Monday, August 18, 2014

Group Work Role Cards

Happy Monday!  This might be one of my favorite #Made4Math Monday posts (of mine).  I've very excited to share it with you :)


I've been reading Strength in Numbers by Ilana Horn and it talks about complex instruction throughout the book.  I think these roles are based off of a complex instruction structure.  However, I've modified them some on my own and a lot in regards to Elizabeth's post here.  For the most part I stole Elizabeth's changes and them made a few small changes for myself.

Here are my cards:

I laminated them and put them as a set on a ring so that I can store them in the group storage totes.  That way they are accessible to students whenever they need them.

I really like that they will be able to keep instructions for their role in front of them as the work in their groups.  This will help remind them of their duties as well as encourage them to speak out to fulfill their obligations in whatever role they are in.

This is the first time I'm going to try group roles, and I'm pretty nervous!  But these pretty things make me a little less nervous and a little more excited :)  Let me know if you have any tips!

Here is a link to the file I used.  It has one role description per page, 6 times.  Then the last two pages are the role titles written larger, as you see on the "front" of the cards.  (Note:  the file will open in google drive, but you can download it to word if you would like.)

Thanks for reading and thanks for all the encouragement from those of you who saw the picture on twitter!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Talking Points with my Family

I've been thinking a lot about talking points since #TMC14 and our #gwwg14 morning session.  Somehow I started wondering about what it would look like it a family setting.  So, I decided to try it!  It was a little like pulling teeth to get my 12-year-old on board today, but with him, myself,  and my husband we made a good group of 3 to try it out.

We started by going through the instructions and then started with "talking about talking".  Here are some of my observations:
  • My 12-year-old's "becauses" were generally restatements of the statement
  • My husband and I tended to agree
  • Rarely did anyone change his/her mind
  • We made it through about as many as I did with my peers at TMC
  • I really wanted to convince them to think like me
  • The 10 minutes went fast and everyone seemed willing to try more in about a week...even wanting to work on the same page
  • We only came to a full consensus on one talking point
I'm trying to not evaluate these observations at this time, but I am trying to get rid of my attitude about wanting to change other peoples minds/attitudes.  If they are willing to try again, then I guess we will just see where this takes us.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

[Unit Overview] Polynomials

This is very old and thus is going to be mostly pictures since I already have them updated :)

Finding the Degree and Naming Polynomials:

We actually filled this in as much as we could and discussed why we couldn't really have a constant trinomial...

Adding and Subtracting Polynomials:  I wrote up some notes and passed around papers to groups so that they could put what they wanted into their notebooks.  There were also some practice problems and answers.

Then here is what my notebook pages looked like:

Multiplying Polynomials:  I demonstrated two methods for them to choose from.

This is my go-to style for practice problems

Factoring Polynomials:  We defined factor of a trinomial and did a few examples.  Prior to the examples we completed an exploration activity with multiplying polynomials finding b and c and then making observations.  I've done it twice now and it's pretty structured, but I think it's better than me just stating the pattern for them.

Well, that's my quick post that should have been completed in March or April :)  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#TMC14 Things I Shared

Sarah Martin (@Sarah3Martin) and I met with the administrators from our school to share some of our highlights from #TMC14.  I figured I'd give an overview of the things I shared as it will be a good summary of TMC.

Talking Points (shared at TMC by Elizabeth)

Talking Points was the biggest take-away for me.  If you haven't already, please go here and print off the instructions and one of the talking points and find 2-3 other people and just DO IT!  I am so excited to try this in my classroom.  I love that talking points gives ALL students a voice and requires ALL students to listen to their peers.  This is something we need to teach to our students, and talking points is a great way to facilitate this.

Math Maintenance (shared at TMC by Kathryn @iisanumber)

Kathryn used Math Maintenance as bellwork, but I am seriously considering using it as homework this year.  It would help me to review older material with students regularly and to prepare them for what is coming in advance.  It might also help me prepare students for a re-assessment on an older learning target to ensure retention.

Here is Kathryn's post on Math Maintenance.

Desmos Lessons

I shared and a little bit of what it can do as well as  Mostly I shared their vision for providing these things for free forever.  It isn't to the point yet where it can do everything I need, but the idea that there are people out there talented at creating this sort of thing for our students is awesome.  And I believe it really helped to demonstrate to my administrators what kind of people go to TMC.  It was a picture of how awesome our community was.

My Session

I shared a little with them about the session I led on intervention strategies.  I wanted them to know that I appreciate the opportunities they have given me, and that not all teachers get those opportunities, but those are signs of how we care for our students.

After hours productivity
One thing that makes TMC stand out from other conferences (not that I've been to a bunch of national math teacher conferences) was that the after hours talk was productive.  Outside of sessions it was always possible to find someone to discuss teaching math with you.  At breakfast, lunch, supper, and well into the night there was always a good conversation to be found.  And usually you had to choose which one you wanted to participate in the most, which was often a big challenge!

Sarah will be shared about Embodied Mathematics, plickers, Nix the Tricks, and Formative Assessment Strategies.

What was really cool about sharing with them was watching their attitudes change as they heard more about TMC.  They were willing to admit that "Twitter Math Camp" didn't sound like much more than a super-fun weekend with geeky people, but at the end they were astounded and excited by everything we had learned.  They were shocked by the wonderful community of math teachers that we have found and how that community can help us become better teachers.  I think each of them walked away with something that they were still pondering and wanting to share with others.  I call that a win!  (Even though they might still think we are strange for enjoying talking about teaching math every minute for 3 1/2 days!)


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lesson Plan Book 2014-2015

I know it's not Monday, but Tuesday is only a day late (or 6 days early), so I'm going to call this a #Made4Math Monday post anyway :)


Today I present my Lesson Plan Book.  I have four sections in my book this year:

Note:  Throughout the book I used the font Pea Ashley Grace by Kevin and Amanda.  You can get it for free here.

1.  Behind cover/Info Stuff:

It holds my schedule, school bell schedules, district calendar, phone extensions for the district, a page protector, and the Algebra 1 standards.  (This is mostly district specific documents, so I have not shared them here.)  However, I use these documents daily.  I did it similarly last year and I love having it on hand so quickly.  

I use the bell schedules to write up the early out/late start schedules.  Since I have my book wherever I go during the school year, I can use the district calendar when I need to schedule appointments.  I use the phone extension list anytime a student wants to leave to go to another classroom.  (I call first.)  I love being able to put in rosters because I need those handy when we have fire/tornado/lock down drills, and they are always changing.  And then I use my standards as I'm working on curriculum and lesson planning.

2.  Lesson Plans w/Calendar:

I have a two-page calendar for each moth and also a two-page spread for each week.  This is definitely the largest section of my book.  Here is a picture of August:

And here is an example of a week's planning pages:

For keeping track of what we do each day.  Also I write in the date below where it says the day.

This is a big change from what I had last year.  I specifically designated this space better because I thought it would be nice to remind myself of meetings or duties in addition to having a space to jot down students who worked with me before or after school.

3.  Attendance:

Last year I did not have this section, but I tried to merge it with my lesson plans and calendar.  I wanted a better space for it.  I'm not sure if this will be better or not, but I'm going to give it a try.

On the back of the cover page for the section I gave myself a spot to note the codes that I will be using.  I want to be able to be flexible with this, so I put it here where it got laminated.  That way I can use dry erase to write on it and changes will be easy to make.

I also have a page protector here for rosters as well.  I might even makes lists like Fawn does here (bottom of post).

Then I just have a basic sheet printed a bunch of times.  We'll see how it works.

4.  Meeting Notes:

I had a section for meeting notes last year and I loved it!  I have made some changes.  For example I added a page protector because we always get handouts at PD and I needed a place to keep them.  I also felt that the set spacing that I had given myself last year didn't really work.  Some meetings required more notes than others.  So I kind of revamped that.

Here is an example of what the pages look like now.  I have several for each type of meeting that I know I'll be going to.  Then I make some extras for meetings that might come up during the year.

So that's my binder!  I'm really excited to use it this year :)  Here is a link.  You will need to download the file to view it in powerpoint.  Also remember that if you don't download the font from Kevin and Amanda it won't be as pretty when you open it.


Friday, August 8, 2014

My Recent Obsession: Lesson Study

I have recently become obsessed with lesson study.  I think it came from the NY Times article  Why Do Americans Stink at Math by Elizabeth Green and a few follow up articles that were shared with me via Twitter.  I'd read about lesson study and been interested in it before, so this really just resparked my interest.

I was tweeting and thinking about it and found this resource from UK Lesson Study:  Lesson Study Handbook.  It gave me a basic idea of how a lesson study works.  After reading through the basic points of lesson study, I am not surprised that it is successful, as it really allows teachers to collaborate and support each other in a way that I have been strongly needing ever since I started teaching.

So I've been thinking about lesson study.  I think I'm going to have to put it out of my mind for a bit as the beginning of the year is coming, but I would really like to do some sort of lesson study this year.  It looks like as long as I could get two other people to do it with me it would be productive.  So the big question is, do I need admin support too (if the other two need to be in my district)?  Or could it be almost exclusively completed via technology?  Would watching a video of the lesson be equivalent to being there when the lesson was taught?

Those are the things I'm grappling with right now.  What are your thoughts on lesson study?  Would you be willing to try it?  Do you think an online version would work?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thoughts on Day 1

I've been having trouble processing #TMC14, so I turned to twitter:

And I was astonished at the results.  In our morning session we discussed wanting to stay connected and use twitter to keep us a community throughout the school year, but I wasn't actually expecting such a wide response!  The conversations that came as a result of this involved many people and consisted of over 100 tweets (not all of them involving me).  It gave me so much to think about and I am grateful for all who participated.

Last year I did this on the first day, which worked great for last year, but I'm not sure I want to do the same this year.  I really want them engaging in math in groups right away, but I want them to do it in a productive way!  So I got lots of ideas from people, but I need to explain my situation a little better than I can in 140 characters.  Here is what I have to deal with:
  • We start school on a Thursday, so I only have 2 days of school that first week.
  • On Thursday we will start with an assembly, so I will likely have about 30 minutes with students, regularly I have 51 minutes
  • My admin expects that the syllabus be passed out on the first day
  • I'm not going to read the syllabus to my students on day 1 (or likely any day)
  • I am going to be doing talking points weekly, on Thursdays for bellwork, but I don't want to wait until a week after school has started to do talking points
  • I want to get their ISNs started, so they see that I value it
  • I don't want to have to teach a bajillion procedures/classroom structures on day 1, but I want my expectations to be clear when I have them engage in those things
  • I greet all my students at the door day 1 (and try to everyday), so I need something to engage my students right away while I'm in the hall greeting
  • Our first unit is a "bootcamp" unit on numbers and operations, I would like to tie into that so that what we do has value to them
OK, that's enough bullet points.  It really left me with a few options that I have spent some time thinking through:  syllabus scavenger hunt, syllabus talking points, or some other activity (like Tabletop twitter shared by Jasmine Walker as a "My Favorite" at #TMC14) in addition to gluing the syllabus into ISNs.

I think I have officially decided against syllabus talking points, as I'm not sure it would be a great place to start talking points.  I really like starting with the first one that Elizabeth had us start with, which was "talking about talking".  I think it would be a good place for students to start with talking points because the statements relate to the activity.  So I guess I'm thinking about saving that for Friday (day 2)...

Another idea for an activity that I had was a number sorting activity.  Each student would receive a number (any form of a real number) upon entering the classroom and in their small groups they should order from least to greatest.  Then when I finish greeting everyone and giving attendance I would come in and give a little more instruction (perhaps encouraging them to use "I think...because..." statements) prior to having them order all numbers from least to greatest.

Thoughts?  I'm still processing ideas and reading about quality group work, so not sure I will make a decision yet.  However if I do end up wanting to do the number sorting lesson I need help choosing good numbers!  I think a lesson like that calls for a lesson study structure, but I could be wrong as I still have little understanding about lesson study.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

This Is Not A Test

When my colleague Sarah Martin posted about reading This is Not a Test by Jose Vilson, I saw an opportunity for a bonus read this summer.  I had spent all my allotted book money already, but she loaned me the book! (Read her reflection here.)

I feel as though Vilson is calling all of us to use our experiences and knowledge to speak out for better things for education in the United States.  He asks us to speak out for our students and to our students.  Relate to them and do our best to show them how things could be better.  He asks us to speak out for our profession.  To elevate things for teachers and for students in the eyes of the public.  He also asks us to speak for equality in general.  Work against the innate structure of our society to provide privileges to some students rather than others.

It is more an inspiration call than a practical call in that there are not specific suggestions for how to do this.  But rather we must each find our own way to speak out and we must find our own things to speak for.  It feels like a big challenge, how can I live up to it?


Saturday, August 2, 2014

#5things I Like about Teaching in a Small Town

I was just reading some tweets about teachers who are just now finding out their courses for this coming school year and I was reminded again of the benefits of teaching in a small town/school.  So it inspired this post!  In no particular order, #5things I Like about Teaching in a Small Town:

1.  I know my schedule before summer starts
Pretty much my schedule stays the same from year to year unless I advocate for it to change.  Which is fairly easy because in order to rearrange math classes I only need to get two other math teachers and the principal or the counselor together in order to suggest and possibly implement a change.  Otherwise things stay the same and I know what to expect.

2.  I can talk to the 8th grade math teacher...whenever
If I have a question about my students prior experiences I can email, call, or stop by and visit the 8th grade math teacher easily.  She is always open to discussing how to help our students best transition.

3.  I can walk to school
I get to live just a few blocks from the school (thanks to my in-laws who we rent from).  So it is an easy walk to and from school each day.  Much preferred over the hour drive I did before we moved to town.

4.  I get to really know people
I get to know my students and the other teachers really well.  I have already had interactions with many students who will be in my class in the upcoming year.  And the more years I spend in the same district, the more I get to know my students' families, too.

5.  My principal is always there
If I need something or want to pass something by, I can always find her.  She is supportive and aware of what is going on in every classroom.  She works hard to do a "walk-through" everyday.  It is nice to have that kind of support!