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Summer To Do List... Still in Progress

So every summer I make a grand, dream to do list...

...then every summer reality sets in with this dilemma: I want to spend time with my kids and take care of my home (where regularly during the school year, mystery sticky spots on the counter remain for weeks).

So the annual question becomes how do I balance my ambition to increase innovation in the classroom and spend quality time with my little ones in a (sorta) clean house (I read Lean In; I know I can't really "have it all").


I am (again) running out of time. What should I focus on? Here is the list:

1. Study for and retake the GREs (my scores have long expired) and start applying to grad school.

2. Plan more PrBL tasks and games for Algebra and Geometry, even more, I want to get better at encouraging students to own the process and ask the questions and discover the concepts (less lecture... oh but what about all those videos I made to flip my classroom a few years ago. Blended learning environment is easy to say but harder to do well).

3. Yay our school has a 1:1 Program!...Now to decide how best to use it.

  • I can easily integrate digital portfolios into class time, which students will love given the myriad of questions blogging brings. 
  • I could use Socrative to gather feedback on homework?
  • Omit daily paper homework and replace with an online dealio that tracks student progress like IXL or Brain Genie or Aleks or FrontRow or ??? But that would fundamentally change the culture of my class room. My favorite part of the day is watching my students run 5-10 minutes of homework help in which they take turns at the document camera explaining homework problems. I also really like seeing their progress on paper.
  • I guess I could use those programs as a "ticket to reassess" given that my next big goal is venturing into the world of Standards Based Grading (I know that I am like 4 years late for that to be considered cutting edge, but I teach at a traditional school).  
  • Also on the 1:1 side of things, I want to use more Geogebra (oh which reminds me I still need to watch this from the always awesome @mathbutler).

4. SBL - I watched a moving video from @mythagon last May and it inspired me to not write grades on papers anymore... But like most schools, mine still requires grades. Thus this is my biggest goal for the summer. How do I track student mastery of learning goals, give feedback, track multiple attempts of goals and then turn it into a letter grade come the end of the quarter?

  • I have typed up learning goals for Algebra 1 (check!). The rest should be some simple cut and paste...
  • We use Canvas and low and behold it has a new learning mastery grade book. But after spending two days of valuable nap time hours tinkering with it, I don't think it will do what I need it to do, plus it seems needlessly labor intensive as I would have to create assignments and rubrics within it and it just isn't my style. 
  • I watched this awesome Web Conference from the Global Math Department on SBL in which they mentioned programs like Blue Harvest, and Active Grade and Jump Rope... and do I really have to learn another website with more user names and passwords and waaaaaaaaaaaah. 

5. The usual to do's: update handouts, calendar lessons, revise assessments, update website and think about new mantras/quotes to guide classes. Type up notes from PD I attended last April, read The Purpose Economy (read the 3 books I meant to read last summer, for that matter), get better at spreadsheets and think about rewriting the lyrics to I'm so Fancy to make a funny, school appropriate parody music video (I am sure that is on most math teachers' yearly to do lists).

6. Read the following pages that have been open tabs in my browser since June:

*Key Factor to consider: My school has only 156ish school days, in which I see my students for 5 out of 6 of those days for only 40 out to be 130 classes to teach, practice and assess (Independent school).

Well if you're still reading my ramblings you either have ideas for what I should focus on or you are bothered by my over-usage of the ellipses and weak attempt at snarky-ness...

Either way, I welcome feedback because I am stuck.

On a side note, the kiddos and I had a great time at the Santa Barbara Zoo today. We even had a fun celebrity sighting (Jennifer Garner is quite polite).


  1. I don't know if I have anything to contribute to this other than solidarity. I struggle constantly with inaction due to having too many things that I want to do. My main goal has been to work on implementing SBG this year, but I've done no work to get me there, other than talking about it.

    You, with your list, are miles ahead of me and I'm very jealous. Perhaps this will spur me into action!

    Thank you for this.

    1. Talking about it is an important first step! I am queen of list making. Implementing list items is more hit and miss. :)

  2. Great list and thanks for the links. Now my list is longer! Do as much on this list as you can, but don't beat yourself up about the things that don't happen.

    1. Thank you for the advice. Teaching and improving my teaching leads me often to feelings of inadequacy. Though in the end, even if not all my lessons are winners, my students are learning and they know that I care about them. So that is something. A common thread I have seen in a lot of the teachers I have gotten to "know" through the MTBoS is that we are all driven to optimize. A good quality when compared to not caring, though it is difficult for me to both feel satisfied with my teaching and enjoy all the other parts of my life. #morerambling


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