Thursday, August 16, 2018

First day of school mathematics!!

Today was the first day of school! Sometimes no matter how well you plan, you need to fill 3 - 5 minutes at the end of the hour.  Today I asked students questions about the day. I made the questions mostly mathematical answers. It was fun and made students think!
(I had told students that this was my 25th year of teaching and had shared a variety of information about myself.)
Sample questions.
1. How many school years have I taught?
2. Do I have more children or more chickens?
3. How many years have I lived in Collinsville?
4. What percentage of your semester grade will come from test grades?
5. Which is greater the age of my son in years or the age of my chickens in weeks?

They had NO CLUE that they were doing math!!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Geometry...My Style of Thinking!

I am starting a new year at a new school with a new prep.  A return to Geometry!!

After a summer with 10 days of PD included, I am ready to try new things and make my students work harder than me. My plan includes the following:
1. A lot of "What do you notice?" and "What do you wonder?" throughout many, if not all, daily plans.
2. Giving my students a change to guess and learn that a wrong guess is NOT a mistake. It is chance to learn more.
3. Go and talk - I just read about this idea a few days ago and love it! Have students stand up, walk up to another person, look them in the eye and discuss mathematics!
4. Creating Mathematicians who are constantly thinking.

This is a short blog post with more to come. My goal is to share my thoughts and ideas at least weekly.  More to come...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Math Department Lead Teachers/Chairs

This past week was the EngageOK Conference sponsored by the SDE.  One session that I attended was about the role of Math Department Lead Teachers/Chairs.Here are several ideas discussed.

A lead/chair should...
1.  Focus on excellence in their own classrooms
2.  Build relationships
3.  Focus on helping teachers who want to improve
4.  Be aware of and tend to issues as soon as they arise.
5.  Be a good example in all areas (ex.  Strive to learn on PD days, be attentive at faculty meetings, be positive in lounges/workrooms)
6.  Mentor all newer teachers
7.  Inspire teachers to inspire students
8.  Communicate opportunities to improve
9.  Share information about standards
10.  Collaborate with teachers in other areas and buildings
11.  Strive to discuss vertical alignment
12.  Pay close attentions to individual teacher's needs and help get them met
13.  Be willing to take on challenges within the department 
14.  Be an advocate for the department
15.  Hold department members accountable
16.  Focus on improvement
17.  Share your wisdom
18.  Let the department know that you have an open door policy (allow teachers to enter your classroom to observe your teaching anytime)
19.  Observe the teacher in the department to ensure that they are doing what they say they are doing (non-evaluative) and discuss what you see.

Feel free to add additional thoughts below.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My TMC14 Highlights!

I must start with WOW!  I had never been to such a relaxing, comfortable conference!  150 teachers who are willing to listen, learn and critic each others work.  I love the way the focus seemed to be totally different than other conferences.  I had the feeling of "I can do technology".  I felt encouraged to tweet more and blog more!  It's not that everyone needs to read what I write, but it is a reminder to myself of what is important to me and ideas that I have!


My biggest Aha moments:
1.  Every time you ask a class why, allow them to turn and talk.  Everyone's answer to why is a little different and if they turn and talk it allows the students to process.
2.  SnagIt!!!  I can't wait to create lessons using snag it for my virtual and/or absent students to experience.  What's more exciting the Techsmith guy, Jason Valade, showed me how to do it!!!!!!!  Watch out Jason, I have your email address AND phone number! 
3.  You start the problem.  I have the habit of asking students to finish solving a problem during lecture time, but what if I allowed a student to START the problem.  Then I could guide them through the entire problem as they go the direction that THEY choose.
4.  Not all secondary math teachers agree on what topics are the most important.  AND, that's okay!


Hope to see you at TMC15!! :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Day of JOY!

A few days ago I noticed that it was time for our Algebra 2 teachers to teach conic sections.  I noticed the Conic Cards, which I first introduced to students about 10 years ago, we're being used in several classrooms.  I haven't taught Algebra 2 for 2 years and teaching Conics is what I miss the most!  I have now sent the Conic Cards to 26 states and abroad!  I never hear from most teachers who use them, but today I did!  One of the teachers in my building sent this very kind email.

     I'm just completing another successful year of teaching conics thanks to your brilliant invention of Conic Cards.  Just looking around the room today as students review, I'm so pleased to see how involved most of the students are.  Several are sitting on the floor matching cards for practice.  Others are working on the review worksheet and I'm hearing good learning going on as they discuss how to tell which direction a parabola opens or how to graph an ellipse given the equation.  It really is amazing to see how much they have learned and even better, how motivated they are. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

It feels great to know that I have impacted student learning in classrooms of students who I have never met and probably will not ever meet!  I am thrilled beyond belief!!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Coaching!

I have had the opportunity to attend the 8 day training on Cognitive Coaching.  In a nutshell, the training is how to guide other teachers how to become more effective, plan and resolve problems without telling them what to do. I have met many educators from across the state who have the opportunity to influence other teachers.  Most of them are instructional coaches at the elementary level.  They spend time helping teachers prepare lessons, collecting classroom data and work as a bridge between teachers and administators.  

It makes me wonder...Why is it that Instructional coaches are at many elementary sites but not secondary?  As teachers are desiring scores above 3 on the Teacher/Leader Effectiveness, now would be the time to pilot a high school instructional coach!  I know that many teachers would not take advantage of an instructional coach, but those who would, could make minor classroom changes that would have a positive impact on student first time taker's EOI scores.  

This leads me to my developing passion!  I have always desired to have observer preservice teachers and intern teachers in my classroom.  I love to have the opportunity to guide them into a successful start of their career.  I now have a strong desire to work with other teachers to improve/refine their skills in order to increase their effectiveness!  I know that it sounds weird, but I am very excited at changing my priorities as teachers ask me questions about what they can try in their classroom.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The End and the Beginning!

As the end of the year approaches, I wonder where my students will be in 10-20 years.  I realize that I can only imagine their possibilities!  Many will have careers that do not exist yet. Some will have the opportunities to travel the world and regret not listening in English and history classes.  Many will work on college degrees.  Some will attend technical training beyond my imagination.

Then, I think back.  I have been teaching for 20 years.  What kind of difference have I made?  I have had over 2000 students in class.  I am proud to say these students have become ordained elders in the methodist church, local pastors, youth directors, professional football players, contestants on American Idol and The Voice, stay at home mothers, lawyers, engineers, teachers (of many subjects and levels), and many more.  How many of them remember something that I said to them?  When I can't even remember everything that I have said to encourage students in the past two weeks.  It reminds me of when I was in high school and a math teacher asked my why I wasn't on the advanced math track.  That one question motivated me to do more!  What do I say to students that could change their lives in a positive way?

I admit that there are students that I encourage more than others, but why?  My excuse is always I don't have time to talk to every single student every day.  But, if I make the time, if we all make the time, look at the change we can make to the world we live in.

If you are reading this, I challenge you to speak to a young person today who you don't normally take the time to visit with and just tell him/her that you are proud of the efforts they make to be successful. You will never know how much one conversation can do to change someone's life.  For example, in college I struggled through Calculus 1. I had not yet figured out that I needed to be careful when choosing an instructor.  A different math instructor (also a family friend)confronted me at church and asked "I received a list of students who changed their major this semester and you were on the list.  Why?"  I responded saying, "I can't even make a C in Calc 1, there is no way for me to make it through Calc 3 and beyond to be a math teacher."  He said (with his gentle voice and finger pointed at me), "You WILL take Calc 1 again next semester, you WILL enroll in MY section, then you WILL change your major back to Math Ed.  Do you understand?"  I couldn't say anything but "Yes, sir!" The three minute conversation changed my entire life!  Whose life will you change in 3 minutes?  You may never know, but they will remember for a lifetime.