Another Iron in the Fire

Well, if everything goes as planned, I’ll be starting the process of becoming a NBPTS Board Certified Teacher next school year.

It’s something I’ve thought about before, but the timing and money never made sense.  At this moment, they do.  NBPTS is undergoing a fairly substantial shift in what is required to become certified, and one of the many changes is a reduction in cost to $1900.  This is great for me, because the scholarship (or fee waiver or something) offered by my state is exactly that amount.  Before now, even with the scholarship, the teacher still had a financial obligation of several hundred dollars to complete the program.  Now it might just cost me a $65 application fee.

I submitted my information last night to be eligible for this scholarship, and I could find out on April 7th if I’ve been accepted.  I’m pretty hopeful, because it’s awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis (it’s been open for two weeks and stays open until June 2) and because preference is given to teachers who work at schools with 50%+ students on free/reduced lunch (check) and are on the academic watch list (check).

I’m crossing my fingers.

I Finished My LearnZillion Dream Team Application

I’m not going to post my work for Part 2 of the application like I did for Part 1, because this is a competitive process, and there is still almost two weeks left to submit.  This step, unlike part 1, required much more than just typing answers to a few questions.

First, I had to design a PowerPoint presentation, LearnZillion style, to teach some lesson of your choosing.  I chose to teach a Geometry standard that LZ currently is lacking in its lesson portfolio.  There are a lot of restrictions to the formatting (font face, font size, colors, original graphics only, and others), but I’m hoping I did enough to separate myself from the pack.  I use Office 2013 on my home computer, and not having used PP in so long, I came away really impressed with how far the image creation tools have come since the beginning.

Next, I had to record a screencast of myself teaching the Core Lesson of the presentation.  That was a neat experience, but again, it has to be completely in the LZ mold.  The weird part about that is the teacher has no ability (at least to my knowledge) to use a graphics tablet and pen to actually *show* the math happening.  The text and images on the slides need to do that for you.  I’m hoping my design didn’t make that too awkward.  And I’m hoping my teaching style and tone of voice carry over acceptably.

Third, I had to give a critique of a fictional teacher’s learning task.  This was the easiest part for me, and I think my response was pretty strong.  I’m sorry I can’t give out a lot of details here, because I really think this was the one area when content and curricular knowledge was really displayed, and I want to keep my answer completely unique to me.

The last part was to make a 1-2 minute personal video to give the reviewers a face and personality to put with the digital works.  I practiced a few times before I did the recording, but I think it came off only semi-rehearsed.  They better not judge me too hard on that part.

Anyways, I’m not supposed to find anything out until mid-April, which seems like so long from today.  I went Google hunting to try to find out an approximate number of applicants, and I learned last year over 3,000 teachers applied.  Yeesh.  Assuming even more apply this year, I know better than to get too hopeful, but you never know, right?  I can dream.

High School Publishers’ Criteria for the CCSSM

How I knew nothing about this document until two weeks ago is both puzzling and embarrassing, but here I am.  Well, now I’ve read it.  I’ve spent some time the last two days highlighting and writing on my copy of the High School Publishers’ Criteria for the CCSSM.  What is it?  I’ll let the authors explain.

This document, developed by the CCSSM writing team with review and collaboration from partner organizations, individual experts, and districts using the K-8 criteria, aims to support faithful CCSSM implementation by providing criteria for materials aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.  States, districts, and publishers can use these criteria to develop, evaluate, or purchase aligned materials, or to supplement or modify existing materials to remedy weaknesses.

To me, this is mandatory reading for anyone in K12 education.  If my plan is to develop a Geometry curriculum from scratch for the school district next year (it is), then I’ve found my rubric.  I think I might read it again.

This Week in My Math Life

I joined ICTM and NCTM this week.  I’m 4.5 years into my math teaching career and I’ve never actually been a member of any professional organization relating to my content area until three days ago.  I feel good about that.  Maybe all it will be is something to add to my LinkedIn profile, but I hope not.  There is some “member’s only” content associated with both org’s, and I’m aspiring to use a bit of it.

My joining ICTM was sparked by Thursday’s outing to the regional conference at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  I should have made a major post on that event, but time elapsed, I didn’t write, and now I don’t think I’d do it appropriate justice.  In short, I went to three breakout sessions and listened to a keynote speaker.  I honestly can’t remember who the keynote speaker was, but she didn’t really move the needle anyway, so I won’t spend the time looking it up.  What I did take away was getting to meet and hear from (in Sessions 1 and 3) a middle school math teacher from Charleston, IL.  I’ll link to his stuff and share his name in a later post, but he got me energized.  Ask my wife, that’s hard to do.  He doesn’t use homework scores as part of his summative grades, and he’s into curriculum planning.  So that had me listening.

Lastly, my high school hosted the Illinois Council for Teacher’s of Mathematics Regional Math Contest yesterday.  Happy to say we won *every* event and will be headed to the state contest on May 3.  Competition was weak this year due to our main competitor moving to a different regional location, but a win is a win, and I was proud of our kids.