Friday, August 28, 2015

Function Transformations

So excited about the Desmos Class Activity I created yesterday.  I was inspired by Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) of Insert Clever Math Pun Here after she shared a post about her transformations activity(here).   I was really surprised at how easy it was to set this up and am looking forward to giving this a try in my classes next week after we cover transformations.  We are planning to spend a day on translations, a day on stretching and compressing and a day on reflecting.  I will follow those three days up with this Desmos activity.

Some of these are a bit challenging, but I'm hoping my honors kiddos can handle it, maybe not without a little struggle first though.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I’ve really been focused on the idea of reflection lately and the importance that it has in our learning and in our growth mindset.  It really is the basis for why I decided to start blogging.  I see a lot of value in being able to share what I do in the classroom and then take the time to think through everything and look for ways that I could do things better in the future.  I also like the idea of having others provide feedback and ideas on what I’m doing in my classroom to help me become a better teacher.  

Reflection is also something I am trying to implement with my students.  We started on day 1 by discussing the importance of reflection.  We talked about how important it was as a learning tool to look back at what you had done, process the information and then share your thoughts and ideas on what was learned.  I can already see in less than a week that giving students this voice to discuss what they personally learned from the lesson has been empowering to them.  

I’m asking a lot of my students this year.  We have a whole new curriculum in all of our high school math classes in our district and kids are learning math in a way that may be somewhat unfamiliar to them.  Our new textbooks are consumables and are heavy in reading.  We are spending a lot of time breaking down the text sections and analyzing what information is being given and what is being asked.  It’s pretty tough on the kids right now, but I’m hoping by mid October, they’ll be pros at this.  Although there is this learning curve on how to read the text and pull the information out, the thing I love about what we are doing this year is that the kids are really talking more math.  Before I explain anything I allow them time to read, time to process and then discuss with their group members what they are understanding or not understanding about the topic.  Just listening to the conversations that are already going on in my room after 1 week gets me excited about how these kids are going to be experts at discussing math by the end of the year.  The opportunity to reflect with their peers on what they have discussed and analyzed will hopefully only further their understanding.  

I absolutely love that I am talking less and they are talking more as they are working collaboratively to solve problems.  Although I did have a student say to me today, “you mean we are going to learn everything from this book and not from you this year?”  Yikes, that’s definitely not what we are doing.  I told her that we were going to learn everything by talking about it, by thinking about it, by writing about it, by analyzing it, and by reflecting on it.  We would allow the book to be a tool that we use to learn, but it definitely will not be the only tool we use to learn in my class.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Love My Online PLN!

One of my greatest discoveries this past summer was twitter chatting.  I've had a personal twitter account for some time, but decided not too long ago to create a professional account too.  I rarely used it at first, just tweeting about a few things that went on in my classroom, to no one in particular since I had only a handful of followers.  Then this summer, as I was visiting several of my favoite teacher blogs, I started noticing the use of various hashtags and I got curious.  After a little researching, I figured out that the hashtags were being used to carry on conversations revolving around common interests and stumbled on some that pertained to education and math and I was hooked!

I've participated in several chats now and absolutely love this method of learning about my field.  I've walked away from each chat having learned something new about my field, or some new idea for my classroom or some creative way to help me become a better teacher.  We are talking about a Global Professional Learning Network or PLN as there are teachers from across the world involved in these chats.

Take tonight for example.  I participated in the #txed chat, a weekly chat that consists of teachers and administrators from not just Texas, but from many other places too.  We chatted about an article found here. The discussion was awesome!  So many great thoughts shared by some pretty amazing educators.   I even walked away from the chat with an awesome idea to use on my first day of class from Paul Wagner using Chatterpix.  His idea involves the students interviewing each other and then creating a 30 second video using Chatterpix to introduce their "new friend" to the rest of the class.  Love it!  Of course I had to try it out and see how easy it would be to use and then upload the video to my google drive so that I could share with others.  It took me roughly 5 minutes to download the app, take a picture to use in the video and then upload it to my google drive.  You can see my silly first video below.  The kids are going to love this!  Thanks again Paul for such a fun idea!

Looking forward to learning a lot more on my PLN on twitter.  You should join us!  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Some Thoughts on This Year

I don’t even know where to start.  The last few days I have so many thoughts running around my head that I can’t even think straight or outline a clear plan for what I’d like to do this year.  Since discovering the whole world of a PLN on twitter, I have been drowning in fabulous ideas and inspiration by what I believe are some pretty awesome teachers out there.  

Probably best to just get some ideas out there.  Need a starting place somewhere.  So here goes…

Three things that  I am hoping to incorporate this year, that I didn’t use last year are the use of a google site for my classes, using twitter to have chats with my students regarding things that we are working on in class, and students blogging about math related topics.  Along with all of those techy things, I really want to get myself out from the front of the classroom and have the kids do more of the talking.  

The google site is up and ready to go.  I debated on whether to use Google Classroom or a Google Site and finally decided that the Google Site offered more options and would allow me to incorporate my blog as well.  I want a single “go to” place where my students can access a class calendar, links to resources, and class materials, but would also give me some flexibility to add images and pages that would relate to the materials we will be covering.  I’m also planning to use other aspects of my google drive that will work nicely with the class site.

I’m envisioning twitter being an opportunity for kids that may otherwise be reserved in class to have a platform where they will be able to communicate and converse with peers with a little less stress.  I’ve participated in a few twitter chats myself this summer, for the first time, and love the dynamics of this tool and hope that it will encourage some of my kids to get more involved in the discussions.  

And finally a class blog.  My hope is to get my kids to blog once during each 6 week grading period.  I will push for their post to be math related, where it’s something they have researched, or just something to do with the content we are learning in class.  Again, my thought is that this will be another way to get students talking about math.

Along with all of those techy things, I really want to get myself out from the front of the classroom and have the kids do more of the talking.   I feel it is so important for the learning in my room to be student centered and student led.  This is probably what I would consider to be one of my weakest areas as a teacher and the area I hope to grow in the most this year.