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Summer time = idea time

Blogging is hard. I really admire people who can carve out the time to do it regularly! I haven’t found a groove yet.

But one of my goals for the next year is to give myself more grace. There is so much that I want to do that I don’t always get done and I feel bad for it. Instead, I’m going to try to read more often, play with my kiddos, watch movies with my husband, lay in the hammock with a glass of wine, and try not to let all the things I “should” be or “could” be doing to do creep into my head.

Because there’s a lot of things! Summer is when I start to dream about the new school year: setting up new routines to make my classroom run more smoothly, inventing far too elaborate projects, trying yet another new way to implement homework that supports students and doesn’t make me crazy, etc. etc. Next year, I’ll be teaching 4 different courses, so I have even more ideas than usual swirling around in my head.

In my classes, I try to encourage students to have a “rough draft mindset.” Math thinking can be messy as we’re playing with a problem and trying different strategies. When we find our pathway through a problem, we edit and revise, seek feedback from peers, and rewrite our solutions to make our thinking clear and coherent to the reader. Now it’s my turn to employ this same process for planning for next year! I thought I would start writing about all of these ideas I have swirling around in my head, and turn some of these half-baked ideas into a whole series of blog posts. I’ll seek feedback from peers, and maybe… just maybe… they’ll eventually turn into real live lesson plans! (GASP!) Here are some of the ideas that I hope to expand on in a series of posts:

This year will be the third year of existence for Enhanced Math 3 (think Math 3 + Honors Precalculus all in one school year) and my third year teaching it. I’m really proud of all of the work I’ve put into this course and I think it’s a really great course! My goal for next year is to move to standards-based grading. I have convinced my colleague that this is an interesting idea, but he’s not ready to move forward with implementation quite yet. We’ve landed on a compromise that I like a lot! We’ll have students track their progress and use evidence to argue for the grade they think they should have.

I love teaching Math 2. I taught it two years ago when I first came back to teaching full time and I was disappointed to not teach it again last year. But I’ve used up all of my ideas for this course already! 🙂 I think this year will be more about refining and improving already existing structures, like standards-based quizzes, Ready Set Go homework, and spacing units for mastery over time.

AP scores just came out and I’m really proud of my AP Calculus BC students! I have so many ideas for what worked well last year and how I want to improve… I want to expand on the SBG structure I tried second semester, reorganize units, and rely less on the textbook and more on bigger conceptual ideas, like my first day of school lesson that paid dividends the entire year! Too bad I’m not teaching it again 😦 but I want to record all of my ideas so I don’t forget for when/if I have the opportunity to teach this course again!

I’ve already mentioned standards-based grading a lot. I have been implementing and revising various versions of SBG for 12+ years, since before I knew it was called standards-based grading. It’s a passion of mine and although I realize that it’s not the cure-all for problems in education, I have seen such tremendous transformation in math instruction at our school after implementing these principles. I could write 100 blog posts about our journey and how much I love what we do at my school.

The class I may be most excited and nervous about is our brand new Math Foundations course, which will be offered concurrently with Math 1. We have eliminated our Math 1AB course, which was originally designed to be a two-year Math 1 course (Math 1AB + Math 1CD); we eliminated Math 1CD a few years ago, so students who take Math 1AB then take Math 1 the year after. Starting this year, every ninth grader will enter high school taking Math 1 (or above), and those who have been identified as needing additional support will also take Math Foundations. This will be more structured than our Math Lab class (which I’m also teaching) which will be geared towards Math 2 and Math 3 students this year.

Of course, how could we start a new school year without talking about the first week of school? I plan to continue the good stuff I’ve done (thank you Sara van der Werf) and sprinkle in a few new ideas (thank you Howie Hua). But I also don’t want to overwhelm myself and my students with too much.

With that, my summer planning series is born! Even just thinking about writing about planning has helped me clarify my thinking. I look forward to writing my rough draft about my ideas, seeking feedback from peers and making revisions, and making the final product in my classroom next year the very best it can be.

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