Wednesday, February 27, 2013

itslearning - Systems of Equations - Systems of Equations
Any math teacher knows the struggle teaching Systems of Equations can be.  And, that's where I am in Algebra and with my first journey through itslearning - so far, though, it's been a pretty positive go of it.

Update - my students are about 6 weeks into the itslearning journey and are finally beginning to "catch on".
Students are diving into the videos . . . pausing them to make notes . . . copying down helpful information.  Then, they are looking back at the notes and using them as a resource.  Discussions between the students is a daily occurrence now!  And, I am able to give the attention to those who truly need it . . . while my stronger students continue to roll on and gain even more confidence in the ability/independence.

The one thing I love about itslearning is the ease that I can make changes on the fly . . . student comments help control the direction of my lessons and this is such a great option for me when using itslearning.

Now does that equal understanding?  The material is still difficult but I have been pleased with the overall effort/focus level this week.  The itslearning LMS seems to give students a feeling of "extra support" so very few are completely giving up and shutting down.  For some, this is a huge step in the right direction.

I have been looking a lot at lesson set up and have found that an intro video / practice problem / assignment set all being one page eliminates issues of what link to click and where to find this and that. Also, because Systems of Equations covers a lot of ideas I have broken them down into Levels.  The Levels are tabs on the main page so it's really easy for students to go to Level 2 when they complete Level 1.

I am still trying to "control" the speed at which the classes are going which I know is still hindering my stronger students and is something that I need to look at more in the future.  The opportunity for my strong students to take off and do amazing things is there.  But, I'm not sure what the best way to go about that is . . . without losing touch with them and them feeling like they have no support.

As I move forward:
The adaptability as I move forward is something that excites me and opens up the idea of differentiated lessons . . . different levels in regards to difficulty so those that are stronger take the upper level work and the average student will work on the lower level.  This is something I plan to look at as I move forward in the semester . . . creating lessons that fit better with my individual student groups within my classes . . . right now I am trying to fit all my students into one style of set up (which is working for the majority but . . .).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

LRB 365 Week 9

W9 D1 - 2.26.13

Squat:  5x85, 4x100, 3x115, 2x130, 1x150, 1x155, 1x160, then 1x3 @ 130# (front squat)

DL:  5x170, 4x205, 3x240, 2x270, 1x300, 1x305, 1x325, then 1x3 @ 300#

DL @ 325# was tough . . . the heaviest weight I have dealifted in month.  Wasn't pretty, but was nice to get it up.  With the fact that I annihilated my legs with squat before DL makes me motivated that I can get more up on my DL if I were fresh and focused on DL.

Good start to the week.  Want to end strong in this first cycle of LRB 365.  Week 10 will be a 50% week . . . week 11 can be a test week, but not sure what I will do.  I might skip to week 12 and start the rotational part of the LRB 365 workout.

D2 2.28.13

BP:  5x100, 4x115, 3x135, 2x150, 1x160, 1x175, 1x185, then did AMAP @ 170# (got 8!)

Incline: 1x8 @ 75#
Flat flye:  1x20 @ 20#

Felt really good throughout on this workout.  The 8x170 puts me at the 210# max which would be a solid start to the LRB365 workout.  I emailed Paul Carter of who created the program and I think next week I'm gonna do a 50% week and then get right into the next cycle.  I am super motivated right now and enjoying the gains I am making overall.

D3 3.2.13

2x12 chins
2x10@50# rows
1x8@75# shrugs
2x20@20# curls

Really focused on a solid warm up, mobility, sets/reps, ab work.  Cycle 1 is nearly finished.

Up next . . . a week of 50% deload workouts.  Then I will look at where I am and how I am feeling.  Right now, I am looking forward to cycle 2 - periodization.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week 8 LRB 365

Monday 2.18.13

Squat:  5x85, 4x100, 3x115, 2x130, 1x135, 1x150, 1x155, then 1x5 @ 120# (pause squat)

DL:  5x170, 4x205, 3x240, 2x270, 1x290, 1x300, 1x315, then 1x3 @290#

Felt really strong in both the squat & DL.  Mobility seems to be helping a lot with keeping my hips open/flexible.

Thursday 2.21.13

BP:  5x100, 4x115, 3x135, 2x150, 1x160, 1x170, 1x180, then AMAP x 160 (got 10! might have been able to get one or more but left those in the tank).

Incline: 1x8 @ 75#

Flat flye:  1x20 @ 20#

Good workout overall.  Really felt the weight throughout the movements which was good.  Did some ab and lower back work at the end as a cool down and to keep a little work on those areas.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Flipped Approach: A universal curriculum

Really worth the read . . . the idea that teachers are really teaching the same thing.  Right?

Click the link to read the entire post.

A Flipped Approach: A universal curriculum: Here is a question for you to ponder and I really beed some feedback on this idea. Could every course in a school be taught from one cu...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Responsibility & itslearning

I continue my journey with itslearning . . . and again have learned a lot about myself as a teacher and about my students.  I enjoy my students and I enjoy the different personalities and talents of each.  But, this week, I thought I had a great plan of attack.  But, sadly, I found that things just didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

I wanted to give a midterm to my students, so I create an itslearning lesson that would allow the students to work through some review material with a deadline of taking the midterm being today, Thursday, Valentine's Day.

A group of my students (the top 30%) rock and rolled through the review topics and either took the midterm on Tuesday or Wednesday.

My middle 30% did a couple topics each day in preparation for today's midterm, while the bottom 30-40% wasted their classtime and didn't take advantage of any opportunities such as homeroom or study hall to get the work done.

What is severely lacking here?  One word:

The students bombarded me with question after question on the midterm - and it would be one thing if the questions were quality questions, but many were not.  Frustrating to say the least.

Now, I also put some of the Reponsibility on me.  I created the learning opportunities, but as many teachers find out, many of them are geared for the top 30% to be successful while the rest flounder.  Many of the students felt that because they completed the assigned problems (with help from peers/teacher) that equaled understanding (mastery) - so I pick you up, throw you over a hurdle and you want me to call you a hurdler now!?!?!  Doesn't make sense . . . and doesn't make sense in my math class either.  But that's what I saw this week.

So, it's back to the drawing board!  Things I am pondering:

  • Forget pampering to the crowd and let the top 30% roll baby roll!
  • Create a checklist of topics that must be completed by the end of the quarter.  Already mastered those topics?  Well, then, begin on the next topics in the next quarter.  Why not?
  • Ask students:  Are you ready to take the assessment?  Can you show me that you understand the material? - maybe those two questions become the assessment.  The student must create some type of "display of understanding".
    • I can make practice assessments (checkpoints) that students can then use as "reference points" for showing understanding.
    • Understanding - that's what I want for my students.
    • Rather than me tell them to be ready by a certain time . . . the student decides - I am ready!
    • But, what if they're never ready?  What do I do then?
  • itslearning - it's on the internet . . . how can I get my students to begin accessing material outside of class?  Students could have completed the review material in one day if they worked in class and at home . . . questions? easy, email me and we can have a digital conversation about the material.
  • Hand holding:  Do I do too much hand holding?  It's not fair to me and it's not fair to the students.  But I love success . . . but at what price?
  • I will be a Champion with itslearning.

Monday, February 11, 2013

LRB 365 Week 7

Monday 2.11.13

Squat:  5x85, 4x100, 3x115, 2x130, 1x135, 1x140, 1x150, 1x5 @ 110# (front squat)
DL:  5x135, 4x170, 3x205, 2x240, 1x270, 1x290, 1x305, 1x3 @ 270#

Great workout overall!  I worked some ab work in again.  Switched things up by working out on Monday . . . felt good to DL over 300#.  Squat feels stronger as well.  Trusting the program and seeing the benefits of my patience.

Thursday 2.14.13 - Valentine's Day!

BP:  5x100, 4x115, 3x135, 2x150, 1x160, 1x165, 1x175, AMAP x 150 (got 14!  wanted 15 but 14 is 1 rep more than last week = can't complain!)
Incline:  1x8 @ 70#
Flat Flye:  1x20 @ 20#

Felt strong throughout . . . bench is slowly getting stronger.  I feel more solid throughout the movement and my entire body, rather than just feeling it in my pecs.

Friday 2.15.13 - No School!

2xAMAP chins = 10, 10 = 20 total reps
2x10 @ 55# rows
1x10 @ 80# shrugs
2x20 @ 25# curls

Good workout.  Did a lot of mobility work and did a couple sets of ab work.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

LRB 365 Week 6


Squat:  5x80, 4x95, 3x110, 2x120, 1x140, 1x145, 1x150, 1x3 @ 120 (pause squat)

DL:  5x160, 4x190, 3x225, 2x250, 1x280, 1x285, 1x295, 1x3 @ 250

leg curls:  2x20 @ 100#

The increased weight feels good . . . just want to continue to stay consistent with my form.


BP:  5x95, 4x110, 3x125, 2x140, 1x155, 1x165, 1x175, AMAP x 150 (got 13! - up 1 from last week)

Incline:  3x10 @ 70#
Flat flye:  1x20 @ 20#
Pushdowns:  2x20 @ 30#

Worked in some abs . . . I know I need to focus on this more . . . strength more than anything.  A stronger core will inevitably help my lifts overall.

Going snow tubing tomorrow with the fam . . . then finish off the week with good Saturday workout!