Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Oh the Places I will Go

Who knew math and church youth group could take me to so many amazing places!  Now it has all wrapped up so I thought I would reflect on it.

For math, I was lucky to be able to go to 3 Twitter Math Camps during the summer:
2016 - My 1st in Minneapolis
2017 - In Atlanta
2018 - In Cleveland, Ohio.

I was lucky because I got to be around amazing teachers for a week and just take it all in.  I got to meet these people in real life.  Go out for great meals.  Go for runs.  See these amazing cities.  I remember at first thinking, Minneapolis...who wants to go there.  I fell in love with that city.  If you ever get a chance, you should visit.  (In summer, of course).  Atlanta was so different than I thought as well.  It is huge with a lot of trees.  For us to travel from out hotel to the Coke museum was a hotel bus, to a city bus, to a train, to then still having to walk a mile.  Crazy.  We went to the Georgia Aquarium.  We have a great one in Boston and I wasn't going to go to this one.  Amazing!  Again, if you are ever in Atlanta, you should visit the Aquarium.  And, then last summer was Cleveland.  So many awesome restaurants!  Such a cute city.  I recommend it as well.

For our church youth group, I just "retired" from volunteering as our youth minister.  Eight years ago, our church has a paid youth minister.  I helped him out with our youth group and went on my first mission trip to Mississippi.  His position was cut and I didn't want to see it end, so I stepped up and volunteered.  For eight years I have run (with a lot of help from some great friends) our youth group and mission trip.  The kids are awesome and make it all worth it but it is a lot of work and a lot of time.  We have a school year calendar full of events from service to prayer to fun events.  Our religious ed leader told us we have the best group around our area because she has meetings with other churches.

That first mission trip really was life changing.  And, every one after it has been as well.  I am so blessed to have been part of it.  It has been so fun to have the opportunity to share a week with my students in a different part of the country and expose them to different ways of life.  I am sad that it has come to an end, but I am looking forward to slowing things down and having more time.

Each trip was about 60 people.  I always had such a fun group of adult leaders as well.  So many memories:

2012- Mississippi to clean up after Hurricane Katrina
2013 - New Jersey to clean up after Super Storm Sandy
2014 - Back to Mississippi for still more clean up after Katrina
2015 - Queens, NY for a crazy city experience
2016 - Appalachia, West Virginia - our group of leaders really wanted to get here and we made it happen.
2017 - Adirondacks, NY - we had a nice, quiet week of community work
2018 - Houston, Texas to help after Hurricane Harvey - we took 2 sites.  One site held 50 people and we knew that would be too limiting so I took a risk and took both sites for a total of 100 people.  This would be our biggest trip and I was a bit nervous about filling all our spots and then dealing with the large number travel wise.  I thought like the movie "A Field of Dreams" - If we build it, they will come.  They did.  We filled all 100 spots.  That became our t-shirts - "100 helping Houston".
2019 - My last trip - Philadelphia.  This was definitely memorable.  We had 9 graduated seniors who joined us for all 4 mission trips during their high school career!  It was a crazy trip.  With all my planning, many things happened outside my control, but we pulled together and it bonded us.  For a lot of kids this was their favorite trip.

With all this traveling for math and youth group, now I hope to get to travel some with my husband. 

Happy Medium or Medium Happy?

That's start at the end, that is the end of last school year and even before that.  Last school year was not a great year.  It was anything personally against me but everyone that I work with at school and on Twitter had stinky years with lots of bad stuff happening to them.  I wanted to help them.  I didn't want to just be the positive cheerleader telling them annoying positive phrases.  It was just stuff they had to go through and I tried to be there for them. 

At the last week and 2 days of the school year, I developed vertigo.  Yuck!  It was debilitating!  I woke up that Sunday throwing up and spinning.  Monday was even worse and I had to take the day off from school.  I went into a walk in clinic and they gave me a prescription to help the spinning.  Then, I went to my friend who is a physical therapist that specializes in vertigo.  She did some testing on me and gave me some exercises to help me get better.  I felt worse than being drunk.  I walked tilted to the right.  I couldn't drive.  I couldn't lay back.  I couldn't close my eyes.  I was most comfortable lying at a 45 degree angle and just staring into space.  I had to have my family drive me to school and some colleagues drive me home.  I couldn't look at the computer screen.  I did go home early two days after the kids took their final exams.  I was so thrilled that a colleague offered to grade some of my exams.  It was so helpful.  I was doing everything in slow motion.  I now have a better understanding of what it is like when kids have concussions.  I couldn't go any faster.  I couldn't think.  I was so tired.  I didn't feel like myself and I was mad.  I just wanted to walk up normal.  I did my exercises and rested a lot so I was better after about one and a half week.  I know people suffer from it a lot longer than that and I can't imagine. 

But, due to this, I didn't end the school year the way I normally do.  I would pull everything out of my school closets and toss stuff I didn't use this year.  I would reorganize.  I would pack up neatly so I could come in fresh for this school year.  Nope, I just stuffed stuff away.  I am not looking forward to trying to find things.  But, it was what I had to do.  It will all be fine in the end.

So, my title...I am going to try to find a happy medium this year.  Not getting too busy or too far behind.  Not taking too much home with me.  Exercising, sleeping, staying healthy.  Then, maybe I will find a happy medium or maybe at least be medium happy.

Algebra I is back!

I am entering my 15th year of teaching and all those years except last I have taught Algebra 1.  I made it a really great class full of MTBoS lessons.  I was bummed to not have it last year and I found myself missing it. 

Turns out, I get it back this year.  There will a few changes.  I have the Accelerated level, but it will be different in years past because my incoming freshmen will have taken Algebra 1 in 8th grade.  Now, they are taking the accelerated class.  I am looking at it as they have been exposed to the ideas last year and I can dig deeper with them this year.  I will do a lot at the boards #VNPS.  We will get to do some meaty problems.  I will assign less homework than I have in the past.  I did not assign any in my college prep Geometry class last year and it went well.  Not ready to totally abandon it here, but I am going to aim for 5 good problems a night. Things I missed and hope to bring back - Bucky the Badger 3 Act, Taco Cart 3 Act, candy catapults for quadratics, cup stacking, Monopoly regression from Yummy Math and so much more.  We will do visualpatterns.org and would you rather plus estimation 180.  I can't wait.

Oh, and my classes are smaller than in the past.  I usually have about 25-29 kids per class.  So far, my Algebra 1 classes are at 12 and 19.  I am not complaining.

My other classes will be two Accelerated Algebra 2 classes and 1 college prep Geometry class that was new to me last year.  I had a blast making it, so I look forward to making it even better.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Geometry Final Exam Reference Sheet

I had my college prep geometry work in groups to write everything they know about what we have learned 2nd term in order to prepare for our final exam next week.  Here is what they came up with. They have to look them all over for errors.  Then they write them down to create their test reference sheet.  Most snapped pictures and then copied from their phone.

Similarity, Geometric Mean, Pythagorean Theorem

Right Triangle Trigonometry


Surface Area and Volume


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Card Sharks

I have a deck of jumbo cards I hadn't found a use yet but then thought of Card Sharks, the game show.  It is an old one, but I think they are bringing it back.  I did not do the trivia part in order to earn the card turn.  I set two up and the kids worked in groups to try and get through the 5 cards.  It was harder than they think.

Egg Zipline in Algebra 2

I did Barbie Bungee when I had my students in Algebra 1.  Now, I have them 2 years later in Algebra 2, so it was time for Egg Zipline.  We did this back in February, right before vacation.  It worked well.  It took one 60-minute period.  I had students work in groups of 3, I think.  In all 3 classes, NONE of the eggs broke.  It may have been too cushioned between the shell, the cup, and the cardboard box we were aiming for so I didn't get a mess on the floor.  So, next year, I need to adjust it so it is a bit more "dangerous".  Typing this quickly. Will find my Twitter friend who started this.

Egg Zipline link

Set up:

Set up 2:

Don't forget the eggs:

Make the basket:


Hard at work the day before vacation!

Student work:

Video 1:

Video 2:

Geometry - SA and Volume Project

This Geometry project takes us about 3 classes (60 minutes each).  It sounds easier than it is.  I do this with my accelerated class. 

Here is the link to the project.

The students have to build a cone or pyramid out of card stock that meet certain requirements.  They need to draw a net, a 3D version, and then actually make it.  This year I only had 2 kids out of 29 attempt the cone. 

They really struggle with this, but it helps them see all the right triangles within the figure.  It helps them see where the slant height is.

Still creating

I can't believe I haven't blogged since January.  I have so many things I want to blog about.

Here is a quick hit.  It is May 23rd and I am still creating new things for my Geometry class.  This is a review for our test on right triangle trig, polygons, surface area, volume, and circles (although no circles in the Around the World.)

I made an 8 question Around the World and a review packet.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Building Relationships - Semester 2

At our school, we have 2 semesters and some of our classes change.  Math is a year long course, however, my class periods change and my students change.  Some stay with me and some leave.  This year I had a lot of changes with 71% of students being new.  This is challenging because I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the school year trying to build relationships, getting to know the students, and trying to create a safe classroom through activities.  However, once January 28th comes, we are in the middle of a math unit and there is not much time for these activities. 

But, this year I made time and on day 2, it is already paying off plenty.
In each of my classes, I greeted them with an index card.  I asked them to write their name on the card and if their birthday is between now and the end of school, write that.  If their birthday is in the summer, write their half birthday, but if their birthday or half birthday has already gone by, write a random date.  Interestingly, kids picked "1/2 birthday as February 30th" and "random date as February 29th".  hmmm. Anyways, I will hang them by the week on my birthday poster.  We are not allowed to have food in the classroom, so in the past, it has just been hanging there and I say Happy Birthday. This year, I started doing "Walk In' Songs on their birthdays.  It is a decent amount of work and I have to be prepared but I am loving it and so are the kids, so I would say it is worth it and I will continue it next year. 

I ask the kids to complete a Math and Me Survey as homework on Desmos.  It asks them how they feel about math in general.  It has them do 2 marbleslides to play with that.  It asks them if math were an animal, what would it be and why.  They have to draw on the key pad with their finger and I have some pretty artistic students.  Here are three of their responses.

I ask what they prefer to be called and their pronoun.  And, I ask if there is anything else I need to know in order to help teach them.  Mind you, we started yesterday.  I read through some of them today and already have learned so much about students I have had since September and students brand new to me.  One student asked specifically not to be seated next to another student in groups.  I will respect that.  Another students expressed how bad they feel at geometry and they just aren't getting it and are worried about being too slow and falling even more behind and could I check in with them individually.  Yes, good to know.  One student phonetically spelled his name so I can practice pronouncing it.  One student who I have had all year wrote "I have felt more comfortable in math this year."  Bless their heart.  Another two students told me they need to be near the front so they can see.  Duh, helpful, but I might not have known if I didn't ask.

In this, I also ask for their Walk in Birthday song.  Then, I have a google doc going and each week, I pull out the birthday and record what their song is and I play as they come into class.  They get so excited when they hear the music, "Whose birthday is it?"  I am learning a lot of new, pretty cool music.  But, there is also funny old music, like of course, Africa, by Toto.  Today I got Jenny 867-5309. Hey, that's my song, how did they know.  Kids are funny.

I also looked pretty amazing yesterday in class as I was handing a former student whom I now have again her index card and asked her to write her birthday down.  I said, "Wait, your birthday is May 16th."  Oooh, the class was amazed.  Another student whom I have had all year long, says jokingly, "Well, you play favorites."  I said, "Well, yours is May 20th."  Boom!  Nailed it.  Class was shocked again.  I am getting older and my memory is going, but I surprised them.  Please don't tell them I remembered May 16th because it's my Dad's birthday and May 20th because it is my son's birthday.  And, then about a month ago, I have one twin, J, and last year, I had his twin brother, M, in class. I don't have M anymore but he has math in the class next to mine.  I had J's 1/2 birthday song pulled up for class that day, so I surprised M as he walked into his own math class and I said, "Happy 1/2 Birthday."  He said, "Wow, I can't believe you remembered that."  Love it.

I also had kids do the Name Tents again. I do it at the beginning of the year in order to learn new names.  I want them to get thinking about noticing and wondering so I have them do that in September.  This time around, during second semester, I have them do new Name Tents so I can learn new names, but I do funny stuff - like if Math were a food, what would it be, If Math got a tattoo, what would it be, If Math had a theme song, what would the chorus be. 

I am also having them do a class escrapbook.  I open a google slide show and make my own slide - like a scrapbook.  I add pictures of my family and information about myself and then I email them and invite them to make a slide about them.  I have done this for the past few years and it is one of my favorite things.  I don't do this at the beginning of the year.  I like to save it for the new semester so it can be fresh and new.  And, it is a quick, outside of the classroom thing to do.  I do show it in class too.  I learn so much about my students I have had all year and my new students.

I can't wait to learn more as I read their responses in Desmos, read their name tents, and see their ebooks.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Out with 2018, In with 2019

My end of the year post on January 1st, 2019.

Old: Books to read goal: 25, Actually read: 46
2019 goal: 48
Link to My Goodreads

Exercise hours goal: 180 hrs, Actual hours: 196
2019 goal: 190 hours

Old: My of my sons had some chronic health issues
2019: Please let's get healthy

Old: I didn't run any road races because I was away during the weekends of my usual races
2019: Just signed up for my first Spartan Race on Mother's Day, May 12th. Time to get motivated to work out and hopefully lose some of the weight I put on with getting too comfy reading :)

Old: Presented at TMC18, NCTM Hartford, ATMIM, and ATMNE in Warwick
2019: Submitted to NCTM Boston in Sept 2019, Hope to submit to present at TMC19

Old: Politics, yuck
2019: Hopeful???

Things looking forward to in 2019:
My baby will graduate from high school! And has been accepted at his top 2 choices, UMaine Orono and Wentworth, both with scholarships.

That's it for now.  Happy New Year!