Lessons in Virtual Teaching

Berklee Online & FLX Fitclub

Last winter my son was a high school sophomore. He is interested in saxophone performance studies in college and his career goal is to be a woodwind doubler on Broadway. He and I sat down and started to look at online college class options before the pandemic even hit. We looked at the information for Berklee Online and watched examples of the classes. They give you a great window into the course by releasing part of a module for you to get a solid idea of the style. This includes a sample video lesson, as well as the other materials. He made a plan for a possible summer class after assessing just how busy he was with high school.

Then the pandemic hit. Suddenly he was not so busy and thought, “I’m gonna give this a go.” This turned out to be the absolute BEST decision ever for more reasons than one.

Little did I know that I would learn as much as he did from this experience. This post is all about those bits of learning as well as the things I picked up from virtual and hybrid classes at my gym; FLX Fitclub.

Individual Feedback

As he started his class watching his required videos and doing his lessons, I noticed that he really thrived on and anticipated the feedback from his professor. A positive one liner from his professor would make his day. Our dinner table conversation shifted from HS stories to Berklee online lessons. As the weeks went on and his asynchronous high school coursework continued, he grew more and more connected to his Berklee work and his professor. As a middle school teacher, I was meeting with my own students virtually daily, and he only had access to his Berklee teacher live one hour a week. Yet, his connection seemed very strong. I was struggling with the lack of the in person connection with my kids. Everything felt kind of empty, even though I was giving lots of feedback. Seeing how the feedback he received strengthened his relationship with someone he hadn’t even met, made me realize:

Don’t underestimate the power of the individual connection. The feedback and comments matter.

Content & Pacing

Xander’s Berklee week of lessons opened up every Sunday. He had one live class scheduled at a different time each week while the rest of the class consisted of videos, asynchronous discussions, and assignments. He could complete them when it worked for him and the system kept track of his progress. He looked forward to Sundays. He also tried to complete his work with enough time to spare that he would have most or all of a day off before the new content opened up. The timing and pacing motivated him to stay on track. Our family started to operate in “Berklee class time of – this is week 7 or can you believe it is already week 8?”

I had tried something like that with my students the year prior but it didn’t really launch. At the time we had tech in our hands, but the kids had to leave their chrome books at school at night. Not all students had wifi or a device to use at home. I also struggled with a general reluctance to watching videos for learning. Despite the success of a flipped classroom for some of my colleagues at the HS level, it didn’t seem to be attainable for me at that time.

Still, I paid close attention to Xander’s set-up. I started to consider the type of container I could build for my class. I looked at paid platforms, but they were all designed for someone to teach independently online and collect revenue. That was not my plan. Instead, I started to design units on my website that could be unlocked one by one. But, when my school decided to sign onto the learning management system, Brightspace, my need to manage a class this way shifted. I changed course.

As the year started, I tried to set up a system like Berklee with the launch of a mini-unit and a certain amount of time to complete it. It completely failed. The kids weren’t ready for the system. They were used to being in lock step with each other. A switch would take time.

Turning Teaching on its head

As Xander continued to enroll in a new class every 14 weeks, I started to ask him more questions. “How many kids come to live class?” The answer was 3 or so regardless of the size of the class. Classes were recorded and students could watch them at any point. In some classes he was the only student. I wondered if the teacher ever questioned whether it was even worth it. Still, I watched him get excited to tune in.

“Tell me about your discussions.” Discussions are required, but students have a long time to add to the discussion. I noticed that Xander pounced to comment but many students waited until the grace period at the very end of the course to go back in and comment. It wasn’t lost on me that these were students of all ages who had paid for the privilege of this class. I had taken a summer course that required discussions and I didn’t get it. To me a discussion is something that happens in real time. I still find myself confused by his interest in a discussion and his willingness to go back and check out replies. In my summer class I submitted my replies for discussions but I was completely unengaged in the process.

While teaching, I’m energized by the vibe of the classroom. I feed off the enthusiasm of the students. Where was that enthusiasm here? What was the impetus to do the work? In some classes feedback for all work was public for all students. In some it was private just to Xander. Every time he and I talked it seemed to come back to that individual relationship between teacher and student. I came to understand that in virtual and hybrid teaching that my individual connection to students was the powerful piece.

That honest feedback you give each student individually, whether typed or in a video or audio file really matters.

Self Paced Learning

I’m still not to a point where I can open a week on Monday and close it on Friday. Our system has what they call “conditional release” where you can set it up so that you can’t see the assignment until you watch the video. However, my savvy students quickly realize that to “watch” the video just means to turn it on and then the assignment will release. The rest of the students who don’t open the video just never see the assignment if I set it up that way. Middle school and online college classes aren’t the same beast. Still, I’m moving forward with semi-self paced study. Google Slides, Jamboard and inserted video have been an incredible change for my classroom. Jamboard has become my own little workaround to not having a .pdf writer like Kami or another program. Our district recently purchased PearDeck and I’m very excited to investigate this!

FLX FitClub Lessons

FLX hybrid BodyPump class. Our screen is on the bottom left.

Early in the pandemic, friend and FLX Fitclub owner Chantelle started offering virtual classes over Zoom. Scott and I attended the classes from our living room. FLX teaches Les Mills Classes and our favorite of those is Body Pump. We already have Les Mills on Demand where you can watch the Les Mills instructors deliver perfect classes whenever you want. We’ve always used that to supplement our FLX classes for cycling, BodyPump, Combat, Yoga, Grit and more. We feel connected to these presenters, but have a much stronger connection with Chantelle and her great team of local instructors. As Chantelle opened up her virtual classes, I wondered how they would go.

Connection over Perfect

We found that as the pandemic started that we would turn to FLX classes virtually a little more often than our perfect LES Mills on Demand. I didn’t consider WHY until one day when my daughter invited me to attend a virtual class with the instructor she had certified with for Les Mills. She’d trained in person and she said he was AWESOME. Ok why not. I wasn’t doing much that afternoon anyway. We set up in the living room and his audio was a mess, his set-up was less than stellar and he wasn’t a bit motivating to me. She took a glance back at me and saw my flat affect. “Mom you don’t have to do this.” Had I even been the tiniest bit connected to the instructor I would have stayed, but I pounced and said, “ok” and promptly put my equipment away.

If the class isn’t perfect, the connection is what matters.

This helped me understand why my students were willing to watch my perfectly average videos. I was often surprised when kids would say they’d rather have me teach it in video or in person than have a video from someone else.

YouTube and EdPuzzle

A HS colleague uses EdPuzzle. It is an essential part of his class. Another HS teacher uses his own unlisted YouTube videos. I dabbled in both prior to this time, but hadn’t yet found my way.

At the start of the year I tried EdPuzzle again. It allows you to upload videos and add questions. You can assign it to a class and see if they watch the video, check their answers to the questions and more. There were two things going against it for me. The first was that whenever I tried using it with my student hat on I became anxious and focused on the potential answer to the upcoming question. The result? I would get the question right because I was listening for detail, but I’d miss the big picture. I would always find myself at the end of a video with no recall of what I watched. The 2nd ding was that it made me feel like a cop. Suddenly I could see who watched the whole thing, who never even logged in and everyone in-between.

YouTube unlisted was a little better, but you could still see the number of views and assume. If you have 17 students in a classroom and it has 10 views, now you wonder which 7 (or more because let’s face it, some kids may watch more than once) just ignored your ask to watch the video.

Does it matter if they watch the video?

One morning I was chatting with a MS colleague. She uses Google Slides, embedding video into them. I asked, “do the kids watch the videos?” She said,

I don’t know. Does it matter if they watch the video?

Does it? Maybe I should just focus on delivering high quality content and steer clear of systems that made me feel like a cop instead of a teacher. I decided that for my own mental health, Ed Puzzle was not the platform for me. I also decided to start making my YouTube videos public and embed them into my Google Slides.

YouTube

I have a very thin skin. My principal often pops into my classroom to find me crying about something. When she reaches out by email she will preface it with, “nothing is wrong” before delivering the message.

A year ago I didn’t have many videos on YouTube and those that I did have were private. I also had a few playlists where I housed videos from other people about topics that I gave them to the kids as a reference for extra practice. In pandemic times, I suddenly had a need to create instructional videos. Even with pretty good file management, my Google Drive is crowded. It would be easier to get a thicker skin and just make my YouTube videos public.

I had a couple of parameters. For one, I would stop focusing on re-use, trying to create a perfect lesson. Instead my focus is on the here and now.

The next thing I decided was based on my own learning preference. While it could be nice for some of my kids to have my face in the corner of the screen, as a learner I am really bugged by videos that have the teacher in them.

The last thing I would commit to is to disable comments and info about likes and dislikes. Maybe in a year when I have more videos under my belt I’ll reconsider this.

Back to FLX

Enter FLX Fitclub and hybrid learning. A big chunk of our school year was spent in a hybrid model. As luck would have it, my gym also started offering hybrid classes. I grew more comfortable with this in my classroom alongside my FLX instructors at the gym. I learned a few things along the way.

The connection is between the student and the instructor

The instructor relates to both groups. I worked with an instructional coach who also helped set the stage for this. When I explained to my coach that it was sometimes challenging to be there for both groups he said:

Teach them unapologetically separately.

I started to watch the fitness classes more closely. We said hello at the start and the end, but then we were just along for the ride. The instructor talked to the in person crew. Sometimes she checked in on us. If we needed something we would write in the chat. We both got the workout experience. Both groups felt connected. When I attended a hybrid class and I was in person, I wasn’t aware of the virtual students. They got what they needed from the instructor.

I tried to channel this in my classroom by being available for my virtual kids, but not being so stressed about their needs that I ignored the kids in front of me. I followed my coach’s advice by occasionally telling my in person students that I would be working with the virtual kids for a few minutes as I directed them in their task and vice versa. It seems a small thing, but it makes a big difference.

What’s Next?

As we start to exit the pandemic, I think about all the growth that happened for me, my students and so many others during this time. I no longer spend hours making copies – instead I engage in creative lesson planning that is done when I leave the computer. I recently graded a baseline Regents Algebra exam on paper for my Algebra 1 students and realized how much more efficient computer grading is. Later that day, while grading something digitally I used a different highlighter color on every page just because I could!

I’m looking forward to the new normal we are headed into and I hope to keep many of the lessons I learned as I move forward. Even in pandemic times, the individual connections I forged with the students felt authentic and strong. I saw growth, perseverance, and hard work from many of my kids this year. I’m proud of them and their resilience.

I’m grateful to my window into Berklee Online via Xander, to FLX Fitclub and their online and hybrid classes and to Trumansburg Central School District for all that they do to support their teachers in providing fantastic learning for the students.

Jamboard for Review & Teams

This post shares our experiences with using Jamboard for group work!

Getting Started

There was an assignment. It consisted of just a few problems and students were working in small groups for it. I enjoyed looking at the different techniques and styles the kids had for solving the problems. With Jamboard you can see their creativity come out. Do they draw on the board? Insert pictures? Add colors and fun text or keep it simple? Do they show a lot of work or just a little? Everyone has a different style.

One pair really made my day. They did the math part and then they added a page at the end – a collage that just showed how much fun they had together. They were collaborating in a breakout room on a Google Meet. One student was in person 2 days a week and the other learning fully virtually. I like Jamboard because it makes it easy to collaborate together. Here is their mini topic Jamboard.

The Team Jamboard

As our final 10 weeks started our hybrid learning time ended. Students would select either “virtual” or “in-person” and that is that. Gone are the days that I would talk to half of my class on the computer and half of my kids in the class. As the week approached I pondered how to build community in a class when all the kids have to face the same direction and wear a mask. I’ll be honest that I really LOVED the breakout rooms and the collaboration over space that our hybrid model afforded. I wasn’t ready for another pivot.

One day as I drove to school I thought, “What if we have permanent groups set up for these 10 weeks AND we have a team Jamboard?” I could assign the groups and create the Jamboard and share it with the students. In class I could have 5 tabs open on my computer and then bounce between them (showing or not showing solutions) as needed. As I walked into the building I saw my principal and her son (a 7th grader so my future student). Never one to actually flesh out an idea before sharing I just launched right into it for them. I was processing the idea myself as I explained it to them.

Set it up for your class

Check out these two videos to see how to create a team Jamboard and then how to put them in a Learning Management System (or hyperdoc) to keep them safe.

How do the kids find their Jamboard?

If you watch the 2nd video you know. There’s a holding spot or container in our Learning Management System that has a link to each group’s Jamboard. All the kids have to do is to click that link. Even for a digitally organized person this is a nice touch.

Do they collaborate?

Yes. We have been using the platform for a while now and we didn’t just start out collaborating on a group board. Remember to give time to have students discover the tools or directly instruct how to use Jamboard. Teach the students how to use the pen and highlighter, insert pictures and more.

Potential trouble spots

When you start this on any day you have to give time for and expect drawing. Authorize the fun and then move into the work. This keeps the mood positive and gives students a chance for some self-expression and bonding time with their peers. Even with this there are some pitfalls. There’s no revision history in Jamboard. Just like with all other digital tools, it is a chance to consistently teach digital citizenship, respect and kindness.

How long will it take me?

If you watched the first video you have a pretty good idea of how to set this up. One thing to know is that you should create this from your Google Drive and start it from the folder you want it to live in. That will make it much easier than starting from the Jamboard page and then having to move each of them to your folder. Also, if you reverse the order and put it on the kids (say … make one Jamboard and set it so they have to make a copy and share it with you) then you CAN NOT put it in a folder. I use this work flow a lot to save myself time, but the very big downside is that I can’t put it in a folder. You CAN bookmark them in Chrome. I used this video as a guide to do that when for my last project when I had the students make a copy of my original template and share it with me.

Ultimately it depends on the use of your Jamboards for whether you need to make them yourselves and house them in folders or if it will work just fine for the students to make copies. There are many situations where you don’t even need them to share them with you.

Do they like it?

I launch new things with my Algebra class first. There is only one section of them and they are pretty blunt with telling me if they like or dislike something. I watched their reactions to this and then I asked them. After the first day, the general consensus was yes. We’ve been using it for about a week and kids seem to be collaborating well in teams.

Team Use

I find that the use of the Team Jamboard can really help support the group process.

The writer

You can have just one person writing when you are trying to do a quick formative assessment. The other members can write on paper. You’ll quickly see if the team that looks like it has it all together does or if one or two members are carrying the team. Interested in just individual work for a big chunk of class though? Don’t use this platform – just use a solo digital whiteboard. I’m using this whiteboard for this purpose.

Keep Page 1 for challenges

Because this is a permanent group and we’re using this for end of the year exam study time, I have asked the kids to keep page 1 clear but told them they may make as may additional pages as they like. These pages can house review things, things they need/want to memorize etc. Jamboard limits you to 20 pages, so essentially they have a 20 page review document that everyone in their group can access.

Add problems to the Jamboard

In our review session as I was watching the writer write the work for a problem I put up on my screen using Microsoft Whiteboard I saw how slow the writing is. They had to recopy the problem and then start solving. So, for the next problem I took a snip of the problem and I popped into each whiteboard and placed the copy there for them to use. No recopy needed.

The image below is an example of something I plan to use in class. I made a note in Brightspace (remember to populate Jamboard before making this live) and then created this background for the Jamboard. I set it as a background for each group Jamboard and we’ll use it in class. I added the yellow note in case students checked out their Jamboard and thought it was work for them before class.

The team Jamboard activity.

Differentiation

I LOVE this. In a virtual review session I was able to give feedback to the 5 groups in real time and then add a new snip of the next problem to try when a group was ready to go on. I asked them to switch the Jamboard writer for each problem (everyone was writing on paper). When ALL groups finished a problem I said, “you may not need to listen to me as I go over this or you may. I went through the problem for those listening and then went on.” I like that in a virtual setting you can listen without your friends knowing you need the support through a problem. In class this is a little trickier – kids in a really high functioning group that are struggling could struggle to choose to listen to the explanation.

More fun

We had our first review session for this with our permanent groups set up. One team came to visit me a lot with questions during study hall. I looked forward to their arrival to my desk during period 8. At the end of the week, not only did they submit an outstanding product but they added two fun collage pages and said, “you’ll enjoy this Ms. Dawson.”

Last year we got into a group “color coding” of notes explosion all starting with a few students. It extended throughout the 8th grade by the middle of the year. This year our thing is adding some fun to our Jamboards. Finding joy, fun and connection in the little things is so important.

Using Jamboard for Math

Last year my son’s Chemistry teacher created a lot of assignments in Jamboard. He proudly showed me his work. At the time my Algebra kids were humming along with taking pictures of their work on paper. I was intrigued by his projects though and offered up the option to them to give it a try. The class agreed that it was too challenging to write on and it worked just fine to take pictures.

Math 8 was a different story. When I opened it up to them they were mixed. Some students preferred the format and others were really frustrated by it. Our school was using Google Classroom at the time and classroom played very well with my iPad. I could pull their pictures into it, mark them up and grade easily. It didn’t play nicely with Jamboard. So, last spring I offered Jamboard alternatives to students who wanted to use them but stuck with mostly traditional pictures of work.

Concurrent learning

As with many things, the world has changed since last spring. My school now uses Brightspace and my students are learning concurrently. On any given day we have a mix of students in the classroom and at home. Some students are virtual every day and many are hybrid students. In our district, this means that they attend school in person two days a week and learn virtually two days per week. With COVID we can find ourselves virtual for 2 weeks with little notice. Collaboration and connection are important parts of success in this new landscape.

The paperless classroom

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve turned my math classes almost paperless since the year started. Even with a little bit of paper use, I have made fewer than a couple of hundred copies by December. Jamboard is just one of the many tools I’m using to make this mostly paperless math room work. The complete list of tools:

Not all of these tools are for students. Many are just for me for creating materials. I’m trying HARD not to add too many tools, and every day I seem to find a limitation on a free version of something that makes me want to fork over the money for something new.

Looking for Jamboard templates? This great post from Kris Szajner has some great ones in a guest post in Ditch that Textbook. Select the image or click on the link below the image.

Check out these from Ditch That Textbook.

Student Jamboards

I kicked off Jamboards with my kids just a bit before Thanksgiving. All of these examples represent individual Jamboards. The first two slides are examples of Math 8 work and other slides are pages from Algebra work. A big thank you to my students both for working so hard

S.E.L. Dice

In the fall of 2019, as part of a regular professional development day in October my district had someone come in and work with us on Social Emotional Learning Standards. We participated in activities, collaborated and I left feeling ready to come up with some ways to more intentionally teach and reinforce social emotional learning in my classroom.

Dice

I spent the weekend reading through the materials and came up with an idea of S.E.L. dice. I found a template and printed it out on 6 different colors of thick colored paper, put the activities I thought I could manage on them and printed up a key for myself. Each table bin in my 8th grade classroom got a single die and we used them regularly. My original project is linked below. The GREAT things about it.

  1. No student ever crumpled or squashed one of my fragile dice. That meant so much to me that they cared for their table bins so well.
  2. It was right in front of us all the time so we used them a lot.
  3. Even though I didn’t have it set up in a way that we could just roll and use anything because of prep needed, the kids really liked being asked to pic a die. I’d say, “table group with the pink one pull out your die.” And then I’d ask them to turn to #3.

One Word Whip Around

I really wasn’t sure how it would go with the class. Some of the activities really require kids to put themselves out there. Others put me on the spot in the moment for my teaching. When we did the activity, “One Word Whip Around” as a faculty in our training we were asked to share our one word reflection from the lesson literally everyone was polite. There were a couple of words you could read into and think, “this person really didn’t enjoy this” but you had to know a backstory to even guess.

I wondered how this activity would go in grade 8? I was really afraid to try it as we stood in a circle on our first go round in Algebra at the end of a class. Kids started sharing words that summarized a takeaway from that day’s activity: Awesome! Fun! Meh. BORING. Cool. The range was there. I felt my face turn red as I heard Meh and Boring. I smiled when I heard Awesome. I realized it wasn’t always the kids that I though enjoyed the lesson that did. Some kids I thought were totally checked out had the most energetic takeaways. After the activity we felt closer – more connected.

Summer PD

I shared this with my principal, guidance counselor, grade 8 team and finally my math department. I asked my department if anyone wanted to collaborate with me to make it better. YES! Courtney was interested in developing this further as a summer professional development project. I had really just thrown my dice together and there was opportunity for more deliberate materials. We put in for a summer project. Then COVID hit and stayed we realized we needed this to be more digital than we had planned. This project was one of many pivots for the year.

The finished project

Our project is a Google Slides presentation that you can use in the classroom or virtually. You can use real dice or you can use the dice site we linked to in the program. You can use it as is or you can take it as a launching off pad! If you do the latter and make great improvements, I’d love for you to share it back with me so I can post it here as another option.

Some of our ideas we LOVE and some were our last attempts to finish in our 3 hours of work we were allotted (as with all things teaching we just stopped counting our hours once we hit our cap).

Teacher Version – explains the SEL in teacher terms.
Student Version – you can display as is to your class

Thank You

Thank you to Slides.go for the great free templates. Thank you to DiceApp.io for the dice app. Thank you to Trumansburg Central Schools and to our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Pam Rapoza for approving our summer PD hours. And, thank you to Courtney Kempski for working with me on this. It was a lot of fun to collaborate together.

Shifts of Functions Project

This year during our virtual learning time, I took a project that I usually offer for extra credit and made it a class assignment. I decided that with the time we were all spending at home because there are no sports, in person social gatherings, concerts or opportunities to be out and about that it was the perfect time for kids to get to dive into a creative project. Algebra students had just finished studying shifts of functions, and we culminated that experience with a project.

The details

The project was a creative one. It had a simple goal: You will create an original piece of work using graphs from many “families of functions” as characters in your story. My hope for you in this project is that it is FUN, CREATIVE, and that it brings you JOY! Formats permitted include: poster, book or booklet, digital document, mixed media. The story required 6 pages or scenes and may be any genre. Ideas for topics include: How to book, original children’s storybook, existing children’s storybook, recipe book, current events, Anime or sports.

Example of student work. Read on to see the complete projects.

Your story needs to include at least 15 characters. Every character has its own equation, regardless of where it appears in the story. For example, if you decide you are y = x2+3 you are always that function.  You must use at least 3 of the following function families. You may include others if you like.

  • Quadratics
  • Square Roots
  • Absolute Value
  • Cubic Functions

              Quadratics                 Absolute Value               Cubic                           Square Root

         f(x) = a(x-h)2+k     f(x) = ax-h+k         f(x) = a(x-h)3+k        f(x) = ax-h+k

Your story may be about the topic of your choice, however, it must remain a PG-13 rated story. If you would feel embarrassed sharing the story with your parents or grandparents, it is not appropriate for this assignment. If you are in doubt, please check in with me.

Another image from student work. Complete projects are at the end of this post.

Grading

The project was worth 25 points. 3 of those points were from our Delta Math shifts assignment where the kids would demonstrate they had mastered the concept of shifting functions. In the future, I plan to change this to a 30 point project with 5 points given for mathematical equation accuracy.

LabelingEvery character’s equation is labeled in every scene. This can be a key on the page. It doesn’t have to disrupt the story and be right by the equation, but it does need to be clear. Graph paper is used for accuracy./5
StorytellingThe reader can follow the story and there is a clear purpose for each character in the story./5
AccuracyAll 3 graphing families are represented in a purposeful way. Note: you are welcome to do more than required here. If you include extra families, you will receive bonus points./5
ArtistryWe are all artists in our own way. To get full points in this category your story or poster needs a consistent artistic focus. The style should be evident throughout the work and not taper off toward the end./5
SubmissionTo receive full credit in this section you need to submit your project using one of the following: video, attached documents or photographs or physical drop off if that is your preferred method. You must also complete the Delta Math assignment. (Due Friday April 24th). That is worth 3 points of this 5 point section./5

My example story

To demonstrate the idea to my class, I wrote a story about my family’s experience during Covid-19. It is a true story featuring some of the highlights of our early time during this pandemic. We are a family of quadratics and other families are introduced with some of the characters.

My story

Student projects

I was blown away with what the kids turned in. As the submissions started to arrive, I was so excited!! Many had a great time with this. I enjoyed reading the different directions they went with this project. I received permission from several students to share their work. Select the links to view their projects.

Quadratic Formula Song

Normally when we learn in our actual classroom space when we get to learn the Quadratic formula in Algebra, I have the song playing as the students come in. This is not my original idea – in fact I learned the song when my daughter took Algebra. Her teacher played it day in and day out for them.

This year we were in our virtual learning environment when it was time to learn the formula. Naturally I still wanted to follow the tradition and play the song. However, when I went to find the song, I found A LOT of songs. There was the catchy, familiar version that I know and love set to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel” but there were also so many others out there. People sang it to the tune of Rolling in the Deep, there were rap versions and more. I found a few and popped them into a playlist on my YouTube channel and shared them with my students.

Continue reading “Quadratic Formula Song”

Math Memes

In the spring of 2019 I gave the students an assignment to create their own math memes with partners. These memes have been hanging on one of our hallway bulletin boards for the first couple months of this year. Here is a picture of our board. The kids did a really great job finding inspiration online and then creating their own versions! Check out all the pictures below. You can click on them to get a better view! Continue reading “Math Memes”

Meet our 7th Graders

7th grade is a year filled with a lot of excitement for kids! In Trumansburg it is the kids’ 3rd year of middle school, BUT this year is also the first opportunity to play modified sports. It is a year that kids are faced with balancing their work-load a little more as well. Like any year, they are learning more about themselves and what they enjoy in school.

In our school we have large bulletin boards in our hallways and thanks to our PTO they are now painted vibrant colors. Our floor’s boards are red! As part of 7th grade, I use our popsicle sticks from class to randomly invite two students for an “interview” every other Wednesday during lunch. These students can invite up to 3 friends each to join the group. We enjoy lunch and I bring in a big cookie for each student as they share about their favorite things in 7th grade. Continue reading “Meet our 7th Graders”

Whiteboard Equation Solving

You can use water-based markers on a whiteboard

It was a happy accident last year. A student (or maybe it was me I don’t actually remember) wrote on our classroom whiteboard in marker. Not dry erase marker. Oh dear!! We’ll have marker on our board forever, I thought. Before panicking though I grabbed some paper towels and a water spray bottle and was so happy to see that it came off!!

This mistake prompted me to use it as a teaching tool in the classroom. Continue reading “Whiteboard Equation Solving”

Thank you Middle School PTO for our calculators!

Calculators are a must have in seventh grade math class. Mrs. Dawson has math classes all throughout the day, and has found a system for making sure that calculators are always available when you need them. The students were asked to buy calculators, as well as the PTO kindly buying enough for everyone to use during class. They are a part of our shared bins on every table, which also includes highlighters, pens, sticky notes, scissors, pencil sharpeners and erasers. Most of these items the students were asked to help supply the classroom with, and they are definitely being put to good use. Continue reading “Thank you Middle School PTO for our calculators!”