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!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

CMC math conference reflections

Wow what a memorable experience! Presenting is a very different experience than being a participant. So many things to worry about. To make sure that the Internet was working in the room, I went early and sat in someone else's session. I politely informed them that I wasn't going to be participating because I was just checking out the room and the Internet. They were very understanding and encouraging. Luckily I presented after lunch, so I was able to eat lunch in the room and even run through a little bit of the presentation.The microphone was set up for a panel. But there was NO WAY I was going to sit there and talk into the microphone the whole time.I asked the tech guy to set up a microphone and a stand for me.
     My presentation was very well prepared. John Stevens, and Paula Torres (my tech coaches) went over my presentation and made lots of suggestions. John warned me that he had bad luck with the Internet at the Hard Rock Hotel ,so I made a backup PowerPoint just in case. But by God’s grace, everything worked fine.
     The people started coming in early, and I was excited to see my colleague Rita in the room. My teaching partner Candace who's been on leave helped me greet people and get them logged into Nearpod. I was so thankful she was there because there were a lot of people that came late and needed the code to login. My session time and place had been changed from Saturday to Friday ,so there were some people that were expecting someone else. So I announced at the beginning the name of the session, and told them the other presenter had been changed to tomorrow. Many of them decided to stay anyways. That’s what happens when they change your time and venue.  But I'm not complaining. The ones that were there were enthusiastic!
     I was anxious at first , but as I went on I relaxed and started to have fun. The presentation in the next-door room was a “family feud “ game demonstration, so every once in awhile when the music was too loud, I had to walk up to the participants to hear their questions.I was able to go through all that I had planned, and was even able to add a few things at the end.The participants loved playing the Quizizz game.
     I was kind of nervous about the evaluation that the participants texted to poll everywhere. But I got a lot of positive comments, that were VERY encouraging.It validated to me that I'm doing the right things in my classroom.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Personalized learning

Personalized learning, what is it really? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Students all learning at their own pace, asking questions as they go along. Why haven't I tried this before? My experiment is working so far. My students are watching videos and taking notes on them on their own. They are learning without much direct instruction. I mostly walk around and help individuals. If I see a lot of students making the same mistake, I will stop to address it at the front of the class, but this is after they've already watch the videos and have begun the assignment. Many of them can do it on their own without any help. This has been a revelation to me. I also provide some type of PowerPoint or online written notes in case they don't get it from the video. They're  so much more engaged, and their test scores are much better than last year. One on one chromebooks makes personalized learning possible. Even though we have had a lot of Internet problems, starting out day one with this model has trained the students to do things on their own, and to ask their peers for help before asking the teacher. I have students asking to tutor other students during the class. This has worked amazingly well. When I changed the seating, I grouped those students who work together well. I've seen the test scores of the recipient of the peer tutoring go way up. Peer tutoring works! I hesitate to say it but, I think it works better than teacher tutoring( but not in all cases). My collab.class that has 9 special Ed. Students had the highest class percentage ( of all my classes) on the last quiz. My teaching partner is on leave. I love that the student with the highest percentage in that class is a special Ed student! A call out to Allen With a 97%. My first period class comes in early and starts the assignment before the bell rings. They are like busy Bees! Yes I still have the usual late students in first period, but when they come in, they just get to work and the late students aren't failing either. I don't make a big deal out of it like I used to. I speak to them privately to see what is going on.Yes! I have really changed my teaching, and my concept of school ! This is how school should be.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Reflecting on the week

  PERSONALIZED  Learning : What I've been doing has a name. Well, I corrected the second unit’s quiz on multi step equations. The class average was between 70 and 77%, not as good as the first test, but WAY better than last year. Unfortunately the Internet is not working now for the past week, so I'm not going to be able to continue my personalized videos until they resolve it. But I am showing videos in the front of the class and having kids come up to the board to do problems. The training they got working on their own seems to be continuing anyways.Thank God! But I am plagued by questions like “ are we using Chromebooks today? And when will the Internet be fixed? But I have no answer.
    I presented for the first time at the GAFE summit in Bloomington. I had a lot of anxiety, but it turned out fine. I learned sooo much. I'm already thinking about what I'm going to change for my CMC Math conference presentation . One thing I hadn't thought about was who would be my audience. I only had 2 math teachers in my group. The rest were English , History, Art, Science, and Foreign language . I ended up showing them some things that weren't planned because I wanted them to take away something more. The Art teacher stayed late after the session to discuss Art and math, and how she was having her student’s draw 3-dimensional cubes, prisms, and other math shapes. She was an amazing artist! I also made a new friend/colleague….Mr Bee! I asked him for some feedback on my presentation, and he made some great suggestions. It's good for someone to be honest ,so you can improve.
    Yesterday I went to EDCAMP Azusa 2016. My Tech.Coach Paula shanghaied me into helping. I had to be at her house at 6:30 am. It actually was fun helping and checking people in. In one of the sessions I got to demonstrate Quizizz. I also investigated Adobe Spark with another teacher I've never met before. My favorite session was on making videos. Paula had an amazing idea . She talked about how she had kids do test corrections by making a video on the problems they missed, having them explain how to do it on video. I'm definitely trying that. I love that idea! An added bonus, during the raffle I won the book “Instant Relevance”. Nice that I don't have to buy it now. I've been wanting to read it.
   Today I'm thinking about non digital lessons.I just can't go back to powerpoints and worksheets.I've come too far for that. I'm considering asking for my old portable whiteboards back from the Library.