Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two days in...

I should be working on something for school, or maybe just flat out heading to bed, but I did want to do a quick post on how things are going.

We have moved into our new building and opening day yesterday went as smooth as any of the ones that were in an existing building. Dismissal was a bit glitchy - though we got that straightened out today I think. Now if they can just get the PA situation settled so that we aren't hearing the Middle School or Elementary announcements...

Day One yesterday in my classes for the most part went well. I did not have time to get into the problem I wanted to with my first and last class. What bothered me a bit is that students didn't know where to start (and in some cases, didn't know what "multiple of __" meant). I had one student figure out the answer. I was happy that I did get to some math Day One.

Today in my Algebra 2 and Advanced Algebra 2 classes, they took a diagnostic test on Operations and Equations. I want to have an idea as to what they know. My Advanced Algebra 2 kids did about what I had hoped and expected. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of them knew order of operations pretty well - only 3 or so kids out of 17 had errors and they weren't major ones. My Algebra 2 kids did pretty poorly. I could not believe how many of them did not show work on solving simple equations and how many of them had no real idea how to solve even a simple two-step equation. I already knew from their Algebra 1 teacher that this was a low group, but this is worse than I expected. I will have to reteach a lot of Algebra 1 I think.

On top of that, I already had a discipline issue to deal with today - day two. Four students in one of my classes not only did not put in much effort to the diagnostic test, they chose to talk and be disruptive while everyone else was still working. On day two of class. I had already talked to one of the four of them on the way into class today since this particular student chose to talk to his neighbor at several points as I was talking. I had to yell at them while others were working. Held all four after class and flat out told them I wasn't going to tolerate this and if things continued, they could expect calls home and office referrals. Ended up talking to the principal at the end of the day I was so mad about this and she suggested I call home. I was able to reach 2 of the 4 parents (fortunately one was the worst offender - the one I had talked to at the beginning of class) and Mom understood what I was going through with the student and was supportive. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. I had not intended to assign seats until Friday (I haven't had a chance to get to it yet) but I believe I will be assigning them in that class at least tomorrow.

Tomorrow starts the real teaching for me. I still have some beginning of the year stuff to go through, but for the most part, class will be more normal. I am still working on pulling together some plans - at the moment I am working about a day ahead. I am starting with what I did last year and modifying from there.

I am using an activity with Math 1 based on this post from Math Tales from the Spring. I am a little stuck at the moment with what to do about my Algebra 2's. We are going to have to spend some time on solving equations in one variable. Any suggestions on how to handle this review/reteaching would be welcome!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deja Vu All Over Again??

It is the day before I go back to work. I cannot seem to get myself going on doing lesson plans. Haven't I been down this road before?  In fact, I have. It is eerily similar to what I went through last year with the SMART Board. So why am I here again? I have been trying to put my finger on it and I think I know why now. It kind of came to me as I was getting ready to fall asleep last night. It has to do with change.

Last year, the biggest change for me was not SBG, but teaching with the SMART Board. SBG changed how I assess, but working with the SMART Board was a big change in the way I teach students. I was excited about having the SMART Board and I truly like teaching with it. I wanted to make the change in my classroom, but when it came down to actually starting and making the change, I froze up. I could not get myself started with it.

This year, I want to change what I do in my classroom. Like last year, a pretty big change in the way I teach students. Also like last year, something I am excited about (well, maybe not as excited as last year). But now that it is time to do the actual, physical planning, I can't do it. I'm scared and nervous. I've never done anything like this before. How are my students going to react? They are not accustomed to being pushed mathematically. How do I sell to my students that this will be good for them in the long run? 50% of our students receive a free or reduced lunch. Most of our students appear to come from homes where education is not highly valued. We have some kids who are transient. Some days I wonder if they really want something better and are willing to work for it, or if they will just settle for whatever is handed to them. With this kind of a population, how do you convey that this is a ticket to some better possibilities for them?
Disclaimer - Charles Schultz's image.

And, since I am being completely honest (and pretty vulnerable) at the moment, there is a part of me that is scared of falling completely on my back like Charlie Brown does when he goes to kick the football. I am terrified that I am going to try these new to me things and they not only don't work, but it completely blows up in my face. There. I have gone and said it. I am starting my 20th year of teaching and I am afraid it's going to crash and burn majorly.

Now, in all fairness, I also know that things probably won't completely and utterly fail. I have taught long enough to know that there are lessons that go well and others that don't go well, but nothing completely fails. And, having attended various workshops and presentations, most recently in Orlando, I know that what I am looking to do this school year will work. It may take me a while to figure out how to make it work best in my classroom, but it will work. Like before, I just need to get off my butt and start planning. I cannot really put it off much longer anyway. Kids come in 6 days, whether I'm ready or not. I'd rather be ready. Guess I better get started.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

School Year Goals 2011-2012

Since my #summerlist helped keep me on track somewhat this summer (I did get a lot done, but not quite all I wanted to), I thought it would help me stay on track if I did something similar for the school year. My list, however, is not going to be as lengthy. Hopefully, this will help keep me accountable and focus what I want to accomplish this school year. I have never done this before, but I have also never felt compelled to do this either. So, here goes nothing, I guess.

Goal 1 - Bellringers
I have never done a great job consistently starting the period. Some classes I have done a better job than others, but I have not really ever been consistent. This summer I came up with a plan for "themes" for bellringer activities:

  • Mental Monday
  • Testing Tuesday
  • What-We've-Been-Doin' Wednesday
  • Testing Thursday (or possibly Think-About-It Thursday depending)
  • Free-For-All Friday
Since I have my students keep 3-ring binders, I will have them set a section for Bellringers there. I think I will have papers designed for them to put them on, which will hopefully make them a little more interesting/fun.

Goal 2 - Incorporate Reasoning and Sense Making activities
I attended the NCTM's Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making this July in Orlando. I definitely left inspired to incorporate these activities into my classes. I have not totally figured out how often I intend to do this - part of this is that I didn't do much this summer as far as trying to find some rich(er) tasks to use in my classes. I think I will aim for at least once a grading period in each of my three preps (Math 1, Algebra 2, and Advanced Algebra 2). As a part of this, I will be adjusting some of the "structure" of my class as I talked about earlier.

Goal 3 - Work on my Questioning Skills/Helpfulness
Part of this goal will be incorporated in Goal 2, because I will have to work managing rich tasks in the classroom. I am presently reading 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions and that is already helping me to not only better grasp how to set up rich tasks in my classes, but I know from seeing the author speak at the aforementioned Institute that this book will help me to get a better idea of how to set up activities to improve student understanding. I am also intending to do some reading during the school year on how to ask good questions of my students and generally "being less helpful" as Dan Meyer puts it.

Goal 4 - Blog more often
Last school year, I was very erratic on my blogging. I have said previously that this blog is for me - it allows me to reflect on what I am doing. I haven't really done that until I started this blog. But what I have found through blogging and following others' blogs is that I learn a whole lot from the blogosphere. People are willing to share things that have worked (and not worked) in their classrooms and with having only 2 other math teachers to share with at school, hearing those experiences is invaluable. I hope that I am able to contribute some things this year that others can learn from as I have learned from other bloggers.

For the moment, that's what I am going to put in front of myself as goals for this school year. I know there are lots of other things that I would like to do, but I think by focusing on these four goals, I can make some good progress this school year. I am continuing to use Standards-Based Grading in my classroom (this is my second year) - between that and learning how to use the SMARTBoard, I had my hands pretty full with those two things last year. Since I have a pretty good grasp on both (and both can be things that are time consuming), I think four goals is a good place to start.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

Sand Beach at Sunset - taken August, 2009
It is Monday evening as I write this. I am sitting at a house on the shores of Lake Erie, windows open, listening to the waves crash against the rocks and shoreline. My family has gotten together for a week at a lake (the last few years at Lake Erie near Port Clinton, which is about halfway between my parents and I) for vacation together. It is rather late for us this year - usually we do this in July but we really wanted to stay at this particular house and the only week it was open was this one, right before school starts back up for me.

I told myself before coming on vacation that I was not going to do any school work. I have not brought any of my lesson planning stuff, although I do have my computer with me and my thumb drive with school stuff on it. I did bring some education reading with me, but I haven't really touched it. I probably will work on reading it some over the next couple of days, but I am pretty sure I am not going to get much of it read. Of the three trips I have taken this summer, this is certainly going to be the most relaxing of the three. We have very few plans, and that is by design. It is the calm (for me) before the storm.

When I get back on Friday, reality hits pretty quick. I have to finish getting my classroom ready on Friday, for on Saturday our new school is dedicated and we have a community open house. I will have 6 days until my first teacher workday when I get home and 11 days until students enter my classroom for the first day of school. I have a pretty good idea what is going to happen day one, but as for the next days, I have no planning whatsoever completed. In addition to the usual craziness that is back to school, I have to work on getting my own children ready to head back. I was asked to help out with our teacher-in-service about our new SMARTBoards next week and I need to get my portion pulled together (although they did give me activities and an outline to follow). I have a couple of appointments before I head back as well as two very full Saturdays before students hit my classroom. And I haven't even started about our county fair and Labor Day weekend. The three weeks after I return from vacation will be nuts.

As relaxed as I am at the moment, I cannot help but think of all that needs done before school starts. I am really trying to not dwell on it, but it keeps creeping back in my mind. It's the elephant in the room. Whether I like it or not, come Friday, I have to deal with the reality of students in my classroom in 11 days. Although I have some things somewhat settled in my mind as far as the new school year, there is still much work to be done. At least I don't feel like it all has to be done as soon as I get back. Much of the work will be ongoing through the school year. I am hopeful that the work will be easier than it was last year (see here and here for last year's frustrations). It certainly will be different.

Next up for me - putting together my goal list for the 2011-2012 school year. Blogging my #summerlist helped keep me on track. I didn't get through everything, but I feel like I did get a lot accomplished that I wanted to this summer. Meanwhile, I think I'll enjoy what's left of the calm before the storm.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Understanding by Design Chapter 11 - #sbarbook Mon 8/8/11

justbugnu           #sbarbook hello everyone. Ok I did my first blog. It's about UbD wrkshp. It is at Check it out n give thoughts.
druinok                It's #sbarbook time again - however, I haven't read this week's chapter - too busy prepping for back-to-school
jrykse                   @druinok don't think you missed much.  Beginning has some nice ideas on how to get started.  #sbarbook
jrykse                   @druinok A couple nice examples of a unit design before and after applying UbD. #sbarbook
druinok                @fourkatie heya :)  what are your thoughts on this chapter? #sbarbook
fourkatie             late, but here for #sbarbook
fourkatie             @druinok I'm 6 pages short of finishing, but it seems to be pulling it together. Liked the multiple entry points into design. #sbarbook
fourkatie             it is more important to test against the backward design logic and standards as you play with ideas (cont...) #sbarbook
fourkatie             rather than to think of design as a step-by-step process in which you doon' tneed to look back" pg255 #sbarbook
fourkatie             Kind of annoyed that the example for math in this chapter was geometry again.  #whatiswrongwithalgebra #sbarbook
druinok                @fourkatie @jrykse I feel so bad for not reading #sbarbook - please forgive!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Is Gutting Necessary?

My husband and I have been debating what to do about our bathroom. You see, we have this lovely pink tile in our bathroom (as pictured when we first bought the house 10 years ago). Our house was built in the late 1950s and they were rather fond of covering the walls with ceramic tile (we had seafoam green tile in the kitchen, but we redid our kitchen two years ago and it's gone). We first started having issues with the tile after being in the house a couple of years and we had it removed from the tub area, regrouted the counter tile, and had new tub walls installed. Now the tiles in the back under the window are falling off. They've been loose for a couple of years, but in the last few months, we have lost a couple. So, we brought back the people who worked on the kitchen and got the owner's insight on our options. We could fix the issues we have (we have issues with the sink also) as a stop gap, but ultimately, we will need to do something about the tile. I'm not particularly fond of the tile (I don't hate it as much as I hated the green, but it's not up there on my favorites list either), so this gives me the chance to do the colors in the bathroom the way I'd like to. We will end up pretty much gutting the bathroom and doing it all, although we will keep the toilet (it is in good shape and won't hopefully be need in major repair anytime soon).

So, what does this have to do with teaching math? Earlier this summer, I had posed the question "What does your math class look like?" I am at a point where I am ready to make some changes in my classroom and how I teach math on a daily basis. I guess I'm asking myself the same question that we were asking about our bathroom - do I totally need to start from scratch and revamp what I am doing, or can I make some changes and keep some of what I've done in the past? Between my twitter twin @druinok and myself, we posed the question a couple of times on twitter - trying to see how other people structured their math classes other than the rather common "bellringer activity, go over homework, teach new lesson, do problems on new concept, and maybe an exit slip as students head out the door" process most math teachers use. Most of the answers that were different involved flipping the classroom. To be honest, I'm not really certain that's the way to go. First of all, not all of my students have access to the internet. We have about 50% on free or reduced lunch. Secondly, getting students to do outside class work is a struggle on many fronts. Finally, I'm just not buying it. My skeptic's radar is up with this one. I can't really explain it beyond that. I just don't feel like it jives with how I feel about teaching.

When I left to head to Orlando for the Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making, I was still very much of a mindset that I needed to gut my teaching structure. I wasn't really sure how I was going to make that happen, but I felt like that's what needed to happen. I attended two really great sessions Dan Meyer presented and I was still thinking I needed to gut my classroom. Maybe trying to find as many real world connections and bringing in great visuals was the way to go. The next session I attended was presented by Henri Picciotto. I had picked his session based on the title, that he was a classroom teacher, and I remembered that @cheesemonkeysf had said some good things about him. Picciotto's session was different than Dan's. It was based on more "traditional" types of activities, although he did bring in the use of manipulatives which is somewhat unusual for Algebra 2. I left his session somewhat confused. The two gentlemen's sessions were somewhat on opposite ends of the spectrum ("current" vs. "traditional") for me. But yet, both were at an institute touting reasoning and sense making. I was struggling with making sense (pun intended) of this.  On the last day of the conference, I attended two more breakout sessions, one by William Thill, and the other by math faculty of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Illinois. Like with Piccotto's session from the day before, both sessions used more "traditional" activities. So by the end of the institute, I was rather confused. What exactly was I supposed to be doing in my classroom?

Well, although I cannot exactly pinpoint when in the last couple of days it has become clearer to me, I feel I have a more definite direction to head. When I attended William Thill's session in Orlando, there were a couple of things that caught my attention: I was engaged so much throughout his session I barely took notes and Bill wasn't that much younger than me (although I misjudged a little...) and was using a more traditional approach. We had two brief conversations in Orlando, one immediately following his session when I had let him know that I would be blogging about his session and later on Saturday about blogging and Park City Mathematics Institute before the closing keynote. As I reflected on the Institute as I headed home, I thought that Bill might be able to help me with my gutting dilemma. Bill and I exchanged a couple of emails where I asked him some rather lengthy questions about incorporating reasoning and sense making into the classroom as well as about a "typical" day in his class. Through our exchange and really taking the time to read and digest what was said, I believe I finally have an answer.

Part of my answer came from this tweet:

 Vincent Velasquez 
This tweet was in the middle of a discussion about Khan Academy and the flipped classroom. The previous evening (I think), there was a lengthy discussion about applied mathematics and pure mathematics. What I took from that twitter discussion was that we have lost some of the beauty of mathematics when we try to find an application for everything we do. Although there are a lot of applications of mathematics, that is not all of its value. Between that discussion and the @Vvelasquez2 tweet. I think it all finally clicked in my head. I don't need to gut my class structure. I need to make some changes, but I don't need to completely and totally change everything. I had started to realize this as I digested what Bill was sharing in our email exchanges and this tweet helped me to put it all together in my head. There is a time and a place for what we do in the mathematics classroom.

So, what am I going to do? I am going to have structure with my bellringers as I had blogged about in July. I am going to work on getting students to the board as we go over homework problems. This will be new for me. I think I will choose specific problems for students to put up from the previous assignment and have them share how they solved the problem. I think from there, I will take another homework question or two if we didn't get them answered from the problems that were put up on the whiteboards. In the new lesson portion of my lesson, I am going to try some new things. One suggestion Bill offered in our email exchange was to select a two-four key problems to have students work through with little guidance and stop them at key junctures. His suggestion was to" have students make decisions first at those key junctures, compare with their peers, discuss what makes the most sense mathematically, and reach a shared resolution to a mathematically appropriate conclusion." I definitely want to start this with the earlier lessons first, which is material they should be more familiar with and evaluate how it goes from there. I also will work on incorporating rich tasks into my classes. The advice I have received from both Bill and Eric Robinson (he is the chair of the Task Writing Group for NCTM) was to start slowly and I intend to follow that advice. More importantly, as I do these reasoning and sense making tasks in my classes, I will blog about them so that I can adequately reflect on how it went and learn from my experiences.

In an odd twist, my remodeling experiences will begin at about the same time. I will meet with the owner of the company doing our bathroom remodel next week to finalize decisions on our bathroom. During the next couple of weeks, I will begin planning the first lessons of the new school year. Even though I am making only what may appear to be minor changes to what I am doing in class, it feels like some pretty big changes to me right now. I have done things basically the same ways for the last nineteen years. Change is not easy, but I believe that it is necessary so I can be a better teacher. It should be an interesting couple of months around here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


AAAAAAAAuuuuugggggghhhhh!!!! It's August! I'm not ready for it to be August yet! (Yes, I know I'm writing this on August 3rd, and I'm still not ready for it to be August!)

So, I had posted this #summerlist at the beginning of June: New comments are in blue.

  • Finish the online course I started last summer. This one has a deadline - I have to get it done in June.
  • Read. I definitely would like to do some reading that I normally don't get time to do. Some professional (we are starting with Understanding by Design on #sbarbook), some personal. I ended up punting UbD. I was struggling with getting into it and I wanted to get some other reading done before heading to Orlando for NCTM's Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making. I have finished Teaching for Tomorrow, Nice Bike (the author is speaking to us on our first workday together), and most of Focus of High School Mathematics: Reasoning and Sense Making. After the Institute, I have added 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, Mathematical Discovery, and The Stanford Mathematics Problem Book. Also added to the list is Empowering the Mentor of the Beginning Mathematics Teacher since we will be hiring a new math teacher for the upcoming school year and More Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Secondary Mathematics Instruction since my new principal mentioned that this was something I should look into when I went to the Orlando Institute. @dcox21 and others recommended this one, so it's my starting point.
  • Revise my SBG for next school year. See this post.  Update on this here.
  • Revise my concept lists for Calculus (which I'm not teaching next year), Math 1 and Algebra 2/Advanced Algebra 2. Along with this, put together the concept list for Pre-Algebra (7th grade), which will be my 4th prep next year. Have not even started this. I know I should but I am not feeling motivated to at the moment. I really should start this tomorrow.
  • Learn more about rich problems and how to incorporate them into my classes. The NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making in Orlando last week helped to expand my knowledge of rich problems and how to incorporate them. This will be an ongoing project for me this year. I'm looking forward to it.
  • Revise how I teach in my classroom. I am still very much a traditional math teacher (go over homework, teach/lecture on the new concept, give time for homework). I want to change that, I just don't know how. Still thinking about it. I did a post on bellringers as a starting point. I don't think I am going to make huge changes, but from some discussions with other teachers, I have some thoughts that I am contemplating integrating into my classes to switch things up a bit. More to follow on this later, I think.
  • I am attending the NCTM Reasoning and Sense Making Workshop in Orlando July 28-30. I have some of the Reasoning and Sense Making books to read in front of that, but I also want to take what I've learned from that workshop and apply it to my own classroom. I am really looking forward to this!  See this post for the summary of this Institute (along with links to each of the posts I did)
  • I'm also attending the Making Ohio Schools Work conference in Columbus next week as part of my role on our district's Race to the Top committee.
  • Try and help my daughter to master her addition and subtraction basic facts. She finishes 2nd grade this week and will need to know them when she enters 3rd grade in the fall. It doesn't help that she has ADHD, but we will need to find a way to help her learn them. I think she is getting a lot closer on this but I haven't spent anywhere near the time I should have this summer.
  • I am taking a course to learn Moodle in early August. This is Tue-Thu of next week.
  • We have some fun trips planned this year also. First up is the Monte Carlo Nationals in York, Pennsylvania, with a side trip to the Crayola Factory afterwards. Then, hopefully a trip to see my sister-in-law in HoustonTexas. Reasoning and Sense Making is next, followed by a week on Lake Erie with my family right before school starts. Summer always finishes with the Canfield Fair and the annual Henry Hootenanny on Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I think this is the reason why I am going AAAUUUGGGHH at this point in time - we leave a week from Friday and when we come back from Lake Erie, I will have 5 days until our teacher workdays start.
So, here I sit looking at the list and the dwindling number of days until school starts (22 until I go back to work, 27 until the first day with students) and I'm a little panicked at this point. I had hoped to accomplish a lot. Maybe I made my list a little too ambitious. Like it or not, the first day of school is coming. I'd really like to spend that week at Lake Erie not dwelling on school stuff and I suspect because of the timing, that's going to be a little bit of a challenge. I'm going to do my best not to be thinking a lot about school. Guess if I want that to happen I better get crackin'.

    Tuesday, August 02, 2011

    Understanding by Design Chapter 10 - #sbarbook Mon 8/1

    fourkatie          Anyone here for #sbarbook?
    jrykse                present #sbarbook
    druinok             @jrykse @fourkatie I'm here, but didn't read :( #sbarbook
    fourkatie          @druinok @jrykse I read this week. still need to go back and read last chapter. still struggling with this. #sbarbook
    jrykse                @fourkatie @druinok This chapter seemed to be "choose teaching method that would best meet your objective (EU)". #sbarbook
    fourkatie          @jrykse I'd agree with that summary #sbarbook
    jsb16                  Is #sbarbook happening tonight?
    jrykse                @fourkatie It was amusing how they tap danced around coming out and just saying "do something besides lecture all the time". #sbarbook
    fourkatie          @jrykse I thought they were trying very hard to not offend anyone's pref method of teaching. Felt wishy-washy. #sbarbook
    jsb16                  And yet, there are still people who claim that "21stC koolaid" is "rubbishing" lecture, even with all the caveats in #sbarbook...
    fourkatie          Revisited the cover vs uncover. I definitely want to keep that idea forefront #sbarbook
    fourkatie          I've been guilty of using the textbook as syllabus. Gotten better at setting my agenda and then arranging book resources to match. #sbarbook
    jsb16                  Really liked "Students must learn that these mistakes are not avoidable, or shameful, but key episodes in gaining understanding #sbarbook
    jrykse                @jsb16 Yeah I don't get that. I thought they had some good examples of how we learn best.  #sbarbook
    fourkatie          I liked the summary of ways to check for understanding on pp 248-249.  would be good resource to help new teachers #sbarbook
    jsb16                  Have to admit I didn't finish the #sbarbook chapter, and I got into a debate about the Dewey quote this morning.
    jsb16                  Are we winding down this #sbarbook, or is Twitter on the fritz?
    fourkatie          Not feeling very passionate about #sbarbook tonight. Must say have been more jazzed with the tweets on organizing ;)
    jrykse                Winding down. Easiest chp to read of book. Had some nice resources (question starters, etc.). #sbarbook
    jsb16                  #sbarbook Next week, Chapter 11?
    jrykse                @jsb16 getting close to start of year.  Can we do 2 chapters next week? #sbarbook
    jsb16                  Only 3 chapters left in #sbarbook. Do we need to do 2/week?
    jrykse                @jsb16 Never mind. I thought we had more chapters. 1 is perfect. #sbarbook
    jsb16                  Next #sbarbook (Chapter 11) 8/8 at 9:30EDT.
    fourkatie          @jsb16 sounds good #sbarbook
    jybuell               For the #sbarbook crew - feat. @samjshah and @bowmanimal

    Monday, August 01, 2011

    NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making - Final Reflections

    It is Sunday evening as I start this and we are back home after our trip to Orlando for the NCTM Institute on Reasoning and Sense Making. I am tired. It has been a full few days, but I have learned a lot over the last few days. If you haven't read, here are my recaps of sessions:

    Thursday, July 28
    Dan Meyer Keynote

    Friday, July 29
    Panel Discussion
    Dan Meyer Breakout Session (Capturing Perplexity)
    Keynote - It All Starts With The Tasks
    Henri Picciotto Breakout Session (Making Sense in Algebra 2)

    Saturday, July 30
    Keynote - Implementing Tasks That Promote Reasoning and Sense Making
    Bill Thill Breakout Session (Rich Tasks in Algebra Work)
    Adlai E. Stevenson HS Breakout Session (Activities That Promote Reasoning and Sense Making in Algebra)

    What have I learned and  gained from this experience?
    I feel I have a much better grasp on what a "rich task" is. I have been trying to get a better handle on what that means. I realize that I need to incorporate these tasks into my classes (more on this in a bit). I have certainly gained some confidence in being able to create some of these tasks, mainly in the sense that I have a better understanding on what needs to be done. Dan Meyer's keynote and breakout session particularly helped clarify for me how the real world influenced problems he is known for are created. Seeing what other teachers are doing coupled with viewing the slides Dan used when he taught in the classroom have made me realize that these types of problems/tasks aren't done everyday, or at least I don't think so.

    Where do I go from here?
    I think that the first thing I need to figure out is how often I should be looking to incorporate rich tasks in my classroom. Is this something that is done often or on an occasional basis? How does "traditional" teaching (explaining the concept) fit into all this?

    One of the things that was implied (and I think even was outright said to us) was that we should be creating these tasks that involve reasoning and sense making. I know that there are several places to look for rich tasks (nrichOhio Resource Center, Math Forum, and NCTM's Illuminations are a couple of places I can think of at the moment) and I would think it would make more sense to find tasks that would work with the particular curriculum and then look at it in a deep fashion and make modifications as needed. I am hoping this will be a good way to start until I feel more confident about writing a rich task myself.

    I think most of all, I need to get some planning done quick. It is now August 1st and in 29 days, I will have students in my classroom, ready or not. It's time to get serious about planning the upcoming school year.