Sunday, May 24, 2015

Google Classroom- Part I

I know I have not blogged in forever.  I think I've even missed a month or two of Currently.  So many great things have been happening in my classroom this year.  I LOVE my students and get sad thinking we only have 3 more weeks together (not that I'm not looking forward to a relaxing summer).  I have three boys of my own and the oldest one is a sophomore and made the Varsity LAX team and the younger two both play LAX and BB.  Needless to say every free moment for the past few months has involved cheering one of them on in their sports endeavors.  It has been so much fun and one of my favorite parts of being a mom, but there has been no time for blogging.  I have myriad ideas for blog posts and hopefully this summer my creative juices will flow again on this blog when I get a chance to breathe.

I decided a couple months ago to try out Google Classroom with my Honors Math 7 class for 4th quarter.  I wanted to just test out a few things on a small scale to get the hang of it myself before committing to doing it with my other three classes of Math 7. I'm no expert on classroom, but with the help of my awesome tech coach I figured out how to use it to for the benefit of my students and things have been going really well with it.  It was easy to set up.  I mean really easy.  It does take some work to keep up with all the document uploading and the more you have on Google the easier it will be for you.

My purpose in trying it out small scale was to understand the best way to organize my documents when using them in classroom and how to store them on Google Drive when the chapter was finished.  I wanted to see the workload it would add to my already very jam packed schedule of things I need to do on a daily basis.  I wanted to have the freedom to try things out on a small scale (one class) and get feedback from my students on what they like about/need from Google Classroom.  I kept reminding my students that Classroom is for their benefit first and foremost.  This blog post is an overview of classroom and focuses mainly on what I store on the About page.

Step one of course is I set up my Google Classroom.  I actually already did that last year and never really used it so that step was done.  Once you create a class you are given a "Class Code".  I simply gave this to my students and they typed in the code for my class.  They knew what to do because other content teachers have been using Google Classroom all year.

All four classes are set up and ready to go, but I'm only it with Honors Math 7 this quarter.
My main purpose for using classroom is to store documents students may need access to like assignments, answer keys, and PDFs of the mini lessons I teach on the SMARTBoard as part of my math workshop.  I wanted students who were absent to be able to stay caught up if they chose to and I have to say they have impressed me with their responsibility.


Stream is where you can post announcements or share assignments with students.  I do not share most assignments this way because I don't really do the grading on Google (although I can and maybe will down the road).  I have been putting out a daily announcement to my students each day after class is over.  That way if a student is absent or missed part of class for a music lesson, or just plain was not paying attention and does not remember what we did or if there was an assignment, s/he can check without having to ask me or another student.  The majority of my Honors Math 7 students are highly motivated and will check classroom if they are absent, look at the mini lesson, and print out and do the homework assignment.

These are the three folders I have shared on my About Page:  MiniLessons, Assignments, and Answer Keys.  I keep everything in the folders until the chapter summative assessment.  At that time I move the documents into storage folders in my Google Drive (that could be another post).

I've given the example of what my students would do to see the mini lesson for 9.1 if they missed that.

Students click whichever folder they need.

They click the document they need.

This is just the first page of the Mini Lesson as it was broken into more than one part with work time mixed in.
My students correct their own homework at the beginning of class everyday.  They look over the answer key in Google Classroom using their Chromebooks (we are 1:1).  They love being able to access the assignment answer keys instead of waiting for the key to be passed around the room like we did in the past.  I answer any questions on homework after they check it.  This all occurs while they are completing their daily warm-up.

I upload the assignments in classroom so students have access.  This puts to responsibility back on the student if they misplace or forget their assignment at school and want to complete it on time.

It has been very time consuming to make PDFs of the Mini Lesson portion of workshop that I share with students via my SMARTBoard.  I think it's so worth it though, sometimes students need to look at the worked examples one more time.  It's great if a student misses the mini lesson or just want to look it over again, they still have access to the mini lesson.

Those are the three main things I have been uploading for my students on my About Page.  I have also uploaded a couple assignments via the Stream, but I will save that for another blog post.  Feel free to ask any questions here or on Twitter @luvbcd

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Currently

I'm linking up with Farley for her March Currently link up.  It's been quite awhile since I've blogged.  Things have been great with me and busy as always.  School is going really well and I just love love love my students this year.  They are so much fun and it's great being in my third year of using Carnegie and my second year of math workshop.  We are in our first year of Standards Based Grading so that is what we spend the majority of our PLC time working on.






Tuesday, January 27, 2015

#5Practices Book Study: Chapter 3 "Investigating the Five Practices in Action"



Today we are blogging about Chapter 3 of the #5practices book study.  For more information read here #5practices Book Study. Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

This chapter was analyzing an 8th grade lesson where students solved a tiling a patio problem.  The mathematical ideas the teacher wanted her students to understand were:  linear functions grow at a constant rate, there are different but equivalent ways of writing an explicit rule that defines the relationship between two variables, and the rate of change of a linear function can be highlighted in different representational forms.

First off I could not believe they talked about an overhead projector being used.  Do people still use those?  I know I'm getting sidetracked from the point of this post, but back in the day I LOVED my overhead projector, but I've had a SMARTBoard for the past 6 years and it just struck me as so old school to be still using an overhead.  I'm not judging and told you I had much love for my projector, I guess this book has a 2011 copyright so it's plausible.  OK sorry, but I'm just curious how many people still use an overhead.

Alright back on task. The chapter basically walked us through her lesson and interactions with students.  It showed evidence of use of several of the 5 Practices by the teacher.  This chapter did a good job of showing how the 5 Practices work build on each other and work to support the orchestration of a productive discussion.  It really shows how much planning goes into a lesson before (anticipating) and during (monitoring, selecting,sequencing, connecting) the lesson itself. I liked seeing the progression through an actual lesson.

This week I'm not posting any discussion questions, feel free to post your own discussion questions in your blog posts.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

#5Practices Book Study: Chapter 2 "Laying the Groundwork: Setting Goals and Selecting Tasks"



Today we are blogging about Chapter 2 of the #5practices book study.  For more information read here #5practices Book Study. Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

The title of this chapter really summarizes what it is all about, laying the groundwork by setting goals and selecting tasks.  Selecting the mathematical goals for the lesson is a critical first step when planning and teaching a lesson.  The key is to select a goal that clearly identify what students are to know and understand about mathematics as a result of the lesson.

Several examples were given throughout the chapter of tasks with higher level or lower level demand.  This chapter emphasizes the importance of setting your mathematical goal prior to a lesson and selecting appropriate tasks.  It is important to do this prior to implementing the five practices.

Discussion Questions (my thoughts in blue)

1) How would you describe the relationship between the goal for a lesson and the instructional activities in which students are to engage during the lesson?  I think the goal you set for the lesson will impact the types of instructional activities you choose.  Selecting high level open ended activities will allow students to go beyond learning a concept as simply a set of procedures.

3)  The authors argue that what students learn depends on the nature of the task in which they engage.  Do you agree with this point of view? Why or why not?  I definitely think that the depth of student learning is impacted by the type of tasks they complete as well as whether the tasks are over scaffolded or not.  Sometime we take a high level task and provide too much scaffolding for the students and essentially break the problem down to a step by step level that shuts down the possibility of students discovering on their own a viable method to solve the problem.  

4)  What do you see as the cost and benefits of using high-level (i.e., cognitively challenging tasks) as the basis for instruction?  The benefits are a deeper understanding of the learning goals and also often times seeing connections between the task and other mathematical concepts.  The costs are definitely time, you need to provide students adequate time to make these discoveries.  Students also need to be taught perseverance and to embrace productive struggle from this type of task.  Many students are only concerned with getting the correct answer and don't appreciated the learning that takes place as they struggle to achieve the task.

Feel free to share this link up in your own blog post.
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#5Practices Book Study: Chapter 1 "Introducing the Five Practices"



Today we are blogging about Chapter 1 of the #5practices book study.  For more information read here #5practices Book Study. Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

The purpose of the five practices is to provide teachers with a structure to control student-centered discussions in order to achieve the mathematical goals set for the lesson.

Chapter 1 Introduces the five practices,
  1. Anticipating likely student responses to challenging mathematical tasks
  2. Monitoring students' actual responses to the tasks (while students work on the tasks in pairs or small groups)
  3. Selecting particular students to present their mathematical work during the whole-class discussion
  4. Sequencing the student responses that will be displayed in a specific order
  5. Connecting different students' responses and connecting the responses to key mathematical ideas
Anticipating: This step is all about working out your problem in as many different ways as you can and with different representations.  Saving student work samples or jotting down misconceptions will help you when you teach the lesson again.  It's important to anticipate how students might interpret and solve a problem, both correctly and incorrectly.

Monitoring: This involves paying close attention to how students go about solving a math problem and what strategies they use. Teachers should do more than just listen and observe they need to be questioning students to help them explain and clarify their thinking.  These questions can be preplanned based on anticipated responses and solutions to the problem. Questioning a student while they work on a task allows them to refine or revise a strategy they are using before sharing ideas during a whole group discussion and gives me feedback on what the students are understanding about or struggling with the problem.

Selecting: The teacher needs to carefully select students to share responses based on the goals of that lesson.  By selecting the responses you want shared with the whole class, you can maintain control of the discussion while encouraging student participation.

Sequencing: By very thoughtfully planning the order in which you have students share their responses you can maximize the chance of achieving your mathematical goals for you class discussion.

Connecting: The teacher should help students draw connections between the different strategies and representations presented during the sharing of solutions. The goal is for the student presentations to develop powerful mathematical ideas by carefully building on one another.

Discussion Questions: (my thoughts in blue)
1) How do you currently plan a lesson?  To what extent do you focus on what you will do versus what students will do and think?  I currently plan a lesson by looking at how I will structure the problems in my workshop format: opener, mini lesson, work time, sharing & reflection.  I make sure I work out all problems and make notes where I think students may have misconceptions.  I definitely spend more time thinking about what I am going to do during the workshop rather than what students will think and do.

2) Anticipating is an activity that is likely to increase the amount of time spent planning a lesson.  What would you expect to be the payoff for this investment of time?  The payoff for spending planning time on anticipating student responses is you would be prepared for multiple representations and solution strategies.  By anticipating student errors you can make sure to emphasize possible misconceptions and discuss those with students.  When we spend time in team planning discussing different strategies for solving a particular problem I am often introduced to methods I may not have considered myself.

3)  Why is connecting important?  What is the teacher's role in helping students make connections? Connecting is important so students can see that there are other ways to solve problems and multiple ways to represent solutions.  It is important to show them that some strategies are more effective than others.  By observing the solutions of others students are able to check the accuracy of their own solutions.  This can create rich discourse as students use mathematical practice standard #3 to  construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

Thanks for reading and joining in the book study.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Chapter 1.


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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Scoop (1-4-15)

I'm linking up with Juliet at Teaching Trio for The Sunday Scoop.


Today is my last day of break and it went by way too fast, but I will be happy to see my wonderful 7th graders tomorrow.  My Sunday scoop this week focuses on non-school things.  Can you tell I've been off school for a bit.  The time off has been a perfect mix of fun and productive.  I also had some time to work on some organizing projects at home.

We've had a brief respite from all things sports related and this week things are back into full swing with three boys practicing lacrosse, one starting Driver's Ed, one having baseball practice, and another having basketball practice.  The mom and dad taxi service will be up and running like crazy again.  Between all the craziness I'm hoping to squeeze in some time at the gym.  I slacked off over break for sure.

I've decided it's time to recalibrate and so I'm starting #whole30 tomorrow.  I spent some time today finding recipes and buying groceries.  I'm nowhere near as set to begin as I would prefer, but the holiday break indulgences have caught up with me and I'm ready for a serious food detox.

If you start back to school tomorrow, good luck and have an awesome day.  If you are still on break we can no longer be friends due to my intense jealousy issues.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

#5Practices Book Study Begins January 13th

I'm really excited to be hosting another online book study that will be starting on January 13th.  I delayed the start time a couple weeks so anyone who needs to pick up a copy of the book has time to do that.  We will be reading and discussing 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions by Margaret S. Smith and Mary Kay Stein.


I hate to go all Charlotte Danielson on you all, but that is my reality and my PPG this year is Component 3b:Using Questioning and Discussion Techniques
Elements include:
› Quality of questions/prompts
› Discussion techniques
› Student participation

I'm really hoping this book study will help me improve both questioning and discussion techniques in my math classroom.  It is my goal to enrich my collaborative classroom culture to include student initiated higher order questions and thoughtful student led discussions prompted by rich mathematical tasks.

Each Tuesday morning I will post a chapter summary with discussion questions, reflections, and a link up for you to share your blog post. Please make sure you read and share comments on others' posts.  Don't feel you have to follow the structure as set up when writing your post.  If you prefer to just blog about what you read, do that.  The discussion questions will be prompts for anyone looking for some guidance as to what to blog about. There is no right or wrong way to participate.  Use #5practices on Twitter to also share your blog post.  Any twitter discussion about the reading should include the same hashtag.  If there is interest in a scheduled twitter chat time to discuss the reading, we can decide on that as we go.  If you are not active on twitter now is a great time to start, or you can just link up with your blog posts if you prefer.

Hopefully as the book study continues we will all be able to share stories and examples of how we are improving our discussions in our own classrooms.

Please feel free to leave any questions in the comments section or you can reach me on twitter @luvbcd  I'm looking forward to learning from and sharing with all of you!