Teaching Reflections: Year 7 (2018-2019)

teaching reflections

August 5, 2018 – Classroom Progress

I got the “Welcome Back!” letter in my inbox recently with all the important professional development dates, and I started setting up my new classroom this week. So, it’s really starting to sink in that I’m about to start my new job!

So far, I’m just hanging posters I have made in the past. I’ve made a bunch of new posters, but they need to be printed on 11 x 17 cardstock. I’m so new at my school that I don’t even know where the copy machine is. I mean, I know where it was ten years ago when I was a student there, but things change. I’m a bit scared to just go opening random doors, but I guess I will have to figure this out at some point. Also on my list of things to figure out: where in the world is the teacher’s lounge? I have New Teacher Orientation on the 10th (so soon…eek!), so I’m guessing I will have a lot of my questions answered then.

Includes/Excludes Posters

Pythagorean Triple Posters

Mistakes are… Poster
Keep Calm and Combine Like Terms Poster
N/O and O/K Poster
Left and Right Posters

A math room isn’t complete (in my opinion) without a number line! 

Printable Horizontal Number Line
Positive and Negative Infinity Posters

Order of Operations Posters

My order of operations posters took a bit of a beating last year thanks to students’ backpacks, so I really need to reprint A and S. But, I went ahead and hung the old ones up in case I don’t get to that item on my to do list for a while. 

Math-y Welcome Banner

It’s nowhere near done, but it looks like a room that I could teach class in tomorrow if I had to! 

August 5, 2018 – Reaching and Teaching “Those Kids”

Friday, I got to see Chris Shore present “Reaching and Teaching “Those Kids.”” It was very thought-provoking, and I really enjoyed watching Chris execute his well thought-out teacher moves.

Chris equipped us with lots of different strategies for engaging every student every class period.

I was super-excited to get to see Clothesline Math in action!

I’ll definitely be looking for ways to incorporate the clothesline into my Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc classroom! I also love the 4 digit problem. The task: make the numbers between 1-100 using exactly 4 eights and any exponent of your choosing (except 8).

August 5, 2018 – Updating my Teacher Planner

I spent some quality time recently updating my teacher planner with some new calendar pages. Special shout-out to my husband for designing an excel file to automatically generate these pages!

Last year, it took a bit of adjusting to get used to a vertical layout. But, I discovered I LOVE it!

August 5, 2018 – New Supplies

I found a bunch of safe-t compasses at a garage sale. I’m super excited to use these in my classroom this year. Then, when I was cleaning out my cabinets of my new classroom, I found some giant demonstration sized safe-t compasses. I’m thinking these will come in handy teaching pre-calc!

My wooden cubes came in the mail! I’ve got big plans for these 100 one inch cubes! I found at least three different puzzles online made of cubes that I will be making for my puzzle table! Now, I just have to find some time to paint them. I can’t wait to share these ideas on the blog as I get them made and introduce them to my students!

November 9, 2018 – Math Teachers’ Circle Puzzles

Shaun and I have really been enjoying attending the Tulsa Math Teachers’ Circle this school year. We’ve always loved attending in the past, but it’s super nice to live much closer and not have an hour long drive home afterwards! We tackled some fun puzzles at our last meeting. Our opening task was a new one to me.

Take a standard checkerboard and remove two of the corner pieces that are diagonal from one another. You can see in the picture below where we marked them out with an x. Then, take a standard set of dominoes and cover the remaining squares of the checkerboard.

Afterwards, we discussed the mathematics of the famous Fifteen Puzzle. It was a bit mind-blowing.

November 9, 2018 – Testing

his has been an extra crazy week. We had a professional day on Tuesday for Election Day. Then, the rest of the week has been a bit out of the ordinary. Wednesday, I was displaced by the Pre-ACT being given in my room. Thursday, all the sophomores went on a field trip. Then, today our schedule has been thrown off by a Veterans Day Assembly. This meant our only normal day of the entire week was Monday!

I had to cover all of my beautiful decorations for the Pre-ACT which turned out to be a real pain. The paper would NOT stay up on the walls. Apparently, some of the paper ended up falling off the wall during the actual test. Oops…

Do you know what else happens when you cover up all your decorations? Every single kid who walks into your classroom for the rest of the day has to ask “Are we having a test?” “Is there a pop-quiz today?” “Why are the walls covered?” Given the fact that I’ve never once before covered the walls, I don’t understand why my students automatically equate that with having to take a test.

I do have to admit that I got tired of telling students the real reason for the walls being covered at a certain point and started telling them that I was in a bad mood. As a result, I decided the room was too colorful and I had to cover up the posters to match my mood. I thought they would realize I was joking, but I heard from the chemistry teacher later in the day that students were talking about the fact that I was in a really bad mood.

November 14, 2018 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 56

Join me today for Volume 56 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. 

Things Teenagers Say

Today marks a new chapter in the history of Things Teenagers Say. It’s the first volume of many from my new school. It will be interesting to see how students at my new school take to this tradition. At my old school, Things Teenagers Say went from being virtually unnoticed by anyone to having almost a cult following by some of my students and coworkers in the course of a few years. It turns out that no matter where you work, teenagers still say some pretty crazy things sometimes.

Me: What do we call this type of graph?
Student 1: A uvula!
Student 2: I think that’s called a parabola.
Student 1: Oh. Yeah. That’s what it’s called.

Student 1: Why do you look like you’re about to go to a baseball game?
Student 2: It’s the hat.

Student 1: How tall are you?
Student 2: Tall enough.

I want you to have to use 30 pounds of shampoo next time you have to wash your hair.

He’s not a substitute. He’s a hero. A national treasure.

You don’t learn much information from a puddle of goo.

I can’t English today.

I like saying swear words in other languages.

Alligator and chicken are not the same thing.

I feel like I’m actually a decent person…sometimes.

Student 1: We speak American here.
Student 2: Aren’t you the president of the Spanish club?

Can the pope have a beard?

Student: Why should I trust you?
Me: I have a degree in math.
Student: I have degrees on my thermometer, but you don’t see me showing it off.

Your carrots taste like perfume.

Student 1: I need to get Jesus in my life.
Student 2: You just kicked Jesus out of your life.

How come is it whenever a girl breaks up with me they always cry?

Either my dad is a witch or a pyromaniac.

For the third year in a row, I am recapping the year by taking a look at my blog analytics and figuring out which of the posts I wrote during the past year turned out to be the most popular.

This will be my 108th blog post of 2018. So, how does this year’s blogging stack up to previous years?

Blog Posts by Year
2018 – 108 (so far)
2017 – 202
2016 – 183
2015 – 199
2014 – 214
2013 – 107
2012 – 103
2011 – 3

Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat to life this year as I’ve been distracted by switching jobs, taking on two new preps, buying our first house, and some other things that I’m probably forgetting. Plus, 2019 promises to bring even more life changes!

The math teacher in me had to graph my blog post numbers using Desmos and look for a pattern. A parabola fit my data with an r^2 value of 0.8897. I guess that means I need to really get blogging next year or this blog might be dead in two years according to this model.

To determine which of my blog posts were the most popular this year, I took a look at the pageviews of each post published during 2018. Here are my top ten posts according to popularity of pageviews.

1. Review of Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club

With over 12,000 pageviews this year, this was by far my most popular post. A follow-up post, An Invitation to Join Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club, also landed in the top ten posts, but I’m just including it with this related post to allow me to highlight a greater variety of posts. The strategies I’ve learned from Angela’s course have really changed my productivity in the classroom, and I love being able to share what I have learned with other teachers. The club is once again open for new members, so if you are looking to learn how to get more done in less time at school, I highly recommend that you check it out!

2. Twos to Nines Challenges (AKA Best First Day of School Ever)

Inspired by a puzzle I found in a book I picked up at the thrift store, I decided to change up how I normally kick off the school year and engage students with a whole lot of math and critical thinking on the first day. This resulted in the first day of school being full of math talk, cooperative group work, and a much-needed review of the order of operations.  I loved seeing how other teachers took this idea and modified it for their own classrooms on the first day of school.

3. 2018 Challenge Bulletin Board

Another favorite task of mine is a yearly bulletin board challenge that I post at the beginning of each new calendar year. This was my third most viewed post of the year with over six thousand page-views. The challenge for students is to take the all of the digits in the year (2,0, 1, and 8) and the mathematical operators of your choice (add, subtract, multiply, divide, factorial, exponents, etc) and create a mathematical expression equivalent to each number from 1 to 100. It’s a ton of fun, and my students get really engaged every single year without fail. This reminds me that I need to get to work to get my 2019 Challenge printed soon!

4. My 2018-2019 Math Classroom Decorations

It’s no secret that I LOVE decorating my math classroom. And, I love sharing the posters I create on my blog with you guys. So, I guess it’s no surprise that the pictures I posted of my new classroom at my new school were so popular here on the blog.

5. Monday Must Reads: Volume 35

I regularly post round-ups on Mondays on my blog of the awesomeness I have seen in recent times on Twitter. This is a great way to remind myself of the great ideas I want to use in my classroom someday. And, it’s a great way to highlight the amazing work of others that the math teacher community deserves to see. I’m not entirely sure what was extra special about Volume 35, but it had nearly five times the views as a normal Monday Must Reads post. I guess that means you should check it out!

6. Algebra 1 Unit 3 – Relations and Functions Interactive Notebook Pages

I guess one of the reasons my blogging volume has decreased is that I no longer have interactive notebook pages to share on my blog. I decided that with Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc classes of 30 kids that I would help save my sanity this year by moving to binders instead of INBs. It has definitely saved me time both in class and out of class, but I do miss how attached students ended up getting to their notebooks. It’s just not the same with binders. So, if you want to see some of my most favorite INB pages ever, check out this post!

7. Math Classroom Decorations Recap 2017-2018

I was a little negligent at getting the photos of LAST year’s classroom posted until the school year was entirely over. While you will notice some similarities between last year’s classroom and this year’s when it comes to some of the posters, there are many differences since I went from teaching Algebra 1 and Chemistry to teaching Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc.

8. Superlative Certificates for Teacher Appreciation Week

For several years, I got very discouraged while working at my old school because there was absolutely no celebration or even mention of Teacher Appreciation Week. I would log on to twitter to see other teachers posting photos of being showered with free food, gifts, and sweet notes from students. After awhile, I decided to stop being sad and start doing something about it. Last year, I decided to have my students celebrate the teachers in our school by voting for superlative awards. Teachers were voted to categories such as “Most Organized,” “Most Inspiring,” “Best Story Teller,” “Funniest,” or “Most Likely to Win Jeopardy.” Each teacher’s winning superlative was posted on a certificate outside their door for the whole school to read. The teachers loved them, and the students loved walking around to see what award each student had won.

9. Mixed Emotions Puzzle from The Big, Big, Big Book of Brainteasers

Last school year, I was really good at putting a new puzzle on our puzzle table each week. This Mixed Emotions Puzzle from The Big, Big, Big Book of Brainteasers turned out to be the most popular puzzle post of 2018. Want even more puzzles? Check out the Puzzles Tab at the top of my blog!

10. Building Polynomials Activity

Seeing this activity makes me really, really, really miss teaching intro to polynomials in Algebra 1. I created this activity this past year to give my students extra practice with naming and classifying polynomials. I love that this activity is open-ended in a way since there are several possible solutions. There are a few cards that MUST go in a certain place, but students normally don’t figure that out without a bit of discussion and trial and error. I think I will have to pull this activity out and use it as a refresher with my Algebra 2 classes as we will be starting polynomials after Christmas Break.

July 16, 2019 – Puzzlium Instagram Page

Want some puzzling inspiration? Check out the beautiful and inspiring Puzzlium Instagram page!

puzzlium instagram page puzzles

July 16, 2019 – ATM Puzzle Page

The ATM (Association of Teachers of Mathematics) has a lovely puzzle page worth checking out!

atm puzzle page

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  1. Sarah, I love that you are now teaching Algebra 2 and Pre-Cal. I always look at your beginning of the year wall posters to see what I want to borrow and I see I have borrowed quite a few! lol

    When you feel uninspired, just know that your blog is the very first place I look when I need a new idea or perspective. Keep up the great work – you inspire so many of us.

  2. Interested to see what puzzles you use the cubes for. I have about 35 5in wooden cubes that I have no idea what to do with. Thank you for sharing, great post!

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