Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Add'Em Up Task Cards

Hey guys here is a quick post of the activity I tweeted the other day on my Add'Em Up Task Cards. I made a twist on an activity I had heard about a few years ago during a department meeting where we had discussed some activities to get kids interested in practice problems. I loved how the Add'Em up activity forces students to work in groups and rely on each other. 

Here is a quick outline of how to play the activity:

1) Each student gets a card
2) Students solve their own problem and get a solution (must be a numerical value)
3) Add each student's solution (value) together and it must equal the total value on the group card
4) If the total is incorrect students must decide who is wrong and correct the mistakes to get the correct total 

Rules I put in place to help the flow of the activity:

1) Students get out blank piece of paper & fold in half twice (creates 4 blocks on the front & back)
2) Must write down group color and problem number
3) When students finish early before another student have those switch and check work to avoid errors
4) If you have whiteboards (I have a class set) let students use those to teach each other when someone messes up or is confused. The person with the mistake should still be writing their own problem down (that way everyone works the whole time)

Here are the files:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Classroom Pictures for 2016-2017

Well tomorrow is the big day!! I'm really nervous, I spent so much time this first week of teacher workdays decorating that I feel a little uneasy about tomorrow. But I'm going in early just to get a little more focused and prepared. I loved all the posters Sarah created this summer that I even got inspired to do a few of my own. My room is still a work in progress because you can only laminate so fast. I've only had my laminator less than a week and I'm already obsessed. It's amazing and so much better than the cheap laminate they buy for the schools. Of course I laminated all my awesome posters but I have also started laminating my card sorts so they last over the next few years.

So let's get to the good stuff... here are my classroom photos for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

Love Sarah's mathy welcome sign... get it here.

View from the front door... I decided to go back to the group seats hoping it goes well.

I'm so happy about this bookcase!! Luckily the new art teacher needed the extra floor space and I was around when she wanted to move it out. I'll be using the top four shelves to organize papers that need to be handed out or workbooks for students not sure yet. The bottom three shelves will be for student notebooks since I have tons of kids that prefer to leave their books in my room. I do to that way we don't have the issue of I left it in my locker/car/home.

This table is for organizing class materials. The papers on the left are missing assignment form, off task form, and tardy forms. The labeled box in the middle/bottom is where they places the forms. The box on middle/top is full or markers, colored pencils, and sharpeners. The box on the right is for each class period to turn in assignments.

Luckily I have a good amout of bulletin boards in my classroom. If you love my sudoku board check it out here. The white board in the middle with the yellow border is really old and not really useable so this year I'll be creating a word wall or reference board. I think on the far left bulletin board I'm going to post our class photos (hopefully I make time to do that).

Here are some reference posters that students may need to look at daily. I posted these on the front wall beside my teaching table near the brightlink board. 

Here are the files if your looking to print and use: Squares & Cubes, Multiples, Order of Operations, and Solving Equations.

Here are some mistakes quotes that I found on various blogs and loved. 

Here are the mistakes are expected, respected, inspected, and corrected posters by Sarah. I swear she comes up with some of the most meaningful posters and ideas ever!! Also her sentence starters posters.

Loving my function girl posters!! I may reprint to one function per page but I am hoping to fill up my cabinets with other reference posters.

The shoe hanger holds colored pencils that students use daily, table has whiteboards & rags, and calculator caddies for storage. 

Last year I decided I wanted to have a special place for dry erase markers so I could see how many were either dying or disappearing. This was an awesome idea that helped students remember to put their markers back at the end of the class period. Also if you notice they are upside down so we get the most out of the ink!! 

This project was super simple: (1) laminate poster (2) add velcro dots where you want the markers (3) add the other piece of velcro to the marker  

This is the back of my room. I love the number & colored pennants I got from target last year they make the room so colorful & cheery. This picture also shows the carts I'll be using for students to stand at the back of the room if they get tired or need to move a little. I also have seat cushions, I'm hoping to create a floor spot but for now they will just use as comfort at their desks. 

The above picture also shows all the copied papers I already have for my classes. I'm so excited to have all but one unit of notes prepared & copied for my Adv Functions class. I have four units prepared & copied for my Math 1 class. I'm hoping to create their notebooks on day two and be ready to rock and roll for a long while. 

Well that's my room, hopefully in inspires someone out there. I'm really please with the outcome this year. Hoping this school year will be my best year YET! 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sudoku Bulletin Board

Well it's Saturday night and I'm finally about to watch a movie and just relax. I'm exhausted from a long week of teacher workdays which were filled with classroom make-overs. I'll be blogging about all of them soon but tonight I wanted to share my awesome Sudoku bulletin board files. You can find them here: board, colored numbers, and black numbers.

How to make:

1) Laminate the boards & numbers (I cut out numbers before & after to make sure they hold up)
2) Secure laminated boards on bulletin board
3) Add velcro to every square of the board (I loved the little dots) & then velcro dots/strips to the space [I just laminated white paper as a background] where the students will pick up the extra numbers
4) Add velcro to all the numbers
5) Now go have fun!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Function Girl

School is right around the corner for me so I'm working on gathering all my favorite posters and making a few of my own.

I found an awesome blog by Sarah with algebra aerobics stick figures. Unfortunately there were a few functions that I teach that were missing so I decided to make my own. Here is the pdf file. Hope you all enjoy.

Functions represented in the pdf download are: Linear, Quadratic, Cubic, Absolute Value, Radical, Rational, Exponential (Growth & Decay), Sine, & Cosine. All functions are also completed showing the reflection. I have not included the logarithmic or other trigonometric functions as I do not teach them. One day I'm sure I'll have to expand but for now this is what I use in my classroom.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Presenting Math Resources & Links... Need Feedback Please!

I mentioned in my last blog that I would be presenting two different sessions at our annual county summer institute. This post will include the slides for my second session called Math Resources & Links. I would greatly appreciate your feedback on my presentation.

Thanks to all those that gave me great advice with the last presentation on Teaching with Desmos. Shout out to Glenn Waddell for all his help and reflection piece I was able to my presentation.

Here are the slides, again there are tons of links so they can continue to learn more about each resource after we meet.

Thanks a bunch!!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Presenting Desmos... Need Feedback Please!

Hello #MTBOS!!

I'm super excited and extremely nervous for my FIRST EVER presentation to a group of teachers at our summer institute. I have been just a teacher in the crowd for several years now at our summer professional development and this year I thought it was time for me to step up my game. I figured what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. I'll be presenting two different sessions; this blog will focus on my session called Teaching with Desmos. I'm looking for feedback on my presentation slides. Do I have enough information? Is the transitions between ideas smooth? Is there anything I could explain better? Am I forgetting any really important information?

Teaching with Desmos

You can find my slides here. There are tons of links as I will be providing them with the slide presentation at the end of the session so that can continue to learn more after we meet. Thanks ahead of time! Looking forward to some constructive criticism.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Creating "Classroom/Student" Morale

I read a blog post recently by Elissa over at misscalcul8 on creating an environment and activities in your school that help increase teacher morale and I want to do the same thing but for my classroom and students.

So what is my plan...

Step 1 - Make a bridge between home life and school life
Call home to speak with parents about upcoming year and request two things: a family photo to remind students of their support system and a letter of encouragement to the child to be presented in the first week of school.


Step 2 - Take a class photo
The first week of school I want to take a photo of each class to post in our room. I'm thinking maybe on the first day have them make posters with encouraging messages and then we can hold them up in our photo. My idea is maybe have the journalism teacher take the photo of each class out on the football field.

Step 3 - Create a class twitter page (If approved by our county -- prayers please)
I want to have a place where our students can share math beyond just the four walls of my classroom. I want them to create a professional learning network like the #MTBoS is for us.

My thoughts are that instead of homework I'll give out one problem per night maybe in class or over twitter and students that want to join in can and post their problems to our class account. The next day I want to use those problems to choose "my favorite no" problem to reinforce error analysis. I'm hoping that students will see this as it's ok to make mistakes and the point is I want them to try. I might use the slogan "no one ever learned to ride a bike without falling off" in my class this year. I want them to get away from the fear of answering wrong and working closer to being confident in the attempts.

Step 4 - Choosing at least one good thing and calling home about it weekly (maybe 3 students - start small and work my way up over time)
It is so important to call parents to tell them that their child did something good but often times we get overloaded and only call when a student has done something wrong. I want to change this now instead of later. Make time Christie!!!

Step 5 - Make scheduled tutoring a priority
One semester I called home every few weeks to ask parents if their child could stay after school for tutoring and I want to do this again. Our school now has title one funding and we are using a portion to fund after school tutoring for EOC and ACT prep. If possible I want to see if I can bring in more students from my other classes to get help.

The biggest thing is just being their for my students. They need to know someone is in their corner and not going to give up on them.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Explain Everything & 3 Act Math Lessons

For many of us we get lost on technology and how to use it in our classrooms daily. Here is one way that I use mine so that maybe you can be inspired to research ways that you would like to use your resources.

The technology that I currently have in my classroom consist of:
1 Brightlink Board
1 iPad
1 Apple TV
1 Dell Laptop

This past year we were lucky to receive title 1 funding and this coming year as well so I may be blessed with more technology in the future. Here is a breakdown of how I use my technology currently. But I'm always looking for new ideas so if you have any please comment below!!

On a basic day I use it as my whiteboard from my iPad since we have AppleTVs to send the information wireless to the projector. I like having the option to record anything that I discuss up on the board. My plan this past year was to record multiple problems but I got busy and forgot most times. I'm hoping to record more often this coming year so that students can watch our lesson multiple times if they need extra time or practice. 

I hate textbooks (I always have -- too wordy & too much information for someone that wants to go straight to the point like me). So, I make my own student guided notes and I use explain everything to upload the pdf files into the program and annotate on top of them. I save these files and put them on the internet on my topic list page that students that review or copy if they were absent for the lesson. 

My newest venture with Explain Everything is incorporating the 3 Act Math Lessons that were created by Dan Meyer and others. I created multiple slides that I can scroll through when I'm ready to jump over to the next act. I also created slides (Notice & Wonder) that goes right after the video or picture in act 1 so we can communicate and document what we see and are curious about. Depending on the math that we will use I might have a slide that uses the internet to pull in desmos to calculate our mathematics then screen shot the final image into the video to save. After we have determine our solutions we will jump to the next slide which has act3 the answer. I found that in solving many of these 3 act problems my calculations were not exactly the same as the answer and so I put in a final slide (Actual & Calculated) to discuss if our answers are different why might they be different. I'm happy with the product because it seems to give a smooth transition between acts and the discussion in class. I'm always looking for ways to implement my teaching and resources so that students do not get distracted or get off task as quickly. I hope this set up will avoid some of those issues. 

Here is a video I created with a 3 Act Math Lesson created by Nora Oswald on Super Mario Bros.

Another idea I started while teaching summer school was to use the iPad to take pictures of student work and upload them into Explain Everything so we could annotate over them. I really like this because I focused on student mistakes and trying to teach them it was a process not a bad thing. I want to stress this so much next year because so often students are afraid to mess up. I want them to realize it's the analyzing their mistakes and fixing them that is so important. If they never mess up they can never analyze. True joy in the math classroom comes from struggling and perseverance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Interactive Learning & Card Sorts

We all know that time is our enemy in the classroom. We are always racing against the clock and the calendar to get all our standards taught and to the level in which students hopefully retain the content. Not sure about you, but I'm always looking for more effective ways for students to learn and practice in the classroom. I hate to say it but my first few years I was that teacher that gave out a boring worksheet for every concept we covered. I would allow students to spend more than half the class period doing independent practice and mostly talking. Needless to say we never covered all the standards and that was when we didn't have as many to cover either. Looking back I realize I was CRAZY!!! We can't allow students to just sit around and waste time when we have so much to accomplish.

So how do we try to fix the wasted time issue? Well first we have to stop doing whatever we are that is causing us to waste time or be unproductive. Then we have to make a change; do something fun or outside of the box that will interest students. Also remember that you may fail several times before you figure out what works for you and your students but being a teacher is trying and never giving up.

For me I realized I had to actually try to teach instead of take the easy way out everyday by handing out a worksheet and calling that "teaching". I have tried several things over the years: group work, student whiteboards, interactive notebooks, games, and most recently technology. I am so thankful to have all these things in my teaching toolbox that make me more adaptable to my students' needs.

I'm super excited to share with you something that is new to me this year which I truly love and that is card sorts.

 It's nothing spectacular just basically a worksheet put onto several different little cards that students get to sort different ways. Depending on how you design yours for a particular activity they could be sorting a problem with its answer or sorting the cards into different categories. The cool thing is there are lots of options. I have made a template in Microsoft PowerPoint which is totally editable for you to use, save, change, and share. I'm always looking for something great in my classroom and who really wants to spend money on classroom materials; shouldn't we be helping each other become better teachers for our students? Well hope you enjoy!!

Here are links to 6 card sorts I've already completed. I printed them in portrait mode and 2 slides to 1 page.

***There might be typos I was entering and solving pretty fast today so check behind me***

Factoring by Trinomials
Verbal & Algebraic Notation
Combining Like Terms
Distributive Property
Solving Equations (with variables on one side)
Solving Equations (with variables on both sides)

Card Sort Template
The PowerPoint Template already has 1-32 number question boxes and A-X letter question boxes

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Math 1 Guided Notes

If your not familiar with the MTBoS group you are truly missing out. I never knew what it was like to share ideas and resources with other teachers until I came across all the amazing bloggers and twitter users out there that love math just as much as I do. It's interesting to think that I have been a teacher for 7 years now and this is the first year I really felt like I had a PLN. Part of that is that it took me several years (unfortunately) to gain the passion I have now for teaching and I never sought the help I needed back then to be a better teacher. So, now all my spare time is used reading blogs and creating new materials for my classroom to hopefully motivate and encourage my students and their learning. I have found that in the MTBoS group if you just ask someone for help they are right there to answer any question you have and will even share materials they have on the topic you might be searching information on. I've been inspired by so many of you guys that I wanted to give back in some way too. Today I created a google doc with links to PDF files of all the guided notes I've been working on so far this summer. It's definitely a work in progress because I am trying to change them from fill in the blanks to complete sentences so students only have to highlight important words and we can save time in class. Everyday that I complete a new set of notes I'll be adding it to the google doc which will automatically update. So check back later if your looking for a specific topic. After the notes are completed I plan to make annotated copies so you can see exactly what I plan to highlight and write out. Then I will be working on card sorts for most topics and technology assignments. I will create another google doc for these materials which some of you might be more interested in. I do have editable copies of all my notes so if you want the original word file just leave a comment or send me a message on twitter and I'll be glad to email the file. Hope this helps someone in need and thank you to all those who have supported me this past year on my journey to becoming a better teacher. 

You can also find this document under the math 1 tab on my blog homepage :)

Just FYI you may find some documents are inspired or even copied from others that I have found reading blogs. Please shoot me a message with your blog name and I'll be happy to site you as my inspiration and resources for the notes. 

Bloggers Who Inspire Me...
and many many more!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Reflections (Part 2 - Semester Two of School Year 2015-2016)

This semester was a huge step in the right direction for me as a teacher. I really went out of my comfort zone with some new apps and programs to motivate students and increase mathematical thinking. My favorite math app/program is definitely Desmos. I heard about the graphing calculator program a few years ago but just didn’t have the resources in the classroom to push using this program especially when at the time it basically did what our TI-83 calculators were capable of computing. However, later this year when I saw all kinds of great posts on Twitter from the #MTBoS group I knew I had to check it out. After doing a little research and thinking about when I could use this in my classroom I decided to start with my quadratics section in my Math 2 Honors class. My first activity builder was for the topic changing forms of quadratic functions. The awesome thing about Desmos Activity Builder is you can make a copy of someone else’s activity and edit it to fit the needs of your classroom. After testing out our first activity I realized this program is definitely going in my bag of tricks for the years to come. I can’t wait to see all the new features Desmos will come out with in the future.

Another resource I tried one time but will 100% use again is NearPod. This program is amazing!! It can be time consuming if you are a perfectionist like I can be at times. The NearPod that I created was pretty cool I’d have to say because it was a lesson on quadratics involving a game of Angry Birds, a video on YouTube, and a graphing activity through Desmos. I pretty much used every trick I had to see just how far that would take me with my students and I succeeded. My students loved every minute of the lesson and were engaged from beginning to end. This coming year I plan to create more NearPod lessons I'm just not sure if I want to use them as a recap for each unit or individual lessons.

My greatest accomplishment this past semester was trying standards based grading. I always thought this was such a hard way of grading but found it pretty simple and very informative. I was able to see exactly where each student was falling short and knew the areas in which I could help them grow. I love the idea now I just need to figure out the best way to carry it out.

A few other things I did this past semester that were a success:
  • Guided notes completely filled in except for examples (students only have to highlight important info)
  • Explain Everything (allowed my to annotate over top of my guided notes & save as pdf files)
  • Google doc (contains links to all course materials - notes, practice, quiz, test)
  • Organized notebook with tabs & guided notes
  • Card sorts (quadratics & exponential/logarithmic sections)
  • Use whiteboard & dry erase markers
  • Square roots with the number line (clothesline) activity
  • Human box-whisker plot
  • Whiteboard templates (quadratic formula/completing the square/factoring trinomials)
  • Jinga Review

Things I learned from semester two:

  • I still need work on differentiation in my classroom
  • Desmos is a great mathematical tool (must use frequently)
  • NearPod is a great app to keep students on track with where you are in the lesson & formative assessment
  • ThatQuiz is amazing for students to get immediate feedback on practice
  • Need to fix standard based grading (grade percentage & retake process)
  • Guided notes completely filled out really saves time (must change all notes this way)
  • Need to be consistent with classroom management
  • When students know they can’t be denied bathroom privileges they take advantage of you (figure out a method to help this situation or just give up & don’t care anymore - I stress out about this because I get so annoyed when I’m interrupted in the middle of the lesson)
  • Log sheet to keep up with where students go when they ask to leave room is a must keep (make them fill it out because you will not do it if you are busy or in middle of teaching)
  • Tardy forms are a must keep (need to make it a habit of getting them out of the box daily & record who was tardy for each class)
  • Do not let students be disrespectful; cut it off immediately do not second guess yourself
  • Find teachers who want to share in your journey no matter where they teach or where they live (everyone needs motivation and accountability)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Reflections (Part 1 - Semester One of School Year 2015-2016)

Well my plan was to reflect on my teaching all year long but changing my teaching style in the middle of the year caused me to put the blogging on hold. This year was so stressful at times; it was all I could do to keep my head above the water. Although, in the end it was all worth it being able to see all the amazing things I accomplished this year in the classroom. This is the first in a series of reflections for the year. I may not remember every little detail from this school year but I want documentation for the highlights that I do remember so in the years to come I can see the progress I’ve had over the years.

When last school year ended I was searching for more; wanting to finding something that would help my students learning and increase their grades. That year I had several informal meetings with my assistant principal about my progress in the classroom and a lot of our meetings ended in the conclusion that I needed to work on differentiation among my students. With that in mind I spent my summer working on transitioning my quizzes and tests into a differentiated style so that no students would be left behind. The quiz was designed so that if you chose option 1 (EOC Word Problems) you received a 100, option 2 (Content Calculations) you received an 85, and option 3 (Content Notes or Rules) you received a 70.

I thought this process was awesome at the time but when I brought it into the class I think it confused students way more than anything else. I think we may have continued this process for the first three quizzes. Luckily I came across a website called ThatQuiz that allowed me to create my own online assessments and the website graded the assignment.

I’m so blessed that I found this resource because I could focus my efforts in other more important areas since I gained all the time back that I would have been grading assessments for the year. This program offers multiple choice, matching, and slides. Check back soon for more detailed information on the website ThatQuiz.

For the remaining portion of semester one technology became my focus. I started thinking in the direction of a flipped classroom and tried this process for a few months. I was using educreations to create video lessons for each standard and using ThatQuiz for formative (practice - non graded) and summative (quiz/test - graded) assessments. The positives that I found in a flipped classroom were that each student had the opportunity to experience learning in an individualized manner and students could learn at their own pace. The negative I found was the learning process overall for the class was so chaotic. I found myself struggling to help every student because they were all at different places in the curriculum and always had different questions. While other teachers may find this is not an issue I could not handle this process emotionally due to all the stress; so towards the end of semester one I tried hard to bring back all my students in a group style instruction. I still continued to allow students to push forward into the new content if they were ready but we did large group instruction at the start of each new topic to keep students focused and more homogeneous. The semester ended ok in my opinion but I still had a lot to tweak in order to make this technology process work for all.

Things I learned from semester one:
  • I still need work on differentiation in my classroom
  • Technology is my friend
  • I’m not ready for a completely flipped classroom
  • Most students enjoy technology
  • Some students are nervous/unsure of technology and still need regular resources
  • Students rushed through some assignments that were on the computer and refused to work out problems like I wanted; need to fix issue
  • Do not use only technology to interest students... some like hands on activities, direct instruction, guided practice, etc.; keep it well rounded
  • Need to work on classroom management
  • Do not let students be disrespectful; cut it off immediately do not second guess yourself
  • MTBoS rocks keep connected and growing in this profession; you need it to survive