Sunday, October 25, 2015

Explain"ing" Everything about Slope!

The first nine weeks are officially over. We finished off the first quarter with parent-teacher conferences Thursday night after school (yes, after a full day teaching we have conferences from 4-7pm) and Friday morning from 8am-12pm. It's super nice to have the two days back-to-back for conferences and it's really nice to get off Friday at noon, but Thursday is one long day.

With conferences on Friday that means students get a freebie day at the end of the quarter and enjoy themselves a nice three day weekend. We had a PreAlgebra test on Wednesday, so basically, according to our pacing guide, we were "supposed" to start the next chapter on Thursday before a three day weekend. Needless to say, Mrs. Blocker (my co-teacher) and I didn't start the chapter with our kiddos. Our next chapter might be the most important chapter of the year, so after some discussion, we decided to leave the first part of the chapter for Monday. We figured covering the overall basics, definition, and importance on Monday would be better than a Thursday before a long weekend.

Our next chapter introduces slope and rate of change to students. We do lots of vocabulary the first day then work on finding slopes/rates of change using graphs, tables, word problems, etc. said above...probably the most important chapter of the year! To make sure it wasn't a "wasted" day, Mrs. Blocker had a great idea to show Slope Dude and Algebra Man's videos on slope as an introduction.  If you're not familiar with these videos, let me share this awesome-ness ;)

After showing students these videos, we discussed how these videos set a foundation for what we are covering in the upcoming weeks and how the overall idea and understanding of these videos will help students later in the coming weeks. Then we told students that they would be using the app Explain Everything on our iPads to create their own Slope Dude Video. Students were given the following directions, along with the restriction of no skiing Slope Dude since that was the example, and left to create their own:

Students thought the idea was a little silly and lame at first, but once they started making their videos on Explain Everything...they ran away with it! We had some great videos turned in and students really got creative with it! Check out some of them: 

The videos turned out great and students really enjoyed making them! Explain Everything was great to use and super user friendly since it was most kid's first time using the app. Students were able to use the app with no problems and easily save the video to their camera roll and upload it to Canvas

There are two videos that I just have to share in order to show their creativity and how students really used the video to display their personalities. However, one had a slight mistake in identifying "undefined" slope, and the other video has a brain-slip in the same part, but came around by the end of the video to correctly label all the parts! But I really like these videos for how creative both students were! 

I loved this idea that Mrs. Blocker and I came up with for our introduction to slope and will definitely be using this in the upcoming years. It was a great way to end the week and prepare students for ideas that we would be covering after their long weekend! 

Before closing out this post, I have to share updates on my fabulous team this year. We have matching Team 8-1 Monogrammed shirts that we rocked for Parent-Teacher conferences. Made by our wonderful Mrs. Blocker!

My science teammie and I rocked out some war-paint for our big rival football game. Both our 7th and 8th grade football teams took down our in-district rival Oakridge Middle

And finally my co-teacher, Mrs. Blocker, and I participated in a Glow Race this weekend with the Sheriff Office in Shelby, NC to benefit the Special Olympics. We rocked out with our tutus and custom made "Let it Glow" shirts made by my fabulous co-teacher. (Seriously...she's awesome! Check out her Etsy shop here!)

It's been a great first nine-week period and I can't wait to see what comes up next! We have basketball season (my favorite of the year) in two weeks and I'm pumped! Updates on our start to the second nine-weeks and basketball season coming soon. Until next time... :) 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Interim Check-In

Interims went home Friday. Let that sink in...It's halfway through the 1st 9 weeks already! I feel like school just started. We are halfway through September! Within our first 4.5 weeks of school Algebra has had two tests, PreAlgebra one test, and we are just moving through this curriculum like it's our job!

As we've been working it on a daily basis, one thing we needed to cover in Algebra I before getting into our Algebra I curriculum is the 8th grade standard of surface area of cylinders and volume of cylinders, cones, and spheres. We aren't given much time (like any teacher) to get through our curriculum in the first place, but in Algebra I we also have to hit the 8th grade standards that they may not have gotten in 7th grade. So needless to say, we introduced, covered all these topics, and tested this unit in a week!

We began the week with introducing surface area of cylinders. This is the first year that we've had to do surface area; therefore, I was on a mission to find a new creative way to introduce it to my kiddos. I searched and searched and found a simple little fun activity that allowed students to grab the concept of surface area, and understand where the formula came from. Students were broken into groups of three to four and given one cylinder shaped object (anything from pencil cans, cookie containers, breadcrumb containers, etc.). Students were also given this worksheet page to work through as they looked into finding the surface area of their cylinder. Through this worksheet page students cut out pieces of paper to cover their cylinder (including the top and bottom). This page also allowed students to make the connection that the length of their rectangle was equal to the circumference of their circles for the top and bottom of their cylinders. We then reviewed the area formula for circles and rectangles before making the connection that we could replace the length portion of the formula for our rectangle with the formula for the circumference of the circle to simply use pi, radius, and height within our surface area formula.
Students really enjoyed this activity and really understood where the surface area formula came from by completing this activity. I enjoyed seeing the little lightbulbs going off in students' faces as they made the connections. I will definitely be using this activity for when my PreAlgebra kiddos get to this concept later in the year! 

Currently this year students are excited for a new reading challenge we've gotten into. Our librarian has told us about a "Read Your Way to the Big Game" challenge for students. ("The Big Game" referring to South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Clemson Tigers of course!) Check out the details here! Students are challenged to read six (6) reading-level appropriate books to qualify for the grand prize--Palmetto Bowl tickets (one winner for each team)! Each prize includes four tickets, sideline passes, and pre-game activities. 

To help get students motivated about the competition my team and I created a fun interactive bulletin board for our hallway. Students were to pick one helmet (either for the South Carolina Gamecocks or the Clemson Tigers) and decorate it with color and their name. Once students have successfully read one book they get their helmet placed on the 50-yard line. As students work towards their six books they move their helmets towards a touchdown! Once students are in the end-zone for a touchdown, they can enter to win the grand prize! We are excited to get all of our students entered into the contest and hope one of our lucky kiddos wins the whole competition! 

Finally it's been a very social start to the school year! I have gotten the chance to see some pretty awesome old students of mine at Friday night football games and we even had our first 8th grade teacher social this weekend. It was nice to hang out with my awesome teammates and fellow 8th grade teachers outside of school and just enjoy each other's company. 
Some of my fabulous students all grown up and in high school! Miss them! 
My wonderful 8-1 Team! These ladies are the best!
Just the best co-teacher ever! :)
I have to say this has been a fabulous start to the year and I can't wait to see what the rest of the year has in store. It's going to be a fantastic year with some wonderful teammates and kiddos. 
Until next time .... :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

5 Down... 175 To Go!

We are officially one week into the 2015-2016 school year and it has been a jam-packed week of fun! We have done several Get-To-Know-You activities and filled our time with A Week of Inspirational Math from and Stanford University. Oh trust me... I'm sharing it all :)

First we did some great Get-To-Know-You activities with students. Of course my personal favorite activity that helped me get to know my students involved Math! There's two slightly different versions of this activity. The first one was for my Algebra I students, while the second was used within my Pre-Algebra class. Students were given one half-sheet of paper that contained the instructions for how to complete their circle (divided into sections) using their favorite interests, hobbies, and memories.

For Algebra I students the instructions were given in terms of problems using fractions. Students needed to first solve the problem, before then converting the fraction they found as the answer into a fraction with a denominator of 24. They needed the final fraction to be into 24th's because their circle was divided into 24 pieces.

Pre-Algebra students were given various fractions and a circle that was divided into 8 pieces; therefore, in order to determine how much of their circle was for which interest, hobby, etc. students needed to make sure they had equal fractions of 8th's.

Here are some of the wonderful, colorful, and super informative completed circles done by my new kiddos! It's awesome to see the amount of time, effort, and creativity students put into these circles and how much we can learn about each other just by looking at them.

Aren't they awesome?! I will get these laminated in the upcoming week and then students will put these on the outside of their lockers! It's a great way to get to know students, their interests, and add a little color to our hallways :)

Throughout the week we also set the stage for important Math practices we want to incorporate throughout the year. Our district's Curriculum Instructor showed us this fabulous website over the summer during our development days that we used within this first week of school to get students thinking about Math, but also to get them thinking about why and how we think about Math. Our activities came from and Stanford University. We used their Week of Inspirational Math to get students comfortable within our Math classes.

The first activity we did is called Four 4's. We quickly watched a "Mindset" video before beginning the activity in order to get students ready for Math concepts and thinking. Students then worked together in groups to reach numbers 1 through 20 using only 4 4's and mathematical operations. For example: 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 would be 16. There are four 4's used within the problem. Another example would be 4 - 4 + 4 / 4 would be 1. As students worked together to reach numbers one through twenty it was interesting to see how they used their four 4's to reach the numbers. Students even got creative and used parenthesis to group operations together, use the square root of 4, numbers like 44, and more!

It was a great activity! Throughout the week we continued to work our way through the Week of Inspirational Math and their activities. Along with Four 4's, I think student's had a great time with Day 3's activity called Paper Folding. In this activity students started with a square piece of paper and had to then, using this square, fold the paper into various squares and triangles that had 1/2 or 1/4 of the area of the original square. Students did a great job with this activity and really enjoyed proving that the area was the 1/2 or 1/4 of the original. 

Along with awesome activities that students really enjoyed, there were fabulous videos (short! only about 2-5 minutes each) that really hit home some awesome ideas for the Math classroom. Videos included discussions about speed and mistakes in Math classes. Messages encouraged students that it's not about speed in Math class, it's okay to make mistakes, our brain grows when we make those mistakes, and many more wonderful messages. Students really liked the videos and the activities, they really got the students thinking, and overall it was a great way to start the year in Math!

I'm excited for week 2 as we begin to dive into our curriculum, concepts, and actual Math work! Here's to a great school year and lots of updates on the blog! Until next time... :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Let's Get This Year Rolling

Well, it's starts Monday! Not the "teacher-workday" school, but the official "OMG Kids are coming back" school. To say my husband and I had a fabulous summer would be a large understatement. We did anything and everything we could have in the two months we had away from the classroom. Just a quick recap of our summer...We ventured to D.C., Berlin, Ohio, back to D.C., to Salvo, NC at the Outer Banks, to Charleston, SC, to D.C., to New York City, to D.C., and back to Charleston, SC. Within the two months we were away from the classroom, my husband and I calculated we were probably home only two weeks total! It was a blast :)
This is everything from NYC, to the Outer Banks, to 4th of July with Brutus!
Now that the summer has officially ended, we are back into reality and our teacher life. This past week we started our teacher workdays in preparation for our students returning this upcoming Monday. Outside of the many meetings (all which were very beneficial and full of wonderful information!) I did get the chance to get my room "mostly" ready for my new group. I got to move classrooms this summer and gain a new team. I am very excited about this upcoming year and my new teammies! I think we are going to have a fabulous year and make some wonderful memories with some pretty awesome kids! I, of course, will miss my old teammies, but it's just a small walk down the hall to visit them. ;)

Needless to say...because I'm in a new room...I have to share my new room decoration ;)

Here is my little corner. I give students 90% (yes, 90%) of my room on a daily basis. Therefore, this is my little personal space. Ignore the little two-toned bulletin boarder on my desk. I ran out of the super-cute red and white checkered border and had to improvise with the glittery border. But of course, you can't hate on anything glitter right? ;) I am super excited about this little corner because in my previous classroom I didn't really have a corner that allowed for any "personalization." In this room I have the space to hang up team pictures, add a little color with flowers, and even prop up a few pictures of the hubs and me. Not to mention, I have two bookcases in my little corner full of my resources, books, materials, binders, etc. I love this space! 

This is actually the space directly beside my little corner. In the first picture of my corner you can see the computer to the left of my corner...these computers are four computers within my room for students to use throughout the year with our Mathia program. Now for this space...I can't take all of the credit. This super cute bulletin board was done by the fabulous teacher in the room before me. She made the move the high school and left her adorably decorated boards for me! I added the calendar to make sure everyone knows the correct date and where events fall. I also found a great picture on Pinterest of an "Information Station." I loved the idea and created my own. Now, I'm regretting the brown polka-dot letters on the burlap (it's pretty difficult to see Information Station out of it), but I love the idea of the school-colored sections. I have spaces for school news, sports schedules, club events, and other things that come up throughout the school year. My plan is to simply pin any handouts, schedules, announcements, etc. to these sections as they come out for students. This is an area that students can go to if they ever have any questions as to what's happening in school. Not to mention, this space is the start of my classroom library! It's a collection of books from my days as a Language Arts teacher, $250 classroom library fund from our school two years ago, retiring teachers leaving books behind, and students donating books they no longer wanted. It's definitely becoming a nice collection!

This little area is right inside the door as it opens and serves as the rest of my classroom library collection. I think it's safe to say students have plenty of options to find a book, or several, that they are interested in! Also in this picture is the brilliant idea one of my former colleagues had back at Cramerton Middle. The "pot-of-flowers" are actually correcting pens for students! Red pens with simple green floral tape and a flower attached to the top! Students use them to grade their own and their peers papers throughout the year. It's great because it's a wonderful decoration when not being used and easy to spot if left behind or taken out of the room. ;)

This is the very back of my room, beside the little piece of my classroom library. props to the teacher before me for the super-cute burlap decorated bulletin board. How can you take that down? You can't! I just added my own little ideas over it! On the left side of the board is something I started last year with my students. Those charts are where I calculate the class/period average on each test and record it for the team to see. Each chart is grouped by the two periods of that course (For example: the top chart includes 3rd and 6th period, or my Algebra classes). Each period gets their own color and we keep track of the two classes averages on every test. We discuss how we did as a whole class, how we did as a whole team, and analyze the test and it's content. Students really like to see the data of how they did in comparison to the class, the other period, and the entire team! On the right side of the board is an idea I'm stealing this year from Pinterest. For every major test we take, as students earn an 80% or higher, they will get a sticky note. On the sticky note they will put: their name, the test, and their average. They will then add it to our "Wall of Champions." I'm anxious to see how this goes, but I'm hoping it fills up pretty quickly ;) 

This space is a little of a hot-mess right now. It's definitely a "work-in-progress." The box under all the tables include textbooks that will be passed out the first week of school, and Math materials that we will use throughout the school year. It's pretty easy storage for the moment! The crates to the left are labeled by period (3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th). In these bins are where student folders are held. Each student will get a folder in the first week of school. These folders will go home once a week or bi-weekly depending on the class. I use these folders to send home any paper assignments, quizzes, tests, announcements, etc. that students turn in. When folders go home they are loaded with papers, grades, and information. Students take the folders home, have parents date and initial the inside pocket saying they've seen the papers and grades, and students then bring the empty folder back to me. I keep them in the bin until the next time they are ready to go home. I got this idea from another fellow colleague back at Cramerton Middle. It's a great idea and organized manner of sending papers home and getting folders back! There's just a long list of dates and signatures at the end of the year on the inside of the folders, but it works! The cabinet contains our classroom calculators. My plans for this space include a "No-Name" poster with clothes pins above the bins for work that doesn't have a name on it. I also am planning on creating a space near the calculators for students to grab their Plickers as they grab their calculator for the day. I'll be sure to post those updates as they come!

After strolling by the windows and our lovely view, you come to Mrs. Blocker's desk, our "While You Were Out" area, and homework space. Mrs. Blocker is my co-teacher and I am super jealous of how her desk turned out! A lot cuter than my mix-and-match red glitter boarder! I'm excited to work with Mrs. Blocker! She has been wonderful to us teachers this first week of workdays, I can only imagine how awesome she'll be with kids! The "While You Were Out" space is where I write down what was covered each day in each class. Nothing crazy, just a little blurb like: Chapter 5 Section 1 and 2. That way students who are absent can quickly see what was covered and ask a friend for the notes. They can also tell me, when they return, what assignments they may have missed without having to go back in my plans. This directly relates to the "Were You Absent" binder on the board. This is broken up by class period as well, and if we happened to do a worksheet, quiz, test, or any kind of handout that day, I simply add an extra copy in there with the student's name on it. It is then up to them to check this binder and complete anything with their name on it.

The entire front board!
I am excited for this upcoming year, my new room, my new teammates, my new co-teacher, and my new group of students. I already plan to share the "work-in-progress" areas and of course any and everything we do this year... Just wait ;)

The room view from my desk...Including my hubs :)
Until next time... :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Angry Birds Close The Year!

I guess the 2014-2015 school year is over :(

I can't believe how fast this year went. Maybe it was feeling more comfortable with my grade level and content area, maybe it was coaching both 7th grade basketball and the softball teams, maybe it was the 13 tests my students needed to prepare for... I'm not sure... Maybe it was a combination of all these factors, but I'm super bummed it's already over!

Wrapping up the school year I didn't get the opportunity to share the awesome Angry Bird inspired project that my Algebra kids got the opportunity to do. Students were grouped into small groups of four members and given a specific "version" of the Angry Birds project (Locate it here!)...Check out the original post where I found the project here! Once students had their groups, they could chose how they approached the project. Each group was given four of the Angry Birds (red, yellow, blue, and black) and specific characteristics of their travel. This included anything from distance and vertex of the flight, to table of values describing the flight, to the actual equation. Students then had to determine the height of the bird's flight (maximum), the distance of the flight, and the axis of symmetry of the flight. Each bird was different and unique. Finally, before creating their poster, students were given two pigs (King Pig and Mustache Pig) at certain coordinates that they used to determine which bird hit which pig.

After completing the Math components of the project, students were given the chance to use their artistic ability and create visual representations of their birds and their flights. This is the point where the groups got competitive! Students really got excited about working on their posters and displaying their artsy skills. We have some fabulous artists on our team :)

Students really took this project and ran with it! They actually completed it within three days! Last year...granted we stalled a little....but we took a week to complete! I don't want to say it too much...But I am really going to miss our groups from this year. Both Algebra and PreAlgebra! We had some pretty awesome, fabulous, terrific kids if I say so myself :)


Before signing off for the school year... (Of course you know I'll post throughout the summer...We have major vaca's planned for me and the hubs! Washington D.C. to see the parents, Ohio to see the in-laws, Outer Banks with the family, and a New York anniversary trip! I also have several Professional Development sessions planned and have to share once those are attended!) I wanted to give one last shout-out to my fabulous teammates, students, and overall school year of 2014-2015. Here's to the class of 2019! Have a wonderful summer... Until next time.... :) 


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Swimming Into the End

We are now 1 full day and 3 half-days away from the end of the year school. Seriously, it's flying!

Before I get into all the fun projects students have been working on...I need to take a minute a brag on a specific group of mine. I have two Algebra I classes (8th graders taking the 9th grade course) and a total 36 students between the two. We recently had our End Of Course (EOC) test that counts as 20% of student's final average for the year. Students need an 85% average for the year in order to receive the high school credit and continue advance Math courses in high school. So, to say this test is a big deal would be an understatement. Well...onto bragging: out of my 36 students (drum roll please) there was a 100% passing rate! All 36 students passed the test. We had 1 D (with a 76%...1 little point from a C), and 22 A's...12 of which were 100%!!! I am beyond proud of these kids. They worked their little booty's off and put in some serious time and work this year. I am speechless with how wonderful they did on this's unbelievable! I of course had to spread the word on Social Media ;)

While my Algebra kiddos were in straight beast-mode for the EOC, my Pre-Algebra buddies were working super hard on reviewing linear equations. They were given 12 little problems using either two coordinates or a coordinate and a slope. Students were to write the linear equation representing the line in slope-intercept form. Once students had their 12 equations (and were correctly checked by me), students were given 12 coordinates and a piece of large graph paper. Students then plotted the coordinates in order, connected the dots, and matched up their equations to which line it represented.


Once all those steps were complete, students then decorated their picture. We even had our own little "Fishy Fashion Show" and the entire team including our four teachers, got to vote on their favorite. Here are some of the fabulous participants in our show:


After a vote by our entire team (69 students and 4 teachers; and we even had an assistant principal vote!) we had a winner! With 34% of the votes...Our winner.....

Students really seemed to enjoy this little project. It would be great to do before End of Year testing to review writing linear equations and matching equations to specific lines. If only it didn't take about a week (a very, very relaxed week) to complete ;)

After their review of linear equations, PreAlgebra kiddos got to review angles created with parallel lines and transversals. Students were given a blank piece of white paper with a few guidelines. Students were to create a neighborhood/town scene by drawing two parallel line streets with transversal streets. With the angles that were created, students were then to strategically place various components of a neighborhood/town. For example: students were to place houses on alternate interior angles, a school and a building on corresponding angles, etc. 

There were several students, my non-color fans, who did the simple assignment exactly as decorated, nothing flashy...but still perfect! Then there were of course my artsy kiddos who really got into the assignment and drew everything from parks, parking lots, trees, and even lakes/ponds. Students did a great job on this review assignment as well!  

So between my Algebra kids working on their EOC review and test, and my Pre-Algebra buddies reviewing various concepts, these past two weeks have been very productive! We are into our final week of school beginning tomorrow (can you believe it?)! My Algebra kids are wrapping up a quick quadratic review project involving Angry Birds so I'll be sure to share their final products, as well as, our Moving-On Ceremony this time next week! Until next time... :)