Pentagames

Day 9 @teachthought #reflectiveteacher 30 days blogging challenge.  Here is today’s prompt: Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).

I don’t know if many people would consider an accomplishment, but I am pretty proud of the fact that I have brought Pentagames to Eastern Oregon for the last five years.  Pentagames is a mathematical competition that was started in Oregon in 1984.  It is a great way for academic kids to get the feel of competition while practicing their math.  You can find out more about Pentagames here.  When I moved to the middle school, I had heard about them before, so I asked my principal if we could host the event.  Thankfully, he said yes.  That first year we were terrible, but the kids tried really hard, I just wasn’t a very good coach because I had not done this before either.  We have improved greatly since then, winning 1st place overall in 2013 and 2nd overall in 2014.  My school has also allowed me to have a Pentagames class during 3rd quarter, the competition is near the beginning of 4th quarter.  During this class students get to play the different games, we learn strategies and practice math.  The kids from the class are then chosen to be a participant or a helper.  I am so blessed that my district, school and math department allow us to do this.  It allows us “nerds” to unite and have fun with math.  Also thank you to Cheryl Klampe-VanHess for starting Pentagames.  

Jenn

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3-2-1

My 3-2-1 Summary for the #mtboschallenge

3 Things that I want to work on

1. My timing – it feels like as soon as class starts it’s over.  I am doing several things each day, a number talk warm up, fluency testing and trying to do a lesson.  It is just too much and the day is over before we can start learning it feels like.

2. Number talks – they are going ok, but not great.  Lucky for me Fawn blogged about how she does number talks this week and I may do some adjusting to mine. 

3. Fact practice.  We did fluency testing this week and one averaged 7 minutes (I stopped them at 10) to complete 64 multiplication facts and had 14 errors on average.  Another class averaged 6 minutes (again stopping at 10) and had 11 errors.  The division facts were worse, they took about the same amount of time, but had 18 errors.  We have our work cut out for us.

2 Things I am happy about

1. My Seahawks beat the Packers easily on Thursday night football and I spent time this weekend watching some football.  I love football season.

2. I have a great team I am working with this year.

1 Thing I hope will happen

1. I have asked our district to send our middle school math department to the Northwest Math Conference in Portland, Oct. 9-11.  We find out on Tuesday if we get to go.  Fingers crossed!

Trying to catch up, days 5, 6 & 7

@teachthought #reflectiveteacher 30 day challenge, oops.  Well I didn’t get day 5 done, it was to take a pic of your classroom and share what you see and what you don’t see.  I have been in my room lots, but can never remember to take any pics.  Maybe tomorrow. 🙂  

Day 6 What does a good mentor do?  In my opinion a good mentor challenges you to be a better teacher.  There are many ways this can be done, for me personally, I like mentors that ask questions of me causing me to think deeply about my teaching and how I can better reach my students.  A mentor brings me new ideas to try in my room, but reigns me in so I don’t try to do everything at once.  I spend my summer finding great, new things to try in my classroom, but have a hard time sustaining all of them.  Another “job” of the mentor is to be a good listener, not only to what I am saying, but what I am not saying.  They can offer advice when I am struggling and share a laugh to cheer me up when things aren’t going so well.  

Day 7 Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?  This is a really hard one for me to answer because I have so many people that inspire me that I can’t pick just one.  However, this year has been one of my favorite starts to a school year and I think it is due to my math department at Armand. Anne, Dave, & Chelsea have been inspiring me since we first got together in August.  They are willing to help out with Google docs, lesson plans, or just a good laugh.  They make going to work each day fun and I know we are going to do great things this year.  

 

Love

@teachthought #reflectiveteacher  “What do you love the most about teaching?”

Today was one of those days.  The kind of day that reminds me why I love my job.  2 of my classes had homework last night, not much about 15 problems review decimal operations, and today we were going to “correct it”  I am trying something new this year and if it continues to go like today I am going to love it!  I told kids that instead of me telling them the right answer, they were going to compare answers with their partner.  If they both got the same answer then they were good.  If they got different answers, they both needed to rework the problem on the back, on the side, wherever to see if they could figure out who made the error.  If they still couldn’t they could ask another student at their table or nearby. The kids were engaged, they were sharing strategies, they were talking math and me – I got goose bumps just listening to them.  It was exactly how I envisioned my year.  I hope I can continue to create an environment where my kids give me goose bumps.    

Jenn

Improvement

3 days in a row!!!  Wow – go me.  I am not sure that anyone is reading this, but it is hopefully making me into a better teacher and really that is what I want.  No, seriously, stop laughing at me!  Ok, Ok – I really want fame and fortune, but since I am a teacher that will never happen.  So I will become the best teacher I can.  @teachthought #reflectiveteacher prompt for today is:

Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.  When I first read this I was unsure of what area I wanted to improve on.  I know I could use some improvement in just about every area, I think everyone can, but what one thing do I think would help me to become a better teacher so my students can learn better.  I went to my district’s evaluation handbook and look through our standards and the one that jumped out to me was Standard 7: Classroom Procedures and Physical Environment.  We have guiding questions and possible evidence as well as indicators for exemplary, proficient, basic & deficient, here are the questions & evidence.  The specific area I need to work on is transitions.  It is so easy for a middle schooler to get pulled off task and if I give them even a moment of down time they are chattering and moving around the room before I blink.  I am working on getting my stuff organized better so I am not spending time hunting for stuff while I am teaching.  And while this has helped I am not where I want to be yet.  Do you have any transition tips that work for middle schooler that I can steal?  Please share them!

I also want to come up with some attention getting signal, because saying “hey guys be quiet” 20 times is just not working. 🙂  I have 8th graders and I am worried that what ever I come up with will seem elementary.  I have watched Teacher Channel;s videos on attention getting signals but none of them feel quite right for me.  What do you use with middle schoolers?  

Jenn

Technology

I am on day 2 of @teachthought #reflectiveteacher 30 day blog challenge.  Today’s question is about technology you want to try this year and why.  I need to learn Desmos.  This is an online calculator that allows you to graph functions, plot data, evaluate equations, explore transformations & more.  And the best part is it is FREE!!!!  While I have been teaching 7th & 8th grade for a few years now, I came up from the elementary and don’t have an advanced math background.  This means I don’t use graphing calculators with my students or myself.  I have bookmarked some pretty cool lessons that other teachers have done using Desmos, but until I learn to use it better I don’t feel comfortable asking my students to use it.  Fortunately for me our district has a technology TOSA.  She, too, has an elementary background, but is willing to play with the site and then give me some tips on how to use it.  I think she should come to one of our PLC’s and teach all the math teachers.  If you have any tips for helping me learn Desmos please send them my way. Thanks

Jenn @mrscoxey

Goals for the year

I am working on being a better blogger and so I have accepted @teachthought challenge.  The challenge is to do a 30 day reflective blog, you can find the detail here.

Day 1 My goals for the year:

1. Use a math workshop model in my classroom.  I read Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer this summer and knew I needed to try this.  I am hoping  my students can become problem solvers and critical thinkers instead of just redoing what I do in examples.math book

2. We started school last week and the energy was great.  I want to help keep that energy up and positive. What are your tips and tricks for keeping teachers upbeat?

3. Be a leader who is willing to listen more than talk.  I find myself always being the first to share at team leader meetings and during PLC’s.  I can learn more by listening first and then sharing my ideas if necessary.