Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Bonus

Thursday before a 3 day Easter weekend.... and we had a test....

To add a little excitement, I had hidden Easter eggs around the room, some better than others.  I wanted some to be in view so kids would ask questions.  

Before the test I gave them one minute to find an egg and return to their seats.  In each egg was a jolly rancher and a strip of paper.  These strips of paper contained bonus questions.  I had them numbered 1-10 and students had to write which number they were solving when they put the answer on the back of the test. At the end of class I gave each student another egg and had them hide one for the students next period.  Easy way to add a little Easter excitement to a testing day! :) 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Probability Stations - Take 2

I'm keeping the volume down in cafeteria duty this morning when another math teacher's student teacher comes to find me and tell me that all the links I gave her for stations yesterday won't work on  

So...plan B.  First I panicked.  I promised the kids they would get to use chromebooks today but now I had zero idea what I was going to do.  So....I decided to wing it.  

They logged in and we talked about features of google chrome- customization, apps, and google search tips. Then I told them we were going to do an experiment with flipping coins....but since all that noise would drive me crazy, we needed a virtual coin.  We searched for virtual coin toss and ended up deciding this website would work.  They answered all the questions I'd originally planned and we were even able to see further evidence of increasing a sample size increasing accuracy since this website records total flips of all time (49.99% were heads).    

Next, I had them search for a virtual spinner.  In this case, plan B was better than plan A.  Students could go into the menu and change the spinner.  We created my vision of the spinner together and students answered the questions I had planned.  Then rather then just sketching a spinner with percents I had given them....they had to figure out how to construct it using this program.  It was so fun listening to them think through how they could make it work.  

The marble activity I had originally planned did work on chromebooks and in my first block they went through this activity.  In other classes I decided I would rather give more time to start their review to prepare for our test the next day.  

All in all, plan B > plan A in this case.  I'm starting to become more okay with that.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Probability Stations

I love stations and I love chromebooks.   The chromebook cart is not available this week so I plan on borrowing just a few chromebooks for stations :)

Station 1 - Coin Toss

Chromebooks will be set on this page:

Questions posted at station:

1. If I toss a coin, what are the possible outcomes?  What is the probability of each outcome?

2. If I toss a coin twice, what are the possible outcomes?  What is the probability of each outcome?

3. If I toss a coin 10 times, how many would you expect to land on heads.  Enter 10 in the number of tosses, click start and record your results. 

4. If I toss a coin 50 times, how many would you expect to land on heads?  Enter 50 in the number of tosses, click start and record your results.

5. If I toss a coin 100 times, how many would you expect to land on heads?  Enter 100 in the number of tosses, click start and record your results. 

6. As you increase the number of tosses….do you notice anything about your data?  Why is this?  

Station 2 - 

Chromebooks will be set on this page:

Questions posted at station:

1. If I spin the spinner, what are the possible outcomes?  What is the probability of each outcome?

2. If I spin the spinner twice, what are the possible outcomes?  What is the probability of each outcome?

3. If I was to spin the spinner 20 times, how many times would you expect it to land on yellow?  Spin the spinner 20 times…. How many times does it actually land on yellow?  Explain why these answers might be different.

4. Create a spinner that has the following probabilities and draw it on your recording sheet:
    10% yellow
    10% purple
    20% orange
    20% red
    40% blue (because you know it is my favorite color)

Station 3 - Guess What's in the Bag? 

At station 3 I will have a brown paper bag with colored blocks or tiles or something inside.  
Questions posted at station 3:

1. Without looking, reach into the bag and choose an item.  Put the item back in the back and then draw again.  Repeat 10 times and record the colors of the 10 items you have drawn.

2. There are 20 items in the bag.  Based on your results from #1, predict how many items of each color are present in the bag.

3. Is it possible there are colors in the bag that you did not choose during #1?  Explain why or why not.

4. Look in the bag and write a fraction to represent each color.

5. How did your experimental probabilities compare to the theoretical probabilities?  

Station 4 - Deal or No Deal 

Chromebooks will be set to this page:

At this station, students will pick up this handout:

Most of the work at this station will be completed/shown on the handout, but I will have an instructions page with a few questions.

1. Choose your briefcase.

2. Open 6 briefcases.  As you are opening, cross off any opened amounts on the provided pages.

3. You will be given a bank offer… record this offer in the table on the right of the provided page by round 1.  How many briefcases are remaining with more than that offer?  How many briefcases are remaining total?  Calculate the probability of winning more than the bank offer.   Discuss as a group-  deal or no deal?

4. Continue to play the game, completing steps on the pages as you work. 

5. On your recording sheet, tell me how many rounds you played and your final winnings. 

Station 5 - Tree Diagrams

Draw tree diagrams for the following probability experiments and then answer the questions.

1. Rolling two dice.  What is the probability of rolling doubles?

2. Flipping a coin three times.  What is the probability of flipping 3 of the same thing?

3. Rolling a dice and tossing a coin.  What is the probability of rolling an even number and flipping heads? 

Station 6 - Marble Outcomes

Chromebooks will be set on this page:

Questions posted at station 6:

1. Follow steps given by the program.  How did you select if a red or blue marble appearing was impossible, unlikely, even change, likely, or certain?

2. Click the lever to pick a random marble.  Then click reset.  In 12 picks, how many times is each color picked?

3. Are the numbers what you expected?  Why or why not? 

4. What is the theoretical probability of each color being chosen?

5. Click reset, and then choose 12 marbles randomly again.  Are the numbers the same or different? Why? 

6.  How many red marbles would have to be in the machine to be certain of a red marble being chosen? 

I have 6 student groups of 3-5 students.  I have 90 minute classes so I set the timer for about 6-8 minutes per station.  This gives me time for warm-up at the beginning of class, time for them to move between stations when I say "rotate" and time to discuss each station at the end of class.  If students don't finish a station, it isn't a big deal, as long as they were working the entire time.

Students fold a blank sheet of paper into fourths-  giving 8 sections front and back.  They number the boxes and complete answers to each question in the coordinating box.  This leaves me two boxes to have them try problems again, take notes, or complete a ticket to leave once we have discussed each station as a class.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Small group tutorials - Add/Subtract Fractions

As we approach STAAR, BMS has modified our schedule to build in 30 minutes of tutorials for high impact students (or bubble kids).  Each of my classes are 15 minutes shorter and I have two tutorial groups of 10-12 students that I work with daily.  Students are in math tutorials for a week and then reading tutorials for a week, then back to math.  I've seen students who are normally too shy to ask questions open up in a smaller setting and I've seen this confidence carry over into class.  Awesome!

Next week we are working on the following skills:

  • Multiplication/Division of whole numbers
  • Addition and Subtraction of Fractions and Mixed Numbers
  • Addition and Subtraction of Decimals
Here are our plans:
  • Practice page-  4 problems on the front are completed on Day 1 so students have an idea about where they are starting.  At the end of the week they complete 4 similar problems on the back of the page to see progress and areas for further improvement.  Students track this data.
  • Addition and Subtraction of Fractions and Mixed Numbers BINGO (1-2 days)
    Students each receive a BINGO board and fill it in however they want.
    I copy the BINGO Questions onto card stock, laminate, and cut them out.  I write answers on the back to make it easier once we start playing.  
    I display questions under the document camera, students work the question, and cover up the answer on their BINGO boards.  First to 5 in a row wins!
    I like this activity because it is self-checking.  If students get an answer that is not an option listed...they immediately know they've made a mistake.
  • Chromebook Activity (2-3 days)
    Students will go to to a Job the Web page.  There are five games/activities for them to complete.
    1. Multiplication/Division Word Problems- Khan Academy
    2. Add and Subtract Fractions Board Game
    3. Fruit Shoot Fraction Addition
    4. Hotel Decimalfornia- Add/Subtract Decimals
    5. Add/Subtract Fractions and Mixed #s - Jeopardy Game
    As they complete activities/games they will record their scores on a recording sheet.   If they finish everything, they can go back and play other games to increase their scores.  At the end of the second day, they complete step 6 on the jog the web: a google form to share their answers.   I plan on giving a prize to the highest score submitted for each of the 5 activities just to encourage them! :) 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Probability: Sample Space

First day of probability!  We are starting with sample space: lists, tables, tree diagrams.  Last year I started with notes and told the kids step by step how to create an organized list or tree diagram to show the sample space.

This year we started with a problem:   a new store is releasing a new mp3 player that comes in 3 shapes, 3 colors, and 2 sizes.  I asked the students to tell me how many different mp3 players will need to be order and show me all the possibilities but didn’t give them any indication of how I wanted them to do this.  

Here are some of their answers:

Wow- I was impressed. Loved that I could see their thinking and that they were sharing strategies and ideas. Lesson learned.  I need to do a lot less teaching and a lot more listening.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10 Hands on Tools to Boost Creativity

SXSWedu was amazing.  It was unlike any other conference I've attended in that instead of providing practical "take this back to your room tomorrow" ideas... it was more of a conversation about education in general.    I've always thought I was a smart person....but was taken aback by the genius present here.  So inspiring and encouraging.

One of the sessions I attended "10 Hands on Tools to Boost Creativity" was fun and gave me 10+ ideas that I could immediately incorporate into the classroom.

If you haven't seen it- this video is worth the watch.

"Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status" - Ken Robinson

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original" - Ken Robinson

"We are educating people out of their creative capacities" - Ken Robinson

Sunday, March 10, 2013

PI Day 2013

Pi day is actually celebrated March 14, but because we are on spring break during that time, BMS celebrates the Friday before Spring Break.

I was at SXSWedu Tuesday-Thursday and HATE being away from the kids so each of my groups had a challenge.  By their color block on the board I wrote: PI DAY before I left... each time they misbehaved for the substitute, she was to erase a letter.  If any letters remained when I came back, they would have a Pi day surprise!  They were awesome and had a great note and greeted me so sweetly when they saw me Friday morning.  I even had several Happy Pi Day cards from students! :)

Now for Pi favorite!  I created this smore:  to keep me on track throughout the day.  

  • We went over the brief history of pi to begin with....the kids were surprisingly quiet and interested.  :)  
  • I then gave each student a paper plate, assigned them a number, and asked them to decorate the plate with their number.  At the end of class we stapled these plates in order of the digits of the end of all of my classes we had a pretty long chain!
  • While they worked on this, I let groups take turns and come complete an experiment: Tossing Pi.  Students tossed toothpicks onto a lined poster board and then counted the total number that landed on the board and the number that crossed one of the parallel lines.  Then students completed this calculation:  2 x (total number)  / (number crossing line) = ?  I had students write this answer on a post-it and post them on the back board.... when we looked at them all at the end of class they were really excited that all of their estimates were close to the value of pi.  I was nervous it wouldn't work but one group got 3.12 ... WOW!  They were as excited and impressed as I was, which was really fun to watch.
  • I passed out slices of pie since they had such a great note from the sub, played music, and had a really good day.  
The last hour of the day is reserved for a Pi Day Assembly.
  • Pi limericks-  Each teacher selects one student to read a limerick about pi.
  • Pi skits-  Each teacher has a small group perform a skit about pie.  My group amazed me.... I left them the skit Monday, was out Tuesday-Thursday and on their own they put together the cutest skit about the Babylonians and Pi!  
  • Digit Winner -  We challenge students to memorize as many digits as they can of pi...and reward prizes to our top 5.  This years winner memorized over 200 digits! 
  • T-Shirt Winner-  Students create Pi-Day t-shirts.  The t-shirts hang in the library and on their weekly library visit students vote for a winner.... Here are a few of my favorites:  

First place - Chicken Pot Pie
Second place - Got pi?
Third place - Instapi 
  • Choir sings "Mathematical Pi"   This years sixth graders really got into it and sang along :) (We started it at 48 s) 
  • Pi the principal-  Throughout the two weeks leading up the assembly, students can earn small pi the principal tickets.  All of these are put in a box in the office and we draw one student that gets to hit our assistant principal with a pie!  
  • Pi the teacher-  Throughout the two weeks leading up to the assembly, students can purchase "pi the teacher" tickets for $0.25 or 5 for $1.00.  We donate all the money to American Cancer Society and raised over $600 dollars this year.  There are buckets in the library with each of the five math teachers pictures.  Students put their name on the back of the ticket and pick a teacher they would like to pie.  The teacher that raises the most money gets pied by a student we draw from their container.  For the second year in a row...I win.   (I don't know if that's a complement or an insult? :)  Because the kids raised so much money.... we let them pie each of the math teachers (so I got two!!) 

Do you and your school celebrate pi day?  How do you celebrate? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 2 - SXSWedu - Part II

Session 4 - Can BYOD Narrow the Digital Divide?  with Michael Mills, Asst. Professor, University of Central Arkansas

Mills was quick to say that instructional objectives must be our primary focus.  If the technology is not adding to the that specific lesson, then don't use it.  The idea of BYOD is not an easy button, a major cure-all in education...but it is a bridge that allows our low SES students access to the world that our other students have been given.
  • Mobile devices are making it more socially acceptable to talk about school outside of school.  It still isn't cool...but at least it is OK.
  • Minorities are more likely to use mobile devices to: access internet, access health info, use social media
  • Tech integration has a greater impact on struggling schools.
  • Redefine what "productivity" means-  it is not students sitting in a desk working independently and quietly. 
  • Students generally would not use personal technology for learning activities unprompted.  Use this as an opportunity to create digital literacy, digital creation, and digital etiquette.  Help them use technology to promote social change.
  • Technology will amplify your classroom management style, good or bad.
  • Instead of saying, "Johnny, since you don't have an iphone...go join this group..." say "Those of you that didn't bring your mobile device today...."
  • Mobile devices should be used to augment, modify, or redefine a lesson or activity. 

I plan on exploring these at some point but here are tools he mentioned as helpful in bringing mobile devices into the classroom: Google Voice, biNu,, IFTTT, SoundCloud, tumblr, edmodo, ChaCha, textnovel, evenote + pinterest = springpad, Ninjawords, crocodoc.

Session 5 - Unleashing the Power of the Web in Education with Jaime Casap, Sr. Education Evangelist, Google

  • Technology is not new if you are born into it.  Jamie told us to think about the fact that the device in our hands is worst technology this generation will see.  He compared our smartphones to the Commadore 64 (I had to look up what that is....)
  • Our children will be asked to solve problems that haven't developed yet and work in jobs that don't exist yet.  Our job is to create geniuses. 
  • Iteration is the new failure....
  • Curiosity is human and we should encourage students to be curious.  Jaime tells students "I work for a search engine, I'm not actually a search engine"  Our role as teacher is not to answer questions but to follow up with students and ask questions.  
  • Information does not equal intelligence.  How do we turn information into intelligence? 
  • Collaboration is the new normal.  Education is individualized, world is all about collaboration.
  • When did collaboration become cheating?
  • There is so much data showing that we all learn in different ways.... why do we all go into the same room, sit in the same desks, and take the same tests to show what we have learned? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day 2 - SXSWedu - Part I

Overwhelmed does not even begin to describe it. So thrilled to have had the opportunity to be here and hear these brilliant people speak.  It's amazing and inspiring to me the effect one person can have and the wave of change one person can start.

Session 1- 10 Hands on Tools to Boost Creativity with Charles Wood, Professor at University of Tulsa.  Absolutely the most transferable session into my classroom immediately.  I'll share these later :)

Session 2- Disrupting Education: Master Apprentice Approach with Jeff Sandefer, Acton Academy.

  • Existing system is ill-designed and immoral.  What comes next?
  • The previous system was a "learn to know" system.  Now we need to shift to "learn to do and learn to be" and the learn to know will come along as a free gift.
  • 4 essential questions:  Who am I and where am I going?  What tools and skills will I need and which will I master?  How will affirm me and hold me accountable?  How do I prove what I can do?  
  • Students are on a hero's journey filled with quest based projects. Students have the power to choose, set and enforce rules.
     7 lessons Sandefer says he has learned: 
  1. Every child is a genius (has exceptional ability to do something). "When you believe they will change the world, they believe they will change the world."
  2. Multi-age classrooms are a blessing.
  3. You curate.  Let them choose.
  4. Ask "Is this your best work?"  If not, students try again.
  5. Never answer a question.  Ever.  - Sandefer spoke about the fact that as students ask more questions, their questions become less thoughtful and interesting.  My HS physics teacher answered every question I asked with another question.... it frustrated me...but I learned a lot. 
  6. Engaged learners learn at a 10X rate.
  7. Our job is to act as Gamemakers (Hunger Games, anyone?) -  Set up incentives and challenges and invite them to play.
"I hope the reformers succeed, but I chose to disrupt" - Jeff Sandefer

Session 3 - Cognitive Science: Next Ed Revolution with Peter NilssonDeerfield Academy

My job is to enable students to learn.  I left A&M feeling reasonably prepared to do.  Yet, the brain is where learning happens... and I know very little about the brain.  
  • The art of delivery of information should be ahead of the engine that powers it.  Insight into the science of learning should go hand in hand with the art of teaching
  • Cognitive model: Attention, Encoding, Storage, Retrieval 
  • Attention: As a teacher, I must be engaging. Attention is the filter through which my kids view their world and knowing them allows me access.  "It's all about the choreography of people's attention. Attention is like water. It flows. It's liquid. You create channels to (direct) it, and you hope that it flows the right way." - Apollo Robbins, professional pickpocket-  just change (direct) to divert.  
  • Encoding: Provide multisensory experiences, Attach learning to prior knowledge, and Organize material for easy retrieval.   "The ideas we latch on to are the ones that have been percolating in our minds for all time" - John McPhee
  • Storage: Association strengthens memory, intensity influences memory.  I must provide ample time for students to consolidate and integrate ideas.  
    Sleeping Hour 1-2 : Memory consolidation in hippocampus
    Sleeping Hour 2-6: Movement to cortex for long term storage
    Sleeping Hour 6-9: Memory rehearsal in cortex- improves memory performance up to 20%
  • Retrieval: Ideas are strengthened by association, intensity, and repetition.  I must provide students with regular retrieval opportunities.  
Nilsson ended by speaking on the art of teaching and the science of learning.  Teachers must understand the needs of students but also the processes of thinking and learning and mechanics of education.  We must be responsive, yet methodical and empathetic, yet firm.  We teach people.  People are not objects to be maximized.  The act of learning however is a process, a process that can be maximized.  Our job as teachers is to blend the art and sciences of teaching and learning.    

Book recommendations (I will be reading these, Nilsson has me hooked!):  Brain Rules by John Medina, Mindset by Carol Dweck, Drive by Dan Pink, Choke by Sian Beilock

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 1- Growing Nimble Thinkers - SXSWedu

Session 3- Growing Nimble Thinkers for the Creative Economy
Deborah Morrison (@debkmorrison) and Glenn Griffin (@wgriffin)

They describe a nimble thinker as one that is reactive, adapts quickly, is optimistic, curious, and has permission to fail.  This is exactly what I want each of my students to reach to be.  

They make the point that as walls between subjects come down, our educational system needs radical interdisciplinary collaboration.  Both are advertising professors at different universities but speak on collaboration between hubs, across specialties  majors, job descriptions, and disciplines. 

Thinking fast has a place in our classrooms.  It is harder to control and harder to grade, but it gives students a creative advantage.

One of my favorite things that Griffin said was "The most powerful moment is not the finding of the solution.  The most powerful moments are in the failures, interruptions, and distractions during the problem solving process".  As a math teacher, too often I focus on finding the right answer and not enough time on the process or celebrating the failures.

5 opportunities to grow more nimble thinkers:
1. Leverage Interaction-  Social media, drop box, whiteboards, post it notes and sharpies, skype, evernote, trello, google+, Adobe collage -  "Make time to try many outlets and critically choose 3 at a time to focus on-  this is not a must eat all buffet"
2. Bump and Provoke - bring groups together and allow creative thinking to happen
3. Venn Venn Venn - find multiple skills or interests and find how they fit/overlap
4. Fail harder - ideas > ego
5. Teach curiosity - Have students stop writing answers, and start asking questions.


Day 1- Technology Enabled Instruction- SXSWedu

Session 2- Technology Enabled Instruction- Hype and Promise
Panel: Ben Glazer, Harrison Keller, James Caras, Zeynep Young

This session was not what I was expecting....but seeing as I may want to pursue a career in higher education down the line... I went with it and convinced myself there was surely something I could take away form the panel discussion.

New Platforms
MOOC = Massive Open Online Course
This panel discussed that though these courses are designed to be equalizers, they are in the very intial phase of development, and at this point: old wine, new bottle.
Out of 160,000 that signed up for one course, only 14% completed the course.  The courses are designed by non-digital natives and are just more widely delivering bad instruction cheaply.

New Content
Because our world is changing so rapidly, 90% of the content will be obsolete immediately.  The selection of content was described as the purchase of dog food-  that who it is intended for is not the one making the purchasing decision.  In K-12, administration chooses instructional material that teachers use and in higher education instructors select materials that students must use.

More data is being produced or attained than is being used effectively.  The opinions of teachers are often overvalued because teachers bring their own biases to the table.  The data brings another perspective, which is sometimes shocking to teachers. We are data rich and information poor, especially concerning student learning.

In Q&A segment, an individual asked about course design.  He was referring to course design for MOOCs...but I took it for any time I design a lesson as well.  Too often I find an activity that I like and use that as a starting point for a lesson.  Instead, I need to start with the goals-  what do I want my students to learn or know as a result of a lesson?  Then, what evidence can prove that knowledge? And THEN what tasks can I use to get students there?

Day 1 - Unthink Schools to Rethink Learning- SXSWedu

I'm super excited that I was invited to attend SXSWedu with Jessica this week.  I'm very much out of my league but am so excited and energized by everything I'm learning. 

((Side Note-  Jessica Johnston is an Instructional Technologist for BISD and is awesome.  She is one of those people that completely motivate you in just a few minutes and make you want to be better at your job.  Read her blog- and follow her on twitter- @edtechchic.))

Session 1- Unthink Schools to Rethink Learning #FOLSXSW
Panel: Bryan Setser, Caprice Young, Javid Jamae, Malik Mott

The presentation started with this video:

The panel discussed what we dream of in education...what we dread in education...and the fact that the design of education falls somewhere in between. They discussed that technology allows for personalization of instruction- am I teaching the right lesson, to the right student, at the right time, in the right way?

From my notes-
  • Be intentional in design.  Keep in mind a problem you are trying to solve.
  • Maximize what technology means for students to optimize their learning experience.  Do not allow learning to be sacrificed for technology.  
  • Competency based performance to prove skill set.  How does this fit in? 
  • Before we can decide how to assess individualized learning, we need to assess the technology tools available.  Movement from multiple choice assessment to looking at "Do they know the the pieces of knowledge that they need to know" 
  • Re engineering of technology for competency based assessment, move to e-portfolios, etc
  • How to meld new process of assessments within current testing system?  Be as creative within constraints as possible and when you meet a constraint that needs to be changed- speak for a change.
  • Don't look within to change the same problems.
  • Anything that can be read and processed online.  Use time together for create problem solving processes.
  • Kids are way ahead of us-  The existing system can not possibly catch up. 
  • Tests are indicator of a goal, not the end goal themselves. 
What I'm taking from this session into my classroom- 
  • E-portfolios - At this point it is just an idea....but I think it would be so cool to have my students create portfolios in their google drive accounts.  They could choose items that they feel show understanding of a topic to save to a specific portfolio folder and this folder would stay linked to their account throughout their years in BISD.  
  • This was not the point of this session...but it is something I'm taking from it regardless... During the session there was a twitter feed showing on the screen.  I was listening to the panel and following conversation on twitter related to the discussion.  Our students are multitasking  too.  What if I created a discussion board using something free (TodaysMeet maybe?) that could support discussion/questions/answers during a lesson?  

First year failure...

Last year was my first year teaching.... I made plenty of rookie mistakes but overall I think I did a good job. I still enjoyed my job, I learned from my mistakes, and I came back as a better teacher my second year.

However, I failed.  There was one specific student that will always stand out in my mind.  I remember meeting him for the first time at open house.  With him he brought his mother, grandmother, and two other adults.  His mother told me he was awful but they were determined for all of us to work together to make this year a good one.  I left determined to make a difference for this kid.  His mother said he was AWFUL...right in front of horrible.  I decided he just needed someone to believe in him and work with him patiently, and was excited to be that teacher for him.

In school I learned that you should comment on positive behaviors...emphasize those things...and the bad behaviors will lesson.  However, every time I called his mom just to say he had a good day... he ended up thanking me with an awful week.  I felt like we would take one step forward and three steps back.  His grades were failing but only because of a lack of effort- he was plenty capable.  I stayed after school countless hours with him working on math and constantly tried to show him that hard work resulted in positive things.  Waiting for his ride in afternoons we had the best conversations.  One on one, he was awesome. The kid was dealing with some really tough things...things I can't imagine...and I would listen to anything he would share.  He would be polite, and tell me thank you for helping, and thank you for listening and on and on.

The next day in class....he was right back to the disruptive, disrespectful student he was the day before.  He yelled out women's names in the middle of my teaching....made animal noises....walked around....yelled....bullied other students...threw a desk....called me names...  Who was this kid?  And every time.... I let him get the best of me.  I yelled back.  I made empty threats.  I called my AP.  I lost.

This happened all year.  He didn't do these things for his other teachers...he did it because it got the reaction he wanted.  On days he was absent, I could see my entire class relax when he didn't walk in the door...because they knew I was a better teacher without him there.  (That is awful and embarrassing, but sadly true).  I tried everything I could think of...and never made progress with this student.  He knew I didn't know what to do....and he got sent out far too often.

I will never forget him...I failed him...but I learned so much about myself from him too.

Year 2....lesson learned.  They will not see me react.  Third week of school a female student decided she did not want to participate in the group activity.  I told her that was fine...she could pick up her things and move to my individual desk and work on an alternate assignment.  She didn't move.  I knelt down by her and again quietly said, "You need to pick up your belongings, stand up, and move to that desk"... again she just stares at me.  I put my hands on her binder to pick it up and move it and she jerks it from my hands and slams it down.... At this point, I'm mad.

My instinct from last year: 1. Yell....2. Call my principal to come get her (which communicates, obviously I can't handle you...I need help)....3. Write a referral.
What I did instead:  Took a couple deep breaths and asked everyone at her table to move and join other groups and explained they were doing so because she chose not to participate.  I ignored her and my students ignored her too.  She tried to talk to them and joke and laugh with them....and they would all look at me and then go back to their work.  She made noises and tried to get my attention...I smiled, ignored her, and turned my attention to the other students.  After about 30 minutes, she came to me, apologized, and asked if she could join a group.  This student has impressed me throughout the year now.  We have a mutual understanding and she always does what she is asked...or usually at least :)