Saturday, November 19, 2016

(Almost) Thanksgiving Break

Ask any teacher (at least in NYC), and they'll probably say that aside from March, November is probably one of the most stressful months of the school year.  November usually involves end of marking period grading, post-Halloween and pre-December excitement, and usually Parent-Teacher Conferences.  This year, PT Conferences (which were usually held this week) were moved up to October, which I thought would make this month easier, but of course our school Quality Review was scheduled for this week instead.  Oh yeah, and one of our teacher left for a different job earlier this month, and as a result, our whole schedule had to change, which just added to the usual November stress.  Anyway, we've made it (almost) to Thanksgiving Break, which is always a nice milestone of the school year.  We can do this!

Last weekend (which was a glorious three-day weekend), I finally got caught up on all my grading.  I very much enjoyed not bringing home stacks of papers to grade this weekend!  I think the combination of not having our online grade book up and running until mid-October and teaching five classes across three grades that made me fall behind, but I made it, and my goal is to not fall as behind again this marking period.

As for how my classes are going, I am mostly pleased, although as I've said before, I feel like I have so much on my plate work-wise, that my classes are just OK.  I wish there was more time to plan more - seriously I feel like your prep time during the school day should directly correlate with how many different classes that you teach, for example, I teach two 6th, two 7th, and one 8th grade math class five periods every week, plus three days of advisory and one elective every week, so I should have (at least) a prep for each of the grades every day, not one prep for 5 periods (or more) periods of teaching a day.  I know that this is unrealistic, but it would just be nice to have more time planning for my classes, and not just have OK lessons, but truly awesome lessons every single day, for every single class, every single period.  If only teachers weren't only human, lol.

Anyway, my classes are going well.  My 6th graders are still on Comparing Bits and Pieces, although I have supplemented with some problems from Comparing & Scaling from 7th grade, NCTM, and Mathalicious tasks.  My awesome colleague who is teaching the one class in the middle school that I do not teach, has been incorporating social justice throughout the unit, and has shared her resources with me, and I have used some.  I am lucky to work with some truly creative, hard-working people.

My 7th graders finished our Comparing & Scaling/Stretching & Shrinking hybrid unit, and have started Moving Straight Ahead and I already know that I will be supplementing with some of the Thinking with Mathematical Models problems from 8th grade.  I debated including a scale model project with this unit, but decided against it, so that we could spend more time with linear relationships.  The 7th grade classes are so nice because they only have 20 and 21 kids in each, which make one-on-one conferencing great.

My 8th graders are in the middle of Frogs, Fleas, and Painted Cubes, which I am enjoying, because I love quadratic equations.  The feedback from students is that (for the most part) they are enjoying the level of challenge too.  Ironically, three of the problems I have done with the Math Club this year, have shown up in this 8th grade curriculum this year, Sissa's Reward, Handshakes, and Squares to Stairs (which they actually explored during my QR observation this past week).  We've also been using Desmos more and more, which has been nice since I finally have my own set of laptops!  It's been a little challenging since we don't have the textbooks for this unit (since it's Algebra 1 only) but we've been making it work.    Yesterday we even explored first and second differences of quadratics, linear and exponentials, and I referenced derivatives in calculus, which was exciting (and terrifying), lol.

As for Math Club, I am proud of myself for finally incorporating our unit of voting to tie in with the election.  And I love my 6th grade advisory... they have been doing such a great job with our circle check-ins lately - they make me so proud!

Moving forward, I want to bring in some Three Act Tasks to my classes, and continue to tie Mathalicious, NCTM Illuminaions, NRICH, Illustrative, MAP,  and Inside Mathematics tasks whenever I can.  I would also love to include something from Radical Math or BIE.      

This Wednesday, in celebration of Fibonacci Day (11/23) all my classes will be exploring Leonardo Numbers and the Magic of Fibonacci Numbers.

Here's to making it (almost) to Thanksgiving Break!