#MTBoS30: Teaching Data 15-16

Earlier this school year, I wrote a post about my teaching data for the previous year. These are the number of concepts taught over the course of a year. This got me really down and by the end of the first semester, I was ready to quit teaching altogether.

1 Hr Geometry Concept 28
3 Hr Geometry Concept 28
4 Hr Algebra I Concept 25
5 Hr Trig Concept 28
6 Hr Algebra II Concept 21
7 Hr Algebra I Concept 21
8 Hr Algebra II Concept 20

Those numbers are terrible.

I decided to revisit the post and update my new data, highlighted in blue.

1 Hr Geometry Concept 28 27
3 Hr Geometry Concept 28 27
4 Hr Algebra I Concept 25 31
5 Hr Trig Concept 28 32
6 Hr Algebra II Concept 21 27
7 Hr Algebra I Concept 2131
8 Hr Algebra II Concept 20 27

I overall did better, but not a lot.

  • I started a new curriculum in January which freed up so much time and energy for me.
  • I recently decided to start giving homework. I think.
  • I felt like the material I taught was much more rigorous in the second semester.
  • I'm thinking that I am assessing too often.
  • I'm planning to try Google Classroom next year to hopefully save some time and paper.
  • I have no new preps next year.
These are all positive things that make me feel like I have a good set-up for next year. I'm going to assume that this was my seventh year slump. Going into an even number year of teaching and 8 being the number of new beginnings, I think this will be my best year yet!

I'm expecting it and speaking it into being.

What things have you cut or modified to improve your pacing?


#MTBoS30: Student Council Event Book

You guys already know how much I love systems and forms. I also love being the Student Council sponsor so at some point, they had to collide.

We've had so many big events to plan and things that happen at the same time every year, that I decided to create a month by month event book. It is basically just to do lists for each month to keep me organized.

I started with a monthly overview. Then I made specific lists for each month. I added a column to designate what person would be in charge of each job as well.

I made this three years ago so it has already changed a BUNCH from this. I doubt that any of you have these same events anyway but hopefully it sparks an idea for you and lets you see the beautiful potential life change that a well organized list can give.


You're welcome.


#MTBoS30: 30 Moments to Celebrate My 30th

I just turned 30 and here are 30 ways I celebrated!

Ate way too much and enjoyed every bite!

 I don't drink soda that often so this was delish.

We can never pass up a Gordman's. We went three times in two days!

I usually go to Rally's late at night and they always 'say' the shake machine is 'broken'. This time we went in the daylight. #success

Been waiting for the perfect time to wear this dress.

Booked this through Hotwire for an awesome price and when we got there I realized I had stayed there before! #random

It's a grown up Chuck E. Cheese!

The fries not so much but I was craving some chicken tenders.

 R+F bought all my meals!

 Just walking in was pretty fun.

I killed it at skee ball and basketball though.

The amount of Wal-Marts we went to is embarassing.

I don't know if you can tell but the door sounded like Chewbacca every time it moved.

I don't even like Coke but there's something about biscuits and gravy from Hardee's and Coke.

I finally get to try cookie butter!

This was the best burger of my LIFE! Classic Smash with Smash Sauce and Smash Fries with Rosemary. I wanted to eat another one!

Two days still wasn't enough for all the shopping I wanted to do.

Should have tried cotton candy or the watermelon splash. =(

You know you have good skin care when people think you're 10 years younger! 

It was warm and breezy and not humid. #success

No one could ever replace Panda Express.

The Lord answers prayers.

It's actually good stuff too!

These made my heart so happy!

So the pink throws it off a bit but my love of gray and white chevron overrules the pink.

Just ordered some tassels to add to this sexy bag.

Enough said.

 It's like walking on memory foam.

I didn't even think I bought that many shirts. Surprise, surprise.

There's no place like home.


#MTBoS30: Benefits of Being the Only Math Teacher

This has been my second year of being the only 9-12 math teacher in our small school. There's a lot I could complain about but I really enjoy it. I just read how Tina's school has 14 math teachers! Wow! I can't even imagine.

So if you've never been in my position here are some highlights. =)

  • You can do whatever you want! It may be a terrible idea but no one will disagree with you.
  • No vertical alignment necessary! You already know everything students know. Because you taught them the year before.
  • You only have to learn names of freshmen! Although you mostly already know them because your school is tiny and you've probably taught their relatives already.
  • You don't have to do icebreakers! The students have known each other since they were 5 so no need for introductions.
  • Students only need to learn your rules and procedures once! No need to readjust to different teachers expectations. It's just you.
  • You'll have your favorite students for at least 3 years!
  • When you're asked to make up a fourth year course, you can teach all the stuff you didn't get to in the previous three years!
  • You can change everything every year {if you want} and no one will get mad at you. Except yourself. For all the extra work you just created.
  • No department meetings!
  • You're always the department chair!
  • Your two nice things legacy lives on forevvvvvveeeerrrrrrr!


#MTBos30: Homework Debacle Brainstorm

So I've been debacling about homework for a while now...

At our end of year meetings, our principal basically challenged us to increase the rigor in our courses. He showed grades of students in the same classes with high grades where one student missed 25-30 days and the other missed 1-3. How can student miss so much and still do so well? He also showed the grade distribution of our elementary, middle school, and high school. We have 30-39% with A's which shows a lot of inflation in our grades.

Simultaneously, I felt convicted for not giving homework but also indignant that I don't want to inflate grades with work they may or may not have done.

This is what I've come up with so far:

I'm going to give homework.
I'm going to post answers.
I'm not going to grade it.
I am going to record it.

This makes me feel the best overall. I am giving students extra practice. I am giving the students extra opportunities for learning. I am holding students accountable. I am preparing students for college.

I am not giving points for copying. I am not hassling students to finish or turn in papers. I am not spending hours grading. I am not inflating grades.

I remember reading someone's rule where they ask students to set the timer for 15 minutes. Work hard on homework for 15 minutes and then stop. I also like that. I do not want students sitting at home frustrated or crying over math.

I asked twitter for some advice on when to post answers to homework and here's some responses:

I'm thinking I will post them daily at 3:15.

Here's where I would like some help. The middle school math teacher does something similar. Homework is not graded but the next day there is a homework quiz over the exact same problems. So if a students does the homework, they are prepared for the quiz. If a student doesn't need to do the homework, they aren't punished for that and they can still do well on the quiz.

I hate grading. So I'm thinking only one problem for the quiz and still have regular quizzes? Or should I do those on a daily basis and eliminate other quizzes?

Maybe even have students answer it in Google Classroom once I figure out how to make it grade it for me?

What benefits and advantages do you see to this method?


#MTBoS30: Teacher Morale

This was not the best year for teacher morale. Personally, I find that it doesn't matter much to me because I really don't notice. {I'm selfishly focused on myself and my classroom and my teaching.} The principal mentioned this at our closing day meetings and took the blame for it. He hopes to address it better next year.

I started to think about what might help boost morale. The only thing I can think of is the only thing that ever affects me: dress code. Our dress code is the same as the students. We can't wear sleeveless. We have to wear skirts that touch the knee. Those two are hard enough. On Fridays, if you want to wear jeans then you have to wear a school t-shirt. This is not a big deal to most people. Over time, most teachers now wear khakis and school t-shirts on a daily basis. I just do not think that is professional attire. What bothers me the most is that I don't feel trusted to dress professionally. I wear clothes to church that I can't wear to school. That's pretty bad. I have dressed modestly my whole life and it's just frustrating to feel like I have strict rules, like otherwise I would come to school dressed inappropriately.

Another thing that teachers used to talk about is monthly potlucks. {We are a really small school}. This has not happened in my seven years there. This year the administration planned a potluck for our teacher's institute day and literally some people were so angry about it that they boycotted. A potluck.

During Teacher Appreciation Week, a lot of neighboring schools were posting how they were treated at their schools...t-shirts, catered meals, gifts. We did not receive similar treatment.

Just overall, we feel micro-managed which leads to feeling not trusted which leads to feeling not valued.

All this to say {I'm not ranting, honestly}, what things does your school do to make teachers feel valued and appreciated?

I can think of one thing from a school where I student taught where they exchanged names with their birthday and favorite cake. So each person gets their favorite cake on their birthday from a surprise colleague. I thought that was so cute!

So not even things that the administration does for teachers but things teachers do for each other...what positive things happen at your school?


#MTBoS30: Google Classroom

All right all you techy lovers of Google- this is a call for all the ways you use {and want to use} Google classroom!

I played with it at a conference for about 30 minutes and fell in love but I know very little.

I'm going to share my ideas and then you comment and tell me if they are even possible and then tell me your better ideas. K?

  • Warm Ups/Bell Ringers {a la Fawn}
  • Uploading digital pictures of their INB after each unit, maybe with some sort of reflection {a la my iPad INB project}
  • Answer Keys to INB Notes for students who were absent
  • Instructions for activities/games
  • Some quizzes maybe? Can it grade them?
That's all I've come up with so far. I love my INBs and task cards and scavenger hunts so I'm not trying to go completely paperless or anything.

I have an iPad cart but we aren't 1:1 so students can't take the device out of the room.

My students love Plickers and Kahoot and I <3 any="" are="" as="" classroom="" desmos="" div="" google="" integrate="" or="" so="" support="" there="" those="" to="" ways="" well="" with="">

Please link any posts you know of that relate to this topic! I have all summer to learn. 


#MTBoS30: Two Words and Advice

As part of my students semester reflection paper, I asked them to describe my class in two words.

Here are the results:


Please tell me that you see it too. The most common word is fun? Organized is no surprise. Easy? Challenging? Funny? Unique? Awesome? Enjoyable?

Can this be real?

Must be doing something right!

I also asked them to give advice to the upcoming freshman about my class.

I know that they are hard to read but I love the ones I see. Pay attention. Work hard. Ask questions. Take notes.

That's what I like to see. 


#MTBoS30: Why I Don't Quit {A Letter of Non-Resignation}


  • This is my dream. I don't know what the expiration date is on dreams but I'm pretty sure it's not seven years.
  • I do everything in a spirit of excellence. I am not compatible with quitting.
  • I did not go through college and thousands of dollars to give up because it's hard. Ask any pregnant lady, growing humans is not an easy task. 
  • Mediocrity is not an option for me! I believe in a job well done and lucky for me I get a new chance at that 180 days a year.
  • There's always more to learn. Quitting is for when there are no options. I can't quit when I keep learning new ways to be better.
  • Who would take my place? Quitting doesn't mean my job would disappear. It means someone else would take my place and how do I know that someone would be as good as or better than me? I can't put my students in jeopardy.
  • I want to know that each of my students has at least one adult pushing for them to win.
  • I am a woman of my word. I follow through. I didn't accept this job on the conditions of "only when I feel like it", "only when things go my way", or "only when I feel valued". I agreed to do this job 180 days a year regardless of circumstance.
  • The system might be broken but so are the kids. So are we. I want to be a safe place, a home away from home, a friendly face, a place to let your guard down, a place to find your peace, a place to feel included, a place to enjoy yourself and your day. Quitting is the opposite of fixing.
  • I can't fix the system but I can fix how my students experience the system.
  • Teaching is my God given gift. It won't go away.  I honor that gift by using it-  which gives my students the permission to use theirs.
  • How can I teach my students to persevere if i will not? How can I expect my students to make a difference if I will not?
  • I'm from here. This is my high school. My town. My people. My students deserve a better education than what I had. 
I don't quit. I'm working to fix the system. Why not me?


#MTBoS30: Start, Continue, Stop


  • Google Classroom
  • More Desmos
  • More Kahoot
  • More Plickers
  • Using my formative assessment tracker
  • Monthly Writing Assignment...maybe?
  • Musical cues...maybe?
  • Being more encouraging, friendly, and inclusive
  • Giving students pencil bags for their binders to hold dry erase markers and pencils


  • Two Nice Things
  • Visible Random Grouping every two weeks
  • INBs
  • Organized Binders
  • Less Handouts
  • Remind App
  • Task Cards/Scavenger Hunts
  • Math Pong
  • Trashketball
  • My 6 Pencil Plan
  • Bell Ringers
  • Birthday Candy
  • Semester Reflection Papers
  • Mental Math Monday


  • Being so sarcastic
  • Letting students get away with not working
  • Crossing my arms so much


#MTBoS30: LiveJournal Throwback

A- Age: 30 this Saturday!
B- Biggest fear: Never gettig married or having kids
C- Current time: 10:51 pm
D- Drink you last had: Water
E- Every day starts with: Shower, then go back to sleep until my real alarm
F- Favorite song: idk
G- Ghosts, are they real? spirits
H- Hometown: Terre Haute, Indiana
I- In love with: chevron
J- Jealous of: people with no debt
K- killed someone?: why is this a question? why would I admit it?
L- Last time you cried?: tonight watching Grey's
M- Middle name: Joy
N- Number of siblings: 2
O- One wish: money
P- Person you last called: consignment shop
Q- Question you’re always asked: what are we doing today?
R- Reason to smile: It's Friday of my last full school week
S- Song last sang: idk
T- Time you woke up: 5:19
U- Underwear color: red
V- Vacation destination: stay-cation
W- Worst habit: procrastinating and impulse shopping
Y- Your favorite food: pizza
X- X-Rays you’ve had: teeth
Z- Zodiac sign: Gemini

You should play too!


#MTBoS30: Warm Fuzzies

While reading my students semester reflection papers, I copied and paste everything that made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

And it's a good thing because today has no warm and no fuzzies anywhere to be found. My patience is alllllll gone.


#MTBos30: iPad INB Project

Earlier in the year I had a great idea of making a digital copy of each student's INB.

Here's what I came up with: iPad INB Project

This is a google doc (it's a copy so you can edit it or make your own copy) with step by step directions on uploading pictures into google docs.

We put each unit into a separate document. The project ends with making a table of contents with links to each unit in it. Students e-mail me their link to the table of contents only and I can assess it by clicking on the links to each unit. I also asked them to send a link to an alternate e-mail address. I want them to have access to this forever, even after they no longer have a school e-mail address.

My whole intention is that they can have this as a reference for their future math classes- you never know what your future might hold. I had to point out that each picture should be clear and legible.

Sadly, a lot of students thought this was just end of the year busy work but I really thought about this for months and thought it was important and useful.

If you actually read all my directions, I'd like to share a tip. It is possible for students to take all the pictures first and then upload them into the doc. Our problem was that my entire cart of ipads is registered to the same itunes account. Which means, all the photos from all 20 ipads go into the same gallery. =( So rather than sorting through hundreds of pictures, I had students insert them one at a time to be sure they were using their own work.

Also be sure to remind them to take pictures of things that are folded or under flaps.

I fully expected this to take forever and be difficult {because, I mean, technology.} But it actually went fairly smoothly and is only taking about two class periods.

If you would like this as a Word document to print and hand to students, here is a copy:

This is my first dive into going paperless and google docs. Next year I hope to take advantage of Google Classroom so I'm pretty excited that this went well.


#MTBoS30: End of Year Survey {A Teacher Evaluation Series}

I found a survey I liked on Twitter but couldn't figure out how to save it as my own and edit it in Google Forms.

Classroom Chef to the rescue!

I added more of my own questions but I really liked this as a foundation.

Here is my version {I hope it doesn't mess anything up by sharing this lol}

After I finished it, I thought of even more questions that I wanted to add but you have to stop somewhere I suppose. Although I sure do love making and taking surveys- the fun never has to end! Lerky, I know {lame/nerdy/dorky}.

I plan on pairing the results of this survey along with Brigid's End of Year Evaluation post. She has a great idea for a Teacher Goal Setting Form that I really like. I also think it will look verrrrrrrry nice in my teacher evaluation binder.

I love to plan ahead and you already know I love a good form!


#MTBoS30: The Homework Debacle

I thought about homework a lot this week. I just finished giving end of course exams and I did not cover nearly enough material this year. My new curriculum relies heavily on homework and...I do not. I turned the homework into practice activities/games to do in class.

I have major issues with homework:
  • you don't know who actually did it
  • you don't know whether someone copied
  • you don't know whether you should 'check' or 'grade' it
  • you don't know if students understand enough to do the work alone
  • you don't know the best way to go over it without wasting class time
  • you don't know if it is effective
  • you don't know what students have to do/deal with at home
  • you don't know what other commitments/priorities students have
My normal teaching method starts with notes as a class in the INB for day one, then day two is some kind of practice activity/game, and the start of day 3 is a short quiz, then the notes for the next skill.

According to my curriculum, I should be teaching a new skill each day. 

I cannot reconcile this with who I am as a teacher. How can students be introduced to and master a new skill in 47 minutes? I don't even feel good about them being comfortable enough to take home problems on day one let alone only have a day one. Will I really be better off by the end of the year if I kept up that pace? Or would students forget more than they remembered because we went so fast?

If I stand on my no homework platform, the only things I can think of to save time are to shorten my notes so that students get independent practice on day one, more independent practice on day two, and quiz at the end of day two. 

Not quizzing over every skill is another option, but I really like that for standards based grading.

My current bell ringers take less than 5 minutes but are not over course content. I could change them to be about content, but that means 5 different sets of bell ringers for each prep. I also think they cover important skills that I won't get to in the curriculum like mental math, estimating, visual equations, good questions, and which one doesn't belong.

I've talked to my students about homework before. About half of them say homework helps their grade but the majority admitted they would not do it if it wasn't for a grade. But I don't see how, 1. I could ever keep up with all of that grading, especially since I hate grading and 2. How would I ever know who actually earned that grade?

I don't think my students see it as meaningful practice, they just think they can get easy points to boost their grade. I try to keep my grades as 'purely' math as I can by just grading quizzes and tests. Students still ask me to grade notes that we do together! They think there is no value in classwork since it isn't graded.

My priorities are 
  1. Students are working hard
  2. Students are learning, not memorizing/copying
  3. Students retain information at least enough that they can look back over old notes and remember how to do it
  4. Students can make connections between similar skills
  5. Students are asking good questions.
Does accelerating my pace or giving homework accomplish any of those priorities?

Has anyone found a system that works? How do I do what is best for my students?


#MTBoS30: Diamond Math Puzzles aka X-factor

I found this at a conference somewhere and it is the only way I've ever introduced factoring x^2 + bx + c.

It was called diamond math but I think it makes more sense to call it x-factor, mostly because it is a type of factoring.

I give this to students at the start of class and tell them I have a puzzle for them to figure out. I tell them the first two are done as examples for them and I want them to figure out the rest.

That's it.

Then....we wait. There are always a few who figure it pretty quickly. I make them work 3-4 in a row to prove to me they know what's going on. I don't let students help each other or tell the answers.

Then there are a few who immediately start complaining...these are usually the students who get good grades but are not used to actually thinking.

After a few minutes/complaints I tell them to figure out a pattern with the numbers that can be repeated for every x.

This seems to help some. I let this drag out. I act very unhelpful. We wait some more. I try to hold out until every person has figured it out. If I can tell some people are getting verrrrry frustrated, I go to them one-on-one and try to prompt them with questions only.

From there, I give them a quadratic expression like x^2 + 6x + 8. I tell them that the c always goes on top and the b always goes on bottom and that we are always looking for the left and right numbers. I show them how to write the answer (x + 4)(x + 2) and then we practice.

A lot. A lot a lot.

Tip: Give students expressions with variables other than x to make sure they realize that the answer is written with the variable from the problem, not always an x.

See this post for my INB pages on x-factoring.


#MTBoS30: Notebook/Binder Grade

Throughout the year I did short 10 point notebook/binder checks. I really want them to stay organized. So for the end of the year, I wanted to do something a little bigger.

Here's what I came up with:

They were not allowed to use their binders because I included problems from the bell ringers on this. Some students still didn't know how to calculate the error, error percentage, or the balance bender puzzles. Even though we did them for 35 WEEKS IN A ROW! Since it wasn't for a grade, some students didn't think it was worth learning. =(

The rest is just listing everything from the table of contents because it's the most important organizational tool.

The last page will not be of any use to anyone else but I included 5 questions from each period where they had to locate and write down answers from each unit in their INB.

This should be an easy way for them to get points if they just FOLLOW MY DIRECTIONS.


#MTBoS30: Inherit

Tonight was our high school graduation. This is my first year teaching any seniors although I've already had these students for the three previous years.

I just started to reflect on what things they might 'inherit' from me. Will it be my

  • habit of not cussing?
  • two nice things rule?
  • drinking water all day?
  • sarcasm?
  • eye rolls?
  • overdressing?
  • matching everything?
  • chevron obsession?
  • random cleaning sprees?
  • responding to their questions with "What do you think?"
  • answering "Am I doing this right?" with "I sure hope so."
  • asking them about their weekend?

What characteristics do I want my students to leave with and how can I develop those in the classroom?

The following character traits are the things that I think help me with math the most.
  • Observant
  • Analytical
  • Questioning
  • Quick at Mental Math
  • Pattern Finder
  • Organized

Some ways I have tried to pass these on over the eyars are basically through binders, INBs, and warm-ups. I've used estimation180 for the past two years, visual patterns last year, mental math for the past three years, and thoughtful questions this year. I make them organize their binders and do binder checks at least quarterly. I stress labeling their INBs and the table of contents with title, page number, and date.

The two I've hit on the least are being observant and analytical. Two ways I've thought about working on being observant but haven't done yet:
  1. Have classes compete in finding the most errors that I make
  2. Changing something minor in the classroom each day to see who will notice
Neither of those have much to do with math. How can I better pass down these traits that have been so important to me during my math career?


#MTBoS30: Rubrics {A Teacher Evaluation Series}

I've decided to do a little series about the teacher evaluation process. It's become a huge deal over the course of my newb 7 year career but it is actually a process I enjoy. I love to reflect and analyze myself and what could be better than organizing it into a cute binder and sharing it? =)

  • SMART Goals 
  • End of Course Exam Data 
  • Evaluation Binder

  • I included a variety of rubrics that I have used over the years in my evaluation binder. A better idea would be to keep a student example attached to the rubric with teacher notes on it. 

    Here is a folder with all of my rubrics and I'm sure I will add to it over time.

    Hope you find something useful.

    Stay tuned!


    #MTBoS30: Inverse Trig Functions and Solving Trig Equations

    I accidentally killed two birds with one stone in this lesson. Meg @megcraig mentioned that graphing inverse trig functions was a great follow up to graphing trig functions. I cut my unit in half and we had just finished graphing sec/csc and tan/cot.

    I had no idea what I was getting into.

    So of course I MtBoS'ed it.

    This lesson is combination of Meg + Shireen + Johnathan.

    We started with labeling our unit circles with tangent values, then the basic concept of any inverse, then me verbally asking for inverses from the unit circle.

    Next we did Shireen's patty paper lesson.

    I used part of Meg's NTM to explain the restricted domains and practice finding the first inverse value from the unit circle.

    Then I used Johnathan's idea of graphing two equal equations and finding their intersections. We used Desmos to get the graph and the intersection points, then sketch. This helped students see there are multiple answers which led us to verify them by solving algebraically.

    I hope you read their posts to get the full effect of my lesson but here are what my INB pages {the pocket is for their patty paper} looked like:

    Here's the file:

    Then I made a handout that had them side-by-side graph and solve each problem and write their answers in both degrees and radians. These problems came straight from Johnathan's post so that I could make sure I was doing them right.

    And my powerpoint if needed:

    Good luck!


    #MTBoS30: Senior Gifts

    This is my first year teaching seniors. When only three math classes are required, very few students choose to take math on their own as seniors. Until this year, those that did took an online course with a proctor.

    Last year was the last straw. Students were failing, getting locked out of tests, going long periods of time without being able to log in, etc. It got to the point that some were allowed to transfer out of the class.

    So last year, when I thought I had taught everything there was to teach and that I would have no new preps- they made up a new one just for me.

    I called it Algebra III and basically reviewed Algebra II stuff and taught Algebra II stuff that I didn't get to. Originally I planned to go further into trig but then I ended up with some seniors who had taken trig and some who didn't.

    All that to say that today was our last day together as a class and I've taught all of them for the past four years. We planned to have food and a little party and so my gift-giving obsession began to take over.

    I did my two nice things gift from last year.

    Then, because I only have a few seniors, I made senior gift bags along with a letter.

    All of the things in the letter were included in the bags. And if you aren't aware of ipsy, they send you 5 monthly samples of beauty products for $10 and so I kept all the bags for this exact purpose. I had leftover tablecloths so I tried to make it look extra fancy.

    We had an even better selection of food than what you can see: pizza, buffalo chicken dip, salsa and chips, cookies, brownie cookie bars, cookies, and homemade cheesecake with cherries.

    We talked about all the funny memories from the past four years and I ended the period with my class awards that are personalized for each student. I read them out loud and they guess who it describes before I read the name.

    I did the best that I could with all that I had.

    Good-bye and good luck class of 2016...


    #MTBoS30: Evaluation Binder {A Teacher Evaluation Series}

    I've decided to do a little series about the teacher evaluation process. It's become a huge deal over the course of my newb 7 year career but it is actually a process I enjoy. I love to reflect and analyze myself and what could be better than organizing it into a cute binder and sharing it? =)
    Our school follows the Charlotte Danielson evaluation model which is made up of four domains and many smaller components. I'm going to give you an overview of everything included in my binder under each domain.

    Domain 1 Planning and Preparation
    Component 1a Demonstrating Knowledge of Content and Pedagogy
    • End of Course Exam
    Component 1b Knowledge of Students
    • Classroom Procedures
    Component 1c Selecting Instructional Goals
    Component 1d Knowledge of Resources:
    • Record of Resources
    Component 1e Designing Coherent Instruction
    • Teacher Reflection on Lessons (aka blog posts)
    Component 1f Assessing Student Learning
    • Formative Assessment Strategies 
    • Word Problem Rubric
    • Grading Rubric
    • Parent/Teacher Conference Rubric
    • Unit Circle Project Rubric
    • Cheerleading Tryout Rubric
    Domain 4 Professional Responsibilities

    Component 4a Reflecting on Teaching
    • Teacher Reflection on Lessons (aka blog posts)
    Component 4b Maintaining Accurate Records
    • Lesson Plans
    • Cover Sheet (Grade book)
    • Seating Charts (and rationale)
    Component 4c Communicating with Families
    • Copies of emails to parents
    • Parent/Teacher Conference Attendance
    Component 4d Contributing to the School and District
    • List of School/District Committees
    • Volunteer and Supervision/Sponsored Activities
    • Presenting at SIP days
    Component 4e Growing and Developing Professionally
    • Summaries of workshops attended
    • Training
    • Active involvement in PLCs
    Component 4f Showing Professionalism
    • List of School/District Committees
    • Volunteer and Supervision/Sponsored Activities
    Last year when I was evaluated, they wanted at least one thing for each component in Domain 1 and 4. The other two domains were covered by our formal and informal observations. I was not evaluated this year so it will be interesting to see how the requirements have changed this year.

    Here is what I turned in for my classroom procedures:

    I feel like this showed knowledge of my students and anticipating their needs as well as to keep a nice flow of traffic and learning continuously in the classroom.

    Stay tuned!


    #MTBoS30: I Am A Rule Follower

    I like to follow rules. A lot. I always have. It's just in me.

    Over my teaching career, I've started to notice which of my colleagues are with me and which are not. There are times I am offended or indignant about the rule breakers. It goes against who I am to disregard rules or make exceptions. It's unfair and I try be a champion for being fair. But then fair is not always equal.

    I also like to make thing happen. (This is related, just hang with me.) When students have an idea for a dance or a fundraiser or a Prom theme or a Homecoming game or a t-shirt idea, I pride myself on being someone that does the behind scenes work to make those ideas come to life. I try to be a champion for my students and push past obstacles to make their high school experience enjoyable.

    Here's what I've realized...kids needs all of those things. They need adults who will enforce rules and make things happen. But sometime to make things happen, you have to bend rules. They need both. They need me and teachers like me to set boundaries and enforce consequences. They need teachers like my colleagues who will bend the rules and make exceptions to make things happen.

    Just like it goes against who I am to break rules, for some it goes against who they are to view everything black and white and treat everyone exactly the same. So if I want others to respect how I feel about following rules, then I have to be willing to respect how others feel about not always following rules.

    It takes a village. So I can isolate myself or push others away in my village or I can embrace what being part of a village means- I won't agree with every decision and I won't like every member. But together, we meet the needs of the students we have, and there are many! (Needs, not students.)

    They need us. All of us.

    They need me to keep being me so that they can be them.

    Let me be what they need.

    To the mother in all of us...


    #MTBoS30: I Love My Brain

    I try to stay very thankful about the things, opportunities, experiences and people I have. One of the things I honestly am thankful for is my brain.

    I mean, I really do love my brain.

    It surprises me with its consistency. I can look for something or label something or find something on my computer by thinking down the same path I did the first time. Sometimes I'll think of something I want to create and I will look and see that I've already created that exact thing. So I guess it's a little forgetful but still- consistency is key.

    In every area, my brain looks for the most efficient way to get things done. I'm kind of a backseat driver because I will tell people a more efficient way to get there if I feel they are wasting time. When I was a teenager working at Hardee's, I made my own system of how and when to clean and stock things so I could be done early and do as little work as possible. Even when I am doing something crafty or planning my route to do errands or teaching or traveling, I'm always looking to combine steps, multi-task, and do things in a logical flow. I guess I really don't like wasting time.

    This is why I am so organized, why I like plans and routines, why I love patterns, and why I love math.

    But I also know my brain is not the best or the fastest. It doesn't know as much math as it should. It procrastinates, It impulse shops. But the thing is, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I think.

    It just made me wonder about my students...how many of them love their brains? How many of them even recognize how their brain works differently than others? Do they recognize patterns in the way they think? Do they understand how they process things, how they learn, how they remember?

    Or do they just compare themselves to other's that they feel are smarter or better and just give up even thinking about their brain because it isn't 'good enough'?

    Well the only way to find out is to ask them!

    How can we get students to think about and appreciate their brain, their thinking, their selves?


    #MTBoS30: 30 School Things That Make Me Smile

    Stole this prompt and made it mine =).

    1. Compliments from students
    2. Compliments from colleagues about my clean and smelly good classroom
    3. Days that I don't have to internal sub on my plan period
    4. My chevron borders on my whiteboards
    5. My Febreeze wax melts with Gain
    6. A new dry erase marker
    7. "Inside" jokes with different class periods
    8. Students trying to do math without a calculator
    9. Students willingly helping their classmates
    10. When students help other classmates by asking questions instead of just telling them answers
    11. When a student is in a bad mood but still chooses to do their work
    12. The students' joy in correcting my mistakes
    13. When students get the binders for the other people that sit at their table
    14. Students who are excited to tell me about their weekends every Monday
    15. When students ask me personal questions because they are curious about my life
    16. Students who say bye or have a good day or something nice when they leave the classroom
    17. When students ask if I'm coming to an extracurricular activity
    18. When students say "Did you hear about..." because they want me to be in on the gossip
    19. A joke that makes the whole class laugh together
    20. When students are so engaged that it's silent and you can tell they are all in their own world
    21. When students are arguing over who's right about a problem and call me over to decide
    23. When a student calls me over for help then shoos me away because they already found their mistake
    24. When I walk around the room and ask students if they need me and they say no
    25. When the copiers and printers work awesomely
    26. Color coordinating ALL THE THINGS
    27. Cleaning my desk off at the end of a school day
    28. When students cook or eat in another class and make a special trip to bring me some
    29. When students beat me to saying "Two nice things!" when a student is rude
    30. When I ask students fun questions on bell ringers and they ask for my answers too
    That was way easier than I thought and writing them made me smile. 

    Try it!


    #MTBoS30: End of Course Exam Data {A Teacher Evaluation Series}

    I've decided to do a little series about the teacher evaluation process. It's become a huge deal over the course of my newb 7 year career but it is actually a process I enjoy. I love to reflect and analyze myself and what could be better than organizing it into a cute binder and sharing it? =)

    See first post about SMART Goals here.

    In our district, we give the EOC three times: the first week of school and the end of the first and second semester. The first time they take it, if they get a 25% it's an A. My whole test has 60 problems so the first time I say it is worth 15 points, the second time 30 points, and the the third time 60 points. This is how I determine a grade to put in the gradebook. Students must pass the final administration to pass the class. If they fail the first time, they get a second chance. If they fail it the second time, they have to go to summer school to get credit for the course. They also have to pass the class.

    But for my own records, I like to know the pure results. I use Excel to track my data and make graphs.

    I have a different tab (color-coded of course) for each class period. Here's a screenshot of one class:

    I track the number of problems correct and the percentage grade for each administration. Then I also track their gains in the far right corner. So right now, all of these percentages are calculated out of 60. But it's very easy to adjust so that I can determine the grade. I can easily change the August Percentage to calculate out of 15 as per my district. The dark red line all the way across indicates a student who has moved. I keep their data because you never know who might come back. I also keep a class average at the bottom.

    This is a great tool for evaluation because I can then make nice graphs out of this data like so:

    I don't think administrators love anything more than some nice graphs. It's also useful to decide if I met my SMART goals or not. This shows the whole class but I could also make graphs for each subgroup. In fact, I don't know why I haven't done that before! 

    Well now I have something to add for next year!

    Here's the file:

    Everything is easy to customize and edit and I would be happy to help if you need it.

    Stay tuned!


    #MTBoS30: SMART Goals {A Teacher Evaluation Series}

    I've decided to do a little series about the teacher evaluation process. It's become a huge deal over the course of my newb 7 year career but it is actually a process I enjoy. I love to reflect and analyze myself and what could be better than organizing it into a cute binder and sharing it? =)

    I'm going to go through the process from start to finish, and try to stay as true to that as I can.

    We start the school year by giving our end of course exam to every class within the first week of school. This counts as our baseline data.

    Those that are on the evaluation cycle will meet with an administrator within the first month of school for our Beginning of Year conference or BOY.

    Our district provides a form for us to explain our baseline data, our classroom make-up, our goals, strategies for improvement, and our classroom content. Our goal statement is written as a SMART Goal: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

    I break up my baseline data into subgroups: 

    Based on the first administration of the Algebra I EOC, the class falls into the following subgroups:
    Subgroup 1: 6 students scoring between 20-30%
    Subgroup 2: 5 students scoring between 31-40%
    Subgroup 3: 7 students scoring between 41-50%

    Then I break my goal into subgroups:

    The subgroups determined by the baseline data will improve by the specified amounts below by the final administration of the EOC: 
    • Subgroup 1: improve by 31-40% 
    • Subgroup 2: improve by  21-30% 
    •  Subgroup 3: improve by 10-20%

    On strategies for improvement, I just list every classroom strategy that I use:

    Interactive Notebooks
    Formative Assessments
    High level questioning
    Compare and contrast
    Graphic organizers
    Guided Notes
    Mental Math Mondays
    Talking Points Tuesday
    Estimation Wednesday
    Tough Pattern Thursday
    Favorite No Friday

    For classroom setting I specify gender, grade, IEP or not, failed or not, and how the students are arranged:

    The population of the class is 18 students, 8 boys and 2 girls. Two students are sophomores who failed Algebra 1 at the freshman level. The other 16 are freshman who had Algebra I at the eighth grade level.  Four students are IEP students. Students are seated in four groups of four and one group of two. Groups rotate every quarter. Every student has their own interactive notebook which acts as a textbook, and a binder that is organized into bell ringers, handouts, quizzes, and tests. There is no assigned homework.  Instruction runs bell to bell.  

    In the content area space, I explain what I'm teaching and attach my pacing guide.

    At our meeting we discuss everything on the sheet and if my goals are really SMART as well as possible setbacks. We write two goals per year about two different classes.

    Here is my first goal:

    Here is my second:

    Stay tuned!


    #MTBoS30: Study Guide Day

    If you're like me, you love anything that is not direct instruction. I have been trying to get away from it as much as possible. I just hate talking so much and knowing I am losing them and boring them and doing the learning for them.

    But I do love me some study guide day.

    It's the one day I totally give up my control and talking. I hand out the study guide and then I work on something else (I think it's important to stay standing because sitting at my desk gives off the sense that I'm not engaged) or clean something or whatever. I'm present but I don't hover.

    This is where I see what students really don't understand. This is where I see students get up and go across the room to help others. This is where I see students move to work with people and actually work. This is where I here a lot of discussion and questioning among students where I am not involved.

    This is where it gets serious. I feel like students are more engaged because obviously there is a test the next day and they need to know what they don't know.

    When I walk around and hover, I think it makes some students more clingy and want my help for every little thing. When it appears I am busy, students work together better and more and then they only come to me when they are needing some serious help.

    I post answer keys on a back cabinet for students to check their work and I monitor to make sure no one is just copying them.

    I don't know if students notice any of these subtleties but it makes me proud to hear them work, talk, mess up, fix mistakes, use their INBs, and just do math.

    Without me.


    #MTBoS30: Proving Parallelograms Pong

    For the first time, in Geometry I taught a lesson about proving quadrilaterals on the coordinate plane are parallelograms.

    We used three methods: slope, distance formula, and a combination of slope and distance formula. We never actually used a coordinate plane. I had students sketch the parallelogram and label the vertices in the order of the given ordered pairs.

    I want to point out here that it's important to explain how to label quadrilaterals because for triangles, the order doesn't really matter. Now it does, and mixing up the letters can change a side to a diagonal and really throw them off.

    Then I asked them, what two sides should be parallel or congruent to form a true parallelogram? This gave them a starting point to set up there problems and solve.

    To practice, I made my go-to Pong powerpoint (see: all the pongs). It's not awesome because the answers are just yes and no and don't have worked out solutions. But considering that I could find nothing else on this topic, it's better than nothing, Literally.

    My original thought was a Desmos activity but I couldn't figure anything out. I think seeing the ordered pairs on the coordinate plane would lead students to just guess yes or no based on it's looks and lose all the motivation to actually work the problem out.

    Any ideas?


    #MTBoS30 System of Equations: Elimination

    I'm prepared to kill three birds with one stone:
    1. I'm shooting for a goal of 110 posts this calendar year to break my all time best record of 109 posts so 30 posts in 30 days will really help my count.
    2. I'm continuing an unintentional series about systems of equations from 2011 (how many solutionsgraphing and substitution)
    3. Answering @k8nowak's January call to share the unsexy, borderline boring basics.

    My normal way of teaching is to do INB pages together as a class as notes and then some kind of worksheet/structure/activity to practice. Since January I've been working really hard at not giving worksheets. But this, for some reason, is just one of my golden worksheets that somehow works like a charm.

    It starts with really simple vertical addition problems that lead into elimination where one variable automatically cancels out. It just keeps building from there up until you have to multiply both equations and change the sign. 

    I give this out first before we ever do any notes. We do 1-5 together and then it's like you have unleashed the krakken and you can't get them to stop. Some of the problems have answer banks so they are not shown in the powerpoint. But honestly, I barely use the powerpoint anyway because they can't be bothered to look up from their papers to watch me.

    It's love.

    And I don't really even know why but this is probably the sixth year in a row that I've used it. After we finish this, I give them examples to put in their INBs (stolen from here) but it's more like an afterthought after all the time they've spent working these problems. (BTW this took about three full 47 minute class periods.)

    It also seems to motivate them to rework problems when they mess up without me having to push for it. My guess is they like that it is answered with a nice and tidy ordered pair and they feel a sense of accomplishmeny when they finish.

    But I'm just guessing.

    It's definitely unsexy....and yet so satisfying!