Posted in Blaugust, Education, Geometry, Math

What is that? How do you use it? #blaugust

Side note, this blog post is in no way a criticism of anyone or school or anything along those lines.  It is just what happened in class today.  If anything, it might be a criticism of myself as while I was planning this lesson, I assumed my students’ experience would be greater with this tool.

Today was the second day of real “content” with my Geometry students.  After years of the Common Core Standards in place, which I know includes Geometry standards at the 7th grade level, I am still amazed when students remark that they have not used a protractor before, and I am fairly positive that they are being truthful (or at least that they didn’t remember actually using one).


What was intended to be a five minute “review” of these skills to launch into the real lesson activity of the day turned into a much more in depth “teaching” of how to use this tool.  Although they might NEVER use a protractor outside of my class again I do find the task of measuring something using a tool useful. The task also spoke to the CCSS Math Practice Standards of attending to precision and using tools strategically. It is so challenging (especially at the beginning of the year) to determine what are appropriate scaffolds to help students work on a task. Moving forward, I plan to assume less which is actually a good thing because then we can talk about refined meanings of things.  For instance, because of their lack of background we were able to really talk about that the measurement in degrees was actually a measurement of a rotation. I think next year my approach might be different.

Posted in Uncategorized

Great Start To The New SchoolYear #blaugust

This year has had a great start in my classes.  I have been happy about how they have started and my students seem to be “buying” into my class.  The feedback regarding the name tents activity has been incredibly positive and I hope to do this activity maybe once a month with my students. I also did some work with my students on productive struggle which gave me some great insight into some of my students’ work ethic.  I have fallen behind in my #blaugust posts but hope that I can catch up in the next couple of days.  Here are some blog ideas that I need to flesh out:

1.) What I do/leave for substitute/guest teachers teachers

2.) The Solar Eclipse Hype

3.) My experience using an online lesson plan book and whether I think it is sustainable and useful

Moving forward from surviving the first week of classes, I am considering implementing homework that is reflection as opposed to practice or problem solving.  I need to resolve what to do about 1.) students who do not do the reflection and 2.) students who are absent.

Posted in Uncategorized

Building Relationships and a Shout Out #blaugust

I want to thank the entire #MTBoS for their support these last couple of years.  From positive vibes online to providing a window into your classroom, I am really grateful for the great lessons and ideas you have shared that I have implemented.  Special shout out to @saravdwerf for her blog.  It has been instrumental to me reconsidering some aspects of my practice.  

I really was drawn to a couple of Sara’s posts related to the first week of school.  Specifically, I was drawn to the name tents as a way to start building relationships.  I have a REALLY hard time remembering names.  I’ve been amazed at the names I have learned through this activity AND the unique things I probably never would have known without this activity.  


I am always floored when students reveal very personal information after just one day.  I am glad she told me so now I will be aware. I really liked this activity and might incorporate it later this year as well.

On a side note, I have always been on a quest to have a better way of distributing and collecting Chromebooks.  I have a two sided cart with 30 Chromebooks.  You cannot see #1-15 when you face #16-30.  Here is what I am doing.  I will get the computers out before school, set them up on the wall like this.  Have my students (seated in fours) to come grab a stack for their desk.  At the end of class someone else will return the stack.  Thoughts?  Better ways of dealing with this situation.

Posted in Blaugust, Education, MTBoS

Taking Everything In Stride #blaugust

The first full day with students is always challenging.  I still have classroom set up things that I want to take care of (read: love putting things on my walls but also saw a quote that read “don’t make it look like Pinterest threw up on your wall” and that has stuck with me).  Students come to your class at the wrong time, late, or too early.  You have the utopia of school still fresh on your mind from summer but the reality sets in and you realize that you sometimes have to have Tim Gunn moments where you need to “make it work”.  However, through it all I have to admit that I am less stressed than previous years and that is a definite improvement.

I tried some of Sara Van Der Werf’s ideas for my first day.  I’ve had 17 years of first days and this was a good one.  I will never forget about 10 years ago when students actually started fighting on the very first day (not my fault as they were continuing an argument from the summer and one student was eventually expelled for continuing that behavior in other classes, but I digress).  Anything shy of that start is a good one :). I will admit that I miss the #TLAP playdoh beginning, but I have a feeling that I will use playdoh at some point this year in my classes 🙂 and #TLAP is so much more than JUST day 1, though day 1 is important.  One of the best parts of Sara’s feedback form is that I got to know some things about students that I never would have known otherwise.  One student noted that he is hard of hearing and he liked where he sat today.  Another student gave a shout out to her previous teacher (who also happened to be transferred to another school in our district) and when I texted him what she wrote he said that it made his day.  I was floored at the honesty of my students and can’t wait to see what they write for the remainder of the week. One of my favorites is below:

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When I declared my major in college I said the same exact thing.  I believed it too until a couple of years into teaching.  My hope is that at the end of this year, she will value the multiple ways to a right answer that took me so long to appreciate.

I’ve started using #teach180 on my Twitter.  What is #teach180?  Check it out here.  This is the first year that I have told my students that I have a Twitter and I actually gained a new follower :).  I’m interested in seeing if I can leverage this form of communication to better my practice.  I like the idea of pictures and 140 character reflections on the day moving past #blaugust.

Posted in Blaugust, Professional Development, Sketchnote

Institute Day 2 #blaugust

My school went outside of the box today with the Professional Development, literally out of the box that is our school and held sessions on the football field, courtyard and practice field.  IMG_7344.JPG

It was nice to be out in the sun.  I wish that the technology would’ve worked for them but I give my administrative team a ton of credit for the effort to make it happen.  Even with the tech fails, they still seemed united and excited about the upcoming school year which was awesome. Selfie below is me, no filter, but it was hot so not much of a smile either.IMG_7343.JPG

Here is my sketchnote from this afternoon’s session that was mostly about business.  I am on cycle for getting evaluated this year so you can probably tell that my ear was open to that part of the discussion. ALSO should note that the “Late Arrival Sherrie Birts” is a note to self that if I see that on a schedule, I need to send those students to the auditorium (not that Sherrie Birts is a late arrival).

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Overall, a productive day but I still have a number of things I need to attend to before I am ready for the first day of class on Wednesday.  I’m just going to get plenty of sleep tonight so I can be 100% for freshmen tomorrow and welcome them with the most Rocket Pride I can.  You only get one day to be your first day at Rich East High School and I want to be a part of theirs and be a blessing to everyone I encounter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Shell Centre’s FALs and Desmos Card Sort

It’s no secret that I LOVE Desmos.  To the point that my teaching friends roll their eyes when I bring it up.  However, the awesomeness was stepped up a notch today when I searched Desmos Activity Builder for a card sort on expressions and found a familiar FAL. I am excited because 1.) I’ve always wanted to try the activity builder since the launch but haven’t made the time and 2.) I am well aware of the quality present on the Shell Centre site so I know this will be a good one.  

Posted in Blaugust, Education, MTBoS

Classroom is Coming Together

I’m so grateful that my husband watched the kids all morning so I could work in my classroom. 


I purposely clean my classroom as though I am going to move out.  First, for seven years I switched classrooms every year.  I eventually embraced the process as a good way to purge unnecessary items.  Second, one year I returned from summer to discover that my room had changed.  Having everything already packed at the end of the year when you have time is so much easier than packing when you are trying to plan for the new school year.  Finally, it is nice to have a clean slate to work from.  


Great MTBOS idea to post a vocabulary bulletin board by alphabet. Genius

Vertical number line. My sophomores still need it. 

A mathy Welcome sign I found on the MTBoS (link with appropriate shout outs coming soon). 


Found an old set of transparencies (for the young folk, there was a time before LCD projectors and SmartBoards). Before pitching them, I came up with a repurposing to make vertical non-permanent surfaces with them in my room. 

That’s it for classroom.  I started the process for planning my classes and attempted to access my online bootleg copy of my textbook (2010 Glencoe Geometry) that has been shut down :(.  I guess that just means I need to Ditch That Textbook ;-).