Wednesday, June 29, 2016

EOY Student Survey & Reflection, Summer Goals

Is there anything more perfect than waking up that first morning after the last day of school?  I did respond to two work emails this morning, but I was in bed, so totally vacation mode ;)  I didn't want this day to go by without me reflecting on my year and setting some goals for the summer.  There are nine weeks between now and when we go back  to school and I want to make them count, so here it goes...

EOY Student Survey & Reflection
I gave my students an end-of-year survey as their last homework assignment.  I didn't know if we were going to have access to computers during the last two days of school, so I didn't have them do it in class.  The feedback I got from them was useful, however, only about half of them responded, which is a potential flaw in my data (yes, I am still in the mindset of our last 6th grade unit on statistics and data analysis).  Based on the students who responded, some of my noticings include:

  • Overall my students feelings about math are mostly positive now compared to the beginning of the school year
  • Most of my students consider themselves mathematicians, but not all
  • Most of my students felt like they learned a lot this year
  • I need to work on finding more challenging work, as most students felt neutral when asked if they felt challenged in class this year (hopefully my Gifted classes at Hunter will help with that this summer)
  • Most of my students felt that this class connected to their lives, but there is room to grow there
  • None of my students who responded felt disrespected by me
  • Surprisingly, my students overall felt I gave them good feedback on their work, which is ironic because I always feel like this is an area that I need help with
  • Overall my students felt that I had high expectations for them and most students felt comfortable enough to ask questions in class
  • Not unexpectedly, the favorite projects of the year were the Coke Project and Data to Make a Difference projects for 6th grade and the Gameathon project for my 7th graders.  What this means for planning for next year, is how can I do more of that memorable, rich work with my students?
Again, only about half of my students responded, which kinda sucks, but was expected since I was a homework assignment and not classwork, but I feel good about how this year went and what I can work on for next year.

We also reflected on the year as a staff during our PL time on Monday, with questions adapted from Elena Aguilar.  We reflected on this year, the summer, August/Fall, and next school year.  My biggest goals center around preparing to flip my Algebra 1 class, and setting a stricter tone in my class, not that I wasn't strict this year, but since this my first year at the school, I feel like I let some things slide that I normally wouldn't have because I was still getting a feel for my school's culture.  Next year, I will be more confident in how I want my classroom to run using what I already know as an educator and as a veteran teacher at my school.  As it looks right now, almost all the 7th & 8th grade teachers besides myself will be new to our school next year, so consistency will be important, and I am optimistic that I will be able to rise to the challenge.  

Summer Goals
As for summer, here are my goals...
  • I would love to keep blogging on here, at least weekly, to stay in a productive mindset.  I know how quickly it is to get lazy, and don't want to fall into the trap and wake up and having it be Labor Day.  Specifically, I would love to have my unit plans and IAs done for all three grades before we go back, which is a lot of work, but will make my life so much easier next year.
  • Personally, I have been studying Spanish on Duolingo and I am currently 46% fluent.  I would love to be at at least 75% fluent by the time school starts back up
  • On my professional summer reading list is Flip Your Classroom and Mathematical Mindsets as well as just-for-fun summer reading books
  • Become a Google Certified Educator
  • Rock my MfA interview next month
  • Get something productive out of my Gifted Education classes at Hunter.  The summer institute is 6 weeks long and I plan on taking the CST as soon as I can after that
  • Create a Donors Choose project for some iPads for my class next year

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Last Week of School, MfA, NYTL Summit, Google Certification, ATMNYC Conference

The summer solstice may have occurred on Monday, but all NYC teachers know that summer doesn't actually start until next Tuesday at noon.  Yes, we are 3 and a half school days away from summer break!  I remember around this time last year, after I knew for sure that I would be working at my current school, I walked to what would be my new building one afternoon, and just looked at the outside, and wondered which of those rooms would one day be mine, and no here we are...

What Are My Kiddies Up To This Week...
So how exactly does one keep 7th graders mathematically engaged for a double period at the end of the day during the last week of school?  Well, with TED Ed and zombies of course!  My 7th graders explored the bridge riddle in class today and the engagement was through the roof!  They loved it.  We followed up a gallery walk of their work no chart paper, this article and these NRICH tasks.  I totally recommend it!  It was the right balance of challenging and fun for my kids.  Oh and right before we explored the bridge riddle we watched John Lewis' twitter feed as the House floor sit-in began because history is happening, which just made me think about just how fast info is shared today.

My 6th graders are finishing up their Data to Make a Difference statistics project and infographics.  On Friday, both classes are presenting their work to each other during a gallery walk/ math fair.  I love how this project came out and is one I will definitely do again.

As for next week, we have our end of year survey (which I am in the process of modifying), the top 100 things we learned in math this year, one final TED Talk, and Pop Up toasts with my advisory.

I am officially an MfA Master Teacher finalist!  I have my interview next month and I am looking forward to it.  I picked out my topic for my presentation from one of my old Bank Street math exploration papers.  Now that the Praxis and application are behind me, I think I have a real shot at getting in.  More to come...

NYTL Summit, Google Certification, ATMNYC, Teaching Matters
The NYTL Summit was last week, and I feel great about our project to make our students more self-reflective through blogging.  I am so lucky to work with this team who is so open to my ideas and are such wonderful educators! I started working toward my Level 1 Google Certification last week.  It is a small summer goal of mine.  Another summer goal is to start working on my Teaching Matters micro-credentials.  I also signed up for the ATMNYC Conference in November, which will be at Hunter in November.

Still more to come, but that's all for now... here's to an amazing end of the school year!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

EOY Rating, Next Year, Algebra 1, NYTL Summit...

And the magic number is 9!  Yes there are only nine days of school left this year!  Crazy, right?  Today our 6th graders had their Greek Olympics, which consisted of a neighborhood scavenger hunt (our school is in Astoria, after all), games, trivia, and the movie Hercules.  I was the leader of Team Sparta and being a math teacher, of course my team number was pi.  The kids had fun and we had fun too, but as with any field trip, I am ready for a nap, but not before I reflect on what's been going on in my classroom this past week...

EOY Rating & What I'll Be Teaching Next Year 
I had my end of year conference and got my end of year rating this week.  I received an overall Highly Effective, which I am proud of because I worked hard.  This was my first year going with option 1 (one formal and 3 informal observations).  My area of growth is (3d) using assessment in instruction, which will definitely be a focus of mine next year.  Speaking of next year, we got next year's organizational sheet, and I will indeed be moving up with my current 6th & 7th graders, and will also take on two sections of our incoming 6th graders.  I am excited (and a little stressed) to be doing 6th, 7th, and 8th grade/Algebra 1 next year, but I am optimistic, especially because I think there will be a lot of overlap between the grades.  We haven't seen a schedule yet, but it looks like I'll be seeing each class four days a week.  Again, it's a big undertaking, but I am up for the challenge, especially Algebra 1.

Algebra 1 10 Day Challenge
Speaking of Algebra 1, this week also started the Algebra 1 Teachers10 Day Challenge and have found it helpful.  I am not keeping up with it daily, but the resources provide a good framework for thinking about priorities for next school year, and I hope to fully flush it out this summer.

Flipped Classroom & Standards-Based Grading
Speaking of next school year, while at the gym I the pieces of the puzzle that is my classroom next year began coming together.  This is most definitely a work in progress, but right now the plan is I will be fully flipping my Algebra 1 class, have students move through the CMP3 investigations at their own pace in learning groups, assess using standards-based grading, and incorporate ePortfolios (which my 7th graders are beginning in class tomorrow, actually).  I am super excited about it and like I said, my vision came together while I was running at the gym, but I think it is do-able and I am pumped about it!

NYTL Summit, Micro-credentials, Google Certification, 175 PD Hours, Kahoot, Padlet
Some other things coming up include the NY Teacher Leadership Summit that I will be attending with a coworker on Friday and then my AP and two coworkers on Saturday.  I am looking forward to collaborating with Teaching Matters again and making our proposal happen at our school next year.  Also on my to-do list: earning micro-credentials, getting Google Certified, and building on my 175 PD hours that I submitted this week.  Also, I tried out Kahoot in my classroom last week and will be trying our Padlet tomorrow.

Teacher Interviews
Lastly, since our middle school is doubling next year, we have been interviewing.  In terms of core teachers, most of the 7th & 8th grade science, literacy, and social studies teachers will be new to our school and I will be the only (core) teacher moving up with our first graduating class, which is kinda crazy.  However, we have had some great candidates, that I think will really push my thinking, like the 6th grade teachers have this year.  I think we have some great things coming up on our horizon and I can't wait to continue to build and grow!

Favorite Resources
Lastly, I have been updating my Favorite MS Math (& Other) Resources with a bunch of new resources I have found, so be sure to check it out and let me know if you have others!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hunter, CMP3, Math PL, Flipped Classroom...

It's kind of crazy to think that in three weeks, we will be on summer vacation.  Really, where did this school year go?!  Although summer 2016 is already pretty packed...

I start my classes at Hunter in July, and they are full time for six weeks.  I met with the Gifted Education Program director earlier this week, and I am looking forward to the program.  I'll take my four G&T classes this summer and then the Gifted CST and then I can apply for my certification extension which will make me K-12 Gifted Certification in addition to my 7-12 Math certification.  She did share with me two new resources W & M School of Education Center for Gifted Education Curriculum and Linda Sheffield's Math Teacher Resources, so I am already learning more.

I also signed up for August's Getting to Know CMP3 Summer Institute Level II for grade 8.  I really felt like I got a lot out of it last summer when I went for grade 6 and since grade 8 CMP3 will be new to me, I hope I get as much out of it.  Then I can say that I've taught every grade using CMP3, which is pretty cool.  I still remember the days a few years ago when I was just getting my feet wet, trying a CMP2 unit in my 7th grade class.  What growth!

Looking forward to a PL I am attending tomorrow on creating a student-centered (high school) math classroom, which I am looking forward to.  Speaking of PL, this past weekend I went to the UFT Teacher Leadership Conference, and was inspired by a high school math teacher who flipped her geometry class this past year.  Definitely more to come on that in a future post.

What have my students been up to?  My 6th graders started their statistics projects and they will be presenting them during the last full week of school and my 7th graders have played around on Desmos Marbleslides twice now and they are loving them - 100% engagement!  Next week are their last interim assessments for the year, and I am using a lot of the same state test questions from this year's state test.

That's all I have time for today.  More to reflect on later...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Praxis, UFT Conference, NY Teacher Leadership Summit, e-Portfolios, What's Been Going On In My Classroom...

Wow, I cannot believe that it's been more than a month since I posted on here!  How did May get away from me like that?  Well, the wonderful news is that it is June and lots of stuff has been going on, so here it goes...

I passed the Math Content Knowledge Praxis Exam!  As part of my applying to Math for America, I had to take it, and I'm not going to lie, it was work.  I even recruited my old math tutor, and fellow MfA teacher, to tutor me.  I spent at least an hour (or more) every day I could to study and my hard work paid off.  I took it in April and did not get a passing score, so May was my last chance this year for MfA.  I felt much better during the May test - I paced myself better and I got to use my own calculator.  I wasn't able to get my score right after, so I had to wait two weeks to get it, and last Friday I got the wonderful news that I passed.  Now I wait until June 17th to see if I get an interview, and I am optimistic.  I have grown so much as a teacher this year, and think I have a decent shot of getting into MfA if I can get an interview... stay tuned!  Studying and taking the Praxis exam reminded me of something mathconfidence mentioned during the NYC Math Project Conference, two weeks ago about the importance of putting yourself into the mindset of a student.  Studying for this test was hard and took time and effort (and failing the first time), and it reminded me of what it feels like to be a student, and for that experience, I am grateful.

UFT Teacher Leadership Conference
Looking forward to attending the UFT Teacher Leadership Conference this weekend.

NY Teacher Leadership Summit
Our team got invited to the NY Teacher Leadership Summit later on this month! I am so excited to partner up with Teaching Matters again and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to bring our idea into our school next year.  Speaking of Teaching Matters, now that the Praxis is behind me, I can focus on earning micro-credentials again, which was on the back burner while I was studying, so I am looking forward to that.

iLearn & ePortfolios
I attended an awesome PL given by one of my colleagues last week on blended learning and I will be trying out e-portfolios through iLearn with my students before the end of the school year.  ePortfolios has been a goal of mine for a while, and I am excited to get my feet wet with it.  I am lucky that she does a great job with it and was willing to share her knowledge with me and help me bring it into my math classroom.  Speaking of PL, I am looking forward to this Algebra 1 PL at this awesome school right up the block from me next week, so I can hopefully get some great ideas for next year.

What's Been Going On In My Classroom
My 6th graders have been exploring social justice issues, specifically the Wealth of Nations and looking at the ages of US Presidents (which I have done with 7th graders in the past).  I have been incorporating articles into as much as I can, such as this one from CNN.   On Friday they will continue looking at Presidential data and work on this activity from Illuminations.  Right now, the plan for their final project will revolve around the essential question "What data can you collect that will help understand or improve our environment?" and them creating a survey and analyzing their data.

My 7th graders took the January Algebra 1 Regents yesterday and explored Tessellations today.  Instead of doing Filling & Wrapping with them (which I have done in the past) I decided to focus on parallel lines cut by a transversal and some of the problems from Thinking with Mathematical Models.   My goal for the end of the year is to also have them play around with Desmos Marbleslides, because it looks awesome.  Teaching 8th grade Algebra 1 next year will be a new challenge for me, but I am looking forward to it!  

One thing I am looking forward to doing with both grades during the last full week of school is the Week of Inspirational Math.  I wanted to do it last year, but just so drained by the end of the year, I hope I can make it happen this year because I think it could be awesome.  Another option would be Fractal Challenges, which would tie in nicely with the work my 7th graders have done with tessellations.  Decisions, decisions...

My Harry Potter elective has been fun doing transfiguration (charades with play-doh) and Harry Potter anagrams, and doing some neat Scholastic activities.  Only two more meetings before our end-of-year feast.

In Visual Art, last week my students studied Takashi Murakmi and designed their own skateboards decks and will begin their final piece of the year, their Keith Haring Social Justice Poster.  I gotta say, I was terrified to teach art at the beginning of the year, but it has been fun teaching (and learning about Pop Art) overall, especially since I was able to revise my curriculum twice (this is our third semester of art, each being 10 weeks long)

2016-2017 School Year
I have been adding to my Favorite Math Resources and as a result, have begun planning for next year.  Lots a good stuff to build on from this year!  This week last year, I was invited to demo a lesson at my current school, and man, what a difference a year makes!