Saturday, March 15, 2014

Week 6 Reflections

I just realized I skipped Week 5.  It has been a crazy couple of weeks!


Today I made 25 dinners for the next month (I do once a month-or-so freezer cooking) which was a lot of fun but also kept me on my feet on my "day off".  It is worth it though, because it will save me so much time during the week.  Plus, I got to try three new freezer recipes today and the first one (we sampled!) turned out fantastic.  If you are interested in any of my easy freezer meal recipes, check out my online recipe book here and go to the freezer meal plan!

I presented a webinar with on Tuesday afternoon - you can check out the archive here.

I'm heading to CUE in Palm Springs on Wednesday of this week and looking forward to a great few days learning and sharing!  If you are going to be there, let me know so we can try to meet up!


Let's see...

I made a change to one of my students' blog posts this week and I think I'm really going to like it.  Normally the students do individual blog posts where they create their own problems (sometimes word problems, sometimes just math problems) given certain qualifications, and then solve and explain them step by step.  It's been working really well and a great way to apply, analyze, and evaluate the math concepts.  However, I get a little overwhelmed with grading them sometimes and decided to make a decision to ease my grading load.  What started as a purely selfish decision actually turned into a fabulous learning experience for the students!  I had them partner up and TOGETHER they made the problem(s) that they would put on their blogs (one student would "host" the problems, the other student would just link to the "host" blog).  The beauty of this (besides cutting my grading in half) is the collaboration that it requires.  After I went over the requirements in class on Friday, every single student was engaged, communicating, collaborating, arguing, suggesting, and otherwise completely involved in the 20 minute time period given to write and solve the problems.  It was fantastic!  When the students do the posts by themselves, there is some form of collaboration because I ask them to share and check each other's work, but with this they HAD to work together and TWIRLS (think, write, interact, read, listen, speak) in order to get the job done.  I'm definitely considering making more of the blog posts "partner" ones - and NOT just because of the selfish grading reason!


My "internal" flipped class is going fairly well.  Last week was a tough week because we got off of routine - the Common Core Units of Study we have to use from our district wasn't ready for us, so Wed-Fri we just kind of "made do" and it turned into a nightmare because without routine, my students in that class go crazy.  Thankfully, we reset and refocused on Monday of this week and they were back in the swing of things within a couple of days.

I really like the way that the Common Core (or at least how our district is doing it) approaches a lot of the math topics.  For example, this unit we are solving equations, but the unit starts off with the students thinking about an "unknown" and using mental math to "solve" very simple equations.  Then we delve into simple one-step inverse operations, and then into two-step equations.  However, before just teaching them procedures, we had them do something called the "number challenge" where someone would come up with a problem - they would plug a random number into their calculator, and say "I am multiplying/dividing my original number by ___.  I then add/subtract ____ to/from the result.  My final answer is ____".  Students then had to figure out what the original number was.  It was a fun game and started off with just guessing and hoping they were right.  However, students soon figured out how to work backwards with inverse operations (even though they hadn't learned them yet) to solve the puzzle.  It also reinforces what we are learning this coming week, which is that the order in which you solve an equation is important (must add/subtract first).  It just seems so much less procedural than the way that we have been teaching it the last few years.


Today I had a former student (I think he graduated 3-4 years ago) post on his Facebook wall the following comment - it made my day!

Just wanted to say thank you to Crystal Kirch, years later and I'm still using her math binder she made us create but what can you say great teachers leave a lasting impression. Still to this day she's my favorite teacher I've ever had

And another occurrence this week that just makes you smile...

For pi day today, my fourth period kids came in singing "happy pi day to you" (to the tune of happy birthday) and presented me with a mcdonalds apple pie.
This is the same class who, after I mentioned offhand on Monday that I get lonely during lunch sometimes now that I don't have the same lunch as the rest of the teachers in my building, had 17 of the 35 kids come in on Tuesday during lunch (right before their class period) just to "hang out and keep me company"
Here's to another great week!  (That will be easy considering it's pretty much a two day week since we have the CAHSEE -CA High School Exit Exam - two days and then I'm gone two days for CUE!)

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