# Math Teacher in English Class #PGES

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Thursday morning shortly before 11 a.m. I opened the door and walked in.  Music, magazines, paper, gluesticks, scissors, chattering, twisted desks, scraps on the floor…engaged students.

I had the opportunity to observe one of the most passionate teachers in our building.  The room, when no students are present, is always organized, neat-but today, it was not.

I could see and hear thinking going on.  The music playing in the background was from a current playlist-students were singing along as they worked.  They were sharing examples from magazines, asking one another’s opinion as searched for illustrations of their vocabulary from the day prior.  They were comfortable asking their teacher, as well.  The final product, a collage of pictures displaying things like framing, lighting, angles, 2-shot, close-up, and several other terms from cinematography.

Students will eventually use this box of tools when creating story boards.  Who knew there were so many different aspects of things to consider?

As the timer went off, students quickly wrapped up this task, cleaning their work areas as they transitioned to the next activity…a commercial for Volkswagen Passatt (sp?).

Students turned to their Springboard books, kept their notes from the previous day close by and began watching. I believe the teacher said they would view it 6 times.  First viewing was with no sound.  They were asked to clap each time the camera shot changed…wow, like 25 times in a 60 second commercial?  As they watched it again, the teacher paused, allowing students to suggest the type of shot/composition used.  They would repeatedly watch the commercial, each time focusing on a different feature.

I loved the interaction students were getting with the concepts-searching for examples-no copy the definitions out of the book.  It was -here’s the definition, show me an example.  First, in print, then, in film.

I am wondering, how can I take this idea and make it work in math class.  If I have a set of examples of graphs, my goal is to look at basic function transformations- first allowing students to do an open sort, discussing why they chose each sort.  Then defining a charachteristic and they decide which graphs illustrate that key feature.  I believe this may work.

It was a pleasure to be in this classroom.  Though I knew this teacher was fantastic, I had never observed them before.  They interacted with the students, they were encouraging, they were excited about what they were sharing, the students interacted with one-another and the content.

I am a peer observer as part of our initial implementation of PGES-Professional Growth Effectiveness System-in Kentucky.  The idea is, you work with a peer, observing each other, scripting part of a learning experience, sharing what you saw…an extra pair of eyes.  The teacher then reflects, analyzing your notes to determine areas for improvement.  You are there to support, be a soundboard.  The next mini observation can look for specific things the teacher has tried to improve and become more effective.  Again, only an extra set of eyes, nothing evaluative.  I am not even supposed to offer opinions or suggestions unless they request it.  The overall idea is to help the teacher make desired improvements before the administrator conducts their observations.

This system is based on the Danielson Framework.  Our focus as peer observers is on domians 2 & 3 – classroom learning environment and instruction.  I look forward to more observations because I have always said, our best resources are other educators.

# A Smile from My Day

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I am one foot off the fence.  Each time I try something open-allowing students to share their thinking…I am amazed.  Not because they can think, not because they are crazy good at it – not that they actually enjoying thinking…that they want to think.  I am amazed its taken me so long to let go.

I have used “visual patterns” before but in a closed-sense.  I knew what I wanted them to see.  But what they see is not the same.  This week, I offered a simple pattern, with the intent to keep it open-letting their comments drive the discussion.

No big post here but a few smiles from my day because it was the “un-engageable students” who shared their thinking.

I don’t want to fail them as their teacher.  I want to be a difference maker for them.

# one thing that happens in my classroom that makes it distinctly mine Explore #MTBoS week 1

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Oops. Late to week 1 challenge.  But here goes.

I didn’t really think I had anything, until I posted in FB and some former students replied…with things they thought made my classroom unique.

1. Different Word Please is my non-threatening way of redirecting student comments.  My standard is “shut-up” anything beyond this phrase will get you a “different word please.”  I began using this during my first years of teaching when it was common for several of my students to use profanity.  I simply explained I found it offensive and asked that they choose a DWP.  It grew into something more.  Now its for anything negative toward another person/classmate.  I want my students to realize the power our words can carry.  I want them to be aware of how what they say and how they say it can makes others feel.

Side note: I have also been using @misscalcul8’s “Say 2 Nice Things” when a student says something negative about themselves or others.

2.  Cloud of Kindness was shared by a colleague in my first years of teaching.  I explain to students they may have an issue with a classmate but ‘the issue’ should be checked at the door when entering my classroom…there’s a Cloud of Kindness – we are all on the same team, working toward a common goal while in my classroom.  Sometimes, I have to wave that cloud over a student’s head if they are having a grumpy day.  It seems so ridiculous, their eye roll and snarl often ends up in laughter…it lightens the mood, if only for a moment.

3. Bob Garvey songs…check him out at MathMadness.  I cannot remember my first experiences with his songs, but I purchased my cassettes (yes, its been that long ago) and have several favorites I have used through the years.

X=-b plus or minus radical b^2 minus 4ac (clap clap clap clap) all over 2a

-b over 2a is the x-value of the vertex, now substitute this in your function, and you’ll find the y-value next…

Y=mx +b to the tune of ymca!

There are many others, but these are probably the ones I hear about most from students.

4. Don’t date until you’re 23.  Why? Because your brains aren’t fully developed until early 20s…(and it will save you a lot of heartache and drama). Ha.

I strive to make my classroom a safe place to learn.  I want students to know I genuinely care about them.  I love them. I claim them as mine, even years after they’ve gone.

As far as my teaching style, I prefer the hands-on, data collection, discovery/inquiry, let the students answer their own questions, do-my-best to give them an out-of-this-clasroom use of what we’re doing/learning.  But I suppose most classrooms are very similar in that way.  Aren’t they?

# Color Coded Rotations

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Last fall I posted some experiences and conversations that took place during our work with transformations.  I learned something so simple from my students and this year, I have shared it with my geometry classes again.  When looking to rotate about the origin, simply rotation the graph and identify the “new” coordinates.

Sure, we do the typical, here’s a preimage, here’s the new image after rotating.  Now, what do you notice happened to the coordinates?  What’s the rule? (x, y) -> (-y, x) for 90º and so on…  but once again, they get so focused on remembering the rules, then they get the x’s and y’s and the  signs all jumbled and its a mess.  I wanted to give them something, a visual, they could go back to…

Shortly before fall break, while assessing some student work, I had an idea.  It seemed so obvious at the time, yet, I had never thought of it before.  Using color-coded axes to demonstrate the rotations about the origin.  I chose to make the positive side of each axis a different color than the negative side.  We would rotate, then discuss which color was now in place of (x, y) for the first quadrant.

For several students, you could hear their light bulb.

Again, nothing new, but something that gave my students a concrete reference rather than remembering the rules.