Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Field Trips, Electives, Math Competitions, PD, iLearn, and TED Ed

Wow, I can't believe that March is almost over!  Next week my kids will be taking their ELA state tests and then their math test the following week.  This week would normally be Spring Break, so it's kind of depressing that it's not, but it will be glorious when it happens in the end of April in a few weeks (even though I'll be scoring math state tests the whole break)!  Here is what's been happening in my math (& art) classroom these past few weeks...

Field Trips
Our field trips to the Math Museum with my 7th graders three weeks ago, and my 6th graders last week was OK.  I wish the museum had more (and wasn't so expensive), but I think the kids enjoyed it, and both days were nice enough to have lunch in the park across the street.  This past Monday, my advisory students and I volunteered at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for their service learning project, which was a great experience.  They were super organized, and I think my kids got a lot out of it.  I would definitely volunteer there again.  The last trip of the year I have planned is a whole middle school trip to the Festival of Cultures, in May, which I am looking forward to because it is always a good time.

Math Club & Harry Potter Electives
Tomorrow is the last day of the Math Club elective.  We will be celebrate becoming a gold-level club, and do one more STEM activity - the Marshmallow Challenge!  Afterwords, they will also take a survey to reflect on the elective and give me feedback on how I can improve for next year.  Already at least one of my 6th graders said they she wants to come back, which makes me feel good.  Overall I enjoyed the elective, but I wish it had been shorter.  We have met once a week, for a double period since September.  Some of the other elective teachers feel the same way, so next year, we might do 12-week elective cycles, to give other kids the chance to participate.  Starting April 7th, the next elective cycle kicks off, and the Harry Potter Elective will start.  The kids have been submitting their preferences the past two days, and there is definitely some buzz about it, which I am excited about.  Plus, the four 6th grade students who came to me with the idea for a Harry Potter club, have planned out rules, activities, and even wrote lesson plans for it (oh yeah, and they wrote essays about why they should be in Harry Potter club - which they didn't even have to do!).  It's hard to not be so excited when they are so into it, so I am looking forward to being Headmaster Anna ;)

MoMathlon & Olympiad for Girls
This coming Monday I am taking a group of 7th graders to the 2016 MoMathlon, which will be fun (they even opened it up to bringing more than one team without having to pay another registration fee, which is sweet).  The team is looking forward to it, and their parents are happy they we are participating too, and who knows, maybe we'll even be able to bring home a trophy?  On April 15th, myself and our ICT teacher are also brining a group of girls to the Math Olympiad for Girls, and the girls who are participating are super excited.  

Professional Development
I've been looking into a lot of different PDs lately, and am excited to have some (hopefully) good ones coming up.  Next weekend I'll be attending EdCamp Brooklyn, and I signed up for the UFT Teacher Leadership Conference in June.  Last week, I also shared with my colleagues info about the NY Teacher Leadership Summit, hosted by Teaching Matters, and hopefully we will be submitting an application next week.  It would be great to work with them again.  I also submitted my Hunter application for the Summer Institute.  My biggest goal, however, is to get into the Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship.  I am taking the Math Content Praxis in a few weeks, and I am not going to lie, I am a little worried about it.  If I can do well, then I am fairly confident I can get in, but man, is that test is scary, but I will keep studying and give it my best shot.  

Standards-Based Grading & iLearn ePortfolios
I shared out my independent inquiry on standards-based grading with my colleagues this past week, and I am looking forward to trying out some things with our current grading platform, Jupiter.  I also want to test out using iLearn for our math ePortfolios.  All our students already use it for social studies, and I am looking forward to exploring it's use for math.

I just had to share out this excellent resource that I just started using with my students, TED Ed.  I've been using it with my 7th graders, and it is a great site for short video clips to get kids thinking, and they even have lessons you can customize.  I am telling you, next year I am just going to use TED Ed, Mathalicious,  nrich, and Illuminations with my 7th & 8th graders.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Engineering Design, Harry Potter, and Growing Professionally

Wow, I cannot believe that has been over a month since I posted on here.  Mid-winter recess is behind us and we in the middle of probably my least favorite month of the school year.  March is long, state testing is right around the corner, grades are due, and the end of the year just seems so far away.  I've been busy, but productively busy as opposed to overwhelmingly busy, which is nice.  Not every day has been good, but there has definitely been some good in every day...

6th Grade Coke Engineering Design Project
So my 6th graders have been working on their engineering design projects where they had to come up with a new box for Coke that was not the same as the original 3x4 and 2x6 can configurations.  They had to come up with a rationale why their box was the next big thing, both a net and a 3D model of their package, accurately calculate the surface area and volume and cost of their package, and come up with a pitch to present their ideas with visuals and enthusiasm.  It was a two week project that they worked on in both their math and science classes and between yesterday and today both classes gave their presentations to their classmates and about 25 parents and adults.  The parents acted as "representatives" from Coke and had questions and eventually picked the "winning" design.  This was a fantastic project and I was so very lucky to have the support of the science teacher and my co-teacher.  I was so proud of my students and got to see so many of their talents.  They enjoyed working on it, and the parents really appreciated coming in to see their kids shine.  I also learned a lot from this experience, and got many ideas for other project-based learning opportunities.  I hope to do something similar with my 7th graders for their current unit on statistics and probability.

Math Museum Field Trips
Tomorrow is my first of two field trips to the Math Museum this month. Tomorrow I am going with my 7th graders and in two weeks I'll be going with my 6th graders.  I am looking forward to and I think they'll have a good time exploring Mobuis strips, plus the weather has been so nice, we should be able to enjoy a nice lunch in the park afterwards.

Math Competitions
Next month, I'll also be taking two different groups of students to two different math competitions, the 2016 MoMathalon and the Girls Math Olympiad.  I was also looking forward to possibly going to Pi5NY this year, but I have another engagement that day, so maybe next year.  

Ten Marks Math Madness
Ten Marks Math Madness began again this week and interest has been OK.  We are taking a break from Khan Academy, which will be a nice change before the state test next month.  I am hoping that once my students see the week 1 standings they will be motivated to try for the grand prize, a class set of Amazon tablets, which would be awesome.  We'll see how they do....

Service Learning
My advisory will be volunteering with Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen later on this month as part of their service learning project.  I am proud of them for picking a huge topic like homelessness and finding a way to give back.

Harry Potter Elective
Our current elective cycle is coming to an end at the end of the month, and I think I want to take a break from Math Club.  I was thinking about doing meditation/ yoga or photography, but some of my 6th graders asked me if I'd want to do a Harry Potter elective, and I told them I'd think about it.  Well, they were very persistent, sending me several documents that they created outlining inclusive activities, rules of conduct, and even a schedule.  So I did some of my own research (here, here, and here) and submitted a proposal to my AP and it looks like I will be a headmistress next month for our first Harry Potter elective and I am kinda super excited about it.  I will definitely be sharing more details as it develops.

Growing Professionally
One of the reasons I changed schools last year was because I felt I wasn't growing anymore.  Despite being Lead Teacher for the past two years, my thinking was stagnating, which is never really a good thing.  One of the best things I did was take on the new challenge of finding a new school to force me out of my comfort zone, which I am happy to say has worked.  So what next?  Well I finally started my application for the Summer Institute for Gifted Certification, which will get my my G&T certification, and I am also applying to the Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship for next year.  I went to an info session a few weeks ago, and I just had stars in my eyes!  Math for America sounds like an amazing organization to be involved with and I want to be amazing!  I started my application for there too and even signed up for the math Praxis exam next month.  I won't hear anything until the summer, but I think I have a decent shot of getting in.  I want this!  Lastly, I was also inspired by a former colleague to sign up for EdCampBROOKLYN next month.  It sounds like really amazing teacher-led PD, so I am looking forward to that.

So lots of good things happening and lots of good things to come!  Like I said before, every day may not be good, but there is some good in every day.  I am very lucky that I am in a place in my life where I can keep growing and learning.  Isn't that what education is all about?