I'm tired just thinking about the past week.
It started out good and I had high hopes.
I've been doing a lot of intro to proof activities this week including 20 questions and this robot activity, which was so fun. I think the students have been learning just how specific and precise they need to be and that steps can't be left out. The down side is that I think I did all of this too early. We haven't learned enough theorems or postulates to really do any proofs other than algebraic ones. I feel like I've built up all this momentum just to stop the train until a later date.
In algebra, we spent all week working 3 types of word problems: age, perimeter, and consecutive integers. Consecutive integers is loved the most by far, as many students can guess and check. Students are having trouble remembering to substitute values in to the length and width for the perimeter formula. I suppose this is something I need to review and scaffold beforehand. With the age, sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. Today I gave a 6 problem quiz- 2 of each type and let them use their notes. I'm still surprised that they aren't getting the hang of it more. They seem to understand when we do examples on the board though. I've realized that I don't think I do enough for students to assess themselves. I check homework for completion only even though we go over all the answers, so they're really only assessed for accuracy on our weekly quizzes. Is that not often enough? Do I need to do a mid-week homework quiz or something similar?
On the positive side, I'm happy that my applied algebra classes are moving along at the same pace as my regular algebra classes. Still feel like I am cheating the students by not making it more applied but not 100% sure how to go about that. Plus, there is the rest of the school year to work on that.
I've been slacking on my writing across the curriculum assignments and I realize that I miss them. I truly enjoy reading them and the students give me so much information about themselves without even realizing it. I feel like each week I continue to understand them more and more.
I have to say, I really really enjoy my students. After reading Paul's post, I realized how thankful I am for the relationship and environment that I share with my students. I am constantly bombarded by students in the hallway and between classes and I absolutely love it. We have a great time; lots and lots of laughs. I am not as strict as I should be but so far it hasn't kicked me in the butt too bad. I've learned how to effectively use that as my weapon: "As many times as I could have gotten you intro trouble and didn't and this is how you return the favor?" Yup, got that one in my back pocket. =)
In my after school tutoring program, I've been having steady numbers of 4-8 each day which is really good. There are a range of students with a range of needs which sometimes gets hectic but definitely keeps things fast paced. They've asked me to incorporate an hour of technology which is exciting, but could take away from the math help. Math is my first priority, obviously. But I'm looking for any and all ideas for technology. I am looking for things that can be done in under 1 hour or else done in 1 hour increments as well as being interesting and useful to their lives in some manner.
I'm being officially observed for the first time next week. I'm not nervous at all but I am having trouble deciding which class I would like to have them sit in on. My best class is my advanced eighth graders in Algebra I, but that feels like cheating because of course they're great, they're advanced! I thought about choosing some of my lower students because I would like to show that they can learn and do participate in class. I'd also like to prove that I can handle taking on a challenge. The complicated thing is, I don't plan more than one or two days ahead at the most so I don't even know what I'll be teaching at that point. I asked for a copy of the rubric that they'll be scoring me on and there are definitely things on there that I'm not currently doing. But won't it be too obvious if I start throwing those in there all of a sudden? I can just see me adding something different and the students asking why we've never done that before. lol
That reminds me, I tried this in my mouthy, hyperactive seventh hour class and it worked beautifully. I told them they were each getting a grade for that day's class period. They all started out with 100%- ten out of ten points. Each time they talked without being called on, they lost a point. I told them it was possible to get negative points if they couldn't control themselves. It was literally pin drop silent. It got kind of hairy when we were doing examples because they are used to speaking their answers out randomly. After a couple times though, they got the hang of it. By the end of the class, I think my lowest was 6 out of 10 points left. I gave them 5 minutes to talk at the end and they were all saying things like, "Hey I actually paid attention." "I knew what was going on." "We were actually quiet." Raising your hand to speak. Revolutionary. I am considering using that class for my observation, if nothing else than to show off my new technique. =)
Tomorrow is our regional teacher's institute. The region's teachers come together and we listen to a performance by the bands from all the high school's put together. I played in this band as a high school student and now I get to sit and listen as my two younger sisters play in it. And this time, I get to stay for the meetings. Young and new as I am, I enjoy meetings. Learning is always a priority for me, even if it's learning how to not have a boring meeting. I'm always looking for opportunities to be exposed to more knowledge, more learning, more people, more life. The keynote session is on "The Sense of Humor". (Hmm. That Paul Bogush may be on to something.) The session I'm going to is a 2-hour session on "Mathematical Games to Build Mathematical Thinking." What could be better than playing math games for two hours that I can also use in my lessons? Bingo! Ha ha, pun intended. There was a tech trends session but I'm always leery of those. Pretty sure I get introduced to more tech trends in one night on twitter than they could teach me in two hours. Not being cocky, just going on past experience. Anyway, I hope at the least, I come home with some good quotes and good ideas, and at the most, new friendships with area teachers, great resources, inspiration, motivation, creativity, and new perspective.
Did I mention it's a 4 day weekend and my grading is already done?