Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Please help by sharing your classroom practices

I had my evaluation today. It was not pretty, and this was not totally unexpected on my part. As I am stepping back and looking at this year, the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that with the changes in my Algebra 2 curriculum (moving to Common Core, not using a textbook), I reverted back to what I know - using direct instruction. And I did it way too much. I knew that going into my evaluation. My students are not very engaged in my class, something else I pretty much knew. My evaluation did not tell me anything that I did not already know. Was I upset? Yes. Even though I knew where I stood, I haven't figured out what to do about it and the reality of where I am at coupled with that I don't really know how to fix it made me upset. I'm not going to rehash everything. It's not productive and at this point, I need to move on. I need to figure out how to fix stuff.

So, I reach out to my teaching friends in the Math Twitterblogosphere for help. I don't know who else to ask. Please remember that I teach high school (primarily 10th graders, but I do have all grades) and understand that I see my students 50 minutes each day. If you could share what has worked in your classrooms in the comments, I would be greatly appreciative. I need to have somewhere to start.

The two main areas I want to and need to work on are student engagement and differentiation. What do you do in your classes to have students doing most of the "work" if you will and you, as teacher, not being the one up in front of the class? How do you structure your lessons to accomplish this? I realize that not every concept will lend itself to some of these strategies, but any guidance you can give will help. John Scammell shared what he did with multiplying radicals earlier and I am using that here in the near future. How do you create these kinds of materials? How do you set up the worksheet for them to discover the rules? What other strategies do you have to share?

As far as differentiation goes, I guess the biggest question I have at the moment is how do you structure and put into practice differentiated assessments while making sure that every student demonstrates they know the concept and without making your job a nightmare to grade them? Do you use tests or do you use something else (projects, assignment, etc.)? If you don't use tests, how do you structure the project or assignment to ensure that the student demonstrates their own knowledge (as opposed to his or her knowledge with help) or do you not worry about it so much?

If you don't want to respond in the comments and would rather email me, you are welcome to email me at lmhenry9 at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance for your help.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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

Sunday, April 07, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Links (weekly)

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

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Lost My Mojo

Warning - venting ahead. Don't say I didn't warn you... :-)

I am worn out. I don't think I have worked harder as a teacher than I have this year, and to be honest, I cannot say that I feel that this has been my best year as a teacher. With Common Core and the changes to the Algebra 2 curriculum, I have been doing everything from scratch for it. Some of the stuff I have used previous years has been all right to use, but for the most part, I am starting fresh. I almost hate to say it out loud, but I am not happy with how stuff has turned out.

I had high hopes for this school year before it began. The year did not begin the way I would have liked it and I don't think that I ever really recovered from it. It's not worth going into the details and rehashing it, but as I sit back and reflect, I know that the start of the year ended up setting the tone for me. I had one stretch during state testing where I was actually ahead in my planning, but most nights I am planning for the next day or maybe a day or so ahead.

I feel so incredibly lost at times in terms of how I should be setting up my classes. I have taught for 21 years and for most of that time, I was the "sage on the stage." I don't think I ever effectively learned how to be the "guide on the side," even though those two phrases have been en vogue for a while. I want to be less helpful and push my students to do more of the thinking on their own, however, I find myself going back to direct teaching when introducing new material. I do have to say that I think my questioning techniques have improved. I do feel like I am asking good questions and I have brought in Max's "What do you notice?" much more into my repertoire lately. As I reflect on what I have designed this year, I still feel that an awful lot looks like what stuff from textbooks have looked like for years. From what we have heard on Common Core, I know that's not going to cut it.

It's not that I don't want to design better lessons. I do. I'm just not feeling it right now at all. I keep going back to that I don't know how to, but the reality is that I could probably figure it out with enough time and energy. Right now, I lack the energy. I feel like I have lost my planning mojo. There are even days that I don't find teaching as enjoyable as I used to. Now, part of that may be that I am teaching the same thing 4 times a day. Some of it is that I need some new tools in my tool box and I just haven't had time to find them.

I miss sharing on Twitter. I still read pretty much daily, although I do a lot of skimming. But the conversations are not the same for me. I find it hard to have some of the richer conversations that we did at times in the last 2 years - especially as I was trying to figure out Standards Based Grading. I really ought to be having some of those types of conversations on Twitter about planning and how to implement the Standards for Mathematical Practice in my classroom and all sorts of stuff. However, honestly, as of late, it seems that when I post a query on Twitter, it gets ignored or lost in the shuffle. I suppose I have to think about how to start the conversation in 140 characters again.

Like Kristen Fouss, I have thoughts about leaving the classroom this year. I can't quite pinpoint why I am having these thoughts. I have taught in the classroom for 21 years and that's pretty much what I know. But this year has worn on me. I can't say I'm thrilled with the direction things seem to be heading, not that I am totally sure what that is right now. However, I have no idea what what I would do instead of teaching. Would I like it? What if I am not happy not teaching? It would be very difficult to get back in with 21 years experience and a Masters Degree. Not to mention, leaving public education right now would dramatically change our life plans later on for my husband and I. However, the idea does intrigue me a little. I can't say I have seen anything that is worth pursing, but it is an interesting thought.

So where does that put me at the moment? Worn out. Trying not to start counting the days until the end of the year (we just started the fourth grading period - that could be really bad!). Trying to figure out where my planning and teaching mojo has gone and desperately wanting it to return. So, please, if you've seen my planning and teaching mojo, send it back. I won't even ask where you found it. I'd be very grateful. Thanks.