Friday, April 7, 2017

Helping students while I'm a "sub"

So today was interesting and exhausting!  One of my teachers was home sick with laryngitis for the 2nd day and  one was surprisingly out today.  I had told the one with laryngitis that I would be stopping by their room throughout the day to check in on their kids and I ended up having to step into the other teacher's classroom for a few periods to cover since we didn't have enough subs.

Actually 6 of the 21 math teachers on my campus were out today and only 2 had subs that picked up and showed up for the jobs.  But that's a whole different story.

What was so interesting to me today was as I bounced back and forth between two classrooms for the last half of the day I was able to help students understand the big idea behind what they were doing in their respective math classes in 1 or 2 examples and then they were able to go off and run with the crazy algebra skills tied to it.  

In one Algebra 2 class I was able to help some students understand how to find the least common denominator by giving them some examples from years ago when they were adding fractions by hand.  The sweeties asked if I could come into the classroom more and I had to remind them that today was their second day working on the material so it was going to make more sense now but it reminded me how on the fly some of my examples from previous classes were when I finally had break throughs with my own students.

It kinda makes me wish I had a class for a grading period or just a tutorial group of kids to work with so I can make sure and spend more time with many of them on areas that they are struggling with.  

I wish I could be an IC and a teacher at the same time sometimes!

Or I could just wait for summer school and remember that I'm going to get a handful from many students when we start working with the students that need to retake the EOC test.

I hope everyone else had a great day and was able to have some insights with their students as well!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

That wonderful feeling...

You know that wonderful feeling when you complete a large review book that you're putting together for your students.

Yeah, I had that feeling today.

Took me two weeks to get the book put together based on Texas' EOC reporting categories and today I finally finished making the answer key.

Oh, and that other wonderful feeling when  a student you no longer have realizes it's time to grow up and focus in passing his classes are tests?

Yeah, I had that feeling today too. Put together a bunch of resources, videos and his STAAR test history so he can knock out that sucker out of the park this year. (fingers crossed)

Just wanted to share about my good feels today. What good feels did you have?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's been a long day and a longer week

Why is it that the shorter weeks always are so exhausting?! 

The holidays were great! While it was a challenge to celebrate the holidays with all my family and not have my mom around we all eventually made it through. It might have helped that we took in two feral kittens that showed up on a neighbor's back porch. 

The two weeks back at school flew by as I prepared and was planning out my plan for individual coaching with the teachers while also nursing my injured Achilles. (It amazes me how much that one ligament is actually used in daily walking! 

And then this week started. 

It's only day 2 of a 4 day week and I feel like I've either been in meetings, in PLCs, or getting yelled at. (PS I really don't like it when I start my day with rain starting to pour on my way into work and shortly afterwards I'm yelled at by one of my teachers.) 

It's one of those weeks where I feel like I'm trying to do everything for everyone; teachers, students, assistant principals, head principals, district people; and all I want to do is get back into the classroom with the kids. Even during the really tough classes and the really tough years at least one student a day would thank me and be excited about math or recognize that I needed a "we really appreciate it when you try to teach us, even though some of us are a-holes about it." And yes, that's a literal quote from a student my last year in the classroom. 

I know I'm doing everything I can and what I'm doing for my teachers and the resources and strategies I'm creating for the kids is super helpful and great, but man, this job just sucks it out of you sometimes. Especially when a teacher claims that the less you interact with students the less you focus on the struggling, challenging ones. 

I would love for this teacher to switch places with me for just one day to experience the reality of how I'm constantly digging through the data, analyzing students trends and trying to do to best for everyone all the time. Plus, I would love to teach some of the units they're in right now. 

OK, vent over and now it's back to the grind! 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

My final political post

After hearing from coworkers, friends and family I decided to make this my last post on Facebook this morning and I wanted to share it here as well.

This is going to be my last post on politics but I URGE you to read this.
I know many people that voted for Trump and many that voted for Clinton and what I have to say rings true for all.
I woke up Weds morning and said to Brian that I'm glad neither of my parents lived to see this day but now I'm glad neither of my parents lived to see how my friends, dear friends, family and the nation are tearing each other apart.
I've heard both sides and I listened very carefully to everyone and the time has come to stop blaming, to stop pointing fingers and to move forward!
Everyone's reactions, while each person feels justified, is tearing the country up more than anything else and no one is feeling safe; women, Hispanics, Muslims, or Trump supporters. It just all needs to stop and people need to focus on moving forward and NOT calling each other names. First and foremost we are all human beings that deserve the love and respect of each other. We can't read each other's minds, we don't know why people voted for who they did but that is done and in the past. Going back and dwelling on what has happened is only going to hurt you and your relationships with others.
I haven't been to church in forever but we all know it's more important to be the bigger person and look ahead instead of looking back and focusing on the negative. It's just going to tear you up on the inside and if you do that and that is not what we want to show our children and the youth of this nation. We want to show our future leaders how to deal with something you don't like but move on in and focus on making things BETTER not on name calling and making others feel worse about themselves. Continuing such behavior is only going to get all of us in a whole bunch of trouble.
I wore my safety pin yesterday but this morning it makes me sad that someone would have to look for a small sign to know that they will be safe and watched out for in their environment. Our country was founded on the idea that ALL people are created equal and that ALL people have the fundamental rights of liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to assemble. Let people speak, let people assemble peacefully, but remember to do as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr said and always march ahead.
As you move forward in the coming minutes, hours and days think of the love that Dr. King preached, of the courage that Nelson Mandela spoke of and the strength Mahatma Gandhi taught.
My thoughts, prayers and hopes are with all of my friends, loved ones, current and former students in this time of unrest in our country. I pray that soon we can all join together and be thankful for our rights and our ability to move forward in this time.

Oh, and from now on whenever I see a political post in my feed I'm going to post a funny animal or yoga pic. That's what y'all get!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My thoughts from last night's election

So I went to the AVID Math pathway in Dallas last week and either caught a cold there or my allergies went on high alert with the change in weather that blew in this weekend.  As a result I had some very interesting thoughts while watching the first few hours of the election results come in before passing out.

So this is how my Tuesday started:

Election day should NOT keep a rediclinic from opening on time!  Thank goodness it didn't and the doc gave me an awesome nasal spray!

After an some interesting Instructional Coaching training and collaboration with other ICs around my district that afternoon I went home, plopped on the couch and started watching what was rolling in on the news.

I may have started with this image and wanted to start making additional graphics from this:

Once my husband got home I let him take over the TV and we watched some stuff together before I had to turn in.  Then around 9:30 I posted this on facebook.

Woke up again coughing around 4 am, looked at the news and this was all I could say: 
*NOTE: My biggest concern is having a president that has no experience in a government office and has used very harsh rhetoric and scare tactics to get people on his side.  This is not meant to be a political post so please don't take offense if you are a Trump supporter.

And my last post this morning in an effort to bring a smile to my friends faces for those that are down in the dumps after last night:

Thank goodness my husband's a good sport and didn't mind me laughing at him too much at 4 am.  

On a more math related note:
Did anyone use any of the math or stats in their class today?  I'm missing having a class today since I would have totally rearranged a few lessons to make them more applicable for the students with the recent results!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Math Mania - AKA Fun way to use a worksheet when you're low on copies

Running low on copies???

Kids getting bored in your class??

Tired of trying to force your students to collaborate?

Taking stuff home to grade and falling asleep before it gets out of your bag?

Then try a Math Mania!!!

I've got to give credit to the teachers I worked with my first year that told me about this (Ami Harman and Lindsey Heinzman at Henry Middle School in Leander).  If it wasn't for this I would have been in big trouble multiple times over!

The basic idea is that you can take any worksheet -- basic computation, word problems, applications, etc -- and easily turn it into a game and engaging activity.

Here are the basic rules I posted while the students were working:
Word Doc can be found here

Students will be working in groups of 2-4 (3 was my personal max, but you can download and edit the doc as you want).  The worksheet only needs to be copied for the maximum number of groups you would have in a class (hence the saving on the copies).

Once you copy the worksheet I usually cut it up so that only 1 problem was on each sheet but for this example I'm going to have 3 problems on each sheet.  

Pass out the scoresheets so that each group gets 1 and make sure everyone has their own piece of paper.

Then each group gets one problem or set of problems at a time.  As the group works together and finishes they send 1 person up to have their problem(s) checked.  I always told the students to make sure and have everyone's work showing for the problems when they got to me, to have their score sheet and to have their question.I learned the hard way that my students would get a little too competitive and would start crowding around me so I taped a line on my floor like the picture below and would have the students line up behind the tape so I still had breathing room.
If someone came up without the question or without the score sheet I would make them go back and get all their materials before I would start checking their answers.

I also made sure to have my answers on the back of the envelopes lightly in pencil so that I didn't have to constantly check my answer doc while the kids came up.

When checking the work if ALL the students in the group got the answer correct then I would circle the 10 for the number, like Kendra and Rachel did.  If they got it wrong, like Patrick and Nicole did here, I would mark out the 10 and tell them to double check their work.  

NOTE: I would not give many hints or review material with the students at that time because I wanted them to work through why they got it wrong AND because if I started doing that then the line would get really backed up and the kids would have too much down time.  If a group continued to get a wrong answer on 1 question multiple times then I would help the students or I would have another student or another group help them out with what they goofed on.

After they get all the questions on the sheet of paper right I would take the slip from the question they had just answered and then give students the next question and have them keep working through this process.  

As an added bonus when kids would get a question right I would let them ring the bell on my desk.  For some reason that really helped motivate them to keep working and stay accurate while trying to work quickly.

When the group was done I would have them staple all their work together with their score card on the top and put it in the basket they turned in all their materials to.  The work was easily graded and put into the gradebook saving me tons of time and copies!

Please let me know if you have any questions on any of this or need any clarification or have any tips for any other teachers that may try this for the first time!

Keep up the awesome work everyone!!!

My First HyperDoc!

So I just learned about HyperDocs for the first time last week and I wish I had heard of them and used them when I was still in the classroom!  I just created my first one and it's rough, I mean rough.  I did it quickly while creating a tech summary sheet for my teachers (they've been bombarded with PL on new technology - see previous post) so it's not the fanciest or best.  

When I first heard of hyperdocs my first thought was it would be a great way to start units and remind students of what they know from previous years.  I started with this one on quadratics but I'm looking forward to making more as both me and my teachers become more comfortable with them and I can't wait to see the students interacting with them more.

Have you created a hyperdoc?  What's gone well or what have you needed to tweak during the process?  Any feedback would be awesome!