Friday, January 7, 2022

Angry Birds' Game Design Midterm Project

      I dare to say this might be one of my favorite projects. It is a combination of two projects I have done before, plus Desmos, of course.

      Our school started off this second school year of Covid by saying we were not going to do Midterms. Then, in October, we were told to do midterms in January. Then, at our Jan faculty meeting, we were told because so many students were absent before December break and they would have work to make up, it would be okay if we did not do midterms.  Well, I already had a lot of time and effort invested into my compromise of a Midterm Project, I did it and I am glad I did.  I told my students a little bit about it before December break to get them interested - created the hook. I also told them it would happen the first three days back to school in January. There was nothing they had to do to prepare - no studying, so do not worry about math over break. 

     When we were told to do midterms in October, I came up with the idea to combine two projects I have done in the past. One was an idea from Alex Overwijk shared and it was to create parabolas by rolling marbles in paint and then rolling them on a tilted surface.  This is done using the back side of wrapping paper that has the 1 inch graph on it. I did this years ago with one small class. It was messy, but fun. Then, for a few years, I did an Angry Birds project that had the students working in groups of 4 and each got some information about their own of four Angry Birds. They had to graph them in order to figure how who hit each pig and which bird went the highest and which one was in the air the longest. Students liked that one as well.

     So, I thought, if I have the kids roll the marbles through paint to create the path of 4 different colored Angry Birds, then they can enter this data into Desmos and have Desmos do the regression to give us the equations, that would be pretty cool.  This is all happening in four of my College Prep Algebra 2 class.  We just finished a big quadratics unit, so we have done all the vocabulary, graphing, solving, and word problems. This would hopefully tie it all together nicely.  Then, I was wondering how I could bring the pigs into it to take it further. I thought if each group had 2 pigs to place on their graph that would be fun. I found some really cute pig stickers on Amazon. At first, I thought I would give the students the options of placing their pig stickers before or after their roll. I tried rolling a marble through the paint on the titled board and it worked. I was pretty good at it. But, I realized, it would be quite challenging to actually get the wet paint, rolled marble to go through the pig. I made the decision to have them place the pigs AFTER they painted all four paths. I decided I wanted them to place the pigs on the bird's path down. During the project and as I was seeing how the kids rolled the marbles, I decided that it did not need to be on the way down because their up part of the parabola was more perfect. Some of the marbles lost their umph and went up nicely but then came down in a straight line. 

     Before I could make this all happened, I knew I had to figure out how to make it work in Desmos so we had a place to collect the data and the project. Could I figure out how to have them enter all their data (5 points from each path) and then get it into Desmos for Desmos to do the regression? I am a Desmos Fellow and have attended their headquarters. I was trying to learn the coding behind Desmos, but I have not had enough time to spend with it. I played around a little bit with it, but I just couldn't do it. So, I reached out to Jennifer White, on Twitter, whom I know from Desmos and Twitter Math Camp. I sent out an SOS, explained my crazy idea, and she jumped right in.  She thought it could work and it would be visually nice to have all four colored coded tables on one slide and then connect it to the next slide that would have the regression and graphs. She did up a mock Desmos Activity Builder activity with the coding for one table.  She was amazing!  From there, I played with it, copying and pasting to get it to work for the other three tables. I tried entering some data and I could not get it to show up on the graph. I kept trying. At this point, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get it to work, and therefore, the project might not happen.  Jenn originally had the table of values containing four points. I decided I wanted the students to enter five points each, the two x-intercepts, the vertex, and 2 other points.  I asked a student in my Accelerated Algebra 2 class to help me and look at the coding. He noticed one subscript was off. I thought that was it, nope. Then, in talking it through with him, I realized when I added another data point, I didn't change the coding. I added that in and voila, it worked! Okay, we were doing it!

      I put out a call to the parents in town on Facebook asking for donations of wrapping paper with graphs on the back. My friend and my mother in law reached out and gave me all the rolls I needed. I ordered two sets of pig stickers. I have four classes of Algebra 2 with about 20-25 students, so about 90 students total. I decided to have them work in groups of 3 like we do when we work in the board groups, and for the most part, I allowed them to choose their partners. I did not think I could pre-arrange the groups because I did not know who would be absent due to travel or covid. I had to put a few groups together too but the kids were okay with that. I have 2x2 whiteboards that the students would tape the graphing paper to to have a hard surface to work on. This meant I needed to cut out 32 2x2 pieces of the wrapping paper. That took me about 1.5 hours to cut. That was ready. I collected yard sticks and Sharpies to draw and label the axes with.  I finished writing up the activity all in Desmos including the plan. I estimated three days would be good for the project. Hopefully we could get all paint done on the first day and collect the five points from each of the four parabolas, and we did. Then, on the second day we could look at our graphs and equations in Desmos and do the PIG math. We would place the two pig stickers. This is where I extended the idea of the pigs. I thought, if they know the coordinates of each pig, then, we could actually prove the bird hit the pig. With the first pig, they could tell me which bird hit it and then they could plug X into the equation and solve for Y. Not too tough, straight calculation from standard form. Then, for the second pig, they could plug in Y and solve for X. A little more challenging, but it built the need for the quadratic formula. And, that meant working through the formula with a lot of crazy decimals. My students like nice, clean numbers, aka, integers, but nobody complained about the decimals. I think it is because I have used a lot of Deltamath this year and the numbers aren't always nice, so they have learned how to round and enter their answers in Delta because they want to get it correct. For both of the pigs, we were aiming to get close to the other X and Y values and we did!  There were some kids that were off by a lot. It may have been because they place it on a parabola that curved up correctly, but then, rolled straight down. Some groups chose different points, and therefore, had different equations, but they were trying to do all the math with the same equation. We learned the difference between the A value being -20 and -2.0.  We learned that negatives and decimals ARE important. We did already know that because they opened down, all the A values should be negative, but this confirmed that. We learned that doing the Quadratic formula on your phone calculator is really hard.

Day 1: The room set up: 





      Okay, back to the beginning. Day 1: I set up my room. I pushed the desks to the perimeter of the room. I put the desks in groups of three so they could walk in and choose a spot and their groups. I had all my supplies out: 2x2 whiteboards, wet wipes, paper towels, and rags (any way to clean up the paint), kid friendly paint I bought on Amazon (colors: Red, Orange, Green, and Blue - to work in Desmos), marbles, 4 trays with four bowls each, yard sticks, Sharpies, 4 wooden triangles that I have in my room for decoration that the students would lean their boards against on the floor, 4 cut open trash bags to catch the messy, painted marbles, and a recording sheet. I told everyone they were responsible for their completing their own Desmos activity and their own recording sheet that would be collected. Along my planning path, I thought we could use a recording sheet, just a front and a back with a screenshot of the 4 tables in Desmos because it is easier to collect points on paper and then enter them into Desmos. I also had the students take the 4 equations from Desmos and write them on their recording sheet so they could use it for the PIG math. On the back, was an explanation and space to do the 2 PIG math problems. Tell me the coordinates of each pig and the color and equation of the bird that hit the pig. Then, solve for X with one and solve for Y with the other. I added that I wanted them to take a picture of their work and upload it to Desmos.  I have to say the recording sheet and the Desmos worked really well together. They didn't have to have their computers on their desk the whole time.  On day one, they took a 2x2 whiteboard and taped their wrapping paper graphs to it. Then, they used a Sharpie and a yard stick to draw Quadrant one, label their X and Y axis with numbers and words. X as time in the air in seconds and Y as the height in feet. I made a mistake in that in one place in the Desmos direction, I said to label X as distance, so I clarified that.  After they drew their graphs, they set up at one of four stations on the floor and I gave them one clean marble to practice rolling. We learned you should be in front of the board and not the side. You don't really want to throw it up but more in a North-East direction to get it to roll down the board correctly. The kids did great and they really had fun with it. With four stations and 7 or 8 groups each, we had plenty of time to get all the groups to roll 4 painted marbles each. That meant I didn't have to set up the paint stations the next class. After they rolled their artwork, they untaped it from the 2x2 boards and taped it to a vertical board around the room so they could collect 5 points from each path onto their paper and then enter into Desmos. This is on screen 9. Then, when they went to screen 10, that was when I could celebrate, it worked! There were their 4 paths, almost just like their pictures. I explained to the students that with the help of a friend online, I was able to code Desmos to take our data, run a regression (I never taught them regression), and then graph our paths. I also told them the part I could not figure out was the color coding. The tables each say red, orange, blue, and green, but it didn't really correspond to their actual paths. So, I worked with each group when they got to this point. (I should add I have a teaching assistant in each class, except for one, so that was helpful.) I showed them how to go to the gear and change their colors. This was a built in need to learn how to change the colors and now they will have that for their future Desmos use. Some students even got to the point to write down their equations from the Desmos regression onto their recording sheet. I asked them to round to 1 or 2 decimal places. They did not need the approximation squiggle or the x1 subscripts. And, we stopped there and I knew it would all work out and be worth it. I went into the project thinking, this is either going to be really great, or it is going to flop. Either way, it will be memorable. I am happy to report, it was really great.

The first rolls: 



Board directions:

Rolling in a group:

After the paint rolling:


     Day 2/3. We got further than I predicted on Day 1 which was good news and then, two of my four classes were to finish this up on Friday (today) but snow was predicted. Snow, travel, covid, nothing can stop us!  So, I worked with those two classes to make sure we were in a place that they could finish up on their own should we have a snow day (and we did, that is why I am able to finally type all this). My original plan for Day 2 was to enter the data into Desmos, get the equations, and do the PIG math. Then, on day 3, they would do the analysis and the reflection parts. It was easy to combine those in.  For my first two classes, I did see them all three days and we did it that way.  On day 2, we did the PIG math. I should them examples on the board and then they were off. It was quite a bit of work to get around to help everyone with these two big calculations and it did take most of the period, but they did it. Some groups ran into negatives under their square roots. They were so cute and even thought to put i in their answers. I suggested we keep it real. Their discriminant might have been -0.2 so we called it zero and went from there. I did have a group with a discriminant of -303 and I realized they entered their data wrong, so there were these situations but they all rolled with it (pun intended). Once they got their math done, they took a picture of each problem and uploaded that to Desmos (took a little bit of help with file forms and such). That is where I stopped with my first two periods in order to save the analysis and reflection for day 3, but with my other two classes, I squeezed it in and asked them to finish it for homework. It is their midterm project, so I know they will do it.

      Day 3: Analysis and reflection: I asked, "Which bird went the highest and how high?" and I fixed my second question to ask, "Which bird was in the air for the longest amount of time and how long?" Then, I had them answer a reflection piece:

Tell me what you thought of this project. Elaborate on the following questions. How did it tie in with our Quadratics unit? Do you understand everything that went into the project? If not, what did you not understand? How well did your group members work together? Would you have preferred a midterm exam? What could make this project better? What was your favorite part of this project?

     This is the piece I am looking forward to reading through. One student started off the project by asking how it was going to be graded. I said, "This is an example where it is more about the process than the project. If you complete the project, you will be all set." That is what they needed to hear. No studying, no preparing, no homework each night, just doing the project in class and coming up with a really cool thing at the end, even working through messy numbers. They did it and I am so proud.  I remember, I woke up early on Monday, first day back from December break, because I was excited to get to see how it would all go. After literally months of thinking about it in my head, it would finally come out on paper. I haven't had the opportunity to be that excited about something new in a while or to create something in a while. It felt good and I am so glad I did it. It was a lot of time to prepare, a lot of materials to collect and buy, a lot of out of cost expense to me, but all in all, it was worth it.  I think the kids will remember this one. 

     And, finally, they had to upload a picture of their final artwork into Desmos so they would have it all in one place. Nice job everyone!  Now, to enjoy the Snow day. Thanks for reading.

     We aren't supposed to play favorites, but I think this one came out the best:


Desmos: Angry Bird Game Design Midterm Project

Angry Birds' Recording Sheet

Class google slides: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3

And, a big thank you to everyone that made this possible: Alex O, Jenn W, my friend with the wrapping paper, my mother in law, Amazon, my 3 teaching assistants, Desmos, and my students. 

And, finally, some screenshots of their reflections pieces: 




Thank you! (That took me 1.5 hrs to type)


 

 


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Last Year's First Day of School

 I have journaled every day since November 2019.  I thought it would be fun to look back at my journal post from the first day of last year - September 2020 - Covid.  Our school started 10 days late to give teachers time to prepare.  We were told to learn and use Schoology that August.  Surprise!  Our students came in every other day in a hybrid situation. Some students chose fully remote.  And, as you will see I learned this first day that I had to live stream some of the remote students into my class.

This is exactly what I wrote.  I was laughing as I read it, so I thought I would share:

Wed, Sept 16, 2020 - 1st Day of School for Students:  Well, that was weird! Way too close to a dystopian young adult novel.  I arrived at 6:30 am, no time to exercise before class, because I wanted to beat traffic.  Two-thirds of our students are being driven to school and have to wait in their cars until 7:15 am.  School starts at 7:25 am. The school is building some new classrooms adjacent to my room.  My window that had been covered with a plastic sheet, finally got boarded up yesterday. Right outside my door is a stairway that is plastic sheet walled off, so I am now at a dead end next to a construction zone. 

When I got to school at 6:30 am, I decided to check my period 3 roster.  We are still fighting against live streaming students into our classes, so imagine my surprise, but not really, because it's covid, that I have two new girls that will be live streaming during Period 3 today. I had to teach periods 1 and 2, so no time, no training, no equipment, no agreement, just a declaration.  So, I sent the 2 girls the time and zoom link.  

I greeted my Period 1 class, instructing them to think about which seat they wanted.  There are 15 desks in my room, 6 feet apart, tape on the ground. I asked them to think about their seat choice, could they see/hear/did they want to sit by the window because they have to be kept open and it was chilly today. 

I offered each student a face shield. Two out of eight took one. They all had their masks and kept them on. I introduced myself, gave a little tour of my very bare room because we can't share supplies, so I didn't put them out. 

New this year, I put a QR code printed in orange paper and laminated. It is my sign in and out. It links to a google form that gives me a nice time stamped list of sign outs. Then, I shared my sparkly new Schoology page, brand new to us (aka -thrown in our laps after we just taught ourselves how to use Google Classroom in the Spring. I told them I was building it one lesson at a time. I didn't have any handouts for them. I am trying to be all online. I also reminded them to be aware of all varieties of anxiety due to the virus.  Some people didn't believe it is real and don't think we should wear masks to those who are very fearful of getting sick and we have to honor each persons' feelings by respecting their 6-feet of space and keeping our masks on.

We did a Desmos: Math and Me. Desmos now has classrooms - one code all year. It is amazing. I shared the dashboard with my coteachers and we were off. Then, we played 31-derful-virtual style. Some kids couldn't get on Desmos and went to 31-derful. I think with tech activities having different platforms for back up is a good idea. Onto Period 2 after a 15 minute mask break for half the kids. Repeat lesson. Then, Period 3. I pulled up my google slideshow (only 1 computer) and zoomed the live stream girls in, while welcoming students in after Mask Break 2 for the 2nd half of the alphabet. It took me a minute to peel away my computer layers to find the screen to take attendance for my full class - my hybrid and my remote students. Yes, marking students at home that I have no contact with as "remote present" (somewhere in the world). So, I have 15 kids in front of me, 2 kids to the left of me, and my google slides behind me, sharing with my zoomers. I did forget about them. I tried to stand where they could see me. I tried to check in at transitions or while working. I got them into Desmos and wrote the code on the board. The zoomers reminded me they needed the code - as polite as can be. They played 31-derful as well. 

I finally got to sit down around 10:40, take my mask off, and take a sip of water. I was freezing, exhausted and then it hit me. I have to do this exact thing all over again tomorrow! So, I sucked it up and got to reading through my students' desmos responses, excited to grab some snapshots to share and discuss, but that I remembered I need to wait until I have the results from the other half of class tomorrow. Great, can't plan that yet. 

I forced myself to break for lunch, in my room, at my desk, by myself. Good think I like my own company but it will get old.

Last period came in, another Algebra 2 class, bigger at 14. At the end of each class, I spray the desks, the kids grab a paper towel and wipe theirs down. They leave as new kids come in. I spray again and they wipe down. This will grow old quickly as well. 

Class went well. I congratulated them on a first day done!  And, they were off and I was out. I hurried. I knew traffic would be a nightmare with parent pick up. Our high school is next to our middle school and we end up with gridlock from two closed circles, but I made it through. Traffic was half way down Pleasant St. I got home (1 mile commute) and changed my clothes. I felt like a jellyfish blob. I couldn't move or think or function. I collected myself. Rick came home and we shared stories. I made links work in an embedded google slide. Kathy did a great job explaining how to do this over the phone and I got it! Then, I made a google slide lesson with pictures from Desmos on Piecewise functions. 

I tried to tape the first time but forgot to plug my microphone in. I figured that out as I was recording myself teaching the lesson and I found a mistake in the graph I made, so I had to go back to google, back to Desmos, and fix the original graph. Take 2 was a hit. Sure to be popular with all my fans. At this point, it was 5:15 and time to pop dinner in. I remembered I froze a homemade buffalo mac n cheese from sometime this summer. I thanked my former self for that amazing idea as dinner was fabulous. 

Rick and I went for a walk. The boys were golfing and fishing.  It's getting darker earlier already. On my walk, I remembered we had leftover ice cream sandwich cake so we had that when we got home. Then I sat down and started to journal! Time to knit my temperature scarf and then off to bed. I need to be up at 5:15 am tomorrow to squeeze a workout in before I do this whole day over again (minus the mac n cheese) - Lord, help us all!!!!

The End

My journal posts are not always this long and it took a lot longer to type than I anticipated.  Hope you enjoyed. 
Notes: my room is ready, but construction is still going on.  I am still walking, still knitting. My boys are still golfing and fishing.  I sprayed the desks all year long. I used the QR bathroom code all year and will continue this year.  I am very thankful to this last year self who did a lot of working finding my perfect tech tools and figuring out how to use them.  I am using a lot of what I created last year.  Thank you to me!

Monday, March 15, 2021

I have an IDEA! #MyDollarJourney

 My town has a site on Facebook to share puzzles.  I came up with the idea to write our Last Names on the puzzles as we pass them around and called it #PuzzleJourney.  I think people liked the idea.  

My husband said it reminded him of "Where's George?"  I hadn't heard of it but it is a way of tracking dollar bills.  You stamp a dollar bill with a stamp you buy.  I bought one with pink ink, like this one but it will say "Made in Math Class/Hopkinton MA"  


I registered on the site and enter five $1 bills.  It is so cool.  It keeps a history with a lot of information broken down into tables.  There is even a George score.  With my five bills and not having traveled anywhere yet, my George score is 126.  I wondered how it was calculated.  I found it at the bottom of the website.  



Very interesting.  I was chatting with Sam Shah about the formula because I didn't know if it was real or just made up.  He has some good thoughts.  I'm going to think on it more.

I am going to ask my students to each bring in a dollar bill.  I will record all their numbers and then stamp them.  Then, the kids should go spend it and we will follow #MyDollarJourney.  Then, I was thinking it would be fun to set a date, say June 15th, and have a contest to see whose dollar went the farthest.  I could do 1 winner per class.  

If interested, give it a try!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Reviewing with Desmos and a Twist

 In these Covid times, we are in school learning in hybrid. My students sit in rows and we don't do anything that involves moving around the room, working in groups, or using all my manipulatives.  This makes it a little challenging to use my fun review games.  

We are getting ready to take a quiz on Quadratics in Algebra 2, so I made a 10 question Desmos activity.  I am not versed enough in the computation layer to make it self checking (yet), so I did not include answers or make it self checking (but that would make keeping track of the game much easier).  I wanted to make it a game to add a little bit of competition and make them motivated to work and ask questions.  I don't like games that add a speed element because it adds too much stress to the students.  I divided my students into teams based on their rows with about 4 kids per team.  Once I saw that each person on the team had a correct answer in desmos, they earned a card - a regular playing card (mine are bigger size though).  I put the card on the board face backwards so they can't see the value.  I had the value for 2-10 as the face value.  I made Jack, Queen, and Kings all 10 points each and the Ace is 11 points.  

They had me running about all class.  I was checking their work and answering great questions. I felt like I was on the Price is Right.  In fact, it was the most they have spoken or asked questions all year.  Just that little added layer of "winning a card".  As the period drew to its end, I flipped over the cards and we totaled them up.  Highest hand won.  It was a lot of fun.  I learned about a lot of common misconceptions.  So many kids are still squaring a negative b and getting a negative in the quadratic formula even though I tell them to include the parentheses every day.  

They learned and I learned, it was a quick and easy fix to make it a game.

Friday, January 1, 2021

How I Design My Lessons in Covid Hybrid Times

 This is the 3rd installment of the #MTBoSYuleBlog.

It took me a while to figure out all the tech to put my lessons together.  I spent a lot of extra time this summer figuring it out.  I knew what I wanted, but not quite all the know-how to do it.  I stuck with it.  I was so frustrated sometimes I would scream and want to throw my computer, but I did not. The time and effort paid off and now I can just do it instead of the figuring out part.

The biggest piece I needed to figure out was how to make a video and post it so I can know the kids have watched it.  Edpuzzle does this.  Our school pays for Edpuzzle.  Okay, I knew I wanted that piece.  Our school threw Schoology into the mix this September with minimal training.  I had to figure out how to get the Edpuzzle video into Schoology.  Those were two of the last pieces I needed to get it to the kids.  Last spring I was making screencasts using Screencastify.  I made google slide shows and then voiced them over.  I had my little face in the bottom right of the screen.  I got into the groove.  However, it was a lot of time writing out make equations with my finger on my track pad.  Or, I spent a lot of time typing of equations into Google Doc and then screenshot to put it into the google slides.  Why can't Google Slides insert equations?

Bigger question - why can't Screencastify have an ipad app?  That was what I needed.  I wanted to be able to make my google slide, pull it up on my ipad so I could write on it with an apple pencil, see my little face, record it, then upload it to youtube to eventually put it into Edpuzzle and then Schoology.  I asked Twitter, I researched.  I briefly used Loom in the spring, so I tried that without luck.  I tried working in zoom, on my laptop and my ipad at the same time, writing and recording.  Too clunky. I had to make sure whatever path I chose would be as sustainable as possible because with 3 preps, I would have to make a lot of videos.  

Other teachers were ahead of us in heading back to school and people were sharing on Twitter that they were making videos galore and I was still trying to figure it out.  My frustration continued to mount.  

I finally landed with Explain Everything.  The free version only allows 3 videos so you have to keep going over them and they can only be 1 minute long.  I tried it and it was okay.  I didn't like that it just takes my google slide and turns them into a pdf anyways, but it was the best thing I could find.  Our school did pay for the version that allows longer videos and more videos.

Okay, so now, I am going to use Explain Everything except, I can hear the darn Apple Pencil tapping.  Tap, tap, tap. It was so loud, it reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe's, The Tell-Tale Heart.  I couldn't do it that way.  I went back to twitter and asked, how were people making and writing on videos.  I can't remember who saved me but someone recommended I wear a microphone so I bought it.  All of this is happening with school just days away.  There was no way I was going to have 3 libraries of videos ready.  But, I finally got the microphone in the mail and was so excited to use it.  It was the key.  You can't hear the pencil anymore.

My video process: Look at my old google slide lesson from years past and write on paper what I need.  I had to chunk things down because I wanted to keep my videos to 5-10 minutes.  I learned the hard way that Youtube won't upload them if they are longer than 15 minutes.  I noted what vocab I would need.  I decided on an order to present the material. I came up with problems to do together and then ones they could try on their own.  I typed my equations in Desmos now and dragged them into Google Slides. If I needed a graph, I made them in Desmos and screenshot them and added them in.  My videos had a title slide, an agenda slide, a Let's get ready slide, then the lesson, and all end with a recap slide.  It was like putting together a scrapbook.  I did scrapbooking back in the day - finding the right color paper to use, the right font, where to put stickers, how to cut the pictures.  I do enjoy this so I think of it that way, more like a hobby.  

Once the google slide is made I have to record it in Explain Everything.  I am doing this at home because you never know when school will have an announcement come on over the loudspeaker.  I have definitely gotten better with the recording part.  Key piece - make sure the microphone is plugged in and make sure you are actually wearing it.  I have started many a video without it being plugged in, I just clip it to my shirt.  Or the opposite, I plug it in and leave it hanging down to the ground.  Take 52!  As I am recording, I speak quickly.  The more mistakes I make, the more takes I have to do and I get faster with each one.  They say it is okay to speak quickly because the kids can stop and rewind as need be.  If I am recording and I don't think I made a mistake, I call it done.  I don't go back and listen to it because 1.) I hate hearing my voice and 2.) it takes more time.  

From Explain Everything, I upload it to Youtube.  I remember my first video that was too long.  I didn't know it was too long.  I tried to upload it. It said it couldn't.  I recorded again.  Still said it couldn't.  I recorded again, still couldn't.  When I went to Youtube to manage videos, I saw it was too long.  So, I cut some problems and fixed that. So much wasted, precious time.  Mind you I am usually recording these 2 days before I need them to be up.

From Youtube, I grab the link and put it into Edpuzzle.  I started out using Edpuzzle the way it is intended, by adding questions at certain spots.  That didn't last long.  I didn't have time to go back to all the videos and check answers.  I only use Edpuzzle to see who is watching.  

From Edpuzzle, then I upload it as a link to Schoology.  In Schoology, I have to edit it by enabling grading.  This piece took a long time to figure out.  I could get it up to Schoology but the kids couldn't see it.  Grrrr.  I knew it was one small piece I was missing - "enable grading".  Then I put it in the homework category for 4 points.  That was a lot of work.

Now that I am in the groove, it probably takes about an hour to make a lesson video above from creating the lesson to making it into a google slide show to voicing over it to uploading and linking it.  3 classes, lots of videos to be made.  I made this google slide for our virtual back to school nights for parents to view.  I don't know if anyone did.


Once that is done, then there is the actual lesson when the kids are in front of me.  I make another google slide for in class.  It starts with a title slide, an agenda slide, and then usually about 2-5 problems to do together as a class so I can model steps and speak reminders throughout the problems.  I have a lot of different math and speed abilities in my classroom, so I don't want to do too many as whole class problems.  Also, the kids do not speak.  With a mask on they are so quiet.  I can try to call on them but sometimes it becomes a staring contest as we both have our masks on and are just eyeballs trying to read each other.  It makes me miss my groups of 3 students working at the boards together like I have done with VNPS over the past couple of years.  This year I do not allow any movement in my classroom.  No one is getting up to the board or touching the markers.  It would be too complicated for contact tracing.  

After we have done our opening problems, then it is time for the workshop.  That is what I am calling it.  It usually consists of Desmos or Deltamath.  Desmos for discovery and discussion.  I can use the snapshot figure to grab and compare student work.  I am loving the feedback feature on each slide so as they are working at their own pace, it is like I am texting them and asking them to come back and check a certain slide.  We use Deltamath for the practice.  It has had most of the content I have needed.  I love the different levels.  I love everything about it.  The kids like that they get the feedback right then and there. They don't have to check an answer key.  I don't have the make an answer key, which inevitably would have a mistake or a typo and then I have to redo, rescan, and reupload.  They can watch a video at each problem if they are stuck.  They can submit a wrong or empty answer and then read through how the problem is done.  They are becoming independent learners.  I am so happy it is them typing the math equations. They have to figure out how to get exactly what they want into Desmos and Deltamath.  They are seeing the importance of a negative sign.  You know how often students do their work and drop a negative, now they can see how that changes a problem. They learn how to type an exponent and a square root and function notation and fancy brackets to limit a domain.  They are doing it!  It makes me so happy.

Here are my notebooks and folders for each class.  I can use 1 page for each lesson the right and any extra notes on the left, like who was absent or how much time things took.  You can see a page of my Acc Algebra 2 lesson with all my check lists.  I have to have check lists or I would be checking a million times to see if I actually uploaded the video and actually assigned the Desmos. Do I remember to unpause it, sometimes? My notebooks have become like journals.


As class wraps up, I ask if there are any questions, which there never are.  Maybe there is so connection or closure I need to make sure they have from the lesson and then they have to finish their desmos or delta for homework and watch the new video for next class.   

My students know it is video lesson, desmos, and delta.  I go to Schoology gradebook to see if they have watched the video lesson and give them 4 points if they did.  I go to Desmos and now with the classroom codes, I can see who has completed what.  And, I go to Deltamath and see what they completed there.  They get 4 points for each assignment. Everything is 4 points.  Even if late, just do it and get 4 points.

More on my assessments in another post. 


Thursday, December 31, 2020

How I Am Surviving Teaching in Covid Times

 This is my second post in the blogging initiative #MTBoSYuleBlog.

How I Surviving Teaching in Covid Times...

We teachers are in teaching every day, hybrid, remote, and live streaming (both at the same time).  The students come every other day.  Our day is repeated, which is a good thing because if I am ready for Monday's lessons, then I am ready for Tuesday's.

I spent a lot of my summer attending zooms on how to get back to school - school committee zooms, union zooms, high school zooms.  Hours and hours of my summer on Zooms in which I could not participate.  The chat was turned off or it was webinar style.  I was talked at and told what was going to happen.  

So, then, it was up to me and Thank God, my Twitter tweeps to figure out how I would teach this year.  I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I was going to make my videos.  I knew what I wanted, but there was a huge learning curve.  Hours spent figuring out how to best make my videos (that will be another post.)

I was thinking/doing/planning/figuring out - oh, hey - problem solving - how to best help my students this year.  It took a lot out of me and the beginning of the school year was tough trying to get it all done - convert lessons to hybrid because I was seeing them less, I had some kids at home on zoom, and I had to be ready to pivot to remote at an instant, which we have done twice now.  I had to be portable and minimal. That is why I have focused on streamlining my courses - watch the lesson video on your asynchronous day and take notes, then come to class and be ready to do a couple opener problems as a class and then independent work, at your own pace, on Desmos and Deltamath, while I walk around and help - workshop style. 

If I was feeling overwhelmed, I knew my students must be.  I wanted them to have math not be an extra worry or concern, so I have made it more like a checklist.  You do this, work at your own pace, ask for help, and when you are done, you are done.  You don't have to think about math anymore.  It does pain me a little, but right now, there is more to life than math class and that is okay.  I keep reminding myself that I am teaching with Grace this year.

If someone asks me how I am doing, I say, " I am doing.  We are doing it.  Day by day, we are making this happen. We are building the raft while on it."  Normally, I would be planned a week ahead in all my classes.  Now, I am just prepared for the next day.  That's all I can do.  I am building three new, different classes, making videos for each, finding activities for the lessons. That is all I can do and it is enough.

How Am I Surviving Teaching in Covid Times:

1.) Staying organized.

2.) Setting limits.

I am an organized person, but from the beginning of this year, I knew I would have to be super organized so that absent kids could find/get/do the work.  So that I could easily share it with them.  In the olden days, I would use 3 ring binders, one for each unit for each class.  I had my lessons, worksheet activities, answer keys, powerpoints. This year, I decided to record my lessons in a small composition notebook - one per class with a matching color folder for each.  I went to Staples and bought 3 notebooks and 3 folders. That is it.  Again, I needed to stay portable and streamlined.  I am loving it.  I have my little notebook that I start a new lesson on each page with the Lesson number, the date I will see them.  I have a little check list in the top right of each page for what needs to be done for the lesson. I live by that checklist.  

One of the pieces to staying organized is my Placemat.  This is my own thing.  We are brand new to Schoology this year, so figuring it out and building it as we go day to day.  Notice a trend?  I wanted to make a visual for my students on what they needed to do for math class.  I made a google slide.  It has a corkboard background and I change the title and the activities each day, but otherwise, it always looks the same.  It looked like a placemat to me, so that is what I am calling it with the kids.  Don't know what to do, absent? Check the placemat.  I have 1 google slide show for each class, made up of one slide per day for each lesson.  It has links right on it.  Then, I take that one slide and copy it and create a new google slideshow with just that slide.  Next, I embed it into Schoology.  That means, if I need to change something, I just go and change my 1 slide google slide and it will automatically change in all the places I put it in Schoology.  I am liking this. The kids are liking this. It is working for us.

Here is one placemat:


Videos and staying organized.  I knew I wanted to flip my class over the summer. I researched it and read up about it. A colleague asked if I wanted to split up making the videos but I told them no because I wanted to have a full set.  I wanted them to all be in my voice and all have the same feel to them.  So, maybe I can use them in the future.  When I make them, they all follow the same idea - a title screen with a joke or a meme, an agenda of what we will do, a page that says "Let's Get Ready...you will need notes, calculator, and pencil" and then into the lesson. I put a little box at the top mostly to remind me if I want them to pause and try and do the problem.  I keep a google doc list of my videos for each class. I make a google slideshow first of the lesson, then I record it in Explain Everything, then I upload it to Youtube, then I load it to Edpuzzle. My google doc has all these links as I make them, all organized in one place where I can find them.  This is just a snapshot, so no live links:


Setting Limits - This has been huge in helping me not get more stressed out or more depressed. I have a daily routine. I wake up each morning at 5 am to do a Beachbody workout.  I have a group of friends on a text that we all do this and send pictures each morning to keep us motivated.  Then, I am into school by 6:30 each morning.  I am a morning person, so this works for me.  I get about an hour of work done in the morning, without interruptions.  I rather work an hour before school than an hour at the end of the day.  School goes until 2 pm and then I have Monday teacher meetings on Zoom, Tuesday Extra Help time on Zoom, and Wednesday math team on Zoom.  I also tutor 6 kids on Zoom, for 5 hours because I tutor two friends together. I try to keep tutoring to Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  So, even though I am teaching hybrid, there is still a lot of zoom in my life.  After my meetings, I go for a walk.  Usually 2- 4 miles depending on my time.  I listen to an audiobook as I walk.  It helps clear my mind and get school out of my head.  When I come home from the walk, I do one or two school things if needed, mostly recording my videos.  Then, I am DONE with schoolwork by dinner time.  I make family dinner every night, while listening to music on Alexa (not the news).  And, my final limit is NOT checking school email after 8 pm.  I go to bed at 9pm, so it is reasonable, that I can go one more hour without dealing with school stuff.  If I read email, there will be something I have to deal with, but it can wait to morning and I can get a decent night's sleep.

I realize it sounds a lot like I am escaping and I know that because that is what I am doing.  I am two people - work Jennifer and home Jennifer.  It has to be that way this year in order to keep me going.  And, I am okay with that because my students are doing the work and they are learning.  Day by Day.



Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Why I Haven't Blogged in a While...

 I had grand plans for this year - 2020.  I started off the year by creating and taking part in the #MTBoS2020 blogging initiative asking people to blog on the 20th of each month.  I did pretty good up to May 20th.  I did a few posts in July and a couple in August as I was thinking about returning to school.  I have done nothing since.  I think there are 2 reasons why:

1.) I have a big mouth and I was afraid I would get in trouble. (Nothing has changed here, so I will just be careful with what I say. Yes, I will be censoring myself.)

2.) Time.  It takes so much time to get each hybrid lesson ready and I have 3 different preps.  I don't have any extra time to blog.  However, it is an important part of my teaching.  It is the reflection piece.  And, with so much different this year, I should be reflecting.  I have written a lot of blog posts in my head, but not typed anything.

Therefore, this will be my first post in the #MTBoSYuleBlog blogging challenge - 12 posts over December break.  I don't think I will get to 12 posts seeing as today is Tuesday and I go back in on Monday.  But, hopefully, I can share some posts.  

I am thinking about blogging about how I get through each day, Desmos (of course), Deltamath (life saver), how I am making my lessons, and flipping my classroom.

Just a little about our school because this year every school is so different.  Our school started late this year - mid September. We have been in hybrid all year with an exception of 2 days remote due to our first cases and then a week of remote after Thanksgiving - which coincided with my quarantine week.  Yes, I was contact traced to one of my students so I tested and quarantined.  Our students are in 2 cohorts - green and orange. They come to school every other day.  Normally we have a weird rotating schedule that I like on a normal year.  A day is periods 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  B day is periods 6, 7, 1, 2, 3, etc for seven days and seven period rotation.  We are still doing this and repeating days, so A day green, A day orange.  The kids are in hybrid one day with us and doing asynchronous work the next day at home.  I don't think this is the ideal schedule, but it, like much else, is beyond my control, so I just teach whoever walks through the door.

I have three preps.  I have college prep geometry, college prep Algebra 2, and Accelerated Algebra 2/Precalculus.  I taught CP Alg 2 years ago but I didn't even bother to pull out those binders.  It is nice to start fresh.  I have taught Acc Alg 2 since the beginning - 16 years, so I am glad I have that knowledge to build on - what do they need to know, what can I remove, how can I order it and chunk it, what mistakes will they make, what new notations do they need to know.  And, I have taught college prep geo before.  This is the class that I really need to see more often.  Geometry benefits from more practice because it is like learning a new language with all the drawings, namings, and notations, but we are making our way through.

I decided early this summer to flip my classroom.  I did it years ago when it was first a thing. I did it for 4 lessons in a row.  The students watched premade videos on systems of equations and then when they came into class, we worked on those bigger word problem type of problems.  This year, I am all in.  I am making my own videos for each of my three classes.  I will save the numbers for another post.  When the students are live in front of me, it is a math workshop.  They are doing an activity on Desmos that is usually about discovery and leads to discussion and then practicing with Deltamath and assessing on Deltamath.  I knew I wanted to streamline things this year, so that is what I have.  Our brand new learning management system - thrown at us this September (biting tongue here), making my own videos (took me all summer how to best to that), and using Desmos and Deltamath.  

The reasons I have made it teaching this far this year:

1.) The kids. They are awesome. They are doing the work and finding success.

2.) Desmos and Deltamath.  I couldn't do it without them.  So, thank you.

More later.