Posted in Education, Math, Sketchnote

Blind Kahoot, Sketchnoting, and Better Lesson Teach180

I had a fabulous time over the weekend at EdCamp Chicago.  You can read more about my experience here.  I am feeling a little of the EdCamp is over blues so I figured the “cure” would be to apply some of what I learned to my classes and that totally energized me.

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Blind Kahoot

I wasn’t sure if this would work in my class but it TOTALLY did.  We played a Kahoot on classifying triangles BEFORE I introduced the terminology.  Mind you, these terms are middle school topics, so my students aren’t completely “blind” to the definitions.  However, as happens EVERY YEAR, students mix up the words “isosceles” and “scalene”.  They enjoyed playing the game a second time through on “ghost mode” where they competed against their original scores and times.  The ratings students gave the activity at the end merited doing it again AND this year students actually noticed that there are TWO ways to classify a triangle.  I loved how they verbalized this during the game when sometimes that nuance is lacking in my class.  It was so much fun teaching this lesson today as compared to years past.

Sketchnoting 101

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I am relatively new to sketchnoting myself.  I am getting better about using more icons and containers.  Today was the first time I tried to get my students to try it.  I provided the “notes” and they needed to provide the sketches to accompany them.  I was surprised that no one has complained about not being able to draw.  Below are some of the sketches my students worked on.  I will have to pass out color in the future.  The “proof” on whether this activity merits future use will be in students being able to identify these terms in the days to come.  File_002

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Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS, Sketchnote

EdCamp Chicago Fall 2017 – AMAZING :)

EdCamp Chicago went down to the south suburbs so I HAD to represent 🙂 you can take the girl out of the Southside, but never the Southside out of the girl :).  Anyway, I learned soooo much today and am excited to get back and put it into action.  I was talking with @MrsBronke through Twitter about the fact that I LOVE EdCamps but I totally struggle with how to describe them to educators so they can feel the awesomeness and come as opposed to being scared by the “scary” parts (i.e. there is no agenda before the day, people can come and go at will, etc – which I admit are scary but after your first EdCamp you realize that these factors are ACTUALLY empowering and really force you to really be super present and invigorate you). Below are some of the lasting ideas that stuck with me from the sessions I attended (for the first time at an EdCamp I didn’t leave any session to attend another one – maybe just really good choices on my part, or maybe just my desire to make the most of where ever I was – regardless, I liked it so much).  Shout out to Danita and Mia who sat with me at the beginning, it was so fun to connect with Hammond, Indiana folks….maybe they will get on Twitter 🙂 I’ll be on the lookout.

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Scouts, Sunday School, 4H and More

This was a small group but we were a mighty force.  I loved how diverse the room was despite the fact that we only had 4 people in it :).  I was impressed with the connections we made when it came to how you communicate with the members of your extra-curricular, how do you hold them accountable,  how can we “gamify” attendance so it doesn’t need to be punitive, to how can we recognize members for their contributions on a regular basis so that they aren’t so fixated on end of year MVP awards.  I really liked how this session made me reconsider how I encourage my students in Mathletes and Snowball.  I’d like to maybe recognize “streaks” (one person mentioned Homework streaks in his classroom, maybe I can do that with attendance or for my Mathletes their practice skills or other attributes that I want to see more of in my activities).

My Favorite Four Letter Word: Math

I suggested this session.  I’ve suggested it before at EdCamps and have LOVED it but never have I experienced so many math teachers in one room at an EdCamp!  It was fantastic.  Also, very surprising for me, we didn’t even utter a peep about Desmos or Geogebra (my personal favorite go-to math resources) and DESPITE that the conversation was soooooooo good.  We shared so many great things about why we love being math teachers and it was fantastic.  I’m excited about the possibility of using this clip in my class – the teacher who mentioned it talked about a Mindset Monday and I was totally intrigued.  I gave props to Sara Van Der Werf and her Name Tents with Comments activity that I used with my students this year and it was awesome to see other teachers who were interested in making the same connections with students.  I liked the idea of Blind Kahoots – similar to blind Quizlet Lives that I have been in love with lately – so I will have to try Kahoot in this way.

Someone talked about how our students tend to be missing some basic skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing to name a few).  I don’t believe that I have all of the solutions, but I do believe that it is my duty to help any student who walks in my door to be better for entering and engaging in my class.  I feel like my math talks, notice/wonder, estimation, clothesline math, selective use of Khan Academy are steps in the right direction.  A couple of times we circled back to this idea of mindset and I believe that some of these basic skill problems come back to mindset issues.  Which makes relationship building so important.  When you build the relationship, you can get students to do amazing things that they didn’t even believe were possible.

Then during the last five minutes someone brought up the topic of homework – such a great topic that needs soooo much more time than 5 minutes.  However, being with math teaching peers and openly questioning the role of homework and whether the homework we are giving actually achieves those goals strengthened my resolve to only assign homework with a specific goal in mind that I believe will ACTUALLY be achieved.  I feel a much bigger blog post on that topic coming soon.  For now though, I am happy about the place I am in with homework at this time and don’t plan on changing anytime soon.  I mean I actually have some of my students ASKING ME for homework, which is DEFINITELY a switch and I have tailored assignments for them based on their needs as a learner as opposed to my needs to justify a grade.  I have students actively asking me questions about problems they are getting wrong in Khan Academy (that they are doing of their own free will) and want to better their understanding.  I must be doing something right.  And I might not have it ALL right, but it is working for some and for that I am grateful.

LUNCH with the Marian and Math Peeps

Lunch was great conversation about all kinds of fun topics.  Whether it was about taking a last name, classroom activities, what you were doing later – all of it was so fun.  I wished that we could have boxed up that group of people so I could have lunch with them everyday :).  Sharing a meal does great things for connecting with others.  Also, it is amazing to me that even when surrounded by a whole bunch of Catholic School educators that we as educators have so much in common.

I’m mad at myself for not taking a real picture of the chairs that were similar to this in one teacher’s classroom:

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The desk part was bigger and swiveled to the other side for lefties.  They were so sweet.  I kinda want to start writing a Donors Choose project and get them for my students.

Additionally, I liked this image I saw today:

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Power of Positivity

I needed this 🙂 I always need this.  I have been working so hard on this in my classroom.  I HATE when my husband criticizes me HOWEVER he usually has a point when he does (though I will never give him the satisfaction of saying “you’re right”).  Anyway, he told me recently that I was being negative and it hurt my heart until I was real honest with myself and realized that he was right – he doesn’t read my blog so I am safe :).  Anyway, it has been a goal of mine to be more positive, which lead to a goal of being more grateful, which lead to a goal of being more present.  All of these things have worked well together and I can honestly say that I am in a much more positive place in my life now than when he made that comment to me :).  Whether it be standing at my door thanking my students for coming each day (which was a “fake it before you make it” thing for me at first but now I TRULY am grateful – like for real, and I recommend it to everyone) or handing out my new Bitmoji-fied Post-Its (blog coming this week – they really are my favorite thing right now) or taking the time to REALLY get to know students, this positivity thing has done wonders for my classroom management (I’ve only written 4 referrals this whole year and two of those I really had no choice but HAD to write them up) and wonders for my students’ work ethic.

The Angel Project idea really spoke to me as I had actually mentioned this idea to my administrative team – and it got me thinking that maybe I could do this for just my students in my classes as in I would put my own dots next to my own students who I had made a personal connection with this year already and really make it a goal for me moving forward to make connections with the ones I have not made that connection with yet.

With my son I want to implement the idea of asking him “How were you kind today?”.  Such an awesome question and one that will show my son what I really value out of him in addition to asking him what he learned today.  Maybe I should ask my students the same question.

Sketchnoting

So sad that I had to dip out of this one early as I am new to Sketchnoting but I totally believe in the power of it.  I shared my story about how I got started (long story short, an administrator admonished me during a faculty meeting for what was in her eyes “off task behavior” and so I started sketchnoting so I couldn’t get in trouble for taking notes 🙂 .  Anyway, I loved hearing how one teacher was using this technique with her special ed students and it made me think that maybe I should be deliberate about giving my students the opportunity to try sketchnoting in my classes. Below is my sketchnote about sketchnoting. One thing that I didn’t get to note is that when you sketchnote you have a built in picture for blog posts and everyone knows that pictures get more views than just text alone.Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 7.53.43 PM.png

I think to take my sketchnoting to the next level I need to incorporate more icons.  Also, although my dog doesn’t have a name, I believe I already have a learning mascot, or maybe he is my creativity creature…whatever, it was nice to think about him in a new light.

Posted in Blaugust, Education, Sketchnote

Late Start Thoughts #blaugust #Teach180

Today was our first late start day.  Our district opted to start doing these again.  We used to do these MANY years ago but they would only be once a month.  This year, we will do these weekly.  I hope that this time around we will get better attendance on these late start days since it is weekly.  Given the near perfect attendance in my classes thus far, I’d say this concern is not really warranted :).

I did some sketchnotes during our morning session.  I can attest that they do help keep me focused and in the moment which is one of my goals for this school year and really in life. My tablemates took notice of what I was doing and made comments that were positive.  Really they just help me to stay on task and help me to reflect later on the important parts of the meeting or activity.FullSizeRender.jpg

Some of these items only make sense to me.

  • We were reminded of one of my favorite Rich East entities this morning when the brother of Bill Yarborough came to talk to us about financial freedom.  Anyone who has met him has probably been called champ but you felt like the number one champ in his book whenever you talked with him.  Building relationships has been key to my success this school year and I need to channel his enthusiasm into my lessons.
  • We have a pretty worthwhile (yet lofty goal) of 29% percentile rank improvement goal in math over the next several years.  I like the fact that we are planning on how to achieve this goal instead of diving right in.  However, as always with any % I would like to have a clear “numerator” and “denominator” so I know where the benchmark lies.  Sometimes people will use percents and will not really understand what those two numbers are which makes it difficult to measure success.
  • I am proud of how far I have come when it comes to using de-escalation techniques with students.  There were definitely some points in my career that I interacted with students in a way that I am not proud of.  I think that these experiences taught me so much about how to effectively deal with situations and when I see a student getting more upset, I have strategies that I employ that help de-escalate things (active listening, employing the assistance of another adult, etc).  I would like more strategies to employ in the future.
  • I am always looking for ways to improve.  You can make improvements year to year or day to day or minute to minute.  I’m happy with my progress when it comes to engagement and I hope to continue on this path during the remainder of this year.
Posted in Blaugust, Professional Development, Sketchnote

Institute Day 2 #blaugust

My school went outside of the box today with the Professional Development, literally out of the box that is our school and held sessions on the football field, courtyard and practice field.  IMG_7344.JPG

It was nice to be out in the sun.  I wish that the technology would’ve worked for them but I give my administrative team a ton of credit for the effort to make it happen.  Even with the tech fails, they still seemed united and excited about the upcoming school year which was awesome. Selfie below is me, no filter, but it was hot so not much of a smile either.IMG_7343.JPG

Here is my sketchnote from this afternoon’s session that was mostly about business.  I am on cycle for getting evaluated this year so you can probably tell that my ear was open to that part of the discussion. ALSO should note that the “Late Arrival Sherrie Birts” is a note to self that if I see that on a schedule, I need to send those students to the auditorium (not that Sherrie Birts is a late arrival).

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Overall, a productive day but I still have a number of things I need to attend to before I am ready for the first day of class on Wednesday.  I’m just going to get plenty of sleep tonight so I can be 100% for freshmen tomorrow and welcome them with the most Rocket Pride I can.  You only get one day to be your first day at Rich East High School and I want to be a part of theirs and be a blessing to everyone I encounter.

Posted in Blaugust, Education, Sketchnote

Year 17, Day 1 – A New Hope

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The face of someone that has been teaching since 2001.  I’ve had more than my fair share of Institute Days.  Normally, I zone out (I get points for being honest on here right?!).  Today, I decided to try sketchnoting and it was pretty awesome actually.  Having something to engage with while listening to 3 hours of speaking this morning (yes, you read that right, THREE HOURS of basically direct instruction from a PowerPoint) really made the time fly.  Here is my first sketchnote:

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One of the things that I noticed when I read about sketchnoting online is that the words and symbols don’t have to mean much to anyone outside of you :).  However, I will pick out some of the highlights from this just for my own reflection.

RTHSEA to the left – I am a proud member of the Rich Township High School Education Association.  We worked ALL LAST YEAR without a contract.  We were able to settle our contract this summer and I am so happy about that situation.  It is definitely one of the blessings that I am counting.  Also, as I am counting my blessings I am actively CHOOSING to be a blessing to other people.

HOPE at the top right – In addition to our contract I am REALLY excited about the fact that for the first time in a couple of years we actually have a real superintendent.  I was skeptical of him at first, but after really listening to him (thank you sketchnotes) I really tuned into his ideas.  One of the major ones is listed below.  He left me feeling hopeful for this new year and that is not something that I have said in several years.  It was definitely a breath of fresh air.

The Boxing Glove still in that upper right corner – I loved that when our new superintendent, Dr. Johnnie Thomas, spoke about WHY WOULD HE COME HERE he talked about wanting to fight for OUR kids.  That really spoke to my mission.  He seemed so sincere and I really wanted to be on his team fighting for my community.

at the most top right – I set a goal for today that I plan to set for my students next week (inspired by a blog post from saravanderwerf.com).  At the end of the first day, I want students to get to know 5 other people’s names.  So today I achieved that same goal for myself.

Engage and Passion – Engagement and passion work so well together.  If you are passionate about something, you will engage.  The more you engage, the more it speaks to your passion.  I want to feel that same passion we all have as first year teachers.  I need to engage more and possibly outside of my comfort zone.

Denominators Matter to the far right – So many people threw around percents before lunchtime in two different sessions.  I wanted to scream, “What is the denominator?” because it TOTALLY makes a difference in the situation.  I hate when people quote percents and they can’t articulate the denominator.  It’s a much bigger deal than most people probably realize.

 

Below are some pictures of my blank classroom. Some key features that I want to point out are:

  • although my desks and chairs do not remotely match, my Chromebooks do…I’ll take matching Chromebooks any day.
  • I am not married to this seating arrangement but I will be fitting at least 30 students in this space, so suggestions are always welcome.  I like paired seating because it is easy to have pairs turn into fours for group tasks, but again I am open to suggestion.
  • yes, I am blessed to have that sweet flat panel SmartBoard and my very own classroom – I waited so long for both of those things so I am so grateful to have them right now in my teaching career
  • this is NOT a new classroom to me.  I actually used it last year.  I am so used to moving classrooms (for about 7 years straight I had to change classrooms and/or share with other teachers) that I always leave my room completely clear to actually make things easier on myself.  I like it because it helps me declutter my life and keep the walls fresh.
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