Saturday, September 24, 2016

Overwhelmed

You know that point where you really don't know what to do anymore?

I'm there.

So much about this year has just straight up been overwhelming.  I'm grateful for friends and family that support me, because without them, I don't know where I'd be right now.

But, then something happens to make you realize why we do what we do.

After school, yesterday, a friend convinced me to leave school for a bit and go relax, chat, and share a plate of fried pickles (YUM).  While there, I received a phone call asking when I'd be back at school because a former student was looking for me.

Long story short, a student that graduated 7 years ago came to track me down at the restaurant to personally deliver a wedding invitation.  I felt so honored that this young lady, whom I've only kept up with via social media, wanted me to share in her special day so many years after the fact.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it is all worth it.

#OneGoodThing


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ups and Downs

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)



Ups and Downs

This was the first full week of school with kids and it was definitely full of ups and downs.  I knew throughout the week that I needed to blog but I'm already falling into a habit of typing and erasing because I don't want to be a downer.  Then as I was scrolling on Facebook, I ran across Rebecka Peterson's "One Good Thing" posts and it just made me smile.

It was a challenging week.  I have almost 200 students this year, the most I've ever had in my career.  I'm no where close to knowing names.  I have 3 preps, with 1.5 being new this year.  We have a new gradebook program that is creating a lot of chaos.  Our campus is undergoing some massive construction and other technology changes.  And to top it off, the a/c in my building is dead.  As in 83 degree air temperature plus 35 sweaty bodies equals 90 degree heat index type of dead.

But through it all, we are persevering.  Through it all, there were positive moments to be had.  Lots of laughter with my colleagues as we enjoyed being together again.  Ice cream from our admin team to end a hot and sweaty Friday.  Light bulb moments with my students as we built the unit circle in Pre-Calc, talked about eyewitness reports in Forensics, or talked about sampling methods in Stat.  Kids that made my day with positive comments, thoughtful questions, and overall great attitudes.  Opportunities to connect with students as we visited between classes.  Correspondence from previous students that said "My brother/sister has you this year and loves you already!".  The first "High Five Friday" of the year.  Kids from last year coming by and saying they miss my class.  Those moments are the ones that make it all worth it.

Thank you to Sam, and Rachel, and Elissa, and Rebecka, and all of the others that post on the One Good Thing blog.  Thank you for reminding us that "Not every day is a good day, but there is one good thing in every day!"  Thank you for being willing to share those tidbits of positivity with all of us.  Thank you for putting yourselves out there, being honest and raw and emotional, and truly showing how awesome this job can be.  

In the words of our morning announcements... Make it a great day or not, the choice is yours!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Week in Review

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)



A Week In Review - Sunday Summary


Oh my, what a whirlwind week!!!  We had "Teacher Days" on Monday-Thursday and kids came on Friday.  We had a lot of time in our rooms, which was great, especially since about 40 teachers were coming back to brand new renovated rooms with brand new technology! :)

My goal this year is to blog at least my Sunday Summary with a look back over the week.  :)

Where I Was:
This past week was a bit crazy.  We have a new principal, lots of new technology, and construction on campus.  Change is one of those things that most people struggle with and I'm no exception!  However, we made it through.  We were all grateful for 2 days (Wed / Thurs) with no meetings and time to just work in our rooms.  Friday was the first day with kids and to be honest, when I originally saw that on the calendar, I had my doubts about starting on a Friday, but it turns out that I loved it!  We all wore our spirit wear, including our new THRIVE theme t-shirts and it was a great day to meet the kids, tell them what school supplies to purchase, and start out our year with some learning!

In Pre-Calc, we start with trig, so we decided to see what they remembered about SOHCAHTOA.  I had found this activity earlier in the summer and adapted it for the INB.  It really was awesome to hear the conversations about "Now which one is the opposite side?" 

In Stat, we started with my favorite Kristen Gilbert story, but this time when we got to the graph of deaths, I had them complete a poster about their Noticings and Wonderings.  I meant to snap a photo of them, but forgot! :(  Again, great conversations were had all around!  My favorite comment was "This is like a Serial podcast!"

Where I Am:
I left on Friday night around 7pm totally exhausted.  Three preps plus new shoes that rubbed a blister made for a rough day.  I had a to-do list with 22 items on it, so I decided to go up this weekend to work on it.  I was there from 10am - 6pm and knocked out most of the items!  Go me!  I have the next week mostly mapped out with copies already made.  Today's goal is to run to the store to pick up a few items, but spend most of the day on the patio enjoying the beautiful weather and hopefully get in some fun reading time.  All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about where I am!

Where I'm Going:
This next week will be a challenge.  Five whole days of kids will zap the energy! :)  On block day, we'll see our Advisory classes and I will get to meet about 12 new Advisory kiddos.  One of those days will be our Welcome Back Assembly, but I'm not sure which one yet.  In Pre-Calc, we'll be building the Unit Circle.  That class is the toughest for me because I have to practice my lessons the night before since it's the first time I've taught it.  I've not had a trig class since 1992-93, so I'm a bit rusty! :)  In Stat, we'll jump on into sample surveys and sampling methods.  Thankfully, this is year 17 for teaching that, so little prep is required!  In Forensics, we'll be working on observation skills and I do need to spend some time working on my lesson plans in there.  I want to remember to take a photo each day to re-start my 180 blog, so we'll see how that goes! :)

Have a great week, y'all!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Ready for a New Year!!

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Ready for a New Year!!

The room is done, the lessons are planned, and kids are coming tomorrow whether I'm ready or not!


A few things to remind myself when I'm trying to remember later :)
  • I love the "What should my answer look like" from @mathequalslove
  • Table Folders rock!!!  (This is how I pass out papers)
  • The posters for the student feedback ask the following questions:
    • What are qualities of a good student?
    • What are qualities of a good teacher?
    • How do you learn best?  (Specifics please!)
    • What are you excited about this year?
    • What are you worried about this year?
  • Be Joyful Always!
Sorry for a short post, but I got home around 8:30 and kids come tomorrow!!!  EEKKKKKK!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What does it take to Thrive?

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

What does it take to Thrive?


I have been blessed to teach at an amazing school for the past 16 years.  Yesterday, as I started another year at this school, we were introduced to our theme for the year.  Starting back in the early 2000s, our administrative team would come up with a school wide theme.  For example, one year the theme was Mission:Possible and during our back to school assembly, the principals all rappelled down from the PAC ceiling while the Mission Impossible theme song played.  Often our theme played off of a current movie or some other pop culture idea, such as the Incredibles or the Olympics.  During the Olympics year, the theme was "Go for the Gold" and we all were given gold medals as we came in for our all-staff meeting. :)

This year, the theme is Thrive.

Today, we met with our evaluating principal and to start off our meeting, he asked us what it takes for us to Thrive personally, professionally, and for others in our lives.

Oh man... that's a tough question!

Personally
For me to thrive as a person, I need to do the following:

  • Find balance between work and home.  This is hard.
  • Take care of me.  This is hard too.  I need to set aside quiet devotional time, time with family and friends, time to laugh and be joyful, time to relax.  I need to take the time to exercise and eat right.  
Professionally
For me to thrive as a professional, I need to do the following:
  • Commit to being involved in the #MTBoS.  This involves blogging on a regular basis, spending time on twitter, and participating in the #EduRead book studies.  I grow professionally because of the amazing people of the #MTBoS and I need that in my life.
  • Learn to say "no".  I'm getting better than I've been in the past, but I need to say "no" and focus on the #BigRocks.
Students/Colleagues/Family
For me to help those around me thrive, I need to do the following:
  • Be Joyful Always.  It's hard to always have a positive attitude, especially when you aren't feeling very positive.  But, I know that attitudes are contagious, so I need to work on having an attitude worth catching!  I need to look for the bright side and find ways to build up the people around me.
  • Be present.  In a world of technology, it is easy for the screens to take away from our in-person time.  When I'm with others, I need to put away the screen and focus on being present in the moment.  

What does it take for you to Thrive?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Special Right Triangles

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


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Special Right Triangles


Today was the first day back for the teachers and I'm exhausted!  It's not like I wasted away my summer, but being on my feet just about wore me plum out! :)

Anyway, last week, I was working on lesson plans for Pre-Calc and I created a foldable for Special Right Triangles  Of course, after I made it, I found all sorts of better stuff from the MTBoS, so it's not great, but it's what I have to share today given how tired I am! :)


This is one of my favorite foldable templates because you print them two to a page.  Here's what the Word document looks like:


My thought was to connect the dots from the square / equilateral triangle and try to make connections that we will use with the unit circle as well.  However, after working through it and then looking at some of the awesome stuff out there (like Sarah Carter's poof booklet), I realize how lackluster this one is.   However, it's what I've already sent to the copy shop, so I learn to deal with it and make it better next year!  :) :)

Here's the file if you want it.  You will need the font KG What does the Fox Say?

Is it bed time yet? :)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Analysis Paralysis

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


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Analysis Paralysis


Does anyone else suffer from this?  When you have so much to do or so many options to choose from, that absolutely nothing gets done or accomplished?

I suffer from Analysis Paralysis on a regular basis, but back to school time seems to be the worst.  The to-do list is always growing and my time is always shrinking.  Instead of actually getting things done, I sit and stare at the wall for hours on end.  Yesterday is a prime example of this.  I had plans of all the things I would accomplish and then zero ended up getting done.  Of course, part of that is hubby and I ran errands and had some bad Chinese for lunch, so that pretty much ruined the rest of the day, but I should have - could have - gotten a lot done in the morning hours and I didn't.

So now it's the Sunday before school starts and there's that last minute rush of what all can I accomplish???  Thankfully the kids don't come until Friday and we'll have some time to work in our rooms, which is good because I still don't know where I'm going to fit in 2 more desks! :)

Honestly, my to-do list is shorter than in previous years but a lot of the items are details such as "decide which activity to use for Day 1".  There are so many great ideas out there from the #MTBoS that my Analysis Paralysis goes into overdrive.  What if I pick the wrong one?  What if I don't give enough time?  What supplies do I need?  Which one fits my style best?  UGH!

The time has come for decisions to be made.  Even more than that, once the decisions are made, stick with them.

In the words of Dr. Seuss:
"Today is YOUR day!  Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!"

It's time for me to face the reality of the 2016-17 school year.  Let's go move that mountain!!!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Goodbye Summer!

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)


Five Things I'll Miss About Summer


Summer is officially over.  Today was my last day of freedom.  Well, technically I'm free the next two days, but since that's the weekend, I don't think it counts.  Today was the last weekday of summer.  I report bright and early Monday morning to start my 19th year of teaching.  I didn't get all of my to-do list done, but all in all, it was a good summer.

1)  Morning Walks - I am proud to say that this summer, I succeeded in not screwing up my sleep patterns, so that will hopefully make getting up next week easier.  But one thing I'll miss is my morning walk.  With a few exceptions, I would get up around 6am and go for a 30 minute walk.  I loved the peace and quiet and during most walks, I was able to listen to the Truth for Teachers podcast.  I really love her positive spirit!  Once school starts, I value every moment of sleep plus I don't like the idea of getting up at 5am in order to walk, so I'll have to start doing that in the evening time.

2)  Coffee in Bed - My hubby is amazing.  After his alarm goes off, he goes to the kitchen and turns on the Keurig.  After his shower, he makes coffee and brings it to me in bed.  Such a great way to start my day!

3)  My Patio - After my walk, I would spend the next few hours on the patio, reading, doing my bible study, relaxing, and just generally enjoying nature.  The 100+ heat the past few days have killed most of my flowers, but this photo was taken last week:

4)  Naptime - As a kid, I wasn't a fan of napping.  As an adult, I could win the gold medal!  There is nothing better than a 2 hour nap on a lazy day. :)

5)  A Clean House - During the school year, I'm rather busy but during the summer, I like to have a picked up house and a bed that is made.  My house will never be a showplace, but at least in the summer, I do mop, vacuum, and dust on a regular basis! :)  Often, after my walk, I would do about an hour of cleaning before heading to the patio.  There's just something about that burst of productivity that lets you sit down at relax by 8am that feels so good!

And a bonus thing I'll miss... (mainly, I couldn't decide which one to leave off, so here's a bonus #6!)

6)  Quiet Alone Time - I am extremely introverted.  I love teaching, but I'll be honest in that it takes everything I have to put on my "energetic extroverted teacher face" and be in front of people all day.  During the summer, I can go days without seeing or talking to anyone other than hubby and that's a-ok with me!


What will you miss about summer?



Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hodgepodge of Productivity

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

It was a Productive Day!!


I took a day off yesterday, both from blogging and the back-to-school madness.  I worked in my classroom on Monday and Tuesday and had planned to work up there yesterday as well, but when push came to shove, it just wasn't happening.  I woke up at 5:30 and dragged myself out of bed and outside for an early morning walk, but when I only made it through half of my walk and I was yawning every few steps, I had an inkling that Wednesday would not work out as planned.  So instead, I grabbed my notepad and sat on the patio enjoying nature and making a list of things as they crossed my mind.   Around 10, I met up with a friend for a pedi and lunch and that was just what the doctor ordered!

Before meeting up with my friend, I had some time to kill, so I spent the time browsing my Pinterest boards for motivation.  I have a large set of doors in my classroom that lead into the science lab next door.  Right now, those doors house a "Parking Lot" poster and a formative assessment "Traffic Light" poster.  However, I have never used those posters as intended because I don't usually have post-it notes out and about.  (Side note.. if you have an idea of what to put there, let me know!)  While browsing Pinterest, I found my theme/mantra for the year, which turned out to be neither of the two that I had already blogged about on Tuesday...

On one of my boards, I had pinned a post from Sarah (@mathequalslove) from back in 2013, where she referenced some posters called Truth Signs from the book Inspiring Active Learning.  The quote I pinned really resonated with me, so here is my yearly theme/mantra:


What a great reminder for me when lesson planning, especially with my goal this year of "Never Skip the Close!"  It's also a good reminder when I'm sitting at my desk staring into space that it's okay to allow myself time to process and think!  Thank you Sarah! :)

Now let's fast forward to this morning.  It starts out the same way, but my walk today was much better (and less yawning!).  After coming home, I still had about an hour to kill before heading to school, so I started knocking out things on my to-do list.  One of the things I had listed was to do a planning calendar because right now I have it scribbled in a notebook where I met with one of the other teachers.  I don't want to put it into my lesson plan book yet because it's not very set in stone.  I decided to make it double sided and here's the end result:


Can I just say that I love the KG Payphone font?  It looks so clean!  I decided that I needed a to-do list because sometimes when planning, I need to create a foldable or an assignment, etc. :)  I've already used this in conjunction with Sarah's INB planning page

My friend went to school with me today to tackle some of the other to-do's like cutting things out, etc.  One of the things on her to-do list was to make a little gift for the math teachers.  I had found these notepads at the Target Dollar Spot that I thought would be awesome for under the ELMO.  A gift tag and some curly ribbon to finish it off and we have cute gifts...





As I was working away this afternoon, I realized that I couldn't remember what I had already sent to the copy shop and what I hadn't.  I know most schools don't have a copy shop, but in our district, they encourage us to send everything we can to the copy shop.  They will bind, staple, duplex, booklet, etc, but you need to give them 3-4 working days to get it done because it has to be picked up from each site, taken to the copy shop, ran, packaged, and sent back to the site.  They only make deliveries to each building once a day or you can take it over to the copy shop yourself if you miss the delivery driver.  Anyway, our copy shop orders are duplicates, so I have a stack of yellow carbon copies of what I've sent, but I had to dig through that stack each time.  I decided that for Back to School, a master list might be a good idea...


We got several other things done as well, but I forgot to take pictures of those. :)  All in all, it was a great day and I feel so much more prepared for Monday than if I hadn't gone in today.  I still have lesson planning to do, but thankfully most of the other things can be done at home!  Tomorrow is my last official day of summer because I don't count the weekends... where did summer go????

:)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Yearly Theme - Take 1

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Yearly Theme

Every year, I try to come up to a theme that will be my focus for the year.  It sits beside my computer where I can see it every day.  Here's last year's theme:


I will admit that I love the quote above, but it wasn't a very good theme for me.  It wasn't specific enough to really push me while planning lessons or grading papers.  As a result, I really wanted something different this year.  There are 2 that are the current top contenders.

The first one was sent to me via Pinterest by a good friend.  She knew I was on the hunt for a theme, so this was one of her suggestions.  The actual quote was phrased a smidge differently and had an attribution, but I couldn't verify that author, so I left it as "author unknown"...


I really like this one because it reminds me that the status quo isn't quite where I want to be.  I want to change my 10% (a la #TMC16).  This quote applies to lessons, to grading, to relationships, and so much more.

The second quote is based from the Choosing Joy devotional that @pamjwilson and I have started.  It is a 52 week word study on the word "Joy".  


This theme has popped up several times this summer in the books I've read, the bible studies I've done, and while I'm not always the best listener, if I hear something over and over, I know that it's something to be taken seriously! :)  This verse reminds me that it's MY choice on how to react and it's MY choice to be joyful (or not).  Our daily announcements end with this quote:  Make it a great day or not - the choice is yours!  I need to choose joy!


Many thanks to Sadie for the following tweet that prompted this post:


Isn't that the coolest?  Why wouldn't we want to choose joy?  Why wouldn't we want to make progress?  We have the most powerful, most influential profession out there behind parenthood... wow! That's just awesome!  Thank you Sadie for reminding me to focus on the kids!  Thank you for your enthusiasm for teaching, no matter what!

(And if you have any other ideas for my mantra, please feel free to leave it in the comments below!)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Ring o' Prompts

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Exit Tickets (Again)

Do you ever come up with an idea and think, "OH! What a great idea!", only to find out that you've had that idea before?

No?  Well... it happened to me...

I have been thinking a lot about Exit Tickets and how to incorporate them into my classroom more effectively.  I know! I'll make a key ring of exit prompts!!  I was so excited!!  And then, I found a link on Pinterest that linked to this post... FROM MY OWN BLOG!!!  What?!?!?  How do I not remember posting this?  Well, maybe it had something to do with making the cards and then storing them away in a nice safe place (aka a hiding place that I still don't know where they are....)

Of course, prior to finding the link on Pinterest, I had already made a file of exit ticket prompts:


Get the PDF HERE

I have had the file made for a while, but finally got around to assembling it today.  I bought this really awesome single hole punch at Wal-Mart last week and picked up a set of rings while I was at it.  I had some in my classroom, but that's 30 miles away :)


Then some time laminating and hole punching, and here's the end result:


I now have this hanging on the whiteboard right behind my desk, but I forgot to take a photo of that :)

Enjoy!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Thinking about Closure

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)


Closure via Exit Tickets

Due to multiple reasons, my summer plans were changed and I was not able to attend TMC16.  However, Glenn and Julie did a great job of making sure that videos were taken of the keynote speakers and the My Favorites.  One of the keynote speakers was Tracy Zager and her talk impacted me in several ways, but my #1TMCThing is based on her talk:  "Never Skip the Close"

I'm guilty.  I often skip the close because time runs short or there's one more thing I need to say.  This year, I need to be more intentional about watching my time and developing structures to provide time for students to reflect on the lesson.  Heck, I need to provide time for ME to reflect on the lesson!!

The most common form of lesson closure is the Exit Ticket.  If you do a search on Pinterest, you'll see tons of ideas about Exit Tickets, but, when reading through the #MTBoSBlaugust posts, this post from Mark Chubb (@MarkChubb3) caught my eye and questions starting running around in my head.... What kinds of exit questions do tend to ask?  Do I ask them with intentionality?  What do I do with the information once I've asked the question?  Do I use the answers to inform my teaching?

Don't get me wrong... I have stacks and stacks of quarter sized exit tickets such as the ones below:


But, even with the greatest intentions, even with exit slips already made out, I still skip the close. :(

This year, I want to be more intentional.  Pam talked about setting an alarm on her FitBit.  I love this idea!  I have one set, but I haven't tried it out yet when I've been busy, so I'm eager to see how it works once school is in session.

I've played around with different formats for exit tickets:

Maybe a weekly paper that students keep in their table folder....


I don't have the form quite right (yet).  I like the idea of one paper per week, but on a typical week, I only see my students 4 days.  I could do a half sheet with 4 sections and have Friday be a day to ask them some reflection over the week or to ask them a non-school related question.  But then we have 1 week a month where we see our students all 5 days or weird schedules where days get flipped around.  I think there is value in writing down your thinking and this would allow me to be more flexible with the question I ask each day.

I've also contemplated using an electronic method such as Google Forms...


There are advantages to electronic - less paper waste being a huge factor.  Also, with the new Google Forms, the "responses" tab will let me see the answers as they filter in, so I can immediately make adjustments for the next class period.  However, there are disadvantages too.  The time factor is probably the biggest disadvantage for me.  It takes time to get out the Chromebooks and go to a link.  I also haven't figured out how to easily sort the responses by hour other than creating new forms per period per day (WOW, that's a lot of forms to keep track of), or downloading and sorting the spreadsheet, which takes away from the awesomeness of the responses tab.  I like the permanence of paper, where I can respond to the students overnight and they can read my feedback the next day.  I know I could make the form into a Google Quiz and type my feedback to each student, but that seems like a lot more time invested than I would have with handwritten feedback.  The biggest disadvantage is the lack of flexibility that blank paper provides.  Google Forms is great for reflective feedback, but for a math class, sometimes you need to do (and show) the math.

As I mentioned above, my #1TMCThing is to "Never Skip the Close".  Thankfully I still have a week to figure it out, but so many questions to figure out... How do I organize it?  How do I make closure intentional yet easy to implement?  How do I commit closure to "muscle memory" so that it is just a natural part of my classroom?  Are exit tickets the most common because they are the most effective/flexible?  Are there other effective methods of closure?  What are they?




Saturday, August 6, 2016

New Bulletin Boards for 2016

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

New Bulletin Boards

On Wednesday, I went up to work in my classroom for a bit.  My main goal was to finish up the bulletin boards and I was able to get several done.

First board isn't quite done, but I did get the fabric hung up.  I team teach a Forensic Science class with the science teacher next door and this summer on Etsy, I found this fabric:


Isn't that just the most awesome fabric ever?  Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of the fabric on the board, so I'll have to do that when I go up next time.

I also got my door put back together to start the year.  You've seen this one before, but I just love how it really sets the tone for the beginning of school:


The biggest chunk of the day was spent on this board, that I tweeted out because I was so happy to have it done!!!


Several people asked for the files, so click on the links below, which should open up a PDF file for you to print. :)

For the board on the left:
The title is made from KG The Last Time, size 350, then printed, laminated, and cut out.
Days and Weeks - font is Rubber Stamp LET

For the board on the right:
Sentence Starters - These mostly came from various sources around the internet, books, Pinterest, etc
Let's Talk - This is KG The Last Time, which is my favorite BB font


I have so much more to accomplish and only a week left of summer!!  AAACCCKKKK! :)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Making Thinking Visible - Chapters 7 & 8

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 7 & 8

Welcome to the final post about Making Thinking Visible (MTV).  This book has been good for me to read this summer because it has made me reflect on my personal practice and how I encourage students to think deeper about the concepts we are learning.  If I say I value thinking skills, then I need to follow that up with specific actions that illustrate my values.  

Most of the statements below are quotes from the book.  Any of my own comments follow in italics.

  • "...[F]or any thinking routine to take hold and be a vehicle for promoting the development of students as thinkers and learners, something more than just having a go and trying out the routines is required."
    • I think this is a key element.  If I want students to develop as thinkers, I have to choose routines with intention and do more than just "try all the things".  I need to carefully think through the routine, practice it on my own, and anticipate student responses and my reactions.
  • "Any time a group of people come together where learning and intellectual growth are identified as part of the group's mission, there is the opportunity to create a culture of thinking."
  • "...[W]ithout the benefit of others, our thinking would be severely curtailed.  Our individual thinking benefits from being challenged."
    • I definitely agree and find this in my own life with the #EduRead chats and the #MTBoS in general.  I have grown so much as a teacher and learner because of the people that are willing to think things out with me and ask me to expand on and justify my thinking.
  • "If we want to promote a culture of thinking, we must surround students with thinking..."
    • I teach mostly seniors, and by that age, they are really good at the "game of school".  I worry that many students graduate because they won the game rather than actually learned and developed as thinkers.  I need to surround students with thinking at all times.  I need to make my classroom a place where students know they will be asked to think, justify, and explain their thinking.
  • "Too often thinking has been seen as the exclusive domain of gifted or advanced students."
    • This one hit me in the gut, to be honest.  I was labeled as gifted/advanced and having read things on Mindset over the past few years, recognize myself in many of the descriptions of  fixed mindset.  I was so afraid of being wrong and I think many of my students feel this way as well.  We need to celebrate thinking (and mistake-making) from ALL students!
  • "Ultimately, it is what the learners are asked to do with the content that makes it a rich opportunity for learning."
  • "..[T]o achieve insight and understanding, one must have the time to think about and with ideas."
    • This is so me!  Good thinking and learning requires time to process the ideas.  I easily get overwhelmed with new ideas running at me that I need to stop, go to my quiet place and process the ideas.  I love the idea from Dan Meyer's talks to talk over new ideas with a person or with your notebook.  I need to use that more with my own students.
  • "Imagine a trip to school after hours:  no students or teachers around.  How much could you discern about the learning and thinking that goes on there just by walking the hallways and stepping into classrooms?"
    • Powerful!  If someone were to go to my room after hours, what would they see?  What would I hope they see?  Would they see walls filled with student thinking?  Would they notice the desks arranged to facilitate group discussion?  Would my values shine through?  I might even ask my students this on day 1... look around the classroom, based on what you see, what are your impressions of what Mrs. ___ values about teaching and learning?
  • Common pitfalls and issues - A few issues that the authors mentioned were:
    • Importance of having a network (PLC) to debrief so you don't give up prematurely or because "it didn't work"
    • Sticky note mania - sticky notes are great for capturing learning, but the walls fill up.  Be careful of overload.
    • Routine of the day - TRY ALL THE THINGS! :)  Be intentional when choosing routines that fit your content and classroom.

Whew!  MTV is DONE! :)  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 6

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 6

As with previous chapters, the title of each routine links to more information and my notes and comments follow each title.  This chapter had several routines that I don't really see using much in math classes and to be honest, my attention in this book really started waning in this chapter from pure overload, so if you've used one of these routines successfully in math class, please let me know!

What Makes You Say That?

  • I definitely want to incorporate this question into my classroom!
  • This routine seems to be the easiest routine in the book to implement and one that has great potential for visible thinking.  Simple, but deep.
  • The author calls this the "magic question", that can transform a class into justifying their thinking and over time, students adopt this question as part of their classroom discussions without prompting.
  • Link above has an example where the teacher put a controversial statement on the board with the question "What makes me say that?" to ask students to make predictions and inferences about why someone would think a certain way.


Circle of Viewpoints

  • This routine focuses on seeing the point of view of others.  It can be easy for us to have tunnel vision and see a situation from our perspective, but to force ourselves to see the situation through the eyes of others is important as well.
  • I really don't see much use of this one in a math class, it definitely seems like a better fit for Language Arts or History classes regarding the viewpoints of different characters or historical figures.
  • While I didn't see much application here, I did like this quote:  "..students are always trying to figure out 'what we want from them.'  If they get the impression a superficial or comical response will do, they will give us more of the some.  Continue to push students' thinking."  I think that is a great reminder for a variety of classroom activities and structures.  It reminds me of another quote... 'What we permit, we promote.'  


Step Inside

  • Similar to Circle of Viewpoints above, this routine also asks students to look at situations from another perspective.
  • In the link above, there is a great example for Language Arts that illustrates "stepping inside" a character from a book to analyze his thoughts and feelings, however this would be more difficult with math, I think.  The best I could come up with would be a problem worked in multiple ways or maybe with error analysis and ask "What was Johnny thinking when he did this step?"


Red Light Yellow Light

  • This is a good critical reading strategy that would work well in AVID.  It seems to have a lot of potential, but I'm not sure how to use it in math.  I could see students maybe marking "Red" for parts of a question they don't understand at all and "Yellow" for parts they are unsure about but are able to at least attempt, but that's all I've got. :)
  • From a professional learning standpoint, this could be used with articles or research in a PLC.


Claim Support Question

  • The author provides several examples of CSQ in the book, but to be entirely honest, I don't see myself using this routine.  There is something about it that doesn't flow well in my head and I can't really put my finger on it.  If you've used this routine, please help me out!


Tug of War

  • I really like the visual aspect of the "tug of war" continuum, but the only application in math that I can think of would be with true/false or maybe WODB with a 4 way tug of war.  However, neither of those really allow for answers along the tug rope.
  • According to the author, "If students are not connected to or engaged with the dilemma, it will be difficult for them to do good thinking."  (Sidenote:  I totally agree with the author here.  I struggled to do good thinking in this chapter because I felt disconnected from the routines being presented due to their lack of math application)
  • Suggestion from the author:  Follow up with the "I used to think... Now I think..." routine


Sentence - Phrase - Word

  • Another critical thinking routine that I would have loved to use with my AVID class or maybe with a professional learning community.
  • I love the summarization aspect of finding a sentence in the reading that spoke to you (and why!); a phrase that you really liked (and why!); and finally a single word that has meaning to you (and why!)
  • I need to try this out with some statistical reading - maybe an article or a section in the textbook? 

Okay, almost done with this book (YAY).  This was the final day of the routines and tomorrow I'll summarize Chapters 7/8 and be DONE!  I greatly apologize for not having exciting posts this week, but I had to get Making Thinking Visible out of my head and onto digital paper so that I can move on to more interesting posts :)



Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 5B

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 5B

As with previous chapters, the title of each routine links to more information and my notes and comments follow each title.

Connect Extend Challenge

  • Powerful comment from the author:  "... [S]tudents are often given information but are never asked to do anything mentally with it.  Listening, in and of itself, doesn't lead to learning."  Wow!  That stepped on my toes.  Are we asking students to be passive or active learners?  
  • Authors suggest using this to help students process information after info-rich sessions.  It could also be used after professional learning opportunities.
  • I don't really see a lot of application in math, but I like this idea in general.  Need to do more research regarding use in math.
  • Sentence starters that I really liked: 
    • Connect:  "This quote (passage, text, concept) reminds me of...
    • Extend:  "This quote is adding to my thinking because..."
    • Challenge:  "This quote makes me wonder...
  • Powerful quote (actually a paraphrase) that made me pause... It's not that students always want to take the easy way out or give shallow thoughts, they may just not know how to articulate deeper thoughts.  Modeling is key!


The 4Cs

  • Again, this routine didn't really appeal to me.  According to the author, this routine is best with non-fiction text, but probably not textbooks - maybe newspaper articles would work for stat?
  • The 4Cs stand for Connections, Challenge, Concepts, Changes
  • I wonder about using this routine with PD articles or with #EduRead?
  • Could maybe use each C as a standalone?  Would it work better with a textbook if used that way?


MicroLab

  • Note:  link above has a middle school math example video
  • This routine was designed to ensure equal participation during classroom discussions
  • Each round is timed and groups of 3 are optimal.  
  • In the examples, there was an illustration of using this routine to process an investigative task and problem solving.  In general, the examples made me think a lot about the AVID tutorial process
  • Some tips from the authors:  Give students time to write and think before starting the routine.  Also, when first introducing this routine, feel free to start with shorter times.  Finally, don't be afraid of the silence, as that is the time students are really to be processing what they just heard.


I used to think... Now I think...

  • This would be a great reflection prompt at the end of a lesson or unit - maybe make this into an exit ticket paper (1/4 sheet) and ask students to respond anonymously?  Could then take up and redistribute (or snowball!) to have people share out the comments.
  • This routine would be very flexible and easy to implement.  It also promotes a growth mindset.
  • Tip from the author:  The teacher needs to be genuinely curious about how student thinking has grown or changed.  This is not meant to be a "gotcha" or a "I was wrong before, but now I'm right"  This is about student reflection, not teacher-pleasing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 5

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 5A

As with previous chapters, the title of each routine links to more information and my notes and comments follow each title.

Headlines

  • I really like this routine and can see myself using it this year.  This routine reminds me a lot of 6-word memoirs, but in a newspaper headline format.  I think this would be a really awesome exit ticket prompt that emphasizes summarization skills.
  • From the author:  "the Headline helps students to identify what was important or stood out to them about the experience.  Getting a better sense of what students see as important can be useful in planning future instruction."
  • Since I'm not sure how much my students read the news, I wonder about modeling this strategy for them... maybe with actual newspaper headlines?
  • Don't forget the "why"!  After students share out their headline, make sure they explain their reasoning.
  • Thoughts on how to share... post-it notes?  Index cards?  Laminated sentence strips?
  • Variation idea from author:  Song title or theme song instead of newspaper headline
  • Warning:  Can easily turn into a catch phrase / superficial summary if not careful!


CSI: Color, Symbol, Image

  • When I first read about this routine, I really didn't see myself using this one, but as I got deeper into it, I think it might be worth a try.  I really like that this routine encourages students to think metaphorically and according to the author, it is really useful for our English Language Learners because they can express their learning in a non-verbal manner.
  • I think the hardest thing will be finding appropriate content.  One interesting idea might be to use this with back to school - What is math to you?  This prompt might yield some deeper insights into student feelings about math and allow them to express themselves non-verbally.
  • As with all of the thinking routines, the key is the why.  Make sure students explain their thinking on why they chose that color, symbol, and image.
  • Variation:  Don't do all 3, pick just one.  This might make it easier to use in math because you could ask the symbol/image option for a lesson or unit.


Generate - Sort - Connect - Elaborate

  • I have used concept maps many times in my class and I really like them.  According to the author, this routine was created because one thing they noticed was that students don't make very good concept maps.
  • In the past, when I've done concept maps, I've left out the "sort" component.  I like the idea of students generating ideas (maybe on post-it notes or scraps of paper?), then pooling those ideas with their groupmates and sorting them into like items.  Then they will glue or tape them down to a paper and connect into their map.  I like the tactile-ness of this idea because nothing is permanent until it's adhered to the paper.  This would give kids less anxiety about making an error.  I also wonder about giving each student in the group a different color of paper to write on so each individual student's thinking is more visible.
  • Another idea I had was to have students make individual concept maps as the "generate" step, then as a group, create a compilation.  This would require them to sort out their individual ideas for placement in the group map.

Whew!!  Another day is done.. :)  Happy Blaugust!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 4B

Can you believe it's AUGUST?!?!?! Where did summer go??

This August, I'm participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. My hubby actually started this a few years ago within his blog-o-sphere and I stole it last year to help motivate myself to blog during one of the roughest months of a teacher's year!

To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! :)


This will be the 4th or 5th time that I've tried to blog on a daily basis for a month and I am hoping that this is the time that I actually follow through!  I have been recording blog ideas using an app on my phone, plus we have the 50 prompts that I posted last week, so here's to a successful blogging challenge for all of us! :)

If you want to join in the blogging fun, it's not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! :)

Making Thinking Visible - Chapter 4B

About a month ago, I blogged about Making Thinking Visible.  Then for multiple reasons, I stopped. :)  We had workers at our house, Pam went to TMC, all the craziness that comes with July!  Anyway, I have finished the book and before I get into another topic, I want to finish up the posts on MTV so I will have the reference later on when I need it! :)  

Note:  As before, I've linked the specific routines discussed in this chapter so that you can learn more about them.  My notes and thoughts are below each heading.

  • Note:  the link above has some great resources, including templates for this routine!
  • We are probably all familiar with the traditional 3-2-1 prompt, but this thinking routine adds a "bridge", which I really like.  This would be a great pre/post assessment tool, having students do a 3-2-1 before and after, then link them together with a bridge (meta cognition, anyone?)  I teach at a 1:1 school, so I wonder about being able to do this online even... thoughts?
  • I really like the tweak of the 1 simile or metaphor - what a neat way to have kids think outside of the box!  (Note from the author: "A metaphore takes a bit more time and thought to develop, and therefore these often do reveal a layer of understanding or misunderstanding."
  • As a pre-assessment, this routine wouldn't work well unless students have some prior knowledge of the concept.  In stat, we do work with concepts that kids know something about, but need to figure out a way to easily activate that learning.. maybe a visual or a concept map?  Just saying "This unit we will be working with Univariate data" won't help kids, but maybe showing visuals of histograms, boxplots, etc would.
  • The bridge is the powerful piece.  From the author: "In the Bridge, students look at their initial responses (sometimes with a partner) and reflect on how those first impressions differ from their current take on things."  
  • The instructional period between the 3-2-1 needs to be more than just a review of past knowledge or skills because that won't change student thinking or present new ideas.
  • Could this be used as a structure to the entire year?  For example, have kids do a 3-2-1 at the beginning of the year over "Statistics", then revisit after each chapter/unit?  Maybe this would provide more structure to the "brain dump" reflections I use?

  • This routine is a decision making routine that forces students to examine a problem from all sides.  You can again see examples and templates from the links above.
  • I really saw this routine being used in my classroom in 3 ways:
    • Back to School:  Have 4 posters up, one for N/E/S/W and ask them to put post-it notes on each.  The 4 prompts would be:  What are your NEEDS for this to be a good learning environment?  What are you EXCITED about for this school year?  What are SUGGESTIONS you have for me as your teacher?  What are your WORRIES about this class/school year?
    • Parent Night:  We only have 10 minutes per class on parent night, so I think this would be kind of fun.  I would use similar prompts with the parents with some tweaks.
    • Test Review:  Again, 4 posters with N/E/S/W, but the prompts would change... What are the topics you NEED to study?  What are the ESSENTIAL topics from this unit?  What are your most effective STUDY STRATEGIES?  What are you most WORRIED about for this test?
  • This routine reminded me a lot of See-Think-Wonder, with a focus more on the parts than the whole.  
  • To be honest, I didn't see a ton of applications for this one in my classroom.  The best example I could come up with was when students are identifying sampling methods.  I use a card sort to provide some mixed practice and the cards could be dealt out to each group member, they read the card, then name the method, explain it and give the reasons they think it is that method.  Could maybe even add in Talking Points for the group to go around and agree/disagree and why?  (Note:  If you have additional suggestions, PLEASE live them in the comments!  Thanks!)



Day 1 of MTBoSBlaugust is done!  Only 30 more to go! :)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

#MTBoSBlaugust Participating Blogs 2016


Can you believe that tomorrow is August 1???  Where, oh where, did summer go?  I swear that the older I get, the faster and faster that July runs away!

So far, 60 people have signed up to join me in the #MTBoSBlaugust challenge!  Here is a list of the participants - please go and cheer them on during this challenge either through a Twitter shout-out or by posting a comment on their blogs!

2016 #MTBoSBlaugust Participants:
@mathequalslove - Math = Love
Katrina Newell (@MrsNewellsMath) - Mrs. Newell's Math
@gwaddellnvhs - Success
@BusyMissBeebe - Busy Miss Beebe
@pamjwilson - Radical rational
@anyaostapczuka - Teaching In Special Education
@misscalcul8 - misscalcul8
Tara Daas (@chatelet0211) - Hazeleyedmathnut
@MathByTheMt - Math by the Mountain
@algebrasfriend - Algebra's Friend
@mlfosh73 - Math-termind
Danielle Reycer (@0mod3) - Math Teacher Nerds
Parkermathed - Countably Infinite
Jacqueline (@jacrichardson) - High Heels and No. 2 Pencils
@RoxyGirlTeacher - Rockstar Math Teacher
@fractionfanatic - Fractionfanatic
@merryfwilliams - Dividing by Zero
CherylLeung (@MathEasyAsPi) - MathEasyAsPi
@caitlyn_gironda - Give Me a Sine
Ali Grace (@AGEiland) - GRAPHS & GLASSES
@zimmerdiamonds - Ms. Z. Teaches in Mathland
Sarah Martin - Mathisajourney
David Griswold - Approximating Normality
@cheesemonkeysf - cheesemonkey wonders
Emily Swenson (@Em_Swenson) - The Fab Explor-A-Lab
Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) - Insert Clever Pun Here
Casey (@cmmteach) - (Mis)Adventures in Mathland
SqRtOfTeaching - The Square Root of Teaching
Anna Vance (@TypeAMathLand) - TypeAMathLand
@solvingforx - Orangamallows
@lisakmcleod - McLeod's Crowd: Algebra for All
@yelena585 - Blended Learning in my math classroom
@Mim_IL - Mim's Reflections
Marissa (@viemath) - La Vie Mathematique
@abel_jennifer - Mathsational
Bonnie Davis (@MrsDavisAlg2) - Teaching on the East Side
@ms_braga - Ms. Braga Teaches
@matheologian - Matheologian
@CGFlim - The Pizza Pi Girl
Denis Sheeran (@MathDenisNJ) - Unanswerable Questions
swedenese - e^m
@anne_mayre - La Vie en Violet
Jessica (@algebrainiac1) - Algebrainiac
@sarahkm3 - T-cubed: Tumbling Through Teaching
@MrKitMath - Those who teach, do more
@BridgetDunbar - Reflections in the Plane
@hschuchhardt - Slightly Skewed
@markchubb3 - Thinking Mathematically
Jennifer Wilson (@jwilson828) - The Slow Math Movement
Sarah (@sedulaney) - Go to Sleep. Study. Mathinate.
@MNmMath - mnmmath
DawneenZabinske - Ms. Z's Mathematical Mess
@MichelleDRD - dr dalrymple
Sarah DiMaria (@MsDiMaria) - Ms. DiMaria Blogs
Tori Roberts (@MathByTori) - Math by Tori
@jkindred13 - jkindred13: Teaching with a Servant's Heart
@lorrisapp - Dr. Sapp's Blog
Jasmine (@jaz_math) - Jaz_math
@ChrissieFicken - Room 206
@showwrk - Show me your work (thinking)
@mrssheilaorr - F(Lessons Taught) = Lessons Learned
@SharonSoule - Math Dame
@sergtpeppa - Big Honkin' WordPress
@vaughn_trapped - vlogakavaughnlog or Vaughnville
Jonathan Newman (@newmanmath) - Hilbert's Hotel
Allison_krasnow - PiCrust
@margambrel - Middle School Math in 138
Kerri S. - Math Differently
Joanne Crooks (@jomrosa) - Learning Math Everyday
Corina Srygley (@ccsrygle) - Sryg's Jigs
lizmathnerd - Fabuliz Math Nerd
@MrHansuvadha - Worst Teacher Ever
Kristin Manna (@kmanna15) - Manna Math
luvbcd - Middle School Math Rules
David Walker - Geometry, Common Core Style
@mathplusmusic - Math Plus Music
@frankmcgowa - Finding the Process

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

#MTBoSBlaugust is BACK!

Last year, I hosted the #MTBoSBlaugust event, hoping to get myself motivated to blog more and because misery loves company, I asked the MTBoS community to join in!  Today, I realized that August is NEXT WEEK (OMG OMG OMG) and so I tweeted out asking if people would be interested in the return of #MTBoSBlaugust and there was an extremely positive response!

So here we are...


Rules of Blaugust
The rules are pretty simple... all you need to do is blog!  :)

Seriously though, my goal will be to blog daily in August, but I know that's not always possible, so set your own goal!  Maybe it's a goal to blog every other day or to write at least 10 posts this month... whatever it is, you can do it!  This will be my 4th attempt to blog every day for a month and I have YET to achieve that goal, but it's okay - blogging once a week is better than not blogging at all!

Please take a minute to sign-up so I can link to your site as a #MTBoSBlaugust participant and cheer you on!

The Prompts
I know some people really like the prompts and you'll see a list down below.  However, do NOT feel like you have to stick to this list!  This list of prompts is only to help you when you are stuck with the "What in the world do I write about today?!?!?" moment.  For me, this year, I have committed to recording blog ideas using Google Keep on my phone and on paper via my planner.  I'm hoping that those quick little moments of "oh, that went well, I should blog that!" will actually help me remember what I wanted to blog about on a daily basis. :)  

On to the prompts:
  1. What do you hope to get out of Blaugust this year?
  2. Show us your classroom
  3. Top 5 Tips for New  (or Veteran) Teachers
  4. What are your Back to School Must-Haves?
  5. What Back To School supplies have you purchased this year?
  6. What have you made for your classroom this summer?  (#Made4Math)
  7. What is your favorite icebreaker or first day of school activity?
  8. How do you develop a positive classroom culture?
  9. What would you like to Start doing this school year?  What would you like to Stop doing?  What would you like to Continue doing?
  10. One time in math class... (as a teacher)
  11. One time in math class…(when I was a student…)
  12. Something I read/learned this summer that intrigued me…
  13. Pinned It, Did It and/or Pinned it, Did it, It flopped.
  14. Recipe Swap for Busy Teachers (Quick & easy lunches anyone?? Breakfast on the go?)
  15. Something that makes your classroom unique
  16. A  mentor/colleague who impacted your classroom/teaching…
  17. The best teacher I ever had was …. because ...
  18. How do you tame the paper tiger?
  19. What are your best organizational tips?
  20. Brain breaks for students.
  21. Favorite take 5 for yourself?
  22. Be the Change.. what will you do this year to impact the culture of your school and/or classroom?
  23. Using your school mascot, create an acrostic of character traits you wish to instill in your students
  24. What is your focus/theme/mantra for the year and why?  Create and share a notecard for your desk as a reminder.
  25. What are your go to quotes?
  26. Reblog an old post - reflect how you see/use it now?
  27. What are your favorite formative assessment strategies?
  28. Professional Growth Goal
  29. What are your best organizational tips?
  30. Theme song for the year? like your personal fight song?
  31. What is something in your classroom that you cannot live without?
  32. What’s a positive change you would like to make in your life - could be at school/home/health
  33. List of gratitude.
  34. Describe a typical day (or hour) in your classroom.
  35. What is your biggest classroom pet-peeve?
  36. Link to 3 blog posts that impacted you and share why.
  37. Read 3 posts from blogs you’ve never visited, give a quick take-away from each.
  38. What is your greatest joy in teaching?  What is your greatest fear?
  39. Tell us about you!  Post 20 facts about yourself.
  40. What are your New School Year Goals or Resolutions?
  41. What’s in (and on) your teacher desk?
  42. What’s the 10th song on your device playlist?  What memory does it conjure?
  43. What’s your “One Good Thing” for today?
  44. What do you do on parent night / open house?  
  45. What’s the toughest challenge you face as a teacher today?
  46. A favorite activity that is fun and leads to learning…
  47. An activity or something else in your classroom you wish to modify and improve.
  48. What's left on your Summer Bucket List?
  49. What are your favorite apps to use in your classroom?
  50. What is your fitness routine and how to stick to it during a busy school year?