Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Update! and entering the 2015-2016 school year, Lots of math GOODIES!

It has officially been a year since I have written on my "math" blog. Lots has happened in the past year that I just couldn't keep up. I just had our second precious son in April and we are entering into a new era of life changes. If you want to read about our son's story, go here. Life is full of unexpected, hard things that still hold endless amounts of beauty. Right now, my heart and passion has been in that blog. But, I'm also still so passionate about my work teaching and I have lots of things to share so I just thought I would file dump on you guys here in case anything is useful.

I'm trying out standards based grading in my Pre-AP Algebra 2 classes. Once I figure out how to work it this year, I may move to applying it in my Bridge to Algebra 2 classes next year. My Bridge kids are a completely different set of kids so I'm not incredibly sure how that will play out plus there are really not a lot of frameworks set forth for Bridge. That's something I struggle with. Clear guidelines give me something to hold onto.

Anyways, I created a list of skills that I would like for my students to master. Here is the PDF with the fonts that I used and Here is the editable word document.

Day 1, Monday:
The majority of the schools in our state started on Monday. For both Bridge and PAP A2, I began with Pam's name plate and towel activity explained here. We had plenty of extra time so I finished with my powerpoint "15 Reasons Why I'm Awesome." Pretty good day. I had been so sick Sunday and it carried over into Monday so I've had much better first days of school but I have felt much better since. Glad to be OVER that nasty hump!

Day 2, Tuesday:
We went over the syllabus and I had them give me some ways I could best meet their needs on a little sheet of paper. Then, I decided to get my PAP kids thinking back in Algebra mode so I gave them the "Five Easy Pieces Activity." The fonts aren't showing up that I used but at least it's accessible. I also used this activity with Bridge because I wanted something to get them talking. I forget how much I like this activity--especially for my Bridge kids! They totally rocked it! Proud of how they persevered throughout and worked hard even though most of them have a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to math!

Day 3, Wednesday:
PAP-gave them a few minutes to finish 5 Easy Pieces since classes were at all different parts from Tuesday. Then, I wanted to go ahead and get them signed up and aware of so we signed up and I had them do the "Central Park Activity." If you have not done this activity with your kids, you are missing out! I love this--even for my advanced kids! Some struggled more than others but I loved seeing that! Overall, they really seemed to enjoy this! Desmos--I love you forever. If they finished early, I had them try the Penny activity on This activity is a great snapshot to when we go to parent functions in a week or two.

Bridge- Most needed at least half the class or more to finish 5 Easy Pieces. Then, they moved on to a practice sheet that assesses their knowledge of order of operations that we will start Friday or Monday. Here is the sheet. Got this from my sweet friend, Shelli, over at Teaching Statistics. Here is the file is your interested. I like this because it brushes up on skills they've seen before but struggle with while still really stretching their brains. Many get frustrated with the final part with the "Four 4's." I can relate but it's neat to have something that has all kinds of solutions!

Day 4, Thursday:
PAP--My plan is sign my kids up fro google classroom and do an activity that I saw at a Pre-AP workshop with the College Board called "Charlie the Cheesemaker." I tweaked the title to make it a little funnier because, seriously, how could I resist? I'm nervous about this. To be honest, I seriously considered not doing it and going on to our first sections about Literal Equations. I'm afraid that it will frustrate many of my kids because it is super challenging. BUT, I've decided to go for it because, many times, I underestimate their abilities and I want to see how well they are at detecting patterns and types of equations. HERE is the "Cut the Cheese" file I tweaked a little. I'd love to see what some others think of the activity! It is definitely one that gets you thinking!

Bridge--Finish up and DISCUSS the review of order operations/Four 4's activity from yesterday. Then, sign them up for desmos and do either the "Waterline" Activity on Desmos or "Central Park." Haven't decided yet.

Day 5, Friday:
PAP-- Finish "Cut the Cheese" and set up our interactive notebooks to get us ready to jump all in on Monday into Literal Equations. We are going to talk about having a Growth Mindset mentioned by Sarah at Math = Love.

Bridge--Set up Notebooks and either going to dive into an order of operations activity or do the Aquarium Problem that I've done before but am tweaking the formatting. It's actually an old AP Calc problem that has been adjusted to meet the level of my Bridge kids.

Well, guys! I hope to be around more often now! All depends on our life! Hope some of these files sparked some interest! Please let me know if any are not working or if you would like an editable copy and I didn't attach on. Have a blessed beginning to the school year!

I'll leave you with some pictures of my classroom this year!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

That first week of school groove: Week 1 Summary

So, going into Monday, I knew I had this. This is my 5th year to teach so, although I know I'm not anywhere close to where I want to be as a teacher, I have the hang of teaching and relating to my kids. I know better how to set expectations and stick with them, how to properly manage my classroom, and how to prepare myself for what my kids need.

Day 1: I have 4 Pre-AP (PAP) Algebra 2 classes and 2 Bridging to Algebra 2 classes. My Algebra 2 classes worked on introducing themselves and started on the cell phone project given in the previous post. My Bridge classes did the same except began working on an order of operations sheet.

Day 2: PAP Alg 2 continued the cell phone project. Bridge continued the order of operations sheet. I had forgotten how long it takes for my kids in the Bridge classes to work through things. It's nice to not have to hit concepts like crazy and really allow each individual student time to understand and apply what we are learning.

Day 3: In both classes we went over classroom procedures and I gave them 15 reasons why I'm awesome. We had lots of good laughs and a lot of fun this day. I feel like they really enjoyed hearing how quirky I am and a little about my personal life. Of course, they all wanted to hear the stolen car story from my second year of teaching. I'm glad it's funny now :)

Day 4: We set up our notebooks in both classes. Once we finished that, we began literal equations in PAP. It is completely laid out in this handout but I also made an INB page that I will share below.

Handout (Not INB form):

INB version:

In Bridge, we started an activity at the very end of class that I love for getting my kids to get that problem-solving mindset going. It's called 5 Easy Pieces that I in no way made up but have tweeked it and made it into an INB page. I will also share this below.

Five Easy Pieces

Day 5: PAP Alg. 2- We did lots of solving literal equations on the whiteboards in class. We had lots of fun. Class was chaos, kids were working and talking, eager to show me their answers. I explained beforehand how whiteboards would work. I told them we would be using these frequently in class and the rules are that they can in no way sketch, draw, or make negative remarks on the whiteboards. Once they are finished with the specific equation on the board and I have confirmed that their answer is correct, they can quietly doodle until everyone has completed the problem. Once I communicated these rules and stuck to them, they did well with following them. Many of the kids struggled at first with solving for a variable in an equation without numbers presents and still need practice, especially with the more difficult equations. On Monday, we will solve about 4 or 5 more difficult physics problems on the whiteboards again and then set off on the right side of the literal equations foldable I am sharing. On tuesday, we will have a quiz first things where I will grade their work in the foldable while they complete the quiz and will then move on to learning various ways to represent domain and range using various notation.

Bridge- We really got into the meat of the Five Easy Pieces Activity. I must say, I was so impressed with how well the kids did with it. I was expecting quite the struggle, but overall, after a few clarifications, they did awesome. We have a little bit to complete on Monday and we will go on to start on the Aquarium Problem which I will share below. It is actually an adjusted calculus problem. I hope it will really get the kids thing of the situation and what to look for in a graph at particular situations. I made an INB format for it. On the right side is a large landscape version of the graph, briefly explaining the scenario that will be folded in half to fit in the page. At the bottom of that same page will be the scenarios that I want them to label on the graph. On the left side of the page will be 4 specific questions on a strip that they will answer off to the side on their notebook paper. The problem definitely makes them think deeply about the situation. It could really be used in Algebra 1 through Calc as a problem solving activity.

Aquarium Problem (INB version):

Awesome week! I really think I'm going to love my kids this year. There are a few in my Bridge classes that I'm going to really have to push to work but, for the most part, it shouldn't be an issue. I think it deals more with a lack of confidence than anything. They aren't confident and have resorted to letting themselves be lazy to avoid the embarrassment of failing. I hope to really change this with these kids.

(Another perk to the week: It was my amazing hubby's bday on Thursday. So blessed to have that man)

Y'all have a blessed week!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

First Day Plans & Classroom Set-up

First Day Plans
First day of school is tomorrow. I can't decide whether I'm nervous or not. I know I'm prepared because I've spent many nights this summer ensuring that I am well-prepared up until a couple units in but you always get that feeling wondering if you have done enough, what are you going to say, etc. I have two preps this year: 4 classes of Pre-AP Algebra 2 and 2 classes or Bridge to Algebra 2. We are on a standard schedule with 7 50-min classes a day.

After attending TMC '14, I decided to take a tip from the Algebra 2 guru himself-Glenn, and go straight into math with my PAP kids.  We will do bellwork first- Mental Math is what I am going to do every Monday. I am going to do Glenn's cell-phone project which will likely take 2 class days. I did tweak it a little and made a rubric for the kids to look at to know how I will grade their work. I'm excited about it but always a little nervous about the fact that this small project is totally on them the first day. I will have little input into their work which is sometimes hard for me to remind myself to relinquish control. They've got this. I think I'm going to have some awesome kiddos in these classes. Here's my version of the cell phone project: 

I used the "Cinnamon Cake" Font so that look of it might be a little weird until the font is changed back.

For Bridging, I like this order of operation activity I found from Math Teacher Mambo. It's several years old but I like how it addresses the kids weakest areas from the beginning. I will allow them to work on this activity silently for a while. Then, together. We will start with the bellworks we will do throughout. I debated on whether to do bellwork or not the first week of class since it will be mostly procedures but decided that this is an important procedure they will have to learn. We will go over the syllabus Tuesday or Wednesday.

Y'all let me know what you think!
Class Set-Up
When you get to my door. This is what you see. Found the idea for the design on pinterest and went with it. It was quite a bit more work than I had originally anticipated but it was worth it! I am so pleased with how it turned out. Don't look too close though--it has some flaws! :)

Update: I know these links are annoying but the pics weren't showing them up the other way I was sharing them so I just attached links to the pictures through google drive.
As you walk in, looking at the front of the room.
Above is a panoramic view of what you would see when you walk in.
Looking towards the door at the front of the room.
My podium (which I never use but for holding papers from time to time) that I painted and "bedazzled" with glitter and my chair that I covered myself. Pretty proud.
Looking back at the door. I made the cute kid in 2012 and the "Peace, Love, Pi" a couple of years ago. :)
Looking at the board on the right when you walk through the door.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

TMC '14 Recap and iPads in the classroom

{Note: the Algebra 2 link has almost all of my INB pages up! I am still working on attaching all the links. If I haven't attached one that you want the word document to, let me know and I 'll send it.}

TMC Recap
I figured I needed to recap TMC before I forget and then could never look back. I have been exhausted since I came home..primarily because I stay up way too late and also due to the fact that my mind was stretched so much at TMC in a good way!

I am so passionate about what I do. Personally, I could never be in a job that I know doesn't make a difference. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm anything extraordinary but I do know that I have a love for these kids, their well-being, and helping them develop a passion for growth. I say a passion for growth instead of learning for a reason. For the rest of our lives, whether we want to or not, we are learners. We learn how to be wives and husbands, moms and dads, how to deal with insurance and budgets, and how to be a good friend and person. But, not everyone tries to live their lives growing. Learning really isn't a choice but growth is. I want my students to be passionate about growing and learn to love the learning process, as well. TMC brought to my attention so many more ways that I can use to cultivate growth-minded students.

The best way to describe how I felt at TMC was inspired. I told my husband as I was going on and on about how much I was loving it was that "They just get me there." He thought that was pretty nerdy of me to say but he knew he married a nerd from day one :) What I meant by that statement was that I felt like I was surrounded by people who understand my passion and my dreams for my kids. You guys don't just want your kids to learn but to grow as people. So, beyond the incredible instructional tools that I learned about at my time at TMC, my biggest take away was the way it made me feel. Inspired and hopeful. Inspired because there were so many teachers who amaze me with their talent and ability to teach without fear. Hopeful because I'm reminded that others love and want for these kids like I do.

Here's a couple pics. Let me just say, these are NOT good pictures of me AT ALL. But, I am so glad I've been able to get to know these two.

Me and Elissa   

Me and Shelli (Let me say that her friendship has                                                                                           been such a blessing to me this past year!)

     My use of iPads in the classroom is nothing extraordinary. I began using my iPad more this year because it's just so convenient. Let me make a note that our school is not 1:1. We are making noticeable progress to getting there, but not there yet.

     I do not write down grades in my grade books. To me, it's a waste of time to write them down physically and then write them electronically, as well. I know many teachers that I work with that do both and I say hats off to you. But, I'm just too lazy for that. So, since we just got wifi in my classroom this year because my class is kinda secluded in a newly built hall, I decide to start recording grades and feedback with it as I walked around with the kids. Gradequick is a little more frustrating to use on the iPad but I think they are beginning to update it to be more user friendly. Throughout the year, I did a lot of checking on student understanding by walking around at the beginning of class and looking at an assignment or INB page for understanding of the concept. As I did this, I would give a small 10 point grade that, in the long run, didn't really make a different in anyone's grade. (I only do classwork/homework for like 10-15% total). For projects and activities, I often take pictures of their work on whiteboards, etc. and grade their assignments that way. It's just better, to me, than taking home stacks and stacks of papers to grade. I just take my iPad home and flip through the pictures, provide feedback on a half sheet I have them turn in, record their grade and delete the picture.

     Also, when the TI-Inspire came out on the iPad, they ran a huge sale on the app. I believe the app runs for about $20-$30 in the app store but I got it for like $7. It has a lot of pre-made interactive lessons for students to get visual understanding of the concept. Desmos can pretty much do the same thing so I intend to use that more often, as well. I bought a cord to hook my iPad to my projector and use the animations to help the kids. Now, I can use my iPad for anything I want to project to the kids. I wish I could do it wirelessly but, from my understanding, you can only do that if your school has AppleTV.

This is a screen shot of the exploring domain and range lesson. You drag Point P and it highlights the domain and range in different colors for kids to see.

Grab the points and it alters the graphing as you drag them. This particular lesson demonstrates graphing rational functions.

This is an example of a lesson that can be sent out to calculators (or if you have a classroom set of iPads) where students can respond to questions.

Another example of student's being able to respond to graphs that they have been shown or created.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July Challenge Day 20: Operations with Rationals Error Analysis

It's been a few days since I've blogged primarily because I didn't feel like I have much to share but also because we've been a little on the busy side. I took my (almost) 2 year old to the movies Friday for his first real movie in a theater to see Planes: Fire and Rescue. I was a little nervous because he is so unpredictable right now. He's an incredible kid...we are blessed...but you just never really know how he's going to act in public. But, we went with a friend and her little boy. I thought worst thing that could happen was that I'd waste about $15 ...which, if you know me, can slightly make me cringe because I've been in quite the cheap-o stage lately. haha

But, he was a PERFECT angel and even fell asleep the last 20 minutes. To make it even better, we changed his bed to a toddler bed yesterday. I thought we'd have a pretty eventful night with him not wanting to stay in bed. To ease my nerves, I locked and put a gate at his door since he has recently learned how to unlock doors. (Judge me. But you won't see me on the news with my kid wandering the streets!) He was PERFECT. We put him in bed like normal, he cried for about 3 minutes, never trying to get up, and went straight to sleep and slept til about 8 a.m. He's a pretty awesome kid. Praise God!

Getting ready for bed!

In the movie.

Okay, enough about my sweet baby.

I was reminded about a resource I created this year with my Pre-AP Algebra 2 kiddos by reading Mrs. Reilly's blog about error analysis. This is a strategy that I started implementing this year for the first time with my kiddos. I have been so impressed with how much it really challenges kids to think.

When I taught my unit on rationals, I have my kids take a quiz using error analysis on operations of rationals. The whole unit, I watched frequent mistakes kids would make and took note. Then, I used these mistakes on the quiz. I worked it as they would with the mistakes, had them explain what the error was, and then had them correct the mistake to find a correct solution. I was surprised by how much this challenged my kids. Even the smartest students struggled to put into words where the mistake was. Even the types of mistakes I used that they were so accustomed to making before really tricked them at times. (Insert evil teacher laugh here). Overall, I was pleased with the outcomes and plan to do more of this stuff next year. I love it.

I plan to look back over my mistakes on the quiz and see if I need to make any changes. If you see any "errors" (haha, ones that were not intentional), let me know!

I do need to re-consider my approach to teaching adding and subtracting rational functions. I have researched and tried so many different things and nothing quite demonstrates the concept to the kids like I really want them to. They still struggle with this concept so much. If y'all have ANYTHING to help with this concept, please let me know! I am open to anything!

Have a blessed Sunday!
(3 1/2 days til TMC '14!!)


Thursday, July 17, 2014

July Blog Challenge Day 16: Door Decoration and Poster

Happy Hump Day! Quick post today and nothing too fancy. I saw this pin on pinterest:
from  Mrs. Cooks' blog . Thought it was so cute and my door is just like that one. So....I made these printables to model the words. I'm attaching them in PDF form because of the fonts. I colored in the open letters. Hope you like!

 The second attachment is just a short little poster the I plan on putting above my door. I'm going to matte it on some fancy construction paper I have at school. Again, a pdf.

 If y'all want the word documents just shoot me a comment or e-mail and I'd be happy to share! Have a great Thursday! Brooke

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July Blogging Challenge Day 14: Notation Foldable

I've been working on some Pre-AP Algebra 2 stuff tonight! I got the idea of a foldable for Notation from Sarah Hagan. She made a three-door foldable using various notations that Algebra 2 kids encounter throughout the year. I put my spin on it and made a printable foldable. I do a "Characteristics of Functions" unit at the very beginning of the year where I go over notation, domain/range, Transformations of generic graphs, parent functions and their transformations, and piecewise functions. Kids should be familiar with most of this stuff coming into PRE-AP Algebra 2 know how that goes. They are brain dead at the beginning of school and I can't really blame them because I feel like that a lot too :) I can blog later about each activity I use to get kids working together and making inferences for each of these sections. I knew, from last year, that I needed something better for kids to put in their notebooks for Notation. I'm anti-notes, y'all. Judge me all you want but I HATE (yes, I'm yelling) having kids take notes. So, I usually do quick foldables/activities to make the process a little less "snore-worthy."

I'm attaching the document in PDF form because I used specialized fonts that I downloaded but if you want the Word Document just send me an e-mail and let me know. I'm also attaching pictures of what I intend to write in the foldable with my kids. Keep in mind: This is totally a rough draft. Please let me know if you see something I should add or fix! Let me know if you like it!

Front of Foldable (Didn't feel like coloring the rest :] )

Inside Left (Hope you can read my handwriting)

Inside Right

Have a great Tuesday!