Archive for January, 2012

We did it!!!! Okay, now I am going to take a little more credit here and go ahead and say that I did it – and you all helped!! After 5 interviews at various schools in Chicago and Philly, I was offered a full-time position with a charter high school in northeast Philadelphia.

The school has block scheduling so at the semester point (January 23rd) students start new courses. This is a huge advantage for me as a new mid-year teacher because although I will be new to the school in January, I will be starting my classes from day one.

I have two blocks of track two 11th grade precalculus and two half blocks of 12th grade remediation/consumer math. I am extremely excited to have both of these courses because I get to have college bound students and most likely non-college bound students. I student taught a section of Business Math for the lowest track of seniors and had a lot of trouble and fun getting to know and work with these students. I also had a lot of disciplinary trouble – but hey, what’s the fun in working in an urban environment if the students won’t keep you on your toes? I am also pumped to work with precalculus students because I want to push myself at challenging students more often and making sure I am contributing to them becoming college successful.

So now, I enter my plea. What do I need to bring to my new classroom? I mean that both physically and emotionally/mentally. What types of things should be on the wall, on my desk? What should be around to keep me organized? What should be photocopied and what types of procedures and routines should we do everyday – at least consistently in the beginning to start (i.e. warm-up/bell work sheets, exit ticket sheets)? What do I say on the first day? Should I have an icebreaker – I saved this post from Kate Nowak a while ago and really enjoyed her idea. What type of paper gradebook system should I use (my friend prints an excel file for the week and uses a clipboard, I was using a floppy binder with a month of grades and filling in…)? Mathy McMatherson offered this link about getting organized with a lot of feedback on these questions as well.

What questions am I forgetting to ask?

And most importantly (obviously).. do I need to change the scope of my blog from a pre-service, cuz folks… I’m a teacher now!

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I sent out my “rigorous revised lesson plan” before the break and I got a lot of positive feedback from the principals. As I reflect further and discussed rigor more with fellow teachers I realized I needed to go back to Bloom and all of his higher order thinking. I decided to rewrite this lesson plan using the row game model that I found by Kate Nowak (I think she invented it..?!) because it allows for individual practice, self/peer-checking, and a bunch of extra problems should the student finish earlier.

I also edited my do-now and exit ticket to exhibit that higher order thinking as well and put in more questions for the do-now tickets (as modeled by my observations of other staff in the building).

In the end, I was very happy with the revised lesson and so was the department head at the school. I think it still showcased creativity (row game), collaborative learning (working together, helping your classmate), and rigor (higher order thinking, scaffolding between activities).

As I know so many of you are completely fascinated by my job hunting: I am now being flown back out to Chicago by a different school within the same network on Monday – I will be doing a demo lesson for 11th grade pre-calculus on matching basic trig functions to their graphs. I now know I need to use some of the same principles of rigor in this lesson plan and I’ve already begun scouring the blogs and twitter for some good resouces and ideas.  So expect to be flooded with my many questions on twitter as usual (you guys are the best!).

Do- Now:

Row Game:

Row Game (KEY):

Exit Ticket:

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