Getting Around

Sunday, July 3, 2016

One Unit Down...

Well, I got through one unit, "Accentuate the Negative," to be precise. Even though it's not the official first unit of the year as designed by the CMP3 folks, it's the one our district decided to start with for the course I'm teaching. Only 6 more to go! (We had to make cuts since our periods are too short to get through the whole thing.)

There's some really good stuff in here. Too much. We can't do it all, and choosing is hard.

There are also some sad moments where the curriculum falls into the trap of some of those terrible Common Core math problems you see on the internet. You know, the ones where a student could quickly use a standard algorithm but instead has to show three different, tedious ways to get to the answer. I'm all for celebrating different methods, but making kids do that for homework or on tests rubs me the wrong way. We all have the ways we like to solve things. We'll be doing some exploring in class, but I can't bring myself to assign that sort of thing for home practice.

Dash stinks. There, I've said it. Dash is the online version of everything, created by Pearson. It's slow, it's hard to navigate, and it doesn't accommodate students with no internet at home. I'm not grading things two different ways (a Pearson rep recommended that I make paper copies for students with no internet, but since who that is might change month to month it's impossible to know who needs paper), so it's downloads for all. I have spent a lot of time downloading things. We won't have physical textbooks, so I gotta do what I gotta do.

Designing a sensible flow for in-class work, where I think we all do better on paper, and at-home work, which will be digital, has been an interesting challenge for me. More on that after I've had some colleagues poke holes in my ideas.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

One Investigation Complete

I finished working all the problems and ACE questions for the first investigation in Accentuate the Negative in CMP3.

THIS IS GOING TO TAKE FOREVER.

I complete understand why I need to work all the problems. I agree with that. But holy cow. I also need to download all the pages so that my students without internet access at home can still do the practice. I see my summer rapidly dwindling to days of downloading.

I have also been doing a lot of quick note-taking in Google Keep. I can't say it's my favorite note-taking tool (Evernote and OneNote are better), but I can't beat the quickness of it. Since there are no notebooks there's little organizing to do other than tagging. Let's hope I don't make it overwhelming for myself later. I have Evernote notebooks that are crazy full that I never look at.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Digital Notebooks for CMP3

CMP3 suggests that students keep a notebook. I think this is a great idea, and I use notebooks in science, but I have a few of problems with notebooks in math. They are:

  1. We do homework in math, so students need access to their notebooks in order to do homework
  2. If I let students take their notebooks home, many of the notebooks won't ever return
  3. We do our homework digitally on iPads, so using a paper notebook seems more work for me
On the other hand, I have a few issues with digital notebooks:
  1. Students learn better with paper and pencil
  2. Organizing without being able to flip pages is a pain
  3. How on earth would you grade that? We use Notability for our notebooks, so it's not something they can share with me
At the CMP3 training the instructor suggested having students work on large pieces of paper or big whiteboards. At the end of the lesson, students would write on a piece of notebook paper what they felt was the best method for them of solving the day's problem was and that became their notes for the day. She had them take that home and do the homework on the back. Then, once checked, the notes/homework paper went in the binder notebooks. She graded on whether everything was there and complete in addition to checking homework in every day.

Right now I'm thinking I will have students recopy into their digital notebook so that they have the information for homework. I would mostly be grading their notebooks on how much they did during class based on what they wrote in their notebooks. They could use the notebooks at the document camera during the summary part of the lesson to show work rather than poster paper, which I can't afford anyway.

I have no idea if this will work or if it's too cumbersome. Students sometimes kept a notebook in class in the past, but everyday I'd find notes on the floor because someone took them on paper (I required note-taking) and then left them because they didn't care.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Connected Math

CMP3


Our school has recently adopted Connected Mathematics Project 3 (CMP3 from now on) for our new curriculum. I'm going to be spending a ton of time with it this summer, so it seems like a good time to start blogging again.

We had a too-quick training. It clocked in at 5 hours, but the instructor said most schools get 3 hours. What? Other teachers I've known who've taught CMP got as much as a week of training. Much of it was spent on the online tools rather than the process of teaching a lesson. There was so much to learn but very little time.

For those who don't know, CMP3 is taught through inquiry. So, you learn why you need the math tool before you abstract the formal math. I really like that part of it. What I don't like is that somehow we have to make it work in very short periods, some as short as 41 minutes. I piloted a couple of units this spring, and I'm finding that you really need to work out all the problems yourself in advance so you can see where it's all going. Unlike a traditional curriculum, you can't just show up one day and teach whatever the next thing is in the book. Without knowing the story arc, it becomes very muddled very quickly.

I have also just found out that I'm teaching science again after a year off. Science is a ton of work, but I'm teaching with an excellent colleague. We have new standards this year, but my excellent colleague found a document that says we actually have some time before we have to implement the new standards, so I'll be able to hit the ground running in the fall with stuff I already know. Our science department will do its own curriculum adoption this coming academic year, so it's nice not to have to change anything without the new curriculum.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Wow, it's been awhile

I've been busy doing all sorts of things in the last two years. Not sure what to add exactly, but here are some of the small changes in my life in no particular order:


  • I am still in a science classroom, but I teach math and business. I have to shuffle off to the computer lab for two periods for business, but it's a lot less work than teaching science.
  • I now have TABLES (yay!) in my room instead of desks.  The kids hate them. I love them. I don't use the back of the science room right now because I got tired of having to micro-manage behavior. I'll get back to it one of these days.
  • We are now using Instructure's Canvas for our LMS. I miss Schoology, but I like that everyone's using the same thing. No one's missing My Big Campus, which I dumped after a few tries.
  • 1-to-1 iPads. Crazy. We only got them just before Thanksgiving so it's still new. 
  • I have become the departmental data person, along with one of the new teachers. It's fun, but takes a lot of time. I do love me some good data though.
  • I am participating in a teacher study group at Local U about differentiating math instruction. I am trying new things and learning a lot from some very smart educators in the area.
  • A year and a half ago my state dumped Common Core. So much fun's been had since then.
Anyway, not sure how much I'll post, but I feel like it might be good for me to get out here again.