Sunday, August 26, 2012

I think I'm ready...

My room is ready.  I've got lesson plans, first day instructions, and rosters full of incoming 6th graders.  My "first day of school outfit" has been picked out (I think!).  Part of my day today was spent making my own interactive notebook so that I would have one to show my students later in the week.  Lunches have been made.  I think I'm ready.  Or am I?  It seems that the more planning I do, the more "unexpected" things come up!

Tomorrow I get to meet my new kids and I'm so excited.  My son is a 6th grader at my school this year and I have many of his friends in my classes this year.  I also have siblings of some awesome former students.  How nice it is going into tomorrow already knowing some names (does anyone else get nervous about pronouncing kids' names correctly on the first day of school?).  It's going to be a great year!

I've done a lot of revamping in my classroom this year and can't wait to see how the kids react to my new "stuff" and see how it all gets used.

Go Bobcats!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

All those little last minute things

I spent the better part of my week working in my classroom.  My OCD always kicks in a little and I have to get the room done before I really have to be back at work so that all of those little last minute unexpected things that seem to creep up don't do me in.  One of the projects on my to-do list was a "10 Commandments of Math" poster that I had seen on Pinterest.  I honestly couldn't decide exactly how I wanted to do my poster.  I thought about using chart paper, but decided I didn't want to look at my own handwriting hanging on my wall.  I pulled out a large piece of foam board that was left over from a presentation at my husband's office and thought about somehow using it (I even bought some cute ribbon to help decorate and make it look cute).  Then I thought about making individual laminated "cards" and putting them across the front of the room above the chalkboard (yes, I have an actual chalkboard in my room!).  Alas, I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do...only that I really wanted it in my room.

And then I spent some time on Pinterest, and I started noticing all of the subway art.  And that got me thinking, could I do that?  After only a little research, I was on my way to making my own subway art, and boy did I have fun!  Thanks to pickmonkey this project took off and within about 30 minutes of starting, I had a poster which had been uploaded to Staples for printing.  

Confession:  I even paid to get it laminated at Staples so that it could go directly on the wall at school instead of waiting for someone at school to laminate it for me (we aren't allowed to do our own laminating :( ).

My BIG problem now is deciding what I want turn into subway art next!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

CAMT Day #2

Pulling out of the driveway at 6:15 a.m. today, I had a much different attitude than I did yesterday.  It wasn't the anticipation of picking up the cool math t-shirt that I had ordered yesterday that had me so excited, it was  wondering what I would hear today.  We arrived before 7 a.m. for an 8 o'clock session:  Generation Text.  Two things to think about from this session:  (1) Remind101 - a system to send texts or emails to students - students submit their phone numbers so the teacher doesn't really have the number, and the teacher's number isn't seen by the student - privacy!, and (2) math videos - have students create videos of real-world examples (great for vocabulary) or make a video of a word problem.

Second session covered the new financial literacy TEKS.  We came out with some activities and some overview of the TAKS.  Can't say that I totally agree with what they expect a 6th grader to learn/understand, however.

Last session was on using stories in the math classroom.  We went through some great examples of children's literature that can be used in math and looked at lessons that went with the stories.  Our favorite was Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith.  During our discussion of the lesson and other ideas for using this book, I remembered my first session today.  Why not have students come up with their own "math curse" and video tape them?  Hmmm....may need to think about when I can do this!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CAMT Day #1

Today my teaching partner and I attended the CAMT conference in Houston.  It was our first time attending and, to be honest, we dreaded going and wondered why we had thought in April that this was a good idea.  The PD we had attended earlier in the summer fell short of our expectations, and we didn't want to spend another summer day sitting in a classroom.  (And it didn't help that we left the house at 6:15 a.m.!)

Our first session, despite being not quite what we expected it to be, introduced us to Witzzle Pro, an order of operations activity.  The game/activity can be used in many different ways in the classroom from warm-up to homework to groupwork and it reinforces numeracy skills in addition to order of operations.  The icing on the cake was that I won the Wittzle game so we now have it to use in our classrooms!  I so love free!

Our third session was on managing the math classroom, presented by Brad Fulton, and we got some really good management ideas for things that I have been pondering about.  The focus was about who does the work in the classroom.  It really needs to be the students, but a lot of the time it ends up being the teacher.  To summarize his ideas:

  • Homework packet passed out on Monday for Monday-Thursday nights
  • Homework is self-assessing (answer bank, puzzle, etc.)
  • Questions can be asked/answered at the beginning of each class
  • Homework is turned in on Friday - must be COMPLETE and must have WORK - 40 pts.
  • The following week (Wednesday?) students have a quiz/test.  Homework is passed back to students.  10 questions new questions and 10 questions from homework (the homework problems aren't included, just the homework day/# and students only have to provide the answer....this makes them accountable to their homework) - 3 points each for a total of 60 points.  
  • Papers are exchanged, tests/quizzes are graded homework points + test/quiz points = grade
  • Extra credit is sometimes given WITH homework or quiz/test but "instead of" work is never allowed

We are working on tweaking this to fit the needs of our students and the requirements of our district but we liked how this seemed to flow.  More to come on this as we work out some details.

In the end, the day didn't live up to the dread we felt and we came away with some useful tools, new blingy math t-shirts, and popcorn!