Here is my master list of what I plan to teach this semester in Algebra II. Since Tennessee received the Race to the Top funds, our standards have changed to match those of the American Diploma Project. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and am not sure how I will cover all of the material. I have never taught the Unit Circle in an Algebra II course. Fortunately, I have the Algebra II Honors course and know that the level of students I am working with will rise to the challenge. I feel sorry for my fellow teachers who have to cover the same standards with grade level and remedial students. Every student in Tennessee has to have four years of math including Algebra II regardless of the student’s career path. I got a glimpse of the new End of Course test recently and almost cried. It was definitly college level material. All children should be able to balance a check book graph imaginary numbers. My favorite part of the entire test is that next year it will count in my yearly evaluation although I am not told how. It should be interesting.
Since I use Standard’s Based Grading, this list of Standards is absolutely necessary to me. This is what goes in my gradebook. I no longer use “Chapter 1 Test” or any other nonsense title. It has helped my students and parents so much. Next, I’ll be moving onto Pre Calculus. The new standards were just released by my state and I can’t wait to put them in some understandable, usable form.
I know I’m not old compared to the general teaching population, but compared to the blogging community, I’m feeling my age. I told my husband the other day, “I don’t know if I’m smart enough to teach this way.” He laughed at me. He obviously knows my drive will overcome any lack of knowledge. I want my class to be current and enjoyable as well as challenging for my students. I want it to be relevant. This means using technology that I was never exposed to as a student. It is all new to me. Sure, I use google docs, blogger, and google reader, but a lot of my time has been spent learning how to incorporate Sketchpad (still learning), Texas Instruments (still learning the NSpire), and any photo or video editing software.
I remember my first TI graphing calculator. It was dark blue and did nothing but graph. You couldn’t download programs or apps. I remember hand typing in a program just to get the screen to display ‘friendly’ numbers. I went to college before the internet was available. My junior year of college we had one computer on campus connected to the internet, but no one knew how to use it. Search engines we nonexistent. Things have changed and I’m determined to change with them. I don’t want to teach the way I was taught. I don’t want to stand at the board (even if it is a Smartboard) and work problems while my students watch or zone out. I want to challenge them and engage them. I want it to be relevant. (Have I said that already?) I”m feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all, but I am dedicated to striving and working and I promise to get better each year. I vow never to be Ditto Styles who hands out endless worksheets and dies in class while noone takes notice.
Every teacher has summer goals. I am no different. I have a stack of novels that I collect through the school year and I’m ready to dust them off and dive in. I have another stack of professional books that collect on the corner of my desk at school. I’m at least 20 pages into each one of them. Isn’t that what summer is for? My main goals this summer include:
- Start a blog (Yeah! This is completed thanks to Riley Lark’s throw down challenge.)
- Get readers for my blog (Once again, I’m looking to Riley to help me out with the Virtual Conference.)
- Rewrite Algebra II curriculum to align to new state standards (TN may have gotten the Race to the Top funds but there are definitely strings attached including a new, killer End of Course test that no one has seen yet.)
- Develop PreCalculus curriculum (This fall will be my first attempt. I’m terrified and excited!)
- Develop inservice training for my department and county (One of the blessings of being department chair…)
- Oh yeah…Vacation. (Teachers get the entire summer off. Right?)
My name is Amber and I am a blog stalker. Last summer, out of desperation for change, I discovered edublogging. My students and I are greatful to all of you out there that revolutionzed my teaching. I have learned more in the last year of reading blogs then in any professional development seminar. I made some radical changes in my classroom and others took notice. I hope to contribute to the growing online community and help fellow teachers. For the first time in a long time, I am excited to be a teacher. I no longer view teaching as a job or a stepping stone but as a legitimate, respectable career. I am proud to teach and I love it more everyday.
Some of the changes that found their way into my classroom this year include standards based grading, a no (or limited) homework policy, WCYDWT, and show and tell. Instead of dreading math class, my students started coming into my room before school and during lunch to hang out and get help. I don’t claim to have all of the answers because most of my changes were borrowed from the great bloggers listed in my blogroll. I hope to contribute in some way to the amazing community and not just stalk in the shadows or comment sections anymore.