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Get ready, math teachers!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So Texas just released a draft copy of the proposed revisions to the Mathematics TEKS...all I can say is WOW!  There are some serious, and I mean serious, differences between our current TEKS and what they are proposing.  Don't get me wrong...some of it is excellent!  I love that they are including subitizing and number combinations to 10 in kindergarten; explicitly laying out expectations with regard to the three types of subtraction; use language like "unit fraction" in 3rd grade;  and recognizing strategies such as partial products and partial quotients as legitimate means to multiply and divide.  These are things that we've been encouraging our teachers to do already, and now there are explicit expectations from the state that support our work.

Some of the differences...just in Number and Operation?  
  • Place value to 999 in first grade
  • Big shift in emphasis on fractions in second grade
  • Move from place value to the ten thousands in 3rd grade to place value to the billions in 4th grade
  • HUGE focus on fractions in fourth grade (decomposing, finding equivalents, using common denominators to compare)
  • No reference to whole number place value in 5th grade, but of course another HUGE emphasis on fractions (adding fractions with "uncommon" denominators and multiplying and dividing fractions with a whole) and decimals (multiplying and using in quotients).

I haven't had time to look beyond Number & Operation.  When you first look at it, it all looks VERY specific and VERY long.  However, upon closer look you will notice that they've really narrowed it down to three "Focal Areas" for every grade level and then there are 10 - 15 "Supporting Topics for the Focal Areas."  I like helps you see that it isn't really 100 different things that you have to teach, just 100 different things you have to remember when you're teaching those 3 Focal Areas and 10 (or so) Supporting Topics.

But enough about what I think...what YOU think is important, too!  And while I'd love to hear your opinions...the most important thing for you to do is let the state of Texas know your opinions.  The window for submitting comments & suggestions is now through September 30th.

You can find the proposed TEKS revisions as well as information about how to submit your ideas HERE. I'm about to start my list now!!


A Bit of Inspiration for the Start of School

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Teaching is get to have a "new year" twice a year!  To start this school year off, I've come across a video and a blog post that I've found were helpful reminders about the frame of mind I should have as I work this year.  May this year be a year that you teach, love, inspire, and learn!

The 12 Most Unexpected Ways I Relate to my Students as a Back-of-the-Pack Runner As a back of the pack runner myself, I could really relate to this and loved the way the author made some great connections to how we work with a variety students.

And you'll absolutely love this film!

Happy New Year!

Top 20 Teacher Blogs by Scholastic

Monday, August 15, 2011

This has some links to some great blogs if you're looking for something new to follow. It's a little old (from 2009...okay, that's ANCIENT in the blogosphere) but almost all of the links are still good and current!  I like this list because it's broken down into categories such as Best Blog for Hands-On Activities, Best Blog for Art teachers, Best Tell-It-Like-It-Is Blog, Etc.
Top 20 Teacher Blogs by Scholastic

Here's a Prezi all about...Me!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I created this Prezi so that I could share a bit about myself with you...I hope you enjoy it!

Getting Back to School

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Check out this blog for some great ways to use technology those first few days of school!

How Educators Connect with Kids on the First Day of School

And here is a Live Binder with some more great ideas!

10 Online Tools to Kick Start the Year


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I recently completed an introductory course to the world of Web2.0 tools.  The following is my final reflection from that course:

Wow - what a summer of learning this has been!  Just a few short months ago, I would have said that the internet was good for a few things - email, shopping, and Facebook.  Well, I also used it as a resource to look up information for time to time.  However, after attending the November Learning Institute, ISTE, and doing the 11 Tools course, I have had my eyes opened to a whole new world - an exciting world!

There are several resources online that I have come to really depend on for professional growth. I enjoy checking Twitter from time to time using some of my favorite hash tags; I am following several different blogs and using Google reader on my iGoogle page to do that;  and, while I initially found the daily emails from Diigo annoying (so I just deleted them), I have come across some great resources in those emails so I do try to scan it on a daily basis.

One of the things that I would like to do professionally is have a blog that I can use to share information with others.  I've really thought a lot this summer about the need/obligation to be a contributor AND a consumer of information online. I have to admit that, since I do feel so new to this web2.0 world, I really battle the thought running through my head that I don't have anything of value to add to the world out there.  These other people who have well-established blogs...the ones that I'm following...are good enough and why shouldn't I just refer others to those blogs?  But...I have come to think of it differently.  I see my blog starting out as a resource to others in my own little world.  Perhaps it's a place where I can post all of the great ideas that I find...that others may not have the time to investigate & filter through...and share them in a way that I think would work well HERE. And it's okay if there are only a few people who look at it.  If it will help those few people then that is what is important.

As for students...I think that many of the ideas espoused in by November Learning group and through the 11Tools course fit very well with my philosophy of education.  I have always been an advocate for student choice, collaborating, sharing, etc.  I guess the one thing that I've really thought hard about through all of this, perhaps more as a mother of 2 young children than as an educator, is my personal belief that we still have an obligation to raise children who can communicate orally face-to-face with others.  I understand the benefits of giving children the opportunity to collaborate and learn with others around the world...and I "get" that kids are communicating via all of these different mediums whether we like it or not...and I want students who are engaged in what they are learning.  But just like we never migrated to the metric system in the U.S., I don't think we will ever get to the point in our society where we won't need to be able to talk and communicate with others effectively.  Or...perhaps another way to think about it is that those who CAN talk and communicate with others effectively will have a huge advantage over those who cannot. So then they key  - the golden ticket - becomes finding the balance in all of that.

I'm not sure if I've answered all of the "questions" for this tool, but these are the thoughts that I've been pondering the past few months.  I think this is such an exciting time in our world...and in Spring Branch. The other day we were telling our kids about how we would get up on Saturday morning to watch cartoons because they weren't on during the week...and now they can stream most of what they want through Netflix 24 hours a day.  My oldest son's comment was, "I'm sure glad I'm alive now and not then!"  And while I sometimes wish cartoons were only on on Saturday morning, I think I can say the same thing about being an educator.  "I'm glad I'm teaching others now and not 30 years ago!"