Tag Archives: note-taking

High and Lows (Mostly Highs!) of the First Two Weeks

I survived my first two weeks as a high school math teacher! So many things have been running through my mind, but right now I’m going to make a list of things that are going well and things that need improvement. I just want to get it all out. I hope to blog more regularly from now on!

Things that are going well

  • I love my school. It’s so, so, so good. My colleagues are incredibly supportive and amazingly talented. Our students care about their school and each other. I am very fortunate to be part of such a strong community.
  • There are some very effective school-wide policies in place that administrators, teachers, and students are all on the same page about. I feel like this really promotes school pride and diminishes behavior problems.
  • My Geometry and FST students are awesome kids. I am so impressed by them.
  • Creating a classroom that values mistake making. This is a work in progress, but I’ve got a decent start.
  • Establishing a classroom community where the kids feel comfortable talking to each other. Seniors are good with this (too good, actually), and I’m still working on Geometry kids.
  • I have established some classroom routines! Phew. Thank you Andrew Stadel for Estimation180. It’s been a great way to start class every day. Similarly, ending class with an exit ticket lets students know that we work until the bell, as well as provides me with some great feedback.
  • Using whiteboards (both big and small) has been an effective way to get students to share their thinking and to just get some students to write something down.
  • I’ve done some deep activities, problems, tasks, or whatever you wanna call ’em that have produced good results.
  • I am learning every day.
  • I am finding time to exercise and cook dinner. (Sleep is another matter. Looks like I might pick up drinking coffee again…)

Thank you to all the inspiring teachers who share their wonderful ideas and activities so that I can use them. I stand on the shoulders of giants.

Things to improve

  • Classroom management. Can you tell I’m a first year teacher?
  • Similar to the first point, I struggle with engaging every student when I’m talking to the whole class. Group work is my strength: students discussing with each other with me floating around from group to group asking questions and guiding them along. In contrast, I feel like I’m not strong enough at whole-class lecturing and encouraging note-taking. I think I just need to be more strict about it. No talking when I’m talking. Pick up a pencil and write something down.
  • Kids who are absent. And the kids who are just now switching into my class. How can I get them up to speed?
  • Checking homework and going over answers. What a big ol’ unproductive time sink.
  • Better hand-writing. I save my Smart Notebook documents and upload them to my class website for students to use as a reference. Neater hand-writing would be easier for kids to read and follow.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! Here’s to a great year!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under culture, productive struggle

NYC trip and some thoughts on INBs

(Great acronyms in the title.)

I just got home from a fantastic four day visit with my sister in New York City. I live in a much smaller city myself, so I wasn’t sure what I would think of NYC, but I loved it! I loved all of the beautiful people, the amazing and delicious varieties of food, and the daily hustle and bustle. It was so much fun hanging out my sister and seeing where she lives and works. It was also my first time in the Big Apple, so of course I did all of the fun tourist stuff.

Central Park

Central Park

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Statue of Lib

Statue of Lib

My sister and I also went to the Museum of Math, which I highly recommend. All of their displays are very interactive and let you experience and discover the math. They’re also super fun! We spent almost four hours there! Going with my sister was perfect because she has a great natural curiosity for math even though she went the finance and accounting route. She can solve all those fit-these-shapes-into-this-box and disconnect-this-metal-loop-from-this-other-metal-thing puzzles that I never have the mind for.

Of course the Math Museum has pi door handles.

Of course the Math Museum has pi door handles.

Overall, it was an awesome trip, but it’s so nice to be back home in spacious, natural, beautiful Wisconsin. #tmc14 took place over the same weekend, so while I was spending 24 hours each way on the train to and from NYC, I got to catch up via Twitter on all the excitement and mathematics happening in Oklahoma. Hoping to attend #tmc15 next summer!

So now that I’m home, I’m thinking about what sort of procedures I want in place this year in my classroom. I definitely want to do something with interactive notebooks (INBs), a popular topic in the MTBoS these days.

There are people with far more experience than me (which is zero) who write about INBs, so definitely check out Math=Love, Kalamity Kat, and Infinite Sums for great ideas and advice.

My reasoning for INBs is to help my students process information, organize their work, and have a resource that they can refer back to. Even when I student taught an Advanced Math 2 (like a Pre-Calculus Honors, maybe?) class where the kids furiously took notes on their own, I still think they needed help with organization and actually getting something useful out of their notes.

I’m planning on implementing a very low-maintenance version of INBs. Foldables are definitely NOT my thing and there’s no way I could keep track of a table of contents, let alone make my students do it. So really these are just going to be regular old notebooks. NBs, if you will.

Basically, my plan is to have my students put all the math they do into their notebooks. That’s… it. Maybe this is too unstructured (I’ll find out), but I really don’t care what the format is or how pretty it looks, I just want them to record the math they do in an organized manner and all in one place.

I’m going to require that they write the date and the topic on the top of each page. Below that they do the warm up. Below that they show the work for whatever activity or investigation we do. Below that we sum up the investigation or do notes or additional examples. Below that goes homework or some other sort of output. That’s the plan. I’ve requested some glue sticks so that the students can paste in any handouts. Yay, glue sticks.

It sounds simple. Hopefully it is. I plan to do regular notebook checks so that they know I’m serious about them picking up their pencils and doing the work. Accountability for them, accountability for me. Can you tell I’m a first year teacher? I’m constantly worried that they’re not going to take me seriously. Well, I guess I just better be serious when I need to be serious, right?

Along with the notebook, I’m requiring a folder for graded work or extraneous handouts. Hopefully I won’t be handing out much that won’t go in the notebook, but they need a place to store quizlets (my department’s name for our formative assessment), instruction sheets for projects, practice tests, etc.

Eh. I’m at the point where I have all these PLANS but have no idea how they’re actually going to work until the school year starts. The anticipation is killing me!

Leave a comment

Filed under notebooks, planning, travel