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We Voki'd

I just wanted to throw out a quick updated post about Voki.  I had a few days before school let out for the holidays to try Voki out with my students.  I made a cute little Voki to introduce the lesson:





Terribly Cute isn't it!

My plan was to have my students make their own Voki and talk me through a math problem.  I wanted to try something simple at first and then we will work on building what I can do with it later. 

* I found it MUCH simpler to purchase Voki for my classroom.  I believe it was $30 for a year.
* The one downfall I found was that students could only have 1 Voki each.  So they couldn't make several... bummer.

The students LOVED creating their own Voki.  The crazier the better.  I had one student make a politically charged word problem with his Voki.  It made me laugh and I loved seeing their creativity come out.

It really is hard as a math teacher to come up with different ways for students to use those critically thinking skills especially when so much is gea…

A Departure from the Usual

With the recent tragedy in Connecticut affecting our nation, as a teacher it raised a lot of questions for me about my classroom safety.   Of course the school has procedures in place for a campus emergency, but how safe are we really?  A more passive educator stated at lunch the day the tragedy occurred that maybe now the government would re-look at gun issues.  I stated yes, wouldn't it be nice if we were armed for a change.  He actually looked stunned.  I nicely explained to him that I could protect myself just about anywhere I go, until I come on a school campus, and then I'm defenseless.  What if select teachers were trained for such an emergency situation?  It need not be EVERY teacher, and it need not be anything other teachers know about.  Much like what was done in churches when gunmen were storming in and shooting parishioners, much like that plain closed air marshal on a plane protecting you when you fly.   Maybe this is the wrong line of thinking, but would this he…

Live Binders

After 1/2 a week in the classroom I have pretty good reviews to report about Live Binders.  For those that didn't read my last post about the conference I just attended, I'll give a brief synopsis.  I learned a lot of cool free and some not so free technology apps and programs to use in the classroom.  My goal was to integrate all of these different types of programs into my lesson plans here and there to spice up life a little bit. 

One of the programs I introduced this week is Live Binders.  LB is essentially a virtual 3 ring binder that you can add notes, documents, and websites to.  I wanted to introduce this tool to my students to give them a way to organize their notes, and encourage them to discover new resources for class.    Even better; LB has a free app for the iPad.  Here is a little video from their site:






Here is what I've learned so far:

Some students took to this program like a duck to water.  They were excited to show off their resources and create their bi…

Another Day.. Another Conference

It has been a busy time since I last posted about my NCTM conference.  Since then I've gotten my students hooked on Mathletics and we have successfully added Mathletics to our curriculum arsenal.  Currently I am using Mathletics as a warm-up for students in the classroom, but we are also using activities and lesson plans to get students engaged in learning in a whole new way.   Just after getting Mathletics on board in school, I headed to another conference.  This time I went to a Differentiating Instruction conference held by SDE

      Honestly, I wasn't really excited about this conference.  (1) During my graduate program and even during undergraduate studies, that is all you are taught.  You are taught to differentiate instruction and how it needs to happen, ways it needs to happen, and why it needs to happen.  DI, DI, DI... do it is what that needed to stand for.  (2) My colleagues who have had the opportunity to go in year's past told me... it's boring.. ew…

Mathletics

Since my NCTM conference, I've been working with the people at Mathletics to get a new fun app into my students' hands, and in exchange, I get a great tool for myself.  For those that aren't in the know, Mathletics, is a very cool way to get your students involved in math by answering curriculum related questions in which they earn points.  Students can also compete answering questions with other students from around the world for points.  These points can be used to buy cool things for their avatars such as new hair and clothes, or they can be saved up for certificates and leader board recognition. 

This is how I am using Mathletics in my classroom:

1) Each Sunday I look over the weekly lessons and assign activities for students to complete each day; I also give them an alternate textbook assignment they have the option of choosing just in case their are problems with internet connections.

2) Each day in class, students play their Mathletics App to warm-up instead of doing…

NCTM Dallas, TX 2012 Conference

Let me start by saying this was my VERY first NCTM conference.  I was blown away.  There was so much to do that I couldn't do everything that I wanted to!  There just wasn't enough time.  There were great seminars to go to on topics that I found very interesting, TONS of vendors showing new math tools, and yes I even spent money for my classroom.  Here is a highlight of what I did:

Scott Flansburg:   This guy was absolutely amazing and a great way to start off the conference.  He was nicknamed the Human Calculator by Regis Philbin back when he did Good Morning with Regis and Kathie Lee.  At any rate, what makes this guy special is that he can do insane math calculations in his head in record speed.  As a matter of fact, he is a Guiness Book of World Records place holder because he is so fast.  What really engaged me in this seminar was not only did it blow me away to watch him beat a calculator, but his passion for kids and math.  He has a great program for schools that I got t…

THEME Change!

All of my previous posts have chronicled my thoughts and things that I have learned while I was getting my Master's degree.  Well, that milestone has passed, I am officially educated, and now it is time to chronicle something entirely different. 

A Perspective From The Eyes of a First Year Teacher

Yep, I have a teaching position for the 2012-2013 school year.  As a matter of fact, I had several offers.  Many I declined to teach at one special school where my heart was, and then I had to turn that one down as well for personal reasons.  I found my home though at a beautiful private school where the challenge will be to overcome my fear of speaking about God in the classroom, because this year it isn't against the law!  What a blessing for me!

Teaching wise, there are many challenges though:

1) I have crossed the state line, so Texas TEKS are no longer the standard, Louisiana uses Common Core Standards.

2) From what I've digested, these students may be a bit behind.

3) I wil…

The Art of the Interview

Every year as spring rolls towards the end of the school year, all teachers are doing two things: (1) either praying their contract is renewed, or (2) looking for a job.  For new teachers the task is daunting.  I can surely write that and know the truth in the statement, because here I am, a new teacher, interviewing.  If preparation for interviews and sitting through panels of employers wasn't nerve wracking enough, the fact that there are fewer jobs to go around due to budget cuts is down right scary.  I personally know teachers' whose contracts were not renewed, and now they are vying for the same job all the recent graduates are searching for, and all the other teachers' whose contracts weren't renewed are searching for.  I have been on several interviews this year, and this is what I have learned:

1) Your resume is important, your references are important.  Bring plenty of copies of each.
2) Know your teaching philosophy.  Do you demand obedience from your student…

Research Proposal Thoughts

As I embark on my last month of school there are so many things going on.  I am looking at making a move, working, looking for work, and I've made my final decision on my research proposal.  Initially when I started this program, I knew that I wanted my research to focus on creativity in the classroom.  I changed from that to how lack of creativity produces apathy in students, and completely jumped to my current topic dealing with mathematics and intervention on a Tier 3 level.

     I am in the midst of writing a research proposal that focuses on the effects of the position I now hold in a rural East Texas school.  I was brought in as an outside contractor to provide math intervention services for students identified as "struggling" as well as additional intervention for special education students in the 3rd and 4th grade.   My participants come to me for 45 minute increments in a small group setting.  I focus on foundational math concepts such as addition, subtra…

Arcademic Skill Builder

I had to write a separate post about Arcademic Skill Builders because I am just in awe of this FREE online tool.  Currently I have a position in a school doing classroom reduction and intervention services in Math for 3rd and 4th graders.  After asking my fellow teaching classmates about great internet tools for Math, I was turned on to Arcademic Skill Builders (ASB).  Let me cut to the chase and tell you what is so great:

1)  FREE
2) Lots of FUN games for 5th grade and younger
3) Teachers can sign up for a FREE account and load their students into their class.
4) Multiple classes?  That's okay, you can break your students into groups.
5) You can assign certain games for your students to play.
6) Your students can play with each other on their own computer, or anonymously with other students who are online.
7) Your students can create private  games where they play against the computer or only the people they give the password to.
8) Teachers can CREATE their own games.
9) ASSESSM…

Arriving towards the home stretch

We are getting really close to graduation!  I can really say I couldn't be more excited.  I need a break!  Currently we are in the spring semester.  We walk the stage at the beginning of May, but officially graduate at the end of May once our huge research proposal is submitted.  I know this is going to be horrible to say, but the Research class is killing me.  It mentally wears me out and I'm having a hard time making heads or tails of it, but I think its because I'm more of a doer than a sit and read about it.  Things tend to make more sense when I have practical application.  I know that time is coming soon so hopefully then I'll be able to connect all the dots.

The most interesting thing that I'm learning right now has to do with accurate assessments.  This is really interesting because while many educators feel they know how to do accurate assessment, going through this class makes you realize there are lots of things to learn about implementing the proper ass…

Spring Mid-Terms already!

It is time for Spring 2012 mid-terms, and as I've been teaching and attending classes I suddenly realized there hasn't been an update in my blog postings in ages. 

Educationally:

Mid-term papers are due this week in both my research course and my curriculum and assessment course.  Graduation is coming up very soon!  I have one more class in May term before I officially have my MEd.   I can't believe how fast the year as flown!  My research mid-term paper is focusing on my class main research assignment which is studies the effects of educational play in the curriculum on apathy and active participation.  I've never been a "hard-nosed" teacher, and I think that what is really lacking in many classrooms is the element of play.  Students are getting less time to imagine, create, and explore through play and because we know play effects cognitive, social, and emotional development, I think we are seeing those effects in our classrooms.  My notion is an educationa…