A Day in the Life of a Mathematics Educator

Tina C over at Drawing on Math and samjshah at Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere  tossed out this great one day blogging idea.  I thought it was great (especially during National Education Week) and coudn’t wait to blog my day.  I forgot Monday, didn’t want to use Tuesday, so Wednesday it was.  I think keeping track of all the things that go into a typical day made me MORE tired than normal. Anyways, here’s a typical day…not the most exciting though. Like another blog I read, I did start my “day” the evening before…

**This ended up being longer than I planned. I apologize up front.**

9pm Tuesday – Driving home from practice (I coach swimming) I remember that I needed to get pixie sticks for my birthday balloons since a group that uses our school & rooms on Fridays devoured mine a week or so ago. I had a few student birthdays to celebrate the rest of this week and wanted to do it right. There are NO pixie sticks at Wal-Mart! WTH? I know that’s where I bought them before.  I sigh and decide to get 2 gallons of distilled water for pups and 24 pack of orange Crush for school. I’m on a orange crush kick, which is odd since I don’t normaly drink a lot of pop.I also *finally* purchase a D battery for my garage door opener that’s been out a week.  I’m tired of parking in the driveway. Call teacher friend back that I’ve been playing phone tag with all week, leave message.

9:30pm Tuesday – Home. Should walk dogs. Sit on couch instead and fire up Hulu (I have a TV but do not pay for any tv service, all internet baby!) to finish last 10 minutes of The Voice. Computer is acting up. I give up and play training games with the dogs.

10:00pm Tuesday – Sit down to try computer again, dog #2 barks at me & outside we all go. Realize as I am halfway around the block, that it is much colder than I thought. Should have grabbed coat, hoodie isn’t too effective.

10:16pm Tuesday – Dog #1 is done, waiting on stubborn dog #2 (he has tummy & bathroom issues quite often). Phone rings & it’s phone tag teacher friend. I answer and almost drop one of the leashes. Phew.

10:20pm Tuesday – Dog #2 is done. I can’t feel my fingers. Inside we go. Teacher and I chat about state of her district & contract negotiations.

10:25pm Tuesday – Inside & warming up, sad winter is finally here. Make note to find scarves & gloves. Head up to office to fire up computer, want to redo Algebra 1 plans for tomorrow. Convo with friend is getting interesting – chatting about who works harder? Elementary, middle or high? Being an elementary teacher, she has strong opinions that kind of surprized me.  I listen and we have good convo. I try to multi-task but can’t. Sit on office floor and pet pups while chatting. I realize it’s going to be a long night, damn.

10:45pm Tuesday – Still on phone (Not complaining, adore my friend & it was good convo) Sit back at computer and search point slope in G Reader. Find some activities, save to drive. Come across Mr. Waddell’s post about forms of Linear Equations, specifically point-slope and using vertex form instead. Wonder if I can “really” scrap my lesson enough to try something new to me. Make note to fully read after phone convo ends. Organize files in new portable hard drive while on phone.

11:20pm Tuesday – Phone call ends. I love friends who challenge me and make me think about things. She really does make me a better person. Great convo about merit pay (in contention in her district), contracts, teaching time, work load, etc. My brain hurts.

11:21pm Tuesday – Reading blogs to figure out Algebra 1 plans tomorrow. Check last year’s notes, I hate point-slope form. That’s what I needed, I change plans to intro vertex form instead. Wonder if it will be a disaster. Open Twitter.

11:30pm Tuesday – Get into Twitter convo with @wahedahbug & @5teve6rossberg about #DITLife & more

12:00am Wednesday – Make joke about mentioned @wahedahbug in my #DITLife post

12:05am Wednesday – Wonder how to intro vertex form. Open up #DITLife blogs and read. Feel refreshed that I am not the only one last minute planning, staying up late, feeling stressed, putting things off, etc. Wonder if old lesson plan can be changed to vertex instead. Decide to finish Algebra 1 plans in AM.

12:20am Wednesday – Dog #2 is whining – senstitive tummy has won out and he needs to go out again. Make mental note to train him to ring bells like dog #1. Whining and barking when he needs to go out is annoying.

12:22am Wednesday – Outside wishing I lived in a house with a fenced in yard, this townhome thing sucks right now.

12:30am Wednesday – Inside. Look at Pre-Algebra plans. Going over integer operations. Finishing typing up parts of foldable & save as PDF to retain my *cool* fonts. Realize I don’t have the dice I want for Integer practice tomorrow. What to do? Make cards to flip instead? Add checking about dice to top of tomorrow’s(today’s) to do list so I can figure out what to do.

12:45am Wednesday – Realize my insomnia has set in. Crap.

1:00am Wednesday – Turn off computer & head to bed. Alarm is set for 5:45am.

5:45am – Alarm goes off. Hit snooze. Happy that my dogs sleep until I tell them it’s time to go outside, no cold doggie noses to poke me out of bed.

6:00am – Get up. Make to do list in shower.

6:15am – Look at dogs sleeping on their beds, wish I was them.  Contemplate laying back down in bed to listen to radio & check facebook and twitter.  Decide not to do it. Continue through the morning routine on a slower pace. Eat breakfast, check facebook.  Upload today’s picture of my sister to facebook (She’s turning 30 in a week and for the 30 days before her birthday, I’ve been posting fun & embarrassing pictures of her growing up on facebook.) Wake up dog & walk them.

7:20am – Leave for 5 minute drive to school

7:25am – arrive at school.  We have PLC time this am (school has a 20 min delayed start specifically for this on Wed only), so I meet the other 8th grade CCSS teachers for our collaboration time.  We are kind of beat today. I share my planning calendar for Unit 3 and then we talk off topic about a lot of things.  It’s nice to be able to vent, chat, etc when we can…sometimes that’s more important than planning.

8:10am – 10 minute bell rings before 1st period. We pack up and I head into the office.  We share classrooms, so I won’t be able to get into mine until 4 minutes before my first class later in the day. This is when I am jealous of those with their own rooms.

8:20am – Head to first period duty in a learning lab for a handful of 8th grade students that need assistance instead of another encore class. There are 7 students in here today with 9 adults. It’s like this a lot, which can be good, but the overload on teachers makes 1-2 feel useless most days since the students are already 1:1 with a teacher. Today one of my math students wants to review vocabulary for an upcoming word parts test, so he works with his ELA teacher. I hop on the computer.

8:30am – We do not have printers in the classrooms, only in community areas.  The three printers in the areas that my classroom computer prints to are all out of toner. I log into tech request site and request toner for all computers. Email teachers affected so they know it was ordered.

8:35am – ELA teacher who also does SBG (for a small portion of her curr.) asks me how many times I allow students to retake if after lessons, help sessions, practice, etc, they still aren’t showing mastery. Her system is for grammar and it’s all or nothing to pass a skill/level.  In her system, because it all builds they can’t move on to the next level until they pass the one before it.  She feels they get held back, but because of the way the skills build, she likes the level system. Even if they went on to the next level they wouldn’t be able to pass without the knowledge of the level before. I explain how I do it since math skills tend to build upon each other. Wow.  What a great on the fly convo about SBG and how to make it more effective!! We are the only two in the building who grade this way.  She does it for one part, I do it for everything. I print  few docs that I need to copy later.

8:59am – bell rings. time for team meeting (I teach in a middle school)

9:05am – Team meeting – talk about upcoming field trip so we can finish planning History through winter break. It’s over two days so it really messes with schedule and my math plans. I fight for time because of the concepts I want to try and get done before the break. I finish putting together a foldable while we are talking about various things. We complete reflections for phone conferences (parents wanted this instead of a face to face P/T conf). I check out my to do list and priortize it. Pre-Algebra (8th CCSS) plans are good to go, just need copies. Make note to work on Algebra 1 plans. History is last day of station activity, so I know I have some time to finalize the game for pre-algebra.

9:30am – Team plan Advisory.Discuss baseball card project for History & gallery walk to go along with it. Realized I forgot lunch at home.  Damn it.

9:41am – Bell rings. Plan time! Head to Library to grab a computer

9:46am – Decide want Integer game for today laminated. Look for Librarian to turn on laminator. Can’t find her. Print them anyways & put them in laminating pile. Work on Algebra vertex form plans. Still worried it won’t go well.

9:56am – Log into email for first time. Get warning to change password (we have to every 90 days or so). Put it off, if I do it now. I won’t remember. 9 emails…none of any significance

10:00am – Head to office to make today’s copies. There’s few colored paper options. Remember right before I copy on blue that one of my Algebra students can’t see anything on blue paper.  sigh and choose white. Look at planbook for today.  I have a few students coming down during lunch to finish their test. Finish copies and head back to office.

10:25am – It’s lunch time. Students arrive to finish test.  Since I can’t get into my classroom. They sit at tables outside of the office area.

10:45am – Go to get laminated integer cards from library. Realize it was good I forgot lunch since I didn’t have time anyways.

10:57am – Walk into 5th period History class as bell rings with assistant principal standing outside my door. Cringe and expect an email about it later. Great.  Mad a self for changing plans last minute. Start History station activity. Get mats for math ready at this time.

11:14am – Realize I didn’t finish grading Algebra skill quizzes yesterday. Crap. They will have to get them tomorrow.

11:28am – Sit at computer to pull up today’s agenda & smarboard file. Avoid opening email for fear of bad admin email about being late to class. Make list of all students who will be gone around the thanksgiving break, there are 8 that I know of…there will be more. Change agenda to show they will get quizzes back tomorrow.

11:46am – Tardy bell rings to start 6th period pre-algebra. Gave pre-assessment over 8th CCSS Unit 3 pre-req skills last week. They BOMBED, seriously no memory on integer operations, distributive property, solving 1 step equations. I kind of figured this would happen, but I wasn’t prepared for their extreme lack of memory on the subject.This dictates we will review integer operations today.  Their Unit 2 test scores help me place them in new seats, so we change seats today…they’ve been asking for a while. We complete the integer operations foldable and put it in our ISN.  I explain the integer game we are going to play in partners. They get materials and I explain that today’s grade is going to be for participation.  I walk around while they are playing to help clear up misconceptions. Winner of game gets a blow pop, find out quickly that the added incentive of candy puts them into focus mode and they do really ply the game honestly. Realize at end of period, I forgot to take attendance.  We are supposed to do so in the first ten minutes.  Oops.

12:33pm – 7th period starts, another pre-algebra.  Same plan as above. This class is less crazy and they work and play really well together.

12:42pm – New student asks for TOC that I never gave her.  Kick myself for tossing 1st quarter extra handouts. I sit at computer and print a TOC to the community printer hoping it has enough ink to print it.

1:01pm – Student finds error on integer game. Ugh. I walk around and observe them playing. Not as many issues as 6th period, but there are still issues with the negatives.

1:22pm – 8th period Algebra starts. Student comes up and tells me about her missing assignment notebook and that all of her papers were inside of it because she uses it as her folder. Take attendance. Intro vertex form. They period is better than 7th, but still chatty.  I can’t get a hold of the chatting. WHY?! They freak with vertex form, it’s one of those periods where I feel if they would just breathe and practice, they would get it.  Student is complaining under breath about how hard it is & he doesn’t get it, yet he’s talking at every moment, I ask him to stop. He doesn’t and I put him into the hall. Why is it that when provided with new material, if they don’t “understand” it instantaneously they shut down?

2:12pm – sent email to other 8th grade math teacher to see if she wants the game mats tomorrow for her class.  She enjoys being a day behind me. 🙂

2:14pm – 9th period Algebra starts. Same as before but this class is so calm.

2:29pm – Realize my classes really do get quieter as day goes on.  I am already ahead of 8th period by 5 minutes due to their ability to focus and work. Make note to work on talking with other classes…what will I do?

2:53pm – Hand out HW. Student asks for pass to come during lunch for help tomorrow. Provide her with the pass. Vertex form seems easy enough to me, but I clearly didn’t intro it the right way. Today was a rough day. Wondering if I should move tomorrow’s skill quiz.

3:00pm – End of day bell rings. Students stay seated and wait for the end of day announcements that come right after bell, then they leave. I follow them out to the hall to do hall duty.

3:08pm – Head back to classroom. ELA teacher comes in to chat about her day and frustrating things in general. We talk about how full our plate is and decide to go on a hunt for chocolate.

3:16pm – Hanging out in office with other 8th grade teachers. We talk, vent about the day and eat some chips and dip we have sitting around. I plan to stay at school for a bit today to get some grading and entering done.

3:39pm – Make to do list for home. Not happy with the amount of things I need to grade. Why do I put it off?

3:42pm – Concerned with dog #2 and his tummy. Wondering if he will have had an accident in crate. Decide to pack up and head home.

3:50pm – Sit in car while it warms up a bit. Check facebook.

3:55pm – home. Dog #2 did have mess in crate, but it’s not too bad. he strategically didn’t get any on him. yeah. Talk dogs for a walk.

4:25pm – Back from walk & clean crate. Give them water.

4:35pm – Change clothes & sit at computer to check home email (blocked at school) & get some school work done. Need to get some coaching items together first. Dogs have antlers to chew on and are just hanging out. Turn on Hulu to catch up on the Voice that I didn’t watch yesterday. I can multi-task with that on. I check twitter.

5:00pm – Caught up on Twitter (for now). Head to make some dinner.

5:33pm – Back to computer to finish some work for coaching (my 2nd job). Continue watching The Voice on Hulu. Need to figure out how to sort columns in G Docs, I thought I already knew how, but can’t figure it out again. UGH!

5:40pm – Realize sis is coming home from San Antonio for two weeks today & her 30th birthday party is Saturday.  I knew this, but realize it’s finally here! Need to pull together all of the parts of her gift that I’ve been collecting over the last few months. Add this to my to do list.

6:08pm – Get ready to leave for practice (coaching swimming)

6:12pm – Leave for practice

6:20pm – Arrive at practice.  I love that both of my jobs are within a 10 minute drive from my house. 🙂

6:30pm – Dryland with swimmers. Today is ab work day, do a intense ab workout set today. They will be in pain during the swimming sets today.

6:52pm – Finish dryland. Head downstairs to pool. Chat with other coaches. Get workout ready and write it on the board

7:00pm – Practice starts. It’s a long week so the main set will take 75 minutes today. Boring for me, but I pull some kids out to work on individual corrections. I also pull together the parent volunteers for the meet we are hosting on Sunday.

8:07pm – Get into an interesting conversation with a coach who is in community college, but taking pre-education courses.  He is in Math for Elementary School Teachers, but he says they just get packets of math problems to work on…they don’t talk about how to teach the math, just practice it.  I am appalled and do not understand why a college professor would hand out packets of math and DURING CLASS have them work on the problems, but not talk about them, not go over them, not explain how to introduce to students, not ANYTHING OF ANY IMPORTANCE!!!!!  I apologize for the capital letters, but I really am shouting. 🙂

8:22pm – Swimmers kept stopping during their long set.  This is the reason they had a long set in the first place, they have been stopping a lot for silly swimmer reasons and it’s time I throw the hammer down. I pulled all of them out of the pool in the middle of the set and asked who stopped.  24 of the 25 swimmers had stopped at some point during the set and we weren’t even done with it.  I kind of lost it and kicked them all out.  I kept the 1 who didn’t stop in the water and worked with her for the remainder of practice.  The kids didn’t know what to do, they didn’t think I was serious.  I don’t think I’ve ever kicked anyone out of practice in my 5 or so years of coaching, or if I have it definitely was not that many.  I do feel bad, but it was time for a statement to be made.  I start working on what I am going to say to them tomorrow before practice starts in order to clear the air and talk about what happened today.

8:45pm – Practice is over. The other coach who had his group in the water tonight leaves as it’s my night to wait for all the kids to get picked up.  I catch up on writing down parts of my day.

9:00pm – Driving home from practice after everyone has been picked up.  I plan to type this up when I get home, but sadly I play with the pups a bit and sit on the couch and become utterly exhausted.  I do not grade, I do not enter grades, I do not twitter and I do not blog.  I head to bed around 10pm and call it a night!

I really did try to keep this short, but I guess I do a lot in a 24 hour time span.  This was a great idea and I am glad that I participated!!!

Posters, Signs & Labels

I warned you all that I was going to catch up on my blogging…this is post #3 in one day. 🙂 It does help that there is a huge thunderstorm going on outside; perfect day to get some work done! I am working on blogs and planning the next 7 days before Thanksgiving break at the same time, yeah.

I love inspirational posters, quotes, catchy sayings that are shown in a visually appealing way.  This summer August when I was figuring out how I wanted to decorate and organize my classroom, I came across some amazing sites that really helped me pull a decent looking classroom together.

Blog Sites
Technology Rocks, Seriously – I can not say enough about this fantastic blog and the woman behind it who is so helpful and creative.  The majority of the signs I have in my classroom came from her blog. THEY ARE ALL FREE! These are the posters that I have along the top of all four of my walls.  I also used her Group #’s signs to hang above my groups and to put on the group supply bins. You will easily get lost and spend an hour or more looking (& downloading) all of the great signs that she has available.  Did I mention they are FREE?!!!

Venspired.com – Another awesome blogger who creates posters and puts them on Flicker for FREE.  The sayings that she uses are awesome and she really has a knack for laying out a great poster with graphics and text.  If you really want to be jealous, check out her blog and click on the Classroom Decoration category she has…the ideas and the themes that she comes up with are AMAZING! Almost…almost makes me want to teach 4th or 5th grade.

Ideas from Online
Dear Students Poster – from MissCalculate – If you read in the comments on her blog, she posted a box.net link to her poster file.  I LOVE this poster! I also had a similar one pinned on Pinterest and was over the moon when I read her post and she posted the link to the file. Funny thing was that I even had the font she used already on my computer! I didn’t change anything (except my name) because she did such a great job.

Two Nice Things Rule – I mentioned this in a blog post on 9/23/12, but it’s such a great rule, it deserves to be mentioned again. This year I adopted MissCalculate’s Two Nice Things rule. I am SO glad that I came across that before the year started. I have always disliked the students being mean to each other and they love calling each other out with this rule when they are. It works great for my students and I do think that it is helping them consider what they say. Thank you @misscalculate! I created a poster for my room, I printed it on three sheets of paper taped them together and laminated it. Actually, I sent it to my district print center after the fact because I thought it was too small and had them print it on 11×17 paper in color and then I taped it together and laminated it. I hung it right above the smartboard in the front of my room. Here is the file if you want it:

Classroom Expectations – from Sarah at Everybody is a Genius – I loved the organization of the expectations, the wording and the clean outline and design.  I printed it as a poster for my room and colored it before laminating.  I had gotten away from posting expectations over the years and wanted to change that this year.  Her post and her expectations was exactly the change I needed.

Correct ISN Heading – from Sarah at Everybody is a Genius (again!) – In her post about ISN set up she outlined the Left side/Right side and the proper heading for the ISN pages. I loved the wording and after a quarter of using our ISN’s one would think my 8th grade students would get it…they do not.  So I compiled it into a poster so I could send it off to get made into a poster to put on my wall.  Still waiting for the poster to arrive, but I am hoping it will help. Here is a link to my version of the Correct ISN Set Up.

My Own Creations
All of the below signs were created for something I needed (or wanted…same thing right?). Let me know if you want the non-PDF document to modify for your own uses.

Class period & material labels – to label ISN bins, Skill Folder Holder, plastic drawers that hold extra materials

File Folder Labels – to label ISN bin folders, Extra Handouts files, my turn in bins, etc.

Class Period Headings – used on top of my poster sized TOC to give students a place to check their TOC for accuracy & updating

Stop Light Folder Labels – Attached these to Red, Yellow and Green file folders (that are stapled to the wall by the door). Students turn in Exit tickets, Entrance Tickets, etc. in these folders based upon their current understanding of the material. It gives me a great way to see if their feeling about their understanding is correct.

Highlighter Cup Sign – This is new as of today. I was doing some grading today and couldn’t enter grades because of all of the no names.  I am TIRED of the no name papers; in 8th grade it’s a little ridiculous. I saw this on Pinterest and wanted to create it myself. Not sure if I am going to have them highlight their name or under their name, we will see. If their name is missing, they must write it in pencil/pen, not highlighter. 

Bathroom Thank you – I just saw a picture of this saying from a classroom one someone’s blog this morning and can’t find it. So I apologize for not linking to the right location where I got the idea. Let me know and I will update the post with the link.  Either way, I created my own version with some of my fun fonts.  The students know this rule, but as of the start of 2nd Quarter were doing a lot of bathroom and water fountain visiting.  I am not against them going and I will let them go; I just prefer that they don’t go. 43 Minutes of class goes by fast so I try to maximize every minute.

Make Mistakes – I have this quote on my mirror and wanted to type it up, mainly for me, but then I realized it could apply to the classroom as well. 

Thanksgiving Stationary – Each year we have the 8th grade students write Thank You letters to a staff member (other than their Core teachers) who has helped them in some way throughout their time in middle school.  They can do more than one, it’s just their first one can’t be to one of their core teachers. I updated our stationary this year to include a different picture.  The students this year like to color, so I found a picture that provided more coloring opportunities. We do these letters the Monday before Thanksgiving break and place them in the teacher’s mailboxes so they get them before we leave. The teachers appreciate receiving the letters and it’s nice to have the students take time to thank a staff member.  I love reading the letters the students write because it shows how hard working, dedicated and caring the staff I work with is.  Here is my updated stationary, I turned it into a card. I made it all grayscale because it will be copied that way and we want the kids to color. 🙂

PHEW!!! I am done for a while, until tomorrow’s #MsSunFun. Enjoy!

My Classroom

I wanted to post pictures of my classroom at the start of year, but never got around to it.  Organization makes me happy, color coding organization makes me even happier. And yes, I am a middle school teacher that loves primary colors. 🙂

Picture #1 – My shelves at the front of the room by the door that hold the group supply bins, all of my graph paper & colored printer paper. We collect graph paper and the colored printer paper from the students at the start of the year. The sign-out/sign-in clipboard is on the top.

Picture #2 – View from the teacher’s desk area (though I’m rarely there). You can see my Smartboard is placed conveniently in the middle of my white board, so helpful! I have another bookshelf that holds their History books so they only take them home when they need them. (They don’t fit into the lockers well.) There is a blue plastic cart that holds all of my whiteboard materials, marker, felt erasers, and individual boards. The top drawer contains coloring pages that my kiddos are all about this year. You can also see some of the fun posters I have on my walls; they do go around the room. But in looking at this picture, I should have put a dark backing like black paper to edge them out.  Oh well. Next post is about the posters and signs I have around my room.

Picture #3 – ISN bins! Best idea ever! (Thank you Wal-Mart for having cheap hanging file bins for sale.) Of course the students can take their ISN home any time that they want to, but I found it less disruptive to have a place for them to stay if they didn’t want to take them home.  I was having too many students leave their ISN in their locker and we aren’t supposed to let them go back, so it was becoming a small issue helping them stay caught up.  In fact, we were having problems getting our ISN’s from the bins when we needed them, so I have improved this system a bit since then.  I have colored plastic file folders (hoping plastic will hold up better) in each bin that are labeled by group numbers.  The ISN’s from each group go in the folder so they can send one person from the group to get them and one person to put them away.  It’s working SO much better now…saving my precious math minutes! (I only have 43.)  The colored folders match the colored duct tape, obviously. 🙂 You can see the poster behind the bins…in my school we share classrooms, so the 7th grade math teacher I share with is a football coach and has the sport stuff up.  He doesn’t like to decorate the room, so it’s good that I went a little overboard this year. 🙂

Picture #4 – Skill folder holder. Again with the color coding…I buy colored folders for each class at the start of the year for the students to keep their skill quizzes and checklists.  I found it was easier to get them myself because we can easily tell where a folder should go based upon it’s color. The folder color matches the duct tape color I put on the edge of all of the ISN’s. You can also see my general supply bin for items that aren’t in the table supply bins or are extra.

Picture #5 – Everything in this picture is by the door. You can see my ISN Table of Contents area. I printed a TOC file (found online) in tablet size 11×17, laminated it and write on it with whiteboard markers. I took this picture before I put up the class headings on top, one is for Pre-Algebra, the other for Algebra. Underneath that you can see my Exit Slip stoplight folders labeled Red, Yellow and Green.  They place their exit slip in the folder that corresponds to their understanding of the material that day.

What you don’t see is my back wall…it is all cinder block and blank.  Along the top of it by the ceiling, I do have posters like you can see in one of my pictures, but I ran out of energy when it came to dealing with the back wall.  Mainly because I had to re-hang most of what you see in the pictures because the first time whatever I used didn’t stick.  Imagine staying at school late a day or two before the first day, hanging and organizing the room, putting on the final details and then coming in on the first day with kids and seeing everything laying on the ground.  I was almost in tears.  I now use the command strips to hold everything everywhere and they seem to be working. The cinder block walls cause a problem because they are exterior and I think the temp changes causes adhesive issues.  I wanted to make the back wall my “Word Wall” or “Words Worth Knowing Wall” to tie in the vocabulary from CCSS, but I wasn’t able to find what I wanted online to create the wall and didn’t find the time to create it myself.  Maybe in the future!

Thanks for taking a peek into my classroom!

#MyFavFriday: Technology as a time saver

I am obvious about my love of technology; I am one of the go to people at my school with tech questions & issues; I have a Master’s in Technology in Education because I can’t get enough of it; I have more than enough gadgets and my mom ALWAYS asks me questions (if that’s not proof, I don’t know what is). 🙂 This isn’t a post about how to correctly imbed technology into the curriculum, but instead it is a post about the tech tools that make my job just a little easier & more fun.

#1 – Excel – Years back I use to purchase the teacher gradebook from the $1 section at Target and type up my student’s names and tape them in.  One day I realized that I could probably recreate the gradebook in excel, so I could customize it as I wanted & type in names and self populate dates. Yes, I do keep a paper gradebook in addition to the district’s online gradebook. I have had my fair share of grades disappearing and issues, so now it’s a habit to do it both ways.  Here is my excel gradebook: (hopefully formatting will hold). I use the same one and change the dates per quarter.

#2 – Excel (again) – Of course I couldn’t just leave well enough alone and decided that I wanted to create my own planbook as well. I like color coding and fun fonts.The planbook is set up for my schedule, but can easily be adapted.  I think across, so my days go across.  It’s amazing how many teachers think down when they plan. I tried a planbook like that once and felt disorganized the whole year.  Must be my math brain?
Here is my excel planbook: (again I hope the formatting holds). I also use the same one and change the dates per quarter. The dates should self populate the entire document when you enter the date of the very first Monday of week 1.

#3 – External Portable Hard Drive – I just purchased a Western Digital My Passport last weekend for $60 that has 465GB of space. Funny for all of my technology love, I was so use to using all my different 4GB & 8GB flash drives and wasn’t in a place where I wanted it all in one spot.  With the implementation of CCSS this year, I had files everywhere.  I lost it last week when I had three drives plugged in and still couldn’t find where I put whatever file I was looking for.  I have placed ALL of my files included textbook files, videos, grade level files and this thing still doesn’t look like a bite has been taken out.  I LOVE it! Plus organizing it has been fun…ha.  Not quite, it’s a bit of a disaster right now, but it’s a good reason to go through and toss files I haven’t touched in a while. Having all of my files and any other necessary/helpful files in one spot is such a time saver.

#4 – Fonts – My love for fun & free fonts is a small addiction.  I scrapbook, so I use that as my excuse to have so many different fonts. I have almost 600 different fonts (that includes the ones the computer came with).  Fonts make my life and my files more fun! It’s not quite a time saver (more like time waster), but it allows me the ability to create my own posters, signs, etc. (this will be another post) and items I want/need with fun and unique fonts.  My favorite font sites are:

http://www.kevinandamanda.com/fonts/
http://misstiina.com/fonts/go/freefonts/
http://www.dafont.com/

#5 – Remind101 – I love this site/app! My district does not allow texting to individual students, but this is awesome in that it is completely anonymous.  You DO NOT need a smart phone to use it.  You can send messages through their website. You can only send messages, students/parents can not respond (best feature!). There is no limit to the number of students/parents that can join each class.  I set up separate classes for each of my periods, rather than by course.  I sent an email to the students/parents and shared sign-up info at the start of the year.  I included that students/parents can sign up to receive my messages via email instead of (or in addition to) text.  This way it doesn’t leave out the few students I have who don’t have phones or don’t have texting. I do not use it to send the homework assignment out; I’ve used it as general reminders (bring such and such tomorrow), kudos about a great class that day, note that I will be out the next day, something interesting on news or tv to check out, etc. I also have a class set up for the sport I coach, so I can send them reminders about changes or things as well.  I  Kids love it and will ask, “Can you send a reminder via text tonight?”.  LOVE IT!

That’s enough for this post. My goal is to do some blogging catch up this weekend. It was a long October and I just lost the time and energy somewhere along the way.