Friday, August 31, 2012

For Ladies Only

This summer, I broke down and bought a Groupon for a facial.  I've never had one before and was very curious about the experience.  As much as I enjoyed the treatment, it was a small piece of beauty advice I got from my aestitician that made the experience worth the money I paid for it.

I have oily skin and my makeup tends to absorb into my face by 10:00 every morning.  I have used many types of face primers and most recently have been wearing one by Bare Minerals.  I think I pay $25.00 for one ounce. 

Anyway, this kind lady recommended that I try a product called Monistat Chafing Relief Powder Gel.

As skeptical as I was, I went to Target and found this tube which cost me $4.46 at Target.  I couldn't believe how it made my skin feel.  It truly did everything she said it would.  I put about a dime size on my face and let it dry.  I applied my foundation a few minutes later and it gave my makeup a flawless, matte look that lasted all day.  I will never go back to expensive primer again.  Try it, I think you will like it!  Just be sure you don't accidently buy the Monistat for yeast infections.  Not sure what that would do to your face!

I also found some reviews here, if you'd like to look at some more user opinions.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day Reflections 2012

Sorry for the boring nature of this post, but I am primarily writing to myself  so I can remember next year, what I did on day one. What went wrong,  what went right, what I'd change, and what I would leave the same.

To be honest, today was just so-so for me.  As I am recovering from foot surgery, I am not 100% either physically or mentally.  My doctor wasn't crazy about me going back to work after only two weeks, but I promised to be good and keep my feet elevated as much as possible.

Here was my initial plan.  Notice how I planned down to the minute.  What a joke!  You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. 

1.  Students Enter/Sit Where they want and begin filling out the Birthday Card (5 min)
This activity went OK.  I love the birthday cards.  This is the 2nd year I have used them.  I have a special bulletin board I put them on.  At the beginning of every month, I make up some little birthday cards for the students and attach a package of skittles.  The kids love to have their birthday recognized in front of the other students. 

2.  Teacher/Class Introduction (5 min)
Not sure what I was thinking when I planned the five minutes.  I love to talk and easily got distracted in each class talking to them about myself and why I became a teacher.  Most of the classes wanted to know all about my foot and even asked to see pictures of the scars (which I didn't show!)  Next year allow at least 10 minutes

3.  Students place themselves in alphabetical order by their first name, then I pass around the roster sheet for students to fill in their names.  I will then use this to make my seating charts. (5 min)
Again, five minutes for this activity was a complete joke.  Could not believe how difficult this was for my 9th graders, but the juniors did very well.  BTW, this is my first time to order students by first name.  This process was recommended to me by another teacher as a quick way to learn names.  I could already tell a huge difference in the number of names I knew at the end of the first day.  So overall, I will keep this activity, but allow 15 minutes for it next year.

4.  Discuss Supplies (Binder must be ready by Tuesday-Test Grade)  (5 min)
In reality, this took about 10 minutes

5.  Parent Homework  (5 min)
This activity also took about 10 minutes

6.  Syllabus (1st Page only) (10 min)
Did not get to

7.  Activity:  What Math Number Am I??  (10 min)
Did not get to

8.  Weighted Averages activity (10 min)

Did not get to

Made 4 Math Inspired Projects

Thanks to my foot surgery, I've had plenty of time the last few weeks scouring blogs and looking at classroom setup ideas.    I have been so inspired by many of the Made 4 Math posts and have been  itchin' to get in my classroom and try some of these ideas out for myself.  Since I'm supposed to stay off my feet, I enlisted my mom to go to my classroomm with me and  help me with a few of the Made 4 Math Projects.  There are still many more ideas I want to try, but these will probably be the only two I will have time to do before school starts on Monday.

Mrs Simmons over at Mrs. Simmon's Blog inspired me with this great idea.

Here is my mom and I's take on Mrs. Simmon's great idea.  The only thing I would do different would be to center to the board under my name.  Unfortunately, I found these cute letters to put up after the board was done, and I didn't feel like redoing the entire thing.

Every year I get dinged on my evaluation for my incomplete objectives.  Don't tell anyone I said this, but it just seems like there are more important things to teaching than making sure your objectives get written properly on the board.

Well this year, I am determined to do better.  When I found this picture, last week, I immediately printed a copy of it and showed it to my mom and asked her to help me replicate it.  I am so sorry that I can't remember which blog this came from so if this is your bulletin board, will you leave me a comment so I can link to your blog and give credit where credit is due?

We didn't have any of the cute colors of painter's tape, but we did have some cheap back to school border that we found at Walmart of 0.88 a package.  I'd like to take credit for this board, but really my mom did all the work since our freshmen orientation was held Friday morning and I was busy handing out supply lists and meeting my new students while she put the board together.  I love how it came out!

Here is my classroom door

A random bulletin board of family pics

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Favorite Way to Stay Cool in the Summer

I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful areas of Texas.  The Texas Hill Country is known for its beautiful rolling hills and sweeping fields of colorful wildflowers in the spring.  One thing you might not know about are the beautiful swimming holes nestled in and around Austin, Texas. 

In honor of the end of summer, I'd like to show you a few of my favorite places in the Texas Hill Country.  The pictures below are of  my favorite Texas Swimming Holes.  If you ever come to Texas to visit in the summer, do yourself a favor, skip the riverwalk and check out some of these beautiful natural wonders!

Barton Springs Pool-Austin, Texas

McKinney Falls State Park Austin, Texas

 This is a picture of my son, at McKinney Falls State Park
Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs, Texas (right outside of Austin)

This is my son, at Jacob's well in Wimberly, Texas (right outside of Austin)

Krause Springs, Driftwood, Texas (also right outside of Austin)

Comal River, in my hometown of New Braunfels, Texas and where I spend most every Sunday!



Monday, August 20, 2012

Made For Math Monday-Please use the Restroom Poster

Julie, over at I Speak Math inspired me to make my own Pinterest inspired poster.  This was the original poster that I pinned.

Here is my version

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Calculating Weighted Averages-First Day of School Activity

I don't know about you, but every year, my 9th graders have a hard time with the concept of weighted averages.  Even though we go over the fact that their homework is weighted 15%, quizzes 25% and tests 60%, they still have trouble understanding why they can make a 100 on "everything" and still have a 64 average. 

This year, I have decided to do a short activity on weighted averages on the first day of school.  I plan to let them use their cell phones to calculate the averages and the acitivity is designed to be completed in groups with very little teacher assistance.  I plan on spending no more than 15 minutes on this activity.  If they don't finish it, the back will be their first homework assignment.

Here is the activity if you'd like to modify it for your needs.

Friday, August 17, 2012

First Week of School Ice Breakers

I have several Ice Breaker Activities that I use each year.  I try to do a short activity each day for the first week of the school.  I usually look for activities that are short (less than 15 minutes) and allow me to get an insight into student's personalities and interests.  As a bonus, the first two make great wall decorations for my empty walls!

Here are my favorites:

1.  Name Reflection

2.  Bio Pyramid

3.  Get to Know Your Teacher Quiz

4.  What's Your Math Number?

5. M&M Game  (I changed the questions on this game for high school students)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What's Your Math Number-First Day of School Activity

Instead of spending this week organizing, decorating, and cleaning my classroom, I am sitting in a chair with my foot propped up and drifting in and out of a Percocet daze.

Thanks to my foot surgery I am consigned to stalking other people's blogs and marveling at their amazingly organized and beautifully decorated classrooms.  I am chomping at the bit to get into my room and try out some of the neat ideas I've been seeing the last few weeks on "Made For Math Mondays" and Pinterest but I'm resigned to the fact that I will most likely be beginning the year in a bare and undecorated classroom.

The only good thing about being confined to "chair rest" is I have had plentry of time to plan for my first couple of weeks and work on curriculum issues from last year.  What I'm really trying to work out is a deatailed plan for each day of my first week and for the successful implementation of my Interarctive Student Notebooks.  While looking at the activities I did last year during the first week of school, I came across this one that was so successful I want to share it with my readers.
The purpose of the activity is two-fold.  First I want the students to feel comfortable talking with the partner and group they have been assigned to for the first grading period.  The second purpose is to teach the students how to move their desks into a partner arrangement or group arrangement (what I call a pod) very quickly. Done right, the students are able to go from single file rows to groups of four or (pods) in just a matter of seconds.  See this post about how I arrange my room for flexible groupings.

The title of the activity is "What's Your Math Number?"I ask them the question, "What's your math number?" and then I explain what a #1, #2, and #3 using this power point.    I ask them to think about what number they are and why but to not say anything out loud.  After a few minutes of thinking, I then ask them to scoot their desk together with their partner, introduce themselves, and take turns sharing their math number and their reasons for picking this number.  After the partners have a chance to visit, I have them group their desks into their pods and each partner introduces the other partner and tells the group their math number and why.  I was really impressed by the discussion I heard and pleased with how the students followed directions.  At the end of the activity I had all the ones raise their hands and then the twos and  the threes and we joked around a little about each group.  It really seemed to relieve some of the first day tension that many students feel on the first day of a new math class and gave me valuable insight into the personalities of the students in my classes.  I concluded the activity and told them I may not be able to turn all the threes into ones by the end of the year, but I was hoping to turn the threes into twos by the end of the year.  I did the activity at the beginning of the second semester and asked if their math number had changed and many said they had gone from threes to twos over the course of the first semester.

One touching thing happened during this activity.  Last year I had two inclusion math models classes.
In each class I had about 12 students with various learning and physical disabilities.  I expected these students to classify themselves as threes since their disabilities severely hamper their ability to learn math.  Much to my surprise, many of them classified themselves as ones.  Even though to my eyes, they had difficulties, in their eyes, they were proud to be in a "hard" math class and thought the reason they were in there was because they were good at math.  These students were a joy to teach all year long and many of them wrote me sweet notes at the end of the year that I will treasure forever.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Making the Most of Your First Grading Period

There is something about the first of every school year that has always frustrated me.  It seems to me that the first two or three weeks that we spend reviewing topics from previous years is such a waste of time.  Students either enter Algebra I with a good foundation on things like integer operations, distributive property, collecting like terms or they don't.  Two or three weeks of reviewing these topics seems to do nothing for those who are lacking these skills and only seems to bore the rest of the students. 

Last summer, I heard a fantastic speaker at CAMT (Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching) and she challenged us to begin our year differently.   She talked about how many students will give their maximum effort in the first grading period of the year, yet we waste this prime learning time teaching old material.  She urged us to make the most of this maximum effort that most students bring to a new school year by beginning the year with challenging material and fill in any gaps as we went.

When I came back to my campus and said I wanted to skip our "Algebra Foundations" unit also known as Chapter One in your textbook, most the teachers were very opposed to the  idea.  It took a little convincing, but we finally decided to begin the year with the topic of functions.  We jumped right in to rich mathematics and never looked back.

Challenging the students with new material from the first week of school on seemed to help with the complacency that some students seem to experience when presented with material they have already mastered.  I want them to get the idea early in the year that they will need to put forth effort in order to be successful. 

So how did this new approach affect the struggling learners?  Surprisingly, most of the students were able to fill in their gaps as we went.  After an entire year of solving linear equations, inequalities, and systems etc, they became quite proficient in the areas they were weak in when they entered algebra I.   I admit, they are probably still behind their peers when it comes to being prepared for the next level, but I don't think spending three weeks teaching them how to add and subtract signed numbers would have increased their knowledge base. 

So, think about your first few weeks of school carefully.  What can you do to challenge your students and make the most out of the first few weeks?

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