Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Pacing Puzzle... How I Fit It All In

I am linking up with Middle School Math Moments and (more!) for Workin' on it Wednesday.

I have not only been Workin' on it today (Wednesday), but I have been Workin' it all Summer... :o) In my reflection over the summer about last year I have come up with a lot of new ideas for next year. One thing I want to focus on next year is implementing the Math Practices.  I even created new posters to make that next step. I posted about my new posters in My First Monday Made it Linky. 

I want to focus on getting my students to "Think" and to persevere even when it gets hard.  I came across a quote on the web that I am going to use as my class motto. "Learning Isn't Easy... Embrace Struggle, and Grow..."  My goal is to encourage, inspire and motivate every day.

Obstacle #1
Our daily schedule does not allow a lot of teaching time. We don't have a block schedule so I only have 50 minute periods to get a lot of content in.  Wednesdays we have late start so we only have 35 minute periods.  In theory the school year seems like a lot of time, but when you calculate in holidays, professional development days, assemblies, minimum days, etc..... it leaves very little teaching time.  :o(

Pacing and Fitting It All In
I have put a lot of thought into the pacing schedule for Math 8.  Here is a color-coded copy of how I planned our pacing for this year. (As you can see not a lot of teaching days)

This is my 3rd year teaching 8th Grade Common Core and I finally feel like I understand the direction of where we need to go in our curriculum.  Last summer I made tweaks to our first year's pacing and that made a huge difference... But after taking the SBAC Practice Test and Field Test I realized we still needed more tweaks.   I really like how it looks so far... :o)

How I Fit Basketball Sized Information into a Baseball Size Amount of Time
I am very OCD about structure and procedures in my room. I start this on Day 1, and continue through the Last Day.... I have found that structure and procedure is crucial when you are on a limited amount of teaching time.

The key to fitting in what I need to teach is my Collaborative Teams.  I blogged previously about my Collaborative Teams in: My Classroom Structure and My Collaborative Team Tasks. Teaching with Collaborative Teams has been the key to the success of my students.  This is the most effective way to get valuable learning in when class periods are so short, because the students discuss everything.   That mathematical discussion is what sticks with them.  Everything in my classroom structure is based on team discussion.

Starting my period with structure and procedure I am implementing a new idea I designed for the beginning of class every day. I blogged about this idea previously.  My Post It, PROVE It Idea.

Another key to fitting in what I need to teach is my Guided Notes. My guided notes are designed to be given in 10 to 15 minutes.  After giving the guided notes, I design problems that use the strategies I created called: "Recorder/Reporter", "Think and Apply" or "Team Challenge".  All of these strategies require the team to discuss and solve the problem together.

To keep with my structure and procedure and to get my students more prepared for Common Core I am implementing another new idea every Wednesday.  I previously blogged about my Worthwhile Wednesday TASK Idea.  I am excited to try this new idea because I have never done this before.

If I am not introducing a new concept then I design a Collaborative Team Task to practice the concept.   This is also key to how I fit everything in. During this time, I am a "Facilitator" and this allows me to walk around and listen to the discussions and help when needed.   The students learn much more discussing and working together than doing guided instruction with me.

These are some of the ways I set up my classroom to create a conducive and engaging learning environment. I have a lot of new ideas I am trying this year, all of which are a work in progress.  I am not afraid to tweak my ideas to make something that works.  I reflect daily and if it's not working, I figure out a way to fix it.

I recently started my Math Blog as a way for me to reflect and journal what I am doing in my classroom and to learn more great ideas to add to my repertoire.  I also started my Math Blog because I really wanted to expand my PLN.  My own continued learning is just as important to me..... Feel free to join me on my journey as a Middle School Math Teacher :o)


  1. Thanks for linking! I love your color-coded pacing guide! I definitely need to borrow that idea:)

    1. Thanks.... Looking at the Year at a Glance with the color-coding does make it easy to see the big picture... :o)

  2. It always amazes me how much time everyone thinks we have in a day, but in reality...we don't. Like you factor in all the extras and interruptions and it is just downright scary. I love that you are thinking ahead and map everything out. I need to sit down and do that. I vow to do this next week! Lol!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

    1. Thanks for stopping by.... Teachers do have a way of making it work and fitting it all in... That's why we rock!!!! :o)

  3. I'm so excited that you joined #msmathchat! There is clearly so much I can learn from you. Excited for more!

    1. Thank You... I am excited to learn from #msmathchat too... :o)