Sunday, August 30, 2009

Contemplating Projects

There is absolutely to many things on my plate. I am a member of the alumni association of Northwest Classen High School. As a member, I agreed to produce the newsletter. I am five months behind producing the newsletter. I was supposed to have it out in April. I got completely caught up with understanding student council responsibilities and then a summer full of activities. As I sit trying to pull the articles together, my alarm sounds and I realize it is time to BLOG!

The funny part about this blog is along with completing the newsletter, I am trying to formulate all the projects that my students will complete this semester. I hope to have at least some ideas jotted down that match the standards I have to cover. I can't wait to get started but I have to get this newsletter done before our meeting tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.

Please make sure you check back into my blog to give me your advice on the projects I come up with tonight.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Great Meeting With Team

Yesterday, I discovered why it is great to work in teams. As I said in the earlier post, I was confused on the order to complete items. All of my colleagues are going to follow the book, chapter by chapter. This will help me with following an order even though I will still operate on concepts rather than specific chapters. I also found out that matrices are not as necessary of a skill for calculus preparation so I will be able to concentrate only on the other three methods to solving a system-graphing, substitution and elimination. I would rather teach a few ways that are strong then have students confused on a concept.

I also had a great lead for a project-circuits. I asked the team what is the emphasis for complex numbers. This lead to a possible project about electrical circuits. I have a colleague who is going to share with me what she does and I may be discussing soon how I will make it into a project. I am EXCITED!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stuck on Order

I have come to the realization that I am officially overloaded. In the last two weeks, I created a manual for the new teachers at our school, helped conduct the new teacher orientation with colleagues, complete a student council retreat, found out how to use the online website for yearbook, informed teachers of pictures, as well as a host of other things I can't remember.

It is with this overloaded mindset that I find myself stuck on if I am making the right decision on the order of concepts to cover within the first 9 weeks of school. Part of the problem is my lack of experience. I am teaching Algebra II for the first time and Geometry which I haven't taught in two years.

Thankfully, I have the state standards and ACT standards to help me focus in on what is essential and enduring concepts to cover. After reading Larry Ainsworth's book on power standards, I am a firm believer that teachers have to be realistic on the fact that you can't teach all state standards in a year. We can cover them but it is unlikely that students will know anyone one thing in depth. In the book, Ainsworth describes power standards as those standards that are enduring (useful throughout life) and essential (critical for the next subject level). These power standards must be taught with depth and mastery. I have identified these standards and placed them in a concept map through mywebspiriation.

With my essential standards in hand, I am working on the first 9 weeks outlook. My teaching style is more about going from concept to concept then chapter to chapter. I start with an overview look of the main concepts to be covered and then go into details. Similar to flying around the forest before landing and examining the trees. I did this for the first time last year and found it very successful. I had 72% (39 out of 54) pass the state examination. This number is even higher when I only take into account students who had to take the exam seriously due to graduation requirements-91%.

As I prepare for the first 9 weeks, my school district divide the standards into 9 week increments. These concepts are apart of a benchmark the district uses to gauge if students are on track for the state exam (EOI-end of instruction). I have compiled the standards into topics and placed them in what I think will be a logical order. The topics and order are systems of equations and inequalities, parent graph of functions and function notation, complex numbers and quadratic equations and functions. I am starting off with systems of equations because it will reinforce their previous knowledge of lines from Algebra I and Geometry. We will then move to some of the core concepts of Algebra II which is polynomials, exponential and logarithmic. I decided to follow with parent graph of functions and notation because it will help lay a foundation to understanding the topics in depth at a later time. The focus of this unit is to recognize the graph, understand notation of the equations when they are a function and identify domain and range of various graphs. The 9 weeks will end with the study of quadratics in detail.

I am not sure this is the right way to approach the subject. There are teachers who have taught both subjects in the building with me. I am fortunate that we all have the same planning period we will be able to meet weekly. I know I will be able to get their insight as well. However, I would the insight from the international learning community as well. Please comment on whether I am on the right track. I am going to plan at least two project-based learning units based on this order.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Going to be a busy year

As I get ready to start the year, I am feeling behind and really excited. I hope I am not alone in this feeling. I have to admit part of my anxiety is due to taking on a new responsibility that will require more time. I also spent most of the summer doing professional development. I did not get a chance to work on curriculum like the previous summer. Despite my mixed feelings and thoughts, I had an amazing revelation while at school.

This revelation came almost at the end of the day when I realized I didn't get many of my classroom tasks completed. How is it I spent 8 hours at school and barely got my classroom tasks ready? It is the day before school and guess what I spent most of the day doing? Helping other people. Although I hate I didn't work some personal tasks accomplished, I realized that I am starting to love helping other teachers just as much as I love teaching students.

It is with this realization that I have made a greater commitment to keep up my blog. I know that the more I am consistent with this blog the more I am helping other teachers. I have placed in my iPhone an alert to make a post every Sunday and Wednesday. It is amazing how much I get done now that I place it in my iPhone.

To all you blog watchers out there, here is another info spot. I will continue to focus on project based learning with an integration of technology emphasis. However, I am going to discuss general technology information or teaching strategies. I will not only talk about how I am doing it in my math class but I will also share items that would be helpful for other subject areas. Please comment as much as possible to let me know I am providing helpful information.