Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Welcome to #MTBoSBlaugust 2018

Holy moly, the last day of July is upon us, which means that Blaugust starts TOMORROW!

What is Blaugust?
Blaugust is a blogging challenge for the month of August.  We'd love to have you join in the fun - just click here to sign-up!

How often do I have to blog?
That's up to you! :)  Each person sets their own Blaugust goal - maybe you want to try blogging every day, or twice a week, or ten times throughout the month, or whatever!

What if I don't want to (or don't have a) blog?  Can I still participate?
Sure!  One of the hardest parts of blogging is the feeling of "shouting into the wind".  If you don't have time to blog, but still want to join in, it would be great if you could commit to reading and / or commenting on the participating blogs, or tweeting out a link to a post that resonates with you.  Encouragement and positive feedback can go a long way to helping the participants meet their personal blogging goals!

I don't know what to write about!?!?!
Don't worry - here's a list of over 50 prompts to help you out! :)

Now... on to this year's bloggers:

2018 #MTBoSBlaugust Participants:
Kim Charlton @logicalpoetry - Logical Poetry
@sgiekAHS - Rise Over Run
Anna Blinstein, @ablinstein - Borscht With Anna
Andy Shores / @abshores - Unknown Quantity
Krystal Evans / @krystalarevans - The Evans Equation
Amy Zimmer/@zimmerdiamonds - Ms Z. Teaches in Mathland
@ilanacyna - Teaching to the nth Degree
@ClaireVerti - I DeClaire
@pamjwilson - The radical rational
Cori Colby (@mrschz) - I like to party and by party, I mean teach math
Julie Morgan @fractionfanatic - Fractionfanatic
@geonz - resource room blog
@mathbythmt - Math by the Mountain
Seth Risinger @MrRisinger - Distinctly Non-Normal
@alexandraotto - Ottograph
@elhistuck - Unnamed
Kirsten / @klsilverman - Numbers
@jab8115 - Mathkins
Kelsey Holley, @kelzholley - Math With Ms. Holley
@MarshaFosh73 - Math-termind
@MathEasyAsPi - Math.Easy.As.Pi
Stacy Eyton. @MrsMathEyton - Eyton Sum Pi
@benjamin_leis - Math off the grid
@DamionBeth - Unrestricted Domain
Teri Ryan @geometrywiz - Journey of a Mathematics Educator
@Caitlyn_Gironda - Give Me a Sine
KellyMSpoon - Flipping Statistics
@letsplaymath Denise Gaskins - Let's Play Math
George Carganilla , @CarganillaRHS - Out Of My Comfort Zone
@chatelet0211 - Hazeleyedmathnut
@daniellereycer - Teaching and Growing
anne_mayre - La Vie en violet
@abel_jennifer - Mathsational
@megandubee - Megan Dubee
@MrKitMath - Those who teach, do more
Jonathan Schoolcraft/@jschool0218 - Algebracraft: The Tales of a High School Math Teacher
@stewy915 - Just one conjecture away
Matt Coaty @mcoaty - Educational Aspirations
@davidwees - The Reflective Educator
jennalaib - Embrace the Challenge
Misscalcul8 - Misscalcul8
@michaeltang09 - Michael Tang - Medium
John O'Malley IV @jomalleyiv - Functions Are Fun
@mrsjtweetsmath - Mrs Js Classroom
Marissa G @viemath - La Vie Mathématique
@JennSWhite - MathihgOutLoud
Heather Bolur @hbolur7 - Cupcakes and Pi
@anneagost - 53 Degree Shift
Jlwilliams314 - Mrs. Williams is "Off on a Tangent!"
@aspellk - Wandering Asymptotes
Julie Reulbach @jreulbach - I Speak Math
Bear St. Michael @bearstmichael - Questions About Math
@mathykeithc - mathykeithc
Denise Russo @bluebeagle - Stranger in a Strange Land
Allison Yokeley - Algebra, Graphs & Laughs
Megan Heine @MeganHeine - Peace Love Math
Steve Dull (@thedullguy) - Tweaking For No Reason
Amy Gruen @sqrt_1 - Square Root of Negative One Teach Math
@mary_dooms - Curiouser and Curiouser
Lucy @lsquared76 - Dividing by Zero
@rlawsum - Mathy blog
Nina Tandle / @misstandle - Tandle Tangents
Jenn Vadnais @rilesblue - Communicating Mathematically
@mythematics - Mythematics
Carl Oliver carloliwitter - Carl's teaching blog
@jacrichardson - High Heels and No. 2 Pencils
Jfinneyfrock - Designatedderiver
mathplusmusic - Math Plus Music
@askmrsmartinez - A Call To Action: Be a Math Unicorn
Kaycee Dammann, @kayceedammann - A Tech Coach Teaches Math
helfrederick - one more problem
Beth Ferguson - Algebra's Friend
MrLeNadj - Math Coolisms
@johnsonmath - The Conic Card Lady's New Adventure
Angela Censoplano Holmes - Life is a Classroom, A teacher's journey
Amber Brewer @srabrewer - Edu-Coach-ion
@mrswilliamyu - Math Coach on Demand
Michelle Rinehart (@HowWeTeach) - How We Teach
mathinct678 - mathinct678
Jessica (@algebrainiac1) - Algebrainiac - Are you pondering what I'm pondering?
sedulaney - Go to Sleep. Study. Mathinate.
Jonathan Schoolcraft @jschool0218 - Algebracraft: The Tales of a High School Math Teacher

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

All about #MTBoSBlaugust 2018!

August is looming, which means it's time again for the #MTBoSBlaugust blogging challenge!

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

Maybe your goal is to blog every day, or other day, or weekly, or to write at least 10 posts this month... whatever it is, you can do it!  My personal goal will be to blog daily, but I'll be honest - that's been my goal MANY times and I have YET to achieve that goal!  But it's okay - blogging once is better than not blogging at all, right? :)

If you'd like to join in, please take a minute to sign-up so I can link to your site as a #MTBoSBlaugust participant and cheer you on!

The Prompts:
Note:  These prompts are NOT required, it's just a brainstorming list to help you on those days when you don't know what else to write about! :)

  • How I teach / do ______ (INB, VNPS, VRG, topic of choice)
  • My Favorite “rich problem / task”
  • Sharing an idea I learned at a PD event this past year
  • Something new I plan to try this year…
  • How I use ____(tech app of choice) in my classroom
  • Share a lesson that uses tech (Desmos AB, Geogebra, applets, etc)
  • Write a post for Sam Shah’s Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavors (click to learn more!)
  • Answer the prompts from Julie R’s #TMC18 keynote:  I am a great teacher because… I am a teacher leader because… I want to grow as a #teacherleader this year by… 
  • Share your #MTBoS Photo Challenge photos (#MathPhoto18)
  • Go on a “math walk” - take a photo to share with us… What do you notice? What do you wonder?  How could you use this photo in your classroom
  • How do you handle homework / daily practice?
  • Self-Care…  how to make it a priority?
  • Math Makeover - Take a traditional question/problem to solve and make it better.
  • My favorite go-to ____(Online resource, book, blog).  Share an idea of how you have utilized this source.
  • Something I struggle with as a teacher/in the classroom. 
  • How I used something unexpected in my classroom to… 
  • #made4math - Create something you can use this semester, such as a tarsia puzzle, question stack, game, card sort, etc.  (Or share one you have previously created)
  • #myoneword - What is one word that you can use to focus your energies this year?
  • What is your favorite quote?  How can you share/use it in your classroom?
  • How do you handle Parent Communication?  What has been successful for you?
  • Tell us about a favorite activity/lesson that makes you jump for joy when you get to use it.
  • Shoutouts!  Give a shout-out to a former teacher, a colleague, or someone in your school or community who is a difference maker.
  • Time Capsule - revisit an old post and reflect. If you are new to blogging - find a post on this day from the past on someone else's blog-read, share, reflect.
  • What’s a practice you keep doing year after year? Either something that works great or something that maybe needs examining. Why do you keep doing it?
  • What’s the one thing in your school year you’re most looking forward to? A lesson, a unit, a field trip, a school tradition
  • Fav [math][ed] book read and take aways for 2018-2019 (and beyond?)
  • How do you support struggling students?  What intervention strategies have you used?
  • Observe yourself!  Record your lesson using your phone in your pocket and use it to reflect
  • A peek into my classroom - show us your classroom or describe a typical day / hour
  • A Day in the LIfe  (#DITL)
  • Letter to my first-year teacher self…
  • Tell us about your first day plans!
  • How do you develop a positive classroom culture?
  • What would you like to Start doing this school year?  What would you like to Stop doing? What would you like to Continue doing?
  • What are your best organizational tips?
  • My classroom “must-haves” are...
  • Be the Change… what will you do this year to impact the culture of your school and/or classroom?
  • What is your focus / theme / mantra for the year and why?  (Quote / Saying / Song?)
  • What are your favorite formative assessment strategies?
  • What is your Professional Goal for the year?  Your Personal Goal?
  • What are your biggest classroom pet-peeves and how do you do handle them?
  • #Read3 - Share 3 blogs (or blog posts or tweets) that impacted you
  • Tell us about you!  (20 facts or ABCs?)
  • What are your New School Year Goals or Resolutions?
  • What’s your “One Good Thing” for today?
  • #MyFavFriday - Tell us about your favorite moments of the week!
  • What do you do on parent night / open house?
  • What’s the toughest challenge you face as a teacher today?
  • #teach180 - Share a photo from your classroom and tell us about it
  • What I did this summer….
  • What are your favorite practice structures?  (Ex: Question Stacks, Sum Em Up, etc)
  • How do you review for a unit or semester test?  Any good review games or strategies?
  • What are your top "teacher hacks" that make your life easier?

Friday, July 20, 2018

More Thoughts on HW

Y'all - I know I posted last week about Grading Smarter, Not Harder, but to be honest, you can expect several more posts before it's all said and done!  This book might just end up on my Top 10 favorites list because every chapter so far has produced some really deep thoughts for me about grading and assessment.

I've had this book sitting on my Kindle for a while now but just hadn't gotten around to reading it.  I've read so many books on assessment and grading and didn't know that one more would make a difference.

But, this book is different.  It's not about Standards Based Grading so much as it is about what do you believe a grade means and how can we communicate that to our students?  It's about opening up lines of communication between the stakeholders (teachers, students, and parents) and being very transparent by letting our students know what they know.  It's about documentation of learning and helping students make the connections between the day to day classroom activities and the resultant assessment scores.  All in all, it's what I really needed to read this year to help me figure out some of the difficulties I've had in really helping my students self-analyze where they are, where they are going, and how to bridge that gap.

In last week's blog post, I was brainstorming a homework check sheet and here was my thought at the time:

Today, I finally sat down to start trying to piece this together and here's what I've come up with so far:

It's a half-sheet horizontal and because I see my students 4 times a week, it has 2 days on front and 2 days on back, split into the HW/Reflection and Exit Ticket areas.  The Exit Ticket should be self-explanatory, so here's what I'm thinking on the top part...

First off, I had already planned to limit my homework to no more than 10 practice problems per night, with at least 2 or 3 of those being from previous knowledge.  At the beginning of class, students will mark which problems they fully attempted and as we "grade" the HW, they will code the boxes (see Pam's blog post here) to indicate which problems they got correct, incorrect, struggled on, etc.  In the space below, I can either ask a reflection question over the HW or this can be the space for students to ask me private questions regarding the HW.  This is also the space that I can use to "stamp" the HW if needed.  Since these forms stay in their table folders, I'll be able to look at them and monitor them for any potential issues.

If you want a copy of the file or want to play around with it, you can download it here.
Fonts used:  KG Love Somebody and KG Second Chance Solid

So help me, MTBoS.... what needs to be changed?  How can I make it better?  What are your thoughts?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Teacher Planner - 2018-19

For the past several years, I have shared my teacher planner and to be honest, this year, I was really struggling with how (or even if) I wanted to make my binder.

Here's a look at the weekly layout from the past few years:

While I liked having a combination of lesson plans and personal planner, I did not like the two page layout and having it open on my desk all the time in order to see the various parts of the day.  I knew I wanted a paper planner because that's just better for me in general, but I had almost talked myself out of having a personalized one and just finding a pre-made one that would work for me.

Last year, I found myself wanting a weekly at-a-glance form as my "messy" copy and my official plan book above as my "neat" copy, so I created a quick one that you can see below:

I liked the clean lines of this form and if it weren't for the landscape orientation and the lack of area to write the other stuff that goes with teaching (meetings, etc), I probably would have figured out a way to use this as my lesson planner.

Part of the reason I like having a personalized planner is that I like having my gradebook and planner in one notebook.  Because I use the ARC system, I can easily add / subtract pages and customize it to fit my needs.

After a morning of trying to figure out what I wanted, here's the new weekly layout page for 18-19:

What I (think I will) like about this layout is that it gives me space for before / after school commitments, plus I can choose to have it open to one-page or two-pages and still be able to view the full day.

As always, I've created a generic one in PPT if you would like to download it. - Download Planner

You will need the Shadows Into Light font - Download font here

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ramblings on Homework and Grading

There are a lot of thoughts rumbling about in my head today and a lot of them have to do with my latest summer #EduRead - Grading Smarter, Not Harder.

A few weeks ago, prior to the AP Reading, @mathteacher24 posted something about this book on Twitter and it reminded me that I had it in my to-be read pile, so why not add it to my summer reading list? :)

Many years ago, I was unhappy with how my class was structured grading wise and started exploring Standards Based Grading (SBG).  For the past 8 years, I've used SBG and been fairly happy with it, but throughout the years, I've become more and more frustrated with some of its shortcomings, so I knew I wanted to do some thinking about assessment this summer.

Last night was our first chat session over Chapter 1 and I really don't have a ton of insights from that chapter because I agreed with almost everything the author said.  I completely agree that grades should be a reflection of the learning objectives and not student behavior.  One part that struck me though was the idea regarding a zero for missing work.  I've never been one to penalize late work but what do you do with students who haven't turned in missing assignments or taken a quiz when the time comes to turn in semester grades?  In the past, I've always changed those to zeros but according to the author, that's the same as a late work penalty because had the student turned in that assignment, the likelihood of earning a zero is probably small and therefore the grade is not an accurate measure of student learning.  One strategy the author suggests is a policy I remember from years ago called ZAP - Zeros Aren't Permitted.  I haven't thought of that strategy in years, so I need to go back and do some refresher research on it.

BUT - then, this morning, I decided to go ahead and read Chapter 2 on Homework.  Oh wow... I definitely need to do some thinking on this one!

I'm pretty sure that Homework is the bane of my existence.  I've tried something new pretty much every year and I'm never fully happy with it.  I haven't graded homework in years, because I believe that homework should be about practice.  Add in other equity issues such as the outside of class difficulties and the fact that not every student needs the same amount of practice and I am still firmly in the "no grade" category.

However - I do feel that there should be an accountability system in place and I've been battling how to handle this all summer.  Over the past few years with SBG, I've noticed fewer and fewer students are doing the assigned practice problems and I take a lot of responsibility for that.  I have done a poor job of connecting practice and assessment and helping students build the necessary study skills to help them find success.  I take it for granted that students know that doing their HW should help them to be more successful on the assessments.  Because I don't grade the HW, nor do I hold students accountable for doing the HW, I think many students have taken that to mean that I don't value the HW as a learning tool, which is far from the truth. 

So while reading Chapter 2, I run across Strategy #1 of In-Class Quizzing, which has several bullet points talking about students tracking their own progress and teachers using homework-completion data as formative assessment, which led me to throw down this tweet:

Here's my current thought...
  • In my table folders, students already have a weekly exit ticket sheet that they are used to.  Sometimes this is a question to be worked for feedback, sometimes it is a written response, etc.  What if I modified this form to have 2 spots per day - a HW reflection and an exit ticket area?
  • The HW reflection would be part of their warmup time and students would self-assess on a Likert scale how much of the HW they had attempted and a couple of short reflection questions, something to potentially open up a personal discussion about problems they attempted, where they struggled, etc. If they didn't do it, they could put in why as well - it's not punitive, just for documentation
  • Off to the side of the paper, I would have an area to write comments or go around to spot-check / stamp their self-assessment, etc.  

Anything else that you can think of???

As I mentioned above, I've not done a great job of connecting practice and assessment and the next strategy in Ch 2 talks about a Homework Profile.  (You can read more about it over at ASCD)

Pretty much I envision a test / quiz reflection form that looks something like this:

Corresponding to each box would be the descriptors from the ASCD link.  I'm thinking this might be a great post-quiz reflection tool to help my students really see the value of WHY they should do the practice.  Also on this form might be an error analysis to help them make a study plan which leads into the reassessments. 

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading :)  I just had to get some thoughts down on "paper" and as always, I value your comments.  Please feel free to push back in the comments here or catch me on Twitter.