Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quadratic Project

We just wrapped up our quadratic functions chapter. I love teaching quadratics! Everything about it! Factoring, completing the square, the quadratic formula, complex numbers, simplifying radicals... It's all really the first new thing I teach my students, and it's just so much fun to watch their brains go! After we completed our test of the material we did a couple of projects to actually apply all of the information. My favorite project is the angry birds project. There are several versions of this online. This is the one I used this time. 

 At first my students hated thinking through the questions. They worked in small groups. The did not like that I wouldn't help them. They really want me to hold their hand through every step of the problem. Using their brains really made them not like me for a moment but by the time they were done with the project I really felt like they understood quadratics at a much better and deeper level. Here are two of the posters my students made for their project. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First few weeks of school thoughts

The first day of school consists of me going over the syllabus, the layout of my classroom, procedures for turning things in, picking things up, if they are absent, etc. that takes the majority of the 54 minute class period. The left over time my students write me an autobiography. The guidelines are simple. It must fill up the front of one sheet of paper from margin line to margin line, from the top line to the bottom line. it must be in sentance/paragraph form. I ask them to share anything they want to share with me about themselves. i ask them to share if thry have any special requests or situations about seating arrangements, etc. in these i have found out things like: a student was deaf in his right ear znd needed to sit one the right side of the room, one of my seniors helped her mom move out of their house the previous night because her parents are getting a divorce, I also found out one of my students has seizures but a classmate knows what to do. This is a very easy and quick way to start building relationships and repore.

This year has started out to be awesome! My students this year are very bright, energetic, and funny. Developing relationships are one of my favorite parts about teaching. I get to know all these awesome people in one of the funnest times of their lives, as they are developing their personalities. And if I can get to know them a little then they are much more likely to buy into what I'm selling.

We did two weeks of review lessons over linear functions and systems of equations. This was basically to get their brains started again. Once I reminded them of what algebra looks and feels like, we jumped right into quadratics. I LOVE QUADRATICS!!!!! My students, however, don't. :-(

I decided to try something different with homework compared to how I did it last semester. Students will have far less homework problems. Last semester I gave around 20 homework problems a night. I noticed really quickly that the only students who did the homework were the students who would have done the homework if I assigned 100 problems every night. So this year I cut it down to 10 problems a night. This seems to be the key. The students who aren't doing it at all are the students who won't do any homework. But I have a lot more actually trying. This seems an easier accomplishment so they are willing to try. They keep this assignments in their "math notebook" with their notes. These are to be kept highly organized with random notebook checks. After the first notebook check I decided that they weren't understanding how I wanted to notebooks organized so I made example notebooks of a good notebook and a bad notebook. After that they seemed to do better. I still have a few students who think its their job in life to question every thing I do. They think its fun to constantly tell me that all students learn different and not everyone is successful with a "math notebook" so they will not be getting one. I told them then its their grade that will suffer. After a few zeros in the grade book they had a notebook.

These are my thoughts and stuff from the first few weeks over school. Its a little scattered but I didn't write it all in one sitting. Please forgive me!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Syllabus/ The Student Agreement

Well this was the first week of school! I survived! LOL

Actually it was an awesome week! I have a great group of students this year. I'm more than excited! They all loved my room and the decor!

They really got a kick out of my syllabus. So I will share. It's so much fun!

If you hadn't noticed, I'm a big fan of The Big Bang Theory. On The Big Bang Theory, one of the main characters has what he calls "The Roommate Agreement". This a contract between them about routines they will maintain and ways they will treat each other as roommates. To keep in this idea, I drafted what I call "The Student Agreement". Some of it is silly, some of it is directly copied from "The Roommate Agreement", but most of it are the actual rules and procedures in my classroom. I hope you enjoy it.

Section 1: To start off with I have the class description as found on my schools website. Very basic and included in every syllabus I've ever seen.

Section 2: I have a lot of students who think being in the room means they are not tardy. I start off the year being very clear that they must be ready to learn to not be tardy.

Section 3: This is from the show.

Section 4: This is my contact information. I provide students and parents my direct desk number, my school email, and I have set up Celly ( for my students to contact me at any time but this is safe and protected for both me and my students.

Article 2, sections 1 and 2 are from the show.

Section 3: This is all about their math notebook.

Section 4: Most of this is district and department mandated, but I think it works really well. To be completely honest they all cheat so much there isn't a lot of reason for homework. BUT if they aren't doing their homework it will reflect on their test.

Addendum's: These are some basic classroom procedures.

Article 3 These sections are all about absent procedures. My students are all juniors or seniors so I require them to be responsible for getting their own makeup work which I make sure is all in a central location.

The clause page is mostly fun. There are a couple of items on here that are actually part of my classroom rules. My students really start to open up and have fun when it gets to the zombie clause, because they all disagree with it. 

Last but not least is the signature page. This is a great way to make sure that their parents read to rules and procedures (they still usually just sign it).

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Since I've graduated I've started a bunch of books about teaching. Unfortunately I haven't finished very many. I wanted to share some of the books I'm trying to work through before school starts. Not sure that will happen but I'm trying really hard. 

This book is really old but is still very relevant. Great for me as a new teacher! It is all about procedures, procedures, procedures!!!

This book is all about classroom management and putting the student's behavior, choices, and discipline back on the child. Making the student responsible. I like this book because it ties so well with Great Expectations (a model for teaching, my district is the first Model District in the nation).

I just got this book in the mail a couple of days ago. I really want to change the way I teach Algebra 2 this year. More on this to come, but this book is where the idea came from. Another teacher read it and told me about it. It hit home to me that this is how algebra 2 should be taught so I ordered the book to learn more. I'm very excited about the prospects.

If you keep up with NCTM, OCTM, or anything else in math then you've probably heard about this book. NCTM, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, has just a few landmark publications and this is one of them. OCTM, Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics, has adopted this book and the 8 principles. I have been hearing about this book all summer during my professional development. I ordered it a few days ago but it hasn't come in yet. Once I read it, or at least start reading it, I'll let you know more about!

If you have more suggestions please let me know. I am all about expanding my brain, especially if its about math or teaching... or even better BOTH!

Friday, August 1, 2014

My classroom

I have decided I will start off my new blog with some pictures of my classroom.

I found out this week I will be teaching 5 classes of algebra 2. I'm very excited about this. I have a lot of passion and ideas about things I can do in with algebra 2. And honestly how could I possibly complain about only having one prep! 

My overall classroom decor is The Big Bang Theory twisted with a bunch of math stuff. 

 This is my daily assignment wall. This is where both assignments and objectives will be.

Inside the glass cabinets I am starting off the year giving them some pencils. On The Big Bang Theory they have a cereal dispenser. I was lucky enough to get one as a gift for my classroom. Again, I start off the year with two bags of cereal, beyond that the students must provide the cereal. For my students to eat the cereal they must have a bowl or a cup that will fit under the dispenser. 

The board said "Who are you? And what have you done?" 
This is the board where I hang up papers that have no names. 


 This is a over the door shoe holder. I have numbered each slot. This is for phones.
On test day students will be offered extra credit on their test for as many points as one question on the test.

This calendar is for all assignments for students who have been absent. 

I teach at a Great Expectations school which is all about making the students responsible for their own actions. I teach only juniors and seniors so in my room I keep all assignments, including worksheets, in a location that they have full view and access to. I do not tell them or remind them of their missing work from absences. They are completely responsible for getting it all when they return. This takes so little time on my part to have it all in one place at the end of each day, and it saves me so much time when student A has been absent for 3 days while student B has only been gone for one day. It is an awesome thing. 

If students have any work that they must turn in for me to grade, once graded I put it all in these trays. Occasionally I will pass back these papers but the majority of the time they are responsible for picking up their own work. More responsibility for them and less time and work for me.

 Kind of odd to have a shower curtain of the periodic table over the window but this is the shower curtain that they have in their bathroom. It is just a fun little decor.

 I found this little tip on Pinterest. This is a command strip to hold up the curtain rod. 
All my walls are a cement type plaster stuff that I can't be nailed, screwed, or anything else. 
Command strips are my best friend!

I got really lucky that when I went through the cabinets in my room I found a whole bunch of power strips. I think these will be very helpful for my students to charge their phones (if they know that my room is a place they can charge, then my room will be a place that their phones are out of their hands, he he my little secret weapon).

This is a zombie pen holder. Its called the impaled zombie.

Must have for me! Mini fridge and microwave. I'm lucky my school allows them.

 I found this cute little table at a garage sale. Perfect table to hold all the little important things. At an OERB workshop I got 3 color graphing TI-84's and a 10 slot charging station! Yay!
Next are my MOBI's and their charging station. These are amazing little devices for the math teacher with no smart board. Actually the more I use them I would love to have them in addition to a smart board because I could move around the room. Everyone hates being tied down, especially to a board. 
Then there are my "turn in boxes" and the most amazing pencil sharpener that ever existed!

 This is another over the door shoe holder! But this one is for calculators. I'm lucky I have a classroom set of calculators but most of them are TI-83's. I wish they were color 84's but maybe one day...

 I love having an entryway table for anything my students need, papers to pick up on their way into class, tape dispenser, stapler, hole punch, and germ-ex.

 The outside of my door.

How cool is my Kleenex holder? 
I start the year with 4 boxes, beyond that the students must provide!!!

Posters my students made at the end of last year I have hung up on the ceiling. 
Since I don't have a ton of wall space this was an easy and fun solution.

I got these light covers on Amazon. I can leave at the 
end of the day without a headache and it does seem to calm 
the students down a little. Plus its so much fun!!!

Well that's my classroom for my first full year of teaching. 
Its going to be a good year! 
I'm soooooooo excited!!!

I'll keep you updated how its going.