August 17, 2014

Sunday Summary

In my classroom we often use 3-2-1 to process our learning. My students write 3 things they learned, 2 things that were surprising, and 1 question they still have.

The Math Twitter Blogosphere (MTBOS) has challenged teachers to use the 3-2-1 format this Sunday to reflect on their previous week. There will be at least one MTBOS challenge each week for the 2014-2015 school year.

I spent every day last week working in my classroom, even though we aren't actually "on the clock" until tomorrow (Monday). The students start back this coming Wednesday.

3 Things I'm Looking Forward to This Year
1. Last May I was thinking about the many wonderful things that I've done in the classroom over the years, and then stopped doing because I wanted to try something new. I love doing new things, so my list was really really long. It includes things like Family Book Club, Novels in Verse Book Study, and Technology Presentation Day. I'm really looking forward to bringing those great things back.

2. In June my school bought one class set of iPads. I have had 2 of these tools in my classroom for the last few years, and have found great ways to integrate them into teaching and learning. Having access to a full class set will create even more wonderful opportunities. I'm sure sharing them with the entire building will be difficult, but it's also going to be awesome. To make things even better, I received a grant to take 7 teachers (including me) to the iPad Summit in Boston this November. Woohoo!

3. As a school, we have decided to try some schoolwide initiatives around STEM. Specifically, lot of people are on board for Hour of Code and we are going to try monthly engineering challenges (hopefully). I love this stuff and I'm excited to be doing it with others instead of by myself.

2 Things I Want to Get Better At This Year
1. This summer I read Max Ray's book Powerful Problem Solving. This is a publication from The Math Forum and focuses on building a classroom community around problem solving, and helping students have the agency they need to move forward in mathematics thinking. The chapter on communication painted a picture of how classroom discussion should feel like a dinner party with student ideas, questions, and comments bouncing around as they engage with one another.

This means that the teacher shouldn't be commenting on every student remark. I need to work on my teacher language. I want to stop repeating and rephrasing, and offering subjective remarks. There's lots of research on how saying "Good job!" or "You're smart" is bad for people's learning and self-esteem. Working on that too...

2. Teaching writing. In general. Last year I started reworking my writing instruction. Our first quarter was spent on Narrative Writing, and it went great. The students really progressed. But our work with Informative and Opinion Writing were not as successful. Also, I need to figure out how to fit in time for one-on-one writing conferences.

1 Thing I'm Nervous About
1. This year I'm going to run a Minecraft club (once a week for 8 weeks). Right now I have no idea what it will look like, or how we're going to set it up. I'm not worried about "what the students will be doing," I'm worried about the technical aspects. I have a commitment from our district's IT department to help me get a server up and running, but I'm nervous that my tech skills won't be strong enough. Also - we only have 30 computers in the lab. What do I do if more than 30 students show up?


  1. I think you've convinced me I need to get Max's book (plus, hello, there's a dog on the cover!) because I really need to get better with my math discussions, too.

    1. I highly recommend it! It really made me think. There are also great, fairly simple, activities to help students develop their problem-solving state of mind and the overall classroom community.

  2. Dan Curcio @dandanscience did an Edcamp session on Minecraft and uses it at his school, maybe you could pick his brain!

    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I'll head over and follow him right now =)