Archive for August 12th, 2017

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Goals (#MTBoS) (#SundayFunday)

August 12, 2017

What do I want to accomplish this school year? As I started thinking about this, I decided to break it down into school and home:

School

  • Pre-AP Geometry
    • Push them harder! Too often, I find myself watering down the lessons I am teaching or providing too much scaffolding. If I want them to be prepared for Pre-AP and AP level work, I need to stop babying them. This change will mainly affect my lesson delivery and practice. I am still committed to flexible deadlines, quiz retakes, and everything else that tells a student, “I don’t care WHEN you learn something as long as you learn it!”
    • Incorporate more quadratics into the problems (see previous point).
    • Incorporate more Geogebra
    • Create a running thread of connecting the logic of programming with the logic of Geometry by teaching them the basics of coding (see CO + DE = MATH).
    • Change the seating each week based on which students are on pace and which are behind. Place the students who are behind closer to my desk.
  • Astronomy
    • I kept the class at too slow a pace last year. There’s definitely a balance between giving students enough time in class to complete their projects and their having so much time that they can just goof off half the time.
    • Part of the reason for the slower pace was that I realized part-way through that I didn’t have enough material to fill out the rest of the year. That’s not a problem I’ve ever had before, and it kind of caught me flat-footed. I will definitely address that this year by bringing in more lessons that I had skipped over in previous years.
    • I’d really like to find some sort of way to have the students perform some sort of observations. I’m also toying around with having some sort of star party attendance requirement. I’m really nervous about trying to have any kind of official class activity at night, especially off school grounds, but I don’t know what to do.
    • One of the pieces I appreciated about the rubric that Matt Baker and Kat Glass shared about their student presentations was that they also graded them on how they spent their time doing prep work. I think if my students knew they were going to receive a grade on how they used their class time, they might take it a little more seriously.
  • UIL (I’m UIL Coordinator for our school)
    • I wasn’t crazy about it at the time, but after the fact I liked the table I set up during our “VikingFest”, a kind of school fair that is held the first Wednesday of the school year. It let students know what UIL was and all of the different events that were offered. This year, I want to have some flyers printed that list the events, the coaches, and the rooms where they practice.
    • I made a whole presentation to a local Rotary Club about how I want to expand student participation, so now it’s time to put those ideas into action. I need to get with the other coaches and set up a rotation of people to speak to the AVID classes to let them know about UIL. I also want to try to talk to some of the upper-level math classes about Calculator, since that’s my baby.
  • Advisory
    • We’ve had these types of periods before, and they have usually not worked out well, but I’m hopeful that the changes we have made will give this a better shot at working.
    • We want students to spend the entire time productively, which means that I need to come up with some “evergreen” activities for students to do if they say they don’t have anything.
      • Geometry: Factoring quadratics (X-Puzzles), lightning math, WODB, Estimation180, PSAT practice, coding (trinket.io), student-created videos for lessons
      • Astronomy: SAT/ACT practice, ???

Personal

  • Plan and prep meals on Saturday. (Sunday never seems to work out.)
  • Plan to leave school by 3:30 except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Make time to practice my flute and play with Flutissimo.
  • Go to the gym at least three times each week, but ideally Monday-Friday.
  • Get back to study of Romans
  • I worked all summer finally getting my house clean and tidy, so let’s keep it that way!
  • Continue learning Python
  • Get back into cross-stitching or quilting.
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First Day Plans (#SundayFunday) (#MTBoS)

August 12, 2017

mtbos-sunfun-logo
I want to do all the things! Arrgh!

This year, especially after all of the inspiration at TMC, I’m having trouble narrowing down what I want to do on the first day of school for my two Pre-AP Geometry classes. The last few years, I have tried to get away from reading through the syllabus/procedures and have kids actually doing math. That has come back to bite me a few times because I think I didn’t spend enough time setting norms while we were doing the math. The 1-100 activity by Sara Van Der Werf has been really popular with the MTBoS this year, and I think this setting of norms combined with doing math has a great deal to do with it.

Here’s what I have to get done on the first day:

  • I have a flipped classroom, which means that I really need to explain the flow of homework, classwork, and quizzes to my students. The biggest mistake students make in a flipped/mastery learning classroom is getting behind, and I really need to pound that into their heads!
  • For the first time, we gave all of the Pre-AP Algebra I students a summer assignment. It wasn’t a huge amount (two pages of problems), but if I’m going to honor those who did the work and take this seriously, I need to do some sort of assessment on that first day. Our plan is to give them a quiz on the first day, and anyone who made less than 80% would then re-take the quiz (different version) on the second day.
  • Gather student information. For the last few years, I have used a Google form to collect information such as preferred name, whether they have internet access, favorite subject, how confident are then math, etc. I always have some students who are shocked when I call them by their preferred name almost immediately, and I have to remind them they told me what they wanted to be called!

I’m figuring that will take about half of the class (about 35-40 minutes). With the remaining time, I can’t decide whether to do the 1-100 activity or have them read an excerpt from Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. I’m currently leaning toward doing the 1-100 activity, and then after my 8th graders leave (they have to leave about 20 minutes early every day to catch a bus back to the junior high), use the remaining time to have my 9th graders read the excerpt. Or we might just use the 20 minutes attempting to explain the wacky schedule we’re going to have this year — we’re going to have a 23-minute rotating advisory period every day.

For my three Astronomy classes, I like the plan I’ve used for the last couple of years:

  • Let them sit where they like (these are mostly seniors, with a few juniors mixed in), although let them know I reserve the right to change them up if they can’t behave. I usually use a paper form to gather names to make my seating chart, but I’m thinking of integrating it into my Student Info form.
  • Collect student information. I have a form similiar to my Geometry form that I collect similart types of data.
  • Create a “Pocket Solar System”. I give each student a 3-foot long piece of adding machine paper. We label one end as “Sun” and the other end as “Pluto” (or “Kuiper Belt”), and I ask them to lay out the planets according to how they think they are spaced out. When they are finished, I have them flip the paper over, label the ends the same way, and I show them how the planets are really spaced out. We can then talk about how little mankind has really explored. To give them even more perspective, we will work through calculating how far away the nearest star is.
  • I then go over the basic format of the class, how the grading is set up, and what my expectations are. This year, I think I’m going to try using Consensus Rounds to have them come up with respect agreements for Teacher-Student and Student-Student interactions.
  • If I have time left, I’m contemplating using the 1-100 activity to get them thinking about group work because they will be starting their first group project the next week.

My final “class” is a class babysitting students as they attempt to make up Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II credits using ixl.com. Aside from getting them registered on the site and explaining how the process works, I’m not sure if I’ll do anything else with them.