Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Rodney King Verdict and a choir festival ( an unfortunate day to be on a field trip)

My most memorable field trip ever!!!
When I used to be a choral director, I went on MANY field trips;
In fact over my career I’ve counted more than 100 field trips. These were the days before “No child left behind “, before massive testing was the norm. The school was not concerned if kids missed class to go on field trips to expand their learning. We performed at senior centers, and homes for the mentally challenged. We performed at Disneyland, went to San Francisco, San Diego, and cruises down the coast of California stopping in Mexico.
We had just performed in a choir festival at a High school in Glendale….
and everything was going as planned. The students were on the bus and were very excited to go to Magic Mountain. I remember that many of the students had never been there before, and the ones who had been there were excitedly talking about all the roller coasters. As we neared the exit we saw something strange! There were people pulled to the side of the freeway standing outside of their car. What is going on? ( Remember this was 1992, and most people didn't have cell phones yet). The traffic slowed down and we saw the Wendy's restaurant ( that I had been to many times before when I worked at Magic Mountain), the windows were broken, in fact people were running around throwing things. What is going on??? We finally made it to the entrance of Magic Mountain. The attendant said” the Rodney King verdict came down today, there is civil unrest, so we aren't letting anyone else in. “ What do you mean, we can't come in? We fund raised all year to pay for these tickets, we have been looking forward to this all year!” After a few phone calls to the district, the bus turned around and headed home . The kids were screaming and crying. There was an outpouring of emotion like I'd never seen before. Such disappointment ! The discussions on the bus turned to whether or not we would get our money back, could we go on another day, “HOW COULD THEY DO THIS TO US?”Hardly any of the kids were interested in why this was happening. I tried to explain what was going on to the students, but it was too much of a “ hot button” issue. Everyone was too upset. I was relieved when the bus got very quiet and many of them slept from exhaustion , and their output of emotion. Needless to say it was the longest most difficult bus ride home I've ever experienced. After all the students were picked up and I went home , I was exhausted so I sat in front of the TV and watched the news. I saw the riots, the looting and the city burning! There had been a shooting at Magic Mountain! They had cancelled a concert by the Rap group TLC, and someone started shooting. I was so thankful that we had left Magic Mountain!  I was worried about the backlash I would get from parents on Monday, but none of that mattered now. We were out of harms way.We dodged a bullet! God had protected us. Looking back it was probably good that we didn't know the scope of what was going on. I will never forget this day!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reflections of the last year

     Reflecting on this past year's events, my brain is swimming. I've tried so many things, so many firsts. I've taken a lot of risks. I worked with a Tech coach every week .( Thank you Paula!) I've tried: Glogster posters,Thinglink vocabulary posters,Construction videos recorded on Doceri posted on a Thinglink,Google forms answer sheets corrected by Floobaroo, Socrative, Would you Rather, Which one doesn't belong, Estimation 180, Digital homework folders on Google slides, Google slides projects, organizing units on Padlet, student blogs on Padlet, Dermandar panorama app,Google drawings posters,Formative interactive lessons,Desmos activity builder and Polygraph, Quizlet live, Quizizz, Kahoot, Quizalize, Geogebra tube ,Nearpod interactive lessons. 

      I presented to the special Ed Department and a small group on a Friday morning. I applied to present at two conferences, that I never would have if it wasn't for the encouragement of my tech coaches. Thank you  Paula Torres and John Stevens ! Now I've started this blog.
     I need to reflect on which things to do again, and which things to throw out.What can I do better? How can the students take more ownership of their learning ? I need to think about adding higher DOK levels.Have students present, post, and publish everything. I know I can do better!
How can I restructure my Tutorial class to be more effective? They are Freshmen who struggle in Math, double blocked, 6th period(end of the day). I'm thinking game based, made to strengthen their skills and understanding, interactive , challenging but fun, collaborative. 
                                                Tutorial class playing Quizlet live!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

An unlikely candidate

An unlikely candidate , ( my journey to becoming a math teacher )
I remember the Fine Arts department chairs reaction.”You want to teach what? Why? “ Another said  “I hate math!” and another teacher at my site said  “why would you want to teach math to these kids? “ Not too encouraging to say the least!

In  2003 a lot  of things happened . I got divorced, developed a gluten allergy , and became a Christian . I knew I didn't want to teach dance anymore, and my father's words echoed in the back of my mind from my senior year of high school. He looked at my SAT scores and said “you should be a math teacher.” At 18 that was the last thing I wanted to be. I wanted to be a musical theatre performer or choral director. But here I am 25 years later wanting to do exactly that!

My first year :Trial by fire.
My first year I taught three math classes in the choir room, and I had many observations from multiple administrators. I was so excited to teach math that I didn't care where I was, and didn't realize that I was teaching the math classes that the other more experienced teachers didn't want to teach,” the repeater classes.” These were students that had failed math over and over for many reasons, not all being math ability. It was quite a colorful cast of characters. The most memorable being a student who was on “house arrest” who wore an ankle bracelet and a Satan worshiper that dressed in black, wore a Pentagon necklace and read the Satanic bible for silent reading.We were doing Mastery Math at the time, so the students repeated and changed schedules every quarter. When I look back it was pretty nuts!

I tried to make learning math fun by playing games, doing card searches, and I even had them do a project in which they could; write a Math story, compose a math rap or song, or make a math poster. I developed a “heart” for these students. They just wanted someone who cared about them as people, not just math students. I got to know them, and many of them came back year after year to visit and to look at their “star” on the ceiling.( for passing the class)

Fast forward, I was allowed to teach a couple regular on track classes, and become part of the Algebra team. I was amazed at how easy it was to teach these classes, and fun. The students actually wanted to learn math, and I didn't have to “ convince them “ to do their work.

One of my favorite memories is the CMC Math conference. That first year I went alone, not knowing what to expect.I met a nice group of Christian ladies who taught math at a private school. They carted me around in their van, and invited me to lunches and dinners. I attended a session with Fulton and Lombard. At the end of the session he did this card trick where he asked us to pick numbers from our social security, birthday and other numbers .I ended up holding the Ace of spades,  and I got first choice on all their books for free! I knew then I was in the right place. This couldn't just be coincidence . I even started dating a math professor.