Thursday, February 14, 2019

Teacher Self-Care

This is a buzz word in teaching right now.

Treat Yo Self, right? However, no amount of manicures, massages, Netflix binge, or sleeping in will help if you aren't setting limits for yourself at work.

Teaching is a stressful job. Teachers plan a lesson, and then differentiate for their students it. These are ways that I have found to practice self-care myself.

1. Say No or Don't Volunteer

It is extremely hard for me to say no OR to even sit in a meeting where someone is asking for volunteers and to not speak up. But! I am not Wonder Women! I cannot do it all, and I am more and more willing to realize when my plate is full and pass when I need to.

2. Don't reinvent the wheel

There are lots of resources out there just waiting for you to use them! Now, best practice is to not just find activities to fill the time you have with students. The things you plan for your students need to have a purpose and truly help your students meet their learning targets.

Where to find resources? My favorite place? Twitter--especially if you are a math teacher. The #mtbos or #iteachmath community has lots of helpful teachers from all over the country. Another place? The teacher down the hall. If you have other teachers at your school teaching the same subject and grade level, you should be planning together. It should make both your lives easier.

3. Focus on a few things a year to work on

I know I start every year with a long list of things I want to learn and conquer. It never works out that I can do it all. And when November hits, I just feel guilty that I haven't done better. Instead, pick 1-3 things you can improve on in a year.

4. Ask for help

Again--that teacher down the hall, twitter, your team leader, your spouse, your friend, your are teaching the future! Everyone should pitch in. In addition to this, stop spending your money! Unless it truly bring you joy to spend your money, find ways to get things donated, ask your principal, use Donors Choose, or don't buy it. There is probably a free way to do what you are trying to do.

5. Don't take it personally

My first year, I took every misbehavior so personally. I came home physically and mentally exhausted. I remember coming home, sitting on the couch, and not moving until it was time to go to bed.

My second year I realized that these little people were still learning how to treat others and were developing their personalities. Looking at it from this point of view, I didn't take their misbehavior personally and instead saw it as an opportunity to teach them. I also got much better at establishing procedures and expectations in my classroom.

6. Find the thing that reduces your stress

My thing? Laying on the floor and letting my kids hug me and climb all over me. Instant stress reducer. Also a good nap.

Your thing might be chocolate bar, a night out with friends, a massage, or a long run. These things shouldn't be the only way to practice self-care, but can be part of your plan!

7. Speak up for yourself

I added this one last after a particularly bad day. I haven't completed this step yet, because this is the hardest for me. We have to be willing to speak up for ourselves and say when something isn't right (or illegal), or causing us stress when it doesn't need to be. In my case, I have a responsibility that is causing me stress and anxiety. It is something that can probably be fixed but....I have to speak up for myself. This risks me looking whiny, ungrateful, not a team player, etc. In fact, I have spoken up in the past at other campuses and it not gone well initially. So I have decided to speak up, or stay silent and hope it changes next year.

All those teachers that have gone on strike have practiced this bit of self-care. They are willing to fight for public education and for better working conditions and pay and speak up for themselves and their colleagues.

How do you practice self-care? Anything I missed?

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Best Ted-Ed Videos

I love Ted Ed videos. They are beautifully done and explain topics in a unique way. I want to share some that cover topics we might teach in math or science.

The videos are not meant to teach an entire concept to students, but rather a way to understand the concept in a more real-world situation.

To be honest, it would be nice if teachers had more time to teach mathematical and scientific concepts in the actually situations and money for better tools. Like the soccer one, how cool would a lesson on force, velocity, and friction be where students figure out the best way to do the impossible kick and take measurements as they go?!

Why can't you divide by zero?
Topics covered: Division, Multiplication, Properties of Operations, and Zero

Why do airlines sell too many tickets?
Topics covered: Statistics (binomial distribution), probability

Football Physics: The impossible free kick
Topics Covered: Newton's 1st Law, Velocity, Force

The weird and wonderful metamorphosis of the Butterfly
Topics: Metamorphosis

Pangaea Pop Up
Topics: Plate Tectonics

What happens when continents collide?
Topics: Plate Tectonics, Plant and Animal Migration, Fossils as Evidence

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

New Page--Free Resources--Taking Requests

Check out my new page underneath the header --Free Resources--

Anything I post something free on my blog, I will post it there as well so you can see everything in one spot.

Is there anything that you wish you had for your classroom? I'll add it to my to-do list.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Fraction Decimal Percent--Equivalent Numbers Practice Freebies

I feel like it takes students all school year and then some to remember how to convert between fractions, decimals and percents.

In Texas, we start with generating equivalent numbers in 6th grade: the time when some teachers and students think math manipulatives and models are no longer needed. I strongly disagree. I struggled with math in school (which I believe is what makes me love teaching math now) and I don't ever remember working with math manipulatives or math models. No fraction models, algebra tiles, cuisenaire rods, etc. When I started teaching and understood the models myself, I understood the concepts so much better. The first time I saw dividing fractions modeled with cuisenaire rodes in grad school, I was blown away!

All this to say, don't think 6th graders (or older) are too old for models and manipulatives. Some students may not need them and other will. But don't make that call for them.

When it comes to generating equivalent forms of fractions, decimals, and percents, students have a hard time understanding that the numbers really are equivalent. They are different ways to tell the same story. So I always start with models.

At this point students have worked with fractions and decimals and have probably heard to percents, but don't understand what they are. I start with a mini presentation to get the conversation going about what percents are. (Click the link to make a copy to your Google Drive)

And we practice. Over and over and over again. I use notebook pages like this that students can refer to as they practice.

Practice starts simple. I write fraction, decimals, and percent on index cards, pull students to work in small group, give them so dry erase markers and start converting. They work the problems on the small group table and I get to see where students are running into problems.

Fraction Decimal and Percent conversion is a skill that students revisit all year long, so I need lots of different ways to keep students practicing. Download this sheet here  for more practice. 

Other Fraction, Decimal, Percent Resources


Friday, January 11, 2019

Valentine's Day One-Step Equation Escape Room

In my last post I share how to use Google Forms to create a digital escape room.

I made one for Valentine's Day where you can see that in action. I made the task cards in Powerpoint, saved the photos as JPEGs, then uploaded them to a Google Form. I used the Response Validation Option to require students to put in the correct answer before they can move on.

You can download the freebie here

Inside the file is a link to copy the form into your Google Drive. If you use Google Classroom, this allows you to see who completed the escape room. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Digital Escape Room through Google Forms

Has the craze of escape rooms hit your school yet? We started using them for STAAR review last school year and they were a hit. Even if the challenges were something the students would do in a station or as an assignment, suddenly putting it into an escape room made it fun and exciting.

There are a few ways to do escape rooms. On my campus, we've used Notebook from Outlook to "lock" pages and Google Forms available on Google Drive. Even if you have a paper escape room, it is possible to add questions, or question numbers to a google form to have students verify answers and codes themselves.

It is pretty easy to set up on Google Drive. I have some screenshots below to show how to require students to input a specific answer before they can move on to the next question.

1. Start a new Google Form in Google Drive. 

2. Type in the title and the question. Change the answer type to short answer. 

3. In the bottom right hand corner of the question, there are 3 dots. Click on it and select "Response Validation". Also make sure to select "Required" so students can't skip the question. 

4. Once you turn on "Response Validation" several option come up. The one I use most often is to select "Number" and "Equal To". I have also used "Text" but since the option is "Contains" it is possible that if a student puts in ABCD but the answer is really BCD, google will say it is correct because their answer contained the correct one. There are ways around it, but using numbers causes less errors. 

5. Put in the correct answer and type in your Custom Error Text. If you don't type in a custom message, the students might not know they need to fix their answer. 

Continue adding questions. You can actually type in all the questions with open-ended responses or just put the question numbers and the correct answers and students fill in from there. 

I'll share some more ideas for Escape Rooms in another post--like what type of activities make good escape rooms!

If you are interested in some pre-made escape rooms, I have some in my TPT Store here.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Moon Phases, Seasons, and Shadows TEKS 4.8C

5th grade science teachers in Texas need to spend some time reviewing/reteaching some 3rd and 4th grade science TEKS in addition to the 5th grade TEKS. 

Science TEKS 4.8C says "Collect and analyze data to identify sequences and predict patterns of change in shadows, seasons, and the observable appearance of the Moon over time."

This TEKS has been tested once in the last 4 years and it was over tides--which was dropped from the TEKS this year. It isn't enough for students to know what causes these events but they should be able to look over data and predict. 

Moon Phases
This video shows all the moon phases from 2017.  
  • Ask students what they notice and wonder after watching the video. Do they see a pattern after watching it?
  • Give students a calendar with some of the moon phases filled in for the month. Have them complete the calendar based on the pattern they see. 
Use this file to assess what students remember about the different seasons. There are 24 cards. Give each student one card and they can walk around the room meeting up with their classmates. When they meet another classmate, each students will share the characteristic on their card and discuss what seasons they believe it belongs in. At this point, they can switch cards and then find another partner. At the end of the activity, create a chart and have students place their cards in the correct season. 

Students need to understand how shadows are formed (because light travels in a straight line and when light hits an object, that object may block the light) and they need to understand that shadows form a predictable pattern. You can put an object outside and predict where the shadow that object creates will be. 

This activity lets students practice where the shadow is. It also doubles as an activity for 5.8C which is about Earth's rotation. Place the page with the tree in a sheet protector. Have students label the time for each of the Sun's position. Then have them draw where the tree's shadow will be with a dry erase marker at any given time. 


All three of these patterns can be summed up with this free foldable found in my TpT store. 

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