Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1bD-zYHpkP0RR7shkovBtOEB4c_rlSuiUKtJCQtid9QY/edit You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it! It turned into a pretty long post in the end and is kind of all over the place.
At the time I’m writing this, the US is experiencing a pandemic with COVID-19. Schools, restaurants, gatherings across the country are shutting down. I am in my Spring Break right now but then one more week has been canceled after that (for all of Illinois). The nearby Iowa schools are closed until April 10, so I have a feeling we’ll be extending our cancellations, too. There has been no report from my school yet on if we will be doing e-learning like a lot of other schools, but I don’t really know how we would since we are not 1-1 with anything and a good chunk of our learners don’t have reliable internet at home. I’m sure I’ll be hearing in the next couple of days on a further plan for the closed week(s). My night class at the community college has us trying out video conferencing to replace our classes. We’ll see how that goes on Thursday.
I did a really poor job of preparing for 4th quarter before I left for Spring Break. I thought I’d be at school every day of my second week of Spring Break because I signed up to help with our Catch Up Academy (credit recovery) and I just figured I’d come in early or stay late a couple of days to get work done. I also had to leave right after school on our last Friday for a band event I was already late to, so my room is not all nice and pretty and ready like I usually try to have it be when I return after a break. My school is closed to everyone so I can’t even go in to grab all the school stuff I left there. I’m a tiny bit worried about my plants that I thought only had to be without checking-on for a week, but they’re aloe and a terrarium that I never touch normally, so they should be ok.
[Totally off-topic: I got an orchid at home last year and it did its normal thing and lost its petals after a few months, but my mom said that it would grow back if I just kept treating it like I did when it had petals and this week we got our first bloom! I honestly can’t believe it worked. We have a bunch more buds coming, too. It’s like magic that I’ve been waiting many months for the reveal. You can even see some of the petals I still haven’t cleaned up from when they fell last fall…And also the plant behind the orchid is a bromeliad we got last month and it might be my new favorite. Our succulents finally all died so we got a much brighter replacement that is so far very easy to manage and is doing great! I’m a big fan of live plants but I (used to) have a hard time keeping them alive.]
But I brought home my laptop and my Always-Go-Home folder! (Side note: do you have one of those? I have a purple folder I’ve had since my first year of teaching that has come home with me every day – it holds my calendar, a pencil, and anything else that is important/needs to stay at home/random one paper that needs to be graded/etc.) I also wrote up every topic that still needs to be taught before I left for break (woo for thinking a little ahead!).
So this is our first year with traditional Geometry instead of integrated courses and then our Algebra 1 last year was all kind of spliced together as best we could from the old integrated courses and now we have a textbook that I don’t use but it’s there if the learners want it. So I have some topics I’ve taught before and just have to re-label them with the new chapter. Or I’ll have to move around some assessment items. I have a slash through Geo Ch 8 because I already actually did all the planning for that before I left since we left in the middle of the unit. I honestly think right triangles and trig is my favorite unit of all in Geometry. Or maybe the 3D stuff. It’s hard to decide.
I have never taught my new Algebra 1 Ch 10 (except I’ve taught exponential graphs and operations on functions). I’ve also never taught my new Geometry Ch 12 (but I have a strong feeling that is going to be cut with us having less time and we coded it “if possible” in our pacing guide). What have you done with those topics that I should try?
It’s a weird feeling to have so many things be repeated from years’ past. I’ve never had that before. I’ve maybe had a topic or two within a unit, but this is the first year I’ve taught a class for the second time (Algebra I) and even that has had quite a few differences from last year when it was our first year of the transition. I feel myself looking at my saved Evernote notes and in the MTBOS Search Engine for activities or strategies and then finding the ones I was already using! That’s not to say there are no new and improved lessons being done. I’ve done a lot more Desmos and VNPS and Stand and Talk activities along with replacing some practice with Delta Math. But it’s a good feeling to know that I can be working on refining instead of coming up with something new.
I also feel that because of this not having to come up with new stuff semester, I’ve just felt like more of a teacher that has her stuff together. I’m not as worried about what I’m teaching tomorrow and I can worry more about the pedagogy and/or relationships. That leads me to how I’m doing in my goals for the year. I’ve already checked in on my goals here and here. This will be my last check-in.
- Stand and Talks – Amazing. I have been doing a few each unit. Want to do more. I want to get more organized with how I save them, too. That’s a long-term project.
- Collection of Work/Knowledge – so this goal shifted a little, but I’ve loved the outcome. So far this semester I’ve given my learners five minutes in the day before an assessment to write on a notecard everything they know for that assessment. Some learners take it less seriously than others, but most are really into it and making pretty great notecards. I always phrase it as something like “Write what you want your future self to know before they go into final exams.” We’ve been keeping these in our class folders and I can’t wait to see how much it helps by the end of the semester. Maybe I’ll even write a blog post about it!
- Birthdays – Might be one of my favorite additions to this year. I now will have some catching up to do when we get back to school, but it’ll be ok.
- Instagram – I still haven’t gotten learners to take the pictures. Maybe that will have to be next year’s goal. But I realized that a whole lot of the pictures I was taking were learners on a Chromebook (sometimes just one Chromebook in a group, sometimes 1-1) and the other pictures were just the “pretty” moments where something ultra-cool was going on. So I started to post more of just regular old class (like working on a worksheet or taking notes or at the VNPS) and captioning it with what they’re working on and I’ve gotten the same amount of interactions. So I’m gonna keep doing that.
- Vocabulary – nope. Move this goal to next year.
- Family Connections – still strong. I’ve been a lot more proactive this semester about contacting home and have picked up my phone more. I feel like I have more time to do this because I’ve been more organized and have less new stuff to plan.
- Language – another goal for next year.
- #VNPS – it’s been much better this semester. I did a fun one in geometry right before break where I showed them four right triangles with a variable for a side or angle. As a group they could only use each solving method once and answers had to be as exact as possible: Pythagorean Theorem, Special Right Triangles, Right Triangle Trig, and Inverse Right Triangle Trig. At first, it was rough to make those decisions but as they were able to look around the room at how other groups solved maybe the same one with another method they were doing great at it. Then I gave them word problems with the same rules and I was so smiley because they were groaning so much but then did fine. I need to do better at having one marker per group.
- Delta Math – still great
- Puzzles – I kinda left those 3D printed polyhedra pieces out the whole quarter on accident. There are a handful of broken pieces, but that has led to new possibilities of what to build! I intended to change out these for tiling turtles earlier, but they just never got boring so I never thought to change it. Turtles are coming 4th quarter, though.
- Not Working Harder Than Students – better than it ever has been before, I think
- Not Blaming – still check
- Office Hours – still check
- Google Level 2 – still not yet – pushed to summer
- More Percussion – need to do more
- More #MTBoS – yes! I feel like I’ve been more involved just because of #MTBoS20 but also I’ve been catching up on reading blogs I’ve saved in my Feedly more and have been posting about some of the things I’m reading on Twitter.
- Cooking – these next couple of weeks will really test this. Grocery stores around me have been out of lots of things like chicken and pasta for a while. It’s weird. But I just made orange juice out of a box of fundraiser “clementines” that were pretty terrible in texture but fine in flavor. The juice is so so so good! Took me back to when I’d make orange juice from my Bubbie’s oranges she grew when we were with them in Florida but on a much smaller scale. Also tried some DIY citrus cleaner from the peels and we’ll see how that turns out in a couple of weeks.
- #FitBoS – determined to make it happen this month since I’ll have some extra free time. March WILL be the month I meet my goal (and continue to meet it).
Wow that was a lot but I honestly feel good after writing it all. This is shaping up to be a great teaching year for me and I’m just hoping I get to finish it.
Cette pandémie vraiment force nous à refaire nos modes de vie.