Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Not thinking about teaching during my vacation...

I just got back from a truly relaxing vacation on Sunday, but of course my mind couldn't help but think of work once or twice, especially since so many of the teachers that I follow on Facebook and twitter are already starting up the school year once again.  Here is just a short list of work/ school/ math/ teaching/ education in general ideas that came up, in no particular order.  Hopefully I will expand on these as the school year moves on:

  • I have always wanted to, but never succeeded in having my students track their own data.  I distinctly remember my 5th/6th grade math teacher making us do it and it is such a powerful tool I should be taking advantage of as a math teacher.  Not only does it give students a concrete idea of where they stand in class, but it is a great way to give them exposure and practice in a real-world, meaningful way.  So of course, I have turned to Pinterest for some ideas and here is what I am looking into: Pre/Post test data tracking, standards bar graphs, and posting class data.
  • Building fluency with fractions, decimals, percents, and rational numbers in general.  Fractions and rational numbers are always something that scholars readily admit to not liking or being good at.  So, while walking around in Portland, Maine this past week, I thought about how could I "sneak in" fractions, decimals, percents, and rational numbers into class everyday so that they become less scary.  Now, I don't know how well this will work out, but it peeked my interest... developing understanding of the "whole" and it's relationship to the "part."  For example, if our school year is made up of 180 days, then 1 of those days can be represented as 1/180 or 0.005 repeating or 0.56%.  If our whole is a week, then after class on Wednesday, we have completed 3/7 or approximately 0.6 or 60% of the week.  Developing that whole-part relationship is essential to deep understanding of fractions, decimals, percents, and rational numbers.
  • I love Instagram.  How can I effectively use it in my 7th grade math classroom?  Maybe creating
    a teacher account and posting student work?  On a similar note, I saw this image of somebody's 9th grade math classroom for #M^2 (Motivational Mondays), #TorTTu (Truth or Trick Tuesdays), #WYGW (Where You Going Wednesdays), #TBT (Throwback Thursdays) and #F^3 *Fun Fact Fridays).  I don't know how I feel about the others but I kinda like throwback Thursdays to review previous topics and fun fact Fridays for interesting math facts.  Hmm...
  • I took a tour of the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury, VT while on vacation last week and I had no idea about how they started (7th grade gym class), their product, economic, and social missions, and what goes on in their factories to make their delicious ice cream.  All I kept thinking of was how rich in math this all was!  Prior to this visit, the only way I had been able to incorporate ice cream into my curriculum is how to determine whether a scoop of ice cream in the shape of a sphere would melt and not overflow into a cylinder cone, when discussing volume of solids.  I definitely want to investigate more into this.  How awesome of a school year would it be if students could learn about the math behind economics and maybe get ice cream!
  • I recently read this article on Khan Academy.  Now I have used it in the past, with Saturday test-prep classes, and as videos or extra practice to support lessons in class.  I think it has a lot of potential, but I don't think I've used it in a way to maximize it's usefulness.  It's definitely something I need to incorporate more, I believe.  Not even as an extra math tool, but as a way to help scholars become independent learners.  There are always going to be times in life when they come across something that they don't understand or get right away.  More often than not, that's where they stop.  In addition to teaching math, I want to get my students persevere through something when it doesn't make sense to them (Math Practice #1).  I want to get them curious to want to learn more.  Not for me.  Not for a grade.  But for themselves and the sheer satisfaction that comes from learning something.  
  • And lastly, I came across some great quotes that I will be looking to put up in my 7th grade math classroom in a couple of weeks: "Believe in yourselves.  Dream.  Try.  Do Good." - Mr. Feeny, Boy Meets World and "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world." - Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society.

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