Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer of the Traveling Math Teacher

Today (June 22nd, 2017) is my first day of summer vacation and it is perfect - 78 degrees and just gorgeous! 

I started today with catching up on all my errands including taking two sons for physicals plus the usual - get gas, go to the bank, and finally the library.  The library is my most favorite errand.  I didn't really hit the jackpot, but I got a few.  I have a huge list but my library didn't have many of them. 

I am blessed to be traveling a lot this summer.  I am a little concerned that it will be too much for me to rest, recharge, and rejuvenate, but I am hopeful to make the downtime really relaxing by reading a book or fishing.

On Sunday, I head to the Adirondacks with our church's youth group for a week of mission work.  We get home on Friday.

Then, I travel up to Burlington, VT for a cousin's wedding and our traditional 4th of July festivities at my grandmother's house.  It is my favorite holiday (after Christmas).

Next up, I was chosen as a Desmos fellow and will be traveling to San Francisco in mid-July to learn more about Desmos.  I am thrilled to have been chosen for this opportunity and so excited to see my friends from Twitter.  I have never been to San Fran and have been warned that it will be colder than I think.  I can't wait, but as with all my trips, I don't want to hurry them up and wish summer away.

At the end of July, I will be traveling to Atlanta (yes, that's right Atlanta in July) for my second Twitter Math Camp for a week!  I am going with my colleague and again so happy to be meeting up with great Twitter Math Teachers. 

Finally, we will take a family vacation to the Rehoboth Beach area in Delaware for golfing, fishing, swimming, and reading.

I am also taking a class to get credit for Twitter Math Camp and have received curriculum hours to work on Geometry which I haven't taught in a while.

I think I am gone for 28 days!  That's crazy, but I will find a balance work and play.  Bring on summer!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

#DITL Post 12: The InBetween Ending and Beginning

This is the 12th blog post in a series called #DITL - Day in the Life of a Teacher.  My day is #8 and it is June 8th.  We are #stillinschool.  We have classes until next Wednesday then start exams.  We are at the end of the school year.  It has been an easy spring to teach because the weather has been miserable.  Today is finally sunny and it is supposed to get warm.  You can tell summer is coming because there is a big carnival set up in our school front parking lot.  It starts today.  All the cool kids are going :)

I don't think of it as an end, wrap everything up, put it away and kick back and relax.  I wish I did.  I see it as the "in between".  Things are wrapping up for the year.  I am testing on our last unit today which means more grading to do. I have two projects just collected to grade.  The final exams need to be made, edited, copied, along with a few days of review (luckily I have all this done).  But, it is also a time to look forward.  I just looked at next year's school calendar.  I typed it all out with early release days, days off, special events.  This is my road map to planning my year.  I need to see it all.  I don't know what subjects or periods I am teaching next year.  Usually we do know by now, but we switched grading programs and have run into some problems.  I will roughly plan things.  I will open a new google doc and as I see cool things on blogs and Twitter over the summer, I will link to them. 

This morning I actually slept until the alarm.  I usually wake up at 5:30 am but set it for 5:40. I am tired.  I am ready to be done for now.  I have a busy day ahead of me.  It looks like this:

1st block: Quest (in between quiz and test, not a fun scavenger hunt thing) on Stats in Alg 1
Advisory: students voting for next year's positions
2nd block: prep
3rd block: Quest in Alg 1
4th block: Alg 2 Test on Trig Identities
5th block: prep

A pretty good day besides all the resulting grading.  We have a fall sports' meeting on Tuesday night and I coach cross country, so I need to get ready for that today - look at the schedule and make a plan.  Our girls' coach is moving so we have a new coach, so I get to show her the ropes to our season. 

After school will be extra help for one more class having their test tomorrow. 
A goodbye party for our Assistant to the Principal.
Hopefully squeeze in a run to keep up with #fitbos and train for a road race on June 17th.
3:15-5:15 - Last fishing club.
6:45 pm Judge Battle of the it Friday yet?

Into school by 7 and a few kids were in for extra help.
1st block takes their quest - no problem.
Now advisory then a prep so that means 8:30-10 am (precious, valuable time) to listen to my Algebra 2 ebook problems.  I love this project!  I did it to review for the midterms and now for the final exams.  I create 55 different problems and give my students each a different problem.  They do it out on paper and have me check it.  Then, they use AdobeSpark (free voice recording program where they choose their own font, background, music, and add pictures - so easy to use).  Finally they upload this link to a google slide I shared with the classes and they have it as a way to review for the final exam.  I shared this idea with Wendy @wmukluk and she kicked it up a notch and add her kids add pictures and memes to their google slide.  So, I challenged my students to do the same - make it like an advertisement to try and entice the other students to want to listen to their problem.  I love listening to the kids speak through a problem.  It really gives everyone a voice.  They do a great job using all the correct vocabulary and terminology and they even make note of the tiny yet important details I keep reminding them of.  This term we learned about conics, right triangle trig, graphing trig, trig identities, and solving trig.  They sound so sophisticated in their videos.  I am impressed.  One student did add a video of her beautiful color coded work.  As I am listening, I jot down some notes for feedback.  I will email this to some of the students, not all.  I will let them know in class.  Some of them did not include a name, so it became of game of determining the author according to their voice or their handwriting and I was able to do it! Most of them were about 1 minute long and I got through all!
Here is one example screenshot of their slide and work:
Time to switch gears... Next up is 3rd block of the day, so Alg 1 taking a Quest.  I just sent 24 emails to my ebook students, now, I will sit and grade 1st block's assessment.  It is a lot of sitting today which is unusual.  Hope I can get my run in.
11:05 am check in.  I graded one test, now to start another.  My 4th block of the day is here testing.
11:55 am.  Graded second set.  Now onto lunch.  I have been working in fast forward.  I need a breather.
12:35 back to class, hand out study guides for the final exam - 3 more classes to prepare.
Prep for the rest of the day so I will grade this Alg 2 test.
1:26 pm done grading.  I am tired!  Graded 50 ebook projects and 73 tests!  I thought it was going to be a nice easy day but I was motivated to get this done so I don't have to take it home!  Normally I would grade at home while watching tv and then prep during prep or assessments, but I am prepped for the year, so I was able to grade. 
Time to breathe, read and respond to emails, and watch the carnival out front test its rides as they get ready to open tonight.(Taken later at night)

1:50 pm 2 kids for extra help
2-2:15 stop in at Goodbye party
2:15 pm drive home, change into running clothes and treat it as a speed workout to get done quickly.  I am not used to the 80 degree weather and it was a challenge to breathe

3:00 pm jump in the shower and change into fishing clothes (long pants to avoid ticks, have to have pockets for my phone, hat, sneakers)  Grab my worms and on my way.  (I live 1 mile from my HS and 2 miles from the fishing lake.  Very convenient.)

Only my two regulars showed up.  I will call them Robin Hood and Little John.  They are freshmen boys.  Robin  Hood knows everything about fishing and has no fears.  Little John is used to ocean fishing and is trying to learn about freshwater fishing.  We have learned a lot this spring - how to tie a hook, how to untie your fishing line when it gets in a massive nest, how to cast, how to set the hook and actually hook the fish.  We are still working on putting the worm on the hook. They don't want to touch it.  And, taking it off, nope, they don't want to touch the fish either.  Robin Hood does it all though, so it is good to have another helper.  It was two hours of heaven!  Makes my rushing around during the day worth it to be in my favorite place on a 75 degree day (a little cooler at the water).  We caught about 20 sunfish among us but no great fish picture worthy.  So, here's some other pictures:

Here's my favorite spot:

Here's my fishing stuff:

Home by 5:30 to change clothes again into Battle of the Band clothes - jeans and a sweatshirt and make dinner.  I was going to grill chicken but came up with an idea during fishing.  I decided to bake the chicken with pesto on top, then added some chunky chili, and balsamic vinaigrette. Baked it for a bit then added some mozzarella.  It turned out great if I say so myself.

Here's dinner:

6:30 pm back to school to get computer so I can blog (now) as I wait for the Battle of The Bands to start.  It is tough finding parking as the carnival and carnival goers have taken over the school parking lot.  And, there is an Elder Tea in the middle school next door, so their parking is full.  We have about 10 people in the audience, but these kids will have fun.  Let the show begin...

There were 5 bands. All so good, so talented.  Here is a picture of the winners - Escape!

Home around 8:15 pm, type this up, add some pictures and one more clothing change - my favorite - my jammies!  And, a Klondike bar!

Too tired to reflect on teacher things, so I will recap family milestones:

It was a busy month with my family and I am so proud of all of them:
My #4 made his Confirmation and got his driver's permit:
 My #2 graduated from UMASS Dartmouth with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

My #3 graduated from high school and will be going to Westfield State University in the fall. 

 My #1 is just plan busy with work, umpiring baseball, and getting his master's.  He lives in Western MA.

 Good night!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Visual Patterns

In my Foundations of Algebra 1 class, we open each day with a Visual Pattern.  Thanks to Fawn @fawnpnguyen for making the site and thanks to Megan @Veganmathbeagle for submitting 120.  It really made them think.  Lots of different ways to see it.  I have them at the #VNPS working.  Only 3 out of 7 stayed with it.  It took them about 25 minutes but one student got it!  The other two realized where they went wrong.  It made for great thinking and discussion.  Thanks.

This is the problem in my powerpoint.

Here is some student work. 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Speed Dating 2017

I did Speed Dating again with multiplying and dividing rational expressions.  I have done it for many years.  Sometimes I go back and forth with whether to continue or not.  This year went well for one class so far.  My hesitations come from different speed abilities in the room, not that it is a speed activity, just that I don't want one or two students to be singled out as the slowest and holding the group up.

As a whole they were quicker this year.  Maybe because they are stronger with factoring.  They had their one problem ready for me to check.  I checked all 25 and we were ready to speed date.  Also, I did two groups, instead of one big one like I am tempted with a class of 20.  But, with two groups or even doing three, that slower student won't slow the entire class down.  It is interesting to see if it is one problem that is the hardest that slows it down or one or two students.  I also eliminated problem #12 because I noted from last year that was the hardest and taking the longest and holding the group up.  Here is the file.

Here are some pictures from today:

This one made me laugh:

And, a good way to remember the answer to your problem:

Monday, May 8, 2017

#DITL: Day 11 - May Milestones

This is the 11th post in the #DITL - Day in the Life of a Teacher Series.  My day is day 8.  I don't think I have posted on a Monday before.  I often live by "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today."  This is clear with Mondays.  I do things on Sunday to help my Monday.  I boil 10 eggs to take for the week.  I made some tuna to take.  I make my grocery list because I shop on Mondays.  I usually do some sort of grading.  No matter how much school work I do on the weekend and how prepared I feel for Monday, I come in on Monday morning and there is so much more to do!  I am here now, at 6:51 am, getting ready.  I am in good shape.  I put the desks back in order, put the schedule on the board.  I have a poster of birthdays that I update each week.  There are three to recognize this week - no big fanfare, just a "Happy Birthday" - one of my #TMC16 things.

Last May I took part in a blogging challenge to blog every day.  I almost did it.  There may have been one day that slipped by.  I keep reminding myself I need to go back and look (off to look for a few minutes).  I missed more than just one.  I missed 6.  Here is my monthly post about it.  I need to spend more time going back and reading that.

I titled this one "May Milestones" because it is a busy month for us.  I remember knowing this last spring and here we are.  My youngest made his Confirmation this past Saturday so we had a cookout.  My mom comes in from Florida for a month starting this Wednesday.  Prom is Friday.  I will help out a little but my own kids aren't going.  My second son graduates from UMASS Dartmouth with a degree in Electrical Engineering on Saturday.  We will take him out to dinner.  Sunday is Mother's Day and I will be hosting my family.  I need to figure that one out.  May 20th is my youngest's 16th birthday.  We won't do another party for him, probably just take him to dinner.  And, then begin the high school senior festivities for my third son with parent/student dinner, boat cruise, cookout, awards night, and finally graduation on Friday, June 2nd.  We will have a party for him on June 3rd.  Then, I will be able to breathe.

I am feeling like my juniors who are taking AP Exams and getting ready for Prom - a lot overwhelmed.  I have a lot of lists going and overlooked the due date for the parent/student dinner.  It slipped through the cracks.  But, I was able to email and still get in even though I missed the due date.  I am trying not to let grading get too piled up.  I finally graded my Alg 2 conics projects I have had for a while.  That is a big relief.  I graded assignment sheet 18 yesterday.  The students get through AS 20, so those will be done soon.  I have the catapult project to grade, but those were done in groups, so not too many of them.

I try to remember to breathe.  I still workout every day to keep my sanity and to fulfill my #fitbos goal.  I am on track with that.

My schedule for today:
1st block is Acc Alg 1 - Multiply and Divide Rational expressions
2nd block is Acc Alg 2 - a class that is a mix of juniors and sophomores.  The sophomores have their AP bio test today so half the class will be gone.  I have a quiz planned for Thursday on trig identities, so they will get their review material today and the sophomores got it on Friday.  It is tough juggling AP exams and states exams plus Prom and Relay for Life.
3rd block is prep - not sure what I have to prep yet
4th block is Foundations of Alg 1 - we have been graphing quadratics from vertex and standard form.  The kids are doing really well with it.  They will have a quiz on Thursday.  I made a really great quiz (I think)  We start each class with an Estimation 180, a Visual Pattern, and a Splat so the Visual Pattern and Splat made it on the quiz.  Here is the quiz if you want to see it.  Today we will play on desmos with polygraph and marbleslides.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they do.
5th block is Acc Alg 2 - review for quiz

2-3pm department meeting
3-5 pm grocery shop
6 pm dinner
7-8 pm tap class

Let the day begin....A student came in early for 1st period with a question about last week's @desmos marbleslides - graphing rationals.  He had one star up high and three below in a horizontal line.  It was a challenge question he had been working on because he was still puzzled.  I loved that he was still looking at it.  I did not assign it as homework.  He just wanted to figure it out.  And, we did together - success by 7:20 am!

My colleague @kd5campbell came in to remind me we need to book our airfare for #TMC17.  We have our hotel booked, just need the airfare.

1st block went well.  We are multiplying and dividing rational expressions.  I gave them a problem and they are still cancelling terms.  I plug integers into a fraction and show them how it works.  I tell them they can only reduce factors not terms.  We will keep working on this.

2nd block is now.  My juniors are diligently working on trig identities while I update my canvas site.  I realized I didn't put my new calendar for this last unit up and I linked to the answer key for the review they are working on.  They finished this review pretty fast, so now I have plans for my next period prep - get them some more practice for tomorrow's class.

3rd block prep - answer some emails.  I found this trig id sort I have seen before but not used.  I will try it tomorrow.  I typed up 6 new board problems - a mix of trig.

4th block - long block - Foundations Alg 1 - Only 5 out of 7 kids.  It is hard to get 5 kids going but Desmos Polygraph and Marbleslides will do it.  They figured out the yes or no questions and used some good vocabulary on the Polygraph.  One girl even asked "does your graph have 2 x-intercepts?"  We moved onto Marbleslides which is quite challenging.  We have talked about limiting x but they figured it out.  It is allowing them to see the need to make a graph fatter or skinnier. 

Off to lunch...

After lunch, I have this same class for 20 more minutes so we did @mathycathy's activity of creating a quadratic graph paper chain found here.  It went well.  I had the kids work in groups which was only 2 groups, so I was able to help one group and then the other.  I think they will be in good shape for their quiz on Thursday.

Period 5 - Most of my class is here.  Some sophomores who took the AP Bio didn't return to school, but everyone else is reviewing for the trig quiz.  It turns out I did already have a Trig Unit on Canvas.  One of my students told me my link didn't work.  I had to do some switching it around, but I wasn't crazy.  I did already have a Unit 5 page on Canvas.  I am hearing some good discussion on the trig identities.  I work on creating some practice for the day after the quiz when we will learn about the double and half angle identities.  On my assignment sheet I assigned a magic square with an 18 in the middle and some of the boxes shaded.  See below.  I didn't do it before I assigned it.  This was a mistake.  It is hard.  One of my best students was working on it.  I think he figured it out.  I didn't know it would be a transformation of some iterations.  May change it to extra credit.  I forget where I got it to give credit (sorry)

2 pm - after school meeting - We are getting new teacher computers next year.  We have to back up everything for the transfer.  I need to add this to my To-Do list.  We are discussing next year's courses and budgets.  It's that time of year.

3 pm off to grocery shop, home by 5 pm, just like planned, make yummy fish for dinner.

Check school email and see my summer curriculum proposal was accepted to do work on teaching Geometry.  I have taught it before but not at the Accelerated level, so I am excited to come up with new ideas and activities.  I might put together something on Twitter.  I saw someone did for an 8th grade PLN and it looks like we have some teachers new to Geometry next year.  Add this to my to do list.

6 pm - my sophomore is taking Geometry and has a quiz on circles tomorrow and actually asked for help.  He usually doesn't, so we worked together.  Write a few graduation invitations.  I must get these done and in the mail tomorrow.  Search for my phone. Find my phone.

Off to tap.  I have always wanted to take tap dancing and a class was offered here in town starting in January.  I signed up and loved it.  Just Monday nights, all adults.  This is the 2nd class of the 2nd session.  It is hard!  I love learning new things though.

There were only 2 of us so we got a lot of steps in. 

Home to watch TV and chill out for a while as I check twitter and facebook on my phone.  I also looked at how far apart the TMC17 hotel is from the School and it looks like 2 miles.  Not too bad.

9 pm and time for bed.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day.  Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming.  When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of?  What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?
   Decisions - I needed to decide what to do for more trig practice tomorrow because my kids visited the work in class today.  A good teacher move today was helping my Foundations kids do the Quadratic graphing chain.  Because there were so few kids, I could work with each group individually and ask them questions to move their thinking forward.  I don't think there was anything not ideal today.

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows.  Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher.  What are you looking forward to?  What has been a challenge for you lately?
     Highs - it is a super busy time of year.  I have so much going on in my regular life as well.  I am trying to find balance.  I am trying to be in the moment and to be present during all these great things.  I am looking forward to one son graduating from college on Saturday and one son graduating from high school on June 2nd.  I can't believe it.  The college years have flown by.  The high school years have felt like 100 years long and we have finally arrived.  I will be a crying mess at hs graduation.  A challenge lately is money.  Given it is a busy time also means a lot of things involve money, money, money.  I hate worrying about money but when you don't have money in the account to pay things, then it is time to worry.  It is also frustrating that no matter how long I work, no matter how hard I work, no matter how good I am at the job, the paycheck is still the same.  And, some how it doesn't stretch.  Some how hopefully all these things will get paid.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is.  As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students.  Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.
   About a relationship, I will talk about fishing club.  There are three new boys in fishing club.  One, whom I have not had as a student.  He reminds me of Huck Finn.  He has all his fishing gear and he knows what he is doing.  He is also willing and able to help the other newbies.  The second boy has ocean fished but never freshwater fished.  And, the third boy has never fished before ever.  These last two I have had in class.  It is nice to get to know them outside the classroom.  I think they love to have someone to talk to for two hours.  Boy, can they talk.  They are also learning about how to tie a hook on, how to put a worm on, and we did have a good size catch last week, so how to take the fish off the hook. 

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year.  What have you been doing to work toward your goal?  How do you feel you are doing?
     My focus for the year has been working on vertical non-permanent whiteboards #vnps.  I presented at a conference at the end of April.  We only had 15 minutes to present.  I will be presenting on it at TMC for an hour, so it was a great little practice.  I am still doing it in the classroom.  It is great to use with trig identities.  The groups of 3 only have 1 marker and work through verifying trig identities.  There have been great discussions and it is good for students to see how others might do the problem.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Inverse Variation - What do you notice?

Today's lesson was on inverse variation in Acc Alg 1.  We already learned about direct variation in the fall when we were studying lines.  Now, we are moving into rational functions. 

First, we recalled all we could about direct variation - the graph, the equation, the y-intercept is zero, the relationship as x increases, y increases, the k = the constant of variation.  It was slow, but we pulled it out of the memory bank. 

Then, I went onto this slide and asked them what they noticed:

Some noticed:
  • The x's are getting bigger.  The y's are getting smaller.
  • There is no x = 3.  I asked if x was equal to 3, what would y be.  They guessed 7.5.  Nope.  We will come back to that one.
  • 2010
  • 4 and 5 and 5 and 4 are switched
  • Someone asked if x = 20, is y = 1.  Yes!
  • I asked them to see if they noticed anything going across the row.  It took a little while but they eventually got that they each multiplied to 20.
  • I went back to what if x = 3.  They all reached for their calculators - NO!  Think about it.  Umm..a little more than 6.  Okay, keep going.  6.666, give me more exact 6 and 2/3okay, yes.  I finally had to write out 3x=20 --> What is 20?  Oh, 20/3.  These kids are so afraid of fractions.
Lots of good stuff that led us into our inverse variation lesson.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

#DITL Post 10: Day in the Life of a Teacher - Fundraiser Dinner

It is April 9th, a Sunday.  My Saturday was too busy to post, but I will post about my day.  This is the 10th post in the #DITL series (Day in the Life of a Teacher).

In my last DITL post, I just finished submitting for the Desmos fellow and I was going to tape my class the next day for the PAEMST application.  And, I was looking forward to our youth group's big fundraiser dinner that was on April 8th.  A month has come and gone.  My PAEMST application is almost, almost complete.  I am waiting for one more letter of reference to upload and then I will hit submit and forget about it!

This last week was an exhausting one.  I was toast by the end of Wednesday and it was only Wednesday.  The weather was rainy and a few of my students were not making good choices and these impacted them, the class, and me.  It was draining to deal with. But, the antidote to this is to surround yourself with people who are choosing to do good!  And, that's what this weekend was about.

Our youth group got together on Friday night to make the decorations and organize our drawings for Saturday's dinner.  This year we are going to the Adirondacks in NY so we called our dinner "A Starry Night Pasta Dinner" and had a cabin by the lake theme.  It really came together nicely.  The kids have worked hard since January advertising, planning, coming up with the theme and the decorations and all this hard work paid off last night. They even made a fun photobooth with backdrop and campfire. (Look at the fire.  It was a fan with streamers on top of soup cans surrounded by black paper and paper mache rocks.)

We recognized two women who have helped me volunteering as youth ministers for the past five years and who are graduating with their daughters.  And, we thanked these four senior girls plus one who wasn't here for their four years of dedicated to our youth group:

Yesterday morning, I had time to squeeze in a zumba class before some last minute errands to get ready for the dinner.  Then, we arrived at the church at noon to start setting up for the 6 pm dinner.  We transformed our church hall into this lake theme with birch trees and lots of stars.

When I think about teaching, I think about myself providing opportunities for kids to learn.  With youth group, I am offering kids the opportunity to do good.  They want to do good.  They are energetic, positive, and dedicated.  With some help from us adults with resources and support, this group does amazing things!  It also helps that we have a church and town community that support us. 

It was a pasta dinner with a high school band, The Fuze, who are just amazing.  We had them play last year and booked them again.  3 out of the 4 who played are seniors.  One brother is a freshman, so we booked him for next year.  We had a Heads or Tails game to buy into to win a donated Bose soundsystem.  We had lots of drawing and silent auction items and a 50/50.  Our hall was packed.  Dinner was delicious.  We asked Olive Garden to donate salad and breadsticks and they did.  We had adults volunteer to cook the dinner.  The kids helped replenish the buffet and clear the tables.  It was a great community event with people winning prizes, catching up with friends, and listening to good music.  All in all, it was a success!  (Notice the Big Dipper behind the band?)

I got home around 11 pm, that's why no post yesterday.  This was definitely the positive fix I needed for the week!  Four more days until April break!