Decorating the Classroom…

…isn’t always about what is on the walls, it’s also about what decorates our hearts and what fosters the connections we make with students.

Because I am SO excited to share, this post just jumped over about 5 others that I am trying to finish. 🙂

I blogged about Technology Rocks Seriously a LONG time ago and my feelings haven’t changed.  I’m SUPER excited because she recently started posting new quote posters!

You can find her first ones here: http://www.technologyrocksseriously.com/p/school-signs.html#.Vc-Dg_lVhBd
And new new ones here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B_FwK3u-_PH1fkJ2OG4xN0QweXh6aVNtaHNuRUc5a3Z1Q2xHWWxuMlVuemlFQ3lZSWZsQjA&usp=sharing

Seeing all the new posters reminded me, a few years ago I did an assignment in my 8th grade math classes throughout the entire year, we focused on a different poster each week (I had 35 hanging in the room) and discussed the meaning together in class for a warm-up (as groups & whole class). We also looked at the poster through the eyes of a mathematician and made connections to our class and our lives.  It was always a discussion that I looked forward to; I grew a lot from those discussions, something I can’t even put into words.

At the end of the year I decided that I wanted to do one more final thing with the quote posters, so I created an end of year reflection.

Here were the questions that I posed to the students:

1. Take some time to reflect on the posters and quotes in my room. Choose ONE to write about and make a connection to. (It was a drop down menu to choose from.)

2. Tell me your thoughts on the quote you are reflecting on, how it makes you feel, how it applies to your life and to school, how it applies to what we did this year, how you can use it next year, etc.

3. Find ONE quote that you think I should put up in my classroom next year. Quotes can be humorous, serious, or mixed. They can be math related or something to inspire students. The quote must have an author (not anonymous) and be correctly punctuated with quotation marks.

4. Why should I put this quote up in my classroom next year?  Tell me why I should use it, what connections it has to life, learning, my classroom, etc.

Here are some of their responses:

What quote poster are you choosing to reflect on? Write your reflection about the quote poster in the space below. What is the quote you would like to see in my classroom next year? Why should I put this quote up in my classroom next year?
Practice makes progress, not perfect. This quote is definitely a true fact about oneself. When you practice something, you will definitely improve but you’ll never be perfect. This implies to sports because when I practice sports, I certainly improve but I don’t become amazing. I just personally think its better to work hard and try rather than not trying at all. This also applies to school because I practice understanding lessons with homework; this allows me to understand the concept better but not be perfect at the lesson. This quote applies to what we did this year because we constantly practiced lessons; we had homework, in class assignments, and skill quizzes. In the skill quizzes we would practice each skill to get better at it and earn a 4. Even if we did practice we wouldn’t always get a 4 because we may have made an error or forgot a formula thus making us not perfect. This will apply for high school because I will continue to practice lessons, sports, and music. All in all, I will and did make progress this school year but not perfection. “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself” (John Dewey) This quote should be put up in your classroom because not only is it a powerful quote, it can be inspiring as well. Education is its own life because it just leads the way for life and things to come. Its not preparing somebody because even when you get or have a job, you’re still being educated because we learn new things everyday. This is good for your classroom because it relates to math, education, and life as well. It will also let the new 8th graders understand that education and life aren’t separate, they’re built into one thing.
Practice makes progress, not perfect. I like this quote for several reasons. It helps me in all aspects of my life. It tells me the move i practice, the better I get at something. This applies to my life by practicing at swimming an practicing my math skills because the more I do it, the better I get. It applies to this year because the skill quiz reassessments made us do extra practice , which made us better students. I can use it next year by progressing in geometry by doing all of my homework and additional practice problems. “If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realized how complicated life is.” ~John Louis von Neumann You should use it because it helps students remember that math isn’t the hardest thing in the world. They will be faced with bigger challenges as the grow up and once they understand math, it becomes easier and “simple”.
Fail: First Attempt in Learning I think this poster connects to me because of the word. People use fail to put people down when they mess up. But this poster shows that it is not a bad thing and will happen to anyone. Also its true because as people progress after the first fail they will begin to learn and understand. It also applied to me when i got a low score on a skill quiz I always knew that it was one step closer to improving and learning the skill because of that poster. I can use this for the rest of my life because It tells me never to give up and no one is perfect all in one poster. That is why this poster is my favorite! “You miss 100% of the shots you dont take” You should put it because when people want to ask questions and they dont they risk loosing and answer to a problem. I think it would make student ask more questions!
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Include me and I will learn. I used to have a hard time in middle school, especially in the beginning. In the first few quarters, I struggled with my grades. One day, after struggling to understand a particularly frustrating concept, I wondered to myself how a straight A student could so easily fall into a low B average. That night, after writing a short paragraph for school, I realized the problem I was having. In my old classes in elementary, we did lots of hands-on activities to help further learning and understanding. As soon as middle school started, so did the boring lectures. I was a strictly visual and hands-on learner. Using this new found knowledge, I tried to incorporate that into my studying and review. immediately I found myself understanding complex topics easier. This carried on past 6th grade, after my grades had skyrocketed up from low B’s to mid A’s. In 7th and 8th grade, the teachers used much more visuals. They involved the entire class, allowing me to make many more connections and understand what they were explaining easier. If I was not a good student before, I was then. From the tell not show 6th grade to the visual 7th and 8th grades, my learning had changed. When they told me or taught me, I tried my best to remember but did not understand most of the time. When they involved me, incorporated me, used me in their lessons, something changed. I learned. And I understood. “You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.”
-Frank Lloyd Wright
you always told us that we need to prove to you that we understood and acted upon your learning. That is why you made us do extra work before taking a retake. You told us to try our best, to achieve beyond what you expected us to do. I believe this quote explains that. Your entire learning is based on what that quote means. Independence. Spirit. Understanding. That we should always do our best, whether you are there to tell us that. This quote does more than just say that, it stands for that. And that is why it is so powerful.
I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I;m telling you it’s going to be worth it. I think its a life lesson to live by. You can use everyday in any class including math. It keeps anybody wanting to give up motivated. Also the quote is very true. There are always goals to come by working hard. Like in math when we find the slope and somebody says that this is useless. But someday they might want to an architect or an engineer and then they will find it very useful. Its a quote that would be helpful to know. ” A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”
Albert Einstein
Because it will inspire people to try math even if they don’t know what there doing.
Just Let it Go. “Just Let it Go” is something that I have had a time with this year. I hate to have grades lower than a B nor do my parents. I realize now that I cant do everything perfectly. Yes, I still get really down on my self for low scores and grades but I am learning to “Just Let it Go.”. This has been the hardest school year for me yet and I know things won’t get easier. I know I should be happy that I only have to take one final this year but, I feel like things are already impossible. Other than school I have to “Just Let it Go” at home as well. My sister, my mom and I argue constantly against each other over just about anything. This little things turn into huge problems frequently. Sometimes its hard but we all have to “Just Let it Go.”. Since doing this our relationships aren’t restored completely but we are managing to get better. At school this also relates to me because I have had “Friends”. It took me a while to realize that are few people in Scullen that i could call my real friend. I realized that so many of the people that I spent time with this year didn’t care about me what so ever. I “Just Let it Go” and recognized who my true friends were. From this I learned that I only had one friend. I am okay with this though because it is better to have one true friend than one million fake friends. As you can see this quote has played a large role in my life at school at home and hopefully will next year as well. “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” ~ Victor Kiam I think you should use this quote next year because it defines how I felt this entire year. When I messed up on skill quizzes (which I did VERY often), I didn’t realize that it was helping me. I thought it was just pulling me back and killing my grade but, it took some time for me to understand that the mistakes I made were learning tools for the next time I tried. The whole time I was moving forward without knowing. Just like the Earth moving constantly but we don’t notice. This is why I believe you should use this quote next year.
Two Nice Things I think this poster was a good idea to put up. It made people hesitant to insult each other(even though they should be hesitant to insult altogether). And when the rare occasion of an insult happened, everybody around the attacker would immediately yell out “two nice things!”. After that was exclaimed whoever said something hurtful would have to say two nice things. In addition to that, a lot of people would take this out of the classroom. I remember once in foods class, someone said something hurtful to another student (both were on our team) and 5 or 6 kids yelled out “two nice things!” leading to the instigator having to say two nice things. Having this poster up also makes people feel good about themselves. When you hear something nice said about you it boosts your self-esteem. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
-Albert Einstein
Because a lot of the time in math you do a problem, then figure out the answer is incorrect. Once you do that you usually assume you did the work right so you do the same work again and get the same answers and repeat that process until frustration occurs. But if whoever is going through this dilemma sees this poster it might give them the idea to use a different method or ask for help allowing them to complete the problem and move on with whatever they are doing.
The most important thing you can give someone is a chance. To me this quote is spectacular. I tells me that everyone deserves a chance no matter what. In school and at home I give others a chance to show me or try again. During the school year you gave use many chances to improve our grade as well as our knowledge. Next year I will give peers a chance to be my friend. Also I will give teachers a chance even if I don’t get a good first impression. In addition the high school routine will be different but I know I will have to get used to it. This is why I think this is a very spectacular quote. “You don’t have to know you’re dying to start living.” – Zach Sobiech This quote is not related to math what so ever; however this young man suddenly was diagnosed with cancer then he became a huge hit on youtube for music and then sadly passed away. This tells me that life is to short to waste time why don’t I want to have a fun life.
Wrong is wrong, even is everyone is doing it. Right is right, even is no one is doing it. This stood out to me because I could give you pages of examples of how this happens everyday. We are put in extraordinary situations where this quote applies. Whether it’s helping someone with books, or joining in with a group of kids picking on someone to “fit in”. It is honestly sad how awful our society, that we live in, is. This quote show me that no matter what people say, think or do that the right thing is the right thing, and nothing can change that. It gives me inspiration and helps me prepare for the day, the week, and the rest of the year. People will peer pressure you, but no matter if its ‘cool’ or ‘in style’ it will never be right because wrong will always remain wrong, and right will always remain right. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you do not take”
-Wayne Gretzky
This quote relates to academics , sports, struggles, life, basically what I am trying to say is that it relates to anything and everything. This quote helps to remember to keep trying and never give up even when hope is a heap of away.
You Matter. I really like this quote because so many people, including me, feel bad about themselves constantly. We’re always picking at our flaws. We are out worst critics. We criticize ourselves more than we think people criticize us. Usually whenever I see a grade I wasn’t expecting/ don’t like I tend to put myself down. I think that if I keep this quote in mind, I’ll be perfectly fine in high school. I really like this quote. “Life is good for only two things, discovering mathematics and teaching mathematics.” ~Simeon-Denia Poisson (1781-1840) I think this quote should be used in your classroom next year because it shows that doing math is fun and can be exciting and not a drag like some people say. This quote shows that math is not only benefiting the students, but also the teacher as well. It shows that math is important in this world. Math shouldn’t be about memorization but about learning and understanding.
Just Let it Go. I picked the quote “Just Let it Go,” because I can relate to this quote inside and outside of school. I feel like this quote means to let go of whatever is bothering you and focus and on what’s important. For instance, school in general is important, and it will stay important in my and other futures. If you are focused on something that won’t be important to you later in life, why risk your chances of not being the best student you can be? School is a time to let go of your problems and focus on what will make you successful later in life. In math class I feel stressed out that I didn’t know a skill and that I wouldn’t be able to master it. Then I get too stressed and I put up “my wall” that tells me that I won’t be able to master the skill. If I let go and think positive I could of had a chance at mastering the skill, that I once believed I couldn’t do. I can use this quote next year by not getting too stressed out about my school work and tests. If I let go I can really make a difference by letting my mind find out the easiest way I can learn and understand. “Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.”
-John Dewey
I think that you should use this quote because this shows that after you have succeeded one thing, you should keep pushing for another. For example, on your skill quizes, you have mastered almost all of them which was your goal, but you should keep pushing to master all of the quizes. This quote could be used outside of school, whether it is sports, a change in life, or anything else.
Wrong is wrong, even is everyone is doing it. Right is right, even is no one is doing it. i like this qoute because it means different things to different people. This qoute means to me that dont do what everyone else is doing be different. This can be used in school by not bullying a kid that everyone else bullys. i can use this next year by making the right choices in high school. putting academics before sports or other activities. do what i think is right not what everyone else thinks. if everyone lived by this qoute the world would be a better place. bullying and other problems based on peer pressure can be avoided if everyone did what they thought was right. “Honesty is the best policy”

By: Benjamin Franklin

you should put this up in your classroom so students can be honest about grading their own tests, turning in homework, and cheating. a classroom with honesty is easy to teach in.
Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best. I chose this quote because it relates to my school life. I am a chorus singer and one day my teacher asks me to try out for honors chorus and i didnt pass the offer. this offer did come up to me once but i turned it down because i have stage fright and i have never tried out for any singing groups or parts. when i did try out it helped me over come this fear a bit. i was told i had a wonderful voice. at my audition i did have a shaky voice at first but then i got over it and sang out. this quote reminds me of the fear i had to express my singing abilities. when i read this i feel like i am that little bird whos afraid of singing out but when i do i fill the woods with my voice. i can use this next year to have the guts to try out for something else. It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.
Napoleon Hill
i think you should add this quote to your wall because it motivates people to help others and not just themselves. it shows that you succeed more when helping others than just yourself. helping others is a great feeling inside and it lets the person know you care for them. this reminds me of the times when you have people who finish a project/assignment grab a green spoon and help others. the green spoons are a great idea and i think you should keep that going.
It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. I liked this one the most because it represents my life very well. This is because I love to prove people wrong. So when someone tells me it is impossible to do something i always will attempt it no matter what. Such as when i was doing a science project, I had tried to turn a fresh water fish over to a salt water fish. It didn’t work for obvious reasons but i still tried. It also applies in math. I was never good at math so i thought it was impossible. But i still tried and it was fun! “Behind every successful man, is many unsuccessful years.”
~ Bob Brown
i think you should use this quote because it describes everyones live into a few words. Not only does it just apply to students but to athletes , artists etc. throughout your years of learning you make mistakes and fall down but you get back up and that is what you learn from and become successful that way. this connects to your classroom and learning in general because as a student you make a mistake on a test or quiz but when getting feedback you make the correction and will forever know how to solve those problems. This also relates to your classroom because of skill quizzes, we may of been unsuccessful many times but we learn and retake and succeed.
Dare to be Remarkable. This is my favorite quote in the room for many reasons. I like how the quote isn’t sugar coated or detailed, it just gets to you really quickly and when I really started to think about the qoute it actually really impacted me. I take risks everyday but they aren’t risks that make me feel special. What I mean by this is that if I took a risk and talked out to someone I had never spoken to before I think that would make me feel remarkable. I know that sounds a little strange but sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference. I think you should really highlight this qoute next year because its definitely something that 8th graders should take in to consideration because no one takes risks or tries to Stand out to much in middle school because we are afraid to be remarkable. “When educating the minds of youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.”
Dalai Lama
I think you should use this qoute next year because I believe it’s something that teachers and students tend forget about. When we learn we learn about science and math and social studies, but we rarely discuss how those subjects can please our hearts or make us happy. For me when I do math problems it makes me feel in control, which makes me feel good about myself. Then when I read or write I feel at peace which is the best feeling in the world for me. I really and truly believe that all teachers should put happiness into the spotlight at school.
Do the Right Thing…Even when no one is looking. “Do the right thing even when no one is looking.” I think this quote is really true. This applies in almost every situation that comes up in life. Just because someone is not watching you does not mean you will get away with your mistake. Guilt will always look over your shoulder if you make the wrong move. I know for me, doin the right thing only makes me feel better about myself. I also never have to worry about karma biting me back. I think this is a good moral to have in the class. One of the most important. Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
-Maria Robinson, American writer
This quote should really be put up in the classroom. This quote has so many powerful meanings. The connection it has to learning is you may have a rough start in your learning and you can’t go back and change that, but any student can start today, never giving up and keep trying until they have achieved the goal they set for. It all makes up for the loss in the end. I feel as many kids can look up at that and know this isn’t where I’m going to stop this is only the beginning and if I mess up I can just keep going.
Just Let it Go. I wish I had seen this quote earlier in the year. First semester I didn’t do much talking. I was still stuck in last year, and to be honest I was a mess. I had so much to let go, but I didn’t WANT to. There was nothing to move on too. And then second semester in math class, I met people. People that are now my very good friends. They helped me let go of what was holding me back, and gave me something new; something worth holding onto. This quote makes me feel sad. I kind of feel sad right now thinking about it. It applies more to life than school, but life IN school. But this quote is important for people to see. It’s simple, but deep. Those are the best quotes because it can be interpreted personally. For example, I’m positive no one interpreted “Just Let it Go (little balloon)” the same way I did. They probably just thought it meant to get over that test they failed. Which honestly, it could. There are those bridges in life that are better crossed, and that’s what people should do. Cross it. Get over it. Especially at this time of the year, when the students get split up and grow into a group again, before splitting again. For good. I think it’s funny how for two quarters I sat right underneath that poster, second and third. And now, when I’m saying goodbye to my friends, I see it. For the first time. And I’m glad I have, because I’m going to need that advice. Who knows when, but I will, and I’m going to use it.

My very favorite quote on your wall is “Two Nice Things”, because without it in some…weird way, I wouldn’t have made my friends. It’s a strange thought, but having to tell two nice things to each other every time we insulted on impulse kind of grew everyone closer. Especially since they had to be about personality, because there are never enough ways to tell someone how good they are at math.

🙂
Thank you, your class meant the most to me

“If you can’t fly, then run,
if you can’t run, then walk,
if you can’t walk, then crawl,
but whatever you do,
you have to keep moving forward.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.
I think you should but this quote up in your classroom because it’s so motivational. It will tell students to keep trying no matter what obstacles they face and never give up. I believe never give up is one of the most important lessons everyone learns in their life time. This can apply to school and once again, outside of school.
Two Nice Things Two nice things… This phrase has had a lot of meaning this year to me in math and all of my other core classes. Since you created the ‘two nice things’ rule, bullying and mean words haven’t really been that common. It made me feel happy that students bullied others less and less because of this rule. I feel that it has truly made a difference this year as well. I mean, it has really taught us, students to think before we speak. Because if we say something rude or hurtful, we have to say something nice about that person and it would lead us to think of why we would have said the mean words in the first place. It may seem like I am completely exasperating three tiny words, but I feel they have changed us all for the better. It has helped prepare us for high school and has shown us how to behave like young adults. And for that I thank you. “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”
– Albert Einstein
I think that you should use this quote because it’s inspiring. Learning-wise, it tells you to see what you can do, and then tells you to advance furthermore. This is important in your classroom environment especially because of the math aspect that I see; it says to keep trying even when you can stop.
It’s okay to not know, but it’s not okay to not try. “It’s okay to not know, but it’s not okay to not try.” I chose this quote out of every other poster because it truly inspires me to change my drive for highschool. For the longest time I’ve kept the mindset of “there’s no point in trying if I can’t do it,” or “why hope if it will never happen?” Throughout my years in middle school I have realized how weak of a person I really am. I have no drive, no confidence, and I give up after the first shot. I drop hobbies upon gathering materials, stop practicing a violin concerto I can’t perfect, and throw out homework I simply can’t do. I give up. I am weak. But this statement tells me it’s not okay. It’s not okay to give up without trying – without really trying. But it’s okay not to know the many concepts of physics. It’s okay if I can’t sightread a foreign key. It’s okay if I can’t write like Stephen King and Lovecraft, or create art like Tim Burton. It’s okay because I’m still allowed to try. And as long as I am, I can technically try anything, learn anything, and eventually do anything I want.So thank you for giving me a statement to live by. “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” Louisa May Alcott It’s just inspiring. For everyone.
It’s okay to not know, but it’s not okay to not try. my favorite quote in your room is Its okay not to know but its not okay not to try. This quote made me realize that I need to give an effort on all things. If I may not know how to do a math problem I still have to try to do it. to show that I care to learn. Not trying or giving an effort at all, will not help me learn. Something I may not know to do if I try it makes me feel better and it feels like a gave an effort. This quote helps ,e with my homework because many times I did not know how to do a math problem, trying it made me have for encouragement and confidence in learning how to do it. That quote made me realize that effort is rally important to help you learn. Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningfull
– Joshua J. Marine
I think that it sends a message that you will have challenges in this classroom, but if you overcome them, you will eventually have a fun time learning.

Ok. I realize that was A LOT to share, but as I was going through reading them all (yeah for google forms!), many reminded me of the struggles in middle school, the thoughts that go through students heads that we tend to forget about and the amazing connections and fun we had that year. Obviously I didn’t share them all, many of the ones I shared stood out to me for one reason or another.

More importantly it has reminded me that connecting with my students as people, as young adults, is the MOST important aspect to the success and failures we will have in my classroom. This was the PERFECT thing for me to read today, while I was procrastinating all of the planning and more planning I should be doing. It gave me the perspective I needed to have and that warm fuzzy feeling that I am an effective teacher and I can help my students in more ways than just math.

Take time before you barrel into a new school year and reflect on the way you want your students to feel when they are in your classroom. What things from previous years do you want to repeat? What things do you want to avoid?  What new things do you want to try? You can make this year anything you want for both yourself and your students, so take a deep breath and do some honest reflection. Regardless of what you choose to do and how you choose to create a culture of learning in your classroom, make sure that making honest connections with your students is at the forefront. Without those important connections, getting students to take risks, be comfortable failing and learn from their mistakes won’t happen unless they know you have their back. 🙂

Day 5 – Readiness Assessment

After a nice long three day weekend, I wasn’t quite ready to get back into the swing of things, but it ended up being a great day!

There are so many things I want to do in this new position of mine, but it is hard to know what is okay and what isn’t.  There are times that I like the lack of direction, but others where the type A in me needs a little more organization to follow.  I want to put together a newsletter of sorts for the math teachers in my building sharing apps, programs, blogs, activities that I find online.  It’s easy for me to find it all, just need to compile it in a useful manner that will effectively reach three different grade levels.  I also want to make sure teachers know that I am there to help them and their students, I think when you start the school year you get into a mode and forget to reach out for assistance or even ask for it.  Some have been coming to me on their own, which is great, but I need to do a better job of being out there and approaching them too.

I started a blog for my classroom and I am hoping to write a reflective post each day, for myself and for parents & students.  It’s on the Blogger platform and I’ve figured out how to add a Google Presentation (where I keep my daily agenda), a gallery for my ISN pages and a page for my Remind Announcements.  It’s been fun to mess around and figure it all out.

Today in 7th grade the students were in the lab completing a readiness assessment for the first unit.  It covers the necessary skills from previous grades that will be called upon in the first unit. The program will automatically assign them intervention lessons based upon the questions they miss.  The teacher can then assign them to complete those lessons or they will be completed during their time with me once the year and unit gets underway.

In 8th grade we are starting to get into the first unit and started with a vocabulary activity.  In groups of 3-4 the students had to use multiple resources (BYOT (google) and two different textbooks) to compare the definitions and come to a consensus on the wording they wanted to use.  I was amazied for Irrational Number there were three “different” definitions, different to the students, but not really different in meaning.  Once said “Any real number that cannot be expressed as a ratio”, another said “Any real number that cannot be expressed as a quotient of two numbers” and the last said “Any real number that cannot be expressed as a fraction.” This opened up a great conversation between group members about which one would be best to use and why.  And why were they worded different any way?  It was a fun activity, but it was hard for the four of us adults to keep the students on task. This will be a rowdy group this year.

In my 6th grade class we started our Weekly Warm-ups with Tough Patterns Tuesday. The patterns come from Fawn Nguyen (@fawnpnguyen) and her amazing site, http://www.visualpatterns.org.   Surprisingly, they had ZERO clue how to solve a pattern…I think I may have forgotten they were 6th graders and not the gifted 8th grade students who I had last year. So we walked through the steps in solving the pattern and I made notes on what I want to change on my Weekly Warm-up sheet in order to assist them and make it more clear.  I secretly thought about how much easier it would be to do Estimation180 each day instead of a different warm-up focus each day, but then what am I really teaching them?  Obviously since they struggled with identifying and finding a pattern, they need to work on it.  I am thinking of rearranging the days again so Friday only includes the reflection of their week and one good thing from the week, instead of a warm-up AND the reflection.  I just really like the idea of writing about their week in math and overall and sharing one good thing.  That Friday reflection was one of my favorite things from last year.  I learned about my students in a different way and had fun commenting on their questions and reflections.

Today was their last “I Notice/I Wonder” of the beginning of the school year.  I only use it for the first three days they are with me. Here are some of their comments from today:

I Notice

We were kind of working with exponents (This was Pattern #1 for the warm-up and we identified counting the squares, so it was exponents.)
How forgetful I am being (Ah, the joys of being in 6th grade and trying to figure out how to organize everything.)
That I am so COLD. (Yep, when the computers aren’t being used in my classroom the air is cold. When they are being used throughout the day, it gets quite warm. Dress in layers is my suggestion!)
That there is a quote of the week (YES! My school is a CHAMP school and has a quarterly theme with words and quotes of the week.  It’s a great way to connect the school together!)
That this year will be a challenge (Not if we can all work together!)
It’s hard to find patterns (Next Tuesday I want to do a better job of walking them through to find patterns, any suggestions?)
That we will have warm-ups everyday, I like that (I am glad she likes it, I just want to make sure they are useful and fun.)
That you have a lot of posters (Surprisingly less than in the past, but I like things to be colorful!)

I Wonder 
If my day will get any worse (This was the same student as the forgetful comment, but this makes me sad. It’s 8th period out of 9 and he’s had a rough day. I hope he has a better day tomorrow and I hope to make sure he does!)
What I will get on the test (They took a pre-assessment today that isn’t for a grade. There were many students who wondered about their performance on the pre-assessment.)
Why it’s colder than Friday (It was chilly!)
What hard things we will be doing later in the year (I like that they are wondering, but want to change the mindset that it will be hard.)
Do you give us tough patterns on purpose? (Hmmm…maybe I need to change the name?)
If we will have worksheets (With the change to most homework on the computers, this is a good question.  If it is useful and serves a purpose, I have no problem with worksheets to accomplish a task)

After the warm-up and a conversation about the Readiness Assessment for their first unit, they got on the computers (it’s SO cool having a classroom in a lab) and plugged away.  I had three gentlemen in the back that couldn’t stop talking to each other.  In the future I think I will spread them out. I only have 16 students and 29 computers, I can spread them out A LOT! It is funny how the squirrely kiddos stick out when you only have 16.  I think back to last year having multiple classes of 38 and how I probably wouldn’t have noticed so much. 🙂

@chrisrime mentioned to me the other day that after reading my blog post and links to others about music in the classroom, he decided to try his hand at creating a Chrome Extension to make the music play at certain times.  While I love all things technology, creating something like that on my own…well that just isn’t going to happen.  Today Chris sent a tweet with the link to his extension for Chrome.  Think of all the things you can use it for…his way for passing periods and warm-ups or on parent night to indicate when parents should switch classes.  What about for a station rotation activity to indicate when students should move?  All of the things I do through an IOS app  can be done through his extension.  He did post it knowing it might be a little rough, so check it out and let him know what you think! I am pretty impressed and hope it will work in my school where Pandora is blocked.  https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/musical-timer/heaadgfcmokbmoiepokjcjpabjkhcogf

This interaction with Chris just reminds me of the vast depth of knowledge, friendliness and sharing that exists out there “in the internet”.  Asking for help will get you a tons of responses and suggestions, asking a question does the same…there is always someone there to help or who is willing to help.  Being a part of this online community has enriched my teaching, changed my views on many things and made me love what I do even more.

Assessment Reflection & End of Quarter Reflection

I had planned to blog about my End of Quarter Student Reflection, since they just completed them and I have been reading through them. Then yesterday I jumped in a Twitter conversation between David (@delta_dc) and Julie (@jreulbach) that started with David’s question “Is it okay if a student is surprised by his or her grade on an assessment?”. There were a lot of ideas shared and when I jumped in I mentioned my during assessment reflection that I have used in the past.  So now this post will cover both reflections. 🙂

Assessment Reflection
I have used this in the past (not yet this year) to help students slow down a bit during assessments and to help identify where they went wrong and why.  I’ve had it for years and created it with teachers at my school, but don’t know if it originally came from somewhere online (if it’s similar to something of yours, please let me know so I can properly cite!).

I’ve tried to upload the Word Doc file instead of the PDF to Scribd for you. However, it then formats funny and doesn’t use my fun/cute fonts.  🙂 I am sure you can figure it out.

End of Quarter Reflection
I had the students respond to a survey on Quarter 1, which included questions about my teaching, our activities, the ISN, SBG, etc.  I have compiled those results for an in class discussion on Tuesday so we can make changes, clarify misconceptions and move forward in our planning for Quarter 2.  I want my students to feel a part of the decisions I made and the things we do in the classroom.

However, the reflection I am talking about here wasn’t that one, instead I created a reflection for students to reflect on themselves as a student for Quarter 1.  I asked them to reflect on their mastery of skills, their participation as a group member and then write their own comment about themselves as a student for first quarter; similar to what a teacher might write about them.  This was a GREAT reflection to share during parent teacher conferences this week and students were honest, open and striving to improve in their performance during second quarter.

Overall, we did a lot of reflection at the end of the quarter. Students even reflected on the ISN AND I had parents reflect on the ISN; that was awesome to read, the good and the bad about the ISN. 🙂 I like taking the time for students to reflect AND taking the time on my end to read and respond to all of it.  It helps me become a better teacher, to reach the students I have THIS YEAR and it helps them learn that reflection is important, especially when you take something from it and work to improve or change.

#Made4Math: Weekly Warm-up Sheet 2.0

I LOVE doing these weekly warm-ups with my students.  They have been great! Check here if you want to read about them in my original post. A few reflections:

Pros:
*Giving them the weekly sheet on Monday of each week keeps me from forgetting or skipping a day.
*I love that it has all the days of the week on one sheet (front & back)
*The layout was easy to check each Friday.
*I’ve been using these as a way to give feedback without a grade. I check to make sure their warm-ups are completed for each day and I read the weekly reflections on Friday before I leave school.
*I’ve been referencing the math practices when giving feedback…be precise, etc.
*I definitely like the Weekly Reflection on the back. It’s a good gauge on the week’s lessons and activities and let’s me know where they still have questions.
*They were told they had to write one thing that was still circling their mind under threat of death. 🙂 Not really death, but if they did write “Nothing” for that part, I googled random trivia and would write a question there for them.
*This gives them something to do when they walk into my classroom and they are picking up on the routine.
*They have mentioned that they like doing these problems!

Cons:
*Oh boy do they not like to reflect when doing the Estimation problems. We keep talking about how “I looked at it.” is not an appropriate response for listing your reasoning.
*I didn’t like the layout for Tough Patterns Tuesday because they essentially had to write the equation twice, once in the table and again on the line I made for the equations.
*I need to keep reminding them for the What We’ve Been Doing Wednesday and Flashback Friday boxes to draw all graphics and write the original problem.
*Sometimes it takes more time than I intended, even with my music cues, but that’s because we are having great discussions and THAT’S OKAY.
*Sometimes they are WAY too chatty during this time, but I am okay with it as long as they are completing the problem. (walking around does help this a lot)
*I wish we could fit in Estimation each day because it’s fun when they build on each other faster than once a week.
*Because of the style of warm-up problems, it is not easy to have students go over the answers like I have done in the past.

Changes:
*I made the line in Tough Patterns Tuesday say Correct Equation. This is where I intend for them to write the correct answer when we share it in class.
*Per a student request, I change Thursday and Friday.  They wanted Throwback Thursday (I agreed once I heard it, so much better than what I had.) and told them I would switch it once I could figure out another name for Friday. Tonight I used the online dictionary to find synonyms for mistake and came across Flub and Faux Pas. Initially I liked Faux Pas Friday, but the true definition of Faux Pas (socially awkward or tactless act) made it seem like the mistake was embarrassing to do. So I changed it to Find the Flub Friday and it’s catchy!
*I added “Draw all pictures/graphics and write the original problem.” to both Wednesday and Thursday.
*There was a Friday a couple of weeks ago where I had a really bad, no good, rotten, very bad day and didn’t want to leave the week on a crabby note.  So when they were writing their weekly reflection, I asked them to share one good thing from the week with me, since I had such a bad one.  To be honest, I enjoyed reading about their week and their one good thing more than I thought.  I liked hearing about what was good or bad…a few students said they had bad weeks too. So the next week I asked them to share one good thing again.  Therefore I changed the line in the Weekly Reflection from “Anything else you want to share” to Share One Good Thing from your week”.

So here is my Weekly Warm-up Sheet version 2.0! Enjoy!

Explore the MToBS Mission #1

I am late to the game…not because I forgot but because I just got SO FAR behind in grading (need to stop assigning!!), preparing and getting my presentation ready for ICTM. And I couldn’t decide what to write about, sometimes I can be so indecisive!

According to the Explore MToBS blog post for this mission, we are to choose between two blog topic options:

You are going to write a blogpost on one of the following two prompts.

  • What is one of your favorite open-ended/rich problems?  How do you use it in your classroom? (If you have a problem you have been wanting to try, but haven’t had the courage or opportunity to try it out yet, write about how you would or will use the problem in your classroom.)

  • What is one thing that happens in your classroom that makes it distinctly yours? It can be something you do that is unique in your school… It can be something more amorphous… However you want to interpret the question! Whatever!

I want to write about one thing that makes my classroom distinctly mine, yet I don’t really know what that is. I feel like I borrow and take so much from my online PLC and my real life PLC that I am not sure what is really mine anymore.  That isn’t a bad thing, just that I wasn’t sure what made my class different from other classrooms.  So I took @JustinAion’s idea and asked my students. I sent a Remind101 text with a link to the Google Form survey and waited (not very) patiently for the results to come in.

Here are the results in a Wordle from 56 of my 120 students.
makesdifferent

I really enjoyed reading their responses. There are a few misconceptions that I need to clarify “we skip around the book, like 3.1 and then 6.5”, but that’s the curriculum not me & we don’t even use the book. Some feel that I rush through lessons so we do more activities and other feel like we spend too much time on lessons and don’t do enough activities. 🙂 Some of them don’t quite grasp the idea of the ISN or see its usefulness, that is definitely something I need to work on if that is the case! One comment really stuck with me “She uses worksheets and the “ISN” to teach new lessons. I dislike the way she teaches for math using worksheets.” because I don’t use worksheets. In fact today was the second day they received a homework assignment that was a worksheet.  I am not quite sure what this comment means, except that I need to clarify and change something about the perception of worksheets. I was also able to see that my prediction was correct for a few comments about wanting to use the textbook (we DON’T have one to use!)…they have only ever learned from a textbook, so not having one and creating our own is a huge change for them.

They identified the ISN as the thing that makes my class unique, along with Standards Based Grading (Skill Assessments) and the MathXL online homework.  This was a great reflection for me as we are coming to the end of a quarter and I usually give them an End of Quarter survey about class. I plan to change a few of the questions before giving it to them. We spend the day after the survey, talking about changes we want to make to the class and clarifying things. I love giving the students a voice in the classroom environment! If you want to read all of the comments you can click here:  Makesdifferent

 

 

#Made4Math: VistaPrint Stamps

Waaaayyyy back in the summer I purchased the Vistaprint Groupon when it was $17 for $70 worth of items. I love Vistaprint and have used it for years in many aspects of my teaching and non-teaching life.  I procrastinated (huge overarching theme for me) and waited until the last minute to finalize my purchase.  I had all of these grand ideas of positive note cards and cute things with my name.  That didn’t happen, but I did order the following stamps and items. I am excited to get them in the mail (I did the free shipping that says it takes forever but it never does.) Checked is in red ink, Like and Whoooo’s paper is in blue and the fridge one is the larger stamp because I wanted it in green. I should have ordered the Whoooo’s one larger too and gotten it in purple, but it will be fine in blue.  I also ordered some note cards. I used the Teacher Appreciation Subway Art file from eighteen25. Check out the rest of her cute subway art files for FREE!

checkedin like WhooosPaperfridge

I am already thinking about what other stamps I could order. 🙂 I use them to check in their daily work, so using different graphics, words and colors would be fun!

ICTM Presentation 2013

I attended and presented at the Annual Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Peoria, IL today.  My workshop was on Building and Maintaining Effective Cooperative Groups.  I got a test run this summer at TMC13, but this was a lot longer (90 minutes) and participants needed tickets to attend.  I found out a while back that it was sold out, which made me excited and nervous at the same time.  That means that there are teachers out there that really want to learn about Cooperative Groups and I wanted to make sure that I did it justice.

I had a SMALL room with tiny long tables; we were packed in there! I tried making it a little better for teachers to sit in groups of four, but it didn’t work quite the way I wanted.  However, I had a great group of teachers in my session and we made it work! Everything went pretty much as planned, but I ran out of time at the end to reflect with them more and have them share more ideas because it was going so well and we were sharing.  I need to cut something out somewhere when I present again in February (& maybe in WI in April).

Thank you to all who attended! A lot of great ideas were shared that I plan to implement in my classroom.

Anyways, here is my presentation! And a link to the follow up document I sent the attendees (I collected their email addresses as part of their name tags). https://www.dropbox.com/s/dwsvqau5r3lk2mb/ICTM%20Follow%20up%202013.pdf