Thursday, May 31, 2012

Let's try this again... Writing in Math, take 3

For the past two summers, I have posted about Writing in Math (see posts here and here). I still very strongly feel that writing is something I need to do, but I really struggle on the implementation.

In AP, writing is a natural part of the curriculum, but in Alg2, it is a bit more challenging for me. I had already been doing some searching on writing in algebra when Sam Shah posted a blog post last night about writing in math (see post here). When I did some more digging, I realized he had written before on Writing in Algebra 2, and I again felt convicted that this is an area where I have to do a better job.

Next Steps
After reading Sam's posts, I realized that I need to do some searching in our textbook resources. A lot of textbooks have "writing in math" supplements and/or questions in the homework sets. I need to gather a database of questions that are at my disposal in order to make this easy to use and implement. I also need to figure out how to add these writing prompts into my lessons and my assessments. I would like the students to do some practice and evaluation, similar to Sam's older post, so that we can discuss what makes a good or not-so-good response. I need to decide if these are done as exit cards, warmups, in their interactive notebook, etc. I don't think I'm ready for large writing assignments, I need just small prompts like "Without actually creating a graph, what information do you know about the graph of y= -3(x+4)^2 -1 ?"

My #summerlist has already grown... :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Daily Details

I know most people think I'm nuts. Heck, right now *I* think I'm nuts! Thursday was our last day with kids and Friday we had a teacher work-day. That means that school is out for summer break, yet here I am on Sunday night typing a post that is about processes and procedures for next year... I know I'm insane, but I need to get these things out of my head :) Besides - this year came to a close very quickly due to a very mild winter with no snow days, so I'm still adjusting to the idea of summer :)

Interactive Notebook
I've already mentioned INBs in previous posts, but I've been spending some time doing research while cleaning off the DVR. I have found a few people that mention using INBs, but it appears to mostly be in Science and SS. For AP though, I did find a site tonight that mentioned INBs and how they had the kids tape/glue in the formula sheet. It made me think of a student's statement after the AP exam this year - she had no idea that the distribution tables were at the back of the test because we had always used a separate formula sheet. I'm thinking w/ the INBs to have the kids put the formulas in the front of their INB and the tables in the back so that it mimics the AP exam. Maybe they will get used to flipping to the front or back throughout the year. I'm also trying to figure out how to integrate their quizzes into the INB. I'm thinking the quiz gets taped in on the right side and their remediation goes on the left.

Daily Agenda
My classroom has lots of whiteboard space, but I need to figure out a way to post the daily objective (essential question), upcoming assignments, etc and still maintain the flexibility of the whiteboards. I am thinking of using laminated posterboard since it could be moved around. I could also post some stuff such as the essential question on the Promethean as part of the warmup screen for students to set up their daily INB page.

Speaking of Warmups, I was not satisfied with the warmups I did this year. In AP, I did parts of Free Response questions for most daily warmups, although one day a week we did a vocabulary exercise and another day we did a multiple choice warmup. My problem was that since warmups weren't part of their grade, some kids did it, some didn't and I was horrible about checking. I don't want to grade warmups, but I would like to integrate them into the INB. I don't know how to solve the issue of doing them though :( I am very open to suggestions here...

I've already posted about exit slips, but I never implemented them to my satisfaction. I would like for the kids to write a summary of that day's activity, which would be the answer to the daily "essential question".. if I can get my act together and write said questions :)

Every teacher I know is constantly on the search for the perfect homework method. I am no exception. I actually don't mind my homework policy too much, but I hate using classtime to go over homework questions when very few students did the homework. I need to figure out how to maximize my time and not have kids feel like their time is wasted.

Rich Tasks
This was on last year's to-do list too and I'm still working on it :) How do you incorporate rich tasks into your curriculum? Are they warmups? Part of the lesson? Homework problems? Assessment questions? All of the above? I could really use some guidance here.

In general, my classroom runs fairly smoothly, but I would definitely like to tweak some of the structures and be more consistent in some of my procedures. I think this year my focus will be more on those day to day details in order to maximize my classroom time.

Looking back... Looking forward...

Yet again, I have failed in my resolution to blog more often :) When I look back over previous posts I often find nuggets of wisdom that I have forgotten and that strengthens my resolve to blog, but then life happens and my daily energy falls well short of my daily to-do list. Right now I have so many posts bouncing around in my head but have struggled to put "pen to paper" and get them out there.

Looking back...
This year was a struggle for me. I moved to a new building and it had its pros and cons. There were definitely good things that happened this year, but what I missed the most was the daily interaction with my peers. For some reason, in the new building, I can go all day and only see a couple of colleagues. Contrast that with previous years when I would see a dozen or more teachers/staff members a day and the difference was extremely noticeable. However, not to focus on the negative, there were some awesome things that happened. I had the opportunity to work with the science teachers a lot more and that was a definite plus. Also, I tried SBG with my AP Stat class and in general, I liked it a lot. There are still things I need to improve on, but I'll see when the scores come out how the kids did. Overall, this year went okay and while it's not my favorite year of all time, nothing horrible happened either :)

Looking forward...
Next year is already looking promising. After a year out of Alg2, I am scheduled to have 2 sections next year and 3 of AP. My AVID students graduated this year and I don't plan to pick up a new section. I am very eager to try some new things in both Alg2 and Stat. I'm really looking forward to Twitter Math Camp in July and learning about a variety of new ideas that I want to implement, including Interactive Notebooks and Foldables. I have already started on the Exeter problems and I'm eager to incorporate more of those in my classroom. All in all, I have high hopes for this summer and next year :)

Summer List...
Last year, I didn't start my "summer list" until July, so I'm trying to get it out there earlier this year :)
  • Exeter Math Problems - I've started these already and am eager to use them in my classroom. I think these will fit in nicely with the CCSS implementation over the next few years.
  • Processes/Procedures - Last year at the AVID Summer Institute, two of our science teachers learned about Interactive Notebooks and I met with one of them this week for a few hours to talk about how to implement an INB. Part of the INB is student created output such as foldables and graphic organizers. I am very excited about these! I need to spend time this summer creating an INB to test out some ideas. I also want to tweak my warmups, closures, and as always, continue my search of the holy grail of homework :)
  • Professional Reading - I have several books on to "to be read" list, but one in particular that I want to read is Mathematics Formative Assessment.
  • Relax!! - This one should go without saying, but part of my love of summer is time to nap, read novels, and chill in the pool. This summer is no different :)

    Speaking of naptime.... :)