Friday, May 31, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (5/31/13)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I've posted before about how I plan on diving into standards based grading next year.  I'm beyond excited about this!  And the more prep I do, the more excited I'm getting.  What's really got me jazzed right now is the assessment component of SBG.  Maybe it's just end of year delirium, but I'm actually looking forward to creating assessments.  I really want to make formative assessment work for me and my students next year, so I've been busy scouring blogs and Pinterest for exit ticket and quick "check for understanding" ideas that I can use in my classes.  And I'm excited about trying to create summative assessments that really capture the essence of a standard, that will give me meaningful insight to what a student does (or doesn't) get about the standard.  But at the same time, I'm freaking out over creating these assessments!  What if I don't do a good job creating questions?  Enter the newest member of the mathtwitterblogosphere, the Better Assessments blog.  Head on over and check it out.  And post an assessment while you're there!

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (5/24/13)

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Started Working On My Master's!

So this past Monday, I started my first graduate course in pursuit of my Master's Degree!  I am beyond excited...and a little nervous.  My life already felt like a juggling act, and I just added a great big ball to the mix!  I'm hoping the next 18 months fly by and that I can still work towards being the wife, mother, and teacher that I want to be.
I'm getting my Master's through the University of Texas at Arlington.  They have an academic partnership that allows you to get your Master's in Curriculum and Instruction - Math Studies completely online.  You take one class at a time.  Each class runs for five weeks, then you get a week off before the next class starts. It's a total of 36 hours and takes 18 months to complete.  I'll let you know how it goes, but after working out some initial technology issues and getting over starting off a couple of days behind because of those issues, I'm pleased with the overall experience.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sequences and Series Project

I came up with this project for my students to demonstrate their understanding of Arithmetic and Geometric Sequences and Series.  I was inspired by Fawn Nguyen's  If you've never checked out this website, it's a must see!

Sequences & Series Project

If I were to make one change to it for next year, I think I would have them create a sequence that was neither arithmetic or geometric.  But overall, I really like it!  It's the perfect project for this time of year.

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (5/17/13)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

On to Something?

There's something about this time of year.  The end of the year is around the corner, testing is coming to an end, and the long, lazy days of summer are beckoning.... But there's also something about this time of year that makes teachers question their effectiveness.  I (and many of my colleagues) are so hard on ourselves in our struggle to have that one perfect year.  The year when the planets and stars align perfectly for you to not only cover all of your material to the breadth and depth you intend at the onset of the school year but, more importantly, your students will leave your class with the complete grasp of the material you worked so tirelessly to present to them during the 187 days you had them.  (I've always been amused that we have 187 school days.  Isn't 1-8-7 the code police use for a murder?)  Anywho...where was I....ah, yes....the material we worked so tirelessly to present to them during the school year..... A couple things have popped up in my Facebook news feed that have really made me do some serious soul searching.  For your consideration:

Two young men with lots to say about the quality of education that they're getting from their teachers.  I actually saw the video first.  In it, a young man by the name of Jeff Bliss, who is an 18 year old sophomore at Duncanville High School (where I spent the first five years of my career) berates a teacher for what he views as her less than stellar efforts to teach his class.  I don't want to debate the merits of the manner in which this young man chose to address his concerns, I just want to focus on his words.  He's crying out for something better, for a connection with his teacher.  How many times have I sat in the lunchroom at school bitching commiserating with colleagues over the fact that we would kill for some of our students to connect with us.  And this kid is begging for it!  Whoa!  It really made me stop and question those times (and I'm ashamed to admit this has happened, but it has) where I've given up trying to connect with a kid.  Maybe it was teenage bravado that kept them from responding to my efforts.  Maybe deep down they were thinking "Thanks for not giving up.  I'm not brave enough to give in yet, but don't give up.  Please."  Or what about the times that I've let a few bratty uncooperative students in a class keep me from giving the rest of the class the very best I had to give every day?  I know I'm not like the teacher he's ranting against in the video, but his words still hit a note with me.  And about that teacher in the video....has she always been the queen of the packet?  Or did she used to have the fire and passion that this young man now demands she show him and his classmates?  Have years of all take and no give on the part of some, if not all, of her students left her thinking "Why bother?"  If you read the words of the young man who wrote the letter to to the editor, you might wonder...  But here's what I see:  I see two young men who, in all likelihood, represent the opinions of more of their peers than not.  And even if there's some of our students who haven't yet come around on the value of education, and the monumental effort that is required on their part in order to get that education, there are many who have, and they're they're begging for us to show them the way.  As Jeff Bliss said, "You've got take this job serious.  This is the future of this nation."  Challenge accepted.

Update:  Just came across another piece written by a teenage boy in defense of teachers.  Further proof that there are many in this generation who do get it.  I'm actually pretty glad that they're the future of this nation....

Friday, May 10, 2013

Summer Assignments

I've gone back and forth on assigning summer work to my Pre-AP Pre-Calculus and AP Calculus students.  The past few years I haven't given them anything because I haven't felt like it accomplished what I wanted it to - reviewing skills so I wouldn't have to spend time reviewing them in class.  I always ended up having to review them anyway.  So I think I'm going to implement some form of Sam Shah's boot camps instead.
I have decided, however, to give my students a little summer prep work that will make life easier when we come back in August and a little inspirational summer reading that they'll need to reflect on via posting to a class blog.  I'm going to hand these out before we leave for summer vacation to all students who have signed up for my classes, and I'm going to post copies to the school website so that new students can access them over the summer, as well.  Let me know what you think.  (I'm assigning various chapters from The Joy of X by Steven Strogatz.  Check it out.  It's AWESOME.

Much of this was inspired by or directly ripped off from contributors to Thanks to all who I blatantly stole from!  I'm forever grateful for your ingenuity and willingness to share!

AP Calculus Parent/Student Information Letter and Summer Assignment
Pre-AP Pre-Calculus Parent/Student Information Letter and Summer Assignment

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (5/10/13)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (5/3/13)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Concept Checklists for SBG

So, as I've posted before, I'm planning on implementing Standards Based Grading in my classes next year.  I've been working on my concept checklists for PAP Pre-Cal and AP Calculus AB.  If you teach Pre-Cal or AP Calculus AB, can you take a look at these and let me know what you think?  Am I missing anything?  Any concepts that you think could/should be combined?  Any that you think I should leave out?

Pre-Cal Concept Checklist
AP Calculus AB Checklist