More Good Stuff

It’s really hard to believe, but this has been a really great year so far. Perhaps it’s the smaller class size, the camaraderie in the department, my general glass half full type of optimism. Whatever it is. I’m grateful.

I should blog about things I need help with. And believe me, I intend to. But sometimes I just want to share how awesome my job is.

There are exceptions of course, but so far they’re few. Students have been more engaged, especially in the lower-level algebra 2 class. It’s like a dream come true.

We have been working/reviewing how to solve linear equations in one variable. Started with a little Connect 4 – Algebra Style with a battle of the sexes theme.

This week we did Desmos’ Central Park. It was a struggle for some kids, but they were engaged, and I was as well.

Then we did some puzzling problems, credit due to Park Math Curriculum. “Did we seriously just do one problem for 30 minutes?” “Yes – is there anything wrong with that?” “Nope!” ❤

We ended the week with an equation solving maze. (Found on pinterest, thanks to Mrs. E Teaches Math.) It was amazing. We weren’t sure about how the kids would do wandering around the hallways, but I have proof they were awesome. Some of them even said it was “fun.” Victory.

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Happy Teacher:

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Collaboration Struggles

I really really really want my students to collaborate this trimester. Nearly every year, I start with my students in pods of four. And at the end of nearly every year, my desks are separated from these pods. In recent years, the desks have ended up in pairs – so that’s OK I guess… Regardless, improved student (and teacher) collaboration is one of my goals this year.

Seventy-ish percent (just a guess) of my students enjoy working and collaborating together and actually get something out of it. When this happens, and I get to watch it, it’s AMAZEBALLS. I love it. It makes me happy.

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However, 70-ish percent is just not good enough for me. I’ve already had complaints of “my group never talks.” And I’ve seen it. I need to take more stock into actually  getting students to collaborate positively with each other. Especially in my Algebra 2 Concepts class – I think that will be my challenge this trimester. I want them to be POSITIVE collaborators.

So I’m trying to do the whole assign roles for each person in the group. And actually hold them accountable – I just don’t really know how this is going to happen. The plan is to introduce and assign these roles tomorrow. I was also inspired by @JustinAion to get kids to say positive things about each other’s work – I need to give this a “go.”

Any advice?

Week three begins tomorrow 🙂

Best Week EVER!

Literally. Best. Week. Ever.

Last Tuesday was the first day of my thirteenth year of teaching. I know what you’re thinking – I look so young. But seriously, thirteen years. This has been the best first week of school I’ve experienced so far. I took so many pictures to illustrate the wonderment of this week. But of course, they’re on the iPad in my desk drawer. So, I’ll have to save those for a later post. The one picture that I do have is perhaps the most important one…

 

Every first day of school since I started teaching, she’s sent me flowers. I love her so much!

First Day Activity

Along with others in my department, we tried the blanket challenge with our classes. It was great to see students working together on the first day, without instruction. Just seeing them work out their ideas. Most worked really well. There were one or two that got frustrated by their lack of teamwork skills. Definietly going to focus on teamwork within my classes this year.

After the blanket challenge, it was the Mrs. Hazelton show. I put together a slideshow on things that make me happy. Then each student decorated a notecard with one thing that makes them happy. Each of these notecards got posted on my new HAPPY WALL. (Pictures to come.)

Ok moving on.

I teach Algebra 2 Concepts & Skills and Honors Probability & Statistics. I’ve taught Algebra 2 Concepts & Skills for the past 6 years. It’s a class I have dreaded in the past. This year though, I feel very optimistic. The class size going from 35 to 24-ish probably has something to do with this 🙂 I know that the motivation may still be an issue, but I know I can get to know these kids SO MUCH BETTER now. I will DEFINITELY have more to post about this bunch!

My Honors Probability & Statistics classes are off to a great start! I started with an informal survey project to see how they would collect and present data. We were on the verge of Sampling Methods. Nothing formal was introduced at all last week. We JellyBlubbered one day and did a card sort the next day. Such great discussion within these groups. In the Jelly Blubber Activity, the student groups (ALL of them) decided to select their samples based on size – choosing 1-2 to represent each size group. I thought that was really interesting! The card sort was amazing. The students sorted the cards by the sampling method. Tomorrow we will introduce the formal vocabulary and see what we can do with these activities.

I love my job. I hope I can keep up this energy and enthusiasm all year. Wish me luck 🙂

 

Unit Circle Awesomesauce

In my college trig class I’ve been hinting at the unit circle for a while. Earlier this week, students learned the angles of the unit circle. Today, the coordinates were introduced. I used an idea from an article given to me by the one and only @veganmathbeagle. The article is from the February 2014 article of the Mathematics Teacher, My Favorite Lesson: the Human Unit Circle submitted by Maureen MacInnis.

So, I wanted to do this outside in the fresh air with some sidewalk chalk, but this winter (#worstwinterever) would not allow that. (The parking lot was an ice skating rink this morning.) Thankfully, we have a large locker commons area.

I wrote up 32 cards, one for each x- and y-coordinate on the unit circle (x’s pink and y’s blue.) Students picked up 1-2 cards on the way to the commons and were instructed to “find their match” and “plot the ordered pair” on the coordinate grid taped to the floor. After some struggling (and remembering the special right triangles we solved for warm up), they successfully re-created the unit circle. Success.

Then we made like Autobots and rolled out… the x- and y-coordinates to show the cosine and sine curves.

Pure Awesomesauce.

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Graphtastic

My 9th grade algebra 1 students are still struggling with graphing. Winged it today with some masking tape and paper cups!

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Worked really well in one class, could’ve been a little better with the squirrelly class.

Let’s be honest here

I love math and I love kids yes that part is true. But after teaching for eleven years… I thought it would get easier. Let me assure you it is not. This girl works hard for her money!

The paradigm shifts so frequently in education, especially math. I feel like I’m constantly learning something new and constantly tweaking what I’m teaching. Now this is not a bad thing. Just seriously not what 10 years ago me expected. I started teaching in a school that was using the Core Plus curriculum (albeit not always in the appropriate manner). Then taught 5-12 math with a very different curriculum (Saxon). And now in my current position we’re kind of in limbo pushing for problem solving and STEM.

Anyhow, the point of this post is that I thought it would get easier. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy with my job. But the 10 years ago me needs to know that a teacher’s workload will never decrease, whereas time put in seems to ALWAYS increase. I feel like I’m always trying to make things better. No matter how many years I’ve taught the same class, I never teach it the same way.

But let’s be honest here, I seriously thought I would be able to simply put in 40 hours each week with my summers off. Somebody needs to tell the 10 years ago me how naive she is.