Sunday, August 5, 2018

Khan Academy & Make it Stick

The last day of our Restore 360 training
I can't believe that there is only one month of summer break left!  My Instagram feed is full of fellow teachers (outside of NYC) who are busy getting their classrooms ready for the new school year.  I am definitely not there mentally yet, but I have been keeping busy this summer.  Two weeks ago I participate in a week-long professional learning on restorative practices in grades 9 - 12 on building belonging, Restore 360, through the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, which I cannot wait to do with my advisory this year.

Last week I participated in two Algebra for All two-day electives, and am pretty sure I found my new 1st day of school activity for this year, Hashi Puzzles!  I need to flush it out a little more, but I think it will be awesome.

After two weeks of going to professional learnings, I am looking forward to sleeping in again - I mean, it is still my summer break after all.  I have also been working through the Edpuzzle Online Professional Development.  I finished Levels 1 & 2 and hope to start Coach & Flipped this week.  My principal also reached out to me this past week about helping out during our summer PD during the last week of August.  I will be leading the ice breakers during two of the days and a session on parent engagement.  The parent engagement session I am fine with, but anyone who knows me, knows I am not the biggest fan of adult ice breakers (insert eye roll here), but after thinking about it, I was able to come up with some ideas that I actually really like.  I haven't fully planned them out yet, but  hope to incorporate some of my Restore 360 practices, as well as some reflection from the MfA Summer Think a few weeks ago.     

My current summer read
In addition to Restore 360 and Algebra for All, I have also been keeping up with my summer goal of reading one math/teaching book for every two books that I read just for fun.  Today I started, Make it Stick.

The reason I decided to post just now though has to do with Khan Academy.  Since math teaching and learning goes hand-in-hand, I decided this summer to work through all the 8th grade and Algebra 1 math skills.  I have currently reached 81% mastery in 8th grade math and 24% mastery in Algebra 1 and hope to keep up with it and continue to work through Geometry, Algebra 2, Trig, etc as the school year goes on.

Just now, I was working through the Number of Solutions to Equations Challenge which basically
Khan Academy 
has to do with generalizing what you know about linear equations to determine if there are 0, 1, or infinitely many solutions to the system (I screen shot one of the questions on the right), and at first I hated the questions because I was going about actually solving them, but the more I worked through them, I realized that I didn't really need to solve them, but generalize what I know must be true for linear equations to have 0, 1, or many solutions.  Yes, this was something I already knew, but never really thought too deeply about.  Even though I understand and can make sense of linear systems of equations, working through these problems gave me the opportunity to really build on my prior knowledge and do some learning, which totally connects to what I have just started reading about in Make it Stick, that learning is "...acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities" (page 2).  Another connection I made from working though these problems just now and Make it Stick, is that it was an example of elaboration or "...the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know" (page 5).

I hope the next four weeks are just as full of relaxing, learning, and growing!

Friday, July 20, 2018

My Teacher Summer To-Do List

One of my favorite things about summer, by far, is not knowing what day of the week it is.  It truly is bliss!  But as much as I love not knowing whether it is Monday or Friday, I know that I am better when I have a to-do list to keep me organized, so here are some of the things I have done so far this summer, and some things I am working on...

Math for America Summer Think
Last week I attended my first Math for America Summer Think, which was inspiring!  The theme this year was "Identify Your Why," and we did a lot of reflection on our many "whys."  I got a lot of ideas from the Deep Dive and Splash sessions I attended:

  • Why are we learning this?
  • Why is independent learning empowering to students?
  • Why can't you talk about 'social stuff" in math class? and
  • Why do we need to listen to our students?
Being an MfA Master Teacher this past year has spoiled me from other professional learning because every time I participate in a MfA session I leave with new ideas about math and about teaching, and it inspires me to try new things in my classroom.  I am so grateful that I get to be #MfAProud!
Sadly is not doing a 100 Day Challenge again this year, but I have been inspired to work on their Problems of the Week each week and I was even inspired to get a premium subscription.  I enjoy working on their math and science problems just for fun.  I really want to find a way to use this resource more in the upcoming school year.

Khan Academy & Teacher Training
I have been using Khan Academy in my classes for a few years now, and want to use it more effectively in the upcoming school year, so this summer I have decided to do my own summer math learning and work on all the 8th grade math & Algebra 1 skills, since that is what my students work on.  My goal is to finish all those skills and then slowly move my way up the math ladder, to refresh myself on higher level math, since teaching and learning goes hand in hand.  Plus this summer Khan Academy is doing online Teacher Training to get ideas on how other teachers use it in their classrooms, and I am about half way done with that and have already gotten some new ideas from it.

Learn Promethean
Unfortunately I learned about yesterday's Camp Promethean too late, (plus I had my Educating All Students exam yesterday to finally get my SBL certificate after 6 years), but I hope to check out their resources sometime before we go back to school.  Last year was my first year using a Promethean Board, but unfortunately we didn't get much training with it, and even through we figured out a lot, I know there is more we can be doing with it. 

EdPuzzle Certification
One of the resources that I knew about (and was reminded about at the Summer Think), but never really used was Edpuzzle and it turns out they have online professional development too, which I would like to check out before September.  Since getting my Google Certified Educator certificate last summer, I really want to bring in more tools and resources into my classes next year.

Jumpstart Basic
Speaking of technology, I also signed up for the JumpStart Basic technology course through The Cult of Pedagogy Classroom.  Although I am excited about this one, I am a little worried I might have signed up for too much this summer.

OSYD & Algebra for All
Next week I have Restorative Circle training for grades (6 - 12) at the OSYD Summer PD Institute and then the following week I have my Algebra for All elective on course on creating access points through the use of tasks.  Unfortunately there was a mix up with registration and I wasn't able to sign up for the second course, but at least I will get my new document cam thanks to the A4A teacher technology grant I applied for in the Spring.

Apartment Organizing, Fit Girl 28 Day Jump Start & Dave Matthews
So not everything has been work-related this summer (although from the look of this post they are) but some non-work things I have been working on this summer include hiring an amazing professional organizer to help me declutter & organize my apartment... we worked together this past week and my apartment feels brand new and I am completely inspired to keep up with it.  I also joined the Fit Girl 28 Day Jump Start Challenge to get my butt into gear physically, and my husband and I went to not 1, not 2, but 3 Dave Matthews Band shows and finally got to hear our wedding song played live, which was nice.  I also finally got to see Ocean's 8 (which I enjoyed) and have read three books so far this summer.  Oh yeah, and I figured out how to free up literally half of my MacBook Air storage, so not only is my physical space more organized, so if my digital space, which I am really happy about! 

Yep, you really gotta love being a teacher in the summer ;)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Quick Update on Year 11

Wow, so where has the time gone?  I am surprised (and a little disappointed in myself) for not writing on here more this year.  Even though I was teaching less classes and students this year than the year before, this year brought a lot of new opportunities for me...

  • I taught two sections of 8th grade Algebra 1 and one section of 7th grade.  All of my 8th graders took the Algebra 1 Regents, and all my 7th graders took the NY State Common Core Math Test.
  • One class in each grade was an integrated co-teaching class with some co-teaching challenges in the beginning of the year.
  • My 8th graders were the first group of 6th graders that I ever taught, and to date, the only group of students I have had for three years in a row.
  • I unofficially became the 8th grade coordinator which meant coordinating fundraising, planning a senior trip, coordinating an 8th grade t-shirt, ordering caps and gowns, and planning/making a graduation happen, all of which I have never really done before.
  • My elective this year was also Memory Makers, which made the middle school yearbook, which, again, was something I had never done before.
  • My school started an National Junior Honor Society chapter, and I was the chapter advisor.
  • This was my first year of Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship.
  • I participated in my Algebra for All cohort sessions.
So this year was busy.  Tuesday was our last day of school, but I went in yesterday and today to inventory all of the math manipulatives (which I have wanted to do for three years now), organize all of the CMP3 textbooks, and finish cleaning up my room.  I will say that even though I haven't been good writing on here, I did keep up with #teach180 on Twitter for the most part, which I am proud of.  

I do want to hold myself accountable and write more on here in the next couple of days, so here are some things I would like to go deeper into:
  • Reflecting on my EOY student survey & Algebra 1 Regents data
  • Glows & grows from this past school year
  • Curriculum planning for next year 
  • Assuming I will be the 8th grade coordinator again next year, being more organized with everything including my Memory Makers yearbook elective & the NJHS
  • My experience with having my students research & present Math Chats this year and how I might be more organized with that this year
  • Now that I have inventoried all of the math manipulatives, thoughtfully plan out how I will use them nest school year
  • Read A More Beautiful Question, which I found in my school's book room today  
  • Last summer I participated in's 100 Day Challenge, but unfortunately, they are not doing it this year, but I want to do something to explore math content-wise, so I will look into either their Problems of the Week or Khan Academy 
Like I said, I kind of regret not writing more on here this year, but now that summer is here, I hope to relax and reflect on here a little bit so I can re-charge for the new year.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Exponential Functions, Percents, NJHS, CS4All, Big Apple Award Nomination

It seems like just yesterday it was summer vacation, and now here we are, with holiday music playing.  Fellow teachers, we have made it to Thanksgiving week!  Looking over my plans from last December, I really enjoyed what I was doing with my classes last year.  Since my pacing is a little different this year, I'm not in the same place as last year, but I think I can make it work.

8th Grade Algebra 1 & Exponential Functions
Currently, my 8th grade Algebra 1 students are wrapping up their unit on exponential functions, which I have really enjoyed this year.  In addition to the Lunar Rover project, they investigated Decaying Dice, Paper Folding, Human Population GrowthHow to Survive a Zombie Attack(which didn't go as smoothly as I had planned, and are currently working on their final project, where they are analyzing data from five regions affected by the Zika virus, including total population, number of infected people, and weekly growth rate, (1) come up with a mathematical model for the growth of the virus, (2) determine the critical point when half the population could be infected, and then (3) choose a country/region that they feel should receive aid over the other countries and write a formal persuasive letter to the US government with at least three pieces of evidence supporting their argument.  I got it from my Math for America Social Justice PLT.  I launched it yesterday, and they will be working on it next week, and every student was engaged!  I launched it with this video, then we did a notice and wonder looking at a bar graph and scatter plot of Zika data, and then they began their work with their tables, coming up with their models & discussing implications of their models.  I love the cross curricular & social justice connections and am looking forward to reading their letters.  This project is new to me, but I already know it will be one of my favorites of the year.  After Thanksgiving we begin quadratics.

7th Grade & Percents
My field trip to the Museum of American Finance with my 7th graders last week was fun.  I wasn't totally happy with how the Illustrative curriculum was going with percents, so I decided this week they would work on this Store Sales & Profit Analysis project, and they loved it!  Engagement was high and I was able to check in with students one-on-one and address misconceptions as they were coming up.  I had done a modified version of this last year, but added to it this year and love how it came out.

Next week, they are working on their Hourly Wage project (which I do with my 7th graders every year) only this year I took out the suggested careers (because I feel like in the past it has limited them) and they are going to be researching their own, picking one, modeling it mathematically, and calculating hot long they would make in a day, week, year, and how long they would have to work to purchase various things.  I like that I made it more personal this year as it seems to really hook this class.  After Thanksgiving, we will do a little work with similar figures, and then begin our unit on expressions and equations.

This week, we begin sharing info about our new NJHS chapter with our students.  This our first year and I am the chapter advisor.  I was happy that so many students were showing interest.  We just wrapped up the first marking period, and will be using cumulative averages from marking periods 1 & 2 to begin looking at students to invite.  I am really glad that we have been able to bring this program to our school this year.

Memory Makers
I love my elective.  These past couple of weeks, we have been working on making cards & posters showing our gratitude for the people in our lives (friends, family, teachers, etc...).  After Thanksgiving, we will be shifting our focus more on working on the school yearbook (which I am also the adviser for and is new to me this year) and I know things will get busy fast, but I think it will be fun.  I have a good group of students, who are creative, and I know will do an awesome job making the yearbook great. 

CS4All Hack League
This morning I attended a PL for the CS4All Hack League by Games for Change and the Institute of Play and is part of NYC's Computer Science for All initiative.  Myself and the programing teacher at my school went, and even though I was out of my element, I had a great time and learned a lot and am looking forward to supporting him in running a Hackathon at our school next month.  Even though our school isn't fully a part of CS4All, it's nice to be a part of both Computer Science for All and Algebra for All.

Big Apple Award Nomination
Lastly, I was very honored to be nominated for the Big Apple Award this week!  I have never been nominated before, and it was a nice little surprise.  Even if I am not invited to actually apply for it (I'll find out in the winter if I am), I felt very appreciated.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

November Updates

I can't believe that it's been almost a month since I have written on here.  In the graph of the typical emotional pattern teachers go through every school year, we are almost out of survival mode and heading into disillusionment (yay! not)  I actually can't complain too much.  I am feeling mostly pretty good about this school year so far.  Here are some things that have been going on in my classroom these past few weeks...

  • My 7th graders asked if we could continue our Stock Market Challenge on HowtheMarketWorks.  They have really gotten into it, and I am happy that I decided to go with this tool this year.  This week we will go on our first field trip to the Museum of American Finance, which I haven't been to before.  Since doing a stock market project with my 7th grade classes, I have always wanted to plan a trip somewhere too, so I'm glad these are going together.  I will let you know how it goes, the next time I post.
  • My current unit with my 7th graders is all on ratios, rates, percents, and proportions, and I've never fully been happy with how CMP3 works with percents in 7th grade,  so this year I have been supplementing the Illustrative Math curriculum 7th grade work with percents, and, as with all new resources, it's taken some time to flow well.  We have adjusted and gotten into a flow in my 7th grade class, and I think the resources have great potential, so we'll see.
  • I am really enjoying 8th grade Algebra 1 this year.  The lessons and projects have been going smoother (last year was my first year teaching Algebra 1) and I am really having fun with it.  Last week, as part of our exponential function unit, my students investigated decaying dice and today they started a project on paper folding to (theoretically) reach the moon (there is also a great TED Ed lesson on this).  I hope to wrap up this unit by having my students analyze the spread of the Zika Virus, as part of my social justice PLT a Math for America.
  • I've been using Examplars' Classic 3-Level Math Rubric a lot this year too,  which I am proud of.  I've never really been good with using rubrics in the past, but this one has been working out well.  My 8th graders are really familiar wth it at this point, and I hope to keep using it for projects this year.
  • Math Chat Fridays has been going well.  I am so proud of my 8th graders who have already signed up to present.  We have had four students present so far, with two more this week, and the next few weeks have been filling up.  I started Math Chat Fridays after collaborating with the former Living Environment teacher at my school (and fellow MfA Master Teacher) and they are modeled after our own MfA interviews.  Students sign up to do a 10 minute presentation on something that the have done outside research on connected to math. Students have presented on Dr. Who and Probability, non-Euclidean geometry, ties in Olympic swimming (using decimals), and Pascal's Triangle.  Tomorrow's presentations are on cryptography and proofs of the Pythagorean Theorem.  The awesome part is that this isn't mandatory, and students are doing this work on their own.  Any student who presents does get extra credit, so it's a pretty sweet deal, but it's really inspiring to see them talk about complex topics that they find interesting.  This is something I don't think I would have been able to do in middle school, so I am really proud of them.
  • I am almost consistently caught up with grading, which is so much better than I was last year, so yay me!
  • The NJHS Faculty Council and I are all done writing our Chapter bylaws.  This is the first year of our chapter and my first time in the role of advisor, but I am really pleased with the work we have done so far this year.  We will begin selecting members after the 2nd marking period end in January.  I am so grateful for the other teachers who have helped get the ball rolling on this project and I think we will have a great year with it. 
Unfortunately that's all I have time to write about now.  Hopefully I'll be able to catch up again soon!