Since my last post at the end of April, my 6th & 7th graders took their state math test for the year, my 8th graders took a mock Algebra 1 regents (which they all passed), I scored 6th - 8th grade math state tests for eight days, I started my last units of the year with all three grades, and (not related to work) I got married last weekend. So it's been a productive few weeks.
Math State Test & Regents Scoring
Math state test scoring went well. It's a week of very long days, but the per-session is good, and it is one of the best PLs I go to every year, so see how NY state aligns test questions to standards and rubrics. In two weeks, I will also be scoring Algebra 1 regents exams for six days, like I did in January. Again, the days are long, but the learning is really relevant to my teaching, and it's a great opportunity to collaborate with other math teachers. As for test prep, it was minimal again this year, only about a week of station work, which I was happy with. A resource I discovered and used with my 7th & 8th graders, and they seemed to enjoy was Math Caching by Math Bits, which was a fun scavenger hunt they have online for topics ranging from basic math to differential calculus. It offered a good review, and students were engaged.
Last week my 8th graders took their last test of the year before the Algebra 1 Regents next Tuesday. Everyone passed again, and the average score did increase slightly. The range of scores also increased (on the mock exam the scores ranged from 66 - 95, on their EOY exam the range was 72 - 100, which I am happy with. Since it was my first year teaching Algebra 1 since the switch to Common Core, there was a lot of trying out new things, and I am lucky that I had these students as 7th graders last year. My 6th and 7th graders will be taking their EOY exams this week, and I feel like the 7th graders are already in a much better spot now than the 7th graders last year. They have already finished the first 8th grade CMP3 unit, Thinking with Mathematical Models and are currently exploring Desmos Functions Bundle, which the 8th graders didn't even get to until a few weeks ago. I was originally worried that some of the 7th graders this year wouldn't be able to pass the Algebra 1 regents next June, but now I am thinking that it could happen, which makes me happy. We still have lots of work to do, but I like having that goal for myself.
STEM Family Fun Night @ the NY Hall of Science
Earlier in May, I got an email from the Queens North Field Support Center asking if I would be interested in facilitating an activity at the NY Hall of Science's STEM Family Fun Night (my former principal had recommended myself and the science teachers at my school). We had explored all of the events the week before, and then on Thursday May 25th, I co-facilitated Using Music to Communicate Like a Computer with a fellow STEM teacher and it was a lot of fun. Some of the tasks, I will be able to do with my students next year, and overall it was a great collaboration experience. I already told them that I want to do it again next year!
Teaching Lab Spring 2017 Demo Cycle w/ Mathalicious
The most recent PL I attended just this morning was the Spring 2017 NYC Teaching Lab Demonstration Cycle, which I was introduced to about a month ago from a former colleague of mine. He had reached out to me because he knew how much I love and use Mathalicious in all of my classes and it was going to focus on using Mathalicious in class. Today was the first of a two day PL, following an inquiry cycle of learning. We explored new content using one of their tasks together (led by the founder of Mathalicious himself, Karim Ani), then chose a lesson to try in our classrooms with our students in the next two weeks (I am going with Wage War with my 7th graders) and collect evidence of student learning, and when we come back together in two weeks, we are going to reflect and discuss and ultimately adjust and repeat. I am super excited for it! I even decided to expand it and make it their final project of the year (exploring how much should companies pay their employees) and either having them put together a presentation with evidence from the math, as well as additional resources or doing one last Socratic seminar for the year where they debate and justify whether or not the minimum wage should be raised.
I did this task earlier in the year with my 8th graders during our unit on systems of linear equations, but it also falls in perfectly with the unit on mathematical modeling that we just finished in 7th grade. Karim also suggested, for next year, (since I already do so many Mathalicious tasks with my classes, maybe having students chose one of the tasks to explore further and go deeper in, as an end of semester PBL, which sounds awesome, and am definitely going to try and do next year! Can't wait to share out how my students do!