Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Day in the Life: February 2017 Edition

Monday, 6 February 2017
Sixth Monthly Reflection Post
Everything always gets better - even the darkest times do not last forever.

Monday, Monday.
Can't trust that day.
Monday, Monday.
Sometimes it just turns out that way.
~ The Mamas & The Papas

We began the Geometry unit last week. Absolutely LOVE teaching Geometry. So many hands-on activities and inquiry-based investigations to do. In the past, I have planned to do the activities but never actually got to do them because of time. This year - I am making a conscious effort to do as many as I can. And we do have the time - I'm about three weeks ahead of last year's lesson plans. I'm also on track to have at least a week left before end-of-year state standardized testing for a quick review of the major concepts. That would truly be a first for me.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn't ideal?

Lately, I'm most proud of the different activities I've been trying out in my classroom. We've done a Mock Twitter Chat (well, attempted it any ways but will be doing it again soon). Today, we began an Inquiry-based Investigation into the Angle Sum Theorem. I gave students two different cards - one with three angles that formed a triangle and one with three angles that did not form a triangle. Students also had 6 squares of freezer paper, rulers, protractors, and colored markers. I tried to keep the groups in threes, as this gave each student an angle to construct on the freezer paper. They only got through one card during the class period, but that was mainly due to the discussions each group was having about the angles they were given and if they did truly form a triangle. It was fantastic. For those that did have triangles, the next question was whether the triangle they constructed had only one set of side measures or if they could construct many different sizes triangles while keeping the same angles. Again it was interesting to see them thinking about it, moving the papers, extending the rays of their angles, and coming to the correct choice. Tomorrow, we explore side lengths and triangles (i.e., Triangle Inequality Theorem). I have the pipe cleaners and lab sheets all ready to go!

A decision I worried about today is one that is not in my control, but does effect me and several other teachers. In early January, I had been asked my the guidance counselor about two students (one in 6th grade and one in 7th grade) that had been retained from the previous year and if I felt they could be promoted mid-year to the next grade level. I stated I didn't like the idea of mid-year promotion because the students had missed the first half of the grade level which for 7th grade math is highly important since a lot of what we're doing now is building off those concepts. Additionally, in my opinion, the two students in question had not successfully worked at mastering their retained grade level concepts. I (and other teachers) were overruled and the students have been promoted to the next grade level. For my two new students, I've been told to just put them on a computer and let them catch up using a credit recovery program. Right. Like I said, this decision was made by our administration and I don't know any other schools in our district that are doing this mid-year promotion of students. Just one more thing that has been frustrating about this school this year.

2) Every person's life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?

Looking forward to: Using this lesson from Drawing on Math and also parts of this lesson from Designated Deriver on Wednesday and Thursday to help with exploring Special Quadrilaterals. I love the Instagram concept and have even created an account for my math classes (MMA Math 7). As with a lot of things, I have a few students that are not crazy about the idea and don't want to participate. That's okay - the majority of my students love showing off their skills and love the idea of the Instagram account.

Challenges: The same as it's always been. The discipline of behavior in one class period. It really depends on who is in class that day. I have it now where I have the most talkative/daily distruptive students in the back (I'm down to about three out the fifteen - I started with about six at one point). They hate it back there - can't see the board, not able to distract other students, no iPad privileges. So it had been working for about a week. Yesterday a student returned to the class after having been in out-of-school-suspension and that disrupted the class because he didn't want to sit in back and got argumentative when told to take a seat and be quiet. I removed him from class and sent him to guidance. After which, we had no further problems. They even earned back their iPad privileges for today.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

Recently, one of the teachers on our floor decided to take up the task of turning our tiny mundane teacher workroom into a more inviting teacher lounge. He had students move in some furniture. Another teacher took up the task of creating inspirational posters and decorating a bulletin board to post family photos/announcements. A coffee pot and coffee was donated by other teachers. I have been dubbed the Coffee Lady since I am usually the first in each morning and have just begun making it as soon as I get in. It's the least I could do for my colleagues. :)

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What progress have you made in your goal?

Last time I stated the district would be having a professional development workshop on the Growth Mindset, specifically centered around math. It was well worth the afternoon. My recent push for finding inquiry-based activities was a result of that workshop. I'm thinking about the questions more critically. I'm asking students to think about questions they have on concepts - what do they want to know? what did they learn about in the inquiry lab that they didn't know before? How did prior knowledge of other concepts help with this one? It was definitely what I needed to hear to help me move forward with challenging my students.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

Nothing at the moment. Will update my blog on specific areas later.

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