Monday, January 1, 2018

Reflections of 2017 and TMC17

Conferences, conferences ,and more conferences. EdTechTeam, CMC, CUE, and TMC. I counted 10 that I went to, or presented at this year. It’s probably too many, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I learned so much, and met so many amazing people.

But during the last week of school my mom got sick and everything came to a screeching halt. Reality set in. My brother and I took care of her for a month. We were really worried about her. I knew I was scheduled to present at TMC 17, but I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. With much prayer and help from the family, my mom fully recovered!  I was able to go to TMC.

 I spent a week in Atlanta Georgia. It was very warm, and a beautiful place. I met a lot of great people, and went to some thought provoking sessions. A couple things that stuck with me were that I wanted to try Delta math, and although I didn’t attend Annie Perkins session, the name of her session “mathematicians are not  just old white guys “ stuck with me. My students are mostly of Hispanic descent, and I feel that it’s important for them to see people like themselves on my wall. I want them to see themselves as mathematicians.

I decided I wanted to put up a wall in my room with mathematicians of all colors and genders. I started a search on the Internet and was “shocked” to find that there was very little out there as far as posters of diverse mathematicians. How could this be true in 2017? Luckily a TMC participant showed me an amazing Google Drive file that had what I needed for my wall. I love catching my students looking at it, and reading it at random times during class!!

Friday, June 2, 2017

BreakoutEDU on Thinglink 360 pictures

Thank you @algebrasfriend on Twitter for asking me to write a blog post on how I created my reviews on Thinglink 360 pictures. I should have done this months ago.Here goes…...

I first saw a breakout EDU at an conference last year. But It wasn't until I saw Dan Gallagher's post on Twitter about the ThingLink 360 breakout challenge that I decided to dive in. I signed up for the two week challenge in March which gave me access to Thinglink’s premium features to play with over spring break. I wanted to create a final exam review, so I did it a little differently than the usual break out.

This is how I did it:
  1. I didn't have any 360 pictures, so I joined a few groups on Flickr. I  joined “ 360 images for schools ” a Creative Commons teacher group. I also joined the “Equirectangular group” . People from all over the world share their 360 pictures with varying licenses. I've asked several people in the group if  I could use their pictures for a lesson.Once I told them I was a teacher, they had no problem letting me use their pictures.
  2. I used a review I already had from last year. It was already digital on a Google form. I broke it up into five parts. Note: You only want to have five sets of problems, to open the five different locks. If you try to do more than that, the students won't finish in 45 minutes. Keep in mind the complexity of the problems, and be creative on how they open the locks.
  3. I decided which problem set would go to which lock. Because it's math, the number locks were easy to do. But I had to be creative to come up with word answers for the letter locks.I looked on the website to see what other teachers had done with the letter locks. That really helped!
  4. I chose music for the breakout that went with the 360 pictures. You can use music you already own and digitize it, or download Music off the Internet. I used Amazon Music. Most of the songs I bought were $.99     
  5. I had my tutor, and other colleagues work through the breakout. This is a very important step because it's easy to miss a mistake . There also can be issues with Apps and permission settings sometimes.
  6. If you want to make this type of breakout . I suggest you Sign up for the Thinglink summer challenge. Starting on June 23rd for $25 you can have access to Thinglink’s premium features for a year.
  7. This is a video of my 5th period engaged in the Final exam review.
 Click here to see my Geometry Final Exam Review breakout

Links to ALL my breakouts are on my resource website:

Email me at : for the keys to the breakouts.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The best school year ever!

Where do I begin? Being a veteran teacher, I've broken out of so many things I used to do. I used to do lots of notes, Powerpoints, and Direct instruction. I rarely do any of those things anymore. This is how the year started….( Blog post from Sept.1st, 2016)

“My students test scores on the first two tests are higher than they have ever been in the last 3 years since we started the Common core. What’s going on???? This summer I decided to make very short  2 minute videos on my iPad to teach the skills and concepts. I’ve done very little direct instruction, and almost NO NOTES! They don’t have a formal notebook either. I didn’t make flip books like last year. But somehow they are learning, and much better than before.I MOSTLY WALK AROUND AND HELP INDIVIDUALS.”

     Since then I have continued my quest to have a more personalized learning model. I’ve designed my lessons to keep the students engaged. Reading many blogs, and books has been an inspirational and essential part of my learning. I learn daily from Alice Keeler, Matt Miller, Kasey Bell, and Dave Burgess on Twitter.

These are my takeaways from the year:
1. Engagement is better than compliance.( for the first time in my career, I didn't send a single student to the office) Students that are engaged, don't misbehave!
2. Keeping students in groups works. It became the norm to collaborate, and unusual to be in rows.
3. Feedback is CRUCIAL to student success.
4. Breakout EDU is an AMAZING tool for student engagement. (Especially on Thinglink 360 pictures). I plan to do ALOT more of this next year.
5. I should continue to share my ideas with colleagues in my WASC group, and other teachers by presenting at conferences.
6. Continue collaborating with like minded teachers from other schools, DON'T try to do it alone.
7. I need to continue learning by attending conferences, reading blogs and experimenting with new things.
8. Continue with mentoring from my tech coaches Paula Torres and John Stevens.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

MaThink conference

Last month I presented at my first MaThink conference in Riverside. I went in my room early to check out the connections and hookups. Everything was working fine as long as I used my hotspot. Then Jenn Vadnais came in. She was presenting first. She didn't have a lightning cord, so I gladly loaned her mine. Some of her Presentation wasn't loading so she called the tech person. Turns out the link wasn't working, so we got another one, and they gave us all individual passwords. I stayed to watch Jenn’s session on Desmos. I learned a few new things. 1. That you can add labels on the points, and 2. How to move points up and down, or side to side. She did an Awesome job!
      My session was full. I noticed that there were quite a few people without a computer. I was thankful that they brought in some loaner devices. It took a while to get started and for everyone to log in. As I went through the session there were many questions . I did my best to answer them. When I didn't know the answer, others jumped in to help. All in all I felt it went well. It was really nice to finally meet Kristan Morales from “Cue”. I've talked to her in email, and Twitter. She was very complimentary and said she's going to try Quizizz with her students. I asked if I could use one of her Padlets as an example in my next presentation and she said yes.
     At lunch I ate with John Stevens and Estefania Hernandez. It was great to have some colleagues there to hang out with. After lunch I went to Kristan’s Break out EDU session. Break out EDU is a big puzzle game where student find clues hidden in your room . It's very challenging, and students have to persevere to " Break out " before the time is up. Our group was able to solve the puzzle and open up all the lock boxes before time was up.  Kristan and her partner did a great job! I hope to do one of these for final exam review in May. John, Estefania, Paula Torres and I are working on some Integrated math ones. It great to have colleagues that are interested in collaborating. I'm so thankful for these people . I don't know what I'd do without their help and mentorship.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

What is success?

What is success? A lesson goes well and then we want to analyze and pick apart everything we did. That's exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago when I presented at the EdTechTeam summit in Indio. I presented many of the same things I had presented twice before. But I made two changes. 1. I had them make magnets for the refrigerators in my “magnetic equations.” 2. I did a demo of Padlet instead of just showing examples. All day participants were coming up to me telling me how great my session was, and now I'm going crazy trying to analyze it so I can re-create it again. The people I met were genuinely excited to learn, and so happy to be at the summit. . So was it the changes I made? Did I just deliver it better? Or was it that the participants were better prepared to receive it? I'm not really sure. I guess every group of people are different. I did have more Math teachers than before.Was that it? Not sure. I have more questions than answers.

Well, next weekend I'll be presenting at two more events. The MaThink conference and OCMC. Both of these are all Math teacher events. I'm thinking about whether or not to keep things the same, or change more things. I'm sure it will get easier with more experience and more reflection.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Fall Semester in Review

      Well the semester's over, and only 9 freshman failed the semester.The freshman F’s reduced significantly. I usually have at least 36 failures, sometimes more. What do I think made this happen? STUDENT ENGAGEMENT! If you have student engagement, I believe YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! I'm going to continue with the videos and engaging activities for the second semester Geometry class.
       Right before the break I received exciting news. My principal Mr. Alvarado chose me to represent my school at the the Cue conference in March, and the district is going to pay for me to go.I’m soooo excited! I’ve never been before. I had already asked Paula ( my tech coach) to get me in as a helper, but this is better!
          Now I need to prepare to present at the EdTechTeam Indio conference on Jan. 28th. I’m planning to showcase my magnetic equations lesson. But, I made examples using Kasey Bell’s fridge Template for multiple subjects: Science, English, Math and Spanish. Last time I only had two Math teachers in my session, so I want to be prepared for multiple subjects. I’m planning to have the participants create their own magnets for the fridge in THEIR subject area.
     One of my goals for next semester is to learn more about Google sheets/Excel. I plan to have my tech coach ( John Stevens) come once every two weeks. Working with one of Alice Keeler’s templates made me realize that I don't know much about sheets, and I need to put some time into it. I’m also very fortunate that one of our new VP's (Wes) was a tech coach last year and he LOVES sheets. When I’m having trouble, I'll just stop by the office to see if he’s busy lol! I’m so Blessed!!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Student engagement doesn't just happen

Student engagement doesn't just happen. You have to plan for it. You have to design your lessons for it. I used to do a lot of powerpoints and worksheets. I would spend whole periods having the students take notes, or make flipbooks. This is just mindless copying. Their brain is not engaged.  Then I would have them practice over and over the same thing. I wondered why a third of my students failed the test. This is not engagement, this is monotony and boredom. Math should be fun and interesting, not a chore. I knew I could do better.
     It wasn't until I got 20 computers in my classroom and did a collaborative project, that I realized what true engagement was. I got so excited,I wanted to learn everything there was about blended learning. I booked a tech coach once a week to learn a new skill. I went to ED camps and talked to other teachers about what they were doing in their classrooms. I joined Twitter and began reading math teachers blogs that inspired me.Next, I started creating my own assignments. There's nothing more empowering them this. Yes, I still use the same tests that I'm required to give for the IM1 class ,but my lessons are so very different than they were before.
     Now when I plan a lesson, I think about” is this engaging? What will the students learn by doing this? How can students create something, or add something of their own to the project or assignment? What are the DOK levels? “ Note taking is DOK 0.
I can do better. I have a different mindset.
     Making videos for the students to watch with their headphones has increased student engagement, and increased test scores. They are much more engaged watching me teach on a video, and working collaboratively with their own peers; than they ever were listening to me drone on at the front of the room.
    Creating lesson plans has become fun. Making the lessons engaging for the students is exciting and fun for me also. Devoting time to this has become a joy instead of a chore.I love creating things and so do the students! Isn't this what we all want as teachers. Students engaged and learning makes everyone happy. Happy teacher, happy students, happy administrators, happy parents!