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Reflections and Preparation: A Look Into the Socio-Emotional Learning Goals of a Teacher

* taps mic * Is this on?  I haven't been here in years, but there is so much that I have been reading, thinking about, and planning in the past few days.  I needed to get some of it out.  Maybe this will forever live in drafts, or maybe, just maybe, I'll be brave and #pushsend.

I crawled out from under a rock and started using TweetDeck on my computer last week.  For years I have missed the #MTBoS community, but have felt that it was too overwhelming to keep up with on top of all the typical day to day activities.  Also, I joined Twitter back when I was one of two math teachers at my school.  That community was my lifeline during my first 3 years of teaching.  Now, I have a workroom filled with teachers in real life with whom I can and should collaborate.  The richness and depth of these workroom discussions are not usually the same as what I found online, but it is still critical to support and develop these relationships.

Now comes to the real point of this post: Reflecting …

Confession...I'm planning to use Khan Academy this year

It seems Khan Academy (henceforth referenced as KA) has a pretty bad rap in some math teacher circles.  I understand that the videos are somewhat lacking in the engagement factor, and motivating students with points and badges can seem somewhat elementary.  I also see that KA tends to focus more on a procedure/pattern than actual problem solving. 

All that said, I will be using KA this year in my resource classroom.  I have a group of students that are in my class for numeracy skill building/strategies instruction.  I'm supposed to be teaching them 25 mins/day and allowing them 25 mins/day to work on their homework or classwork.  I have students of all grade and ability levels in one resource class, so lesson planning becomes difficult.  Twenty-five minutes is not a long time when you think about it, seemingly less when you think about real problem solving tasks.

Enter KA.  Each student can be working on exercises related to what their individual math course is or will be addressi…


For those of you that don't know, I'm about to start teaching at a new school in a new state.  I will be still be teaching high school math to students with special needs, but those special needs are not necessarily deafness or blindness.  I am very excited to work with a math department as opposed to one other colleague (even though she was fabulous).  All in all, though, it's a lot of transition.

Here are some things I have learned in the process:
- I'm not as good at transitioning as I like to think I am
- I have a difficult time making any kinds of decisions when there are so many unanswered questions and uncertainties ahead
- It's really difficult to transfer certifications between states
- I'm not sure I entirely know what I'm getting into, but I'm still excited
- I am *not* a detail person

I went to a workshop hosted by the district I'll be working in.  It was great to collaborate with teachers from the different schools and create materials.…


Here's the deal:  I'm working on curriculum for my school and Algebra 2 is making my eyes cross.  I think the major problem is the state of Virginia is in a transition year between "old" Standards of Learning (SOLs), and "new" ones.  This year is supposed to be the year that we're still teaching and assessing the old SOLs, but we're supposed to teach the new ones, too.  Those of you that teach Algebra 2 already know that there's an enormous amount of information to cover in a short period of time.  To give you context, our school teaches it as a semester-long block course.  There's only so much a brain can handle in one day, though! 

Here's the first draft of my skills list and structure...I'm not sure what to do about the old vs. new SOLs (my skills list is based on the old SOLs because that is what will be assessed).

Note:  Gray items are not included in old or new SOLs but might be necessary for student understanding
Blue items ar…

The Birth of an Assessment

Sam recently blogged looking for feedback on an Algebra 2 assessment he gave, but mainly to start a conversation about assessment creation, etc.  My classroom assessments have changed drastically in my short 2 years of experience.

Here's a chronology of my growth:

1st year teaching (Algebra 1 - full year course)
Classroom instruction followed the sequence (and pacing to some extent) of the textbook we were using (McDougall Littel Algebra 1).Assessments were largely based on Chapter Tests from the end of whatever chapter we were in, re-typed/formatted but using the same problems with little thought to balance what was actually being tested.Points were assigned to each problem to award partial credit for being on the right track (this often ended up meaning the more difficult problems were worth more points than the basic problems - more steps = more points)Here's an example of one such test: Chapter 9 Test.  Point distribution is as follows (side note: what was I thinking with th…

ASL/English Vocabulary in the Math Classroom

My last semester in college, while I was student teaching, I had a class that emphasized different key topics in the field of Deaf Education.  One such topic was vocabulary development.  We all already knew that students who are deaf/hard of hearing have a lower vocabulary than their same-age hearing peers for a variety of reasons not least of which being their limited access to "incidental learning" that comes from listening to other people's conversations/tv/radio, etc.  In our class, we talked about ways to introduce new vocabulary in order to give students a more connected understanding of the new word in its five distinct forms.
PictureDescription/definitionASL sign (if applicable)English word (in print)Fingerspelling of English wordI try to be conscious of this as I teach.  It's very difficult sometimes, and many of the math terms to not have standard ASL signs, so it is more difficult for the students to attach meaning and use the new term through fingerspellin…

Trig Project Idea....suggestions?

Inspired by @krisreid72 sharing this document with @Fouss, combined with the fact that I was looking for something that my trig students (who just finished a unit on solving triangles using Law of Sines/Law of Cosines) could wrestle with while I am out of the classroom Monday and Tuesday, I came up with an idea.

The Amazing Race!
random caveat: Season 14 had a deaf participant!

I will give students 2 options -

Option 1: No real trig involved, but still challenging thought processes and more stops to make
Find the shortest "round-the-world" trip visiting many of the tallest buildings in the world.Assume (for the current purposes of this project) that you have a private jet/helicopter that can take off/land anywhere in the world.Primary tool: Google mapsGo to Trigonometry in the left navigation barClick Amazing RaceFollow the directions.Option 2: (taken from @krisreid72's project) Significant amount of trig involved, along with challengi…