Sunday, July 27, 2014

#made4math - Turn in trays

Turn-in Trays

For the past SIX years, I've always had ONE turn-in basket.  It probably looks like a lot like what some of you might have.  You know...a deep wire basket.  Then, at the end of the day, or when I thought about, I would empty the basket, sort, clip, and file.  You can read about my way to combat that issue here.

Since I've decided to turn a new leaf, so to speak, in the grading organization arena, I thought the turn-in process should change too.

Here's what I came up with.

I found these paper trays at the Target One Spot.  They fit an 8.5x11" piece of paper EXACTLY.  It makes me a little nervous that it might get a little sloppy with homework packets, but I'm just going to roll with it.

I purchased 5 yellow (one for each class), a red for late work, and a blue one for absent work.  Since I have different policies for late and absent work I figured it would be best to keep them separate.   Despite how cute they were, I thought the inside patterns were a little childish.  That was tackled easily.  

I had this contact paper at home that I've already used on a few things in my classroom.  I  cut pieces to cover the inside of the tray and fit them into the sides and bottom. 

 I haven't made it to school yet to set them out on my window sill or had time to make labels, but I wanted to share so that if you were in the neighborhood with a Target, you could get your trays before they are all gone!

Finished turn-in trays

And just because I think it's too cute not to's Mack.  Our very energetic 3-year-old fur baby. He's licking his lips after being introduced to 12 baby chickens and guineas.  Little does he know they're not meant for him.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I want Google Classroom!!!

Have you seen the Google Classroom yet?

Here's the teaser...

We went one-to-one with Chromebooks last year and although I found it burdensome to incorporate them at the beginning of the year, as began to see the possibilities they really enhanced my/student's experience.  The first thing that made my life easier was Google Sites.  This made it easy to link forms, docs, and sheets for students to access.  The Desmos app is also helpful, although I still do not feel it's a replacement for a TI (sad face).  For my stats kids, having them individually play with applets was nice...when they worked.  That's the one thing I'm not liking about Chromebooks...they are not compatible with everything.

Anyways, if you watched the teaser you saw how cool Google Classroom is.  They released it to a batch of teachers in June and it is supposed to go live in September.  I think it would be nice if they made it a little earlier so we could start the year with it but it looks easy enough to use.

If you're interested, go to their website and "request" an early version.  That's what I did! I eagerly check my email everyday in hopes of getting in.  It kind of feels like when I was in high school and I would wait for college acceptance letters.

More Info

Sunday, July 13, 2014

#Made 4 Math - Learning Objectives Tracker


Like most of you, I'm sure, I post the daily learning objectives on the board for students to see. They don't necessarily change daily as some objectives take longer to master than others, obviously (factoring with freshmen compared to graphing lines with Pre-Calc students).  Anyways, it dawned on me a while ago that students never really see all of the learning objectives together until they get their review/study guide for a unit assessment and even then it's still not a list of the actual objectives they've been introduced to. 

To help bridge the gap, I created this page (I'm calling it a pilot page for now because I'm not sure if I'm in love) for my students to put in their notebooks.

[Click that arrow pointing to the left, in the upper left corner to get rid of the thumbnails]
Google Doc for PDF

The learning objectives for the unit are sandwiched in the middle of a "pre-unit" column and a "post-unit" column.  Students will have an opportunity to preview EVERYTHING for that unit and activate some prior knowledge by reading through each objective.  In the "pre-unit" column they will check the box that indicates either that they have some prior knowledge or that they do not. Either way, this is good for me and them.  My thought is that before they take the unit assessment I will have them go back, re-read through the objectives and indicate whether or not they feel THEY have learned or mastered that objective.  What I really like about this is it gets the kiddos involved in the planning, learning, teaching, re-teaching cycle...or at least I think it will!

I used the Exploring Data chapter from my AP Statistics (SYM) book.  I plan on typing up the objectives for the rest of the units during rainy days to come :(.  I'm more than happy to share them when I'm finished if anyone would like a copy.  

BTW...this page is meant to be folded hamburger-style and glued into a notebook.


I created a teacher's version, as well, with a few modifications.  After reflecting on a lesson that introduced a new objective, I can check the box that indicates whether students are mastering the concept or still struggling.  I even included a little box for notes.  After four years of teaching this course I have a pretty good idea where were going to need to slow down or pick up the pace but having documentation never hurt!
Google Doc for PDF

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Multiple Choice Practice

I was able to look at my student's AP Stats scores yesterday online.  I have to say that overall I'm pleased; however, there's always room for improvement.  Without seeing the breakdowns, I can only guess that multiple choice scores were the weakest part of the test.  As the year progresses, I seem to worry more about free response and end up dedicating more time to practicing this part of the test.

I usually spend some time at the beginning of the year talking about good test-taking skills, the differences in the AP test sections, and what the test contains.  We also chat, for a few minutes, about reading multiple choice questions and answers; covering up answers and reading them one at a time, throwing out ridiculous sounding choices, looking for answers that are similar, etc.  And that pretty much sums up my multiple choice pep-talk for the year.  Don't get me wrong, we always practice multiple choice and go over wrong and right answers but we spend nowhere near as much time on this as we do free-response.

One of my goals this year is going to be to fix that.  I still want to spend a majority of time on free-response since this is the second part of the test and I want my students to feel confident about it and end on a good note. However, I also do not want them to feel beat after the first part (which is typically the reaction I get).   I want to spend, maybe a half a class period every two weeks, working on multiple choice questions.  So here is one of my thoughts.

Multiple Choice, gallery-walk, error analysis - ish type activity.

Hear me out.

I have a deck of test prep, AP Stats, multiple choice flashcards and I usually copy the front side of about 8 cards onto one sheet of paper for each student.  I give them a set amount of time to read the questions, answer them, and then we go over the correct answers and what was wrong with the remaining choices.  I want to keep the part of pre-selecting questions and distributing them.  From there, I plan to do a gallery walk style answer session.  On my large back whiteboard (which I hardly ever use) I will place the numbers that correspond with the flashcard questions.  Students will have one sticky note per question which they will put their answer on and a brief explanation of why they chose that answer, or simply their work.  Students will stick their answers under the corresponding number then I will allow for students to walk around and read others' answers.  With either dry erase markers or a different color sticky (still working this out) I will have students respond to others' answers or correct mistakes.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Anyone have other ways to practice multiple choice?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

#Made for Math - The Pile Sorter

My biggest weakness as a teacher (at least from my perspective) is grading.  Although I feel I do a descent at verbal feedback, when it comes to gold star for me.  Sad face.

I decided, at the end of this past year, that part of the problem might be organization and in order to combat the grading problem, I needed to tackle the organization first.  I have piles EVERYWHERE in my classroom (holla holla if you're a piles person)!  Now I know I said organization was the problem and piles might sound like a nice starting point...but here's where the problem begins.

Kids turn things in.  I sort it.  Make a pile.  Put a sticky note on the pile and a butterfly clip  to hold it all together.  And...well....that's it.  The pile just sits there.  A few days later when a kid asks "Hey!  Mrs. H, When are we going to get [insert assignment/quiz/test title here] back?" I find that pile, grade the pile in a quick manner, and by the time I get that back to the kids, the feedback has no meaning.  So there's the problem.  Here's what I came up with for the solution (hopefully).

Using 7 folders that I found at Target (clearance) I went to Staples (God love that place) to have the folders bound.  For  $4.99 I had an instant pile-sorter.  I had them use the biggest binding they had in order to allow for big piles (smile with a wink) and made labels for each of the folders.  One for each hour and one for answers keys and miscellaneous papers.  The plan is that the pile goes in the folder, the folders go home, and upon arrival of home the wine comes out, and the grading will begin!  The graded pile goes back in the folder, returns to school the next day (hopefully there was no spilled wine, and prompt feedback is provided.
 Meet The Pile Sorter

Biggest binding they had
Cute Folders

Cute Labels

The Pile Sorter open

And that's all folks.

So cheers to a year of prompt feedback and grading organization!