Thursday, August 13, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 13

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 13: Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

For anyone keeping track, I've missed some days here. I'd apologize but I was out doing more fun things so no apologies! And maybe this wasn't a great day to come back to because I've written about this before but oh well. Also, like I've said before I'm extremely picky about edtech. I won't use it if it doesn't enable me to do something better than I could do without it. So while things like edmodo, plickers, or socrative are extremely cool they just don't have enough pay off for me. I teach small classes so it's not hard to get quick feedback from each kid. So if you're looking for some new, undiscovered edtech tools I'm sorry to say you won't find it here. These are the tried and true ones that you probably already know about and use.

So in order, these are my top 5 at the moment that I actually use.

  1. Dropbox Nothing has made my life easier than dropbox. I got a promotion that gave me a lot of space for free for 2 years and after that I signed up for an account because I saw the value in it. It's on all of my computers and devices and I use it pretty exclusively instead of any hard drive. I know everyone says google drive can do the same thing but for now I just still prefer Dropbox.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 6

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 6: Explain- What does a good mentor “do”?

Initially when I read this I thought of a teacher mentoring another teacher. In New Jersey part of getting our teaching certificate is going through a year of mentoring. A more experienced teacher gets assigned to each brand new teacher to help them out. The mentor teacher gets a stipend to do this, some districts pay for it and in others the new teacher has to pay the mentor them self. (sidenote: I'm actually quite curious if this is a common practice across the other states? Or if not, what do you do instead?) I'm actually not too sure of how many effective mentoring relationships I've seen. In my experience, the official mentor doesn't always seem to be the one that helps the new teacher the most. Also I've never officially mentored another teacher so I can't really speak from the other side.

So what I'd guess is a good teacher mentor would do is to just really to support the new teacher without being condescending. And I think that new teachers are an especially interesting bunch of people to mentor. As a brand new teacher we're put in front of a group of kids who we have to seem like an expert in front of, even if we're far from being experts. Sure we're most likely an expert in the content, but that is also like the smallest part of teaching. So it seems some new teachers end up having a hard time really asking for help and admitting that they don't really know quite what they're doing yet because they feel like they have to be experts already. Consequently, I've seen new teachers that feel like they need to come across as if they already know everything. By the way, I think I was a "new teacher" until like year five and I was definitely one of those people that thought I knew way more than I really did so please don't feel like I'm criticizing anyone.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 5

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 5: Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see –and what you don’t see that you’d like to.

This is what my room looked like on June 16 right before I started to pack stuff up for the summer. These are not the nice, clean, staged pictures that I posted last August before all the kids came. These are closer to the reality. You'll notice my desk is messy. The tables are filled with stuff. Posters are falling off the walls.

I don't really know what I'd like to see, I'm pretty happy with how it all worked out. I loved my new room this year. Having the sitting area behind my desk was my favorite part I think. It was a very comfortable room to be in and we had a lot of fun there this year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 4

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 4: What do you love the most about teaching?

Well this one is easy, the kids! This has always been my answer to this question, but this year it rings more true than ever.

I started this blog the summer before I started at the school I'm presently in. I had taught for the previous six years in middle school, two years in 7th grade and then four years in 8th grade. When I taught 8th grade graduation was always bittersweet. Sure the kids drive me nuts at times but it always made me sad to see them go. Being in 8th grade, they were going off to high school and it meant not seeing most of them again.

In moving to high school and teaching underclassmen I was excited to not have this happen. And then my first year here I got the most awesome group of sophomores. And it was great because they weren't going anywhere! (do you see where this is going yet?).

Monday, August 3, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 3

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 3: Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

Well I think this one goes back to my goals for the year. It's also something that we (in NJ at least) are required to do each year. It's called our Professional Development Plan (or PDP because we love acronyms). At the end of the year we look at our final observation and choose two standards that we'd like to improve further on and then outline a plan to do so. 

So below is the standard I chose: 

Standard 5. Teachers reflect on their practice 
A. Teachers analyze student learning. Teachers think systematically and critically about student learning in their classrooms and schools: why learning happens and what can be done to improve achievement. Teachers collect and analyze student performance data to improve school and classroom effectiveness. They adapt their practice based on research and data to best meet the needs of students. 
This is the evaluation criteria: 
  • Distinguished: Recognizes the need to improve student learning in the classroom.
  • Developing: Provides ideas about what can be done to improve student learning in their classroom.
  • Accomplished: Thinks systematically and critically about learning in their classroom: Why learning happens and what can be done to improve student achievement.
  • Distinguished: Provides a detailed analysis about what can be done to improve student learning and uses such analyses to adapt instructional practices and materials within the classroom and at the school level.
And this is the personal goal I created:
Refine standards based assessment methods in the Algebra 1 and Geometry courses. Create assessments with scaffolding to represent the different proficiency levels to better help the students and the teacher determine a student's level of understanding and what they can do to improve.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 2

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 2: Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

Hmm, ok so prompts like this might be more of an explanation of why I haven't been blogging. I can't think of anything new. I've got a routine going with technology that I'm pretty happy with. Also I'm super picky about technology. Whenever I hear about a new app or program I look at what it can do for me that I couldn't do without it. If it doesn't offer anything that I can't currently do I usually won't use it. I absolutely can't stand using technology just for the sake of technology. I don't like it when teachers use it just for the cool factor. 

If you came into my classroom you'd probably think that I don't actually use all that much technology. I don't show videos everyday. I don't post my handouts online instead of printing them. I don't use edmodo to post class announcements or have discussions.

Remind101 is still my favorite piece of technology. It lets me do something I otherwise couldn't do- get in touch with kids outside of class. I like my extra help livebinders. They let me offer help outside of class. I love IXL. It lets all of the kids sit in the same room and practice different things and get instant feedback on how they're doing.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Blogging Challenge Day 1

Hey, remember me? Well I've gotten quite a few e-mails lately asking if I was ever going to blog again so I thought I'd check in and assure the ten people that are still reading this that I am in fact alive. So there were a bunch of reasons that things were so quiet around here all year, some of which I'll probably talk about. I do like blogging though, especially before school starts, because it does help me process all the things that went well and not so well during the year and helps to get ready for the new year. This year though I didn't really know what to blog about or where to start thinking. I was tired of feeling like I was posting the same things over and over (notebook pages and posters) so I decided I'd try out a blogging challenge I found. It's from last year, and not specific to math but I thought there were some interesting prompts in there that were things I'd like to think about. So if anyone else is stuck in the same rut as me, I'd love it if you joined me!

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

DAY 1: Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be.

  1. Do a better job at SBG
    Three years ago I started using Standards Based Grading (and wrote a bunch about it last summer) but this year I don't feel like I did as good of a job with it as I could have. I still think it's great and does great things for my classroom but this year I feel like I got way too overwhelmed and just didn't do as well with it as I could have. I taught four different courses this year and just had too hard of a time trying to keep up with four sets of skill lists, quizzes, re-quizzes, and all that. This upcoming year I'll only have two courses to keep up with (cross your fingers for me that nothing changes in the next month!) and I also have an awesome teacher at my school that is going to try it with me this year so I'm hoping that it'll be more manageable this year. I also went to a workshop during the year that talked about SBG and had some really great ideas I plan to implement (more on this another time).
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