Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Space Mud & the NYCTF, Wrapping Up This Year, Planning for Next Year, My Favorite Math Resources, and Mastering the Art of Living

Space Mud and the NYCTF
On April 5th, nine years ago, when I was but a Stony Brook senior about a month away from graduation, I went on an interview for the NYC Teaching Fellows.  Part of this interview included me doing a 10 or so minute demo lesson.  I chose to do a science lesson on the properties of matter and had my "class" (aka other interviewees) make "Space Mud", which I had made several times with the kids at the Child Care Center.  I don't remember why I chose that particular activity.  I suppose I thought it would be fun, educational, and (hopefully) memorable enough (in a good way) to get me into the Teaching Fellows.  Today, nine years later, I made Space Mud again, although the context was in the form of "potions class" and it was with my 6th & 7th graders who are part of our Harry Potter elective.  I hadn't thought about that demo lesson in years, but it was (at least partly) what set me on this journey called teaching.  I would ultimately get accepted into the math immersion program two days before graduating from SBU, and moving back home, and had to let them know in less than a week whether or not I accepted.  And it all started with Space Mud.

Now that state tests are over, I've been thinking a lot about next year, as most teachers do.  I am looking forward to Spring Break next week as well (as all teachers do) even though I'll be scoring math state tests every day during the break.  Being in a new district this year, I'm curious to see how it is different than in my old district.

Wrapping Up This Year
As we wrap up this year, my 6th graders began their final unit on statistics and data analysis, Data About Us and my 7th graders will began their Gameathon Challenge projects and then it's right into Algebra 1.  I'm happy with how this year is turning out so far.  My goal in the next few months is to continue to use this blog as a place for me to reflect on my practice, ultimately with the goal of being a better teacher.

Planning for Next Year
As I begin to think about next year, I started formally collecting my favorite math resources from the past nine years.  I'm sure I will be adding to it as the year goes on.  This summer I will be taking grad classes (yet again) for six weeks at Hunter for my G&T certification.  I have some awesome sounding District 30 PDs coming up on the Algebra 1 Regents, and Creating a Student-Centered Math Classroom, and I'm staying optimistic about getting into Math for America, as well as the NY Teacher Leadership Summit with my colleagues.

Before I close, I wanted to share a quote that I heard for the first time yesterday, that I think sums up my goal when it comes to teaching and you know, life...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

EdCamp, Praxis, NY Teacher Leadership Summit, Test Prep, Post-Test, PBL & BIE

Despite the weather feeling otherwise, Spring is indeed here!  My students have been taking their ELA state test this week, and then next week is math.  It's so wonderful that they have unlimited time this year, and so far, everything has been running smoothly.  Needless to say, though, that I've had a lot a time to think, while actively proctoring...

April Events: EdCamp, Praxis, NY Teacher Leadership Summit application
I think my biggest realization so far has been "Wow, I have a lot going on in April, but man I am happy about it."  It's true, every weekend in April, I have something work-related going on.  This weekend I'm participating in EdCampBrooklyn, the following week I am taking my Praxis exam for MfA, and I am scoring state tests the last two weekends.; and some of my amazing colleagues and I have been working on our NY Teacher Leadership Summit application, which I will be submitting for us later on this month.  So April has been busy, but I see myself growing and learning so much!  A year ago, I felt... stagnant - I was overwhelmed, and didn't feel like I was growing anymore.  What a difference a year makes!  I also recently got reacquainted with something I wanted to do more than a year ago, but never followed through - Teaching Matters Micro-credentials.  I signed up with my old school, but never did anything with it, but now I think I am in a much better place to take advantage of these opportunities.  

Another thing that has been on my mind as I proctor, is, obviously, what to do after the test, and I think I have a rough idea.  My station work reviewing for the state test next week has been going well.  I really like my structure of four stations (multiple choice questions w/o calculators, multiple choice questions w/ calculators, constructed response questions, and grading constructed response questions (and if I want smaller groups, or have more time, sometimes a fifth station of online practice) but I really like how it works.  It gets kids moving and talking, and is a different way to review for the state test.

After the test, however, my 6th graders will be studying statistics, so I think their final project will be either be a quantitative or comparative investigation.  I skimmed the CMP unit project, and it looks like it has potential.  I may skip the post-test standards for my 7th graders and have them participate in the MIND Research Institute's Game-a-thon as their big project for this year and then I want to start on 8th grade CMP, even though we don't have the books yet.  The Game-a-thon project ties in nicely with our current unit on statistics and probability, and would work out perfectly for our family engagement night in May.

Next Year
Another thing that always comes to mind this time of year, is "how am I going to make next year awesome?"  In addition to our NY Teacher Leadership Summit project (even if we don't get picked, we are gonna try and make it happen anyway), I want to explore standards-based grading and project-based learning more.  My AP even shared this awesome PBL resource, Buck Institute for Education (BIE), with me earlier today.   I will most likely be moving up with all of my classes next year, so I will be teaching 7th and 8th grade/ Algebra 1, so lots of opportunities for growth next year.

2016 MoMathlon
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to bring ten of my 7th graders to the 2016 MoMathlon, and even though it was a cold, rainy Monday, we had a great time and one of the teams was even able to bring home the 5th place trophy!  I was so proud of them, and so grateful to all the parent support.  It was our first time participating (I had brought students to the Bronx one the past few years) and definitely gives us room to grow, so I am excited.