Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ozobot Transformations and Graphing Functions Projects

Last summer I got the crazy idea in my head that I should incorporate robotics into my high school math classroom.  I did a tome of research and narrowed down my first choice of robot to +OZOBOT.  Then, by just being very very lucky, I learned that +Tryazon was doing a party/giveaway opportunity.  I won one Ozobot bit for myself and one to given away to a party guest.  I wrote about that initial experience here.

After this experience, I decided to apply for a grant through our local education foundation.  Again, I was lucky enough to be chosen.  MTEF bought a class set of Ozobots for my classroom.  Here is what I've done with the Ozobots so far.

I knew that I wanted the end product to be a path that the Ozobots to follow.  This year I'm teaching geometry and algebra 2, so I decided to do this assignment with transformations in geometry and as a cumulative review of graphing lots of types of functions for algebra 2.

In both classes, I started with this activity.  It served as a great introduction to line following robots in real life as well as a how to guide on how our Ozobots work.  I teach in a station based hybrid classroom, so this activity served as one station out of 4.  During the other station's students received direct instruction and small group instruction on the mathematical concepts of transformations and graphing.  This pattern continued throughout the duration of the project.

The next activity that I did with both classes involved students learning about the color codes and completing puzzles/mazes with the Ozobots.  I scanned these images from the Ozobot bit starter pack that I mentioned earlier from Tryazon.

Here are the  files for this portion of the assignment:

Ozocodes and Calibration Guide
Puzzle 1
Puzzle 2
Puzzle 3
Puzzle 4

Finally, I gave the students 3 stations worth of time (about 60 minutes total) to complete the end product, a path for the Ozobot's to follow.  This happened about every other day over the course of a week.  Here are the documents that I gave to students.

And  finally here are some of the final products from my students.

Many of my students would be reluctant to admit it, but they did enjoy this assignment.  The excitement came when they put their Ozobots through the final run and the tiny robots were able to make it through their courses. 

In the future, I'm looking to use the robots again to practice solving systems of equations by graphing.  I'm hoping to have students use OzoBlockly to program the bots to plot the lines.  I'd love to hear about your ideas for how you'd use the bots in your classroom.  Please share your ideas.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Practice Structures: Uno

I've been trying to be creative about turning card games and board games into alternatives to worksheets for building fluency.  I saw some elementary level numeracy games using uno.  So I decided to create a secondary uno game, well two actually.  I made one game on identifying the type of conic section from an equation and a second game for identifying the types of angles formed by two parallel lines and a transversal.  Uno could also be used to practice other skills related to identifying situations in math.  Maybe another option would be for identifying whether a set of lines where parallel, perpendicular, or neither.

Here is how I modified the game to for conic sections:

And here is my angle pair game:

This activity is pretty time consuming.  I did not have kids play by the official rules of reaching 500 points, rather I just gave them a time limit and the person with the lowest score at the end of the time frame was declared to be the winner.  The activity would work well for an extended period during a special schedule (exam season maybe).

If you have other ideas for topics to use for uno, of if you have other feedback, it's be glad to hear about them!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#Teach180: Days 131-140

This year I've taken on the #teach180 challenge.  The challenge is to post one tweet per day showing a glimpse inside your classroom.  I'm also putting the tweets together in a biweekly blog so that I can share the resources that I'm tweeting about.

Day 131: Today we had our weekly cumulative standards based quiz.
Day 132:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced finding inverses graphically with Mishaal Surti's Desmos assignment.  For whatever reason, my kids understood this much better this year.  I give credit to to awesomeness of visualizing with Desmos.
Day 133:  Today in geometry, we used Khan Academy to practice finding the area of composite shapes.
Day 134:  Today in geometry we practiced finding surface area and lateral area of prisms and cylinders using this @ExploreLearning Gizmo.  I think it really helps students to see both the 3D representations and the nets to make the connection between area and surface area.

Day 135:  Today in algebra 2, we practiced finding inverses of functions algebraically.  Then we checked our work using this Geogebra sketch.

Day 136:  Today we had our weekly quiz.  Last one of the third marking much grading :/
Day 137:  Today in geometry we practiced finding the surface area and lateral area of pyramids and cones using this Gizmo from ExploreLearning.  I love how you can instantly create an infinite number of examples with a drag of a slider.
Day 138:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced finding the inverse of logarithmic functions with this color by number assignment. Weird how a little coloring motivates students :)  I think it is the relaxing aspect of coloring.

Day 139:  Today in geometry, we practiced finding the volume of cylinders and prisms by using this ExploreLearning Gizmo.  I love how you can see the relationship between right and oblique prisms so easily with this tool.

Day 140:  Today in algebra 2 we used EDpuzzle to learn about solving exponential equations.  EDpuzzle is awesome because you can import any video.  You can trim it, add in audio and written information.  You can also insert questions to check for understanding.

That's it for this round of #teach180.  It's never too late to join in the fun!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Nomination

A few months ago, one of my colleagues nominated me for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).  Although I sometimes get praise from my coworkers, supervisors, and the parents of my students, I've never been nominated for an award for my teaching before, so I'm pretty excited about this.  Most teachers will tell you, that they get more complaints than recognition for what they have done well.  So its really rejuvenating to be noticed for good work.  I was warned by another colleague, that the application process for this reward was pretty intense.  When I looked over the requirements, I thought (fill in some forms, get some letters of recommendation, submit a resume, record a lesson, and write a narrative) that the most difficult part would be the recorded lesson.  However, I think the narrative ended up being the most challenging piece for me.  I have dyslexia and processing language comes slowly to me.  So I suppose I should have expected that to be the most difficult part of the application for me.

I just wanted to share some of the process here in the event that you find yourself nominated in the future.  I think the application process was worth doing once.  I don't expect to win, but I'm glad I finished the entire process.  If I were nominated in the future, I would probably not reapply.  I probably spent about 20 hours in the whole application process, and I ended up reflecting on my teaching deeply, but I'd be hard pressed to take so much time away from my work and my family again.

The first thing that you do when nominated, is fill in some basic information about your teaching assignment.  Your building principal is contacted to verify your eligibility as well as to write a letter of recommendation.  You also have to choose 2 other people to submit letters of recommendation.  You could choose supervisors, coworkers, students, parents, or anyone else who could describe your effectiveness as a teacher.  I chose my supervisor and a coworker who happened to be my mentor when I started teaching 13 years ago.  My mentor wrote a beautiful letter that I ended up keeping a copy of to read on days when I need a reaffirmation that my hard work is noticed.

Next, you will have someone record a lesson for you. It has to be one continuous shot, which was a challenge.  I understand the reasoning, but I wish I could have edited the video to include video confidential style reflections after the fact.  My nominator gracefully agreed to give up her planning period to film my lesson.  I tried to pick a simply lesson that was very routine for me and my students.  The very next day, we were actually doing a really fun lesson, Candy Catapult, but I wanted the reviewers to see a typical lesson, not an above average lesson.  Part of me feels like I should have filmed the project, but I only do 1 project per marking period and I did not want to represent myself as someone who has managed to implement tons of projects.

Finally, you write your narrative.  This involves responding to several prompts.  Some of the questions related to the recorded lesson and other lessons, other related to your teaching in general.  This is the part that took the longest and eventually, I grew fatigued of the writing and I decided it would be best to just submit my application.  I could have spent many more hours on perfecting the language, but again, I wanted to be myself, flaws and all.

Overall, I am thankful that my coworker felt highly enough of me to nominate me.  And I'l also grateful for the wonderful recommendation that my mentor wrote for me.  I also enjoyed the challenge of reflecting more deeply on my teaching than I usually have time to do on a daily basis.  It would sure be a hoot if I were selected :)  If you have the chance in the future, nominate a colleague who does a great job.  It feels so nice to be recognized for our daily dedication to our teaching and we could all use more positive energy to get us through the many challenges of teaching.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

#Teach180: Days 121-130

This year I've taken on the #teach180 challenge.  The challenge is to post one tweet per day showing a glimpse inside your classroom.  I'm also putting the tweets together in a biweekly blog so that I can share the resources that I'm tweeting about.

Day 121: Today we had our weekly cumulative quiz.  The end of the marking period is just about 2 and a half weeks away.  Crunch time in showing mastery of this marking period's objectives.

Day 122:  Today in geometry we practiced finding the area of regular polygons using this color by number assignment.

Day 123:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced solving word problems using systems of quadratic systems by using this worksheet.  Nothing fancy, just basic practice if you'd like to use it.

Day 124:  Today in geometry we used Khan Academy to practice finding the missing side of a parallelogram given its area and another side.

Day 125:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced evaluating rational exponents using these task cards.  It's been too long since I used a good set of task cards.  They really make the practice set more accessible to students and less intimidating as a bid worksheet.  I got the template for the task cards from Teaching with Love in Texas on TpT if you'd like to make your own cards.

Day 126:  Today was another weekly cumulative assessment. Only 2 more quizzes this marking period.
Day 127:  Today in geometry we used EDpuzzle to learn about finding the surface areas of prims and cylinders.

Day 128:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced solving equations with rational exponents using this error analysis assignment.  I did not create it, and at the moment, I don't remember where I downloaded it from.  I'll be sure to update this once I know who to give credit to.  I love error analysis assignments.  Especially ones where some questions are solved correctly and some are not :)
Day 129:  Today in geometry we learned about finding the surface area of pyramids and cones.  I don't really like the way that I taught finding area of regular polygons this year (A=1/2ap) or the way that the use of this formula turned out.  I think that if I end up teaching this class again next year, I won't give specific formulas, but use decomposition instead.  I showed the students decomposition as well this year, but showing the specific formulas ruined their understanding of what surface area really means.  That's the life of a teacher I suppose; always changing and improving.

Day 130:  Today in algebra 2, we practiced verifying that functions are inverses using function composition.  Weirdly, once students got the hang of composition, they thought this procedure was very satisfying.  They liked how everything simplified to just 'x.'
That's it for this round of #teach180.  It's never too late to join in the fun!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Practice Structures: Memory

Another game that my students have really enjoyed is memory.  Memory works best for problems where students can solve mentally and quickly.  I like to use memory with 1 step equations and inequalities in pre-algebra as well as with transforming parent functions in algebra 2.  I have also used memory for practicing factoring difference of squares.

Here are the directions that I give to students explaining how to play memory.  It's a little sad, but many of them have never played this game as kids.

Here is the full game that I create for my algebra 2 students to review factoring difference of squares.  Originally, I had about twice as many cards, but my students struggled with solving the problems.  They were too bogged down with the number of cards that they did not get to enjoy the game.

Another option is to do an internet search for matching activities on your topic of study.  I'm not sure who to give credit for this assignment, but I could easily use the first two pages of this document to make a parabola transformations memory game.

Have you played memory in math class?  Do you have other ideas for how to use this activity in your class?  Please share!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

#Teach180 Post: Days 111-120

This year I've taken on the #teach180 challenge.  The challenge is to post one tweet per day showing a glimpse inside your classroom.  I'm also putting the tweets together in a biweekly blog so that I can share the resources that I'm tweeting about.

Day 111:  Today was another one of our weekly quizzes.
Day 112:  Today my geometry students finished up their transformations project using +OZOBOTs.  The kids cheered as the bots successfully completed their courses :)

Day 113:  Today my algebra 2 classes used ExploreLearning's Gizmo to practice graphing and writing equations of circles.

Day 114:  Today in geometry, we started Barbie Zipline to practice using angles of elevation.  I added in terminal velocity this year to make it a little more STEMy.  Here is the link to last years write-up if you want the student documents.
Day 115:  Today in algebra 2 we wrapped up our Ozobot graphing project.  Most kids get really excited to see their Ozobot successfully navigate their course.

Day 116:  Today we had  our weekly cumulative quizzes.  Decided to come home at 4pm even though I only had half of the quizzes graded.  I'm happy to be home now, but I'll regret not staying later when tomorrow rolls around :)

Day 117:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced writing and graphing equations for hyperbolas using ExploreLearning's Gizmo.

Day 118:  Today we continued with barbie bungee in the geometry classes.  We completed our trial runs and prepared to predict the perfect angle of elevation for our final runs.  Tomorrow we go either to the atrium or the stadium to do our final runs.  The students already made their calculations for both cases.  The choice depends on the weather.  Usually the high tempt is about 50 degrees here this time of year, but we've had some very warm weather lately.  Time will tell.

Day 119:  Today we did our final for barbie zipline in geometry.

Day 120:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced identifying the type of conic from its equation using @desmos.

That's it for this round of #teach180.  It's never too late to join in the fun!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

#Teach180 Post: Days 91-100

This year I've taken on the #teach180 challenge.  The challenge is to post one tweet per day showing a glimpse inside your classroom.  I'm also putting the tweets together in a biweekly blog so that I can share the resources that I'm tweeting about.

Day 91:  My classes are all finished taking their exams, but I have 3 kids doing make-up exams today since they were out sick last week.  Tomorrow is the last day of exams and the new semester starts on Wednesday.  Looking forward to a (somewhat) fresh start.  We have year long classes, but after the break for exams it can feel new.
Day 92:  Today is our last day of midterm exams.  I'm wrapping up final grades for the semester and working on lesson plans for the first few days of third marking period.  I'm also collecting data for my SLO (student learning objective) and collecting evidence for my guided supervision goal.

Day 93:  Today is the first day of the new semester!  I love a fresh start.  I have all year long classes, so it's not technically a total fresh start, but it feels like a new beginning after the week long break for midterm exams.  In geometry we used +EDpuzzle to study special right triangles.  I use EDpuzzle often to deliver digital content at the independent station.  Students use a note-taking guide that I provide and then try a few practice problems.

Day 94:  Today we finally broke out the +OZOBOT's.  I was fortunate enough to be awarded a classroom grant from MTEF, to incorporate beginning programming into my math classes.  Today we just completed the first basic training lesson from Ozobot.  Eventually we will be doing projects in both geometry and algebra 2 using the Ozobots to graph transformations.

Day 94:  Today in geometry we practiced using special right triangles with this puzzle worksheet.  Some of my students opted out of doing the video notes the other day, so it was a pretty rough experience :(

Day 96:  Today in algebra 2, we used  ExploreLearning to practice graphing rational functions in general form.  It's so nice to have students use the sliders to quickly and easily look for how changes in the function translate to changes in the graph.

Day 97:  Today we had our first weekly quiz of the year.  I'm just happy that I'll only have 4-6 questions per student to grade :)

Day 98:  Today we had our second day of learning to use the +OZOBOT's.  The focus was on problem solving and using codes to make the ozobot find a safe path through the maze while avoiding danger zones.

Day 98:  Today in algebra 2, we practiced finding all the zeros of a polynomial function using this tarsia activity.  You'll need to download the free tarsia software first to access.

Day 99:   Today in algebra 2 we practiced finding zeros of polynomial functions with ExploreLearning's Gizmo.  Sliders are probably my favorite thing ever.  You can see countless examples with little effort.

Day 100:  Today in geometry we practiced using angles of elevation and depression with this worksheet.

That's it for this round of #teach180.  It's never too late to join in the fun!

#Teach180 Post: Days 101-110

This year I've taken on the #teach180 challenge.  The challenge is to post one tweet per day showing a glimpse inside your classroom.  I'm also putting the tweets together in a biweekly blog so that I can share the resources that I'm tweeting about.

Day 101:  Today was a quiz day.  I give weekly cumulative quizzes as part of #SBG.
Day 102:  Today we used the Ozoblocky game to learn some introductory programming skills.  We'll use Ozobots for a tansformations project in about 2 more weeks.

Day 103:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced determining the end behavior of functions.  We were a little short on time, so I was not able to play the game of My Ship Sails that I had hoped for.  So we just used the game cards to complete a card sort instead.

Day 104: Today in geometry we started this project using transformations.  This is not something that I created, but I'm having trouble remembering where I found it right now.  I'll be sure to update this post once I track down the actual creator.

Day 105:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced finding turning points of polynomial functions using our graphing calculators.  Not super engaging, but good for building fluency.  If you have a fun practice activity for this topic, please share :)

Day 106:  Today was another weekly quiz day.
Day 107:  Today we started our Ozobot transformations and graphing projects.  Here are the links to the directions that I gave to the kids: Algebra 2 Geometry.  We sure are learning a lot about problem solving ("Why is ozobot going left instead of right?" "How do i make him turn around?").

Day 108:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced graphing polynomials functions by finding the turning points and zeros.

Day 109:  Today we continued working on our transformations and graphing functions Ozobot projects.  We are making progress!

Day 110:  Today we practiced using the distance and midpoint formula with this challenging assignment.  Students work backwards to find a missing coordinate given a distance and the other 3 coordinates.

It's not to late to join in on the #teach180 challenge!  Start posting your daily tweets from your classroom today :)

Monday, February 20, 2017

#Teach180 Post: Days 81-90

This year I've taken on the #teach180 challenge.  The challenge is to post one tweet per day showing a glimpse inside your classroom.  I'm also putting the tweets together in a biweekly blog so that I can share the resources that I'm tweeting about.

Day 81:  Today in algebra 2 we practice simplifying rationals with this domino activity.  I don't recall where I got the domino pieces from, but I'll keep looking and update this post once I find who to give credit to.  One of the most common phrases hear today: "You've never played dominoes before!?!?"  I suppose I need to add clearer directions to help with this :) .

Day 82:  Today we had our second benchmark test.  I always get really nervous for kids on these days.  I hate giving big multi-unit tests as much as they hate taking them.  I suppose it helps with retention though, so there's that at least.

Day 83:  Today in geometry we practiced the side splitter theorem playing a game of BOOM!  I found this card game idea on here on TpT.  My high school kids mainly seemed to like the game since they were able to yell BOOM! at random times.

Day 84:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced simplifying complex fractions with this color by number activity.  Worksheets are a little more fun with a hidden picture to uncover :)  Here is the document if you'd like to use it.

Day 85:  Today in geometry we practiced using the triangle angle bisector theorem using this matching activity.  Matching assignments are great because they are self-checking and students know right away whether or not they are on the right track.

Day 86:  Today was one of our last few days of class before midterms start.  We practiced using +Khan Academy and we worked on our midterm review packets.

Day 87:  Today we had our last quiz of the semester.  Just one last day of classes, and then it's time for midterm exams.

Day 88:  Today was the last day of classes before midterms.  We spent the period wrapping up, reviewing and reflecting.  Students graded my performance for the first semester using this teacher report card by  Matt Vaudrey.  I'll write a post soon about the areas that I did well and where I need to improve.

Day 89:   Today was the first of four days of midterms.  I had one student take her test early today, but everyone else is taking their math test tomorrow.  Today was just filled with proctoring and catching up on last minute grading as well as getting a jump on prepping for the third marking period.

I was also spotlighted on ExploreLearning today.  I'm fortunate to have a subscription to their Gizmo lessons this year.  They have been so helpful in helping my students see visual connections in math topics.

Day 90:  Today my students took their midterms.  It will be a day and weekend full of grading.

That's all for this time.  It's never too late to join in on #teach180!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

#Teach180 Post: Days 71-80

This year I've taken on the #teach180 challenge.  The challenge is to post one tweet per day showing a glimpse inside your classroom.  I'm also putting the tweets together in a biweekly blog so that I can share the resources that I'm tweeting about.

Day 71:  Today was another quiz day.  There is sooo much grading to do at once when you choose to quiz all classes on the same day each week.

Day 72:  Today in geometry, we reviewed lines in slope-intercept form using ExploreLearning's Gizmo.  This is in preparation for working with the equations of parallel and perpendicular lines while reviewing for our midterm.
Day 73:  Today in algebra 2, we played +Desmos 's Match my Parabola.  This activity is a great way to practice using intercept/factored form in particular.

Day 74:  Today in geometry we reviewed using point-slope form of a line.  We are reviewing for our midterm and are preparing to work with parallel and perpendicular lines.

Day 75:  Today in algebra 2 we practiced using inverse variation as an introduction to rational equations.  We used this color by number activity to be a little more fun than just a worksheet.

Day 76:   Today was our last day of class before winter break.  It was our usual quiz day (every fifth day of class).

Day 78:  Today in geometry we practiced using the triangle midsegment theorem with this matching activity.

Day 79:  Today in algebra 2, we  used Meg Craig's Exponent Practice worksheet.  My kids love these because they can check their work with the solution box as they go.

Day 80:  Today in geometry we practiced using similarity in right triangles with ExploreLearning's Gizmo.   This is always a very challenging lesson for students, but the ease of manipulating the triangles within the Gizmo makes it a little easier for students to visualize and grasp.

I hope you found a resource here that you could adapt to fit your classroom.  Please let me know if you try one of my activities.  It's also never too late to join #teach180!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Teacher Report Card - Fall Semester 2016-2017

A few years ago I came across these posts by Matt Vaudrey on teacher report cards:  paper form and google form.  It took me three years to work up the courage to do this myself.  Part of the reason for my reluctance is that I recently started teaching in a hybrid/rotational station format.  Many of my students still struggle with this.  They have had 8-10 years of traditional lecture/practice/repeat style math classes, so this is a big change for them.  The model places a lot of responsibility on the students.  So much so that I have actually modified the theoretical model recommended by PAHLI to add in a little whole class lecture.

Just so you can appreciate my routine, I'll describe a typical lesson.  First, we start with very traditional whole group instruction that involves lecture and practice on a new skill.  Some students say this is their favorite part of the lesson because they are comfortable with this traditional approach.  Then students split into 3 groups and rotate through 3 stations.  The first station is the independent station.  Here, students work individually on a laptop.  Sometimes I use EDpuzzle to deliver new content via a video lesson, other times students practice a skill that they learned previously using Khan Academy.  Some students tell me that this is their favorite station because they can work at their own pace.  They can work ahead or repeat lessons if they did not understand the first time through.  Next, students go to the direct station.  This is small group instruction with me.  Sometimes we practice on mini-whiteboards, sometimes we use dry-erase sleeves, and sometimes we work on a project.  Some students tell me this is their favorite station because they get very personalized attention from me.  Finally, students go to the collaborative station.  Here they are assigned a group of 2-4 to complete an assignment.  Sometimes this is game based practice.  Other times it is a project.  Some students say that this is their favorite station because they like to learn by working with their peers.

Just as most students have one station that is their favorite, those same students seem to dislike their non-preferred just as passionately.  The most common feedback that I get from students is _______ station is great, we should just do that all the time and skip the other stations.

Anyway, I finally worked up the courage to use the teacher report card during the last day of classes before midterm exams.  I did not require my students to complete the report card, but 70 out of my 94 students did.  Here are the results that I got.

Top 3:

"I think that Mrs. Abel respects each student."
"I think that Mrs. Abel does a good job of treating all students the same."
"I think that Mrs. Abel keeps the class under control without being too tough."

I was not surprised to find that these were my strongest areas.  I have been working on creating a respectful environment for a few years (respect from teacher to student and between students).  In the past, I have been a little too sarcastic at times, so I'm glad to see that my efforts have paid off here.

Bottom 3:

"I think that Mrs. Abel makes me feel important."
"I think that Mrs. Abel shows interest in students' lives."
"I think that Mrs. Abel has a good pace (not too fast or too slow)."

The first two categories are areas that I have always had a weakness in.  I've often focused on remaining on task and having good classroom management to make the best of our instructional time.  This comes at a cost of relationship building.  I definitely want to focus more on building a feel good classroom.

The last one (poor pacing) is a result of my moving too quickly.  I feel stuck with how I can slow down because my curriculum is so jam packed.  For example, last year, I told our lead teacher that I was planning on skipping the last unit in our algebra 2 class (logic).  I told her that my students could be very strong in working with logarithms/exponentials and sequences/series while receiving no exposure to logic OR my students could be exposed to all 3 topics but master none.  She said that skipping content was not an option.  So I crammed in the extra unit and skipped all review for the final exam.  It was a stressful end of the year for me and my students, and I knew that I was not doing what was best for students, but I was doing as I was told to do.  I think that I will be in a better place this year, since I am teaching the course for a second time, but the class is still very content heavy.  I'm definitely open to suggestions on how you cover the curriculum while still allowing students to learn the material deeply.  This is something that I don't have a good solution for yet.

So here is my goal for the second half of the year:  get to know my students better in a personal level and let them get to know me too.

Friday, January 27, 2017

#MTBoSBlogsplosion Week 4: Daily Failures

This month I'm joining in the #MTBoSBlogsplosion by @ExploreMTBoS.  The final week's prompt is to write about failure.  So many of us blog about our successes.  This is so important because we feel validated and we share great lessons.  We all grow together by sharing our best lessons.  We can make advancements in our teaching working collectively than we can working alone.  That said, as an outsider, it can be deceiving.  Math teachers all over the world are posting awesome lessons every day and it can make you feel inferior.  Maybe you only have one blog/tweet worthy lesson per week or month.  The truth is.  Many of us teach 3 or 4 different classes, so to blog about 1 lesson out of 80 is not really representative of our daily work.

This week, I've decided to keep a list of all the mistakes I make.  This is a great week to do it, because my mistakes should be minimized.  We are giving midterms on Monday and Tuesday, which means I only have 3 teaching days.  So maybe I'll make fewer mistakes this week than usual.  Here we go:

Monday:  Today was to be a pretty easy day for me.  I just had to finish grading midterms, enter that info into our LMS, add report card comments, and start lesson planning for later this week.  My first mistake of the day was related to making copies.  Oh our copier is the bane of my existence.  When it works properly, you are supposed to 'print' your documents.  Then you go to any of the 6 copiers in the building, enter your access code and 'release' the items you printed.  Unfortunately, our copier jams all the time.  And when it jams, it does not just finish printing your job afterwards, it deletes that job and all other released jobs that were waiting to be printed.  So, my first mistake of the day was getting over confident and releasing more than one document at a time.  Sure enough, there was a jam and i had to walk back to my room to start the printing process all over again.

Monday's second mistake was that in all the printing/jamming/printing, I accidently copied 2 sets of 1 document and 0 sets of another document.  Luckily, I noticed the mistake when I went to make answer keys rather than when I went to pass them out later in the week.

Tuesday:  Today was also meant to be a pretty easy day.  It is a make-up day for students who missed or had exam scheduling conflicts.  The rest of the day was set aside for teachers to collect data on our SLOs and our supervision goals.  Both of these are part of our evaluations.  The SLO (student learning objective) came about as an alternate to using only standardized state exams for teacher evaluation.  Basically, in PA, you can choose a wide sweeping goal to work on, and collect data to show student growth.  I chose working with triangles in geometry.  I had tons of pre- and post- tests to sort through to show how students were progressing.  I had to compile all of this data into a spreadsheet to turn in at the end of the year.  Here is a screenshot so you can see what I mean.

Highlighted sections show that students performed better on their post- test than their pre-test, so they showed improvement.  Of course, I lost my place multiple times while creating the document.  I ended up typing scores in the wrong row/column and highlighting the wrong pairs of cells.  Not a big deal, but annoying if you get through an entire column before noticing your mistake.

Tuesday's second mistake came while collecting evidence for my supervision goal.  The competency that I chose to work on this year was "2b: establishing a culture of learning."  My goal is to have students care more about their peers.  Teenagers can be a little oblivious to the needs of others, and I want them to not only care about their own learning, but also that of their peers.  So, I was collecting evidence for this standard and totally forgot that I must also collect artifacts for the other standards in the domain.  So after submitting my midyear reflection and artifacts to my administrator, I had to go back to add the other standards in domain 2.  Again, not the end of the world, but very inefficient.

Wednesday:   Today was the first day of classes with nearly a week off for midterm exams.  Algebra 2 class started with a warm-up of graphing rational functions in transformational form.  When it was time to go over the problem together, I asked for volunteers to give me each step.  When I asked for the vertical asymptote, a students correctly offered x=-2.  I proceeded to graph the asymptote at x=2.  We got all the way to plotting intercepts before I realized something was not quite right.  So asked the class how I knew something was wrong.  Thankfully they were able to tell me that I had plotted a point on the vertical asymptote, which we are not allowed to do, so either our asymptote or our point must be wrong.  Then a student said that they thought I had graphed the asymptote wrong but that they were not confident enough in their own work to point it out.  :/  

Thursday:  At the collaborative station, my students used +OZOBOT's for the first time.  For the first time out, I only took out 3 bots since I have 3 nice carrying cases.  Usually, I place supplies for each class in a corresponding drawer, but since both of my classes were going to be using the ozobots, I was just going to move the robots from one drawer to the next in between classes.  Of course I received a phone call from the office in the middle of this process and I totally forgot to finish.  Luckily, I realized this during the warm-up of the next class and I was able to quickly rearrange the supplies.  Again, a pretty minor mistake, but still one that caused me some stress.

Friday:  I nearly made it to the end of the day without a reportable mistake, but then I made a doozy in algebra 2.  We were learning about polynomial long division.  We started with a numerical example that they would have solved in elementary school.  We got to the remainder part and I explained how we would write a fraction using the remainder as the numerator and the divisor as the denominator.  Then I wrote the fraction as remainder/dividend instead of remainder/divisor.  No one said anything, until we finished the algebraic example, which I wrote correctly, and then someone asked about why we did it differently.  Six other kids all chimed in at the same time that they thought that I had written the numerical example wrong, but were not sure enough in their thinking to correct me.  Ugh.  Dumb mistake on my part. Luckily we fixed it in their notes, and we had done the algebraic one correctly.  I'd say these are my most common mistakes.  Careless mistakes like copying incorrectly or transposing something.  Very annoying.  Thankfully, my kids take it in stride.  Today, one girl told me that it was ok and proceeded to sing the Miley Cyrus Everybody Makes Mistakes Songs.  I joked with her about how that just made things so much worse.

So there you have it, a chronicle of a week worth of mistakes.  I think this was a little worse than usual.  TGIF! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#MTBoSBlogsplosion Week 3: Blog Props

@ExploreMTBoS is hosting a blogging challenge for the start of the new year.  It's not to late to join if you like.  Read more about it here.

This weeks challenge involves reading and sharing one of our favorite #MTBoS blogs.  My favorite newish blog belongs to Katrina Newell.  She posts great resources for interactive notebooks and for google interactive activities.  I found Mrs. Newell's Math Ideas and Resources for the Secondary Math Classroom via twitter.  My school is planning on going 1-1 next year with iPads, so I've been eyeing up Katrina's great google activities.   I'm hoping to use some of her activities as is next year as well as use others as inspiration to create some of my own.  Katrina even frequently offers several versions of the same assignment that are differentiated to the needs of various learners.  She's kinda amazing :)  My favorite google interactive is probably this one on geometry proofs involving segments.  This activity would take the place of a cut and paste type of activity that I might usually do.  Instead, students save their own copy of the proof, then drag and drop the steps of the proof into the correct order.  Please stop Katrina's blog and give her some props!