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!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Books I've Read and Books to Read

I am devouring books this year.  I am on a good roll.  I don't want a dud.  I am loving talking about them too with everyone I meet.

Here is what I have read.  I recommend them all, even though I didn't care for one of the endings:

At #edcampBOS yesterday, one of my talks turned into a book club talk and I got so many more titles to read......Snow day on Tuesday???  = hit the library tomorrow!!!!

10 Books I Want To Read:


Saturday, March 11, 2017

#EdcampBOS recap

Thank you to the #EdcampBOS staff.  You did an amazing job and held it in a great facility at Microsoft and provided a delicious lunch.  Thank you. 

This was my third edcamp and my best experience yet.  Edcamp is a conference for teachers by teachers - all grades, all subjects and is free. 

It all starts with "The Board" and because we were at Microsoft the board was glass.  A grid of times and rooms is made and then we add the sticky notes - what we want to learn or what we want to share.  Here is the start.  Then, they type it into a google sheet and share it out.

 We would have five sessions, about an hour each with an hour for lunch.  For my first session, I went to one about Common Formative Assessments run by Rik Rowe @RoweRikW.  We had a great discussion about the benefits and challenges of formative assessments along with some websites to use.
   I put up a sticky for the 2nd and 4th session - - I didn't want to go too early or too late - jussssstttt right.  My 2nd session was on Desmos.  I love to share it.  I had about 8 people in the room.  It seemed the consensus was they have heard of Desmos but hadn't really played with it.  One just started using the activities and one has been using some of the activities.  I was like a kid in a candy shop wanting to teach and show them everything.  I started with just the calculator part and showed them the graph of a line, added sliders, added a constraint to the domain, showed the wrench to go to projector mode and how to change the window size.  We played a little.  I then switched them over the and I was on  We started with polygraph lines, walked them through it, explaining the need for asking yes or no questions, showing them the teacher dashboard so I can see their use of vocabulary.  We moved on to marbleslides, my own teacher created factor sort, and Land the Plane.  It was so fun to share and walk around and see their abilities.  I met Sadie @relativelythink
    For my third session, Sadie and I moved on to one on what to do with snow days.  I just wanted to hear ideas.  It was a mix of challenges with putting into place a system that would have kids doing school work on snow days.  Some of these challenges are the inequity of teachers having to do work, but what do others like nurse, guidance, janitorial staff do?  They could do PD work?  Other challenge is the difference in levels of technological skills among staff.  If you have a staff member is low tech, what can they do?  Is a blizzard bag the answer when this might be a random filler of activities.  A better idea is to have it be current material for this day.  Get creative - have them take a picture and explain their snow day, write a blog post, write a tweet, do a small project.  It was food for thought.
    Off to lunch.  I was so happy to see #mathletes and #mtbos for a lunch room.  I grabbed a delicious lunch of pizza, salad, drink, popcorn, and a cookie and made my way to the room with about 6 of us math teachers.  Two had their knitting and I was bummed I didn't bring mine.  It was a knitting and math share session.  We shared our must follows on twitter, must read bloggers, and websites.  Thank you to our lunch bunch:

  The next session I put up on the board.  I thought I would share online games like, Quizizz, and Quizlet Live and see what other ideas people had.  They added which I use for random groups but have not looked at the other templates.  We played a bunch of movie related games to test them out.
    I'm not sure how, but we got off on a book tangent - have you read this - have you read this?  Since I love reading Young Adult, I didn't mind.  Everyone had something to contribute.  My list of books to read was drying up, although I have two on my desk waiting for me to start but now I have a new list to read.  We switched from game club to book club and I swallowed it up!  Thank you all!
   It was 2:30 and time for the last session. There was nothing jumping at me.  I felt like I had been at a Thanksgiving feast and was comfortably full.  I didn't want to go to a dud and wanted to leave on my high, so I used my feet (edcamp jargon) and left.  (It's also my husband's birthday, so I wanted to get home so we can go to dinner)

   Thanks #edcampBOS for a successful 2017 edcamp.  Nice work!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Teacher #DITL: Post 9 An In-Between Wednesday

This is my 9th post on the 8th day of the month for the #DITL: Day in the Life of a Teacher blogging series. 

I titled it "An In-Between Wednesday" because it is between two important days of me applying for things.  Yesterday, I submitted my application for the second cohort of @Desmos fellowship and tomorrow I will have my class taped as part of my application for a PAEMST Teacher award.  More on this later.

Back to the beginning.  I woke up at 5:30 and I always start my day with a big glass of water.  It feels so good to rehydrate.  I listened to the DynamicCatholic's video for The Greatest Lent Ever to get me started.  I showered and dressed in red for International Women's Day.  Made my salad for lunch and headed out the door for work at 6:30.

6:40 am at work to do a few things before the day starts: make an answer key to my Foundations' class homework assignment, print one more make up test for a student who was absent, add colored paper clips to my grade book that I finalized last night.  Yes, it's March.  We started the new term at the start of February but I hate to write in the actual grade book until the kids are done finding their correct classes.  Start this blog post.  Think about what my day looks like:

First block is Per 6 Acc Alg 2 and I am teaching Law of Sines.  I taught it to my Period 3 class yesterday and it didn't go quite as planned so I have been thinking about what to do with this Period 6.  This was the day I was going to videotape and after Period 3 yesterday I am glad I didn't tape it.  Nothing went terribly wrong, it is just that Law of Sines - the ambiguous case is tough.  I woke up one morning with the bright idea of making a foam core poster with legos and pipe cleaners so they could see the opposite side actually hinge and why there could be two triangles to consider.

They already knew what Law of Sines was from Geometry last year and have been using it a bit without me reteaching it.  So, I thought we would be good to go.  I gave them some #VNPS problems.  The first was a regular solve the triangle, given a triangle picture.  The second problem, they were given just the values of a side, side, and angle.  The 3rd problem, they were given find the area of a triangle.  Before I knew it, most groups were onto #3, so I knew they missed the ambiguous case in problem 2.  So, I asked them to go back and solve the other triangle.  I didn't teach them how to do this because they had it last year and I wanted to see what they might remember.  I would say half of the class did.  I ran out of time to have the students finish the board problems and then do an exit ticket.  I asked them to come back to their seats, start the exit ticket with one ambiguous case on it, and then I wanted to collect them but they barely started.  So, now I am torn.  I don't think I will hand out the exit ticket.  I think I will save it to become an entrance ticket for tomorrow's class which will get videotape for the PAEMST award.  However, tomorrow's classes are shortened to 45 minutes from 60 minutes due to a college fair.  I think I will have them work on the problem while I am checking homework.  They need to know how to do the Law of Sines before we move onto Law of Cosines tomorrow but this way they will have had their homework as practice.  I am also going to pay closer attention to students starting #2 on the board and encourage them to think about it before erasing and moving on.

Period 7 and 2 will both be Accelerated Alg 1.  We are doing day 1 of a 2 day review for a quiz. We have been graphing quadratics and started solving them, so we need a couple of days to process this.  I have an A/B multiple choice review planned, 2 graphing webs, and then practice worksheets.  Also for period 2, we meet block period, so they have to bring in their catapults to test out.  This is just practice.  Students are bringing them in already this morning.  They will get some M&Ms and try them out, see if they shoot too high, too far, will something break, is something too loose?  Then take it home and remake it before our actual target shooting at the end of the month.  The kids really like this catapult project.

Period 3 is back to Accelerated Alg 2 and I am teaching the Law of Cosines lesson and going to try to make note of all my transition times so I can adjust to tomorrow's 45 minute taped class.  I purposely chose to tape period 6 so I could practice with Period 3 and adjust.

7:08 - last minute details before 7:20 start.  Let's see how the day goes.....

Fast forward to 9:47 am when I can sit again and I would say it went as planned.  I am glad I re-evaluated my Alg 2 class.  I taught the ambiguous case a little more slowly and as they worked on problems at the board, I was able to anticipate them missing the ambiguous case in #2, so I watched them as they worked and stopped them before they tried to move on, asking them to look at it more closely.  I suggested they draw it like me with the angle on the left and then the two sides on the sides, not the bottom, but some drew it on the bottom and then they couldn't figure out the height correctly to move forward.  In this class, I knew I wasn't going to get to the exit ticket so I let them work to the bell.  Good adjustments.

Per 7 - I was just going to read the homework answers and then do out 2 of the word problems.  However, I have a student who loves to lead the class whenever she can.  She asked to do a problem from the homework on completing the square.  Normally, for fear of losing class time, I have to say no, but I let her.  It was a word problem and she did it all exactly correct.  I was glad I gave her the opportunity to try it.

Now it is my prep.  I finish the answer key I started this morning.  I need to prep a lesson for Friday's Foundation class because I can really only do it one day at a time because I need to see how far we get.  I make a powerpoint and some copies.  I need to put last minutes fixes on my Law of Cosines videotaping lesson.  I did just clean my white boards to get them ready, too.

10:40 onto Period 2 Alg 1 plus catapult testing...

2:19 = exhausted and it is 54 degrees and I want to go home and get outside for a run but I need to process my Alg 2 class to get ready for tomorrow.

Period 2 went well.  As I was going over the homework in this class, I told them I let the girl in the other class go to the board to do this certain problem and she got it all right.  They know the girl because some of them were in class with her last term.  One girl said, "I know.  She told me."  So, again, glad I let her.  I think they learned a lot from the catapults as 2 fell apart, one went way too fast, and one went way too far.  They will take them home and make modifications to get ready for the real target day at the end of the month.

Period 3 - My Accelerated Alg 2 class - I was making notes all class long to see how long things would go in order to adjust to the 45 minute class tomorrow during the taping.  In 60 minutes I didn't even have enough time!  Yikes.  But, I did do a problem incorrectly, so I had to figure that out.  I will now do it correctly and save time there.  It took me 17 minutes to collect assignment sheets and check homework.  Good news is I don't have to collect the assignment sheets tomorrow.  I will check homework but I will do it more quickly.  I did have the class doing the old exit ticket as an entrance ticket in those 17 minutes too and I went over it.  It was one problem of the ambiguous SSA Law of Sines case.  I have decided to keep that until the next class.  It is okay that I spiral.  It took me 3 minutes to read the homework answers and there were no questions, so that is a good sign.  I handed out a discovery activity for the Law of Cosines and that took 10 minutes but definitely worth it to derive the Law of Cosines.  I will walk around and monitor their progress then discuss it.  We switched over to notes and it took 10 minutes to get to the first problem for them to try.  We wrote down the three types of Law of Cosines.  Talked about what it is, asked them to notice things about the rule, talked about when you can use it vs Law of Sines, discussed that you can find a missing angle too.  Then we tried one.  Some kids entered it in pieces on their calculator and undid the operations incorrectly so I tried to encourage them to do it in one entry with their calculator.  I gave them an example of SSS that I thought was going to have them fall into the ambiguous case but it didn't.  I was confused and trying to figure it out, so this took some time.  I was so happy I had this class to practice on them and they knew we were figuring it all out together.  That only left 10 minutes for the board problems and this is what I wanted to be the main part of my video, so I need to chop.  I think I will check the homework and save the Law of Sines exit ticket, do the discovery activity, chop my notes down a bit more, give them only one class practice problem together and then they are up and working.  We did struggle together but I want them to struggle in their groups of three and figure it out.  Wish I had one more class to practice with.  If it doesn't work, there is still time to pick another class to tape, but this one provides me with a lot to talk about, phew!

2:45 - leaving school, stop at the bank, still thinking about this lesson, think I am going to drop the one class problem I do, but then decide to keep it in there. 

3pm  I pull into my driveway and am still thinking about the lesson with my child #3 scares me through the window and knocks me out of this zone, which I needed.  The kids are heading golfing and I am going for a run which will have me back to thinking about this darn lesson.  I am way over thinking.  More importantly, whatever shall I wear???? 

3:08-3:45ish run about 3.8 miles - all the time thinking of this lesson.  I made one more decision.  Instead of walking around and then checking the homework then asking for questions, I will pass out the discovery activity and have the kids start WHILE I walk around and check the homework.  Anything to save a few minutes.  If I time my run correctly, I get back to the neighborhood at the same time my best friend across the street's little kids get off the bus and the kindergartner always greets me with a running hug, "Jennnn".  Again, another sign to break me out of this trace.  

Off to shower and into my pajamas, yep, by 4 pm.  My brain is done and my jammies are on.  Why not?  I don't have anything to go out to tonight. 

I pick out my clothes for tomorrow's taping.  I want to wear something that I am comfortable in, so I decide on a black short sleeved shirt with a gray sweater and I want black dressy pants with a design.  I have a few pairs and the ones that won by default are the only ones with a back pocket for the wireless microphone.  I never knew most of my dress pants don't have real back pockets.  Throw in a load of laundry, grab a piece of banana bread I made yesterday for a snack.  Check school email and find an invitation for our math team to go to States!  Wahoo!  I was hoping we would make it.  We are in the large school division on March 31st.  Now to figure out our top 8 kids to compete.  Next up, sit in the sun and read my new book "The Radius of Us" - A young adult book I am loving.

5:13 pm, finished my book, so good.  I hate when it ends.  I have been on such a great roll with books.  It's my 7th book this year, 2017.  I need to get to the school library tomorrow and get something new to read.  I bought a new journal at the beginning of the year, not sure what I would write in it, but I decided to make notes of the books a read - a book journal.  I'm recording the title, the author, the date I finish it and a brief synopsis with up to 5 stars.

5:20 pm Put a butternut squash in the oven to bake for a bit.  Making squash, rice, and steak for dinner.  It was 60 degrees today and listening to the news tell me snow and cold weather is moving in.  Glad I ran today.

5:24 pm Send an email to Youth Group reminding them of some payments due for Mystery Night Out and for Mission Trip.  Help my kid#3 fill out a sports application for college.  He is hoping to play golf at college.

We took a picture after school of those still around and wearing red:


6 pm dinner

More explanation on Desmos Fellowship and PAEMST.  Desmos had their 1st cohort of Desmos Fellows last year.  I saw it then and thought about it but did not apply.  When I heard people talking about it afterwards, I knew I wanted to do it.  When it was first advertised last week, I jumped on it.  I had to do a screen cast teaching Desmos how to use something on Desmos.  It was the first time I have created a screen cast and it took me many attempts but I was happy with the final product.  I had to answer other questions including why I want to do this.  And, I had to include some snapshots of something I created in Desmos, so I included my Factor Card Sort.  I will hear around May 15th.  All submitted and done.

The PAEMST is the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.  It is a national award.  A colleague nominated me.  I was totally surprised when I received the email at the beginning of February break.  I have seen the abbreviation on Twitter but didn't know much about it.  I read up about it and am honored just to be nominated.  It is a big process but one I am willing to try.  I listened to a webinar about tips on applying.  I researched and read some blogs of past winners.  They will award this to two teachers (Math and/or Science teachers) from each state.  It almost feels like applying to college (along with my kid #3).  I had to fill out information to see if I would qualify and I did.  I need three letters of recommendations and I have asked for them.  I have to type up a resume that can be up to three pages.  I have to video tape a class.  It has to be continuous, no editing.  It can be 45 minutes max.  Then, I have to write a 12 page paper about 5 different dimensions, some having to do with reflecting on the video.  I can include 10 pages of supplemental material.  So, I am videotaping my class tomorrow.  I had my friend tape one class yesterday more as practice for him, to test his camera and microphone and his placement in the room.  I emailed the parents and asked for the parents.  All the parents were fine with it and wished me luck.  If it doesn't go well for some reason, I can tape a different class, but I hope it goes okay so I can start the paper.  It is due on May 1st.  It has a nice, easy dashboard type website to submit everything, including a count down.  It is due in 53 days.  I won't hear about the winners for a while.  So, I will submit and then forget about it.

7:11 pm, getting ready to chill on the couch for the rest of the night

Answers to the DITL questions - abbreviated form
One of the questions is about the decisions teachers make - I made a million and one today, so that's enough for now.

Things I am looking forward to - this Friday is Soup and Stations hosted by our Youth Group at Church.  I look forward to trying all the yummy soups (snow coming on Friday) and having dinner with the youth.  Then, we go next door to the church and pray our way through the Stations.  It is a nice, quiet way to spend a Friday during Lent.  And, then Saturday, I am excited to go to #edcampBOS all day.  And, it is my husband's birthday, so I will come home and take him out to dinner.  Our youth group Mystery All Night is next Saturday, March 18th.  We have 31 kids and 6 adults traveling to two mystery locations and returning to the church at 1 am and then hanging out all night until 6 am.  I plan on sleeping all day on the 19th to recover.

A warm brownie for you if you made it all the way through this terribly long post.  Thanks for listening to me think aloud as I prepare for my lesson tomorrow.  See you next month for #DITL Post 10 on April 8th, a Saturday.  This is the day of our Youth Group big fundraiser dinner!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Two Truths and a Lie: Quadratic Style

I did this last year and forgot about it, but then got excited when I saw it in my plans for this year.  I really like it.  I like that it is a good opener.  It doesn't take the kids too long to make or to find the lies, but it lends itself to good discussion while they are trying to create the truths and the lies and good discussion as they walk around the room to look at the other teams' boards.

We started our unit on Quadratics two days ago.  We did Day 1: Teaching Graphing of Quads - Vertex Form and Transformations and Day 2: Graphing of Quads from Standard Form and all the properties.

Today was 2 Truths and a Lie.  Almost all of the students are aware of the regular game.  I have 6 groups of students and give them each a quadratic in vertex, standard, or even one was in factored form.  I ask them to do the problem and graph out on a big white board and figure out the properties, then come up with 2 truths and a lie about it.  Then they prop their big whiteboard on my class whiteboard and they pick up an individual whiteboard.  When all 6 boards were up, the students were asked to travel around to visit each one and determine the lie.  Then, I stood by each one and introduced the problem as Team One's problem.  I ask for someone not on team one to tell me what they thought was the lie.  I polled the class.  Then, I asked Team One if they were correct.  I thought Number 3 might have been the hardest because there were a lot of students clustered around it for the longest, but it turns our 4 was the one that stumped everyone.

I really like it.  And, then more fun to follow with Desmos polygraph with each student on their own computers followed by Desmos Marbleslides - 2 kids to one computer - more great conversations and use of vocabulary.





Unit Circle #VNPS

Last week we learned about the unit circle in Accelerated Algebra 2.  They had it last year in Geometry and we are continuing it this year.  I explained where it came from by drawing out the special right triangle and then we created lovely paper plate unit circles, writing the degrees, radians, and points all around the edge. 
   When they returned yesterday, I wanted to see if they could create it on their own, so I grouped the kids into threes and had them all up at the whiteboards.  They were instructed to make the unit circle, including degrees, radians, and points and then to write 6 problems and solve them that are 6 trig ratios, a mix of degrees and radians. 
    It was interested to watch them go through the process. 
Did they draw the circle first or the coordinate plane?
How perfect did their circle have to be?
Some started using yard sticks to draw diameters through the circle to represent the different angles like I did in class.  But, some decided they only needed to put the points on the circle.
There were three people in the group. Some groups had one student do all the degrees, another do the radians, and then the points.  Some groups broke it up and each chose to work on a conic.  Some groups had one person write as they figured it out together. 
Then, they had to write their 6 trig ratios.  At first some thought I meant 6 trig ratios of 6 points or 6 trig ratios of each point.  Goodness, no, just 6 random trig ratios. 

I watched and admired their work and the thought process but I was starting to see some mistakes.  As the groups finished I extended my original idea and asked them to mingle around the room and see if they could find any mistakes.  A few were found.  The groups who drew them wanted to know right away, where is the mistake?  They didn't want to have any. 

It was a good 20 minute activity.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Siri: "Planes Overhead Now" #VNPS

I saw someone post on twitter that if you asked Siri "Planes Overhead Now", it would give you the following:

I was to meet period 6 before period 3 when we returned from vacation, so I decided to try this in class and see what happens.  It is accelerated Algebra 2.  They had right triangle trig in geometry last year and we are just starting trig now.  I wanted to see what they could make of it.  I didn't give them many instructions, just to draw it. 

This is what I got:
Group 1 - used variables and came up with an equation to create a table and then graph.  Very formal.

Group 2 -Nicely labeled x and y axes and planes.

Group 3 - Started out with just drawing the angle degrees, then guessed on where the dots for the airplanes would go.  I helped direct them and asked if they could figure out how far away from you they would be.  I did tell them they could use their calculators and at that point, they hadn't needed them, but now, they were "ooooh, that's why we would use our calculators."  They knew their final product wasn't quite drawn to scale but better than they started with.

Group 4 - Was similar to 3 in that they started with degrees, rays, and dots.  I encouraged them to add some numbers to their axes.  (I didn't tell them they had to put it on a coordinate plane, but they all did.)

Group 5 -I took this picture before they were done.  They didn't have numbers at first, they were starting to figure them out.

Group 6 - I am not sure why I let them off the hook so easily.

Group 7 - I like this.  They first drew a lot of smaller triangles and then put their information as points on the graphs without drawing all the rays (similar to number 1).

Group 8 - They color coded.  I love color coding.  Some groups didn't have any number labels on their axes or names on their airplanes, details, details.

Group 9 - erased.

I liked it.  It was a good conversation started.  Some people were using Law of Sines.  Okay, but they didn't need to because we had right triangles.  We discussed the distance away being the horizontal distance.  Some groups found their hypotenuse and used that though.

We live an hour West of Boston, so I was imagining all these planes departing Boston's Logan Airport.  I was wondering if any of the students might draw planes to the East and the West but they didn't.  I am going to do this again with Period 3 on Friday.  We will see their take on it.