Saturday, August 22, 2015

First Week Reflection

         The first week is complete. Routines are in place- Seems like I never left! Several of my students are kids that I had as 6th graders and now they are in my 8th grade HS Geometry class. They seem happy to see me again- and I have to admit I am thrilled to see them too. They have a special place in my heart as they are the first students that are on a fast track to graduate with high school geometry credits on their middle school transcripts. Since I spend my 1st two hours of the day with instructional coaching activities I do not see students until my 3rd period. Since first day is always about classroom rules and expectations, I knew I needed to do something different to get students attention and make this boring part of the first day fun. My "Back-to-School" Bingo Activity was perfect. I handed out blank Bingo cards and instructed students to use the numbers 1-24 to fill in their cards in any order they wanted. I used Wheel Decide as my spinner for the topics that I needed to cover with the students in my classroom like fire drill, class rules, quiet signal, etc. I love this spinner tool and generally use it when I need to select students for groups but it was perfect for the Bingo game. Winners could choose from highlighters or pencils. We played 3-4 games in each class to get through the spinner and all the rules. This part of the first day has never been so enjoyable.
      Books have been passed out and lessons have begun. Our student MacBooks will not be distributed until the end of next week. It is amazing to me how much I have changed how I teach my lessons when students all have a MacBook in their hands. I would have loved to be using GeoGebra and Desmos in my lessons this week. Until then we have been creating lines, rays, constructions and more the old fashioned way- getting to know each other again- smiling a lot and getting back into the routine of school.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Favorites

Our school went 1:1 this past spring with each student at our middle school getting a MacBook. Teachers have iPads as well as Macs. Needless to say this technology in the hands of staff and students has changed how teachers teach and students learn. As a teacher and instructional coach my year was busy experimenting with a wide variety of technology for the classroom. Here are a few of my favorites:

Google Classroom- We are a Google School and Google Classroom makes it so easy to share information with students about your class. I have the students' online textbook links, our school's Google Homework Calendar link, Desmos, Geogebra and many other interactive math tools depending on the topic being taught. Teachers can create assignments and add attachments. Flipping your classroom using sites such as Explain Everything, Show Me, and Educreations is easy to do. Explain Everything is my favorite of these three- and I have tried out several! This is what I plan on using for my lesson presentations in class. Teachers can add videos, pictures, files, powerpoints, (both Google Presentations and MSPowerpoint)- record your voice, etc. - making it possible for absent students to know exactly what went on in class that day. I also plan on creating lessons to leave using Explain Everything in my Google Classroom site when I have a sub.

Formative Assessment Tools- There are so many fun tools to use in the classroom these days. Students love Kahoot. The competition to get your answer in before your classmates really gets students excited. If you haven't heard about Kahoot you need to check it out for sure. Your students will love you for it! If you don't feel like creating your own Kahoot game there are ready made games created by other teachers to use. Socrative is really nice- and helps with variety in the classroom. Plickers is an assessment tool that teachers were talking about a lot last year. I myself thought it was a lot of work to create the multiple choice review activity and I could not justify the time it took for me to scan their cards for their answers. I actually prefer to have students show their work on a whiteboard and just hold it up instead of using Plickers. Went much faster- plus I saw student work instead of just a possible guess. A tool that I am so excited to try out this year is Formative. Teachers can create bell work, exit slips, tests and more. What I love most about it as a math teacher is you can give your students their own drawing tool to answer a question. Best of all you can view students' work as they are answering the questions. Another awesome thing that you can do with Formative is upload a PDF document and make the PDF interactive by adding videos, multiple choice, drawing, true/false right on top of the PDF document! This is so cool and relatively easy to do. The best part is that you can share the link with students. I tried it out in my Google Classroom. With just a simple click on the link students could access the assignment.  As a teacher I could see every student working on the assignment on my computer desktop- and even project their answers or drawings up on the board! (Teachers can hide student names from their work if so desired.) Students love seeing their work as well as their classmates thinking on the screen. You can also give students immediate feedback while they are working. If you have the technology capability at your school this is a tool that you should put on your list of things to try. Your students will thank you for it! Have a great school year!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Keeping It All Together- Mission #6 MTBoS

How do I keep all of the ideas I find in the MathTwitterBlogosphere organized? This week's topic is one that has changed for me over this past year. Google Reader was my feed reader of choice. I used it to follow all of my favorite teacher blogs. Diigo was an easy way to save and share some of my favorite ideas that I discovered with other teachers on my staff. I used Tweet Deck  at first for Twitter but I am not one of those teachers that has time to tweet throughout the day and/or keep up with other teacher tweets.

This summer I prepared for Google Reader going away by moving all my feeds to Feedly. It has worked out okay. Another magazine style feed reader that I find myself using even more than Feedly is Flipboard. This is a free app and since my school has iPads, Flipboard is super convenient for me to use. Flipboard allows you to link up to all of your blogs as well as Twitter. My school  uses Google and Flipboard allows me to follow my circles from Google+, So I am basically able to follow all three in just one place. Like I said earlier- Super Convenient! Here is a link to my Math Ideas Magazine. Flipboard manages to keep all of my MTBoS in one place and allows easy collaboration with others.

I have also created my own Virtual Filing Cabinets using Google Sites. These are sites that I add to throughout the year that I share with my middle school staff. I have my math virtual file organized by grade level and topic for easy to find lesson ideas. Another easy to use virtual filing cabinet is Livebinders. I have several of my Livebinders attached here on my math blog that you can check out if you want. As you can see they are easy to create and share with others.Technology definitely has enabled me to expand my learning beyond the classroom!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Got my "grab bag" of goodies ready for my 6th graders this morning thanks to Algebra's Friend who shared this idea on her blog. Since this is the first year my students will not get to celebrate with a party at school, I thought this grab bag idea was genius!  I happen to start off the day with a super smart group of advanced 6th grade math students in a 30 minute study hall/homeroom period. Most of my students come to school with all of their work completed already, and since I figured today might be tough to keep them quiet, the grab bag idea which includes a fun integer Halloween worksheet along with a couple pieces of candy will hopefully keep them entertained while they get some fun math integer practice. Then it is off to the computer lab to create Halloween pictures using Desmos. Between these two activities there should be lots of time for fun and math at the same time- a definite treat for this Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mission #4- Listen and Learn @MTBoS

I have enjoyed attending a couple of Global Math sessions over the last year but have not been a regular. I find it hard to attend the live conference sessions so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you can watch old episodes at any time. No reason to miss a session that interests me any more! One session that had sounded interesting to me previously but I could not attend was a session on review activities. So I grabbed my computer and a cup of coffee the other night and took in "Review Activities That Don't Suck". I like activities that are easy to put together, are fun, and require all students participate in the review. I liked what I saw and tucked away a couple of ideas for my next review with students. Little did I know that I would be using one of the ideas the very next day at school. A lesson that was planned ended up being changed due to shortened class periods to make time for an all-school assembly later on in the day. Last minute I decided to play The Race Car review game over what we had been working on in class. All I needed to do was cut out a car for each group of 4 students. I put math problems up on the screen and had all students work each problem on their whiteboards in their groups. Students could talk to each other and help one another but I would only call on one of the students in each group to hold up their answer at a time- and it was random- they never knew which color I might call out. More difficult problems were worth more miles. Students could move their car that many miles on the board in the front of the room if they were correct. My principal came in to observe that day unannounced and walked into a room of students that were all engaged in the learning activity. I am not even sure how many students even noticed he was there- and he stayed in the room for about 15 minutes. I am sure he had no idea that it was a last minute activity that I put together thanks to Global Math. Best of all the students loved this activity and they got some great practice in and my shortened class time was very productive.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mission #3 @MTBoS Collaboration Nation

One of the best things about teaching math in this day and age is the collaboration between teachers that technology makes possible.  The Resources listed for us to look through for the MTBoS mission #3 are all favorites of mine that I have used in my middle school classroom depending on my needs and shared with the other teachers at my school. The Desmos Graphing Calculator is about the easiest graphing calculator to use ever. My students love it. I like to use 101 Questions, Estimation 180, and Math Mistakes for bell work activities. Easy, fun and quick. The variety is amazing and my students find the topics interesting/funny. It is nice to be able to pull out a problem from Math Mistakes and have students look for what was done wrong and describe how they would explain to the student how to correct it. Estimation 180 is fun with the variety available....loved the hot dogs inside the liter bottle the other day- hysterical! I have contributed in the past to Made4Math and have gotten some great ideas for things to make for my own math classroom from the other teachers. VisualPatterns is great to use in the Algebra classroom. I love the variety of patterns. Whole lessons can be taught from the Visual Patterns sight. Don't stop at this site. Fawn Nguyen's Finding Ways to Nguyen Students Over is a must read. She always has ideas that you can put right to use in your classroom. She is so creative. I would love to have had a teacher like her when I was in school... or how cool would it be to work with her?

When you get right down to it the MTBoS has so much to offer teachers. It is all there for the taking- you just need to look. The Resources listed for Mission #3 this week is a great place to start!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Math Activities I Discovered @ MTBoS

Everything I needed to know I learned from the MTBoS.... Well not EVERYTHING but I have the MTBoS to thank for many of my successful lessons/strategies taught so far this school year. A great place to begin that will prove my point would be the Middle School Math Wiki. This is a resource full of lessons sent in by the MTBoS community. Do you like to use interactive notebooks in your math class? There are lots of examples from countless bloggers to be found here- and they are awesome. The MTBoS community can almost be overwhelming. Where to start? Find a few bloggers that you like and follow them. See who they follow and check out those blogs as well. This should get you hooked. Just a few examples of  activities that I have used in my classroom to introduce my middle school students to linear equations  that have been influenced by the MTBoS are: Mr. Vaudrey's Mullet Ratio lesson, Fawn Ngyen's Barbie Bungee lesson, Cheesemonkey's Double Stuf Oreo lesson, Graphing Stories video site, Mathalicious...and that is just what I have used in the last month or so. As I said in my previous post, you will not regret learning more about MTBoS. Get started on the 8 week session on MTBoS today and you will see what I mean.