Saturday, October 29, 2016

Week #8

So, yesterday concluded week number eight of my student teaching experience. This week had a lot of ups and downs, and I can't wait for tomorrow to be over to have a few days to regroup.

On Monday, our Algebra students took a test.  Five of my students failed the test.  I know it is normal for students to fail a test, but I still feel like there was something I could have done to change the outcome. My mentor teacher tried to reassure me that there will be students in every class that fail, and that it is up to them to ask questions and ensure their success. However, that feeling stuck with me all day long.

Tuesday was okay.  The seventh graders worked very diligently on an activity that involved a lot of hard work on their part called Number Line City. (The link takes you to an answer key of the assignment that I found online.)  They had to use the idea of distance to add and subtract rational numbers.  I've discovered that distance is an idea that they really struggle with.  Many of the students - especially in our co-taught classes - had no idea how to find the distance between two points.  Many of the students also kept wanting to make distances negative, which seemed odd to me.  Overall, however, they worked diligently and were awesome!

Wednesday, I used technology in the classroom - that wasn't graphing calculators.  I have not used a lot of technology during my student teaching, mostly because the idea of using it scares me.  I'm afraid it's not going to work, what happens if the Internet goes down?, or what happens if a student harms the laptops from the laptop card?  However, I decided I was going to take the plunge and do it.  I created a quiz on Quizizz and it was great!  The students LOVED IT and it was very fun and interactive.  What makes Quizizz very fun is that you can play as a whole class (like Kahoot) or you can have them play individually.  I chose to have them play individually and they could play against a partner if they wanted to.  They had a lot of fun, and many of them chose to go through and play multiple times!  I kept walking around the room and hearing, "Ms. L, I am playing again because I got some of them wrong, and I want to improve," and "Ms. L, this is so fun, why have we not done this before?!"  Once the students are done with a quiz, you also get an Excel spreadsheet that shows what students got what questions right and wrong.  This would be a great site to use in the middle of a unit to see if there is anything that needs to be retaught before you are getting really close to an assessment.  Overall, Wednesday was a great day, and I am planning on using Quizizz again, but with my Algebra students this week!

Thursday was also a great day!  I went to professional development on Number Talks.  In my (minimal) experience with PD, I have discovered that it is either very helpful and awesome, or very boring and not useful.  This PD fell into the very helpful and awesome category.  It was a full day PD that instructed secondary math teachers on what number talks are, and how to start implementing them in the classroom. As part of our registration fee, we got the book Making Number Talks Matter by Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker.  (Link takes you to Amazon.)  I've been eyeing this book for a while, and have heard so many great things about it.  I can't wait to dive into the book and really discover more about number talks.  At the PD, we learned what number talks were and got lots of resources on how to start to implementing them into the classroom.  I am hoping to try one with both the seventh graders and the Algebra students this week!  Keep posted for updates on how it goes!

It was hard to go back to work on Friday after having PD on Thursday (and getting to sleep in a whole half hour!).  Friday was extremely busy and went by extremely fast.  I taught all day long, and on top of it, was trying to catch up from when I was out on Thursday.  I gave an Exit Ticket to all of my students Friday, as I am really trying to get better at giving more formative assessment, and making that formative assessment useful to drive the instruction. (This is something that I am really struggling with, as I am trying to find a good way to do it -- any tips would be greatly appreciated.)

If you have made it this far into what has turned out to be a very long post, thank you!  It is now Saturday, and I am sitting on a pile of work.  I have looked through about half of the exit tickets from Thursday and Friday.  I still need to look through the Algebra tests and find out what a majority of students got wrong, so we can look at some mistakes in class this week.  (This is something new I am trying out, but hoping will be beneficial.  We will see....)  I still need to finish grading the seventh grade quizzes from Thursday.  (My mentor teacher was a saint and graded about half of them for me Thursday when I was out.  The other half are up to me!)  I still need to cut out the laminated cards for our Inequalities Card Sort we are doing Monday in Algebra.  I still need to get a jump start and start working on making the activities for the week of November 9. 

Student teaching (well, teaching in general) is a lot of work, but I would not have asked for a different job.  Getting up at God-awful times in the morning every day is horrible, but seeing my students (mostly) smiling faces and seeing them learn makes up for all the long hours I am putting in!

I hope this week will be as good as last!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

First Post...

My goal when I created this blog was to start blogging once my student teaching placement got finalized. 

Well, that was in July.

And I am just now getting around to this first post.

My placement is in a middle school.  I am teaching seventh grade math and eighth grade Algebra 1 (the honors students).  When I first found out my placement was going to be in a middle school, I was worried.  I mean, really, really worried.  I wanted a high school.  I wanted trig or Algebra II or Pre-Calc or something that wasn't middle school.  Middle schoolers are hormone driven.  They are whiny.  They are downright obnoxious 95% of the time.

But you know what? I am really enjoying my time in middle school.  The students are great.  They understand my sarcasm (most of the time) and they still like you and want to please you.  It's like the best of both worlds.  So, what started off as me freaking out about working with middle school students has turned into me realizing that I have a passion for teaching middle school.

Overall, the first seven weeks have flown by.  Starting tomorrow, I will officially be teaching all the classes.  I started off right away by teaching two classes.  The third week of school, my mentor teacher bumped me up to teaching three classes.  Last week, I took over the fourth class, and am now teaching all sections of Math 7.  Tomorrow, I will take over the last class, which is the second Algebra class.

Half of the time, I feel like I am doing great.  The other half, I feel like a failure. (Case in point: Gave the seventh graders a self-checking homework assignment on Friday, and realized after they all left that I had made a mistake when I was creating the assignment and five out of the eight problems aren't going to be correct for them.)

The goal of this blog is going to be for me to reflect upon my teaching practices and how my placement is going.  I really wish I would have felt like I had time to start this sooner, but oh, well.  The last seven weeks of my placement will be documented here.  I'm hoping to be able to blog around three times a week and share with you all the fun things that we are doing in middle school. 

Until next time!