Saturday, September 6, 2014

Two weeks down!

How is it possible that I've already been in school for two weeks?  I am not really sure, but I know that time is passing by at a rapid speed.  I have a few things that have changed this year. 

1. I moved to a different classroom.  The new room is many times superior to the old room.  My school was originally open concept with large areas for 4 classes that have since been divided with metal walls.  Two interior classrooms are on the hallway with no natural light and act as a hallway to the exterior classrooms that actually have windows and outside doors. I moved from a large interior classroom shaped like a trapezoid with no closet to an almost-as-large rectangular classroom with natural light and no one passing through my room.  It's been great so far.  I miss two things about my old room: my amazing next door neighbor who was great to talk to between classes for a moment of sanity after a rough class and being on hall duty so as to get to see all of the students passing by. 
2. I took on the role of grade level team leader.  This means I get to organize our weekly meetings and act as a liaison to the administration.
3. Curriculum.  There will be a year, eventually, when none of the curriculum changes from one year to the next.  I'm on year 7 and that's not happened yet.  I would just like to get better at one curriculum instead of constantly changing what I'm doing.
4. I am buying a house this month.  I saw it and put in a contract the weekend before school started.  I will close at the end of the month.  So, I'm packing boxes every weekend until then! 

On a totally different note, I wanted to say how much I'm enjoying my students this year.  I have confidence it is going to be a great year.  Unfortunately, they've already realized I'm nice.  Crud.  Can't I have them fooled just a little bit longer?

I assigned my students the “Numbers About Me” project that I first heard of from Sarah at Everybody is a Genius. This is my second year giving the project and I feel like my students’ creativity came out much more this year.  Last year, I got a lot of “my birthday is…” and “my soccer jersey number is…” but this year the kids have stepped up the game and gotten creative, some actually doing math to figure out facts. 

Here are some of the clever ideas I’ve seen:

·      BMI

·      Name ranking based on Social Security information

·      Birth weigh

·      Height as a portion of a mile instead of feet and inches

·      Ethnic heritage

·      Food consumption (“I once ate 5.5 tacos” or “I usually eat 3/8 of a pizza.”)

·      Fraction of the population (“I am 1/x of the people to live in our town.”)

·      Age in decades instead of years

·      Sports stats like batting averages

·      “Once I spent 3 hours straight on FaceTime.”

·      Number of minutes spent in an airplane this summer

·      Miles from home to favorite summer vacation destination
One reason I love this project is that I get to know what students want to tell me about themselves.  If they're not comfortable sharing a certain statistic, they don't have to.  Said differently, I learn what my students value.  Many of them had photos of their siblings on their notebooks; those are students whose family is really important.  I had a student lose a family member the week before school started.  It was heartbreaking to see "There are x people in my family" on that notebook because I know how painful it must have been for the student to write that sentence. Other students focused on their sports stats; I know they're serious about being athletes. 

How do you get to know your students at the beginning of the year?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B


  1. Wow, your students were very creative with their number facts! How did you present it so that they were so creative?

    1. I can't take ALL of the credit. I have some out-of-the-box thinkers this year.

      Here's what I did. First, I presented students with my notebook cover as a way of introducing myself to them. I tried to include some mundane facts (shoe size, birthday) as well as some that would really tell them something about me that they might not have guessed (charitable work, travel stats). Then, I showed them two notebooks that students left me at the end of last year. I told the students right away that the ones that kids left for me were not even close to being the best ones I saw last year, but they did meet the requirements. Then, I passed out the directions and rubric (linked in the main post) and went over my expectations, referring back to my notebook to show them how I had met the criteria. Next, students were given time to brainstorm facts they could use and we shared some of these out with the class. I did mention in each class that I was looking for interesting facts so I could get to know them better. I explained that almost everyone wants to tell me their jersey number and that I was hoping to learn more obscure things. I had a few students turn in their projects early and I was sure to heap praise on their interesting facts in my comments, knowing some classmates would also read those comments. I also suggested to my classes that they talk to the students who had turned in projects early if they had questions because those students had done a really nice job.

      All that is to say that I still read plenty of, "I have 3 cats," and, "I am the 2nd oldest child in my family." But, most of the students framed themselves in an interesting way.