Wednesday, March 26, 2014

LJHS has Spirit What About You?

I know it has been awhile forever since I have posted. I lost my way with my blog this year but I am thinking about how I can revamp my blog to be fun for me and for my followers. I had the sweetest comment this week from a new teacher. He said he was in a rut and my blog inspired him which inspired me to start back up blogging.

Teaching both 7th and 8th grade this year has been a challenge in the best possible way. It has been a wonderful growing experience for my lesson planning and understanding the vertical alignment between the grades. I hope to share my ideas with all of you!

So while I am working on ideas for the direction of this little blog of mine, I will leave you with some school spirit from my amazing school.

LJHS 2014 Spirit Video

LJHS 2012-2013 Lip Dub

Have a Wonderful Spring Break,

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Why Be Competitive?

I would say a good portion of all teachers are Type A personalities or have some Type A quirks. By the way, I am Type A in several ways. I like to be in control, be organized, and always have a plan. Unfortunately, my love language is also words of affirmation.

Well lets think about all the things that can happen when a room full of Type A math teachers get together. Strong opinions are thrown around the room. I will say a lot of great ideas are also thrown around the room. But I am sure like many of my coworkers and myself included, math teachers have always been top students in their math class. This can create some friction and competition within a school and district. I will be the first to tell you I am very competitive (especially with my fitbit).

This year has been filled with many opportunities to collaborate with teachers from around my district that are not at my school. Sometimes I feel though as they see collaboration as a way that hinders them from having the best class. I believe collaboration helps every teacher improve and we should always be open to listening to others' ideas. I want my students to succeed but I also want all my coworkers' students to succeed as well. This is when being competitive can cause friction.

PLC (professional learning community) teams are created to collaborate the best ideas but that does not mean we will all teach the same way but we have ideas to pull from. The key to a good PLC is open collaboration between all members. Each team member must bring something to the table.

These are just my reflections from 4 years of teaching with a variety of different team members.

Share your thoughts and struggles on competition among teachers

Have a Great Weekend,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Review on Common Core Curriculum Planner and Planboard

So how many snow days is your district at? My district has missed 8 days of school and now we are going until June 6. Boooooo.... I enjoy a few snow days but not 8. I am praying we are done with snow days for the year. I am sure everyone has seen everyone's snow pictures and compared to some other states, Arkansas snow looks like a dusting. So I will not torture trouble you with any more snow pictures. 

Though I hate snow days, they have been somewhat productive for me. I used them to get prepared for the new semester, especially for 7th grade. Speaking of planning, I have been testing out  different free online planners. I still love my hard copy which is where I write all my ideas out and an outline but I like to type up my daily plan. I am not one of those girls willing to spend a lot of money on a fancy planner. I am completely okay with my $5 or $10 one from Walmart. 

So my search began for finding the perfect online planner with google chromes cool apps (that I just recently found). I started with planboard which is a google chrome app. 

Copyright: Planboard
Copyright: Planboard
I never really got the hang of it. Not to say it is bad but it wasn't very user friendly for me. It also did not have the Math Common Core Standards in the database. I believe they are still in the development stages of this program. This site can be used for individual use or for groups of teachers to plan together. I was going to try to take a screen shot of my Planboard but for some reason it is not letting me log in. There were a few features of Planboard I did like. It tracked the standards as I used them in a lesson, I could look at my semester screen to determine how many standards I still needed to meet. I also enjoyed on the calendar view the notepad to write reminders on. Let me know if you have used Planboard and what you liked about it that I might have missed when using it. I am no expert just sharing my opinion.

Last week during one of many snow days, I found Common Core Curriculum Lesson Planner app on google chrome apps. If you haven't played around with the google chrome apps, I highly recommend you spend a little time browsing through the education applications. 

Application Icon 
My Current Weekly Screen

Things that I am enjoying so far (considering this is my first real week to use it).
1. Creating my lesson plan template was easy and it automatically copies it to every day.
2. Set up was a breeze! 
3. They already had the Common Core Math standards provided in the standards.
4. I can create a link to share with my principal before an observation.
5. I can link up my documents that go with the lesson. 
6. These is a long-range planner that looks pretty helpful but I haven't dabbled in it yet.

Has anyone else in teacher blogland used either of these planners? Thoughts and helpful hints are always welcome. 

Have a Great Snow Free Week, 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Great Reminder for All Junior High and High School Teachers

First off, I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday break. Hope your holiday's are filled with love and laughter. I am excited for the new year and how I can grow as a teacher, wife, and human.

As a junior high math teacher, I worry about this generation a lot and verbalize to my husband quite often.

And then, I read this blog post. Let's Stop Hating Teenagers by Love, Teach.

I definitely do not hate teenagers, I just simply worry about them. It is amazing how after only a few months with a new group of students, they become my kids. I have no children at this point in my life so these students are my children. I tell them from day one they are a reflection of me even when they are not in my classroom.Who would have known that telling them "you are a reflection of me" could create a significant change.

One day I had to go to a math training, I wrote a note on the board to my students. The last line said remember you are a reflection of me and I know you are going to be fantastic students for the sub. I was left with the sweetest note from the sub that day. She told me how wonderful my students behaved and that they loved reading my note. 8th graders want to be viewed as "mini adults." By giving them the respect they deserve, students will strive to show you they can be the person you expect of them. My students continue to amaze me on a daily basis.

Remember students want to be acknowledged in positive ways. Students struggle with so many outside of our school walls that any positive recognition can make their day.

Have a Great Holiday Break,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Biggest Struggle this Year......

Reflecting back on first semester, I can easily pinpoint my biggest struggle, weakness, and area that needs significant growth.

Borrowed from:

Teaching 2 different grade levels has been very hectic and overwhelming. It seems that I pour my heart into planning one and do the minimum for the other. I must say I could not teach elementary! I could not imagine planning for so many different levels, different subjects, and different needs. You are all amazing and I appreciate the work that you do because it helps make my job easier.

I love teaching 8th grade. I love teaching 8th grade with a "thinking mathematically" mind set. Since I have taught 8th grade before, it has been much easier to plan for. It also may be that I spend a little lot more time on the curriculum and the necessary preparation. It also helps that I have planning with my 8th grade team. 2 classes of 8th graders vs. 1 class of 7th graders has meant I give more of my time to 8th grade.

A downfall with teaching a 7th grade class this year, I do not have planning with the other 7th grade teachers. I have no clue what they are doing most of the time. I do not our common assessments, our curriculum outline, and about where they are at on the calendar but that is where it stops. I have no idea what fun, I mean engaging activities they may be doing in class. Luckily, I do have a math coach that has been helpful in my planning but she is only here every 3 weeks.

My goal for second semester, spend more time with planning for 7th grade. I know the material it is just developing good activities and lessons that will motivate my inclusion students to learn. I am really struggling with my inclusion class to understand that they must study outside of class.

Any ideas or 7th grade math blogs to follow please let me know........

(In this case, a two week Christmas break)

Happy 1 Day until Christmas Break,

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

**Update**My New Favorite Unit in 8th Grade

I have come to the conclusion that most math nerds either have a love for Algebra or Geometry. Rarely does someone love both. The math nerd in me is an Algebra lover. Until Common Core was initiated in 8th grade and thanks to Linda Griffith's (math guru for Arkansas)  commentary of the new standards, I never made the connection of how Geometry and Algebra are intertwined. We started the year off with my least favorite subject, transformations on a coordinate plane. I will it was a good choice by our math department. I have intertwined translations so much this year already.

Now on to my favorite topic in 8th grade, systems of equations. I love all the real world scenarios you can create with systems of equations. Last year when I taught systems, I learned so much about how my students thought and whether they preferred Geometry or Algebra. Some students loved graphing the systems and others loved solving algebraically. Of course, I prefer solving algebraically. Does it matter which one they use? It really depends on the scenario you give them. I believe it is important to show them both but I believe it is even more important for them to learn which is the most efficient method depending on the problem. 

I am planning to start my unit out with a real world problem. There will be no pre-teaching. Prior to starting this unit, the students have learned to solve equations, graph linear equations, create linear equations from real world scenarios, and create linear equations from graphs. Last year, I bought a unit plan from TPT to give me an idea where to start. You can find the unit plan, here. This year I will be incorporating my own ideas with some of her great ideas that worked well for my students. 
My students also loved the foldable we created. I cannot remember where in the world I found it. I take no credit for creating this foldable. Here is a link to grab it for yourself. 
I had a comment asking what the foldable looks like complete. Here are a few pictures.

My starting question for the unit:
Mrs. Gilliam has decided to take a end of the year 8th grade celebration trip. She wants to take the kids to a state park. She also wants to provide fun things to do such as riding bikes on the trails.Below she has listed the prices for renting bikes at each park plus the cost of hosting a group at the park.
Devil's Den State Park charges $120 to host the trip. They also charge $5 per bicycle rented for the day.
Hobbs State Park charges $80 to host the trip. They charge $10 per bicycle rented for the day. 

Mrs. Gilliam needs your help to determine, which state park would be the better deal. 

How beautiful are Arkansas state parks? One of many reasons, I love Arkansas.
Systems of equations starts in January. Since we are on snow day #5, I have been planning and laying out my next unit. I hope the kids enjoy it as much as I do. They have loved linear equations because I submersed them into real world situations to make it concrete for them.

By the way, one of my awesome co-workers is a INB pro and has a great idea for systems too. My goal is to be half as awesome with INB next year because this year I did not find the time to prepare for it.
Here is her awesome website Mrs. Hester's Classroom

Have a Great Wednesday,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

If I had to Choose a Partner for the Amazing Race.....

I am on day 3 of being snowed in. I have done all my planning for the rest of this semester for both my 7th and 8th grade class. I am starting to get stuff ready for after Christmas which is one of my favorite topics for 8th grade, systems!

Since I am done with everything I needed to get done, I thought I would write a random blog post about one of my favorite TV shows, the Amazing Race. I have watched every season of the Amazing Race. I would LOVE to be a contestant.

But the big question is who would I want my partner to be?? So I thought I would make a list with pros and cons for each. I do have my own cons for example: I cannot drive a standard, I am horrible at giving driving directions, I am not sure how I would do with heights, and I am a picky eater. 

The List of Candidates

The Dad

He's brilliant                                        
He can drive a standard                     
He has excellent  people skills             
He is great at puzzles
It will be a memorable experience.
He can read maps and give directions.

He does not do heights
I'm not sure he can handle gross food
He gets sick on airplanes

The Hubby

He's strategic                          
He will eat anything 
He can read maps and navigate.             
He can drive a standard       
He knows his way around an airport
He has great people skills 
He knows a little Spanish
He's a nerd.
He is a rule follower, which is crucial in the game
He is realistic and will remind me we are here to win.
                      It would always be exciting. 

                        He's scared of heights
                        We may have varying opinions at times
                        He may or may not get along with other racers 

The College Bestie

She has jumped out of an airplane
and will do it again in a heart beat.
She is very competitive. 
We would be laughing the whole time.
We are both athletic
We are both pretty smart.
We communicate well. 
Being a pretty girl, she can use her charm on guys around the world.
She would be a great cheerleader.
                           We could have cute matching outfits.

She only knows the basics of driving a standard
We would probably get lost several times 
We would always be a little late. (she knows what I mean)
We may some small details in directions if we are in a hurry

The Best Friend for Life
(Life started in 5th Grade)

She's very competitive
She can read maps and navigate
She would eat anything
She would jump off anything
She can drive a standard
She's pretty and could use her looks against the guys
We would make a great team.
She's very supportive.
                         She's in great shape.
                         She will tell me what I need to hear.
                         She will make sure we follow the directions. 
She's like my husband and will make people mad if it means we win 
We may have healthy arguments because we are both strong-willed
She may not wear a matching outfit with me.
She would choose to run the race with her brother because it would be hilarious.

Well I think the winner would have to be....................
The Hubby! It would be such a great challenge for both of us. I think it would be an intense therapy session on communication skills for anyone.

I do not know how to do a link up, so who would you run the race with? 

Have a Great Sunday,


Sorry for the horrible spacing issues. It looks great in editor.