A New Year, A New Teacher Part II

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So in my previous blog post I talked about how I was tired about what I was doing in the classroom.  Tired of running off the same copies and teaching the same lessons over and over again.

How I was so knowledgeable and not able to use.  How I was I felt that I wasn’t doing all I could.

Well January has certainly been a year of surprises.

I took a bold step and moved schools.  Mid year.  I left all my students.  All my friends.  Everything that I knew.  I took a huge leap out of my comfort zone.  Sure the transition was tough the first couple of days for both me, but my students as well.  However, after two weeks, I feel like I’m being blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel.

This week I finally feel that spark of teaching once again.  I have so many creative ideas and juices that I haven’t had in quite sometime, maybe even ever.  I am now able to use all this knowledge that I have kept bottled inside to use.

My new school is String Theory High School, located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia.  Although the high school is only in its second year, the K through 8 has been located in South Philadelphia on Broad Street since 2012.  What makes STHS so special to me is that it is a completely 1:1 school, and students choose from a variety of majors.

So although I am out of my comfort zone and that I feel exhausted, the love for teaching that I needed back, I got.  I might be sitting at my desk for several hours, but I’m creating MY OWN lessons and loving every second about.

I look forward to what the years to come look like at String Theory, but I know that they will be incredible.

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A New Year, A New Teacher

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The stereotypical thing to do on the first of the year is always to make resolutions. For myself personally, I find September to be the time to start anew, but alas midway through a school year I find myself deflated.

This year has been and uphill struggle. Although I’m teaching algebra for the third year at the same school, I am met with a new climate of students. My students this year are much further behind mathematically than in previous years, and certainly have different personalities. I’m trying to use the same lessons that have been tried and true through the past couple of years and they aren’t “sticking” as well as they have been.

So I’ve grown tired. I know that the news is always talking about the teacher burn out rates, but I am really passionate about this career that I’ve chosen, so something within ME needs to change.

I’m currently entering my last, and most demanding year of my master’s program through Michigan State. I have learned a multitude of technology resources that I can use in my class and I have implemented several of them, and even shared them, but I’m starved for more. I find myself constantly using ShowMe or the few Google applications that I know– but I NEED MORE.

So as a resolution this year, I am decided that I want to blog more, tweet more, and learn EVEN more. The reason that I love teaching so much is because I love learning and then passing on that information, so why have I stopped!?

I think that I have pumped the breaks for too long, and now is the time to make sure that my students not only succeed, but also fall in love with math.

An Attempt at Scratch

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During my time in Ireland with my MAET program, my coworker from MACHS Jen created a script using MIT’s Scratch to help her students with inequalities on a number line.  As far as technology goes, I’d like to think that I can learn things fairly quickly and with ease, so when I was assigned to create two projects on Scratch for my CEP course, I thought that this would be a piece of cake.

Boy was I wrong.

I looked on of the first projects called It’s Alive.  The objective was to have a creature on the screen love across it.  Seemed fairly simple? Wrong.  I spend at least a half hour just trying to figure out why I was using the repeat function and then wondering why I couldn’t change from one creature to another.  Once I settled for the penguins exchanging hellos, I could not figure out why one wasn’t talking back, or why the other was continuing to walk across the screen.  I finally took a breath before going through the code and trying different motions and wait times to get something that looks like this:

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/32655264/?autostart=false

Although it was extensive, I was surprised at how frustrating it was to create it.

I thought back to week 2 with the assigned readings, and I of course thought back to my students.  Currently I am teaching an HTML and CSS coding class that requires my students to create projects in HTML coding.  This being my first year learning and then teaching coding, it has been a huge learning experience.  My students struggle on a day to day basis with debugging and reconfiguring things to work, that most of the time they stop and give up.

Debugging is a huge component of both computational thinking and problem solving skills. Students need to plan and when the plan falls through, have the ability to breath, look over the plan and see where the error is and try something new.  Adjust it.  Change it.  Scrap it.  Start over.

After taking a moment, looking over other projects and examples I was able to figure out how to make an animation.

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/32661478/?autostart=false

Here’s more Scratch Projects that you could work on yourself.

 

Robot Activity

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One of the assignment for my Computational Thinking graduate course required my students to think and program like a computer.  The assignment asked students to create code for “robots,” or other students to perform.  The idea was for students to use the following codes to stack cups:

↑ Pick Up Cupcup_templates2
↓ Put Down Cup
→  Move 1/2 Cup Width Forward
←  Move 1/2 Cup Width Backward
↷ Turn Cup Right 90°
↶ Turn Cup Left 90°

The end goal was to get the “robots” to create one of the following diagrams on the right.

See how the process went:

#GREAT14 Conference

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During my second summer in the Masters of Arts in Education Technology, MAET, our cohort is responsible for creating a conference.

Knowing that this was something that I would have to work on this summer, I volunteered to run numerous workshops and head the technology personal learning community at school.  I made it a mission to find out what teachers want to know how to do in their classrooms, or describe their problems of practice.

I was very fortunate to work with 3 people that I admire from my MAET program and we were able to put on two really great sessions.  Specifically, Dan Priest and I put on a workshop dealing with implementing video in our classroom.

Both Dan and I explored two different aspect of videos in the classroom: myself from an instructional/ flipped classroom style and Dan from an illustrative/ conversation starter perspective.

After the session, both Dan and I received great feedback.  We were told that we inspired them to use video in their classroom, and that they appreciated my honesty with only using film in my classroom this past year.

If I were to do this process all over again, I would have like an Apple remote and more time to have discussions.  We were constricted to a 40 minute time frame, but if we had cut down the content that we displayed, the discussion wouldn’t have been as engaging.

I look forward to providing more sessions and workshops on technology in the classroom.

Using Google Drive

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So recently our mathematics department was discussing projects for student that did not pass the Algebra I Keystone exams.  

Our solution was to use Khan Academy.

Khan Academy allows students to learn at their own pace by providing videos, practice and problems to work on.  It started out a simply videos from a father to a daughter and bloomed into Bill Gates funding the project for all to use. I highly recommend Khan Academy to any teacher or parent or student looking to better their knowledge of not just math, but ANYTHING!  You can always learn something new.  

What’s also great about Khan Academy is that it aligns with Common Core and various Algebra I topics– perfect for what I need it for.  You can create accounts for students and “coach” them by providing recommendations of assignment or videos all FOR FREE!  A perfect price for any teacher.  Their app on the iPad is also awesome because it provides a scratch pad and calculator for a paperless environment. 

Better still, you can use your Facebook or Google sign in.  One less password and username to remember. 

Well as organized as a person I am, I knew that I would have to keep adequate documentation for my administration and anyone from the state that needed to see progress, so what better place than Google Drive.  All my students that had signed up with Khan had a Google account, so why not just share information via GMail and Google Docs.  

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With Google Forms, I was able to compile all the students email addresses.  

With Google Sheets, I was able to create an attendance sheet and share that with admin.  I was also able to create a checklist that I could share with the students and update as their progress updated.  No more of students constantly stopping by my room to ask if I had seen this or checked off that.  They could comment and I could comment back on what needs additional work and where they had been successful. 

I was able to do all of this with simple clicks of my Google Drive.  

No more stacks of papers to sift through. 

No more papers to copy.

All of it accessible from ANYWHERE.

 

Google Summit for Education

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Most people would not want to dedicate a weekend, their wonderful time off, to learning something new.  Clearly I’m not that person when it comes to techie and geeky things!

I was offered to go to Google Summit for Education, hosted by the Ed Tech Team and I had an absolute blast learning from educators from all over.

I learned how to integrate STEM into my class and how to spark creativity.  I learned tips and tricks with Google Docs and YouTube.  I made new friends who are successful with flipped classrooms and saw some old friends from my graduate cohort.  

I will say that at the end of my two days with nothing but Google, I was brimming with ideas that I could use in my classroom. 

Stay tuned to see what happens . . .