Monday, August 15, 2022

Unit Dividers - #MTBoSBlaugust Day 15

 

It's Monday, y'all!  And we're halfway through the month!  I'm not doing so great on my Blaugust challenge, but I'm sticking with it and giving it my best shot.  Thank you to all of you who are participating in the challenge!

I love Back to School time for the fresh start, but to be honest, BTS is one of my least favorite times of the year!  So many new names and personalities to learn, setting up the class culture, and all the administrative stuff that comes with a new year just wears me out!  I'm ready for a few weeks from now when I know student names, my rosters aren't changing every day, and we're in a groove with regard to class procedures.

BUT - I did finally figure out my Unit Dividers this weekend - Go me!!

With the switch over to my new school last year, I had some issues with my notebook that I wasn't super happy with.  Our homework was online, so the notebook was mostly a place for notes, but that meant there wasn't a great delineation from unit to unit.

I knew I wanted to do some sort of divider and I had it on my to-do list ALL.SUMMER.LONG, but the procrastinator that I am, I didn't actually DO anything about it!  

I looked at so many blogs and asked on Twitter to get examples, but I ended up settling on this pretty simple template - a blank table of contents, and a set of objectives / vocabulary for the unit.  Of course, it helped that I was just out of time to figure it out - we are setting up our notebooks tomorrow and starting curriculum on Wednesday, so it was "put up or shut up" time.

We'll see how it goes! :)



If you are interested in joining in the #MTBoSBlaugust fun, here's a post with some prompts to help you out!  The idea is just to blog / micro-blog during August to help us focus and reflect on the year ahead.  Please tag your post on Social Media with the hashtag #MTBoSBlaugust so we can support you in your blogging journey!




Saturday, August 13, 2022

Organizing my Teacher Binder - #MTBoSBlaugust Day 13

 


I had planned to blog the past two days, but Thursday was our first day back with students, so I've been exhausted!  By the end of Thursday, my feet were killing me and my throat was raw from talking.  Even today has been busy with lesson planning, so I almost forgot again today!

This morning, I had several things on my to-do list - setting up my online Gradebook, syncing with Google Classroom, and printing my attendance sheets.  I'm one of those old-school teachers that really does better with paper versus electronic methods, so I like having paper records for Attendance and other things.

One of my items today was working on my Teacher Binder.  I typically blog about my Lesson Planner, but it didn't change much this year other than I'm having to use a full size planner instead of the Junior Planner since I'm teaching 3 preps this year.

But one of the most useful things in my Binder are my Class Rosters.  I downloaded my class lists today as spreadsheets, then copied the names over to my Class Roll Sheets (seen at the left).  I use these for...

Gradebook Sheets - Years ago, I used to use the Whaley paper gradebook, but now I have a section in my Teacher Binder where I have these blank rosters to record quizzes and test grades or as a general checklist if needed.  I typically have a back-up copy ready to go in case I run out of columns and need to move to a new page.

Eligibility Tracking - In another section of my Teacher Binder, I have a copy of each roster for tracking eligibility over the semester.  I make a special effort to reach out these kiddos and their parents, asking them to come in to retake a test or whatever the situation might be.  I typically put a code of "E" for email, SC for student conference, etc during that week to document my contact.

Parent Contact - Another section of my Teacher Binder is where I track Parent Contact.  I label the first few columns for the big contact items - like the Back to School Google Form, Back to School Night,  Parent Teacher Conferences, plus I also document the date and type of contact for any emails or phone calls I make.  My goal is to have a positive parent contact for every parent on my roster throughout the year.  

I'm sure there are other uses for this form as well, but those are three I find very helpful in keeping me organized!



If you are interested in joining in the #MTBoSBlaugust fun, here's a post with some prompts to help you out!  The idea is just to blog / micro-blog during August to help us focus and reflect on the year ahead.  Please tag your post on Social Media with the hashtag #MTBoSBlaugust so we can support you in your blogging journey!


Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Back to School Parent Contact - #MTBoSBlaugust Day 10

 


Last night was Back to School night and I have to admit, I love the energy that students and their families bring to the building.  I've been in my classroom off and on for the past few weeks, but in the summer, the building just seems kind of sad.  The floors are newly waxed, the carpets have been cleaned, but the energy is lacking.  I should also note that I am flat-out exhausted after last night because it was VERY people-y and that's tough for an introvert like me! 

But one of my FAVORITE parts of Back to School is sending out an email and short questionnaire to the parent / guardian.  This is two-fold - to establish that first contact, sharing my email and my excitement for the new year, and to ask the parents to introduce me to their student in an effort to get to know them better.

Attached to the email is a very short Google Form with just a few questions:

- What is your name?

- What is your Student's name?

- If I need to get in touch with you, what is the best way to contact you?  If phone, what time of day works best?

- Your student is an amazing person and I would love your help in getting to know them better.  You know your student best, so please tell me about your student as a person.  I would love to hear about hopes and dreams, goals for this year and for the future, challenges and successes, activities and interests, and anything else that you would like to share about your student.  Please feel free to write as much (or as little) as you would like!

- I would also love to know more about your student on an academic level. Please tell me anything you know about how your student learns best and the classroom environment that would best encourage and develop your student as a mathematician.  If you have any suggestions about how I can be a better teacher for your student, please let me know that as well.  Again, please feel free to write as much (or as little) as you would like!

- Do you have any additional questions, comments, or concerns?

I really love reading the responses as they trickle in!




If you are interested in joining in the #MTBoSBlaugust fun, here's a post with some prompts to help you out!  The idea is just to blog / micro-blog during August to help us focus and reflect on the year ahead.  Please tag your post on Social Media with the hashtag #MTBoSBlaugust so we can support you in your blogging journey!



Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Welcome to my Classroom - #MTBoSBlaugust Day 9

 


Yesterday started Year 25 for me.  Where does time go??

Today, we had a few meetings and then we had Back to School night tonight from 4-6.  I'm exhausted and my feet hurt, but we are off tomorrow and then kiddos come on Thursday!  It was so good tonight to see students from last year and have a chance to visit with them.  As someone who has mostly taught seniors, this was a first for me.  That sense of connection and belonging meant so much to me!

Around 3:30pm, I felt my room was at 'photo-ready-enough' stage to share pictures of this year's classroom.  If you want to see how much it has changed in the past year, here are photos from last August.

Now on to this year's set up...

Standing at the doorway:

You can see the boards I received last year from the grant on the north and west walls.  I love that they are magnetic!  

On 4 of the boards, I have posterboards with prompts for the first day.  Students will get sticky notes, complete the prompts and put the sticky notes on the corresponding board before coming back to the tables to do the Name Tents

The tables look a bit bare right now, but they will eventually have table buckets and dry erase boards on them.  You can also see the corner of my (not-ready) desk and cans of shaving cream.  I forgot those were there when I took the picture! LOL

Moving over toward my desk, here's a shot of the south wall.  A few changes here from last year...

- Calculator Caddy so I can do a better job of tracking calculators that haven't been returned.

- New posters above the Caddy - the Thumbs Up poster from Scaffolded Math and the 2 smaller posters are from TI

- Make 30 daily challenge from Sarah's blog (MathEqualsLove)

- New agenda board for stat!  (YAY!)

Last view is from the northwest corner, looking back at the door...

On the big board of the south wall, you can also see the other two poster-boards for the sticky-note activity.

I still have a lot to do to get ready for the year, but at this point, it's mostly paper-based stuff of lesson plans, finalizing activities, and the administrative things that come with a new year.

But for now, I think it's time to go grab my Kindle and go to bed... :)



If you are interested in joining in the #MTBoSBlaugust fun, here's a post with some prompts to help you out!  The idea is just to blog / micro-blog during August to help us focus and reflect on the year ahead.  Please tag your post on Social Media with the hashtag #MTBoSBlaugust so we can support you in your blogging journey!


 







Monday, August 8, 2022

Geometry Reference Sheet - #MTBoSBlaugust Day 8

 

Today was the first day of Year 25!  

This summer, I had hoped to get a lot more accomplished than I did.  About 10 years ago, #Made4Math Monday was a regular occurrence and it really helped me throughout the summer to tackle those little projects that needed to happen, plus I was able to share them and get inspiration from others as well.  

After a while, most of the little projects were done and it became tough to share weekly new creations, so #Made4Math moved primarily to the summer months.  This summer, I had plans to revive it, but I just couldn't bring myself to do many projects this summer, but now that school has started, I really don't have much of a choice - ready or not, the kids are coming on Thursday!

One of the projects I did this weekend was updating my Geometry Reference Sheet that goes on the inside cover of their Interactive Notebook (INB).  

When I first blogged about this for a #Made4Math back in 2018, the notebook was for first semester only and there was a different reference sheet for the 2nd semester.  However, at my new school, I only ended up using one notebook for the entire year, so I needed to do some tweaking.

For the original (pictured left), I was thinking about various reminders they would need from pre-requisite knowledge.  As I started thinking about the revision, I decided to cut down the Perfect Squares and add in some Square Roots to hopefully help make connections.  I also decided to cut out the Pythagorean Triples and combine the formulas so that I could extend the Area / Perimeter section.

After playing with it some more, here's what I ended up with:


If you have any suggestions or tweaks, please let me know!



If you are interested in joining in the #MTBoSBlaugust fun, here's a post with some prompts to help you out!  The idea is just to blog / micro-blog during August to help us focus and reflect on the year ahead.  Please tag your post on Social Media with the hashtag #MTBoSBlaugust so we can support you in your blogging journey!





Sunday, August 7, 2022

Organizing Activities - #MTBoSBlaugust - Day 7

 


Today is the last day of summer!  I'm definitely not ready for this one to go yet.  Typically, I spend a good chunk of my summer outside reading, but we've had a huge heat wave this year, including 100+ degree days in June, which is NOT typical.  I think July ended up with over 20 days of triple digit heat, so this has been a summer where I've stayed indoors, shades drawn, and lots of fans & ac!

But whether I'm ready or not, tomorrow morning will come and it will be time to report for my 25th year of teaching.  Holy moly, that seems crazy to me!  25 years!  What?!?!

Over those 25 years, I've amassed a LOT of stuff.  My room has a lot of storage, but not enough - I still have boxes in my garage from when I moved to my new school last year.  I had hoped to go through them this summer, but the heat had other plans. :)

This photo is HALF of my Geometry cabinet.  Last year I had 4 sections of on-level Geometry and 2 sections of Honors Geometry.  This year, I have 2 sections of on-level and 3 of Honors.  I really like doing activities as much as I can, so I have a ton of card sorts, files, manipulatives, etc.  Here, you can see several of the card based activities on the top shelf and manipulatives on the bottom shelf - Rules, Protractors, Measuring Tapes, Ang Legs, etc.  What you don't see is there's also a file crate on the bottom right that holds all of my hanging file activities for Geometry - around the room activities, class sets of Open Middle problems, etc.  To be honest, I have more stuff than I know what to do with!  

One of my summer goals was to organize everything and make a list of what all I had in the cabinet so that I wouldn't forget to actually USE the various activities I have accumulated over the years.

This task seemed easier said than done... I thought about a list in my lesson planner or in my binder of master copies, but I discarded those ideas because I probably wouldn't LOOK at the list once I made it.

Then, yesterday morning, I had a thought!!  (Yeah, those sometimes happen!)

When planning lessons, I tend to use last year's Interactive Notebook (INB) to help me think about what I liked and didn't like about a lesson and jot "notes to my future forgetful self" about what to change.  What if I made a list of activities and had it in my INB to refer to while planning?  YES!  This could work!

So I quickly made a half-sheet template with my units listed at the top and a 2-column paper so I could track the type / location of the resource (file, cards, open middle, Desmos, etc) and the title of the resource.  After printing it off, I sat down with my very un-organized list of resources and wrote down each one on the correct unit sheet.  The sheets are double-sided so I can add new resources as I find / make them this year and will be easy to move from notebook to notebook as years progress.

It only took me until the weekend before school started to figure out this problem that has been nagging me for a year, but better late than never, right? :)




If you are interested in joining in the #MTBoSBlaugust fun, here's a post with some prompts to help you out!  The idea is just to blog / micro-blog during August to help us focus and reflect on the year ahead.  Please tag your post on Social Media with the hashtag #MTBoSBlaugust so we can support you in your blogging journey!



Saturday, August 6, 2022

Email Templates - #MTBoSBlaugust Day 6

 


Do you ever have one of those moments where you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea that you think is brilliant?  Sometimes the ideas really are... sometimes not... and sometimes you can't even remember them in the morning!

Today's idea came to me this morning as I was laying in bed reading and I truly had one of those "why have I never thought of this before?!?!" moments! 

Okay - so here's my idea... Email Templates!

I like to communicate with my students and their parents on a regular basis, so I utilize our gradebook Mass Email option a lot.  But until this morning, I had never thought of capturing those emails as templates to use over and over again instead of reinventing the wheel each time!

So once I sat down at my computer this morning, I went to Google Drive and started a new folder called Email Templates.  Then I made Google Docs for each of the emails that I would send throughout the year.  Finally, I went through last year's Sent Email box and copied the emails to paste into the G-Doc.  Thankfully this didn't take forever because I've only been at my school for one year! :)

As I use each one of these emails, I can edit in Google Docs, then copy/paste into our Gradebook Mass Email system!  

Hopefully this will save me some time this year.  One of the comments that I received multiple times in May from parents was how much they really appreciated the constant communication as teenagers are not always the best at telling their parents about upcoming events!  I'm sure there are others who were annoyed by my emails, but if it helps just one student, then it's worth it!



If you are interested in joining in the #MTBoSBlaugust fun, here's a post with some prompts to help you out!  The idea is just to blog / micro-blog during August to help us focus and reflect on the year ahead.  Please tag your post on Social Media with the hashtag #MTBoSBlaugust so we can support you in your blogging journey!