Classroom Library


One thing I get from my mom is resource hoarding. She mostly taught preschool, but has hoarded books for most grades for years. One summer she put up book shelves near the top of the room I shared with my sister the store them. Any required school reading book she was likely to have 5 copies of. Many of the books have “Hernandez” written on the top, which is a bit confusing because there is a Mrs. Hernandez at my school and I am Mrs. Koch.Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 8.41.22 PM

My school uses AR or “accelarated reader” in language arts classes. Students can read almost any book they like and earn points for taking quizzes. I made stickers for my books so students would know the AR points and reading level (and also know not to return to Mrs. Hernandez’ room):

I used the myAvery design studio to create the labels. They are Avery 8164 Inkjet 3-1/3″x4″ sticker shipping labels, and worked out great.


I was hoping to have time to organize my bookshelf to put all the duplicate copies together, and possibly sort by reading level, but time got away from me this year.

If you have a classroom library I’d love your insights and pictures in the comments ūüôā

Moving to Middle School

education, Uncategorized

Classroom 1 2016.jpgAs of August, I am now a middle school math teacher in the High Desert area of Southern California.

A couple things that took a bit getting used to:

  • some students haven’t had their growth spurt yet, others are the same size as high school seniors.
  • 45 minute periods
  • no prep period
  • 3 different lunches, which mean in period 6 there are three bells that ring before I release the kids, and in 5th there are two bells.
  • after school dances that start 15 minutes after school

But, I am LOVING it.

In fact, I have been staying too long to work in my classroom, because it is so nice to work there. For the most part, my students are stellar, and I made a good decision in joining this new school.


Becoming a Teacher: What is Involved in 4 Easy Steps


Easy Totally doable but not really easy.

I recently was put in contact with a coworker of my mom’s what wants to become a teacher. I thought the information I shared with her would be useful for others who are looking to become a teacher, particularly a single subject math teacher in California.

*Note I began my journey towards a teaching credential as an Education minor (which I later dropped in favor of focusing more on math) at Biola University in 2002. I completed many of the prerequisites before 2006, but did not complete my credential journey until 2014. Some of the requirements have recently changed. For example when I took the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers) the Math tests were paper based. You got 5 hours and could decide to take all 3 in 5 hours or only take 1 at a time. Now the Math test are computer based with a much shorter time allowed. (I want to say 2-3 hours)

Now back to the 4 Easy Totally doable but not really easy steps

1. Prerequisites – this includes things like your certificate of clearance fingerprinting, constitution exam, CBEST and CSET, and 2-3 courses you must take before you really begin. The university you choose should give you a comprehensive list of what to do before you begin the program in earnest.

2. Observations + Coursework – in this phase you spend many hours in the classroom, but only on a part time basis. You can still hold a regular job at this time, but will need to have a job that is willing to give you 60-100 hours off during school hours over the course of one school term. (possibly as few as 6-9 weeks). My job was extremely flexible. My observations were spread over two 9-week terms. The first term it took me a while to get set up at a school and I ended up needing to pretty much take an entire week off work to observe full time to complete the required hours on time. During the second 9 weeks I paced myself taking a half day one day a week. I definitely recommend the pacing yourself approach.

3. Student teaching Рthis is one of the most difficult parts. It is trial by fire. You will slowly transition over the course of a minimum of 16 weeks from observer to full time teacher, under the guidance of a master teacher. You will need to be at the school you are assignment pretty much all day, every day. I planned on student teaching with Tustin Unified as this was the first choice district I has submitted to my school. For one reason or another I was placed at the Corona-Norco Unified School district at Auburndale Intermediate. I had an absolutely amazing master teacher. He was actually voted teacher of the year the year I student taught. Because of the differences in the school calendars between the two districts I had to give my job a very short notice (about a week) that I would be leaving to pursue by teaching career full time. Many schools will have you do two student teaching assignment: one at the middle school level, and one at the high school level. *If you are getting a multiple subject credential you will definitely have  two assignments, one primary grades (K-2 or 3) and one upper grades (3/4-6)

*TPA – Teacher performance Assessment. There are 4 TPAs that will be done. Azusa Pacific has us do one per 9 week school term, two per semester. Two were done while observing, two in student teaching. These are A LOT of work, but totally manageable if you pace yourself. The 4th TPA involves creating a 20 minute video of a lesson you teach. You will need to pay your school around $500 for access to Task Stream, a program/site through which the TPAs are submitted. Beware, your $500ish pays for only 2 years of access, if you stretch out your program too much you will need to pay again.


4. After you complete student teaching your school will review everything and submit their recommendation to the state. Once this is done you go to the CTC (California Commission on Teacher Credentialing) website, pay your fee and you have your preliminary credential. You can be a fully credentialed teacher now for up to 5 years. During the 5 year period you will need to work at least 2 years as a full time teacher and complete additional requirements. I know that these requirements are in flux at this time. When I cleared my credential just this past school year the program was called BTSA (beginning teacher support assessment) and the work we did was organized into FACT modules, sorry I do not know what the FACT acronym stands for, or even where it is an acronym. My district let those of us know that FACT was being phased out and those who had only complete one year would be working under a new system the following year. 

5. That’s it. Clear your credential within 5 years and you will only have to pay a renewal fee once every 5 years. No additional coursework or continuing education required by the state. However, your district may require ongoing professional development hours. As a teacher you should be a life long learner. As for me, I find keeping up on the latest research, attending conferences, and participating in an online professional learning network (PLN) an essential part of stay sane as a teacher.

You can do it

NotatISTE overwhelmed

education, NotAtISTE

Yesterday was a little crazy for me. I watched #coffeeEDU live through Google Hangouts on Air

Here is @edtechyoda’s post about it.¬†#notatISTE16 #coffeeEDU

Overwhelmed. I wish life would stop for 4 days so I could live through social media in the #notatISTE16 craziness.

But, being that the world keeps spinning, I am doing my best to keep up between obligations and silly things like sleep and meals.

Here are some of my tips:


  • turn on notifications
  • follow the right people (especially @AmazonEDU, @craigyen, @tonyvincent)
  • if you catch a broadcast live, watch on your mobile device, not laptop. You cannot comment or give hearts from the laptop/desktop version.
  • @tonyvincent is a Periscope pro. In fact he has a whole website surrounding his broadcasts¬†


  • push to talk “walkie talkie” type app
  • ask to join a group
    • Edumatch
    • notatISTE
  • turn off notifications
  • be aware, you need to turn off location sharing if you do not want to constantly be broadcasting your location online.


  • check out this awesome blog about getting set up on Flipboard.
  • Here is an image of my Flipboard Twitter screen. Tip: use on your tablet for most visually appealing and easy to navigate interface.
  • IMG_0871.PNG


#notatISTE16 Livebinder <= great place to go for resources!

Back to being overwhelmed… there are so many streams I am trying to follow at once, and so many awesome resources. You just can’t do it all.

My resolution: jump into live Periscope sessions, check in on Voxer from time to time, and know that many of the resources will still be around after ISTE.

One app that was shared with me through #notatISTE16 is Bitmoji. Here’s a farewell example:








NotAtISTE part 1


It’s that time of year again…


Step 1: Join NotAtISTE Google + Community.

Here’s a link:¬† The community is Private, so you will have to ask to join. At the time of this post there are 929 members! Once you are in read the intro doc for links to badges and ribbons and make a page on the doc. Here is my page:NotAtISTE16

Step 2: Add #ISTE2016,#NotAtISTE16 , and #passthescopeEDU columns on TweetDeck (my twitter app of choice for Twitter Chats)


If you are on Voxer there is also a #notatISTE group there.

Not to be missed: NotAtISTE16 Live Binder


Google Forms and Voting

education, politics

So, I voted yesterday. Typically the night before election day my husband and I sit down and go through all the endorsement flyers sent to us in the mail. This time election day fell in finals week for my husband so I was on my own. I decided to use a Google Form to sort through all the mailers.

I vote by mail, so I had my ballot. I created a Google form with each office and measure listed. At first I used the multiple choice question type for all offices. But I soon discovered that the multiple choice option was not sufficient for one office where you were supposed to choose up to six. Note: The multiple choice question type only allows for one answer selection.

CA Primary 2016To fix the problem all I had to do was go back to the form and change the type to check box. This allowed me to select as many options as I would like.

Google Forms Check Boxes

Google has update Forms since last time I used it and I couldn’t be happier. Instead of looking through a spreadsheet to determine the results, there is a great graphical interface available at the touch of a button.

CA Primary 2016

Here is how the checkbox question type displays answers:

Checkbox responses

And here is how the multiple choice question responses are displayed:

Multiple Choice Responses

There were 34 senatorial candidates so you have to click the down arrow 5 times to see the whole legend. Google chose 34 mostly distinguishable colors. (It was hard to tell exactly what shade of orange that was) If you hover over a sector of the pie chart a pop up tell which Candidate is represented by that sector and how many responses they got.

Take aways:

For multiple response questions use check boxes.

Love, love, love the improvements to Google Forms.

Note: All images made possible by SnagIt.


Finals Approach


For the past few weeks students have been asking what they can do to raise their grade. Today I finished grading the last test before the final. It was on Systems of Equations. My four class¬†averages ranged from 58% to 72%. I was not too happy with those results. The students received a study guide that matched the test question for question. I did each question with the students the class before then test, then immediately before the test asked them in they had questions, “What questions on number 1-3?”, etc. Obviously there were questions that went unstated.

I am encouraging my students to come in before school for extra help, but few do.

Today I took the time to print out the individual grade book pages for any failing student that could conceivably pass the class if they only turned in all their missing assignments and complete the test corrections they were eligible for. I highlighted the missing assignments and wrote nice notes with smiley faces. There were 2 students with so many missing assignments that just turning them all in would raise their grade from an F to a C.

I plan on calling the parents of students who get the print outs during prep on Thursday. I plan on telling them their students have the opportunity to pass the class, if only they turn in all their work and complete their test corrections. I would really like to see the vast majority of my students pass Algebra.