Week 15/16

I was tempted to just skip week 15 but my love for order would not allow it. We only had school on Monday and Tuesday which was lovely.My geometry classes quizzed on Monday and I honestly have no idea what my Algebra students did. On Tuesday we watched a Thanksgiving video that I made myself. I just got on youtube and found funny Thanksgiving clips from commercials and clean tv shows like the Cosby Show, Friends, and even some from MadTV that weren't bad. I figured the students would make fun of me but I'm so over that at this point. They did seem to like it and they laughed and that was the point so yay. My mentor teacher always shows the Charlie Brown movie for every holiday which is a good idea. I'd steal the idea but we have the same students and that just wouldn't work out.

I planned to spend my Thanksgiving break catching up on things and starting to write my final exams. But alas, it was not meant to be. I attend an annual cookie swap at my church where we make cookies or candy and swap them with each other. We also make gifts to share too. Then we go and eat good food, play dirty Santa, bingo, price is right, and just have all kinds of fun. We win prizes for first people to arrive, who traveled the farthest, who commented the most on the Facebook page, who had the best tasting treat, best presentation, and so on. It is a ton of fun but a ton of work when you only give yourself a week to do it in. I made coasters out of curly ribbon and wow oh wow. The results are awesome but each one took 1 1/2 - 2 hours to create and I had to make 14. For my candy, I made red velvet truffles. I won best taste and I was super pumped! This is my fourth year participating in the swap and it was very stressful. But I won a lot of great prizes and it was worth it. I think. I know this has nothing to do with teaching but it was hard work and I want to show it off.

How could I incorporate this into math? Calculating the length of ribbon needed per coaster? Comparing the length of the ribbon to the circumference or area of the circular coaster? Symmetry? Rotations? There's got to be some thing.

So basically the whole week was planned on the fly. Which was....sort of refreshing. Results weren't what I wish they were but it felt kind of good. I did a lot of packets where students had to work together and that sort of thing. I like it but I don't know how well they do. I also am not sure how much they learn. I think I suck at assessments. I hate hate hate to put this out there but I try to be transparent and accept criticism. I tend to put things on assessments that we haven't actually done, but that I assume they should be able to do. It's like I know that's wrong but I don't know why. If I teach the 2 and 2, shouldn't they be able to put 2 and 2 together? Why doesn't that work? With each passing day, I see more and more the need for a concept-based assessment system. But I am afraid to see how many students wouldn't make it through. Also, I think @iMrsF (but I'm not sure) mentioned on Twitter the idea of students having the options of what items to complete in a unit and I think I love the idea. It would probably be a ton of work for me, I don't even know how I would go about developing that. But if students had a checklist of objectives for each unit, they could choose which activities to complete for each objective and still take the same assessment. Or different assessments too I suppose? If I could design that, I would design it in a way where students get immediate feedback and some type of creative outlet. They need to develop ownership and pride in their progress. I don't know a better way to do that than to have audience approval. Anyway the point of my story was that on Friday I gave a quiz that was the same type of questions as the packets we did in class and scores ranged from 97 down to 40. I blamed the multiple choice format but I'm sure the real culprit is not understanding the material with a dose of not having enough time to learn and apply it.

Geometry, eh I don't know what to say. My two top students recently got expelled and so now I am down to only 8 students who could care less and don't want to be there. As far as lessons go, I just don't know. I heard the comments that my quizzes are 'so easy' and I'm not sure how to take that. Is it a good thing because they match what we do in class? Or a bad thing because..well I don't know why. Material to learn should be challenging but if already learned then maybe assessment should be easy? Hmm.

I sort of got sick in the midst of this week but that was because I was getting very little sleep. So what probably was a simple sinus weather-changey thing turned into a 4-day-hoarse-voice-stopped-up-then-runny-nose-and-cough thingy. I survived with cute scarves and mint chocolate hot chocolate. ;) But this was just an exhausting week.

I remember so many teachers on twitter giving me the advice to get enough sleep and I didn't believe them. You're surprised I'm sure. But they were SO right! The week was stressful and exhausting. I've had less sleep then I've had since I graduated high school myself. It is such a relieft though that now school is my work instead of in addtion to my work. I would say at least I don't have homework but heck yes I work at home every night. And I'm pretty sure I've written more papers in the form of blog posts then in my entire college career. I wish I could do college over.


  1. I've tossed around the idea of doing a unit "choose your own activity" sort of thing. I think it gets tough in math class if they don't necessarily have the background that they need to independently do the activities. Would get crazy in any sized classroom with kids needing teacher assistance every step of the way.

    About assessments: I think there is something to be said about putting a question on an assessment that they have never seen before, an application/analysis of the concepts you've been working on. If you only assess things that you have explicitly taught and worked through as a class, where is there room for students to think and apply their knowledge in new/different situations? The information might just be lost when the assessment is over. That being said, I'm not very good at creating *those* types of assessments. This year my colleague and I have been trying to add at least one 'new' problem on each assessment, to make the students think/analyze a bit more. It's been alright, but needs work.

  2. Jessica,
    You're right. They need me for confirmation of every step as it is and they're all working on the same material.

    What about choosing their own problems? Instead creating a ton of activities, just a wider variety of problems for them to choose from?

    Regarding assessments, I always hear the complaint from my students that I didn't teach them how to do something if they see it on the test without previously seeing it. How do I get them to quit relying on me so much? I think they need to be confident in their ability to do the problems which may mean more practice b.k.a. homework! Hmm. I need to ponder.