Tuesday, August 30, 2016

T'was the Night Before....

School!  School starts tomorrow.  It is early for us on August 31st, but I am glad we are going before Labor Day and getting out relatively early in June. 

I think I am ready.  It was an amazing summer.  I had a lot of #mtbos and tweet ideas floating in my head all summer.  I was in my classroom for 7 days getting it ready.  Not 7 full days.  I coach XC, so there is that, plus we have had two days of meetings.

Yesterday we had a phenomenal speaker on LGBQT training.  It was two hours, but she was a great teacher.  She met us where we were through respectful and funny lessons and vocab.  We heard stories from two parents.  It was so educational.  I really learned a lot.

My classroom is ready.  Full of ideas from #mtbos and Twitter Math Camp.  The biggest change is my white boards for VNPS.  I have my plans for the first day ready to go.  (We only have school 2 days this week, so phew!)

Today was about those last minute details.  I wrote my calendar on one part of my whiteboard by my desk that the kids can't reach to write on. 

I have my copies made for the first two days.

I entered my students into flippity.net to do my random groups.  Cool website!

I put the markers and erasers at each whiteboard work area.

I invited my students to my Canvas site (LMS).

I entered my students into the textbook for passwords and usernames.

I have my index cards with one math problem on them.  As they come into class, they do the problem and find the answer for x and that number is their seat.  New this year, on the back of the index card, I will have them write their names, birthdays or half birthdays and then hang on a poster.  I tape the number answers to the desks, so all taped.

I had 2 extra student desks and a long computer desk that are finally gone, yeah!

I have to tape my plastic flowers onto loaner pencils in the morning because I left my duct tape at school. 

I looked at Don Steward's and Peter Liledahl's websites for some VNPS  problems.  Good stuff!

I added my 1 Second Everyday to my powerpoint.  It is a $5 app and I took a picture each day of my summer to share with my students. 

In my own family, I still have two in high school.  One will be a senior and one will be a sophomore.  They both made the golf team today.  Yeah!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Getting my classroom ready

We start school next Monday.  The kids come on Wednesday.  I have been collecting some many great ideas from blogs, tweets, and Twitter math camp this year.  I am at the point where I am ready to put it all together.  Before I can do that, I need to get my room ready.  I think I might have it all together.  I actually started some lesson planning today and will head in again tomorrow.  I need quiet time to myself to get ready for school.

Here is some of my room:

Twelve years ago when I learned my students could not read an analog clock in order to sign in and sign out, I made this sign.  It also had lunch on it.  I can't believe this silly poster board stayed up for 12 years (with the blue gum stuff).  But, I figured it was time to take it down.  I replaced it with a simple LUNCH sign:

This picture has two important thing.  One, you might notice the missing ceiling tile.  Hopefully it will get replaced, but the reason it is there is because they finally removed a huge honking tv that used to be strapped and hang over my desk area.  I have wanted it gone for so long and it finally is!  When I started 12 years ago, we used to use the tv because the students would come on and give us "the news" like reading the announcements.  It was also hooked to a VCR if we wanted to show videos.  Time to go, bye, bye!  The other thing to notice is my fish!  Her name is Poppy.  If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know I love to fish and I just had to have this one.  My son had a golf tournament in Salem, MA (as in Witches) and I bought this in a cute little shop.  It is made from a 2 liter plastic soda bottles.  I love her! 

I made this banner a few years ago.  I love it too!  It is front and center in my classroom as a reminder.

Here are some more signs.  I made a sign that says "My Claim is...My Warrant Is..." The idea came from my morning session at Twitter Math Camp about Debate and Discussion in the classroom.  My goal is to have more discussions in class this year.

I made this Welcome sign I saw on Twitter.  It is on dry erase, graph grids from Target.  I saw them at the beginning of the summer and thought they were cute but didn't know what I would do with it.  Then, while I was on vacation in Maine (no Targets), I saw the idea on Twitter, so I asked a friend at home to go and buy it for me. Yippee!

Last year, I saw a Suduko board idea on Pinterest so I used 12x12 scrapbook papers to make a giant one. The kids liked playing it last year.  I changed the puzzle about once a month, so it is back this year:

And, here are three new signs from ideas on Twitter this year.  At Twitter Math Camp, Hannah Mesick said she pins up kids' birthdays and half birthdays each week.  Heather Kohn said she will have kids fill out an index card with the info, so I will try it that way.

I used to have a big table where my new vertical boards are and I used to put all my supplies on it, but I need to get rid of the table so kids can stand there, which means a new spot for my supplies.  So, I organized them on my heater.

And, finally, one more thing I am going to do is remember to close each lesson.  In my new, small Foundations of Algebra 1 class, I want to get them writing about math.  I bought them composition notebooks for journals.  Instead of calling them journals or writing prompts, I am going to call them GIFTTTS.  I was trying to come up with a words for the G, I, F, and T and all I came up with "Giving Informal Feedback To The Teacher. = a GIFTTT.  I bought a cute little bin for them because I don't teach that class in my room.

Now that my room is ready, the planning can start, phew!

Going Vertical #VNPS

I first heard about VNPS - Vertical, non-permanent surfaces two years ago from Alex Overwijk when he spoke about how he used it in his classroom.  He had the kids up and working at the boards in groups.  I've been reading about it, seeing tweets about it.  I heard about it again at my 1st Twitter Math Camp this summer and decided to go for it. 

My first part was to prepare my room.  I will try to describe the process here with lots of pictures.

I went to Home Depot and bought the bathroom board that measures 4 feet by 8 feet.  I had them cut it in half and bought four pieces that measure 4x4 feet.  I only need three pieces though, so I will give one to a colleague.  I only have a little car, so I had to call my husband while I was at Home Depot to come and get them with his truck.  Then, we drove them to the high school and I had to juggle the big squares and my key fob to get them into the school door then my classroom door, but alas, they were there.

Here is a square:

I also bought 2 rolls of bright pink duct tape.  I bought 1 pack of "Extremely Strong" duct tape.  It was pricey at $30 but I really want them to stay up for a long time.  I bought some Command Strips too to hold one of them.  The other two will be resting on an old heater.

Next up was to duct tape the edges to keep them nice and give them a finished look.  I took my time and tried to get it perfect.  

Here are the 2 boards that fit between my two windows and on top of the old heater.  I had to remove my 3 clotheslines that held my desmos art, but stay tuned to see where they went.

Here is the duct tape, 120 inches.  The box says 1 inch will hold 2 pounds.  I don't know how heavy they are, but pretty heavy.  So, I cut 6 inch strips and put 5 on the ones that will be on the heater and 6 pieces on the one hanging on the wall.  That is 30 inches, so I should be good. 


6 inch pieces:

Must put the pieces together:

All my pieces:

Put 5 pieces on the back.  Had to hold each for 30 seconds:

Here is the wall where it will hang.  I put up two command strips to hold the bottom.  Do you notice the 4 holds in the wall.  Do you know what that is from?  When I first started 12 years ago, I had an old fashioned pencil sharpener attached to the wall.  It eventually fell off but the kids and I loved it.  It worked so well and I miss it.

Here are the two stuck to the wall:

I bought some cute binder clips at Target and taped them so they can hold the #card for the numbered group and can hold the problem:


I bought bright pink felt and cut it into 8x11 inch rectangles for erasers.  Then, I used 3 different colors and braided them for felt hangers.

Then, what to do with my 3 rows of clothesline and Desmos art projects? I made one, long border at the top.  I love it:

Another view:

One board area:

And, I added a cup to hold markers to the one hanging at the wall:

Okay, so my walls are ready.

Next is actually changing the way I teach.  I will come up with more challenging problems for them to work on during class in groups of 3.  Sometimes the groups will have 1 marker.  Other times, they might each get a marker.  If one group gets it, I might switch some partners in the group.  I will be using VRG - visibly random grouping by distributing cards, so the groups will be different each day.

The plan is the kids will be standing and working in groups.  I will hopefully do less talking, less lecturing.  They will be doing more figuring out.  I will be able to stand in the middle of the room and see all the work.  I will plan on asking different groups to explain their work as well.  I am excited but this is a big change to my teaching style.  It is a risk I am willing to take!