Change

Forced change is never easy…you don’t know it’s coming and likely aren’t very prepared. It throws you off your normal day to day routine and leaves you in a mess of jumbled thoughts of what ifs.  Last week I found out that I was being involuntarily transferred to another school in my district to be a Math Interventionist. This wasn’t a job I applied for, or even wanted, but yet there it was and it’s now mine. I don’t even know what the job entails or what this position does at the middle school level, but I hope to find out soon! This happened while I was at NCTM in NOLA, which helped to keep the reality at bay for a bit (Thank you Twitter friends for your distraction!). One of my best friends was texting me, checking in on me and stated a few times that I was going through the grieving process. That made me think and you know what? I was and thus this post was born.

Stage 1 – Denial & Isolation

  • See the story ACTUALLY starts with me being assigned to teach Spanish and Math at a completely different middle school in my district, which drove me straight to denial.  I do happen to have a decent amount of credits in Spanish from college, but I haven’t spoken Spanish since around 1998.  There is NO way anyone wants me to teach Spanish and it isn’t listed on my teaching certificate.  The denial part comes in because I emailed my principal and told him I couldn’t teach Spanish and that kind of put me in a holding pattern while he checked it out.  I was hoping this was a bad dream and by telling them this info…it would all go back to normal.  That was not the case, they just made a spot for me in another middle school as an interventionist. Being in NOLA kept me isolated from my colleagues and hashing the whole situation out, that might have been a blessing in disguise.

Stage 2 – Anger

  • Anyone who saw me when I found out all of this…you deserve a huge hug from me.  I was a mess…12+ years in the same school, with the same people, my best friends and now I was being moved? I was devastated and so angry, honestly I am not even sure that describes it. I am still upset because I love what I am teaching this year and really wanted a crack at it next year to improve my teaching and the learning of my students.

Stage 3 – Bargaining

  • My desire to regain control of my situation drove me (& my friends) to the “If only” and “What ifs”. Oh the wild and crazy things we have come up with! It’s nice to dream and wish things would go back to the only reality I’ve known for 12+ years.

Stage 4 – Depression

  • Honestly, I’ve skipped this step for now, but I know it’s coming in full force in the future.  I am sad every day as I pull into the parking lot and being in front of my classroom, I have to stop myself from continuously thinking “This is my last quarter with my own students.”. If I don’t stop myself, I will go crazy!

Stage 5 – Acceptance

  • I think I hit this stage when I called my parents to tell them and then asked my dad to help me build shelves in my garage for all of my teaching stuff. From what I do know about the position, I do not have a classroom or my own students, so I won’t need 95% of the things I have.  This will afford me the opportunity to purge items which will be nice.  I have also accepted that I won’t be back at my current school regardless of what happens from here on out.  I am so afraid of leaving my friends, two of my very best friends and losing touch.  I do know it’s within my control, but all teachers know we lose ourselves in the middle of the year and it’s so hard to keep up with what you are doing, let alone what your friends are doing.

Change…it’s not easy, but I am going to put myself out there and try and take control of my change.  There is an amazing opportunity to teach at a new STEM partnership school in my district, so I am applying for that.  In addition there is a position at the district office that I will applying to as well.  Now that I have accepted change, I am excited about the opportunities that exist and where I will end up.

I had to update my resume and I wanted to jazz it up while keeping it clean and detailed. A big thank you to someone who shared their recent cover letter and resume with me, I don’t want to share names because I am not sure it was a public thing…but seeing someone’s wording for recent contributions made it easier for me to update my stuff.  Last time it was updated was 2009 and it was stark and boring. So I used powerpoint to create the file below.  I have obviously removed personal information, but wanted to share anyways.  🙂

Note taking, no textbooks & ISN’s, how does it all fit together?

*WARNING* This is a longer than planned post and involved…I am asking for ideas and help…proceed with caution! 🙂

At the end of each quarter since I started teaching 14 years ago, I have had my students complete a survey/reflection on the quarter. It’s evolved and improved over the years, but the idea was the same…I wanted to know what they thought about my teaching, our classroom, the activities we did and anything else they wanted to share.  I used to just read them and reflect on my own; I would come in the next quarter with ideas, some changes based upon the survey and some that I already knew I wanted to do. I would clarify misconceptions and provide more reasons and examples as to why certain things were done.  I always found them valuable, sometimes in a kick in my backside type of way and sometimes reassurance that what I was doing was working.  I found students to be honest, sometimes more than I expected, but I grew as a teacher from it.  In the last handful of years after I have given the survey, I crunch the data, toss some in graphical format and share it WITH the students.  I have asked them to review the graphs, the information shared and to tell me what it means. I share the comments they write and we talk about it together as a class.  I want them to know that I value their opinions, that I take them seriously and I am always striving to make our classroom better.  It has been within this type of situation that students have mentioned they feel heard, valued and that they have a say in the classroom.  Do I change everything? No, but we have honest discussions about it; I consider it and I might even poll them again on a specific topic to help make a decision.  I still toss in a few changes that I knew I wanted to make, but overall it comes from them.

It is in this situation where I am stuck currently.  I gave the quarter 1 survey (google doc this time around), I knew they completed it because I had looked at a few of the responses.  Today’s class was the day we were going to talk about the results, so last night I finally opened them up and read through them.  I will skip over the love they have for the class and the way we do things, their love for SBG and their love/hate relationship with cooperative learning for this post and yet focus on another aspect dear to my heart, the Interactive Notebook.

I had a section about the notebook asking questions about it, but it was in the very last box titled “Anything else you want to share?” where some *unprompted* shared their extreme love and/or hate of the interactive notebook.  The dislike for it took me by surprise, not one peep from my lovelies about them in a bad way since day 1, NOT ONE. Yet here they were (to clarify THEY = the 15 students who dislike the ISN or parts of it out of the 114 students that I use them with), sharing without any fear or filter, which is what I was looking for.

Here are the negative comments: (only sharing these because I want to focus on how to make this better)

  • I would rather work in a class where some students teach others than tape things into our notebook.
  • isn is really bad. its a waste of time. parents will agree
  • I really think we shouldn’t grade ISNs because nobody really graded our notes in past grades. Previous teachers have graded what comes out of our notes and understanding such as tests and quizzes. At first, I was really enthusiastic about having everything organized in the ISN… but as I thought about it, i realized that I wasn’t learning much from the foldables and coloring. I’m just a type of person that really likes to take my own notes in my own method. I don’t think we should have to worry about decorating our notebooks and having things taped in and secured on top of so much other work that we have to do. This has nothing to do with your teaching because I feel like I’m able to understand what you teach me better than I have with other teachers in the past but I just feel like we shouldn’t have our ISNs graded. Again, this is just my opinion and you don’t have to listen to this by any means, but I just wanted to let you know! Thank you, and I can’t wait for a great rest of the year!
  • I really dont prefer the ISN and really like using my own notebook that is not so strictly scheduled and my own notebook helps me alot more for studying
  • I find it completely ridiculous that the ISN requires you to color the left hand side pages.
  • I really don’t think the ISN is helping me.
  • I enjoy class, but sometimes the ISN can be a lot to keep track of.
  • I like working with groups but also on my own. I am not a huge fan over the ISN-when notes are not my own, I find them more difficult to understand. It also takes away time that we could use to practice concepts and understand them well. I like the traditional way of taking notes.
  • I think that to learn material well, the ISN isnt totally helping bc it is very easy to slack off. a better way would be to use a textbook and do worksheets.
  • I would like to bring up the topic that the ISN wastes valuable time where we could be learning but instead we are taping I know many who agree and I don’t know how many were willing to say it on the survey but I would prefer to use an actual textbook to help me with practice problems, and I do know I can get practice problems in other places but i prefer to get them in a textbook.
  • I like taking my own notes instead of taping in notes in the ISN because I understand the lesson more if i write my own notes. I don’t like the ISN at all. The ISN doesn’t help me with anything because everybody’s notes are the same. I study better with the notes I write and I think the ISN is useless. I would rather have my own notebook than the ISN.
  • I don’t really like the ISN because its a lot of gluing and cutting. Also, I have to pay more attention to the ISN then learning material because I know its a grade.
  • I don’t enjoy using the ISN. It is not really my style.
  • I don’t think the ISN is very helpful
  • I enjoy math class a lot, but I wish to use the textbook more.  the ISN is a helpful study tool, but sometimes feels as if the ISN is like a scrapbook! 🙂 but overall, I am very happy as to how math class is going and I am looking forward to the rest of a wonderful school year!

I do find it cute that they share their dislike for the ISN and their excitement over the rest of the year within two sentences…I love middle school!

Before I went crazy with things spinning in my own mind, I turned to twitter to share it with other minds to help me:

My mind was racing and I knew that I wanted to use the student comments to clarify a few things, but that more importantly I had students that wanted a different way to take notes.  What was I going to do? And my online PLN responded with ideas and questions of their own.  It was Megan (@mgolding) who suggested a blog post and discussion, so blame her for this long post! 🙂

Things to note:

  • This is a small amount of students who do not like the interactive notebook, the rest love it and have said so in the survey, in person and even after today’s in class discussion.
  • We DO NOT have textbooks, so learning from a textbook and just doing worksheets, isn’t going to happen.  We have an online version and a handful of books in the classroom, but our curriculum jumps around the “book” anyways.  It is not a useful resource for the students or myself. This is a HUGE change from last year for the students.
  • These students really do prefer “traditional” teaching and learning. This is what they have known, this might be all they have known and I have hit them with cooperative grouping, open ended tasks, SBG and Interactive notebooks.
  • These students are good students, many have their own way of organizing and taking notes already, which is different from any of my previous classes of students.
  • These students are used to learning FROM a textbook, like “read this, look at the examples and figure out the 20 homework problems”. Not much in regards to shared notes or class discussion. They are used to creating their own notes from going through the material on their own.
  • The cutting & taping (which seems to be a big issue) takes 5 minutes, maybe 10 on a long day…BUT it happens while they are doing their warm-up or something else.
  • Every parent that I have spoken with or heard from loves the class and the notebooks. The parent reflections on the notebooks for quarter 1 back this up.
  • This year my goal was to improve the left side of the ISN, which has happened, but that is where the “coloring” comes in…working on the creative side of the brain.
  • I have told them the ISN is their textbook, their reference.  It contains notes, examples and practice problems.  And it contains their reflection on their notes.
  • I have dabbled in the flipped classroom where they take notes at home while watching a short video and we practice all day the next day in class.

The issues

  • I am dealing with “traditional” learning students. The ISN might not be the whole issue, I think some of it is the way I am asking them to learn and how it is so different from what they know. How do I make it easier?  Example: they told me today they want me to create powerpoints with screen shots of the book and go through the examples in the book with them. 🙂 Ummm….no that sounds awful, there has to be a better way.
  • Some students want to take their own notes (which again I find interesting because they currently take their own notes, just happens to be in foldable format provided by me). How do I incorporate this desire into the classroom?

What I am considering:

  • Giving up on the coloring.  All classes asked for this, easy to give up…no big deal. But I can still ask them to reflect.
  • Allowing students who want to take their own notes to do so, but I might ask them to conference with me about it first so we can be on the same page with our expectations.  Rather than let them jump into a whole new format, I think I am going to ask that they take them in the ISN, but can do so however they want.
  • Teaching students how to use notes to study, this seems to be an issue this year, not knowing HOW to prepare for math tests and how to use their notes. Is it different because it is Geometry? Last year my students loved their ISN’s  in Algebra and 8th CCSS and used them all of the time. The students above claim it isn’t useful, is that because they don’t know how to use it, how to find things within their notes? This discussion also came up during our Twitter conversation.

I need your help, your suggestions, your ideas.  I want to improve my classroom for second quarter and I want to help my students understand the importance of notes in any format.  Is the current trend to change  classroom dynamics to being student centered removing the aspect of notetaking? How do you disseminate important information to your students?  Do your students keep a notebook? binder? etc? As we move to classrooms without hard copy textbooks, what does that mean for notetaking? How do you help the “traditional” students become comfortable in a student centered classroom?

If you made it this far, WAY TO GO! Thanks for hanging with me!

 

Assessment Reflection & End of Quarter Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Made4Math: VistaPrint Stamps

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

checkedin like WhooosPaperfridge

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

#Made4Math: Weekly Warm-up Sheet

20121001-135141.jpg

I know I’ve been quiet and haven’t blogged since school started. I have quite a few blog posts in draft form, but haven’t gotten around to finishing them. This week…promise! I was able to squeeze this one out because I needed this sheet for my classes this week. Just know that the year has started very well and I am loving my classes and students!

Problem:
#1 – I always start doing warm-ups at the beginning of each year totally gung ho and then by the middle of the year they are non-existent.  It just seems to be something that is hard to keep up with preparing & stressing to students to get started when they come in, yadda yadda.  I have about 43 minutes in class, so taking 5 minutes to do a warm-up is about all I can give, but that will allow me to take attendance and do other house keeping things during that time.

#2 – Since we use ISN’s, I was struggling to figure out where to even put the warm-up problems.  I originally wanted to incorporate a page or section for them, but realized that wouldn’t work. I thought about creating a pocket to hold them, but there’s no way it would hold an entire quarter’s worth of paper. I knew I wanted a weekly sheet, but didn’t know what I was going to do with it.

Solution:
I emailed my thoughts and questions to @msrubinteach (http://everybodyisageniusblog.blogspot.com), who was great enough to respond with a few thoughts of her own.  One of which I am running with…they hold onto the currently weekly sheet, but after I give back the one from the previous week, they will keep it in their Skill Folder (Portfolio).  DUH…why couldn’t I think of that?  But this is what I LOVE about the MTBoS, being on Twitter and blogging…I have made connections that allow me to get another set of eyes or another opinion on something I am trying to work out. And they are honest and helpful opinions that help me and in turn benefit my students. Anyways…then at the end of the quarter, we pull together all skill quizzes, checklist and warm-up sheets and staple them together. This keeps everything together for the quarter and provides them with a great study guide and practice for the semester final.

Explanation:
I plan to collect them each Friday, BUT they are NOT a grade. I will collect them to check a few things and make sure they are on the right track, but most importantly I will collect them to read their weekly reflection and to write feedback to them on something from that week.

First, the original form layout came from @kklaster (http://nolearninglimits.blogspot.com/2012/07/made4math-stamp-sheets.html). She shared parts of it during our Embedded Formative Assessment book chat (#efamath) this summer and I knew I wanted to incorporate the Weekly Reflection piece. I thought using the shapes reflection in Geometry would be a fun touch. I also modified her form so it was double sided for one week, instead of single sided.

Then I worked to set up my days. I had this discussion with @MrVaudrey (http://mrvaudrey.com/) at the start of August. He tweeted out his weekly warm-up thoughts and I liked his wording of Get the Goof and have borrowed it.

Mental Monday – Using Estimation180.com a la @mr_stadel
Tough Patterns Tuesday – Using visualpatterns.org a la @fawnpnguyen
What We’ve Been Doing Wednesday – Geometry problem relative to what we are currently learning
Get the Goof Thursday – Error Analysis questions covering both Algebra & Geometry topics
Flashback Friday – Algebra review
Weekly Reflection – Completed on Friday

I also incorporate music cues into my classroom and have enjoyed @MrVaudrey’s blog posts about his class routine and music cues. I use music to keep us on time and as a cue to the student to start or end something; I really enjoy not talking  as much and not directing as much. I am shooting for 5 minutes for the warm-up from start to finish, but we will see how it goes.  I am going to test it out this week and get an average time to then set up my music cues for our warm-ups.

When putting together the warm-up sheet, I used aspects of the Estimation180.com handout, visualpatterns.org handout and a part of an older 3 Acts handout.

Thoughts:
The problems will be projected at the front of the room. I usually project the daily agenda, so I am going to have to modify the plan somehow. Either write the agenda on the whiteboard or split the agenda and the problem on one screen. Any suggestions?

I will start this week, we will see how it goes!

File:

 

My Kryptonite – the *perfect* teacher plan book

MFFNo, I haven’t seen the new Superman yet. I’ve heard conflicting reviews, but I do want to see parts of the local town Plano, IL which is in the movie, so I might venture out to see it soon.  Anyways, one of my first posts was about technology as a time saver and how I used technology to create helpful teacher organizational documents.  I have found that I like when things are pretty and organized, it makes me happy and excited to use them.  In order to help me get excited for the new year, I updated my teacher plan book to create something organized and useful. I have to say I am pretty excited about the result!

My Plan Book Parts
*I have scoured the internet for what I wanted, therefore my parts are made up of self-created items and free items on the internet. Links to where I found things on the internet are provided, with permission from the author.

  • 3-ring binder – this year I scored a bright green binder (you can see the edge of it below) with the clear view pockets on the outside when a student put it in the trash in my room at the end of the year.  It was BRAND NEW!
  • Cute Fonts – Wish I Were Taller by Kevin & Amanda and Cinnamon Cake – I have hundreds of fonts on my computer (& I tend to add new ones daily), but I use these two a lot.
  • Custom Cover – I came across this AMAZING website by Miss Tiina, where she has tons of free printables.  I used one of her journal pages as my cover when I got tired of trying to create my own.  Amazingly enough it matched the bright green binder I scored at the end of the year!
    Cover
  • Color theme – I fell in love with the stuff that Miss Tiina has created and spent HOURS looking through her freebies and printables.  Once I determined what I wanted to use, I couldn’t figure out how to match the colors she used exactly.  My attention to detail in this regard caused me to email her and ask if she would provide the colors used so I could create my own cover (which I didn’t end up doing out of lack of creative genius), but it did allow me to color match everything else! WOO HOO! With her permission, here are the colors to match! I am amazed every day at the things available online when you take the time to search and the willingness to freely share that other bloggers, teachers and designers have. Thank you Miss Tiina!!
    misstiina_livefreelovelifecolors
  • Printable Divider pagesWHAT? WHAT? – Yes, you heard me correctly. Avery makes 3-ring binder tabbed dividers that you can print on using their template. I think I was skipping through Staples when I went to purchase mine. 🙂 I color coded the tabs using the same colors, and even decorated the divider page with some color and the same words that I put on the tabs. I probably could have made the dividers even more cute and colorful, but my impatience to print on them won out and I left them fairly plain. 🙂
    dividerpic
  • 2013-2014 At a Glance Calendar – Used excel to create this on one page and used the same fonts and colors as other parts of the plan book
    ataglance
  • Dated Monthly Calendar pages – Again, Miss Tiina came through with exactly what I wanted, cute fonts, and color matched (by sheer luck) to everything else I was putting together. The calendars are one page per month with an area at the bottom for notes, which is great for us teachers because gosh knows things get added all of the time and we write notes everywhere! I uploaded her calendar graphics into powerpoint, moved them around so the 3-hole punch didn’t go through a bunch of dates when I printed them back to back and then used text boxes and Cinnamon Cake font to type in the District Calendar events on the calendars before I printed them.  Cute fonts are better than my ugly handwriting.
    Here is the link to her 2013 Calendar and Here is the link to her 2014 Calendar
  • Dated Plan Book pages – Earlier I posted about my plan book for this past school year, but (funny ha ha) I didn’t end up using it much and in fact didn’t print out anything other than the 1st quarter pages. This is largely due to  another way I organize my Algebra and Pre-Algebra files. But this year I really need to use it and keep myself organized in planning Geometry and History and I have nothing else to fall back on.  So I jazzed it up a bit, made curved edges and color matched it.  The best part is that I created it in Excel, so it is dated and the dates self populate for the entire year when I change the very first date! It is a 2 page spread per week.
    planbook
  • Meeting Notes pages – I haven’t quite finalized exactly what I want to use for these pages. I have a few options, but I don’t exactly know where I got them, so I don’t want to post them here. I want these pages because I need to keep better track of discussions at team meetings, grade level meetings, PLC Meetings, etc.  I can print the agendas and put them in that section or write notes on a cute form.  To be decided I guess!
  • Dated Gradebook pages – I also jazzed up my gradebook pages a bit and used the same fonts. It is also dated with a two page spread for each quarter.  I have to wait until I get my rosters to print them…but I already love them! I have explained before that I have gotten burned once too many by our online gradebook program, so I record everything on paper and then transfer it to the online gradebook. A mix of old school and new school, but it has been quite a benefit, especially using SBG.
    gradebook

PHEW! I think that is it (for now at least). 🙂  A few teachers at school heard about and saw me creating this at the end of the year and I have made a few custom plan books and gradebooks for them using my Excel self-created documents above.  Isn’t it funny how cute fonts and colors gets us teachers all jazzed up? Oh that and really nice pens!

What is in your teacher plan book/binder? What have you found invaluable to keep in your plan book/binder? Do you use something that you think I need to add? 🙂

My Summer To Do List

Phew! What a whirlwind the end of the school year was! I’ve been out just about two weeks now and already it feels like it has been months…I love that feeling!

I wanted to document my summer to do list to help me accomplish more of the things on it.  Sadly, due to changing the classes I am teaching and a few other things, I will be doing a lot of work this summer! No summer off for this teacher! (Does any teacher ever really have the summer off?) 🙂

Books To Read

  • Making Thinking Visible  – started, just need to finish
  • Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess – somehow I missed joining the Twitter discussion about this, but I am looking forward to reading it!
  • Embedded Formative Assessment byDylan Wiliam
  • Measurement by Lockhart
  • There were a few other titles flying around the blogs and twitter, but I can’t remember them, so this is my list!

Curriculum to work on

  • Geometry – I need to look at the new Geometry Common Core Curriculum that my district put together and see how it lays out in the year. Geometry is brand new to me and because I will be teaching gifted students (2 years advanced in math), I am thinking the classes should be more like an Honors course, rather than the regular curriculum.  I want to go more in depth, more discussions, more discourse, more debates.  I want to find resources to add to my lessons, things like 3 Acts, Algebra Review Warm-ups, Estimation, Cooperative Learning, etc.  I want this class to be challenging, interesting and fun and I feel the more I can find and prepare now the better off I will be.
  • US History – I get to teach 2 sections next year, which I am fine with (I’ve been teaching one section for the past 11 years). But I’ve wanted to change a few things for a while…shorten the Colonies Unit maybe with a project (We start with Colonies and go through present day.), which gives more time for WWI or WWII.  I want to figure out how to incorporate Current events better…I’ve tried and failed miserably in the past.  I want to incorporate cooperative learning activities, debates and interesting/fun projects, etc.  We do sort of plan history as a grade level and as a team, but we all still do our own thing.
  • Advisory – Advisory is going to be different this year since it is at the beginning of the day instead of in the middle of core time.  I want to loosely lay out a few of the units we have done as a grade level in the past and weave in a few other things.

Classroom things to work on
I have a new room next year too and we share rooms, so I want to figure out how to organize all my stuff.

  • Go through my MOUNDS of stuff and PURGE! I know I have things I can get rid of…I just need to do it. Why is this so hard for teachers to do?
  • Update some of my signs and stuff to say Geometry and not Algebra

Interactive Notebooks
I started last year and can’t imagine not using them in Geometry. I just need to find resources! I need to get as far ahead of myself as I can.

  • Find or create foldables for Geometry topics
  • Left Side ideas – I STUNK with this last year, improvement is necessary.
  • Vocabulary – going to create a glossary in the back of the ISN using Frayer models folded in half. I think we can fit 6 per page. This means I need to know AHEAD of time how many vocab words we will have. **Need to create/find a list of Geometry terms
  • US History ISN foldables and resources…I kind of want to do them in History too, just not sure this will make it off the to do list.

Standards Based Grading
I have done this for 4 years now and I believe in it. I am nervous and scared to figure out how to apply this to Geometry in my first year teaching it.  I do not know anything about pacing of curriculum or levels of questions, etc.

  • Find SBG Geometry resources online
  • Look at district teacher’s chapter/unit tests from previous years
  • I want to use the Common Core standards when labeling skills/standards, so I need to figure that out.

Dang.  I thought my list was long, but didn’t realize just how long until I typed it all out.  It feels really ambitious right now, but it all has to get done at some point…I have more time this summer than I will when school starts.

Wish me luck!