Monday, September 30, 2013

The Proof is in the Pudding...or the Proof Practice Book!

The most recent stop on my journey into the world of teaching Geometry was introducing proofs.  Let me tell you, this is a giant shift in thinking from my Algebra 1 roots.  Same steps, new justification.  Lovely.  The good news is, my kids seem to really get it (at least so far!)

Even though I have 8th grade Geometry students (which means they are SUPER advanced) I decided to start into proof world with baby steps.  I gave a quiz in the first half of the hour over previous material, and then had my students glue the Properties of Equality into their math folders.  You can see the completed notes in the picture below.   Side note: fill-in-the-blank notes are working like magic for this class!

The next day I decided to see what my kids could do on their own.  We did one two-columned proof together as their First Five, and then I had them work in groups of three to complete 8 more proofs.  They had to fill in the reasoning behind each statement, and then send one group member to check their answers.  They only got one proof at a time, so once they had it right they picked up the next proof.  I had each one on different colored paper so they could tell them apart.  

Here is what the Proof Practice Book looks like (I forgot to rotate a few pics...sorry):

This is the inside of the practice book.  I had the statements already written, and the students filled in the reasons using their notes from the day before.

This is a student sample for one proof:

I cut manilla folders in half for the answer keys.  Each page of the practice book has the solution to the proof on one side, and directions on which color proof to get next on the other.  This made it easy for the kids to check their answers AND to know what to do next.

Here they are, spread out and waiting.  This worked PERFECTLY because each group could work at their own pace.

In the end this was an awesome activity.  The kids stayed involved the whole time, and worked together whenever they got stuck.  I told them that it was their responsibility to make sure that each group member understood the proof, and they took that seriously (yay!).  I'm glad that it worked well, and that the kids were able to figure a lot of it out on their own.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

One Month Into the School Year (already!)

School has officially been in session for four weeks as of today.  I can't believe it has been that long already!  This year has started off to a pretty decent start.  We've had a ton of new stuff thrown at us this year, but the teachers in my school are doing their very best to keep up with it all.  In addition to new requirements from our district AND implementing Common Core along with our state standards this year, I also have added a new class to my roster.  I am now teaching Geometry in addition to 8th Grade math and Algebra 1. far I am LOVING it.  When you teach geometry to 8th graders you get to spend time with some SUPER brainiac kids with BIG personalities.  We laugh way too much, but it's all in good fun - and they are still learning!   This year I am trying something new with my classes for notes, and so far Geometry has gotten to do some neat notes.  I have taken the whole "interactive notebook" idea and merged it with my old style of notes and have created the Math Folder.  My students take notes in a variety of ways now.  Sometimes its just good-old-fashioned notes, other times we glue in foldables, and sometimes I let them glue in guided notes with lots of blanks and space for practice.  It seems to be working really well so far, so I'm going to keep it up.  Here are some examples of things I have done with my Geometry students so far.

This was a great way to review angle relationships from last year.  I originally saw the idea here.

I made these glue-in pages to help my students learn about patterns - especially the tricky vocab!  I haven't used these pages yet, but they are up for next Tuesday.

I'm really enjoying this year with all of my classes - I hope it stays this great!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Classroom Decorations!

I'm one of those middle school teachers that really likes to have a decorated classroom.  Now I know that 8th graders are getting older and aren't in elementary school anymore, but that doesn't mean that they should sit in a bland cookie-cutter room every day.  Plus, I spend hours in my classroom each day, and I don't want it to be bland either!  All that to say, I have been busy decorating, and I'm pretty pleased with the result.

This is the inside of the cabinet behind my desk.  It isn't technically decorating, but it is organization at its finest!  I've never had my stuff so organized at the beginning of the school year.  Clear plastic tubs - the BEST thing I've ever done.  No labels necessary since you can see right in!

This is the full-effect of the word wall that I mentioned in a previous post.  I love that it is colorful and neat, and full of good math vocabulary.  Side note:  I tried to only put up words that I will use frequently in the classroom.  Unit specific words will have their own place so that the kids aren't crazy overwhelmed by it all.

This board is my solution to the ever present "What do I do now?" questions that come from middle school students.  I tried it last year and it really worked for me.  The two folders at the bottom will be stuffed each week with special problems.  It is optional, not another assignment, and I keep the problems random and fun so the kids don't mind figuring them out.

These are two pieces of wall art that I made to break away from the traditional classroom posters.  I bought a two-pack of white canvas, painted them, and then added the magazine letters.    Easy, cheap, and they make my room more like home.

(gotta have a little math humor!)

This is where I will be writing the learning goal for each day.  I used magnet tape (best find ever!) to put it up, so if I need more room I can simply adjust the horizontal pieces to give myself more room.  Also, using bulletin board border for this was a brilliant idea.  I usually use colored masking tape to tape off a grid, but it's impossible to get straight and ends up driving me crazy.  Problem solved!

Last but not least - desks AND tables!  I love having seating options in my room.  It's amazing how good the kids will be just to earn a chance to sit at the tables!

 I finally got everything exactly how I want it - now I just need the students!  School starts Monday!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pinterest is working for me!!!

I have to admit up front: I am not the most creative or artsy person.  I love seeing ideas and things, but I usually end up thinking something along the lines of, "yeah right" when I think of actually making something myself.  That being said, Pinterest has made me bold.  I keep seeing really cute stuff that looks do-able for someone like me!  This is great!!

That being said, I saw a "no name board" on Pinterest and thought it looked like something I could actually pull off.  And so, for less than $5, I made my very own No Name Board.  Yay!!

If you are interested in making your own, here is what I bought to make this:
$1.99 beveled white board (from Michael's)
$1.00 pink glitter clothespins (also from Michael's)
$3.00 letter stickers (you guessed it - Michael's)
Michael's always has 40% off coupons so my total ended up being less than $5!

All I did was stick on the letters, and then I used super glue to glue down the clothes pins.  SUPER easy!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Word Wall!

I finished my Word Wall this morning.  I made the pages with words and pictures after I saw the idea on Pinterest.  You can see the original idea here.  I really liked what she had done, but I wasn't able to use all of the words.  I needed words that could span 8th grade math, Algebra 1, AND Geometry, all without being too basic or advanced for any group of students.  That being said, I decided to make my own.  I printed them off, and then my mom helped me glue each page to bright colored paper and laminate it all.  The pics are a little dark and from awkward angles, but it was the best I could do with my room in its current state of disarray.  

If you like it, you can click here to download your own copy from my TeachersPayTeachers store.   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bulletin Board Decorating

Today I went up to my school to get a head start on decorating my classroom for this school year.  There wasn't any AC in the building today so it was HOT, but I did get quite a bit accomplished.  I got started on my new word wall, which looks really good so far.  I ran out of tape halfway through though, so that pursuit was put on hold until later.

I did manage to finish the bulletin board outside my classroom door.  I saw an idea on Pinterest that I thought would work well for me, so I went for it.  I saw the post by Counseling with Confidence, who posted a link to Entirely Elementary....School Counseling.  This blog includes pics of her bulletin board, and links print the "BE" words (already made - LOVE IT!)

Here is my finished product:

It's a little busy, but I figured that would be just right in a middle school hallway!  All I had to do was print the words, trim them up, and put them on colorful construction paper.   I like it!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Did you document that?

One of the things that I felt the least prepared for after graduating college was the world of parent contact, discipline, and documenting both.   As a first year teacher this was slightly overwhelming.  Why?  Because a large portion of the expected documentation isn't standardized for every teacher!

I heard things such as:

  • Make sure you document that phone call home!
  • Did you write down that intervention?
  • Don't forget, four interventions is a referral!
Now don't get me wrong - I was very willing to soak up all of the advice thrown my way.  The problem was that everyone told me what to do, but not how to do it.  I finally figured out the "document" was a fancy way of saying "write that down."  I figured out that "intervention" can mean anything from a gentle request to a full out argument with a student depending on the teacher involved.  Most importantly, I figured out that in order to keep up with all of this in my own classroom I needed something to keep myself accountable.  Just remembering what happened - no way.  Putting it on the district's online discipline log - great, but still not accessible for me.  I was, as you can probably tell, a confused mess. 

Thus began what I have decided to call the "Disciple Log Saga."  

It started off as basic as it comes: a piece of paper in a binder on which to list any discipline problems or parent contact that I had for each student.  Good in theory, confusing in reality.   

My second year of teaching I borrowed an idea from a very successful teacher at my school.  I quickly learned that what was great for him simply wasn't enough for me.  He had created a table where he recorded which intervention each student was on.  Each student had a page (at least the students who earned such a page), but this method didn't have enough information available for my anal-retentive self.  

My third year of teaching things got better.  I used a pretty decent version of a discipline log, and probably would have continued to use it if I hadn't met Pinterest this summer.  You can see this log in the image below.  One row per referral, space to give brief details, what more could you need, right? 
Wrong.  The downfall to the above version is still a lack of space to write what really happened, as well as no way to see at a glance whether appropriate parent contact was made.  As a newly converted Pinterest junkie, I started to see tons of discipline/communication logs online.  They were all awesome, but not quite right for me.  Finally, I created a version that I think (fingers crossed) will work for me.  I saw that someone else included a space for parent contact information, so I added that to my version.  I saw a really cute elementary school version that had checkboxes for the type of contact made.  I loved the idea, but needed something a little less...cutesy.  And so, may I present to Parent Communication Log for this school year.  If you like it, click the image to download your very own copy. 
I know that this version has its own shortcomings, but I think it will work for me.  I tried to finagle a way to show when the fourth intervention is reached, and thus a referral, but it just wasn't working for me.  I decided I would simply mark any consequences such as detentions or referrals under Summary of Contact.  There is also a backside to this page which is simply a continuation of the Communication Log portion.