Saturday, August 31, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Goodbye August!

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

Tis the end of another year of #MTBoSBlaugust.  I am so grateful to all of those who participated this year, either through blogs, Instagram, or as a commenter / cheerleader for others!  I didn't post quite as often this month as I had hoped to, but this is post 14 of the month, which is almost more than I've posted in the past year, so I'm counting that as a win! :)

As is often the case, this post is serving as my #MyFavFriday post, even though it's Saturday. :)  To be honest, by the time Friday night rolls around, I'm often too exhausted to post and I am often crashed out on the couch before 7pm.  This week was no exception!  I'm so grateful that it's the holiday weekend so I can hopefully catch up on some sleep and maybe attempt to get ahead for the next week.  I'm not holding my breath on that one though... lol! :)

So here we go... my favorite moments of this week :)

My Favorite Student Comment:
I am trying really hard this year to be better about Exit Tickets and Closure activities.  Right now, I'm still in "Getting to Know You" mode, so the question on Monday was "What is a goal you have?  It could be about this class, your personal life, your future, etc."  This student chose to share their mindset goal for math!

Last week, I tried really hard to impress on the students that they ARE math people and we can ALL improve through hard work.  We watched videos from Jo Boaler's Week of Inspirational Math and did several mathematical challenges to show that speed isn't our goal - understanding is.

My Favorite MTBoS Resource:
In all of my classes, I really try to focus on group communication and exploration before we formalize.  Points, lines, and planes are really tough for students to grasp, even though I know they have heard those terms before.  Before teaching anything about those concepts, I used this matching activity from Katrina Newell as their warmup.

This group really engaged with the activity with "all hands in".  When we started the activity, I did do a quick reminder of what they had worked on the previous week with regard to what makes good group work and how to be a good group member.  This also made a good formative assessment for me plus an illustration of how mistakes help our brains grow.  Looking back, I wish I had repeated the activity a few days later to see if they were able to do it without errors...

My Favorite PD Day:
The Friday before Labor Day has traditionally been a PD Day for our district.  For the past several years, it has also been our District Back to School Rally.

Rally Day is always a fun one because we get to celebrate the start of a new year with our band, a fun surprise entrance from our Superintendent, and usually a great keynote speaker.  This year's keynote was one of the best ones we've had and I'm super excited that two of his books are on Kindle Unlimited, so I'll be able to read them for free with my subscription. :)

My Favorite Quote:
The keynote speaker I mentioned above kept us laughing during the entire presentation, but he also dropped some major truth bombs.  

The quote at the right is from his presentation - our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness.  Think about that for a minute.  Profound, isn't it?

From a teacher perspective, what if we stopped focusing on those little details that drive us crazy about our students and started seeing those as strengths?  As elements that make each child unique and wonderful?  Stop trying to get our students to conform and instead accept the weirdness?  Think about the powerful shift that could take place in our classrooms and our schools.  

This idea really captivated me during the entire talk and I even came home and made hubby watch a couple of the videos I found.  (If you would like to watch one of them, click here)

And there ya have it - my last post of MTBoS Blaugust 2019.  And Happy belated Friday to all!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Back to School!

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

Whew!!!  What a week!  Kids came on Tuesday and I feel like I've been running ever since.  I am hopeful that this weekend allows me to get ahead and be proactive versus the being reactive like I was all this week!

Anyway, I know it's not Friday anymore, but I just couldn't keep my eyes open last night to blog, so we'll pretend it's Friday, k? :)

Student Information Google Form:
I tried something new this year and *I LOVE IT* :)  Before school started, I was on a panel during New Teacher Trainig to talk about classroom culture and building relationships.  One of my colleagues mentioned a blog he had read this summer talking about "A Million Words or Less".  I stole his idea, asked about it a bit on twitter, read a bit more about it, and here's what I did.

Last Friday, before kids arrived, I emailed all of the parents to introduce myself, share about school supplies, and to invite them to tell me about their kiddo via a Google Form.  The form had 6 questions - name, student's name, course, best time to contact the parent, and then two questions about their student - personal and academic.  The responses have been so insightful and I have really appreciated having that extra information as I get to know the students.  I will never start school without this again!  It was a way to establish some positive parent contact plus collect valuable information.

Quotes from Kids:
Throughout this week, I have been *so* impressed by my students!  In Geometry, we watched several of Jo Bolaer's mindset videos and the kids had some amazing insights.  In Advisory, we watched a couple of videos on grit and determination and the reflections were just powerful.

The picture at the left is from one of my Advisory kiddos..

From another Advisory kiddo with regard to playing the guitar:
"No, I was not born with it; I put in the work to get good. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's a struggle. I don't let it stop me. I keep going. That is what made me good."

From a Geometry student: "Math is like... cooking for the first time by yourself, you mess up but you'll learn"

From another Geometry student regarding the Jo Boaler Week 1, Video 5:
"In order to succeed you need to learn and in order to learn you have to make mistakes."

Favorite Lessons:
In Stat, my "go-to" first day lesson is Kristen Gilbert. I have used her since I first read about it years ago in the book, Numbers behind Numb3rs. It's the story of a nurse who was suspected of killing her patients and it has a fabulous statistical side to it! Highly recommend reading about her if you've never heard of Kristen. :)

In Geometry, I love love love 31-derful as a way to talk about Group Norms and that it's okay to make mistakes and try new ideas. This year, I also found the 16 Quadrilaterals task, which was another great task for persevereance. It will come in handy when we look at area and perimeter in the first chapter too! :)

In Forensics, we did a great timeline activity, but I forgot to get a picture of it! :(

So, there's week one in a nutshell. I need a nap... :)

Hope you had a great week!

Monday, August 19, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - A Puzzle and Some Forms

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

Today was our last work day before kids come tomorrow!

To be honest, when I left on Friday, I was feeling pretty good.  Then I got to school day and it's like, "Wait, what??? Kids TOMORROW??" and my brain totally shut down and wigged out on me!

So instead of getting my lesson plans done (which I finally finished a whopping 10 minutes ago), I had a flurry of activity getting some forms and such for organizing purposes done. :)

M4M #1 - QBits Puzzle

As you know, I've been working on my puzzle table to make sure I have some fresh puzzles available for my returning students.

I ran across this puzzle last week in one of my Puzzle Books and it reminded me a lot of Panda Squares, so of course I had to type it up! :)

The idea is to put the 16 smaller squares into the grid so that matching colors touch along each side.

If you would like the file, click here

M4M #2 - Forms and More Forms
I'm a list maker... and a form maker... :)

If I can figure out a way to put something into an organized format, I probably will!

At the left, you can see my Student Aide To-Do list, a "Why were you Tardy" note, and a "Please put away your cell phone" note.  I realized after the fact that I should have made the cell phone note into a laminated paper so I could reuse them... Oh well. :)

Now it's time to head to bed... those kiddos will be there tomorrow!! :)  Have a great night all!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - My Classroom 2019-20

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

School starts this week and I *think* my classroom is mostly ready! :)  I still have some work to do on lesson plans, but that's what tomorrow is for, right??? :)

Here's a sneak peek at my classroom:

The Doorway area...

Moving clockwise from the door...
  • You can see the Puzzle Place again :)
  • On the cabinet doors / wall, I absolutely love, love, love the Women in STEM posters I printed from online.
  • On the podium, you'll see the "How to be a Math Person" poster from Scaffolded Math and a Ladybug welcome sign from my mom. :)  (I'm not sure the Ladybug will stay there though... we'll see!)
  • And of course stacks and stacks of textbooks!

Continuing clockwise...
  • You can see the right edge of the Promethean board, but what I didn't get a photo of was the Levels of Questions posters underneath. :(
  • My desk area... it's the messiest part of my room, but I promise it's organized chaos!  I've sectioned off part of the whiteboard to use as a bulletin board.
  • It's hard to see, but I use the window sills as additional shelving.  On the window sill at the right, there are various books, including Patterns of the Universe and a curve-ahedra from @gelada :)

The back corner...
  • You can see the books on the windowsill a bit better here. :)
  • In the corner, you can see the student supply area, although those table buckets and group whiteboards are typically on the student tables.
  • On the shelves below, you can see the file crates where I pass back papers and some various storage areas.  
  • On the bulletin board, you can see the Mental Math Challenge, which is one of my favorite boards ever!  Using 4 numbers, they try to find all of the values from 1 to 24. :)

The view from my desk of the back wall...

Most of what you see here has already been discussed, other than the big set of double doors.

On those doors is the peel and stick whiteboard roll that I got several years ago from Hobby Lobby.  I did not peel / stick it though - I left the back on it and used sticky tack to put them up.  The left panel on each door is for the weekly agenda.  The right panel on each door is for annoucements.

Through those doors is my partner teacher for Forensic Science.  We team-teach that class and have 47 students enrolled this year.  During class, those doors are usually open and kids are moving back and forth betwee the two classrooms.  

Thanks for visiting my classroom!  Hope you have a fabulous day and a great start to the new year! :)

Friday, August 16, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - It's Friday!

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

It's Friday and the first (partial) week of school is done!!! :)  We reported Wednesday and it's been a super busy week of meetings, visiting with colleagues, and cleaning / organizing my classroom.

For the past few years, I've done a "My Favorite Friday" post as a way to reflect on the week and to focus on the positive reasons that create our "why".  Last year, I fell off the blogging wagon around mid-October and as a result, there was much of the year that I didn't spend time in reflection and celebrating victories.  I definitely want to bring back #MyFavFriday this year though!

So here we go...

My Favorite Classroom Decoration
To be honest, it's *really* difficult for me to choose a favorite part of my classroom.  From the Puzzle Table to the walls, to my desk area, I'm constantly reminded of my #MTBoS family.  But if I had to choose a favorite new addition, it woud have to be this corner :)

Three things I love in this corner...
1)  The Women in STEM posters are just absolutely gorgeous!
2)  The Puzzle Place got a make-over with new wall puzzles to encourage more problem solving
3)  The "How to be a Math Person" poster finally got printed and put on my podium.

My Favorite Gifts
I received two lovely gifts this week that really shows how well the givers know me! :)

This afternoon, a colleague down the hall brought me this amazing mug and said she saw it and thought of me.  If you don't know me very well, I can easily get stressed and I do love my cats.  In fact, one of my cats came from this colleague and that very cat woke me up this morning at 3:30am and wouldn't let me go back to sleep! :)

This morning, I had a parent stop by with a gift from her son who is now in college.  I was so extremely touched that he took the time to write me a note and send a gift during the back to school craziness when he is getting ready to start classes himself.

My Favorite Hack of a  Hack
My last blog post was about a Rocketbook Hack that I figured out and how I plan to use it in my classroom.

But wait - there's more! :)

That night, I was laying in bed, almost asleep, when I had a "moment".  I literally sat up in bed to share my moment with hubby (who was NOT as impressed as he should have been).

I realized that I could use my Rocketbook frame and assign one of the icons at the bottom to go to a Google folder for Student Work.  Then, as students are working, I could put the frame on their whiteboard, on their notebook, on their notes, whatever and easily send it to my computer / projector and share with the class!  I can't wait to try it with students!!!

Oh - just to note, the laminated page worked fine at home, but had a glare issue at school.  I ended up printing the RB page on white cardstock, cutting out the inside and putting the frame into a non-glare sheet protector - problem solved!!!

And a statue...
The statue at the left is Hector.  I have the pleasure of hosting Hector in my room for the next month as the teacher equivalent of the Spirit Stick. :)  I was awarded Hector on Wednesday as a sign of a "True Trojan" by a dear friend and colleague.

While I don't get to keep Hector, I did want to be able to remember him, so he's now a #MyFavFriday :)

Now it's time for the weekend and some rest before the kids come next week!  Happy Friday y'all!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Rocketbook Hack

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

I LOVE a-ha moments!!! :)

This post might not make a ton of sense, but I wanted to share it with everyone since it's back to school time and this might be a hack that helps you out!

If you've not heard of Rocketbooks, it's a text to digital notebook where you can write on the notebook, color in a little circle at the bottom to choose a destination, snap a photo with the RB App and your notebook page gets sent to the folder automatically!

Hubby had actually purchased a RB notebook several years ago from the Kickstarter campaign, but I hadn't used it and honestly didn't see a ton of use for it until I read Julie's blog post about Rocketbook hacks.

Then my mind was racing! :)

This year, I had already planned to upload solutions to the daily practice problems but to be honest, taking photos (or scans), uploading them, etc was really more work than I wanted to deal with.

So here's my hack... :)

I took a printable Rocketbook page, cut out the inside part and laminated the frame.  I put it on top of a green piece of paper so you could see the frame since my table is white :)

Since it's laminated, I can use a whiteboard marker to color in the correct circle based on which course I'm working with.  That circle tells the app which Google Folder to save the scan to, then automatically uploads whatever is inside the black frame to that folder.  I just have to color the circle and scan using the app - it's that simple!

Now why in the word would I go to all this trouble??

Here's why...

And this is the BRILLANT part!!!

I just put my little laminated frame right ON TOP OF my INB and it will scan it!

OMG - is that not the coolest thing ever?????


Now I'm on a hunt to find out all of the RB hacks I can figure out!  What ideas do you have for this hack? :)

Monday, August 12, 2019

#Made4Math - Last Monday of Summer!

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

It's Monday again!!

Today is my last Monday of Summer 2019.  We officially report back on Wednesday and kids come next week.  As a result, I've been back and forth on trying to get things done versus trying to shut down and enjoy the last few days of break.  I am teaching the same preps this year, so I've not been extremely motivated on the lesson plan front, but I guess I probably should get on that soon! :)

But first, let's take a look at the pretties for this week! :)

Made4Math #1 - Sum It Up Puzzle

I've been trying to find some new puzzles for my puzzle table this summer.  While digging around in my stack of books, I found this series called Solve It that I had picked up years ago at Mardel.

While flipping through the book, I ran across this number puzzle that reminded me a lot of an Open Middle problem :)  Since I already have sets of 1 to 9 tiles, it was pretty simple just to make a page for the puzzle frame and a new puzzle is done! :)

If you want to download the file, click here

Made4Math #2 - Notes from the Teacher

Last spring, I ran across this tweet from Emily DeLuca about writing 4 notes per day to her students.  I loved the idea, but just didn't follow through with it.

So I'm going to *try* to do better this year!  I made a couple of pages of small notes on PPT - the first page just says "A Note from Mrs. ____", while the second page can be seen at the left.  I printed them on colored paper, cut them out, and now I have some notes to slip to students daily!

I would love some ideas for growth mindset / positive affirmations that wouldn't sound weird coming from your 40-something year old math teacher... any ideas? :)

If you want this file, click here.  You will need the Sunberry font

Made4Math #3 - Teaching Binder and Meeting Binder

I've already posted about my binders this week, but here they are all finished!

On the left is the meetings binder all bound with the small discs and a nifty little pocket that I made from a letter size page of cardstock.  Just fold it in half, cut at a diagonal, hole punch, and tape the bottom!

On the right is my teaching binder - isn't that cover just lovely?? :)  I added a nameplate and a couple of dividers and it's ready for the new year!

I know many of you are heading back to school this week, so best wishes on a new year!  :)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Teaching Binder

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

It's time to go back to school, which meant it was time to get my act together and get my teaching binder finished up for the 2019-2020 school year!  For many years, I have designed and printed my own personal planner.  (You can see last year's here).  I know it would be much easier and probably cheaper to buy a pre-made planner, but I am picky. :)

This year's planner has 3 sections - a Monthly Calendar section, a Lesson Plans section, and a Gradebook section.  As always, I bound it with the wonderful Arc System :)

The Monthly calendar got a bit of a facelift with the left side staying the same, but changing the right side to include a few things like "Start / Stop / Continue", a small look at the next month, and some notes and to-dos:

In the Lesson Plans section, there are two layouts - a long range quarterly look to help with flow and planning and a weekly layout with a more detailed view:

The long-range outlook has a 2-page spread for each semester.  I've included holidays and important dates to help with planning as well.

The weekly spread got a huge update this year.  I decided to put the lesson plans on a single page so I didn't have to have my binder open to the whole 2-page spread.  I also decided to only use this for school, so I took out the weekend areas.  On the left, I put in more of a weekly reflection place so that I could keep more of a teaching journal with some reflection questions inspired from Fairy Dust Teaching.  I also trimmed down my habit tracker and added in some other checklists (To Do, To Buy, Strategies Used).

Finally, it was ready to print!  I took it to Staples as they have a bit heavier pound paper than I have at home and had them print it grayscale.  While at Staples, I browsed through their Studio C 2 pocket folders as they are my favorite DIY Arc Binder covers!  Cut them in half, punch some holes and you have a sturdy cover with pockets!  The photo at the right shows the pattern I picked out for this year:  Doesn't that just bring you happiness and joy?? :)

As always, I've uploaded a generic version in PPT for you if you want a copy of the planner for yourself! :)

Friday, August 9, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Meetings Binder

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

Summer is rapidly coming to a close.  This week, our new teachers have been in meettings, schedules have been picked up, and yesterday morning, I was on a panel discussion for our new teachers regarding classroom culture and back to school.  As a result, I ended up working in my classroom for the rest of the day, trying to clean and organize for back to school.

When I was cleaning, I found a stack of small notebooks that I have collected over the years that I had grabbed on my way to a meeting to take notes.  I decided I needed something a bit more organized. :)

I opened up my trusty PPT and found my current favorite font (Sunberry - download it here) and started to work on creating a template for all the various meetings I attend over the year.

Since I had a tendency to grab small notebooks for meetings, I thought I might give half sheets a try.  Then I started thinking about binding and vaugely recalled that last year I had purchased a couple of "junior sized" Arc notebook covers from Staples on clearance for $1 each.  If you've never used Arc (or a disc-bound system), they are amazing!  You have the flexibility of a 3-ring binder for adding and removing pages, but the usability of a spiral notebook for turning the notebook back on itself.  I highly recommend it! :)

By the time it was all said and done, I had 7 types of meetings that I reguarly attend :)  On my morning walk, I figured out how to make somd dividers and it was time to turn this mess into a notebook..

You can see my sample divider on the upper left.  After I verified it would work, I printed them onto blue cardstock instead :)  I thought about laminating them, but for now, cardstock will do.  Some cutting and hole-punching took place and then I was ready to "bind" it with the discs.  However, the only Arc discs I had at home were 1" and they are honestly too big, so when I get to the store later, I'll pick up some 1/2" discs.  :)

At the right, you can see the mostly completed notebook.  It's hole-punched and ready for those 1/2" discs. :)  On the picture, I moved the cover to the left so you could see the tabbed dividers, but when it's all done, you won't be able to see those :)

Here are the files if you want them:

Meeting Notes - will need the Sunberry font
(Print 2 sided / flip on short edge)

Tabbed Dividers - will need the KG Second Chances font

Hope this helps someone else! :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

#MTBoSBlaugust - Do No Harm

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

Last week, my school hosted a math conference.  Over the course of the day, I had many people comment about how nice it was to have math specific PD and the need for it.  It took me back to earlier this summer when I finally had time to dig into one of the books high on my "to-be-read" list - Necessary Conditions by Geoff Krall.

You can preview (or purchase) the book on the Stenhouse website by clicking here

In Chapter 1 of Necessary Conditions, Geoff tells the story of Damien, a high school senior with big plans.  From the story, you get the sense Damien is a great kid with a passion to help his community, a kid not unlike many of the kids we see each day in our classrooms.  As Geoff shares the conversation he had with Damien, you get a feel that Damien's math education was fine, although not very cohesive, and then you get to this quote...
"For an education environment that strives to standardize instruction and student outcomes, there is remarkably little consensus about what a quality secondary math classroom looks like."

Whoa... did that just hit you in the gut like it did me?  As I was reading, I quickly scribbled this quote down in my reading notebook and put a mark by it to discuss with my Secondary Math coordinator.  What *does* a quality math class look like?  sound like?  feel like?

I teach at a large suburban high school and have been there for 20 years.  I know that at the district level, there have been those discussions about quality instruction, but not as much on the site / department level.  As I read this book, I kept coming back to this question and Damien's story.

Further in Chapter 1, you see these statements:
"What's particularly troubling is that none of Damien's high school teachers were derelicit in their duty. ... But with no common understanding of what high-quality math instruction looks like or what students are experiencing in their classrooms, gaps in learning and in attitudes toward math will continue to widen."
"Adding urgency and magnifying the issue is that math is often the biggest - sometimes the only - hurdle to an otherwise prosperous educational career.  The lack of a sufficient math background can be the death knell for students once they reach university."

Honestly, this is frightening.  Last week, I was at a Career Readiness workshop and Damien again came back to my mind.  Our courses aren't just a ticket punch on the way to adult life.   Our courses can be significant barriers to our students as they approach their post-secondary careers.  What have I done to contribute to that barrier?  What have I done to actively attempt to break down that barrier?  What can I do going forward to advocate for students like Damien?

I think about the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take - the idea to ethically treat patients and do no harm.  I think about Damien and his teachers; I think about my own past students.  There was no intention to harm, but has harm happened anyway?  By not having a cohesive definition of a quality math classroom, how many students have hit the barrier to future success?  How many students could have made powerful mathematical connections instead of seeing the courses, units, and chapters as these disconnected requirements that they just have to get through.  How many students (or even teachers) have been deprived of discovering the joy and beauty of mathematics?

Two weeks from today, I will meet my students.  I will again have an opportunity to shape their thoughts on math.  I have the power to help or to hinder.

And that scares me.

Monday, August 5, 2019

#Made4Math - New Year, New Door

This month, I am participating in a blogging challenge called #MTBoSBlaugust.  To read posts from other participants, click on the logo above.

It's Monday... again????

Serious, where is August going?  Slow down already! :)

Back to school is creeping closer.  This week is schedule pick-up, the teachers officially report next week, and I feel so behind in getting things ready!  But either way, kids will be coming soon and I still have tons to do! :)

Made4Math #1 - New Door!!!
Each year, I try to put up a new door to welcome my students.  Last year, it was the "Be" words.  This year's door was inspired by a poster I saw on Pinterest with the acronym of MATH. 

I knew I wanted something that illustrated my philosophy of quality instruction and emphasized some of the lessons we will learn during the learn of making mistakes and asking questions. 

On Twitter, one poster asked me about the Have Fun part, and that person is correct in that fun is very subjective.  However, I fully believe that I can make it a goal to have fun every day, even if I don't always achieve that goal. :)

To make the door, I just printed on different colors, laminated, and cut.  I did forget to trim the right hand side of "NEW"... oops! :)  I'm not crazy happy with the spacing yet, but that's just a matter of time. :)

If you want the files, click here!!

Made4Math #2 - Index Card Tabs
A discussion on Twitter this past week was about reassessments and I shared the top photo of my Reassessment Box.  Then, I realized I had never shared the index card tabs! :) 

When I made reassessments, I format them to fit on a 3x5 notecard and organize them into a little file box.  But index card guides are really expensive on Amazon, so I figured I could make them myself much cheaper.  Using my trusty tables on Word, I made 1/4 size tabbed cards, laminated them, and cut them apart.  I use a fine point sharpie to write the objective on them.

If you would like the file, click here!!

Here's to a productive week full of projects! :)  Have a great Monday!