Parent Survey

At the beginning of the year, I attached the link to a Parent Survey at the end of my syllabus. That got me a handful of responses. I also sent it out in my first few mass email newsletters. I’ve gotten 14 responses, so a very small portion of my students’ parents. But hey, something is better than nothing, right?

Here is a copy of what I sent: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/16C-N9Y9rcCkCYd4O4xlhO_52QFt3HbW8VYxGTtX5eJw/copy?usp=sharing

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I decided to ask for information about when their learner was successful and not successful, and I’ve gotten some really great insight from that. It helped me see into some of the past experiences that my learners had faced. I was happy to see that all of them could share a time when the learner had academic success. There was also a lot of wincing on my part when I read what some of them went through to give academic difficulty. All of the responses were helpful.

I also made sure to put a note about when to contact home in my class roster spreadsheet that I keep. Most of the time it was if the learner was failing, but there have been a few times this semester where I’ve had to contact about a different thing that the parents asked for.

Also, the best thing I changed about this survey from last year is that I set it so that I get an email notification every time the survey is completed. That’s helped me keep up with the responses way better.

Is there anything I should change about my survey?

Je veux communiquer avec tous des parents de mes étudiants. Un jour.

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Class Twitter Page (Updated 11/27/17)

 

One way that I communicate with parents is by my Class Twitter (an idea I stole from Annie Forest). At the end of every week, I have students do a Weekly Summary. One of the prompts they have for that is to answer the “Tweet Question”. Guardians do not see these answers when they get the emails. That’s because I curate the tweets to put on our class Twitter. I usually use one tweet per period. I have the Twitter feed on my class website and currently have 5 followers…but some students have said that they just look on my website. I also post pictures from class on the class Twitter. I haven’t gotten any parent comments about it yet. Honestly I don’t know if any look at it. I just keep putting reminders that it’s there when I send my unit emails and, if nothing else, it’s nice for me to chronicle the year.

The Tweet Questions I ask can be something about the current topic, or can be more general. Some examples:

  • What is the most difficult part about ____?
  • What is one piece of advice you’d give about ___?
  • How can you use ____ in a real-life situation?
  • What do you wish your teacher knew about you?
  • What is one good thing that happened this week?
  • What is your goal for next week?
  • What is your favorite ____ and why?

I try to get one per class to post but sometimes I do more.

J’espère que les parents apprécient les mises à jour.

Weekly Summaries (Updated 11/27/17)

Parent communication is hard. At the start of last year, my principal mentioned something his old school did where students texted their parents during the day with kind of a status update on how they’re doing in classes and what they’ve been doing. I took this idea and tried to do it daily but that was a little much, so I made it into a Weekly Summary. Students do these at the end of the week (mostly Fridays but sometimes Thursday if we have Friday off or something like that).

I made a Google Form for each class and used a few Add-ons to make it so that when the students submitted it, a copy of their responses would be sent home to their guardian email and cc’d to me. The link to the Google Form is posted on the home page of my class website. Here is what I ask them to answer:

  1. What they did in class this week
  2. What they learned in class this week
  3. A rating of how they’re feeling about class
  4. The response to the day’s Tweet Question
  5. Anything else they want to say.

Also, the form will automatically pull the student’s grade to put in there (I have to copy it from my gradebook into my Class Roster spreadsheet that’s referenced in the directions below). Students were surprised the first time that it actually went to their parents (I guess my disclaimer at the top wasn’t convincing enough). Since I receive an email, I am able to check this and send additional notes to guardians if necessary. I use the responses, especially the ratings of how they’re feeling in class, to help me know who I need to talk to most and what I need to address.

These are what students see:

 

This is what I see, either in the spreadsheet (which I really only look at to get the Tweets) and the emails that get sent home:

 

My favorite student comments about this process were along the lines of: “Ugh I wish we didn’t have to do this. It makes my parents want to talk to me about class!” I did have students that told me they liked the process, though. Some of them write notes to their parents, like what they hope to have for dinner, in the “Anything

I do not get too many parent responses (I set up the email so that they would reply to me). It did keep guardians updated and I hear from them that they appreciated the updates. I did get one response that stood out. It is an email from a board member that teaches in another district. She said:
Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.28.04 AMTeacher sharing for the win! So since this was a pretty important person that was requesting it, I spent some time making sure my directions were good. I will admit, they are pretty long and it will probably take at least 30 minutes to set up your first class, but after the setup, it just always works. I’ve never had an issue.

Here are the directions: Class Update Directions (docx)    Class Update Directions (pdf)

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. I want to be in touch with families more. The Weekly Summaries helped, but I know it doesn’t reach everyone. The ones that don’t have an email, unfortunately, do not get a weekly update, so I try to call those families.

Il faut communiquer avec les parents, mais c’est très difficile.

How I Sold #Plickers To My Admin

I realized recently that I didn’t have a post dedicated to how I use Plickers in my class. I had how I make sure each student has a card. I also have how they are used in my warm ups. Then, I mentioned that I plan out my Plickers questions when I’m unit planning. But I recently had a conversation with my admin about it and they were completely sold. This was basically what I talked about in the conversation:

So I have about a little over 100 students this semester, last semester I had 120. I know that to some of you that’s not a lot, but to me that was a lot a lot. I had been used to no more than 70 students because I had been teaching in a small school and/or on block scheduling. So I had been trying exit slips at the beginning of the year, like I had done in my previous schools, but it just wasn’t working. They became a chore, and plus with only 50 minutes I kept not being able to fit them in. So now I use Plickers as an exit slip. I also use it before practicing, and in the middle of practicing. So there are many days where I’ll use Plickers 3 or 4 times in a period.

The great thing about Plickers (besides that it’s 100% free), is that it’s immediate feedback, for me and the students. So when I put up a problem, sometimes I’m feeling pretty confident about how it was learned and I expect something like this:

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And instead I get this:

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Whoa…

What happened?

So now I can know that everything I thought was wrong, and I can go over it with the class! Or, I can now group up students and talk to them about what they did and how we could get the right answer. I actually do the second option a lot. I make sure I meet up with every single student, so sometimes I’m talking to a few of them at a time about how they worked out a problem and what they could do differently. I’ll also meet with the ones who got it correct and see if I can extend their knowledge in some way. It’s really cool that I get little meetings with every single student because of their Plickers response and it’s a regular part of the routine now.

Another thing I’ve started to do this quarter is add the “I don’t know” option to all my questions. I never use Plickers for a grade, so the “I don’t know” keeps some the students from lucky guessing. I really stress that I’d rather them be honest about not knowing than guessing for the problems I put up. I still have a couple that insist on guessing, anyway.

Also sometimes it’s important (to me) to have questions like this to gauge how the class is feeling.

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Sometimes my district’s pacing calendar doesn’t let me, but I try to do what my students need/want in terms of practice vs moving on.

And there you have it! #Plickersforever

Je peux parler de Plickers pour toujours.

Google Certified Educator Level 1

I passed the Google Certified Educator Level 1 exam yesterday!

The test took me a little over 2 hours. I had looked over the lesson material very very briefly and took all of the unit reviews before taking the exam. Most of the content I knew, but there were definitely some things that I had to read up on. I think I only got 2 of the unit reviews 100% correct the first time. While I was taking the exam, I had my school computer that was taking the test, because it’s the only one I have with a working webcam, and then my old old personal computer that I got in college and is only used a few times a year was next to it with my Chrome open and all the different lessons bookmarked. I did have to look up a handful of things, so I’m glad I had it there. If you’re going to take it, I suggest you have some other way to access Google to answer some questions during the test.

If you’re wondering about whether it’s worth it, I’m not sure. I have a badge now, and I guess I can put this on my resume. But I more have a sense of accomplishment because I was pretty nervous. I also honestly got some ideas from the scenario questions that I’m excited to use as soon as (or if) my district lets students all have access to email through their accounts. Next step is Level 2, some day.

gce_badges_01

Les insignes numériques: insignifiants mais aussi demandés.

Weekly Summaries and Class Twitter

I’ve written about my Weekly Summaries before. I still do them but I’ve updated them a little. Now, the questions are:

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  1. What did you learn in class this week?
  2. What activities did you do in class this week?
  3. How are you feeling about math class?
  4. Type your tweet (I am following after Annie Forest with her class tweets)
  5. Other comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

When they click submit, their parents (if they have given the school or me an email address) and I get an email that looks like this:

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So the grade automatically gets put in and the parents see their responses to 1, 2, 3, and 5 (that’s this student’s joke about the mathematician).

I love love love these Weekly Summaries. The hardest part is getting students to do them. Usually it’s me who forgets to have them get the Chromebooks. It’s not something they like doing on their phones because they have to log in to their account and that takes longer than a microsecond so they’re just not into it.

But I get a lot of good feedback (like this student who was failing but was feeling great about the current topic and ended up raising her grade to a D in the next week!). And parents (except two that asked me to stop emailing them unless it was an emergency) have told me that they really like getting these. It’s a good conversation starter at home and it makes them feel like they are more in the loop about their child. I loved getting these comments at conferences and frequently get responses back from parents over the weekend with questions or comments so it definitely has helped my communication.

You may have noticed that the tweets aren’t seen by the parents. That’s because I curate the tweets to put on our class Twitter. I usually use one tweet per period. I have the Twitter feed on my class website and currently have 5 followers…but some students have said that they just look on my website. I also post pictures from class on the class Twitter. I haven’t gotten any parent comments about it yet. Honestly I don’t know if any look at it. I just keep putting reminders that it’s there when I send my unit emails and, if nothing else, it’s nice for me to chronicle the year.

J’espère que les parents apprécient les mises à jour.

Desmos Card Sort Is More Than Just Technology for Technology’s Sake

I just had my first formal observation and it was scheduled for last period on day 2/2 of factoring by grouping (polynomials with four terms). I was a little stressed when I found out about the observation.

Luckily the #MTBoS is the best and Meg @mathymeg07 and Sarah @mathequalslove gave me great ideas that helped me de-stress. I ended up settling on a Desmos card sort for practice, mainly because my evaluator has already said how impressed she is with my technology use. I would just make a sort where the students would match a polynomials with its factors (3 cards for each set). That led me to tweet about how it was a perfect example of technology for technology’s sake, which made me feel bad but my plans were due the day before already (even though I had just been assigned the observation).

But then I was thinking about it…and it really isn’t just technology for technology’s sake. Using the Desmos card sort gave me and the students way more information than a regular old worksheet. Ok well for the students they got confirmation that their answers could be correct if they were on the screen (which is not much more than me just giving a scrambled answer key or something). But also they gained engagement. There’s something about being on the Chromebooks that is just 10x more engaging than a worksheet. Like, seriously, in all of my classes there wasn’t one time where I caught a group on something they weren’t supposed to be on. Maybe I’m just bad at catching it, but I’m gonna go with they were engaged. And no, my classes are not perfect little angels who just do whatever I ask them. But the pairs that were just sitting there doing nothing were quickly caught and re-engaged (read on for how).

Also, I gained so much more with the card sort than I would have with just a worksheet. Students were in pairs and I had them make their names both of their first names together so I could manage better. I walked around with my iPad showing the dashboard, and I was able to see their work in real time! No more making rounds around the room and not finding out until 2 minutes before ending that a group did everything wrong. No more letting a group wait there for 10 minutes because they finished early (or just weren’t working) and just didn’t say anything!

I wish I had taken a screenshot in the middle of the class (this is just the first four groups from a class that had already finished) but, for instance, I could see right away that the Stefan Banach pair had a mismatch and could go over to them as soon as I was available before they made more mistakes like that. I could also see, for instance, that Diego and Kurt were ready for some extension questions and challenges since they were done earlier. Or I could use this to see that Mary’s pair needed someone from Diego’s pair to help them out since they were stuck on that screen for a while.

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Also, it was pretty easy to make. I made an 8 question Kuta worksheet, made sure none of the factors were the same but that there were some similar ones, and then typed them in. I think it took me half an hour while I watched TV to make.

So yeah, I wanted to use Desmos to impress my assistant principal. But really, in the end, I did what I think helped my students and me have the best practice for this topic.

Here’s the links to the card sorts that I’ve done like this:

Factor by Grouping: https://teacher.desmos.com/activitybuilder/custom/581e0a5a39d984e1059501f3

Factor quadratic trinomials: https://teacher.desmos.com/activitybuilder/custom/5812d0b1b9d4312e2ae3f184

J’adore Desmos et je vais trouver n’importe quelle raison de l’utiliser.