Let’s Go Fly a Kite

Posted: May 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

The past few weeks in PreAP 7th Grade Mathematics has been used to look at the Pythagorean Theorem. I introduced the unit to my students by saying,

“A lot of teachers would teach this to you by giving you a formula and telling you to plug numbers in. However, I’m not going to teach that way.”

Some students were excited, some were upset. I know that some students are more formula driven while some are more explorative. I enjoy using AIMS The Pythagorean Relationship when teaching the theorem. It allows students to first see the squares around the triangles and then build the understanding of the formula themselves.

After students had gone through the understanding, I wanted to try something that I saw Tyler Cronin post on Twitter having students flying a kite while using the Pythagorean theorem. My first thought? A song got stuck in my head. So I played the following for the class.

Kids were excited to watch the video and some even knew the song! Then I told them that we would go fly a kite.

I found kites on Amazon that were not too expensive. I got them pretty quick. They are small in size and not that expensive, so I wasn’t sure how well they would fly. . . but they did great!

Besides having some difficulties with the wind not staying steady, it went pretty well. The conversations that I was having with students was great! Some students wanted to keep the string short so that they could work quicker. The kite wasn’t flying so well and a student said, “If we fly it higher, there is more wind, so it will stay up better.” Wait, that’s not math . . . but I loved how that input helped the group see success.

Other conversations that I had included the transcript below.

  • Student: We’re trying to find the height.
  • Me: Correct.
  • Student: So the ground from the person holding the kite and the person under the kite is a leg. The string is the hypotenuse, so we’re trying to find a leg?
  • Me: Correct.
  • Student: After we find those measurements then we square the numbers and we take the answer of the hypotenuse and subtract the leg?
  • Me: Correct.
  • Student: Ok, thanks.

As she was talking with me, she didn’t have notes. She was just remembering what to do and getting the process down before going back to her group and leading them through it. Do you know what’s even better? At the beginning of the year this student was not confident in math and was often relying on a friend for answers. Now, she’s the leader and truly understands what is going on.

You can check out some videos from Gus’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. Remember, Gus is my class mascot and shares what is going on in the classroom.

 

 

Summer Planning

Posted: May 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

Well, summer is upon us. . . .well, some of us. For those of you who do not start school until Labor Day, I know that you have awhile to go still. I have 8 days left with my students. I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone by again.

So what am I doing this summer? Well, I’m a teacher . . . so nothing. I’m going to sit at home and do nothing all summer.

summer

 

Now for the truth . . .

School is ending May 20.

The week of May 23, I’ll be cleaning around the house, mowing and getting our dog to the vet and the dog park. This is a pretty easy week.

The week of May 30, I’ll say goodbye to May and then have a PLC training. I’m excited to finally go to a training over PLCs so that I can get more understanding of how to work together. I’ve been using PLCs in my schools for several years, but now I think I can get more insight to the purpose and how to get more things accomplished.

I’m running a half marathon here in Stillwater on June 5. It will be my 3rd half marathon to run. Then I’ll be off to OKMathLeadership for our final installment. I’ll be presenting, which can me scary, but I know it’s going to go great . . . . speaking of which, I should get things finished up for that.

The week of June 13, I’ll be headed to the Nuts and Bolts Symposium in Destin, Florida. I’m excited to go and learn and meet new people. Will any of you be there?

After returning, then I’ll be able to relax and start putting together some things that I learned. It will be my first chance to really put things in place and start to really look at next year and lesson planning.

After a quick jaunt to the Bahamas on a cruise in July, I’ll return to the classroom and start getting it set up. There is a little painting that I would like to do and redesigning of the space for next year.

So, here we go. Summer is upon us and I have PLENTY to do!

Tornado Watching

Posted: May 9, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Screen shot of my Periscope.

So tonight was a first for me. I grew up in Kansas and I now live in Oklahoma, but today was the first time I ever saw a tornado. It was amazing. I know that they are powerful and very dangerous, but seeing one is just surreal.

First, I know that I was safe. It was over a mile away. I hope everyone is okay and there is minimal damage.

This evening when I got home from work, I had no idea I was going to see a mighty twister go by, but I did. As I was standing in my neighbors yard with my neighbors (yes, many think we’re dumb, but it was a bonding time) we watched in wonder. We discussed what we saw and were amazed.

Standing there I was calm. Just moments before I was scared and nervous wondering if I was going to lose my home, but when you can see it at a distance and you know you’re fine, it really does seem amazing that something that big and powerful is just right there.

Here are the videos that I captured. It was a little a mile from me.

 

What They Remember

Posted: April 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

We’re in the middle of testing season here in Oklahoma, which is a fear in all teachers.

“They’re not going to remember anything” is often heard out of teachers.

But will they?

You see, we’re stuck in the thoughts that they must remember everything that we taught them throughout the school year. However, we know that that is not always going to be the case. Hopefully they can problem solve and just do well.

But do they remember anything? Well, today I had an answer to that.

I was having a discussion with a couple of students and they were talking about using dry erase markers. The students were talking about how we used marker boards. I reminded them that we always write on the desk and that we don’t worry about small white boards. They corrected me and said that we used them when they were sitting in a circle on the floor playing a game.

I had to think about what they were talking about, then I remembered. Back in October we played a game. I even shared about it on here. They used marker boards that day.

They could remember an activity that we did 6 months ago . . . They do remember things.

When your students look back and think about your classroom, what are they thinking about? Do you give them good thoughts or fears? What will your students remember when they leave your classroom in a month?

#CelebrateMonday

Posted: April 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

So I have to brag on my students . . .

We use Think Through Math in our building. It’s an online program to help students work through math problems. Some are multiply choice and some really get the students to thinking.

Part of the program is that students can work toward “Think Points” and then use the points toward goals. Some goals are by creating an avatar and decorating it with fancy clothing and other items. Another goal is set by the class. As a class, students can work toward getting 500,000 points. They also choose what they get to celebrate when they reach the 500,000 Think Points.

Choices for the reward includes $50 toward a pizza party from choice restaurants, but also can be a donation to a charity. Well, all of my classes (except one) chose the pizza party. What 7th grader doesn’t want to enjoy some pizza?

As I said, one class didn’t choose pizza. When they were making the decision on setting up their goal back in September, they thought and shared ideas. Many pointed out that they could have pizza whenever they wanted. So they decided to donate their $50 to The Wounded Warrior Project.

Throughout the school year, students have been working hard in math and it is paying off! As we prepare for state assessments next week, the class that set their goal to help others reached the 500,000 Think Points. So now a donation is being made in their name.

I’m so proud of these kids! To celebrate, many parents are donating to help this class have a pizza party with drinks and fruits and vegetables later this week.

It’s great when students think about others and WANT to help them more than themselves.

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Due Dates . . .

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

due dateSo I know there are many people in education who feel that a due date is a due date and if things are not turned in on time, there should be a punishment. However, I don’t feel that way. If I gave you an assignment, I want you to complete it.

Then I have people tell me that tax day is when taxes are due and you must have them done. Well, have you seen the deal this year?

Tax Day is April 15, however, this year the IRS has a holiday that they celebrate on April 16, but since that’s a Saturday they are celebrating on Friday, making Monday, April 18 Tax Day . . .unless you live in Maine or Massachusetts where they are celebrating a holiday, so their tax day is on Tuesday the 19th.

Long story short, stuff happens and some people need to learn to be understanding. Listen to your students and accept their work. You assigned it, right? By not accepting it, you are now telling the student that what you want them to learn is not important enough to actually do.

FAILURE

Posted: April 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’m tired of setting up my students to fail.

Now, I know many of you want to argue First Attempt In Learning.

A few may be like, “You’re setting them up to fail?”

Well, in a way I am.

You see, I teach my students skills to help them learn concepts. I also know that my colleagues also teach students to learn concepts.

Then we have testing . . . .

Students can’t use calculators. Well, I’m used to that one. I know many adults who use them as a crutch. (Yes, I see you do 3×4 on there.) So let’s push students to fully understand how to do some concepts.

Please find this distance, but you can’t use a ruler. Alright, that’s fine as well. Use this paper to mark a distance and  . . . .what’s that? . . . . huh? . . . WHAT?!?!?!?!?

That’s right . . .

STUDENT’S CAN’T USE PAPER TO MEASURE DISTANCE ON THEIR STATE ASSESSMENT!

STUDENT’S CAN’T USE PAPER TO TRACE OR COMPARE SHAPES ON THEIR STATE ASSESSMENT!

The paper has to stay on the ground.

WHAT?!?!?!?! You mean actual SKILLS that we have TAUGHT our students and they USE are not ALLOWED?!?!?!

What kind of crap is this?

Oh, and we’re spending HOW MUCH MONEY ON THESE TESTS?!?!?!?!

Ok, I’ll stop talking and plan how to break the news to students tomorrow and then remind them that I love them and hope that they can do their best.

Running for Office

Posted: April 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

Now that I have your attention, I would like to announce that I am not running for office.

Yea, I know . . . my title had you thinking otherwise. Well, I just want to share a concern of mine.

First, I have to say that I am in no way against anyone who has announced that they are running for office in the state of Oklahoma. Again, I’m just sharing a concern.

I find it AMAZING to see so many people fed up with the actions of some of the representatives in the state of Oklahoma. How are we seeing that? Well, we have new people running for office. In this case, we have many teachers. According to some sources, there may be 25 or more teachers who are running for House or Senate in our state. How great is that? They want to make a difference for our students!

But that makes me worried.vote-for-me

I’m sure many would agree that if these educators are wanting to leave their classroom to make a difference at the state level, they are already doing amazing things. That means that they are helping so many students become better citizens and helping their schools and communities in ways that one can only imagine!

That’s my concern.

When they get elected (yes, when, not if) schools will be losing some amazing people. Communities will be looking for replacements, that may not be there.

Over the past few years we’ve seen a decline in people wanting to be teachers in Oklahoma because of low pay and many other factors. So when I see the possibility of great teachers leaving the classroom in our state, makes my heart ache a little.

Then I have to remember, that this is temporary and that these amazing people will help change public education in Oklahoma making it a better state to get an education in!

So with that, I want to share Blue Cereal Education’s page with information about candidates running for office in Oklahoma. Please be wise when you go to the polls this November and do NOT just miss your opportunity to make a difference where you live.

It’s Not About You

Posted: April 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

So today I read this article about the beer and wine sales bill here in Oklahoma. Now as I have lived in other states as well as visited other states, I do have an opinion about the bill . . . but that is not what the post is about.

While reading the article, this caught my attention.

The bill passed the Senate, 28-16. It’s not clear why it hasn’t been taken up in the committee.

However, acrimony between the two chambers is known to slow proposals and House leaders complained bitterly last week that the Senate did not take up a House-passed bill on education standards.

Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, declined on Friday to say whether that dispute had anything to do with the bill not being considered in his Rules Committee.

This sounds similar to what is going on in Washington, D.C. when they were looking at a new Supreme Court Justice. (Are they still deciding on that? I’ll be honest, I haven’t really followed it.) Many of our elected leaders won’t even think about whoever President Obama nominates, because he’s leaving office and we don’t want any of his input (Democratic opinions) this close to the end of his term.

GET OVER IT!

It is NOT your job to decide what should or should not be looked at or considered. If you were really doing your job, then you would take into consideration all aspects before you make a judgement. Instead, our elected leaders are putting their personal thoughts before doing their job.

Ok, so you don’t agree with me . . . that’s fine. So think about this.

I teach 7th grade mathematics, right? Let’s say that I don’t feel teaching students how to find compound area (that’s where you find the area of two or more shapes put together) an important topic, so I decide not to teach it. Now you see, I’m hired to teach 7th grade math. Compound area is one of the standards that is to be taught during this year of instruction. But I don’t want to teach it.

Not a big deal, right?

Ok, so if I blatantly refuse to teach the topic, I’m probably going to be asked to leave my position (a.k.a. be fired).

But I’m not just refusing and possibly losing my job, I’m hurting the students!

You see, our standards are written in a way that if I don’t teach this topic, then next year’s teacher will have to make up the topic as well as teach their standards. However, next year’s teacher may not even realize that it wasn’t taught and so it’s never brought in to help students, so then the students just have a hole in their learning and don’t even know it nor know how to fix it!

Now you see start to see the problem, right?

Ok, so back to our elected leaders. . . .

It’s not your place to decide what should and shouldn’t be looked at. If a bill has been placed in your hands, it is your JOB to look at it! It is your JOB to consider it. It is NOT your job to say, “You were mean to me, so I’m gonna be mean back.”

It’s time for our elected leaders to be civil people and be role models to our children so they can see how people (even though we may not agree) can get along and make decisions.

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! It’s about the people you represent. You represent everyone in our state or country, not just those you voted for you.

Time For . . .

Posted: April 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

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This morning I have a meeting with our district curriculum tech specialist about helping out with some summer professional development. Since I have first period plan, she mentioned that we meet at a local coffee shop to change things up a bit. I jumped at the chance for that . . .

Which brings me to this morning. At first I thought that I didn’t need to leave as early, but instead I left at my normal time. I got here and I’m enjoying a cinnamon roll and a chance to blog.

Which got me to thinking . . .

Wouldn’t it be nice if I was able to do this on a regular basis? You know, about once a month you’re given time to come in a  little late so that you have time to . . .

  • blog
  • read up on education
  • meet with others
  • reflect

Think about how this would help our profession if we had time to do this. There are so many things that I want to read (my last blog post), but it seems as if I’m just running all the time.

However, I know that not everyone would use the time wisely, which is why we have the government looking down on us and taking things (money) away from us. A few bad apples have given educators a bad name.

But what if we had to show proof about how we are bettering the education community? Would that be something that we could work in to our time as educators? I have a passion for this and I want to work on this to help out the education community. Would I be able to take a  little time each month to work on it?

How would that look? Would people find a passion to work toward if given the opportunity?

Well, time for my meeting.