, but I plan to unofficially buckle down starting tomorrow.  This has been the first summer in YEARS that I have taken time off and not been at school most of the summer.  While it has been a great summer of getting a lot done around my house, that lack of school preparation has really stressed me out as well

One of the things on my to-do list today is to pick up my office so I have some workspace in order to get things done and sent off to the copy shop.  At the beginning of July, my office was a total pit and had not been useful for over a year.  Hubby and I rented a small dumpster and went to work on both offices.  Mine is mostly finished, other than some piles of papers that I need to sort through.  I decided to tackle a pile of papers that was on my side table today and ran across a document that took me back a bit...

About 10 years ago or so, I was invited to our school's yearly "advance", because at our school, we don't have "retreats", we want to always be "advancing". :)  I've gone to several of these throughout the 15 years I've been at my school and they are always awesome.  The teachers and school admin team work together to tackle current issues that are facing the school.  The teachers love it because they feel like their voice has been heard and the admin loves it because they get input from the teachers before making final decisions about the new school year.  Anyway, in this particular year, one of the activities was to develop a personal mission statement.  We were handed a 3 page front/back document of questions asking about the things we valued, who influenced us to be a teacher, what characteristics we wish to emulate, what we would hope students would say at our retirement party, etc.

Here is what I wrote:
As a professional educator, I commit to:
- Planning engaging, relevant, and interactive lessons designed to give students ownership in their learning.
- Work hard to help all children learn, regardless of ability or language level, employing a variety of methods to reach each child.
- Strive to have a positive attitude, modeling respect and caring within my classroom, valuing each student as an individual in hopes of encouraging those around me to be better people.

What I find interesting is how much I still believe in what I wrote so many years ago.  I have grown as a teacher since then through the MTBoS, but ultimately, the core of what I want to be as a teacher is in those 3 bullet points above.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

MTBoS Blaugust Prompts 2015

After my earlier post, the wonderful @pamjwilson asked me to share the Blaugust prompts.  However, the prompts that I had planned to use were technically for the video gaming community and not at all tailored to the MTBoS.  I asked Pam and Beth (@algebrasfriend) if they would like to collaborate on a list and an hour later, we came up with 45 prompts for you to use.  We are going to do things a bit differently than the gaming community since not all of these prompts appeal to all people, so pick and choose and ignore as you wish. :)  This list is only a suggestion to help you when your writing muse seems to be taking a sick day! :)  Have fun and tweet out your blog post with #MTBoSBlaugust so we can all read your posts! :)

Prompts for the MTBoS Blaugust 2015
  1. What do you hope to get out of Blaugust this year?
  2. Show us your classroom
  3. Top 5 Tips for New Teachers
  4. What are your Back to School Must-Haves?
  5. What would you like to Start doing this school year?  What would you like to Stop doing?  What would you like to Continue doing?
  6. One time in math class... (as a teacher)
  7. One time in math class…(when I was a student…)
  8. Something I read/learned this summer that intrigued me…
  9. Pinned It, Did It and/or Pinned it, Did it, It flopped.
  10. Recipe Swap for Busy Teachers
  11. Something that makes your classroom unique
  12. A  mentor/colleague who impacted your classroom/teaching…
  13. The best teacher I ever had was …. because ...
  14. How do you tame the paper tiger?
  15. Brain breaks for students.
  16. Favorite take 5 for yourself?
  17. Be the Change.. what will you do this year to impact the culture of your school and/or classroom?
  18. Using your school mascot, create an acrostic of character traits you wish to instill in your students
  19. What is your focus/theme/mantra for the year and why?  Create and share a notecard for your desk as a reminder.
  20. What are your go to quotes?
  21. Reblog an old post - reflect how you see/use it now?
  22. What are your favorite formative assessment strategies?
  23. Professional Growth Goal
  24. What are your best organizational tips?
  25. Theme song for the year? like your personal fight song?
  26. What is something in your classroom that you cannot live without?
  27. What’s a positive change you would like to make in your life - could be at school/home/health?
  28. Last time you belly laughed…
  29. List of gratitude.
  30. Describe a typical day (or hour) in your classroom.
  31. What is your biggest classroom pet-peeve?
  32. Link to 3 blog posts that impacted you and share why.
  33. Read 3 posts from blogs you’ve never visited, give a quick take-away from each.
  34. What is your greatest joy in teaching?  What is your greatest fear?
  35. Tell us about you!  Post 20 facts about yourself.
  36. What are your New School Year Goals or Resolutions?
  37. What’s in (and on) your teacher desk?
  38. Interact with a new follower and use FORE from Make It Stick reading, then introduce them in a post?
  39. What’s the 10th song on your device playlist?  What memory does it conjure?
  40. Text 5 people, ask them for 1 word that describes you and reflect.
  41. What’s your “One Good Thing” for today?
  42. What do you do on parent night / open house?  
  43. What’s the toughest challenge you face as a teacher today?
  44. A favorite activity that is fun and leads to learning…
  45. A nostalgic thing/activity in your classroom you wish to modify and improve.

Blaugust is Here! - Day 1

I've decided that this year, I'm going to participate in Blaugust.  In my hubby's twitter-blog-o-sphere, Blaugust is a daily blogging challenge through the month of August.  I've tried these in the past and usually tucker out around half-way through the month, but I'm going to give it a shot again.  This year, I've really slacked on blogging, so I'm hoping this is the shot in the arm that I need to get back to more regular posting. :)

Day 1's Prompt:  What are you hoping to get out of Blaugust this year?
(Note:  Blaugust was designed for the gaming community, so some prompts will be changed and/or modified to fit my own lifestyle.  If you have ideas for prompts that I can use on the days that I can't figure out a way to modify the Blaugust prompt, please post it in the comments.  Thank you!)

As mentioned above, this year was a tough one for me blogging wise.  In fact, this is post #8 for me for the entire year of 2015.  In contrast, in 2014, I had over 90 posts, so I'm a bit behind the curve! :)  I know that I get a lot out of blogging and reflecting on what happens in my classroom, so it is something that I want to return to.  However, I also know that every day that goes by, it's harder and harder to return to writing on a regular basis.  It gets easier every day to put it off and never get around to writing a post.  I know I need to blog for my personal and professional growth, but life gets in the way and by the time I get home, all I want to do is eat supper and fall into bed.

This morning, on my daily walk, I had this "Oh, crap, it's August!" moment that I'm sure most of you teachers are used to.  This year is the first year in many where I have not traveled at all through July and worked on home projects instead.  I have had a very productive summer, but I haven't really worked on school yet much at all, so I have to really buckle down over the next couple of weeks in order to be ready for kiddos on August 19.  I'm hoping the daily blogging will act as an accountability tool of what I've accomplished and my daily goals.

Wish me luck! :)