farewell to paper journals

Journal writing is one of four tasks included in our MATHercise routine. My students respond to two prompts each week. I wholeheartedly believe writing is the first step toward communicating mathematically. And preparing prompts that align with our algebra curriculum is definitely on my summer "to do" list.

While my students will complete weekly journal writings, we will not be using this paper filing system any longer.

Thanks to 1:1 technology in my classroom and Penzu, my students will record their responses online. Penzu is a free online journal that is secure on the web. The journal can be kept private or you can opt to share a specific page via a link. The journal allows you to import pictures; so my students will be able to copy and paste the prompt into their journal before responding.

Now I just need to find an easy way for students to create and organize notes online. Any ideas?

Have a fabulous weekend...make it count!



21st century classroom

It's official...my summer vacation is a reality! After the last day of school, I spent 2.5 weeks working with our new Common Core math standards. And most recently I spent one week in technology training. These two events have certainly stretched me beyond my wildest imagination. But definitely in a good way.

In the fall I will be teaching three sections of Accelerated Algebra 1...one section for 7th graders and two sections for 8th graders. And since this is a high school course, we will be in transition to the Common Core standards. That means we will be teaching three sets of standards: MATH-7, MATH-8, and Algebra 1. And fortunately our district has granted us double time...my students will have one block of Algebra every day. So that explains why I have been working day and night with a team of algebra teachers to create assessment documents to align with our new curriculum. :)

Meanwhile in April, I wrote a grant for our district's 21st Century Technology initiative...and I was accepted! My classroom will be filled with 30 new laptops and a wireless hot spot! So I spent last week reviewing ISTE standards and receiving a ton of cool tech information...and this week processing, recovering, and processing some more (while entering the final stages with our assessment project).

And as a result of my pending adventures, my blog will take on a new emphasis. I will continue to share my Common Core reflections and activities designed for my algebra students. But I will also share my efforts within my 1:1 classroom. I have no clue exactly what my classroom will look like in the fall, but it's taking shape as we speak.

So who else attended some professional development workshops already? Do share!

Have a great week...make it count!



lesson planning: enrichment vs. rigor

In my state, the department of education plans for grades 3-8 to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the fall. In response to this timeline, my district developed a transition plan to shift our curriculum. There have been a few glitches along the way...but isn't that to be expected with change of any magnitude? The bottom line as I see it is that states, districts, and even individual schools can create a plan...they can even mandate said plan...but the teachers are the ones who implement the plan to make the shift to new standards benefit our students. Together we're building better students!

Which brings me to my latest revelation...rigor. If you've been in any discussion regarding CCSS, then I'm certain you have heard the standards described as rigorous. These standards require our students to have a deep understanding of the content. And if you have studied your grade level standards, then you know that is a true statement. For example, no longer will Algebra 1 students mindlessly use the quadratic formula to solve a quadratic equation. Instead they will first derive the quadratic formula by completing the square...which will enable them to know why this crazy formula with three variables truly does find the solutions for the variable x located in a quadratic equation.

Perhaps the community of educators has a misconception that rigor is equivalent to enrichment. Why might we be confused? Simply because enrichment is something we already do...it is familiar. However, enrichment extends procedural understanding...can the student move further with the concept? While rigor calls the student to a deeper conceptual understanding...does the student know the depth of the concept? Enrichment adds to the end of your lesson plan and requires additional time. Rigor changes your entire approach to the lesson but does not require additional time. I spy that CCSS have tackled process vs. concept teaching. In an effort to meet the standards we must implement concept teaching that reveals the process. I'm game! How about you?

Have a great weekend...make it count!