Bond with James

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 15): Skipping Curriculum & A Snow Day?!

So, I skipped parts of the chemistry curriculum. I realized that I spent too much time at the beginning of the year reviewing math skills because many of my students were struggling in that area. It's also been seven years since I last taught chemistry. I'm rusty and I'm okay with that.  I think the important thing is that I came up with a plan halfway through the semester to determine what I was going to cover, what I would push back and cycle in when I had the opportunity, and what I was okay with cutting out of the curriculum this school year.  I could worry about it and beat myself up, but where would that leave me? I'd be an anxious mess, and I refuse to allow myself to feel like that.

On Monday and Tuesday, my students worked on the Covalent Bonding Student Learning Stations.  My A-Day classes started last Friday and were finishing up.  My B-Day courses were starting them for the first time. The stations served as a review because the students had taken notes the class period before. The only issue I ran into was that this week was also our state's End-of-Course (standardized exam) re-test week. I had a few students that had to re-take one or more of the EOC exams and missed class.
On Wednesday, I covered molecular geometry with my A-Day students.  It is the final concept that my students will learn for the fall semester.  Before students took notes, I had them set up one last graphic organizer into their interactive notebook. The notes were short because students already had experience drawing a few chemical structures. However, they were unfamiliar with molecular geometries.
I quickly explained how to use a reference sheet and then students had an opportunity to draw the rest of the structures using whiteboards.  During this time I walked around and assisted students as needed. Unfortunately, I'm facing a bit of a dilemma. School was canceled on Friday (because the city experienced snow for the first time in years). My B-Day students weren't able to receive the lecture over the new content.  I only have one more class period with them before they take the final next week.  I was going to use our last full class period to review, but now I will have to give them an accelerated version of the notes.
The semester is coming to an end and I cannot wait! I need a break. I'm sure we all do. As always, thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear from you. Tag me @bondwithjames on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and let me know how my ideas or products are working to help your students!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 14): Unannounced Observation & The Dancing Teacher?!

My students and I returned from Thanksgiving break. This week also marks the first time that I released two vlogs in one week.

Monday (November 27, 2017) through Tuesday (November 28, 2017)

On Monday and Tuesday, my students participated in an inquiry activity that introduced them to the concept covalent bonding and covalent compounds. While I've used molecular model kits in the past (7 years ago), this was the first time that I was going to allow students to explore the models before delivering instruction over the content. 
Overall, I felt it went well.  Unfortunately, I had to cut the time spent on the activity short because I needed students to put together their interactive notebooks over covalent bonding. We are going to use the pieces again to cover molecular shapes, and so students will have another opportunity to interact with the pieces after they have gained additional information about covalent bonding. 

I also had an unannounced observation on Tuesday.  I predicted that it would happen during the final weeks of the semester.  Overall, I felt it went well. Some people commented that they felt it was unfair to have an observation immediately returning from the Thanksgiving holiday.  I didn't mind, and I also understand the life of an administrator, so it wasn't a big deal for me. Had I not been prepared then I might be singing a different tune.

Wednesday (November 29, 2017) through Friday (December 1, 2017)

On Wednesday and Thursday, my students took notes over covalent compounds and bonding. Not only did I do a little dance for my students, which you can see in the first 6-seconds of the vlog, but I also showed them a trick to help recognize (generally speaking) whether a compound is ionic or covalent. That tip may also be seen in the vlog.  
On Friday, my A-Day classes participated in another stations activity set, the Covalent Bonding Student Learning Stations.  I accidentally left the colored station signs at home - which is probably why I didn't take a bunch of pictures that day.  However, I was also making sure I was checking in with each student individually to ensure they understood the concepts. 
My B-Day classes will start the stations on Tuesday and so I am looking forward to another opportunity to work with students during the activity set.

If you're interested in the individual activities, click on the links below to find out what other teachers are saying about the quality of the resources! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Teacher | Vlog 26 | TpT 2017 Cyber Sale

I always seem to get sick whenever there is a long break from work, and I have plans to be (super) productive! 
I don't have much to write about this week.  I had planned to read and grade my student writing samples from the Ionic Bonding Student Learning Stations.  Unfortunately, I had to spend my final day of the fall break doing that. However, I was presently surprised by many of the selections. There were four task cards, and each card was a certain number of points.   

Students had to earn 25 points, so that meant they had to select at least two of the four task cards to finish.  Students could receive up to 50 points, but they had to complete all four writing prompts by the due date. Originally, I was going to mark on them, but the samples were so good that I decided to leave comments on Post-It notes.  Next time I will skim through and make photocopies so that I can have unmarked work to use as exemplars in the future. 

To end out my fall break, I shot another Facebook LIVE.  I sometimes feel like I'm dying to get through a LIVE session and then I watch it back and think, " wasn't that bad at all."  Or, at least that is my own perception. You can check out the FB LIVE below to gain an idea of what I will be doing for the upcoming week!

Last but not least, Teachers Pay Teachers is having another site-wide sale - the FINAL sale of 2017!  Depending on the teacher-author, you may be able to save up to 25% off of your purchases. ::cough, my store, cough::
Start stocking up on your wishlist items now! Oh, by-the-way. If you don't know - you can earn credit towards your purchases by leaving (constructive) feedback on a teacher-author's TpT page. You can do this for previous or newly purchased items.  When you log into your account, go to your My Purchases and scroll through your items.  You should see a link that reads "Provide Feedback".  It's that simple.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 13): Reclaiming MY Time!

This week involved one day devoted to campus-wide testing.  I originally was going to start a new topic but decided against it because of testing and our 1-week break for the Thanksgiving holiday.  If you're curious about the title of my latest vlog, "Reclaiming MY Time," you can skip to the 3:03-minute mark.

On Monday, my A-Day classes received additional support regarding naming and writing formulas for ionic compounds that contained transition metals and polyatomic ions.  At the end of class, they took a quiz. However, the quiz involved dice that had ion symbols on each side. Students had to roll the dice to provide 10 ionic compound combinations. In the past, I usually would do this as a class activity. However, I wanted to try something different this year. 

On Tuesday, students either took the TSI (Texas Success Initiative exam) or an English benchmark exam. I had to proctor the TSI exam, and that turned out to be a nightmare. You can skip to the 6:30-minute mark in the vlog to hear the details on that.  After the campus-wide testing ended, students had lunch and then reported to all of their B-Day classes.  Since we tested until 1p.m., this meant that classes were 35 minutes long.  I wasn't able to do everything that I had my A-Day students complete on Monday. With that said, students were able to submit their answers from the Ionic Bonding Learning Stations from last week.

Wednesday was an opportunity for students to catch up with missing work or labs; or get extra practice with ionic compounds because that was the last day for that particular topic.  On Thursday, my B-Day classes were able to complete what my A-Day students did on Monday; and Friday was also a repeat of Wednesday. 

Nothing too exciting this week except for the countdown until our 1-week Thanksgiving holiday break.  We officially have 3 weeks after our return until the end of the fall semester.  I have my calendar planned out and will work on putting the Covalent Bonding Learning Stations together over the break.  I also started mapping out my plans for our return in the spring semester.  

I can't believe that we are halfway through the school year already; and that I actually pulled off vlogging every single week!  To be honest, the vlogging did cause me to fall behind in regard to planning my semester. However, I made adjustments these last few weeks that have helped me maintain my sanity. I also have a plan for the vlogs upon our return from the winter break. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 12): Ionic Stations and Labs

My students are currently learning about ionic compounds and bonding. During this week, the students took notes, practiced with whiteboards, and participated in a stations reinforcement activity and wrapped up the week with a lab!

On Monday, my A-Day classes repeated what my B-Day students did Friday; which is why I LOVE the A/B block schedule. I introduced students to ionic compounds and the process of ionic bonding through the use of interactive notebook notes, as well as practice with whiteboards. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, my students participated in my Ionic Compound and Bonding Student Learning Stations.  This set contained six stations (Literacy: Reading, Literacy: Writing, Exploration, Evaluation, Observation, and Organization).
The stations were a great way to help me reinforce what I had taught last Friday (B-Day) and at the start of this week (A-Day). In my vlog, I speak at length about changes I made based upon frustrations I had with the implementation of the stations with my first class (you can catch it at the 9:00-minute mark in the video at the top). 

On Thursday and Friday, my students participated in a lab involving several reactions between various solutions of ionic compounds. 
We actually started off the class with notes over polyatomic ions and depending on the class, we took notes over transition metals (as I had covered that with a few of the classes during the previous meeting). My students then had the opportunity to participate in the lab. 

The lab served as a real-world application of precipitation reactions (which we will revisit in the year) and an opportunity for them to practice writing names and formulas for ionic compounds.
You can check out additional clips of my students in action, as well as clips of myself teaching, in the High School Teacher Vlog 24 | A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 12)

If you're interested in any of the activities, you can click on the links below. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 11): Exams and Halloween!

It's Halloween week! Join me as I share a "week in the life of a teacher" video highlighting my 11th week of school with students (for the 2017-2018 school year).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Week in the Life of a Teacher (Week 10): Evaluations, Frustrations, and Stations! Oh, my!

This week was perhaps one of the more stressful weeks I've had since the school year began.  You can watch the video to hear more about it or you can skip my frustrating moments and read about what my students did this week (below the video). 

Monday (10-23-17)
Happy Mole Day! Unfortunately, I did not plan anything for Mole Day. I know, I know. I'm a horrible chemistry teacher.  With that said, my A-Day classes repeated what my B-Day classes completed on Friday - which was the Periodic Table modules on the class Canvas site.  I shot a video and edited it into seven smaller videos during my conference period last Thursday.  Then I uploaded each clip onto Canvas and created questions that went along with each video as a way to gauge student understanding as they watched and took notes.  

Unfortunately, the Teaching Gods were not on my side. Similar to the issue I had last Wednesday, none of the videos would play. I immediately decided to skip troubleshooting and teach the whole class.  I had to do this for the first two periods of the day.  During my off period, I remembered that I still had access to Google Classroom and decided to upload the videos there to see if that would fix the problem.  

Long-story short, I was able to get the videos uploaded to Google Classroom, but not without a cost.  I had planned to shoot videos for future lessons but ran short on time because I had allocated a significant amount of time to troubleshooting the video issue. Oh, well!  At least now I know I have a backup in case the Canvas video player does not work.  

Tuesday (10-24-17) and Wednesday (10-25-17)
On Tuesday and Wednesday, my students completed two of my Student Learning Stations activities: Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table.   Students had participated in 3 other stations activities in the past. However, I incorporated two different topics into one lesson.  
I did this as a way to review material covered last week, to allow students to get up and move around, to interact with more hands-on activities, and let students choose the way in which they demonstrated their understanding of the material during the writing sections.  There were also a few concepts that I had not taught and I used the stations as a method to cover them. 
Furthermore, my formal evaluation was on Wednesday and I had wanted to implement a stations activity set during an observation. Teachers receive two formal evaluations, by two different administrators, during the school year - one in the fall and the other in the spring. Both observations are approximately 30-minutes in length. I waived my pre-conference and sent my administrator a copy of my lesson plan outlining what my students would be doing at each station. 
I was able to get a feel of how the lesson would work with my Tuesday classes and made improvements after school that day.  I took out two stations and also taped down all of the cards and station signage.  This was to prevent students from mixing up the duplicate card sets at each table (which had been an issue during the other learning station activities); and it worked!

I didn't tell my students that I was going to be observed.  From the clips in the vlog, you can see that students were working individually or in small groups; as well as picking the order of the stations they wanted to complete. Students were engaged in higher-level academic conversations or tasks based on the specific activity they were completing.  Overall, I felt that the evaluation went well.  Now it's only a matter of time before I find out how I did during the evaluation. 

Thursday (10-26-17) and Friday (10-27-17)
Thursday and Friday were days dedicated to completing the station sets. A majority of my students did complete the stations, however, I am on the fence about combining two topics in the future.  Actually, as I wrote the last sentence, I realized that I was really undecided about allowing some of the students to pick and choose during the station activities. These particular students did not utilize their time wisely and often start off the station activities together until I have to separate them.  After four attempts at allowing them the choice to move around (based on previous station activities), I think I am going to direct their station flow in the future. 

If you're interested in hearing about my frustrating week or seeing more clips of students in action, you can check out the vlog at the top of the page.  You can watch me talk about my missing COW key (computer cart), having to fill out student forms, waking up late, technology failures, and more!