Friday, September 20, 2019

#MyFavFriday - September is Zooming By!

Holy moly - how has another week gone by?  I was looking at my Lesson Plan book today and and it's only like 3 weeks until Fall Break! 

This was another great week overall.  It went super fast, probably because it was packed from top to bottom with meetings, Meet the Teacher night, and a to-do list a mile long! :)  This weekend is shaping up to be a weekend of grading, so if you have any favorite TV binges, please let me know! :)

Now, on to this week's favorites...

My Favorite Warm-Up Activity
This week in Geometry, we've been working on Angles and angle pairs.  One thing that I've noticed over the years is that students struggle with using a protractor and often don't take the time to make sure their answer makes sense.  I found this Angle Game at NRICH last year and decided to do it as a warm-up the day after we refreshed on measuring angles.  The energy in the room was electrifying!  A student insisted I capture the picture on the left when they nailed the angle exactly.  Best part of it all?  I caught one of my students playing this later on in the week because it's just that addictive! :)

My Favorite Downtime Moment
Typically, the Puzzle Table has a puzzle of some sort.  But this week, I put out the little hexagon things that someone from the #MTBoS shared about a few years ago and wow, what a response!  Every day, there were people crowded around the Puzzle Place just to build and play and explore.  My favorite was probably the little fidget spinner / top that a student made as seen on the right side of the photo.  This week, Aldi has some building toys that might show up in the Puzzle Place sometime in the near future - assuming I make it to Aldi this weekend! :)  (Note - I have no idea what these toys are called - I purchased some at the Target Dollar Spot a few years ago)

My Favorite New Technology
This summer, I blogged about a RocketBook hack but it was still theoretical at the time.  It is no longer theoretical and it has transformed my classroom! 

I printed a blank Rocketbook page, laminated it, then cut out the inside.  I then set up the RocketBook app to send files to a folder on my Google Drive that I shared with my students.  Each day, I put the homework and notes inside the frame, color in the correct circle, and the App does the rest!  It pretty much instantly sends the file to Drive and my students have access to the daily notes for when they are absent and complete homework solutions to check their daily work.  This frame just lives on my whiteboard with a magnetic clip and I use my desk as a background surface before taping the work into my notebook.  My kids have responded very well to this and have thanked me for making it so easy to get their notes / homework! :)

My Favorite Lab of the Week
This week in Forensic Science, we were talking about types of evidence - direct vs circumstanstial, physical vs biological, and class vs individual evidence.  We found a lab activity online and modified it for our class. Students had to go from station to station, reading the case file informtion and examining the evidence to classify by type.  In the station at the right, paint chips were taken from a "crime scene" and a paint can was recovered from the suspect's garage.  Students had to determine if the paint chips could be matched to the paint can or not and justify it.  The conversations were so awesome to listen to!  Other stations included footprints, tire tracks, a handwritten note, a torn t-shirt, etc.  Next year, we plan to add a couple more stations like a carpet sample / fibers, tool marks, and bite mark analysis. 

My Favorite Interactions this week

  • Last night was "Meet the Teacher" at our school and one of the best comments came at the end of the night, when a parent stayed after to tell me that her son had come home and told her, "Mom!  You have to follow my math teacher on Instagram!"  The mom is an Early Childhood Teacher and we had a wonderful chat about student engagement strategies and our mutual passion for teaching and learning.  
  • One of my students wrote me a note this week to thank me for emailing their dad a positive note home.  I have started emailing 5-6 parents each weekend with a Student Shout Out and the feedback I've received has been very positive.  :)
  • During a passing period today, a former student was walking by with a friend and got a "high five".  After they passed, I heard the friend say "I got my high five earlier today!"
  • A couple of first hour students were in my room early today.  One of them decided I needed some "pump you up" music and proceeded with a dance party in my room for 30 minutes before school.  It was an interesting mix of music as he tried to find school appropriate songs on his playlist which included "Staying Alive" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"! LOL

How was your week?

Until next time - Happy Friday!! :)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

#MyFavFriday - Good Things are Happening!

How is it already mid-September and I've failed to blog since #MTBoSBlaugust ended???

Back to school this year has been rough!  I LOVE my kids and I've had the same preps for the past 3 years, but we changed our bell schedule this year, so that has taken some adjustment plus very full classes means more papers to shuffle and honestly I'm just trying to keep up on a daily basis!  Good things are happening though and that's the thing to keep in mind! 

My Favorite Homework Response
This year, I am checking HW a bit differently.  In the past, I have taken the first few minutes of class to go over HW but it often seemed like a waste of time.  This year, I am having students discuss their HW at their tables, compare answers, and check with my solutions (uploaded via Rocketbook - OMG, LOVE!!!), while I walk around eavesdropping on their conversations so I know what topics to talk about as a whole group.  I have really loved the conversations that have happened and reading their responses, but I also know that next year I will assign group roles to this to help with mangement and leadership.  Any suggestions on group roles?? :)

My Favorite Exit Ticket Prompt
Back to School brings with it new students, new names to remember, and new opportunities to make connections.  In general, my Friday exit ticket this year has two parts - a "getting to know you" prompt and a "One Good Thing" prompt (shoutout to the amazing @RebeckaMozdeh).  I love this with huge puffy heart loves!  For the Fun Fact, I learned that one of my students is on a Curling team, another student has 9 3/4 fingers, another student travelled Europe last year, etc.  It was such a fun way to get to know something about them beyond the classroom.  The OGT allows us to celebrate small and large victories, from "I survived this week" to "I learned I was a National Merit Semi-Finalist". 

My Favorite AP Stat Activity of the Week
This week in AP Stat, we wrapped up the "Collecting Data" unit with the Distracted Driver activity based on an activity years ago from NCSSM and an AP Free Response question.  The idea was to develop what statistical signficance means plus an introduction to the idea of a p-value and the 5% level of signficance.  One of the things I love about this activity is that it truly builds a deep understanding of using simulated results to know whether something is unusual.  But from a purely human side, it's really fun to watch students try to figure out how to shuffle a deck of playing cards, as game nights were something very common in my family growing up.  :) :)

My Favorite Geometry Activity of the Week
There were so many awesome moments happening this week in Geometry and honestly, we were so engaged that I forgot to take a picture more often than not!!

But one thing that remained the same throughout the week was how much I just enjoyed eavesdropping.  I know that sounds weird, but there were some powerful mathematial discussions going on this week in Geometry!  From students working through an "Around the Room" multiple choice activity from Katrina Newell to arguing over the math in the Wild Wonders Amusement Park to helping each other find patterns in midpoints, the level of collaboration and engagement was one that I just wanted to bottle up and keep for the days that we aren't feeling it.  I could literally watch each child this week as they grew as mathematicians and it was just beautiful.  I know that is sappy, but true :)

My Favorite New Parent Outreach
Last weekend, I ran across this tweet from Lauren Johnson about sending home parent emails each week.  Last year, one of my goals was increased parent communication and I wanted to do more this year.  Lauren's email came and just the right time!  Last weekend, I sent out 6 "Student Shout Out" emails and this morning I sent out 7 more.  I am *LOVING* this idea to just send a quick email to the parents about their child and I have no idea why I didn't do it before!  The responses I've gotten back from parents have been so positive and I just can't say enough good about this method. :)  Thank you Lauren!!!

This was our first 5 day week of the year and I'm exhausted by excited about the fun yet to come!  I hope all of you have a blessed weekend!!

Happy Belated Friday!