August 23, 2012

New Bloggers!

Sam started a new blogger initiation and the crew has already finished week one and is working through the week two assignment as I type.  A group of us divvied up the introductions since there are so, so many enthusiastic newbies!  I'm keeping track of the introductory posts on the #matheme page.  The prompts they have been getting are really great.  I will post a link to all of them at the end of this process, even if you're not a new blogger they are great to think on and share about.

Without further ado, may I present the following 15 new/restarting bloggers:

Kaleb Allinson has a blog named To Accumulate a Rate -- Integrate. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Why I named my Blog – “To Accumulate a Rate – Integrate” and the author sums it up as follows: "I've unfortunately named my Blog, "To Accumulate a Rate -- Integrate." Now, I will undoubtedly have to answer the question: What does that mean? I have explained it in this post so I never have to again." A memorable quotation from the post is: "Accumulating a rate is something that I didn’t recall from my Calculus experience, but I fell in love with almost immediately."

Lori Stolaski @lstolaski has a blog named Polygon Wild. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Excited (and Overwhelmed!). and the author sums it up as follows: "I made the decision to jump right into the 21st century this summer and update my sadly outdated teaching methods. I have new classes to teach, and I'm excited by all the awesome people out there willing to share ideas!" A memorable quotation from the post is: "Now, I am following blogs, attending online meetings, and TWEETING!"

Kirsten Silverman @klsilverman has a blog named Numbers. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Changes. and the author sums it up as follows: "Changes I want to make for this school year." A memorable quotation from the post is: "We’ll see how it goes."

Courtney Steketee @csteketee21 has a blog named thenumbertwentyone. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled My Journey and the author sums it up as follows: "This began as a post about a letter I got from a student last year, but turned into the story of how I became a middle school teacher. " A memorable quotation from the post is: "That even though middle school students can be big, and loud, and rude, and disrespectful, and TOUGH… they are also insightful, and amazing, and thoughtful, and FUNNY!"

Rebecka Peterson @RebeckaMozdeh has a blog named Epsilon-Delta. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled New Blogger Initiative :: Week 1 and the author sums it up as follows: "This year, I hope to implement more math history in my classroom by encouraging students to research the Mathematician of the Month. I also hope to make THEM do more of the work by, yes, encouraging group work, but always asking them to bring something to the group first (independently). Ideally, I hope to see a marriage between independent thinking and collaborative working." A memorable quotation from the post is: "Mathematics lead crazy lives."

Robin Nehila @radical_robin has a blog named Flip!Learn!Share!. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. and the author sums it up as follows: "I am a new teacher, this will be my second full year teaching 7th and 8th grade math. After finding out my students did poorly on the state tests, my post is about what I am doing differently this school year." A memorable quotation from the post is: "To me flipping means that the kids are going to work harder than me in class."

Mrs. W has a blog named Mrs. W's Math-Connection. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Whole Brain Teaching and the author sums it up as follows: "I've started using Whole Brain Teaching practices in my class this year. So far using Whole Brain Teaching has provided a much more positive classroom for me." A memorable quotation from the post is: "To be honest, I thought "great if you're dealing with little guys, but could it really work with my not-so-little people?" The answer is YES!"

Matt Owen @_MattOwen_ has a blog named Just Tell Me the Answer. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Why that blog title you ask? and the author sums it up as follows: "I'm trying about a million new things in my Algebra and Physics classes this year. The most important thing is letting kids struggle more with difficult problems. If they're willing to jump in, I'm willing to let them swim." A memorable quotation from the post is: "Let’s start doin’ some math!"

barrylewis @2ndarymathedist has a blog named Gleaming Number Rockets. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Color Correction and the author sums it up as follows: "I'm learning that it's the small things that can make big ripples. I know that I have to track and record homework habits. This IS and SHOULD BE a small thing. So how come it's sucking so much of my time and smothering that precious first-buzz of the beginning of class. My first post is about my work on that little detail." A memorable quotation from the post is: "It’s all part of my diabolical plot to develop my students’ taste and skills for the practice of self-reflection."

Joe Ochiltree has a blog named brainopennow. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled KAFDOC and the author sums it up as follows: "In which I attempt to describe my plans for my very own KAFDOC." A memorable quotation from the post is: "Simply enough, my goal is to have a completely KICK ASS First Day Of Class."  (Tina's side note: Joe and I went to PCMI together!)

frank_w_b @frank_w_b has a blog named Short Attention Span Teacher. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Version 3 and the author sums it up as follows: "I'm overwhelmed by the resources I've discovered in the Blogotwitterversesphere. I'm looking forward to trying lots of new stuff and also to contributing as best I can. Best professional development I have EVER found. Thanks, thanks, thanks..." A memorable quotation from the post is: "Mostly however, there’s a comfort in finding a community that enjoys math and working on their profession during the summer & weekends & vacations, and doesn’t hide these qualities from their online colleagues."

Jeff Brenneman @brennemania has a blog named Trust Me - I'm a Math Teacher. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Keepin' It Real and the author sums it up as follows: "One of my goals for the school year is to give my students more opportunities to complete authentic real-world projects that have a positive impact beyond the classroom. In this post, I give my thoughts on this goal, examples of where I fell short in the past, and ideas for the future." A memorable quotation from the post is: "I want students to use math to actually create things; to innovate; to predict; to think critically; to affect their community in a positive way."

Stephanie Macsata @MsMac622 has a blog named High Heels in the High School. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Start - Stop - Continue and the author sums it up as follows: "This post is goal oriented for the upcoming new school year. I used "Start, Stop, Continue" to help summarize what new things I want to try this year, as well as what I did and didn't like from previous school years." A memorable quotation from the post is: "I am learning that I kind of have to just let it go and that sometimes my classroom will be loud, but that it's ok because that noise could be GOOD noise and could be awesome collaboration between students."

Sarah Hill has a blog named You Can Secant You. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled How I got my name and the author sums it up as follows: "This is just a simple post explaining how I came up with the name for my blog." A memorable quotation from the post is: "He could come up with a pun at the drop of a hat and he frequently gave us all a chuckle with his puns related to whatever we were learning that day."

Brielliephant @Brielliephant has a blog named Thriving Not Just Surviving. The first post for the Blogging Initiation is titled Thriving Not Just Surviving and the author sums it up as follows: "I refuse to simply settle in to coast through my first year of teaching. I want to do so much more than that. I want to learn and relish the year ahead. I want to glean as much from it as I can." A memorable quotation from the post is: "I admit I may not thrive, but I can do a whole lot better than simply survive"

August 20, 2012

Made For Math: Calendar and Classroom

I went into school a couple times this week to work with another teacher on Geometry, Pre-Calculus and general plans.  We've hashed out our binder system and have a plan for Standards Based Grading.  Next up is getting into the specifics, like what to teach in a couple weeks when the kids start showing up!

While there, I set up a few things in my room:

Last week's Made For Math featured an awesome system by Ms. Mac for making up work.  I immediately decided to steal her calendar, but I wanted mine to be bigger and reusable.

Spare small dry erase board turned 2 week calendar!  I can block off the days I'm busy and students can sign up for other days.  I'll also ask them to say what they're working on so I can make re-assessments ahead of time (glory of last block prep).  Since the sign up list will get erased every week I made it one of my goals to keep track (via google doc) of everyone who attends and skips after school help.

I also set up my class agendas.  They only take up 1.5 boards (now that I'm hiding the homework and journal until the end of class so no one skips ahead) so I have lots of board space left for kids to work at.

My desks won't stay in rows, but they haven't finished the floors yet...
And I started hanging stuff on my bulletin boards.  Posters you've seen before.  The Math Practices section will get colored in, cut better and filled with examples of each practice as the year goes on.  I liked the dark background so I didn't do anything fancy with borders or backgrounds.

Click to embiggen
Click to zoomify

And finally, we raided the math closet while no one else was around.  Check out what I found!

August 19, 2012

Standards Based Grading

Last year I started working my way towards Standards Based Grading, but this year I'm really jumping in to my full fledged hybrid model.  Oxymoron?  Perhaps, but this is what makes me happy at the moment:

80% product, 20% process

Almost the entire grade will be based on specific content knowledge, but I'm reserving 20% for other stuff.  I still want to check homework.  I want Habits of Mind to matter.  A kid could get a B if they slept through all my classes and did no homework, but still demonstrated that they understood all of the material.  But, to get an A you have to do something more- work well in groups, reflect on the learning process, put in effort on assignments that aren't going to be collected.

Of the 80% product, I think that it will be broken into 50% tests/quizzes and 30% investigations.  Tests and quizzes will show me what students know about each standard individually.  Investigations will demonstrate ability to bring multiple standards together, apply knowledge and think creatively.

We are going with a 4-3-2-0 scale, the names of each category match the state test.

4 Advanced: comprehensive and in-depth understanding
3 Proficient: solid understanding with small errors that are not essential to the standard
2 Needs Improvement: partial understanding, only solve simplest problems, errors that are essential to the standard
0 Warning: minimal understanding of subject matter or did not attempt

I'm going to put them into the gradebook as numbers out of 4, without playing with scaling at all.  My reasoning is that students can retake any assessment they want, as many times as they want.  I know there's some controversy over using 0's, but I use them as a motivational tool- students come after school when I distribute progress reports with low grades.  Ideally I'll catch those kids early, but sometimes it's what lights a fire under them and I'll take it.  Plus, I have no evidence that they do understand the topic, all they have to do to change that 0 is provide the evidence.

This is the description I'm planning to distribute to the students:

Every unit or chapter we study will be broken down into a few standards.  Each standard will address a small, specific topic.  Standards will be assessed twice: once on a daily quiz and once on a test.  Tests will cover several standards, but you will receive a separate grade for each standard rather than one grade for the whole test.  Any assessment can be retaken for a higher grade.  To prove that you are ready for a second chance you will have to provide evidence that you have studied and learned the material (evidence may include corrections, additional problems or re-worked examples).  The goal is for your final grade at the end of each quarter to reflect what you understand at that point in time, so take advantage of the opportunity to prove to your teacher what you know.
I will replace old grades with new ones from reassessments throughout the quarter.  Quizzes will tend to have more concrete questions, while tests will have some higher level problems.  I think those grades will be separate for my sanity, although it might make sense to replace the quiz grade with the test grade for that standard if that grade is higher.  It will really come down to whether I want to spend more time giving reassessments or more time scouring the gradebook and adjusting grades.  I should come back to this question after first quarter when I've tried out whichever one I choose, but in the meantime I'd appreciate feedback on what method you use.  I will only change grades from previous quarters in very special circumstances, as per school policy.

To reassess students will sign up on my calendar (that link won't actually work until midnight, I'm such a tease!), and list the standard they want to re-take so that I can prepare the problems ahead of time.  They will have to show me their evidence of practice before I will give them the reassessment.  
To record their progress students will fill out this sheet as they get back each assessment.  The idea for the bar graphs is stolen from druinok and I love that they can shade in more boxes if they improve their score, it's so neat!  (Both tidy and nifty.)

Grade Record

What else should I be considering as I implement this system?

August 18, 2012

Binder System

After some Aweome PD last year all of the freshman and sophomores are moving to a binder system in math, and chances are pretty good that it will carry through to upper grades.  I'm requiring all students in Geometry and Honors Pre-Calculus to use this system.

Students will need to purchase 3 ring binders and dividers (I will sell binders to kids who don't have them after a week at whatever the cheapest price is that I can find them for this summer).  The second week of school we will set them up as follows:

1.  One page protector (provided by me) so that they can use them as personal dry erase boards! Nice (big, dark) grid paper to put inside permanently.  Other templates (to be determined) will be used throughout the year.  I'm really excited about the dry erase grid for Pre-Calculus since they can carefully plot points on it, then just sketch the graph in their notes.

2.  Table of contents: I don't know how this will be set up yet, but since binders are fluid and we want kids to move papers around, the table of contents will probably just be for the reference section.

3.  Reference: This will include the state test reference sheet in Geometry, along with any other reference materials they create throughout the year.  This section will be all of the important material from past units.

4.  Notes, classwork and homework: A section filled with looseleaf paper where students do all of their work.  The selling point for me on this system was what happens at the end of the unit:  At the end of each unit students clean out this section, determine what's important and file it into the reference section.  This means the binder doesn't get huge, finding old notes isn't impossible and students have to interact with their notes when they decide what is reference and what has been internalized or duplicated.  The other papers could get saved somewhere, but I'm not keeping them in the classroom- I don't like clutter or extraneous materials.  The reference section will suffice.

5.  Graded assignments: The first page will be the standards sheet (more on the nifty bar graph thing I've seen when I write my SBG post).  Following that will be all of the quizzes, tests and projects.  I do quizzes on quarter sheets of scrap paper, so those will need to get taped/stapled onto looseleaf.  This section will  be cleaned out at the end of each quarter.  I imagine tests will remain, quizzes recycled and projects taken home or recycled.

6.  Journal and Classwork Rubric:  I'm undecided what to do about this.  In the past I've had a double sided sheet that I collect every two weeks.  The journal is really the summarizing part of Cornell Notes or the Left Hand Side of Interactive Notebooks.  However, I like reading the journals and have no interest in collecting binders.  My plan for the time being is to continue using the same sheet and then have students put it into the notes section after I read them.  Definitely open to suggestions on that though.

My Fundamentals of Geometry class will be required to leave their binders in the classroom.  I need them to have all of those materials and losing the binder is too much of a risk.  I will have them put their homework in a folder along with that day's notes.  They use the notes to complete the homework, then file everything into the binder at the beginning of class each day.  My CP Geometry and Honors Pre-Calculus students will have the option to leave their binder and use a homework folder or to travel with it.

One of my co-workers showed me an awesome trick today that I'm excited about: If you put one binder into a hanging file folder it stands up perfectly straight and the drawer will still close.  I was planning to give each class a drawer or two until I tried putting binders into the filing cabinet and it was a mess!  Thanks @CpColeman7 for solving that conundrum! Now if only she would use twitter for math :)

August 17, 2012

My Favorite Friday: Review Games

Before every test students work as a class to come up with a study guide.  They practice going through their notes and textbook, and I write down whatever they come up with.  By the end everyone has a two column sheet with vocab or big ideas on the left and definitions or details on the right.  Fold in half for an instant self quizzing machine!  (Some kids prefer flashcards, works the same.)  Then, we practice everything they decided they will need to know for the test via a review game.  Practicing takes different forms each unit and honestly has a lot more to do with my mood than anything else, although I'm sure there are some units that are better suited to certain games.  As the year went on and I got organized I would offer multiple options at stations (BINGO and Basketball would be too distracting but everything else works).

No Prep Required:


Students make up problems and solve them.  Since my BINGO boards are small, numbers work much better than words (explanations are impossible).  We can abbreviate words in vocab heavy units though.  As students submit the problems I write the answers on the board.  When there are at least 25 different answers on the board I tell everyone to stop making up problems and start filling them RANDOMLY into their card (we can't have everyone getting BINGO on the same turn!).  I laminated the blank cards and use dry erase markers for a reusable set.  When everyone is ready, I write up problems one at a time and students put a single line through the answers they get.  I give hints but not full solutions.  Students may work together, but more often they are competing.  To win a student must read back the 5 answers they got in a row (so keep a neat pile of the questions/answers you have already used to check).  The winner gets to choose an item from the prize basket!  (A basket filled with random items I found for less than $1.  The goodie bag section of Target, the dollar store or a party store is great for little puzzles and glow sticks are also popular.)

Minimal Prep Required:

Basketball (originally from Kate)

My take is to put 3 problems on a half sheet, then have 6 different half sheet options.  Students solve all three problems, then check with me.  If all three are perfect they get to crumple up the paper and shoot for the recycling bin from the close line, an advantage since making the shot awards them a bonus point.  If there is even one small mistake they get sent away to figure out what's wrong and fix it.  Once they've fixed it they check with me again, and if it is now perfect they must shoot from the far line.  I make a big grid and check off each half sheet they complete, as well as how many shots they made.  The grid is key if you want to have any idea what work they did, since it's all in the recycling bin!  It also allows me to declare a winner, who gets to choose an item from the prize basket.  The students love this game, and I love that there is a reward for checking their work before handing it in.  I don't love the stampede around me.  Every time we play I get totally surrounded at some point and have to tell everyone to back up and form a line.  If you have ideas how to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going without me getting trampled I would love to hear them.

Check sum (stolen from someone but I forget who, comment if it's you!)

Practice problems are grouped in categories (meaningful or completely random) on a worksheet.  When all the problems in one section are complete, students add up all the answers.  The 'check sum' is posted in the front of the room- if their sum matches they got it right!  (Or at least the probability is really high, I try to have some large numbers and/or decimals mixed in so it's unlikely they found another set of numbers that have the same sum.)  If not, they have to check their work for every problem in the section.  I like this one because it puts the responsibility of checking the work and finding the mistake on them.  Maybe I could merge this with basketball... ideas formulating!

Sequence (idea from the "I have 7, who has 5 more?" deck we used in my self contained class)

There's a pile of problems with answers on the back, except the answer on the back isn't the answer to that problem!  Students pick a random problem to start with.  The solution to that problem is on the back of some other card (if you can't find the answer you got it's time to check your work).  Now solve the next problem in the sequence.  Done properly the problems should form a single closed loop.  Students liked these because I had them do out the work on the white board.  I like it because it's self-checking.

Smart Board Toss: 

When I first got a Smart Board I searched the galleries looking for good ways to use it.  I found several examples of this type of game: lots of circles, if you throw something at the board it will select a circle, that circle links to a problem.  Thing is, it doesn't actually work!  We tried several different types of balls with no result.  However, students can toss something (I use a stuffed cloth ball that is crazy light- it seemed safest) and then just tap the circle.  I put a problem on each destination screen, require the student who threw the ball to also be the scribe and leave the answer hidden under a rectangle that they can move out of the way when they are done.  If they get the answer wrong they have to re-do the problem correctly.  Final step: ERASE their work and re-cover the answer.  Otherwise it's a mess when the next group takes their turn.

Substantial Prep Required (the first year):

Taboo (I shared some of my cards last year) 

We play Taboo just like the Hasbro game, except with cards that I made up.  Students work in small groups to get their teammates to guess math vocab words, without using the most common descriptors.  It gets students beyond a 'memorize the definition' mode to really being able to talk fluently about math.  Plus, it's way fun!  I plan to laminate the cards as I go through each chapter this year, I wasn't sure how long it would stay fun but students were still asking to play when we reviewed for the final exam, so it seems worth it to make the cards last.

August 16, 2012

End of Year Reflections 2012

Each year after students finish their final exams, I ask them to reflect on the course.  In past years I've read them when I needed some motivation to get back into gear and start prepping for a new year.  This year though I needed motivating to read them!  I finally decided that today was the day and sat down by the lake to read.  My task was occasionally interrupted by ducks, geese, swans, a great blue heron and a kingfisher but I read and took notes on all of them.

The prompt students saw is as follows:

This year I learned…
About myself
About mathematics
About studying/school/how I learn

In this class…

My favorite chapter
The most interesting activity
The hardest thing to learn
Ms. Cardone is... 

The first section made me really happy.  They said things such as: 
If I apply myself I can do awesome
I need to work harder to understand math
Although I do not enjoy math I can do it
Math is actually lots of fun to do
I can tackle hard problems
Self motivation is key to success
I can do more than I imagine
I am smarter than I thought
If I work hard and try things I can accomplish anything
I can learn
Growth mindset achieved.  Even if the percents from this lesson weren't correct (oops), at some point before their final exam my students were convinced that being good at math takes effort, not innate ability.

Their favorite chapters covered pretty much everything that we studied.  The hardest topics were also really spread out, which I was relieved to see.  Last year there were lots of students who said trig.  There were a good number this year too, but trig is a challenge that requires bringing everything we learn all year together.  Plus, a couple students said trig was both their favorite topic and the hardest (and couple others said it was their favorite), so I don't think it was an overwhelming difficulty, but a reasonable challenge.  Thanks to Mathy McMatherson for helping me develop my trig unit!  There were also only two students who said proof was the hardest topic.  Yay!  The fact that the favorite chapters and hard topics are so spread out tells me that there isn't any particular unit I need to totally revamp; students each have individual strengths, weaknesses and preferences.  I didn't screw up any particular unit, or I screwed them all up equally ;).

Final vote counts for favorite activities:
Aging Trees: 18 votes (plus a couple for anything outside)
Pi Day: 14 votes (several identified it by 'we rolled stuff down the hall' so it wasn't just about eating pie)
Dilating Comics: 5 votes
Indirect Measurement: 4 votes
Computers: 3 votes
Pen Pal: 2 votes
Fractal: 2 votes
Also Mentioned:

Coloring, Triangle Quilt, Taboo, Paper Basketball, Pie Charts, Tesselations and making flowers with the compass.  (I had far more students than there are votes, but it was the very last day of class, I didn't exactly require everyone to have a favorite activity.)

Shockingly, my students' favorite activities involve going outside and eating pie.  Coloring also makes a solid showing (dilating comics, fractal, triangle quilt and tesselations all involved color).  Lucky for them, these are 3 of my favorite things to do as well.

August 15, 2012

Start, Continue, Stop

A cool idea is going around (stolen from Teaching Statistics) to organize your thoughts for the year.  I just realized I never finished blogging about PCMI, sorry about that.  Week 3 was awesome too, you'll just have to trust me.


A required Binder System for all students (in the past it's been totally up to the students how they want to organize) influenced by Awesome PD and Interactive Notebooks.  Once I have fully fleshed out how they will look I promise to blog about it.  The whole department is using binders though so I'm trying not to get too attached to any particular ideas until we have discussed.

I read about people keeping such detailed notes on their students and having more than just a list of numbers to show parents or administrators.  I'm going to try to keep one google doc per student and really keep track of things like who attends dayback (our after school help), emails/meetings and grades for each category at the 5 week updates.

Having students ask questions, and keeping track of open questions.  I've done a lot of discovery in geometry, but by the end of class we have answered whatever question I wanted students to think about, and any other questions that came up fall by the wayside.  I'm considering using google moderator to keep track.  The plans I'm writing will definitely include a broad opening activity for each topic that I don't expect students to be able to complete until the end of the unit, so at the very least that will be an open question.


Migrating towards SBG.  Last year I did frequent quizzes, named by topic, that students graded themselves - it worked great!  This year I will number the topics and call them standards.  I will also break down test grades by standard and have them re-assess for each standard separately.  Thinking about a 4-3-2-0 scale with names that match my state test.  Will blog more about that after I discuss with the other teacher who I know is doing SBG with me.

Inviting kids to dayback based on different criteria each week (D or F on test/in class, missing assignments, absent etc.).  I just made a big dry erase board into a calendar (photo Monday for #M4M!)

Using GeoGebra and Google docs/forms/mail.  I'm going to try to reserve the computer lab or laptops on a regular basis.


Blindly following the order of the textbook!  I taught 4 sections of geometry for the past two years.  There were two levels from 2 different books and for each class I largely followed the textbook.  This summer I sat down and re-thought geometry.  We're following the order I think makes sense and is interesting.

Letting kids get away with not showing their work, especially on tests.  It's easy to get into the habit of trusting that kids were lazy, but by the end of the year I had some issues with cheating.  This year "show all work for full credit" really means it, and I'm having them sign an honor code.

What are you planning to Start, Continue and Stop this year?

Hello New Bloggers

Sam's New Blogger Initiation has turned into a Big Thing (200 participants!), which is so exciting.  With all those new people out there starting blogs, Sue realized that people might need some mentoring.  Both Sue and Lisa are taking on 5 official mentees each.  I'm going to offer my assistance to all of you on twitter.  I have no idea how many of you that is, but I'm excited to find out!  My username is @crstn85 and I will answer any questions about blogging that you direct to me.

If you aren't on twitter yet, feel free to take this internet community one step at a time and work on your blog first.  But eventually I encourage you to at least read about our twitter community and decide if the unique combination of live instant messaging and public forum might work for you.

I look forward to reading all the new blogs and introducing the newbies to everyone else!

August 6, 2012

Made for Math: Posters

My classroom is filled with the standard white concrete walls, plus a couple bulletin boards.  I like to have something up at the beginning of the year so it doesn't look totally boring, but still leave plenty of space for student work, student art and topic-specific information (this year it will just be vocab words in my school mandated word wall).  So, I browsed pinterest, nabbed some quotes from Anna and found images from my dropbox folder I wanted fresh copies of.


The Cone of Learning from the 3rd slide is for a lesson on study skills that I used last year and plan to do again. **Edit (8/6/12 7:30 pm) I just found out the Cone of Learning has no basis in research.  Debating if I should white out the percents or toss it entirely.

I also found these two comics:

All of the pages in color I printed at Staples (I don't use enough color ink at home to justify the expense and the one color printer at school is sooooo slooooow).  So of course, I walked around and bought a few things while I was there!

Penny folders (limit of 10, even for teachers) for homework- trying a binder system this year that I'll share once I have an actual plan.  My favorite pens for half price.  Tape since I'm planning to do foldables and flappers that will need to get taped into the binders.  Sheet protectors also half price, one per student to use as personal dry erase boards.

August 3, 2012

My Favorite Friday: Recipe Edition

Rumor on twitter is that people want to know our favorite recipes this week. I'm still in summer mode so I'll share any easy bean salad. I love this recipe since the only cooking is a few minutes of steaming, I always have everything but the green beans on hand and it doesn't taste like it only took 10 minutes to make.

3 Bean Salad

1/2 pound Green beans: snap or cut in half and remove ends, steam for 5 minutes. I don't have a steamer so I use a metal colander in a pot, works great!

Chickpeas and Red Kidney Beans: open one can of each and rinse.

Dressing: whisk together
1/4 cup Red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Olive Oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp Sugar

Put everything in a bowl and mix it around.  Top with parsley, salt and pepper if you'd like.  I like to let the beans cool, but it's delicious right now if you're ready to eat!

Bring it to a picnic, a barbecue or school lunch. Enjoy!

August 1, 2012

ReThinking Geometry

The Common Core Standards came out, and they said "teach everything in Geometry by transformations" which just about no book does...  I finished my second year of teaching 4 sections of geometry, 2 levels each year which used different books...  Matt posted that he was tired of starting with undefined terms, he wants to jump straight into triangles...  PCMI had a big focus on questioning this year...  My department head starts geometry with patterns and conjectures...

This morning I took all of those ideas that have been rattling around my head, and I made a curriculum map.  This is the first time that I've ever planned out an entire course.  In the past I've just followed the textbook, maybe switching around a couple chapters when someone suggested it.  Last year I invented the curriculum for a course, but I made it up as I went along because it was for severe special ed and I went into each topic having no idea what their prior knowledge would be.  Having taught Geometry for 2 years, and to over 200 students, I finally have the knowledge to decide how I want this course to work.  Obviously I don't expect this to go perfectly; I would love advice on the orders you've tried and had successes or challenges with.  But it was great to be able to sit down and really have a sense of how everything connects, where students thrive and what activities work well.  That will most definitely not be the case as I start teaching PreCalculus this year!

I will share the map below, but be warned that it's very much meant for me, so there are lots of obscure references.  Quite a few of the activities are ones that I've blogged about, so if you're interested in learning more about something try the search bar or just leave a comment and I'll add in the details.

Rethink Geo

I'm also starting Standards Based Grading this year.  The standards list is probably more accessible to the general public.  I don't plan to give this to students since there is no way to write a standards list for Geometry that doesn't give away the surprises I want them to discover.  I may even let them decide on some of the wording.  I'm really happy that I ended up with 25 standards since it's such an awesome number.  That said I may end up breaking some apart, adding things in (skills I assume they have from Algebra that are lacking?) or cutting some (trig for the fundamentals class).

Geo Standards List

 If you want to further engage in the conversation about geometry, head over to our wiki or tweet with the hashtag #rethinkgeo.  My next step is to come up with some sort of intro to each unit that gets students started asking questions (for the points and segments in triangles unit that question is: three cities are building an airport to share, what is the fairest location for the airport?).  Then I want to start writing/sorting problems that assess each standard so I have a pile to pick from for quizzes, tests and reassessments.  Geometry questions are particularly difficult to come up with off the top of your head since the diagrams can be seriously misleading if you don't think the whole thing through!