Productivity

The #July2014Challenge comes to an end…

…but it is only the beginning.

I am heading into my second year teaching math. During my first year, I spent it keeping my head above water while completing 10 online classes to gain my permanent teaching certificate and preaching every Sunday as an Interim Preacher at a church about an hour away. The only thing I used the web for math was to find a lesson or an idea for upcoming classes.  I figured there would be a wealth of information out there to help me, I just didn’t have time to go and find it.

This summer, I determined that I needed to find more resources to help me with the craft of teaching, and I found it through the #MTBoS.  There is a wealth of information out there, and I have gained quite of bit of information on what to do for next year, but now it is putting it into place. Here are a couple things I will implement this year:

  1. Standards Based Grading:  I love this idea, and long to implement it well in the classes.
  2. Wall of Remediation: With the new textbook series (Go Math from HMH), there is an included book with skill sheets that I can print off and have students complete.
  3. Gradeable.com: I want to reduce the stack of papers I bring home, and think that gradeable will be able to help me with this.
  4. Whiteboarding: Kelly O’Shea has a bunch of games and ideas that I think will do well for me.  I am planning on getting larger $2 white boards, but my mentor gave me 30 12″x18″ whiteboards for each student to use.
  5. An Online Math PLC:  See mymathplc.wordpress.com for more info as we go on, but I wanted to collaborate with some folks who are doing similar things, so we shall see what happens!
  6. Using more engaging tasks in class:  Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Math Tasks, Problem Based Tasks, etc.

A couple of thoughts on the blogging challenge:

On looking back at the blogging challenge, I knew I wouldn’t do all 31 days.  I am a procrastinator, and I knew there would be times that I just would not blog.

One of the feelings that came up, as weird as it may sound, was that I began to be fixated on how many people followed me, and how many people read my blog.  I don’t like that feeling. It feels like I am trying to impress someone, and feel vindicated when someone likes a post and follows me or my blog.  This can begin to drive my ego and sense of identity. Again this is weird because I have under 2 dozen followers and less than 100 pageview, but yet I think about it.

So as I go forward with blogging, I want to keep this in check. I have considered a 180 blog this year, just so I can have a record for myself of what I have done, but we will see what happens.  For my 2 dozen followers and 6 readers, thanks for following! And I promise I won’t let it go to my head.

Why I Procrastinate – #July2014Challenge

#mtbos30 Day 16 (missing days 10-15)

All of my life, I have been one who procrastinated. Mostly, it was to avoid pain. I greatly dislike being in some sort of pain or discomfort, so if I could put it off, I would. This extends from school work to exercise to yard work to dealing with issues with myself to dealing with other people.

As you can imagine, it gets me into trouble from time to time. As a teacher, if I wait to grade papers, it piles up, and up, and up.

Recently, a friend of mine said this about her husband:

The reason why he procrastinates is because he is a perfectionist. If he doesn’t have the perfect solution, he won’t do anything.

And there it is. By no means would I have ever labeled myself as a perfectionist, as with most projects, I work them until they are about 80-90% done, and then I stop. But I never thought about the reason why I stop. For instance, on my back porch I have built an outdoor bed out of pallet wood.  We have a mattress on there right now, but it’s not the right one, and I want to finish it with arms, but I don’t know exactly what I want it to look like, and how to do it. So now, the bed lies unfinished on my porch.

I want to begin writing assessments for the upcoming school year, and I have found a couple that I want to emulate, and have been using Examview Generator to create a couple, but it isn’t just the way I want it. So now, it’s been a week since I tried to generate a test.

I know my students are this same way. They get behind on a project and don’t know what they want to do, and they don’t like any ideas that their parents come up with to help them, so they don’t do anything. (I know this feeling, I lived there in middle school!)

So what can I, they, we do about it?

Well, I am sure that productivity gurus all over the world have answered this question well, but I just haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. But here’s what I try, and will try to do with my students. What’s one thing I can do to start this?

I had a huge mess of bushes in my backyard as the house sat empty for five years before we moved in. How do I start reclaiming the yard? Let’s take out a reciprocating saw and go chopping away.

A student is completely stuck on a math problem. What do they do? Ask questions, what do they know? What is this like? What is this question asking for?

Sometimes all we need to get started is just a little shove, a little bump, a first step as to what could be. Now finishing well is another problem I need to deal with….later.

Mindset – Jedi Edition #July2014Challenge

#MTBoS30 Day 11

At a Professional Development workshop for the district this summer, we were introduced to Carol Dweck’s Mindset. We were given a copy of her book, and I believe there was a bit of buy-in from the teachers there.  I mentioned before that I wanted to do a Star Wars theme this year including a Jedi rubric for Standards-Based Grading.

In doing some more reflection on mindset, I decided to take a couple of different graphics and mash them together in order to refer to “fixed” and “growth” mindsets in my classroom.

Growth_Mindset_Posterdarkside

Scanning & Grading Assessments #July2014Challenge

Day 8 #mtbos30 #July2014Challenge

One of my struggles last year was grading quizzes and tests quickly and getting them back into the hands of the students. I would end up procrastinating for a day or two and felt the loss of momentum one they received it back, saw the grade, and then checked out if it was a bad grade, and celebrate if it was a good grade. As I move into SBG, I am working to manufacture some different results. In my blog searching this summer, I came across this great series of posts from Shifting Phases:

Mylene had the students write a duplicate copy of the quiz to hand in, and one to keep and grade together. I think that could be a bit cumbersome for a test with longer answers, and using twice the amount of paper. Then she posted this:

Now this is a good idea!  Scan the quizzes so you have an electronic copy of the quiz, and the students don’t need to create a second copy.  And, you don’t have to manage all of those papers! So I have been wondering about taking this a step further. What if I got a scanner, maybe just a Document one like the Doxie Go and had students scan in their quiz, and then check their answers in a book and then sit down to make corrections until all students are done.  Then I would have a digital copy I could check and grade and hand a grade sheet back to the student the next day. Well, the Doxie Go won’t work for me as you can’t hook it to scan directly into a computer, and I can’t use it on my school’s wireless network because we don’t have an open BYOD network.  So I went ahead and bought a Canon LIDE 210 to do the scanning, hooked directly up to a computer.

Now, what I would LOVE to figure out is this.  What if every one of my students had a QR code that they could clip to their quiz and then scan it in. And then some magical piece of software will read the code and place it in the correct folder for each period. I can then tag all of the quizzes for that day with the right concept number, and have an automagically organized digital copy of what every student does for the year?  That would rock!  I haven’t figured out how this could work…

…until I came across Gradeable, and I wonder if this can get me closer? If you have thoughts, please post it below!

Inoreader – Keeping up with all y’all: #MTBoS30 Day6

When I went out on my binge reading of all blog posts concerning SBG and stuff, I really wanted a good feed reader that could pull together all of the great blogs that are out there.  I was an avid Google Reader user, and was sad when google killed it (insert sad trombone sound here.) I use Flipboard on my phone and iPad to keep up with my Facebook, Twitter, and other assorted news feeds, and I tried to create an RSS feed that would feed into Flipboard, but it was too clunky to make it work, and hard to add new feeds (read: it took 4 steps to do it, and I get extremely lazy!) After some searching, I came across Inoreader, It wasn’t Google Reader, but it turned out to be pretty decent.  So here’s what I did to make it work for me.

  1. ino buttonSign up for an account.  Easy, free, and painless.
  2. I downloaded the Inoreader widget for Google Chrome.
  3. Whenever I came across a blog I liked, I hit the Inoreader button:
  4. Then this little box popped up, and I hit the plus sign:

ino2ino3

After you hit the plus sign the first time, a couple of options turn up, click the plus sign next to the first Feed, and this will subscribe you to all of the posts.  The second one will subscribe you to any comments.  I haven’t subscribed to comments, but you can! Now I can keep up with the 50 or so  great blogs I have stumbled across, without having to go back and visit each site every time!  Hope this helps you!

The Evernote Train

 

 

hero_evernoteIt has taken me a long time to learn to love Evernote.  In my earlier days of searching for productivity hacks, Evernote came up as one of the 10 best tools on every list, and I never saw the benefit of it. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, I went on a binge blogreading spree looking up all things SBG, PBL, and every other new wave educational acronym you can think of.  I had poured through dozens of websites, and was forgetting where I found some great link that I looked at two days before.

I re-downloaded Evernote, and gave it another try. I setup a free account, and then downloaded the Google Chrome Evernote Widget. What happened years ago was that I tried to save one or two links, and then forgot about Evernote. In order to make Evernote effective, this what I did.
elephant1.  Download evernote for your computer, and then go in and setup a couple of folders based on what you typically look for.  I created “SBG,”  “Common Core,” and “Teaching Helps.”

everside2. Then I spent about two hours searching through all of the helpful websites that I wanted to clip, and then I clicked on the little elephant hanging out on the top right of my chrome window. This is the widget I linked above. It brought up this sidebar.

For blogs, I would make sure that “Article” is selected, and it will highlight the area that will be saved. (On the left hand side, of this image is what will be saved.) Typically, Evernote will clip just the blog post, but if you want to include the comments, just scroll down and click on the + sign, and the window will grow and capture that as well.

Also, under “File,” will be the list of your folders.  Select it, and choose which folder you want to put the article in.  You can also use the Tags feature, to give some more specifics about why you are saving this.  For my Common Core folder, I have tags such as “Fractions,” “Number Sense” “Ratios,” in order to place specific activities that I can find later for each unit that I teach.

Click “Save” and you’re done with this site!  What is great about Evernote, is that after a saving a dozen or so websites, it automatically suggested which folder to place the article.  It’s not 100%, but it is learning your habits, and helps you organize.

3. The free Evernote account allows you to save 60MB of things each month. I began saving a lot of links, pdfs, activities, and I ate up my allowance within two days.  So I bit the bullet, and paid for the premium at $5 a month.  I figured that if I quit using Evernote, I could cancel it.

evernote search4. Now that things are saved in evernote, you can look in your folders to find what you have saved. Or if you have a vague recollection of something you want to see again  but not the site you went to, just type the word and every note with that word will pop up!  For a previous post, I remembered someone posting about the wall of remediation, but I couldn’t remember where, I typed it in and “whoomp, there it is!”

It took using Evernote for every web clipping for a solid couple of days, and then I realized how much it would help me.  Everything I have found is saved and searchable.  All of my bright ideas can be jotted down. Now comes the hard part, pulling it altogether and doing something with it!

I decided that I would share my folders, so anyone can look through and even subscribe and find something helpful.  If you create a great Evernote folder, feel free to share it as well!

Standards Based Grading Folder

Common Core Folder

Teaching Helps