Friday, January 31, 2014

Currently February 2014

I cannot believe it will be February in 1.5 hrs. I am linking up with Farley for February currently. January seemed to come and go with the blink of an eye.  We had FOUR cold days off of school and the best news is that we do not have to make them up!  We have such a LONG school day (7:50-3:15) at the middle school that we actually have enough minutes without tacking on extra days at the end of the year.

Listening:  To the crazy loudness of all the boys that are currently inhabiting my house.  My husband insists they are louder than a bunch of girls.  Not that we would know anything about that because all we have is boys.

Loving:  OK this may sound simplistic, but I absolutely love carrying around a whiteboard, marker, and erasing cloth with me during workshop work time because I can easily and quickly model problems for students.  I got the idea from my friend Charla who teaches 7th grade math with me.  I tried it once and now I am sold.  I think my students are going to start thinking of the whiteboard as another appendage of mine because it is attached to my hands all the time.  Old school can be good school!

Thinking:   That my oldest has a birthday Sunday and he will be 15.  He is at the age where all he wants for his birthday is cash.  Easy to shop for at the ATM.  The other day we were talking during lunch and other teachers informed me that he should take Driver's Ed this coming summer and it really hit me like a ton of bricks that he is no longer my little boy.

Wanting: To have a little break from sports.  Between my three boys we are all sports all the time (except soccer).  Basketball is my least favorite to watch for some reason.  I just wish they would take a season off.  My middle practices basketball, LAX, and baseball right now.  Wed nights are the worst.  

Needing:  To finish my organizing efforts in the master bedroom/bath/closet.  You would think with having FOUR cold days this month I could get it done, but I chose to menu plan/cook/bake/do laundry on those free bonus days.  Someday I will get it done.

Two truths and a fib:
1) True,  my second year of teaching I took a personal day on a Friday and flew from WI to San Diego to be his date for a work related dinner cruise.  He had to unexpectedly attend a business meeting in San Francisco the next day so we flew there; I shopped and explored to city all day while he was in meetings and we went out that evening.  It was a pretty epic blind date if I do say so myself (and the only one I ever went on).

2) False, but I did and still do LOVE that movie.  Oh Jake Ryan, how I loved thee.

3) True, I was staying with a friend in Lamia, Greece (well I had met her on the train and we became friends) during my Spring Break while studying abroad in Spain my sophomore year of college.  I stayed with her for five days, one day I took the train to Athens by myself and spent the entire day shopping and trying to find the right bus route that would take me to the Parthenon.  Due to the fact that I did not speak the language and the bus drivers did not get my pointing to a postcard of the Parthenon as my way of saying "take me there", I ended up in the bus terminal and almost missed my train back to Lamia that night.  In the end I made it back, but the closest I got to the Parthenon was pointing to it from a bus, while yelling and pointing, "that's where I'm trying to go".  Good times!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Math Workshop-Overview

Last summer I had the pleasure of coordinating an online Book Study on the book Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer.  I coordinated the book study because our 7th grade math team was being required to move to a workshop model for delivery of instruction in our math classes and I wanted to do everything I could over summer to prepare for this shift in instruction for the 2013-2014 school year.  I was very lucky to have a new math colleague, Charla, who was as excited about the implementation of the workshop model as I was and we spent countless hours over the summer discussing the book and our plans for the upcoming school year. She continues to be a great sounding board for me when thinking about new ways to tweak our workshop model.   Click Book Study  to learn more about workshop and see links to other amazing educators who participated this summer.

This past Tuesday we started up our #momathchat on Twitter where we discussed how things were going with implementing the model.  I encouraged everyone to do a blog post about anything related the math workshop model.  That is what is prompting me to get back in the blog posting saddle.  It's been such a busy school year and blogging has definitely taken a back burner as I have focused on my classroom and the busy family life we have with three active boys who play way too many sports. Please join us next Tuesday 7-8 CST if you'd like to chat with other educators who are doing math workshop with middle grade students, follow #momathchat on Twitter for Minds on Math Chat.

I am really loving using a math workshop with my students.  I feel this model allows me the time to get to know my students' as learners on a much deeper level than I previously would have been able to.  I love the shift from LESS ME to MORE THEM doing the math.  They have far exceeded my expectations for collaborative group work.  I see lightbulbs going on and the exciting thing is that I am only guiding them to the switch, they are turning them on all by themselves or with the help of their peers.

To give you a general background about my classes and set up, I teach one section of 7th grade accelerated math and have 32 students.  That's a lot of kids in one class, but they are so amazing and it is just so much fun to teach them.  Really I love that I start my day with this fun, intelligent, and motivated group of learners.

I teach three sections of 7th grade math and these are all inclusion classes where I have a special ed teacher or aide in the classroom with me. Each class has 28-30 students.  These classes are full of fun, intelligent, and motivated learners as well, but also have some students that struggle with math skills or confidence, content knowledge or motivation.  They are great collaborative learners as well.

We use Carnegie Learning a blended curriculum which is part collaborative classroom instruction using a consumable text and online personalized learning via MATHia software.  We are finding it to be a curriculum that works very well with the workshop delivery model.  We just need to stop trying to do every problem and every lesson because it's too much.  Our mathematical cups runneth over with the goodness of Carnegie.

Now to get on with it... My post focuses on the Workshop Lesson Structure I am currently using in my classroom.  I have an Elmo and a SMARTBoard that I use to project problems/lessons.  I will typically project homework answers on the Elmo.  My school computer is on its last bits and bytes and the Elmo tends to give my MacBook the spinning wheel of death every time I use it, so I tend to turn it off after correcting or it messes my computer up.  We are getting new teacher laptops next year thank goodness!

At the beginning of this school year we spent several days getting our classes set up for math workshop.  We focused on building a strong sense of community and collaboration.  I'm sorry I never blogged about some of our #1st5days activities we did with the students.  They really enjoyed them and so did we.  I would strongly suggest that you really take time to set up your expectations for math workshop before jumping in because it is a shift for many students for them to be doing more math in the classroom than the teacher.

I use the SMARTboard to project our Workshop lessons which includes to the Opening, Mini Lesson, Work Time expectations for the day, and Sharing and Reflecting.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Currently January 2014

I am linking up with Farley for her January currently.  I have two full weeks off for Christmas break this year and I have been enjoying it to the fullest.

Listening- VH1 is playing a marathon of every single episode of the show Happy Endings. My oldest son must have seen something on social media about it and told me so we have Direct TV which allows us to record a bazillion shows.  I was so sad when this show got cancelled because I thought the writing and acting was brilliant.  Such a treat to get to watch the episodes again.

Loving- I have been absolutely loving this vacation.  We only had the two days off after Thanksgiving since school started in August.  It has been a LONG haul to say the least.  I loved having the days off before Christmas Eve.  That gave me plenty of time for some last minute shopping, cookie baking and decorating, and wrapping gifts.  We spend Christmas Eve with my family and had so much fun.  My niece is three and my nephew is five months old so it was so nice to have little ones around.  We don't see them that often and they are growing up so fast, it was nice to have that time together.  We've also had lots of fun with friends.  We spent a few evenings hanging out with the whole family which is always wonderful.  Our next door neighbors had a Packer Party on Sunday and the Packers had such an exciting finish.  Our youngest two had sleepovers that night with different families.  We are so blessed to have tons of boys the same age as our two youngest and they all hang out together.  Our neighborhood is the best.  That night we played Cards Against Humanity for three hours while all the boys were downstairs playing in the basement.  I have also been very productive at home and school.  We've been doing some cleaning and organizing around the house.  I have also gone into school a couple days to do some organizing in my classroom.  I never have the time to catch up on that, so it has been nice to get myself super organized again, like I was at the start of the year.

Thinking- I have been thinking a lot lately about what I want to do differently in 2014, including the changes I want to make myself.  I cannot get over how stressful teaching has become in my district and state.  It really can be overwhelming at times.  I know that because of the stress and pressures of my job my family gets the short shrift sometime.  I need to do a better job of balancing things.  I need to focus this year on being strong and healthy.  My husband and I went and worked out yesterday morning for the first time in forever.  I felt so good afterward and need to make activity of some sort a priority in 2014.  I also need to spend more time modeling the behavior I expect to see in my sons.  I need to be more careful of how I talk to them so they are more careful with how they speak to each other.

Wanting- I really want to savor these last days of break.  I plan on spending one more day in my classroom finishing up some planning and organizing.  I also have some things I want to accomplish around the house. We need to get the house organized enough to hire a cleaning lady.  We had two ladies that cleaned our house a couple years ago and we need that again. I told my husband that the  only thing I wanted for Christmas this year was a clean house and to hire back a cleaning lady.  We are working to make this happen.

Needing- This goes with my wanting.  Just to get the house, the boys, myself, and my classroom all ready to go so when Jan 6th rolls around we are in good shape for starting up the craziness of school again.

Celebration/Tradition- We have had so many wonderful celebrations this break.  I feel so blessed to have my family to celebrate with and also have great friends that we can hang out with as a family and just have a good time together.