Monday, August 18, 2014

First Year!

So... it seems I am as bad at updating my blog as I am at planning lessons in advance. ;) Here are some updates: I got hired at a school TEN minutes away from home! It was definitely a welcome change from my hourlong commute to my internship last year. :)

Today was the first day of pre-service week, and I have so much to do, but don't know where to start! :|

I came home and made a few posters (on Word). The first one is my classroom rules, and the second is just a digital version of one posted on Reddit a few months back. A lot of people bashed on the poster given the context in which it was made by the original poster, but I think it's all good.

Classroom Rules:

Good at Math:

Original "Good at Math" poster from Reddit:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quick Update: Math Taboo, Student-Led Warm-ups

My student teaching really kicked up a while back, and I completely forgot about this blog. There's so much to write about!

About a month ago, we played Math Taboo!
I put students into groups of 3. Then, I paired up groups to play Math Taboo! We essentially used the same rules from the real game (groups sit in alternating order, each individual gets 1 minute to describe the word on the card). I made cards using vocabulary terms and theorems that spanned from the beginning of the year, including: distance (taboo word: length), biconditional (no taboo words), and many others. I had 3 sets of cards prepared, but we only got through 2. After the first round, we tallied the scores from each team, and set the winning teams against each other in a tournament-style showdown, with the rest of the class watching as the audience. The kids had a blast, especially the students who usually struggle with the concepts--they were on fire! This activity actually got some of my students a little too excited, and the amount of chaos annoyed the heck out of my mentor.

Also about a month ago, we began doing Student-Led warm-ups twice a week (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays). I made the warm-ups very open-ended, and gave the students freedom to choose any topic from Algebra I through whatever we've learned in Geometry this year. I took volunteers when I announced the project, and am still going through my list of volunteers. They generally have a week to plan their warm-ups (I announce the week prior). I set my expectations pretty clearly from the beginning, and gave them a rubric as a reference:

 I also have their classmates fill out peer evaluation forms:
The students have been enjoying the project so far, and I've been using it as a grade booster, since it's part of their assessment grades. Some of the students are downers on the whole idea, and are totally not into it... but hopefully that changes once they present! It's also my action-research project. ;)

Lately, I've been working with my students on quadrilateral properties. It's been kinda difficult making the lessons more engaging... and the kids are always complaining about having to take notes (almost every day). We're writing poems about quadrilaterals tomorrow, and taking a quiz on Thursday. I hope they do well!

...And then it's onward to Similarity, Right Triangles, and Trigonometry. @_@ Time flies!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NCTM Conference

Just spent Thursday and Friday at the NCTM Regional Conference in Baltimore. No point mincing words: I saw some amazing, and some not-so-amazing presentations, but I definitely learned something from all of them. The first session that I attended was probably my favorite: Meaningful Models and Productive Projects for Geometry. I learned how to make a tetrahedra using an envelope, and how to make a truncated tetrahedra using a circle. Probably going to use the latter for enrichment in a few weeks. I just like making my kids make stuff... they think it's cool, too. :) Best part of the conference was probably talking to the people in the exhibits. The people at the 24 exhibit gave me a set of 24 and made me feel appreciated as a future teacher. :) Were YOU at the Baltimore conference? What did you learn about?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Linear Equations Foldable

A lot of people think that geometry and algebra are very different... but there are many overlaps! My mentor and I just spent ~3 weeks reviewing linear equations with our geometry students, and it has been a PAIN: it's kinda amazing how much students forget what they learned the previous year. Even as we reviewed slope and parallel/perpendicular line[ segment]s, I got more and more frustrated with my students who would get the rules mixed up after working with parallel/perpendicular line[ segment]s for a week--they needed to take the notes on the material.

So, we created a foldable for our classes, and I thought that I'd share. Enjoy! :)

Friday, September 6, 2013


I am not very good at blogging. Or keeping notes. I should work on that. :)

In the past two weeks, I've been working primarily with my mentor. Today, though, I went around to observe other teachers and see their instructional strategies. Although my mentor uses interactive notebooks, the foldables are not very interesting. I saw an amazing one today that used the square base fold from origami. I was blown away, and could not conceal my excitement. Seriously, fun stuff.

I also saw some classroom management techniques that I think might be useful. They seem a bit too strict for me, though. :(

Never mentioned this before, but we have a groupwork norm in our classroom using cup management... but in a different way than others may have used. Instead of the colors indicating their noise level, we have the students use the cups as tools for communicating with us if they need help or not.
Green - Everything is sunshine and butterflies. AKA They're doing great.
Yellow - Ehhh they're surviving... but a little help would be appreciated.
Red - They're dying. Come ASAP. (not phrased like this on the poster :P)

If, for some reason, most of the groups have their cups on red, then we would stop the groupwork to clarify things... but that hasn't happened yet! (knock on wood)

And nowwww... happy weekend!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Beginning

So many people have been telling me to keep a journal of my student teaching experiences for middle school math. I am not one for hand writing things so, with much prodding (actually, not even that much; less than a minute of prodding) from a friend to start a blog with her on self-improvement and self-reflections, I decided to heed her advice and just do it. For the sake of my students, school, and program, I am going to try to keep it as anonymous as possible. Let's see how well I do. :)


As of 4:30pm today, I officially finished my second week at my internship. The students started school on Monday, and it took some work getting used to the schedules and the general workings of our school. I have never felt so much pain in my feet before--standing all day is exhausting! And dealing with kids... not a piece of cake. I've learned a lot in this past week, and most of it consisted of classroom management.

One case stands out in particular. Although I am a former FARMS student, I heed from a fairly affluent area (average income is probably medium-high), so I have never really seen poverty at its worse. Thus, I was not prepared to encounter a student who is currently homeless. And let's be honest, no matter how many hours of classes you've taken, they will probably not teach you how to deal with a student who is homeless.

So the past few days, I've just been thinking about this one student and her current situation. It's helped me to re-evaluate everything that I have, and everything that I've taken for granted--education included. The security that I felt in my school halls when I was in middle school... I'm not sure she has that. And the joy at the end of the day when I'm dismissed? I can't even begin to imagine how she feels every day as her friends chitchat about going home to watch TV (or something...), when all she has to look forward to is a hotel room that her parents can't afford. Other teachers have been having issues with her behavior in their classes, but honestly, I just want to make school a safe haven for her. For now, I'm just monitoring her situation, but as a sorta-teacher, I have never felt so powerless as an authority figure as I do now.