Tuesday, May 27, 2014


I don't want to break my posting streak.... if 3 days in a row can be called a "streak"... :)

3 things that happened today:
  • I got my forensic science final written and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out! I wanted to do a "practical" type exam, but I don't have time to do complete lab style write-ups, so they are being given a case, several pieces of evidence, information about the suspects, and have to use the evidence to draw a conclusion.
  • This weekend was pretty sedentary due to rain and I was worried that today would be the same. I broke away from school around 3:30pm (which is WAY early for me!) and came home to do round 2 of cleaning house. When hubby got home, there was a break in the rain, so we decided to get a short walk in. When we left the house, I was only around 4500 steps, so I decided to keep walking until I reached 10K. My "short walk" ended up being about 3 miles and while I was out there, I received an email alert that I had reached my 250 lifetime miles. yay! :)
  • Today was a "feel good" day in that I received multiple comments on how I looked. I know I have a lot of pounds left to go, but it definitely encourages me to keep going when I hear positive comments! :)

    2 books on my to-be-read list
  • Summarization in Any Subject by Rick Wormeli - I've been eager to read this book for almost a year and it was finally available in our school professional development library. I'm sure I'll be posting some reflections from this book over the summer!
  • Grading Smarter, Not Harder by Myron Dueck - This is one of the ASCD Member books that should be arriving this summer. Since I'm always interested in assessment, I'm eager to receive this book!

    1 thing that has gotten me through the last weeks of school
  • I've always struggled to drink the water that I'm supposed to drink. On Mother's Day weekend, hubby and I were heading out to see the mom's and stopped in at Walgreens. They had the water flavor sticks near the checkout and I saw one I wanted to try... Margaritaville Pina Colada. OMG OMG OMG... it is amazing! Of course, I went back and they were sold out, so I checked all 3 Walgreens in my suburb and found them at the one a few miles north of my house. I ended up buying 12 boxes and I'm down to my last box. It tastes like a real pina colada, which definitely helps me get through those rough moments at school! :) (No worries... it's totally non-alcoholic!)
  • Monday, May 26, 2014

    #SummerList 2014

    Time to think about my summer goals and put them down on "paper". :)

    I really hate the last couple of weeks of school. I know that's weird, but there's nothing more I can do to really make much of an impact on this year and I'm eager to start thinking about next year. The best part of teaching is that every year we start with a clean slate. However, in order to get to that, I have to do some other stuff first...

  • Organize! I did not do a very good job of filing papers this year, so I have stacks of papers that need to be filed away. While I'm at it, I want to clean out old files and recycle things that won't be used again. My home office is a disaster area at times, especially when it comes to paper. I'm really bad about bookmarking pages, never to go there again, so I tend to print off neat ideas and file them for "someday". Problem is, some of my files date back to the early 2000s when I first started teaching AP Stat! I need to dig those out and see what I want to incorporate this year.

  • Professional Growth! I have several books on my to-be-read list, but that may need to be another blog post :) I also want to catch up on my blog reader, spend time on pinterest, and work on my professional growth in general.

  • 1:1! As I said in my previous post, I'm revamping my classroom for Chromebooks, so I want to work on ways to integrate technology in a meaningful way. I really don't want "technology for technology's sake"... I want the technology to enhance and improve the instructional experience in my classroom.

  • Active Learning! I fell away from this a bit this year and I'm sad. I even had students comment that 2nd semester wasn't as fun as it could have been. Snow days really stress me out when it comes to pacing and I made decisions to do more direct instruction as a result. I want to bring back more student-centered activities to my classroom. I need to do some research on other AP Stat webpages of neat hands-on activities and go through all of the resources I've accumulated over the past 14 years as well.

  • Formative Assessment! This has been an ongoing goal for several years and sometimes I'm doing okay, sometimes not. One thing I used successfully this year was the Red/Yellow/Green cups, but I did not use Exit Slips as much as I should have. I really want to incorporate more informal writing/reflection because often I feel like the kids are getting it, but they really aren't. I need to be better at utilizing the strategies that I've researched over the past few years.

  • #Made4Math! With summer here, it's time again for #Made4Math! I need to look at my classroom this week and see what needs to be done and start brainstorming ways to make my classroom more functional.

  • TMC14! 'nuff said! :)

    What's on your #summerlist?
  • Sunday, May 25, 2014

    Going 1:1 with Chromebooks

    First off, thank you for all of the positive comments on my last post. As I said there, I don't usually post personal information, but it was somewhat pertinent to my reflection of the year. :) As a result, I felt very vulnerable when I hit "publish", so your comments on twitter and text were very appreciated!

    This year, my school piloted a 1:1 program with our freshman academy using Chromebooks. Next year, we are going 1:1 from 9-12, which means we have some major revamping to do in terms of technology in the classroom. I'm really excited about the new challenges that the 1:1 initiative will bring, so I've spent some time researching how to best utilize them in my AP Stat class. We will be using Canvas as our LMS, which I know several of my friends use at other schools, but I'm looking more specific for statistics. Here's what I have so far...

    Gathering Data from Students
    One of the things that I'm REALLY excited about is the ability to have the students gather data and be able to share that data to the class. For example:

    In the above example, I can ask students to go to a webpage, record their observations, then use the results to gauge how students are doing.

    I also visualize seeing Google Forms utilized for exit tickets, short daily quizzes, etc. I used Flubaroo this year for my mock AP exam and it was pretty awesome. How else do you use Google Forms in the classroom?

    Stat Software
    I've also been on a hunt for Chrome-friendly web apps to use in my AP Stat class. The web-based stat software that I've used before is Java based, so that won't be something I can use with the Chromebooks. Here's what I've found so far:

  • Stat Crunch - this is a pretty cool software package, but it does cost about $5 per student. I haven't played with it much, but I think there may already be resources out there to use it in an AP Stat class.

  • plot.ly - I've just dabbled with this graphing software, but it looks like it could be useful (and free)

  • StatKey - anything that Robin Lock does is bound to be good! He's been my table leader at the AP reading in the past and he's a pretty great guy. I haven't played with StatKey too much, but that will change this summer!

  • Desmos - the MTBoS is pretty familiar with this one and it is more for algebra than stats, but still a cool piece of software :)

    Any other awesome apps out there? Please share!

    Other ideas
    If you have other ideas on how to utilize the technology, I'd love to hear it!
  • Time to Reflect and Time to Grow

    This year was a year of many changes. I haven't blogged much this year and I definitely haven't grown as a professional this year. I know there is a relationship between my time with the #MTBoS and my happiness as a professional, but sometimes I get caught up in all the day-to-day details of life. :(

    This is a rambling post, one that is more personal that I normally post, so feel free to skip it and move on to the next blog in your reader. :)

    This Year
    I've overall had a good year. I have GREAT kids this year and I'm really sad to see them go. This has been one of my favorite senior classes in several years, full of kids with good attitudes and willingness to work hard (well.. at least until Spring Fever hits!). Fall semester was awesome - I had an extra plan period to help with my coordinator duties for Professional Development and AVID and that helped me out in so many ways. My Intermediate Algebra kids bonded and were willing to tackle tough problems with me. Then January came. Spring was tough. My coordinator hour went away as I team-taught a Forensic Science class that hour, which was definitely the highlight of the semester! My Intermediate class went from 17 to 28 and the additional kids made classroom management extremely tough. The variety of abilities in that class was exhausting on a daily basis. My additional responsibilities got pushed to evenings and at least 3-4 times a week, I made it home around 8 or 9 pm. I am physically, mentally, and emotionally spent from this year. However, even with the exhaustion, I am overall happy with how this year is ending.

    Professional Growth
    As a result of this year's challenges, I did not grow professionally this year as much as I wanted to. I did not keep up on blogs, books, articles, etc and allowed myself to stagnate. I sat down with my AVID District Director last week to reflect on this year and I have so much room to grow as a leader, as a teacher, and as a professional in general. My to-do list is ever growing. The one bright spot is #EduRead, which is forcing me to read and think about an article every week, so that's some growth, right? :)

    Personal Growth
    Honestly, I'm more proud of my personal (lack of) growth than anything else this year. Not many people in the blog-o-sphere know me in real life, but if you were to meet me a year ago, you would have met a fairly large woman in her mid-30s with a passion for teaching. A dear friend inspired me to start putting myself at a higher priority and starting on March 1, 2013, I did. The 2012-13 school year was not one of my favorites and I found myself relieving stress through food. (To be honest, that actually started after my nephew's passing in December 2004, then with one major death every year in our families, the cycle continued.) In March 2013, buoyed by my friend's success, I decided to use an app on my phone to track every bite that I took. By the time school started in August, I had lost 36 pounds. Throughout this current school year, I have lost an additional 43 pounds to date, bringing my total lost in the past 15 months to 79 pounds. In March 2014, hubby bought us both FitBit Flex Bands, which has encouraged us to walk more and this week was the first time I actually averaged 10,000 steps per day (yay!). In the 8 weeks that I have worn the FitBit, I have walked 243 total miles... wow! Even in a very stressful year, I have learned better habits and been more mindful of the choices I make on a daily basis. Of course, getting to buy really cute clothes doesn't hurt either! As some of my friends can attest, I have taken more "selfie" shots than ever! I have always been one to avoid the camera, but now I feel more confident in my physical self. :)

    Memorial Day Clean-A-Thon
    For some reason, Memorial Day weekend often ends up with me tackling some major household project and spending a lot of reflection time while doing so. Yesterday was a crazy day in many ways. We started out by running a few errands, which meant getting dressed and out of the house. I wore shorts for the first time in YEARS! (and I looked really cute.. just saying!) After buying several random items and some cute new clothes for hubby (who has also lost about 70 pounds), we came home to clean. My neighbor wants to have a garage sale and I already knew I needed to clean out my closet, so my bedroom got a total tear-down yesterday. If it didn't fit, it went away, which is kind of scary since I did a similar closet cleanout over Christmas break, so most of what I packed up this weekend is in that "semi-fits, but really baggy" stage. I told hubby on our evening walk that it was nerve-wracking to clean out my closet this time because what happens if I gain weight? Weight has been a life-long struggle for me and I've been every size from 12 to 24 in the 18 years I've been with hubby. However, with the technology available to me now, with the app that I record every meal and my FitBit I don't think I will gain it back, but it still scares me. Besides cleaning out all of my drawers and closet, I also tackled my jewelry area, the master bathroom cabinets, and the hallway linen closet. Before we ever went for our evening walk, I was already close to 9,000 steps for the day.

    Saying Good-bye
    Yesterday, we also said goodbye to one of our pets. Smokey was one of our first ferrets and we adopted him and his brother, Bandit, from a ferret rescue in November 2009. They were born in February 2006, so they were already 3.5 years old when we adopted them. Ferrets typically live about 6-7 years and we lost Bandit in September 2012. Throughout the time we had the boys, Smokey was always the more "sturdy" ferret, but for the past several months, we had watched him decline as old age set in. About 8 weeks ago, we put him into "hospice", which was a small cage in our bedroom so that his distance to the food/water and litter box was much reduced. He had developed cataracts in both eyes and moving around was difficult for him. We did everything possible to keep him comfortable, but we knew his days were numbered. Yesterday, while we were out running errands, Smokey passed quietly in his sleep, cuddled under a blanket.

    End of my Ramble
    I have run out of things to say and it's time to go shower and get ready to have lunch with friends... Enjoy the rest of your 3-day weekend!