Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stars of the Week Vol 6 #SOTW

Since my last SOTW post was over a month ago (!!!), perhaps I really should take Pat’s suggestion from my last post and rename it “Stars of Whenever I Want.”

If you’re a #SOTW, grab the badge using the code below if you’d like it for your blog!

Stars of The Week
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.megcraig.org/?p=1396" rel="nofollow" title="Stars of The Week"><img src="http://www.megcraig.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Star-of-the-Week-Badge.jpg" alt="Stars of The Week" style="border: none;" /></a></div>

Remember you can always use the nomination form and I will put it in my next post!

If you teach Geometry, you definitely need to be reading  @lisabej_manitou‘s Crazy Math Teacher Lady blog. She has tons of great ideas, but also realizes that sometimes you just need some no-frills, get-the-job-done, quality materials (a girl after my own note-taker-maker heart). Check out her quadrilateral collection. (BTW, if you interested in more materials like these, be sure to check out the comments on @k8nowak ‘s post that Lisa linked.)

I know we’re not supposed to have favorites in the #MTBoS, but I do, and @TPalmer207 is one of them. Ever since our TMC14 dash-to-get-cupcakes-before-the-store-closed, her great outlook and humor have always been something I look forward to seeing on Twitter (and in person!). Not only that, but she’s definitely the type of teacher I wish I could be – in the moment, not afraid to try new things, and constantly creating great discussions in her classroom. Check out this gorgeous teacher move of slowly revealing all the information with the absolute twist at the end that no one saw coming (not even Tina!). I know what you’re thinking, sure, everyone gets lucky once in a while, but no, Tina makes her own luck, as you can see in this segment addition postulate lesson.  You know, she only has about 60 posts so if you’re looking for a way to up your teacher game, spend an afternoon reading the entire collection. You won’t be sorry.

Speaking of teacher moves, if you teach ELL students, @heather_kohn is your gal. She is a great advocate of doing what it takes to bring the ELL student up to the goal, instead of lowering the goal down to where they may be now. Her post on scaffolding open response questions will make you rethink how you can help your struggling students (who may or may not be ELL).

Hey, here’s a great teacher move that easy to implement into any lesson on Monday: Ask Me a Question from @dsladkey. It moves the “Do you have any questions” to “What questions do you have” change to a whole new level.

Another one that’s so easy to implement, but can change the whole classroom climate: @a_schindy‘s Nevermind Strategy.

Wait, you want more teacher moves? This next post comes with a warning: This article will lead to great feelings of inadequacy and make you think most of what you’ve created is crap. So if your current mood is: ugh, I suck as a teacher, you might want to skip the @Desmos Guide to Building Great Math Activities. But if you’re feeling pretty good and want to pick up some ideas that will help make your next lesson planning be a little more thoughtful, go read it.

If you did read it (or even if you didn’t) and you’re looking for good examples of rich problems, check out @algebrasfriend‘s Algebra II examples. I LOVE the parabola one!!

Speaking of parabolas, you know function transformation are near and dear to my heart. @jreulbach created a wonderful Desmos marbleslide for them, but the key move here is the creation of an additional real-life worksheet for students to reflect on their learning and can have it for reference. (Also check out her Function Notation QR Stations–great practice problems for something my students always struggled with)

Ok: One more teacher move: let’s make mistakes a starting point for rich discussions. @Dave_Sabol shows how he used the results from a Desmos Activity Builder to decode mistakes in Calculus. (Also I think Dave should be in the SOTW Hall of Fame for his How I Teach series.)

Man, I don’t know about you, but now I’m overwhelmed by all the new teacher moves I’m supposed to be doing. So let’s take a brain break, sponsored by @mathequalslove‘s brainteaser collection.

And then let’s eat our feelings by baking these Salted Caramel Pretzel Crunch Bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Now onto some starred tweets!

For reals, take David’s advice:

Yes, Zippy won (Adorable) Scruffiness of the Week!

Joel’s smartass reply (does he have any other kind?) to the discussion of how to say “apothem”:

Speaking of smartass replies:

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at this tweet and laughed out loud:

I told you Heather has the pro teacher moves:

And speaking of that pause feature:

And other features:

You know I love my shortcuts:

And this one was brand new to me and I’ve used it every day since then!!! I’m even using it RIGHT NOW.

It always warms my heart to know that people enjoy my stuff; especially when it’s someone who has so much great stuff herself!

And when someone uses my suggestion and then the result is heartwarming:

And then when someone uses an idea I had and their students do so much better with it:

Be sure to send some encouragement to Kristin next weekend!

Do I like CalcDave because of his gifs or in spite of them?

Insert picture of two beautiful math teachers here.

Now I know what the first 91 books I buy as a librarian will be.

Genius.

Genius Part II.

Genius Part III.

And I think I’ll let Casey wrap this (extremely long) edition up:

What? I’m not crying. YOU’RE crying.

#MTBoSBlaugust How I Teach

Stars of the Week will be a day or two delayed this week. I currently have 100+ posts to read in my reader! #FirstWeekProblems, amirite?

giphy (1)

But I do have one fun post to share with you today-Dave Sabol (@Dave_Sabol) has started a “How I Teach” series on his blog based on the Lifehacker series. And since I was one of the people who urged him to do it, I thought I should volunteer as tribute. So head on over to Dave’s blog and read all about my 2 favorite life hacks! Thanks Dave for starting this, I’m definitely looking forward to reading about how all the MTBoSers work!

Category: Uncategorized

#MTBoSBlaugust First Day Free Verse

So as not to break my Blaugust streak, I submit my free verse poem:

First Day

3rd Period computer lab

Of which only 3 computers work.

Which we found out today

During 3rd period

When students were going to take a google form and learning styles test.

Oh, just have them use their phones, you say.

Except did I mention the computer lab is in the middle of a cinderblock school?

And therefore is a cellphone dead zone?

Oh, they can use the school wifi, you say.

Except it hasn’t been configured for student use yet.

Poop.

Keep Calm And Carry On

And talk about how you need to order

(yet another)

poster that looks like a window because it really does

feel

like

a

prison.

You casually mention maybe this one will be of the beach.

Cut to end of class.

All the students are leaving.

And then one comes up and hands you a silly sketch of

a sun, clouds, waves, and palm trees

surrounded by a window frame

And says, “here’s a window for you.”

And you’re reminded

(yet again)

why you can’t quit this job.

Category: Uncategorized

TMC Takeaways #MTBoSBlaugust

Just a quick post with my notes from some great sessions! Thanks Sarah, Kathryn, Wendy, Sam, and Tina!

From Sarah & Kathryn’s morning session:

New Doc 41_1

New Doc 41_2

New Doc 44

From Wendy’s Problem Solving Class thirty minute session:

New Doc 42_1 New Doc 42_2

And Tina & Sam’s brainstorming session of how to #ExpandMTBoS

New Doc 45

Hey, look! I did one of the things I said I’d do! I started a #myfavorite except it’s #SOTW! I’m awesome.

(Quickest blog post ever!)

 

Category: Uncategorized

Favorite Podcasts #MTBoSBlaugust

I should finally admit it: I’m addicted to podcasts. Last year, when I was doing my 500 miles challenge, I would only allow myself to listen to them as I was walking or running. But now that I’m mostly doing workout videos, I allow myself to listen to podcasts at any time and now I can’t stop. I basically listen to three podcast brands (networks?) so here they are with my favorite podcasts and episodes.

My newest addiction is Common Room Radio, and I’ve been working through the episodes of two shows:

Odd Man Out: Two of the three gang up on the Odd Man Out to try something new (television show, movie, food). I always think, “man, how are they going to talk about ___ for an hour?” but then the time just flies! Favorite episodes: Alan and Cooking, Alan and Marvel’s Agent Carter, Gotta Love It: Parks And Rec, and Liz and Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog (side note: I found out at TMC that there are people that have not seen Dr Horrible and/or its commentary musical? WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!?)

Disney Princess Death Match: Who will be selected as the best Princess? Anyone that grew up watching Disney will enjoy these. Favorite episodes include Mulan, Belle, and Merida.

The network I’ve been with the longest is Storywonk. Lani and Alistair were my constant companions last year while I was running. My favorite thing about listening to them is their positivity and their motto, “Love what you love.”

(hmm, looks like their having some technical issues on their site, so here is the link to the main podcast page.)

Story and Star Wars: It may even make you not hate the prequels! Obviously you should listen to whole series.

The Light Bulb (sadly discontinued): This was by far my favorite of theirs, just a pop culture conversation each week. Favorite episodes were We Know Her Value, Technically Correct, and SGU, We’ll Never Be Done.

StoryWonk Sessions (sadly discontinued): All the Pixar films! Fun times!

They’ve also just started a Marvel discussion podcast and will soon be restarting their Dear Mr Potter podcast with book 2!

I like most everything from Gimlet Media, but especially:

Reply All (h/t to @mrdardy) Two dudes that are just fun to listen to. Some fave episodes: A Simple QuestionIn The Desert, Raising the Bar (last one would definitely be of interest to #educolor)

StartUp Three seasons about starting a startup. First season is the best, along with any other Gimlet updates.

Surprisingly Awesome is surprisingly uneven, but the Frequent Flyer Miles episode is a classic, and just waiting for someone to make a lesson plan around it. Some other good ones were Tubthumping, Concrete, and Mold.

Mystery Show I want a Starlee Kine in my life. Seriously, the mystery is WHERE IS THE SECOND SEASON? There’s only six, so go ahead and listen to all of them, but my favorites are Britney, Belt Buckle, and Source Code.

Try one of them out while you’re setting up classroom, commuting, or talking walk and let me know if you liked ’em! And be sure to comment or tweet me your faves as well!

Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

5 Ways to Accessorize Your Function #Alg17 #MTBoSBlaugust

My first contribution to the AlgebraTEEN magazine!

5 ways to accessorize grey

(word file here) What started as a joke reply to Julie soon turned into a real thing with an AlgebraTEEN website and everything!  Make your own “article” and submit it! (It’s doesn’t have to be all graphic-design-y but it can be if you want!) Or if you just have an idea for an article submit that, too! I totally want to take the submissions and turn them into a real print magazine! Wouldn’t that be too much fun? Thanks to Julie and Mattie for taking a silly idea and running with it!

Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

First Day Materials #MTBoSBlaugust

Spurred by this tweet:

I thought I would share some of my first day materials. (Side note: Ali is starting up her first year teaching! Go give her an encouraging shoutout! She’s going to be awesome!)

Our first day is usually chopped up quite a bit, what with a super-long first period for everyone to find their place, then grade-level assemblies, crazy lunch, etc, so I usually don’t like to plan an activity for the day because it will just get all jumbled. I know, I know, not cool, but sometimes it’s easier to just go with the flow. I always have Four Fours ready if we have extra time at the end of class! We usually start on a Thursday, so I spend Friday doing the “fun” first day stuff then we’re ready to jump in Monday.

All that to say this is my “not fun but necessary” first day stuff.

My syllabus (2 to a page because trees):

syllabus

File here  I also had a different version that had 10 tips for success that just got too wordy and me-talky:

steps to success

Maybe spread them out and talk about 2 each day as a warm up? Or just copy the genius of Becca Phillips:

For the survey, I usually have directions for the students to start the survey on their phones when they get into class (and yes, I understand a url and QR code are redundant, but I found many students didn’t have a QR reader installed). I also have my phone and my computer available for those that don’t have one. The survey is a google form that starts with last name, first name, preferred name, class period, grade level, then some get-to-know-you questions:

student survey

I also need to add birthday so I can do something fun for them!

I also liked Sarah & Kathryn’s idea of having the kids introduce themselves on a padlet–maybe upload a photo too so I can get to know names?

As for the parent survey, most of the teachers have parents sign the syllabus the first day, but I tell my students that they need to take the survey instead (and yes, some students respond pretending to be parents but you can usually sniff them out, and really, didn’t some students sign their parents name when we did it the old fashioned way?  I also tell them that they can pick up a paper form on the way out if getting online is a problem.

parent survey

The “proud of my child because” one? That is teacher-parenting communication gold right there! I do the “terms of service” for anything that I routinely get emails/phone calls about. (For my precal, I have that they do need a graphing calculator and can rent one from the school if needed.)

I also do a fun “getting to know Mrs Craig and man she is really weird and makes really stupid jokes” powerpoint:

I just updated the states page (Thanks, TMC16 for #27!) and the countries visited page (14!). It seems like a cheat to count both Sint Maarten (Dutch side) and Saint Martin (French side), but they are separate countries!

Will have to come up with something different for ACT prep this year…maybe have a goofy multiple choice test?  Like Mrs Craig has (a) a cat (b) a pig (c) a gerbil (d) a corgi?  Things to think about next week!

Category: Uncategorized | Tags:

Next Year #MTBoSBlaugust

Just a quick update on what I’ll be teaching next year! (and I wanted to keep my Blaugust record going but kind of tired after moving furniture and boxes all morning)

I have one class 1st semester of my problem solving course! Really small class (<10) so I’m super excited to do a lot of fun stuff with them!! Also thinking of giving them an assignment of coming up with some puzzles or problems solving we can do! Like assign each person 3 days to fill with fun math stuff? Plus lots of make it stick and crossing the river with dogs!

I’m going to have 3 ACT prep classes 1st semester and 4 2nd semester. They’re thinking about getting a computer course that supposed to be really good but I think it comes with teacher training too so it wouldn’t be all computer-based. I have some other ideas as well if this doesn’t pan out. Also plan to have Make It Stick Mondays in here, too!

I’m going to have 2 periods where I’m supervising or monitoring students taking virtual learning couses. Most students will be taking a virtual class because their schedule didn’t work to take the real one, so they’ll be in my classroom when they have the free period to work on their coursework. A few students are home-school students who, under our new Tim Tebow law, can take one virtual course offered by a school to be “enrolled” at that school and therefore play football. I don’t really understand it, but then again, the only way I can talk intelligently about football is quoting FNL (“Do they run the spread or an “I” defense?”), so maybe I’m not supposed to understand it. Anyway, I’ll just monitor that they’re getting their work completed and proctor tests.

My new room is a computer lab. It’s pretty big, but most of the space is taken up by rows of computers, with no real way to do groups (side note: it made me really sad to see the groups in my old room replaced by rows). Also there’s no window (totally buying a window decal like Melynee Naegele tweeted last week!). And there’s no cell phone service. And the room the teacher that was in there was supposed to move to isn’t ready yet so she hasn’t moved her stuff out so I can’t unpack yet. But, um, at least it’s close to the library?

So that’s what my year is going to look like. I also volunteered today to help with prom so that will give me something to occupy my mind and hopefully be creative. Any suggestions about virtual learning, ACT prep, or problem solving are greatly appreciated!

Category: Uncategorized

#MTBOSBlaugust Goals

Guess what month it is!  It’s…

blaugust

!!!!!!

Want to join in the fun? There’s two ways:

1) You can blog with us! August is crazy, so set your own goal–if you’re blogging more than you would have, it’s a win! Sign up here and get some great prompts for those days where you have blogger’s block.

2) Support those that are blogging by leaving a comment (or tweeting). The list of bloggers participating is here.

Thanks to @druinok for the great motivation!

My goals for Blaugust is to:

  • Get the rest of my Algebra II units posted
  • Post a few odds-and-ends Precal stuff that I did new last year
  • Finish posting Geometry stuff before I forget all of it (holy cow…I think it’s been 5 years now since I’ve taught it?!?)
  • Get in the habit of posting my Stars of the Week each weekend
  • Collect all my poster files in a post/page and make some new requested ones
  • Post some fun non-mathy posts like new favorite tv shows, books, and podcasts
  • Use some of the great Blaugust prompts!
  • Comment on an average of 3 blogs per day

Man, I think that’s definitely enough to keep me occupied for 31 days!!

Category: Uncategorized

Why I Put Up With All of It

I was informed on the last day of school that my services would be better utilized teaching ACT Prep classes and overseeing distance learning students working on the computer.  This certainly led to many questions, including, “How do I pack up 13 years worth of stuff to move to a new classroom in 2 hours?” (good efficient friends), “Who am I if I’m not a math teacher?” (To be determined but at least I have been promised 1 semester of a problem solving elective so I can still claim some mathiness),  “Will I still be welcomed at TMC?” (yes), and “Seriously, why am I keeping handwritten worksheets from 10 years ago?” (because after the apocalypse I can’t boil all my own water and make new notes about factoring), and the biggest question:

Why do I put up with all of it?

Why do I continue to work in an environment that undervalues its employees? Why do I put up with all the politics and in-crowds? Why do I still want to do a good job even if this is the reward I get?

The flippant answer I give most people as to why I teach is “summers off,” which I think we can all agree is a very nice perk. Plus I get to buy and use school supplies every year. Flair pens! Notebooks that I get to decorate! Posters!!

An answer that may seem silly is I like feeling smart. I still get a little thrill when I work through a long homework problem and get the right answer. I love digging into a new topic and figuring out the best way to teach it. That “a-ha!” moment when a student asks a question or shares an insight that suddenly makes everything click into place? A treasure. When another teacher asks me for my advice on a topic and we work through it together, or when someone tweets me for suggestions or tells they used my worksheets, it makes me so happy inside.

Also, I like creating things. I can get into a zone of designing a lesson or a NoteTakerMaker and all of a sudden two hours have passed. Yes, when it’s Sunday night at 8 and I still have to make homework for tomorrow, I sometimes wish I had someone to share the load. But I like going into class and offering up something that I made to the students.

One of the biggest reasons is I like teaching and I’m good at it. I love being dramatic about holy cow, isn’t math awesome? I love guiding groups to discovering knowledge on their own. I love study guide days when students are sharing knowledge with each other. When we make Desmos art and everyone wants to show me what they created, it warms my heart. No, I’m not perfect. Yes, I make mistakes. But on the whole, based on the opinions of students, colleagues, and supervisors, I’m pretty damn good at what I do.

But the biggest reason, the reason I put on a happy face for first period after I stress-cried all morning, the reason I stay up past my bedtime trying to perfect the next day, the reason I put up with every single obstacle they create is this:

Capture Capture2 Capture3 Capture4 Capture6 Capture7 Capture8Capture5

Even with all of the above comments, I kept questioning, maybe the powers that be see something I don’t and teaching math isn’t what I should be doing? Then yesterday I checked out at the grocery store and a senior who just graduated that I had taught as a junior was my cashier. She started off by asking for my ID so already she’s on my good side. Then there was this exchange:

S: You excited about summer?
Me: Yes, but I bet you’re really excited.
S: Yes, but it will be weird not going back next year.
Me: Where are you going?
S: <college name>
Me: What are you majoring in?
S: Math
Me: What? That’s awesome. I bet it was because of your Algebra II teacher, right?
S: Yes it was!
Me: Ok, you don’t really have to say that. I was just joking.
S: No! Really! It was because of you!
Me: What are you planning to do with your major?
S: Be a teacher! Like you!
Me: DAMN THESE SUDDEN ALLERGIES.
S: No, really, yours was my favorite! I mean, I liked my senior teacher, but I want to have a class just like yours with everyone in groups and learning. (She may have said more but I was now focused on keeping it together in the middle of the grocery store.)
Me: I’d come around and hug you if I didn’t think it would be frowned upon.
S: I think it might be.
Mr Craig: I don’t think you know how much she needed to hear that today!

That is why I put up with all of it. That is why I will continue to work at being the best teacher I can be no matter the outside circumstances. That is how I can sleep at night knowing that this is my calling.

Category: Uncategorized