Monday, October 29, 2018

One Stray Group Activity for Geometric Proof

During our Geometry PLC meeting on Thursday, one of the group members was discussing an activity called One Stray that he had learned at a conference the week before. I remember learning about this activity during Kagan trainings I went to in February and June. So, I went to my Kagan book and looked up the strategy, and sure enough, I had learned about this.

We had discussed doing this for practice for Geometric Proof, and I thought I would give it a try. We used a Proof Practice assignment that I got from the amazing Elissa Miller. (If you haven't checked out her blog/resources, do so when you are finished here). I gave three minutes to work on the proofs, then stray and form new groups. After new groups were formed, I gave one minute to discuss the previous proof with the new groups before assiging the next proof. We are on 49 minute periods, so I was able to get through 5 proofs in one class and 6 in the other.

Here are the directions that I used for the activity. I took the majority of these from Kagan.
  • Be sure you are in groups of 4.
  • Each group will be given a mat. This mat will determine your number.
  • All members of the group will take 3 minutes to collectively work on Proof #1 
  • When I call time, we are going to do One Stray
 Directions for One Stray
  1. I will randomly call a number and call "STRAY"
  2. The student who has the number I call will stand up. The remaining teammates remain seated but raise their hands
  3. Standing students stray to a team that has their hands up
  4. Teams lower their hands when a new team member joins them.
  5. Students work in new teams to gather and share information. 

I used the Google Random Number Generator for group numbers to rotate. I used my Kagan Mats that I made to determine group numbers.  If you would like a copy of my Kagan Mat, please email me I also used the Google timer tool to manage the time. I also had the students complete their work in OneNote, which we use as our notebook. Also, I had students swap computers and check each other's work and highlight errors and circle unmarked diagrams (which I have been trying to reinforce consistently).

Overall, I think that the activity was successful! I think the kids learned and benefitted from it, especially since geometric proof can be very tricky.











Saturday, September 22, 2018

QR Code Review, My Spur of the Moment Idea

I was getting ready for work yesterday morning, and I was thinking about a few things, especially how I was going to grade Algebra 2 notebooks while the kids were working on their review assignment and without them fully relying on my assistance. Then it hit me. I needed something that was essentially self-checking. So, I decided that we could take pictures of the answers and problems and have the kids access them through QR codes.

I went into my coworker's room, who is our PLC leader and one of three of us Algebra 2 CP teachers. She loved the idea. Then we went out into the hall, and we saw our other Algebra 2 CP teacher, and we called him over as told him that we were going to make QR codes so that the kids could check their work, and he liked that idea as well.

I struggled with making them and was about to scrap the idea because it was short notice after all. Then my coworker said she knew how to make the QR codes on Google Docs, and she had it done in just a few minutes. She had an Add-On called Koodid Barcodes. Then she took the pictures of the problems I sent her and saved it to our shared Google Drive, so the kids were able to access it.

Here is the example. See if it works! I should've taken pictures of students working, but I got too sidetracked with that, notebook checks for Algebra 2, as well as projects in my Geometry classes.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

My First Experiences with OneNote and Top 5 Uses for OneNote

I am at a school that uses OneNote, and, although, it took a few growing pains, I can't imagine not using OneNote!

Let me tell you about my growing pains, first. I had some issues setting up the notebooks to link with the students, but, thankfully my teammates helped me out. Our school is a Canvas school, and there is a tab that students can use to link their notebook with the class notebook. The only major issue that I had with that is that I messed it up and created three notebooks for my math intervention class. However thanks to a Google Search, I figured this out. Also, I learned pretty quickly that my students knew more about it than I did, but, sometimes that humility in the classroom is an invaluable piece.

Now I will get to the good stuff. It's been a God send. I have been using it as our class notebook in my Geometry classes. Therefore, I don't require my students to have a notebook, and I send the majority of the practice and notes through OneNote, and they can write or type in their OneNote notebooks. If I have students practice, they can export their work to Canvas, and I can grade it from there. Goodbye copies!


Here are my top 5 uses for OneNote
1. Warm-Ups

  • I do my daily Warm-Ups in OneNote, and the kids turn them in on Fridays. 

2. Class Practice

  • Instead of making copies of worksheets, I just upload to OneNote to each kid's notebook. 

3. Organizational Skills

  • It helps the kids be more organized, although, this is a work in progress. 

4. Notes

  • I do all of my notes on OneNote. I just insert the PDF files into OneNote and distribute to students. 

5. Projects

  • We have a separate tab for Projects, and I can have kids either work on projects or send information for projects. Did I mention I can do rubrics in each kid's notebook and grade them there?! 
Let me know your experiences with OneNote, and I hope to improve with OneNote as time goes on. 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Increase Your Confidence, Engage with Tech, and Know Your Mistakes are Valuable

I saw a challenge from the incomparable Sam Shah on Twitter to present for the Virtual Conference of Mathematical Flavor a couple of weeks ago. I tweeted to Sam and decided to take the challenge.

As you may (or may have not seen) I have accepted a new position and am teaching in the town where I live! So, I wanted to wait until school was in for a couple of weeks to fully answer the prompt.

This is my seventh year teaching mathematics, and I have been fortunate to have some varied teaching experienced. I taught one year in the Mississippi Delta in a pretty tough school through Teach for America, four years in a small, rural high school in east Tenneseee, and one year in an urban school in east Tennessee. Now, I am teaching at a high school of about 1400 students in a suburb in east Tennessee.

When I was a student in elementary school through college, something that was lacking was my confidence in math. I always tried to compare myself to other classmates, and I would always think that I "sucked at math." I always was on an honors track in school, although we didn't have honors math classes where I went to high school. I took Algebra I in 8th grade, Algebra II in 9th grade, and etc. By the time I got to pre-calculus in my junior year, I had definitely become a helpless hand raiser. However, my teacher, Mrs. Owens, always encouraged me to increase my confidence in math, and she helped me to see that I was in fact a math person (just like every one else).

So, forgive my little personal story there, but it set the foundation that one of my guiding principles is to help students increase their confidence in mathematics. I try to design my lessons in a way that will help increase understanding in mathematics, even if ever so slightly. One way I design my lessons is that I try to see the potential in every kid and try to make connections to previous content and building blocks. I always say that if I helped a kid increase their confidence in mathematics, that I must be doing something right.

I am an avid fan of using technology in the classroom, and sometimes kids aren't used to this. At one of my previous schools, we became 1:1 when I was there, and I was one of the leaders in this project. I was so amazed in how tech helped students become better learners, helped increase retention, and helped test scores. So, I try to integrate tech wherever I can. At the school I was at last year, I shared a cart with another teacher, and she was a more than gracious host, so I had it a decent amount of time. At my new school, the kids have Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, so we will be using them most days! With awesome tools, such as Desmos (which I am pretty sure kids think I own stock in Desmos), Edulastic, Pear Deck, Quizizz, Kahoot, Plickers, and many more that I can't think of at the current moment. Kids are able to engage with math in ways that we haven't been able to in the past, and, as a result, they are able to see math as more dynamic and not just some problems on a worksheet or textbook.

I read Mathematical Mindsets a couple of years, and I totally bought in to the concept of mistakes are valuable. I posted Jo Boaler's math norms in the front of my classroom that following August, and they go up every year! One of the main norms I focus on is that our mistakes are valuable, and we use them to learn! Most kids buy in to this, and I really try to sell it. I even had one group one year do a choral response to "Mistakes are...valuable!" I have personally seen and experienced the power of showing kids that their mistakes are valuable. It causes students to look more closely at their mistakes, and often seeing in the process, that the majority of their mistakes are small. I also found a poster at the Bullseye playground at Target that says "Mistakes are proof that you are trying," thus further cementing the idea that mistakes are valuable and an important part of doing and learning mathematics.

Overall, I feel like these are the "flavors" that are served each and every day in my classroom with my students. As far as what math is or what math feels like, I feel that some of the methods I have are unorthodox, but my goal is a math teacher is to open the eyes of my students to see the beauty and depth of math. I try to convey the message that everyone can do math, but they have to put their mind to it and work hard! I also try to plan my lessons with the fact in mind that I want math to be accessible and approachable. Therefore, my main ideals to move the needle in math is to set up an environment where confidence is increased, technology is a key of what we do, and knowing that mistakes are valuable and people won't be ridiculed or made fun of based on mistakes.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Week 1 Down!

It's hard to believe that one week of school has came and went. I have to say that it was a great first week! I felt like relationships were getting built and content was being mastered. I also felt myself getting back into the groove.

One interesting thing for me is getting used to a new schedule. We have 49 minute periods, and I have never taught on short periods in seven years, and I haven't had short periods since I graduated high school in 2007. Since it was the first week, we were on an assembly schedule one day and for two days we were on early release schedule. One day a week, the kids go home an hour and a half early and we do PD after school, so my classes were 38 minutes this day. I would be up teaching and think we have five minutes left. Then the bell rang. So I was like "Okay, we will finish tomorrow." It's been a nice adjustment to 90 minute block and 70 minute periods.

I am really happy at my new school, and everyone has been friendly and accommodating! I am a part of two PLCs, and that is nice! The school is a Microsoft school, so I have been getting used to (a.k.a having the kids show me) how to use tools such as OneNote and switching the computer between regular mode and tablet mode. Also, kids are still having to remind me to unfreeze the screen, and you think I would have learned after basically six years.

So, here's been my week. In Algebra 2, we spent the first day setting up Canvas, OneNote, Delta Math, and other technologies. On Tuesday, we spent the majority of the time reviewing and simplifying radicals. Wednesday was for adding and subtracting radical expressions, and I taught multiplying radicals on Thursday. I created an Edulastic assignment for practice on adding, subtracting, and multiplying radicals. In Geometry, we also spent the first day setting up Canvas, OneNote, DeltaMath, and other stuff. We dug into points, lines, and planes as well as some segment addition. We also talked about complementary, supplementary, and vertical angles.

So, let's get week 2 started!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

2018-2019 Classroom!

Now that I am getting somewhat settled in, I figured it was time to show off a few pics of my new classroom!!! In case you haven't heard, I have a new teaching job.


I have seven groups set up, and the buckets are filled with supplies that students might need for that day. I got the bucket idea from a couple of teachers in my department. I put the following in my buckets: colored pencils, pencils, highlighters, index cards, erasers, pencil sharpeners. When we use whiteboards, I will put the erasers and markers in there. Also, I will put in handouts, INB pages, etc. Beside the buckets are the infamous Name Tents from Sara Vanderwerf. 

Here is my desk area. I bought a small parts organizer from Home Depot this summer and printed off some labels from TpT. I used red paper from the schools and I bought the border (which is ribbon) from Hobby Lobby. 

I had an extra rolling chair. Here are a couple of posters. I also have my "Distractions that Interrupt Learning" box as well as an area for missing assignments. 

 Cabinets (excuse the mess) 

 Here is a famous quote from Fawn Nguyen. I made the sign last year. I also have an AVID sign from my previous school (my new and previous school are both AVID schools). I bought the sign from Hobby Lobby a couple of years ago. 

 I got this idea for a poster from Brielle. It is called "How to be a Math Person." Here is the tweet

 Front of the room 





 8 Math Practices and I Can Statements at front of room. 


My Math Norms poster, inspired by Jo Boaler's Math Norms. The other signs were from the previous teacher. 

 Fist to Five (got from a colleague at my former school). My guidelines poster was made by my fiance's sister, who is a graphic designer. 

 Got this idea from Mrs. y=akubov and made my own version. 

 8 Math Practices Posters 

 I Can Statements 

 Weekly Agenda

My infamous Math Rules banner, designed by my fiancĂ© three years ago! 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Returning to High School

It's been a whirlwind of a few days for sure! It's been a while since I've blogged, and I hope to do more blogging this year!

Anyways, I have a big announcement! I am returning to teach high school next week! I applied for and accepted a position at the high school in my town!! I am so excited! The school is three minutes from my house, so that will be nice! The school also has a really good reputation, so I am excited to be on a staff of great math teachers!

The specific classes are to be determined, but it seems I will be teaching geometry (and maybe a couple of other classes)!

I have enjoyed my time teaching middle school, but this was simply an opportunity I couldn't pass up!

Pics of my new classroom will be coming soon!

One Stray Group Activity for Geometric Proof

During our Geometry PLC meeting on Thursday, one of the group members was discussing an activity called One Stray that he had learned at a c...