How I love the first day with students!!!

When I was a student and now as a teacher, there is nothing like the first day back to school!  Meeting new students!  Visiting with previous students (I love that after their math class they came running to my classroom to give me the low down on their new teacher!! (Aaaa yeah, those teachers are my friends, duh! Of course you like them and will have a good year!))

All of the #MTBoS ideas I used from twitter worked so well!!  We did the name tents, but those do not really have an impact for a couple more classes when the students read the feedback, etc.

In PAP Pre Calc, we did the balloon challenge.  How many packages of  balloons do we need to buy to fill my classroom with filled balloons.  So much good came from this – group norms, mistakes are okay and MATH IS FUN!  I hope when I show up to school on Monday that my classroom is not filled with balloons! They were a little frustrated that I would not tell them if the were right! We also did a stand and talk!!  The kids were up out of their seats and excited about math ALL period!!

In AP stats, I did the Kristen Gilbert activity with them.  It really hooks them and brings up so many concepts that we talk about throughout the year.

What a great day! I can’t wait to go back Monday!


New ideas from #MTBoS for this year!

All summer, I have been stalking members of #MTBoS and emailing blogs to myself to reread before school starts.  Well, school is starting in a week, EEK!

I have four days of PD, three of those days have work time built in!  I was going to change the decor in my room but when I showed up to Michael’s and saw the mum making suppies and realized that I do not have any children at home anymore (I just dropped my youngest off at college) that are mum making age I got sad and left. Then I reread a blog from Peg Cagle about ways to be mathematically smart and I really want to redo my bulletin board! I can always Amazon Prime the supplies!

Last year, I started with the name tents and 100 Number task from @saravdwerf.  I cannot do the 100 number task again since I have some students two years in a row. The name tents were the best last year to help learn the student names and make connections! I believe I will start the year with a task called Balloon challenge from Dawn Crane.

Homework, homework, homework!  What to do about homework? Do I ditch the homework? Do I keep the homework? If I keep the homework, do I take a grade on the homework.  Yes, maybe they are just copying the homework but even so they are writing out the steps and hopefully processing what they are writing.  GRR!  I liked @druin’s idea of a homework reflection portion on her exit slip.  Since I grade on a scale of 0-4, I would have the students self assess using that scale.  (Did you do the homework? If not, why?, where did you struggle? Did you make careless mistakes, computational mistakes or misconceptional mistakes?) I let students re quiz standards to improve their standard grade.  They will need to show me completed and corrected homework before they can re quiz. Therefore, the students that need more practice will have to do the homework and the students that do not need as much practice will not be penalized for not doing the homework (it will just be documented on the exit slip).

I also have to thank @druinok for the planner this year.  I loved the one she blogged about so off I ran to the nearest Big Lots and got myself one!! She also asked #MTBoS members for a list of activities that they like but forget to use.  So, now I have a list of activities to consider while lesson planning.  The list contains everything from Bucket of Lies to Buddy Checks.  If you are not following @druinok on twitter you need to!

I am trying something new this year with the schedule for each class period. Type-amathland is to thank.  I shared her post with the PLC lead for AP stats and she loved it! Now not just Pre AP Precalulus will be following this new schedule but so will my AP Stats class. Each period will contain a warm up/quiz to begin. Then an activity/collaborative practice for the material of the previous day.  Followed by a launch/explore/notes of new material. The period will end with a spiral cool down homework/exit slip. But this worries me because there are so many things I want to do each period!  Number talks for one (I have never done them before but really want to). Since I teach so many junior I usually spend some time on ACT/SAT practice.  What about open middle?  How can I fit all of this into my 80 minute periods every other day?

Tomorrow, Friday, I go back to work. Yes, I am excited to see all of my teacher friends and to get the year started! That first day is always so hard. As a teacher I just want to get into my classroom and start preparing for the students but alas we have meetings and a convocation.  Do other districts still do a convocation?





From scrolling through twitter to teacher leader.

Throughout my teaching career I have experienced many great professional development opportunities.  I have been to everything from Kagan trainings to a Dan Meyer training.  I attended ICTM (Illinois) and the DuPage Valley Conference regularly. All of this professional development was invigorating and helped me grow as a teacher.  Then I moved to Texas 5 years ago. I attended the Austin Area Council of Teachers of Mathematics (I only gave it one try so I should try again), CAMT($$) and NCTM($$$).  I was feeling uninspired and craving some new ideas.  And along came twitter!!!! Some how I stumbled upon #MTBoS last summer.

This summer #MTBoS inspired me to read 3 books. The first one, Formative Assessment and Standards-Based Grading by Marzano. I felt like I was inflating my students’ grades with the way I was doing the SBG.  Last year was my first year to try SBG in PAP Pre Calc. From reading this book, I determined that since the first quiz the students take on the standard usually has a difficulty level of a 3 (target learning goal) the students shouldn’t be able to get the 4 (more complex content) until the next quiz when the problem is more complex. Problem solved – I hope!

The second book I read was Becoming the Math Teacher you wish you’d had by Tracy Johnston.  My book is covered in sticky notes on the cover and throughout the pages. From this book I will take away encouraging risk, teaching students to learn from mistakes, buddy checks and open ended questions.

Which brings me to the third book.  Making Number Talks Matter by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker. After reading this book I cannot complain about the students not having any number sense!

Because members of #MTBoS mentioned these books, I read them! I am a teacher leader because I encourage the other members of my department to also read these books!  I do not know if they do BUT I share all of my ideas for the upcoming school year with them!

Reflections of Summer!

How can it be August already, where did summer go? I thought the summer went too fast. Did I waste an entire summer doing nothing? I need to reflect upon what I did this summer.

Summer began with my middle daughter graduating from college! Wooo pig sooie!  I am so proud of the young woman she has become and the dedication she has to her nursing career! St. David’s is so lucky to have her.

Next up, my youngest daughter graduated from high school!  I am also so proud of this one she has persevered all summer in a job that she hates!!  She is a hostess at a restaurant and it is “so boring”.  Moral of the story, study hard to get the degree that allows you be the exciting elementary teacher!

Days after the high school graduation my husband and I dash off to Italy to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary.  Two glorious weeks exploring Venice, Bolzano, Cinque Terre, Lake Como, Florence, Tuscany and Rome!  I would go back in heart beat! I am home for one day and then off to Arkansas for orientation and register my youngest for classes! Yikes!

Aah July, rest and relaxation-NOT!  Gotta get all of those dentist and doctor appointments taken care of!  Also, a week long APSI for AP Statistics. I am so looking forward to applying what I learned in the classroom (luckily I only have 2 weeks to wait).

July also brought a trip up north just in time to avoid the heat wave in Austin. My husband and I spent some time visiting my son in Minneapolis.  He took us sailing – who knew!!  Again, I am amazed and so proud of the people my children have become!!! We went to WI to visit my husbands family! And then to Northern Illinois to visit my family! While in Illinois we also met up with “old” friends and I am always amazed how we pick right up as if we haven’t been gone for 5 years!

During the summer I have also read three professional development books and stalked twitter.  I have hundreds of sticky notes with ideas and blogs to reread.  In my next blog I will reflect upon all of these notes – it is time to make a plan for the quickly approaching school year!