Saturday, December 8, 2012

Things that make you go hmmmm

Really happy with the way the week ended.  I gave a quiz to my students and almost all passed.  I think I had 2 or 3 out of 72, and I'm talking A's and B's passed.  What did I do differently this week?  Well after Monday, when my math coach came in, I went back to basics.  I just gave them what they needed to know  in about 10 minutes (being careful not to TELL them things, but ask questions that lead them to what I want them to know) and them boom practice, practice, practice! 
As I get ready to write up lesson plans I am keeping this format. Since my class schedule is weird and I have my classes for different amounts of time each day, I will plan a more complicated activity such as stations or something for my longer days only.  This means I'll probably have to make 5 different sets of lesson plans, but so what!  I loved how this week went and I want my kids to keep "getting it!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

I like teaching again!

I cannot stay down for long!  I am still stressed and worried and swamped with work, but I decided I need to blog more and reflect more so here it goes...

My math coach came in on Monday, and I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I love her!  Every time she comes in, I truly learn something that I can apply and immediately see results.  Its the most awesome thing.  So this time we focused on my expectations for my class and my urgency.  Now if you asked me I would say that "why yes, I do have high expectations for my class!" but if you looked at what I was giving them to accomplish during their class time and how long I was giving them to do it, you would think something else.  And I didn't even realize it!
So, I started displaying this Online Stopwatch after my lesson and tell them that they have to get x amount done in that time.  They freak out at first, but by golly they get it done and they are just spending pretty much the whole time completely focused on their work it is awesome.  I notice some kids are actually fatigued when they leave my room!

In my 7th grade class I am teaching combining like terms and distributive property.  I really liked Sarah Rubin's ISN page for combining like terms and I got to thinking about the lines that she has separating the terms.
I decided that in order for my 7th graders to even understand where the lines go I had to make a rule they could follow no matter what.  So the first thing I taught them was to look through the entire expression and anytime they found a MINUS sign to apply the "KCC" which is Keep Change Change, or keep the 1st number, change the subtraction to addition and change the next sign to the opposite. Anyway after they go through and KCC, they separate all the terms into boxes.  The only "thing" allowed between the boxes is addition signs!  Then if they were just combining like terms they can go ahead and put all of the "boxes" that have the same stuff inside together and add.
If they have a term with parentheses, they have to take care of that first.  To me this always seems like a "no-brainer" you multiply the outside number by all of the things inside and  I would proceed to draw the familiar arrows going from the outside factor to the two terms inside, etc.  For some reason this is difficult for 7th graders. So I thought about my boxes again (picture example to follow.)  Actually I had read about the box method and FOIL about a year ago and taught my 8th graders it with much success, so I figured I would go with it for distributive property...It worked!!  Here is a picture of a problem they were able to simplify with all my crazy boxes!
All in all it was an awesome week.  My 7th and 8th graders took a quiz today and had great results.  I hope we can all keep this pace up for the rest of the year!

On a side note, I've kinda fallen off the "flipping" wagon.  Will post more of that at another time!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Edcampnj, #shiftclass, charter vs. public

Whoa, long time no post.
I have reached the point in my teaching career where I think I would be better suited flipping burgers.  What is the statistic, most new teachers leave before 5 years or something like that?

I am so done.  I hate the paperwork, I hate the pressure of "if the test scores don't improve you probably won't have a job here", the apathetic students, etc.

The worst part of it all is I blame myself.  I want my students to succeed, I want to be a great math teacher.

I have heard that it takes 8 years to be a good teacher.  Is this true?  Does it sound right?  I guess the problem with starting a teaching career as an older person, every minute counts.

I went to edcampnj today.  It was fun, but... there were only a few high points for me.  1.  I connected with another teacher who I went to college with.  We were both older students with kids, etc.  But she is my "soul mate" in the teacher world. We haven't gotten together in awhile so this made my day.  2. While most of the sessions seemed to cater to ELA, the last session was about Khan Academy which I have previously hated, but after today I am like "wow so cool!" and this has to do with being introduced to the "practice", "coach" and reports section.

Saw the term "shiftclass" tonight and I am in love.  There are a lot of things I am thinking of with this, my version is that I post in video fashion the "notes" of the day for them to put into their notebooks.  I see how this is probably the PROPER term for flipclass.  But aaaagggh this is such a complex subject.

Back to my college buddy and edcampnj, it was held in her middle school.... they may be adding more 7th grade math teachers next year.  I LOVE my school.  Its a charter school.  Long hours, lots of responsibility, low pay.  I think I am updating my resume.  Sad/excited/hopeful/confused.

I need to blog more. I need to reflect more. I want my students to achieve more.