Let’s start this year off right

The 2015-2016 school year is almost upon us and it is time for my students to get prepared.  This is not going to be your traditional math classroom where the teacher lectures and gives notes, a few problems are worked out, and then 20 homework questions are assigned.  The time of mindless classes, endless talking, and tons of homework that is the same problem again and again are over.

This year students will not be using a text book.  There may be days where the book is needed in the classroom, but they will not be assigned to students to take home on a daily basis.  Of course, if one is needed, students may sign one out to take home for extra practice.  Instead, we will be incorporating interactive notebooks and LTF lessons that force students to think and use their brains.

Class will be student centered.  STUDENT CENTERED.  What exactly does that mean?  It means that students are in charge of their own learning.  Students will be working out problems that cover the standards and topics, but it will not be in a traditional manner of “I do, we do, y’all do”.  Students will be in groups to help each other but will mostly be working through problems without my assistance.  This isn’t done as a punishment, but instead to prepare students for life beyond my classroom, like college, careers, or the military.

Attached are the supply lists for all of my classes.  Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything at all!

2015-2016 Supply List

Restructuring class

So one night I was reading an article, or book, or watching TV… I can’t really remember what I was doing, which means that part isn’t important.  And it hit me that I needed to restructure my classes.  Since I realized this in January and not in August made me a little upset and frustrated with myself, but I told myself that I’ve been out of the classroom for four years, so I’m going to make mistakes.

Since I started using more foldables in my Algebra 1 class and using handouts instead of copying notes in my Algebra 1A class, things have started clicking for some of my students.  I love foldables, LOVE them, and it has taken me a while to train my students on them.  I don’t understand what is so difficult about folding and cutting paper, but some of them just stress me when we work on them.  I’ve started pre-cutting the foldables and handing them out to the students exactly how I want the things to look, and that has lowered some of my stress.  It just takes more time and planning on my part.

Now… on to my Algebra 1A class.  I took out tests thinking that projects would be more fun for us to do.  One class loves them… the other, not so much.  So, we will try another way to get assessment in there!  Hopefully by August of next school year, I’ll have the way I want my class to be structured a little more smoothed out. But then I’m sure I’ll change it again!

Proprortional and Non-Proportional

We made it to the area tournament for both boys and girls basketball and I am exhausted! But, the show must go on in math class, so I had to hurry and find an activity for proportional and non-proportional relationships.  I know, I know, I should have my lessons done ahead of time… but these days things are a little crazy.

So as soon as I got to school I started searching for an activity.  And what do you know, I found one that’s AWESOME!  Over on Do Math Together, they have an activity for the students to see real world problems with slope and how you can apply direct variation and slope intercept form.  I LOVE it, even though the students are struggling with having to work it out on their own without any help.  But, it’s a great activity to have them work through the problems and find which ones are proportional and non-proportional.

At the beginning of the lesson, we started with the definitions of proportional and non-proportional relationships.  To add in some technology and help them see it in their own words and understand what is happening, I had them look up the words on their phone and give me a definition of proportional, proportional relationships, non-proportional, and non-proportional relationships.  It was a lot of fun seeing them look up words and making connections with what we have done earlier in the week.  After a little prodding, they were able to see that the word “vary”, which they struggle with the definition of, really means slope when we are talking about graphing.  Then they even made the connection with direct variation!  I’ve never been so proud… Well, maybe I was equally proud when they realized that pine cones were the Fibonacci spiral!

Tomorrow is another day to get caught up and maybe make my lessons ahead of time 🙂

Reading directions… I hear it helps

Lately I’ve started giving projects to my students where they had to read the instructions first, then start from the beginning by using the formulas and examples from class we have been working on.  For those of you new to my blog, I teach 9th grade Algebra 1.   Getting the students to read what the question is asking them to do has been a struggle all year just with our bell ringer problems.  When the bell ringer is more than three words, they just shut down and don’t even attempt to work out the problem.

I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize just how bad until Monday and Tuesday of this week.  Friday I assigned each group of students (they sit in groups daily in my class) a topic or lesson we had covered and asked them to work out two or three problems to present the class on Monday/Tuesday as the review for their test.  I had already created a study guide for them, but I wanted them to first create their own lessons so they could teach it to the class and show off their math skills.

Sigh… Luckily I checked most of the presentations first, because several groups just decided to work out the problems however they wanted and not follow the topic or the lesson.  When the students go up to present, group after group did not even provide instructions for the problems.  Once I asked, what are the instructions for them to do, they would fumble around with words that were somewhat like their topic until I helped them out.  One girl said “I have no idea what they are supposed to do, I just wrote some numbers down”.

I. Was. Shocked.  Not only do they not read instructions, they don’t even know how to write them.  Now, let me just say that I love my kids and they are pretty smart for the most part.  But I was simply shocked at their lack of understanding that you have to write down instructions for people to understand what you are presenting to them.  So I started thinking, where does it start?

Where do they begin not reading instructions?  Is it because their teachers have always read the instructions to them?  Is it because they don’t know how to articulate what to do?  Is it because technology has allowed them to have information so readily available that they don’t even know how to think on their own anymore?  And how do I fix it?  How do I create better thinkers and readers and kids who want to DO THE WORK?

Sometimes it is discouraging, but I’ve started small and will continue to force them to think and read directions.  Each example we do has three problems under it, so I have the students go back and read the instructions each time for each problem.  I ask them what we are trying to find and what the problem is asking us to do.  I’m also going to give more work that they have to read the instructions first before they can do anything else.

I hope I’m on the right direction, but as I type this post (while they are testing and I’m staring at them with my hawk eye while typing), I had a student come and ask me “What do the directions on the board mean?”

Algebra Street

Daily we walk down Algebra Street in my class ( I mean… I do teach Algebra), and last night I finally found an activity where I can include Algebra Street with a graphing activity!  It all started with our lesson on point-slope form and writing equations…

Since today was a delayed start due to the deathly cold temperatures, we have each class for  a shorter time frame.  I needed a great activity to keep them occupied for the short amount of time we have together, and I knew I wanted to create a bridge between point-slope form and parallel and perpendicular lines.  What better way to do that than a map of streets?  Due to the fact that I had limited time to create it yesterday, I found some graph paper and wrote out the instructions by hand.  It isn’t pretty, and next year I totally plan to make it so much better, but it works, and I’m pumped.

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Since we are halfway through the year, I decided to make Algebra Street intersect with Geometry Lane.  The kids needed to find the slope of each side of each street, then use the point slope form and write the equations into slope-intercept form. Once they finished that, the plan was to talk to the students about the slopes and what they notice.  I made Geometry Lane intersect Algebra Street at a perpendicular, that way they can (hopefully) see the slopes are opposite reciprocals.

We ran out of time, mainly because I made the kids read the instructions on their own without any help from me.  One kid actually said “Dang Ms. Gulledge, you make me think too hard”.  Mission accomplished for this year.

Point-Slope Form

Today we learned about point-slope form and saw how we derived the form from the slope formula.  The kids didn’t find it nearly as exciting as I did, but that’s the usual.  So to reward them for putting up with me and my over-enthusiasm about math, (nerdiness) I decided to offer them a bonus problem.

It’s been a great two days back, but it’s only been two days.  Now we are just preparing for the weather to drop below 15 degrees and the roads to freeze over.  I mean, it is Alabama.  We don’t usually get this cold, so naturally we cannot drive or operate or function in general when it gets below 20!

Here you go kiddos 🙂

Bonus Credit Algebra 1

Back to school… 2015 has arrived!

Thanksgiving is over, Christmas has come and gone.  Now it’s time to start the second semester up, which means the school year is winding down.  So many things to do and so little time.  Sigh…

As we start the 3rd nine weeks of the school year, the 9th grade team will be collaborating together for a cross-curricular project.  Instead of shifting everyone’s content to match one guideline, we have decided on a central theme for our classes to look at each week.  The main theme?  “How can understanding different perspectives impact the decisions you make?”  I think this is SO very important for students to understand and look at any problem from a basic Algebra problem, how WWI was started, how a story can be interpreted different ways, whether changing a formula can create a different outcome, all the way to looking at situation in their lives of not bullying someone just because that’s what their friends are doing.

Students have such a problem of stepping outside their own problems and seeing that other people around them in their community, school, and the world are going through the same thing or something similar.  By showing them how they can look at problems in school in a different manner, we hope to show them that they can do the same thing outside of school.  After all, that’s what we are really here for; to show them that they can take what they do here at school and in the classrooms and adapt it to their own lives.

 

Now that I have all of that covered, it’s time to actually start planning lessons for the week next week.  Sigh.

Halloween Thursday Dress Up Day

Happy Halloween!!!

Since Halloween is on a Friday this year, our school had their last football game on Thursday night.  1) I am EXHAUSTED after a Thursday night game and having to come to school on Friday.  2)  We still had the kids dress up for the pep rally in their Halloween costumes.  Watching different monsters, fairies, super heroes, aliens, characters, etc., walk around the school all day was pretty great.  It also meant a lot to us, as cheerleading coaches, for the teachers to dress up.  I also allowed my students to decorate sections of the classroom depending on what period they were in.  Fourth period went all out and decorated a corner with a haunted house.  Each class had to have some form of math in there, after all it is math class.  It was a lot of fun watching the kids get creative with their decorations.  Here are some pictures from the day!!!

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Below are pictures from the game.  It was our last football game of the season with the girls, so pictures were necessary 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Pop Quiz Friday!

Well, kind of a pop quiz Friday.  Hard to make the Quiz be a surprise when students tell each other what happens in the class during the day, and I teach two different classes, so I didn’t do a Pop Quiz in both.  That would be too much time staring at kids taking quizzes for me to handle.

Anyway, I digress.  Today I read an awesome article from another teacher/blogger who talked about his experiences shadowing two students around his school.  When I first realized what he was doing, I’ll be honest and admit I thought he was crazy.  Then I thought, “Wait… Why would I dread doing that?  I teach the students, so why would I dread being in his shoes?”  With that in mind, I read the article hoping for some answers, and boy did I get them.

It made sense after reading why the kids are so exhausted by the end of the day.  They don’t move except for between class times!   We can all be honest and say how much we would enjoy sitting for about 7 hours a day, listening to teachers talk to us.  I mean, I try to make math as enjoyable as possible, but some kids just hate math.

After reading his article, I found several things I want to add to my class:

1) Have students stand up and stretch halfway through the class period.  Since I’m also a yoga instructor, I plan to have them do some basic yoga moves to focus their minds.

2) Have students discuss the work from the day before and adapt my lesson accordingly.  If they did not get the lesson, I’ll simply plan to do more problems with them and try and teach them in a different way.

3) Use my pop quizzes as guides for how to shape my class.  Look, I should have been doing this anyway.  After all, the point of giving quizzes and homework problems is to see what the students learned.  Instead of waiting to grade them, I want to try grading them as quickly as possible so I can see what we need to work on.  Since I’m getting married in the spring and taking two classes at night right now, as well as coaching duties, this may be challenging, but I like a challenge.

4) Curb my sarcasm.  I’m naturally sarcastic.  I am.  I also HATE repeating myself and feel the sassiness creeping up on me when I have to.  But I also remember (vaguely) what it was like to be a student and have a teacher be sarcastic to me.  I did not respond well… So why should I expect my students to respond well to it?  This may be the most difficult part of it, but I have to try.  I don’t want to lose a student due to my sass.

If you have time, I strongly encourage you to read his article (attached below).  It is eye-opening and inspiring.  Happy Friday you guys!

http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/a-veteran-teacher-turned-coach-shadows-2-students-for-2-days-a-sobering-lesson-learned/

Happy Firday = End of 9 weeks

Happy Friday you guys!!  It’s been a bit since my last post, we had Homecoming, then the week after Homecoming where everyone was a zombie, and now the first 9 weeks has come to a close and the kids are doing a 9 weeks survey to let me know how they feel about the class.  I honestly cannot believe it’s October and that we are halfway through the first semester!  Where has the time gone??

Since this is my first time teaching in four years, I decided that I wanted to do a survey where they kids can let me know how they feel about class so far, if there is anything they would change, etc.  It works multiple ways, I can use it to determine how class is going, and can use it for the school improvement plan as a way of incorporating reading, writing, and critical thinking in my class.  BOOM!!

Not surprisingly, many kids wanted to add giving them candy and color sheets to the class.  Um, no.  If I was going to add anything to give them food wise, it would be fruits and vegetables, and maybe some bottled water to give them healthier options of eating.  Or adding yoga to the class for five minutes at the beginning of each period.  I may do that anyway… hmm….

What was surprising is the number of kids that a) called me bubbly, b) said they really enjoyed the class and have learned a lot, and c) wanted to add more group activities and more problems where they can teach the class.  I LOVE that they want to be more involved.  They also wanted to add more hands on work that shows them how to use it in the real world.

Now of course, there are some that just answered “idk” (ugh) or “it’s ight” (I mean, use proper English).  But overall, the results were positive and I have hope for a continuation of the positivity.  I’m ecstatic that my kids love math and are actually learning.  It has been a rough beginning of the year, since I wasn’t sure where they were all mathematically, but their progress and desire to learn has been inspiring for me.

Now to apply the results to what I do for the next 9 weeks may be a little more difficult.  But, I’m going to do my best to make sure to give them what they ask for and keep them engaged.  My goal is to add more hands on activities, rotate the groups, and allow them to teach more problems to each other.  Another math teacher and I are collaborating together and bringing her Algebra II class in to teach my Algebra 1 and 1A classes.

Hopefully I can keep the kids engaged until at least December, then they get a nice long break from me!