Monday, July 30, 2012

Made 4 Math Monday #5

Wowzers - it's Monday already?!?!?! This week flew by WAY too fast, which means that August is almost upon us! After leaving #TMC12 last Sunday, I flew to Indy for an AVID Workshop, where I met up with 5 other teachers from my school for another 3 days of Professional Development. (My presenter at AVID doesn't like the term PD - he prefers the term "Professional Learning"... I kind of like that!)

Anyway... on the way to Indy, I'm guessing someone on the plane had a bug of some sort, because by Wednesday evening, I was feeling downright miserable and spent the rest of the week battling a cold! But, never fear - I forced myself to confront that yucky germbug and get to tackling this week's #Made4Math projects!!

Without further ado.....

As always, don't forget to steal the logo, attach it to your post, and tweet out your link with the #Made4Math hashtag or put your link in the comments so it can be archived!

My obsession with Target's Dollar Spot
If you know me at all, you know I cannot pass up a good deal! This week's #Made4Math projects are dedicated to my favorite Target finds of this week....

Project #1
Yeah, so this one really isn't a project... I lied... it's just a way to show off an awesome find! :) But I have to give major shout outs to my BFF @approx_normal. While we were at #TMC12 working on the Exeter problem sets, she whipped out these *MUST-HAVE-THEM-GET-OUT-OF-MY-WAY* notepads:

I had seen them before, but for some reason, totally missed the fact that they were GRAPH paper post-its!!! Hell-o!!! Needless to say, once I saw them again in the Target dollar spot, I was down on my knees, digging through that bin like I was a starving woman begging for table scraps. I was determined to find every last morsel of graph paper goodness! I ended up with 7 notepads, which will come in handy in Algebra 2 this year! :)

Project #2 - Part A
Now this one is a real project :) On Friday, while not feeling my bestest, I went up to school to inventory our AVID curriculum library. I had already planned to use the awesome magazine files that I had purchased at Target a few weeks ago to help me organize the library, but I quickly decided that I needed more! So off to Target I go, early on Saturday morning. I diligently dig through the Dollar Spot, but I don't see any files. However, I do see these beauties:

(P.S. - I have NO idea why they are upside down!!)

I acknowledged the coolness of the Photo Clips, but ignore them because I don't have a use for them.... or so I thought! As I was thinking last night of what to make for this week's #Made4Math, I was browsing pinterest (duh!) and ran across this pin. Hmmm... an idea was forming....

Now, assuming you went and looked at the pin, you'll notice that it's a free printable label for food. That isn't quite going to work in my classroom! However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the style of the labels, so how can I use them.... *ponder* *think* *ponder*

OOOH!!! I know!!! When I sort kids into random groups for activities, I usually stand at the door with a deck of cards. They pull a card and that's the group they sit in. My "tables" usually get labeled with post-it notes scribbled with a 1, 2, 3, etc. By the end of the hour/day, the post-it note is written on, yucky, or lost. Repeat for each hour of class! There *MUST* be a better way, right???

So I took her most awesome printable, used the "Snipping Tool" in Win7 and snipped out 1 label and pasted it into a table in Microsoft Word. Then I added a textbox so I could type in numbers. Laminate, cut apart, and here's my new "table numbers" for group work days:

I LOVE how they turned out!!! So cute! :)

Project #2 - Part B
Okay, so these cool photo clips must be able to be used for other stuff, right? Browsing pinterest again brought me to this pin from the blog "Fast Times of a Middle School Math Teacher", where she shares her frustrations with students saying "I don't get it!!" instead of asking productive questions that DO help them "get it". So she created some "SMART" questions to guide her math students. I took her questions, typed them up, printed them out, and now my photo clips do double duty!!

These have to be some of the most useful little gadgets I've purchased in a while!

I can't believe that I have *2* weeks left!!! Oh my, oh my, oh my... #made4math needs to be every day at this point!!! I have soooo much left to do! :)

Your Turn!!! What did YOU make this week??
Ready to check out some other awesome creations? Remember to leave a link in the comments or send out a #made4math tweet! :) We want to see YOUR name here.... :)

@Fouss - Plumed pencils and a restyled bulletin board AND An Update

@aanthonya - Whiteboards and Chart Stands AND Bonus Cards!

@4mulafun - New Decorations!!

@fourkatie - Digital organization

@MTChirps - Poster Channels

@ScottKeltner - Calculator Storage - Storage blog post and Baseball bulletin board - Bulletin Board blog post

@pamjwilson - Polynomial Station Activities

@reminoodle - An assortment of projects

@GroshongMary - Whiteboards!

@LaurenDeReche - Posters, Numbers, and More!

@_CindyWallace_ - Project Timeline

@jreulbach - Personalized Blog Tshirt!

@lmhenry9 - Excel Gradebook and Attendance Sheets

@Borschtwithanna - Homework Folders

@AlwildaDaughter - Brochures and Flower Pens

@roitzc - Show off Student Work!

@Wyldbirman - Literal Equations

@MarshaFoshee - Common Core Geometry

@MsKLaster - Stamp Sheets

@mathtastrophe - Clipboards and Flower Pens

@crstn85 - Fiddle Toy

@wahedahbug - Vocabulary Cards

@misscalcul8 - Organizing Unit Activities

SimplifyingRadicals - Sticker Survey

@mathequalslove - Interactive Notebook Planning Pages

Katie - Fractions/Decimals/Percents Game

@gwaddellnvhs - Classroom Makeover and Business Cards

@mgolding - Superhero Wall Art!

@Carol_Leonard - Unit Circle Fun

@mathsmithed - Customized blog

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Favorite Friday #1

I have to admit, this weekly post will probably be more difficult for me than #Made4Math Mondays.... at least until school starts! It's 7pm and I am just now getting around to posting 'My Favorite' because I had NO idea what to post! Then I looked around my office and it hit me.... I do have a favorite to share!!

For the past several years, I have used a laptop as my main computer - mainly because I get hubby's hand-me-down gaming laptops :) But I hate hate hate using the touchpad, so I've always used a mouse instead. This wasn't too big of a deal until this past school year. At school, I've always had a desktop and a presentation clicker, but this year, they purchased laptops for the teacher computers in my building, but they did not provide a mouse. Since I really hate touchpads, I knew I needed a mouse! Enter in my favorite item...

It is a wireless USB mouse. I LOVE my wireless mouse! I use it at my desk as a regular mouse and I can walk all around my room and use it as a presentation clicker. I even take it with me to teach at the uni so I can use it as a presentation clicker there too!

This past week, at #TMC12, I learned that there are free apps, such as Touchpad, for the iPhone and Android phones that does the same thing, but we aren't supposed to have our phones out during the day :)

So there ya have it... My First Favorite Friday :)

Your turn!!! What is YOUR Favorite Friday??

@misscalcul8 - Funny T-shirt Designs

@fouss - Getting to Know You G-Form

@Wyldbirman - Tex Mex Chicken

@MsKLaster - The Power of YET

@pamjwilson - Who is Robert Wadlow and Super Size It

@gwaddellnvhs - A visual representation of Imaginary solutions

@LaurenDeReche - New Calculator

@Carol_Leonard - School Supplies!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Side Effects of the Interwebs

This summer has been awesome. I've had the chance to participate in amazing PD, have some fun with #Made4Math, travel to or through several states, and take plenty of naps!

One of the things that I think has been so amazing this summer is the unexpected side effects of #Made4Math and #TMC12. When @pamjwilson and I were talking about the awesome elementary blogs and their Monday Made It, I could not have predicted how popular #Made4Math would end up. For me, I love having the accountability and the structure/routine of something to post once a week. I am horrible about posting regularly, especially during the school year, so I'm hoping that the weekly #Made4Math will help me on that. But the best side effect of #Made4Math is the number of brand new bloggers that have joined in. I love that people that started blogs just so they could share their creations with the rest of us! I hope that #Made4Math has generated some traffic on their new blogs and encouraged them to keep on posting.

In a similar vein, #TMC12 had some unexpected side effects. Teachers that had read about Twitter Math Camp, but weren't on twitter, now have started up Twitter accounts and/or expanded their Twitter followers in order to keep those connections alive. I've also seen blog posts or even new blogs that started as a result of #TMC12.

As a result of both of these occurances, a new initative was born. One of the highlights of #TMC12 was the "My Favorites" session. These were short 5-10 minute blurbs about your favorite website, lesson, review activity, classroom management technique, etc. This was a place where everyone had a chance to present something to the group. Then, after #TMC12 was over and we had all gone home, @misscalcul8 tweets this:

After several of us responded affirmatively, "My Favorite Friday" was born. Check out the awesome logo that @mathtastrophe made for it:

So, what do you need to do? Glad you asked!!! On Friday, fire up the ol' blog, steal the awesome logo above, and tell us about something you love. It could be your favorite office supply, website, activity, video, strategy, anything you use/do in your classroom that you want to share with the rest of us. We eventually might have a theme of the week, but for now, just lay it on us.... What do you love and want to tell us about??

When you've written your blog post, don't forget to tweet it out with the hashtag #MyFavFriday and/or put it in the comments - we'll catalog them just like we do for #Made4Math (at least for now)

Happy blogging!!

My thoughts on #TMC12

Oh my goodness - where to even start!!! The past 9 days have been such a whorlwind that I honestly cannot wrap my head around it.

Let's back up to last Wednesday morning, when hubs dropped me off at school and said goodbye for a week. I worked in my room for a bit, then off to St Louis I went. Thankfully @agktmte and his wife were willing to give me a ride, which I greatly appreciate. The next four days was spent with this group of people:

Honestly, this was the most amazing experience! We had been planning TMC for a while, but on the trip, I was nervous. I mean, some of these people I've talked to for years, some for mere weeks. What if I didn't like them? What if they didn't like me? But, never fear... as soon as I walked into the hotel, @mgolding was sitting there and immediately came over to say hi and my fears vanished. She was exactly what I expected from her tweets and she immediately put me at ease. After checking in and going to my room to catch up with my bestie, @approx_normal, she and I headed back down to meet the rest of the crew. That evening started a 4 day experience that I will never forget.

The next morning, I drove over to MICDS with @lmhenry9 and her hubby. Let me just say that Jason really loves Lisa a lot to put up with all of us for 4 days :). MICDS has a beautiful facility and I was so grateful for their hospitality. Of course, it had the added benefit of letting me see Mel, who has been one of my best friends for many many years. She and I taught next to each other for years, before she moved to St Louis. It was awesome to spend time with her and see her school. Mel, Lisa, Jason, and I put together the goodie bags, then before we knew it, we had 40 participants from 19 states and 3 countries pouring through the doors, ready to "get their math on". That morning we had a welcome session, then off to work in our small groups on the Exeter math problem sets. After a hosted lunch (thanks so much, MICDS!), we had our first "My Favorites" session, then presentations. It was a blast to watch @approx_normal try to explain a marshmallow gun and then demonstrate by taking shots at @maxmathforum. I'm not going to go into details on everything because @rdkpickle already did an amazing job of that, but let's just say that the afternoon sessions were amazing. The presenters did a great job and I can honestly say that I have never been to a PD workshop where I was able to walk away from EVERY session with something I could use. This cycle of up early, work on Exeter problems, go to lunch, come back to My Favorites and presentations repeated for several days and it was just flat-out amazing.

Some of my take-aways...
  • @troystein is just a doll - His session on flipping the classroom really let me gain a new perspective on it. I loved talking with Troy - his intensity in conversations and the questions he asks really conveys that he truly wants to know what you think.
  • @mathbratt did an amazing job with her Rich Problems talk. I had seen the locker problem before, but had never explored the idea of prime/composite numbers, squared numbers, factors, odd/even number of factors, etc. Pure genius! I loved how she encouraged us to make a prediction, then check it concretely. What a great idea with kids! The purple milk problem was a lot of fun and really had a variety of entry levels for kids.
  • @jreulbach originally thought that there was no way a talk on Foldables would last 30 minutes, however, I could have easily stayed and talked to her about it for another hour! I loved some of the templates she shared and I also like the idea of having blank templates ready to go and just tell the kids, "Go grab a copy of the 3 tab foldable" (or whatever). I really would love a "make and take" foldable session next year!
  • @gwaddellnvhs and @jreulbach really opened my eyes to the power of Google Docs. I'm thinking this should be its own #matheme sometime! I loved the ability to highlight emails and put them into a group and the idea of having a collaborative document for kids to work on and it's all combined into one document for grading!
  • @mel6871 showed me the software they use at MICDS called "DyKnow" - holy moly, I wish I had a 1:1 option! that was crazy amazing! She also showed me her mega-cool portable charger for her cell phone... so many times this week I really wished I had one too! :)
  • @calcdave reminded us to be curious, imaginative, skeptical, and precise. During his talk, I starting really thinking about 4x+3 = 11 and showing that graphically with two lines (y = 4x + 3 and y = 11), then the simplified equation of 4x = 8 and its corresponding graphic, to show that solving equations really is a functional relationship.
  • @mgolding really rocked her talk on INBs and I can't wait to integrate them this year. She had some brilliant ideas such as the "centerfold" method for adding more writing space to a page, creating a pocket for foldables, and only taping the TOP of the handout so kids could write underneath it on the page. I also loved her idea on HW for the kids to pick 4 favorite problems, work them, and twll WHY they picked those problems.
  • @maxmathforum changed the way we ask a problem... we should be asking kids "What do you notice? What do you wonder?" even if the answer is "all the rectangles are blue". This change in wording from "What do you know" lowers the barrier of entry and starts conversation.
  • @justagurl24 stole the show with her heartfelt thank you - definitely the sweetest moment at TMC
  • @bowmanimal talked to us about whiteboarding and @mgolding had the genius idea of using black socks as erasers... why didn't I think of that before???
  • @misscalcul8 gave a great "Two nice things" talk... totally stealing that idea!
  • Lots of cool software/websites were shared... @aanthonya told us about, @colinmac10 shared about Socrative (loved the space race!), @jrykse introduced Scribblar, @SweenWSweens shared his "I'm not a programmer, but here's this kick-butt program I wrote"
  • and of course, none of us will ever forget the ending rendition of "Tweet Me, Maybe" by @rdkpickle, @SweenWSweens, @bowmanimal, and whoever else was in on that! Brilliant! :)

    You'll notice that the above take-aways are mostly academic. that's not to say that we didn't have plenty of fun in our off time as well! (You'll notice this list is shorter... that's due to the confidentiality agreement we all signed about "What happens at TMC stays at TMC" :) kidding... kind of)
  • I had the opportunity to eat at the Pi Pizzeria (umm, what math teacher wouldn't want to eat here??)
  • A group of us visited the City Museum, which is an amazing place with tons to see and do. Even had cash fluttering down around me as @maxmathforum's wallet slipped out of his pocket and to the ground. I don't think the people around me that also saw it fall quite believed that I knew Max until he came down, got his wallet and gave me his wallet and iPhone for safe keeping.
  • We stayed up WAYYY too late - let's just say that 20 hours of sleep over 4 nights isn't ideal
  • Found out that the executive lounge really did exist (thanks @aanthonya!) and had a great chat with @aanthonya and @gwaddellnvhs
  • Met two "Magic Mikes" in person! Let's just say that @MSeiler and @mesimmons5 kept us laughing a lot. Best tweet of the week definitely had to be @mesimmons5 and his "Woke up and found out that I now own a polka dot tshirt" :)
  • @mwmathews had a great sense of humor... #pinterest !!!
  • @samjshah is just as much fun in real life as he is online. What a fun and quirky personality that guy has! And he has bowties! And hats! <3
  • It was great to see @JamiDanielle again. I can't imagine how much fun the trip with @Mathbratt, @MSeiler, and @Fouss had to be :)

    All in all, I just had the time of my life. I could have stayed for days, getting the chance to visit and spend time with everyone, but there's always next year :)

    Thank you again to all of you for making this an amazing experience. Thank you to Lisa for thinking of all the little details that I would have never thought of. Thank you to Mel and MICDS for letting us invade your world for 4 days. Thank you to the Frontenac for not siccing security on us more often. Thank you all for the awesome Pi glasses and pizza cutter. Thank you for whoever left me a ladybug Tervis cup. Thank you for "getting me" and not looking at me like I grew a third eye when I talk math and teaching during the summer. Thank you all for blowing up my twitter feed for days afterward as we all adjusted to life after #TMC12 - I miss you all!

    But, most importantly...

    Thank you for being my friends... I love you all :)
  • Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Made 4 Math Monday #4

    I can't believe it's Monday again! Well, technically it's not yet since I'm writing this before I leave for back to back workshops.. but I'm posting it from Indy, after an amazing 3.5 days of Twitter Math Camp in St Louis where I got the chance to meet many of you!! Please forgive me that I won't be as quick on the archiving of your projects as I normally am because I'm at an AVID workshop and free time is limited. But, tweet your link or leave out in the comments and I will get it archived ASAP!

    As always, don't forget to link up YOUR awesome #Made4Math creations in the comments or tweet with the hashtag #Made4Math so we can archive them here when we need some inspiration :)

    So on to this week's projects. Since school is starting in a very, very short time from now, I am really starting to get more into the "ACK! I need to make this and this and this and this" mode.

    Project #1 - Sub Tub
    I have seen many pins on Pinterest, like this Sub Tub from the One Extra Degree blog. However, I don't need an entire file crate for a sub. As I was browsing around my room, thinking of what I could use, I spotted my file tote that I got last year. Since I have a new teacher bag, this file tote will become my new "Sub Tub"

    Inside my tub will be my Sub Binder and some hanging files to hold the handouts for the day. The nice thing is that if I am gone for multiple days, I can easily label each folder with the date/class.

    When you open up the binder, here's what you see on the left...

    I took a sheet protector and cut off the holes on the left, then using double sided sticky tape, I stuck the sheet protector to the inside front cover. Yes, I covered up the pocket, but this is the information I want subs to find quickly - reliable students, neighboring teachers, emergency procedures, etc.

    On the right side, the sub sees this...

    This is just a letter to me from the sub letting me know how each class behaved and any notes.

    Behind the sub letter, there are sections for our Bell Schedule, Class Rosters, School Map, Emergency Lesson Plans, and Forms & Documents.

    Overall, I'm hoping that this Sub Tub will help keep handouts and such more secure than just having stacks of papers sitting on my desk. :)

    Project #2 - Find a Partner
    This project is inspired by two of my friends from the twitter-blog-o-sphere. Back in October 2011, Amber Caldwell posted an idea called "Pair Up" and I remember reading the post and thinking "Yeah! I need to do that!", but I didn't teach Algebra anymore, so I filed it away for later years. Then, this summer, I found a similar idea by Marsha over at the Math-termind blog called "Working in Pairs". I mean, if I found a similar idea twice, that definitely means I should try it out, right??

    Well, as luck would have it, I am teaching Algebra 2 this upcoming year, so I started brainstorming how to use this idea. Both of the blogs above used notecards, but I decided to do mine on colored paper so I could laminate and reuse for multiple sections/future years. Here's my first attempt:

    I think I will use this as a way to review a skill as well as assign a new seating chart. :) The idea is that as a student comes to class, they get a slip of paper with a problem on it. They then work the problem, then find the other person in the room whose problem matches the one they had. That person becames their new partner for the next few weeks. Since my students are almost always seated in pairs, I think this will be a great way to mix up the seating chart!

    As the two blogs above pointed out, there are a lot of topics where you could use this...

  • Functions and their inverses
  • Factoring trinomials and multipling binomials
  • Graphing and writing equations from graphs
  • Log and exponential form
  • Perpendicular lines

    Any other thoughts on topics where you could use this?

    Your Turn!!! What did YOU make this week?
    Ready to check out some other awesome creations? Remember to leave a link in the comments or send out a #made4math tweet! :) We want to see YOUR name here.... :)

  • @Borschtwithanna - Whiteboards for groups and student roles

    @fourkatie - Binder clips and drawer organizers

    @mathequalslove - Bellwork form

    @roitzc - Just a little reward

    @mathtastrophe - ZAP Game

    @msrubinmath - DIY Whiteboards

    @reminoodle - Dry erase and bulletin boards

    @MsKLaster - Graffiti boards

    SimplyingRadicals - Exponent Game

    @mgolding - Bloom's question starters

    @alwildadaughter - "I have, who has" and Cootie catchers

    @_CindyWallace_ - Fabric borders and iPad apps

    @misscalcul8 - Pretty Tote

    Katie - Integer game

    @pamjwilson - Hole punch game

    @Wyldbirman - Geometry proofs

    @Brielliephant - Vertical files, name tag, and dice

    @samjshah - Business Cards, Stickers, and Cards: Oh my!

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Made 4 Math Monday #3

    I don't know about you guys, but I am really enjoying #Made4Math Mondays! Every week, I look forward to seeing your creations and I just love the anticipation of the weekend! I know that in just one short month, Mondays will NOT be my favorite day of the week, but for the rest of the summer, they definitely are! This week is doubly special because on Wednesday, I leave for Twitter Math Camp and I get to meet many of my favorite tweeps/bloggers in person! yay!!! :)

    Anyway, as always, don't forget to link up YOUR awesome #Made4Math creations in the comments or tweet with the hashtag #Made4Math so we can archive them here when we need some inspiration :)

    I don't have a theme for my projects this week, unless you call "ACK! School will start in a month!!" a theme. Yup - you heard me right... kiddos report back on August 16, that's ONE MONTH away for me! So it's time to get my nose to the grindstone and start churning out some of those awesome lesson ideas I've pinned and/or printed.

    Project #1 - Lifehacker drinking game
    I know, I know... a drinking game is NOT quite the message I want to share with my students! But this post showed up on Lifehacker earlier this month and I tried to pin it, but Pinterest wouldn't let me pin it! Anyway, the premise of the game is a dice game similar to rock, paper, scissors using three dice (red, green, and blue). You challenge your friend to a duel - whoever wins gets the prize (in their case a free drink). The idea is to find out if there is a strategy as to which die you should pick. If your friend picks the green die, should you pick the red or the blue in order to have a better shot of winning? It's a great exercise in probability, tying in simulation, tree diagrams, strategy, and just plain ol' fun!

    Now here comes my dilemna... I need to make dice... lots of dice! So I head off to my favorite Dollar Tree (yes, I really do have a favorite one...and a second favorite...) and find these foam counting blocks and these cute little storage containers.

    On the Lifehacker site, they had nets of the dice, so using my trusty Sharpie, I labeled each one. The Red dice have two each of 2, 4, and 9. The Green dice have two each of 1, 6, and 8. The Blue dice have two each of 3, 5, and 7.

    One of each color dice went into a small storage container and now I have a class set of dice! I can give each pair of students a container and let them play the game to set up a strategy. Now for a whopping $4 investment, I have a great lesson plan!

    Project #2 - Card Sort Organization
    This project is dedicated to @lysarieger. Last week on her #Made4Math blog post, she mentioned that she liked to do Card Sorts, but struggled to organize them well. Believe me, I totally understood what she meant! I've used ziplocs, and while they are okay, storage of ziplocs was definitely a problem!

    See? Doesn't that just look messy??? I mean, cards inside of snack size ziplocs inside of gallon size ziplocs... UGH!

    BUT... Walmart to the rescue! In case you haven't noticed, I've been on a slight spending spree lately. I mean, who can resist Dollar Tree and Target dollar aisle and now Walmart's 88 cent aisle?!?!? Seriously! Anyway, last week, this was part of my Walmart shopping trip...

    Each one of those index card boxes was 88 cents and ten index card boxes fit PERFECTLY into the small file crate that Walmart had for $1.49!! Needless to say, I bought 2 complete sets and couldn't wait to get to school to get my ziplocs of Card Sorts!

    Later this week I will post about Card Sorts, but here is one set of cards. You will notice that they are all different colors. My classes work in partners a lot, so I usually make 16 sets of whatever activity I am doing. To help with potential misplaced or lost cards, I print the activity on 16 different colors of card stock then laminate them. I usually buy my cardstock when Hobby Lobby is having a 50% scrapbooking sale (which thankfully is about every other week!). Here you see a matching activity where students matched scatterplots and residual plots. Anyway, each of these sets of cards was in its very own snack size ziploc... but now they are all nice and organized into index card boxes! Then I just used my label maker and look how nice and neat that stack of ziplocs looks now!

    So...much...better!!! :)

    Your Turn!!! What did YOU make this week?
    Okay, hit me with it! I am eagerly looking forward to your creations! Leave a link in the comments or tweet with the hashtag #Made4Math!!

    @roitzc - Feeling Lucky and other Review Games

    @gwaddellnvhs - Cross Country Math Trip

    @ScottKeltner - Large Scale Printing for Probability

    @Wyldbirman - Math Toolkit Posters

    @merryfwilliams - Plumed Pencils

    @fouss - Cereal Box Conversion

    @jreulbach - Math Reference Books

    @pamjwilson - Pencils, Bookmarks, and To-do List

    @mathtastrophe - Ruler Storage and Teacher Binder

    @LaurenDeReche - SBG Reassessment and Whiteboard Dividers

    @fourkatie - Duct Tape Folders and Pretty Pens

    @reminoodle - Teacher Binder and Math Posters

    @MarshaFoshee - Fun with Modge Podge

    @approx_normal - Marshmallow Guns

    @elhodge - Keys to Math

    @MsKLaster - Mathography

    @bowmanimal - Mathematical Origami and More Origami

    @sandramiller_tx - Classroom Tour

    Sarah - Brain Breaks

    @_CindyWallace_ - Great Graphing Marathon and Birthday Happies

    @misscalcul8 - Positive Behavior Punch Card

    @fawnpnguyen - Classroom Memory Collages

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    How I did SBG in AP Stat

    During the summer of 2010, I started hearing about Standards Based Grading (SBG) via blogs and twitter. Throughout that summer, our twitter bookclub read two of Marzano's books on the subject. That fall, I was ready to run with Algebra 2, but the thought of doing SBG in AP really scared me. The main reason I was scared was that Algebra 2 is more skills based than AP Stat and I didn't know how to make that turn.

    Where do I even start??
    Well, obviously, as with any standards based idea, you start with the standards. :) However, most standards documents are pretty scary themselves. If you've ever read some of the research on the standards, you may have seen discussions about unpacking the standards and the idea that if we were to really teach every skill implied in the standards, we would need around 10 more years of primary/secondary schooling. Wowzers!!!

    Thankfully, the College Board does a good job of providing us a Course Description with all of the topics we need to teach, but it's still pretty intimidating. As an AP teacher, you've also had to submit a syllabus to the College Board outlining how to you plan to teach said standards. As an aside, please let me say that I would have never felt comfortable doing SBG during my first year in a subject without some major guidance simply because you're learning the curriculum too. Please don't misunderstand me. My first year in Algebra 2, I knew the mathematical material, but I was still learning how to teach it, what was truly important, what my state expected, what my district expected, etc.

    Okay, so it's time to start.... I have my course description and my textbook in front of me. I use BVD 3rd edition, but honestly since the course description is the same for all of us, everyone could use pretty close to the same standards list and just reorder them according to your textbook. Some textbooks do have some extra thoughts, like in BVD, Chapter 2 is about the "Ws of the data", so that might be on some people's standards list and not others. That's okay! So I started with the first chapter, which is Chapter 2 in BVD and read through it and asked myself, "Self, what are the big ideas in this chapter that I want the students to know how to do?" The answers to that question for each chapter became my standards list. As I wrote each standard, I cross checked it with the Course Description in order to make sure I had everything covered. When writing your standards, it is important to write them general enough that you can have a variety of questions, but not too broad that everything fits under that umbrella.

    To give you an idea, here's my standards for the first two chapters:
    2.1 - I can identify the W's of the data in a given scenario
    3.1 - I can calculate percentages based on a contingency table
    3.2 - I can find the marginal and conditional distributions
    3.3 - I can create and use a segmented bar chart to describe the distribution and dependence of two categorical variables

    I have the standards... now what?
    Now that I know the main topics in each chapter and I've checked them off my course description, I'm ready to write my assessments. If you've taught the course before, then I suggest you take the quiz or test you had for that chapter/unit, cut it apart into individual questions, then sort the questions by objective. More than likely, you will find that some objectives were previously over-assessed, some were under-assessed, and some were just flat out missing. Or maybe that's just what I found when I looked at my tests! :) Anyway, the actual assessment part of SBG isn't that much different, it's the score reporting that is the major change.

    So I need to write an assessment for Learning Target (LT) 2.1. I look at the quizzes/tests I used before and my resources (textbook, teachers guide, self-written, etc) and I pull together a mini-quiz just over that learning target. In my case, LT 2.1 had only 1 question that asked the students to identify the Ws and to classify the variables and quantitative and categorical. Note that I did not have a separate LT for quant vs categorical but that was a personal preference - some people may want that separate. Some Learning Targets have more than 1 question, it depends on the complexity of the objective.

    Obviously a great source of assessment problems are the AP questions themselves. Now that you have your standards written, I would strongly suggest taking all of the released AP FR and classifying each part (a, b, c) by standard. For example, Question #1 on this year's Operational exam asked students to describe the association of a scatterplot and identify certain points. I will use Q#1a this year as part of my assessment of LT 7.1 - I can identify explanatory and response variables and create/describe a scatterplot. Obviously Q#1a, as written, only addresses the description part of my LT, so there would be other questions on that assessment addressing the other parts. Potentially I could even deconstruct the AP problem into its raw data set and then all of that LT will be covered by the same stem.

    I wrote my assessments, how do I grade it??
    In previous years, I assigned each problem or part of problem a certain number of points. I added up all of the earned points and that was written at the top of the quiz. Johnny made a 15/20.. Suzy made a 13/20... Billy made a 9/20, etc. The problem with that is that I don't know if Billy knew a little bit about every objective or did he know one objective pretty well and nothing on the others? It doesn't give me any real feedback to help guide my instruction and review. With SBG, you give separate grades for each standard so you can see that Suzy knew Objective A really well, kind of knew Objective B, and had no clue at all on Objective C. Now the teacher, student, and parent all know exactly what topics Johnny, Suzy, and Billy need to work on in order to be successful.

    At the top of every quiz is a box with the Learning Targets being assessed on that particular assessment:

    When I'm grading, I color code. So anything that pertains to LT 3.1 will be in a certain color and that's the color I will use to write the grade for LT 3.1. When assigning grades, I use a system very similar to the AP rubrics. Each problem or part of a problem for LT 3.1 gets an E/P/I, then I tally them up to assign a 4/3/2/1/0 for each Learning Target.

    How do I convert a 4/3/2/1/0 to a grade in my class?
    Ask this question of 10 teachers using SBG and you will get 10 different answers. Each of us have constraints placed upon us based on required gradebooks, etc. When I first started SBG, I also had some constraints due to the online gradebook we used. To work around it, I ended up thinking about what grade I thought each level meant. I also have to put in each learning target as an 'assignment' but with my gradebook, if I put a 2 out of 4, it looks like a 50% which flips out the parents. So I had to work around it as well. Here's what I did:

    A 4, for me, means that you have this concept down solidly with no mistakes. You know exactly what you are doing and so in the gradebook I assign it a 10/10

    A 3.5 means that you have a really solid foundation, but it's not perfect, you had a minor error. This is still A work though, so I assign it a 9/10

    A 3 means that you are pretty proficient. You are a solid B, so I assign it an 8.5/10

    A 2 means that you are working on it and are almost there. You have a basic knowledge, which to me is a low C, so I assign it a 7/10

    A 1 means that you are on the right path but are below basic. AP readers will refer to this as a "glimmer". This is low D, so I assign it a 6/10

    A 0.5 means that you attempted the problem but really had no clue really what to do, but you gave it an honest effort. This is F work, I assign it a 5/10

    A 0 means that you totally left it blank and didn't even try it. This
    is a 0/10 in the computer gradebook

    Now recognize that everyone assigns grades differently. Some people really struggle with the idea of a 0.5 or a 0. Sorry :) It's what worked for me, but you'll need to find what works for you.

    What's this reassessment junk I keep hearing about?
    This is probably the one thing that I hear the most about in opposition to SBG. But honestly, it all comes down to your philosophy. For me, I want the kids to learn the material. I'm assessing their knowledge of the AP Statistics concepts and I recognize that different students learn at different rates. I want my students to keep working on the material until they understand it, not just work on it until some test date that I assign and then ignore it after that. If they don't know how to compare and contrast two distributions, then I want them to continue working on that objective until they can do it. Maybe Student A caught on quickly but Student B took a few days longer. Why should Student B be penalized for not being as quick as Student A on this topic? Anyway... moving off my soapbox...

    Prior to a quiz, students do assignments, study, etc, just like they do in a traditional classroom. However, in my classroom, when students actually sit down to take a quiz, they have a pretty good idea most of the time of the Learning Targets they were clueless on. So they can immediately start working to remediate those LTs. In my class, remediation takes several forms. Students could work additional practice problems, watch a video and take notes on it, read their book and take notes, rework their quiz, etc. Ultimately, the kiddos have to show me they have put in some effort to work on their weaknesses. If they can prove to me that they have learned the material they didn't know before, then I allow them to reasses any Learning Target of the semester. Does this sometimes lead to "grade grubbing?" Yes. But since I believe that grades should reflect knowledge, then it really comes down to "If you want to improve your grade, you must improve your knowledge". Don't be fooled though - while my reassessments cover the same Learning Target, they are NOT the same questions nor are they necessarily at the same level of difficulty, so students can do worse on the reassessment than they did on the original. And yes, that reassessment grade does go into the gradebook, even if it's worse. But never fear, you can remediate some more and reassess again! :)

    What do kids think of this? Parents? Admin?
    Honestly, they love it. The kids love knowing exactly where they stand. They don't ask for Extra Credit because they know I won't give it - but I will give them the opportunity to show me what they know and adjust their grade accordingly. Parents love it for the same reason. They know exactly what their kids need to work on and it has simplified the parent communication process. No child has to fail my class unless they are simply unwilling to work. Conversely, if you earn an A in my class, that indicates you really know the material. My Admin loves it too because student grades really reflect student knowledge, not the ability of the student to turn in things on time or jump through hoops.

    What about assignments and tests and that kind of stuff?
    I still give assignments, I still give feedback on assignments, but I don't generally grade everything. In fact, one fallacy of teaching that I believe prior to SBG was "If I don't grade it, they won't do it". Sorry, but in my experience this is a lie. My students work hard every day and I rarely take it up. Sometimes I will ask for them to turn it in so I can give feedback, but in general, kids recognize that while they aren't getting a grade on this assignment, it is related to a Learning Target and they will get a grade for that LT eventually. As for tests, it depends. In Alg2, they don't have a formal test until the final exam. In AP, I give cumulative MC tests every 6 weeks. Sometimes in AP, they will have a project instead of a Learning Target quiz.

    This sounds like a LOT of work!
    It is. It is a change in philosophy, it is a change from the traditional, comfortable style to the unknown. Honestly, most of the "work" was mental. Figuring out how I wanted to tackle it, how I wanted to grade it, how I wanted to report it. The actual writing of the quizzes was no more time consuming than writing traditional quizzes/tests and the grading actually goes faster. Because you are grading on an E/P/I scale, you don't have to stress over the partial credit points in a traditional grading scheme.

    It was and still is a learning process. While I tried to simplify it here for you, it's still something that I learn more every day. It has definitely helped my students become more independent learners and for that I'm very grateful. It is something I plan to keep around :)

    Your Turn!
    I tried to answer all of the questions I've been asked lately, but I'm sure I forgot something - please let me know in the comments any other questions you have.

    Sorry for such a long post :)

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    Made 4 Math Monday #2

    ARE..... YOU.... READY?!??!?!? It's time for another #Made4Math Monday post! Remember to link your post in the comments or tweet with the #made4math hashtag so we can get all of your goodies catalogued here! Again, feel free to steal the logo below for your post :)

    I don't know about you, but last week's #Made4Math just blew me away! You guys are so amazing and so creative that I had to scour my pins to figure out what to do this week!

    My #Made4Math creations this week all have the same theme... Organization!!! Now if you know me, you'll know I'm a pretty organized person naturally, but I definitely have room to grow. Thankfully, some of the people on pinterest are WAY more organized than I am, so a few searches on "teacher organization" helped me out this week.

    Project #1 - My To-Do List
    My first stop on my pinterest journey led me to the "What the Teacher Wants" blog and her "to do list" post. I added her idea to the many, many pins about using picture frames as dry erase boards, and off to Dollar General I went...

    After printing the awesome to-do list from the "What the Teacher Wants" blog and putting it into my document frame, I realized that I wasn't crazy about the vertical layout, but I loved the style of her to-do list, so I set out to make a similar one in a horizontal format. Here's the finished product:

    In case you would like this planner for yourself, here's the PDF version. I can send you the Word form via email if you'd like to change out the fonts, etc. I love that I can write on it with dry-erase marker, then wipe it clean anytime. I'm hoping this will stop some of the constant shuffling of the sticky-notes that I have all over my desk!

    Project #2 - The Teacher Bag
    You might have seen my previous post about the Teacher Bag posts over at the Clutter Free Classroom. Well, of course that meant I needed a brand new teacher bag!!! I got in trouble from some of my twitter buds that I only posted a spoiler picture of my new "Thirty One Utility Organizing Tote", but hopefully this picture will satisfy them! Obviously my bag is rather empty right now, but in about 5 weeks, I'm going to be very grateful for it!

    This bag is pretty awesome. It has the 3 pockets on the front, 2 more in the back, and 2 mesh ones for water bottles on the sides. I haven't decided what all to put into the pockets yet. The left side has one of the magnetic canisters with paperclips and such and the left pocket has a bag of 100 calorie popcorn for when I need a snack. :) Inside the bag you can see the file basket I picked up yesterday at Target with some file folders (didn't have any hanging file folders at the house), a pencil pouch, and my teacher binder (see project #3). At the right, you can see a dark pouch, that's my trusty TI84 calculator :)

    Project #3 - The Teacher Binder
    If you have browsed any teacher's pinterest board, you've probably seen at least one link to a Teacher Binder. Here are two of my favorites... one at the Fun for First blog and one over Kelsey's Teacher Binder blog.

    This is honestly the project that took me the longest because it took FOREVER to decide what sections I wanted! I definitely wanted a binder that I could take to meetings, take home, have on my desk and it contain everything that I needed. I also am not a fan of writing in binders due to the awkward angle at which you have to write on the back of pages, so I used a Mead Flex Note-Binder for my Teacher Binder. Honestly, I'm not sure that it's the perfect one for me either, but I picked it up last year at Office Depot for $1 on the clearance table and I thought it might fit my needs for this project.

    When you first open my binder, you will see another copy of my Weekly Planner, this time in a sheet protector so I can still ulitize the "dry erase" feature.

    Turning the page, you can see my section dividers. On the far edge, you can see my section tabs :)

    The agenda section is where I have my school calendar, my monthly calendars, and my weekly agendas. Thanks to @mathtastrophe's #made4math post from last week, I have adorable calendars! I put my school calendar into the sheet protector that I used for the section divider.

    The next section in my notebook is for my Lesson Plans. Honestly, this section is the reason why I went with the Flex Note-Binder. I like having my lesson plans opened up on my desk so I can jot down ideas and shopping lists, etc. You can see how the Note-Binder folds back like a spiral notebook here. If you want a copy of the Lesson Planner I use, download it here. (I'm not the original author of it, no clue where I found it years ago!)

    The next section is for my Gradebook. Obviously since school hasn't started yet, this section is pretty empty :)

    Next comes the Parent Communication section. I used to do a really good job of documenting parent contact, but for some reason, I got away from it. I don't know if I'll stick with it or not, but I did make a pretty new form to include in my folder. If you want a copy, grab it here :)

    One of the reasons I wanted a Teacher Binder in the first place was because I'm bad with keeping up with notes from meetings. I've tried using an agenda, a notebook, etc but I just always get unorganized. When I saw the Teacher Binder that I liked back up at the beginning, I really liked their "meetings notes" forms, so I set out to make my own for my binder. If you like it, download it here :) I like that I have a place to scribble notes, then a place to go back and process the important info from the meeting.

    The final section in my notebook is... (drumroll please)....

    I have to give credit for this section to the Fun at First blog authors. In her binder, she had one for "Grade Level Ideas" and I just loved that she had a place to jot lesson ideas. The title of this section is because one of the teachers at school always jokes that "Brain Storms" seems so violent, so he has "Thought Showers". For me, I'm constantly coming up with ideas, things I want to do or try in my classes and then scrambling to find a post-it note or a scrap of paper to jot my idea down before it flees my brain. This gives me a place to jot down all of those "oooo... shiny!!!" thoughts in the hopes of finding a gem somewhere. Since I personalized this one for my classes, I didn't upload the file, but if you want it, let me know and I'll send it your way.

    At the very very end of my binder is one of my Dollar Tree finds...

    Who can resist such a cool variety of sticky notes and page flags??? :)

    Whew... I'm done!
    Gosh, golly, gee! That was a REALLY long post! Sorry about that! However, I do have to share that I am LOVING #Made4Math Mondays! Knowing that I have to post SOMETHING really helps me get motivated to get the things done that I need to do before school starts in just 5 weeks! Thanks again for helping keep me accountable :)

    Your Turn!! What did YOU make for #Made4Math Monday???

    @roitzc - Tarsia Polynomial Puzzle AND Rack'o'supplies, Posters, and Puzzles

    @misscalcul8 - Shopping Finds and Copy Cats AND Vertical Hanging File

    @pamjwilson - Hanging Tape Measures and Station Activities

    @fawnpnguyen - Electronic Teacher Binder

    @MarshaFoshee - Teacher Binder and Binder Cover

    @mathtastrophe - Teacher Toolbox

    @ScottKeltner - Pencil Art AND the blog post

    @fouss - Pringles Can and PreCalulcus Files

    @mgolding - Student Supply Center

    @_CindyWallace_ - Welcome to Class Podcast

    @elhodge - #Made4Math breakfast (Ed sent me this text and it just cracked me up - he said this was as creative as he gets on a Monday morning! :) )

    @jreulbach - Adhesive Tape Measures

    @fourkatie - Flash Cards and Organizing Folio

    @lysarieger - Card Sorts

    @gwaddellnvhs - Website Revamp

    @reminoodle - Bulletin Board Makeover

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Target is my bestestest friend :)

    If you are a teacher and you have not shopped at Target, you are missing out! My two favorite "teacher stores" are Dollar Tree and the Target dollar aisle :) Of course, I had started to hear rumblings that the school supplies were out, so I had to go check it out this morning and see what all I could find! After an hour and $75 were gone, here are my goodies...

    My original goal and purpose of going to Target this morning was to find this file box to put inside my brand new teacher bag. (Spoiler alert! See the teacher bag unveiling on Monday's #made4math post)

    But in order to fetch the lovely file box, I had to pass by the Target Dollar Spot at the front of the store! Oh my, oh my, what wonderful goodies they had!!! One of the first bins had this cute stackable storage boxes. They had them in black, pink, and blue. I plan to use them in my cabinets to store things like paper clips, post its, etc. The boxes even have a place for a nametag at the front. The round things in front are magnetic canisters. I had seen similar items at the Container Store where you could put small items in them, screw on the lid, and then use the magnet to hang them. I will probably use at least one or two in my new teacher bag :)

    Turn the corner and what do I see? Oh, be still my heart! I bought the border since it coordinates with my color scheme on the back bulletin boards. I'm going to steal an idea from Pinterest and laminate and put magnets on the back to create a "bulletin board" area on the whiteboard behind my desk. The other items are some adorable to-do lists that I just could not pass up for $1. The calendar looking thing is a mousepad with tear off sheets. I am one of those people that always has tons of post it notes stuck to my desk, so I'm hoping this will give me a place to jot down things.

    So as I am digging around in the cool notepads, I see back in the far corner, hidden from view, these dry erase pockets! Oh my... I've hit the motherload!!! These suckers are VERY expensive to purchase from regular teacher stores! Needless to say, I bought a class set. :) Also picked up another mousepad and then a set of really cute file folder labels.

    But, I am STILL not done with the dollar spot... Down on the bottom shelf, I find these adorable cardboard magazine files. I love these things for putting workbooks, notebooks, paperback solution guides, etc.

    Finally, I leave the $1 section and head to the regular aisles to find my file box. Of course, I have to also go check out their progress on the back to school area. They were still stocking it, so I'm guessing that tomorrow's Target ad will start advertising their back to school sales. But, I did pick up a brand new lunchbox for this year. Actually, hubs saw it first, showed it to me, then started laughing at the look of pure joy on my face. :)

    Now, before you start laughing too, let me explain :) My sisters and I started collect ladybug stuff years ago. We have matching ladybug tattoos on our toes (hence my twitter avatar), when we buy each other gifts, it always has a ladybug on it. The ladybug trend has extended to all of the women in our family. When my eldest sister passed away a few years ago, my middle sister and I put a ladybug beanie baby in her casket. Ladybugs are very important to me and it just makes me smile that I now have one to carry my lunch each day.

    Whew! All that shopping has worn me out!

    Please tell me that I'm not the only one with a Target obession?!?!? New school supplies make me happy, almost giddy with excitement!!! Yay for Target!

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Start.... Continue.... Stop....

    Today was the day that all AP teachers fret about... the day that the College Board releases the AP scores to the teachers. Technically they started yesterday with the Eastern time zone, but my day was today and they arrived right on schedule. Of course, I spent a huge chunk of time today pouring over the scores, analyzing their relationship to student grade, trying to figure out what I could do to be a better teacher next year. Yes, I totally know that part of the responsibility falls on the student, but that's not something I control - I can control what *I* do as the teacher, so that's what I'm going to focus on for now. :)

    That reminded me of a tweet that @tbanks1906 sent out last week: What is 1 thing you plan to START doing in your class, CONTINUE doing and STOP doing this year?

    I actually have two things that I plan to start doing this year. The first one is about notebooks. I've already posted about the Interactive Notebook in Algebra 2 and I am really looking forward to hearing @mgolding's talk on it at Twitter Math Camp in just a few weeks. If you're not sure about notebooks, I encourage you to go read these posts:

    Interactive Notebooks by @molding

    The $1 Textbook by @ultrarawr

    The other thing I would like to tinker with is the idea of Whiteboarding. Kelly O'Shea posted an amazing post about it yesterday. Go read about it here:

    Whiteboarding Mistake Game: A Guide by @kellyoshea

    Again, two things that I definitely plan to continue are Standards Based Grading and Active Learning. Much has been written, both on this blog and others about the benefits of SBG, so I won't rehash them here. At some point, I do need to recap how this year went with SBG in AP Stat, but needless to say, I will definitely be continuing it. As for Active Learning, I am still very concerned with the idea that many classrooms are where students go to watch teachers work. I will continue to develop strategies to make my classroom active.

    This is definitely the hardest one of these to answer, but I'm going to *try* to stop letting paper accumulate. This actually takes several different "faces". Papers to be graded, papers to be passed back, papers to be filed, papers to be recycled, papers to be shredded, papers, papers, papers! I have paper files of quiz/test masters and answer keys from 12-14 years ago sitting in my closet. Why do I have them? Because I can't let them go. I need to let them go. I have a copy of them electronically and I could always make an answer key again, but honestly my quizzes and tests are way better now and I wouldn't use those in their current form anyway, so I need to let them go.

    Thanks to @tbanks1906 for a great prompt! I'm curious... what would YOU start, stop, and continue in your life/classroom?

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Yay!!! It's like Christmas in July!

    In case you haven't noticed, I've been in a classroom crafting mode lately. :) During one of my browsing trips through the elementary teacher blog-o-sphere, I found this link over at the Clutter Free Classroom about your Teacher Bag. You know, that bag where you throw all the papers to be graded, all the lessons to be planned, all the best grading pens you own, and anything else that finds its way into the dark crevices.

    Like every other teacher on the planet, I have a huge stash of bags. Every workshop, every conference, everyone gives away bags and as teachers have for years and years, I hoard them. Why? I have no idea. Every year, I go through and donate a boxful for Goodwill, only to have the pile grow yet again the following year. For years, I have jumped from bag to bag, never quite finding one that fit my needs. I've tried backpacks and briefcases, beach totes and file totes, and none of them quite fit what I wanted. This past year I used a Vera Bradley Messanger bag and I liked it pretty well, it had several pockets, but sometimes the inside of the bag wasn't as big as I needed it to be.

    Enter in the Clutter Free Classroom blog above - as I followed their "linky party", it appeared that most teachers LOVED their Thirty One organizing utility tote. Keep in mind that I had NEVER heard of Thirty One until last week. However, it was getting rave reviews from teachers, so I once again got sucked in by the promise of the ideal bag. That put me on a quest for a Thirty One consultant and ultimately buying one of these totes. I eagerly waited and today it came!!! Without further ado, I proudly present my brand new teacher bag:

    Now to fill it up and try it out! What do you use for your teacher bag? What all do you put into it?

    Stay tuned for updates!