Showing posts from January, 2014

Gender Reveal in My Classroom

On Monday my husband and I went for our 20-week doctor appointment and ultrasound.  We both agreed that we wanted to know the gender.  For me, the more planning I can do, the better!  I'm just not laid back enough to wait the whole 9-months to find out, but I understand people that want to and I admire their patience!

The ultrasound went great, the baby looks healthy, and we found out we are having a GIRL! :)  We would be excited either way, but there is just something about knowing the gender that makes it feel a little more real.

Baby Girl Forest

I've already included my students in this life event and they even have made their gender predictions.  Some of them have been asking me for weeks when they could find out because theyjust couldn't wait any longer!  I wanted to do something special for my Excel (homeroom) kids to reveal the gender when we got back to school on Wednesday (school was closed on Monday and Tuesday because of below 0˚ temperatures).  Luckily, this tim…

Common Core is HERE... should we buy new textbooks?!

I was recently emailed a question from a teacher who attended ICTM Conference in October and came to my workshop.  His question was this:

"Our district is deciding on what to do for Math next year. Going with a state curriculum guide or buy some sort of textbooks.  I am curious what you guys are currently doing or suggestions that you have."

Here is my answer:

For this year we are using the ISBE Model Scope and Sequence (you can download from their website).  This is not an endorsement of this curriculum map, however it has it's good features.  More than anything, we felt it was important to just pick a map and try it out knowing that we might want to make changes in the future.  I would suggest not trying to "reinvent the wheel" when it comes to a map before trying it out.  Save yourself the time and frustration and choose one and go for it.  
I would not suggest buying new curriculum materials just yet.  Of course you might buy some supplements here or there, b…

2πr Increasing

Getting bigger!
20 weeks!  Halfway there!

Pythagorean Theorem Webquest

There are so many good online resources for practicing using the Pythagorean Theorem.

I felt my students were ready for some practice, so I put together this webquest.  I suggest doing an introduction lesson first.  Also, I did a few simple problems as a class so everyone could see how to solve for the length of the hypotenuse and then also how to solve for the length of a leg.

Pythagorean Theorem Webquest and RaffleAfter each step, raise your hand to show Mrs. Forest that you are finished to claim your raffle ticket.
1.  Do this lesson about Pythagorean Theorem
2. Next, answer these questions.
3. Now you are ready to play a game.  Click here to play the first game. (You only have to play once)
4. Click here to play the second game. (You have to get 12 home runs to be finished)
5. Last step!  Click here to do the word problems.  (You have to get a score of at least 30 to be finished)

To spice things up a bit, I had students call me over to verify that they had completed each step.  If…

Slow Down and Reflect

When I came across this post by Elena Aguilar it made me think.  In the first paragraph she states that, "if we slow down, we'll have more opportunities for reflection."  I love this because I think that reflection may be the most powerful tool in becoming a better teacher.  Reflection is something you can do no matter how long you have been teaching and it almost always leads to a positive change.

picture from here

Reflect on a lesson... next time you'll keep the good stuff and make other stuff better.

Reflect on how you handled a situation with a student... you'll have a better idea of what to do next time.

Reflect on an assessment... you'll know if it was giving your the feedback you desire.

Reflect on a meeting... you'll know how better work with your peers next time.

Reflect on how much you are reflecting... now you are just getting crazy.  Or are you?  When I reflect on my reflecting, I realize that I'm leaving little time for it.  That is where …

Discovering The "Brandon" (Pythagorean) Theorem

This lessons is not a new idea... I've seen it online lots of places.  But here is how I organized it and it worked well, so I thought I would share.

First, cut out squares using graph paper.  Have a baggie (I love ziploc bags for organizing) for each pair of students.  In each baggie I put 2- 3x3 squares, 2- 4x4 squares, 2- 5x5 squares, 1- 12x12 square, and 1- 13x13 square.

Next, I had students create an isosceles triangle using a 2- 5x5 square and 1- 3x3 square.  We discussed that this is a isosceles triangle AND an acute triangle. 

I then told students that we would be working with only right triangles today.  I challenged them to create 2 right triangles using the squares I provided them.  I gave them some work time (this took about 10-15 minutes).  With the squares they have, they are able to create two: 3-4-5 and 5-12-13.
I walked around and answered questions and helped students that had misconceptions (a common one was that they could do a 3-3-4 or 3-3-5).  After students…

Online Activity for Practicing Percent

We all know that not every online activity or game is great.  Some are, some aren't.

Here is a good one for percent I found last year when I was teaching 6th graders.  The CCSS for 6th grade has a lot of work with percent!

Flipped Lessons with Learn Zillion

My classroom is not a flipped classroom.  However, I do like doing some "flipped" lessons.  Sometimes I create my own videos and other times I find a good one online.  One resource that I use for already-made videos is Learn Zillion.

Not every video on Learn Zillion is a winner... you have to pick and choose.  Some explain things better than others.  So, make sure you watch the full video first to see if you like it before you assign it to the kiddos.

Usually when I assign a video to watch for homefun (it's not work, it's fun, right?!) I also assign a reflection chart to go along with it.  My students have a shared google doc with me and this is where they put this chart.  However, you could also just have students answer the questions on paper.

Here is an example of the video (about dilation of a parallelogram) and reflection:

2πr Increasing

My circumference is growing! :)

January Desktop Background

I forgot to post this earlier this month.  Here is the link to the background I'm using this month... I get mine every month from this blog because they are just so darn pretty!

Funny Things Kids Say...

It's my first day back at school today!

We reviewed expectations and made "Math New Year's Resolutions."

Overall, the lesson went great.  I even had time to introduce dilations.  yay!

But what sticks out in my mind when I reflect on the day is the funny things kids say.  Maybe it was the 2+ weeks away from quirky middle schoolers, but they were cracking me up!  Here are two examples:

Kid- Wow, this [pregnancy] is going by fast!
Me- I'm glad this has been so easy for you. ;)
(it's afternoon homeroom and they should be working on homework)
Me- work!
Kid- Twerk?
Me- No, work! (suppressing a smile)


Click on the image to go to my pin.
I use Pinterest to get new ideas for my teaching life and "real life."  Sometimes I just browse through the education pins to see what strikes me.  Other times I search for specific items such as "middle school math" or "classroom management."

To check out my "school" board on Pinterest search for me using my username: anniepestro or my name: Annie Forest.

New Year's Resolutions

Replace "academia" with "education" and this is a pretty funny (and of course just a joke) commentary on making resolutions in education... I found it here.

In my opinion, my real "new year" is the beginning of the school year.  That is when I make my "New Year Resolutions" and reflect on what I want to do differently in the classroom, how I can better my classroom management, and feel an overall sense of a new beginning.
However, I don't want to let this opportunity for reflection to pass me by.  After all, the second quarter ended right before break so for my students and me this does feel like a fresh start and clean slate.  So here are my teaching resolutions for the new year:
1.) Get kids organized 2.) Continue to pursue leading professional development 3.) Review classroom management procedures and expectations

Here's the details of each:
Get kids organized I think I did a great job of keeping my students organized when I taught 6th gr…

Winter Weather- "Real World" Negative Numbers

With subzero temperatures here in Chicago, it's an understatement to say that it is cold outside.  In fact, most of my students walk to school and I'm worried about walking in this weather next week when we are back from break!  While some of my student's family might struggle financially to provide a winter coat for their kiddos, I have other students that just prefer to wear a hoddie instead of a coat-- they are in middle school after all, and looking cool trumps warmth.

From a pure math perspective, these temps do provide a nice "real world" situation where negative numbers are actually used.  I'm thinking a warm-up (bell ringer)... maybe comparing the high temperatures from Saturday to Monday?

Here are some other pics of the weather that I took last night from our high rise condo building.

Snow, snow, snow
Snow stopped, beautiful sunset (still COLD!)

Happy New Year!

This year's celebration was a little tamer than in the past.  The past two New Year's Eves my husband and I celebrated in Mexico.  This year, pregnant and trying to save money, we stayed in Chicago.  We went to dinner (we could only get a 6:00 PM reservation) and were home by 8!

We did stay up until midnight (go us!) and ate 12 grapes for luck.