How To...Self and Peer Assessment

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

Thanks to mathbythemountain for suggesting this post; after my last post, she asked me to explain each activity.

So here goes! Let me first say....I haven't done any of these and some of them I just learned about this summer.

  • Brain dump: link here; although it's pretty self-explanatory. I'm thinking of doing this for the first five minutes of study guide day
  • Circle Graph Reflection: blogged about here with an INB download
  • End of unit summary INB sheet: blogged about here with an INB download
  • Reflection question on quiz/test: inspired by Pam Wilson and mentioned in my "Make it Stick" post, I also read about this in Mathematical Mindsets. Seems really easy to implement and useful for both students and me, and apparently students can be very accurate at it.
  • Rubric: this is pretty generic and I don't have any examples to share but it could be used for any assessment or project


I'm obviously weak in both of these areas. Do you have ideas to add to this?


Reflecting on my Awesomeness

I’ve been getting more and more irritated with little things in the last couple weeks. I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging my #onegoodthing. On New Years Day, I realized I really didn’t set any goals or  resolutions in 2017. I decided I was riding the high from a lot of personal success in 2016 and maintaining those successes.

So today seems like the perfect time to reflect on all the new things I’ve learned and tried and some subtle goals I achieved without explicitly stating them.

I’ve used Google Classroom:
  • On a daily basis
  • For bell ringers 
  • For weekly wrap ups
  • For binder checks
  • For semester reflections
  • For Homecoming surveys
  • For links to Desmos 
  • For assignments
  • For my mathematician project 
  • For Student Council
  • To post answer keys
  • Collaborative google slidesp

Outside of Google Classroom which was a big priority for me this year, I’ve also:
  • Regularly posted classroom photos for #teach180
  • Shared those photos on Facebook with parents/community
  • Made digital answer keys for INB pages so I no longer have to copy them myself
  • Returned quizzes/tests with problems left blank to students to attempt with a little prompting
  • Redid part of a test with the whole class when many bombed it
  • Used Desmos more than once in more than one class
  • Tried quizlet for the first time
  • Tried whiteboarding as a whole class activity
  • Continued my yearly goal of using less handouts than the previous year in every prep
  • Made my first anchor chart 
  • Used Factoring Friday’s 9-12 to fix gaps in Algebra II
  • Created a mathematician project based on diversity and student research 
  • In my syllabus I wrote that all quizzes were 20 points or less and that has unconsciously guided  me throughout the year
  • Used flippity.net to do VRG every two weeks
  • Sent in a proposal to present at TMC
  • Regularly been active on Twitter 
  • Made it farther through my pacing guide in every prep
  • Made a digital INB table of contents for each course for students to copy and that I can reuse 

Also I’ve noticed that each year I tackle a crappy lesson from the previous year and dissect it into tiny  pieces; usually coming up with an activity for each perceived stumbling block. It might take a whole week for one lesson but by golly everyone’s going to understand it! I’m proud of this and it is a continued goal I will pursue for the rest of my career.

Goals I want to think about this summer/implement next year:
  • Introduce debate through Google Classroom posts
  • Make (print, laminate, bind) a dry erase book from all of the dry erase templates I currently use  in a page protector (color coordinated by course)
  • Use my Remind app to send out Happy Birthday messages
  • Use the About tab on Google Classroom to post my “pinned” links and answer keys
  • Use the Google Classroom calendar to overview the week for students 
  • Having a quarterly retake day where every student has to retake at least one quiz to promote regular retakes throughout the year
  • Learn about flip grid 
  • Try/use/make interactive Google Slides

And as always:

  • Make things pretty
  • Make pretty things
  • Ask better questions
  • Build relationships 
  • Use my confidence to build others’
  • Remember how awesome I am! I’m good at this job! I love it! I’m always improving! I have a lot to offer! I have a lot to learn AND a lot to teach! 


Semester Reflection...with pictures

I've written about this just a bit (here and here) but it's still the best thing I do.

I tried sharing this on Twitter but I get caught up in Google Docs sharing between my personal and school e-mail so let me try again with the link to my template/rubric here.

Now there have been then times that students said things that hurt my feelings but those things usually had a kernel of truth in them. But the longer I do this, the better the comments get. Now maybe they are just sucking up to me but I don't even care...this job is hard and I will celebrate EVERY good moment.

With pictures.

This was posted as an assignment in Google classroom with a template they could all view but not edit. After they turned it in,  I left comments on their actual papers and then typed in the points on my original rubric. I typed the grade in on Google classroom and after I returned their work they could see all three: points, grade, comments.

I took screenshots whenever I felt like that and I switched between laptop, ipad, and iphone. To comment on the ipad I had to 'mark up' their paper and then it automatically saved as a pdf. I highlighted, circled, left emojis and actual comments.

Sorry not sorry for all the scrolling you're about to do!

My favorite question I asked was "What is something you and I have in common?" It really shows the levels of how well students know you. If they list something personal or more than one thing, you know you're doing good. If they list you are both female or you both like math....well, you've got some work to do.



First Days 2017-2018 #MTBoS12Days

Day One; Friday

Our first day is a 1:00 dismissal and this year we requested that we get to see all of our classes which meant short 23 minute periods with every class then lunch and done.

I wrote on the board: "Pick your seat for the next two weeks." I make them fill the front up first but otherwise don't move them. This let's me see right away who cannot handle sitting next to each other. We switch every two weeks but I don't let them pick again until the last two weeks of school.

On the Smart board I have directions for them to go get a star cutout and write their name, birthday, and favorite candy on it. This shows me how well and how quickly they can follow multiple directions and helps them start finding their way around the room.

While they're doing that I passed out address labels with my Remind code and number printed on them and explained how I use the app. I also showed them a composition notebook and explained how we use them and what type they needed and to please get that for Monday.

I literally explained each drawer of my cart and how to read the labels instead of pulling out every drawer and talked about how much I loved my room and my things and to beg ask them to please help me take care of it.

Finally I shut up and passed out "Back to School Bingo". I made cards (.docx, .pptx) that were 4x4 with common summer activities listed and they had to sign their name by one they did, then go stand and talk to someone else, listen to their story, and sign their name on a box until all of their boxes were full. When I noticed a lull in conversation, I brought them back to their seats and asked each one to share something about someone else.

I then made a huge deal out of how I never give homework except for today. See Sara's post.

That filled 23 minutes and promoted my values: routines, procedures, interest in others, conversation, movement, sharing with the class, and connecting.

Day Two; Monday

Today we start setting up our binders and notebooks, get our first dry erase marker of the year and do our first Mental Math Monday of a year's worth of bell ringers.

We also used our chrome book set for the first time today, logging onto Google classroom and entering our correct answers for MMM as well as typing our responses from Friday's homework.

If you didn't read Sara's post from above, then this won't make much sense but I connected the idea of patterns with the pictures of 6 different mathematicians (.pptx). The big reveal was actually telling them that they were all mathematicians which led to my "Not Just Dead White Dudes" bulletin board.

Day Three; Tuesday

Today we tried out my first Doodle Infographic syllabus (.docx, key, pptx). The syllabus is always a weird moment for me because the freshmen know nothing about me or my classes but the seniors have had me four years in a row and know me better than I know myself. I feel like the Doodle part was helpful because seniors could enjoy coloring while hearing me say things they already knew.

Day Four-Six; Wednesday-Friday

Every year I do this and every year I could do it better. I tried another one of Sara's ideas, Top 10 things not to ask me about your calculator. I make TI-84 cut outs and we color code notes and tips on how to use the buttons. One calculator and the left skinny side of this doc go on the left side of the INB and the right larger side of this doc goes on the right side of the INB. (key, .pptx)

Weekly Wrap-Up

One more post from Sara that I highly recommend is on using name tents to communicate with students every single day of the first week. At such a small school, I know everyone's names before they even get to me so instead of using name tents, I had students private comment on a google classroom post. After the first week I switch to two weekly wrap-up questions. One is silly and the other a little more serious but both random, non-academic, and not required. I post them on Sunday night and students have all week to answer. I remind them to answer on Fridays and then over the weekend I read and respond to all 85 on my phone. This is just a way to open up the lines of communication and touch base with every single student at least once a week. If you aren't going to respond, don't do it all. If weekly is too much then try every other but my strong advice is to TRY SOMETHING.

Also, do anything Sara VanDerWerf says.


Reaching "That Kid" #MTBoS12Days


I can't say it enough. Students repeatedly tell/write me how having a teacher that treats them like a real person, who cares about their life outside of school, who can laugh with them, and who cares about their day really makes the difference.

I didn't start out my career knowing that this is a strength of mine but once I realized it I try to put it into words as often as I can for those who might need some suggestions.

Every Monday, ask every class if they want to talk about their weekend. It will be weird at first but I'm sure you have a talkative class clown kind of student who will get it started. Every once in a while go around and ask each student individually. You don't want to put them on the spot but you also want to show you're including them. You'll know you've made progress when the students' start to ask you about your weekend and when they get offended if you forget to ask (or don't ask quickly enough).

Every Friday, ask a weekly wrap-up question that isn't academic. I do random, one silly, one with a little more meaning. I did these on paper for the last few years and now currently use Google Classroom. I also read and respond to every single one so there is a time commitment but I'd say it takes me about an hour to do 85 and since it's on my phone, I can always find the time. It's a great way to find out more about students, ensure you make contact with every single student at least once a week, and opens a door for more serious conversations when needed.

Celebrate their birthdays. I buy candy for every student on their birthday but I understand I am weird. At the very least, write on the board or announce it to the class. Dollar Tree makes a chair cover that says Happy Birthday. I also let students sit in my comfy rolly chair. For summer birthdays, we celebrate half-birthdays. It's the day they feel most special so it's weird for someone they see every day to not acknowledge it.

. Now I don't give compliments if I don't mean them but I try to give them out as often as I can. This again shows students that you notice them and they matter more to you than a test score or a warm body. I start out with appearance/wardrobe compliments and then get more personal about their work ethic or abilities or personality. I also find it weird when students ask me if I dyed/cut my hair and then they just stare at me and walk away. Maybe they need to be taught how to give compliments? lol Also if a student directly asks me if I like or noticed something and I don't, I immediately respond with a question. Do you like it? When did you get it done? Where did you get it? Don't hesitate- then can smell fear.

Ask the class how their day was, how it's going, or how was lunch. Ask their opinions on school activities or events coming up. This seems so silly to even type out. Treat them with basic human dignity and kindness please.

And my number one tip, ask random questions. I know that it seems like I've already touched on this subject but for some of my more annoying and loud students, this has worked the best. I seek them out in the hallway or randomly through class and just ask them a random question. Literally anything. And I do this consistently until it seems like a game to them. And then they start seeking me out for 'today's random question'. I don't know why but maybe it takes the pressure off of the teacher-student relationship? It gives us something silly to laugh about? It shows that I'm seeking them out?

While I can't think of anything I've done that just completely turned around a kid's behavior, I know that these strategies have made our classroom culture more enjoyable, given me way more laughs and good moments, makes me looking forward to seeing my students again, and makes classroom management problems few and far between.