The day below, comes from Thursday, November 15th, 2012
6:05 – Alarm goes off and I am up and getting ready within a few minutes.
6:20 – Wife’s alarm goes off. I finish up and head on down stairs to let the dog out, feed her, make my lunch and grab a bowl of oats (mixed with bananas today).
6:50 – After checking email, a few new blog posts, and packing up my school laptop, I am headed out the door for my 35 minute drive to school.
7:27 – I get to school and park right next to the door leading to my classroom. Being the youngest teacher, maybe I should not take the closes parking spot, but since there is usually only one or two other cars when I arrive each morning, it is a habit.
7:30 – As I open up school email, I see that a few students have submitted requests via a Google form for me to reset their online practice sections on ratios. I do this, respond to them, and then reset any other students who do not have a score of 70%, yet, in some of their sections. I have used the ThatQuiz website for about a month now for developing practice questions and dipping into the teacher resource bank.
7:40 – Open up SMART Notebook and put together the slides we will be using in our Math Concepts classes. Today, these include our warm up, example questions on ratios and creating equivalent ratios that describes a relationship between two quantities, and then I layout out the group practice directions, on the last slide.
8:05 – I open up our online HW check-in spreadsheet and record grades for about 80% of my sixth graders who completed their assignment. The ability to check-in an assignment during class or at home has boosted the completion of assignments.
8:20 – I print off a few more sheets of Ninja Badge stickers that my math peer tutors will cut up before they start working with students. Students use the badges to track their SBG mastery level for each standard that we cover. The ninja badge chart also helps me to easily identify groups of students that need additional skill development. Today, I will be matching a few of them up with my peer tutors (I have 19 of them this year, spread across six classes). I print off directions for the peer tutors, with a few QR codes also placed on the paper. These lead them to our class website, the ThatQuiz practice questions website, two videos on ratios, and a game.
8:35 – I like to clean out my emails the best I can before school starts, so I work on responding to a few parents about assignments, absences, and re-takes. Two students come up to my room with a hall pass to ask if they can work in the back of my room during first period, instead of their XLT (study hall). Yes, this is always okay, and my peer tutors will work with them, as well.
8:45 – Students will be coming up in five minutes, so I turn on the projector, and get the laptop and iPad connected. I make sure the iPad cart is unlocked and then realize that I have not assigned my five “new” students iPad numbers since they moved classes or came back to school. Only two are actually totally new to the school, so I get them a print out on how to access our class website.
8:55 – Morning announcements begin, and I take attendance. This class is my first of five groups of sixth graders that I will be working with today. It is my largest at thirty-two students. With five of my peer tutors working with me this period, the room is packed.
9:15 – Each peer tutors is now working with two students. They are going over the few notes we had and then working together on the practice questions. Other students are sitting on carpet squares around the room or remain at their desks. Today, we are actually using the ThatQuiz website in class, so that students can ask each other questions on the sections that have not been able to pass.
The remainder of the day is very similar to this period, along with the few other activities mentioned below. It is great working with sixth graders! Amazing to see them continue to tackle math questions and problem solving activities repeatedly after failing, on the first attempt. It would have been too hard to count the number of students who happily came up to me and asked if I could erase their previous score so that could do a section again. I attribute a large part of this to our SBG success, in the first quarter. Students know they can be wrong in math, and still succeed if they try again and seek help (from me, peers, or iPad resources).
10:44 – Third period is just starting, and our vice principal walks in to do a classroom walkthrough. She observes and interacts with students for about 25 minutes. Before she leaves, she notices the number of students using their iPad and QR codes to get help on a ratio problem they are struggling with. Today, the QR codes are right on our SMART Board slides. I like this, as I can see who is using them and connect with them in a bit to see if they need additional support.
11:40 – My group of seventh and eighth grade students come in for our math lab (intervention) class, during fourth period. This is their second math class of the day and is designed as a pass / no pass class. I am supporting them in developing skills related to their current grade level standards, but also many math standards from sixth and seventh grade. Our school is piloting the use of khan academy’s practice sections and videos as a means to further practice and fill in some missing skills in math. Today, we watch a few videos created by our own students, using the Educreations app. These self-created videos are often times much more effective than the khan videos (useful and relevant is probably a better description). I hope to continue and mold this class into a project/activity math lab where students design and create lessons and/or videos to show their mastery of a concept.
12:24 – Lunch begins and I immediately have eight students in the classroom completing re-takes. Five of them are using iPads to complete a video Quest (assessment) on teaching how to evaluate expressions and use the distributive property. The other three are working on dividing fractions. A couple different teachers stop by to check in on students, and I also get to check in on emails and get a few of those answered. The rest will have to wait until my prep period. Another student comes in to see if I received their math video they emailed from home last night. I didn’t, and we continue to discuss why this is happening. Not the first time due to file size.
12:54 – Spend the last ten minutes of my lunch monitoring the library computer lab. Students are in here playing games.
1:04 – Fifth period starts. I lose a student right away (a frequent occurrence, as this student bolts). After calling the support room, we resume class. This period gets too chatty, and we have to adjust how we work with partners. I remind myself that I need to continue and work with this class in this area.
1:55 – With sixth period, comes my prep period. While I continue to work on grading my students math videos (from their last unit), four other students come to work in my classroom. This has become a norm for them, as it is their XLT period. It helps them to be less disruptive in their other class, plus provides a place for them to focus and also ask questions. Today, one of them is asking to complete a re-take, but I have to remind him that additional studying and practice needs to be done first. Still working on that SBG aspect with some students. They do not pass and want to turn right around to re-take. Shouldn’t work quite like that.
3:35 – School ends, seventh period was great, and my peer tutors in that class always help to clean up the room and make sure all 36 iPads are plugged in and charging. Amazing to have great student volunteers!
3:50 – I was able to answer more emails from staff and parents. Plus, one student has already emailed asking for their practice section to be reset on the ratio – level two practice questions. Looks like schoolwork comes first! For me, though, I am taking a break as I head off to get changed into basketball gear. Our staff plays each Thursday and this is another highlight of each week. Plus, since cross country coaching is over for the season, this is a great way to stay conditioned.
5:05 – I get back to my classroom and plan to work until six. Plans hold up, and I get out soon after that.
6:40 – I spend the 35 minute drive talking to my wife, on the phone, as we do every day to share how our school day went (she teaches third grade). I get home; time to relax! Okay, time to start dinner. Chicken, rice, broccoli, and salad are on the menu. I use our steamer, so no need to watch the chicken, as I have a chance to catch up on twitter for a bit and read about fourteen emails going back and forth about our families Thanksgiving plans.
7:10-ish – We are sitting down to eat and turn on a new show that friends having been talking about, The Big Bang Theory. We get through the first three episodes of season one and I know exactly why a number of teachers at my school enjoy it. We have some catching up to do.
9:30 – I turn on my school laptop and finish planning for the next day. I also am giving them a Quest re-take in class, due to basically everyone needing it. I go ahead and create a few more versions of the questions for future use.
11:20 – I finish up plans and turn off laptop. This is a little later than I would like.
11:45 – Dog is in her kennel, and my wife and I are falling asleep. Excited for one more day of teaching before an entire week off for Thanksgiving Break.