Goals 2017-2018

I am so excited that Julie (@jreulbach) brought back #MTBoS #SundayFunday, which is a weekly blogging initiative. In years past the blog posts written about the given topic helped shape things I was doing in my own classroom, it’s great because they all get linked together…like a one stop shop for amazingness! It took me all week to look at everything I wanted to do this year and pull out what my main goals are, so my submission is a little late.

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At the start of 2017, rather than set a bunch of resolutions I went with one word…Intentional. As I started reflecting on my goals for this school year, I found the word Intentional to be very fitting as well.

And as I was looking through my endless to do list to prep for the new year, I saw one simple theme…Building Community.  Over half the items on my to do list are related to the engaging community of learners I hope to build. Here are just a few of those things:

BE INTENTIONAL WITH BUILDING A CLASSROOM COMMUNITY

  1. Flexible Seating – Last year my intervention students wrote a grant to get flexible seating and I found out it was funded after I found out I was going back to teaching core math at 7th grade.  I talked to my Assistant Principal and got the go ahead to do it in my room this year.  So then I spent most of the spring and summer looking for items to help create an environment of flexibility and comfort. I LOVE a good challenge to be thrifty and find cute things for the classroom. I can’t wait to share pictures of what it looks like…that means I need to get it set up first though. 🙂
  2. #VNPS – Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces to allow students to work together while standing when doing math in my classroom. For table work, I have individual whiteboards and the group whiteboards from WhiteboardsUSA. I have the Standard-L Seconds and the students love using them. You can’t tell there is anything wrong with them…at all.  However #VNPS has been something I have been reading about on Twitter and because two of my walls are covered in CHALKBOARDS, I thought that would be a fun way to incorporate #VNPS and give students a different medium for working together. I bought chalk and magnetic chalk holders and erasers….we will see how this goes!
  3. Visible Random Groups – To go along with the flexible seating, I was trying to figure out how the students will choose their seats and how often we will change. I am going to incorporate visible random grouping in my classes this year. I haven’t decided how often I will be switching them, I think I need to see how they do working together first. I saw a Tweet from , and   where they posted a pic of these sticks in prep for . I have printed the following sorting sticks on cardstock and laminated them so they should last the whole year.  Click here for the file with the sorting stick guide shown below.
  4. Student Roles & Responsibilities – Funny that I am coming back to this…I had a conversation on Twitter back in August 2015 with Joy (@JoyKirr) about her classroom jobs for students.  She shared this document, though she says she has trimmed down and changed them since.  I never put it into place and my goal is to be intentional with student voice & choice in my classroom community. I’ve been brainstorming with Jac (@JacRichardson) about how to set them up and keep them organized for our middle school classrooms.
  5. Positive Peer Feedback Jar – Another idea from Joy, students fill out a feedback/recognition slip for a kind act/ responsible deed/risk in class, and it will be emailed to that student’s parent. 
  6. Friday Feedback – I am going to implement bi-weekly feedback google form where students can give input on how class is going and how to make it even better.
  7. Saturday Sunshine – Another idea from Joy, pretty simple because it’s two good news emails home, sent each Saturday. 
  8. Mindset Mantras – I am going to give this a go...see what happens!

There you have it! I am excited for all of the things listed above and how I can build the best community of learners that I can for this school year.  I have 15 days until our first Institute Day and 18 days until the first day with students. I have a lot to do before then, but I couldn’t be more excited to get all those things done! 🙂

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2015-2016 New Year Goals/Expectations

Being a teacher I find it easier and more fitting to set goals at the start of a new school year, it feels like a fresh start…the perfect time to revamp what I want to do, where I want to go and what type of teacher I want to be.

Classroom Environment

  • High-Fives Every Day – From #TMC15 (even though I couldn’t go) I heard a lot of people talking about Glenn Waddell and how he high-fived every student every day this past school year. Read his original post about it here. Then he posts later about how giving the high-fives changed the mindset of the students BEFORE they entered his class. BOOM! That’s it, I am all about Growth Mindset and Making It Stick…changing their mindset is important. This is a great way to build relationships and break down mindsets. I love it!
  • Continue Music Cues – I have used these for years since Matt Vaudrey & I connected about using music in the classroom. But last year I got away from it because my schedule was all over the place and hard to keep up with.  I think that going back to music will help keep me on track a bit better this year.
  • Warm-ups – I have plans to revamp my weekly warm-up sheet and change out a few things. I will keep the One Good Thing (one of my favorite parts of their weekly warm-up).  I want to include Which One Doesn’t Belong? along with a few other ideas I have floating around. I just need to solidify it all and get it done.
  • Create a Culture of Trust – so failure is seen as a learning tool and not something that is bad. This is hard, but I believe focusing on Growth Mindset and SHOWING students that we learn from failure will help create the environment I want.  This will be a part of my first few days plans.
  • Continue Good News Notes – I have always done these, but last year I was the most successful with them.  I decided to use email to communicate with parents about something good their student did that day. I tried to focus on mathematical thinking, perseverance, etc. but there were times that the good news was more generic or focused on choices and behavior.  Regardless, these notes were special for both my students and their parents and I need to make sure I make this a part of each week. Also for every hard/not happy email I send, I send a good news note. I need to keep track this year so I know who has gotten them and when.
  • Student Writing & Reflection – It is important that students take time to write and reflect about their own learning. I want to make this a more prominent part of my classroom. Not just something we do when we can.
  • Whiteboarding – I need to bring my large group sized white boards back to school and clean up all my individual white boards. I really NEED to spray paint the back of my individual white boards with black spray paint. I say this every year but never do it and I am reminded why I need to do it the first time we take out the white boards and a student tells me about the inappropriate picture drawn on the back of their board. This sounds like a great thing to do this weekend. 🙂
  • Bring my Ipevo doc camera – I love having students show their work presented to all students at the front and this also would help with ISN pages and note taking as well.
  • Find a way to keep the posters on my walls – They didn’t make it last year. I tried everything…I want this room to feel less bare and more homey for myself and my students, even though it is a computer lab and not just *my* classroom.

Organization

  • Go Digital – I am giving up my paper plan book this year (EEK!).  For the last few years I have designed and created my own plan book and loved the result, however this year I get to teach Geometry again and one of my FAVORITE people in the world that I worked with for 12 years is also teaching it, but she teaches at a different school within my district.  She is teaching it for the first time and in order to share in the most effective way, I made an online planner in Google Docs.  So far I like it because I can link to blog posts, activities and items in my Google drive. And I used the Table of Contents add-on so I can jump to the week I need. This will also force me to save things in my Google Drive and get them off my flash drive. 🙂 Here is a link to the document so you can copy it to your drive and modify it for what you need!
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  • I am still keeping a paper monthly calendar so I can keep track of meetings and day to day items that pop up that are outside the norm of my school day.

Technology

  • Make my class websites useful for my students – This means that I update them with items that will help my students and even turn over the reflection and updates to the students.  I need to set aside daily time to sit down and do this.
  • Use Remind with my students and my swimmers – I love Remind and how it eases communication, I need to go back to using it more often.
  • Find a way to get a grant to use ReflexMath with my intervention students – This is a GREAT intervention fact practice website that has shown great growth in students from my school.  However, we do not have the funds to purchase it. Last year ReflexMath had grants they gave out, it doesn’t look like they will be doing that this year, so I need to find another way to get this for my students.

Personal

  • BLOG! – I blog for me and I need to remember that. I think having the reflection piece as part of my weekly planner will make blogging and reflecting on my days much easier. Anna Blinstein and I are going to encourage & remind each other to blog.
  • Tweet – I miss Twitter and need to find a way to continue to stay involved as an educator because it is important for my learning and growth
  • Continue to build my Essential Oils business – I am passionate about wellness and love the changes the oils have brought into my life. This is something that means a lot to me and I want to remember to build and foster the growth of my business.
  • Make time for hobbies – I find that come November I have forgotten all about my hobbies and doing the things that make me smile that aren’t work.  I need to make sure I have time to continue pursuing the things I love to do, like scrapbooking, refinishing furniture, decorating, etc.
  • Unplug from technology – As much as I love all things that blogging, tweeting and being involved online can bring, I need to remember to foster my face to face relationships and turn off the devices.  This is not easy to do as even my oily business is almost all online, but it is important to take a break and be present with those you love.

That’s a lot, but they are all things that are important to me. Magic is the day I find the balance between it all, but this is a good start, a good reminder of what I want to do.  I will check in at the end of each quarter and see where I am. 🙂

US History tied to Math

Being in the middle school, I have taught US History for 12 years and while I initially was not thrilled to teach it, it has become a subject that I love.  I love the discussions that my students can have because they feel that sharing an opinion is “safe”. They challenge each other, add to what someone else said and bring up good questions that make all of us think. They all want to participate and discussion tend to go longer than planned.  Why can’t this be a math classroom?  Why are students so afraid to do all of this in math? I see it even more now because I have the same group of students for History that I do for Geometry.  In History while evaluating primary sources, they toss out questions, ideas and opinions, but in Geometry when we look at different ways to solve a problem, they take it as it is and rarely challenge.  I have found they do much better in small groups, at their tables, sharing with each other.  I love using cooperative grouping in my classroom, but can’t they reach a point where sharing to a large group is okay?  I want them to treat math the same way…without fear of what they say, without judgment by their peers for the answer they share, because that is the math classroom I desire and they deserve.  Now how can I improve on this for the future?

 

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#MTBoS30 – Day 1 – My “Secret” Passion

I enjoy blogging but usually need a little push to sit down and write a blog post…so when @sophgermain (Anne Schwartz) blogged about blogging for 30 days, I figured I could do that.  I WANTED to do a 180 blog, but that’s crazy…I couldn’t keep up, so I figure this has to be doable…right?

I have a secret passion that has grown immensely in the last 4 years when I bought a house and needed furniture and things for it.  My parents are antique dealers and I grew up going to estate sales, auctions, garage sales, toy shows, etc.  I enjoyed it then, but as a child couldn’t do much about it.  I like clean line well made furniture, stained glass, unique architectural items and unique art pieces.  I have a collection of Bill Olendorf prints of Chicago and some unique perspective state map prints of Wisconsin that are quite funny.  Recently I have enjoyed picking up poor sad pieces of furniture from the thrift store and painting them and/or turning them into something else.  I currently have 3 small projects in my garage and just this weekend picked up another one.  I can’t wait for the weather to get nicer so I can work on them in the garage!

My newest project is an old oak vanity missing the back piece and the mirror, which was fine with me.  I am going to cut the middle part out to separate the ends and create two bedside tables. They are the perfect height, the drawers all work and I love the clean lines! There are only three original handles, so I’m either going to use 3 different pairs of handles (each drawer pair will have a different handle) or I am going to use all glass knobs (which I love the look of).  My bedroom doesn’t have this dark wood…so it’s possible that I will be painting the oak white (Gasp!) or this will give me a reason to start changing up my bedroom colors.  I found this at a barn sale, bargained down the price to $45 and as you can see, was pretty determined to get it home.  Years of moving furniture with my dad, I know how to protect a car and tie down a trunk with my eyes closed. I didn’t have to go far and only on back country roads, so I was okay with this method of transportation. Side note: I may need to think about getting a bigger car to help fuel this passion of mine.

 

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My newest project

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A few previous projects:

This is a bookcase that now sits in my master bath and hold towels and baskets.

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This is my FAVORITE recent project. My dad helped immensely with this one, but I’m a quick learner and had a lot of fun. I found it at a local estate sale in the barn being used as a tool bench and a mouse haven. The top even had laminate glued down with a metal edge…ick!

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My second favorite project. I found the door at a barn sale for $4, asked the lady to keep it for a week until I could get my parent’s van to pick it up (no way my car could get that home). I knew I wanted it for a headboard and it was perfect because it had symmetrical panels (that’s the math teacher in me). It was also an old swinging door, so it didn’t have a door handle hole that needed to be filled or that would be visible.  The sides are from an old newel post that my parents had just laying around…we cut it in half to make the sides and added some oak around the bottom to bring it to the floor.  We left the wood as we found it, no sanding or painting of this.  Dad anchored it to the wall, should there be a tornado and the house gets leveled…I swear this would still be standing. (Notice the stained glass in the window…)

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So that’s a little bit about me and my passion outside of school, my classroom and my students.  Again, my goal is to blog everyday…something about the day, something new about me, whatever comes to mind.

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#MTBoS30

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.

Explore the MTBoS Mission #2

Continuing in the MTBoS Missions…Mission #2 was all about Twitter.  (I am trying to catch up on the blog posts I should have been writing & promised people I would write, sorry for blowing up your reader.) Here is my Mission #2 reflection prompt:

  • If you’re an experienced Twitter user, describe and reflect upon how you tend to use it.

I wouldn’t say I am experienced, I still think I am pretty new to the Twitter world, but I can’t imagine my educational life without it.  I joined last year during the Math Blogger Initiation because I figured when I started my blog, I might as well start Twitter too.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.  IT IS FLIPPING AMAZING!!!! It’s my own personal PLN that I can call on at any hour of the day or night and get a response.  It is (now) a mix of people that I have met in person at #TMC13, people I have met during other math conferences, people I have yet to meet and people I secretly stalk.  It is funny, challenging and awesome at all hours of the day.  It is where I start my Google search for a new activity or lesson and where I go when I need suggestions on my own activity or lesson.  It is a group of people that keep growing, creating and sharing together.

I am finding it even more useful this year because there is no one else in my building that teaches Geometry, so I don’t have people I can ask in my office.  I find I am leaning on my Twitter PLN to answer my questions or help me make sense of things shared with me that I don’t quite agree with. (Old school grading mentality from HS teachers)  We have made foldables together (@msrubinteach), we have shared skill lists (@MTchirps), we have presented together (@borschtwithanna), we have shared music routines (@mrvaudrey), we have laughed about the non-stickiness of post-its (@chrisrime) and many others that I am sure I am forgetting to mention.

Twitter is my news, my TV, my drama and my entertainment for the day. Sometimes it’s silly and funny and other times it’s thought provoking and opinionated, but either way it keeps me on my toes and always wanting to learn more, to be better and to continue to challenge myself to be the best I can be. If you haven’t joined or are on the fence about joining…DO IT!! Find educational hashtags to follow and just watch what happens.  You will be amazed and find that you want to jump in.

Twitter is my online PLN and my daily, weekly, monthly math conference. I have learned more since I started lurking and just reading blogs (since sometime in 2007) and then starting my own and jumping on twitter than I have in any of the time prior to that. My educational landscape has changed for the better because of my involvement on twitter.

 

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.
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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