Rock your photos?

Today I was at PD in my district called, Rock Your Photos!  It was given by our Technology Director, Jim Kloss @jazzman1625 .  Not only is this useful in my personal life, but also when taking pictures of things I do in my classroom that I might end up using in social media, my blog, things within my district, or even my teaching portfolio.  He talked about the basic rules for taking photos on any kind of device and then went through the editing capabilities within iPhoto.  Now, I will admit that I knew some of the basics of taking photos since I have a TV/Radio degree.  Many of the same rules apply when shooting video.  He talked about the Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, Symmetry and Patterns, Viewpoint, Foreground/background, Authenticity, and Light.  Then we discussed all the cool editing option in iPhoto (under the Adjust tab) after we walked around and took some pictures.  Here are two photos and my edited version as well:

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I think I am getting the hang of this…at least at my VERY basic level! 😉

Lastly, Jim went over how best to save photos for different situations.  If you are sending it to print versus sending it to our district person for printing or publications.

Thanks Jim for all your help today!

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July 15 – Who are your memorable students?:  One of my most memorable students was a boy named Nick.  He was a smart and quick-witted.  He was a student that could be having a completely serious conversation with me and yet be swinging in between the tables.  I loved his personality and his ability to have a come back for anything anyone said.  I think the other students did not quite understand how smart he was, but I know they did not always get his comebacks!  He was my helper, but also a great conversationalist!  I just know he will do great things in his life!

In my last loop, I had a group of girls that were in my math club, my Battle of the Books, etc that I miss!  They were always themselves and never really apologized for it.  I love that they were comfortable with being who they were and doing what they wanted.  They never really got caught up in the other drama of middle school.  They were also some of the most hard-working students I have ever seen!

I think the most memorable students are the ones that inspire me and teach me something about being a better person or teacher!

Have a great day!

Photos for learning?!

I was browsing on Twitter and found a link to iPadU, it must be a PD that was taking place and the link takes you to the list of sessions and links to the resources.  One of the ideas mentioned was by Jonathan Wylie, @jonathanwylie.  The main idea is a photo scavenger hunt.  After my previous post about student blogging, I think this goes hand in hand with that idea!  The students could do this by day or week or standard and take pictures of the different things they learned.  This could be stuff they did or screen shots from their iPad.  At the end of each standard they could then use another app to make a picture collage of sorts with text and/or voice to explain what we are looking at.  In order to grade or check these, they would have to post it to their blog!

Okay – so now I am getting excited for this idea of student blogs. Someone please help me figure out the best way to do this and monitor them at the same time! HELP!  Our students have google accounts so they can use and create in Blogger I think.  Hmmmmm….my mind is racing!

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July 11 – How would my students describe me?:  Hmmmm….I think they would say I am a little crazy and expect the best from them.  I use a lot of minor sarcasm with my middle schoolers to show them that I expect more (i.e.: “Yes, please sit there and do nothing.” or “No, you don’t need to try that problem.  I put it in the notes for me.”)  That is my way of getting them to see what should be doing without getting upset that they are not doing what they should.  Some of my students would say I am passionate about math.  When I am trying to get them to make a connection or see something in math – I get a little into it!  It looks like I am putting on a song and dance show.  I don’t know what else they would say, but I hope they see I love teaching them! 🙂

Plan for 2014-2015

My brain is starting to itch its way toward planning for the coming school year.  This is probably the reality of staying home and starting to get stir crazy, but with only 36 days until Institute Day – I am feeling the crunch and I will not even be back right away for maternity leave.  EEK!

Here are my thoughts going into 8th grade math this year.

Regular math:  We did not finish all the CC Standards for 7th grade last year so we will be starting with the one standard we really did not cover, Geometry.  Luckily we already planned a self-paced unit at the end of the year for our Advanced Math class on these standards.  We will then follow up with the 8th grade Geometry Standards.

Here is how we will probably break them down:

Congruent and Similar Figures (also in relation to transformations)

Parallel lines cut by transversal (include triangle angle sum and exterior angle sum)

**Pythagorean Theorem (prove and use)

Volume of cylinders, cones, spheres

My advanced math class would start with one concept we never got to in 7th grade and that is Similar figures and proportionality then we would go into the 8th grade Geometry described above.  We will cover the information in the same order, but with more complex problems and more in depth than the regular math class.

**This is the only area I am still uncertain about because they would really need an understanding of radicals and that is part of the Number System Standards.  We could introduce that concept there and then continue Number System later OR we could keep Pythagorean Theorem for part of Number System and when we get to radicals go back to Pythagorean Theorem.

After this we would go into Number System, then Expressions/Equations, and Functions.  The Bivariate Unit is back for us and in the past there have been many scatter plot questions on the big tests.  Now that the tests are changing – who knows.

Standardized Tests

My theory has always been that I can’t cover everything before the standardized tests.  There is no possible way if I want my students to actually understand what I teach that they will be able to learn all of it.  After the first few years teaching, I came to the conclusion that I will do what I can to cover most of the material, but I will not jeopardize student learning.  By learning – I mean actual learning and understanding.

I hope that makes sense.  Trust me.  I know that my teaching could be held to those tests and I know that in an ideal world I would be able to cover all the topics.  But, in an ideal world, my students would not have so many learning gaps and misunderstandings of math.  I still have students who NEED a calculator to do basic facts.  They never fully understood their addition facts and how to group, which led to not fully understanding any of the other operations.  Because the Illinois State Tests (ISAT) in the past, allowed a calculator from 3rd grade on – they never had a need to truly learn them and understand their facts.  I hope that with the changes being made that things will improve.  I would be definitely a proponent of a four function calculator only for certain problems.  It is not that I hate calculators, but I feel students do not know when they actually need them and when they should use their common sense or knowledge of facts.

Ok – done with my random rant/ramble.  Thanks for listening!

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July 10 – Teaching idols:  Well, I have had a couple amazing teachers in my past.

First – you should all know I went to St. Patricia School in Hickory Hills, IL.  I would say the first one that stood out to me was my 2nd grade teacher.  I remember feeling completely safe and pushed to achieve in her class.  But, mostly I remember being in 7th and 8th grade and helping her in her classroom everyday after school.  I was able to appreciate all that she did when I saw it from that perspective!

I also loved one of my 5th/6th grade teachers – Mrs. Casper – who taught us science and was great at giving us hands on experiences!  We got to dissect an owl pellet, touch a cows tongue, touch and see pig intestines, etc.

In 7th/8th grade we had a great SS teacher – Mrs. Califfe (now the principal at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Chicago.  Mostly I remember her expectations and her care for us outside of the classroom as the NJHS moderator.  She would expect the best from us in the classroom (constitution tests) and outside as she made sure we did all we could as a NJHS and behaved while doing so (oops on the annual car wash – haha)

Second – I went to Nazareth Academy HS in La Grange Park, IL.  Over the years I had many great teachers!  I would say the teacher that stood out the most and has impacted my teaching the most was Mr. Mike.  He taught Humanities History Honors and that was the first time I ever understood the history I was learning.  He taught about all the kings and queens and aspects as a story!  His tests would be paragraphs with blanks in them and he expected you to remember the story and fill int he missing words.  Sadly, he passed away 2 years ago.

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