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... :)