Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Classroom Setup

For a variety of reasons, I am the only one of the four teachers who were at my school last year who came back this year.  My principal decided to have me move rooms just so that all of us would be prepping a new room together.  I didn't mind - I find moving to be cathartic and it motivates me to declutter and streamline things.

In the spring last year, I received a DonorsChoose grant to create flexible seating in my classroom.  I implemented it a little before the school year was over and my students LOVED IT!  I added to it over the summer and am so excited to see how the students react when they return next week.  Much of what you see on my walls came from people in the #MTBOS - shout outs to all of you who have contributed to my classroom decor!

I love my desks.  I raised, lowered, and even removed some of the legs to accommodate different seating heights.  These camping chairs were $7 at wal mart and the kids love them.  I have two groups with this type of seating.  I got the love seat for free from someone in my neighborhood.

The group with the stools have desks that have been raised.  This allows them to see over the kids on the sofa and provides a different type of seating.

I got the exercise balls as part of my DonorsChoose grant.  I had a student unpack my things as they came in and I think he accidentally threw away the plugs for these, so I ordered more over the summer.  I think some of my students are really going to enjoy these.

This is the back of my classroom.  The bulletin board by the door is a birthday board.  I am THE math teacher at my school, so I have every kid in my class at some point.  This will be a good way for us to keep track of student birthdays for the whole school.  Between the birthday board and the white board you can see a couple of my peg boards that I added this year.  I'm so excited about them!  The buckets underneath hold golf tees and yarn that the kids can use to make graphs on the pegboard.

Here's a better look at one of the pegboards.  You can also see my "Who's Out?" board (thanks Pinterest!).  I got it for less than $2 at wal mart!

So much good stuff here!  And ALL of it came from the #MTBOS!

My desk area.  The teacher desk is the only thing in my room I'm not crazy about - it has NO drawers.

My rolling cart from Target holds math manipulatives and supply boxes.  I love having all the things students need in one central location.

I'm trying out classroom jobs this year.  This is where I'll keep track of who has what job each period.  I also made badges that the kids can wear during their class period so that I (and the other students) know who has what responsibilities.

Monday, August 14, 2017

My First Day Plans

Yes, yes, I know - I'm doing the #SundayFunday post on a Monday!  But I wanted to participate in the blogging challenge even if I'm late....

I would not have the plans that I have if it weren't for the amazing people in the #MTBOS who are always so ready and willing to share their stuff!

This year I'm teaching Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2.  I am THE math department at my school - we're only in our second year and with a student body of 150 kids, it was determined that one math teacher would do.  So here I am!

My plans for the first day (for the first week, for that matter) are the same for all of my preps.

I'm going to start with Sara VanDerWerf's 100 #'s activity so that students know from day 1 what my expectations are in terms of group work and collaboration.  I've never done this activity before, so I'm very excited about it!  After the activity we'll debrief by coming up with some group norms for the year.

To give them some practice working appropriately in their groups, I'll start them on the Four 4's activity next.  I don't know that we'll have time to do much with it, but I'm going to challenge them to come up with ways to get the numbers 1-20 to start.  I'm going to hang some paper in the hallway so that over the course of the next few days or weeks they can try and come up with solutions for the numbers 1-100.  I've never done this activity before, either, but I'm excited to try it as well.  I think it will really help me as a teacher to start off allowing my students to struggle productively - something I've had trouble doing but something I KNOW is good for them.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

My ONE GOAL for the 2017-2018 School Year

I work at a public high school in Texas, but my school is a school of choice - students must apply and be accepted into my school.  We are an Early College High School - our students will (ideally) graduate with a high school diploma AND an associate's degree in four years.  We just opened last year with a freshman class of 76 students and will add a new class each year (we're adding about 80 students this year).

The target demographic for our school is first generation college, low-socioeconomic and at risk students.  Since we just opened we do have some students who don't fit our target demographic, but most of our students do.  For almost all of our students not only are they taking college classes for the first time, they're taking Pre-AP classes for the first time, too (all of our high school offerings are designated Pre-AP).  We help our students find success in our program by providing them with TONS of academic and social supports.

I am happy with how our first year went - almost all of my students passed their Algebra I EOC last year.  Many have already passed the math portion of the TSI (similar to the Accuplacer) that is required in order for them enroll in college level math down the road.

But I do feel like I could put in some work when it comes to being more aware of where my students are mathematically on a student by student basis.  As a whole, I can tell you what skills my students have mastered and which ones need more work.  I know what deficits most (but not all) of my students come to my classroom with.  I know where most (but not all) of my students will get hung up when introducing new concepts and I can usually plan my instruction accordingly.  I know how to engage and motivate most (but not all) of my students.  But I don't feel like I know where each of my students are at on their math journey on a truly individual basis.  So that's my goal for this year - to spend more time one-on-one with my students.  I want to spend more time watching them do math and less time showing them how to do math.  I want to spend more time listening to them explain their thinking and less time telling them what or how to think.

I'm so thankful for the #SundayFunday blogging challenges and look forward to using them to help focus and refine my craft as a teacher over the course of this upcoming school year!  ;)

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Beginnings

Tomorrow I'll start my 18th year of teaching at a brand new school.  I'm THE math teacher at Burleson Collegiate High School in Burleson, Texas.  We will have 76 students in our inaugural class of Collegiate Panthers.  Go Green, Black and Silver!  Here's a peak into my new classroom.  I love love love the student desks that we have!  So many different ways to arrange them!  And I'm thrilled to have such a huge space and two big windows in my room!  It's been a long time since I had natural light in my classroom.  You'll notice that there's lots in my room that came from Sarah over at Math=Love.  She is the QUEEN of posters for the Math Classroom and much of what hangs on my walls came from her!

Starting the year off in pairs, but these desks are so easy to rearrange and there's so many different ways they can be configured!

Class information and the calendars where I'll post the assignment each day.  I'll also hang a vertical file next to the calendars where absent students can find copies of the work they missed.

I got this from Sarah and I love it!  I hung next to the whiteboard at the front of my room to remind me as much as my students that this is the philosophy in my classroom!

My desk area.  If I had one complaint, it would be that this really cool looking desk has ZERO drawers in it.  So I'm either going to learn how to do with less or it's going to end up being a mess!

I think I got these from Sarah as well?  I'm not sure.  I've had them for awhile.  But I love them!

I made my own version of an ABC's of Algebra that I saw on TPT.  I can't bring myself to pay for something if I think I can fairly easily make it myself.  I'm happy with how this turned out!

I give my students a growth mindset assessment the first day of school and spend a lot of trying to help them develop a growth mindset during the year.  If you guessed that these posters came from Sarah, you're right!

Love all this storage at the back of my classroom!

I zip-tied these pencil pouches to each desk.  It gives me a place to store A-B-C-D cards and Thinking Frames for each of my students.  I also plan on making students put their cell phones in these pouches, especially during assessments!

Here are the A-B-C-D cards and Thinking Frames that are in the pencil pouches on each desk.

A reminder of some of my students from my last school.  These are from the Top 10% Banquet that was held each year.  The seniors in the top 10% chose an teacher who had a positive impact them to honor at the banquet and they wrote something about you.  Definitely a highlight each year!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Centers in High School Math?

I recently took a position at an Early College High School that is opening in my town.  I'll be the only math teacher the first year, and I'll be teaching Algebra 1 and Geometry.  Right now we're set to have about 70 freshmen next year and we'll add a class each year for the next three years.
With this new beginning comes renewed excitement and creativity.  I look forward to the fresh start that this opportunity provides!  One of the things I want to implement next year is centers, like what they have in elementary room classrooms.  Here's a rough description of how I picture this working.

I plan on returning to my flipped classroom.  So when students come to class, we'll do a quick debriefing of the video.  Then I'll have them complete a google form to pick which 3-4 centers they want to visit they day.  There's an add on for Google Forms called Choice Eliminator that will let me set how many students are allowed to choose a center during each rotation before the center is "full" and they have to choose something else.  If they didn't watch the video the night before, then one of the centers they'll need to sign up for is "Watch Flip Video", so hopefully this will encourage them to watch the video at home since they'll sacrifice a "fun" center in order to catch up.

Here's a list of ideas I've come up with for different centers I can use.  I obviously won't offer every option every day, but I can offer choices that are appropriate for the concept.

Review (over old concepts)
Activity (with partner or in group)
Explain (create GIF, video, infographic, etc. over concept)
One-on-one with teacher
Watch Flip video
Practice (solo) (worksheet, Kahoot!, Quizizz, Quizlet)
Math Art
Math Music
Reading (Joy of X, Math-themed books, articles)
Engineering/Robotics challenge
Programming/Coding challenge

Some centers might be required on certain days, or they may be required to choose between two, like "Practice" or "Activity" (working alone or with a partner or group).

At the end of class, we'd come back together for a closing question where I can use the "My Favorite No" activity to clear up any lingering misconceptions and to assess student understanding.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone done anything like this and want to share your experience/wisdom?

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Big Square Root Trick for Remembering the Unit Circle

I learned this "trick" at an APSI several years ago.  I know lots of people use the "hand trick", and I do teach that to my students, but I like this trick better because I can write it down on paper and "see" what I'm doing a little easier.  I taught it in Pre-Cal and I review it in AP Calculus.  I tell the students who take the AP Exam that the first thing they should do when they get their test is write this down.  If you combine it with a trick for remembering what's positive in each of the four quadrants of the unit circle, they can evaluate most any trig function on the test.

Drawing the Square Root:

Using the Square Root:

Friday, May 20, 2016

Trig T-Shirt Project

In the spirit of the last post, I wanted to share another one of my favorites from my trig unit.

When we are wrapping up transformations of trig graphs, I assign a t-shirt project to my students.  I love this project because it's easy to grade - they just stand in front of me and I check their work.  It's also great because the back of the shirt really lets them show their personality and sense of humor.  I'm always surprised by some of the stuff that they come up with as "reasons for studying trig"!  I could only find one example to share - not sure what I did with all the others I know I saved, and I know the scale on the x-axis in this example is a little off, but it still gives you an idea of what a finished product looks like.