Vulnerability = ZPD for teachers

TMC17 Summary and Reflection

I was surrounded by greatness and for that I am grateful. I didn’t show up at TMC17 with my A game, but I improved as the week progressed. Why is that?

Attitude—After leaving Greensboro late because of a doctor appointment that came with unexpected news topped off with car trouble, I got to Atlanta three and a half hours later than expected. It all worked out rather well as I ran into some very nice MTBoSers in the hall and they invited a first timer and me to join them for dinner. Great restaurant. Great company. Thanks Steve Weimar, Megan Schmidt and Benjamin Walker.

Comfort level—I left TMC16 thinking I would not bother to come to another TMC. I got into writing proposals to present back in January and they were accepted and so I came. I attended the Desmos pre-con this year so that was nice. I read comments that non-amateurs were not very open to new folks at that point of the camp and that is unfortunate. I will say, though, that TMC non-amateurs were super great at speed dating the next day. Perhaps it’s because they were held hostage by a downpour, but regardless, they were there. They were participating and they were welcoming and I think they actually enjoyed meeting new people. That was a real turning point for TMC17. Somebody really needs to schedule rain for TMC18. I wonder who is in charge of that.

This year’s TMC was my 2nd so I had a point of reference. Last year I over-PDed, if that’s possible. This year, I came hungry. I enjoy My Favorites and the Keynote speakers blew me away. If you haven’t done so, please check out their presentations here. I chose good short sessions this year. Then I hit the mother load when I made the right choice for my three-day session. I was excited to meet and learn from the well respected @cheesemonkeySF. Boy, did she deliver. See separate post.

IMG_2634

Along with friends, I presented so I also came to TMC17 vulnerable. Little did I know that vulnerability was the theme of TMC17. Last summer’s marching orders were “be intentional”. This year I heard loud and clear to be vulnerable. Take risks. I see vulnerability as a teacher’s Zone of Proximal Development. Learning and progress happen for teachers when they open up and take chances and then reflect and refine.

Have a great, vulnerable school year party people!! May you learn and grow exponentially.

Reflection on TMC17 long session–From Drab to Fab

This is MY reflection and summary of my three day Twitter Math Camp (TMC) session with @cheesemonkeySF, aka, Dr. Elizabeth Statmore. This is my interpretation. I apologize if I misconstrued anything Dr. Statmore put before me. My intent is to honor her and to document my learning at the same time.

Differentiating CCSS Algebra 1 — from drab to fab using Exeter Math 1 & Exploratory Talk

Day 1:
A goal to be met in the first three weeks of school is to build a culture where students exhaust all they know and have available to them before asking for help when problem solving.

In order to get students to own the problem for themselves, make it personal to them. Change the names and places to be relatable to the earners. Put a story behind the problem.

Teach students how to approach a problem. This is the Know—>Notice—>Wonder sequence.

Use readers’ theater as a way to establish procedures and protocol for classroom routines such as Talking Points, Vertical Non-permanent Surfaces, and Number Talks. Elizabeth has done this through a script she has created called deleted scenes.

We actually got to practice this as a class and this helped me understand the purpose as well as the procedure. I had read Elizabeth’s blog on this, but never truly got my head around it. I am now ready to give this a shot. There are at least a couple people in the class that are going to give writing a script a shot. I hope these get posted and shared widely. Each member of a table group (4 students or so) has a copy of the script. (reuse for all classes.) Characters are assigned and the script is read, with each group simultaneously working through the script. Doing this as whole class leaves too many inactive learners. Up engagement and participation at every turn.

Use Talking Points to illicit emotions and access prior knowledge when moving into a new topic. Choose statements that are debatable and students have opinions about. The number 1 rule to adhere to and teach and monitor is: No comment, no emotion, no body language as the talking points are going around the table. As teachers we must model this. By doing so, we honor learner space and inner thinking. I repeat: NO snarky comments. Listen. Be silent and listen. In a circle, Talking Point 1 is read. The only person in the group speaking is the person holding the Talking Stick (or whatever article you choose). The talker states their reaction to the Talking Point and gives justification for their opinion. They then pass the talking stick to the next person who then gives their comment and justification. This continues all the way around the table group. Round two is the same procedure with the same Talking Point only this time the talker keeps or changes their opinion and gives justification. When all have completed the second round, opinions are tallied and the next Talking Point is run through the process. Some groups may get several Talking Points from the list completed and others may only get a couple. That’s ok. Front load the Talking Points so the important points are covered first. Shut it down and channel the emotion into learning the math at this point. I see this as peak interest and passion and then shift to content.

The learning cycle—Wash, rinse, repeat

learningcycle

Day 2: The theme of today was Radical Differentiation and this was addressed through problem organization and people organization.

Organize problems

  • Challenge for all
  • Practice & support—more problems and challenges for speed demons
  • Extensions
  • Make sure the beefy problems are up front so all students get these
  • Challenging learners does not mean stumping them
  • Every learner deserves a win.

Organize people

  • Group speed demons together so they do not rob the other learners
  • Group the “katamari” together. These are the thoughtful, careful, deliberate learners, not strugglers, but rather the learners who know speed is not the end game.
  • Group free-loaders together.
  • If writing as a group, the talkers do not write and the writers do not talk. Trade devices when necessary.

Day 3: The final day, we were all in awe of Elizabeth and just wanted to learn everything we could from her. We asked what a day looked like in her class and she delivered.

She uses a broadcast clock to plan her class period, regardless of the length of the period. (I know I read about this someplace else, but I forget where, but it is genius.) Her clock looks something like this. broadcast clock Details below. Please note, unlike a real broadcast clock, the sectors in my clock are not proportional to the total time. (I simply do not know how to do that in Word.)

  1. Open class with a PowerPoint slide that has students self-managing. Do now, check “Home Enjoyment”, aka, homework, with table mates, identify burning questions with tablemates, and get any handouts or supplies needed for the day. This all takes about 4 minutes. Each class has a theme song that plays for the first minute of the opening slide. This helps learners shift into math class mode.
  2. Burning questions that students have about Home Enjoyment are addressed. Reserve the right to deem a posed question as NOT burning if learners can get there themselves and merely didn’t do so. This segment is as long as it needs to be, and no longer.
  3. Slide changes to a fanfare of sorts to reveal the EQ. Learners rely on the EQ for focus and grounding. Initial notes and direct instruction happen here. This is only 6 minutes. Tighten up. You get another chance at the end.
  4. Productive struggle/guided practice/guided sequential flailing happen at this sector. Have plenty of chosen problems, but front load them so all students get rich materials, not just those who get there first, aka, speed demons. Never give problems you have not done. Intentionally choose the sequence. Stumping learners is not challenging them and vice versa.
  5. If the situation warrants, have a close. Elizabeth does not see this as a nonnegotiable the way some instructors do. I appreciate that, but will try to get my head around when closure is helpful and when it is just a closer for the sake of that checkmark.
  6. Set a timer so you know when you have 7 minutes (or whatever your experience tells you that you need) for final notes and marching orders and a calm ending.

Synthesis

The productive struggle sector could be handled in a variety of ways. One way is to use Speed Dating—one side moves, each student is an expert in one problem, see Kate Nowak blog for details. This could also be Vertical Nonpermanent Surfaces, aka white boards. Alex Overwijk is the expert in this area. This could be the time for Exeter problems thoughtfully and purposefully sequenced for maximum learning.

Phrases—these just stood out to me as brilliant insights made by Elizabeth and paraphrased by me and others in our session.

  • You can’t develop patience quickly. (teachers or learners) Practice and honor the process.
  • Your learning should never be a threat to others. When you share your learning you gain and kids need to experience this. A rising tide floats all boats. Everyone benefits when students share their learning and insights with one another.
  • Speed demons commit cognitive theft. Honor all learners and protect the Katamari from robbery of their learning.
  • We don’t “fix” struggling learners, but rather, we help heal the disconnection from their inner mathematical selves.
  • Guided sequential flailing leads to learning. Problems are sequenced to support learner success.
  • Kids have to be able to get a win. Challenged ≠ Stumped
  • If kids have been robbed of their confidence, lend them yours. (Believe in them and let them know.) Take that burden from them so they may focus on learning.

Management Tips

  • Seat for discourse and production (separate the speed demons, katamari and freeloaders) when appropriate.
  • Honor learning and respect the process for self and others. Talking points procedure can reinforce this culture.
  • Music may be used for unity; transitions; class identification; sharing about yourself.
  • Students can self-start and you need to set the stage for that. Have this structure in place from the start so students own it and can rely on it, even if you are absent.
  • The Tibetan Singing Bowl is a peaceful way to focus students in a calming way. Help students be fully present and you be fully present for them.
  • Listen at every turn. Sequence. Listen. Learn. Breathe.

(Note, this is not intended as my TMC17 archive reflection. This is yet to come.)

2016 First Ever Room Tour

Let’s start with my very favorite thing in case you check out before the end or the tour.

2016-08-25 14.29.35

My husband and I visited Boston two weeks ago and we toured Fenway Park. He took some pictures during the tour and I didn’t think much of it because that’s just what he does. I headed for the beach two days after we got home for one last hurrah before school. When I got home he had a present for me. It was this photo mounted on a canvas. He said it was for my classroom, because I’m a little different. Isn’t that the most romantic thing you’ve ever heard? I’ve been teaching ten years and he now gets it. What a guy! BTW, if you don’t know the story, the red seat marks the spot in right field where Ted Williams hit the longest recorded home run in Fenway.

2016-08-25 14.25.38

This is my front door. See my Varsity Math sticker? Bottom right: #ObserveMe Notice.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Look around and you’ll see lots of recycled items: jean pockets to hold calculators and whiteboard markers and odd socks as erasers; CDs to cover old filing cabinets that will hold commented and graded student work for return; carburetor lamp; type writers circa 1927 and 1941; rotary phone; old chair.

Can you spot #TMC16 inspirations? Birthday (function) wall; Varsity math badge;

MTBoS nods? Mind Set bulletin board; not yet; #ObserveMe feedback forms are on the clipboard on the middle bookcase

Vaughn originals: Pencil sharpener for the hallway secured with red duct tape; posters; bad artificial tree that says “Math, you can’t fake it”; shoulder partner buckets for supplies

Misc: Vertical work surfaces; standards for mathematical practice; 36 student desks (moving 4 more in tomorrow)

Well, that’s my first room tour ever. Hope you found it above average.

 

Top ten signs school is about to start…

top_ten_list_c00230_19547

10. You get giddy at the sight of the back to school supply isle at Walmart (don’t judge).

9. You start going to bed earlier but stop sleeping.

8. You keep reminding your spouse that the next real meal may not be until Thanks Giving.

7. You become hyper-creative and see uses for items like Cool Whip tubs, Ice Cream buckets, stray socks, pieces of string…

6. You scour Pinterest for 87 ways to use frozen hamburger.

5. You start paying attention to what day of the week it is.

4. You nest and make sure the house is in order, or at least that it will be ok until Christmas.

3. You iron for the first time since Christmas break.

2. When you go to the copy room, the laminator is already warmed up.

1.  You suddenly remember that you forgot to lose five pounds over the summer.

thank you gif

Practicing on real kids!

You have to love a PD where you get to watch other teachers as they hone their craft as well as get to practice yourself…on REAL live kids!!! The kids were on fire as they made models of houses. I wanted to take one home, but I didn’t. (I mean a kid, not their house. The house was swell and all, but talking with these kids was a treat!)

This set-up the need for area and scale and unit conversion in order to make cost estimates of building materials.

The problem created the need for the content. The content did not set the stage for some hokey, convoluted, boring application.

Kind of getting excited for Aug 29!!!

PD Week 2–learning about myself. Ouch.

I started week two of a two week PD at Wake Forest. The program originated to address a need at a much higher level than 8th grade math. The education center is part of the Wake Forest Medical School. Seems medical students could pass tests but could not apply, connect and transfer their knowledge into practice once they got into the hospital with real patients. A new and different approach was needed. The center for education was created to address this need. Somehow, and I don’t exactly how this came about, the Piedmont Triad Education Consortium was created. This then merged with a group out of UT Dallas as I understand it. The program I’m at is called PTech. The method is somewhat a PBL (problem-based learning) approach, but not exactly. The elevator speech is that content is delivered as needed rather than up front. Students identify what the problem actually is and then determine what they know and what they need to know and this helps students define the problem(s) to be solved. Instruction is delivered as the need arises. Basically the approach is context then content rather than the traditional content then corny application.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 22.22.59

Today (Monday of week 2) we started our personal profiles. This included Myers-Briggs as well as looking at early personal commandments that we grew up with such as ‘clean your plate’ and early experiences such as ‘being homeless for a period’.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 22.23.47

My early commandment was “love and grace trump all”. What this means and meant to me is that I could screw up, but my family would never leave me or hate me because of it nor should I judge somebody else for a screw up or something that I don’t understand or agree with.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 22.24.44

My early experience was pretty enlightening. (Why I chose this, I don’t know.) When I went to college my second year, I was not allowed to register because my bill wasn’t paid. I was embarrassed and shocked. I went up to the financial aide office and they acted like it was no big deal. They helped me apply for loans and whatever. With that done I went and registered. It didn’t keep me from getting any classes; it was merely inconvenient and embarrassing. The thing is, I was the 3rd kid in college. One of my parents had just driven me 650 miles one way. In all that time, how college was getting paid for didn’t come up. Really? I learned that I had to just figure things out and problem solve as I went. My family just didn’t talk about unpleasant things—like money. And, I never asked. If you ask you get answers. If you don’t ask, you don’t get much of anything.

When I think how this affected me further down the line, it takes 25+ years for it to manifest itself. Education was a given growing up including college (though not how it got funded.) My kids were raised the same way–you will go to college–no discussion. We were fortunate enough, however, to be able to fully fund our children’s college educations. I suppose at a ridiculous level I expect to be thanked for that regularly by my children. Stupid, I know. We did that because we chose to. Because we could. It just happened. No scars. No stories. No trauma. (For the record, much to my surprise, my parents sent me a check for half of my tuition each semester when I was in graduate school. I never expected that. They didn’t need to do that, but they were then in a financial position to do so, so they did. Kinda swell. Thanks Mom and Dad.)

So, how that affects me now is, when people don’t appreciate what I have done to make their lives easier without being told, I get irritated. Sometimes I can’t stand it and I let them know what I have done, but I sincerely feel like they should have noticed without being told. Unreasonable, I know. If I cut the grass and my husband doesn’t notice or gush about it, I’m livid. I fold the laundry but I don’t put it away. If I do, it will go unnoticed and therefore, in my mind, unappreciated.

So let’s circle back to school. That’s why I’m taking this training, after all. When I sponsor clubs like math club and quiz bowl, these cost not only time, but also substantial amounts of money. There is no compensation and no reimbursement. A quiet thank you may come once a year. We actually have to invite admin to the banquet even though the events are in the daily announcements. We want the kids to be acknowledged by admin. We get a quiet thank you, maybe and that is all that happens. Groups go to state and even nationals. The school picks up the entry fees, but mileage, hotels, meals, these are all on the teachers. End of year celebrations/awards/banquets are completely funded by the teacher sponsors. Yes, we do it for the kids. But still, gushing appreciation is actually expected for the glory that is brought to the school. But, no. “Thanks for doing that” is all we get. My head really wants to stop this nonsense and stop sponsoring these clubs until the school and county decide they are worthy of paying for, but waiting that out hurts the kids, so I don’t do that. I continue to be abused and unappreciated. I keep going and doing and paying…for the kids. The school and County literally bank on that.

Screenshot 2016-08-01 22.26.04

When I first started teaching, the treasurer came to my room with my first check during class because auto deposit was not yet set up. I opened my check and my eyes filled with tears. I had just spent 65+ hours each week for four weeks and I got $1,900. I made more at Sea World in the summers 20 years earlier and now I had a Master’s degree. I actually almost threw up. I then spent the next eight years spending as little of my own money as possible on school (with the exception of clubs). I still gave my time because clearly that was priceless-not worth a thing. I would see teachers with these elaborate bulletin boards and treats for their kids and decorations for their rooms and storage systems and workbooks and whatever else. They bought all of these things with their own money. Many had the only salary in their houses and they spent way too much of it on school. I refused to do it. They all thought it was normal. I used to get paid mileage reimbursement in my real-life job before teaching, so when I went to math competitions on Saturdays, I submitted my mileage to my principal. He was conflict avoidant, so he paid it. I soon learned that nobody else submitted mileage, so I stopped. I should have never done that. I should have insisted that all teachers submit mileage reimbursement. I hate to be a jerk, but perhaps it’s time to start submitting mileage reimbursement again. They can tell me they won’t pay it. But they’ll at least have to realize that the personal investment took place.

So, what I’m getting at is that I learned that early experiences affect what I do now and how I react to situations. I love my students and will walk over fire for them, but spending money, wow. That’s for the state, county, school and parents. Seriously. And they need to be told.

Dang. Guess I had some processing to do. I hate that this sounds like it’s about money. That’s not it. It’s about appreciation. I want my efforts and financial contributions and sacrifices to be acknowledged and appreciated. Is that so bad?

If you’ve read this far, you have earned another VLOG merit badge. Go you!

Screenshot 2016-08-01 22.28.46

Reflecting forward

My tenth year has ended. It was the worst year I have EVER had. It lacked joy. I didn’t sleep most of the year because my mind would never rest. My mind was constantly churning and constantly beating me up. For ten or so days after school was out, I slept so hard. Like my mom. Like a kid coming home from a drive-in movie. No light, alarm, dog, husband, phone, touch or voice could wake me. I would get up mid morning. Get myself something to eat and change my clothes and then go take my morning nap. Sometimes I took an afternoon nap too. I‘m now normal. I’m up around six and don’t stop moving until 11 p.m. or so. I’m sleeping about four consecutive hours each night and then just sort of lying there. Thinking. Only now I’m thinking about next year. And that’s good.

tumblr_mutyi75nfp1s149ovo1_500Next year is going to be great. I’m a bit anxious because I am going to have one Math 2 class rather than two. I will then have either three Math 8’s or I will get to add a Math 1—which I have never taught—to make up my 4 classes. There will be 35 to 40 students in the one Math 2 class. As I packed up my room for the year, I was packing with next year in mind. I also packed thinking about what drove me crazy last year and what went well or at least ok that I want to keep and improve.

I revised my opener procedure mid-year for the better. It is going to be even better this coming year. I will have a weekly sheet that students will use to record their openers that I won’t have to customize each week. Last year I varied each day among Which One Doesn’t Belong (www.wodb.com), solvememobiles (http://solveme.edc.org ), Estimation 180 (http://www.estimation180.com), Would You Rather (http://www.wouldyourathermath.com ), student error analysis, blast from the past, pre-view to testing, Visual Patterns (http://www.visualpatterns.org) and do it another way. The students noticed and wondered though some wandered. I thought I would set a certain day for certain openers and I just couldn’t keep up with the schedule. Mid-year I compiled the openers for the entire next week Friday afternoon or Sunday (like a normal teacher). I also began with a different opener for my Math 8 kids from my Math 2 kids. That was stupid. My Math 8 kids could do Math 2 prompts and Math 2s needed some Math 8 prompts as well. By spring break I was down to one opener for all four classes. I’ll generi-size my opener recording sheet and continue with the Friday harvesting of opener prompts next year.

First day of school….wish…IMG_1275The first day of school we will practice getting to and from the whiteboards quickly, quietly and neatly. Last year I tried having individual what boards in sacs which were on the backs of student seats. Seemed brilliant, but it was a mess. Markers would go missing. The socks I have students use as erasers would get lost. Trash piled up in the bags. The custodian would throw my dirty socks away. I’m changing (I actually changed before Christmas). I want the kids standing anyway. We just need to practice so they know what I expect. I envision doing the white board routine at least three times for each class this first day and at least once a day for the first week and every Monday and then another day per week for the first month. As soon as we get the lap-tops/tablets we will incorporate desmos activities as well as desmos calculator. I will introduce them to desmos at the same time as they are getting to know their devices since that will be our main use for the devices.IMG_1161The third day, Wednesday, I am definitely doing Sara Vanderwerf’s 100 challenge for design group work as well as partner work norms for the classes. If you haven’t seen that, go here, but come back because I’m not finished.

See what I just did? I got so excited I just interrupted myself. That happens in the classroom too. There’re enough interruptions without me interrupting myself. I may need to have someone monitor me with the “um can.” I learned about the um can in 1992 in a Dale Carnegie class I was taking through work (pension business back then.) We would prepare and give short talks to our class. If the speaker said “um” more than twice in the speech the leader would shake a can of pennies at you after each additional um. This cured the ums in a hurry.

That first week I absolutely need to see who these new students are and let the kids figure out a bit of who I am. I love high energy and adore math dialogue among students. Non-math talk however makes my hair stand up. It also raises my blood pressure, my heart and breathing rates and my voice. The only thing that is lowered is my ability to think. I just freak out in chaos. (It’s not only in class, but also while shopping, at parties and in NYC… I need to get this figured out because…well just because.) So, I need clear expectations for my students.

I am definitely adding Number Talks on a regular basis. Daily at first, probably starting Thursday or earlier if there is time. I know I am not doing Interactive Notebooks (INB). I tried last year and that was part of my misery. It was awful. It seemed to be all craft and no math and that drove me nuts. It was also harder to plan for than I expected. The math didn’t have a chance to ramp up at a good clip and it just stunk. I really tried. What a disaster! Kudos to those who do it successfully and make it look so easy. I will never forgive you, however, for fooling me into thinking I could pull it off.

Because of the INBs I made the smooth move of putting together shoulder partner buckets so they weren’t a total loss. I’m going to stock the buckets better this year. Besides glue, crayons, highlighters, rulers aka straight edges, and scissors I’m going to add index cards (I use them for formative assessment almost daily). I’m going to have 4 quadrant buckets that contain tape and staplers for each of the four quadrants of the room to share.

If I graphed the neatness of my classroom throughout the year it would look like this:

sxppfltkho

I want it to look line this:

7jw9mbap3i

See all the students making a mess while learning? Isn’t it great?

To help me reach that goal all the while making myself a better teacher for students I am doing some amazing professional development this summer. I truly believe each of them will be game changers for me.cropped-why-i-teach1.jpgMy first PD is Twitter Math Camp aka TMathC16, TMC16, TMC, etc. It’s being held at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. I got in. They filled registration in 8 hours and I got in! I can’t even believe it. I’m not worthy, but I’m going anyway. I want to learn from the best so I am going to the best. TMC is put together by teachers for teachers—a group of teachers who are collectively known as MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere.) I didn’t get into the Desmos session that precedes it, but I’m on the waiting list. I really want to go to that. Hopefully enough people will share what they learn there with me so I don’t miss anything. Or, maybe, they will Periscope it like they did TMC last year. I was a super-stalker last year once I found the Periscope link. I will get more ideas than I am even imagining and I’m imagining lots!

I am also part of the second cohort of PTec. It is a professional development opportunity funded through a grant partnership with PTEC (Piedmont Triad Education Consortium) and MAPSS (Math and Problem Based Learning for Student Success). This is a group of teachers from certain counties in NC who are going on a multifaceted quest for better teaching and therefore better student learning. There is a leadership component where I will learn about myself and how who I am is affecting my classroom. There is also problem based learning incorporated, but not PBL in the normal sense and not PBL exclusively. We will be together at Wake Forest University for two consecutive weeks learning, planning and even test-driving what we learn on real kids! With this PD comes classroom support. They will actually come and observe me in action at my school and give me feedback. I’ve been waiting for substantial feedback in my classroom for more than 10 years if you count student teaching. There are also two retreats (fall and spring) where we will tweak and plan our classes. If someone would have to put a price tag on this PD would be well over $15,000, but it’s free to me because of a multi-county grant! Are you kidding??? (I even get paid to attend! That will pay for TMC!)

I know, too many exclamation points. Sorry. I’m just excited.so-excited-gif3OK, well if you’ve stuck with me congratulations!. You have earned the Vlog-merit Badge!

vaughn merit badge

Vlog Merit Badge—given for perseverance in reading Vaughn’s blog!