#likeagirl

Like a girl.

I have heard this phrase many times. Out of all of those times, I never once heard it said in a positive way. I usually don’t say anything because I think, well, it’s true. But is it really true? NO! Then why do girls (including me) have this mentality that they look goofy running or throwing a ball? Or that they can’t run well or throw a ball well??

There are many reasons why girls feel the way they do. That’s not the purpose of this post though. The purpose is to shed light and know that we can change it. Watch this:

This video hit me hard. It reminded me that I have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the future of the girls I teach. Teaching makes an impact and gives me an opportunity to make an impact on boys and girls, but I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for the tenderness and support that girls need. I realized this soft spot when I saw this video:

Just something to think about.

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I’m back!….well, sorta!

This post is more like a personal reflection rather than a teaching focused. So skip it if you aren’t interested!

I’m back! I’m back! Well, sorta.  I’m back in spirit and getting back into a routine, but I’m not entirely back yet. Back from what you ask? The first month of my summer has been an experience in good ways and bad.

The good…I’ve spent more time with my family in the last four weeks than I have in a REALLY long time. Actually, I don’t think ever I’ve spent this much time with family, including when we all lived under one roof way back in the day. I’ve seen so many people come together, be supportive, and stay positive when it didn’t seem like their way anything to be positive about.

The bad…I’ve been living out of a suit case for the last four weeks (good thing I have a tendency to over pack!). Not knowing what the future holds has been a struggle!  The worst part of the summer is seeing my father lose his mind literally over night. He has been diagnosed with CNS Lymphoma.  He was in the hospital for  3 weeks. It started in Myrtle Beach when my family was on vacation. We arrived Thursday and had a 5 day beach trip planned! On Friday we went to Broadway at the beach and noticed that my father was little off his game. We didn’t really think much of it, contributing it to him being hard of hearing and getting older (not that 53 is old! He is a youngin’!).  Friday night/Saturday morning we all awoke startled by my father. He was acting very strangely. If it was a stranger, I’d assume he was drunk AND on drugs. Knowing better, we all scrambled and took him to the emergency room.  This is when we learned that he had a brain tumor, which did turn out to be malignant. That first week was hectic. We moved from the Grand Strand hospital to MUSC in Charleston thinking they would do brain surgery to remove it. There we found out that he needed a drain to relieve pressure in the brain and also a biopsy to confirm everything else. The doctors decided surgery wouldn’t be the best option. Instead, my parents will be living here in Charleston, SC to get his treatment. This is a huge shift. Their jobs gone. Their pets gone to family. All comforts of home are gone. The silver lining? My family is together. I’ve been able to support and help my mom and dad. I’ve seen family that I haven’t seen in 10 years!  My aunt (dad’s sister) lives in Charleston…we haven’t seen her in 10 years due to family drama. It has been so good to see everyone come together and not even bring up the petty drama. She opened up her house to my parents to stay for the next six months through out the treatment for the tumor, which is another reason I’m still living out of my suit case. My husband is a rock star and using his amazing skills to finish some construction at her house so they can have their own private little cottage! It’s so cute and coming together FAST! His projected completion date is this coming weekend. So, we are thinking that we will return home this coming weekend. From there we will drive to Charleston to visit on weekends or when needed.

I’m so glad that I have summer off to help where I can, but it’s been hard to get out a routine. I miss my routine! I miss my summer planning that I always do…I feel so behind!  I have a new job to get ready for!!!! 🙂 So, I’m slowly getting back into a routine.  Fresh start of the month makes me feel ready for a fresh start!

So here is to a new chapter in my life and adding in some new routines! 🙂

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This is {one reason} Why I Teach

I don’t care what anyone says. Middle school rocks!  I often get “You teach middle school?? Bless your heart!” Shame on them! They don’t know what they are missing!  These are some of the sweetest, caring, and fun children I know!  There are MANY reasons why I teach middle school. This is one of them:

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This letter from a student was super sweet! It made me feel awesome! 🙂  The student who gave it to me cried and gave me a hug at the end of the day!

Tomorrow is class day, the last day of school for 8th graders (Friday is the official last day of school for 6th and 7th grade).  Class day is like a mix between a graduation and awards day. We give LOTS of awards, hear speeches, and show a slide show of events from the school year.  Of course there are always lots of tears too, but I’m not going to admit that to the kids. I’m SO going to miss this class. I know we aren’t suppose to have favorites, but this is my FAVORITE homeroom that I’ve ever had. That is really saying something because I always have the best homeroom!  I told them that I expect them to keep in touch and let me know all the wonderful things they accomplish in high school, college, and life.

One student today asked me if I was going to cry tomorrow.  My response: “How can I cry and be sad when I know you are growing up and are going to accomplish wonderful things! To know that I’ve got an opportunity to see some of those awesome things has been a blessing!”   Of course I will have some tears tomorrow, but they will be tears of joy and happiness for these kiddos!

 

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EOC!

Today was a day.  It was EOC day for my Algebra students. EOC stands for End of Course Exam, which is 20% of their final grade. I decided that I must brag on them a little bit….every single one passed with flying colors! Wahoo!  I was kind of surprised that we got the scores back so quickly!

Break Down of Grades:

A’s – 22 (11 of which were 100’s)

B’s – 12

C’s – 9 (none of which were below an 82!)

 

Super impressed! I wish I could say that it was me, but a conversation with a student reminded me that it wasn’t me who gave them those grades. It was them! THEY did it. Yes, I did guide them, but they did all the hard work!

This student in particular didn’t get her score back with everyone else, which was weird. All of the students were on the report, except for one.  This girl was freaking out (so was I, but I didn’t let her know).  I tried to re-assure her that she was going to do fine on the test.

A little while later, her score finally came in while she was in PE. I’m unsure why it came later than the others…maybe she finished the test a lot later than the rest.  Anyway, I pulled her out of PE for a few seconds to give her the score. This was the conversation when she saw her grade:

Student: “THANK YOU MRS. GRAHAM!”

Me: “For what?”

Student: “The grade.”

Me: “I didn’t give you that grade. YOU got you that grade. You worked hard and earned it. Hard work pays off!”

First, she had a look of confusion, then a huge smile crossed her face as she realized that SHE earned that!

Student:  “Well, thank you for teaching me then!”

This made my day. I love it when students feel accomplished and excited about math!  I’m not going to lie, my class is hard, rigorous!  If a student gets an A, they earned every bit of that! No fluff!  This is what makes seeing their excitement/accomplishment the best thing in the world.  I want students to know that they can do math and excel…it’s even better when they know that they earned it through hard work!

Eight more school days for me! 🙂

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Writing Blog Posts Tip: Do what you want!

So month of April kind of slipped by me! Yikes! I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks {sorry!}!  One thing after another popped up. I’ve been reminded that sometimes things get in the way of the best of intentions and that’s okay! You just find a way to deal with it and move on!

I decided that today I will do what I want! And it just so happens that I want to write a blog post!  I didn’t really have any topic planned;  I’m just thankful for the few minutes that I have this morning to do what I want!  Looking through comments that I need to respond to, one comment in particular needs a whole blog post to it self:

“Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for inexperienced blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.”

First, THANK YOU! I love your sweet comment! It really encourages me to keep writing!

Second, Tips? Well, please know that I truly consider  myself an inexperienced blogger and am new to this too.  I started my blog last summer, July I think!  I’m still learning through this process, but I guess that will always be true no matter what time passes!

I don’t know if I can give “tips” but I can let you know some of the things that have worked for me:

1. Do what you want!

That’s the theme of this post and the first thing that has worked for me. Write about what YOU want to write about. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about the style of writing, topics, or anything relating to your blog.  When you do that, it doesn’t matter how many readers you have or the topic, it just matters that the blog is important to you and is helping YOU.  Your blog will blossom because it is yours and what you are passionate about!  More than likely, as an added benefit, your blog will probably gain readers because if you are sharing what you are passionate about, then it will probably be important to others too!

The purpose of my blog writing is professional growth, so I try my best to write about what I do in my classroom and reflections.  I want to grow as a teacher and professional in the education field so that is what I write about, but I choose to write about personal stuff sometimes too- like my dogs.  I do what I want and reflecting on my teaching makes me happy, but also reflecting on my personal life makes me happy!  You must have a balance between work and personal or you WILL get burnt out!

Think about this: Would you write your blog if no one read it? I would! Don’t get me wrong, I am VERY thankful for readers and those of you who share. I want to keep writing things that I am passionate about so I can share it with you! It makes my heart smile every time my phone dings with a comment notification!  But if I didn’t have readers, I would still write. That’s how much it means to me.

2. Connect with other bloggers

I have so enjoyed writing back and forth with other like-minded bloggers. I enjoy it and have learned it lots from those I connect with!  Follow other’s blog, comment, etc… do the things you want people to do on your blog. Interact!

 

I’m not a professional blogger or expert writer, but those two things are I think are good places to start! I hope that has helped!

Make today and every day ridiculously amazing!

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I made it!

I MADE IT! TO SPRING BREAK!!! Well, technically spring break doesn’t start until 3:00 today, but it sure feels like it has started already.  🙂

Totally how I feel today: Spring Break

My two week break from posting made me sad, but I truly needed it.  I have so many things running through my head that my head is spinning, but in a good way!

I’m keeping this post short and sweet to say hello and let you know that I didn’t go crazy from the mass chaos at school!  I love that summer is just around the corner. We finished teaching our standards, which is perfect because now I can focus on my PASS review for our state’s standardized test.  It’s always much easier to review than to teach the concepts new, so it’s pretty much down hill from here which means lots more time for posting! 🙂

Hope you didn’t forget about me!

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Spring Break is Almost Here!

Can you tell that spring break is almost here? Between the beautiful weather and the students restlessness, I can sure tell spring break is almost here! I keep telling my self: just a few more weeks until I can rest my sleepy little eyes for a whole WEEK!

My school has  three weeks of school before spring break, but that time will go SO quickly. I’m not sure about you, but it’s a frustrating time because I feel like I’m doing a mad dash to the finish line but then still have to turn around and go back and pick up things that keep falling to the wayside. Fourth quarter has officially started for us too, which really puts the pressure on!

In the next three weeks, my goal I have to get several things done:

1. Teach the last unit! (wahoo!)

2. Create our common core review toolbox that will be used as a review for PASS Testing in May (HUGE PROJECT I’m working on! I’m sure I’ll post about it when I’m done!)

3. Finalize logo, send out orders, and collect orders for the 8th grade field day T-Shirts.

4. Get ready and pack for my spring break cruise!

I have a post or two planned that I know I will want to share, however, I probably won’t be posting much else other than those posts in the next three weeks due to the pressure to get some other stuff done. Don’t forget about me if I end up slacking – promise I’ll be back!! 🙂

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Death by Subtraction {Solving Equations with Variables on Both Sides}

Do you ever see something and just get tickled down to your core? While grading a pop quiz {one that I was very much dreading to grade}, I found this:

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I know it’s not a very ‘happy’ picture, but it did make my heart smile to see his understanding of the concepts!  I was truly dreading grading this pop quiz, but my students did REALLY well. This is the first time that I have EVER taught my regular 8th grade class {not algebra} to solve equations with variables on both sides. Students struggled, I mean STRUGGLED, with chapter 1 which was solving two-step equations with integers.  I worked in equations every chance I get, but it is sometimes difficult to know whether it’s making a difference.  Overall, the students rocked this pop quiz. On top of the excitement, I get this gem of a picture!

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Snowball Effect {using task cards}

Don’t you love it when a good idea snowballs? I feel like I had a ‘ah ha’ moment this weekend about my task card sets and then had another great idea about the task card sets when talking to the science teacher on my team.

I’ve been using task cards or card sorts a lot lately in my classes. Right now they are working, so I’m using what works! Well, somethings don’t work with it you have to keep the cards together right? I tried rubber bands and paper clips. Neither work for me. Either they get lost, bent, slung across the room, or popped; none of which is good! SOOO….this is what I came up with this weekend:

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I put the cards in a photo album. I picked up several for a $1 at the dollar tree. AWESOME! 🙂  I can’t completely say the idea was mine, I saw a teacher do something similar with 1st day of school information on each card and let the students work in groups to find answers for a scavenger hunt.  This kept the teacher from losing her voice on the 1st day of school. She included her rules, syllabus information, procedures, school rules, etc… It was a while ago that I saw the idea, but it really must have stuck with me because as soon as I saw the photo books I was inspired!

Plus, I can turn it over and use another activity on the other side since it only takes up about half of the album:
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I put one at each group and let the students share. For this activity, I had the students work on their own since we have been doing a lot of group stuff lately.  I didn’t do this for this activity, but in the future I may hide the answer key and only tell them about the hidden answer key behind another card once they finish.  I’ll do this for assignments that are practice.

Another idea (for the future!) is to create a couple of riddle or puzzle books or students who finish early.

 

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Don’t Keep Stringing Us Along: An Exponential Growth & Decay Activity

Shhh!!!! Don’t tell my husband I wrote this post! This has been my life since Saturday:

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Is it necessary to say that I am exhausted?!!  My hubby and I found a new place to stay since we are closing on our house in less than two weeks! Yikes! 🙂 I love our new place, but it has left me with ZERO time to do anything else other than the necessities. My husband didn’t agree that blogging and blog reading is a necessity, so I got a bit of a hard time when I tried to pull out my computer.  So don’t tell him I’m writing this post! 🙂

Anyway….

My students did an activity today with my Algebra I classes that I LOVED and the students did too! I didn’t get a chance to take pictures actually I forgot to take pictures- but it turned out awesome.  Using a piece of string, students demonstrated both exponential growth and decay. It was awesome to create this activity. I call it Don’t Keep Stringing Us Along.

Students create tables, graphs, and wrote the equation for two different exponential functions. To start, the students folded a string in half and cut at the fold. They folded those two pieces of string in half and cut at the fold again to create 4 strings. They repeated this step again to create 8 strings, and again to create 16 strings and so forth to represent the exponential growth.  To represent the exponential decay they wrote the length of the string for each cut. It started as 16 inches, cut in half to be 8 inches, which was cut in half to be 4 inches, which was cut in half to be 2 inches and so forth to represent the exponential decay.

I was a little surprised to find that the students didn’t want to keep cutting the string once they figured out the pattern. The fact that it was hands-on was the best part of the activity! I guess they are to ‘old’ for activities like that.   Anyway, here are pictures of the assignment:
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Exponential Function Exploration Activity_Page_4After reading their answers to the discussion questions, it made me realize that I must give more questions like these. It is so helpful to see their responses. I can get a better picture of whether or not they truly grasp the knowledge and it also is an excellent way for them to practice conveying/explaining their thoughts to other people. Some students have such a hard time realizing how they should be communicating their thoughts. They think we are mind readers!

Because of the move, this cute pooch felt a little neglected:

UntitledSo sad! Makes my heart melt! I made sure to love on her lots tonight.

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