August 14, 2013

Revamped Icebreaker

Week 1 has come and gone for me, so this post is a little late.

The icebreaker activity my co-teacher and I used was 2 truths and 1 lie. In the past, I would just have kids read their cards, followed by some students guessing, and then the kid would tell us the lie. Not this time. My co-teacher had the kids ask questions, and together we figured out the lie.

For instance, this is what one student had:
1) I was born in California.
2) I visited Texas in the summer.
3) I have a dog.

We had to model the questions in the beginning in order for student buy-in. So my co-teacher got the ball rolling by asking: what's your dog's name, what kind of dog do you have, how old is your dog, etc... Once the kids got the gist, they started getting really into it. Sometimes the kid in the hot seat would try to lie (I took mental notes), but most of the students would cave and say I don't know or that's my lie when they couldn't answer a question.

I liked the way we did this activity for a couple of reasons. First, you got to learn quickly which kids will be most vocal/willing to participate. Those who asked many questions during the activity are now the ones who ask questions or make comments during a lesson. Also, this activity helped promote questioning in my classroom. I want the kids to ask good questions, and I think this was a fun and easy enough activity to get them started on that path.

June 22, 2013

End of Year 2

It has been a month since school ended for me, and it has taken me this past month to really reflect on how this year went. I was hoping for a better year than my first year of teaching, but with everything that was put on my plate this year- I know that year 2 was rough, ugly, but definitely a good learning experience.

What I learned in Year 2:

Positive things
  • Having guest speakers for my accelerated algebra class. The kids enjoyed it. Some students even became interested in STEM careers. I am excited to teach college algebra this upcoming school year, because I think this will be great for my seniors. 
  • Incorporating technology was another win for me. I believe I was in 2nd or 3rd in regards to usage of the math department's laptop cart. Woo! The district has me piloting speakers in my classroom...not sure if my students really want to hear me in surround sound ha ha.
  • Setting a discipline plan and sticking with it. I think I finally figured out what works for me in regards to discipline. Better late than never. This has me most excited for Year 3, because finally, finally I have developed a practical classroom management plan.

Things I need to change
  • Never accept 3 preps. Ever. Part of my struggle this year was balancing my three different classes. I felt like there would always be one class that went neglected. I never figured out a good balance.
  • More blogging. I know I had at least one great lesson per week. I get so many great ideas from fellow math teachers that I really should do a better job of returning the favor. Year 3 will be the year I make blogging part of my to-do list.
  • More reading. There's many great discussions going on on Twitter that I want to be a part of, again I need to actually commit by including this in my to-do lists. Here's a list of books provided by a fellow math teacher that I plan to read...at least one book before school starts!