Thursday, December 11, 2014

The World Is Awesome And So Are Bloggers!

I am not at school today. I am training (yay!!)?? Actually, yes. The last few of these trainings have been fairly good. I am a teacher leader for the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative, a grant funded by the last round of Race to the Top Funding. So far, we're looking at 3D printing, mind-controlled devices, Java programming, and gesture-controlled technology. This is right up my alley. Then - at 11:35, we're talking about blogging. Heyyyyy. I mean I have a blog - I'm writing on it right now? Do I do it normally? Heh. No. But, I do understand the great power of blogs because I've learned so much. DruinkOK, PamJWilson, and so, so many others (the speaker is ending... I have to stop! They are going to make me move.) The speaker just talked about how "Twitter is the best PD opportunity for teachers". I know! Shoutout to #MTBOS for being amazing! I'll update later with takeaways and pictures!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Curing Test Anxiety

My AP class this year is really, really small. It has gone from 21 in AP Stats last year to 4 this year. Now, I had almost 20 want to take the class but some interesting scheduling conflicts arose, which made my enrollment dwindle. Regardless, the four kids I have are GREAT.

In other news, I am WAY behind in AP Stats. How does this happen? I have FOUR kids. Oh wait, that's right - they go on a field trip every other day. I'm not bitter. Haha... okay - maybe a little.

The great news is that these kids are mastering the content at a high level. I've never had all As and Bs in AP before.... well that was true until their last test. I had one student absolutely bomb the exam. The problem is said student KNOWS the content and just completely panicked on me. I could see it on the student's face during the test.

My question - how do I help fix the student's test anxiety? I give very similar study guides, we discuss a lot of theory in class. I feel like they are much more prepared for the content of the exams than my classes ever have been before?...


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reflecting on Coordinate Geometry Project Based Learning

As a school ARI (Appalachian Renaissance Initiative) lead, I was encouraged to implement project based learning in one or more of my classrooms. I opted to implement a project based learning activity in geometry as part of the coordinate geometry unit. The project asked students to work in groups of 4 to design a waterpark. The project work flow looked something like this:

Days 1 & 2: Water Park Research

Day 3: Make Land (Oversized Coordinate Plane)

Day 4 & 5: Draw & Finalize Blueprints
Homework: Write a paper to your boss defending your blueprint design, using the research notes.

Day 6: Draw in Walking Paths & Find Lengths (Distance Formula)

Day 7,8, 9, & 10: Build Waterparks (3D)

Day 11: Find the Midpoints of Each Path on Blueprint

Day 12: Build Benches & Place at Midpoint of Each Path on Model
Homework: Write TV Advertisements for Your Park Opening

Day 13: Record TV Advertisement & Finalize Model/Proposal Components

In good news, I LOVED this project. The kids (seriously - all of them) were into it at some level. They worked steadily, many worked hard and taught themselves how to do distance and midpoint. Other teachers loved the project, the principal loved it, the superintendent loved it - it was great (well... the janitor didn't love it... we made a mess!). 

I gave my exam yesterday. Some of the results were great - the kids that put effort into the project have a wonderful understanding of distance and midpoint - and not just at the level of the standard algorithm. However, the kids that simply went along with the project, doing what they were told to do by group members but little more did not form a great understanding of the content. 

A large part of this is my fault. Reflecting back on it, I should have planned more checks for understanding to make sure the kids were "getting" what they needed to get. I failed there. I went around and formatively assessed a lot, but there was no way designed for me to hold their feet to the fire until the ending examination. A distance quiz after day 6 and a midpoint quiz after day 12 would probably have largely addressed this problem. Next year I'll do this again, but next year there will definitely be quizzes! However, I really recommend project based learning. It's so fun to teach this way! I'll post pictures of their projects in another blog entry after Thanksgiving Break.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reflecting on the Last 9 Weeks

It's been a good while since I've posted last. It seems this year started with a running leap and has yet to slow down. Volleyball season is winding down (thank heavens), and soon I'll have a little more time to breathe - but not yet!

I reflect a lot in my head, but obviously there's no evidence that I do. For my professional growth, I've decided to be more intentional about lesson reflection, so I plan to write a lot more posts in the coming months. It's a similar idea to telling kids to show their work - you don't know that they are actually doing the work if you don't have evidence.

I'm very behind in geometry this year. As a whole, my students are very low, and test scores reflect it. There is so much ground to cover with this group. We just closed out the 1st nine weeks and some are still struggling to solve an equation. I've never needed to remediate this much since I started teaching. And the usual remediation activities I do at the start of the year haven't been adequate. My problem is that I'm already way behind in geometry content (about 1-2 weeks) but my kids are building their geometry knowledge on an incredibly shaky algebra foundation. I don't have even more time to dedicate to remediating their lack of algebra skills, and I'm truly perplexed. We've covered segment addition, angle addition, angle/segment bisectors, and are in the midst of angle pairs. So, all of this is working with solving equations, which I thought would help remediate that equation-solving gap with this group (it usually works for all my groups), but it hasn't been enough for many of the students. I sound like I'm rambling. I think I'm rambling. I'm just stuck.

I can't decide where I am pacing-wise in AP Stats. I flipped my whole curriculum around this year (starting with experimental design instead of categorical/quantitative data), and that has left me unsure of where I am relative to where I usually am. Some days I feel ahead, and some days I feel behind. The truth is, in AP, at least I think, you're always behind. The push is just to cover and get students to master as much material as possible. I'm enjoying my AP class this year. It's small, and I plan to do some fun things with them. However, this tiny size is also problematic when doing activities designed for 20-30 students! We're making it!

ACT Prep (aka College Readiness) is probably my favorite class this year. My kids are learning and mastering things easily. This is a tremendous group of juniors, and they are so much fun to have in class.

That's it for tonight. I have some fun things planned for this week, especially if the weather clears up. Posts to come about them later!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Making Error Analysis Work

Happy planning period! I am in need of some help in reflecting on yesterday's assignment and why/how it went wrong. The kids didn't have the reaction to them that I desired, and I want to correct it for next time, because I truly feel the activity is a valuable one.

Using Steph Reilly's Error Analysis format, I came up with, what I thought, was a great activity for my geometry classes to reflect on the major errors they commit when solving equations. I should frame this by saying that I gave an exit ticket last week and saw that my kids were still severely struggling with solving equations, so they truly did have lots of things to learn by doing the Error Analysis activity.

Here is the sheet of exit ticket errors and reflection space I made:

Link: HERE

And here are they type of reflections I got from about a third of my first period class:

Now, some kids seemed to find it helpful, and the quiz scores today reflect that. However, the activity yesterday really confused a few kids, and it was also reflected in their quiz scores today.

How do I restructure this activity so it's beneficial for everyone next time?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

This Week's Geometry Calendar Math

After Christmas last year, I began having my kids do calendar math bellringers courtesy of Chris Rime at Partially Derivative. His are awesome. Because my school system starts pretty much as early as possible, Chris hasn't put any up for August ( I mean, I guess I could make something myself). So... here we go. I'm doing INBs this year, and one of the pages is a fabulous semester calendar from the extraordinary Shelli at Teaching Statistics. My kids will do the projected calendar math in the appropriate date box in their INBs. Right now, we're just reviewing (errrmm... aka learning) how to solve equations, so this is my set for this week. If you're interested, grab it!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rotation Foldable

Last, but not least, here is the rotations foldable. This is my favorite because it's so interactive. You'll need brass fasteners (1 per child). After they get the rectangle assembled on the plane, the students can actually discover all the general rules for rotations around the origin. My favorite part of this one is that this foldable not only teaches about rotations on the plane, but it also allows for discussion on transformations that map a figure onto itself. Again, these were originally inspired by Jessie Hester's INB pages on transformations. Links are included for your use!

Foldable Page 1: HERE
Foldable Page 2: HERE

Dilations Foldables

Next in the regular installments of transformation foldables is dilations. I'm not going to write a very long explanation here, but I'm including pictures. Again - much credit goes out to Jessie Hester's INB transformation pages for inspiring these foldables. Files are included for your use!

Foldable Part I: HERE
Foldable Part II: HERE

Friday, July 18, 2014

Reflections Foldable

As you may be able to tell by last night's post, I finished the translation lesson. So, now I've moved on to the reflections lesson. Keeping with the same theme as yesterday, I've taken Jessie Hester's fabulous INB reflections resources and modified them to construct a foldable for my high school geometry class. For me, this meant modifying the notes to focus on a parallelogram as well as the idea of translations working as a function. The foldable I came up with is below. All files are included for your use.

Foldable: HERE
Practice Squares for Foldable (4 sets per sheet): HERE

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Translation Foldable

I've been doing a lot of work this summer writing curriculum. I wrote a set of statistics lesson for LearnZillion, and now I'm re-writing my transformations unit for my geometry classes.  Our state exam (Quality Core) just doesn't put much emphasis on it, but I've decided to expand the time I dedicate to them, in keeping with CCSS.
If you know me, you know I teach geometry with foldables. If you walk into my classroom, it usually looks like colored paper and markers were scattered about by small tornadoes that most people call high school students. I've read (and drooled over) Jessie Hester's blog before. I was browsing it and noticed some really awesome interactive notebook pages for transformations. Her INB page is geared toward 8th grade CCSS standards. I wanted to take her ideas and turn them into a foldable more geared toward high school geometry. For me, that meant putting more of a focus on developing rules for translations and viewing translations as more a function with an input and output. I'm including pictures of the completed foldable (It's on plain white paper. Sorry; I'm at home and out of colored!). The two template files are also attached for your use. Enjoy and please visit Jessie's blog. The ideas on this foldable are largely hers, I just manipulated them a little bit to fit my class.

Welcome to My New Blog!

Four score and seven years ago (okay maybe not quite that much)... I used to blog. Then, I just quit. It was time consuming, and I just didn't have that much to say. It was also my first year of teaching and daily survival seemed more important than blog entries with clever stories. It's 2014 and four years later. I still don't have time, but I do have a lot more clever stories and maybe some actual ideas to share. Everybody has to start somewhere. This is mine.