Monday, August 18, 2014

ISN Reflections

Something I really like about ISN's is being able to use them myself to look back on everything from the year. It's a great starting point in thinking about the upcoming year because I'm not starting from scratch. Instead I can just pick through it and improve on things so that each year gets better than the last.

Next week I'm doing a presentation on ISN's for our new teachers so knowing that I'm going to be passing it around as an example I wanted to make sure it was in good shape. Even as I flipped through it quickly I was able to fill in some empty left sides with good prompts that I hadn't thought of during the year. Even though the year is over, I still wrote them in there so that this year I have the ideas ready to go. This is the only year too where I'll be teaching the same course (two of them actually) as I did last year so I'm especially looking forward to being able to really use last year's notebook as a guide for the first time ever.

One thing that I filled in that I like better was on the page with my course guide. Last year I switched my syllabus to a shorter one that is more to the point. In the past, I've used this high five activity with my syllabus but since this page has less info now I don't know if it could be more of a challenge to find five different things. Not that a challenge is a bad thing, but this year I think I'm going to switch things up and do a 3-2-1 summary on this page (apparently last year I left it blank so I filled this in just now).

In case you can't quite read the picture below, the prompts will be:
  • 3 most important things to know about this class (same idea as the high five, but only 3). This will also be based off of both the course guide + whatever we talked about during class.
  • 2 questions you still have about this class
  • 1 good thing that happened in school today

This could change by the time I go back to school in a couple weeks, but I think I like it. What do you think?

Oh and something else fun. Have you seen this pin yet? I fell in love with that syllabus and decided to modify it for myself. If you find him on twitter he shared a link to download the Photoshop template he used. I'd share a link to it but I can't find it again. So after remaking mine, I thought about it and how it's not really practical to print them in color so instead I put it up on my website as the first thing you see.

Isn't it pretty? I of course don't take credit for the idea and I used some of his wording as well because it was better than what I had written. I would share a link or something to the template but I really don't have anything that would be useable to anyone. Maybe the idea will spark something though!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

SBG Bulletin Board

So this whole post is probably rather ridiculous but it's really just something I'm trying to make a decision on.

So last month I modified Kelly O'Shea's flowchart to make my own:

Then yesterday, Sarah Hagan tweeted this:

And although I already printed and laminated my poster, I happen to have an empty bulletin board you can see here:

So instead of getting ready to go teach summer school this morning, I started to cut arrows and make my poster bigger.

Printed it on cardstock and ended up here:

And this is where the ridiculous sets in because any normal person would have probably called it a day there and been done. Nope. Decided I didn't like the rectangles so I cut.

And once all the pieces were on the floor I started playing. The layout is perfectly fine as is, but since I wasn't trying to fit it onto a piece of paper I started moving things around. 

While a bulletin board is not going to be the center of attention or anything and it's probably not that big of a deal, I'm a perfectionist and I once I get an idea I have to run with it or it drives me nuts. Also, it would be handy to put up a large scale graphic idea of SBG in my room because it would save me a lot of explaining. Not to my kids because they get it, but to everyone else. People seemed to be very curious about what was going on in my room last year. Even my kids told me that other adults would ask them what exactly it was.

So I keep playing around with the cards on my living room floor and these are some of the options. 

I have two favorites that I'm deciding between, but I'm curious to hear anyone else's thoughts.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

More Quote Posters

The last thing I need is more posters in my classroom but I keep finding sayings I like and I can't help it. These two are designed to match the last set I made.

I think I keep making posters because it's that time of summer where I have classroom decorating on my mind. Especially so since I'm in the process of moving my classroom.

It is currently a disaster and looks like this: 

Fun fact..this will be my 9th year of teaching and between moving schools and just having being moved around, I have never spent more than 2 years in the same classroom. You'd think I'd have a way to make this process easier but no. Thankfully this room is right around the corner from my old room. The summer I had to move everything downstairs and across the building was not a good time. Between teaching and this project it'll be a very busy last month of summer.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Current Supplies

This post is just to answer a question I get fairly often about what gets written down where. Over the past few years I've switched up what materials I use. I wrote awhile ago about using binders, which a lot of people ask about, but I thought I'd just give a quick update that I no longer use them. I used binders when I taught Connected Math (which I no longer teach). 

My kids currently use these three things only:

This is of course their ISN. Many people ask if all their notes go in here or if some go elsewhere. They all go here. The ISN is for all the stuff they need to know how to do. It's the things I want them to keep. If I'm spending class time having them take "notes" on something then I feel like it needs to be important enough to keep. If it's not, then making them copy down what I'm writing is a waste of time. People also ask if I think a spiral notebook or binder would work. The answer is that I don't know. I have always used a composition notebook because it is sturdy and there's no chance of pages falling out. The small size has rarely ever bothered me or impeded on something we needed to do.

This for everything that's not important enough to keep or refer back to. Do nows, homework, classwork, practice, etc. Not that this stuff isn't important, but I feel like if I make kids keep and organize every single thing they write down then it all loses value. The spiral notebook is basically just a place to write things down. I could use a binder I guess, but I don't need it to be that formal and I don't feel like dealing with "I'm out of paper." This is a bound chunk of paper which is all I need it to be. If it gets lost or thrown out or ruined, I don't care so long as they get another one. Honestly I don't need them to refer back to some random practice problem we did three weeks ago so I don't care that it's not organized. I do need them to refer back to a process that we learned three weeks ago if they forget so that's why the ISN is organized.

This is their SBG portfolio, or all their graded work. Nothing else but graded work goes in here otherwise it runs the risk of losing value and getting messy. It does not leave the room.

What about things like worksheets? I have no need for a binder where they three hole punch and collect every single sheet of paper I give them. If I give them a worksheet or handout, it is either:

  • Important enough where I think it could be a good reference later, if so I find a place in the ISN for it.
  • Important enough for me to collect and grade and/or give feedback on. If so, it'll end up in the SBG portfolio.
  • Just practice that I don't think will ever end up being a good reference. It's still valuable while they're using it. They work on it, check it, maybe I'll look over it, talk about it...but afterwards if we've used it for all it's good for and they're not going to look at it again they toss it. 

So that is all. Many of my classes are small and I have them keep all these supplies in the room. I have shelves with paper trays stacked up and each kid gets a shelf.

This the first day of school before the kids have even arrived- their shelves never look this neat

They also just toss random papers in the shelf sometimes because I haven't decided yet what to do with it so I tell them to just hold onto it for now and I decide later. They also keep random papers in the shelf if it's still a work in progress- maybe an activity or sheet of practice problems that we're going to work on again tomorrow.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Height Prediction Activity

I wrote awhile ago about my scatter plot notes. I still like those and use them pretty much as is. This year I added an activity to it that was decent so I wanted to write it up mainly so I don't forget about it.

By the time they get to Algebra 1 I think kids have done scatter plots before so it's important to move off of just making them and telling what kind of correlation there is. I did a ton more this year looking into doing linear regressions, interpreting the correlation coefficients and then using the equation for the line of best fit when there's a strong correlation.

In the past I've done an activity where the kids measure their wingspan and height, graph it and identify the correlation. It's always a crowd pleaser. But in hindsight I was mis
sing a good chance to take it further. For starters height and wingspan are pretty close so I was nervous that kids thought that correlation meant equal.

This activity mainly arose from a day where I was getting blank stares and no one was focusing on a word out of my mouth. We were working on linear regressions using their calculators and I had printed out various tables of data with the intention of having them practice using the calculator to find lines of best fit and then tell me what the r value implied about the data. But they weren't having it so I needed something to get them up and awake because I just didn't feel like fighting with them to make them work.

I pulled out my Ikea measuring tapes (last time I was there a bunch of them may have made their way home with me) and gave my kids the task of measuring each other's height, wingspan, hand size, foot size and then one kid asked if we could add in their waist to floor measurement. The goal was going to be to see which one was the best predictor of a person's height. To be completely honest, I had NO idea if this was going to work.

As they started measuring, I typed up a quick google form and when kids were done they used their phones to enter their measurements. I had the chart projected on the board so they could see the measurements as they came in which was actually a happy accident because that led into a conversation about the accuracy of data. A couple measurements were really far off from the others and didn't make sense so they'd make a kid go remeasure something and typically it turned out that they had made a mistake the first time or maybe typed a number wrong.

When everyone was done, I printed out the table and they did 4 linear regressions:
  • hand size vs. height
  • foot length vs. height
  • wingspan vs. height
  • waist to floor vs. height

The goal was to use the r value to determine which relationship was the best predictor of height. I told them that when they picked which was the best than we would find some strangers to try it out on.

A kid pointed out that I didn't get measured which ended up working perfectly.

With the help of a kid, I measured my hand, foot, wingspan and waist to floor measurements (not my height). They had to then use each equation to predict my height. It was pretty interesting how close they got. After they had the 4 predictions we talked about which prediction was probably the best (one with the highest r value) and only then did I measure my height.

In one of my smaller classes they were really into the idea of measuring random kids in the hall so I told them that they had to decide what measurement to choose (that period ended up being wingspan). So we set up a "measuring station" in the hallway and grabbed people that walked by. The kids would measure their wingspan then use their equation to predict what their height would be. Then they measured the height to see how close they got. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how close they got. They got a really big kick out of it too when they were right or really close. The thing that I liked was that we moved beyond the idea that positive correlation means your height and wingspan are the same. They never actually used that logic..they used their equation to make the prediction.

Since this whole thing was really done on a whim I have no pictures, no handouts, nothing at all. It is one that I plan to keep around for next year though and hopefully fine tune a bit. So I'd love to hear any ideas or suggestions you've got!