Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse Day!

I am happy to say that we were off for the solar eclipse yesterday, so we traveled about an hour and a half to see the totality. We live just outside of where the line of totality was, so we wanted the full effect. School was closed for several reasons. We are a large district, and we were (and did) expect a large influx of traffic because of the eclipse. Also, the elementary schools in our district dismiss around the time of the expected eclipse.

Anyways, here are some pics! Let me just add that these were taken around 2:30 P.M. Right around the time of the totality, the cicadas started chirping (thinking it was nighttime), and the streetlights came on. Then it was sunny five minutes later.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Gig, New Classroom

Here is my new classroom.  So, I wanted to share a glimpse with you!  

The bins are for students to keep their notebooks. I also have a bin for whiteboards as well as my "distractions box". have a bulletin board of the mathematical practices as well as some problem solving strategies. 

Here is my desk. I also have a growth mindset poster as well as my bookshelf and my St. Thomas poster from my girlfriend's mom who lives there. 

My laptop podium and our class math norms. 

Posters from Learning Scientists. I made them into posters from their 8.5x11 size sheets. 

The Math Rules was made by my girlfriend, and the triangle to the left was made by two former students. 

Group Roles Posters, from Jo Boaler's book Mathematical Mindsets. 

The First Week of School

Well, folks, it is back to school time in Tennessee! Last Monday was our first day of school and with students. For those of you who don't know, I am at a new school and am teaching 8th grade (and middle school) for the first time.


  • Monday was a half day, so we had our homeroom (which is our second block period). Then we had a half hour with our middle two classes, and had an hour of class with our last group. During this time, we did an Estimation 180 task, I introduced myself, and I went over some basic procedures for entering the classroom. 


  • We spent the class period going over the school wide procedures and expectations. We are lucky that our school has laid out very clear expectations for what behavior is expected. We also did a Getting to Know You Bingo activity (shared here).


  • We finished the procedures and expectations for this day for the classroom. I also taught the departure procedure for the school. 


  • Time to do some math! 
  • In pre-algebra, we started by classifying rational and irrational numbers. I had the students make a foldable. I gave the students a half sheet of paper, and students folded the paper in half to make a booklet. One one side, I had students write the word "rational" and "irrational" on the other side. I then gave students their Cornell Notes. We are an AVID School of Distinction, and, as a result, we use Cornell Notes in our classes. I gave students several numbers throughout the lesson, and students had to classify them as rational or irrational. 
  • In Algebra I, we started with one and two-step equations review. I also showed students the Cloud Method for solving equations. If you have any questions about what the Cloud Method looks like, just feel to contact or tweet me. 
  • I also gave my first homework assignment, the math autobiography. 


  • We had an assembly for most of my first class, so I just let them work on their math autobiographies after we returned. I then did a review game with my other pre-algebra classes on classifying rational and irrational numbers. After the game, I gave them some time to work on their math autobiographies. 
All week, we did the Name Tents from Sara Vanderwerf, which are a blessing and a great way to build relationships and get to know your kids. I also started a routine where I have students fist bump me on the way into class. I have a few that won't do it, but hopefully they will come around someday. However, I can understand at the same time. 

So, here's to week one in the books. It is my wish that Week 2 brings more positive relationship building and some fun lessons! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

P16 Summer Summit Presentations

On June 7, I had the opportunity to present at the P16 Summer Summit at Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee. I presented four sessions, which I will describe below. I also have links for all of the sessions for your perusal. The irony is that I presented four sessions, and there were only four sessions for the day, so I didn't get to go to anything. :(

How Twitter Transformed My Teaching

  • This was my first session, and I had around eleven participants. Unfortunately, I didn't have any math teachers, but that was okay. I talked about how Twitter has had such a positive impact and influence on my teaching career. I gave strategies on signing up for Twitter, connecting with people, Twitter etiquette, and how it, in fact, transformed my teaching. 

Why Blog? Why Not?

  • This sesiĆ³n had only three people, two of whom were in my first session. I was pretty chill while presenting, and I showed them my blog to begin the session. I also showed how to use Blogger as a blogging platform. I then talked about why I blog and how blogging has been a nice tool of reflection. 

Desmos Activity Builder

  • I was excited that I had thirteen people in the session, and only one had even used Desmos AB before the session. I also was glad that I had a mixture of math teachers and non-math teachers. We talked about the features of Desmos AB, such as graphing, multiple choice, sketching, anonymize, class pause, teacher pacing, input/fill in the blank, marble slides, and Polygraph. We had to go very fast during this session, and I probably should've done it as a longer session. 

Plickers, Quizzizz, and Kahoot! Oh My!

  • In this session, we did a crash course on Plickers, Quizzizz, and Kahoot. I wasn't able to print Plickers cards, so we didn't get to go full course on that. However, we talked about the pros and cons of each tool. Then I created a Quizzizz and Kahoot with very basic questions so that participants could experience the differences. 
Overall, I think that the presentations went well. Maybe I should've snapped a few pics! If you have any questions about my sessions, just let me know! 

Blogging Session
Twitter Session
Plickers, Quizzizz, and Kahoot Session
Desmos Activity Builder 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

End of Year Projects

For our final week and project, my students created End of the Year projects. I took the idea from Miss Rudolph's blog entry from a few years ago. I used her rubric and her directions, so I won't blather on about the details. I also gave my students a lot of choice when deciding what to do for their project. I was really excited what my students came up with and created. 

Math Toss was a game similar to see ball. Students used their non-dominant hand and throw into the cup. Then students draw out a question from the cup. If they got the question correctly, then they earned the number of points on the cup. If not, students lost one point. 

This board was used as a game to teach box method division. 

This was an informative poster on doing polynomial division. 

These two photos were from Quadratic Formula Bingo. Students were given an equation to solve, and then they matched the answer in Bingo. 

This is a poster on the properties of parabolas. 

This is a poster from student-created surveys. 

String art with parabolas. 

These two photos are a game that could be used for any topic. The group chose to use equations of parabolas. 

These two photos were from a matching game on square roots. The directions are on the next photo. 

If you have questions about the project or anything that my students created, please let me know!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Mathematicians' Project

First off, if it were not for Annie Perkins, this project wouldn't exist. I first met Annie when she came to my session at Twitter Math Camp (TMC) 2016 in Minneapolis. Then she shared this project with me. I sort of take my own spin on it, though.

I typed up my list of names, of which I got many of the names from Annie's blog. Then I added some that were available in the Desmos AB anonymize list. Then I let students choose their own mathematician and create a Google Slide about it. I had students create their own Google Slide presentations, but this semester, I made all of the students put their slides on one large Google Slide presentation. I created the basic presentation and did an example slide, and I changed the features to "students can edit file" in Google Classroom and let them work. For the most part, it worked really well. I had to threaten students who were messing with other peoples' slides. Then that issue stopped.

My students learned some interesting facts about their mathematicians (and so did I)! The next day, I made the students present their findings to their classmates and to me.

Here is the rubric, and here is the list of mathematicians.

If you have any questions about how we did this project, please do not hesitate to contact me. Also, I would also recommend checking out Annie's blog (as she is the expert here).

Saturday, May 13, 2017

WODB Project: Spring 2017 Edition

Every semester after End of Course tests are over, I always do the Which One Doesn't Belong project. This semester is no different. I first started this project in the Spring of 2016 after learning about what WODBs were and how useful they were in the math classroom. We do WODBs on Wednesdays as part of our Take5 (bell ringer), so my kids are very familiar. I decided to make a couple of changes to the project, though.

Until this point, I have had students only create one WODB, and I have set it up in Plickers for them to present to the class. This semester, I made students create three WODBs, one for shapes, one for graphs, and one for numbers, which are the three categories on the WODB website. I also re-did the rubric for the project and allowed for more comments. Here is the document that I used.

I let students work in partners to create their WODBs, then they picked one for me to prepare in Plickers to present. When students were finished, they submitted via Google Classroom, which made everything more organized for me! Then I typed the feedback on their documents and sent it back virtually.

Here are some examples of the projects my students created, and here is the assignment sheet on a Google Doc.




If you have made it this far, thanks! I still wasn't completely satisfied with my rubric, so I need to work on that again before I do this project again. I think that it allowed students to basically get 100% ,and I didn't assess toughly. I attached it above, and I would love any constructive feedback. However, this project is a staple, and I like the fact that is a low-floor, high-ceiling task, which allows for students of all levels to enter at the same level and also allows for many divergent paths. That in itself is another reason why I LOVE WODBs so much!

If you would like to do this project with your class, let me know. I would love to chat about it and make it an even better task.