Monday, August 28, 2017

Transformation Lab

This is an extension of an activity that I found awhile ago from Andrew Shauver. He turned reflections into a 3Act problem, asking students to use knowledge of geometric properties to decide which reflection was executed the best.

I thought this was a great activity to go along with these notes which require students to perform their own transformations, much like the pictures from Andrew's lesson.

When I've done this I like to have the students do the measuring themselves. This could be individually or in groups. I think it's a great way to reinforce the geometric facts of what it means to be a reflection/translation/rotation/dilation and helps to show what a congruence transformation means. Really great conversations happen about side lengths, distances, parallel lines, etc. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Proving Triangles Congruent Tip Sheet

More geometry things today!

I didn't make this up, just reformatted something I found here. Formal proofs are one of the things that I'd avoid if given the choice, but it is part of our testing here so it is a necessary evil. So when we do congruent triangle proofs this is something that they can use to help lay out the logic involved.

Download: pdf    ppt

Friday, August 25, 2017

Geometric Transformation Notes

This is one that I've had around for awhile but never shared it since I didn't find it all that unique. It is something that I use every year though so thought I'd share. I think it's a good basic page of notes for geometric transformation. 

One disclaimer though is that I don't have any pictures of it all filled in. I'll do my best to describe what goes into each. Something interesting about these files too is that I think they do a good job of showing the direction I've moved with the way I use ISNs (a word I even hesitate to use anymore- but that's a much longer story for another time) and the notes I give. There's a lot less focus on fancy foldables, and fill in the blanks, and things of the like. I've been spending far more time trying to focus on big picture ideas and understanding the major concepts behind how things work. 

These notes are along those lines. There are four, one for each type of transformation. Each is a pretty big idea and is more than one day's worth of work. Usually we'll fill in different pieces on different days, definitely never a whole class period of note taking. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Teenagers are like soap

I read this in a magazine recently:

Think of a teenager as a wet bar of soap. If your contact is too light, it will slip out. If you apply too much pressure, it will do the same.

While this was intended as parenting advice, it is also good classroom management advice. I've taught both middle and high school and while middle school often gets the bad rap, managing high school classes seems to be especially tricky business. It seems often that teachers struggling with classroom management falls under one of these two camps.

Trying to come in too authoritarian doesn't go over well. Coming in with a long list of rules and making it clear that they're not going to get away with anything doesn't go over well. With these teachers, the kids start to enjoy making them angry.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Organ Function Grinder Machine

This is an activity that I really like but forgot about for awhile. One of my projects for this summer was to clean up all my files and I recently rediscovered this. After starting this post, I even rediscovered that I blogged about this awhile ago right after I made it. 

Since then I've refined it a bit so I thought it was worth sharing again.

A bit of background is that this idea came from the Math Midway exhibit which was here at the Liberty Science Center awhile ago. My favorite was the Organ Function Grinder. This is the activity guide that goes along with the exhibit. 

This activity is my attempt at recreating the exhibit. 

The basic idea is a three function machine where the kids needs to play with the dials and choose input numbers to try to make goal numbers. I really like that they include some interesting functions, especially invert. I also like that there are more than one way to get the answers, that's always a huge plus.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

SBG Score Posters

In the past, I've hung up a "What does my grade mean?" poster, that was too small to be usable.

This year I hung these up instead:

(the typo is corrected in the file below)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Some classroom finds

Within the past couple years I've been making an effort to spend less money and time on decorating my classroom. I've accumulated so many things that I really don't need any more. It is hard though when I find pretty things to not buy them all. These are some fun things I've found lately that I wish were going to be in my classroom.

These I was really surprised to find at Ikea. I'm not sure if they're intended to be motivational posters or if they're just playing into the typography trend, but they're perfect for the classroom.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Course Guide

This is a super old post that for some reason I never published. I do still use this as my syllabus posted on my website. I also still use the one black and white version for the kids' notebooks.  So while it's it's an old post it's still relevant. 

Old post:

Last summer I revised my syllabus into this one page course guide which I really like. Well I came across this awesome syllabus on Pinterest and which made me want to revamp mine yet again. 

In the past I've always made different versions for my different courses but really my class policies and information is the same in all my courses so I decided to take that out and just make it a general information sheet on the highlights.

In the tweet below, Rob Patin shares the Photoshop template he used to create his original version.

I discovered this far too late and it could have made my work in recreating this way easier, but oh well. Below is what I came up with. All the information is my own except for the section on Remind101, that is taken from the original. I loved pretty much everything about it so I didn't change all that much.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Metric Conversion Posters

These are some other ones from the archives (aka folders I'm cleaning out and forgot I ever made). I know the multiply/divide by 10 is a bit of a trick (I like to convert using proportions), but maybe someone might like them.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hang in there

This is super random, but I came across it while cleaning out an old folder. It was someone else's idea and was intended to be reminiscent of the old kitten poster. I never did print it out but thought maybe someone would like to.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

SBG Updates- Grading

Following along with how I changed the way I write questions, I have made a couple changes to my grading system.

Change #1: Getting a 5
Before:"A 4 means pretty much perfect and the only way to get a 5 is to get two 4's."
When I started including a reach question on each assessment I started letting students get to a 5 right away. I did really like the previous system, but this is just how I'm doing it now and I do really like including more challenging questions. There typically aren't that many students that receive perfect scores so there is still a lot of reassessing that occurs. Also, the difference between a 4 and 5 is only five points (95 vs 100) so I do still feel like it's fair for all students that I'm including a question that might be beyond the reach of some students. I feel that the fact that there are always some students that get the harder questions means that I should be including them.

Friday, August 4, 2017

SBG Assessment File Organization

After using standards based grading for five years now I have accumulated quite the bank of assessment questions. I didn't really have a good way of saving/organizing them and it started to get hard to find what I was looking for. I reorganized things and it made things much easier for me this year. Like my last post, I feel that there is a good change everyone has already been doing this and I'm late to the game yet again.

This was what my files looked like:

Each was an assessment I gave. In theory I planned to assess the skills in the same groups but in reality that didn't happen. So every time I gave a new quiz I'd have to look for questions from all over and then piece together a new assessment. Questions started to overlap and it was getting frustrating.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

SBG Infographic

A couple years ago I found this and thought it was so fantastic:

I modified it for my own use and hand it out now and back to school night and anywhere else I need to explain standards based grading:



I print it double sided and fold it in half, like a pamphlet. On the back I include another page relevant to my class. Unfortunately I do not have editable files to post. Like CVU Learns I used piktochart and then copied it into pieces into Photoshop.

Download (not editable)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

SBG Updates- Student Record Keeping

I don't remember if I ever shared the original, but this is the updated version of the record sheet my kids keep track of their grades on. I used to fill in the skill # and description myself and give them copies of all that filled in but things would sometimes end up changing and it was too much to keep up with. 

Now I use this version which is just general and easy to keep a bunch of on hand.

Basic layout idea from here

Every time I hand back assessments they fill in the skill # and description from the quiz and then record what score they got and color in if they need to. The solid line between 2 and 3 is because that's the proficiency/passing line. If they score lower on a requiz I do not lower their score, but I do want them to record it so they can see that they did go down in understanding. Likewise, I want them to see if they keep scoring the same thing over and over.

Download: doc    pdf

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My take on the growth mindset posters

Over the past few years my classroom hasn't changed all that much, but last year I hopped on the growth mindset trend and added something new. After seeing tons of those "Change your words change your mindset" bulletin boards (originating here it seems) I wanted put my spin on it.

A few years ago when I hung up my simple rules posters I found that I got a lot more use out of them than I'd anticipated. When kids try to give up I point to the wall and tell them that unfortunately it's a rule that they're not allowed to give up. It seems to be lighthearted and they don't get as angry as if I just tell them they have to keep working.

So I liked the growth mindset posters for the same reason. While I really liked them all, for me nine was just too many. I feel like the more stuff that goes up around the room, the less kids are able to focus on it all and it's less meaningful. So I took out the four that I thought I could get the most use out of and made this poster:

Monday, July 31, 2017

SBG Updates- Assessment Question Design

Overall the way I'm using standards based grading hasn't changed all that much but I have made some changes to things that I'm pretty pleased with. The main things that have changed are the way I design assessment questions and last summer I changed the ways that I organize the skill quizzes. Both have helped me quite a bit. Right now I'll explain the question design, more on the organization later.

Like much else, this idea wasn't my own. For all I know this could be how everyone else is already writing quizzes and I was just out of the loop. A coworker and I attended an NCTM workshop a couple years ago and went to a session on SBG. It was a great one because it was a district that uses it district wide and were explaining their system. A decent amount was similar to what we were already doing but they had a really great system for how they design assessments. (I wish I could credit who this came from but it was nearly 3 years ago at this point and I just have no idea)

Before, I don't think there was any rhyme or reason to what questions I included. I tried to cover a variety of different aspects of the skill and would then grade based on what I saw.

The suggestion was to create each skill with questions of increasing difficulty to make it easier to determine what the student does/does not understand. Each skill contains five questions ranging from the absolute basics needed for the skill to a challenge question that requires the student to apply the skill to something not explicitly covered in class. And what I found most helpful was that they said they begin by writing the middle question. So for each skill they think about what does basic proficiency looks likes and make that the middle question. Then from there it's easier to scale the skill up and down. I don't always stick to exactly five questions, but the idea did help me to write quizzes easier.

This one is a good example of what it looks like on one of my assessments:

First questions is on there to see if the student understands the idea of distance. If this question is not correct, then I know right away what the problem is and where to start. The third question is the basics of what I want them to be able to do. The fourth puts words in to see if they get scared. If they can do the 3rd but not the 4th I know the words threw them.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Still here

Hey, it's been awhile. Checking in here because a couple people said they missed me and I appreciated that very much. I do have a few new things that I've wanted to share, but before that here's a quick recap of what's been up lately:

What's new:
  • My time management (aka probably the reason I don't blog anymore)
    A few years ago I was spending all my time doing work and it wasn't working out well for me. I'd bring work home at night, I'd work on things during the weekend, I'd spend all summer making posters, buying things for my classroom, blogging about work, etc. It just got to be too much for me so I don't do it anymore. I'd write more about this but I fear that it might come off too negative sounding.
  • This guy

    His name is Snoopy and I adopted him about two years ago. This is him last summer hanging out with me while I set up my classroom. He's super cool and helps greatly to occupy my time outside of school so that I can't spend all my time doing work. So he's not school related, but that picture is so that counts.
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