Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Formal Observation Feedback

Only have time for a quick post tonight...

Formal Observation Feedback
I received my AP's feedback from my formal observation earlier this week: Effective in 1e designing coherent instruction, 2a creating an environment of respect and rapport, 3b using questioning and discussion techniques, 3c engaging students in learning, 3d using assessment in instruction, and 4e growing and developing professionally; and Highly Effective in 1a demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy, and 2d managing student behavior.  In addition to component-specific feedback, my "glows" centered around activities, assignments, and discussion techniques.  My "grows" and next steps centered around instructional materials and resources.

Being that this is my first year teaching in a G&T school, a personal goal of mine is to visit another middle school G&T math classroom, specifically to learn how to better structure class time and curriculum, so that all students are engaged on intellectually challenging material.  I think a key component of this will be a move towards standard-based grading, where students are working on different material, while mastering the content.  My next 7th grade unit is on statistics and probability, and since I feel more comfortable modifying the 7th grade curriculum than the 6th grade, I think I may change up my current class structure.  I also signed up for a 6-week online PD from the NY Hall of Science on Design Thinking, which I will hopefully be able to get ideas on.  I also started applying to G&T certification programs for the summer.  I also began looking into NCTM conferences, Math in the City programs, NYC Math Project programs, and Math for America programs.  Must continue growing because I want to be the best!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Field Trips, Formal Observations, STEM...

After Fridays, Wednesdays are probably my favorite day of the work week.  More than half the work week is over, and Mondays - Wednesdays are usually my most productive days, so Wednesdays are good.  Even though it's been hard to get out of bed the past few days (it's just so warm and cozy) work has been good.  Like last week, I am still amazed that we are almost half way done with the school year!  It is going by so fast!  And almost not a day goes by where I don't regret making the (scary) choice to try something new.  So here's what's been going on in the math (& art) middle school life the past week:

Field Trips
I scheduled my first whole-grade field trips of the year!  (My art trip in November was just one class).  My 6th graders and 7th graders are going to the Math Museum on two different days in March, which will hopefully break up the miserable school month of March a little bit.  I also scheduled our trip to the Festival of Cultures in May for the whole middle school.  Fun trips coming up!

Formal Observation/ Mathalicious
Tomorrow morning I will have my formal observation with my 7th graders.  We will be doing an inquiry investigation on linear equations using Domino's Pizza.  It hits some important 8th grade standards on equations and functions (yes, I am doing it with 7th graders!).  I am so happy with my Mathalicious subscription, I highly recommend it for any middle/high school math teacher!       

Math Club/ STEM: Building Straw Bridges
Tomorrow my Math Club will begin formally working on their Gold-level project for the National Math Club and they will also explore building straw bridges.  One of my 6th graders (who isn't even in Math Club) shared with me this game as a resource.  I am excited to see what they come up with!    
Ten Marks March Math Madness
A few years ago, my students used Ten Marks as an online resource.  It was especially engaging in March when they have a contest, March Math Madness.  I got an email from them about it this week, so I decided to check out an account.  I even had a student test it out, and I think I may use it again (at least for Math Madness) as a way to change things up.  Currently my kids use Khan Academy online, which is great, but it might be a nice change (and good motivation) to switch over for a bit.    

Interim Assessment #2
One of my classes took their second interim assessment this week.  The other two classes will take theirs in two weeks.  These are assessments that I make, using released state-test questions.  The next round will be in March and the final will be in May.  I am proud of myself for following though with this goal.  The data has been useful and I don't feel like I am over-testing them, especially since I create the tests, so I know they won't be a waste of time (like prior benchmarks given to us from the city have been).     

Parent Engagement
I finally sent out my first parent newsletter of the year this week!  I have been wanting to do it all year, but it just hasn't happened.  I like how it came out and I hope to send one out every Tuesday during our parent engagement time.  When my 6th graders start their geometry unit, Covering & Surrounding, we will also be inviting families in for the Coke Project (probably sometime next month), which should be fun.

Andy Warhol
In art this week, my students will be studying Andy Warhol work on this project.  

Working with Individual Students
I am so lucky to work at a school that is so flexible with their schedule.  Today I was able to skip lunch duty, still have my prep period, and use what would have been my prep to work with two individual students during their study hall period.  Nothing is better than being supported in working with kids one-on-one.  This is something I tried to bring to my old school, but wasn't able to make happen.  Right now this is on a week-by-week basis, but it is fantastic and I hope it continues!     

Advisory Service Project
My advisory is still working on their service project around homelessness.  I am so proud of them for taking on such a great cause.  They are really starting to own this service learning project.

G & T Extension Certification
I started looking into Gifted & Talented Extension Certification programs.  I am currently only have my secondary math certification.  The Summer Institute for Gifted Certification program at Hunter College looks promising.  My only fear is that it will be very elementary school focused (since G & T testing happens to little kids).  I know St. John's has a program too, which I believe is online (which would be nice) but I hear it's pricy.  Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

First Post of 2016!

Happy New Year or as I like to call it, the almost half-way point of the school year!  There is nothing quite like making it to Winter Break!  As happy as I am with my job, nothing beats being on vacation for 11 days.  I didn't do as much work as I planned, but I have no regrets.  We've been back for three days now, and I must say, they have been quite smooth.  I'm definitely not as stressed as I was last year.  Looking back at my 2015 New Years resolutions, one of them was to "find a new (more fulfilling & balanced) job" and although I was scared to take the leap, I am so glad that ultimately I was brave enough to make a change to try something new.  Here's what's been going on in my classroom in these first few days of 2016...

Happy Teacher Challenge
Someone posted about this 30 Day Happy Teacher Challenge on one of the teacher Facebook groups that I belong to and I think it's a really cute idea, I am gonna try it!  I printed it out today and will hopefully start with day 1 tomorrow.    

Scratch Project
The Programming teacher at my school told me about a Scratch project the 6th graders are going to be starting next week, where they create a calculating machine.  So I shared with him the 6th, 7th, 8th grade, and Algebra 1 reference sheets from the state tests and they are going to use them!  I am so excited for this project.  I cannot wait to see what they come up with!
Math Club
After presenting the board games they designed, Shark Tank style, before the Winter Break, the Math Club will be working on a classroom redesign challenge this week and will begin looking into their gold-level project for The National Math Club.  I also would love to do another STEM project with them soon.  I was thinking maybe having them make a balloon car, but I still want to do some research.

My 7th graders in art will be studying Pop artist Romero Britto this week and creating a piece inspired by him.  I also found this awesome teacher art blog to follow with some really great ideas.

My 6th graders have been working through the Let's Be Rational unit, which focuses on operations with fractions, which I know some of them needed because the pre-assessment, but some of them are pushing back because they already know the algorithms for working with fractions.  Since this curriculum goes for conceptual knowledge, they have been doing a lot of modeling in class, which for some of them, seems unnecessary.  Today, my ICT class really wanted to discuss mathematical modeling, and I didn't want to disrupt the discussion, so I threw the lesson plan out, and we had a Socratic Seminar on mathematical modeling today instead.  They were begging not to leave when the bell rang.  It just goes to show you that sometimes the best lessons are not even planned!

My 7th graders are finally working on Moving Straight Ahead, which is all about linear relationships and I am loving it!  I am even getting to do some of the slope investigations that I used to leave out in past years.  This is always my favorite unit because I love algebra.  My next steps will be to find some good problems on Mathalicious or Illuminations or Illustrative.  I am having my formal observation with them next Thursday, so I want to make sure we do something good.  It's a great unit to be formally observed on because there is just so much you can do with linear relationships.    

Advisory Service Project
My advisory finally decided on a cause for their service project - homelessness.  I am so excited because not only did they choose it, but I think it gives us a lot of options for projects we can do.  We had been leaning towards homelessness since we read this article earlier this week and then Channel One had a segment on it today, which I think sealed the deal.  They began researching today and I cannot wait to see what they come up with!

Goals/Next Steps/Ideas for Next Time:
  • Incorporating more literacy into math class
  • The Package design project with my 6th graders and inviting their families in
  • Standards-based grading
  • Math portfolios
  • Field trip ideas - Math Museum