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Showing posts from November, 2014

My First Edcamp

This past Saturday I attended my first edcamp. Our system's technology coordinator was one of the organizers. He tried to explain to us what this "unconference" would look like, but I think it might be impossible to really understand an edcamp until you've experienced one for yourself.

In the main meeting room a whiteboard was partitioned into rooms/time slots. Post-it notes were on a table in front of the whiteboard. If you had something you wanted to share or a problem you wanted to discuss, you wrote it on a post-it note and picked a room/time.

Topics included project-based learning, using Twitter in the classroom, Google Classroom, Kahoot!, and many others. Two teachers from my school introduced some of us to Adobe Voice. As sessions would meet and it became clear attendees wanted or needed more discussion about something else, another session would form. It was a neat process to watch.

Michael had suggested I pick a slot for discussing the flipped classroom, so …

Retakes and Redos

Flipping my algebra classes has been a huge part of my transformation as a teacher this year. But there's been a second change I've made that has been transformational in its own right: retakes and redos.

I've attempted various methods of redos/retakes throughout my teaching career. I've never been extremely happy with any of them. They seemed to be lots of work for me with little benefit or improvement for the kids. Many times student made significantly worse on their second attempt at a test.
Last year I started to seriously consider some sort of retake policy...again. Students (and parents) were frequently interested in do-overs, but I wanted to make the effort required worth my and my students' time.

Then this past summer I discovered (via Twitter) Rick Wormeli. I read some of his books and watched some of his YouTube videos. He is a huge proponent of retakes and redos. He asks if all the "major" tests - ACT, bar exam, driver's license, others - …

Finding Joy in the Struggle

The last three weeks have been tough.

I had a wonderful Fall Break.  Time with my family, time in my favorite place on Earth (The Smoky Mountains), time to rest and recharge. The mental break was needed and enjoyed, and I was ready to go back to school and charge full-steam ahead all the way to Christmas.

I knew by looking at the calendar that the end of October all the way into the first part of December would be busy.  But I was rested; I was ready!

I was wrong.

By the end of the second week I was feeling like I had been knocked on my keister.

It was a perfect storm.  Many different circumstances came together to make these past 3 weeks the most challenging of the school year so far.

The busy schedule.  Lots of afternoon and evening activities. Two Saturdays in a row of math tournaments (all day affairs including bus travel). Sunday afternoons at school to do/finish work I was unable to finish during the week.

A topsy-turvy school schedule. Our high school volleyball girls made it …

The Too-Long Video

The weeks since Fall Break have been incredibly busy, and I haven't had time to blog! I try to record topics as blog titles as I think of them so I'll remember what I want to reflect on when I actually have a few minutes to reflect.

It happened.  I made a video that was too long.

When we returned from Fall Break, after taking the ACT Explore, we began our lessons on slope. Slope is completely new to these students, so I had a lot of "back story" to give.  I talked a LOT in the video. I taught how to find slope from a graph and using the slope formula. Our book doesn't really develop finding slope from a graph, but kids need to understand it when graphing lines in slope-intercept form, so I thought it important to spend some time on it.

There were only 3 Smart slides, but the video was over 20 minutes long.  Like right at 22 minutes. Most videos are between 12-15 minutes long.

I warned the kids ahead of time.  There were groans. "She said we would never have …