First Year Goals

The title of this post is a lie. These are not really first year goals. Even if I don't accomplish them this year, I will at some point. What these really are, are things I've noticed in the first few weeks that I want to change + really cool things that other teachers do that I want to copy. But that didn't fit in the Title box.

  1. Conferencing. Remember in your college English classes when you would have conference days? What that really meant is you didn't have class that day but showed up for a 15 minute meeting with your professor (who was always running late) and they proceeded to tell you everything wrong with your work. I want to do this exactly, but opposite. I want to be able to meet with every student in every class for at least 2-3 minutes and have them tell me everything I'm doing wrong with my work. I want to hear what they hate, what drives them crazy, what works, what they aren't understanding, and what they need from me. Here are my dilemmas: a. With 52 minutes of class and 17-19 students, this could take one whole period a week. Ouch. b. What are the other students doing while I am having this hypothetical conversation with a hypothetical student? c. Some students would say nothing. d. Some students would never stop talking. How can I teach students to analyze themselves and the world around them and effectively give feedback?

  2. Dan Meyer Assessment System I read this some months ago and it has puzzled/infuriated/gladdened/excited/intersted me ever since. Over the summer I created my concept list. Score a point for me! Dan has 34, I have 59. There goes my point. I started out the year explaining to my students that we would have weekly quizzes instead of monthly tests. Score one point for me. Last week was my first attempt. Dan gives 3 or 6 problems. I gave 20. lol There went my one point. Again. I explained that they could make up what they missed at any time. But I don't think they get it. I didn't give them a concept list and I didn't make each concept worth 4 points. I don't know how to assess weekly and assess every concept twice. I don't know how to explain the system to the students so that they know how to improve their scores as well understand that their grade now has meaning. But I'm starting. So there's that...

  3. My Class Website. I created one at moonfruit and then I actually won a free subscription to TeacherWeb for a year. I've used neither. Even as organized and color coded as I am, I still am too swamped with the life of a first year teacher to attempt putting this together. There's always Christmas...

  4. Class Blogging/ Twitter Although I myself am obsessed with blogging and surgically attached to Twitter, I don't think I will be incorporating into my class anytime soon. 1. Twitter is blocked now. Gr. 2. I tried the blogging thing in my summer freshman academy class and it utterly failed. I am implementing a weekly math journal assessment so maybe that could be transitioned into blog entries. I have 4 student computers in my classroom but they only work on days that don't end in y. Getting to the lab is possible but not probable as again, I am currently swamped with this whole teaching-is-actually-work thing.

  5. Creative Content. This is my hearts desire and what I consistently long for. But I just can't pull it off yet. My teaching consists of warm up, notes, homework, repeat four days in a row. Fifth day = review warm up, assessment, math journal assessment. Repeat next week. It's consuming all of my time already creating my lessons as a fill in the blank Powerpoint that is colorful and includes pictures, diagrams, and video. It's taking me at least 1.5 hours per class and I haven't found a way to shorten or improve this. I think it comes with time and experience which unfortunately I can't purchase. Anyway, I love Dan Meyer's What Can You Do With This? project and hopefully through the blogosphere, we can all create a fantastical curriculum. But I can't do it myself, at least not this year. So for now I am settling for mildly entertaining examples, useless trivia, and SMART board interaction to keep my students engaged.

  6. Silent Classroom I might try this one tomorrow. Every period, the entire class is silent, me included. I have whiteboards for every student and they have help signs so that's how they could communicate. I, of course, have the SMART board or the chalkboard to communicate with. I could have lights off and some easy listening music playing to really set the atmosphere. I think it would be intriguing to show students that learning can take place without ever speaking. If I went to the computer lab, I could also do this via Today's Meet. And then I could hold it over their heads that I knew how quiet it could be. lol Friday we played Algebra and Geometry Bingo and so it was crazy at first and then quiet as we played. I think it would be a nice way to start the week back. I may try it this week!
More to come.

Much more.


  1. This is the first time I’ve read about this. I keep learning new things everyday!

  2. Instead of taking class time to have students tell you what they like/dislike about your class, could they do it on their own as "homework?"

    In my experiences, which could be different from others, students won't really open up unless they know it's anonymous. Sure, they will tell you if it's good, but telling about the bad things might scare them a bit. However, doing this does not allow you to ask follow up questions.

    I would suggest creating a Google form or some sort of survey that they could do online. Paper copies could be given to those who don't have access. Maybe even give some students the option to do the survey face-to-face. I think this would be more efficient than trying to conference all the students in one class period.

  3. Craig,
    Thanks for your comments. Another teacher suggested I give each student an index card and let them write whatever they need to say. I could use it as an 'exit ticket' to get out of the classroom toward the end of class. This way seems to be the easiest to implement and at least something I'm going to try.

  4. Hey Elissa,

    I just started using Dan Meyer's grading system too :) I set up a wiki so I could explain it to my colleagues in my district. If you're interested, you could swing by and take a look: http://dn-math.wikispaces.com/. Basically I read a bunch of his blog entries and all the comments and then pestered him with a few questions, and then paraphrased it onto my wiki :)

    Speaking of wikis, other than blogs, the easiest way to set up an online presence is to set up a wiki. You can get one for free at http://www.wikispaces.com and it's pretty darn easy.

    The most important component to my online presence for my students is my online calendar. I use it to post each day's notes and homework (not in advance!). The cool thing about it is that I can link to that calendar both on my wiki (http://cepartnership4.wikispaces.com/) and my teaching webpage (http://mclaypool.ravenshield.com/). So any changes I make on the calendar show up in both places :) You can get a calendar for free from http://www.calendars.net/. It's not a reliable as google calendars, but it's a lot easier to link files using this calendar. Since I mostly use it to let students download their notes, it's great for what I'm doing :)

    Good Luck,

    Meg Claypool :)

  5. Elissa: I remember one of my peers using the exit ticket when I student taught. I remember liking the idea back then. I think it will work out great.

    Meg: I was looking at some of your websites/wikis and took a look at your notes that you post. It looks as though the pdf was generated by Notebook software, but you somehow got the notes to fill the entire page. When I save my notes as pdf files through Notebook, it only takes up a small portion of the page. How do you do it?

  6. Meg Claypool,
    I think I love you!!!! I've been pestering Dan with my questions too and as a first year teacher, I don't really have a clue what I'm doing with this. I think this wiki just changed my life. Thank you SO much for all of the links, I'm downloading and and saving pdf files as we speak, um type. And the pacing draft? Genius! I hope you will be available for questions. :) Do you have twitter?