This is my 5th installment of #MTBoS2020 - blogging on the 20th of each month during the year 2020. If you want to blog or to read some blogs, find out more here: #MTBoS2020.
I couldn't forget today, because it is my baby's birthday. My son, Luke, is the youngest of 4 boys and turning 19. He just finished up his first year at UMaine and will be transferring to UMASS Amherst this fall (hopefully) to be a tad closer to home.
First, my school stuff, then a little about home life.
Our school cancelled due to corona on May 11th. That was our first day off. We weren't sure what the plan was right away, so our school did 3 weeks of review material. April 6th was our first day teaching "live" and new material. At that point, we weren't sure if we would go back. I was hopeful and then, I wasn't hopeful. From April 6th to mid June, I counted 10 weeks, so I went with that for a plan. I named each week by the week: Week 1, Week 2, etc.
I was happy with our school's plan. We have 7 classes and normally see them about 4 times a week. We cut it in half to see each class twice:
They asked teachers to be live for at least 1 hour per day, so while each class is scheduled for 45 minutes, you don't have to do all 45 minutes live. With two classes each week, I called them: 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B. Each lesson had a zoom session, a google slide lesson that I screencastified to teach over it, a homework of about 6 -10 problems and a worked out solution answer key. These were all created brand new (3 different preps - Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2). I uploaded them all to google classroom. I had not used it before, but I liked it more and more each time I used it. Here is what my week looked like.
I added each week as a "topic", each google slide as "material", and each homework as an "assignment". With the homework being listed as an assignment, I could put a due date on it. That way if someone handed their homework in late, I would get a notification. I do not get a notification that they handed it in. I didn't want that. That would be too many emails. But, by getting the late notification in an email, I could then go back to my gradebook and give them credit.
I hand the students either print out the homework or do it on paper, take a picture and upload it to google classroom. Within google classroom, I can click on the Grades tab and I can see who turned it in and whose is missing. I do this right before Zoom class because they might submit it in the morning. I go back and check it after Zoom to see if anyone entered it. Then, I put a checkmark in my online gradebook to show them and parents completion. I also put a checkmark for coming to Zoom. Parents can see if they are coming to Zoom class and if they are doing the homework. We are doing Pass/Fail in the end. Here the students' names are listed in a column to the left.
After I see if they have done the homework. Then, I can click on each one to take a look at their work. They are so cute, leaving me messages "I think this one has a mistake". "This one was tough I had to look at the answer key." "Can you do this one in class?" "help!" So, I take this feedback and bring it to the zoom class.
Prior to the Zoom class, they will have watched the video lesson, done the homework, checked their answers, and uploaded it to Google Classroom. Then, they come to Zoom. I have little whiteboards at home, so I write the agenda on that and hold it up in my Zoom window. We usually discuss the homework. Sometimes I will screenshot my answer key or their wrong work and put that into a Google Slide to screenshare with the class in Zoom and discuss that way. Then, we will usually do a couple of problems. Sometimes I write them out and hold them up on a whiteboard, then put them into breakout groups so they can unmute and actually discuss the problems. I pop into each breakout room to see if they have any questions. They can also call me to the room if they have a question. Another option I have used is Classkick. I like this because I can see them working live and I can write on their screen and they can see my work. With this, I usually do 4 problems. I keep them in Zoom and then can call them back to a screen...."Abby, come back to screen 2, so we can look at your work." I do Desmos Activities in a Zoom session. I pull the Desmos up on my home computer so I can still see the kids in Zoom and read my Desmos teacher dashboard. Sometimes I will put them into breakout rooms so they can discuss a Desmos marbleslide for example.
As far as tests, I have been using Edulastic. It had a bit of a learning curve. I have used the questions provided in the bank as well as created my own. I do have to go back and re-grade them because of variations to correct answers. It has taken me about an hour to regrade them.
I am giving an Algebra 2 trig identity test this week and I want to be able to see each step of their work and comment on it, so I am not using Edulastic. I just shared a google doc regular looking test. They will take it and upload it to google classroom. Then, on my ipad, I will open google classroom and I can write on it, circle thing, use arrows to provide better feedback.
When I am testing my classes, I will open a test on a Wednesday and give them until Friday at 2 pm to finish it. I am glad I decided on the 2pm deadline versus a midnight deadline. Students always have last minute questions and I am not answering emails after 8 pm. So, by making the deadline 2 pm, they are asking questions during a normal school day.
This is week 7 for us. We are getting closer. I will say the newness has worn off. But, I am more comfortable now that I have figured out what tech works best for what I want/need and I have taught myself how to use it. I am in the swing of things.
I asked my Algebra 1 students for some feedback in a short Nearpod (another tech tool I am using). We did two problems in Nearpod in Zoom on Monday and then I asked them to tell me how life and math were going. Most students reported it was just right - the right amount of work and they were able to keep up with it. That was really important feedback for me. I feel like I am doing the right amount, but not knowing until I asked them.
Home Life continues. My whole family is all blessed to still be working. My husband is still working the night shift which has been an adjustment. We just celebrated Luke's birthday at lunch time so Dad could be with us.
I am on a 106 day streak with my Duolingo Spanish.
I am continuing to exercise every day, up at 6:30. I am very disciplined in the morning - only due to the fact that we have 2 cats and 2 dogs that get very hungry in the morning and my husband is sleeping in because he works late. This morning they woke me up at 5:30 am, so I was on a long bike ride by 5:45 am.
I continue to write in my journal daily. I am going to have to buy a new one for part 2 of this year because I am documenting so much stuff.
And, I am still doing my temperature scarf each day. Our town got to 81 degrees this Saturday, so I finally got to knit an orange row! I will pearl the row for Luke's birthday today. (I am pearling each of our birthdays so they stand out. 5/6 bdays done for the year, mine is in November.)
The top by my hand is May.
Oh, and I decided to write each of my students Thank You postcards. I took class pictures in September as I do each year so I can put a class picture in a Google Slideshow for parent night. They were all sun-kissed and happy and smiling. I wrote Math 2020, Mrs. F, and Algebra 1 on each, had Snapfish print as pictures, then added a sticker label to the backside to write on. I have written 2 classes, 3 more to go.
And, my Algebra 2 classes did the Desmos Art project, so I have to grade those too.
But, alas, it is a gorgeous day out and I will head outside for a much needed break now. Thanks for reading.