Friday, July 31, 2015

my spatial challenge...

I have to admit.  I'm a spatial retard.  Entirely stupid when it comes to objects in motion.  Which makes it incredibly difficult for me to teach geometry.  Proofs , theorems, and static shapes are no problem.  It's when I need to move them that I encounter issues.  Translations, reflections, rotations (aerate!!!!), and dilations, oh my!  I'm a map turner.  If it weren't for things moving, I would have finished my engineering degree.

So, now that I've admitted to myself and the world that this is my special spatial challenge, I've got to do something about it.  I've always done their homework to look out for potential stumbles, but with the new Common Core standards, Geometry includes a lot of transformations.  I'm struggling so much with them, that I'm wondering if either (a) I'm cut out for this particular assignment, or (b) this will make me a better educator.  I'm leaning towards and hoping for (b).  I will definitely confess my secret to my students.  I believe that this will allow students to relate and feel hopeful toward their own challenges, and feel sympathetic toward me when I completely bungle something.  Plus, they always get a decent giggle out of the similarity in the words spatial and special.

Stupid rotations.  Stupid reflections.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


My grading policy has changed so many times throughout my ~15 years of teaching.  When I started out, fresh out of college, I graded everything.  Which, in hindsight, I find incredibly silly.  I thought to myself, if the kids were doing it, they deserved to have it seen and graded.  Wiser me now says, it just needs to be acknowledged.  How I've graded homework (just homework) in the past (in chronological order)
  • Collected daily and graded
  • Collected daily, √, √+, √- for completion
  • Homework quizzes (one random question per assignment weekly).  Students would recreate their completed homework onto a homework quiz form.  
  • Have students self-grade themselves for completeness, and collect it on test/quiz days (this was for high school though).
  • Collect one assignment per week at random, grade for completeness or correctness.  Whatever strikes my fancy.

Last year, I implemented a cooperative team system, where teams get participation points if they all have their homework for the day completed.  This year, in addition to their team points,  I think I will be collecting a week's worth of homework, giving a complete/incomplete (all or none) point, and grading 3 random assignments per packet at five points each, for a total of 20 points.  There will be a template that they'll get on Monday, and turn in on Friday.  Here's to hope and cheers to change.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I've been planning...

I think I'm teaching a whole new course next year--the last time I taught geometry, it wasn't common core, and it was to a group of severely underperforming high school students. This time it will be to middle schoolers who are taking it concurrently with algebra.  It's not the same kids, not the same course, definitely not the same ball game. 

I've been inspired by all of the bloggers of interactive notebooks out there, especially math=love, and Everybody is a Genius.  This is my INB so far...

I'm stealing the Numbers About Me activity from Sarah Rubin, and modifying it a bit to make it a cooperative task.  They will be working in pairs, and one partner will have one half of directions, while the other partner has the other half.  They will be graded on how accurately they followed directions.  I'll post that once I've got it all figured out.

I've always made my students number their pages, even when it wasn't an interactive notebook, but I think this upcoming year, I will make them number their pages with the center spread being pages zero and page one, odd pages will continue to be on the left, and evens will be on the right, just like the numbering of a standard book.

Opening pages:
  • Me at a Glance--stolen from Sarah Rubin, printed at 85 - 90%, so it will fit inside the notebook better. 
  • Master table of contents.  As much as I would like to continue my book by topics, like I have done in the past, and have everything standards-based, the math program that I'm using doesn't roll out material in discreet units.  In theory, the spiraling will insure the reteaching and relearning of material.
Pages -98 and -97:
  • Page -98:  Overflow of the table of contents
  • Page -97:  Syllabus.  Again, inspired by Sarah Rubin, who was inspired by Jessie Hester. My previous syllabus and course description, while I really liked it, was very text and information heavy.  This one is much easier to read, and still has the meat of my potatoes.  The QR code is even a link to my work email.  
Pages -96 through -91 get a little messy, because my work spouse decided to proceed without me, and I subsequently changed my mind.  The stickies override the pages.  I'm resisting the urge to make a whole new book.  I've already started using the book for math purposes.

The FAQs will start on pages -96 and -95.  I tried to brainstorm as many questions as I could, focusing on questions that were not directly answered by the syllabus.

Pages -94 and -93 will be the long-term goal-setting and the math biography, which (again) was lifted from Sarah Hagan.

Pages -92 through -87
After the informational pages, I'm doing personalities and learning styles. That has always been something that's important to me. I'm not a hugely kinesthetic person, or musical, or creative. I'm a very technical person, so I HATED when I was told to do a skit/dance/song about something. If we know what we are good at, and who we are, we can stretch and grow into more self-actualized people. Right?

Pages -92 through -87
-92 and -91:  color personality quiz, with the color explanation on appropriately colored paper (again, inspired by Sarah Rubin, who was inspired by Sarah Hagan)
-90 and -89:  learning styles with explanations 
-88 and -87:  multiple intelligences. I'm going to have the kids paste study strategies and potential career pathways to the folded part. 

Now, here comes the actual math.
I'm quite happy and proud of the opening unit pages.  The table of contents for each unit was borrowed from Sarah Hagan.  I added a tab, more for myself than anything else--it's made from the scraps that get cut off. 

Next is the ever useful pocket and vocabulary pages. At first, I was going to use cut/folded/pasted Frayer models, but that occupied too much space to warrant its existence. I like this idea much better. Less space, only one session of cutting and taping (hopefully), and it could be done at any time during the unit.  I'm very happy about figuring out how to mirror my margins like in books--the inner margin is larger than the outer.  :-)

I'm anxious about the new school year. A bit scared, apprehensive and slightly overwhelmed, but it'll be great.