6:30 am Feeling the “Just another manic Monday” vibe. It is fifteen minutes later than I intended to arrive at school and I’m feeling behind already. I spend the next hour and forty-five minutes building flip charts for the Promethean Board, copying “teacher notes” that I am required to provide to several students as instructional supports per their Individualized Education Plans, and inputting information into two different Individualized Education Plans that I will be running later in the week.
Time for class. No more “Manic Monday”, on to “ Magnificent Math Monday”. This is a running joke with my first period class. They usually come in on Monday tired and bemoaning the fact that it is Monday and they had to come to school. I then proclaim that they must be confused because it is Magnificent Math Monday – time to celebrate because we get to do math which is the perfect way to start a day. I teach Gifted Math 6. They are as nerdy as I am and find it funny.
Each day, my lessons follow the same basic structure. The variation occurs within the confines of each section. We start off with a Math Minute. I use this to get kids focused and started immediately. I also use this as a time to build fluency. Today, I have students do a couple of rational number operations problems (subtraction of positive and negative mixed numbers with regrouping, multiplication of positive and negative decimals). Next, we normally go over homework solutions. We skip this today because their homework over the weekend was to play Lure of the Labyrinth and I checked their progress in the game on-line over the weekend. Then, we move on to our “In” activity. Today, I have students complete a Freyer model vocabulary foldable for Mean Absolute Deviation. We started working with MAD last week, so this is actually something that I am using as a formative assessment. As I walk around the room. I can quickly see who has a pretty solid grasp of the concept and who is struggling. I stop and help each student who is stuck and get them back on track. This has all happened within the first 5 minutes of class. I have also taken a few minutes to talk to my student aides. I get them started on today’s tasks: typing up some Combining Like Terms Equations puzzles, typing up some Distributive Property Equations Puzzles, filing some completed/scored performance tasks in portfolios.
Now, we move on to the body of today’s lesson. Today’s lesson is a continuation of a lesson last week on Mean Absolute Deviation. We start by completing a foldable. The front of the foldable summarizes the high points of the MAD. The interior of the foldable consists of 8 line plots, each of which has a mean of 5. Students must find the Mad for each one and then use the MAD to put the line plots into order from least variation to greatest variation. Last week, they had to put them in order before they knew about the MAD. Naturally, different kids got different results. This provided a cognitive disconnect that gave a reason we need the MAD. Now, we are just in the down and dirty part of finding the MADs.
We complete the front of the foldable together and then work on the MADs using a Kagan Numbered Heads Together Cooperative Learning Structure. While students are working, I circulate, looking for students who have gaps in understanding. I stop and work 1:1 with kids who aren’t getting it. Students discuss their results with their group and come to consensus on the representations relative variation. We debrief as a class. Next, we summarize the MAD (part of the Cornell Notes structure we use within the main page of our Interactive Notebooks). I am feeling happy. Everyone seems to have the concept down. I will verify that it “stuck” overnight with an entry card. I want to wait until tomorrow because I have a couple of kids who have issues with “sticking” – they have it one day and then don’t two days later.
Finally, we move on to the Flashback. The Flashback is a block of 5-10 minutes that I use to re-visit previously learned material. A lot of time, this is differentiated instruction. Sometimes, kids work according to levels of mastery on different tasks. Sometimes, kids who are struggling with a concept work with a partner who has mastered the concept. In order to do this flexible grouping and differentiation, I track mastery levels for every student on every concept that we address. I create mastery sheets that go with each quiz/test to share with kids/parents. I also input the mastery levels into an excel spreadsheet. I then use the information in the spreadsheet to form groups and pairings. Today, we are doing a general review finding equivalent expressions.
Students are playing a game called Odd One Out. It is similar to playing “Old Maid” where the player must find matches. The player left with the Odd One Out card is the loser. The matches are formed by finding cards with equivalent expressions. Some of the cards have expressions in factored form, some have them in expanded form, and some have them in pictorial form. While students are playing, I am circulating and using the activity as a formative assessment, taking anecdotal records as needed.
Reset and repeat 2 ½ times. Fourth period is split in half by lunch.
11:56 am – Break for lunch. I sit down for the first time since 8:15. I eat at my desk while scoring performance tasks and entering them in the gradebook.
Time to teach the 2nd half of 4th period
1:02 pm – Prep Period
I facilitate a Professional Learning Community (PLC). On this particular day, we are looking at a lesson plan for an 8th grade Gifted Social Studies class. We use a Tuning Protocol, which provides structure for the examination of the lesson plan and the discussion surrounding it. We are looking at how the lesson met the needs of the students, how assessment was done, and how differentiated instruction was incorporated into the lesson.
There is a little time left after discussing the lesson, so we return to a discussion of a book that we are studying together. I take the last few minutes of the period to send out minutes of the PLC meeting and the agenda for the next PLC meeting.
2:07 pm – 3:05 pm
Time to teach my lesson one last time for the day.
Time to move into clean-up mode, putting the materials from the Flashback stations away. I also set things up for tomorrow morning, completing the daily agenda, posting the homework on the homework board, getting out the handouts we will use and the station materials for the Flashback stations. I try to leave things set for the next day, just in case catastrophe strikes and I have to be absent.
Next, I am off to meet with my principal to discuss student placement policies.
Next I head for the workroom to make copies. I try to make most of the copies I will need for a unit several weeks ahead of time. I always come back and add things here and there, but it is a lot less stressful to have things done well ahead of time. Then, I am not slammed if the copy machine goes down or some other catastrophe strikes.
Heading home. Time for chores, dinner, and a little family time.
Working on updating my unit plan. I had the unit neatly laid out in a unit plan before I started the unit. Now, I am adding the new modifications/accommodations that I have added based on what I have learned from reading Twice-Exceptional Children. (Our current evaluation system is something that you might call “rigorous” – we must include every modification/accommodation for every student in our lesson plans. Since all of my students fall under the special education umbrella, each of them have some.) I also need to document my reflections for the lessons in the last few days.
Time to call it a day as far as work is concerned. I still have things to do but if I don’t stop now, my brain won’t shut down and there will be no sleep tonight. The rest will wait until “Terrific Tuesday”. Meanwhile, I will read a book. I’d like to work on my quilt a little bit, but my eyes are just too tired tonight.