Google Forms Gets Even Better

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! 🙂

If you want to join in the blogging fun, it’s not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! 🙂 And here are the directions and some awesome helpful prompts if you need something to help you blog!
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I LOVE Google Forms! I use them all of the time for a variety of reasons- both education related, with my swim team and for personal use. They are such a super easy way to collect info into a spreadsheet super quickly!

This may not be NEW news for many of you as Google introduced it at the end of June, but for those of us on summer break who haven’t opened Google forms to use in a classroom all summer, it is new and exciting information.

QUIZZES!
This new feature will allow auto-grading multiple choice and checkbox questions which can give INSTANT feedback to students and allow teachers to see if they need to spend more time on a topic. SO STINKIN’ AWESOME! I have used the Flubaroo add-on before to do this same thing, but I always found it glitchy and a little hard to manage. I have already played around with this and it is SO easy to use.
Creating a quiz is super simple, here’s how:
  • Go to your Google Drive.
  • Click on New and then choose form.
  • In the upper right corner, click Settings in the top right corner and choose QUIZZES.
  • Next to “Make this a quiz” click the on button to make the form a quiz.
  • At this point you have a few options you can choose to turn on or off,
    • Release the grade immediately after each submission or do not release the grade
    • Change what students can see, Missed Questions, Correct Answer and Point Values.
  • Click Save to save your chosen settings.
After that you just start building your quiz.  You can make an answer key for multiple choice, checkbox, or drop-down questions.
  1. To add a new question, click Add.
  2. Fill out your question and answers.
  3. In the bottom left, click ANSWER KEY.
  4. In the top right of the question, choose how many points the question is worth.
But wait…there’s MORE! You can even add explanations to answers- including links, videos, or websites so students get immediate feedback!
To add feedback, just click on Answer Key and then on Add Answer Feedback.
Type feedback for both INCORRECT ANSWERS and CORRECT ANSWERS.
You can find out even more about creating a quiz with Google Forms HERE.
Way to go Google- YOU ROCK!

 

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 6 – Sadness

Today started with a great staff meeting about Cooperative Grouping structures and sharing and answering questions in small groups with other teachers.  I love the district I am in and the amazing teachers I have worked with for 14 years. Just sitting around the table this morning talking with teachers of all disciplines who are interested in trying something new in order to best reach their students, it’s a refreshing conversation and makes me excited.  I enjoy using cooperative groups in my classroom and have seen the benefits it brings to accountability for all students.

Overall today was a fine day, but it was overshadowed by my feelings of sadness.  I miss my friends, the people I have taught with for so many years who just get me.  Because of my position, I don’t really have lunch with anyone, so I’ve been eating by myself which obviously doesn’t help my feelings of sadness.  Lunch used to be fun, relaxing and a time to relax before heading off to teach, now I just sit at my desk and work through my lunch because I don’t know what else to do.  I know all of the math teachers in my new school because I have worked with many on committees over the years, but I don’t have the same lunch as any grade level really, so I can’t really crash their lunch and join in.

I am sad because I really miss the ins and outs of teaching, the planning, the organizing, the brainstorming with other teachers, making connections with students, etc.  Sure I have one class of 6th grade students  and I am co-teaching a 7th and 8th grade class, but this is sadly turning out to be the job that I was afraid it would be.  I don’t feel like I am doing any good or even really working much and it’s driving me insane.  I have another meeting on Friday along the topic about instructional coaching, which is something I am interested in…I used to think I wanted to teach teachers, but now I don’t even really know about that.  I’ve been offering my services and help to the math teachers, with the new technology program, to assist with grouping students, really anything…and no one is biting.  I can’t force them to want to allow me into their classroom, but what else am I supposed to do?  I keep decorating my classroom and my poor 6th grade students already thought there were enough posters on the walls! 🙂

With everything else going SO well in my personal life, this is really giving me a reality check.  I don’t have my Admin certificate because I knew a while back that I didn’t ever want to leave the classroom and this is just putting that into a clearer focus.  I need to be around teachers, students and interacting about math and teaching. I can’t figure out how to get that in my current position. I would love to be a district level PD person or math coach even, but I looked for those jobs this spring and couldn’t find anything. I am so afraid that I am going to wilt away and be this forgotten teacher who once taught math pretty well.

Yes, I am aware that these are all crazy thoughts, but it really consumed me today and here it is 9pm and I still haven’t gotten over it.  I know it will all be okay, at some point…but right now I am struggling to see the light, to see how I can continue to make a difference in the lives of my students and to help teachers in this new position of Math Specialist (also called Math Interventionist).  I wish there was more direction, like this is the job we want you to do and do it this way.  All of this freedom and do what you feel is best doesn’t work for me.  It’s my type A kicking in. 🙂

So I will breathe slowly, take a deep breath and try again tomorrow.  It’s a new day and can only get better.

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.

Day 4 – Professional Learning Conversations & ISN’s

Yesterday I found out about a meeting I needed to attend today that all of the interventionists/specialists from the district were invited to attend. It is the first of four professional learning opportunities with Dr. Pam Rosa. Here is what I found out about her online, prior to attending the meeting: Dr. Pamela Rosa, a certified Danielson Facilitator, and a consultant of educational initiatives, specializes in teacher and principal evaluation, professional growth processes, as well as mentoring and coaching. She has worked as a teacher, literacy coach, principal, district administrator, and state board consultant. Her educational leadership and policy degrees are from Illinois State University and University of Illinois.  I wasn’t sure what the focus of the meeting was going to be and because I only met my 6th grade students yesterday, I decided to attend the meeting for the morning portion and come back to teach my students.

We received the book Learning-Focused Supervision – Developing Professional Expertise in Standards-Driven Systems.  Dr. Rosa talked about how the title should really be Learning-focused Conversations because Supervision makes it sound like we are higher than the teachers we are working with, which isn’t true.  We had a lot of great conversations in our groups and I am excited for the next three meetings to continue the discussions.  It sounds as though my district is trying to move towards having the interventionists also be “coaches” to work with teachers as well as the students we are working with.  I LOVE this idea and it is something I think I will be good at, however I thing they should be separate positions.  If the interventionists are really there to assist struggling learners across all grades in their school, then there is little time to really focus on helping teachers in an effective way.  This isn’t finalized, just an idea I think right now, but I will be interested to see how it all pans out.

Today in 6th grade students completed a reflection on yesterday’s Pentomino activity for their warm-up and were given their composition notebooks for their Interactive Student Notebooks.  Times have changed and students are not issued textbooks anymore because our math resources are fully digital.  However, we still need to practice good note taking and have a place to show our work and practice, so the students and I will be creating our own textbook this year, called the Interactive Student Notebook (ISN). I have used ISN’s for a few years now and love them.  It will be different working on it along side the digital math program, but I am sure we will find a process that works well.

I collected their homework from the night before which was the pennant about themselves. I had two students not color or decorate even though the typed directions said to and I had one student who didn’t complete it. When I asked him why and had him complete my missing homework form, he stated he had soccer practice and couldn’t do it.  Seeing as though it was the FIRST assignment that required them to tell me a bit about themselves, I was a little surprised…I could expect that from an 8th grade student, but I wasn’t expecting it from a 6th grade student.  I had a conversation with him about making sure he brought it on Tuesday and I debated the rest of the day whether I should use this as a first contact with his parents.  I decided to let it go and see what he brought on Tuesday.

They completed their “I Notice/I Wonder” again for Friday and some of the things they wrote were adorable and insightful:
I Notice
“That I am making new friends.” (I forget that the 6th graders come to us from 3 different elementary schools.)
“You are a really fun teacher.” (YIPPEE!)
“That you wrote back from yesterday.” (I heard them talking when they sat down that I wrote them back. I am glad they liked it.)
“Everything is organized! I love that!” (Awesome…a girl after my own heart!)
“There is a basket that looks like a basketball hoop.” (Yep, bought it last year for Trashketball!)
“You play music everyday for math.” (Yes and I need to get more music to play. I use an app called Seconds to organize music with breaks and this idea came from Mr. Vaudrey and I have LOVED it since I started using them! I think it will work better with the 6th graders too.)

I Wonder
“When we will have a party.” (Hmmm…this is middle school, no parties. Unless we are celebrating Math!)
“If I’ll ever memorize my passwords.” (Yikes, we even tried to make them easier for students by having most logins & passwords for multiple sites be the same. But this is all new for the 6th grade students.)
“If Math will always be this fun.” (ABSOLUTELY!)
“What digits is about.” (I need to explain this more. It is our districts adopted digital resource for our curriculum.)
“How many pages we will use in the composition notebook.” (All of the pages! Actually, good question, close to all I think.)

ISN Pages – I will link to my printable pages or where I found the pages.
Title Page – Math Coloring Page
Author Pages (in Pictures & in Words – Sarah Hagan’s Math Autobiography Foldable)
Study Buddies & Clock Partners
Table of Contents (TOC booklet – Shelli’s great one page TOC)

They seemed excited about the ISN and I was reminded that I need to get more tape dispensers and glue sticks.  The materials I had from last year didn’t quite make it. I purchased new materials bins with lids that don’t come off, but they are smaller, so I think the tape and glue sticks will have to stay somewhere else.

I am looking forward to a nice long Labor Day weekend.  I have planning to do for next week, but I will probably save it for Monday!

 

A shoutout to Remind

I don’t hide my love for the website/app Remind. It is fantastic.  I have been using Remind to text my students and parents without sharing my personal phone number for a few years.  It saves time, students love it and it is free!

I LOVE using Remind for my classes to send out positive quotes/inspirations on big days, fun trivia, reminders about homework, clarifications about homework, reminders about field trips, returning papers, etc. I also use it for my swim team practice group to send out positive quotes, fun swimming trivia, reminders about meets and practices, changes to a schedule, updates on meet performance and other fun messages. It’s SO easy to use and can be sent as a text or an email. Students don’t need to have a phone to receive messages, they can get it in their email accounts instead. Parents can sign up too, in fact I encourage it. It is ONLY an announcement system, they can’t text you back!

They just added two fun features in their recent update which came through my app today…the ability to take a poll/ask a question and get a stamped response and the ability to send voice updates. It’s a FREE program and it’s amazing. I like that it goes directly to the students and parents, they don’t have to check for a website, facebook, twitter or blog update…they get a text or an email with it right there. I can’t wait to try out the new features!

I posted my love on Twitter and @StephReilly brought up a good point that students seem to be burned out on Remind because so many of their teachers use it and send out LOTS of reminders. She even said her daughter didn’t want to sign up for her teacher’s account. I find that interesting because there are so many ways to communicate in today’s society and we as educators keep trying to “meet our students where they are” and now they aren’t as interested in the communications.  Maybe this will mean the circle will come back around and they will all learn how to use their assignment notebooks and write their assignments and details down. 🙂 I don’t know what the answer is, but I have yet to receive and negative comments about using Remind with my students or my swimmers, so I will keep it up!

Even though my list above looks like a lot, I checked my sent messages and it averages about two per week.  I like it because I can send a quick reminder I know the students will get and not have to type a long email that goes to their parent’s accounts instead.  I will consider what I send before I send it and I think this year (even though I have a small class), I will ask students and parents if they liked it at the end of the year.

Honestly, it’s great! Try it out this year if you haven’t before!

Here’s the link again.

(Disclaimer: Remind did not ask me to post about their product, I am posting out of my own love!)

Day 3 – I have students!

Yippee! Today was like Christmas! I finally get to meet my 6th grade math class of 16 students.  The day started with a whole school Advisory lesson on CHAMPS, which are the school wide expectations.  There were 8th grade student leaders presenting to the 7th grade students.  It was great to see and there was good conversation about  a few of the items.

7th grade co-taught – We started their ISN’s today.  The teacher I co-teach with took my ISN professional development class last year and implemented them last year and loved them.  She has mentioned a few times how excited she is that I can help with foldables and ISN stuff, that will definitely be fun!  So they started with their author page (it was assigned for homework) and then we glued in the TOC.  We had a good discussion about what an ISN is and how we plan for them to use it.  They were either really sleepy or are great kids because they worked quietly to accomplish the task.  This will be a fun group to work with!

I worked with a couple of teachers today to assist them with the new Pearson digits product the district adopted last year.  We had to work through some bugs, but I think we figured it all out.  It’s a great program and resource for teachers to use and it’s all digital, which is fantastic. Our students do not receive any math textbooks and have not for a few years.

8th grade co-taught – They came down to my room (The MALL) to log into Digits and take the first Unit’s Readiness assessment.  The readiness assessment is a pre-assessment on skills necessary to be successful in the coming unit.  When the students are finished, the program automatically assigns them intervention lessons on the topics & skills they need the most work.  I plan to use those readiness assessments with all teachers in all grades to help identify students who will need more assistance with math this year.  The students didn’t really have issues logging in, but the assessment was a little harder than they thought.  Many said they were happy it wasn’t going to be for a grade.  This is a rowdier group of students, beside myself and the classroom teacher, there are two other aides in the room for 28 students.

My 6th grade math class is coming! I had planned a day of fun math problem solving, no rules for me…they heard them from every other teacher.  I basically told them the same rules apply to my classroom and that we would discuss them as needed.  I greeted them at the door, told them to choose any seat and follow the directions on the daily agenda.  I LOVE Rachel Rosales’s Name Plate activity (& have used it before), so they were working on putting their name on the front along with 4-5 pictures to help me get to know them.  I will say having 16 students is going to be nice and easy to get to know!  They had the length of two songs to complete that part before we moved on.  Then I introduced myself again, told them a little bit about me and asked them to open the flap on their name plate for Thursday and complete the “I Notice” (from Drexel University & Max Ray) before we did anything else.

Then I explained the Pentominoes Activity they were going to work on in their groups, handed out the materials and let them play.  I wanted an activity that had a low entry point, where their previous experience and understanding of math didn’t stop them from participating.  I also wanted a good cooperative group beginning activity and when I saw it on that blog, I knew it was the perfect activity.  They worked really hard and there was great conversation, frustration and perseverance.  After about 15 minutes I did provide them with a few hints, but none of the groups were successful in solving the puzzle this time around.

8.28.14 photo 4

A great question from one of the students was, “What does this have to do with Math?”. We took a break to discuss and the students came up with answers such as “Area, perimeter, shapes, Geometry, problem solving, working together, etc.” I mentioned that this was a math activity, but the main focus was to work together to accomplish a task. I really liked being able to walk around and observe the students while they work to start learning about who they are as mathematicians.

At the end of the class, with no solutions found, I clarified that in this class sometimes we will be frustrated and unable to solve a problem within our class time and that is OKAY! The most important part is how we problem solve and go about trying to figure out the solution. We closed with having them complete their “I Wonder” for Thursday and turned in their name plates and grabbed a Who Am I flag pennant to complete for homework. I used her free template, but changed what I wanted them to write in each box.  I will use those to decorate the classroom or maybe one of the bulletin boards!

I found an online version of Pentominoes for students to play and sent them the link via Remind. The HARD level in this game is what we were working on in class. http://www.scholastic.com/blueballiett/games/pentominoes_game.htm.

It was nice to finally meet my students today. Keep in mind I haven’t taught 6th grade since my first year of teaching…I’ve been 8th grade since then.  They are definitely smaller and less edgy than the 8th graders are. I am not a convert yet…I love my 8th graders, but I think it’s going to be a great  year!