Friday, May 25, 2018

With You

My adult son has had some medical issues recently.  My wife said something to him that really made me think.  She said, "We are 'with you' as you go through this".  It was simple, yet really meaningful. 

Now fast forward to the education world.  I thought to myself, do my students know that I'm WITH THEM?  Do I communicate the idea of "WITH YOU" in everything I do as a teacher?  Do I actually tell them that we are partners in this adventure/struggle?   Every single interaction with each student is important. 

A message to my students:  I'm WITH YOU.   I can feel your struggle.  I hurt when you hurt and am happy when you thrive.   I can't do it for you, but I will be right beside you encouraging you the whole way.  We are partners.  You are not alone.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

6 Reasons Why You Need an Instructional Coach

First and foremost, I'm not an instructional coach.  The reason for this post is because I believe so strongly in istructional coaching and have benefited so much from it that I want to encourage you to look into it.  So why should you get an Instructional Coach?  Read on.

1.  Coaches Meet You Where You Are
Coaches listen to where you are at and they meet you there.  Contrast that with most professional development sessions in which you must adapt to where the speaker/leader is.  A coach is meeting you at your area of need.  This is a huge shift that is amazingly comfortable.  Instead of constantly catching up to someone else, you can look forward to where you want to go.  I believe the ability of a coach to meet you where you are at is the biggest benefit of coaching.
Coaches are like an adjustable desk.  They will adjust to your level.
2.  Coaches Inspire You to Get Better as a Teacher
Coaches want you to succeed.  They want you to thrive as a teacher.  They have been there in the classroom or are still there.  They know what it takes to reach students.  I have been coached for about three years with a variety of coaches (see below).  I'm a teacher with 31 years of experience and I can honestly say that I have been nudged, pushed, held accountable and inspired greatly in these three years compared to the previous years.  All of my coaches have helped me to get better as a teacher.
3.  A Coach Encourages You When You Doubt Yourself
This is the beauty of a coach.  You bring your doubts to the meeting and they will talk you through every single one.  They will give your their honest opinion (if asked).  They will talk you off the cliff and reassure you.  When the "lows" of teaching hit you, your coach will be there to encourage you.

4.  A Coach will Bring You Back to Reality When You Are Too Full of Yourself (Accountability)
REALITY CHECK.  You coach will gently level you out if you are too over the top with something.  They are there to help you see clearly the whole situation.  A coach is WITH you through your ups and downs.

5.  Teaching is Lonely and a Coach is There for You to Talk Things Through
When there are 28 students and 1 teacher things get lonely sometimes.  We need to talk through situations that occur in class.  We need a caring ear for our challenges.  When you have a coach, you don't have to feel bad about taking their time.  This is the role of the coach.

 6.  A Coach Will Help You Focus and Reach Your Goals
Do you have goals for your students?  Ask your coach to keep you accountable for the goals you have set.  If you don't have particular goals for your class, ask your coach to work with you to establish those goals.  I love the question my coaches routinely give me...."How does this activity support your goal to _________."  A coach will help direct your thinking to things that matter.

Here are my suggestions for you...
Ask a coach to work with you every other week for a total of four sessions (around 1/4 of the year) Meet for 1/2 hour sessions.  Be ready to evaluate together if you want to continue after that.
Decide what kind of feedback you want.  Do you want only positive feedback?  Then communicate that with your coach.  If you want a full range of feedback, then communicate that with your coach.
Communicate your goals, or establish your goals together.
Have fun and try to stay committed to the time. I.E Every other Wednesday 4th period.

Thank you to my coaches
2015 Tony Borash twitter @tborash (Digital Learning Initiative from Advanced Learning Partnerships)
Thank you for your passion for the art of teaching.  You inspire me continually to risk, to try, to fail, and to get better!  I loved co-teaching with you.

2016 Nicki Weiss twitter @WeissTeach and Megan Plackett  twitter @mnplackettnchs (Naperville Central High School Coaches)
Thank you for your tireless support of teachers.  Your enthusiasm for teaching is amazing and contagious.  Any time I meet with you I get a recharge emotionally.  Thank you for your gift of support.

2017 James Dunseith  twitter @jamesdunseith (Blended Learning Coach from Better Lesson)
Thank you for continuously directing me to my goals.  My mind is continually asking if this is helping me attain my goal.  Also, I loved brainstorming ideas with you.

2018 Chris DeWald twitter @ChrisDeWald_BL  (Blended Learning Coach from Better Lesson) Thank you for the question that you continually ask (and now I ask this of myself)..."How does this improve student learning?"

2017-present Rachel Fruin twitter @rachelfruin  (Naperville Central High School Coach)
Thank you for helping me communicate my thoughts to my students.  You have told me repeatedly, "tell them what you want and why you want it".  This year has been refreshing because I have communicated with my students in a more direct way than ever.  I appreciate your new ideas and your wilingness to share

Photo Credits
Adjustable Desk:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

I Want My Students to ...

I want my students to ...    (in no particular order)

Have fun in class
Move while learning
Create stuff
Be respectful
Embrace learning from mistakes
Teach someone else something
Think "Whoa, this is cool"
Have an "I can do this" attitude
Give/Take advice freely
Discern what others say mathematically
Notice patterns
Enjoy a challenge
Ask questions
Understand/Believe in many different approaches to a problem.
Transfer learning to new places within the course
Work hard
Listen closely to others
Connect ideas
Feel safe and a part of a collaborative community
Care about others and know that others care

I hope my students....
Love rigor
Transfer ideas to new places outside the course
Say that Math is their favorite subject
Get the grade they want
Are organized
Set personal goals
Ask questions for curiosity sake alone
Are completely ready for next years course

Please help me with this list.  What else?  Please leave a comment with your thoughts on what should be added.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Pass It On! Linear Modeling Activity

Do you want your students to be engaged?  Do you want them to make predictions?  Do you want them to Move and Learn?  Are you working with linear equations?  Try this activity in Algebra 1.

Pass It On Book Passing Activity
Students will be passing 4 textbooks around the room in a established pattern. (see picture)  The number of students that pass the books will be determined and then the length of time will be noted.    (number of students passing the books, time to pass books) = (x,y)    Predictions will be made for the x and y unknowns.

Explain the outline of the activity.
Assign a timer.
Assign a note taker to record the data. (in a google sheet with a common link preferably)
Establish a pattern for passing the books.

Establish a short (approximate 10 second) routine for BEFORE the books are passed.  (jumping jacks, twirls, stacking books one by one, etc. This is to establish some type of y-intercept for the problem) See the video.

Practice passing the books around the path to make before timing the events.

Now time your class doing 3 people, 8 people, 14 people and 21 people.  
Record the data in a Google Sheet.  Here is our data from our class: 
The data is below: these coordinates are in (# of people moving the books, time) = (x,y)
(3 people , 11.17 seconds)
(8 people, 17.4 seconds)
(14 people, 25.4 seconds)
(21 people, 34.67 seconds)

Get your class into groups of three and ask these two questions.  
How long will it take for the books be moved by 30 people?  
(30 people, ? seconds)
If it took 73 seconds to move the books, how many students did the moving? 
(? people, 73 seconds)

I had the groups put their predictions in the google sheet that was created for the data.  
Lastly have your class actually test the predictions by measuring for 30 people and 73 seconds.  It was a lot of fun to find out the actual time for 30 people and the actual amount of people for 73 seconds.  The students were really into it.  

Good questions to ask 
What does the slope mean?
What does the y-intercept mean?
What methods could be used to predict your answers?

Hope you can give this a try.
My Best,

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Connecting with Colleagues and Learning New Structures

I met with Scott Miller @smiller229 and Dave Elliot @dtelliott today.  Wow that was a treat.  They are amazing educators.  I learned some very cool things.  I always enjoy thinking about some new ways to teach.  I think we should do this often with other educators during our summer time when we can really let the ideas sink in.  I can't wait to try them.

Have your students in groups.  Have half of the students facing the front and half facing the back.  Now show your students that are looking forward a graph.  Since they are facing forward they can see it plainly and need to describe it to their partner who is facing backward.  The person who is facing backward then needs to draw the graph on paper.  They can dialog back and forth to gain clarity.
I wonder if this could be done with students creating their graphs on their calculators/Chromebooks?

2.  QUIZ, QUIZ, TRADE (Kagan)
Teacher Preparation is to make cards with questions on the front and answers on the back.
Students should be in pairs with all getting a card.  QUIZ: Person A solves the problem while Person B Coaches and Encourages.  QUIZ B:  Then Person B begins their problem with their roles reversed. TRADE:  They then give each other a high five congratulations and then TRADE cards.  Now they stand up and hold up their hand looking for a new partner.  High five the new partner and begin the process QUIZ, QUIZ TRADE over again.
I like this because of the fact that students get done with problems at different times and this structure accounts for that.
Video of Quiz, Quiz, Trade

3.  RALLY COACH (Kagan)
Have your students work in pairs with one being A and the other B.
A problem is posed to the whole class.  Person A solves the problem with Person B coaching and encouraging.  A second problem is posed and the roles are reversed.
Video of Rally Coach 

Put students in groups of 2-4.
Pose a question.  Given:    3x2
Now ask all groups to find an equivalent expression (this works for equations too).  They should be told that they should find more than one because there will be NO REPEATS (voted on by the class if is in violation).  Students will be called on randomly to represent their group.  Do no allow a student to give an answer that has already been given.  Call on a few students until you feel like the students are   Try to give time every once in a while to let students find some new equivalencies.   
5x2 - 2x2

Students are in groups of 4:  A, B, C, D
Work sheets have 4 separate problems on it.  All start in the left corner problem.  When all are finished the paper is passed clockwise.  That person checks the work of the person who gave it to them.  There also might be discussion regarding the question.  Wait until all are done and then start on the problem in the upper left.  Again wait until all are done and then pass it clockwise.  Check and discuss.  Wait. etc. until all problems are done.  You should end up with the page you started with and have all four problems worked out correctly.  

One story that Dave relayed to me was that one of the teachers in his department describes herself as a waitress.  She says that she moves from group to trying to see what they need next to help them.  She sees herself as a servant.  This is beautiful.  I love the idea of students deciding what they need to get to the standards of the class and the teacher being available to serve them in their quest.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Eraser Ban

I'm mulling over an ERASER BAN in my math classes this year.  What do you think?
  ERASER BAN = No erasers allowed.  Always strike-through your mistakes.  Pens are encouraged.

If students do not erase in class, then we all get to see a progression of their thinking.  It is a chance to say that it is OK to try something and not be sure.  When students don't erase it will be a reminder that WE WON'T GET IT PERFECT EVERY TIME.  We should model the ERASER BAN ourselves when we do work with them on the board and one on one work.  If I implement this ban then I will  need to provide more space for all problems in any worksheet we give.  Should this ERASER BAN be for all parts of class?  Or should/could it be at certain times in the class? The most beautiful part of this ban would be that you wouldn't have eraser crumbs everywhere in your room anymore!
No More Eraser Crumbs
I would love to know your thoughts on this topic.  I'm still trying to put my mind around the possibility.     
My Best 
twitter @dsladkey

By the way, I got the idea from a presenter Amber McCormick @EdTechAmber at ISTE.  She teaches Global Studies K-5 and uses Sketchnotes to help her students. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

10 Takeaways from #ISTE17

ISTE 2017 San Antonio TX (International Society for Technology in Education) started on Saturday June 24 and ended on Wednesday June 28.  That is a lot of technology. I was there and here are some of my big take-aways.

1. Relationships with your students still are the most important part of teaching whether it be online or face to face.    This was reinforced with one of my first sessions via Scott Garrigan @scottgarrigan This was #2 on his list but he talked about this A LOT.  Here is the link to his presentation.  Here are his 12 strategies to successful Blended/Online Learning: 1.  instructor presence 2. build relationships 3. live web conferences & presentations 4. debates 5. brain rules 6. visual images 7. make relevant connections 8. creative application of content 9. featuring student work online 10. peer review/editing/grading 11. team projects 12.public presentation/publishing

2.  Homework?
Over and over I heard speakers talking about homework.  Homework is a big question mark.  Do we get rid of it altogether?  Do we call it something different?  What about classwork?  We need to think of Standards Work.  This is WORK but always getting at the understanding of the standards. Everything we do revolves around understanding the standards.  So let's call it StandardsWork.  My plan is to list the standards for each chapter. Then I will give a small sample set of problems that will need to be understood for each standard.  I will give formative assessments throughout the chapter to help students know where they stand with each standard.

Digital Tools help us as teachers to give informative, personal, appropriate, and timely feedback.
Formative  Playlists, MC, Short Text Answer, Answers in Drawing mode etc.
Flipgrid Video discussion board
Padlet Discussion Sticky Note Board
Desmos Activity Builder  Slide progression with student feedback
Google Forms  Feedback gathered in a spreadsheet
Socrative  A simple discussion board
Two session really inspired me regarding the importance of FEEDBACK:  Blended Learning Reboot and Using Tech Tools to Create Formative Assessments

4.  Every Student and Every Teacher has a Story.  Be a listener and try to hear that story.  Be bold and vulnerable, and tell your story.  Keynote Jennie Magiera @msmagiera

5.  A Digital Playlist is a list of things to get accomplished for your students.  Your student's progress can be recorded virtually.  An example might be if an instructor gives a playlist to the students at the beginning of the period and giving students the class period to complete it.  Here is an example of a playlist for a lesson from a playlist for an algebra 1 lesson. via Jason Appel @jasonkapple Here is his whole presentation.

6.  Create, Create, Create
We must push ourselves to offer our students more ways to CREATE instead of listening, memorizing and repeating.  There was no exact session on this, however many speakers emphasized this.  I love it.
Digital Creation Tools
Screencastify screencasts and more
Google Slides  Very versatile and collaborative for students
Google Draw Tricks from Andy Mann @andrewmmann Here is a copy of his awesome presentation
Order of Objects:  Select object and then CTRL + Up or Down Arrow
Move Object One Pixel:  Select object and then SHIFT+Arrow
Clone Objects: CTRL+SHIFT and click and drag object to desired place
Change Font Size: Select passage or word and then CTRL+SHIFT and < or >
Awwapp Digital Whiteboard

7.  I was challenged to give my students more CHOICE this coming year.
"Learning must be student-centered.  Letting students have a voice in their pace, place and path gives them that learning experience."  via Melanie Lehman @MLehman76  with her session on Blended Learning

8.  Sketchnotes are awesome.  They provide a visual representation which can say so much more than just words and can trigger your memory to deeper connections.  They are often made when representing a story, a class lecture, a new representation of a known topic or just an outlet for creative expression.   The presenter was really terrific Amber McCormick @EdTechAmber .  A said something that I really liked.  She said she does not allow erasers.  Students love and hate the rule.  I might do this with my math students.
 I made this starter sketchnote with Amber guiding us.  She kept on reinforcing that ANYONE can do it.  I think she is right.  I think this is a good outlet for some students.  I used with this one.

9.  FAIL really means First Attempt In Learning  via @teach42 and @adambellow

10.  A panel of students was asked "What is one thing you wish schools would stop doing?"  Here are the answers HOMEWORK, LONG LECTURES, DESKS and BULLYING.  We need to listen to these students!