Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Last days...

My principal at BMS shares important things with staff through a "Friday Focus" email at the end of each week.  In last Friday's she wrote:

"....I tell you all this only to remind you all that there is so much more than STAAR scores, stressful crazy schedules and disruptive classes. I know May pushes our patience, our understanding and our stress levels to the max.  It is so hard to avoid the negativity and the complaining, but I challenge you all to face these next two weeks with a positive outlook and a smile.  Many of our students are two weeks away from spending an entire summer in households with little to no love and very little parental guidance.  Even though our students may not be battling cancer like Saxton, many are fighting their own evil monsters.  We have two more weeks to possibly make a lasting impression on some of our most troubled students.   Each day set a goal to find five students and give them a compliment….
                “I love your outfit”
                “I have been so proud of you this year”
                “You have an awesome smile”
                “You are so smart”
You never know…that one compliment that takes you less than 5 seconds to say may be what that student holds on to for the entire summer. " 

Many teachers at my school are counting down the days until summer.  Last Monday! 2 more days of morning duty!  3 more full days and then 4 half days!  7 more days!  I don't blame them.  Our schedule is crazy and the kids have been a little wild to say the least.  I'll gladly welcome the break and the opportunity to sleep in...but after about 2 weeks, it will sink in and I will really miss my kids.  And I'm not sure what we are communicating to students when they hear teachers counting down the days until summer...So while others choose to count down in excitement...I'm not.  

I don't want this year to be over.  After last year I thought that I would never love a group of students as much as I did my first group...but my second group is just as special and it will be just as hard to say goodbye next week.  Mrs. Still's email reminded of the opportunity we have to make impacts on students and I feel like I'm running out of time to do so.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Trip Investigation- Announcing the winners!

Kali and Brian spent a few days watching videos of presentations and studying the displays students created and the winners have been selected!

It was nice to have the pressure off of me to select...there were too many excellent projects to choose from!

Yellow Block
Rylie P and Katherine S - https://docs.google.com/a/brenhamk-12.net/presentation/d/1RM71DfNXdstovvI4EFcquf34ouXlFAqw3ceLBdqB09E/edit#slide=id.p

Red Block
Dixie M and Thayley T - https://www.smore.com/yh5h-kali-and-brian-s-dream-honeymoon?ref=email

Green Block
Cesar C and Melisa M - https://docs.google.com/a/brenhamk-12.net/presentation/d/1AH0duLLaJ2D5O5GH2o3_Bdl6dcenBnYVu-BT9oHGyDw/edit

Blue Block
Mollie P and Bailee R - https://docs.google.com/a/brenhamk-12.net/presentation/d/1P32NcCd9vXW8L8DAaHGdQKVxOZvlclS8_0LL8N5B89A/edit

Presenting Trip Investigation

We spent some class time discussing what a presentation should look like and make makes a successful presentation...but obviously not enough.

At first I was disappointed in some of the presentations giving by students.  So many just read from the screen and so many failed to make any eye contact at all.  There were groups that were barely audible and others that giggled the entire time.  In reflecting, I got over my initial disappointment.  My kids did AMAZING things with this project.  This was their (and my) first taste of PBL and they worked so hard and learned so much...I'll consider that a success.  I know adults that read presentations from slides in a powerpoint...so, yes some of my twelve year olds that had never given a presentation did it...and that's okay.

At the same time, I do think speaking to an audience is an invaluable skill and something I thought deserved more class time...so I uploaded videos of presentations to youtube and created playlists for each class.  Students had the chance to watch their own presentations and the presentations of classmates and review them using this checklist (it goes along with the powerpoint I shared earlier).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Trip Investigation - Day 7

Students continued working on visuals for their presentations today.  Before they started we talked about what a good presentation looked like and my expectations for their presentation.

We used this google presentation as a guide... and I entertained them by showing them what NOT to do. :)  Here is just a quick look:

Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

I don't really know what to expect from students on this project, but I'm excited to see what they can show me!

Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm a math teacher but....

I'm a math teacher.... but my goal is to teach more than math.  I want to teach students to solve problems and to think critically.  I want them to learn how to work with others, the value of hard work, how to ask good questions (because I believe there are stupid questions...) and how to find answers to their questions. Empathy, respect, kindness, responsibility, patience.  Along the way they have teach me plenty of their own lessons.

During my time at A&M my instructors constantly told us... you do not teach MATH... you teach STUDENTS.  It is easy to get caught in standards and a schedule and pushing to teach kids what someone else tells me I have to.  I know there have been days that I'm so focused on a particular objective that I've missed out on valuable learning opportunities.   That is one reason I've loved the trip investigation project.  My students are learning math but they are learning real life lessons as well.  They have to maintain a budget (many have commented how quickly $5000 goes...), follow a schedule, organize information, work with a partner, communicate with an authentic audience, etc.

Today was a rough day for me personally.  I've heard that teachers are teachers and students are students and we shouldn't share our personal life.  To some extent, I agree.  At the same time, we are all people.  I think students respond better to teachers that they have a relationship with, no something about, can relate to, etc.  I kept it from my first two classes...but I was obviously short-tempered and did not have the energy of a typical day.  I decided to share with my last two classes what was going on and was so touched by their reactions.  They showed me empathy, patience, and kindness beyond what I could have expected.  Those two classes went much smoother then my morning classes.  I owe those two an apology :/  

When I got to my night class I checked my email and had a message from a student saying she hoped everything got better and she was praying.  Another gave me a hug after school and told me she hoped I felt better.  She told me that she did that because earlier this year she was having a bad day and I noticed and stopped to talk to her about what was going on and gave her a hug when she was crying.  Wow.  I teach such amazing kids.  I hope I teach them half as much as they teach me :)

Trip Investigation- Day 6

Students started by summarizing all of the research from days 3-5 into this table:

After, I shared a Google Spreadsheet version of these expense tables with students and they could check their work using the spreadsheet.  I set it up to automatically calculate totals and automatically construct a bar and circle graph of the data.

My original intention was to walk students through constructing graphs in spreadsheet...but I just didn't make that happen.

Today I also shared different ways students could present.  I showed them smore, voicethread, and google presentation but left it open to them to propose other ideas as well.  And of course they were free to create a more traditional poster presentation.

I showed them each tool quickly but also created a google presentation with little pieces of information on each method and embedded how to videos for each tool.  Before students can ask me questions they have to watch these videos. View presentation here.

I'm excited to see which tools students decide to use :)  They will work on presentations tomorrow and Wednesday and we will present Thursday!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Trip Investigation- Day 3

Day 3-5 students are researching lodging, meals, activities, and any other expenses.

Today went very well.  Students continued to ask questions using Today's Meet.  As a little mini-lesson before we started, we discussed taking screenshots on the chromebooks in more detail.  We talked about how to take a screenshot, how to move that screenshot from our downloads to our google drive, and how to then move it into our trip investigation folder (so I could view photos and partners could view photos).

We talked about how they can then crop or edit that photo as well.  As students researched meals, lodging, and activities they took pictures of anything they might want to use in a presentation later :)

Some of my students struggled to find good travel resources so I just created this symbaloo that I will share with them tomorrow:

The top tiles will take them to travel resources and the bottom tiles give them options for presentations.  I will demonstrate several options next Monday....but there are others students can explore if they want to! :)