Sunday, August 30, 2015

Geometry Vocab Activity

In today's lesson, we borrowed an idea from Andrew Shauver and had our students complete an introductory vocabulary exploration.

Students had to come to class with introductory vocabulary words already defined (using their web resources and / or textbook).  Then they worked in groups to generate a "group definition".  They entered their "group definition" into a Google Form.  After all responses were gathered, we came up with a whole class definition and clarified any syntax and notations that went along with the terms.

Students work in table groups to complete the introductory vocabulary exploration.

In addition, we used all of the group's definitions to create a wordle for each term.  (It was very simple to do... go to the Google Form response sheet, copy all of the text for any term, and paste into wordle!)  We were pleased with what was created and decided to print some for our walls.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Learning on the Fly with Google Classroom

This past week, students walked through our doors again.  But this time, they each had a computer!

We (Jarrod and I) made the switch to Google Classroom as our classroom management system.  Students are using Google Drive for their storage and two work very nicely together... most of the time.

We have done plenty of troubleshooting this week, with most of our issues falling into one of three categories.

1.  Students are signing in / using their personal Google accounts instead of their K12 account.

2.  Google Drive becomes "disconnected", which then doesn't sync the files we send into the Drive folders.

3.  Students don't follow directions about how to access the files we send them.  We are asking students to "open" the documents in Google Classroom (which then creates a copy in their Google Drive folder, and we have access to it).  Then they are to work on their document via their desktop drive folder, save, and we're set.  Instead of doing that, some students download the document, save it somewhere except their Classroom Drive folder, and we can't see it.

Of the 138 total students in our classes, we've only had two that have had some serious issues getting their Google stuff setup.  Not too bad!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

1:1 Laptop Roll-out & The New School Year

This past week at Brookings HS, we began to distribute laptops to the approximately 903 students set to enter the doors on the 25th.  Students are required to come to a "training" session in order to receive their laptops.  After three days of sessions, more than half of the students have their laptops.  For the most part, the roll-out process has gone very smoothly.

It was very helpful for Jarrod and I to pilot the laptop implementation in our classroom last year.  Many problems were alleviated.  The 1:1 laptop team and tech staff still had a number of items that needed to be ironed out throughout the planning process, but it has gone well.

Three final hurdles need to be cleared as the school year begins.
1.  The rest of the computers need to be distributed to the students.  There is a fear that a handful of students will flat out reject the computers and refuse to take one.  We're not exactly sure what to do if that's the case.

2.  The teaching staff needs to be trained on LAN School (our classroom management software).

3.  We need a day of school in which there is heavy internet usage to see how our network handles the increase in volume.

Speaking of the new school year, Jarrod and I are implementing a few changes to our team teaching model.  The first is that we will be using Google Classroom as our Learning Management System.  So long, Edmodo.  It's been a good ride.  But the ease of how Google Classroom distributes assignments and creates shared files with the students is too good to not use.

Secondly, we just saw our classroom numbers for our three sections of geometry.  Last year, our largest class when we brought both classroom together was 47 students.  This year, we're looking at 54.  I have a feeling that 54 is too many to comfortable fit into Jarrod's classroom at once.  We're going to test it out the first week and see how it goes.

Lastly, I am teaching two sections of Advanced Algebra 2 while Jarrod will be teaching two sections of Geometry Applied.  We still have mirrored schedules and will share our three geometry sections, but two hours a day we will be doing different things.

Let the fun begin!

Monday, August 10, 2015

One of the best rewards as a teacher

Being a teacher has many benefits and rewards - helping students reach the "A-HA" moment, summer break and holiday vacations, school lunch, etc.  But to me, one thing is more rewarding than anything else.

This evening I met up with two of my former students.  Both were strong math students; now both are going to be math teachers.

To me, nothing is more rewarding than knowing that I made a positive impact on a student and that he/she wants to be a math teacher as well.  I'm proud of these two gentlemen on a number of levels.  Best of luck to both of you!