2018-2019 School Year Review

Thursday, June 27, 2019

This year has been the most challenging and the most rewarding year in my career as an educator. I began this year as a Math Instructional Coach/Interventionist with no classes and ended the year as a Math Instructional Coach/Interventionist/Algebra 1 teacher with 3 classes. My school district in Texas went through a RIF (Reduction in Force) and I had to take on several Algebra 1 classes the last week of October.  

I’m going to be honest and state that I was VERY nervous to take on classes after classroom routines and procedures were already set by another teacher. I only taught freshmen in my Geometry classes so I never had a true take on a true freshmen class. I’ve heard how terrifying some of these freshmen can be and that just added to my nervousness. However, I quickly learned that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE FRESHMEN!I also learned that my usual “classroom activities” don’t really work with this type of group so I had to quickly adapt my instruction. 

I had several take-aways this year:

1.    You cannot assume that students will learn the same way year after year.  

Obviously, I knew this. However, these group of students no longer liked my go-to classroom activities (Mad Libs, Mazes, Scavenger Hunts, etc.). They absolutely hated getting up out of their seats to work on any type of activity. I talked with my students to figure out what works best for them and learned that they are VERY competitive! From November until the last instructional day, I turned almost everything into a type of competition. I will blog more about this in a couple of days. 

2.     Students do not have to finish every problem on assignments.

This was the first year that I did not have students complete the whole assignment. Before I passed out assignments, I calculated how much time was left in class and how many problems I thought students could complete in that given time. Usually, I told students, pick anywhere from 4-8 problems that you want to complete and turn it in. I did not have one single student refuse to do just 4 problems. My thoughts were, “Why punish students who take a little bit longer to complete problems?” 

3.    School leadership is EVERYTHING. 

Schools need to invest in good leaders, or they will lose GREAT teachers. PERIOD. 

4.    Sing. Sing. Sing.

Come up with rhymes to help students remember important materials, I promise you IT WORKS! I had several students come up to me after the STAAR test and said, “I heard you singing in my head almost the whole STAAR test.” I’ll blog about some of my little Algebra 1 songs.

5.     I absolutely love working at a Title I school. 

The most rewarding part of my job this year was actually getting to know and getting to teach my students. I absolutely loved the group of kids that I had this year. I know this is said a lot, but if you show these kids that you truly care, then they WILL work for you. I had two kids who told me the day before their test that they don’t care about this “stupid test” but, they’re going to try to do their hardest on it just for me. I taught only on-level Algebra 1 classes and 58% of my students received Meets on their STAAR test and 24% of my students received Masters. 

From here on out, I will be writing at least twice every week. It’s just been hard this school year since there has been SO much going on!  

Thank you for taking the time to read this whole post :)

Literal Equations With Google Slides

Friday, August 24, 2018
I like teaching literal equations because I feel that if students can understand how to manipulate and work with variables, then they will probably be successful in Algebra. From past experience, students often need to work on several practice problems with the teacher. This year, I decided to create a Google Slides activity that provided the general outline of the equation.

Below are pictures of some interactive notebook pages over solving literal equations. I ended up changing up some of the problems from the literal equations book because they matched with the Google Slides activity.

After the notes, students will complete the following Google Slides activity over solving literal equations. Students are able to drag answers on top of the blank boxes provided (Not all boxes will be used).

I haven't decided on what we are going to use for the second day of solving literal equations.... still working on it! I would love to hear how you teach your students how to solve literal equations!

Here are the files if you would like to use!

Algebra 1: Solving Equations and Inequalities

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Hello all! I feel like it has been forever since I blogged, but I do have a plan this year to blog AT LEAST three times a week. I made a promise to myself at the beginning of the summer that I will finish up my Masters and take a two month break from doing anything work related. It was soooo nice but now I am feeling the stress of coming back to work. Last school year, I was the Algebra 1 Math Interventionist and this year, they are changing my title to "Math Instructional Coach." I am very excited about this new journey and I am really looking forward to it!

We had GREAT success on our Algebra 1 STAAR scores last year and we saw an increase in our scores from 72% to 87%. The past school year was the first school year that the Algebra team used interactive notebooks and we are all in agreement to use them again this year due to our huge success! There have been some changes in our scope and sequence from our district curriculum coordinator. For example, the team decided to teach solving equations and solving inequalities together.

I am still planning to use the following Simplifying Expressions foldable and activity that I blogged about here.  

We are "chunking" this foldable since it lands on a pep rally day and we will complete a matching activity just over combining like terms.

The following pages will be new this year to adjust to teaching equations and inequalities together.

I absolutely LOVE the following pages over solving multi-step equations. A co-worker of mine has used the following acronym for over 3 years now in her classroom and she feels that this is the only thing that has really stuck with her students.

After the multi-step equations foldable, we will complete a "truth or lie" activity on Google Slides. As a team, we are trying to incorporate more writing into our Algebra 1 classes. Students will find the cards that are "lies" and give an explanation. I have blogged about error analysis activities before (Click Here) and I absolutely love the results that I receive back from students. Our district uses Schoology and you are able to easily input the Google Slides link into Schoology for students to submit their work.

After reviewing solving multi-step equations, we are planning to go over solving equations and inequalities with variables on both sides. Currently, I am planning to use an activity that I did last year where students solved 12 problems that had answers as either 0, 1, All Real Numbers, or No Solution. I found this activity to be extremely helpful in clearing up any student misunderstandings. 

Has anyone else taught equations and inequalities together? This will be brand new to the Algebra 1 team this year and I am curious as to any pros or cons. 

You can find several other blog posts over solving equations that I previously wrote about here: 

Here are some of the files that I wrote about in this post. Please feel free to share and use!

Math Clip Art

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Hellooooooo Summer!

If any of you are like me, then you are probably already prepping and planning for next school year. As stated in a previous blog post (Click Here), I create about 99% of my foldables and activities in PowerPoint.

For those that teach secondary math, I have decided to share some math clip art that I use to create foldables and activities. Below are step-by-step instructions on how to insert clip art into your documents.

Step 1: You can either drag and drop the image into PPT or go to Insert --> Picture --> Picture from File --> Select Picture.

Step 2: Once you have your clipart inserted on the document, then insert text boxes to provide more information. You can easily move and rotate text boxes in PPT.

Step 3: If you are a font addict like myself, then change the font and you are FINISHED!

Any other geometry clip art that you would like to see added?! Comment or email me!

Here are the files in PNG/JPEG form:

Algebra 1 Word Wall

Friday, May 11, 2018
This year, I have a separate room for conducting Algebra 1 pull-outs. Even though students have an Algebra 1 interactive notebook, some students will not take the time to "find" the material in their notebook. So, I decided to create a visible word wall in the room in which students are able to easily reference important vocabulary words. This has made such a HUGE difference in working with struggling students and English language learners.

Any time a vocabulary word is mentioned, I will have a student get up and find the word on the wall. After they find the word, we take time to discuss, draw, or act out the word.

Below is a picture of one of our warm-ups for the day (LOW level of difficulty).

Overall, I LOVE how students would reference the wall anytime they were unsure of the meaning of a word. I am currently trying to edit it to make the wall more interactive.

I included part of my Quadratic word walls below if you would like to use!