Thursday, October 23, 2014

10/23/14: Packed House at Math Club!

Today was a day of mixed emotions.  My homeroom students are a very challenging bunch.  Today due to certain situations they were even extra hard to deal with.  I felt really bad for them. They take FOREVER at their lockers and have been doing really well, but today they just couldn't get it together before recess./lunch and it took them a full 15 minutes to get done.  I was livid.  I needed to get to study hall to help kids that actually wanted to be there other than the kids that had to attend.  We get ready to line up and I realize that half of them did not bring a book.  It was raining today so they  had indoor recess plus it was picture day so they had to sit quietly in the back of the auditorium and read.  I flipped.  I marched them back into the classroom and had them sit with their heads down.  I brought in the two 6th graders who wanted help and worked with them.  I have to say they did sit quietly while I worked with the two students.  I hope my kids were paying attention to what it looked like when a student really wanted the help got what they needed.  I was happy with the interaction with those students.
However, at lunch right afterwards, the 5th/6th graders had silent lunch due to behavior.  So they really didn't have any outlet or downtime the entire day.  I get it, my kids are lucky that they still get recess since we are a K-8 school, but when they lose that to behavior issues like today, the afternoon is shot.  I had them right after lunch, and only for 30 minutes because of the fact it was picture day.  They were rude and obnoxious and I truly felt sorry for the handful of kids that were not acting that way.
So what am I going to do?  I plan to reveiw my rules and expectations tomorrow... (with all classes since even though they are going well, they are also slipping ever so slightly here and there) Then I will feature a new consequence for my class-Leaving the classroom if they are disruptive.  First will be a warning as usual, then they will be asked to leave (with a phone call home) and then when they come back and still continue, they will be assigned a morning detention.

Ok, but on to happier reflections.  Today was our first official day of Math Club.  We had  24 students join us!!!  My classroom only has seats for 18!!  It was awesome!  Yes, I bribed them with snacks and juice, but if you could see their faces, they were smiling and engaged in the math!  The best part were the kids who don't excel in math and have some of the worst grades totally working on problems that were a grade ahead of where they are at and having fun!  I know I wrote a lot about the bad stuff, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then here are 2,000 words about my great 2014-2015 Math Club!!!

I wish I could post their faces, but the boy in the front of the second picture with his hand up, has had such a rough year so far, he has been bullied by his friends, caused a big share of the problems in my class, but yet here he was smiling ear to ear and having a great time!  I love Math Club! <3

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 31: 1/2 Day PD Day

PARCC training this morning.  Want to know the best part?  Running into my old supervisor and the Director of Secondary Education from my student teaching days!  I had such a positive experience during my student teaching and these ladies were a huge influence on me.
But back to PARCC, I think the biggest takeaways from the training were to really read up on the evidence statements since that is how the test is built and also the fact that we will indeed have the PBA (performance based assessement) and the EOY (end of year) tests.  My director thought that we were only going to have the PBA in March.  The facilitator from the NJ Education department assured us that you can't have one without the other.  It is really ONE test, broken into two parts.

I came back to school in time to see my last class of the day.  My room was a mess and the sub left shaking her head.  I wish my homeroom was more behaved, they are really great kids individually but together they are a mess. I briefly spoke with the school councelor today and she thinks she has some ideas to help us out as long as I'm on board!  Of course I'm on board!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 29: Benchmarks, Mathclub, and 24 Game!

We started our first of 4 benchmarks today.  We are using Achivement Network to create them and analyze the data.  I still have mixed feelings about the whole process.  First of all I like the fact that I am not creating or grading them, and after briefly flipping through the copy I see that I did "teach" everything that is on it.  However, since there were only 5 real teaching weeks and some pretty juicy stuff (ratios, rates, percents etc) for 6th grade I don't feel that they are ready.  Oh well!  We'll see what happens tomorrow!

Since we test all morning and I don't see all my classes, I figured this was a great time to break out the 24 Game and start teaching it to them.  Boy oh boy did they love it!!  One thing I'm really glad about is I am starting them out from the beginning with doing the calculations in their head and also stating the last fact first.  In the past I let them use paper but when it came down to the official challenge rules they really struggled.

Oh and I am super excited to be starting our first math club on Thursday!  I signed up with MathCounts and have my club in a box all ready to go!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 28: Finally Getting Around to a Post

This week was pretty busy.  We are gearing up for our 1st benchmark exam next Wednesday and our progress reports went home on Friday.  It was a week full of making sure everything was covered and everyone was given a chance to do retakes.

I am also feeling a little defeated/obsessed with a parent email conversation that took place this week.  I found out from other teachers that this parent doesn't mean to come across in a bad way, it just happens.  Still, it makes me feel very inadequate and I am not sure what to do about it.

Here is a snipit of what she said to me:

Unfortunately, across the State, students tend to fail Math more than Language Arts, yet there has not been a solution to that problem which can definitely effect SGO results.  In my opinion, making learning fun and using antics that students can relate to such as incorporating music into the lesson or using other devices seem to help ensure that learning takes place.  For instance, using vocabulary words to replace certain rap song lyrics definitely help students in Language Arts, but then again,  this may be more difficult for Math.  Although some students do pass the state test for Math, the majority fail.  Metaphorically speaking, there needs to be "A Dead Poets" technique of teaching Math which is yet to be discovered.

All I can focus on is how I must not be making learning fun and relating to the students.  However, I know that I don't want to use "antics" and tricks.  So not sure what to do.  I just know that I'm not feeling very good about this whole thing, which means  I need to do something.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 22: I Don't Know if I Will Survive 5th Grade

Forgetting things
Can't handle lockers
Acting like 10 year olds (oh yeah, they ARE 10)

I just want to teach math...

Day 21: Composition Notebooks

Not only do I love them for interactive notebooks, but I use mine to keep track of the day to day activities and happenings in my classroom.  The way I organize the info for my 4 different classes is I do a summary at top of what is supposed to happen each day and then I draw four boxes.  Here I can make notes about struggling students, or behavior issues, or any detail from the class that I want to remember :)  I also give my kids behavior points each day towards our schoolwide competition and I record that there too.  Its a little messy but works for me!