Saturday, January 7, 2017

New learning for the new year.. My favorite strategy

I have really jumped on the Notice and Wonder train. This has really put the thinking and connecting in the hands of the students. It is a simple but ingenious strategy where students look at what they notice about a particular problem and then wonder by asking mathematical questions about the problem. This opens up the problem for students to start talking and and discussion their ideas.

With the Notice and Wonder, I like to pair this with Dan Meyer's "You can always add. You can't subtract" philosophy. Deleting as much as I can from a problem helps start that conversation about what we notice and wonder about a particular problem. Giving students small bits at a time builds that curiosity and buy-in for what we are going to tackle in class for the day. Students also like to predict what is coming next when problems are presented in this way. It can usually make for a loud and talkative classroom!

Another idea that has also transformed my classroom this year is Contemplate then Calculate. Bringing in this last strategy has been the perfect way to move into solving the problem. Many times I would rush into the solving part without having students take a moment to figure out what they already know. I like this strategy also because students then have a framework to share their thinking that has been helpful in getting kids to think about their thinking.

These three ideas have positively affected my classroom for this first half of the year. It has forced me to put the cognitive load on the students. Providing a classroom experience where students are challenged starts with the planning. Planning with these strategies has helped me take the call to action from Graham Fletcher's Becoming a Better Storyteller  seriously and purposefully. These three ideas have really reignited my passion for teaching and helping students become the best possible mathematician they can be!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What have I learned so far...

Being a few weeks into the new job, I am noticing a few things.
  • Teaching HS is much different than teaching MS.
  • It is really nice walking into a building where I already know students and teachers
  • What has been taught and how it was taught has a direct impact on what is currently being taught. 
  • There is a huge disconnect between Elementary, MS, and HS.  I am not sure where the breakdown is occurring or why it happens (at no fault of any teacher -- I believe it is a systems thing!) 
  • I am missing my peeps at the MS but I do enjoy my current colleagues!
  • I am really in love with Desmos Classroom Activities -- these activities get kids to actually think!  And think hard!  I have not heard one negative thing about them -- and I doubt I do!  

I am excited about this new change because after hearing and contemplating about Dan Meyer's Math Class Needs a Makeover -- I have madeover my math class and am loving it! 

We even did a Breakout Edu session today!  The kids loved it! I am looking forward to creating a review using these ideas for the next unit.  

I am noticing it is starting off to be a good year! 

Monday, May 16, 2016

As I embark on this new adventure....

I am embarking on a new adventure and headed back to the classroom for half of my time.  The other half of my time will be facilitating PD for HS and MS along with keeping all the curriculum maps and assessments up-to-date along with various other tasks.

I have been obsessively been listening to podcasts while I walk my dog at night, trying to gain any sort of new knowledge to help me in this endeavor.  This will be no easy feat since I have been living in the middle school world for the last 15 years. I am continuously listening for an insight into how these presenters are throwing out ideas and why people are catching them and running with them.  How do these people who have blogs, tweet out, create lessons, present on really big stages like NCTM and NCSM have all these great ideas that people are captivated by?  Jo Boaler has a growth mindset.  Dan Meyer had so many ways to reinvent the math classroom it would take too long to write about -- but the big one is how he is helping transform Desmos. Robert Kaplinsky has rich tasks, Fawn Nguyen has visual patterns.  What will my legacy be for this position?  I hope people get out of our PD sessions that all students can learn and at high levels and we can get rid of the kill and drill.

I have been slowly taking notes on what are some of my ideas for PD for next year.  I want to make relevant and engaging to all audiences.  When someone from a different world comes into yours, you tend to judge and say... "This person knows nothing about my world and how it works."  I just hope to shed those assumptions people will make and we can all learn as a community.

I am in the middle of recreating my 4 week CBU class into a 2.5 hour Summer Academy class.  As always, I worry that it will not be relevant for my audience or it will focus too much on Middle School thinking and High School people will think it is a joke.  Such is the live of a middle school teacher -- caught in the world of middle school and never escaping the peer shame of being good enough.

Hopefully within the next few weeks, I will get some more guidance to find my way along this path.  It will be an adventure but one of uncertainty.  But I will be able to do it!