Wednesday, July 15, 2020

To Be or Not to Be: Hybrid Plan or Full Distance Learning

At the beginning of the summer, we received a return plan for the fall which was a "Hybrid" Learning schedule. In this "Hybrid" schedule, students would be in A and B blocks (half the students in each class would be in the A block and half would be in the B block).  The days were split into even and odd periods.  In this plan, students would be coming to school once a week for 80 minute blocks in each class.... This year I will have 180 students..... I would essentially see each of my students once a week for 80 minutes.  The rest of the time they would be doing virtual learning at home. That was then.... 

This is now.... As California continues to deal with COVID-19,  our district has still not locked in a final plan and is considering going to Full Distance Learning.... I decided that I needed to start thinking about what to do for this school year and come up with some sort of plan. I  decided to create a plan that would work with the "Hybrid" Learning Schedule or with Full Distance Learning... I started with creating a normal pacing calendar for the year.  I am using this pacing calendar to determine which concept the students will need to learn each day.  

Once I figured out what students needed to learn each day I needed to focus on how they would learn the concepts each day.  Normally my classroom structure consists of: a collaborative team spiral review warm-up,  color-coded guided notes,  guided practice, and independent practice.  Two things I have to change would be the collaborative team warm-up where teams share one whiteboard and the color-coded guided notes where students share color pencils.  I also thought about how the classroom environment will be different with social distancing in place and all of us wearing masks.   

I decided to start with a plan for the "Hybrid" Learning schedule that could be adapted to work with Full Distance Learning.  Students would only be with me in person once a week, so I needed to come up with a plan to keep students on track and still learning on the other 4 days that they were not with me.  At first this was the tricky part.  How could I teach students the same thing when they were with me in person on different days. I decided that it would be best to have all students doing the same lesson each day.  And when they were not with me in person, they would do that lesson at home.  If they were with me in person, they would do that same lesson at school.  The difference was in school they would be able to get extra help from me on the concepts as they were working on them. 

This plan needed to be super structured. Something that the students could do when they were not with me. I came up with an idea that would be structured to help guide the students through each lesson on their own. My idea has two parts:  A Google Slides Lesson for each day. And Distance Learning Workbook paper packet that I am having printed for each student to take home with them. 

My Google Slides Lessons
I created a Google Slide Lesson Template to use with each day.  The Google Slides lesson would be assigned each day and would give them explicit directions on what needed to be accomplished for the lesson that day.  

I have 180 students so I will not be able to look at every students Google Slide Lessons.  The Google Slide lessons are meant to give them the structure for the lesson and I have incorporated ways that would allow me to easily "Check for Understanding".

Here is the Google Slides Lesson Template that I created.

The title slide for each lesson.

It was important to me to continue to do the spiral review.  I needed a way to check if the students were staying on track with the past concepts. So I created a Google Form for each spiral review.  This would allow me to see all of my students answers on one document.  I even set the Google Forms to self correct the problem.  The students will click on the link for the Google Forms on this lesson slide.  Here is the link for an example of my Google Forms Spiral Review .  

On the days that students would be doing Guided Notes, they will get this slide.  I am creating the videos for their Guided Notes in the Explain Everything app.  I prefer this method for recording and editing of the videos. The slide will give them the directions for the assignment, and will have the video.

After the students take the Guided Notes with the video, they will do 4 Guided Practice problems.  They will do two "Do It With Me" and two "Now You Try" Guided Practice problems.  The problems will be done with another video.  When they do the "Now You Try" problems, they will be directed to pause the video, try doing the problem, and then watch the video to check their problem. The slide will give them the directions for the assignment, and the video.

On the days that students do not do Guided Notes, they will just do Guided Practice Problems. 

After the students finish the Guided Practice Problems, they will be doing 8 Independent Practice problems.  I plan on using various platforms for the students to use to access the practice problems. So I made a different slide for each one, depending on which platform I assign that day.  

The slide will give them the directions for the assignment, and the link to get to the practice problems.

The last slide is slide for the students to reflect on their learning for the day.  They will choose the emoji that represents their understanding of the concept and explain why they chose that emoji. 

The Distance Learning Workbook Paper Packet
This is an example of one of the lessons in the Distance Learning Workbook paper packet that I created for the students to use with the Google Slide Lessons each day.

The packet includes a page to do the work for each Spiral Review problem. 

The packet would include a Guided Note page for them to complete with the video.

The packet would include a page to do the work for the Guided Practice with the video.  In the next unit I would include graphs when graph paper is needed.

The packet would include pages to do the work for the Independent Practice problems. 

I have completed all of the lessons for the first three weeks of school, Unit 1a - Linear Equations.  I am working on Unit 1b- Linear Relationships which will be the rest of the 1st quarter.  I feel that this plan is the best way to keep the students on track with their learning.  This plan will work with either a Hybrid Learning Schedule or Full Distance Learning schedule.  

I have a plan for common assessments and CAASPP IABs if we are in a Hybrid Learning Schedule.  I have not decided what to do for those if we are in Full Distance Learning.  

For now, knowing that we are weeks away from starting school in either a Hybrid Learning Schedule or Full Distance Learning, this is the plan I will be using.  

Here is a link if you would like to make a copy of my Distance Learning Google Slides. 

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog post.  :o)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

COVID - 19, Abrupt Changes and Distance Learning "Just Like That" - A Reflection on Last Year.

I can't believe we are still in this nightmare that started in March... I know I am not alone in my experience with all that has happened with schools, teaching and COVID-19.  I am still trying to come to grips with the sudden changes last school year and the loss of so many experiences with last year's students ... "Just like that". :o(

I remember back to that weekend in March. I spent the weekend planning all of my lessons and was ready for the week. Students were supposed to be taking a benchmark.  I was excited to see how much they had learned. Then Sunday of that weekend, "Stay at Home" orders in California were given... It was sudden... Just like that.... Notified by our Superintendent in an email.... Teachers were given that week to accept the new reality and to create a paper packet for (Phase 1) of "Distance Learning".  In (Phase 1), our students were given packets with work for three weeks.... Students would work on the packet and turn it in at the end of (Phase 1).  Teachers were responsible for daily student wellness checks.... I had 120 students.  Trying to get a hold of students was the most difficult part... (Phase 1) lasted three weeks.... 

The "Stay at Home" orders in California continued...  We now had to plan for the next three weeks, (Phase 2).  In (Phase 2) we were now switching to all digital "Distance Learning"... Our amazing tech department managed to get Chromebooks and/or Wifi to students who didn't have them.  8th Grade Math decided to continue the learning of new concepts, in hopes to help prepare them for high school.  

For the digital learning lessons, I decided to make weekly Google Slides to guide the students through the daily lessons.  My slides were very methodical and structured.  Because students were working in a self-paced manner and were logging in at different times, it was important that the students could work through the slides on their own.  The slides had videos made by us explaining the concepts, and activities to practice the concepts.  I would check in with my students regularly through GoGuardian, I would do chat in Google Slides to help the students if they were stuck.  Students would message me on Hangout for help....  I tried to do class Zoom meetings, but it never worked out because students were always on a different times.... Again, the hardest part was the regular student wellness checks and trying to contact students who were not checking in or doing work.....  I reflected at the end of (Phase 2) and realized that the way this all  happened was not ideal in any way, but on the bright side, students who were logging on, watching the videos and doing the practice were learning. We continued this process for (Phase 3), which lasted the last five weeks of school.  

Not only was the every day teaching different, so many things were different when we went to distance learning.   We did all of our weekly staff meetings through Zoom..... We did our weekly PLC Meetings through Zoom.... My department actually met in a lot of "On the Fly" Zoom meetings each week to help each other cope and to have some sort of normalcy.  There were so many missed experiences.  There were no end of the year activities.  No yearbook signings, no graduation, no spring carnival, no CAASPP summative test....

Ending the official school year was the most difficult part. Teachers were not allowed to go onto the campus during this entire time.  I hadn't been to my classroom for months.  We were finally allowed on campus for a couple of days to clean our rooms at the end of the school year....  This was an experience I would not wish on my worst enemy.  The custodians had already started summer cleaning the rooms before teachers were allowed back on campus.... When I got to my classroom to pack up my stuff for the summer, I realized they had already piled all of my classroom stuff into the corner to clean the carpets.... They not only piled all of my classroom furniture, they piled all of my stuff... My papers, books, teaching supplies, my plants... everything.  It took me hours to pick through the pile to get all of my materials and personal items to pack away for the summer....  Not an ideal way to pack my classroom and end the year... :o(

Summer officially came....  Leaving me mentally exhausted and left with a lot of unknowns about the next school year...  I tried taking a mental break from all things school related, but was not able to escape the horrible reality unfolding every day.... I have been at home for so long, I don't even know what month it is any more.... All I can say is that so far I am surviving the "New Normal".... Wondering when the"Old Normal" will be back... 

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog post... Stay safe....

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Blogging Hiatus

Wow.... It has been a long time since I have had time to blog and I have really missed it.  A lot has happened in the last year, and unfortunately I just never had the time to make it to my blog.  I tried to at least keep up with sharing on Twitter, but I even had trouble keeping up with that after a while... :o(

I usually blog a lot over the summer, reflecting on the previous year and sharing my ideas for the next year.  Last summer was the exception....  After 15 years, I decided that it was time for a change, and I bought a new house in another town....  I spent all summer, going through the moving process...  My new house closed the same week that school started.  I started moving little by little, but I was not able to fully move until a month after school started.... After I finally moved,  I then had to spend the next two months fixing up my old house and get it ready to put on the market.... This again consumed school nights and weekends.... So when I wasn't planning for the next week, I was either unpacking at my new house, or at my old house fixing it up.  I finally got my old house on the market and sold it in November....  And then in January, my father ended up in the hospital and it took me 3 months to get him back home....

This year, I also started a new position at school....  Our district started a new "Coaching Model" and instead of having full time instructional coaches, they have teachers/instructional coaches. Teachers teach half the day, and instructional coach the other half of the day....  All teachers/instructional coaches are also department leads.  (I had experienced instructional coaching the year before, but only one period a day... Our school still had a full time math coach, so I was still able to maintain teaching as my focus.)  I never envisioned how overwhelming it would be to take on the position as teacher/7th and 8th Grade Math Instructional Coach.... I had 7 teachers in my department, 3 which were brand new teachers, never been in the classroom.  I had a lot of responsibility as a coach, including the curriculum.  I learned that I have more success with the teachers who are open to coaching and did not resist.  :o(

All in all, this was by far the most exhausting year I have ever had.... I had a lot on my plate, and tried to remember to maintain a focus on my teaching and my students. This was easier said than done.  I would teach my two blocks of students in the morning, 1st/2nd and 3rd/4th periods.  I was technically an instructional math coach 5th period and 6th period because I had prep 7th period.  I rarely used my prep period and if I wasn't subbing during 7th period, I was in the classrooms coaching, because this was the toughest period of the day for most teachers.... Every day, 1st lunch and 2nd lunch fell during 5th period.  I never took a lunch and usually had a working lunch because during 5th period I would either have students coming in for help, to make up work, or other teachers asking for help during their prep or lunch.... After school was the toughest because I had to figure out which hat to wear and that was very exhausting. Was I in "Coach Mode", "Lead Mode", or "Teacher Mode"?... I had so many meetings to attend regularly.... Coaches Meetings, Leadership Meetings, Curriculum and Instruction Meetings, IEP meetings, and 504 meetings. I had to have department planning meetings for 7th grade math and 8th grade math every week  and I needed to do intervention with my students on a regular basis.... And after school I still had to also do my regular teacher duties such as homework, grades, get my room ready for the next day, supply orders, phone calls home, yard duty, answer more teacher questions, and regular visits from past students. 

Even though this year was overwhelming and exhausting, I am very thankful that I was able to persevere and keep my focus on my students and my teaching.  I am so proud of my students this year and the success they had on the CAASPP Summative Assessment.  My students rocked it more than ever this year.  Hard work does pay off... :o)

Next year, I will be teaching less and coaching more.... I am hoping that next year will be less exhausting and that I will be able to maintain my blogging more....  Until then, this summer I plan to update my free resources on my blog and catch up on some blogging about my lessons, and ideas for next year.... :o)

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog.... :o)

Monday, February 20, 2017

My Socrative Math Land Amusement Park Team Task

I know it's been a while since I have blogged and shared my classroom ideas, but I have been super busy with my new part time TOSA role as an Instructional Coach, as well as my normal duties as an 8th Grade Math Teacher.  :o)

I did some really great things with my Pythagorean Unit this year. Since I don't always have time to blog, follow me on Twitter and you will see everything I do.

Today I wanted to blog about my Math Land Amusement Park Team Task.  This has always been one of my favorite Team Tasks.  Originally, this Team Task was created as a paper task.  A couple of years ago, I made this Team Task into "Digital Task Cards".

My Socrative Math Land Amusement Park Team Task

Changes to the Team Task This Year
This year instead of having the students plot the points, I created the Math Land Amusement Park Coordinate Graph for the students.
My Math Land Amusement Park Coordinate Graph File. Feel free to download and use.

Team Task Structure
In this Team Task, the students took turns being Team Mathematician.

The Team Mathematician would:
- Facilitate the problem.
- Read the situation card to the "Team".
- Use the Amusement Park Key to find the points needed.
All Team Members would discuss and complete the problem as a Team.  Each Team Member would do the work on their own graph, and their own whiteboard.
The Team Mathematician would:
- Ask all of the Team Members if they agree before the "Team" enters an answer.

Math Land Amusement Park Attraction Key:
Math Land Amusement Park Attraction Key File. Feel free to download and use.

My Socrative Math Land Amusement Park Team Task Digital Task Card Examples

Math Land Amusement Park Team Task:  Feel free to use. :o)
Socrative Code: SOC-26989390
Socrative Link: Math Land Amusement Park Team Task Digital Task Cards

A Blast From the Past
If you would like the students to plot the points for Math Land Amusement Park, feel free to use this file from last year with the coordinates for each attraction.
Math Land Amusement Park (Part 1) Graphing the Points File. Feel free to download and use.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog... Feel free to leave feedback... :o)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Interactive Math Poster Activities

My students love doing My Poster Activities in my math classes.  I like the poster activities to be self paced, so I usually create the My Poster Activities in Showbie or Socrative. This allows my students to work through the activity at their own pace and allows me to help answer questions and clear up misconceptions throughout the activity.

Here are a few of the "Poster Activities" that we have done this year in my 8th Grade Math Classes.

Linear Relationships: Proportional and Non-proportional Relationships 

My students were struggling with determining when Linear Relationships were Proportional Relationships and when they were Non-proportional Relationships, so I created this poster activity to help the students see the similarities and differences between the two Linear Relationships. The key to this activity is the color-coding.

Students cut out the situations, tables and graphs and followed the task directions to create the poster. As the students completed each step, they answered questions in Socrative.  They used the color-coded "Sticky Notes" to explain how to determine Proportional and Non-proportional Relationships in situations, tables and graphs.

My Download:

My Socrative Code:
My Proportional/Non-Proportional Relationships Poster Activity: SOC-25465286

My coordinating color-coded wall charts for Linear Relationships.

Function Figures Poster

We had a very limited time to focus on nonlinear functions, so I wanted to create an activity that would help the students remember the various types of nonlinear functions. I got this idea from @Radical4Math's Function Girl Posters at

When I saw her Function Girl Posters, I knew I had to make her posters into Socrative "Digital Task Cards".

After the students completed my Socrative "Digital Task Cards" on Function Girl, they made their own Function Figures Posters in my Showbie Function Figures Poster Activity.

My Socrative Code:
Function Girl "Digital Task Cards"- SOC-24563972

My Download:
Function Figures {Student Copy} Download

My Download:
My Function Figures Poster Activity Showbie Download

Elimination Word Problems Poster

This is just simple poster activity for the students to show what they know about elimination and word problems.  Students set up and solved introduction elimination word problems and then used "Sticky Notes" to explain the solution in the context of the real world situation.

My Socrative Code:
Elimination Word Problems "Digital Task Cards" - SOC-25184104

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I have inspired ideas for your classroom.
Feel free to leave feedback... :o)