Monday, December 3, 2018
Pull Up Project: Month 3 Update
It's month 3! At the beginning of November, I realized that I wasn't making the progress that I had hoped for on my own, so I decided to ask for help. I joined the local CrossFit gym and I absolutely love it. Well, I hate it while I'm doing it, but I can't wait to go back again. I am seriously sore everyday now, no exaggeration.
While the main focus at CrossFit isn't pull ups (actually, we haven't done any), I am building overall strength. I know that I will need a lot of strength to pull this off.
My focus for this month was to encourage students to ask for help if they need it. There is no shame in needed help. I need help with pull ups, they need help with Algebra, we both need to ask for help.
Saturday, November 17, 2018
I'm Done....Now What?
There is nothing more effective at getting a group of students to misbehave than having nothing to do. I see it at home: If my older son doesn't have something to do, he will start picking at my younger son. I see it at Sunday School: If the students don't have anything to do when their parents drop them off, they start running through the building and chasing each other while screaming. And of course we all see it in our classrooms.
I always have some kind of ongoing task, activity, assignment, SOMETHING, that the students can work on when they have spare time in class. When my lessons for that day call for something like that, my board will look something like this...
((insert image of board))
Homework: I assign homework on schoology every Monday morning and it is due by Friday at midnight. This way the students have all week to complete the assignment and can work on it at a time that is convenient for them.
Khan Academy: I use Khan Academy to create longer and larger assignments than the homework. I just did a smaller assignment as a test run, as I've never used Khan Academy with my classes before. My plan is to give the students their assignment at the beginning of the Marking Period, and they have until the end of that Marking Period to complete it. You can see a sneak peak of my teacher dashboard.
I always have some kind of ongoing task, activity, assignment, SOMETHING, that the students can work on when they have spare time in class. When my lessons for that day call for something like that, my board will look something like this...
((insert image of board))
Homework: I assign homework on schoology every Monday morning and it is due by Friday at midnight. This way the students have all week to complete the assignment and can work on it at a time that is convenient for them.
Khan Academy: I use Khan Academy to create longer and larger assignments than the homework. I just did a smaller assignment as a test run, as I've never used Khan Academy with my classes before. My plan is to give the students their assignment at the beginning of the Marking Period, and they have until the end of that Marking Period to complete it. You can see a sneak peak of my teacher dashboard.
Old Stuff: I allow students to reassess twice on any test. They could use this time in class to prepare for retaking an exam or to actually take the exam (if there's enough time).
I have found that with these three options the students ALWAYS have something to do. And believe me, it has really cut down on the misbehavior in my classroom.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
Pull Up Project: 2 Month Update
If you're new to my pull up project, click on the label "Pullups" to see all my posts about it.
This month's theme is to BE CONSISTENT. So, yeah. I did nothing to move forward with this project during the first half of October. Then on October 15th it occurred to me that I only had about two weeks to make some progress. At that point, I tried to do pull ups at least every other day. I'll admit, I tried to cram for a pull up test and although I made progress, it wasn't near what I wanted to accomplish this month. BUT I did make progress, and that is important to move forward and not backwards.
Here is the link to this month's video: Pull Up Project October Update
This month's theme is to BE CONSISTENT. So, yeah. I did nothing to move forward with this project during the first half of October. Then on October 15th it occurred to me that I only had about two weeks to make some progress. At that point, I tried to do pull ups at least every other day. I'll admit, I tried to cram for a pull up test and although I made progress, it wasn't near what I wanted to accomplish this month. BUT I did make progress, and that is important to move forward and not backwards.
Here is the link to this month's video: Pull Up Project October Update
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Station Rotation: 10/9/18
I think the station rotation I did two weeks ago was a success and I plan to continue to use this on a regular basis in my Algebra classes. Here are the station that I used this week:
The class is 90 minutes long. We started class with one set of entrance cards. Students were randomly assigned to a station. The students spent 15 minutes at each station. Finally we closed with an exit ticket.
Classroom timer: Click here.
I put instructions in acrylic frames at the stations where there is no adult. Click here for those.
Students were permitted to choose between stations 2&3. They did not need to do both.
I put instructions in acrylic frames at the stations where there is no adult. Click here for those.
Station 1: New Material with Para
At this station the students are graphing equations that are not given in slopeintercept form. This is something we have not covered in class yet and the small group instruction will be perfect for that. I used a worksheet that I generated from the KUTA software that my school district purchase. I assume I would be violating copyright if I shared that with all of you. So instead, here is a link to their free worksheet similar to what I gave the students.
Students were permitted to choose between stations 2&3. They did not need to do both.
Station 2: Create Something
Before class, I wrote out 60 index cards that each have an equation in slope intercept form. At this station I put the index cards, poster paper, glue, graph paper, rulers, markers, color pencils, and tape. The students were required to pick an index card and create a poster that had that equation on it, stated the slope and yintercept, and had a graph of the equation. Here is a small sampling of their posters.
Station 3: Digital
I found this quizizz on slopeintercept and decided this was a perfect addition to this week's rotation. I wanted all my classes to use the same quizizz. In order for it to stay open all day, I logged in on my iPad but didn't answer any of the questions.
Station 4: Something Old with Me
The students are still struggling with equations. I suppose we just have to keep at it. This week we went over equations that have variables on both sides. Again this was generated from KUTA. Below is the link for the free version from them.
Station 5: Interactive
I always want to have a station where the students are forced to interact with each other. This time around I picked a Sum of 3 (or 4) activity. Again I went for an old topic that needed revisiting: Evaluating Expressions.
Exit Ticket
I created this exit ticket so that it incorporated one question corresponding to each station. I collected these and did comments only grading.
Sunday, October 7, 2018
Why I LOVE task cards
If you have never used task cards, you are missing out. When I first heard about task cards, my thoughts were that they were kind of silly. I mean, all you do is take the problems from a worksheet and print one problem on each card. Why not just print the flippin' worksheet? Here's why...
 Task cards get the student up and out of their seats.
 Task cards don't overwhelm the students. They focus on one problem at a time. I especially noticed my IEP students having less anxiety with the cards rather than a worksheet.
 Task cards encourage selfteaching. I like to use task cards that have QR codes so that the student can selfcheck and correct misconceptions right away.
 Task cards with QR codes are a novelty to my students. My students like to use new technology and surprisingly many of them have never used or scanned a QR code before they came to my class.
Before class I will make 2 sets of the cards and laminate them.
I place the task cards on a table near the front of the room and the students are allowed to take 13 cards back to their seats depending on how many students are in that class. As the students finish the problem, they need to scan the QR code to check the answer. If they are correct, they take that problem back to the table and get a new problem. If they are incorrect, they must fix the mistake.
Here are a few to get you started:
FREE!
Paid:
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Station Rotation
Our school has implemented a fusion schedule last year where we have 45 minute classes 3 days of the week and 90 minute classes the other two days of the week. If I don't plan well for these classes, it can be boring and tedious. So, I wanted to share the station rotation that my students and I did this week.
We just tested on graphing with tables and intercepts and this was our first day with slope. The student have studied slope in their prealgebra class, but you know we need to visit it again in Algebra 1.
The set up. I created 4 stations around my room with acrylic frames that gave the student instructions on what to do.
At the beginning of class we had a short lesson on how to find the slope if you are given a table. Then I randomly divided the class into four groups and sent each group to a station.
The student had 15 minutes at each station and I displayed the following timer on my screen:
TIMER
Station 1 (Digital Station):
Desmos Activity
At this station, the students used their laptops (and ear buds) to go through a desmos activity on finding slope from a graph.
Slope from a graph Desmos activity < link to activity
We just tested on graphing with tables and intercepts and this was our first day with slope. The student have studied slope in their prealgebra class, but you know we need to visit it again in Algebra 1.
The set up. I created 4 stations around my room with acrylic frames that gave the student instructions on what to do.
At the beginning of class we had a short lesson on how to find the slope if you are given a table. Then I randomly divided the class into four groups and sent each group to a station.
The student had 15 minutes at each station and I displayed the following timer on my screen:
TIMER
Station 1 (Digital Station):
Desmos Activity
At this station, the students used their laptops (and ear buds) to go through a desmos activity on finding slope from a graph.
Slope from a graph Desmos activity < link to activity
Station 2 (Small Group Instruction):
Finding slope from an equation with yours truly
At this station, I worked with a small group of students and taught them (or reminded them) how to determine the slope if you are given an equation. I really liked this station, because I had the opportunity to work with every single student.
Here is a copy of that worksheet > LINK TO WORKSHEET
Station 3 (Interactive Station):
Slope from Tables: Problem Trains.
At this station, the students worked together to solve the problem train on finding slope if you are given a table. You can find that activity HERE.
Station 4 (Review Station):
TwoStep Equation Pyramid
My Algebra 1 students are making a lot of careless mistakes with solving equations. So, I figured this would be a perfect topic to cover during this station rotation. I received this activity when I signed up for All Things Algebra's free newsletter. I do have a para during these classes and they would manage this station.
What Went Well:
 The students were on task the whole time. I made sure to have enough work at each station so that there is little to no down time.
 The 90 minutes flew by.
 All students received individual attention and a many misconceptions were corrected.
What Needs Work:
 I don't know how this escaped me, but I didn't plan for closure. Next time I will have a wrapup and exit ticket to round out the class.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
Pull Up Project: 1 Month Update
Here is my one month update for my pull up project.
Answers to FAQs
I love this photo because at the time I didn't see my son's face as I was doing this pull up. I started this project to inspire my students. I have to remember there is someone else watching and learning from this project as well.
Answers to FAQs
 Yes, the students do ask me daily how my pull ups are coming along.
 Yes, the students have invited me to go to the weight room with them.
 Yes, my family is very supportive of this project.
 No, I don't receive any negative comments. I think those comments are out there but those people are too polite to actually say or write them to me. I kind of wish they would so I could share them with my students. It's okay...teachers have thick skin. :)
I can do 1 pull up!! 
I love this photo because at the time I didn't see my son's face as I was doing this pull up. I started this project to inspire my students. I have to remember there is someone else watching and learning from this project as well.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
Teaching Game Design  Writing your First Rule Document
One of the most challenging things my Game Design students run into is writing rule documents. So, I decided to start the semester with an activity to help them develop this skill.
I split the class into groups of 34 students each and gave each group the following game pieces:
 1 Pencil Case
 10 index cards (do not write on, bend, tear, or modify these in any way)
 40 bingo chips (10 blue, 10 red, 10 green, 10 yellow)
 8 pawns (2 blue, 2 red, 2 green, 2 yellow)
 6 dice (1 D4, 1 D6, 1 D8, 1 D10, 1 D12, 1 D20)
The first day of this activity, the students were instructed to create a simple game. I emphasize simple because the simpler the game, the easier it is to write the rule document. I had to remind a few groups to scale it down, they were getting waaaay too complicated. At this point, I told the students that we weren't concerned if the game was broken, unbalanced, without choices, or even boring....just that they had a game.
On the second day, we started writing the rule documents. Each group had to have the following sections in their document:
 Title
 Group members names
 Back story/Introduction (optional)
 Components
 Set Up (photos strongly encouraged)
 Game Play
 Game End
 Win Condition
 FAQs (optional)
I went around from group to group and tried to assist the best I could, but as you know, you can't catch everything. The students wrote their rule documents on a shared google doc and shared with all their group members and me.
On the third day each group shared their rule document with another group with commentsonly ability. Each group attempted to play the other's game only by reading the rule document. If they were stuck, they could ask the designers questions but needed to write a comment about what could be corrected.
At the end of class that day, the groups were given time to revise their rule document based on the comments they received.
On the fourth day, we repeated the same process as day 3 with a different group.
There was a huge difference in their first draft and their final submission. Having the opportunity to read other's rule documents showed them how important it is to be clear and concise.
Monday, August 27, 2018
10 PullUp Project  Initial Video
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Can I Do 10 Pullups by the End of the School Year?
This idea just popped into my head and I need to flesh it out here. Please comment with your input.
I really want to create a classroom that is safe for mistakes. I think the best way to get the students on board is for them to see the teacher (me) try to reach a goal and make mistakes along the way. Every year I say "This classroom is a safe place to make mistakes." but I rarely show them any of my failures and mistakes....I talk about them, but that's not the same.
What if....
...I create a goal that I want to reach by the end of the school year? Each month I can share my progress with the students so they can see what a growth mindset looks like. ???
Here's my first idea: I really want to be able to do 10 pullups/chin ups. When I was in high school we were tested every year with how long we could hold our chin above a bar. I lasted about 5 seconds. Every year after these tests I would tell myself to practice over the following year so I could do better next time. That never happened.
The students would be able to see my successes and failures and my reaction to both throughout the year. And by the end of the school year if I'm still not able to do 10 pullups, that will be okay too. Trying and failing is acceptable. Not trying and failing is not.
But I'm Scared...
I suppose this is how some of my students feel about coming to the front of the room to complete a math problem. What if they laugh at me or are negative about it?
I really want to create a classroom that is safe for mistakes. I think the best way to get the students on board is for them to see the teacher (me) try to reach a goal and make mistakes along the way. Every year I say "This classroom is a safe place to make mistakes." but I rarely show them any of my failures and mistakes....I talk about them, but that's not the same.
What if....
...I create a goal that I want to reach by the end of the school year? Each month I can share my progress with the students so they can see what a growth mindset looks like. ???
Here's my first idea: I really want to be able to do 10 pullups/chin ups. When I was in high school we were tested every year with how long we could hold our chin above a bar. I lasted about 5 seconds. Every year after these tests I would tell myself to practice over the following year so I could do better next time. That never happened.
The students would be able to see my successes and failures and my reaction to both throughout the year. And by the end of the school year if I'm still not able to do 10 pullups, that will be okay too. Trying and failing is acceptable. Not trying and failing is not.
But I'm Scared...
I suppose this is how some of my students feel about coming to the front of the room to complete a math problem. What if they laugh at me or are negative about it?
 HAHAHA Mrs. Oswald can't even do one pullup.
 OMG! Look at how flabby her arms are.
 Why does she even bother, she'll never be able to do it?
 She's just looking for attention.
Seriously, my heart is racing just thinking about it. Maybe that's exactly why I should do this....or not. Please I need your advice. Do you think this is something that will benefit my students?
Friday, August 3, 2018
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
I just finished reading The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.
Check it out here: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.
Check it out here: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.
There were so many great tidbits of information and I couldn't help but think about my classroom while reading. Here are some of the ideas I will be taking back to my lessons this fall:
1) Decide why you're really gathering.
 Once you have an answer, ask 'why' again, and again, until you get down to the real reason you are all there. For some students, they're there because they were forced to show up. But why are you there? And why are you there on this particular day? I like to think of this as our objectives for the day/period. Go deep people, deeper. Why are you and your students gathering today?
2) Don't be a chill host.
 I've been working on this for some time at school. It's actually the most stressful part of teaching for me. In a nutshell this means that if you don't take control of the classroom, someone will. And we all know that it won't be pretty. I love her quote in the book, "Chill is selfishness disguised as kindness". Yes, the students describe me as kind, but in the beginning of my career they did not describe me as being in control. How are you going to be in control?
3) Create a temporary alternative world.
 In this part of the book, the author goes into a section about etiquette vs. popup rules; and this is where a light bulb when on for me. I knew this, but it never sank in. Etiquette is a way for people to behave within a certain region in order to help life run smoothly. Popup rules are rules that are created for that event only; once the event is over, the rules are gone too. I need to think of the classroom just full of popup rules. Etiquette cannot be assumed anymore. For example: talking while the teacher is talking. During my upbringing it was rude if a person interrupted someone else (my mom called us butinskis) or talked during a presentation, however, many of students (and I'll admit colleagues) don't see this as rude.
 The other takeaway I got from this section of the book was to totally immerse the students in the day's lesson. Is there a way to get my students to forget about the outside world and be completely here?
4) Never Start a Funeral with Logistics.
 The main idea here is that the opening and closing of your class are opportunities to capture your students' attention. Keep announcements out of there. Can announcements be address at a different part of your lesson?
 Your gathering doesn't begin when it begins....it begins when the guests first hear about it. Is there a way to get your students excited about your class before it actually begins?
 Can you name your class? And I don't mean 'Algebra 1', how about something like, "Cans vs. Soda Stream"?
 Ushering. What should your students be doing while they are waiting for class to begin? If you don't have something for them to do, they will find something to do and you may not like it.
 Go above and beyond. Parker gave an example of a teacher who learned all the students names before school started. He (or she) knew all of their names and faces from the files given to them by the school district and knew each student by name as they entered his (or her) class.
5) Keep your best self out of my gathering.
 This one is perfect for the classroom. It is basically asking attendees to leave their egos at home. She suggests that we can get more accomplished if we let down our guard and stop trying too hard to impress each other. How can you create an environment where students feel safe taking chances and making mistakes?
6) Accept that there is an end.
 Remember to create a bridge for you students from your classroom to the real world. Especially at the end of the year. I made a huge mistake with that this year...I never said goodbye to my students. Our schedule for finals was strange this year and the year ended, but yet it didn't. I didn't realize that that day was the last that I would see my students until the day was over. I actually felt sick to my stomach that the year ended and I didn't even acknowledge it. How can you make the end of the year special and memorable for your students?
I really enjoyed this book. If you get the opportunity to read it, I recommend that you do so.
Friday, May 18, 2018
Why Students are Constantly Testing Teachers (and other adults)
A few weeks ago this video came across my Facebook feed (at least I think it was Facebook) and it really hit home with me. It explains why teenagers test adults. I immediately thought about my own children, and then my students.
My perspective has changed. Now when a student tests me, it isn't a burden....it's an opportunity to show them my support.
Watch:
Like The Lap Bar on a Roller Coaster
My perspective has changed. Now when a student tests me, it isn't a burden....it's an opportunity to show them my support.
Watch:
Like The Lap Bar on a Roller Coaster
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Calculus Students in Algebra Class
I've had this idea for a few years now, but it never seems to go over well with others in the school. I would like to see upper level students assigned to Algebra 1 classes.
When I taught PreCalculus or Calculus, one of the things that really slowed a lesson down was the students' Algebra 1 skills. We constantly had to review topics I believe they should have mastered. For the past few years I have solely taught Algebra 1. What I'm seeing in these courses is the number of students who need oneonone assistance, maturity redirection, and frankly a mentor.
Here is where I see an opportunity....assign mature upper level students to Algebra 1 classes. The older students would be required to take notes and pay attention in class, but act as teaching assistants.. I picture them sitting among the younger students, helping individuals when they have trouble comprehending, all while they are honing their own Algebra 1 skills. And dare I say, even teach a lesson to the whole class???
The younger students have the opportunity to see the maturity level and math skills of students in their own school. They could serve as a positive role models for the younger students to look up to.
I have had a small introduction to this during the current semester. In my school, each teacher is permitted to have 1 student aide. The students has to be either a Junior or a Senior and they receive no credit for the class. Basically, it's a student who acts as your secretary. They can make copies for you, grade multiple choice assessments, and run errands around the school.
The student aide I have this semester, let's call her Jane, is proving my idea worthy. One day she saw that I was struggling with helping all the students as they were working on a worksheet. She walked up to me and said, "Mrs. Oswald, I'm comfortable with this material, do you want me to help the students too?" uhhh, YEAH! Every day Jane helps me collect the entrance cards and help students who are struggling with those, she works individually with students, and has taken the time to learn all of their names.
The one day I was teaching a lesson that I felt was boring. I announced this to the students and asked, "Does anyone know how we can make this less dull?" Jane raised her hand and offered to teach the class. Yes, be jealous. She did a fantastic job too!
And the students are comfortable with her too. If they see I'm busy, they call her over to help. I really wish I could give her an elective credit for all the work she's been doing. My sincere 'thank you' will have to do.
Do any of you have experience with this? Anyone want to play devil's advocate and see if there's something I haven't considered?
When I taught PreCalculus or Calculus, one of the things that really slowed a lesson down was the students' Algebra 1 skills. We constantly had to review topics I believe they should have mastered. For the past few years I have solely taught Algebra 1. What I'm seeing in these courses is the number of students who need oneonone assistance, maturity redirection, and frankly a mentor.
Here is where I see an opportunity....assign mature upper level students to Algebra 1 classes. The older students would be required to take notes and pay attention in class, but act as teaching assistants.. I picture them sitting among the younger students, helping individuals when they have trouble comprehending, all while they are honing their own Algebra 1 skills. And dare I say, even teach a lesson to the whole class???
The younger students have the opportunity to see the maturity level and math skills of students in their own school. They could serve as a positive role models for the younger students to look up to.
I have had a small introduction to this during the current semester. In my school, each teacher is permitted to have 1 student aide. The students has to be either a Junior or a Senior and they receive no credit for the class. Basically, it's a student who acts as your secretary. They can make copies for you, grade multiple choice assessments, and run errands around the school.
The student aide I have this semester, let's call her Jane, is proving my idea worthy. One day she saw that I was struggling with helping all the students as they were working on a worksheet. She walked up to me and said, "Mrs. Oswald, I'm comfortable with this material, do you want me to help the students too?" uhhh, YEAH! Every day Jane helps me collect the entrance cards and help students who are struggling with those, she works individually with students, and has taken the time to learn all of their names.
The one day I was teaching a lesson that I felt was boring. I announced this to the students and asked, "Does anyone know how we can make this less dull?" Jane raised her hand and offered to teach the class. Yes, be jealous. She did a fantastic job too!
And the students are comfortable with her too. If they see I'm busy, they call her over to help. I really wish I could give her an elective credit for all the work she's been doing. My sincere 'thank you' will have to do.
Do any of you have experience with this? Anyone want to play devil's advocate and see if there's something I haven't considered?
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Solving Equations Escape Room  Zombies Attack
I sell this escape room on Teachers pay Teachers, but I want to share it will you all for free.
Click here to get the escape room!
Click here to get the answer key!
Click here to watch a video explanation!
Here is the description that I put on Teachers pay Teachers:
Have your students practice solving multistep equations the fun way: with an escape room. Don't worry, I know that creating escape rooms can be expensive, but not this one. The only additional items you will need are letter size envelopes and maybe 3 8x10 acrylic frames.
The story:
Your students are tucked away safely in a compound far away from the zombies. But are they? Turns out the watch tower sees zombies coming from EVERY DIRECTION!! There is no where to run. But then someone from your group remembers that the compound has an underground tunnel that will lead them to safety. The problem? There are three doors along the way and they are all locked. Can your students survive? Will they make it out alive?
For this escape room you will want to break your students into teams of 34 survivors each.
To successfully escape the zombies the students will need to solve:
* TwoStep Equations
* Equations with Combining Like Terms
* Equations with Distributive Property
Materials in Packet:
Envelope covers.
Three hint cards for each group.
Direction cards for each envelope.
Equation cards for each envelope.
Prizes.
Answer Key
Click here to get the escape room!
Click here to get the answer key!
Click here to watch a video explanation!
Here is the description that I put on Teachers pay Teachers:
Have your students practice solving multistep equations the fun way: with an escape room. Don't worry, I know that creating escape rooms can be expensive, but not this one. The only additional items you will need are letter size envelopes and maybe 3 8x10 acrylic frames.
The story:
Your students are tucked away safely in a compound far away from the zombies. But are they? Turns out the watch tower sees zombies coming from EVERY DIRECTION!! There is no where to run. But then someone from your group remembers that the compound has an underground tunnel that will lead them to safety. The problem? There are three doors along the way and they are all locked. Can your students survive? Will they make it out alive?
For this escape room you will want to break your students into teams of 34 survivors each.
To successfully escape the zombies the students will need to solve:
* TwoStep Equations
* Equations with Combining Like Terms
* Equations with Distributive Property
Materials in Packet:
Envelope covers.
Three hint cards for each group.
Direction cards for each envelope.
Equation cards for each envelope.
Prizes.
Answer Key
Monday, April 9, 2018
Am I really starting to get this classroom management thing down?!?!?
This year I have a new paraeducator in my room. She's not new to the district, she's new to my classes. I believe she and I started in this district around the same time (like 18 years ago, sheesh!). Anyway, she was complimenting me on my control over the classroom and I was really taken aback by her comments because I've always felt that discipline was my weakest area.
I wanted to reflect on what might have changed over the years to have someone who sits in my class daily feel comfortable, where before I'm not so sure that was the case. If I really do have any advice to offer to my younger, newteacher self, this is what I would say:
It's not personal.
I wanted to reflect on what might have changed over the years to have someone who sits in my class daily feel comfortable, where before I'm not so sure that was the case. If I really do have any advice to offer to my younger, newteacher self, this is what I would say:
It's not personal.
The students are not misbehaving because they have a personal vendetta against you, it's because they are kids and kids need to test the limits. It's also not personal when you follow through with the corresponding consequence. My first few years, I had a lot of difficulty following through with the consequences with the "nice" kids. Not only does this create a classroom control issue, you also risk these students thinking that you're friends.
Be consistent.
Get experience.
Remember to be nice.
Do not debate with the students.
Don't ask questions, give direction.
Instead of "Would you like to take your seat now?" say "Take your seat, please." One thing I've learned is to not ask questions I don't want to know the answers to. If I ask a student to take their seat, it sounds like I'm giving them an option, but if I politely remind them that it's time to take their seat, it sounds like I'm in charge.
Don't start your lesson until you have their attention and none of the students are talking.
If you start your lesson before the students settle down, the message you are sending is that you are okay with this. If you wait until you have their attention, it lets them know that you will take control of this situation. It also lets them know that what you are about to say is important and that you think they are important enough to hear it.
Sarcasm Doesn't Work
How do you feel when someone uses sarcasm on you? Personally, I feel stupid and it makes me not want to try.
Never yell, unless someone's safety is at stake.
Save yelling for when you really need to make a statement, like someone is about to be injured. If you yell everyday, you never make a statement.
Establish rules that you will carry out.
Don't create a rule that you are not comfortable enforcing. And don't make your rules too complicated or something that requires a lot of bookkeeping.
Be consistent.
You have to enforce all your rules all the time. You slip up once and the students will call you on it. Reread how it's not personal.
Get experience.
Okay, this isn't something you can just pick up at the store. It takes time. The first years, you'll be using rules and consequences based on your own schooling experience, the advice of other teachers, and your good old common sense. After a while you'll find out what works best for you and your students.
Remember to be nice.
This is the same as "It's Not Personal". The students need to know that you didn't take their behavior personal either. You still like them as a person. You still respect them as a human being. BUT you are going to provide safe boundaries for them. Remove all your emotions from classroom management. I repeat: Remove all your emotions from classroom management.
Do not debate with the students.
Oh, and they will want to debate, negotiate, beg, and plead. Be ready for the sob stories, "But my mom said that I won't be able to go on the family vacation this summer if I get one more detention." Remember: Remove all your emotions from classroom management. Always follow through with your consequences. I have wasted so much classroom time getting sucked into classroom rule debates.
Don't ask questions, give direction.
Instead of "Would you like to take your seat now?" say "Take your seat, please." One thing I've learned is to not ask questions I don't want to know the answers to. If I ask a student to take their seat, it sounds like I'm giving them an option, but if I politely remind them that it's time to take their seat, it sounds like I'm in charge.
Don't start your lesson until you have their attention and none of the students are talking.
If you start your lesson before the students settle down, the message you are sending is that you are okay with this. If you wait until you have their attention, it lets them know that you will take control of this situation. It also lets them know that what you are about to say is important and that you think they are important enough to hear it.
Sarcasm Doesn't Work
How do you feel when someone uses sarcasm on you? Personally, I feel stupid and it makes me not want to try.
Never yell, unless someone's safety is at stake.
Save yelling for when you really need to make a statement, like someone is about to be injured. If you yell everyday, you never make a statement.
I still feel that I have a lot to learn about managing a classroom full of teenagers. I can't honestly say that I do all of these all the time. Do I still use sarcasm without thinking? Sadly, yes. Am I always nice? No, not always. But I'm working on it. These are a few of the things that seem to be working for me with my classroom management. What would you add to this list?
Monday, March 19, 2018
Ten Cent Notebooks Keep Me Sane  Lists, lists, and more lists
At the beginning of the school year, Walmart sells their 70page spiral notebooks for $0.10 and I purchase about 50 of them. I figure at 10 cents a notebook, I'll find a use for them even if that use is giving them to my students.
I started this year very disorganized. Between school, family, being a business owner (thank God for my partners), Sunday School teacher, and just life in general, my thoughts were always scattered. I wasn't utilizing my prep period to full capacity and spent most of my time running around starting one project, then realizing there is a more important item I should be working on.
Here are some of the things I forgot to do on a regular basis:
 filling out student behavior forms.
 checking my own children's homework.
 grocery shopping.
 getting materials together for Sunday School.
 ordering certain items for the cafe.
 unlocking assignments for the students.
I really started to notice my disorganization during the block periods. This year our school has adopted a fusion schedule where 3 days of the week we have traditionallength classes (45 minutes) and two days of the week are blocklength classes (90 minutes). On those block days I was bored, and so were the students, because I was neglecting to plan. Fail to plan = plan to fail, as they say. I was failing....and frustrated....and bored....
One day I was mentally running through my todo list but it was so long that I couldn't remember it all. That's when I went to my cabinet and grabbed one of my 50 notebooks, opened it to the first page and wrote "TODO" at the top. Then I took a few minutes to write down everything that needed to get done at school. You know what? By the end of the day the entire page was full of things. Every. Single. Line. But do you also know what? I was able to finish most of it by the end of the day. I even had an interesting lesson plan ready to go for the next time I had a block class.
But here is where the real change was....in my mental dialogue to myself. Once I wrote down something I needed to do, it was as if my subconscious was given permission to "let it go". My mind was no longer cluttered with mental todo lists. Every time throughout the day when I had a free minute, I would refer to my checklist and DO SOMETHING.
Rereading this post I realize how obvious this sounds, but I'm hoping that it helps at least one other teacher. Something as simple as writing down what you need to do can clear you mind to focus at the task on hand and be awesome!
Friday, February 16, 2018
Absolute Value Inequalities: Error Analysis (Printable)
I created an error analysis activity for my students that includes the most common errors that I've seen throughout my duration as a teacher....for Absolute Value Inequalities.
Here is a link to the file if you are interested. It's a link to Teachers pay Teachers, but don't worry....its free.
Absolute Value Inequalities: Error Analysis
Here is a link to the file if you are interested. It's a link to Teachers pay Teachers, but don't worry....its free.
Absolute Value Inequalities: Error Analysis
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Celebrating Mistakes
Today we (or rather I) celebrated mistakes in my classroom. This is a no effort lesson plan that I rely on once in a while and is very effective.
Before Class:
Generate problems for the students to complete (more than enough for the class period). That's it!
During Class:
I review a few examples with the students before we begin the 'activity'.
Randomly pick a student to choose a number from 1 to howevermanyproblemsyougenerated. I write that problem on the board and the students complete it at their seats. I also warn the students to write neatly because their work will be displayed for the entire class to see.
Once the students have completed the problem I randomly pick a student and take a photo of their work with my iPad and display it on the apple TV. Warts and all.
Note: I am very unhelpful when the students are working on the problem at their seats. I want the class to see THEIR work, not mine. I tell the students that I LOVE when they make mistakes....it shows that they're trying and their brains grow when they make a mistake. This is great formative assessment.
I also enjoy the fact that the students can see that they are not the only ones possibly struggling this the topic. It's perfect to not be perfect.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Four 4s Posters
A few months ago I created these Four 4s posters from 1100. If you're not familiar, these are problems where you can use exactly four 4s to get a certain number. Operations such as plus, minus, multiplication, division, exponents, square roots, and factorial can be used. And of course parenthesis. Be careful that you only use the number 4. For example, don't use a 2 as an exponent. And be careful that you use exactly four 4s....not three 4s or five 4s.
I wanted something for the earlyfinish students. When a student finishes their classwork early, he can try to figure out one of the open numbers. As a student would determine one of the numbers, she would show it to me for confirmation, write her solution next to the number and sign her name.
And yes, you can find solutions on line and I addressed this right away with the students. You can find one such website here. I told the students that we wouldn't be looking these things up online, we wanted to see what we could do on our own. As you can see from the image below, I believe the students are complying with our agreement.
Some of my students are really into this. One student has 10 of the numbers and another student has 12 of them. Keep in mind that I have over 100 students, so these two students are really going to town. When I first posted the numbers and explained how it works, a few students were so excited, with one student saying, "I WILL get my name on that poster!".
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