Warm Fuzzies

We’ve been factoring every Friday as a bell ringer and I can really tell a difference after six weeks. I’m excited to see how it goes over long amounts of time. 

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My Algebra I students were working and one boy said, “I am on fire! I’m getting all of these right!”

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On my plan period a senior boy came in to get a drink of water and tell me that he had a job. I already knew this but I thought it was cute that he wanted to tell me so I pretended not to know. 🙂

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Our foreign exchange student was saying how teachers were so young in America compared to his country where they are in their 60s and 70s. This led them to guessing my age of 25 and 27. I’m 31 and when I told them that they couldn’t believe it. I will never take that reaction for granted!

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My niece and nephew stay with me until their dad picks them up and they came in the last few minutes of trig. The students were talking to them and giving them high fives and being so patient listening and understanding them. *warm fuzzies*

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Trig students are making posters and a girl was so proud of hers that she asked me to take my “picture of the day” (#teach180) of her poster. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and I think it’s so cute that they want to be involved.


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We have a daddy daughter dance coming up next week and I asked one girl to make cupcakes. She went and bought colored cupcakes, special icing, and pearls to decorate the top. We’re serving pizza and her parents helped her call around to several businesses looking for discounts. Her dad even offered to make a cake! How cute are they!

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Best of Both Worlds 

A girl was having relationship drama to the point people were coming to me worried that she might do something crazy so we had a mini heart-to-heart in the hallway that involved hugging and tears. Sometimes I wish I could skip the math and just spend time with these people and hear their stories and pour into them and build them up and love them better. I sometimes wish I had been a guidance counselor but I guess I’ll settle for the best of both worlds.

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In Algebra II a girl raised her hand for help and when I got there she said “Nevermind, I want to look at the example in my notebook and see if I can figure it out.” 🙌🏻

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A boy I had in geometry last year had failed in middle school and really had some hard times at home and personally and at school.  He is smart so he was placed in geometry as a freshman. I had zero problems with him and as the year went by his grades got better and better. Our last test of the year he was telling me how easy it was. This year- head down multiple times during the period, multiple times a week, bombing quizzes, no class participation. Time to intervene. I asked him what was happening and if everything was okay.

Ss: I’m just not good at Algebra.

Me: You’re telling yourself that and not even giving me a chance.

Ss: I’ve never been good at Algebra.

Me: You’ve never had me for Algebra!

Ss: No can help me.

Me: That’s not true! Your brain can grow and change. Give me a chance!

Ss: laughs a little to hide his discomfort

Did not put his head down. Asked a question in class. 🙌🏻

I will defeat this mindset!

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We had a Student Council meeting after school to create things for our Trolls-themed daddy daughter dance next week.

27 students. 7+ different projects. 1 library.

1 adult.

It was a chaotic mess.

Afterward one girl stays to help me carry things back to my room. I vent about how I should have organized that better. She asks, “Well did you get everything done that you wanted to?” 

I looked around the room that had been swept and noticed every chair put up. Yep. We sure did.

Perspective.

Desmos FTW (as always)

Making this fast tonight as my body has made it clear it needs rest and fluids or it will revolt against me. 

I made a task on Desmos (God bless everyone who works there) for my calc kids to discover the derivatives of y=sin(x) and y=cos(x). They did really well with it, for the most part. My favorite part was that in addition to discovering two new rules, they also created graphs and (I think) started to get a feel for what derivative functions represent. 

You can check out the tasks here:

Tinyurl.com/DeriveSine

Tinyurl.com/DeriveCosine

It’s super exciting to be creating and growing. I love calculus. And I hope that comes across to my Loves. 

Sharing Spaces on a Daily Basis

My lower Algebra I class had a quiz today and they did really well. I was a little worried from the beginning. 

Then they did the card sort I posted about a couple days back. I made them sort on their own first and then I showed all their results to the class and they had to explain how they sorted. No wrong answers here, just a first sort. One girl said she sorted them based on one, no, or infinite solutions and her cards were half right. 😮

That’s exactly what I was going for and I didn’t even give any directions or hints yet! I felt like this lower class handled it better than the higher. They didn’t seem panicked by a lack of directions and just sorted. We used that girls ideas and started narrowing in on correct groupings pretty quickly.

We’re making progress.

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I went to just thank my superintendent today. They buy me everything I ask for, offer me job opportunities, and send me to TMC every year. He does a lot of things I do not agree with but I just felt overwhelmed by a sense of thankfulness and a need to tell him. At church tonight the message was on choosing to carry a spirit of thankfulness.

Message received. 🙏🏻

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My biggest class is always one I kinda worry about but I guess I have a good mixture this year because I just feel like things are going well and that I can see a lot of growth from the past two years. That’s one good thing about having the same kids every year. 

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I like my students. A lot. They’re funny and nosy and interesting and weird and…we have so much in common. I just enjoy sharing the same spaces on a daily basis.

Meek

I’ve noticed two of my calc girls that sit next to each other tend to be more of a distraction to each other than a help. I had planned to move them with my next seating chart. 

Today, I greeted them at the door as they walked into class together. One of them came back out and said, “Would it be ok if I moved seats? I think I’m too distracted sitting next to ___.”

Be still my heart. 

When they self-regulate…doesn’t get much better than that. 

*****

I’ve got about a week and half left of calc intros. These kids’ stories continue to amaze me. I honestly feel unfit to be in their presence half the time. They’ve built up more courage, vulnerability, and resilience in 16-18 years than I have in three decades. 

I understand slightly more the teachings of Jesus–how He insists that the last will be made first. When I look at my kids who have truly endured hell and back…I realize that they have something the rest of us don’t have. Even though the world has treated them so very unfairly, they’ve still decided to treat others better than they’ve been treated. 

They have so, so much more to teach me than I could ever give them. 

What I ever did to deserve this job is beyond me. But here we are. And, yes, it’s hard. It’s really hard. But it’s so worth it to learn from these amazing kids, and to hopefully be an adult in their lives who they know will always be in their corner.  

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Categorizing Real Numbers

Teaching a “support” class for Algebra 1 students comes with the highest highs and the lowest lows. We have hard days. These are kids that sometimes struggle with straightforward directions and basic tasks, but respond the best with the bonus time I get to invest in who they are as people. By the end of the year, they are the students that I know the best (even better than my small AP Calculus classes) and have bought in the most to what math has to offer.

sqare

After doing Andrew Stadel’s “Square Dance” activity on Desmos, today we were working on a task I borrowed (stole) from someone in the MTBoS- had a thick stack of sticky notes with various real numbers, sums, differences, products, and quotients, and had them categorizing them. We weren’t going to move on until we had 100% accuracy. It was awesome to just get to sit back and watch them move, correct, and help each other.

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Approaching 100% accuracy took longer than I expected, but I had to offer very few hints. One student really stepped up to lead and spearheaded the effort to move the stickies to the right categories. I hope his leadership continues in this group.

They all sat down satisfied, thinking we were done, and I pulled out the “and now we’re going to order them from least to greatest!”

Instead of responding with the expected blank stares- I got one fist-pump with a “YES.” They were all up-and-at-it again. I was extra-impressed at how the work they’d done the day before got casually thrown into conversation as they tried to decide how 8.9, 27/3, and sqrt(81) were all related.

10/10, will do this again.

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Being in a school that starts after Labor Day, my AP Calculus class is behind all of those early start classrooms. We were working on rewriting exponential expressions so that they are in an “easy-to-apply-the-power-rule” form.

I have a student that is new to our school and district this year who is genuine, hard-working, but feels a little behind.  I got to know him this past summer when he joined our group attending Young Life camp up in Canada for a week, and am pumped he ended up in my class. He was the first to pop up with the “please-check-if-I-am-correct” hand (that students are just now realizing usually doesn’t get a very straightforward answer) that I obliged with and told him “yes.” His reply- “NO WAY,” with the brightest eyes and smile.

I love that senior boys can still get that excited about learning new things, and it reminds me to still find joy in the little new things I get to learn every day.

Spicy 🌶 / Leveling Up

Last year my big goal was to avoid worksheets as much as possible. My curriculum has homework assignments after every lesson. Since the lesson is very straightforward notes, I felt like I owed it to my students to at least spice up the practice. So I turned homework worksheets into games like pong or grudge ball and used activities from my curriculum like math libs, scavenger hunts, task cards etc.

This year since I have spicy activities, my focus is to improve the INB notes and the way I teach or introduce the skill. I learned concept attainment from my math coach in year two and it ties in perfectly with Sara’s focus on patterns.

I’m not redoing everything. THANK GOD! But now that I have notes, practice, and quizzes prepared I can spend more time looking at the notes and thinking about the best way to teach, ways to improve the notes, questions to ask, and just plan my flow of teaching. That is a niiiiice feeling.

Not quite as nice as opening up a lesson and thinking I like it just the way it is though. 😉

I hope someday, somehow I can give other teachers the space and ability to think about their actual teaching in this way rather than just endlessly creating.

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Yesterday when I had the Cuisenaire blocks out, some seniors stopped by and complained that they never got to play blocks and why didn’t I ever teach them that. It makes me laugh that they get offended by me trying to better myself as a teacher. When I point that out, it usually makes them laugh too.

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Practicing multi-step equations today with spicy twists like distributing a negative, variables on both sides, and distributing multiple times I overhear “I’m finally getting these right. I was terrible at these in middle school.” 💪🏻

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Function composition card sort in sixth hour: every group got them all right.💪🏻

Never underestimate the power of a dry erase marker.

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I really wish I could have a trial run of my lessons that’s not on my actual kids. I am consciously noticing things to fix and do better before I teach it to the second section. I’m excited at how my brain is analyzing my teaching and self-improving but man I apologize to my first, third, and fifth hours. Lol

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I think the overall theme of this post is that I am leveling up. I’ve spent the past years building up strong pillars in different areas that have felt so scattered-but now I realize that the foundation is firmly fortified which allows me to make great strides that seem effortless in year 9 but really are built on the sweat of the past 8 years.