Getting to know your students

Around this time of year, as some are heading back to school and others are still in summer mode, there is a lot of information being shared about starting the year off right and the key is to build relationships with your students…take time get to know them so you can make a difference in their lives.  It reminds me of one of my favorite TED Talks by Rita Pierson. But I am reminded that you can’t get to know every aspect of them in the first few days or weeks…you need to continue to build relationships ALL YEAR LONG.

In the past few years I have tried to build in more getting to know you questions for my students to answer at the beginning of the year on Name Tents (Idea from Rachel Rosales) and made popular by Sara Vanderverf. But after those first two weeks of prompts and questions, they would just disappear.  I added some fun questions on assessments and a reflection on my weekly warm-up, but I still feel the need to build more connections with my students.

I will also do Numbers about Me (a la @msrubinteach), Me…by the Numbers (a la @mathcoachcorner) or Mathematical Autobiography (a la @mathequalslove) that I read & respond to and then it stays in their skill folders.

On my weekly warm-up, I had a Weekly Reflection and asked students to tell me one good thing about the week.  I would collect those warm-up sheets each week and respond to their reflections and one good thing. It was one of my favorite ways to get to know my students and continue throughout the year. But collecting the paper and responding among all the other things got daunting. When we went 1:1 I wanted to try using google classroom or google forms for warm-ups, but couldn’t really figure out the weekly reflection piece where I could also respond to them to create dialogue.  Elissa who blogs at Miss Calculate found a way using google classroom and I am going to give it a go this year. She started the first week of school and then updated the prompts every weekend. She numbered the weeks and asked two questions each week, one more silly and one more serious; usually only asking for an explanation on one of them. Around certain holidays she asked holiday specific questions or at the end of the quarter she asked more reflective questions.  

I am going to open it to student contributions of prompts & questions, BUT I also felt the need to plan out my questions for the year in case they didn’t contribute or they weren’t appropriate.  So below you will see my quarterly planning document that I usually print and use to plan my units and see how they fall around holidays and weekends. I decided I needed a visual of what questions I am asking each week and a way to remind myself to ask reflective questions around the end of the quarter and holidays and such, so I decided to use this document electronically.  Obviously the listed days off are specific to my school calendar, so you can ignore those, but I planned to ask two questions each week regardless of how many days we were in school that week.  I am hoping by planning them out, I will be more intentional with posting and responding to them.  And I hope my students hold me accountable!

My plan is to post the prompts on Sunday, students need to respond by Friday and I respond to their thoughts Friday & Saturday (& Sunday if needed).

I will still continue adding fun prompts to assessments too (and probably start a document for that as well), but I think this weekly wrap-up will be a needed connection with students and I hope we will all find it beneficial.

Here are my prompts for the first two weeks of Name Tents (we have 8 days during this time). These aren’t quite finalized, but this is where I am with them right now.

Day 1 – I notice…I wonder…
Day 2 – What was your favorite thing about 6th grade?
Day 3 – How do you feel when you try to solve a problem you haven’t seen before?
Day 4 – Ask me a question.
Day 5 – If you were an emoji, which one would you be?
Day 6 – One thing I wish Ms. Bogie knew about me is…
Day 7 – What is something you feel strongly about?
Day 8 – What is something you are proud of?

Weekly Wrap-up Prompts (as a google doc, make a copy and enjoy!)

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What do you do throughout the year to build relationships with your students?


This August, I’m participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! 🙂MTBOSBLaugust2018

If you want to join in the blogging fun, it’s not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! 🙂 Included are some “directions” and some awesome helpful prompts if you need something to help you blog!

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.

mtbos-sunfun-logo

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! 🙂

Posters 2017

I love making posters (as seen here and here), it’s the design process and being creative that I enjoy.  I used to scrapbook, so it’s the digital version of that in a way. 🙂 I like making posters because it helps me create exactly what I want to say or how I want it to look.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to do ALL the work, so I also borrow a lot of posters that others have made that I love.  Those are from @mathequalslove, @msrubinteach, @mathymeg07, @SweetBlessShan and many others!

https://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/search/label/Posters
http://everybodyisageniusblog.blogspot.com/p/classroom-posters.html
http://www.megcraig.org/tag/posters/
http://www.technologyrocksseriously.com/p/school-signs.html​https://www.dropbox.com/sh/aktxpn25p6lacsz/AABG3PmGzVwSseTBhpcr1N07a?dl=0

At the end of this past school year, I bought colorful paper and I printed A LOT of posters that others made to start prepping for this year. I was even lucky enough that my LMC had time to laminate them, so they are already cut out and ready to be put on the walls for this year.  The posters I printed came from @mathequalslove and @msrubinteach.

I am very good at procrastinating.  I could write a book about all the things I get done when I should be doing something else. I am putting off planning the start to my year and looking at the first unit, so it was easier to turn to twitter and offer to make posters.

I also retweeted it the next day and got a few more responses. I had fun making the posters and totally avoided the work I should have been doing! Here are a few examples:

And here is the PDF link to the 25 posters that I made.  Enjoy!