Tuesday, August 13, 2013

First Day of School Journal Page

As I was putting my classroom in order, I ran across an old notebook from one of my first journaling workshops. I found a neat idea for the first day of school and will try it out this year. The presenter had created a set of classroom expectations that were cut up into a tangram for the students to put together.

I decided to add this to my course syllabus page that will be page one in our journals this next year.
Reason: When a students asks me a question about classroom policy, I will redirect them to the course syllabus.
Page 1:

I have typed up my course syllabus and crammed it into two pages.

We will take these two pages, fold them in half, and glue them together.
On the front will be where we glue the tangram classroom expectations. (Now, I didn't write these. I'm not sure if the presenter before me wrote them either. :) )


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Course Syllabus

I have written a course syllabus for geometry and math models in the past. However, when I turned in my school laptop and transferred schools, those course syllabi seem to be the only documents that I did not transfer. I have rewritten my course syllabus and am looking for some feedback. This might also give some insight into the 'method of my madness.'

Writing has always been a tough area for me. Writing even an email takes me up to 30 minutes. It can take me days to complete a blog post. Whenever I have to write a letter or something, I tend to look for a template or similar document for guiding structure and format.

Some of the information in my course syllabus is pulled and adapted from websites such as TEKS (Texas teaching standards) and academic integrity. I really like the wording of these sights and couldn't come up with a better way. I tried my best to document so that I do not plagiarize. Definitely lend support and advice here.

Please post feedback. Am I missing something critical? Could something be better written?

The syllabus given to each student will be course specific.


Course Syllabi: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2

Course Description:

The course of Algebra 1 relies on the prior knowledge presented in K-8. A student is expected to have a basic understanding of number, operation, and quantitative reasoning; patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking; geometry; measurement; and probability and statistics prior to this course. Throughout this course a student is expected to use algebraic thinking and symbolic reasoning; represent and model functions in order to analyze and interpret relationships; use a variety of methods to set up and solve equations and inequalities in relation to functional relationships; use a variety of representations, tools, and technology to model mathematical situations to solve meaningful problems; and implement the underlying mathematical processes. (Description is an adaptation and summarization of the TEKS for Algebra 1.)

Course Description:

The course of Geometry relies on the prior knowledge presented in K-8. A student is expected to have a basic understanding of number, operation, and quantitative reasoning; patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking; geometry; measurement; and probability and statistics. A student is expected to acquire geometric thinking and spatial reasoning; knowledge of geometric figures and their properties; understand the relationship between geometry, other mathematics, and other disciplines; use and apply tools for geometric thinking; and implement the underlying mathematical processes. (Description is an adaptation and summarization of the TEKS for Geometry.)


Course Description:

The course of Algebra 2 relies on the prior knowledge presented in K-8. A student is expected to have a basic understanding of number, operation, and quantitative reasoning; patterns, relationships, and algebraic thinking; geometry; measurement; and probability and statistics. Throughout the course of Algebra 2, a student is expected to use algebraic thinking and symbolic reasoning to study algebraic concepts and relationships; analyze and understand the relationship between functions and equations; perceive connections between algebra and geometry; use a variety of representations, tools, and technology to model mathematical situations; and implement underlying mathematical processes.

(Description is an adaptation and summarization of the TEKS for Algebra 2.)

Contact Info:

Tiffany Haley thaley@baird.esc14.net Rm: 24

  • Reminder 101 - Algebra 1 text @eab1 to (325) 480-3682 (I plan to use reminder 101 to inform students of events and major grades such as exams and journal grades.)
  • Reminder 101 - Geometry text @b288d to (325) 480-3682 (I plan to use reminder 101 to inform students of events and major grades such as exams and journal grades.)
  • Reminder 101 - Algebra 2 text @81a64 to (325) 480-3682 (I plan to use reminder 101 to inform students of events and major grades such as exams and journal grades.)

Classroom Hours:

Tutorials: 7:30 am to 8:00 am

1st Period: TBA

2nd Period: TBA

3rd Period: TBA

4th Period: TBA

5th Period: TBA

Lunch: TBA

6th Period: TBA

7th Period: TBA

8th Period: TBA

Tutorials: 3:35 pm to 4:00 pm


Classroom Expectations:

The student is expected to:

  • be prepared for class by having the appropriate supplies.
  • be on time.
  • be dismissed when the teacher dismisses class not the bell.
  • be respectful and supportive of others. Mrs. Haley's classroom is a safe environment for you to learn and explore the world of mathematics. This is a NO BULLYING ZONE!.
  • clean up after oneself and put up classroom supplies.
  • do the best that he or she can to become an independent lifetime learner.
  • and, above all, adhere and follow the student code of conduct.


Academic Integrity:

A student is expected to follow the Code of Academic Integrity. Academic integrity requires a commitment of five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. The following behaviors violate the principles of academic integrity and are thus prohibited. These behaviors include: plagiarism; cheating; duplication of submission of the same work; collusion; false information and lying; falsifying academic documentation and forgery; theft, abuse, and destruction of academic property; unauthorized use of information technologies; and aiding and abetting academic dishonesty. Ignorance of the Code is not a valid reason for committing an act of academic dishonesty. (Adapted from the Statement of Academic Integrity of Canisius College.)


Honor Pledge:

I pledge to maintain a high level of respect and integrity as a student representing Baird High School. I understand and will uphold the Honor Code in letter and spirit to help our school advance authentic learning. I will not lie, cheat, plagiarize or be complicit with those who do. I will encourage fellow students who commit honor offenses to acknowledge such offenses to their teacher or the Honor Council. I make this pledge in the spirit of honor and trust. (Adapted from the International Center for Academic Integrity.)


Bathroom Pass Policy:

Two bathroom passes will be provided at the beginning of each six weeks. Here are the multiple purposes of a bathroom pass. (On occasion additional bathroom passes may be awarded.)

1.With permission of the teacher, a student may use a bathroom pass to exit class to go to the restroom, get a drink, go to the office, or go to a locker. When a student chooses to use a bathroom pass and miss the notes, the student is responsible for making notes up on their own time. The lesson will not stop to allow a student to catch up.

2. At the end of each six weeks, a bathroom pass has a value of 5 points that will be added first to the six weeks exam then to the lowest major grade. A maximum of two bathroom passes may be used for bonus points on major grades.



There are two supplies required for my classroom. These supplies need to be ready and with the student when attending class on day one. Supplies will be available for purchase before class.

1. Composition Book (not spiral) (Available for $1)

2. No.2 Pencil (Available for $0.25)

**Optional supplies needed for the classroom this year are dry erase markers. A bathroom pass will be given in exchange for a donation of dry erase markers.


Journal Policy:

  • Composition Book must be used.
  • All pages must remain in your journal; do not tear them out. (I plan to use all pages.)
  • If notes are missed due to an absence, then the student is to attend tutorials the following day to make them up. Notes are not to be made up during class time while a new lesson is being taught.


"Must Have a Pencil" Policy:

A student must have a pencil for class. If a pen is needed, it will be provided by the teacher.

If a student does not have a pencil, then here are a student's options.

1. Borrow from a classmate.

2. Bargain with a bathroom pass.

3. Purchase one for $0.25.

4. Detention!


Attendance Policy:

  • A student must attend a minimum of 78 days in the fall and 82 days in the spring. Excused, unexcused, medical, and religious absents count against the students attendance.
  • If a student is absent, then the student is expected to attend tutorials the following day.
  • If a student is not in their seat when the bell rings, then the student is tardy. Three tardies accumulate to an absence.
  • If a student is absent from class for more then fifteen minutes, then the student is considered absent for that period.


Extracurricular Activities:

  • Participation in extracurricular activities is a privilege, not a right (Student Handbook).
  • When an absence due to extracurriculars occurs, the students is expected to attend tutorials the following day to make up notes, assignments, quizzes, etc.


Grading Policy:

  • Grade reports are provided at the beginning of each week.
  • If there are missing assignments from the previous week, then a student has until the end of the current week to turn it in before it will no longer be available or accepted.
  • These assignments, turned in a week later, are considered late and the resulting grade will be reduced by 10%.
  • For the last week of the six weeks, assignments and late work from the previous week and current week are due by the end of day Thursday.

Major Grades60%

Quizzes 25%

Daily Work 15%


Course Outline:

First Day of School: 08/26/2013

1st Six Wks Exam: 10/02/2013

Grades Due:10/03/2013

Fall Midterm: 10/16/2013

2nd Six Wks Exam:11/13/2013

Grades Due: 11/14/2013

Fall Semester Finals:12/16/2013 - 12/20/2013

3rd Six Wks Exam: 01/08/2014

Grades Due: 01/09/2014

4th Six Wks Exam: 02/19/2014

Grades Due: 02/20/2014

Spring Midterm: 03/19/2014

5th Six Wks Exam:04/09/2014

Grades Due: 04/10/2014

6th Six Wks Exam: 05/21/2014

Grades Due: 05/22/2014

Spring Semester Finals: 05/27/2014 - 05/30/2013


Course syllabus is subject to change. Adequate notification will be provided.

REVISED: 8/10/2013


Please detach and return the signed portion.



I have carefully read and hereby agree to the conditions set forth in the course syllabus.


Student Signature: ___________________________________Date: __________


Parent/Guardian Signature: ____________________________Date: __________



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Method to my madness!! Building Journal Pages:

Questions: How do you create a journal page or foldable? Where do you start? How do you come up with it?

I'm not sure if I've written about this yet, but it is definitely on my mind quite a bit. My second year co-teacher always asked, "How do you come up with this?"

The answer to that question has been on my mind all through my third year of teaching. So let me see if I can lay it all out.

Step 1: I start with a general objective, select an assignment, and check to see that it aligns with the quiz and unit assessment.

This strategy evolved from the curriculum director at my previous school. "Keep the end in mind." When planning you want to continually loop through and keep the assignment, quiz, and assessment in mind as you plan a journal page, lesson, activity, etc.

I have several EOC prep books that I use for quizzes and the CSCOPE curriculum for unit assessments. I always start by taking the quiz or assessment myself. I work each problem in as many different ways as I can and note each strategy used. The hardest strategy for me to see is always the logical approach. Usually, this method comes out during the lessons from my students. I know that this idea looks and feels like teaching towards a test, and it probably is, but I do what I can.

Step 2: Now that I know what we're working towards, I take the concept, topic, or objective and begin my research. I look online mostly, reference CSCOPE curriculum, Glencoe textbooks, EOC prep guides, colleagues, etc. I try to reference a minimum of four to make sure I have confirmed my findings.

Step 3: Time to organize. I look at the information that I want to convey to my students and begin to think about the method that would best fit this lesson.

  • Are we defining something?
  • Is this too much at one time?
  • Do I need to break this into mini lessons with guided and independent practice loops? (That's what I did for special right triangles this past year and it worked out great.)
  • What will this journal page or foldable contain?
  • Will it define and organize the concept, contain a reusable manipulative, be the result of a paper folding activity or lesson, a reference of guided practice, or all of the above?
  • What is the point of this journal page and how will it benefit my students?

Once I decide the purpose, I then begin to look for or create a foldable that will organize the information and lesson into sections.This is important to me. I like information to be organized, sectionalized, bolded, boxed, highlighted, etc. Kids tend to remember things like that. A lot of times, we'll end up with glued attachments here and there to accomodate new information or make a little more room.

I can't really explain how I come up with my lesson. I've been told that my wacky brain is hard to follow. Sometimes, the lessons are from colleagues, workshops, or previous experiences that I tweak to fit my agenda. My goal on each journal page is to take an overload of information, organize it, and make it relatable to my students. If you've read previous posts, you'll see where I ask for suggestions on how to make a journal page better.

I'll admit, I am not always this on top of my lessons. Sometimes, I walk in knowing what I need to teach, but not how. My go to "don't know where to start" strategy is to go with a blank white sheet of paper. My students know to use my go to short fold half page foldabable. It's boring but I can expand this, glue attachments, glue it like a pocket for additional stuff, and initially this simple foldable provides three sections for attempting to organize. I use this foldable alot, even if we're not writing much. I don't want to run out of room. (Occasionally, I come up with nothing. I turn to a printed paper lesson. We glue together like a book and then into our journals.)

During the past year, my geometry class actually wrote on a lined page in the journal.... twice maybe. There's never enough room and I like to contain a concept to one page. We actually used 90 of the 100 sheets in the composition book. I did only use the front side, but hope to use the back/opposing side as a reflection, sentence stem, summarizing, something page.

Step 4: Once I know how I want to organize and relate, I create a quick disposable mock up of what I plan the journal page to look like. I scribble an outline and notes to self. This is usually something that I use as a guide to keep me on track and throw away later.

Step 5: (optional) Sometimes, I create a pre fab printable foldable template. This makes journaling go much faster and students are less likely to fall behind or make mistakes. I usually have one foldable completed to show students what we're trying to make. Some students are quick to figure it out and begin to help others. I use solid lines to indicate folds and dotted lines to indicate 'cut here'. This strategy can save time by having the students write less and provides structure to help them better organize the information. However, I am a huge advocate of students writing! I think my students have learned more this past year than the previous two because they wrote everything. I rarely printed definitions, diagrams, illustrations, proofs, etc. It was sometimes hard, but my students were better off. Watching them draw platonic solids and cross sections was entertaining, but extremely difficult. I did give in in the end and printed them off. However, anytime I print something off, I still require students to participate by highlighting, fill in the blank, notating, etc.

Step 6: I teach the lesson. I try to make every step of the process engaging and mathematical. I ask open ended guiding questions before, during, and after the creation of the journal page. (I have developed excellent wait time. It was hard, but I'm quite proud of that.)

Even the foldable itself is a mini math lesson. I try to use mathematical language when referencing folds. It took about half a year to come up with new terms for hot dog and hamburger fold. Actually, a student suggested long or short half fold and I've used it ever since.

One time in geometry, I needed the students to fold a blank piece of paper to get sixteen boxes. They recognized a pattern in the words I was using - one half, one fourth, one eighth, one sixteenth. It turned into a mini lesson on exponential functions.

Is this strategy full proof? Absolutely not! I usually change a journal page up year to year, class period to class period. My students are my guiding force, and they let me know what works. Someone once told me that you have to learn to teach students and not just teach a curriculum.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Help! I need some advice and suggestions!!


I have been asked to do an all day workshop in the fall on journaling. I was stoked and agreed right away! Now, I'm trying not to panic... how do I go about this? what would participants like to know? what do I bring? where do I start? As fellow educators out there, what would you like to know?


"...bouquet of newly sharpened pencils..."

School Supplies!!! I know I'm a little late to the game. I have been keeping myself buried in tutoring and curriculum building.

I just happened to find myself in Walmart for the first time in about a month, when I stumbled upon the seasonal aisle and found heaven. I was in awe. My significant other gave up and walked away.

The beginning of school and fall is my favorite time of the year. Every year, my mom and I kick back and watch You've Got Mail before school starts. When I see school supplies I think of that line in the movie where Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) says, "Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms."

The beginning of school and fall is when my year turns anew and is full of possibilities. One of the tasks I enjoy doing is shopping for school supplies. I haven't been very in depth with my shopping experience this year, so I don't have much to share. If you do, please share!!!

For my first year, I did most of my shopping at Staples. They had the best deals and opportunities for educators. Sadly, I no longer live close to one. This year, I did most of my conservative school supply shopping at the following stores:

Walmart: Bright colored composition books $0.50, expo markers

Dollar Tree: 'teacher journal' composition book, tons of random baskets and tubs

HEB: bold bic pens in multiple colors, basic black composition books $0.50 (they also have them with glitter)

I always buy extra composition books and have them available for the students that couldn't afford to get their own.

Two years ago, I couldn't find these little supplies caddies anywhere. Now, they're everywhere and in a variety of colors. Most of the small ones are just a $1. Those are my favorites.

I have really had to curb my school supply addiction. When we moved the last time, I packed a 8 cubic ft box of writing utensils.

Love love love school supplies!


Geometry: Non-Central Angles, Interior and Exterior Angles, and Secant and Tangent Relationships of Circles

Pg 5. Non-Central Angles (Need to rethink the title now that I think about it.)

This page consists of a half page fold of two pages glued together with four half page folds on each page. This entire page is pulled from the CSCOPE curriculum and tweaked just a bit.

First, we completed a page/lesson using paper folding and making conclusion based on what we know. When complete, the students would make a conclusion based on the evidence. We wrote that on the front off that page. After we completed all four pages, we went to the front and wrote three summarizing conclusions. I think it went pretty well and soundly build and understanding.

First section:

Left side:

I drew up a general diagram for the following three pages. We then completed the lesson with the same diagrams.

Right side:

Second Section:

Left side:

Right side:


Pg 6. Circles, Lines, and Angles

I want to find a better way to present and organize the following two pages. My students understood, but it didn't make a lasting impact.




Pg 7. Secant and Tangent Relationships