Thursday, April 30, 2015

Balanced Math

Ok, I am not very good at writing blog posts regularly. I'm sure no one else is even reading my blog but that's ok because I write it as a reflection of my learning to help me become a better teacher. If it sparks an idea for someone else out there, that's just
bonus!
With that said...

This post is to help me reflect about next year. Previously, I've taught all grades and subjects. For the 2 years before this one, I taught 5th/6th Science and Social Studies. This year I was saddled with got the pleasure of teaching 6th grade Math and Science. Wink. 

It's  been awhile since I've taught math and I wasn't quite sure how to teach Oklahoma standards for 6th grade math.  Plus we are rewriting standards currently because our uneducated legislators decided to move away from common core and left us with seriously out-dated standards.  I found out that I over taught some areas and fell short in others. Therefore, with the help of our building instructional coach, I have decided to get ahead of the game and start researching Balanced Math. (Our district does Balanced Literacy but hasn't started reforming math yet.)

I found many different articles about Balanced Math and found some of them confusing, some helpful, and some wrong with all that is within me as a teacher. LOL. I came at it from the framework of Balanced Literature. There is fluency (fact practice), comprehension (problem-solving), vocabulary, writing (I am going to start with Building Better Math Responses by Runde's Room), and instead of read aloud I will do math out-loud (mental math). 

I created a PowerPoint to show the students at the beginning of next year. Here is one slide of that PowerPoint that kind of sums it all up:

I am also going to add a little bit of gamification to my class. Next year I will not give "grades". I will allow students to earn points towards a goal for each semester. Everything they complete will count as points towards their goal of "graduating 6th grade" to become middle schoolers (our 6th grade is in the Elementary in Tulsa, OK). So instead of "23/25 = 92% A" on an assignment, the student will see +23. Students will have a form in their data folders to see where they stand.

Please leave me a comment if you have a suggestion or a question. Thanks!


Friday, November 7, 2014

It's that time of year AGAIN!!!!

Man, I love Barbie bungee jump time. I've seen it used with many grade levels from 6th to 12th to explain many scientific and mathematic concepts. I first learned about it here. Since I teach both math and science this year, I decided I would use it again to talk about energy, specifically potential and kinetic. We began with how to tie the rubber bands together.

Then I give them a chart with the number of rubber bands and cm she bungeed. (Is that a real word? Well I guess if my 6th graders can go around calling a pen a "frindle" then I can say bungeed.)

We talk about how to eye-ball the measurement of the farthest point to which she fell. Then they enter it on their chart.  They do this for as many times as she doesn't die (hit the ground) in my class. Barbie has been known to bungee jump from desks, tv carts, file cabinets, door frames, the SmartBoard ...

Once Barbie is out of options in the classroom, we make a plot chart of the data, adding a line of best fit.

Students must then calculate how many rubberbands they will need to get Barbie to jump the required distance so that she ends in the "green zone" on the meter stick at the bottom of the playground equipment. This means Barbie had the ultimate thrill. If she hits the ground she's dead. If she only makes it to the yellow zone on the meter stick, well it wasn't really fun. If she's in the pink or didn't make it to the tip of the meter stick at all, she's fuming mad and wants a refund!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gamification of Education

This year I am teaching myself to think outside the box and make games in order to gamify my class. I have my brother to thank for that. He is an educator in TX and I've been here in OK.

Anyways, I taught the kids how to play "I declare war", the card game. This week, where I had left the regular playing cards for "war", I replaced it with basic multiplication fact flashcards from Dollar Tree. Keep in mind my students are 6th graders, though they don't know their facts well.

I was pleased to hear a group of girls who are particularly low in math who decided to play "war" with the flash cards! So when one got 5x11 and one got 4x12, they figured it out and just kept going.

Virginia

Friday, September 12, 2014

Off to a good Crazy start

This year has been crazy so far. For the last 3 weeks I have been happily teaching 5th grade Math, Science, and History. However our numbers in the school were off. We lost a pre-k allocation and gained a 6th grade allocation. To make a long and confusing story short, the boss asked me to teach 6th grade Math & Science. I've never taught 6th grade Math but I'm good at Math and I have resources so I agreed. LOL. I'm always the flexible one!

Our contract gives us a day without students to prep but the boss had no money for a sub in the budget so I told her I'll just stay late to plan. (I always stay late to plan. 35 minutes isn't long enough during the day.)

So later today I will have my 5th graders carry their books to the new class and I will ask the 6th graders to bring their Math/Science books to me. On Monday, I will begin again. I will start with some new faces and many old ones. Here's to being the flexible one and being capable of teaching at any level of the Elementary! 

Oh well, at least I get to do the Barbie Bungee Jump activity again this year! I love teaching Science! (The only thing I love more than 6th grade Science is 5th grade US History.)

Virginia 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Setting up my room

School starts next week! I've been at the school for over a week messing around and working on design and decor for my classroom. So I have one cute bulletin board up. and a couple of boring ones that I'm working on revising.
This year I pledge to use technology everyday in ANY way that can help my students learn, so why not have an app bulletin board!


The featured apps are Reading, Math, Vocabulary, Games, Science, and U.S. History. I plan on displaying a concept we are learning where the apps are. So for now it shows these 6 apps but once we start our first week of competency learning, I will take down the apps and display a place value chart for a week or a Jamestown map, etc.

I can't tell you how many times I have found myself in a discussion with coworkers where I end up saying, "I have an app for that."

Okay, Back to work on setting up my room!

Virginia

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Weakness and Laziness

Okay. I admit it. I hate to admit it but I do. I started this whole blogging thing not knowing what I was doing or what purpose it was serving. Then, with the lack of vision, I got complacent lazy. I was lazy in my purpose and in my follow through. Until now.

I went to Lone Star TIA, a Denton ISD conference... and OMG! I can't tell you how many times my mind was blown!
I sat through one session where a teacher had first grade students blogging. Yeah... you heard me right. FIRST GRADERS!

I sat in the session and thought "Ugh! I don't even keep up with my own blog." Then I started thinking of how useful student blogs would be and how lazy I've gotten, and not just about blogging. So this year I vow to blog at least once a week.

On Fridays, my students will be blogging on weebly on a site I'm currently setting up and I will be blogging here.

So here's to the death of laziness.

Virginia

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zombies are coming!

Ok. So I went to this workshop the other day. And...
 OMG!

I am in love with this curriculum!


It's called Zombie Based Learning. It is a curriculum for learning Geography. The guy (David Hunter) who created it is a certifiable genius! He is fresh from the classroom and created a project based curriculum with lessons all focused on National Geography Standards. He unpacks the standards, breaks them down, and makes the content understandable.

I just finished my first lesson last Thursday and the kids were so excited. They wanted to do that zombie stuff again on Friday. LOL. I teach two sections of fifth and  two of sixth grade. I also cover Science. So I was worried that the curriculum gives the whole first day's lesson over to "back story" about zombies but I became a believer when the kids read the first graphic novel, Dead Reckon, and created their own Zombie preparedness plan for our school.

One group started asking relevant questions such as, "What does it take to kill a zombie?" Not being a big fan of zombies, I had no idea. So we researched on the SmartBoard while other groups were inventing their plans.

Each group had to write ideas in a t-chart. On one side they wrote materials/supplies they might need; on the other side they wrote what they might need to know or learn to stay safe.

The groups weren't quiet but for the first time in a long time, I didn't catch anyone off topic! I can't wait for tomorrow's lesson which will have us mapping the zombie outbreak.

The curriculum is inexpensive and amazing and can be found here.