DITLife – May 17th, 2017

5:30 – Alarm. Reading. Exercise. Get ready for the day.

6:50 – Leave for school.

7:10 – Arrive at school. (I love this commute, just long enough and the sunrise as I drive over the mountain is generally gorgeous.) Eat breakfast. Check email.

7:40 – Students arrive for homeroom.

8:00 – I’m “free” for ELT as we broke into field day teams and I don’t have a team this year. I use the time to set up for my class and watch the students who are in the hallway sorting field day events for another teacher.

1st – Each class runs very similarly today. We finish Genius Hour presentations, have time to work on the end-of-year reflections and then start our movie: Hidden Figures. I’m so excited about this movie! The students are too, but they are disheartened to find that there is an assignment associated. Students are adding sketches to quotes from the movie and responding to four question sets. Nothing too much and mostly drawing (which they LOVE to do at other times). As we started and listened for the quotes, they realized it wasn’t bad and stopped complaining.

2nd – same

3rd and lunch – Students were asked who they wanted their audience to be for their presentation and were given choices of their class period, their team, their grade or the whole world. Several students chose wide audiences but backed out when the day to present came. One presented to our team last week and today, one presented to the whole grade level at lunch. We projected her presentation on the screen and gave her a microphone and she addressed 300 of her peers. That is a scary thing to do and I was proud of her for doing it. I’m glad I gave children an option even if they didn’t all follow-through. Perhaps next time they have an option to put themselves out there, they’ll take it!

4th – same

1:30 – sending the students to connections at the end of the day feels like a monumental success as the year winds down.

I spend the first half of planning grading and reading a couple of education articles. I then go on a hunt for paper and talk with colleagues addressing some concerns for next year and creating a way for us to collaborate and cultivate our ideas so we don’t lose any thoughts as we prep for the coming year.

3:30 – I remember I need the popcorn machine for tomorrow (my students thought it would be easier to complete an assignment while watching a movie if they were also eating popcorn). The next hour is spent cleaning the machine and I have more to do tomorrow morning as well.

I am feeling much less stressed today than I was a month ago and completely missed writing my DITLife post. That day was crazy with the morning starting with me getting to school only 5 minutes late, but 40 minutes behind my plan. (Teenager with keys in a locked car across the county.) I was running that whole day – I didn’t even realize I’d missed my post until I went to sleep the NEXT day. And with standardized testing, field trips, course exams, and running my first Edcamp, the post never was posted.

Today was a calm day in the middle of a “normal” week. Last week we had three field trips, next week we have field day, Honors day and the last day of school. This week feels like a gift in comparison. It helps that my course finished their last exam already and the presentations and now finished. We get to watch this lovely movie that highlights the power of math and makes it very cool. Today was a good day and tomorrow will be too!

5:00 – pick up daughter at the high school

6:20 – meet the photographer who took our family photos last week and picked out the ones I want to print

7:00 – watch television while my husband and children are at the church (I totally should have started working on my other job, but enjoyed the quiet, uninterrupted veg time!)

8:30 – family time

9:30 – work on BYUI course

11:30 – remember I was supposed to write this day up and post it



DITLife – March 17th, 2017

5:16 AM – Read in bed before and after the alarm goes off at 5:30 AM, Get up – pack for a camping trip I’m going on with my daughters tonight – leave for school.

6:50 AM – Arrive at school, check my online course for issues that need to be addressed, read blog posts on education, eat breakfast.

7:20 AM – School day start time for teachers and I head down to check my mailbox and check in with fellow teachers

7:30 AM – Check email and head back down to the office to discuss discipline issue that came up.

7:40 AM – School day starts. Today is Genius Hour and I have students working on individual, student-selected, research projects. While most students are working on Genius Hour, I’m able to reach out to those who are missing work and work with a small group of students who need remediation. I love, love, love Genius Hour for the ability it gives me to work more one-on-one with students.

2nd, 3rd and 4th periods happen much the same as 1st and I’m grateful for that on a Friday. My planning is my own today and I get a weekly grade in for each student. I finish a letter to send home with report cards on Monday, set my lesson plans for the week and make the copies I need for next week. Woop!

4:30 PM – My daughter arrives to pick me and my other daughter up and we head off to the campground.

Mother-daughter campout with church friends – campfire – chili dinner – smores – stories – games – talking – laughter.

Midnight – Put out the rest of the fire and head to bed.

DITLife February 17th, 2017

My alarm went off at the regular time, 5:30 AM. I reached over to hit snooze and felt the effects of my close contact with a group of students who have had multiple illnesses. I think it’s a chest cold, but my throat was burning this morning, so I slept as long as I could and then made use of my wonderful teenage girls who ran into the both Starbucks and Dairy Queen to pick me up a breakfast of bacon, grits, and Carmel Apple Spice Cider. (I love breakfast in the South.)

I rolled into work exactly on time this morning, and since I changed my tutoring times to Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I had time to go visit with some teachers and continue a conversation we’ve been having about professional development and student engagement.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve introduced Genius Hour to all of my classes. Fridays are the day set aside for Genius Hour. I’ll have to blog more about how I’ve made Genius Hour work for my students. My first-period students were engaged and working when I left class to use the restroom and ran into my assistant principal in the hallway. I mentioned Genius Hour was happening in my room and she went to visit. She was able to get a good survey of how it was working (and where it could be improved) before the power went out across campus.

Ah! This is that time all those education classes told us to prepare for with lesson plans that had a plan B. Since my students were in the research stage of Genius Hour, my plan B was the media center and the several sets of lovely encyclopedias housed there. We had a mini-lesson on how to use an encyclopedia, and we kept on working. My second period started in the library and part-way through the lights came back on – much to the disappointment of the students.

The day continued without further interruptions, and I spent my planning meeting getting ready for the next week and grading so that I wouldn’t have anything left to do before the upcoming long weekend. I paused for a moment during planning to stand in the sun and anticipate the weekend I had before me.

I worked at the school until 5 PM and then headed to my church building with my family. It was our turn to help clean the building.

I spent my evening watching shows, working on the website for the Edcamp I’m hosting in May, checking on my online course and trying not to hack up a lung with my cough that’s developed.

I’m signing off on this post with peace, I’ve wrapped work and not left a mess for myself to return to on Tuesday (and wrote this DITLife post on time) and my goal this weekend is to read a book and to sit on the beach in the sunshine.


DITLife – January 17th, 2017

Ah, I’m late again.

5:30 AM: The alarm goes off, snooze it used once. Read some news. Head out the door, stopping at Chick-Fil-A who is offering free chicken minis this morning.

6:55 AM: Arrive at school. Check in with my online course, make vocabulary quizlet sets for my sixth-graders.

7:20 AM: Tutoring opens and the day begins.

Extended Learning Time today worked really well with my second period working diligently on Khan Academy. This has been the first Tuesday of the new semester, so this was their first big chunk of time to work, and they did a splendid job.

I started using a Problem-of-the-Week this week. I gave the students a paper to record their thinking, and I’m hopeful for how this will work. I plan to have students work on this officially three times a week at the start of class. I plan on combining the thinking they show on this problem with a self-assessment they complete at the end of the week to come up for a classwork grade for the week. I’m trying to have the students be more reflective about their own work, and I am looking forward to the results.

First-period students continued to work on surface area, they spent the period calculating surface area of Angry Bird nets.

One instructional strategy I keep trying to implement is station activities. I want to work with small groups of students and allow other students to work independently. I’ve been able to effectively do stations before without having a small group, but when I through in a small group station, my other groups seem to fall apart.

I tried again today, and I was happy to see that they worked. I think the change was that there were no new activities at the stations. The students were working on things they had done before, so they could focus on doing the activity rather than “how” to do the activity. It may have also helped that one of the stations was a game.

The success of the stations and the success of the game gave me encouragement to find additional number sense games that I could put into future stations so students can practice their flexibility with numbers.

Each class period, (2nd, 3rd, and 4th) was just as successful, and I’m motivated to continue this practice.

3:30 PM: I was out the door at the end of the day today.

At home, I was able to work on my online course for a little bit. However, the internet went out at my house. I’m looking forward to the day when we have choices in internet providers at my house.



DITLife – November 17th, 2016

Work Day: 7:20 am to 5:20 pm

Today was my last day before the Thanksgiving break. We’re off all next week and tomorrow I have a sick day to take care of my son who is getting his wisdom teeth out. It’s Career Day tomorrow, which made it easy (no sub plans to write).

I walked away from my classroom today with a clean desk and all the piles of extra copies, lesson plans, activities and manipulatives put away from our prior unit of study and having two weeks of plans and copies ready in organizers for when we come back from the break. This is the best I’ve ever done in being ready for a break. I already feel relaxed!

For the past two weeks,  I’ve had a student teacher teaching my second period. She’s a former teacher working on a masters degree full-time before going back into the classroom. She had great classroom control and her lessons were fun to listen to/watch. I learned things, which was great. Also great, the opportunity to work during that hour – grade, plan, identify and support my struggling learners. So, I was able to not only walk away with a clean classroom today but also with having reached out again to my student who got their progress reports on Monday and who are receptive to fixing their grade.

Today was a quiet day of working in class. My first period took a test that they should have taken Tuesday, but so many students weren’t ready that we stretched out the review time. Which is fine, but used up all the “extra” time left in my schedule and December is going to be jam-packed. I really don’t want a snow day! Since my second period had the student teacher and the extra assessment for her schoolwork, my third and fourth periods had more of a work day today – working independently on the same concept we learned yesterday. This gave me a chance to meet one-on-one with several struggling students in these classes. Shout-out to my 4th period who were so quiet today and actually working. I hesitated to dwell on the realization when it struck me in class because I didn’t want to mess it up. I will try not to draw any correlation to those who were absent today.

Another plus for today, I was able to clear my inbox of parent messages before I left school. Including the one that started my day with an insult. By the end of the day, I was able to respond politely, firmly and with a suggestion that I hope was both helpful and instructive. In the balance of life, I attended my daughter’s recital and ran into a former student who greeted me warmly and enthusiastically talked with me about what was going on in his life. There are good people in the world and I have great hopes that all of my students will eventually grow up to be good people.

When I thought about this post earlier in the month, I anticipated writing about the stress and frustration and walking away with piles of things to get done. I’m surprised at the calm I feel. It was a solid day today and I was only slightly jealous of those tweeting from NCTM Innov8. I’ll look forward reading all of those posts as I prepare jello and pudding for my son after surgery tomorrow.

DITLife – October 17th, 2016

4:45 AM – early alarm as I know I need to post an announcement for my online class.

5:00 – actually get out of bed, exercise, shower, get ready for the day

5:45 – wake up 13 yo then work in online course

6:30 –  rewake up 13yo and hustle to get out the door.

6:55 –  drive out of the neighborhood and realize my lunch is still at home, as is 13 yo’s lunch. Mentally cross of stopping for a bacon biscuit and note that there are crackers to eat for breakfast, lunch is more important.

7:23 – arrive at school before official start time but 3 minutes late from the time I tell students I will be there to help them.

7:26 – first student walks in for help – he just wants to use a computer – freeing me to  unload my car of supplies I brought for the unit rate grocery shopping activity for tomorrow. And go to my box to get my attendance card and the report cards that go home today.

7:38 – student comes in to ask about retaking a quiz (is asked to come in at lunch or the following day as there isn’t enough time to start/finish now)

7:40 – Homeroom. Play Channel One. Notice no sound, but add close captions and move on. Hand out Report Cards, Yearbook Order Forms, answer a phone call from a fellow teacher, translate a loudspeaker announcement (the system is broken and it sounds like someone speaking through water and a bad cell phone connection), switch to the school announcement (now the no sound thing is a problem). Check connections and move on. Start the pledge as the words scroll and avoid the awkward “nobody wants to be first moment”. Take roll, nominate a student of the week and put it in the roll. Hang the roll outside.

7:55 – Switch to Extended Learning Time (ELT) Today, I keep my first period, but I gain three more students who are split from the ELA teacher who is working with small groups this rotation. While students are working, I finish setting up the websites and resources I’ll need for class. It’s a bit a breather for me to have this time today with a group who can do something fairly independently (and have something to do). I get to eat 6 crackers and drink a glass of water so that means it was basically free time!

8:25 – Switch to First. Send three students back and transition first-period students to my agenda rather than their own. Today we did a number talk string. It went well, it showed the usefulness of the distributive property and that’s always a good thing to see! Students filled out a foldable and then worked on 5 different rate problems, flexibly moving between independent and partner/group work as needed. They didn’t finish, so this will wrap up tomorrow. Welcome a student teacher who comes in to watch 2nd period. She’ll be here Friday too and then continuously for a few weeks.

9:30 – Switch to Second. Today we’re trying stations again. I put a lot of thought into this lesson and now that I’m reflecting I think I see where I go wrong in stations. There can be nothing new in a station that isn’t teacher directed. If students are working independently, the station needs to be a type of activity they are familiar with, it needs to be content that is review or level 1 type learning. I should have figured out when 2nd period struggled to change it up for third. I didn’t. I tried to just give better directions.

10:35 – Switch to Third. Take attendance. I’m using Attendance questions, this is only the third day of them, so there is still a learning curve, but it’s getting better. Dismiss to lunch, walk to the end of the hall with them and assign a “parent” for the week to walk them to lunch, this procedure (implemented after modeling correct lunch entry during the first 6 weeks of school) allows me to heat up my lunch before the students who requested makeup quizzes come to my room. A few random checks on how students are doing in the lunch job usually keeps them in line (literally and figuratively). Mondays I’m staying in my room to eat to work with students who request it, I had 10 students request a makeup quiz – 3 showed up (maybe the others will come tomorrow morning). All students finish quiz before we normally go out to break, so we join everyone else at our break. Get increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

11:05 – Break outside. This is time not built into the day from the school. Our grade level builds it in so we can let our students move a little more during the day. We play in the upper parking lot which is usually free of cars in the center. Four square games are the big hit. We Get increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

11:16 – My alarm goes off and I go back inside to open the door. That sounds weird, but I walk to get to the door my key will open and then open from the inside the door that is closest to where the students are playing. Get increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

11:20 – We’re back in 3rd and I’m getting increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

12:20 – Switch to Fourth and restructure the lesson so that everyone completes 2 stations together and we start on the third together. I get “more accomplished” but lose the small groups, so I’m not sure anything as gained. Hopefully, students have good notes to use tomorrow. I’ll have them do the last station together and then I think I’ll use the rest of the other station as fodder for small groups. I’m feeling good about that idea. During this period, I also deal with 2 student issues via phone and individual conference.

1:25 – Students head to connections and I head to my colleagues to discuss what may need to change on one of the stations to help students. We agree that the content is grade appropriate but that many students may struggle because the directions are explicit in “do this, then do this”. It’s open and that’s hard. We do note that we’d like students to be able to check their work if they are doing this independently. We don’t see that as an option. I tweet @Desmos to ask about it.

Set up activity in science lab for tomorrow. Leave it not quite finished to head over for Make Stuff (a STEAM after school program). Students are working on two projects both headed up by additional teachers. So I have a little bit of time to talk with a teacher and help them set up a couple online resources. I had planned on working with a student to rework our Cardboard Challenge announcement but all students were engaged in one of the two projects, so those are still needing work.

3:10 – Make Stuff

4:30 – Head back to Science Lab and finish setting up activity, pack up my computer. Plug in Chromebooks and head out.

5:05 – Drive home, stopping at a couple of friends houses to drop off the brownies I had my teenage daughter make after school. Said teenage daughter brought them to school along with my car, so 13 yo and I could go home.

5:50 – Get home. Admire cookies my husband got at work for Boss’ Day. Take cookies an start working on online course.

6:30 – Break for dinner with the family. I love that my husband likes to cook and that my daughters can cook too and that they help out. Two jobs would be too much if they didn’t help!

7 PM – continue working on online job til about 10:30 – assignments were due Saturday night and I don’t work in the course on Sunday, so Monday is a heavy grading day.

10:30 – write a blog post and wonder if it is too late to watch one show

11PM – decide it probably is too late to watch a show and go to bed.



DITLife – August 17th

4 AM: Wake up due to a storm. Try to go back to sleep.

4:20 AM: Start reading emails, Facebook, news articles on my phone. Practice Duolingo (I’m 3% Fluent in Spanish, I may be slow, but I’m getting there!)

4:45 AM: Get out of bed, exercise and get ready for the day.

6:05AM: Leave home, stopping at Dairy Queen (on behalf of my 8th grader who “insists” on eating every day and who gets an out breakfast once a week to temper the early start) and the public library (also on behalf of same child who doesn’t want to rack up more library late fees).

6:30 AM: Arrive at school.

  • Start printing pages for activity that I reworked last night to make it better for students today.
  • Realize the hall printer is broken and reprint to another hallway.
  • Head to the new hallway to pick up prints and make copies.
  • Say good morning to a few teachers and chat briefly with a collaborating teacher about writing projects for DonorsChoose.
  • Set up the websites and activities needed for the day so I can transition without much fuss.
  • Be extremely grateful for the 7th-grade group of girls that comes by to say hi in the morning and who do not mind doing the jobs I put them to work doing each morning. Today it’s adding sticky notes to an activity page and folding menus for an activity I’ll use in a week or so.  It was a high moment in my day for me when my former students came back to my room as they have every day this week to talk to the teachers they had last year and help me in the mornings. And while it may fade as they warm up to their new teachers, I appreciated their sunny faces and helpfulness. They were a group of students that won my heart in a way no other group ever has. My low was later when I realized I had missed hugging a student who hugs me (side hug) every day (usually on the way to buses, but I was standing in a different spot today and missed her). 
  • Write the agendas for my classes on the boards.

7:40 AM: Students head up to homerooms and that day rushes on. I hardly stop moving from Homeroom to 4th Period. We take the students to lunch, eat in the cafeteria with them, take them to break (10 minutes we carved out, it’s not actually on the schedule) and let them run off their energy before heading back into the last two classes. Today I have to pick up a copy a student needed for 4th period, and I printed to the other building this morning. Our printer is fixed now, but I’d already sent and wanted to save paper. I picked up the paper and went to make copies for the other students who needed a copy. The copier is broken. My walk alone while the other teachers on my team watch the students allows me to get a bathroom break in before I open the doors to let the students back in the building. I realize how much I’ve been walking my room today going between groups of students working when I sit down on the floor to help a student on a problem. The student was slumped down in his chair feeling discouraged, and I was going to squat next to him to be at eye level. Sitting was a lot more comfortable at the end of the day!

How to structure the activities of my class kept moving to the forefront of my mind today as we worked through them each class period. Sometimes I will alter the method greatly, but I resisted changing things today too much other than moving up my timing on things. I kept questioning whether the change would be because I thought the students needed to complete the activities whole group or because I thought that would make it easier. I decided to keep it the same so I wouldn’t be tempted to make it easier and push a discussion in a whole group along for the sake of “getting it done.” I wasn’t sure I had every student engaged, but when we do whole group things, I know I don’t have every student engaged. I had a lot of conversations with students about what they struggled with and helped them understand the problem (it was more difficult for some of them than I had anticipated and I’d purposely chosen an easy problem, so the structure of the new activity wouldn’t be too much). I questioned whether I was expecting too much, but decided that I needed to keep the expectation high and let my students struggle to get there and that the struggle would be beneficial. I heard more math talk, more students talking period with the structure I stuck with than I would have if I’d changed it to whole group instruction. My favorite comment today was a student telling another student by way of encouragement to get started on the problem, “It doesn’t have to be right.” Yes! 

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1:30 PM: It’s the end of my 4th period and today I don’t have to walk the students over to Connections since we split that duty up and my day is Friday. So, I can start planning time as soon as the students walk out the door. Today is a blessed day where I have no meetings, and no one walks in my door or needs my immediate help; I can work on my own things for the entire time. I accomplish the following:

  • email parents back who have emailed during the day
  • sort and code my students from last year based on their test scores and reflected on what I could do to improve
  • sort and code my current students based on their previous year scores and flagged students who I want to focus on
  • adjust my lesson plans for the next two days based on what we accomplished in class today
  • follow-up on a Make Stuff club issue
  • send items to the library to get laminated
  • find a solution to a technical problem with a website integrating correctly with Google Classroom and send emails to affected students asking them to try my solution
  • hope the solution works!

3:05 PM: The bell rings for bus duty stations and I head outside.

3:30 PM: Faculty Meeting I sat next to a dear friend at the faculty meeting, and she leaned over to tell me about something going on with her, and I thought of the many small moments that we as teachers share together. The small moments and the big, horrible, scary things of life that we go through too and I was so grateful for the wonderful people I work with, who are friends. I like seeing the retired educators in my area who are actively involved and who volunteer and spend time with each other – still friends, after they are done being colleagues. 

3:50 PM: Head home with my school age children so my adult son can use my car to go to work.

4:30 PM: Start working at home. On the agenda,

  • Grade papers and give feedback
  • Answer emails that come in from parents and admin.
  • Finish a training course as part of PD for my online teaching job
  • Write this blog post

I need to note that I have a very supportive family who all pitch in. Everyone has chores, and that means I don’t have to worry about making or cleaning up dinner on school days. Hooray for teenagers who can do things! And husbands who like to cook and help the children cook! So at dinner time, I get to take a break in my work and go to the dinner table and enjoy the dinner with my family.

This is the first Day in the Life post I’ve done, so I’m including my goals for the year. One goal is to participate more in the MTBoS. I think previously I had been walking around the edge of it and this year I started wading in, and now it feels like the bottom has fallen out and I’m left to either swim or drown, so I’m swimming the best I can!

My goals at school are as follows:

  • to develop a local PD community to help my students love math (and if not math at least math class)
  • help my students see themselves as learners
  • help my students develop a growth mindset to help my students grow as people
  • increase student engagement in my classroom

8 PM: Usually I set an alarm to remind me to power down at 9 PM and go through my bedtime routine. Tonight, I’m ending early, and after I make my lunch for tomorrow, I’ll read a book!

10 PM: Sleep