July 25, 2015

Testing, Testing... 1...2...3...

Anyone still out there?

So much happened last year that blogging fell by the way side. I implemented 1:1 laptops and attempted PBL units. I transitioned my algebra 1 classes to standards based grading. I began a full load of graduate coursework towards my administration certification. I took on more leadership roles in my building. All in all, it was a fantastic year! I just miss my blogging and my MTBoS people!

Well, this post can obviously not capture everything from last year so here are my highlights.

#1: I attended EdCampNWA with my awesome coworkers and friends. It was fantastic!!

#2: I helped grow WILDCATS. Our mascot is the wildcat and we charge our students with being Welcoming, Involved, Leading, Dependable, Cooperative, Ambitious, Teachable, and Serving. As you can see from the pictures below, I embraced this idea including some very large letters on my wall! :) Throughout the year students did "Wildcat Shout-outs" and recognized each other for their wildcat traits. The bottom picture in this clustering is a bunch of Wildcat Shout-outs ready for the Friday drawing.

#3: I revamped my syllabus {modeled obviously after Rob Patin's} and now I LOVE it! Yes, there are some strategically placed smudges on the image below.

#4: I embraced standards-based grading in algebra 1 and will never go back. Sure, my system wasn't perfect, but my students had more of a growth mindset and sought out ways to further their learning. They were also able to communicate their strengths and weaknesses related to content. It was fabulous!! {My ninja's are straight from Mr. Bowdoin's work. I take zero credit for their cuteness.}
#5: Changing to standards-based grading also enhanced my understanding and constant awareness of the content. Yes, I helped write the district curriculum. Yes, I stay fairly up to date regarding best practices. But nothing has grown my understanding and connections of the content like standards-based grading. The images below are from the binder I created for myself. Maybe I'll come back and share it sometime.

 I will try not to be gone for 14 months this time. Oops...

June 1, 2014

Quadratic Functions Unit

Well, my students and I have been in quadratic functions for quite a while now! Especially since our EOC testing fell in the middle of it all. 
I also feel like I did much better job this year with letting them explore/figure out the intricacies before we formalized in their notebooks. So, for example on the "factoring" pages, we spent a day just using algebra tiles to understand what was truly happening and the relationships between the numbers. Then we formalized. 
All that to say, quadratic functions took a long time! But my students really seem to have a good understanding.

So... here are my notebook pages.

Man, as I'm uploading, most are blurry. So sorry!! Silly phone camera :(

Our Learning Goals/SBG page.
I plan to implement SBG more next year and these pages are allowing me to dabble in the idea without fully committing yet.

Investigating a quadratic function for the first time...

Focus and Directrix pages from Sarah. The kids LOVED seeing their parabolas take shape in the wax paper. I know that focus and directrix aren't technically in my algebra 1 standards, but I just couldn't resist!

The same properties of quadratic functions pages that I did last year. Still worked well and still a hit!

Angry birds and vertex form. 

Standard Form and a summary page from here. I tweaked it a little to fit my needs. 

Here's a better picture of the summary page. 
Original idea and post HERE

Then the discriminant and quadratic formula.
The students and I derived the quadratic formula (yep, that ones officially in my standards) but I haven't taped it into my notebook yet. The big orange box is where it will be taped soon. 

The factoring and completing the square pages took multiple days and I wanted to give students plenty of time to explore with algebra tiles. I gave lots and lots of problems that students built and answered with the tiles before we ever formalized and talked about procedure. 

I really liked doing it this way because students understood the factoring method. We were un-doing the distributing and pulling everything back apart. There was so magic wand waving - just some great mathematical understanding happening. 

Also with completing the square. We built lots and lots of squares, filling the missing corner and then looking at side lengths and x-values before every going through just the process. 

Well, these are most of the pages! A lot happened in class between all those pages, so sorry I can't bring you in for that! Hope something helps!

May 18, 2014


Sorry that I've been MIA for a few weeks now! Lots and lots going on...

I'll wrap up my First PBL series soon with my student presentation information and a reflection on the entire process. There were definitely some things that I loved and some things that I didn't. It's always about trying new things and a growth mindset, right?

Since the last time I posted, my Algebra 1 kiddos have finished their End of Course testing. So glad that big, looming test is out of the way! I can focus on finishing up those last final details now. 6 class periods left!
Have you seen this pin floating around pinterest? Cracks me up!!

Our sweet furbaby also gave us a scare last week.

Full disclosure, we are some of those people that love our animals way too much. They are most definitely part of our family. This spoiled princess had a lump on her left shoulder region for about a week and it didn't go down. We took her to the vet and they were definitely concerned. Did a biopsy - waited 51 excruciating hours for results - no cancer and no tumor! Praise the Lord!!! The Mr. and I cried when we received the good news!

Also more good news!!!!

I have been selected as a 21C Grant recipient in my district!!!!!
This means I will have a class set of 30 laptops beginning in the fall. 
Beyond. blessed. and. excited.

Back Story: I teach 8th grade at the same junior high that I went to for 8th grade. Never planned on that happening, just a fun coincidence! :)
The head of the 21C committee (and the woman I'm fiercely hugging in the picture above) is our district's Director of 7-12 Instruction. She was also the building principal of this school - the one I attended and now teach at. Such a fun and sweet moment that she got to award my grant in one of the same classrooms we were both in 13 years ago. Fun day!!!

My face. Oye.   

Out of the 24 grants awarded throughout our district, SIX were in my building. The other recipients and I had a conversation and attributed this feat to our incredible principal. He is inspiring, positive, and a world class leader. He brings out the best in people and makes us all want to achieve greatness. It was also mentioned that we don't know how long our little junior high will be able to keep such a great leader as our principal. Fingers crossed that he stays for a few years before moving on to bigger and better things.

Another fun thing that I've been working on...

I don't know about you, but around this time of year I get soooooo distracted with thoughts of next year. I would rather redo my syllabus, fantasize about room arrangements, and create a teacher planner than lesson plan for tomorrow. Oops. Please tell me I'm not the only one with this issue?!?!?!

Anyway... I looked around the internet and just didn't fall in love with any teacher planner. I am so stinking picky I wanted it to fit what I needed exactly. And didn't want to feel like I was paying for pages I would never use. I have other places that I record grades and parent information. I needed a place to lesson plan, conveniently store standards, and take meeting notes. So... here it is!!! I am pumped! This will probably take the place of this binder for this year. We'll see how I like it!

And yes, as always, I'll give away the file for FREE. 
But side note about that, it just really burns me up when I see stuff I've created and given away show up on Teachers Pay Teachers. Has this happened to anyone else?! Makes me furious!!!!! I try not to get cynical and remember all the wonderful teachers that I benefit from and hope I'm doing the same for others, but really, come on?! I had to go all Creative Commons Non-Commercial 3.0 on someone's butt earlier this year.
Don't sell what isn't yours! Alright, rant over.
Enjoy the file :) But don't you dare turn around the sell it!

A special thank you for the free chevron file!
Also the free washi tape png files
and Kimberly Geswein for the free font called KG Eyes Wide Open.

See, creating and giving away for free really does make the world a better place. :)

Well, I guess that about wraps up this post full of random musing. I will try to go lesson plan for these final days of the year when all I really want to do is enjoy the outside and get ready for next year! Have you seen this syllabus by Rob Patin?!?! Drool worthy. I will be revamping my syllabus soon!!

May 1, 2014

My First PBL Unit - Day 5 & 6!

Here are the previous posts:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4

Here is how I started day 5...
Teams talked and most came up with C because it got the closest to the most points. BINGO! We talked about what was wrong with all the others, especially A since it tripped up a couple groups.

After that, groups got to work using their simulation data to create scatter plots.

They created one scatter plot for each of their survey choices; a, b, c, d. They compared sample size to number of people with that choice. They made their line of best fit based on that, and then predicted the outcome of each choice for our entire town's population.

Here are some in-progress shots...

And here are some finished poster shots...

 (yes, the one above has a couple errors. They fixed them next class.)

consisted of groups finishing up and preparing their presentations. I told them they had to tell us which product they were launching and show the data to support their claim. The rest was up to them!! I have a few groups that filmed commercials, one that is making an infographic, one made an online animation with voice over, and of course a few that are using powerpoint. Tomorrow is presentation day and I am SO excited!!!!!

April 22, 2014

My First PBL Unit - Day 4!

Here are the previous posts if you've missed them:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

We ended the previous class by recorded our large set of data into our notebooks. We began this class by finding the percentages of each response for every person surveyed this far, our class and our large group. I have students the following information to help them format their page and guide their calculations.

I told them to add together every number in the highlighted boxes and put their total where I have red type. Then I told them to use their own data in every place that was caps and italicized. It worked pretty well actually. Only minimal chaos for a few minutes as students were confused :)

We wrote down the bottom sentence "we will use an online spinner to simulate a random sampling of our data" and then discussed that actually meant. I told students that I wanted to pretend that I had all 187 people surveyed gathered together in the gym at the same time and I wanted to randomly pole 5/10/30/etc. of them at a time. They grasped this concept and we talked about sample size for a bit. I

I asked the question "is it possible for all 5 people that I randomly select to choose a?" They all agreed yes, that's possible. I then asked "is it more or less likely that all people choose a if I randomly select 20 people?" Everyone agreed that was less likely to happen, although still possible. This lead us down a discussion path about larger sample size = more accurate information.

After I felt like students had a grasp of what that last sentence meant, and why we were going to simulate random samples, we used the spinner feature on Math Is Fun, found here. I chose this spinner because it was very user friendly and allowed my students to easily manipulate the section percentages. I demonstrated on the projector how to change the percentages to match those that each group just calculated.

Once each group set the percentages and clicked "update," we were ready to simulate!

I showed how you can set the number of spins, simulating how many people we were choosing at a time. The bar graph under the spinner records the results. I also stressed the importance of hitting the reset button between each random sampling, otherwise the graph would just continue counting and we wouldn't have accurate results. One person in each group usually took it upon themselves to make sure reset was pushed each time. You would hear "RESET!" from across the room at random times. It was pretty funny!!

We recorded our simulation results on page 125 in our notebooks. I showed this to help with formatting.

We didn't have time to start our scatter plots yet, but groups did set up their large grid paper in preparation for graphing. Here's one so you can get the idea.

We'll start creating our scatter plots using simulation data next class!! My students are taking their MAP Test and then going on job shadowing before I see them again for math content. :( It will be about a week before we get back to this project.

So... now that I'm really into my first PBL unit, do you have any advise or pointers? Any things you would have done differently than me? I am completely open to suggestions!

UPDATE: Day 5&6 are here!

My First PBL Unit - Day 3!

Here are Day 1 and Day 2 if you missed them.

Both of those days were full block classes, meaning we had 80 minutes. Day 3 was a "fast Friday" schedule so I only saw them for 40ish minutes. 

When students brought back their survey results, they tallied up each answer choice and then put that data in our shared class spreadsheet. Here is an example from one class.
I projected the spreadsheet so all students could record their important information.

We recorded data on page 124. I showed this... as a reference.

We talked about if our class data was a good representation of the larger group, and how we could then project for an even larger sample size, like our town or state.

This took most the class period. Students used the last 10-15 minutes to brainstorm how they wanted to present their final projects. I think a couple groups are going to make a commercial!! I'm excited to see them!

UPDATE: Day 4 is here!

My First PBL Unit - Day 2!

Here's DAY 1 of the unit if you missed that post.

On Day 2 students arrived in class and finalized their questions in their teams. We completed page 122 in our notebooks about the project. Here is the slide I put on the board to help direct students.

Once each group finalized their wording and choices, they emailed me their questions. I quickly compiled all the questions into one document and made sure formatting was cohesive. I printed each student one copy of the survey to use. We talked about how we needed a lot of data but didn't want to ask a lot of people. We decided that each student would ask all of the survey questions to 10 individuals, making sure they hadn't already been asked the questions from another classmate. When we come back to class next time and compile our data, every team will have 200-250 pieces of data! Perfect.

We also briefly discussed biased data and how we need to make sure to collect random samples. We also need to ask our questions without swaying the participant's vote.

We then set up page 123 to survey our class. Like so...

Each class of students decided that just asking the questions wouldn't get us a good survey - people would be influenced and pressured to vote a certain way. Guess that high-tech way each and every class period decided to use to be anonymous in our surveying? The good 'ole Heads Up, Seven Up approach! Heads down on the desk, eyes closed. The surveying group read their question and answer choices and then recorded the votes. It worked quite well!! HA! I'm just glad they recognized bias and came up with a solution to prevent it! After the class surveys, each group used their data to predict for a larger sample size. I didn't direct the students about how to predict, so groups used different methods (find percent and multiply, set up proportions, use some logic). Worked for me! They all did something mathematically relevant so I am happy.

Since our next step was to survey people outside our class, we went ahead and created a foldable to cover some vocabulary. I have used this foldable for two years now, with a couple tweaks, and really love it. The idea is originally from Sarah at Everybody is a Genius, found here.

Next class, we will compile our data and begin to do some mathematical analysis!

UPDATE: Day 3 is here.