Day 2: Multiple Maths Sessions

Today all of the secondary math(s) teachers met and had a mini-conference. At least, I guess that’s what you would call it. We had several sessions to choose from during 6 different time blocks.  I was presenting during 2 of those blocks, so I was able to attend 4 other sessions.

The first session I attended was about Smart Amp. This appears to be a pretty neat platform with lots of different collaboration options. We did run into a few technology glitches, but those had more to do our with our district filtering. It was a great session. I don’t know that I will use Smart Amp this year just because I have several other new things I will be implementing this year. I will keep it in mind for later.

My second session to attend was presented by an Algebra 1 teacher at another campus and how he uses standards-based grading and Workshop Model. I found this to be very informative because I plan to incorporate SBG this year. At this point, I still have no idea how I am going to implement it, but I still have a little over a week to figure something out. My mind has been struggling with this idea for a few weeks. I want the grades I give to show what students know, not whether or not they can turn in work. Yes, they need to turn in work for me to know what they know, but I don’t want to give them a zero just because they didn’t turn inn an assignment. The teacher that was presenting used some spreadsheets to help him keep track of grades and then he would add them to the district gradebook later. I am looking for something that might be a little easier to track. I have looked at and created an account to play with. I really have very little idea about how to proceed. I am reading Marzano’s “Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading.” I have barely started it, though.  Lots of reading to do in the next few days.

After lunch, I attended my friend Mary’s session on Modifying Problems for Workshop. She did a great job!! It was encouraging to hear that I don’t have to have a “juicy” problem for every day of the year. I was really kinda stressing about that! Mary shared some great examples of problems to use and some great resources (#MTBoS). I know I have a great resource to go to this year as I am modifying problems for my students to use as rich mathematical tasks. Thank you, Mary!

The final session I attended was Google Math. We looked at different Google Apps and how we can use them in a mathematics classroom. I already use most of the ones we talked about, but I did notice a few new things in some of the Add ons that I hadn’t seen before. Time to do some more playing around.

Today was a great day of learning. We have some amazing, growth mindset teachers in Amarillo ISD! Thanks to all who shared their knowledge today!

Day 1 PD Done!

Today was our first official day back to work! We started out with a quick campus meeting and then headed to our district convocation. When your own thoughts and plans for the year fall in line with the District’s focus and the superintendent’s word for the year–woohoo!! Our four cluster directors talked about the profile of a graduate. This includes scholars that are thinkers, communicators, collaborators, and contributors. Then our amazing superintendent, Dr. Dana West, shared her inspiring message for us to be innovators. She talked about taking risks and not being afraid to “fail forward.” 

This was all wonderful to hear, especially when my plans for the year include providing alternative seating, more problem based learning, teaching students to have growth mindsets, and standards based grading. All new ideas for me. At least I know if something fails, we will be “failing forward”! I am sure we will have to make adjustments along the way, but I feel I am moving forward in a great direction. 

Our afternoon consisted of working together as a campus staff in team building activities at our local Boy Scout Camp. It was a warm, no–hot, afternoon, but it was a fun time! 

I ended my day participating in Global Math Department’s “Back to School Night Ignites” webinar. How I didn’t know of this amazing group before now I do not know! I have learned so much this summer from so many different people! I have so many new ideas and things I want to try. It is hard to narrow it down to the things I find most important right now. I know I will become a better teacher and continue to grow as a learner. I am excited to begin a new school year and train some new brains to grow!

Summer Ramblings

Time to commit! This is my first official blog post! Thanks Mary for spurring me on with your first post! I have intended to start blogging for over a year now. I just wouldn’t ever get started.

I have spent my summer reading for my own professional development more than ever before. It has caused many ideas to begin rambling around in my head. So many things I want to try in the upcoming school year, but I know must pick only a few to focus on at a time. The overarching theme I want throughout all of my classes comes from Jo Boaler’s “Mathematical Mindsets.” I want students to develop a “growth mindset,” become problem solvers and know that making mistakes is a positive thing in my classroom. That is how they know they are growing and learning.

I teach high school mathematics at Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning (AACAL) in Amarillo, TX. As of now, I will be teaching Pre-Calculus, Algebra 1 and Mathematics for Medical Professionals (shortened to Med Math for obvious reasons). For Algebra 1, I will be planning with other teachers on my campus, so I am not sure how much I will be able to influence them to try some of the things I want to try. We will just see. For Pre-Calculus and Med Math, I am the only one teaching these courses on my campus, so those will be the courses I will try out some new stuff.

I know for both classes I will be starting the year with the Week of Inspirational Math from I used this last year and my students loved it. However, I did not do a very good job of continuing tasks and activities to encourage a growth mindset the rest of the year. This year I want to increase the number of “low floor high ceiling” tasks in all my classes. I know, though, that I will have to come up with many of those on my own, especially for Med Math.

My first focus for the school year will be Pre-Calculus. I have students that will be at many different levels as they come into this class. Due to our scheduling and availability of faculty, this course can only be offered as Pre-AP/Dual Credit. I have students that wanted to take Regular Pre-Calc that will be thrown into this course. I do NOT want them to be afraid of the math. I want to show them that no matter where they are now they CAN be successful at the Pre-AP level. I believe every one of them can learn and gain a deeper understanding of the math. Now, it is my job to make sure I get them there. This may turn into a call for help!

Thanks Mary Gambrel for posting your first blog! I, too, will be joining the MTBoS Blaugust!