Goals, The 2017-2018 Edition

So as I sit here at the kitchen table, listening to my husband read “The Going to Bed Book” to my little kiddo I have 9 more wake-ups until I greet my first students of the 2017-2018 school year. This year I’m teaching AFM (year 4 of this) and Geometry (first time teaching it) and I had a to-do list a mile long for the summer and I feel as though I only got through the first 200 yards. I’m freaking out a little. But when I start to freak out, I do what I think most teachers do, I make a plan.

So here’s my plan for my mental sanity as I venture in teaching a new course and re-vamping an older one:

  1. Go to bed early. To those of you who met me at Twitter Math Camp, I managed to Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 6.26.47 PMstay up until 10:30 every night so that I could be social and meet the lovely internet people who have helped me along this teaching journey. But that’s WAY past my bed time. I’m the human embodiment of  “Grumpy Cat” when I don’t get my sleep. Don’t believe me? Well my daughter can make the “Grumpy Cat” face, she had to have learned it somewhere. I’m guessing it was from me. My goal is a 9:30 bedtime. Last year I made the misguided goal of having 30 minutes of device-free time before bed, that didn’t happen. And I’m okay with that. I like my Twitter time.
  2. Instructional Routines. Find the ones I like and stick with them. Okay, so I’m REALLY bad at being a little ADD with my teaching practices (and blog posts, bear with me). Last year I feel into some, in my personal philosophy of teaching, bad practices of teacher-centered routines. It was a lot of “I Do, You Do, We do.” I fell into that pattern because I was sleep deprived (see goal 1) and I had 3 preps. So I felt like 2 of them never got my full attention at any given time of the year. I could make excuses. But I’ll just say, I know I need to do better to be in my happy teaching place. Designing a new course from scratch I think is going to help keep me accountable for establishing these routines. So I have high hopes. Here are my chosen routines:
    • #VNPS, Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces. Well, in my classroom, with all its windowed glory, the vertical part is not going to work. So I’ll be using #HNPS. Horizontal Non-Permanent Surface. I bought shower board this week and had them cut into 2×3 foot sections and will get to taping the edges next week when the “OMG ITS ALMOST THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL” stress hits me and I need a mindless task. The goal here is to make students mathematical thinking visible and a group effort.
      • A KEY subsection here is visibly random grouping. Students need to know that there is no rhyme or reason to their group assignments. I am going to do new groups on Mondays because I know I’ll never learn names if I can’t get students in the same seat for at least the first week of school.
    • Debate Structure. I went to Matt and Chris’s TMC morning session, “Talk Less, Smile More” which was on using debate structures as a method of increasing student talk and engagement in a task. I mean, have you met a teenager who doesn’t like to argue? Yeah. I didn’t think so. The cliffs notes version make a student pick a side (or give them a side) then have them provide their justification of the form “My Claim is______, and my warrant is _____.” I was pleasantly surprised how having that sentence structure made me feel less introvert-y and willing to participate in a room filled with strangers. I was sold.
    • Desmos Activity Builder. I’m holding myself accountable to making/using more of these. The students always love them. We have great conversations. I think I just get caught up in trying to make them look “Desmos Bank” worthy. This year I’ve vowed to get over that. Just make stuff that works for my class. I’ll make them fancy and pretty when I have time.
  3. Stay on top of my Web-Based Things. Yeah, okay that sounded vague. But I don’t know how else to describe making sure I make Delta Math and GoFormative homework well in advance so I don’t get stressed, and keeping my notes and note keys up to date on Canvas (our online learning management service). I was bad at this last year. So I have structured an hour into my lesson planning block–I have from 11:15-1:30, I know I’m lucky to have that time and I need to use it better.

And that’s it. I read somewhere you shouldn’t try to change more than 10% of your actions at any given time to ensure success. I’d venture to guess this is more like a 15% change. I’m keeping my guided notes problems from years past. I just plan to make them debatable instead of “here you do this.” If the problem doesn’t feel debatable, I’ll make it #HNPS. If I’m feeling super Desmos-y I’ll make them an Activity Builder. I’m not re-inventing the wheel, just giving it some new tread. Or maybe some new rims? If I’m feeling like an overachiever I’ll go for the spinner rims  upgrade and use that Desmos Computational Layer magic and “live dangerously.”

Advertisements

M&M Lab

Advanced Functions and Modeling is an alternative to PreCal course. And this year I choose to move the Descriptive Stats unit from the very first unit in August to the first unit of the second semester in January. Our Stats unit is very simplistic as it is meant to be an introduction of sorts. Tt contains the same content from CCM1: Measures of center, calculating 5-number summaries and outliers, creating histograms and box plots. We choose to have the unit focus on arguing with data rather than purely analyzing data.

Arguing with data, for the purposes of the class is when students are given data, a side-by-side box plot, or multiple histograms on the same scale and then they need to:

  • Make a claim–students need take a stance for the data given. We modeled these statements to reflect the thesis statement construction from their US History class (which most students are in).
  • Provide three supporting statements for the claim. Each statement should be data driven and assist your claim.

The Lab was inspired stolen from an image I found on Twitter. I can’t find the source, most likely someone in #MTBoS.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-7-02-29-pm

And I figured this was a lab that could be easily recreated for my students. I, with the help of my loving husband, created “Mystery Morsel” packs. We created packs made from large index cards that we put 5 M&Ms in and sealed. We made 7 packs for each type of M&M.

Students were tasked with identifying the “Mystery Morsels” by using their weights. Each group was given a control baggie of M&Ms to come up with a baseline for each type. They shared their data on the board for weights of their M&Ms and then proceeded to weigh the “Mystery Morsels”:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Was it a perfect lab? Heck no. I think it was far too easy and there are many things I want to change for next year. Several kids noted that “it was obvious” which M&M goes to which pack because the weights are varied. One student mentioned that it would be “evil if Mrs. White hid skittles in here somewhere. I bet they weigh about the same as the plain ones.”

Which got me to thinking…skittles…yes. And Reese’s Pieces. And maybe one random packet that has 6 M&Ms instead of 5.

My rational for this “trickery” is to have some of the box plots overlap in the range of the data. So students actually have to use their knowledge of measures of center/variability to rationalize their decisions for which of the “Mystery Morsels” belong to which M&Ms and which are “other” candies.

 

Lab handout