Saturday, September 10, 2011

1st week done!

I am sitting here doing what I promised myself I would not do...Lesson Plan marathon.  Due Monday.  When I think about it, it makes a little sense though.  I did not start teaching until November...

So I would say my first week was a success!  Some of the things that stick out in my mind are that I would not have had a successful week if not for the Harry Wong seminar and the wonderful book Discipline Survival Guide for the Secondary Teacher by Julia G. Thompson.  I went to the seminar and got the book right before school started.  My first week was strictly procedures and rules.  I know the first week they are on their best behavior but I have a good feeling.  I will be consistent!
I teach in a charter school and I am the only 7th/8th grade math teacher, this means that my 8th graders are the 7th graders I taught last year.  This is good and bad.  I love that I know them already, however last year they were the worst class in the history of the school.  They were only 32% proficient on NJAsk this year.  I probably would have been fired if my principal didn't convince the board it was not my fault!  I hoped that they would come back more mature, but it seems most of them are exhibiting the same behaviors.  Luckily I've learned to be a little firmer with them and I've gotten the reaction I wanted.  I have hope.
One of my new 7th graders asked me if I was being extra nice just because it was the first week.  I explained that  I will treat them the way they treat me,  so far they have been doing everything they were supposed to be doing exactly the way they should be and that is why we have a nice classroom environment.  They seemed to think about that a moment and were satisfied with the answer.
I also experienced a powerful moment when explaining that  "No gum chewing" is a school rule and that I enforce all school rules.  I told them that out of respect for them, I will not chew gum in class either.  They really liked that!
Ok, back to my plans!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Creating my Classroom!

I spent Thursday and Friday cleaning and stapling and rearranging furniture.  I am so excited about the new school year I already can't sleep :)
Here are some pictures of my room.  It is small and its a real challenge to arrange the desks and be able to walk around and have the kids not have their back to me LOL.
I am also using fabric on all of my boards this year, so far I LOVE it and haven't even starting pulling staples out yet.  I am sure that is going to make me smile everytime I do it and not have to worry about the paper ripping!
This is one of my new ideas stolen from the whole brain teaching website.  I usually make this board an achievement board, posting the A papers and outstanding work, so when I read about the Super Improvers I thought that it would be a much more productive for my students.  I am going to make charts for each class and give students a star on their chart any time they improve ANYTHING, homework, quizzes, tests, classwork.  Still thinking about what I'll do when they get a certain number of stars.  I know I will be taking their picture and posting it up there.
The little board behind my desk is getting replaced with a larger one and I will be making that all about my homeroom.

I teach both 7th and 8th grade so I gave them their own area for Do-nows, homework and objectives.  I will be putting something in that bare corner but I'm not sure what yet!

This is my word wall and I have a great idea for this year too.  I HATE making those word strips and the kids barely notice them anyway so what I am doing is I will put all of the vocab words for the unit on our class website and then selected students will take home the strips and THEY will make the word strips!
Still overwhelmed but now that my room is started I am feeling a little better!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Organizing Ideas and Links

I am very excited to say that I've finally settled on a way to save my online resources and ideas.  I am sticking with!  I've sort of figured out how the tabs and subtabs work.  It is more functional than pretty, but I've made it public so anyone can use it!  I don't have many links added yet, mostly to the Number Sense tab, but I am sure that this will change as I am always finding wonderful ideas online!  Here is the direct link to my binder: 7/8th Grade Mathematics Like I said its not much...yet!  

Oh and as of right now it is designed around the NJCCCS.  We haven't officially switched over to the Common Core yet, once we do I will rearrange the tabs.

I hope others will find this useful!

Some things I am planning for the first week...

The good news is, is that I don't have to turn in formal plans until 9/12!  However, I am not naive enough to think that means I don't need lesson plans for that first week!
So I know that most of the first week will focus on procedures and expectations.  Then instead of jumping into Unit 1 right away, I am going to do some lessons on general problem solving and do a preassessment.
I plan on using a really neat book The Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith which someone gave me as a gift (thanks Jeralyn!) along with a lesson plan to go with it that I found on the NCTM website! Sweet!
I will also use another book that I really enjoy: Math Stories for Problem Solving Success.  I will focus on the number sense and operation problems since that is what our first unit will be based on.  I like that this book gives three sets of problems with the stories so that I can use it to differentiate between 7th/8th and also the different levels of my students.

The bad news is that our new interactive whiteboards (Polyvision) won't be installed until the evening of 9/12-9/13!  That means I can either do without or "try" to use the Mimio and projector.  My problem is a teeny tiny room and the projector gets in the way and I had a ton of trouble with it last year.  Can't wait to have the overhead projector!!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


So here I sit about 2 weeks away from starting my almost second year of teaching!  I say “almost” 2nd year because I started at my school in November.   I learned so much last year and when I think about it, my head just swims.
I’ve always wanted to be a reflective teacher and unfortunately in the madness of my first year, I didn’t do much reflecting.  Hopefully that is what this blog will be about.
I had these big lofty dreams of getting about 1-2 months of lesson plans done during my summer break.  LOL, didn’t come close.  I have all of these issues and I know that I get so burdened in the details it paralyses me.  Some of my issues are:
  1. My curriculum SUCKS!  It was written by the teacher I replaced, who finished it up after she knew she was leaving and after being paid in advance.
  2. I want to do a lot of pre-assessing this year to make my lessons geared more to my students.
  3. I want the first week to focus on teaching procedures so I’d like to start planning that but I am attending a Harry Wong seminar next Wednesday so… I feel like I should really wait until after that to start those plans!
  4. I have no idea how to start the year!
Another thing I would like to work on is finding a central place to store ideas.  I’ve dabbled with Livebinders and Bagit, but I’m not sure if they are what I’m looking for.  I think Livebinders might be the way to go.  I will have to play with it a little more to get a better idea of how I can use it.
One more thing on my mind during this “planning” stage is my online identity.  I really want to get more involved with PLN’s online and sharing this blog and twitter, etc. but I don’t know if I should use my name and info.  I am involved with things such as religion and sports that I don’t want mixed with my education stuff.  So I’m not sure what to do about that!  Update to this:  I started this same blog on WordPress, since I have a few personal ones here on Blogger. I ended up making a new gmail and twitter account and then I realized that I can use the new gmail account with Blogger.  WordPress looks all fun and fancy, but I might be more comfortable with blogger.