Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quill.Com = 50% off my favorite grading pens!!!

I love Paper Mate Flair Point Guard Pens. I love how they write. I love how they look. I love everything about them except their price point.....

That is.... until I found quill.com! Today is the last day but you can get a CANISTER SIZE OF 48 PENS for 50% off!! oh and free shipping :)


Tax was only like $2 for the pens so who could really pass this up? I also bought a 16 pack of expo markers because those were also on sale, along with some other great products! But hurry! The offers on the pens end today!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Story of a Framed Dry Erase Board

There once was a fairly bored teacher who was on her summer vacation. On her vacation, she spent much of her time walking her dog, painting and updating her condo, cooking, and such. One day, she decided to organize her office space (post to come). Upon organizing and cleaning her office space, she took her boyfriend to see what she had accomplished and he offered his opinion for a blank wall which stared at her. "Why don't you add a dry erase board?", he said. Good lord, why had I not thought of that?

That evening, she sat in her bed as she brainstormed how she would accomplish this task in a fun, stylish, yet cost effective way. The next day, she made two stops. Her first stop was at Michael's (every crafters' favorite store especially if you are a teacher and get their discount). At Michael's, she found a sheet of burlap (to go underneath the frame that she would eventually find so that it was not a boring dry erase board). Unfortunately, she didn't find the poster size frame she had been searching for with a thick and not boring frame. They had many cool and awesome empty frames but she didn't feel like going further and getting a sheet of dry erase board cut to fit the frame (although this could be done for even cheaper). Instead, she purchased the burlap for $6!!! Originally $10 with her 40% off coupon!!

Her next stop was her absolute favorite store, TARGET!!!! And per usual, of course she didn't leave with just the picture frame she was looking for. At Target, she found a thick framed poster size frame for only $29.99 (used my $10 groupon that I had bought a few weeks back for Target). It was perfect! But she didn't stop there.... she also swung by and purchased her pooch a bow tie (boyfriend was not a fan but he did receive many a compliments).


But he's just too cute!!!

Anyways, after spending only around $36, I was ready to make my framed dry erase board. Of course, I probably could have spent less and I challenge you to spend less than I did, but I was getting slightly lazy.....  And now, let's begin!


Get your material! You really only need two things! Take all wrappers off. Unravel the burlap and take the back off the frame. Now here comes the tough part!


All you need to do is fit the back cardboard piece of a frame so that it, as tight as possible, will let the burlap fit snug underneath the glass (mine was plastic, wasn't thrilled) of the frame. The clips, or whatever they are, on the side of the cardboard are easy to still slide into the correct spot with the burlap.


Sonny was very confused as to what the heck, I was doing. At this point, I was cutting the excess burlap from around the frame. I think the cutting scared him...


And ta da! As you can see, there are a few creases and I'm sure I could iron them but seriously, this took like 3 minutes and I just needed to tighten it up a bit!


And look at that, I was even able to write on the plastic :) Oh, and it did erase, I checked.

And so, the framed dry erase board now lives happily in the clean and organized basement office waiting for the day or night when Miss Rudolph returns to the basement to record a video lesson on that board. Oh yeah, that's the purpose of my framed dry erase board, I now have a nice big work space so that I can record myself solving problems to upload to my youtube channel.


Loving ASSISTments: Reason #3 - Previously Created Problem Sets / Skillbuilders

I shall now begin continuing my reasons for loving the program: ASSISTments

We're now onto the third reason why this program is so wonderful. 

PREVIOUSLY CREATED CONTENT

Currently, it is still in the early stages of being developed but there is TONS of previously made content created for the subject areas. As many of you who read this blog are math folk, you'll love this! I love to use a lot of the content for the skills that my kids struggle with that I shouldn't spend too much time on, aka fractions etc.


In an area called ASSISTments  Certified, you will find problem sets in the different subject areas that have been approved by the creators in terms of copyright and alignment to standards. The mathematics content is by far the most filled of the folders.


As you can see, there are many other options within the Mathematics folder. The problem sets are organized by Common Core Standards (mostly middle school but they are working on the other grade levels as well! so finally the middle school teachers can get some love); skill builders - these are the problem sets that are programmed to give your kids a certain number of problems until they have shown "mastery" in the skill; State Test Level Items; and even Textbooks (these are great as many of the textbooks have already been added and rather than going around the room and checking for homework, you can simply have your kids log on the night before and enter their answers so that you may then give a grade based upon their ASSISTments).


Above are several of the skillbuilders created by ASSISTments to help practice High School Algebra skills. Once again, I love these skillbuilders as they are many skills that I would expect my kids to have when they enter my Algebra 2 classroom, that many have already forgotten.


Here is an example question from a skill builder created by ASSISTments (so it is ASSISTments certified). As you can see, they create MANY thorough hints, much more thorough than my own. In the problem sets created by ASSISTments, they do the work for you and have a test bank of 100 or more questions so the kids never run out of questions to practice and eventually show their mastery within. That's less work for all of us when we just need our kids to practice additional skills.

Hopefully, you're getting the gist of why ASSISTments is so awesome! I'd just like to remind you that while ASSISTments is free, your school does need to go through the proper training in order to qualify to use the program. This can be done by contacting ASSISTments or you can go through a wonderful company called Treno Solutions. Of course the training does cost money but once you have the program figured out and the kids used to it, it is priceless how everyone benefits, especially the kids :)

Make your own lakeshore learning center organizer!

So I was frequenting Michael's for like the billionth time this summer on the prowl for a different project when I came across these beauties.....


While they aren't from the dollar section at Target (like the ones I did previously), they are only $4.49 a piece plus a 15% off discount for teachers (or you can use another coupon that are always available). If you buy enough of these, you can also make your own teacher organizer!! I haven't seen them at my local target in a while so here's the next best options!

P.S. if you have way too much time on your hands, you can just use one of their 40% off coupons multiple times on multiple trips and get them for even cheaper :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why I love ASSISTments: Reason #2 - The Reports

As promised, I will be posting things I love about ASSISTments periodically (so far, weekly) and we are onto the second reason.....

REPORTS
One of the wonderful things that I enjoy about this program are the numerous reports that I can obtain from one assignment. Not only will it do the grading for me but it will keep track of all sorts of things for me! For example, each attempted solution (unless it's in a testing mode), how long the student takes on a question and on a whole assignment, whether a hint was requested (it also tells me if that was their first move rather than attempting to answer it on their own, and more! This has made my life a whole lot easier as far as knowing which of my kids are struggling and could use additional help (this semester, I gave some of the kids additional guided notes to assist them with difficult topics).

This is the header of a report. As you can see, there is a guide telling you what each answer box means. The yellow tells me that a hint was used, if it says hint requested, this was their first instinct, to use a clue. If there is a solution but it is also yellow, this tells me that they used a hint after they got their solution wrong.
Another report that you can access is what we call either the 'star report' or the timestamp report. Next to each students' name is a little asterix. Once you click on this, you'll access the report you see below where the students' time stamps are recorded as well as their different attempts. This is also nice if you have a test that went longer than planned and you don't want them accessing the test overnight.

You can see when a student starts/resumes/answers their questions along with what the time stamp was when they did the question.

As you can see, you can also see when a student asked for a hint. If there were more hints, you would see more bars for how many hints they asked for.
Another report that you can access is called the Proficiency report. In this report, you can clearly see where your students stand in comparison to their peers. I love the color coding because it is especially obvious to me which students I need to talk to urgently and ones that could use an additional challenge.



Reports are wonderful but of course, you actually have to use the data for it to be wonderful. Rather than looking at whole reports for the entire class, I thoroughly enjoy looking at the individual level. :) How do you currently assess each of your individuals? Do you think ASSISTments could work for your school?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ASSISTments - Feedback, Flexible, Free

I've spoken about this "thing" before but I figured it was time to finally write a post entirely about this "thing."

What is ASSISTments?

These are formative assessments that assist... well, if you want them to (thus, the flexibility) while providing immediate feedback for all of those involved (ideally, student, teacher, parent, administration, etc.).

This is an example of a question that I created (used in my pre assessment of Algebra 2).

I'm currently in Akron doing a training of the program for some local teachers. Today, we introduced the technology and by we, I really mean my friends at Treno Solutions while I provided real world feedback and uses. This got me thinking, why in the world have I not posted about this? There are TONS of possibilities for math and there are still tons of possibilities for other subject areas as well. The thought is that I will do some secondary training during our teacher week in August to give our staff another boot in the right directions.

Why do I love ASSISTments?

1) I get reports that are easy to read/understand so that I can quickly enter them into the grade book.
2) The kids get reports that they can easily understand and look at (they can look at correct/incorrect answers, averages, etc.)
3) I'm given the ability to provide automatic feedback for most commonly missed questions and these are saved into the questions that I create
4) Tons of "skill builders" have been created catering to the common core standards, many of which I consider prerequisites that I can assign to my children to constantly reappear to continue to prove their mastery (for example: fractions still needing practice in the Algebra 2 level)
5) The ability to add as many "hints" as I feel like for a question so that I can constantly be giving them that "look" I like to give them or asking those questions that god forbid make them think.

There are so many uses to this program and I think what I shall do, as a goal, please hold me to it, is post about one use for ASSISTments a week.

Here's your first one.

PRE ASSESSMENTS

Something that we all should do, but don't always have the time to do. ASSISTments is a program that I can use to create an "online assessment" that the kids take and will automatically grade for me. On the report sheet, I can see which questions are a common struggle that we need to discuss as a class so that I can assign them as a reappearing skillbuilder (ARRS program). Another ability that I hope to use starting in the fall is the data driven button associated with my pre assessments. The data driven button allows for me to "automatically" assign a problem set, for example the skillbuilders, to any student who gets a problem wrong. So let's say that Sally Jo misses a question about finding a slope, but this is not a common misconception. Sally Jo will automatically be assigned skillbuilders that will help her practice finding slope, and I didn't do a thing!!! Well, except for create this as a setting for students who get the question wrong.

This is a small version of a screenshot of one of the reports that you can view based upon an assignment. As you can see, I have made the names anonymous. In the first row, you can see the headings: Student/Problem then Average then you see numbers (these are the IDs of the questions). Underneath these numbers is the button called Data Driven. This button is what allows for you to create the setting where students who miss the question receive additional practice problems. In the row where the first box is called Common Wrong Answers, you will see several of the most common wrong answers for a particular question, followed by the percentage of people who put that as their answers, and then an option for adding feedback. This feedback will be the message that pops up for students who miss that question (now, this was in test mode, so messages did not appear for incorrect answers).

Initially, ASSISTments can be a lot of work while you are working to create your stock pile but in the end, that data is so useful and you end up doing less work with more results!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer time doesn't always mean all work and no play....

But in this case, it started.... Inspired by getting ready to do a presentation this week, I was finally inspired to start my summer to do list for Algebra 2 (perhaps I'll deal with Trig and the potential geometry later). What this means for you is that I should have some new material to post about come fall!

I began working on my first two units today with a sidewalk chalk day graphing linear inequalities and an Algebra 1 review day for systems and graphing inequalities. Each type of question got a different colored notecard and the questions are once again created by the wonderful Kuta Software (love them). I'll be visiting Lakeshore to laminate these this summer at some point :)


What have you been up to this summer for school? I'm also super excited to implement more pins from pinterest!
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