Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Second Thoughts on Assessment

First off, I do want to apologize for the lack of posts. I have to be honest, I am still very overwhelmed, although I am now at least planning 2 to 3 days ahead rather than just for tomorrow. I still don't feel like I am in my groove yet.

In Algebra 2, I am getting ready to give my second assessment. Like last year, I am assessing each learning target twice. However, I am counting the first assessment and if the student has earned their 5 on the first time, they do not have to do the second assessment. I have been having second thoughts about this after I gave their first assessment two weeks ago. I know why I had decided to do this. I wanted students to give a better first effort on the assessment and when I didn't give a score on the first time, students tended to skip the problems. Also, this gives students their first chance at a reassessment. But, there are a couple of things causing me to have second thoughts.

First off, after the first assessment, I had several students already asking for a reassessment. I put them off, telling them they would have another chance at it in a couple of weeks. At that point, and now, still, I am thinking that I should have let them reassess right away if they were ready. Now that it's been about two weeks, I'm not sure they will do as well. Secondly, some students are now facing 6 skills to assess on this time around. I am starting to think that I may have set them up to not do as well because of that. Thirdly, we had professional development today and one of the speakers talked about Standards Based Grading. Well, she didn't call it SBG, but it's SBG. She was talking about using exit cards to assess where students where on a particular skill. Normally, you would use this for formative assessment, however, if all students showed they understood the skill, she suggested that you could go ahead and record that as mastery of the skills. The teacher would only do this if all students showed mastery. That got me thinking about giving assessments that only worked with a few skills. I asked her about how a teacher would justify assessing in this manner when at the college level, almost every class gives assessments at a much larger interval. Her response was to inform students that your concern was that they showed they learned and understood the material and that if they have done that successfully at high school, they would be able to adjust once they reached college.

Now, I don't think I am willing to assess formally that often, however, it is really getting me thinking about putting 6 learning targets on an assessment. I am seriously considering after this assessment to go ahead and go back to assessing 3-4 skills at a time and just assessing once. Thoughts from the peanut gallery? Leave them in the comments. Thanks.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

1 step backward to go forward?

I am still behind the proverbial eight ball here. I do have to say that although I don't feel as pressured this weekend, I still have not planned this week yet. I have been slowly working at it today (breaking my no school work on Saturday rule), but I have a lot to get accomplished tomorrow.

I am quickly coming to the conclusion that being a good teacher is extremely time intensive. I'm not saying that I wasn't a good teacher previously, but I certainly have not put as much thought into my lessons and what I'm doing in the classroom in the past as I have in the last couple of years. Case in point: Friday I gave my Algebra 2 students their first assessment. It was over solving systems of equations by graphing, substitution, and elimination. They did fairly well on the two algebraic methods but only about half of my students earned 4s or 5s on graphing. In the past, I would have just let it go, chalking it up to that they didn't prepare well. Even though I know they did not do a good job practicing solving systems of equations by graphing, I also am recognizing that they don't have the concept and will need aspects of it for what we are doing next (solving systems of inequalities by graphing). So, I sit here tonight still pondering what to do.

My first inclination Friday after I finished grading their assessments was that I needed to spend Monday going over how to graph a linear equation. I had originally tweeted for some help on this Friday night and, although I didn't tweet real clearly what I needed, I got some suggestions to think about. As I continue to ponder this today (Saturday), I am wondering how to best handle it since about half seem to have a pretty solid handle on how to graph. I had thought about pairing the students up so that one partner had a good idea of what to do and the other did not, but the question still remained in my head - what do I have them practice? When I tweeted my dilemma, there were a couple of tweets that got me really thinking:
@fawnpnguyen Wonder maybe they haven't had enough real-life context of systems.
@jacehan I had a lot of students who didn't see why we'd solve graphically with equations, so didn't/couldn't, but saw why with inequalities. It can help.
Both of these intrigue me. Fawn's tweet intrigues me because I know they haven't had enough real-life context, period. When I brought in word problems this week, they were already nervous and asked whether I was putting them on the assessment. In my haste to make the assessment, I left them off. However, after a brief discussion with @MSeiler and @4mulafun yesterday about including word problems, I think I really need to incorporate them as much as possible to get them past their discomfort.

James' tweet really intrigues me. I am really sitting here tonight wondering if it's worth going back to review solving systems by graphing when I am preparing to do graphing a linear inequality, followed by systems of inequalities and linear programming. My students will get a healthy dose of graphing over the next week or so. Maybe that will help with their graphing with systems of equations problems, as James suggested. Maybe I really don't need to spend Monday stepping backward to go forward. Instead, maybe this time I will deliberately push forward to a different, but related concept which will help cement the one they struggled with.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Blogger Initiative Week 4

Here is the 4th (and final) installment of new bloggers. Please take some time to read and comment on these blogs - there are some great ideas this week.

Angie Eakland (@aeakland) - Coefficients of Determination
The fourth post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Visions of PEMDAS danced thorugh my head" and the author sums it up as follows: Order of Operations is such an important topic at sixth grade. It's not really something the students can discover and so their initial understandings come down to how good of a job I do at introducing it in a memorable way. I created a new foldable that - in part - made this the easiest introduction I've ever had. A memorable quotation from the post is: Students LOVED the foldable, they LOVED getting to choose the four colors that they would use with intentionality (my word, not theirs :)), and I loved how easily students picked up the idea of doing multiplication and division and then addition and subtraction as they moved from left to right in their expression! :) :)
My thoughts: This is a neat foldable. I really like how she designed it so that multiplication and division were on the same row as well as addition and subtraction were as well. It's cool when something comes together rather well, especially after a good night's sleep.

crazedmummy - crazedmummy
The fourth post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Posting on a post to a post..." and the author sums it up as follows: This post is about someone responding to something I stole, and sent on to them, and they actually found it helpful. Oh theft, I am so devoted to you. A memorable quotation from the post is: I feel as if I have edged in to a party that my kids are holding and they have not frozen in silence (you know what you did when someone’s mom came in – don’t give me that look).  
My thoughts: It is pretty cool when someone in the twitterblogosphere references what you've done. :-)

Dan Bowdoin (@danbowdoin) - Technology Integration for Math Engagement
The fourth post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Auto-Updating Agenda and Assignment Board" and the author sums it up as follows: I write about the switch from lesson planning on paper, to saving plans in computer files, and then the change to a completely electronic system that automatically updates for students as you make any changes! The idea was stolen from I Speak Math, Julie Reulbach. "Now, I’m all electronic when I plan. I made a Google Spreadsheet that lists the date, lesson, homework, and any important links the students will need. I love this way of giving homework, because then students can easily find the links I want them to access." A memorable quotation from the post is: It was great to see students, the first week of school, already going to the website and using the electronic links to complete their textbook assignment early.
My thoughts: It's neat to see how others use technology. Dan got such a positive response to this that he posted a link to his Google Spreadsheet in the comments. Pretty cool!

Lee KT (@lthor010) - random expected value
The fourth post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "You've got a friend..." and the author sums it up as follows: Have you ever read something that aligns with your thinking so much that you wish that you could sit with down with this person and talk and talk and talk? That's blogging...start the conversation, and keep it going. KEEP WRITING!! And oh yeah, Desmos is so cool! A memorable quotation from the post is: KEEP WRITING!
My thoughts: Lee makes a great point - the blogs that we all write keep this conversation going. We read what is going on in each other's classrooms and minds and comment to what strikes a chord with us. We share freely and help to improve each other's teaching. These conversations are what make us the best twitterblogosphere. :-)

Matt Owen (@_MattOwen_) - Just Tell Me the Answer
The fourth post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Flipclass Reflections So Far" and the author sums it up as follows: I've been making videos for my students this year. So far, the response has been positive, but I'm not doing a good job of ensuring that they watched and understood the videos. Here's a possible solution (stolen from another math blogger of course). A memorable quotation from the post is: If the student doesn’t remember whether they watched the video, either A. they didn’t watch it or B. They didn’t get it.
My thoughts: I'm always glad to see people sharing ideas that they have used in their classroom. I'll be curious to see how it works in his class.

Wesley (@wp202) - Intervals of Convergence
The fourth post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Getting Students to Communicate" and the author sums it up as follows: I want my students communicating in many ways with each other and myself through the class. Most of this involves placing the students in a teaching role and helping others in their class. Here's how I do it in my class. Suggestions appreciated! A memorable quotation from the post is: I love how it breaks up a lesson, lets students become teachers (if only for 10 seconds sometimes), gives struggling students some help, and helps students get to know each other.
My thoughts: There are some great communication starters here to use with your students. Very nicely done.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

HW Feedback 1st Time

In June, I had blogged about something I thought may work in my class as far as getting feedback to students on their homework. I decided I was going to try it Friday after I gave my first practice problems. As I was getting it ready, it dawned on me that there would be students who wouldn't have completed the assignment. Rather than doing the whole sheet that Hedge did, I added a line at the bottom: I did not do practice problems because ________________. Here's the page I handed my students Friday (2 to a page);

These were the directions I left on the SMART Board for them:
Warm Up
Please pick up a half sheet of paper from the stool and copy your work from your paper onto it as directed. Please hand it to me when you are finished.

Once you have done that, begin checking with your neighbors to see if you got the same answers on the problems you attempted. If you didn't, figure out what the correct answer should be. The rule here is ask three before me: ask three other students before raising your hand to ask me for help. You have 10 minutes to complete these two tasks. Thanks!
Some students did actually give me the problem and the work. A lot just gave me the answer (some with problem numbers).  I have redone the sheet below (this one is for Monday):

Overall, I was pleased with what I saw. Most students were able to successfully complete a problem. Even on the feedback problem, most had made good progress. However, there were several who did not give me much to give them feedback on. Obviously, we will talk about this on Monday.

The most disappointing thing to me was the number of students who did not attempt the practice at all. Of the reasons I got, most of them really seemed like excuses. The majority of the students who did not attempt the homework are my juniors and both my seniors. This concerns me for three reasons:
1) I know these are my students who have historically struggled with math. I have had most of them now three times - as 7th graders, as freshmen in Math 1, and now. These problems are problems they should have seen before and had some idea of how to start.
2) Almost all of these students have at least one study hall and in some cases, two. Why aren't they doing the work in study hall? (We had to cut staff and we have very few electives. Almost every kid has at least one study hall.) When I walked passed 7th period Study Hall any day last week, the students were talking and not many were working. How come they aren't using this time?
3) Some of these students are mentors to our freshmen in a program called Freshmen Focus. If they aren't willing to try practice problems because they had practice or it was a nice day, what kind of message are they going to send to our freshmen?

So, here are the reasons I got: I did not do practice problems because:
  • I feel comfortable with the LT and didn't feel I needed to. (2 times)
  • I had cross country practice. Then I had to be judge for volleyball.
  • I was absent, sick in bed.
  • (blank)
  • My mom wouldn't let me do my homework.
  • I didn't know how to do the problems past 2.
  • I had practice after school and I forgot to do it.
  • I wasn't sure where my points on the graph were to go. I attempted, but it didn't seem right.
  • I don't know where it is.
  • I forgot. It was in my folder.
  • I forgot my binder in school. (5 times)
  • I don't understand how to do it.
  • I need a little feedback.
  • I don't understand math. (2 times)
  • I think they are unneeded.
  • I think I need more examples.
  • I have no time after school to do them. It's either be dog tired everyday or go to sleep.
  • I really didn't feel like doing it yesterday since it was nice out.
  • I didn't want to get them all wrong and then have to erase the whole thing.
  • I don't have a graphing calculator at the moment, so it was more difficult without it. I don't really understand.
  • It was nice outside and I chose to go riding than to do my homework.
  • I kept getting stuck on the decimal part. The ones that where were the answers turn into decimals.
  • I went to look at a truck.
I may very well have to have the Come to Jesus Meeting with my classes tomorrow. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I'm going to say. But I'm pretty sure that it's going to be along the lines of:
  • We had talked about how Math is not a spectator sport - some of you are already starting out on the sidelines. Good habits start early and it's time to form them now.
  • How many of you have at least one study hall? (show of hands) There is NO excuse for not having 6 practice problems at least attempted when you have a 50 minute period provided in your schedule to study. Get it done.
We'll see how it goes tomorrow. I'll be curious to see what kind of responses I get in their half sheets from Friday's problems. I'm hoping it's better and I am certainly hoping there are less students who did not attempt the problems.

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

New Blogger Initiative Week 3

It's time for week 3's crop of new bloggers. It's hard to keep up with all of the new bloggers, but I do have to say that the group I read this week had some great stuff and I'm glad I made time to read them. Help encourage them and leave them comments please!

Maggie Acree (@pitoinfinity8) - pitoinfinity
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled 'The Why" and the author sums it up as follows: I have never written down the "why" of teaching. This post is for me but also to remind us all we need to love what we do even when it gets hard. Right now, we are challenged beyond belief in so many ways, so we have to keep the "why" at the forefront. I love math and I love teaching! A memorable quotation from the post is: But the answer is simple, I love what I do.
My thoughts: Reading why others teach reminds me of why I teach. I like finding that many of the reasons that factored into why I became a teacher are some of the same things that others feel. I like how she addressed how she could have chosen other professions and why she chose teaching. 

Amy Zimmer - Ms. Z Teaches in Mathland
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Rocky, PEMDAS, and the Best Darn Article" and the author sums it up as follows: When priorization of operations finally makes sense to students. A memorable quotation from the post is: I wish all of my lessons could be as empowering as this one.
My thoughts: Amy shares a neat way to help clarify how order of operations works.

Sarah Hill - You Can Secant You
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Misconceptions. (Or, teaching the shortcuts without teaching the concepts)" and the author sums it up as follows: This is a post about how many common misconceptions are caused by students learning the shortcuts, or the easy way to solve a problem, without ever really learning the concepts. A memorable quotation from the post is: Really, isn’t a lot of what we teach in a typical high school math class just a lot of “shortcuts” to solving problems?
My thoughts: I really liked this post. This really resonated with me: "One thing that I have been thinking about a lot lately is the fact that we so often teach kids the shortcuts or the quick way to figure out the answers.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with doing this, but I am realizing that I need to make sure that they understand the concepts before they start learning the quick ways of doing it." I have also been thinking about it as I have been planning my lessons this year and am consciously trying to make sure my students understand the why behind the mathematics.

Michelle Riley (@mathwithriley) - A Year of Growth
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Blogger Initiative Week 3: Why I teach" and the author sums it up as follows: My post talks about why I became a math teacher. A memorable quotation from the post is: I used to make my younger siblings sit and play school with me while I handed them worksheets with spelling words and addition problems. (yes, I was that mean big sister).
My thoughts: I really related to this post. I, too, was the older sister playing school. :-)

Lea Ann Smith (@SmithTeach) - Expanding Horizons Through Education
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Why do we have to learn this?" and the author sums it up as follows: My favorite reply to this question is that they will use the habits of mind they are developing as they learn how to solve math problems. Math teaches you how to think logically and creatively at the same time. The "aha" moment in solving a math problem brings together the synthesis of logical thought and an intuitive leap of genius. This is a very useful skill. A memorable quotation from the post is: The "aha" moment in solving a math problem brings together the synthesis of logical thought and an intuitive leap of genius.
My thoughts: What a nice answer to the ever present question!

Kaleb Allinson To Accumulate a Rate  - -- Integrate
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "A LaTex Sandwich" and the author sums it up as follows: This post is about solving a Calculus problem involving the Sandwich Theorem. It's also about a webapp that allows you to easily get the LaTex code your looking for. If you're wanting to use LaTex to desplay math in your blog you're going to want to read this post and follow the link to Web equation. A memorable quotation from the post is: I’ve used LaTex before and have really enjoyed using it, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to type to get the exact math typesetting your looking for.
My thoughts: I like the title of his post - it fits very well. 

Jennifer Wilson (@jwilson828) - Easing the Hurry Syndrome 
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Zoom In" and the author sums it up as follows: I tried a thinking routine called "Zoom In" as described in "Making Thinking Visible". I showed students part of a piece of fabric and asked them to write about what they noticed, remembering that we were in a mathematics class. Eventually I showed them the entire piece of fabric and asked them to discuss what they saw in their groups. It worked...they saw transformations...the perfect lead-in to our unit on rigid motions. A memorable quotation from the post is: I had no idea if students would see reflections, rotations, and translations (and in fact, some saw flips, turns, and slides), but they did.
My thoughts: This is the second week I've "drawn" her blog in the NBI. I really liked how she explained how she used and adapted once of the MARS activities for her class. I haven't had the chance to really look through the MARS activities, but this will be one I am going to incorporate into my class.

Cindy W (@finding_EMU) - findingEMU
The third post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "New Blogger Initiative: Mystery Number Puzzles" and the author sums it up as follows: I successfully learned how to insert mathematical equations and expressions into a post by using LaTeX (and a cool "shortcut" to boot!) The lesson involves using "Mystery Number Puzzles" to help jump start Algebra students into solving linear equations involving just one "x" term. A memorable quotation from the post is: I am thinking of a number. . . . When I multiply it by 2 and then add three, multiply the result by 4 and divide by 6, then subtract 5, my answer is 1. WHAT is my number?!
My thoughts: This is the second week I've "drawn" her blog in the NBI also. Cindy does a nice job explaining what she has students do in class and incorporated LaTeX in her post nicely.

Monday, September 03, 2012

I've Been Busy

Well, I can honestly say that I haven't had a start like this in my teaching career. The last two weeks have been absolutely crazy. As I sit here at 7 am on Labor Day morning, I know I should be working on schoolwork, especially since I don't have tomorrow totally planned out, let alone the rest of the week, but I do need to clear my head a bit before I get started.

Two weeks ago, I was informed by my principal that I would be teaching 7th grade Financial Literacy, which is a new 9 weeks course for our 7th graders. 8th graders also (at this point) are taking a 9 weeks course of Financial Literacy. This has not been done in my district before and it is a state requirement. There are not a whole lot of resources from the State of Ohio, so needless to say, I have been scrambling. After some discussions, I have decided to try to teach about half of the material so that when these 7th graders are 8th graders next year, if this course has to be offered again (which may very well happen for a number of reasons that I am not going to get into here), whomever is teaching it has something new to teach them.

Last Monday and Tuesday were our teacher workdays. We were informed that we are to give Benchmark tests to our students and at least two more Benchmark tests during the year to show what value we add to our students. This is part of the new OTES (Ohio Teacher Evaluation System) that we begin this year because we receive Race to the Top funds. Within the next few years, all teachers in Ohio will fall under the new evaluation system. 50% of my evaluation this year is from the results of these Benchmark tests and 50% comes from my (principal's) evaluation. I put principal in parentheses because there can be trained evaluators who can evaluate me also. So, I scrambled to put together Benchmarks for my Algebra 2 and Math 2 courses to give to my students Thursday, before I had taught them anything.

I do have to say that my students really impressed me with the effort and thought they put into their Benchmarks. I felt that I did set it up pretty well. I had an epiphany on the way to school Thursday. It finally dawned on my why they keep using the word "Assessment" in the tests the state has us give.  A "test" can be perceived as a trial - for example, kids test their parents to see what their limits are. But by calling it an assessment (which I am going to start doing this year), you are calling it what it is - you are assessing what your students know. I don't know why it took me 20 years to figure that out. But I am making that change this year.

Anyway, I talked with my students Thursday as to why this Benchmark was important - that I needed to know what they came in knowing so I knew where to start teaching and what I didn't have to teach them because they already knew it. I also said that it will allow me to see how they grow over the course of the year. I told them that this would be the only time I would put a paper in front of them that had material on it that I had not previously taught them or exposed them to, or that they would not be given any guidance on. I also added that this was the only time that "IDK" would be acceptable on an assessment. I explained to them they would see at least 2 and possibly 4 more times where I would ask them to show me what all they have learned and know. I am seriously considering giving them the Benchmark at the end of each 9 weeks since there would be less material on it and hopefully a little less intimidating. I asked that they try to do something on each problem and if they really had no clue to write "IDK."

I was very impressed with the effort my students gave. In fact, I ended up giving them an additional 10-15 minutes on Friday to finish up. Of course, it was my freshmen (the accelerated kids - Algebra 2 at my school is a sophomore class for most) who worked the longest on it because I think it really bothered them that they couldn't do much on it. But even some of my juniors and seniors (the ones who are "behind") worked longer than I expected. Now, I will be honest, I haven't looked at them yet to see what they really did on it. We have had a very full weekend with family and fair activities.

So, after a start of school on Wednesday that included using 2 of the videos from Dan Meyer's Graphing Stories (thanks to @druinok for the idea!) and spending Friday after students finished the Benchmark going over How to Study Mathematics and The Cone of Learning (both from this blog post from @crstn85), I think I'm ready to start teaching. Well, almost ready - Tuesday brings going over SBG for the first time and an introduction to Cornell Notes. Then on to new material for my students.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

New Blogger Initiative - Week 2

It's week 2 of the New Blogger Initiative and I'll be honest, it has been a crazy week. It's my first week back and things have been beyond nuts. I apologize in advance for not offering much commentary here. As we've all said before, please take some time and check out these new bloggers and comment where you can. You know yourself how those comments can really help you. So, here we go...

Angie Eakland (@aeakland) - Coefficients of Determination
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "WANTED: Dead or Alive"and the author sums it up as follows: This post is about a project students worked on involving direct variation functions. It has all the elements of a good learning activity: higher-level thought, pulling out misconceptions, cementing good understandings, a little art, and a lot of fun! The project could be applied to almost any topic of study and the results were awesome! A memorable quotation from the post is: The results were amazing - less than 6% of my students showed any indication of needing any reteaching at all!
My reaction: This was a neat idea. Check this one out!

Jennifer Wilson (@jwilson828) - Easing the Hurry Syndrome
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "A Locus of Points"and the author sums it up as follows: Scaffolding questions for students in class can make a difference in both their understanding and their success. I scaffolded a few questions on the idea of locus of points using TI-Nspire Navigator Quick Polls, and I was pleased with the results. A memorable quotation from the post is: It may seem simple, but ultimately I want them to learn how to problem solve while they are taking their tests…to not be intimidated by questions they haven’t exactly seen before in class.
My reaction: I have not used the Nspire before. I liked how Jennifer incorporated the screen shots into her blog post - it helped me better understand what she was talking about as well as see how it was used in this lesson. Looks like some neat stuff!

Sherrell Wilson - Project Share
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Even teachers need a break!" and the author sums it up as follows: This blog is just a reminder to not let the stress of teaching get you down. A memorable quotation from the post is: The neat thing about teaching is that if you have a bad day, you can usually redeem yourself.
My reaction: We do have to remember to pamper ourselves. 

Megan Morrison (@mathwmorrison) - Math With Morrison
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "How to recharge after a challenging day…" and the author sums it up as follows: This may all be silly to some people, but as long as I stay positive and reflective, my worst days become a learning experience and I can move on without hurt feelings or a damaged view. A memorable quotation from the post is: Tomorrow will be a new day!
My reaction: It is incredibly easily to be negative. It is much harder to be positive. Megan provides some nice things to think about when things don't go well.

Erin Goddard (@ErinYBaker) - Math Lessons on the Loose
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Proud to Share Algebra Boot Camp for Calculus" and the author sums it up as follows: I incorporated and will be incorporating some more activities and projects into my Calculus class to make it better this year. I used samjshah's idea of Algebra boot camp in Calculus. There will be more boot camps to come for my calculus students, but they already faced two boot camps that went very well. I also have a concept map project that will be a continuous project throughout the year. A memorable quotation from the post is: (x+4)^2 = x^2+16 = AAHHH!!!!!
My reaction: I like seeing how others have adapted stuff I have read from other bloggers. If I am teaching Calculus again in the future, I have thought that I would use Sam's Algebra Boot Camp. She shares her handouts, which is always helpful.

Mary - X Y Pi
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Learning to Teach: I'm Sorry" and the author sums it up as follows: As I start off a year with two full time student teachers, I need to decide what they really need to know. One of the key things I think they need to be able to do is apologize. It keeps things positive, shows the teacher taking responsibility and gives students a chance to do it right the second time, no matter what happened first. A memorable quotation from the post is: I say apologize because that’s what taking ownership of everything that happens in the classroom often seems to boil down to, and if you’re secure in what you’re doing, it helps everyone.
My reaction: This really helps take the pressure off students sometimes and keeps them going. A good thought to incorporate.

Scott Keltner (@ScottKeltner) - Good for Nothing
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Math Blog Initiation, Week 2: License Plate Activity" and the author sums it up as follows: As part of a course project for a Statistics class, I exploited the license plate format of my own state: three digits and three letters. Students collected their own samples, pooled together to create a large sample for the entire class, and were given a list of criteria to include on a poster project. I include sample artwork for a demonstration version I showed them, as well as project instruction sheet and rubric, and a follow-up story that includes a run-in with my state's Department of Revenue. A memorable quotation from the post is: What a great time to seek out a sample license plate to help introduce this project in class, showing just what 3-digit numbers students were to collect! I enthusiastically contacted the State Department of Revenue (do a Google search to see how many results you have for that phrase; I'm pretty sure I just broke the shutout on that search) to see the potential of getting a default "SAM 123" plate or similar plate being available.
My reaction: Neat project! Scott reminds us through his experience with the State Department of Revenue that all we have to do is ask for stuff for our classes.

Meagan Bubulka - variablesofmath
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "Cool Project: Math and Art!" and the author sums it up as follows: This is a Similar Figures Project that I am really proud of. I have done it a couple times now and I love the end products - so fun to hang up to show off student work! This is also a great way to incorporate art into math! Using cartoons the students are more invested in the project because cartoons are always fun! A memorable quotation from the post is: We usually do this right after ISAT’s (Illinois State Testing) as a relaxing way to do math OR at the end of the year when they are done and you are done!
My reaction: Neat idea! I've seen my students do something similar in art class, but I had not thought to use it in math class as an introduction. I might use this one with my lower level sophomores.

Jimmy Pai (@PaiMath) - The Pai Intersect
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "[Activity] Angry Birds" and the author sums it up as follows: I used Angry Birds in class for an exploration-based lesson. The students had a blast, I had a blast, and we all took away a lot from the experience. The interactivity where students were able to actually play with the game and talk about it was extremely helpful. A memorable quotation from the post is: I gave them some time to talk, get excited, argue, discuss, then I collected their responses.
My reaction: I do like that he brought Angry Birds into the classroom to discuss parts of a parabola. Like many of the Angry Birds posts, it left me wanting more. I would love to incorporate it into my classroom, but I have not figured out how to do it more concretely (figuring out the equations, etc.).

Emily Steinmetz - Crazy in Math
This week's post for the Blogging Initiation is titled "boxes, reasons, and proofs... oh my!"and the author sums it up as follows: I use different types of proofs depending on what the student is trying to prove. I love flow proofs for congruent triangles and two-column for algebraic, segment and angle proofs. I utilize my SMARTboard because it helps manipulate the diagrams, statements, and reasons. A memorable quotation from the post is: The one topic in Geometry that brings students to their knees quicker than any other, is proofs…
My reaction: I have no experience with flow proofs. I know 2 column proofs. I have a vague idea of how paragraph proofs work. But beyond that, I have not messed with other ways to show proof. It was nice to see how she sets up flow proofs. I would love to see what a finished one looks like - this method of proof is way more accessible to some of my students and I'd love to use it.