Monday, November 30, 2009

A Life...What's That?

Something weird happened the week before Thanksgiving...I stopped caring.

Not in a bad way - in a good way.

I got a terrible cold, and did less work the previous week, and then took off Monday so that I only had a two-day workweek before Thanksgiving.

And I think I'm starting my sixth or seventh "re-discovery" of the fact that school =/ life.

Except this time it feels a little different. I recently bought my first house (yay!) and I spent Thanksgiving weekend cleaning and planning and talking to my fiance, and school didn't really ever intrude.

And now that I'm back, I feel good about it. Not good in a "Yay! Time to implement all the things that have been churning in my mind over the weekend!" way. But a "Good. I can have more time to practice teaching calmly."

Part of it, I think, is just considering going back to school for a Masters or Ph.D in math education - it makes me feel like there's an "out." But also, talking to a director at the local university about bringing in the innovative things I've been doing made me realize how much I AM doing.

~ I'm keeping MUCH better track of attendance and tardies. As an example, I had only two absences in first period today (okay, many tardies, but still...) Last year by December I had .... as many as 15 absences in first hour. EVERY DAY.

~ My kids are keeping interactive notebooks.

~ I'm using Visual Instruction Plans.

~ I got another longed-after custom manipulative made. Didn't have much chance to use it, but its ready and was used a little.

~ I made one "Conceptual Minute" video (I'll post it soon) using a new drag-and-drop programming language I taught myself.

~ My grades are current.

~ Most of my students, when asked to list what they wanted changed about class on the back of last week's test, could only come up with my tardy policy.

Okay, enough patting on the back. I've got 2 more classes of tests to grade.

~ Ms. J

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Forgive me, blog, it has been 3 months since my last confession

I'm shamelessly stealing my theme from Teaching Statistics's post, where MizT references another blog I read - f(t) by Kate Nowak.

Just like MizT, I too tried to keep a journal many times as a kid - and failed. I couldn't even keep a journal for two weeks this summer when I went to Cuernavaca for an intensive Spanish program! I did write a couple of days...

But I'm not giving up this time. I already learn so much from reading other people's educational blogs, and I want to contribute to this community - and get help from it.

I certainly spend a lot of time reflecting on my teaching, but going over my mistakes on the drive home... and at night... and the next morning... isn't exactly the same thing!

I'm in my second year now, and just finished my first week of school. Its already a lot better than last year, and I'm ready to start refining things and concentrating on the details, instead of worrying about all the first-year issues I struggled with last year.

So while this will continue to be a struggle, I'm going to keep trying. There are too many things I do that I can't wait to tell people about - and my fiance can only take listening to me for so long ;-)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Solving Equations Brainstorm

Note to self:

When I move from one-step equations to two-step equations, I've tried talking about "backwards Order of Operations" and I've tried talking about three steps forward, two steps back, etc. but they don't really listen.

For the coming year:

HAVE COURAGE AND TAKE A DAY TO DO THIS! (just a note to myself)
Make a scavenger hunt outside. for pts. PLUS extra credit points.

Then write their "clue" in the following way.

1) I hid the treasure & then faced the flagpole.
2) I took 5 steps forward.
3) I turned to the left.
4) I went down 3 steps.


Trashcan (or whatever).

Day before: explain the rules, go over examples, tell the kids each group of 4 will be working together. Make sure at least one kid in each group is listening (pick a team role to be leader on this).

Day of hunt: Kids get paper with "clue" and map of area of scavenger hunt. Tell them attendance is being taken before AND after. They have 20 minutes to find the treasure - go.

When they come back, discuss the two elements needed for success:

1) Undo each step in REVERSE order (4, then 3, then 2, then 1)

2) Do the OPPOSITE of each step.

**When making clues, make sure that they won't work unless done backwards & opposite (for instance, take 3 steps left and 2 steps forward; they can be undone in the wrong order and still work)

(treasure should be 4 pieces of candy? or ticket for candy)

Come back to room.

Have them fill out handout on what they did to find treasure. Maybe have paper divided in two with clue on one side, then students turn paper upside down to write backwards opposite operations, and bottom has space for reflection on what they learned.

Now to forget about this post until RIGHT after I teach two-step equations in the fall.

~ Ms. Libb!

Edit: Add "X MARKS THE SPOT" to emphasize that they are going backward to find....x!

Monday, March 16, 2009

QN: Yet More Procedures

books during tests/quizzes = extra credit
what are "even" and "odd"
how to round numbers
make parent DVD at beginning of year
KKIS (tutoring) visit in Week 3
explain why you shouldn't call people "retarded" or "gay" to insult them
why teachers cannot help you during a test
procedures multiple choice questions = extra credit on each test?
how to ignore if someone talks to you

Friday, February 27, 2009

QN: Procedures

~ Leave work out on desk when done
~ What communicating is (during a test)
~ What cheating is
~ Copy 1 problem at a time
~ Don't number ahead of time
~ 2 columns down on paper
~ Front of paper
~ Respecting materials
~ Fire drill
~ Tutoring & other rooms
~ Calculator use
~ Calculator respect

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

QN: Procedures

More things to teach next year:

How to read a clock
Keeping your hands to yourself
How to tear paper out of a notebook without leaving trash on the floor
What is recyclable and what isn't (i.e. gum)
How to behave during a fire drill
What a pencil is (erasable pen is not a pencil)
What you shouldn't throw in a classroom (everything)
Who you shouldn't hit during class (everyone)


AIMS testing in the morning.

4 - yes, FOUR - fire drills in the afternoon.

No student with an attention span of more than 5 seconds.

What do you do???????????


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

QN: Scientific Notation

I haven't written on this blog in months, but then, I haven't done a LOT of things in months!

I'm thinking that I can use this as a place to store "Quick Notes", because I have tons of ideas right after a lesson but little time to put them into effect. So, for myself next year, here are ideas about teaching scientific notation:

(Note: This is both a HOW (process) and WHY (concept) lesson.

Scaffolding: I'm thinking that a worksheet with several examples of the most basic things will start things off right.

Identifying Decimal:

Notes: A decimal point on a whole number is _______ (at the end).


A section full of numbers (both whole and with decimals) and then kids have to identify where the decimal is by circling it. That way ALL the kids are forced to see that whole numbers have an "invisible decimal" at the end. So it could be examples like 600 and 45.6 and 0.04 and they would have to change 600 to 600. and then circle the decimal.

Identifying Scientific Notation:

Notes: Scientific Notation has a single 1-9 in front of the decimal, and then a "times ten to the ____" at the end.


Have a bunch of numbers in exponential form (plus some others) and have then identify which ones are already in scientific notation. Put MANY examples with 0 at the beginning. For example: 6.5x10^2, 87x10^3, 0.5x10^2 (and only the first one has a single 1-9 before the decimal).

Have them circle all the numbers in correct scientific notation, and point out that 0.anything is NOT correct. Also include examples of 10^0

Only AFTER that, start practice on changing scientific notation to decimals. Positive = bigger and negative = smaller was, thankfully, easy for them to grasp and I didn't see many kids this year resisting thinking and saying "I've already memorized LEFT and RIGHT rules!".

Then, use the do-and-undo method. Maybe first a short activity about things like "what's another way of saying 3 feet forward? 3 feet forward and 1 foot forward and 1 foot backwards."