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.