Saturday, May 17, 2014

Week 14 reflections - winding down

It's been a crazy two weeks.  AP testing turns our students and our school into a completely different world.  There were days in the last 2 weeks where I had 3 students, 6 students, 10 students (out of 36) in class because the rest were AP testing.  I won't say it wasn't nice some of the days just having a relaxing, casual environment and being able to work with such a few amount of students... but it's been a definite challenge trying to find a way to keep my class moving along (very slowly, but moving...) while still trying to be flexible and supporting the students with their insane schedules.

There are four weeks until summer.  Four weeks!  (Well, officially there are five, but I am missing the last week of school to attend an EdTech conference with my district.  So I only have four!).  The end of the year has just FLOWN by.

We are currently in Unit U, which is the first "calculus" unit of our Math Analysis class.  We introduce the students to discontinuities and limits.  It is one of my favorite units of the year (I even had a student ask me in the middle of class, "You really like this unit, don't you Mrs. Kirch?") and I love teaching it. There are some things I do in this unit that I want to incorporate into other units that I just haven't done quite yet.  One example is that the WSQ guided summary questions are supposed to be "automatic", meaning the students can answer them without even thinking by the end of the unit because we go over them so much.  For next year, I think I am going to go back to an Open Summary for the WSQ but have these "automatic questions" that I will still list for them to guide their summary and thinking, but not have them answer in 1,2,3 order.  Then it seems more like a summary/reflection and less like answering questions.

I also have liked reviewing the questions during class time daily.  We did these in varying ways:

1. Beginning of unit - more structured/teacher guided to make sure students had the right information. Clarified misconceptions.  Organized thoughts on whiteboard (and left up for the whole unit for students to constantly reference)

2. Middle of unit - Teacher prompted each question, answer in partners.  Class is loud and active.  If I asked a question and the partner response was fairly quiet or I wasn't overhearing the key phrases I was looking for, I would clarify before moving on.

3. End of Unit type 1 - Timer set, partners had 4-5 minutes to go over every question in the list and then we clarified any needed ones as a class.

4. End of Unit type 2 - Timer set, instead of partners going down list of questions they look at 3-5 "bigger questions" that can be answered by referring to the questions in the list.

I don't know why I still haven't done this for some other units.  It may be that this structure fits really well with the conceptual nature of limits.  However, I'm sure there are other places I can incorporate this.  At the end of this unit, the students also have a "Big Question" blog post due where they answer the three "Big Questions", all of which they have basically been talking about every single day and now just need to put into writing, find or make images to aid in their writing, and post on their blog.

I have started to use IFTTT in a few different ways.  This week I set up a SMS->GDrive "recipe" where I can send a text message to my IFTTT number from my phone and it automatically adds a new row in a spreadsheet.  I am using this to keep track of ideas for next year (and things I want to do this summer) as they come to mind.

A few things I added this week (and my more detailed comments so they make sense to you):

Add comments page to blog where students can always submit feedback--Rather than sending out requests for feedback, there will be a form students can fill out at any time always in the same location.  I will still ask for formal feedback occasionally (more towards the beginning of the year), but this will be nice to be in one place.
Apps for students to download. Qr reader. Desmos if have iPad. Algeo and the apple one. Make list and post on blog.--At the beginning of the year, I want to give my students a list of apps to have on their devices (apple or android).  If you have apps to add to this list, let me know.  I will do a blog post this summer sometime of the list I've accumulated and hopefully get some ideas from others!
Learn geogebra--It's been on my to-do list for a couple years.  I hope this summer will be the year!!
Incorporate desmos whenever possible
--I'm so excited to start using Desmos with the students (and hopefully have them make them and post them on their blogs) from day 1.  They learn piecewise graphing at the beginning of the year and I think learning it WITH desmos will be a lot more meaningful.  I want to go through the curriculum and find ways to incorporate it whenever possible.
New google forms linked to school google drive
--I'm going to revamp my online WSQ forms and relink everything to new Sophia tutorials and new Google Forms.  It will take time, but I might have some students come in and help me out for community service hours
Make wsq open summary again with key automatic questions for each concept.
--This is what I talked about above.
Qr code video reminders for when students enter class to prep for WSQ chat
--Got this idea from someone else in the blogosphere.  Not sure how I want to incorporate it, but it might even be a "part 2" video that they didn't watch the night before for students who need a little reminder to watch.  Just 2-4 minutes.  Review material, show an example, to help launch them into the lesson.
Find a way for students to electronically submit the not prepared form. Then I don't have to worry about erasures. Have a spot for a reason.
--This hasn't been a big issue, but I would like to just seamlessly integrate technology whenever possible instead of having random paper things all over the room.  They come in, they scan the QR code and fill out the form with name, id, date, lesson, and maybe reason... then they get to work.  It's all online so we can check it at any time.  Maybe even I have it linked to be able to send to parent/student email??? [need to look into that]

I am making a new blog for Math Analysis for next year. will still be available but won't be updated anymore after this school year.  I decided to make so that way students who are not in my class see it as a schoolwide Math Analysis blog and not just for mine (especially since all students do some summer review work, not just ones who enter my class).  We are also restructuring the order of units and so instead of completely revamping my old blog (and leaving former students lost when they come back to access it), I am just starting fresh.  I am also going to be linking everything from our new blog to our school's google drive.  This is good because then I can post things that students need a password to log into (that can't be public), but bad because that means it is a less accessible website to the public.  But, it's what I think is best for now.

That's all for now.  We've got a crazy weekend of freezer cooking and house cleaning.  Wahoo!!

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