# Questions!

I’m actually going to post this before the next prompt goes out! WOO! Yay for procrastination!

When I read the prompt for Week 3 of the #MTBoS 2016 Blogging Initiative last Sunday, I was a little nervous. Questioning is something I struggle with, and it’s something that I know will help my students if I get better at it, but it’s the hardest thing for me to work on. This is because I am still getting the hang of each class’s curriculum and just getting myself through the material, so thinking of the best questions has kind of gone onto the back burner. It’s also something that I know will naturally get better with time as I see more of how my students think about concepts for the first time. I know this is true because I even ask better questions in my B-Day Algebra II class than my A-Day Algebra II class (those poor guys always get stuck being guinea pigs for the B-Day lesson). I want to eventually ask questions that will really get students thinking.

In looking at the prompts, there are none that really stick out to me…I already admitted before that my assessment questions haven’t been awesome but I attributed that to me using the old teacher’s assessments but not his lessons so there was a disconnect. Now I’ve created the first assessments of the semester for each class and things went better. However, I’ve noticed that I ask mostly skill-based questions. The most “thinking” a class had to do was “Pick a problem you solved and show how someone else could use the discriminant to verify that you could have gotten the correct solutions.” Not really profound, but it got the job done. I also started to do a writing assignment after each assessment that asks more non-skill (I wanted to say “deeper” but they’re not really deeper) questions, such as “A problem on your test says to solve the quadratic? What do you ask yourself to help determine whether you are going to solve by factoring, square roots, or the quadratic formula?” I liked seeing these responses because I could tell that my students really just wanted to use the quadratic formula for every problem on the quiz since it works every time, but they still knew that it could be quicker with other methods. I don’t give time limits on assessments so “quickness” could be sacrificed for a method that they knew worked every time (even though my students still don’t check their calculations well so the quadratic formula got messy for some of them).

I also want to just comment on what this week’s Blogging Initiative post did for me. That whole sentence after the picture of the dog with the perfectly calculated bandana…it’s already changed my classroom! I can’t believe I never knew to do this before! This week, instead of asking “Do you guys have any questions about what we just did before we move on?” I asked “What questions do you have?” I ACTUALLY GOT GOOD QUESTIONS!!! It is so weird that I am so excited about that but seriously this did wonders in just a week. One strength that administrators always told me at my last school was that my wait time was good after I ask a question (I actually count to 5 seconds in my head), but with high schoolers I’ll always get some kid who says “No” and then nobody wants to ask anything. But this new question doesn’t allow them to do that! I even changed it up on Thursday and asked “What is a question that a confused person might ask about this?” AND IT WORKED! I got really good questions! 🙂

On ne peut jamais avoir de réponse si on ne pose jamais une question.

# My Favorite: Absent Cards

I seriously thought I’d be able to do this one on time, but once again I’m a day late on the ExploreMTBoS 2016 Blogging Initiative. I will try my best to do Week 3 on time, but for now I am catching up with Week 2: My Favorite.

It was really hard to think of something. I love Desmos, but I also love Review Games (up until this year actually), and I also loved Barbie Bungee, but I also love Glen Waddell’s High Fives. However, I settled on my Absent Cards.

This is not revolutionary and I believe I stole and adapted from someone but I can’t find who it is. Let me know if it is you!

So if I have a student who is absent, someone else at their table has to get a yellow absent card from the side of the room and fill it out for them. The students groan about this at first, but then they realize that one day they are absent and appreciate this being done for them. I have another student fill it out because then that person (and the rest of their table) is a resource for that student in catching up.

This is what it looks like. I print it 4 to a page on color paper so they are little yellow cards in my room.

File here: Word Doc   PDF

The “Announcement” section has only had to be filled out a few times, but sometimes the kids put little messages there (Hope you’re feeling better, you missed a tough one, she said another math pun today, etc). I do check over everything that is written (at the beginning of the year I always have someone try to say something mean and have a talk with them) but it’s pretty simple or them to fill out. Also, when I pass out papers, I leave one for the absent student so that the students at the table get a little reminder that they need to fill the card out with that worksheet. I have the students turn it in to me so that I can check it, attach a copy of any filled out notes we did in class, and then put it into the absent bin. The only time I fill out the card is if it was done incorrectly (hasn’t happened since the beginning of the year) or if it’s a test day.

When students return from being absent, they know to look in the bin. I even have students come in during a passing period or before school to grab their stuff that they missed.

The absent bin has a sign I took from Sarah Hagan at Math Equals Love. This method is the one of the few things I kept from my first days teaching that has had very little tweaking and the students have commented that it helps them. It also takes some work off of me and puts more responsibility on the students.

I’ve really enjoyed reading all the other My Favorites! I can’t wait to use some of the things I have read.

Mon objectif pour cette semaine est écrire AVANT la date limite!

# Day in the Life of Me

Ok I’m already falling behind on the #MTBoS 2016 Blogging Initiative, but I will catch up! Somehow this week just got away from me, even though I read so many posts!

For Week 1, I’m choosing Option 2: Blog about a day in your life! My school is on an A-B block schedule, so I’ll actually do two days (maybe that will make up for me not posting this during the actual week it was supposed to be posted).

Monday 1/11

5:30am – Wake up to alarm. Based on the posts I’ve read, I’m one of the only ones in the #MTBoS that doesn’t hit snooze. I cut out the snooze button from my life a few years ago and it actually has made my mornings so much better. I’m not saying  I don’t wake up still tired, but I feel better getting up right away and I just set my alarm later.

6:15am – Done getting ready, make sure boyfriend gets out of bed (he’s already hit the snooze twice), put away the dishes I washed last night, sit on the couch under a blanket and check Twitter/Feedly/Facebook

6:45am – Grab lunch bag and head out the door, confirm that it is super cold, text boyfriend that he’ll have to scrape his car windows before he leaves, and turn on my heated seats right away in the car as I exit the garage

7:08am – Arrive at school, rush inside, enter my room and notice another poster has fallen, put it in the pile of other posters I need to put back up (the veteran teachers at my school say they’re surprised mine have stayed up this long)

7:10am – Run off some copies from what I had planned over the weekend, put my lunch bag in the mini-fridge in the teacher’s lounge/copy room, write the answer keys to the things I just printed

7:40am – Get the papers out that I will need for 1st and 2nd block. It is an A day today. Write the numbers on the board from the homework that we will be presenting, get tabs open on my laptop that I will need for 1A and 2A block.

7:50am -Plug laptop into monitor and project the starting screen for 1st block, put coat, hat, gloves back on to head outside for parking duty

7:55am – Another teacher comes outside and I ask him if he’s sure he has parking duty this week because I had written down that I did. He goes back inside and comes out with the duty schedule and it turns out there was a typo and I’m actually next week. I head back inside a little frustrated but also relieved because it was really cold.

7:57am – Hang my coat on my chair, high-five the students 2 already in my room and head out to stand at my door.

8:00am – 5 minute bell rings and students start dispersing to their classes, I high-five everyone at the door and greet them

8:05am – 1A block begins. This is my small Algebra II class – 12 students and one is absent. We do a warm up (101 Questions), students present homework problems, go over notes on Solving Quadratic Equations by Square Roots and Factoring, practice with groups, class ends at 9:26am

9:29am – After high-fiving students coming in during the passing period, my 2A block is College Algebra – 11 students and all present! We do a warm up (101 Questions), students present homework problems, go over notes on the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra, practice with groups, class ends at 10:50am

10:53am – After high-fiving students coming in during the passing period, 3rd block is SRT (Student Resource Time) – 13 freshmen. After school announcements and pledge, I remind them that they will need a book for DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) Day tomorrow and they have the rest of the time to work and see teachers. I check in with each student that they will have something to read that is not on their Chromebook. One student comes in to talk to me about a homework problem she can’t figure out. Class ends at 11:23

11:26am – My 4A is planning block. I eat lunch during B lunch, so for the first half hour I clean up my desk, copy the notes I did in 1A for my absent student, check over what a student wrote for my absent slip and attach my copy of the notes to it, update the gradebook with who presented HW problems (each class has the requirement to present 4 HW problems each semester), check email

11:59am – Bell rings for B lunch and I head to the teacher’s lounge. I eat with 3 other teachers who also have B lunch. My lunch is leftover pasta, a yogurt, and a clementine.

12:29pm – Bell rings for the end of B lunch and I use the rest of the time to plan (nothing to grade). I make some copies and get my room ready for 5A.

1:34pm – After high-fiving students coming in during the passing period, my 5A is Algebra I – 15 students and 1 absent. We do a warm up (101 Questions), students present homework problems, do a review activity on solving inequalities that my co-teacher planned in groups of 3, tried to do a solving inequalities row game that didn’t really work :(, class ends at 2:57 for students to put away Chromebooks and I head out to the hallway to monitor until all the students are gone.

3:05pm – I have to leave within 40 minutes, so I quickly write everything on my board that I’ll need for tomorrow (Date equation, goals, HW, agenda for each class), make sure I have papers ready for 1B tomorrow, finish absent slip from 5A.

3:40pm – Leave school to head to boyfriend’s school 45 minutes away because I tutor some of his students

4:45pm – Tutor a student in Pre-Calc. He is working on operations on functions. He has Jazz Band at 6 so I end with him at 5:53 even though I really wanted to get through one more problem with him.

6pm – Tutor a college student for the first time for ACT prep. We get through 34 questions in an hour but she says that she understands how to do the problems much better. She is hoping to raise her score by at least 1 in the math section so that she can meet the requirements to apply to be a Special Education teacher.

7pm – Do some work in the band office while I wait for boyfriend to finish Jazz Band rehearsal.

7:30pm – Go to dinner at a local bar and then head back to his school because we are finishing a project that he has to have done for tomorrow

9:15pm – Finish project and head home

9:35pm – Arrive back home, watch an episode of South Park while checking Twitter/Feedly/Facebook

10pm – Pack lunch for tomorrow (leftover pasta, yogurt, clementine – sound familiar?), set out clothes, get ready for bed

10:15pm – Sleep

Tuesday 1/12

5:30-7:08 – Same as yesterday except not as cold and no posters fell (YAY!)

7:10 – Room is already ready for start of the day, wonder why I get to school so early sometimes, do a little planning

7:55 – Head out to the hallway and high-five students coming in

8:05 – 1B is my big Algebra II class – 24 students, 1 absent. Same agenda as 1A.

9:29 – 2B is my planning block. I work with some students that have Special Education Resource that block, check email, update gradebook, plan a little

10:53 – 3B is same as 3A (SRT with 13 freshmen) but Tuesday is DEAR Day. Every student reads after the announcement and pledge. I had ordered Embedding Formative Assessment but it didn’t get in in time, so I re-read Embedded Formative Assessment next to some students that were having trouble staying quiet. Next time I will move them.

11:26 -After high-fiving students coming in during the passing period, my 4B is Calculus – 8 students, all present. We have B lunch so in the first part of class we do a warm up (101 Questions) and students present homework problems.

11:59 – Bell rings for B lunch. I eat with 2 different teachers that also have B lunch

12:29 – Bell rings for end of B lunch, students come back and we go through a discovery activity on derivatives of inverse functions and summarize at the end with notes, class ends at 1:31

1:34 – After high-fiving students coming in during the passing period, my 5B is the same class as 5A, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays we do a program called ALEKS. They are all on their Chromebooks and about half go into my co-teacher’s room just to spread out. I meet with every student to look at their progress on amount of topics from the beginning to now (they all took a semester assessment on ALEKS last week) and set topic number goals for this quarter.

2:57 – students are dismissed and I monitor the hallway until all the students are gone

3:08 – One of my absent students from yesterday comes in to see what they missed. After she leaves, I work in my room on catching up on emails, making copies, getting my room ready for tomorrow, planning, making a to-do list

5:20 – Leave school

5:45 – Get home, call my parents, go for a 20-min run on the treadmill, shower, make a salad for dinner, eat while watching a rerun of Seinfeld, check Twitter/Feedly/Facebook, plan on my laptop while watching more reruns of Seinfeld

8:10 – Boyfriend gets home from work (he to conduct pep band for a basketball game at his school), he brings pizza, I eat some pizza, we watch NCIS and then are tied into watching NCIS: New Orleans because it was a crossover

10:00 – Wonder how it got so late (oh yeah, NCIS…) pack lunch (leftover pizza, yogurt, clementine), set out clothes for tomorrow, get ready for bed

10:15 – Try to fall asleep while thinking about how I should have done more schoolwork.

After writing all this (and if you read all of this I applaud your efforts here – this was long), I am seeing that these were probably the two days that I did the least work at home, but I also didn’t have that stressful of a week. I guess life can go on without me spending every waking moment working on school stuff.

Qui l’eût cru?

# #MTBoS Blogging Initiative

I, Marissa at La Vie Mathématique, resolve to blog in 2016 in order to open my classroom up and share my thoughts with other teachers. I hope to accomplish this goal by participating in the January Blogging Initiation hosted by Explore MTBoS.

You, too, could join in on this exciting adventure. All you have to do is dust off your blog and get ready for the first prompt to arrive January 10th!

Je vais écrire plus souvent que l’année dernière.

# Proud to be an Illini #MTBoS12days

You might be able to tell from my Twitter picture that I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But you may not be able to tell that I’m also a super huge Illini fan. This is mainly because I was a cymbal player in the Marching Illini Drumline. I also participated in the basketball band as part of the Undergraduate Staff. The band was the best community I had ever been a part of. No matter how dumb the Illini were sometimes on the field or on the court, we were still the biggest supporters. I will admit that I haven’t been able to keep up with the games as much this year, but still get into the games that I am able to watch. Every other Thursday, when we don’t have a spirit day planned, I wear Illini attire and truly believe that the University of Illinois is an amazing school and community. Go Illini!

This has been very fun to write and read all the #MTBoS12days posts! I look forward to blogging more this semester.

Les jours d’université me manquent.

# New Year Resolutions #MTBoS12days

Here are my professional and personal new year resolutions for 2016:

• Get in shape – I joined the #FitBoS 2016 Challenge to try to log 100 hours of working out this year. I used to run for 20 minutes a day but now this I’ve run a grand total of 7 times since the school year started. Hoping to get back to running and start adding more strength training to the workouts, too.
• Cook one *actual* meal a week (not just pasta with store bought sauce and a salad with store bought dressing every week – needs to include protein, too!) with minimal setting off of the smoke detector. I got some new cooking tools (frying pan, crock pot, spices) for the holidays and hope to really use them this year.
• Be more efficient at school (copying Meg Craig here but she says it so well)
• Play drums more – I have a drumset and access to percussion equipment any time I visit my boyfriend’s school (at least once a week for tutoring). I need to use these opportunities to play since I don’t have a band to play with anymore.
• Keep up with speaking French. I’ve already lost a lot of my French skills, I fear, but I don’t want to lose them all!
• Keep trying new things in the classroom and blog about them!

Je crois que tous ces résolutions pour la nouvelle année sont réalisables. J’ai hâte de les faire!

# Looking Forward to in 2016 #MTBoS12days

Here are things that I’m looking forward to in 2016:

• Being better at teaching my classes
• Doing my second presentation at a conference at MMC in February – it will be better than the first one!
• Watching my first high school graduation as a teacher
• Watching my brother graduate from college
• Possibly TMC16 – will have to see if I’m teaching summer school or not
• Going to an AP workshop and possibly summer institute – Excited to teach AP AB Calculus next year!
• Hosting people at my house finally
• Using my new kitchen tools (croc pot, fry pan, spices) and learning to cook (got some great recipes from this challenge!)
• Being part of the #MTBoS and blogging a little more

2016 sera une année exceptionnelle!