Friday, July 31, 2015

Brain Dump...Beginning of the Year

So I have a bunch of random thoughts about the beginning of the year bouncing around in my head, and I need to get them out because I won't be able to hash anything out for a few days and I don't want to forget them!

I've been thinking about my first day of school plans with my Algebra students, and although I still want to do the number line activity that I did last year (which I still need to blog about), I want to make a few changes and turn it into a longer task.  This way I will be able to use it as a pre-assessment of our first unit (Numbers and Operations) as well.  When I figure out what this is going to look like, I'll blog about it.  Promise.

So I think I'm going to go back to the "number about me" type of activity that I shared here.  But I'm thinking about making my information as 5-10 multiple choice questions, Kahoot style, or with Plickers, or something else since we'll have chromebooks (maybe pear deck?).  Then I'll have students submit their numbers as an exit ticket or an entrance ticket the next day.  This definitely helps me to build relationships from day one because I learn 5 things about my students THAT THEY CHOOSE TO SHARE.  And then we can turn this into the front or back of our ISNs :)  I found that when students had decorated the covers they treated them better throughout the year, which is really important since I want the same notebook to last all year.

I still need to send postcards home.  That needs to be #1 at this point.

I also really, really, really want to write students notes throughout the year.  I also want to call parents regularly throughout the year.  But those things take time and work, which I know will be really challenging once school starts.

Another thing I read about somewhere at some point this past year was sending students home with their notebooks and having their assignment be to show an adult at home.  I really want to do that within the first week with the syllabus and other things we will have in our notebook.  Then I can have a parent sign and return it or email me.  [I saw ____'s notebook.  He/she showed me these things:  I have these questions:  You can contact me these ways:  I prefer this method:  ]  This way I can collect phone numbers and email addresses as well, since sometimes they show up weird on PowerSchool when I try to look them up.  Then I was thinking that as the year goes on and I make parent/student contact I can record notes on the back of the paper.

Oh, and I want to be happy.  Ridiculously happy.  Every day.  This didn't happen last year, and I need to bring it back.  I love teaching.  I really do.  I need to ignore how frustrated I can get about all the work that is expected of us, and just be happy that I get to teach young souls about the awesomeness of math.  Ignore how annoying it is when I already have my plans made and the school changes the schedule.  Ignore that I hate it when other activities take my students out of class ALL. THE. TIME.  And just enjoy teaching.  Enjoy the students.  Focus on the good.

Well, I think that is the end of my brain dump for now.  I may have to add more later...

Update:  Also, musical cues, because no one wants to here me talk all the time.


Friday, July 17, 2015

#5things I need to do before school starts

Well, when Julie (@jreulbach) tweeted about posting a blog by Friday, I thought that sounded easy enough, but it is 11pm on Friday night and I don't really thing I have much to say.  So I'll go to a structure that often works well for me:  #5things

1.  Take a survey of my supplies
I need to go through my supplies look at what I have and figure out what things I need to buy prior to the beginning of the year.  Everything is still all packed up, so I hesitate to do this because it means unpacking EVERYTHING!

2.  Update my syllabi
I'm teaching a class that I haven't taught for a few years, so I really need to update that syllabus, and there are some minor changes I will make to my others.  Those little updates should wait until we are back to school though, because I think we are making some school-wide changes that I will want to account for on the syllabi.

3.  Big picture lesson plans
I need to make sure I have big picture ideas for the courses I'm teaching this year.  I don't need to have every day planned out (although that would be nice), but I need a course map to follow to keep me on pace.

4.  Plan integration of statistics standards
I have decided that I'm done leaving statistics until the end of the year.  There is plenty we can do with statistics integrated into other units that will help differentiate between the ugly reality of the world and the simplicity of the mathematics we use to describe it.  What I mean is that students will see how linearity can be used to describe a system that doesn't actually have the exact same rate of change at every step along the way, but it might be the best option.

5.  Write and mail notes to my students
This year in order to boost student relationships, I want to send a note home to each of my future students prior to school starting (actually prior to the open house).  I just want to say "Hey, I'm looking forward to having you in class!"  I'm hoping that this will also help students I will be having for a second time start with a clean slate.

Well it looks like I better get to work!  Well, at least I have a month still :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Thoughts about Reflection

I've been working on a task for my students for the beginning of next year, and I'm stuck deciding between two different types of reflection questions for them to complete afterwards.  Essentially they will be answering some Talking Points-style questions in their groups.  I'm stuck between asking them:

  • Which are you most confident about?  Why?
  • Which are you least confident about?  Why?
  • Which was the easiest to make a decision about?  Why?
  • Which was the most difficult to make a decision about?  Why?
While I think it is over-kill to ask all four questions, and it is unlikely that my students would recognize the minor differences between the questions if posed all four, I feel it is likely I would get different responses depending on which questions I pose.

Maybe I'm overthinking it, maybe not.  What do you think?

I think my goals from the reflection are:
  • To help students see the value in the Talking Points structure
  • To help students think about their learning
  • To help me see what my students do and do not understand

Other reflection questions I plan to ask:
  • How easy or difficult was it to follow the talking points structure?
  • What is one benefit you saw to using the talking points structure?  One disadvantage?
  • What is one thing you learned?  What is one question you still have?

What do you think?  Which set of questions will best help me meet the goals of the reflection when paired with my other questions?  Should I do a combination of the pairs (one from each), if so which ones should I pick?  Are my other reflection questions posed in a way that will help me meet the goals of the reflection?