Thursday, August 21, 2014

T-2 weeks until School

We got out of school on June 25th.  Then, it was right to 4th of July.  On July 6th, I brought a group of 50 teens to Mississippi for a mission trip.  My summer began on July 13th.  I barely got out of school mode and it was time to think about getting back into it.  I really do need time to decompress before I can feel fresh and creative and ready to go. 

I was reading Twitter and math blogs, waiting for the inspiration to hit me and it did.  Thanks #MTBoS.  What great ideas.  It doesn't hurt that everyone goes back to school before us (kids come on Sept 4th).  On Twitter, everyone is already posting what they did for the 1st day of school activities.  Thanks for sharing.  I will be using them. 

I made 3 bulletin board, kind of sign things:
This first one is from @rachelrosales  I made a Hopkinton High School twist on it.  In 2010, we lost a senior student to cancer.  His name was Tommy Weaver and he was a friend of my oldest son.  He was a great kid and never lost his wonderful, positive attitude.  Even going through chemo, he applied to college and wrote his essay about B+ , stating, "B+ was not only his blood type but his outlook on live."  He left a big mark on Hopkinton as we wear B+ tshirts and have a scholarship in his name.  So, I bring you this in the middle of one of my walls.  I hope it sticks for at least the next two weeks.
Next up:  Last summer, I took my first (MOOC, look it up because I can't remember exactly what the letters stand for).  It was a class on mindset with Jo Baeler.  It was great. It really got us thinking about a fixed mindset (I can't do math.  I am no good at it.) compared to a growth mindset (I don't understand this yet but if I can stick with it and practice it, I might make sense of it).  Just changing your outlook and it won't lock you into a negative way.  I made this poster modeled by @mathequalslove (Sarah Hagan in OK).  I still need to tape on the title "Change Your Words, Change Your Mindset".  Here it is unfinished, but almost done:
I have seen the idea of all the Algebra 2 equations in many places, so I am not sure who started it.  I will give credit to @MissCalcul8 (Elissa Miller). 

Those posters took me three nights - one to print, one to cut (there are fancy scissor edges), and one to fake laminate (I used Saran's press and seal.  It was a pain to cut out of the box, but it works pretty good.

Today, I did a few more things to get ready.  It started this morning on trash day as the people across the street are moving and threw away these cute pink Ikea chairs.  I made a small, short table last summer, so these chairs will work perfectly.
Not math related, but we are having a community get together on Sunday with our mission trip kids, parents and community to watch a slideshow and share stories about our mission trip to Mississippi.  I made Snapfish books for my adult chaperones and wrapped them all pretty today.  My mother in law made the name cards on them. 
Next up, I got the mail and got the best pencil sharpener ever made.  @mathequalslove Sarah recommended it and I love it.  Of course, it is pink:  (it is from classroom friendly supplies - everyone needs one!)

Since I got my new pencil sharpener, it meant I could sharpen my pencils and attach my fake flowers to them.  I leave these on my desk for my students to borrow and guess what - they don't leave the room.  Kids are a little embarrassed to take them at first, but then they get used to it.  Six lasted me the whole year last year!  I made some new ones this year.  Here is my bouquet of flower pencils:  (like the vase?)
Two more things - both for the first day of school.  In all my classes, as they enter my room on the first day, they get an index card with an algebra problem to solve for X.  The number answered is taped to the desk and that is their seat.  I handwrite all the problems so the kids can just write on the index card.

And, the other thing is a new idea for Algebra 2 involving cups and yarn tools.  I made the yarn tools here.  The idea is from none other than @misscalcul8 Elissa again.  You can read about her trials here:  Cup Challenge

One more big accomplishment for the week was I think I started to figure out Canvas.  It is a new Learning Management System our school will be using this year.  I tried it out at the end of last year and couldn't figure it out, but now it is a bit more user friendly. 

I still have a ton to do, but am in a good place.  I am tired though and tomorrow is Friday.  I coach boys cross country and we started practices today.  That means I coach in the morning and then do a few things at a time in my room.  I am going to finish that darn title tomorrow and call it a week!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mission Mississippi 2014

On July 6th, I traveled with my church's youth group to Gulfport, MS for a week of mission work. We had 50 youth and 9 adults. I was a big part of the planning and that started in December. We ended up choosing to go to MS because I went with our church two years ago and the set up is perfect. It is at a Catholic Church called St. Ann's in Lizana, MS. When Hurricane Katrina happened, a man traveled to MS to help with the clean up. In all the chaos, he was turned away. He went back home and raised money to come back to Lizana and St. Ann's and build a place for volunteers to stay. It is perfect. There are two large pavilions - one with lots of big garage doors to open. This is where we eat and hang out. The showers and bathrooms are in the back area. The other pavilion is where we sleep - a kitchen, bathrooms, and one room for the girls and one for the boys. Here is a picture of the place:  I took my pictures with my cell phone, so they might be blurry.
We flew into New Orleans on Sunday.  We rented 12 passenger vans and had van groups of 8-9 kids.  These became our chore groups around the center.  Our daily work groups were different.  We were on a tight, full schedule that began each morning, waking by 6:30 am for breakfast.   There was a chore group to put on the breakfast food and clean it up.  A different group to set out the lunch food so we could each pack our own lunches for the day.  We put them in coolers and filled some coolers with water.  There was a chore group to set up dinner.  There were church volunteers from St. Ann's who made us amazing dinners.  We had a chore group to clean up after dinner and finally, one more chore group to clean up the hall before bed.

So, breakfast at 6:30 am, make your lunch at 7:15 am, and we all made it to mass for 8 am:
After mass, we would pile in our vans and our work day would begin.  St. Ann's offers us a place to stay and to eat, but it is up to us to find the food.  We had a lot of work lined up ahead of time.  We were going to work at a Deaf Center, a Navy Center, a Retirement Home, a Food Pantry, a Presidential Library, a Habitat for Humanity House, and community people's homes.  We set out to work by 9 am and returned between 4 and 5 pm.  Each day we had a "home crew".  This was a group of 3-6 youth and 1 adult who would stay behind at the center and clean up, do errands, go to lunch, and prepare a skit, reading, or song for our evening Prayer and Processing.  The kids love doing it and we had 5 amazing Home Crews!  Thank you.

One of our favorite work sites was at Ned and Karen's house.  They have a lot of blueberry bushes they can't pick anymore, so we can pick and donate them or use them.  They have JJ, the horse, who lives in the patch.  They have a lot of goats and these were the hit of the week.  There was a goat named Elizabeth who was 10 days old and a huge hit.  I think every youth got a chance to hold her.  Ned had a lot of projects around the house for us to work on.  Here is Ned and one of our guys feeding Elizabeth:  There's one of me holding the sweet baby, too.
Here is JJ, the horse in the blueberry patch.  He was huge:
After a hard day's work, we often stopped at Sonic because we don't have any around us:
Some of us might make a pit stop at the beach which was like bath water.
 We were greeted each day with treats from Home Crew:
In the evenings, we would hang out and play softball, games, and Four Square was a huge hit:

A huge thank you to St. Ann's Community for our amazing southern cooking like our fried catfish dinner:
 In the background, you can see our Warm Fuzzies on the wall.  Each person makes a bag with their name on it and hangs it up on the wall.  During the week, everyone is encouraged to write a warm fuzzy for anyone they want to - maybe they made a new friend, maybe they saw someone work really hard that day, maybe they saw God in that person, maybe they were just saying hi or thanks.  It sounds kind of corny, but the kids are busy with it all week.  The rule is you are supposed to wait until you are unpacking back at home to read them.  I love mine!
Here is some of the work we did: We painted Nell's house. 
 We worked at the deaf center:
 We worked in the Navy Galley:
 We worked in a food pantry:

One surprising opportunity was to work at The Jefferson Davis Presidential Library.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I guess I thought it was going to be a run down library for us to fix up but when we got there it was like a beautiful museum with the workers dressed in period clothing.  We cleaned the upstairs, but 3 of our guys got to restore some of the carriages and then they were given a tour of the vault.  They were amazed.  They had to wear gloves and they got to old and touch everything.  What a great opportunity.
We saw lots of gross bugs, snakes, and lizards along our way:

On Wednesday night, all 60 of us went out to The Shed, a restaurant right down the road.  We had a fun night.
Friday brought big storms in the afternoon, but we finished up the week strong with a big, good ole fashioned dance party:
And, finally, Saturday morning, it was time to leave.  We all wore our Mississippi shirts for one last group shot:
The trip far exceeded our expectations.  The group of kids came together so nicely.  I think it was a life changing event for many.  It was great to take the kids out of Hopkinton and show them a different type of world.  They were all so well behaved, respectful, and hard working.  We couldn't be prouder.  We are truly blessed!