Fun Firsts? – First Day Of Classes 17-18

Fun Firsts? – First Day Of Classes 17-18

So a little behind here on #sundayfunday challenge but that is okay because the goal is just to #pushsend.

I will be teaching geometry honors and algebra 2 studies (Learners who have struggled). In geometry I will be doing the same activity to build up a need for geometry vocab I have done before which you can read here. I will also be using my school fever activity that I have used before and you can read about that one here.

I have decided to try and get out of my comfort zone a little and instead of just reviewing how to plot coordinate points with my algebra 2 students, I thought it might be great to try and incorporate some sort of desmos activity instead. I am hoping that this will excite them instead of bore them to death on the first day of class. Students will be using the mini-golf coordinate activity with a few extra slides that I have added/modified at the beginning and at the end to lead some discussion about scatterplots. After being at #tmc17 and being involved in #desmoscamp I really love the idea of pausing and being able to restrict parts of the activity. This will be my first time trying all of this out on a new group of students day 1 but I am thinking it will lead to great success! If you want to see what it looks like and try it out then go here.

Regardless of what you are doing, I encourage you to think of ways to try and take a risk and go for something new. This has made me even more excited for the start of the year!

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Three Things – Goals For 17-18

Three Things – Goals For 17-18

Participating in a Sunday Funday post sounds a great way to jump on the blogging bandwagon momentum. More information here: https://ispeakmath.org/2017/07/31/lets-blog-together-sunday-funday-is-back/

Since this week is goals then I should talk about things I am looking forward to trying this school year:

  1. I am going to work on observing more. Observing my colleagues and having them observe me. We can all learn a lot from others we teach with and I want to try and do more of that this year. I also want to work on observing my students more. I want to have me do less of the talking and focus on listening to them and their conversations.
  2. I need to continue finding more hooks. More ways to get students pulled into a lesson. The morning session with the classroom chefs at #tmc17 talked a lot about adding small touches of humanizing aspects that students can engage with. I need to do this more often.
  3. I also want to work on discussion techniques. Even something as simple as having students stand up and talk to a partner about a strategy can make a huge difference. I need to capture more of those moments for students to talk with each other and share what they have learned.

I now see that the root of all my goals is on student perception in the classroom. I think these will be goals that are attainable. Now that it is August, it is time to start getting ready. What are your goals? Share them with me and lets keep each other accountable!

TMC17 Truths – I Learned Nothing

TMC17 Truths – I Learned Nothing

As I am back home and reflecting on Twitter Math Camp 2017, I feel like I have learned a whole lot of nothing.

  • I learned nothing but friendly and amazing people attend this conference to make a first-timer feel welcomed
  • I learned nothing but amazing things from Desmos and have inspired me to use the software even more
  • I learned nothing can change how I feel about incorporating more student voice into my classroom
  • I learned nothing will change in my classroom unless I take more risks
  • I learned nothing but being vulnerable will help me grow even more
  • I learned nothing will keep me away from the MTBoS and all the wonderful people involved in it
  • I learned nothing was gained except an amazing new group of friends and an overload of ideas
  • I learned nothing will stop me from attending as many TMC’s as possible

I learned a whole lot of nothing and I couldn’t be happier.

Loving Local – Shoutout to Illinois Bloggers

I was sick last week and failed on getting my second #mtbosblogsplosion up so I have to prevail on this one! I like the idea of picking people’s blogs and reflecting on them. I decided to focus on Illinois bloggers since I am one of them. Annie Forest (@ has been trying to highlight some Illinois bloggers so I thought it would be awesome to pick some of them and read some of their posts to see what I could learn from them.

From @mrsjtweetsmath I read her post about how to restart 2nd semester. I have so many things that I want to change and I always fail with my grand plans at getting everything because I tackle too much. My one focus is going to be student focus so I am going to be a lot stricter on phones and focus on my classroom management. Once that is under control, then I can pick something else. I needed this reminder to just fix one thing at a time.

From @JDaomath I read her post about social justice in mathematics. You can tell this is something she is definitely passionate about. I have done scatterplots but I never thought to include something like what she did. This has the wheels turning and I think I need to incorporate something like this at least once 2nd semester. (Small goal = at least once!).

From @kirk_humphreys I read his post about changing his look at assessments. I gave my honors geometry students a project with quadrilaterals that was really fun (I could definitely blog about that next). I haven’t done a project for my algebra II class like this yet so his quadratic water fountain problem has intrigued me. Not sure what I want to do but I think I need to find some form of a project to get them to show me what they have learned.

There are so many amazing Illinois bloggers but this is just a few of them that caught my eye and got me thinking about things as I start 2nd semester. Check them out!

 

Students Think I Am Weird + Lots Of Fun Problems = First Week Of School

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This week’s challenge is to talk about how the first week of school went so here we go!

This school year is different since we are on a Block Schedule but here is what happened on each day. My first week started the week of 8/25.

Monday: Prof. Development Day so I won’t bore you with those details.

Tuesday: More Prof. Development and then freshmen run through their schedule (literally running) and we get to meet them for a few minutes. They have 6 minute periods with no passing period time (so that makes sense right?). I feel so bad for freshmen who show up right when the bell rings to leave and they are huffing and puffing. To entertain them, I put a problem up for them to solve and discuss while we waited for more to show up. Then, I talked for one minute about what to expect the next day…”Expect to be learning and thinking. This will be your favorite class this year and you will have to wait and see why starting tomorrow.” I let them take guesses at the answer for the problem and then I tell them I will reveal the answer tomorrow. I love that in a short span of 6 minutes (even less since most arrive and then RUN away) I can sucker some of them in waiting for the next day. Since all my freshmen are in geometry and geometry honors, this square problem is perfect. Here is the problem below. Tweet me @jomalleyiv if you think you know the answer!

How many squares are in the figure below?

How Many Squares In The Figure

Wednesday: This is a gold day and I teach two sections of regular geometry and one section of honors geometry on this. (G for gold = geometry so I can remember when I am teaching stuff!!!!). When students walk in, they are instructed on the board to grab the worksheet at the front of the room. Everyday, they have an opener to grab so I like to start the routine immediately. It is an info sheet they fill out while I am waiting for stragglers. I let them go for about 5 minutes and then I put this problem back up on the board and I have them all take a guess and write it down. Then, I have some kids offer up answers and we discuss (usually someone counts all the rectangles). We talk about the answer and some other things that will reveal the answer so I won’t add anymore onto that. Then, we did the activity that I have posted about in the past here: https://functionsarefun.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/buliding-up-geometry-vocab/. After that, we used that motivation to talk about points, lines, planes, etc. Not the most exciting “lecture” but they were eager to learn from our “game” that we just played so I think it was okay. We even got to talking about the segment addition postulate. I let them try some problems and they figured it out by themselves!

Honors geometry was similar. I did the same geometry vocab game and the same square picture. After we talked about points, lines, and planes I gave them some t/f and always/sometimes/never questions for them to discuss in their groups. What is awesome about this group in particular, is when I say I want them to discuss they ask how and what they should say and then do it. With regular, they need more guidance on how to work in a group (I have all students in groups of four) but these students jump at the chance to discuss and debate. It is pretty awesome.

Thursday: Blue day so I teach two sections of Algebra II Studies (lower-level). I start with School Fever and it is a success as it has been in previous years. I blogged about it before here: https://functionsarefun.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/first-day-algebra-ii-will-you-catch-the-fever/. Then, I gave them a whole bunch of graphs that I hand-drew different models on and they had to highlight the model that would be appropriate for the situation (some examples were time vs. distance, time vs. height, days vs amount of water used). I like that I force them to use a highlighter because you can’t erase so it forces them to stick with something even if it turns out to be a mistake in the end. It was great and we had some awesome discussions. We then did a little algebra practice and the day was over…so fast!

Friday: See my geometry kiddos again. I am getting tired of typing at this point but we did more practice (in both classes) with points, lines, and planes. I had a lot of problems for them to try and practice/struggle with before I would jump in and help. We talked about unions and intersections with points, lines, segments, and rays. I gave them highlighters and had them color in the parts we were talking about and it seemed to really help make a big difference. Lots of practice this day but they seemed to enjoy the time to gain these skills and work together. I did not do much talking and I loved that.

This year will definitely be interesting and a lot of hard work but I really have amazing kids in all my classes and I am so excited to work with them this year!

I survived my first week!

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I know it is Monday but I am going to pretend like it is Sunday. If I would have thought about it earlier, I would have taken pictures of my classroom so instead I will be doing a 3-2-1 summary.

3 Things I Noticed This Week

  1. I have awesome students! I know that I have only met them once or twice but they seem great and I am excited to work with them.
  2. Teaching for 90 minutes can sometimes not feel like enough! I actually ran out of time in Geometry so I feel a bit behind! CRAZY!
  3. Google Classroom is pretty cool! All my classes are using it and it seems to work really well once I figured out how to set everything up.

2 Things I Am Nervous About

  1. Pacing: Am I going to fast? Too slow? Will I fit in all the curriculum? Right now, I am more concerned about making a connection and making my students feel good about doing math.
  2. Geometry has an entirely new book so we are piloting it and I am freaking out about it. I have never been this nervous about a class in terms of curriculum this way. I know it will work out in the end so I think I just need to take a deep breath and keep on trucking!

1 Thing That Is Awesome

  1. My curricular teams (geometry, geometry honors, algebra II studies) are all amazing! We all work really well together and give each other multiple ideas. These people are making my life better and helping me stay on track with everything. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings for us.

I think I should later this week try and post about my organization and some activities I am working on to make teaching for 90 minutes doable without completely boring my students!