My Algebra 1 Skills List

I have enjoyed becoming part of the online math world. I have been a lurker for a very long time and have always appreciated how much everyone shares, helps and collaborates with each other.  We have PLC’s in my district and have had them for a few years now. Mine accomplished a lot in the first year, very little last year and this year we are just trying to figure out 8th Grade Common Core and the curriculum that goes along with it that we were given by our district, little attention will be paid to Algebra.  Then again that’s okay in a sense because the curriculum isn’t changing this year.  We don’t know what CC model the high school will move to, which may or may not change Algebra in the future.  Either way, it is kind of refreshing that 2 periods of math a day I know what I am doing and where I am going because it is Algebra 1.  I LOVE teaching Algebra 1.

I adopted SBG a few years back, gosh I think this is my 4th year doing it?  I can’t be sure, it’s all a blur.  🙂  I only started SBG in Pre-Algebra last year and have no idea how it will fit with our new CC curriculum this year, so I don’t want to share that one. Because I teach 8th Grade Algebra 1, I have to fit my skills into the Quarter grading system.  That was the fun part. After my years of doing SBG in Algebra 1, I think I finally like my skills list, which came from many of your lists online, our state standards, the way I intro and explain things and the district curriculum. I want to add more 21st Century Skills because we will be doing more activities that are in line with them, but I decided not to this year.  I am going to try the INB and figured that was all the change I wanted to do in Algebra 1 this year.  Here is my current Algebra 1 skills list, what do you think about it?

I am curious how the INB will go this year and if I will see improvement in their skill mastery.  I am nervous about the INB (in both Algebra and Pre-Algebra) and setting it up, keeping up with it, and being creative enough to come up with good right side stuff for them and good ideas for what they create on the left side.  I am all over everyone’s posts on INB, Everybody is a Genuis, Math = Love, and cheesemonkey wonders I am LOVING all of your INB posts!

I am so happy I jumped on the new blogger bandwagon. Thank you for making me feel welcome on here and on twitter. Have a great Wednesday!

Shiny new iPad!

Yippee!!! I have decided that I am getting a shiny new iPad tomorrow, I have most of the money saved up, but I decided that I want to start the year off using it and learning how to use it in the classroom (especially since we now have to take attendance electronically every period – I teach middle school.) Rather than get it in another month or two from now when the entire first quarter is over with, it just makes more sense to get it now. 🙂 I might be up early enough to be at the store when they open.  I know crazy, but I’ve been contemplating it for a while now (and saving for it) and decided to just take the leap.

I posted on twitter asking what apps are out there that are really helpful to teachers and necessary to help the organizing and everything that we do, then I realized that since I am so new in the mathtwitterblogosphere no one knows me and I don’t have that many people following my twitter to even get my tweet. (But I do have some awesome followers, yeah!!!) I thought posting here would help too…but it’s also so I can post the apps that I find while doing internet searches late late into the evening tonight, so maybe they will help someone else in the same situation.

To be updated with apps as I find them…

Institute Day #2

I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I would have liked during our 45 minutes of grade level planning time today after all of the Institute stuff was done.  We learned all about our new common core curriculum and the standards we are to be covering this year, but we weren’t given anything other than that. Oh, except that we need to be doing group work tasks quite often, but no examples were shared.  Awesome.  The kids come on Thursday and we weren’t given much to go off of.  We did receive the first unit in the spring, but it was just the standards and how it matches our current book.  They told us we would get “everything” at the Institute in the fall (that was today).  I have nothing.  Good thing I did a little planning over the summer, but unfortunately I am now realizing it wasn’t enough and I am now in “ihavenoideawhatiamteachingadaybeforethekidscome” mode.  It’s my 13th year and I feel even more worse off than my first year, that was easy compared to how I feel now.  The positive side is that I did do some planning, there are two other teachers teaching the same subject (8th grade Common Core Math), I have done group work before in my class so I am comfortable with that and that I secretly enjoy challenges.  Plus I do like the freedom to do what I want as long as I hit the Common Core, just means there is A LOT of work ahead of me.  Anyone have suggestions?

I love Pinterest.  I’ve been on there for a while know and recently came across the BEST blog ever for unique and colorful posters, technology rocks, seriously. Check them out, seriously, you will not be disappointed! I think I saved most of the files in her School Signs link, so I could turn them into posters.  I did this on Sunday night, since I had just come across her site. Monday morning I researched the cost to turn some into posters for my classroom through Staples, Kinkos, etc.  WAY TOO EXPENSIVE! We have a District print center available to us and I played around with it on Monday and figured out I could print the sign files on 11×17 paper for $0.36 EACH!  And a 24×36 poster in color is only $5. Amazing! I emailed in the files and directions and was told they would be done on Thursday evening and would be delivered on Friday (boo, the kids come on Thursday). Today I called during our lunch break, they had just finished printing them all and allowed me to go directly to them to pick them up. Yeah!  Then I dropped them off in our Library to be laminated and they were done within the hour! Even better!  The timing ended up great and now they are all cut and ready to be put up tomorrow so I can finish decorating my room.  Overall the day ended on a good note. It’s amazing how cool posters, fun new shiny stuff for the classroom and organizing it all makes me a happy girl!

One more day before the kids come! Hopefully I will have pictures to share of my room tomorrow!

New Blogger Initiative Post #1

Happy Monday! Today was my first day back to school for the new year, not with the students…I will see them on Thursday, but it was good to be back and see everyone.  Between all of the normal start of school year administration items to cover, we didn’t get any time to work in curriculum groups or share ideas yet. We should have some time tomorrow (hopefully)!  I wish they could make this day more interesting or more interactive, I keep thinking of all of the things I want to do in my classroom and redoing these first day meetings with those type of ideas.  How much fun would it have been to cover the same back to school information like rules, reminders, changes, hints, by a scavenger hunt through the school for QR codes that brought us to websites or recordings of the information they needed to share.  We would learn a new(er) technology and how it could be used AND get those pieces of information that are necessary to share without having to sit just about the entire day.  Sitting around today listening to all that stuff (while also multi-tasking on the laptop 🙂 ), gives me a pretty good idea on what it is like for the students to come back to school.  That’s why I don’t go over my rules or syllabus until next week and even when I do, it is not me just telling them, there is an activity with it too. When I start a box.net subscription, I will post stuff there.  Goal to Remember: students need interaction, movement and fun while they ease back into the school year (heck, they need it all the time!)

Okay…let’s get to my post! I am so excited to finally be blogging, I feel like this initiative was a open door to join you all in the blogging world.  I know I didn’t need anyone’s permission, but it is a little daunting, especially when I have been following so many of you for years. (Can you say LURKER?!?!) We were given six prompts to choose from and I appreciated that they included a variety of topics.

I am responding to the following prompt: Where does the name of your blog originate? Why did you choose that? (Bonus follow up: Why did you decide to blog?) – I’m wondering how many points I get for the bonus? 🙂

A year ago I considered starting a blog because I kept responding on many of your blogs, but didn’t have a login to use so it would come up anonymous most of the time. And I had a few fun things I wanted to share.  What stopped me? Trying to pick a name! I’ve read many of your posts (and recently the thoughts posted on Mathtwitterblogosphere) about how some think it is important and others say it doesn’t matter so much. But to me it did/does because I have to be anonymous due to school policy and all that jazz, not that I plan to say anything bad, but it is a little easier knowing that parents and students and administrators can’t find me.  So my blog name was important because it is my online math teacher identity. A year ago I had a list of blog name ideas, a GREAT list of ideas, written on an infamous purple post-it that magically disappeared into the world of important lost post-its, similar to the land of lost socks.  (I can never purchase the ones that actually stick long enough for the post-it and what you wrote on it to be useful, but I continue to use them.) Of course I couldn’t for the life of me remember any of them, so I had to start over.  And I had to start over fast because I signed up for this initiative right before the last minute and realized I needed to set up a blog, pronto…while getting all of my school stuff planned.  I racked my brain for words, thoughts ideas, then I looked through an online math dictionary for words I liked.  Most were too long and I wanted the blog name AND my new Twitter name to be the same, so I was checking them in both places…that was FUN. I came up with two that I ultimately liked and put it to a vote. They were Teaching Pi-oneer (which was still to long for Twitter, but I liked it too much) and Algebrainiac.  A funny thing happens when you put things to a vote to your friends and family via text, you realize which one you want them to vote for.  So, Algebrainiac I became!

What does Algebrainiac mean? To me, I say it Alge-brainiac, long e like Alga or something like that.  Since I teach Algebra and it is my favorite subject to teach, that’s where Algebra came from.  I thought the ending fit as brainiac, however at times I feel like I could get away with Algebra – Maniac, like the middle of the year time when things need a little shaking up.  Either way, I just liked the way it flowed when I said it.  I mean, it would be cool if my blog became a “household name” like Sam Shah, Kate Nowak, Dan Meyer (and many others that I am failing to mention…sorry!); I nearly fell out of my chair at a district PD day in the spring when someone mentioned Dan Meyer’s blog and we watched his TedX-NYED talk. I kept thinking, I’ve been following him for years and all of the fantastic math teachers that I found online because of him and his blog! They have changed the way I teach, I was so happy they were sharing it. While my district likes to think they are cutting edge, they are entirely too large to actually be cutting edge, so they tend to come late to the game, but as a teacher we are allowed freedom to do what we want in order to hit the curriculum goals.  With CCSS, that freedom is changing a bit, but not too much.

Why did I decided to blog? Because of TMC12, mainly. Because it was free and you gained so much, example I just found out Dan Meyer is coming to Chicago to present in April and I WANT to go, but it will cost me $225, ouch (but I know it would be worth it). Insane jealously over everything that you learned and I missed.  I feel like the absent student who returned after some fantastic lesson/activity/lab and finding out it was awesome saying “What did I miss? What? You mean it was that cool? Darn it! What was it about? Can you explain vvveeerrryyy slowly so I can write it all down and soak it all in?” And I decided to blog to better myself, to reflect more on my teaching and what I am doing in the classroom, to share ideas, to get feedback (from people who don’t immediately say “we can’t do that here because of x-y-z. or The schedule won’t allow it.) to get feedback from people who share suggestions or ask questions about why I set it up this way instead of that way.

PHEW! I am SO very sorry this was so long! I will try to be a little more concise in the future. I guess my excitement to put myself out there makes it easier to write! Have a great Tuesday!

P.S. My district just started using edline for our teacher websites and such (we can’t use outside class websites), does anyone use it and can offer helpful suggestions?  I have already played around with it, but it is quite different than Blackboard that we have used for 10 years, even though it is made by the same company.  Thanks in advance!

Oh my gosh, I’ve started a blog!

Thanks to the New Blogger Initiative, my insane jealously of TMC12, becoming a better teacher from the ideas, thoughts and questions everyone I follow has posted and after many many many many years of lurking and commenting every now and again, I am officially a blogger! Strike that…an excited, motivated math teacher blogger, who has finally gotten over my “I don’t think I have anything to contribute, everyone has such great ideas, mine aren’t nearly as interesting or useful” fear…so I started this blog.

I figured since I was creating my blogs I follow list which was most likely in turn bringing a lot of you here, I had to post something other than the generic “Hello World!”. This isn’t the most thought out first post, but nonetheless it is a post!

I am slowly trying to figure out this wordpress thing…I know how to create websites (and have done so on the side before), but trying to figure out how to get what I want to show on the right column has already taken more time than I would have liked. And of course the only themes that I wanted to choose required an extra payment, not cool WordPress.

Oh and I figured why not jump in completely so I am also on Twitter @algebrainiac1. THAT is going to take me a lot longer to figure out, I am already lost and only one person has sent me a message Tweet.  Don’t look for much from me on there just yet, but it will be there sometime.

A little about me: My school year starts with Institute Days this Monday & Tuesday (yeah) and I will meet my shiny new 8th graders on Thursday.  This will be my 13th year of teaching and my 11th year teaching at this school and teaching 8th grade Algebra & Pre-Algebra and one section of US History.  I have used SBG for three years now and love it, but I have NO IDEA how it will look in Pre-Algebra this year due to the poor implementation/explanation of Common Core by my district. I don’t even know what I am supposed to be teaching, how can I build my Skill List with nothing to go off of? The other math teachers and I are quite frustrated with the “New Curriculum” we were given June 1, actually we only got the first two units…a list of the CCSS standards, how it applies to the book and a page of links to supposedly helpful websites to find and build tasks out of.  Example #1: Unit 2 is Pythagorean Theorem that lasts 4-5 weeks…in the past depending on the needs of my students we would cover it in 3-4 days. I am excited for the time and depth that CCSS will provide, but at the same time I am worried that I won’t find activities, labs, tasks, etc that are worthy of all that extra time.  My stress this year will be Pre-Algebra, they are not changing Algebra 1 yet as they haven’t decided what track of CCSS the high schools will be following. And US History is a shared subject that is planned together and not touched by CCSS which is great for sharing ideas and trying new things.  I am implementing Interactive Notebooks this year in Algebra and Pre-Algebra and will be spending tomorrow trying to figure out what I want each of the beginning pages to look like, obviously taking ideas from many of you.  Since I rarely used textbooks in the past and this year the kids don’t get a Math book to take home (only class sets), the INB will be perfect…I am excited to figure this out. I have already spent the last week putting together my group bins of supplies, setting my my classroom desks in groups of 4, and creating posters on my computer to print large size for my room.  I absolutely love the fresh start to a school year and hope that this blog and advice/suggestions/ideas from all of you will help keep that fresh start feeling throughout the year!

Thank you for coming to check out my blog and my first post. I will be responding to the first New Blogger Initiative shortly!

P.S. Due to District guidelines and fear being threatened to us teachers, I cannot post my name on my blog or on my Twitter account. All reference to who I am will be generic, I apologize in advance for that.