Sunday, January 15, 2017

Catching up to MTBoS Blogging Inititative for 2017

I always have great plans to do lots of blogging and then time & teaching get in the way. I'm not the fastest at adding links & such so it takes me a little bit longer to blog. I have enjoyed reading all the posts on "My Favorites" & "Soft Skills".

Theme 1
Here are a few of my favorite things:

1. Desmos What can I say? Create your own, use the Desmos made activities, search for Desmos activities made by others. This has to be one of the greatest tools out there. My students used it to create pictures using linear, quadratic, AV, cubic, radical, & exponential functions. They used restrictions (re-inforced domain & range), shading, colors & creativity. Here is just one example: OLAF.

2. WODB (which one doesn't belong) I created a google form with the images of quadratic graphs and student entered several different possibilities for each. These reasons provided a lively discussion among students when we reviewed their entries.

3. Google Quizzes Use Google forms to create a multiple choice assessment (formative or summative) then choose to make the form a quiz which allows students to review their scores, get hints (this can be links to videos or online reviews) for obtaining correct answers when students have incorrect answers and allows students to retake the quiz to improve their scores. I have seen my students work hard to improved their scores.

4. Hyperdocs New to this. Just used one with Characteristics of Quadratic Graphs. Check out the work of the Hyperdoc Girls. I edited a shared hyperdoc from @CarolynLantos.  My students loved the online interactions & working at their own pace.

5. Delta Math Great practice and quizzing website that provides examples for students as they practice. I have found this especially helpful to my IEP & 504 student that struggle with most concepts.

Theme 2
Soft Skills

I have nothing reviolutionary or thought provoking to add here but reading many of the posts has given me much to think about for student motivation,  look at that virtual conference. I especially liked The Angry, Injured Wolverine by @Dan Meyer.

My school utilizes the PBIS (Missouri Schoolwide Positive Behavior Support) for our students. Getting to know students & helping them to modify their behaviors through positive reinforcement & warnings. I have found that letting students know of the consequences of their actions with time to change their behavior prevents many classroom distractions. Students also enjoy the smallest of rewards (a small piece of candy) which can change the classroom atmosphere.

#MTBoS #MtbosBlogsplosion

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

1st day of school

   I've been away from my blog for a few days. Things got kind of crazy in the days prior to the start of school. Teachers began last Friday with a professional day. A speaker was brought in and the entire day, from 8 am to 2:30 pm, (including a working lunch) was spent listening to the speaker. Just the opposite of the philosophy behind teaching students. There was nothing engaging about the presentation, we had 2 opportunities to discuss an idea with other teachers & give feedback. In 6 1/2 hours?!! I am going to refrain from mentioning the presenter as he is a well known in the field of education. I am not going to claim that there were no good ideas presented. Just that we had too much info, too fast. Much to fast to absorb & even consider using in the classroom. In the end, the district spent a good sum of money for a presentation in which most teachers were zoned out by the afternoon.

   Of course, on Monday & Tuesday, the presentation was referenced once, with no time to collaborate on ways to use the ideas. Meetings & more meetings! One positive note, we spent 2 hours with middle school math teachers and discussed the new Missouri Learning Standards. That was time well spent, but we did not get through them all. I feel that I now have a feel for the direction to take my Algebra 2 Honors students.

  Tuesday was spent in our rooms after meetings from 8-10 & students came today. We are a 1-1 school with Chromebook, but Chromebooks will not be distributed to students until next week. Many teachers are disappointed, as I am. Last year was our first year as 1:1 with Chromebooks & students had them on the first day of school. I created many digital information form for both students and parents last year & they could not be used on the first days. Luckily we have 2 computer labs & I was able to reserve a lab to use on Friday to collect student information. I really want to go through the information over the weekend to help me get to know my students

   So what did I do today? I used Beth Ferguson of Algebra's Friend, A Collection of First Day Activities, "Read the Room". It worked great in all classes. Students were able to contribute to the monotony of finding out where supplies are located, how several procedures are handled and also found some interesting things around the room. The most popular was a bulletin board with photos from an exhibit of Chihuly Glass Art

that I saw over 10 years ago and a poster from National Geographic magazine of the representative of the world population in 2011. It happens to be a Chinese Hahn 28 year old male.

   I am teaching a Tech Math class (all seniors that need the math credit to graduate), 3 Algebra 1A (our lowest level of math) and 2 Algebra 2 Honors classes. I plan to focus the most on A2H because I have 9th graders that took Algebra 1 in 8th grade but will take the A2 End of Course for Missouri this year. We did this last year also & all students were Proficient or Advanced. I want the same results this year.

   What's on tap for tomorrow? Review the syllabus, supply list, classroom expectation & parent forms from my website using the Smartboard. If time, I will use a Kahoot to tell the students a little about myself. It is called "Mrs. Cravens' by the Numbers". See previous post for link to where I found this idea. The Kahoot contains about 6 numbers that mean something to me. I have also made a power point to go along with the Kahoot because I wanted to add my photos to the answers. I couldn't do that in the Kahoot. I also tried Quizizz. You can add mimes to the answers but not pictures that relate to the answers :( I hope the students have fun with the Kahoot. Since we do not have our Chromebooks, I will allow students to use their phone or just play along without technology.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What to do When the Technology isn't Ready on the first Day of School...

   Change of plans for the first day of school. Original plan: Students complete Google form to give me information, sign up for all the apps, review syllabus, supply list, parent forms (all on my teacher webpage). No Chromebooks...don't really know why. This is our 2nd year of 1:1. Students had Chrombooks at start of school last year, why not this year? No one really had a good answer. I just found this out at a PBIS (Positive Behavour Intervention System) meeting 2 days ago. School starts in a week. Students probably will not have Chromebooks until 3 days after school starts.

   Oh well, as teachers we have learned to adapt. Thank goodness for the math bloggers. I plan to use "Read the Room" with my Algebra 2 Honors & "Snowball" with Algebra 1A and Tech Math students on the first day. Thank you Algebra's Friend! I am also using "Notice/Wondering with Functions with A2H on one of the 1st days.

  I also discovered a Teacher by the Numbers activity from a fellow teacher named Mrs. Caldwell. I apologize for not linking the blogpost. (cannot seem to find it) I plan to make a KaHoot with numbers that mean something to me. Ex. # of children, # of African countries visited, # of siblings. Students will have a choice of responses in Kahoot. I think most students will have phones & can participate, but students do not have to actually response to enjoy. Will post in next blog.

   By the 3rd day (Friday), I plan to attempt journaling using the article from NCTM "A Student's Guide to High School Math" and somewhere in there we will do seating arrangements, general info, and all those necessary things. I may just put my webpage on my Smartboard and go over all the class info. Oh yeah, just heard we are having an assembly Friday.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Finalizing First Day Plans

  Took a day off to attend the St. Louis Cardinals game yesterday. Unfortunately, not a winner, but still a great time. Also trying to finish another great book (soon to be a movie starring Jennifer Aniston!) by Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot.
I got hooked on this great author on vacation this summer in Riviera Maya.

   Today, though, it is back to getting ready for the 1st days of school. My student information forms & parent forms are ready & linked to my webpage. My school webpage is ready except for the Remind signup. I have lots of fun ideas for ice breakers, get to know you/me, etc. that it is too hard to choose just one. Loved the ideas from Beth Ferguson of Algebra's Friend, A Collection of First Day Activities, want to try Snowballs or Read the Room.

   The other thing I have been working on today was on-line lesson planning. Another teacher suggested Common Curriculum, but I struggled with using it. So I did some research yesterday & found Planbook from We are a GAFE school, so the direct link to Google Drive is a plus. It is free, unless you want the collaborate option. You can create templates, select standards or upload your own, create lesson plans & more.

So most of today was about learning to use Planboard.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Student's Guide to High School Math - NCTM

   As mentioned in Post 1, I want to use journaling in my A2H classes this year. I found this article in the support materials to NCTM's book Focus in High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making. I must confess that I do not own the book, but the support materials are very interesting, especially the one for students titled: A Student's Guide to High School Math: Placing the Focus on Reasoning and Sense Making. Just scroll in the link to the support materials.

   This article focuses on getting students to think about the importance of reasoning and sense making in their mathematics courses and how it should look. It also gives students direction for a course of study in mathematics for their high school career.

   This will be my first journaling for my A2H students on one of the first days of school. I plan to have them read it during class time & journal for homework with some questions tied to the reading. This should give me an idea on how students react to writing about mathematics.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Day 1, 2016-17 School Year

   I have been putting this off for over a month, but with only 1 week before teachers report, I must start getting organized for this coming school year. So much is on my plate for this year: new Missouri Learning Standards (just passed by legislature last spring), to Standards Based Grading, developing a more conceptual rather than procedual based method of teaching, student journaling and the list goes on...

   I will be teaching 3 classes of our Algebra 1A (a full year to learn 1/2 of our Alg 1 course), 2 classes of Algebra 2 Honors & 1 class of Technical Math (a course for seniors needing a final math credit, based on math in the workplace). These are all courses I have taught before. My main focus will be on Algebra 2 Honors. These classes consist of a mix of 9th, 10th & 11th graders. We included our 9th graders in this course last year to obtain the best results possible on our Algebra 1 EOC state assessment. These students took Alg 1 in 8th, but did not take the EOC. All students did very well on the EOC last year, so our plan was successful! It does present a varied level of maturity in the classroom, mixing 9th graders with 11th graders. This year I will share teaching duties for A2H with another teacher (I had all the classes last year). I am looking forward to collaborating with her.

   I will need to realign the new standards for Alg 2 with the current curriculum for this year. I plan to leave the re-alignment of Alg 1A to the Algebra 1 teachers & just add in more time on the concepts.

   So what will I plan for the first days of school, since we begin on Wednesday, Aug 17, not much happens until the following Monday as far as the actual coursework. The first day will be spent going over several basic school policies. Students will also be called by grade level from class to have a meeting with the principal & assistant principal. We are a PBIS school (Positive Behavior System, I never remember what the "I" means), so teachers will be going over our discipline system based on "Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible". So I will also be going over my classroom expectations & procedures with students. We are also a 1:1 Chromebooks school, here are my Chromebook expectations. We have 46 minute class periods, so the first days will be busy. 

   On one of the first days of school I will be giving student surveys using a Google form. See Alice Keeler's post on sharing Google Forms. Feel free to contact me if you would like to use my forms. This has worked well for the past 2 years to gather basic information & to get to know about the individual students. I also use a Google form to collect parent information. Parents can access this from my school webpage. (I need to update the webpage for this year) I tell students to tell their parents about the webpage. I also have course information also on this webpage (trying to save paper!). 

   One of the first days I will also help students with the organization of their Chromebooks for Algebra 2 Honors. I use Google Classroom, Remind, Desmos, Delta Math, & GAFE. I will have students bookmark & show them how to sign up or login for the different Apps needed for this class. I will supply the links to each on a Google Doc on Google Classroom for the students. I will also help students organized their email accounts, their Google Drive & just clean up things from the previous year. Usually, students have way too much old, unneeded stuff on their Chromebooks. This will sometimes cause problems with Delta Math or other interactice websites and apps. 

  I want to have students do journaling this year. I have found a great journaling idea from Alice Keeler using Google Classroom. I still need to create the Google Doc, but I still have a week left, right. I know this will take some modeling & some trial runs with the students. I plan to do journaling only a couple of times a week, as a formative assessment or gauge prior knowledge on a concept or as a homework analysis (what was difficult, what was the most important concept, etc).

   Some other ideas I love from fellow math teachers
   More on my curriculum organization later. This is quite enough for a first post!