Quadratics: Sharing the Love MTBoS Blogging Initiative

Explore the MTBoS prompt for the week is to share the love and the resources from other great bloggers. I wanted to do that by collecting some of the blog posts that will help inform the next unit I’ll be teaching (added, bonus, I’ll be able to find them easily when the planning begins in earnest). Algebra 1 starts semester 2 off right with a unit on quadratics. It is usually one of the more challenging ones for my students, but I have grown to really enjoy teaching it both here and in my third year math class which also has a quadratics unit with a bit more depth. Continue reading “Quadratics: Sharing the Love MTBoS Blogging Initiative”

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Soft Skills: MTBoS Blogging Inititative

Soft Skills. According to the Collins English dictionary these are “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude[1]”  I like this definition. Mostly because I can say I at least have two soft skills…just not the social people one. Reading Sam Shah’s post from the Virtual Conference made me think a lot about the idea of what soft skills, especially regarding connecting with students looks like. I agree with him that we have some amazing people in the MTBoS that do powerful work and really connect with students.

I don’t buy that you have to be good at conversation and sweet emails to be that person. My bet is that Sam and his readers are all much better at connecting that they realize and also, that their brand of student connection might reach students that the more obvious outward teachers don’t. This might be partially a biased opinion. I am not great at social skills. I am awkward around people. I am terrible at talking about feelings. I am not a ‘friend’ to the students in the way many of the teachers at my school seem to be. I am definitely not bubbly.  I don’t understand even 5% of the references students and adults make to things I should probably know. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a connection with students. My students know that I care about them, or at least that I respect them and have high expectations for them. I wouldn’t hold those if I didn’t care. I tell them this. And often students who are also feel different feel better knowing that they can count on me without going through the exhausting social protocols. Continue reading “Soft Skills: MTBoS Blogging Inititative”

Student Grouping: My Favorite

My biggest focus as a teach this year is to support and grow student discourse and empower my students to own the classroom. I have always considered getting students to work together and have great discussions a strength, but I’m using that to my advantage not to be afraid to try out crazy ideas since I already have some tools that work. I’m hoping that by June I’ll have more tools and more confidence to share these tools with others.

One simple idea that I used recently might be my favorite way to small group students. I use MARS Formative Assessment Lessons  in my classes quite often. In the high school tasks, a hallmark of the structure is a card sort where students pair up or sort two types of cards, then add a third set, then a fourth and so on. A recent example had students given a large set of cards to sort function or not. Then using only functions, linear or not. And then finally finding rates of change. Another example has students matching words with equations, then added graphs and then tables. The tasks take care to ensure students are paying attention to detail and have blank cards students need to create to finish sets. The FALs also come with great teacher moves, possible questions/misunderstandings and responses. Continue reading “Student Grouping: My Favorite”