Friday, March 27, 2015

CUE 2015 Notes & Reflections

I just got back from three awesome days at the Annual CUE Conference in Palm Springs.

Sessions I attended:

  • Applying Best Practices in 1:1 (Cheryl Morris, Andrew Thomasson, Sam Patterson)
    • Slide Deck (see for lots of student creation examples)
    • Students have a digital portfolio on Weebly
    • Autocrat can let students fill out a form and be emailed a document; teacher is still owner (still not sure how this is better/easier than Doctopus; need to explore)
    • Pixlr functions like photoshop (14.99/year for desktop version)
    • (leads to but it's private).  Students send an email and it becomes a blog post on the class blog = awesome!
    • Benefits of puppeting:
      • No Student Faces
      • It's not "them" so they aren't as afraid to make mistakes
    • Quotes:
      • Tech is an invitation to improve pedagogy
      • If you teach them to use it as a scantron device, then they will
      • We must model for teachers how to use the tech as a content creation tool
      • We want students to be critical creators of content.  That they know something and can do something with it.
  • 21st century note-taking (Adrian Lucero & David Allen, GGUSD)
    •  Slide Deck (see for lots of student examples)
    • Taking Notes is useless without review - must review within 24 hours
    • Template Gallery in Google Drive - find this one in the public gallery:
      • Digital Focused Note Template
    • Use UberConference Add-on to Google Docs for live chatting if GHangouts are blocked
    • Tip - fill in powerpoint notes for students already.  They just fill in the columns for questions and their notes.  This allows them to think about what they are talking about and not just rush to copy things down.
    • The questions on the left are not populated by the teacher.   Students can write down questions that are posed by the teacher during class, or ones they actually have
    • Follow-up / Review activities:
      • Add 3 HOT questions
      • Summaries
      • Review and Revise notes:
        • Bullet point / number ideas
        • highlight key terms and main ideas
        • delete anything that may appear extraneous
        • add details you may have missed (can research directly within the Google Doc)
        • identify areas of confusion and define new terms
      • Exchange main ideas via comment feature on google doc
      • Add images, symbols, articles, etc through research tab - also adds citation at bottom of screen!
      • Add hyperlinks to external sources (articles, videos, etc) within notes
    • Notes, Questions, and maybe Summaries are Day 1.  Steps 4-7 are not in order necessarily
      • 7 steps:
        1. Create template
        2. Pre-populate notes from ppt
        3. Students take notes
        4. Students do questions and summaries
        5. Review, organize, highlight
        6. Collaborate with a partner
        7. Synthesize new ideas from the outside
  • WSQing your Way to FlipClass Success (My Session)
    • See my resources at
    • This is the 2nd time I've presented this session, but the first to a non-"flipclass" audience (meaning not all attendees familiar with premises of flipped learning).  Overall, I think it went very well.  I'm giving this presentation again at ISTE this summer, so as always I have a few reflections on changes I'm going to make.
      • Video making:  The session was not focused on this, but taking 2-3 minutes to address it is important in making sure to knock out some common misconceptions
        • Include a 1 minute or so clip of one of my actual videos so people can see what they look like, how they include my face, etc
        • Talk a little more through my video making process; i.e. I pick one day each week to sit down and record them, how long does it take me, etc. 
      • Day in the class - get a 1-2 minute video of a day in my flipped class from previous blog posts
      • Student created problems/videos & blogging - Because I put this under the "review and assessment" part of my flipped classroom workflow, I didn't talk about it since I focused on the WSQ.  However, I need to bring this up when I talk about the WSQ chat discussion ideas because it's a huge part of my class
    • I gave about 4 opportunities throughout the session for attendees to turn and talk to the person next to them about their thoughts, and the volume in the room just exploded.  I was really happy with the level of engagement in the discussion.
    • Closing - need a closing slide with my contact info again, people to follow in different subject areas (it's on my resources page but I want it to be more front and center and make a point about #bettertogether and collaboration).
    • Reference to "living in beta" - we are always refining, reflecting, and adjusting to best meet our students' needs; we are always going back to "what's the best use of my face-to-face time with my students".  Make a point to share that I have my first three years of reflections on my blog, and for those starting out to go back and see what things were like when I was just starting back in 2011.
    • Slide Deck - I reworked it a little bit this time, but I'd like to continue to lessen the text on the slides.  However, I do feel the information is valuable and I know it enough that I'm not reading from it (except student quotes), but having the auditory and visual cues for the audience, especially with the "fire hose" amount of information I am providing during this particular session, is important.  Still need to consider what I want to do with this.
    • Kahoot! - It went over well but SO MANY sessions used it at CUE that I think it was a little overused - is there something else I can model in the session that would serve the same purpose?
  • Jennie Magiera Opening Keynote
    • We are NOT at CUE to get better at Google, or Twitter, or Selfies... We are here to get better at:
      • Differentiating Instruction
      • Supporting Teachers
      • Inspiring our Teachers
    • Compliance does not equal engagement
  • Media Mastery for Maximum Classroom Engagement (Jon Corippo)
    • Don't teach the technical and the academic at the same time.  For example, the first time you use a Venn Diagram, have students compare a Big Mac vs. a Double-Double rather than something academic
    • It takes repetitation for both the technical and the academic to be active
    • "If you're going to teacher them everything at the beginning before they can learn, it's going to be a long year"
    • Slideshare - you can look for shareable/resuable slides for presentations
    • "I'm giving you plenty of time, do a good job" is interpreted by students as "I don't have to start now".  All work will expand to meet the time allotted.
    • Create a "tech rehearsal" BEFORE the day it's due... then have them reflect and fix it.
  • Sway into the Mix (Delaine Johnson)
    • I just gave a JOT (Just One Thing) PD session on Office Mix this week, so I was glad to have a little more playing around time with it. 
    • I still need to play with Office Sway a little more... not enough time :(
  • SAMR SLAMR  (Stace Carter, Lainie Rowell, Julie Garcia)
    • Workshop Agenda and Slides 
    • This was a highly participatory workshop where we thought about ways to make certain activities "move up" the SAMR level.  Once of the biggest things that stood out to me was student COLLABORATION and then student SHARING/PUBLISHING (and receiving feedback from those outside their class)
  •  Redesigning Faculty Meetings (Bill Selak)
    • I was really hoping for some more ideas from the presenters, but this was basically a 15 minute presentation and 45 minute brainstorming in small groups.  I did have some takeaways though
    • A PD planning team gets together once a week to plan the faculty meeting for the next week (9 days in advance)
    • Location matters for your meetings!
    • #nomnom- bring your staff treats - jamba juice, chips & salsa, candy, etc.  Food brings people together!
    • Faculty Meeting Feedback - every single meeting.  Anonymous. 2 questions
      • Was this meeting a good use of your time?  Yes, Meh, No
      • Any Comments?
    • After conferences, the teachers who went have to share one sentence of what they learned.  Follow up with email with even more details and resources
      • *My fellows need to share at EVERY faculty meeting
    • Idea - 10 minutes general announcements.  Then, discussion groups where teachers read and article and talk about it; record takeaways on Padlet or TodaysMeet
    • Idea - Agenda is on GDocs so teachers can add questions and concerns before the meeting so admin can prep to answer them ahead of time.
    • Idea - GForm "What technology would you like to know about?" or "How can I support you in your growth?".  Teachers come back in a month and show what they've done since that time.
  • Formative Assessment Tools
    •  Quick Guide/ Handout of Formative Assessment Tools 
    • Formative assessment is anything that informs the student and the teacher.  It monitors student progress, informs instruction, and promotes equity (the students that are quiet have the chance for their learning to be seen/heard)
    • Tools I hadn't used yet: Geddit (but it's going away...) GoFormative (loving it), ExitTicket (head of but hadn't played with yet), MasterConnect.
    • I am doing a similar session at FlipCon this year, so it was nice to see how this format worked.  She went through 14 tools in an hour and it didn't seem rushed.  She stated the basics of the tools, went over the pros and cons, and then did a quick sample of the audience being students.

    New Tools / Websites / Resources I came across (through conversation or Twitter #cue15)

    There were several sessions per time slot I wanted to attend, so here are some notes and the resources from ones I wasn't at in person but had some great stuff to share.

    • - a new(er) digital formative assessment tool that allows you to include text, videos, images, 
      • Students don't have to create accounts, they will enter their name
      • Results come up live as they are typing or drawing.
      • If students want to see their results, they need to sign up for an account.
      • Students do not need to be added to a class to view an assessment - you can have it accessible with a link or a "quick code"
    • - Fountain Valley High School's site about their Instructional Rounds Program
    • Implementation Plan for 1:1 devices - look at bottom for CUE Presentation Slides
    • Ed Tech Teacher Leadership
      • Started a Technology Teacher Leader (TTL) program - one teacher at each site
    • Fair Use
    • Genius Bar - Resources
      • We have been doing this with our student tech team.
      • Slide 12 - "mid-year lull"
      • Student application sample (want to rethink this for next year)
    • Google Tips: Google Like a Boss 
      • I need to remember to use the filetype more often!
    • Docs to Blogs Resources
      • Great tips on getting started using blogging (Kidblog)

    Sunday, March 8, 2015

    Recent Thoughts on Reflection, Changes, Collaboration, and Coaching

    This is the first time I've written a post and let it sit in my draft folder for a week before posting it.  Every time I read through it again, it still describes how I feel... so I guess it's time to hit "publish"!  It's quite long, so I've divided it into four sections even though it all originally flowed together in one "brain dump" post.

    Reflections on leaving the classroom

    The more removed I am from the classroom, the more frustrated I become with the lack of ability to continually modify, change, and improve my practice as a classroom teacher.  If I wasn't happy with something in the past, I could do something about it the next day, the next week, the next unit, or make notes for the next year.  As it stands now, my work as a classroom teacher is frozen in time, with only wishes of what I could go back and change.  I can't recreate the culture, environment, expectations, and structure that I developed in my class, especially over the last 3 years since flipping, in another teacher's classroom.  I can share strategies and ideas, and we can build lessons together, but it's just not the same.

    I want to see how the lessons and ideas we (me & my fellows) are building together fit into the bigger picture of the flipped learning environment I designed over the last 3 years.  How would my classroom change?  How would the WSQ structure be impacted (or would it)? What parts of my curriculum (SSS packets and videos) would I need to recreate and redesign to suit a more Common Core-ish way of learning?

    I'm leaving all of my curriculum and videos up ( and, but I think they can easily be used in a way that focuses too much on direct instruction and drill/kill and less on the conceptual understanding, problem solving, application, exploration / discovery / inquiry, etc.  That stuff isn't in the packets - and without those activities, students are missing great opportunities to struggle, make sense of problems, make connections, etc.  Over the last 2 years, I began to build more of those activities into my curriculum... but there's just still so much that is lacking and I'm learning more every day new ideas I would want to integrate.  I would have liked to build in some performance tasks - but was always fighting two things: the amount of content to prepare them for AP Calc and the low level of skills that was brought in forcing me to review most of Algebra 2 before moving on. (I'm actually appalled sitting in the Alg 2 and Pre-Cal classes at my new school and noticing just how watered-down our curriculum really was).

    Knowing that I was on a journey of continually refining and changing my practice to improve student learning reminds me that it's okay things weren't perfect in the past.   It's just hard not being able to actually go and make the changes that I want to make.

    Changes I wish I could make in the past... but can't

    Part of my frustration with wanting to go back and change things is now working in a 1-to-1 laptop school.  There is so much more I would do and change with constant access to the devices.  Just a few ideas of things I've worked on with my fellows this year that I would definitely use in my classroom (with more access to technology, of course).
    • Google Drawings / Docs / Forms (drag and drop is awesome on Drawings!) 
    • Padlet - sharing ideas about concepts, summaries on learning, and work created on Desmos
    • Thinglink - adding descriptions, links, and videos to images of different functions, graphs, etc in order to share understanding
    • Socrative / Kahoot (can do on phones, but I didn't learn about Socrative until now)
    • Student Blogging / Creation (could do more with laptops in class rather than waiting until they got home)
    • DESMOS (that should be listed first! So much more modeling, exploration, discovery, creation)
    • Geogebra (utilizing these in exploration much more)
    • TodaysMeet as a way to constantly answer questions and have conversation during class
    • Peardeck for use during WSQ chats or in-class "mini-lectures" or inquiry activities to engage and focus students
    • Diigo for peer review of blog posts as well as for annotating articles / websites on math connections or real life applications.
    • In Class "Blended Learning" stations for students to work through complex topics asynchronously but with my "in person" help present.
    Other "non-tech required" changes I would make based on some of my learning and observations
    • Using Educanon or similar tool (Zaption, EdPuzzle) to add interactivity to the videos instead of "secret questions" at the end of the video.
    • More card sorts and card chains as part of WSQ chats instead of relying on Peer Instruction as often (variety is nice... so is giving students the chance to get out of their seats and interact)
    • Find or design a performance task for each unit
    • Use more 3-Act math tasks, visual patterns, would you rather?, estimation 180, etc activities - especially in my Algebra 1 class, but also find opportunities to use them in pre-calculus.
    • Find DOK Level 2-3-4 problems for each unit.  Focus on those type of problems for WSQ chats and practice problems - the videos can cover the DOK Level 1-2.
    The value of Collaboration and opening the doors of the classroom

    One thought I must keep in mind, however... Would I be coming to all these new realizations if I never left the classroom?  Has broadening my worldview and constantly collaborating / sharing ideas with other teachers led to these new discoveries?  It may not be the only answer, but I definitely think it's a major player in this game.  Collaboration is key in teacher growth, and although I'm the "coach" and the teachers are my "fellows", it's definitely a two-way street.  I have gleaned so much from my time with each of my fellows so far this year (and we still have several months left!)

    In addition, simply being in other teachers' classrooms every week, whether it be observing, co-teaching, or modeling, really opens up your eyes to different strategies and approaches that would work well in your classroom.  Sometimes this even means seeing something taught in the way that you taught it and realizing it may not be the most effective way.  Or, seeing how different teachers react in different situations and realizing there are better ways to handle things than you did.  I have the privilege to have the time to constantly be "a part" of other teacher's classrooms, and they have welcomed me in as a collaborative partner, being open and willing to suggestions or crazy ideas of ways we could enhance the learning environment.  One of my favorite things is when one of my fellows brings up a question or idea and we can just brainstorm solutions or strategies for implementing it effectively. 

    Why I love Coaching

    While this post started off fairly negative, I want to be sure it's clear how much I absolutely love my job.  I love working with teachers, collaborating, sharing ideas, helping them brainstorm lesson ideas, supporting them with the technology needed to enhance the lesson, and deeply & thoughtfully reflecting before and after the lessons with them.   Coaching is such a powerful model of professional development.  I really wish I would have been coached, especially over the last 3 years.  Having somebody to run ideas by, co-plan lessons with, get constructive feedback from - that is gold.  Even though I feel like I've grown 500% simply by growing my PLN through blogging and Twitter, I think with coaching it would have more than doubled that growth.

    So, while I'm frustrated that I can't go make changes in my personal classroom, I have been given the opportunity to learn and grow as an educator through being a coach.  What's most important is student learning, and although my growth is not impacting "my" 200 students that I would have had this year, I know it is impacting my fellows' 1500+ students because of the growth and learning the collaboration and coaching has on my fellows' process of teaching and learning.

    My role has changed.  I can't look back with regrets - I can only continue to move forward and have an impact on the students I am privileged to encounter through my fellows.  And, I am reminded again that no matter how long you've been teaching, or how "well put together" you think your curriculum is, the moment you decide you don't need to make any changes is the moment you should no longer be in education.  If I was completely satisfied with the way I left my own classroom (in terms of teaching and learning), that's a red flag that something is definitely wrong.  I'm so grateful for the chance to continue to grow, learn, and change!

    Sunday, March 1, 2015

    OCMC Learning and Reflection

    I had the privilege of attending the Orange County Mathematics Council 2015 Symposium last Monday, and it was an evening full of great learning.  My only disappointment was that this was the first of these events I had attended - I really wish I would have known about them while I was in the classroom!

    The Symposium is an evening with a keynote and 2 breakout sessions.  Here are a few of my thoughts and reflections:

    Keynote: Chris Shore
    You can see his slide deck linked here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

    • The only way our students will get better is if we get better.
    • The 4 1/2 principles of quality math instruction, which include:
      • Standards - focus on limited number of topics
      • Concepts - teach students to understand, not mimic
      • Substance - higher order thinking
      • Accountability - hold all students accountable for knowledge and performance
      • Rapport - reach before teach
    • The real 21st century skills: "Teach students to THINK and COMMUNICATE their thinking"
      • In the 20th century, we taught students to obtain and retain.  This is no longer important, since the information can be obtained from basically anywhere. 
    • Chris talked about many groups of ideas that have been referred to as 21st century skills, including:
      • 6 Shifts (Engage NY)
        • Focus, Coherence, Fluency, Deep Understanding, Application, Dual Intensity
        • The last four used to be referred to as "rigor', now they are separated
        • Dual intensity refers to focusing on both skills/practice AND application/understanding with dual intensity
      • 4 C's (EdLeader 21)
        • Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity
        • These should redefine learning and school
        • 60% of dialogue in class should be student to student
      • 4 Claims (SmarterBalanced / PARCC)
        • Concepts & Procedures, Critical Thinking, Communicate Reasoning, Construct Model
      • 8 Mathematical Practices (CCSS) 
        • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
        • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
        • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
        • Model with mathematics
        • Use appropriate tools strategically.
        • Attend to precision.
        • Look for and make use of structure.
        • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
        • The 8 Practices are for the students, not the teachers
        • These 8 Practices are the content standards!
        • Resources for teaching the 8 mathematical practices

    • As we looked at all of these, they all came back to students being able to THINK and COMMUNICATE their thinking.
    • What is a Problem?
      • An exercise is something that you know how to do and have the ability to do
      • A crisis is something you don't know how to do and don't have the ability to do
      • A problem is something that you don't know how to do but have the ability to do so... this is where we want our students working!
    • We must have dual objectives in our teaching.  30% of teaching should be notes-oriented (what they should know) and 70% should be task-oriented (what they should do).  Every day we should have both pieces.
      • Yes, we still need some "drill and kill".  But that's 30%.
    • Tasks are problems that are used to teach both content and practices.
    • There are a lot of great quotes on his slide deck from "The New Classroom"
      • In a nutshell, the CCSS expect that, instead of knowing the answer, students must now be able to create the answer, make claims and produce evidence from text to support their claims.
      • Instead of working mathematics problems, students must be able to apply mathematics concepts to real-world situations and write about their thinking in moving to a solution.
      • This change requires a different style of instruction than what many have come to call “sit and get.” 
      • That means that, in most cases, teachers will have to encourage much more student work and student discourse and engage in far less teacher talk.
     Cat Nolan - Give your students purpose to conquer Common Core
    •  She doesn't have quizzes and tests, she has "games" and "practices".  Remember, not all practices are fun, you will sweat and be sore, but it will prepare you for the game
    • Making ONE problem connect with the kids is better than 40 practice problems
    • We aren't here to be managers are homework.  We are there to teach life skills, critical thinking skills, and concepts. 
    • Strategies for "common core-izing" traditional problems
      • Explain your thinking
      • Easy number type question?  Let's use that to solve this.
      • Turn into a statement and analyze
      • Turn into a story
      • Error analysis - where did they go wrong?  Why was it wrong?  How would you do it correctly?

    Nanette Johnson - Fostering Perseverance with Interesting Math Problems
    • We did a few different math problems (see slides for other examples), but the one below is my favorite.  Think about the level of thinking required to complete the problem below vs. doing 40 factoring problems!

    Other great resources I came across:
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