Sunday, April 30, 2017

Looking for a Place to Organize All of Those Teaching Ideas You Found on Twitter? Try Google Keep Today!

I knew that I wanted to try to organize all of the great ideas that I have found on Twitter over the years. I have tried Google Keep before on my school account, but I thought it was time to go over it on my own account. So, I took screenshots of all of the tweets that I had liked/favorited/etc and organized them into separate categories. It's still a work in progress, but it was a nice way to spend an early Saturday morning after you have woken up and can't go back to sleep.

I decided to share this idea on Twitter, not really thinking that anyone would care. I was wrong, indeed. 

Here is what part of my Google Keep looks like. As I said, it's a work in progress. 

What I would suggest doing is taking screenshots and then making your categories. Google Keep makes it easy because you can create many categories as well as drag images directly from your laptop into the box. Then you can click on your categories and edit within those. If you have any questions, please let me know!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Pi-Kus with a Twist

I know I am a couple of weeks late, but I wanted to write about our Pi-Day activities. Since we were not anywhere near circles in Geometry, and our state's Algebra 2 standards do not really discuss pi to any deep extent, I decided to do something a little bit different for Pi Day.

I was on Twitter one evening, and I saw where Sarah Carter was blogging and posting about her Pi-Kus. I really enjoyed what she had posted, so I decided to give it a try in my classes.

Here are the assignment requirements:

1. Create a Pi-Ku, which is similar to a haiku, but the first line has three syllables, the second line has one syllable, and the third line has four syllables.
2. Write two Pi-Kus: One must be math related, and the other can be anything school appropriate.
3. Write your Pi-Kus on index cards.
4. Now here is the twist!!! Have students post their Pi-Kus to Seesaw, which is a website that I have just recently began using. If you have not used Seesaw, it is a digital portfolio, which allows students to post their work. Classmates and the teacher can then respond to their work.

Here are a few of the Pi-Kus that were created. Let me know what you think!

I want to do this again, and this is how I would change the assignment.

  • I would be more strict about double checking when students submitted. 
  • I would also be more clear about what I expected. 
I feel this was because I noticed after the fact that a few students miscounted syllables, but, overall, I was happy with their work. 

I would definitely not spend more than 15 minutes on this activity, but I would recommend it if you are looking for something quick to do next Pi Day! 

TED-Ed Riddles

We were starting class in my Honors Algebra 2 class one day last week, and one of my students asked me if we could do a TED-Ed riddle. The video for what I had planned previously wasn't working, so I was willing to give it a try. I was hesitant at first, but I am really glad that we did!

We watched this video and discussed it as a whole class. I was happy with the level of engagement that the students exhibited as well as with their abilities to reason through the riddle and not being afraid to take risks.

Here are a couple of photos that I took, highlighting the riddle itself as well as a couple of student representations of the riddle.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

An Evening with Eva Schloss

I have been behind in blogging, but I wanted to write about an amazing experience that my girlfriend and I had a couple of weeks ago. Eva Schloss came to Knoxville to speak. Eva Schloss was the stepsister of Anne Frank, and Mrs. Schloss was also a Holocaust survivor who spent time at Auschwitz. We decided to buy tickets to hear Mrs. Schloss speak because many Holocaust survivors are no longer alive, and this number will only continue to increase. 

Mrs. Schloss told us about her childhood and how she knew Anne Frank and told some personal stories. Then she discussed her experience in hiding from the Nazis and finally being discovered and taken to the concentration camp. One of the most eye opening experiences that I felt during the lecture was her story about how her family (among many others) were separated. She also told the story of how people were grouped and sent to the gas chamber at the concentration camps, which she referred to as "death camps." Another chilling moment to me was when she showed the audience her tattoo from the concentration camp. She told the audience that she shows this to show proof to those that said that the Holocaust was a lie. 

Then she talked about how it took her many years to be able to tell her story. My girlfriend bought Eva's book before the show, and she opened the book to find that Mrs. Schloss had signed the book. At the end, we watched an inspirational video from the local Jewish school in Knoxville. I am so glad that we had this experience to hear a living Holocaust survivor, and I recommend that anyone who has the opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor speak, take that opportunity. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The 7 Method

Let me just say that I cannot believe that it has been a month since I've blogged! Wow!

Anyways, let's get back to it. I was perusing Twitter on Thursday night and Friday morning, and I was reading the chat that Melynee Naegele and Sara VanDerWerf were leading on how elementary math is used in the high school classroom. As I was reading the chat, I came across something called the 7 method.

I inquired about the 7 method for division, and Melynee answered my question promptly by sending me this.

I looked at it and had to take a couple of minutes to analyze the problem. For a few seconds, I thought it was exactly the type of thing that people would complain about on Facebook as "common core math." Then I realized that even though this method may take up more paper, there is so much rich math happening. Plus, I feel that the 7 method reinforces multiplication, subtraction, and addition. It also made division even more fun! When the 7 method clicked, did it click! I decided to make up some problems to test the method. Here's a bit of my work. Let me know if you have any questions (or if you can't read my handwriting)!

Even though I teach sophomores and juniors, I find that many of my students, even my honors students, still struggle with some of the basics of mathematics. Heaven forbid when it comes to long division. This breaks my heart, and I wish that there was a magic solution. Unfortunately, there is not, but reading the elementary math chat last week, I feel more inspired to infuse more of the basics into my instruction, because I feel that they are important.

Heck, I might even teach this method to my students! I would definitely use this method if I were an elementary or middle school teacher.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Day the Local News Came to My Classroom

On Tuesday, my kids and I had an interesting surprise. I had went to the office to sign out to run an errand during lunch when the technology coach was there. She was telling me that Channel 6 News in Knoxville was coming to interview a couple of teachers about the Chromebook project that we have implemented this year as well as how broadband internet has helped our rural community. She said that the principal had lined up two teachers to speak. We spoke for a moment, and then I went to go run my errand. I got back, and she was still there waiting on the news to arrive at the school. We chatted again for a few moments, and I returned to my classroom. About ten minutes after we returned from lunch, the principal knocks on my door and says that they want a math teacher. The teacher next door also teaches math and is related to the principal. The other math teacher and I said that we would both participate in the interview together. Then I broke the news to the kids.

"Hey guys, Channel 6 in Knoxville is coming into our classroom. We might have to change a couple of our plans, but be sure you are working on something."

The reporter came in and introduced himself as well as his cameraman. I knew who the reporter was since he had been on Knoxville local news ever since I was a kid. I introduced myself, and then he asked what class this was and what grade level. They hooked me up to a microphone, and the cameraman got a few shots of me walking around the room assisting kids as well as a couple of shots while I was "teaching" using the Promethean board and technology.

Then the reporter asked me several questions about Chromebooks and how broadband internet has affected and helped my job as a teacher and how its affected student learning and outcomes. Then he asked the class if a couple of students wanted to be interviewed, and I had two volunteer immediately! They were hooked up to a microphone and were asked how the broadband internet has helped affect their learning positively.

By the time all this had happened, class was over, and we even had to go over a minute. The next day, I told students that since we had visitors observing Chromebooks on Friday and the local news came unexpectedly to our classroom, that I would bring them a treat. So, my girlfriend and I are going to make cupcakes for the kids for me to bring on Monday.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Grading System

I decided to have an overhaul of how I grade tests and quizzes for this semester. I used a scale of 1-10 to grade quizzes and tests. I really liked the scale of 1-10, but I decided to opt for a 0-4 scale. . I know that the 0-4 scale is nothing revolutionary in the world of Standards Based Grading, but as far as I know, I am the only person in my building that has implemented this scale. I can really say that I am a fan of the 0-4 scale!

I took the terms (and paraphrased the definitions) that I use to classify levels from the Tennessee Department of Education website as this is what they use to assess students on end of course examinations and applied it to my grading system.

So, here is how I decided to break it down by levels.

You have exceptional understanding and expert ability to apply the knowledge and skills of the standard.
On Track
You have a comprehensive understanding and thorough ability to apply the knowledge and skills of the standard.
You are approaching understanding and have a partial ability to apply the knowledge and skills of the standard.
You have a minimal understanding and minimal ability to apply the knowledge and skills of the standard.
Not Assessed
You didn’t assess or answer the question; therefore, I cannot objectively measure your learning on the standard.

I decided to calculate some of my percentages with the help of Justin Aion's blog. Another reason that I chose 88% is that it is in the middle range of a B on the Tennessee state grading scale. It's not that far from a C, but it's not that close to an A. So, it works as a middle range there. So, if you can perform with 88% accuracy, that isn't too bad. I also like the terms that the state of Tennessee uses, and I think that they transfer seamlessly to standards based grading. I also like the use of these terms versus below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced, which were used on previous state assessments.

Another change I have made is to take my state's standards and write them in friendly "I Can" statements to give to students, which I refer to as skill concepts. I then take these statements to align my quizzes. Quizzes range from 1-2 skill concepts while some will range anywhere from 3-5 skill concepts. I was wanting to give only quizzes that assessed 1-2 skill concepts, but I quickly realized that I wasn't going to be able to handle the paperwork load of giving feedback and assessing three to four times a week. I also realized that this was going to be tough given the depth of Algebra 2 and Geometry standards in Tennessee. So, I think I have figured out a more manageable system, and I also feel that this setup works to students' benefit as it is definitely more focused on skills and standards. It is also designed to see where students' strengths and areas of refinement are throughout the course.

Let me know if you have any questions.