Sunday, October 5, 2014

October Currently

I'm linking up with Farley for this month's October Currently.

Listening: I'm watching last week's episode of Resurrection. I didn't know it started back up for this season until it came on after Once Upon a Time. Love this show. So good!!

Loving: My Young Living essential oils. I'm obsessed with them. I started using them at the beginning of September and use them daily. For everything. Feeling tired in the morning? Inhale some peppermint. Something hurts? Put some peppermint or Pan Away on it. Need to clean? Thieves and Lemon. Distracted? Lemon and Valor. Feeling down? Joy and Peppermint diffused through my house. Stressed out? Peace and Calming or Stress Away. Kids at school are off the wall? Put a few drops of lemon, valor, or peace and calming on their desks or diffuse it through the room. Not getting enough sleep? Mix some frankincense, lemon, and lavender in with some coconut oil and use it as a moisturizer (I have oily skin, and it doesn't make me greasy!). Not sleeping? Peace and calming and lavender. I'm super allergic to my friend's dog and get hives. Put lavender oil on them and they're gone. Got a pimple? Purification. THIS STUFF IS AMAZING!!!!! I use them everyday everywhere. Send me a message if you're interested in learning more :)

Thinking: I have got to grade these papers. I gave a quiz on Wednesday and graded two sets but not the third. Need to get cracking on it.

Wanting: Pumpkin roll! I love pumpkin roll. It's my favorite thing about fall. I can't get enough of it. 

Needing: To plan for the week. We have ACT Explore testing tomorrow and Wednesday, so that has totally thrown off my plans. Sigh.

Trick or Treat: Treat (coming soon)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Taking on Too Much

As usual, I have overwhelmed myself. Theater is my second passion. It is the only thing I love as much as teaching. I grew up on stage and when I went to college I transitioned back stage to stage managing. I got involved with the theater here last October and did every show since. This past weekend, my most recent show "The 39 Steps" went up. The show only had a cast of 4. How hard could it have been? THE HARDEST SHOW I HAVE EVER DONE! I was staying at school until 6:30 then going to rehearsal until 10 or 11 every night since the beginning of the year. I. Am. Worn. Out. On top of that, I'm organizing our field trip in April (over night to DC), heading a committee, and trying to be the best teacher I can be. Now I'm just trying to get caught up.

Over the last few weeks we have...

  • Taken our first mastery test
  • Started SMG
  • Finished Real Numbers
  • Started Exponents/Scientific Notation

Thoughts on SBG...

Personally, I love it. I love that the kids are in control of their grade and I can see where they need more work. Unfortunately, my students are not retesting!!! What in the world!? I can't understand it. I really can't. I'm not giving in though. Progress reports went home today. I sent letters home two weeks ago to kids who haven't retested. Maybe that will get the point across...

Thoughts on SMG...

I LOVE IT! Sign up for the spring competition. My kids are so engaged. They are coming in every day asking if it is an SMG day. Some of them are being safe and only investing in one company (usually Apple) and only a few shares (20-30). Others have invested EVERYTHING and have invested in Michael Kohrs, Nike, Kraft, Johnson & Johnson, Under Armour, etc. I love hearing them come up with different companies to invest in. The conversations about why they should or should not invest while they are interpreting graphs is awesome. I'm so impressed. I have 5 teams in the top 10 in the region right now. So proud.

I, on the other hand, am in 185/194 in the adult division. I clearly need to start looking at their portfolios and investing in what they are. #fail

Real Numbers

Real Numbers are hit or miss. This year we couldn't get the whole rational/irrational concept, but they can estimate irrational numbers and change repeating decimals to fractions like it's their job. WHAT!?

Exponents/Scientific Notation

As usual, they know the rules, but get tripped up because they still don't know integer rules. Sigh. 

I have added multiple foldables and activities to my TPT store. INB Pictures coming soon.

  • Foldables for the rest of this notebook and the upcoming unit
  • Getting organized
  • Getting back on track
  • Sharpening my saw!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Initial Thoughts on SBG Year 2

Last year I attempted standards based grading, but I didn't have full buy in from my administration, I absorbed 4 classes into my already existent 4 classes 9 weeks into the school year, and I transferred districts mid-year to stay sane. Needless to say, it was not a success. Fortunately, I did implement it enough to identify some flaws and decide how to fix them. Three weeks into the year, I have given an SBG quiz, SBG test, and we are now in the retest process. Here are my initial thoughts:

  1. It's hard to explain. To anyone. Students. Parents. Teachers. Colleagues. Nobody gets it until they see it in action. They think I'm crazy. "But where's my grade?" they say. "How did I get an 'M' if I only got 6/8 right?" they ask. "How has my child had five quizzes and 7 tests in two weeks of school!?" "You give 100's for kids who don't get everything correct!?" "That's so much work!" etc. etc. etc. Even after giving my first test back, my kids are still floundering with the concept. I expected that, though. I'm hoping by the second test we have a better understanding.
  2. Grading is easy. I'm not just looking for a correct answer. I'm looking at the work. It makes it easy to know if they get it or they don't. I can look at my set of 8 integer addition and subtraction problems and see that they are using multiplication and division rules for the signs. I can look at fraction problems and see that they know to find a common denominator but are doing something weird with the numerator (you don't want to know), or that they can get the answer as an improper fraction but changing it to a mixed number is a skill that has yet to be mastered (scary). It causes me to reflect. It causes them to reflect. They are already getting good at looking at their work and telling me where they went wrong. That's an excellent start and a great skill to have.
  3. It does not inflate their grades--or destroy them. I was concerned that by taking the Mastery=100 Developing=65 No Mastery=0 approach I would be inflating some and destroying others. My grades are about where I would anticipate if they were receiving traditional grades because classwork and homework are graded as usual. Nobody has a crazy high grade, and the kids with low grades haven't been doing any of the other work either. They love that they get to go back and retest. Some of them hate it and say it's too much work--they're the same ones who don't do my homework or classwork though, so I'm not surprised.
  4. It's not as hard to keep up with as I made it last year. I made myself a spreadsheet this year to write their achievement levels. So much easier than making them comments with the grade in PowerSchool. That was insanity. Also, by using the M, DM, NM scale rather than 1, 2, 3, 4, it is more clear cut where they fall and it is easier to enter into my grade book. *sigh of relief*

I love it so far. It will grow on the kids as they realize how it works. My principal loves it. He was on board before I even brought it to his attention. I'm looking forward to seeing it pan out this year.

Meanwhile, I uploaded new foldables for the real number system, cube roots, square roots, irrational numbers, and repeating decimals to my TPT store today, so be sure to check it out! :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

#MTBoS Challenge Week 4

It's week 4 of the MTBoS challenge! Here's my 3-2-1.

3 Strategies I used this week

1. Interactive notebooks are the root of my class. I love INBs. So far I'm doing well at keeping up with them. Usually I am so scattered and use them on and off. I'm hoping I keep up!
2. Fist to Five keeps me in tune with how well my kids understood what we did for the day. We are working on being honest when we do it, so I think it's a little skewed when the kids give me their evaluations right now. We'll get there.
3. SBG I gave my first SBG quiz AND test this week. The kids and parents are trying to get used to it, and they will. It will just take time. I'm going to spend Monday going through the test and explaining to them the retest process. Hopefully when they see their SBG score compared to their traditional score they will understand better. SBG post coming soon.

2 things I bought this week
1. More composition notebooks. I live in a different town from where I teach. The town my school is in was completely out of composition notebooks everywhere, so I picked some up for my kids to buy from me instead.
2. New khakis. ALL three pairs of my khakis ended up in the washer with something neon pink at the end of last year (along with all of my other light colored things) and the dye transferred. I finally got some new ones. Yay! :D

1 Thing I'm grateful for this week
Good friends. I have the greatest, most supportive friends out there. They're there when I had a good day to celebrate and when I've had a bad day or I'm feeling overwhelmed to support me and keep me going. I don't know what I'd do without my support network, especially being so far from my family.
Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently

Hang's September? Linking up with Farley for this month's currently.

Listening: To nature. I love the sounds of summer. Even though I hate bugs, hearing the cicadas is calming to me. Birds always remind me of my Pap, so it's nice hearing them too.

Loving: how motivated I am! I have been super proactive and I'm doing really well at planning ahead and not procrastinating. I really hope I am able to keep it up.

Thinking: I should be outside! It's beautiful and I haven't enjoyed enough time outdoors this summer for some reason.

Wanting: summer weather to never end! I love the sunshine and warmth. I hate cold. I hate snow. It's why I moved south. Someone told me the other day that this winter is supposed to be worse than last. Not looking forward to that.

Needing: To grade my classwork assignments from Friday. Maybe I'll do that outside :)

3 Trips: I would die to go to Greece. My family is Greek. I love Greek food. I love Greek mythology. The isles look beautiful. I want to go and never come back. The Maldives are where I go mentally when I'm stressing and need to think of somewhere peaceful. Every photograph I see of the Maldives is amazing. Australia just because I want to see a kangaroo and some Koalas. The landscape looks beautiful there too :)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

3-2-1 and Week 1 Recap

One week down, only 40-something to go! That first week is always exhausting. I feel like I could have gone to sleep on Friday, not woken up until Tuesday, and still felt just as tired. There's just so much to do in the first week!

Monday was crazy, which was to be expected. Between kids not having their schedules, random interruptions, practicing hallway procedures, etc., I didn't get through as much as I had hoped. I had wanted to do the marshmallow challenge on Monday, but only one class actually got to do this. I like doing the sticky note activity as well, but I didn't have a chance to grab paper, and they won't stick to my whiteboard, so that was a flop this year. Oh well.

Tuesday we did mock stations to practice procedures in my room. I had a station with procedure task cards, a station where they had to complete a 7 Habits Puzzle, and a station with me to do "math about me." Unfortunately, only my second block actually got to do this. My first block was so scattered the first day, that I had to take Tuesday to go through my syllabus and procedures, and my third block had to spend half the period (literally) remembering how to come into a classroom the correct way. I'm going to have my hands full with that one.

In my TPT store :)

Wednesday we dove right in to reviewing integer operations. We completed a foldable and setup our notebooks. We then did some integer task cards, played Integer Insanity, and went on our way.

Thursday we covered fraction operations and did a set of fraction/decimal task cards.

Friday we went over PEMDAS and reviewed Wednesday's and Thursday's topics. The thing I love most about SBG is that it makes me reflect more when I'm looking at work. Even though I don't grade classwork SBG, I still look to see what is causing the issues. When we played Integer Insanity, I noticed that a lot of kids were forgetting the order of operations ALWAYS applies. On Friday, I gave them an assignment on PEMDAS that did not have any negatives, and I gave them a separate assignment on just integer rules. Separated, they can do it. Combine the two, and it's a disaster. We'll work on it.

We also are focusing on the 7 Habits in our "Patriot Period" which is half DEAR and half "advisory" for lack of a better word. We talked this week about "The Man in the Mirror," setting goals, paradigms and principles, and wrote letters to ourselves in the future. I'll give these letters to the kids when they graduate from 8th grade in June. They really liked this activity and put a lot of thought into their letters (I think). I didn't read them because I wanted them to be personal and I thought if they knew I was looking at them they may not be as honest with themselves.

Now for....

3 things that happened this week:
1. The kids started! I have an awesome advisory group, two awesome blocks, and one that is going to need some tough love, but I'm hopeful that they can evolve into another wonderful group :)
2. I tried stations. It didn't work. I'm giving up stations. Sigh.
3. I wore myself out. Big time. Staying at school until 6 then going to rehearsals until 10 is exhausting. 

2 things I'm looking forward to this week:
1. My first SBG test of the year will be on Friday! :)
2. Getting into more of a routine myself and with the kiddos 

1 thing that I need to work on
1. Getting everything together for my second unit, which is my first real unit of 8th grade curriculum. I was very proactive with my review unit and having everything done ahead of time. I want to keep up that work ethic all year :)

Check out my TPT store--I added lots of new products this morning :D

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Math Workshop--A plea for help!

Just a quick post...

I wanted to implement workshop last year, but our periods got cut to 60 minutes and I just didn't see it possible.

This year I have 80, but I am having a hard time coming up with how to organize things. Here are the two options as I see them now:

Option 1:
* 10min to do warm-ups, check hwk, any announcements etc.
* 20min for a mini lesson--whole group. This is where we would do our INB/ISN right hand page.
* 50min of rotations--I have my class in 4 or 5 groups (one class only has 21 kids, the others are 24 and 28). I need to have 5 rotations because of this, but is 10 minutes enough time to do task cards? What if they don't get all of them done? If I did this, my math workshop board has the following rotations:
Math Journal--Complete the left hand page in their notebooks
At your seat--Partner work/task cards
Teacher's Choice--task cards/game/SMG on Thursdays
Help Desk--With me
Skills Practice--independent work

This leaves no time for recapping at the end of the block. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Option 2:
*10min for hwk/warm-ups/announcements
*60min of rotations
*10min recap

The catch with this is rotations would either be 4 15min rotations or 3 20min rotations. I would do the lesson as the help desk. My problem with that is I will have to have two groups at a time (12 students instead of 6. Not as effective), and kids will have to be working on task cards for skills that I haven't taught unless they are in my first group.

So the question is...

If you use workshop or rotations as part of your daily routine in middle school math, how do you do it? What works, what doesn't? What do you recommend?