Tag Archives: CMC

Welcome to Acosta Academy

Welcome back to a whole new school year!  I’ve spent the whole summer steadily preparing for my new assignment and it’s one that I’m embracing.  

Here is it…the night before my first day at a new school, new routines, new students, new colleagues—actually, they aren’t that new to me.  I’m supposed to be trying to rest up and review my plans for tomorrow and all I can think about is “I have to blog about this!”

To catch you all up….I used to be a middle school math teacher for 16 years.  The last 2 years, I was a elementary math coach.  Now I’m going to conquer teaching 6th grade, but at an elementary school.    I get to be with little kiddos again.  Ok…my kiddos won’t be so little, but I get to experience the joy, the smiles, the high-five moments, and the celebrations that come with learning.   

This transition was tough at first.  In the months following my decision, I had weeks where I was raring to go and then weeks when I was doubting myself.  I kept asking myself if I made the right decision by heading to an elementary school.  My 6th grade buddies at the other elementary schools were cheering me on every step of the way.  And with positive mindset, much support from the other 6th grade teachers, and lots of studying over the summer, I’m ready for my challenge.  This is going to be an awesome year.

In diving into this new experience, my inner elementary teacher started coming out.  I spent a good 2 months planning for decorating my classroom.  One of the kindergarten teachers at my site asked me back in March, “what’s your theme going to be?”  My reaction was “Theme?!?!?  Middle schools teachers never did a theme!?!?!?”  I go home and tell my husband about the conversation and he starts looking up things on Pinterest (he is totally a teacher’s husband!).  Low and behold, he holds up this picture….

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the inspiration for my classroom

My classroom is completely decked out with college stuff for my theme.  I created something from nothing.  All of what I’m about to show you is because of this single picture.    As a matter of fact, I’m calling it Acosta Academy.  I’ve had colleagues come in to see my progress and were completely floored with what I had done.  

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I also had a revelation.  I put more energy into putting together this elementary classroom than I had in all my 18 years of teaching.  I embraced the belief “Go big or go home!”  More is more in elementary.   

And in the little time that I’ve been in the elementary community, I’ve learned so much.  For instance, who knew that you could buy Walmart flat bed sheets for $5.00 and they were big enough for your bulletin boards/walls?  And I’ve discovered the joys of lamination.  It’s such a magical treat.  I can’t get enough.

And I’ve created some goals for myself for this year….

  1. Integrate 3 Acts, Which One Doesn’t Belong, Estimation,  Clotheslines, Open Middle, Numberless Word Problems, number talks and engaging math activities/stations into my math curriculum.  
  2. Learn and implement Google classroom as well as other Google tech with my students (Recently took a Google Cue Launch workshop and will be taking the first test soon)
  3. Conquer my fear of teaching English/Language Arts.  It’s a monster. 
  4. Find creative activities for partnering my kids with kindergarteners.  The kinder teacher and I have a few great math ideas/activities.
  5. Use my time in the classroom to embrace the joy, to foster curiosity, and to give my students the best for their last year at elementary school.

 

On a side note, I’m proud to announce that my kindergarten collaborator and I have been asked to speak at 2 conferences.  One of them will be at Calif. Math Council’s northern conference in Asilomar.  The other is at the Southern California Kindergarten Conference in February in Pasadena.  

I’ve also been asked the speak at my alma mater, Frostburg State University.  Sloop Institute on Leadership & Excellence has asked me to present on “Empowering Others.”  I love the topic choice and have already outlined what I’d present.  Even though the conference isn’t until March, it’s never to early to brainstorm.

There’s more exciting plans coming in the 2018-2019 year, but I’ll wait to report on that when things are more finalized.  

Until next time,

Kristen

 

 

Calif. Math Council Takeaways

Besides the rush of presenting, I attended a whole mess of sessions that left me thinking. Here are some highlights/ideas I was left pondering….(writing this helps me digest what I saw)

Cathy Fosnot – Conferring & Questioning to Spark Deeper Understanding

  • The goal of a conferral is not to fix the math, but support the development of the math.
  • You don’t raise scores with tasks; they raise from developing mathematicians.
  • 3 Goals of a Good Conferral – listen & clarifying, celebrating, and challenging.

Megan Franke From Counting to Problem Solving – Supporting the Development of Understanding from Each Student

  • We never master things, because there’s always more to learn.  
  • Counting collections develop number sense, organization, and struggles (80-120)
  • How can we use what they do know about counting to engage students in problem solving?

The IGNITE talks had a few calls to action…

  • Do something to increase the level of communication
  • Choose one call and measure daily.  Only give feedback if healthy
  • Students ability to visualize math is important.
  • #ObserveMe – open your doors & learning from the best —-> each other!
  • Teach every student as if they’re future mathematicians
  • Love your students

Lucy West – 

  • Does discourse promote learning?
  • How you interact will greatly impact what you will do.

 

During Saturday, I went wondering around and saw a familiar face.  It happened to be Annie Fetter from The Math Forum.  She introduced the math educators to a strategy called “Notice and Wonder.” Upon seeing her, I went up and had a chat with her.  She was such an unassuming, lively educator.  We chatted about her work, my work and had a fine time.  She even agreed to a selfie! Yes…that’s the Notice and Wonder lady (youtube it!)img_8526

CMC 2016 was quite memorable.  This year, I focused my sessions on K-2 sessions.  Next year, I do want to branch out a bit.  My collaborator and I are thinking of presenting again, but it’s too early to decide.  However, I did notice that there’s not as many presentations geared for kindergarten.  Why is that?  And yet…there’s a need.  There are kinder teachers wanting more information.   

Until next time…

Kristen

Calif. Math Council – 2016 (Pt1)

It’s Monday night and I sit here beaming because my weekend was awesome.  I was fortunate enough to attend California Math Council’s Palm Springs conference.   It was a weekend of connecting with fellow math educators, getting inspired, and always learning.  Not only did I get to attend, I got to present—which upped the ante A LOT!  

 

7 months of preparation ….convincing my collaborator on the idea, writing the proposal, editing, getting accepted, doing paperwork for my district, piecing together our presentation, gathering supplies, and figuring out who should say what, and multiple rehearsals—- had all boiled down to 90 minutes on Friday morning.  It went by in a flash.  But it was lightning in a bottle.  

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We are ready!

Friday morning at 8:30 am, my collaborator, Stacy and I started sharing our story (mostly Stacy’s story) to about 20 math educators.  Turned out that most of them were kindergarten teachers.  In introducing myself to everyone and asking where they were from, one participant said “I wasn’t going to miss this because there’s never any sessions for kindergarten.”  And in my mind, I thought to myself, “then this is where I’m supposed to be.”  

After starting the presentation, we found our flow.  The nerves went away and we did our thing.   I handled introducing each of the routines and the technical “mathy stuff” like standards and content while she told her story of what happened in her classroom. And it worked.  The participants listened intently.  They took notes. They actively participated.  We had conversations. We reflected.  Stacy looked at me at one point and I could see what she was thinking…It’s working!  Yeah…I know.  

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Participating in a Clothesline activity

 

When it was all said and done, Stacy and I were thrilled.  Feedback was positive.  Participants were happy with their give-aways.  Someone asked me if we could come back next year.  Too soon to tell, however—never say never.

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There’s a saying…You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with! I’m fortunate to have a teacher like Stacy who’s willing to take a leap of faith, take a risk and try something new – all for the good of her students.  Our collaboration is built on trust and honesty.  We value each others opinions.  We push each other’s thinking because we know something powerful will come of it.  She is just as much a coach to me as I am to her.  

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We did it.  #mathnerds

To all those TOSAs, TOAs, instructional specialists, & coaches—go find YOUR Stacy. (Sorry–this red head is taken) Find a teacher that will push you as much as you push them.  Develop that repoire.  Nuture the coaching model.  Help each other get better.  

And Stacy…thank you for being you!

 

Until next time,

Kristen