Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Their Favorites

One of the things I wanted to incorporate into my blog was sharing out what my students truly enjoy about my class.  I love when former students visit and mention activities, projects, or something funny that happened in class.  I shared a Google Form with several former students a few weeks ago and I have already gotten several responses!  Tonight, I received this one:

I love Sarah Carter's blog and back in January, I put up her 2018 challenge (blog post here).  It was a hit with my students!  We had already done "four 9's" in September, and my students became very competitive, very quickly.  I used Sarah's template to make "four 4's" in April and "four 5's" in May.  It was incredible to see my students figure out patterns, learn about factorial (and double and triple factorial!), and collaborate.  And they never got bored with it--every day, they'd race over to the chart and see what numbers were still needed.  So when Luke posted that it was his favorite part of class last year??  It is clear that this is an activity I will be continuing this year!  I strongly recommend it to anyone and everyone!  And thank you, Sarah Carter, for the awesome activity!!

Monday, August 13, 2018

My Classroom Library

Growing up, I never liked reading.  I remember my mom signing me up for the summer reading program and hating it.  Reading was a chore.  About 8 years ago, that all changed.  My school rearranged our homeroom time so that we had 20 minutes twice a week for "sustained silent reading", or SSR.  Teachers were also required to read during this time.  I asked my sister for a suggestion and she recommended The Hunger Games.  I finished it quickly, never wanting to put it down.  The good news was that the next two books in the series were already out, so I was able to keep reading.  I finished all 3 books in three weeks.  Prior to that, I probably didn't read 3 books in an entire year.  Filled will joy and excitement, my sister recommended Divergent.  I have been hooked on dystopian books ever since!

All teachers were asked to have a small classroom library for students needing a book during SSR.  I started going to Goodwill, Half Price Books, and local book sales to get books I had already read.  I also paid attention to what students were reading and bought those.  Students started giving me book recommendations, so I would get the book, read it, and then put it in my library (very important to screen books first!).   

Here is what my classroom library looks like today:

My books are sorted into "books in a series" and "non series", then alphabetized.  If they are in a series, I also add the number to the label.  I have a checkout clipboard, book return, and bucket of bookmarks for students to take.  I also put pictures of my favorite book covers on the bulletin board, because a student once told me she chooses books based on the cover.  I spend time every summer searching for new books and purging books students no longer are interested in (I take them to Scarce).

But the part I think is most important is that I have read almost every single book in my library.  Students come to me for book recommendations all the time.  As their math teacher, I am not telling them what they should  read.  Rather, I ask them what they're interested in or what they've read recently and make a recommendation (or two).  Last year, a former student was going on spring break and emailed me for a book recommendation--3 years after I had her in class!  Students have even told me I have the best classroom library in 7th grade :)  Their interest and happiness keep me going!

I keep a few Algebra 2 textbooks, math books (such as G is for Googol), and "Choose Your Own Adventure" on the bottom shelf.  I love having a variety of books available to my students at all times!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

9 Things to Quit


Maybe you can relate... I used to be a super confident educator and leader.  But the past couple years, it seems like we are constantly presented with new initiatives and expectations to be more rigorous/engaging/innovative/etc.  There is pressure to "try this" and "try that".  While some jump on board right away, I'm a little more cautious and am perceived as being "not flexible" and "not innovative".  My confidence has definitely been tested recently.

Thanks to TMC, I learned about Evernote--the BEST way to save websites, tweets, and anything else you want to search for later!  I was going through my Twitter "likes" yesterday to save some ideas and stumbled upon this:

As I prepare for a new school year, I am going to try to quit these.  The two in particular that I will focus on quitting this year are #1 (trying to please everyone) and #8 (thinking you're not good enough).  I have an amazing support system at my school and I know that they will continue to help lift me up.  And as Julie Reulbach reminds us all, "you are enough".

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My Goal for the 18-19 School Year

Last year, I took on way too much.  I will admit that.  Two new curriculums, meetings during almost every free period, 3-week mini-courses I had to create and plan for... It was a lot.  I was also the student council advisor (which I LOVE), coached math team, was the math department chair for my building... oh, and was finishing up my second masters.  I constantly felt overwhelmed, overworked, my to-do list was always growing, my weekends were eaten up by school work, and I stayed at school until 6 or 7pm every single night.  I felt guilty when I went to my parents' house or spent time with my friends because I knew I had other things to do.

But things are changing this year.  I am still the StuCo advisor and co-coaching math team.  However, I found out at the end of last school year that I will not be the department chair this year.  After 8 years, I will not have that title anymore.  It was a big pill to swallow, but I'm slowly adjusting.  It's bittersweet: it's something that I have worked hard at for several years, but the time commitment was starting to wear on me.  Oh, and did I mention I'm done with grad school?!?!  That's right, I finished my Masters of Education in Technology Education.

So, my goal for this year: HEALTH.  Here is how I plan to meet my goal:
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I am committing to leaving work "early" once a week.  Our students get out at 3:25pm.  Most teachers are gone by 3:45pm or 4pm and I will never be able to do that (I like having a clear desk and everything ready for the next day).  However, I want to leave by 4:30pm once a week.  I had grad school on Tuesdays last year, so I plan to continue to leave early on Tuesdays.  I also commit to leaving by 6pm every night--no more 7pm (or later) nights!

I also commit to working out more regularly this year.  My favorite workout class is on Tuesdays, and because of grad school, I haven't gone in two years.  I started up again this summer and plan on continuing all school year.  In addition to this workout class, I plan on working out 3x a week.  Leaving earlier will definitely make this easier to stick to!

And lastly, I commit to supporting my students more.  I love watching them play basketball and volleyball.  I love going to baseball games, plays, and other events at the high school and seeing my former students.  I am looking forward to having more time to do this during the school year!

Hoping writing this out will help me to stick to this goal of mine.  I'll be sure to share an update after a couple months :)

What is/are your goal(s) for this school year?  How will you get there?
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Five Minute Fluency

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