Monthly Archives: June 2013

#geomchat: Come Chat! | Algebrainiac

Standard

Please join!  #geomchat

http://algebrainiac.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/geomchat-come-chat/

Pam Wilson, NBCT
Currently Reading
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions, Smith & Stein
Teach Like  a Pirate, Dave Burgess
From Ashes to Honor, Loree Lough

Advertisements

Interactive Notebooks

Standard

INBs were introduced to me at TMC12 last summer by Megan Hayes-Golding.  It was consistently the #1 response students stated on their evaluations as something I should continue doing in my classrooms.  They are not bulky, students like the conciseness of the information we place in them, they helped students stay organized. 

Using CWP (color with purpose), foldables, graphic organizers for note-taking allow students to develop skills that can carry over to future coursework. 

By creating assignments that require students to ‘interact’ with information helps them develop connections and retain the knowledge.  Often times, we would complete an inquiry task in-class, then together create a summary of what we saw/learned. By using a variety reflection tools after completing a task, students are able to self-asess any questions that remain and we can address those misconceptions either individually or in-class.

The TOC is imperative.  For teacher accountability 🙂 and it allows students to quickly locate info in their INBs.  One change I plan to make this year, is the addition of tabs as suggested in this post by Mrs. Hester.  The only change I plan to make to her suggestion, is to use the unit title. 

I really like the EOC Review glossary she shared in the post.  I believe using different techniques which allow students to interact with the vocabulary helps students develop deeper understanding of the words.  I appreciate the complete glossary, but do I dedicate several pages at the end of the INB for this?  What are some ways you incorporate literacy/vocabulary into your INBs? 

A KAGAN structure I used often in geometry this year  was Developing Definitions.  Examples/non examples of each term were posted around the room and students would carousel to each, creating their own definitions.  There was a pair-share, then whole class follow up to discuss how they defined terms to ensure we were all on the same page.  After the first time we used this task, students requested that we do it again.  They said by having to come up with the definition on their own, they were able to have a real understanding of the terms.  For a left-hand page assignment, we would often play “Draw What I Say” – another task from KAGAN.  Students would play pictionary of sorts by using a prescribed statement incorporating specific terminology.

I wonder if by having purposeful assignments within each unit of study focusing on specific terminology, then as a review prior to the end of a unit, allow students to complete those entries in the glossary, if this would have greater impact?

Another idea that developed as the year progressed, were pockets.  We began by having one pocket at the front of the INB.  However, a student suggested to have other pockets throughout.  This coming year, my intenions are to have a pocket at the beginning of each unit.  Here is an example of a pocket.  You still have room to place information.  Possibly your essential questions for the unit, a concept map-brainstorm at the beginning, then revisit as a reflection and modify it at the end of a study?

image

This pocket is super easy to construct!  One of my favorite things I learned at TMC/Global Math!  Simply fold top left hand corner down on a page.

image

Place glue or add tape to the bottom and left edge of that page.

image

Flip pocket top to the right and adher to the back of pocket.

image

These pockets are much sturdier than I gave them credit to be.

Another idea I plan to develop before the school year begins are unit organizers to attach to the back of the pocket.  I just need to figure out how to modify this

image

into a folded-booklet style which also includes a place for students to record their own learning progress.

I am super excited about continuing use of INBs in my classroom and look forward to developing an even larger basket of ideas to make them even better learning tools for my students!

Pam Wilson, NBCT
Currently Reading
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions, Smith & Stein
Teach Like  a Pirate, Dave Burgess
From Ashes to Honor, Loree Lough

Intimidated, Overwhelmed, Intrusive… Wanting to Join in… #MTBoS

Standard

I remember a couple of colleagues trying to convince me Twitter offered some great opportunities for professional growth.  At the time, I simply did not have time to add another thing to my plate.  Now that I actively use it, I can say honestly, best PD ever!

Initially, my intent was to look for technology ideas and learn more about Standards Bases Grading, but as twitter led me to teacher blogs, I quickly realized the wealth of math resources and what great impact they could have on improving my classroom.  Why do people freely share all these amazing ideas? Because they value collaboration and wholeheartedly believe our best resources as teachers are other teachers. Hands down.

I had been in a rut, but reading tweets/posts re-energized me!  It was a bit overwhelming finding sooooooo many wonderful lesson ideas.  But I was excited each day as I entered my classroom, ready to try something new! 

My early experiences of tweeting were actually retweets.  I began sharing blog posts that I found helpful.  I ‘listened’ to several conversations of a core group of math teachers.  Interesting.  When they wanted to rework a lesson, they shared the idea and others offered feedback.  When they had an issue in their classroom, others offered advice on how they handled similar situations.  When they needed an idea of how to approach a specific standard, well, ask and ye shall receive.  The collaboration was professional development at its best.

I remember feeling intimidated, overwhelmed, even intrusive.  I wanted to participate but by the time I thought out and typed my tweet, I was way behind the convo. 🙂  These were ‘The Rockstars’ of math teachers, I could never keep up with them. Wow.  They had it all together, amazing ideas, solid, effective techniques.  But I believe @MarshaFoshee said it best in this post.

     “Create a vision of what you want…

     I have been a member of the MTBoS for a year.  When I first began lurking on Twitter last summer, I was in search of a      magic fix.  I thought that the teachers on there had this teaching thing all figured out and that I would study their greatness and emulate it.  Fast forward a year and I realize that my initial feelings about this group of teachers was misguided.  They don’t have it all figured out yet.  They just work steadily to improve.

My advice to newbies to MTBoS…
1. Update your bio to indicate you are a math teacher or at least your reason for tweeting.  If I don’t realize you are a teacher, I will likely not follow you.  I have even blocked a few I thought were spam, only to realize I was mistaken later. :/

2.  Take a few minutes to learn the basics so you aren’t completely overwhelmed. I found some good resources in @web20classroom’s livebinder An Educator’s Guide to Twitter.  For example, what’s a hashtag, how to properly retweet, etc.

3.  Find a chat that interests you and show up.  Here is a list, just a place to start/see all that is available.  If you have a question, ask it, if you have something to add, join in!  The least intimidating way for me to participate in the beginning was book chats.  I could read along and share my thoughts with others who had a common interest.

My first chat was #lit4math last summer.  This post archives our chats on Literacy to Improve Mathematical Instruction.  Others #75facts, Keeley & Tobey, #makthinkvis, Richhart et al.  Currently, #tlapmath Teach Like a Pirate with focus on math, Dave Burgess, #5pracs 5 Practices to Orchestrate Productive Mathematical Discussions, Stein & Smith.

4.  Start a blog, if there is a challenge, join in.  #made4math was an idea @druinok began last summer, an opportunity for teachers to blog about ideas for their math classrooms-organizational tips, lesson ideas, learning tasks, procedures, items created.  There was even a New Blogger iniative organized by @samjshah to challenge newbies to jump in and write/reflect/create/share. 

5. Realize you will miss out on some things.  And that’s okay.  You cannot keep up with all of it all of the time on Twitter (or at least I can’t)  It made me crazy to realize I had missed out on a great convo, but for every one you miss, you’ll be a part of another 20!

Twitter helps me to step outside my comfort zone, finding new, better ways of reaching my students.  It has fed my desire to be a lifelong learner and enabled me to develop a true PLN of folks I admire, trust and look forward to meeting on Twitter.  It has built my confidence as a teacher-I am not afraid to learn from others and ask for help.  #MTBoS is filled with passionate educators who care about their students, who are enthusiastic about the math, who encourage and challenge you to become better.

Just as our own students, when they are engaged, actively learning, it is likely they will gain more. 

image

Pam Wilson, NBCT
Currently Reading
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions, Smith & Stein
Teach Like  a Pirate, Dave Burgess
From Ashes to Honor, Loree Lough

Those Lightbulb Moments

Standard

Some of you will read this and wonder, seriously, this person is a teacher and didn’t know that?!?  But I am being honest and open, admitting that when I am closed minded, I fail as a teacher, each day I must keep my eyes open to seeing new strategies and my ears open to hearing others’ ideas in order to succeed as a learner…

I’m not sure it’s a matter of not knowing, but more that I hadn’t taken a moment to think about a concept outside the procedures I learned as a student.  I was the “model student” following directions, copying notes, doing what teachers told me to do. And I didn’t question it. I just did it.  I didn’t ask why.  And that makes me sad.

I believe that’s how I ruined math for so many students, telling them, this is the way, as opposed to allowing them to grapple with it themselves, encouraging them to notice patterns and develop their own ‘set of rules.’  And that makes me sad, too.

Last year, I remember a tweet about solving systems by elimination-most of us can do the steps correctly, but do we ever pause to wonder WHY it works? I am not sure the question had ever been posed to me. I sat down, reading posts, solving problems until I was comfortable with the why.

Yesterday, I read Glenn’s post Never Tell Me It Can’t Be Done.  Again, we get so fixated on the process we’ve been ‘taught’ or even used to teach that we never allow ourselves to grapple and play with the math.  When we take the time to see beyond the procedures, the cool things of math begin to show up.  Truth is, the coolness has always been there, we just didn’t take the time to see it.

Glenn’s post reminded me of an encounter earlier this year.  I had a colleague tell me I could not take my students outside, using pictures of classmates and their shadows to introduce trig ratios.  Why not? Because my idea was just similar triangles.  Seriously? This teacher is talented and smart, but the truth is, when we are so fixated on teaching the checklist of skills and procedures, we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy the math.  By thinking inside the box, teaching our content as a series of disjointed skills, our students are missing out on opportunities to see the beauty and connections math has to offer.

Just this morning as I read Making Math Meaningful’s Boat on a River, I had one of those duh!?! moments.  Why had I never presented tangent ratio specifically as slope?!? Seriously?  Its like one of those things you know, you understand, but at that moment I asked myself, what was I thinking?

Another instance was 2 years ago, when students were matching cards of equivalent radical expressions, rational exponents, integer terms…I overheard a student explain to his classmate, “you want one-third of the factors, when its a cube-root.  Its three-fourths of the factors when…” Seriously?  I knew that, but why didn’t I make it that easy?  Because I was caught up in telling students the procedures and rules rather than allowing them to see the patterns and connections.

Or the time a student explained to a classmate, the sign change for the center of a circle as a transformation…”what it takes to move the center back to the starting point, the vales that make it 0^2+0^2″ Yep. Been THAT teacher who gave them the equation of a circle, saying this crazy thing happens with the signs of the center, without explaining the WHY. At some point, in my early years of teaching, I am embarrassed to admit, I am not sure I even knew the WHY.

image

I have been a teacher who claimed to use inquiry learning for years. The truth is, I often would steer students to ‘my way’ in the end. That makes me sad. At some point I realized my way wasn’t always best/easiest to understand. Although at the time, it seemed easier for me to have them all doing it the same way. 😦

I realize many have voiced issues with the CCSS. For me, deconstructing those standards has forced me to think about the math, looking for connections, asking why, investigating tasks to see if they offer opportunities for students to answer the why.

Being intentional with the Mathematical Practices, I am learning to listen to my students more and that its okay to admit I am not sure if their idea will always work, but then sitting alongside them to experiment with their strategy/idea, modeling a bit of productive struggle, high-fiving or asking questions to move their thinking forward.

I am not embarrassed to admit, I don’t know all the answers, its an opportunity to learn something new and share it!

image

Pam Wilson, NBCT
Currently Reading
5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions, Smith & Stein
Teach Like  a Pirate, Dave Burgess
From Ashes to Honor, Loree Lough

To-Do List for Next School Year

Standard

During the school year, I just don’t have the time I want to read the amazing ideas teachers are sharing through their blogs.  Sure, I can capture a great idea here and there, but time to really immerse myself, processing ideas and working through how I can tweak for my students, nope. A tweet from @burgess_shelley suggested to read blogs from 3 people you follow each day.  So I started at the top of my list and have begun to work through it by reading 3 a day…my hopes are once each week, allow myself some time for reflection, adding to my to-do list for next school year.

image

In Whiteboarding Wins and Fails @borschtwithanna, it was the last item noted in her fail list.  I love the idea of snapping pics of group whiteboards and posting on class page, assigning reflection as hw…even offering prompts at the beginning of the year:
I liked ____’s strategy because….
Which strategies are most alike/different…
How can we connect the ideas…
One way to improve our strategy…
A question I have for the _____ group is…

Please offer ideas for other relection prompts!

In the comments of the post, Max/Anna discussed allowing students to classify mistakes and offer suggestions for helpful feedback.  Again, another great idea on my to-do list for next year!

@mathequalslove posted Vocabulary Knowledge Survey, a strategy suggested in the book Styles and Strategies for Teaching High School Mathematics.  I appreciated the simplicity of the task, but when used purposefully, in my opinion, can have a great impact on student learning.  Vocabulary and literacy strategies can offer struggles for math teachers, but this is a very reasonable way to a) assess students’ prior knowledge b) opportunities to discuss connections to their prior knowledge c) allow them to self-assess, seeing where they are in their learning d) allow them to track their own progress throughout the unit of study.  Thanks for sharing this, Sarah!

I Shall Never Play a Review Game Again, @nathankraft1 offers his version of Grudge, a fun game of revenge on classmates for those who correctly answer a question.  What’s so great is how students who are out of the game can still participate by taking on a zombie role.  Sounds fun, engaging and I cannot wait to try it out in the fall!

Summer Reading List

Standard

image

image

image

image

Embedded Formative Assessment Dylan Wiliam
Already completed an online chat with this book and looking forward to starting a face-to-face chat with colleagues from Science, World Languages and Family/Consumer Sciences this week!  Accountability is key and having these folks just down the hall as springboards for ideas, peer observations for accountability and encouragement when things don’t go exactly as expected…exciting! 

Practical ideas from years of research.  This book contains many, many doable techniques.  Chapter 1 explains how improving educational achievement impacts economic growth as well.  Chapter 2 sets the foundation, explaining what formative assessment is and is not.  I have read much about Formative Assessment the past 3 years and was already a believer, but this book offers great, practical techniques that I will be implementing next school year!

Teach Like A Pirate! Dave Burgess
The title itself is fun, but reading the reviews convinced me to put it on my summer list! Just flipping through and stopping at random spots…confirms this book will offer some fresh perspectives and ignite one’s teaching!
Join our chat #tlapmath or I believe there is a Monday evening #tlap chat as well!

5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions Smith & Stein
Again, joining in an online chat #5pracs with several across the country.  Short read with some powerful suggestions. 

Make Just One Change Rothstein & Santana
This was suggested by @jgough earlier in the spring but I just havn’t gotten around to reading it yet, but looking forward to learning how to get my students to ask their own questions!

My later on list…

image

image

image

image

image

Creating Innovators Wagner

Teach Like a Champion Lemov

The Lady Tasting Tea, Salsburg

Teaching Numeracy: 9 Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking, Pearse & Walton

The Falconer: What We Wished We Had Learned in School, Lichtman, Grant, Sunzi

Some excerpts from the John Van de Walle books

Some past favorites list:

image

image

image

image

Summer reading list, high school math

We Must Model What We Wish to See in Our Students

Standard

Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence. – Abigail Adams

For years I mumbled about writing and focus on literacy in my class, afterall, I was a math teacher.  If I wanted to teach reading, writing, etc., I would have been an English teacher, right?

No longer, I finally get it. I realize the importance of developing strategies for vocabulary, using multiple writing opportunities that allow students to summarize their understanding, share questions.  At risk students, especially, need someone to model these learning strategies, which will give them more tools for success.

I was an avid reader growing up.  Nonfiction/biographies is where you would find my nose in elementary school.  When did I lose this passion for reading?  Through high school, even college, I was a ‘model student’ doing what I was assigned, going through the motions, but I was not passionate about learning and reading.

I give credit to @joyinlearning for reigniting this love of learning just a few years ago.  In the past 3 years, I rarely put down a book, that I don’t have another ready to pick up.  I also credit twitter book chats for keeping me on track/accountable for professional reading…seeking opportunities to really apply what I am reading to my classroom.

A statement from a colleague made me pause one day this spring, ‘I wish more would read and participate’ concerning our Library Media Science elective.  My thought, “But are we encouraging it?  If we want our students to read, are we reading ourselves?  Are we sharing what we learn from our reading? Even if its just a great fictional book to read!?! If we want our students to be lifelong learners, are we models of lifelong learners ourselves?”

My students were always teasing me when I would share an idea or new strategy ‘I had read about,’ but I believe it was evident to them, my desire was to move forward, I was searching, reading to provide new opportunities for them to learn. 

A few days before our end of school, I read this tweet and loved it…

image

What a great way to share what we are reading!  I could totally get started with adding my reading list to my email signature!

image

image

Beginning with open house next school year, there will be a poster outside my door sharing what I am currently reading, both professional and for-fun.  I plan to include a variety of texts-books, articles, blogs.  I am hoping other colleagues will join in this effort to create an environment that encourages life-long learning with a focus on reading! 

A couple of posts I have read this summer…

Becoming Leaders of Readers -Shelley Burgess

Developing Active Readers – Rebecca Alber