Author Archives: somewhatexcitingadventures

About somewhatexcitingadventures

I am a relatively outgoing person and I love to have fun and joke around. I am in love with Jesus and I live my life for Him. Math is my heart and I am blessed to be able to share it with students every day. I am a country girl through and through. I love anything that has to do with the outdoors. My favorites are fishing, hunting, target shooting, and hiking. I also love music. It's definitely the fastest way to my heart! I play guitar and write my own songs. I also love working on cars and watching sports. As for career aspirations, I love teaching and one day hope to be in administration. Kids are the future and we are responsible for making sure they are prepared to lead us!

Learning is a “Kahoot”!

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As I was looking over the responses from the last survey I gave my students over their thoughts and opinions about my class (a scary concept when you consider I teach 8th grade), the most common response was that they wanted to play more math games. I immediately thought to myself, “we DO play math games”…when I can find time. This fueled me to begin a mission of finding math games that I can use in conjunction with lessons. I found a lot of resources, both paper and technology based. Then I found this gem: Kahoot! This is an absolutely wonderful and inspiring piece of technology.

The essence of Kahoot! is that it is an interactive game for students. It can be used before lessons to as a sort of pre-test, during lessons in a formative assessment manner, after lessons as a checkpoint, as a review before a test…the list goes on and on! I still have not explored all the possibilities but I am thoroughly excited about it!

As a teacher, you can choose from existing games or create your own. Then students use a device, log in with the game pin to answer the questions as the game is played on a shared screen (such as projected onto my whiteboard). Here are a few videos for you visual learners out there (like me)!

When I first discovered Kahoot!, I immediately thought of my co-teaching class. Within that class, I have a lot of students who have a hard time focusing. I believe that this will allow them to engage in a lesson or review in a fun way so as to not seem like a “chore” as some of them so kindly put in their survey responses (gotta love them). I also thought about how it could go badly. Yes, the students cannot see each other’s response (which I would greatly appreciate as a student) but I am sure that students would find a way to demean and bully their classmates. This, however, is a struggle in any classroom or lesson so I will not allow that to deter me from using this in my classroom.

In addition to the use in my co-teaching class, Kahoot! will definitely help inject a new level of fun into my regular classroom. Even though I only have 2:1 iPads, students are able to install the Kahoot! app on their phones. The great thing about this is that you can see who is responding and how many. That way, if a student is not using the technology for learning purposes (they would never do that, right?) you know.

Kahoot!, like I mentioned before, can be used for so many purposes. In the article here, the author describes five ways to use Kahoot! in “in the classroom and beyond”. These include: introducing a new concept, reinforcing knowledge, encouraging reflection and peer-led discussion, connecting global classrooms, and challenging learners to make their own Kahoots. The one that really stands out to me is encouraging reflection and peer-led discussion. I love when my students start a heated (but school appropriate and respectful) debate over who is right and why (when it comes to math). I could definitely see my students doing this with Kahoot! All I would have to do is be sure to incorporate a few tricky answers that could easily be mistaken as correct or that include common misconceptions (what teacher doesn’t do that sometimes) and have students take a whack at it. This would definitely open up my more stubborn students. As for my co-teaching class, I think this would actually help some of them to open up and discuss their opinions.

In terms of administration, if I were a principal doing a teacher evaluation and I saw this game being used and students fully engaged,I would be truly excited. I believe that every student should feel successful and not be embarrassed to participate. This app/game allows both of those things. It is everyone’s job in any aspect of education to make sure students achieve their fullest potential and Kahoot!, when used correctly, would definitely aid in that goal.

As you can probably tell, I am more than excited about the new opportunities that Kahoot! will present my students. As with any new technology, be sure to fully test and investigate the uses, implications, and possible side effects before allowing your students to dive in! Pedagogy, learning, and student safety before all else. Happy Kahooting!

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Flipping for Math

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Walking into my pre-algebra classes, the view is sadly unimpressive most days. A typical math period with Mrs. Flint consists of bell work to review previous material, a mini lesson, then collaborative practice over the content while I work with small groups or meander around and help those in need. Just typing that bored me. I do integrate days of math labs (cheez-it squares and square roots, anyone?) and games (scoot with task cards or jeopardy) but I am a very structured person so the aforementioned classroom schedule is more than comfortable (ouch!). You may be asking yourself why I don’t change if I feel that horrible about boreing my students. I could list out 100 reasons but the truth is that those would mostly be excuses. Excuses, as I tell my lovely students, are just like noses. Everyone has one and they all smell. I have, however, taken it upon myself to start exploring other ways of doing things. Where am I going with this you ask? Well, it’s going to make you flip…your classroom, that is.

Flipped classrooms have been a consistently discussed topic in education for the past few years (at least the three that I have been teaching). In essence, a flipped classroom consists of a teacher providing students notes or a video to view at home in order to open their minds and introduce the new concept. That way, the face time in class is more efficient in actual learning rather than lecture. This face time can consist of a wide array of topics and activities and will look different for each teacher and their students. Below are videos that show different ways to transform your classroom into a flipped mentality.

As you can see, this could be revolutionary to some and absolute chaos to others. You have to tailor it to your style and your students’ needs. I have started to incorporate this into my advanced math class and so far, it has been absolutely wonderful. Of course it hasn’t been an entire walk in the park and students did fight it at first but we are growing to love it. Our class time is more efficient and students come ready with exactly what they don’t know. This equips them with the ability to ask a question about EXACTLY what they don’t understand. This is a teacher’s dream! For those who do not or cannot watch the instruction at home or complete the assignment online, they may use my iPads during class to do so. Gone (mostly) are the days of ” I don’t get it” and in are the days of “why do you have to plug in that function and not solve for it”. Glorious.

In order to incorporate this mentality and transform your classroom, technology is a lifesaver! There are various avenues you could take here as well. I am gearing up to begin using Google classroom but right now I am utelizing collaborize and Youtube. These are where I make or find the majority of my videos. I also use Socrative, Frontrow, and Tenmarks for formative assessments and classwork. There are many apps that allow you to record video, assign practice to students, etc.  Here is a wonderful blogger that I follow whose posts helped me a lot!

https://flippingmath.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/my-top-5-flipped-classroom-faqs/

I also found Google to by my best friend when scouring for technology and websites best suited for what I was wanting to do. Here are some of the places I found.

http://www.flippedclassroomworkshop.com/8-great-free-flipped-teaching-resources/

http://www.edudemic.com/guides/flipped-classrooms-guide/

http://www.cybraryman.com/flipclass.html

From an administration standpoint, I believe that this would take buy-in from both students and parents. I have had a few parents who have come to me concerned that since I am having students view the videos and complete the notes at home that I am not doing anything in class besides babysitting. This is far beyond the case! A teacher who successfully implements a flipped classroom mentality uses class time to differentiate, scaffold, and intervene with those students who need more support. That is the beauty of it! Those students who prefer to not sit through lessons because they understand and want to move on, can! Those who need more support and time get that one-on-one time. It does take structured planning, though. As a principal, this could create friction between parents and teachers if there is any miscommunication over the expectations and reality of the classroom time which could create fires that would need to be put out. I would suggest that teachers who are wanting to flip their classrooms discuss that decision with their building principal and make sure they also understand the goals and expectations.

In conclusion, flipped classrooms using technology are a wonderful innovation. They do come with their own setbacks including limited technology in the classroom (I am making it work with a 2:1 iPad setup) as well as students may not have internet at home. If you are going to incorporate this method of teaching, you have to be flexible and account for anything that may go wrong at first because it probably will. They may not be best suited for all educators but the implications for learning, in my opinion, are worth the chaos! As I solidify my comfort level with this in my advanced class, I plan to begin integrating flipped classroom mentality into my other sections as well. Find your niche in the vast world of technology available for this and you will be well on your way!

Getting H”app”y!

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When it comes to technology in the classroom, the thing I think the most about is student response systems. This may be because in my childhood classrooms, we had those giant, clunky student response remote systems. Don’t get me wrong, I loved when I walked into my classroom and the teacher had those out! Looking back, however, I see some of the flaws with them as well as flaws with our current student response systems. The “old-school” clickers have a bad rap for not fostering higher-level thinking as well as teachers misusing them for “formative assessments”. Modern day response systems such as Socrative and Plickers are having the same cons said about them.

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Formative assessment is a PROCESS not an end-all to instruction. In my experience, my teachers would give us a quiz using the clunky clickers and that would be the end of it. Never do I remember my teacher using those responses to better our understanding or change instruction. It seemed as though they used them because they had to but they did not know how to use the information gathered to better their students. In formative assessments, we should be using the information gathered to determine if our current route is working or if we need to backtrack and find another way to visit the information. It is a means of REASSESSING our teaching, not ASSESSING our students’ knowledge alone. With that said, let’s explore how current technology is used.

Socrative is an assessment tool that I personally love to use in my classroom. If you are unfamiliar with this app, please view the video below for an overview. Basically, teachers can create assessments and student responses are “graded” and reported on the teacher dashboard. This is absolutely wonderful if used correctly. Here’s what I mean:

  • Formative assessment – the way I use this in my classroom is for my weekly quizzes. Yes, every Friday my students take a short 5-10 question quiz over the standard(s) we have covered that week. It only takes about 20 minutes of class time to accomplish this. After all my students have taken the quiz, I look at the results and determine who has mastered the standard and who needs more practice or reteaching. I then assign those students who need intervention to my intervention group until they master that standard. We do move on in class if the majority of students showed mastery. If not, the class as a whole revisits the lesson in a new way and with more practice. This cycle continues until the majority show they know it and we move on while the few who still need help come to me for interventions.
  • Higher Level Thinking – I will be the first to admit multiple choice assessments are much easier and convenient to grade. They do not, however, show me that my students can manipulate the math I have taught them, only that they can regurgitate and guess really well. In regards to my weekly quizzes with Socrative, I try to incorporate a few multiple choice questions along with short answer. I also require my students to work out the problems on paper and turn in their work so that if they do miss a question, I can see where they went wrong and fix the error in interventions. Socrative can technically grade short answer if you know EXACTLY what your students will type. Otherwise, you have to grade each individually. This, in my opinion, is a small sacrifice when I consider that my students were required to actually think. Worth it all the way. What I do here, then, is I print off the pdf with student responses and recheck/regrade what Socrative already did for me. This ensures that each student receives the correct grade and I know exactly what I need to reteach.

Plickers in action

Plickers is a fun and innovative way for students to answer multiple choice questions in the classroom. Essentially they are paper versions of the clunky clickers that require students to hold up as the teacher scans the classroom with a device. The app detects and reads each student’s unique and individual “plicker” and records the response on the teacher dashboard. This is a great technology for assessment during a lesson. I have yet to utilize the fun that is plickers but I have seen many demos and participated in a research project centered on their effectiveness. I would have to say that the same goes for plickers as for Socrative. If they are used correctly, they can be wonderful. If not, they can be a waste of time.

In conclusion, there are so many apps out there for student response and formative assessment. It is too easy for teachers to get wrapped up in the h”app”y little world of apps and technology that the effectiveness goes right out the window. In regards to this, pedagogy has to come before technology. If my teachers growing up had realized the multitude of ways in which they could have used the data collected, I’m positive that differentiation would have been integrated. In the same way, teachers today need to fully investigate and test out technology before they bring it to their classroom. Administration must also consider training teachers on new technology if they are purchasing it for the district. Otherwise, it’s not only a waste of time but also a waste of money.

Technology is great but we must be mindful of how we use it. Now go get h”app”y!

Technically Participating

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Student engagement and participation is a key indicator of an effective teacher. Participating in classroom discussions allows students to:

  • Increase their confidence
  • Practice conveying their thoughts and opinions
  • Work collaboratively as part of a group with a common goal

This is a lofty goal in education now as students thrive more on a screen than in face-to-face interactions. How, then, can we as educators integrate technology in a way that will encourage student participation and increase student engagement? A tricky question, indeed. If you were to search something to the effect of “technology for student engagement”, there are over 13 million results. Not to say I sat here and went through each and every one of those, but I did comb through a few dozen as I have been on a search for this myself.

In order for students to participate and engage in discussions, they must feel their opinion matters and that they are in a safe, judgement-free environment. This is where technology can really help! The 1:1 initiative is taking the education world by storm. This new take on education has brought about a plethora of websites and apps that allow students to relay information, give answers, and discuss in a format where they feel more comfortable: technology.

Here are four avenues you can explore for encouraging classroom collaboration and discussions.

  • To a lot of you, this is not a new thing if you have been using any Google platform in your classroom. The ones that I have found to be most effective are Google Docs for collaborating group projects and papers. If you are unfamiliar with how this works, multiple people can be logged in and editing the same document at the same time while also utilizing the chat window to have conversations if they are not in the same room. You can also use google drive for giving students feedback. Here is a great video about using google docs for classroom collaboration.

  • Another great resource for classroom collaboration is Google Classroom‘s discussion board. In my classroom, students are assigned a video to watch and follow along with their notes the night before a lesson. They are encouraged to comment any questions, concerns, or confusions they may have pertaining to the assignment or lesson and their peers can then comment back if they feel they can help. If not, I can comment to answer questions or even wait until class to do so in person.
  • Nearpod is another great way to engage students in lessons. With Nearpod, you can create or search for interactive lessons which students can follow along with using a device (multiple formats supported). Students can answer real-time assessment questions. The results are only visible on your dashboard. This allows students to feel safe in answering because they know that their peers cannot see their answers.
  • For group projects, Explain Everything is a screen capturing app which animates presentations. Each group member can create screenshots and then upload them to Google Drive to share their project or part of the project with the rest of thier group or the class. These files can then be imported and collated into one project.

When students are given technology and a structured way in which to use it for educational purposes, classroom engagement, collaboration, and learning can soar to a whole new level. This is a very exciting and somewhat scary proposition for any classroom. Whichever route you choose to take for your classroom, be sure to educate yourself to the uses, tools, and safety of the technology before introducing it to your students. After all, education and student safety should always come first!

Mirror Mirror On the Wall…

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Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s right…I just followed the crowd. It has been a rather long time since I have posted and I have many good reasons, all of which I will spare you the details for fear of boring you. Anyway…once again the holiday season is upon us. Many, including me, stuffed ourselves of turkey and other wonderful foods and then proceeded to shop (or fight) for bargains under the influence (of tryptophan). In light of these black Friday…or now it’s more like gray Thursday…deals, I got to thinking. Yes, waiting in those excruciatingly long lines or grappling for a bargain printer did have some positive impact. I don’t know, it could have very well been the influence of a full stomach though.What was I thinking about? Well, that…is a dangerous question. Lots of things, of course, but only a few really important thoughts came to mind.

First, and probably the least relevant to any of you, is that being short actually pays off on this day. Think about it, I can squeeze under and between people in crowds, grab from the bottom of the pile/stack where most people can’t reach, and dart away again under and around crowds. Yes, I am that awesome (or not). But this piece of information is probably as worthless to you as a cd is in the 18th century.

Moving on, while standing (well, leaning) against a stack of printers wrapped in plastic, waiting for the clock to strike midnight (quite opposite of Cinderella), my mind wandered to this…what are our motivations for everything we do. For those crowded into this particular Walmart, the reasons were numerous and could have ranged from boredom to insomnia or even just wanting to get that one gift your child had been wanting and deserved after everything they had been though that year. But these are minute compared to what my mind was thinking. We, as humans, are selfish creatures. We desire for everything to go according to our plans and if something goes wrong, we throw a fit. This is especially evident in Americans. Go ahead, roll your eyes. You know I’m right. When was the last time you ever did anything that you didn’t get anything out of it for yourself? Difficult to think of, right? Me too.

If you really think about it, it’s almost impossible to do any “good” deed without being selfish in it. Even when you give money to charity, you want recognition for it or feel you need to be praised for doing so.

So the answer to “what are our motivations?” is quite clear, for the most part…pride and self recognition. This is just awful when you think of it. I have recently been encountered with several circumstances where, through others, I was shown how horrid of a person I really am. Not in an unmoral nature, but more of a selfish one (like all humans). My motivations are usually egocentric and I rarely think of how my actions will effect others until after the fact. I have a semi unnatural disconnect from emotion and human feeling in general but as of late I have been hyper desensitized and for that I am most grievous.

Where am I going with this? Well, on Thanksgiving, we are to give thanks to the things we have in life. This year, I am most thankful for all the blessings that I have not deserved but God has still given me and for all the people He has put in my life to show me the real me. I am also thankful for all the trials and tribulations I have been through and will go through that make me stronger in my faith and in general.

Lastly,  I just want to challenge you (you should have seen that coming) but first, here are a few bible verses about the topic above…

Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek (gentle – NKJV), for they shall inherit the earth. Jesus declares a “blessing” (happiness) on those who are meek.”

Galatians 5:22,23 – “Meekness is one of the fruits of the Spirit – qualities that we must possess if we are led by the Spirit.”

Proverbs 16:18,19 – “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly.”

If we seek to be happy, to be led by the Spirit, to avoid destruction, and to be like great people such as Moses and Jesus, we need to possess meekness and humility. These words, though often heard, are more often unknown for certain so here they are, explianed…

Meekness – 

This is an extremely difficult word to translate into English, because we think “meek” implies weakness. Sometimes it is translated (NKJV) “gentleness,” but that also implies weakness. The best way to know the meaning of a word is to study passages where it is used. As we do, we will see meekness is an attitude or quality of heart [1 Peter 3:4] whereby a person willingly accepts and submits without resistance to the will and desires of someone else. The meek person is not self-willed – not continually concerned with self, his own ways, ideas, and wishes. He is willing to put himself in second place and submit himself to achieve what is good for others. Meekness is the opposite of self-will, self-interest, and self-assertiveness. This is a sign, not of weakness of character (as some think), but of strength. It requires great self-control to submit to others.

Humility – 

This is an attitude or quality of mind [Acts 20:19] whereby a person holds low esteem or opinion of his own goodness and importance. Spiritually, one abases himself because he realizes his sinfulness and therefore he is willing to depend on God to meet His needs. It is the opposite of pride, haughtiness, and self-exaltation.

I’m sure I’ve gotten off track, like always, but then again it is 5am and I have been up for about 21 hours. Moral of the story, we as humans are in love with ourselves when we should be in love with God and His kingdom. When you look in the mirror (I mean REALLY look in the mirror), what do you see? We need to think less of ourselves and more about others. Give thanks to God. And most of all, HUG!!! After all, a hug is a handshake from the heart.

God Bless 🙂

He Lights the Pathway

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It amazes me how well I can keep up with blogs or journals for about a week and then my ADHD kicks in and I get distracted and forget about it. So much has happened in the last month or so and school is kicking my rear. I know you don’t want to read about my pathetic academic life and, honestly, I would probably fall asleep writing about it. I do, however, wish to share what has been going on in my life.

When I last wrote, I was desperately searching for employment to support my new independent, off-campus life. Since then, God has been working a lot  in my life. Not like He usually isn’t but it’s been very obvious as of recent. When I first started the job search back in July, I was very optimistic because I had beat the college freshman applicant rush in a small town with limited employment. As the semester began and progressed without luck, my optimism began to dwindle and I turned to prayer. I knew that this is what I should have done in the first place but I have these little stubborn streaks and when that happens God kicks me real good in the right direction. This time He decided to kick me through rejection of jobs. He was also teaching me patience. If I had gotten any one of those jobs that I applied for, I would not have been blessed with the amazing job He gave me recently. Now that I see that, I am so very thankful for Him and how much He cares for me.

It never ceases to amaze me how God answers my prayers. Sometimes it may not seem  like it but if I sit and be still and listen long enough, He always does. I may not like or agree with the answer, but it is for the better. I strive to glorify Him and His plan for my life is the most important focus for me. We all should.

I guess the point of this post is to be in prayer. Not for your good but for His glory. I will leave you with a few of my favorite scripture verses:

John 16:24

 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Philippians 4:6-7

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Is there sand in your hair???

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When was the last time you felt really truly thankful for the life that you have? Maybe this has never even crossed your mind or you never have felt this way. I know I can’t speak for you but as for me, I only think of it every now and then. Today is one of those days where I am just so very thankful for everything I have been given and all the hard times I have been through.

If you know me, you know that I am a very unattached person when it comes to human emotions. Sound heartless? Maybe, I have yet to determine that. Any-who, because of this, it is difficult for me to feel sadness for death, happiness for good things happening to others, or even anguish for loss. When it comes to consoling people, I just feel awkward and I start making jokes. It’s quite sad, really but it’s just the way God made me…Today, however, is quite unusual. I was reading a story about a hero saving lives and it told the detailed story of events. I have no idea why but I just started crying. Not the ugly cry, just a few tears. It just so happens that I was in the library computer lab when this happened so it was even more embarrassing for me. I was reading this story and as my eyes were taking in these terrifying events, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am. We, as Americans, are extremely lucky to have our troops who go above and beyond the call of duty just so we can remain free and safe.Think about that. That’s right, ponder what your life would be like if our troops weren’t constantly fighting and giving their lives for us. Depressing, right? Our way of life would be completely upside down and turned around.

While I was tearing up at this thought, it also struck me that even though I have been though struggles and pain, I have always come out a better person. Every trial that God has put me through was not to hurt me, but to build me up and strengthen me. I know it’s difficult to think this way when we are actually going through the pain but it’s true. If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it. Once again, we may need some nachos because I am brining the cheese but it’s good cheese. 😀

So here is my challenge to you. Stop living life day to day. Stop worrying about how things will turn out and definitely stop being self absorbed (this I struggle with a lot) and think about others. If your life seems awful, there is always someone who is worse off. If you feel as though your world is crashing around you, there is a soldier who is far from home and in constant battle to keep you free. We all need to stop taking life for granted and live to glorify God who has given us everything we have when the only thing we deserve is death. Get your head out of the sand that is your life and look around you because an ostrich with its head in the sand is just as blind to opportunity as to disaster. Let’s all strive to be thankful in everything. It isn’t easy, I know this but if you never try then you have already failed.

1 Thessalonians 5:18  

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”