#DITL Saturday, September 10th, 2016

My normal routine is to do all my shopping and errands on Friday nights so that I have nowhere to go on Saturdays and I can do all my work and clean all day Saturday.

I have a lunch date with my bestie on the second Saturday of every month so my plans were already thrown off. I thought that I would stay at school and work a lot on Friday, get groceries after my lunch with my friend, then come home and do the rest of my work.

Friday my sisters messages me at the end of school and needs me to baby-sit my niece and nephew. Well there goes my working Friday plans.

My mom sets up a birthday lunch for my Grandma, who is visiting from Florida, for Saturday at 6:00 at a place an hour away.

Well there goes my working Saturday plans.

I am a routine person so I really really really hate when my routine is interrupted by someone other than me.

Routinely throughout the day, I just stopped myself from worrying about school.

Mental speech: "You still have Sunday to get things done that must be done. No, you can't do everything you wanted to do. Yes, you will have to work more weeknights this week than you want to. But enjoy the moment! You are having lunch with your best friend and dinner with your grandma! Those are fun things that you like doing. So do them!"

Even when I am not at school, or doing school work, I'm planning/worrying about school work. But I can't let that overtake my actual life.

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to create a better work/life balance.

I'm doing it.

I'm not perfect.

But I am present.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of?  What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal? 

I am proud that I chose to put my personal life above my professional life and enjoy my weekend. It was all ideal. =)

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately? 

I am looking forward to a school year when I don't have to slave over everything. A challenge for me lately is getting things done on my plan period. It is the last hour of the day and I am so tired and spent that I zone out on my e-mail and the Internet rather than accomplishing anything. Then I have to stay after school and do it anyway. I feel like I have no time at home and I work late at school and still have things to take home.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

Overall I feel like I am way more open and relational with my students this year. I can think of several moments in the past weeks where I told them stories from my life and we laughed together or when students have asked my advice on clothes or boys or asked me to look things up or give my opinions on the election and so on. One student has been confiding in me about relationships and I've been trying really hard to change her focus and build her confidence.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

Keep working on a better work/life balance. Continue asking good questions, asking students to notice similarities and differences, asking students to try a problem before they know what to do, asking for strategies, and doing number talks.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I've been posting some #teach180 photos and I've never done that before.


Guys, I'm Killing It

I don't know exactly what gave me my teacher mojo back but I definitely know that last year was my seven year slump.

I've had good things that I've wanted to blog every day but my internet has been lame at home and I'm still so tired every day that I've gotten behind.

Day 1 and I already knew everyone's names.

My biggest class is 18 and my smallest is 5.

I've tried so many new things already: number talks, Google classroom, Google forms, a clothesline activity, asking students to notice things before we start working, introducing growth mindset, using my Plickers multiple times, and my questioning skills have greatly improved.

Here are some highlights from the past two weeks:

Using a beach ball every Monday at the beginning of class- we hit it while we talk about our weekends and we stop when no one else has anything to share. This has been a GREAT way to get energy flowing on a Monday and to get more students talking and for longer amounts of time. And almost every class will ask me about my weekend too- maybe to just keep hitting the ball longer.

I asked our tech person about the possibility of sharing some Chrome books with the two teachers who have classroom sets and she showed up at my door the next day with six that are mine to keep, one per table group. I literally teared up at her kindness.

During my growth mindset discussion with my seniors I kindddddddd of went off on a tangent about being a confident woman and how important it is to make being with yourself a safe place and being successful in the future and etc.....when I finally finished a student said, "Wow, you should be like a coach or something." {I've always wanted to write a book and I think I might have just stumbled on the topic}.

I tweeted about my favorite problem of all time and in my freshman class, the first person to get the correct answer was the student who spent the first week of school telling me how math was not her subject and to please not call on her when she doesn't know the answer. I said "I thought math wasn't your thing and yet you were the first one done." She said, "Well I thought it wasn't!" She worked really hard the rest of the class period.

I was talking to a group of students when one almost let a cuss word slip; she cut herself off and said "This is why you shouldn't make me like you so much- then I talk normal around you." Lol

Number talks have been going well but they really prefer dot talks to anything else so far. Some students are purposely counting them in an unusual order just so they can share their thinking. I've had multiple hands go up to share their thinking and it feels like everyone is comfortable with that.

I feel like it was so easy to just jump right into how I want my classes to run- I already feel like I've known my freshman students for a long time and it's such a testament to how being consistent and building routines and procedures can enhance your classroom culture.

I taught the same piecewise functions lesson that I always teach but I started by asking them to notice things about the function and then notice things about the graph. It seemed like the lesson went so much smoother because they made connections all the way through.

It's only week three I know but I haven't really had to beg people to work; I feel like I have a good mixture of students that helped make this happen.

A few students have made real efforts since last year to change their attitude and effort and it's so cool to see them grow.

I feel so blessed to get to be in their lives year after year and to know them so well that I can see change and growth over time. Also after reading tweets and blog posts, I also feel blessed to be in a school that provides me with all the colored paper {and most school supplies} that I want and that my biggest class size is smaller than most people's small class size.

I still love when students come in and love the way my room smells- I didn't it was so odd for a teacher to buy air fresheners. ;)

A student asked me how much I spend on all of this stuff and I just appreciated that she noticed the extra that I put in.

This was the first year I didn't dread back to school time, the first year I had no school nightmares, and the first year {that I can remember} that I don't have that one class that I'm just dreading.

I can't really explain how my questioning skills have improved but it's like I am self-editing in real time- I'll have my next question on the tip of my tongue and it's like my brain says 'Here's a better idea!" and a more interesting question comes out.

Three lessons that I already had resources for meant I could think deeper about how to present them in a more conceptual way- this is another area I see improvement in myself over time.

I still maintain that Jesus gives me supernatural patience and I can feel the moment I enter into it- helping students one on one I always reach a point where I want to walk away and it's like this supernatural patience washes over me and I just continue like nothing happened.

I don't know why but I think it is so cute when students tell me bye as they leave. It's not every student but it's just endearing.

I've started almost every paragraph with 'I' so far but as hard as we are on ourselves, I think we can all stand to brag on ourselves. One of my gifts is making connections with people and I love seeing that come to fruition- this year feels just like a continuation of last year rather than a new start. Maybe it's not the best thing but I felt like starting school as a tee again- I loved hearing the updates of what all my friends did over the summer and what was going on in their lives.

I feel like finally all of my experience and ups and downs and talents and strengths and weaknesses are coming together and I'm approaching the ever elusive peak of 'actually knowing what I'm doing'.

My career is on an uphill swing and that is definitely ONE GOOD THING.


Plan With Me...Infinite and No Solutions

So I'm planning this lesson for the upcoming week and I have 3 slides that I feel like are a good start. I'm just about to tweet them out and ask what I can add to them when I decide to check the MTBoS search engine first. I land on this great blog post about using Desmos to check answers after combining like terms by graphing.

And instantly my lesson just got better. I get to use Desmos for the first time with my freshman and we are just beginning!

Here's a general outline and my thought process.

I will ask students to share out some answers and I will write them on the board. I will have one chrome book per group of three students and ask them to each take turns typing in an expression from the board (I'm thinking 6 so each student types in 2 and purposely include wrong ones).  But what if I don't get very many answers?

I will ask them what they notice as they type in each equation.

We will discuss the connection between the expression and the line.


I will ask students to prove me right or wrong. I'm thinking I'll have to explain that they either need to solve for x or plug in random values and see what happens. Some kind of work will happen which will lead us to graphing it in Desmos and seeing if it is the same line or not.


Some kind of work happening, either with Algebra or Desmos leading up to the fact that they graph two parallel lines which have no intersecting solution and how they simplify to the same slope with different y-intercepts.

Is that it? Now we just practice?

What are some good questions I can ask? What needs to go in their notes?


First Days 2016-2017

I was not ready. I spent my last few days getting my classroom ready and not preparing actual activities. This should have been an 'easy' week for me since it's the only time I can get away with doing the same thing every hour. Instead I didn't go to bed earlier than midnight all week. =( Definitely making a check list so this doesn't happen next year.

Today we did Mental Math Monday and got our binders ready: dividers, tabs, names on the spine, pencil bags, new pencils, and dry erase markers. We folded our name tents; I loved having students write to me every day. The name tent part was not really necessary since we are so small and everybody knows everybody. Next year I might not use an actual name tent. It also took me up to an hour and a half each night too respond. I would say it is worth it but I definitely couldn'tdo it all year.We did our first number talk!

I used Google Classroom for the first time today and I think I was successful. Students used an ipad to sign in to their account add my class by code. I posted a question asking them they're favorite animated movie. Then I posted a google form for estimation180. They commented and opened the form. I showed a picture on the board and they gave me a too low, too high, and estimate. We looked at the answers on the spreadsheet and then I showed the correct answer. I had 4-5 students guess correctly throughout the day and that has never happened. Google Forms FTW? Next, we did Amy Zimmer's icebreaker to set up groups and group roles. I noticed that the designated time keeper kept time for the rest of the period, even after the activity ended. From there we went straight to Sara's
1-100 task making groups work. The kids LOVED it!! In between rounds we discussed strategies for working together and improving their times.

We started with our Work It Wednesday problem, how can you arrange 8 8's to add up to 1000? From there I showed them pictures from the previous day's 1-100 task.

They could not believe that I took pictures! Not a single student in any class noticed I was taking pictures. Not even in a class of 5! They have already asked to do it again. My best group made it all the way to 91 and two groups made it to the 80's. We reviewed the group work strategies and from there we went to Sarah's Broken Circle task. This only took 2-3 minutes since my students were in groups of 3. We finished the day by setting up our INBs.

Thursday are my designated day for number talks and it started out rough. Read more here. We again used Google Classroom to open a pdf of my syllabus. I tried Brigid's idea of doodle notes using this doodle syllabus. I still have mixed feelings about this. My artistic students really appreciated it. The students did agree that taking notes from the pdf was better than listening to me talk the whole time. But most of these students have had me for years and know my policies and procedures. More than one person asked why we were doing this and most people didn't even get it finished in a class period because they spent so much time doing what I asked...doodling! I can see it working much better in a lecture heavy class but thankfully, I am heading in the opposite direction of that.

We ended the week by taking our end of course exam which will be given again in December and May. I spent my time making answer keys and updating my spreadsheet data.

Comparing the first administration last year to this year

Algebra I 15% to 24%
Geometry 18% to 20%
Algebra II 16.5% to 24%
Trig 30% to 19%

I'm using new exams except for Trig so those numbers basically mean nothing but I like that they are moving up. Except what the heck happened in trig?

I'm so glad that thanks to my blog, I have a record of everything I've tried during the first days of school. If you teach in a small school, you know you can't repeat activities until four years have passed. Check out my first days tag if you need more ideas!


My First Number Talk

I was inspired by Sara Van Der Werf's post to finally start doing number talks. I haven't read any of the books yet so forgive me if I'm screwing this up.

It took me three days of number talks before I realized I should start saving these pictures.

They are pretty terrible but I'd like to have a starting point to look back at.

The first two days were counting items in a picture so when I threw this one at them, I realized maybe a fraction problem was not the best one to use first.

We had a rough start but there was about one interesting answer per period so all was not lost.

A lot of them chose 5/8 because they said they learned that the smaller fractions are bigger pieces.

I'm really trying to put the emphasis on how we are thinking about things over right answers.

I also used Sara's name tent idea and more than one student wrote that they liked how we were learning about different ways to think and that they appreciate me letting them be creative.

Be still my heart.

It was much easier to get them to talk about counting dots and footballs but I'm not giving up!

Suggestions appreciated.