Posted in EdTech

Screen Extending

One of the problems I have is that my SmartBoard mirrors what is on my computer desktop.  Therefore, I cannot have my gradebook open at the same time as my bellwork on the board(my SmartBoard does not have a freeze feature like the old ones and projectors do).  That is, until NOW.

1.)  Hold down the Windows key and P

2.)  Select EXTEND

3.)  After the screen has adjusted, move a window from the SmartBoard screen to the desktop screen by dragging it to the desktop

4.)  Your cursor will only appear on one screen at a time

5.)  To get back to the original state, just hold down the Windows key and P again and select DUPLICATE

Click here for the video on how to do this

Posted in EdTech, Education

Printable Bitmoji Post-It Notes

I came across a post about printing on post-it notes.  Here is a blog about how to do it.

I have a small addiction to post-its.  I realized this was a problem about two years ago and I haven’t bought a post-it for myself since that point (other people have enabled my addiction).  IMG_7923.JPG

Additionally, I LOVE using my Bitmoji in class.  I got that idea from the awesome Sahar.

So NATURALLY Bitmoji post-its were formed.  It is my “one good thing” today 🙂 IMG_7924.JPG

Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS

Games Math People Play

I love, love, LOVE games.  I would love to gamify my whole class, but for right now I’ll just gamify a little at a time.  Here are a few of my favorite activities.



One of my most favorite teachers in my building taught me this game many years ago.  If you have a worksheet or review already worked out, you can easily adapt it to this game.  I love this game because it will allow you to work with small groups who need more assistance since the groups are ability grouped.  Here is a blog post where I describe the game in detail.

Quizlet Live

If you haven’t tried Quizlet Live with Geometry students, you need to.  You can browse the topics others have created (here is an example of a set from another teacher that incorporates chapter 1 vocabulary) and use them with your class for free. I suggest doing this activity 1:1 chromebooks as it gives each student the opportunity to have their own cards and work in a group.  Also, consider using it to INTRODUCE vocabulary rather than just review.  Yes, you read that right, introduce vocabulary.  If you are 1:1, encourage your students to use a different tab to Google terms they don’t know.  My students loved this activity and learned a ton more than on a typical vocabulary day.  There are other ways to use the sets (think traditional flashcards, an individual matching game, etc) but in my opinion, Quizlet Live is the most fun.  I did not pay for the “Teacher” upgrade as I have always been able to find a set that I could adapt to my needs.  However, if you want to include YOUR OWN diagrams, you will have to upgrade.


I love this activity because it is fast paced, involves higher order thinking, and will take any old worksheet to the next level.  First, you fill out a worksheet (I usually do a unit review) and only make about half of it correct.  The other answers try to make mistakes your students typically make. Make copies or distribute this to groups of students (I would only go up to four in a group as more than that will not give students enough to do).  Give students about fifteen minutes to look at the work. Pass out $1,000 in play money to each group.  Then host an auction where students bid on the answers. Group who wins the most correct answers wins.  If a group purchases an incorrect answer, not only do they not get a point but I charge them an additional $200.  Money left over is used for tie breaking only.  I love how I can tell exactly what students really understand versus what needs more work based on their bidding habits.

Slope Ms Stone Says

I learned this game when I was student teaching.  It is a super way to review different types of slope and get your students on their feet.  Read more about this game here.

Posted in Education, Math, Sketchnote

Blind Kahoot, Sketchnoting, and Better Lesson

I had a fabulous time over the weekend at EdCamp Chicago.  You can read more about my experience here.  I am feeling a little of the EdCamp is over blues so I figured the “cure” would be to apply some of what I learned to my classes and that totally energized me.


Blind Kahoot

I wasn’t sure if this would work in my class but it TOTALLY did.  We played a Kahoot on classifying triangles BEFORE I introduced the terminology.  Mind you, these terms are middle school topics, so my students aren’t completely “blind” to the definitions.  However, as happens EVERY YEAR, students mix up the words “isosceles” and “scalene”.  They enjoyed playing the game a second time through on “ghost mode” where they competed against their original scores and times.  The ratings students gave the activity at the end merited doing it again AND this year students actually noticed that there are TWO ways to classify a triangle.  I loved how they verbalized this during the game when sometimes that nuance is lacking in my class.  It was so much fun teaching this lesson today as compared to years past.

Sketchnoting 101


I am relatively new to sketchnoting myself.  I am getting better about using more icons and containers.  Today was the first time I tried to get my students to try it.  I provided the “notes” and they needed to provide the sketches to accompany them.  I was surprised that no one has complained about not being able to draw.  Below are some of the sketches my students worked on.  I will have to pass out color in the future.  The “proof” on whether this activity merits future use will be in students being able to identify these terms in the days to come.  File_002





Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS, Sketchnote

EdCamp Chicago Fall 2017 – AMAZING :)

EdCamp Chicago went down to the south suburbs so I HAD to represent 🙂 you can take the girl out of the Southside, but never the Southside out of the girl :).  Anyway, I learned soooo much today and am excited to get back and put it into action.  I was talking with @MrsBronke through Twitter about the fact that I LOVE EdCamps but I totally struggle with how to describe them to educators so they can feel the awesomeness and come as opposed to being scared by the “scary” parts (i.e. there is no agenda before the day, people can come and go at will, etc – which I admit are scary but after your first EdCamp you realize that these factors are ACTUALLY empowering and really force you to really be super present and invigorate you). Below are some of the lasting ideas that stuck with me from the sessions I attended (for the first time at an EdCamp I didn’t leave any session to attend another one – maybe just really good choices on my part, or maybe just my desire to make the most of where ever I was – regardless, I liked it so much).  Shout out to Danita and Mia who sat with me at the beginning, it was so fun to connect with Hammond, Indiana folks….maybe they will get on Twitter 🙂 I’ll be on the lookout.

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Scouts, Sunday School, 4H and More

This was a small group but we were a mighty force.  I loved how diverse the room was despite the fact that we only had 4 people in it :).  I was impressed with the connections we made when it came to how you communicate with the members of your extra-curricular, how do you hold them accountable,  how can we “gamify” attendance so it doesn’t need to be punitive, to how can we recognize members for their contributions on a regular basis so that they aren’t so fixated on end of year MVP awards.  I really liked how this session made me reconsider how I encourage my students in Mathletes and Snowball.  I’d like to maybe recognize “streaks” (one person mentioned Homework streaks in his classroom, maybe I can do that with attendance or for my Mathletes their practice skills or other attributes that I want to see more of in my activities).

My Favorite Four Letter Word: Math

I suggested this session.  I’ve suggested it before at EdCamps and have LOVED it but never have I experienced so many math teachers in one room at an EdCamp!  It was fantastic.  Also, very surprising for me, we didn’t even utter a peep about Desmos or Geogebra (my personal favorite go-to math resources) and DESPITE that the conversation was soooooooo good.  We shared so many great things about why we love being math teachers and it was fantastic.  I’m excited about the possibility of using this clip in my class – the teacher who mentioned it talked about a Mindset Monday and I was totally intrigued.  I gave props to Sara Van Der Werf and her Name Tents with Comments activity that I used with my students this year and it was awesome to see other teachers who were interested in making the same connections with students.  I liked the idea of Blind Kahoots – similar to blind Quizlet Lives that I have been in love with lately – so I will have to try Kahoot in this way.

Someone talked about how our students tend to be missing some basic skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing to name a few).  I don’t believe that I have all of the solutions, but I do believe that it is my duty to help any student who walks in my door to be better for entering and engaging in my class.  I feel like my math talks, notice/wonder, estimation, clothesline math, selective use of Khan Academy are steps in the right direction.  A couple of times we circled back to this idea of mindset and I believe that some of these basic skill problems come back to mindset issues.  Which makes relationship building so important.  When you build the relationship, you can get students to do amazing things that they didn’t even believe were possible.

Then during the last five minutes someone brought up the topic of homework – such a great topic that needs soooo much more time than 5 minutes.  However, being with math teaching peers and openly questioning the role of homework and whether the homework we are giving actually achieves those goals strengthened my resolve to only assign homework with a specific goal in mind that I believe will ACTUALLY be achieved.  I feel a much bigger blog post on that topic coming soon.  For now though, I am happy about the place I am in with homework at this time and don’t plan on changing anytime soon.  I mean I actually have some of my students ASKING ME for homework, which is DEFINITELY a switch and I have tailored assignments for them based on their needs as a learner as opposed to my needs to justify a grade.  I have students actively asking me questions about problems they are getting wrong in Khan Academy (that they are doing of their own free will) and want to better their understanding.  I must be doing something right.  And I might not have it ALL right, but it is working for some and for that I am grateful.

LUNCH with the Marian and Math Peeps

Lunch was great conversation about all kinds of fun topics.  Whether it was about taking a last name, classroom activities, what you were doing later – all of it was so fun.  I wished that we could have boxed up that group of people so I could have lunch with them everyday :).  Sharing a meal does great things for connecting with others.  Also, it is amazing to me that even when surrounded by a whole bunch of Catholic School educators that we as educators have so much in common.

I’m mad at myself for not taking a real picture of the chairs that were similar to this in one teacher’s classroom:

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The desk part was bigger and swiveled to the other side for lefties.  They were so sweet.  I kinda want to start writing a Donors Choose project and get them for my students.

Additionally, I liked this image I saw today:

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 7.54.13 PM.png

Power of Positivity

I needed this 🙂 I always need this.  I have been working so hard on this in my classroom.  I HATE when my husband criticizes me HOWEVER he usually has a point when he does (though I will never give him the satisfaction of saying “you’re right”).  Anyway, he told me recently that I was being negative and it hurt my heart until I was real honest with myself and realized that he was right – he doesn’t read my blog so I am safe :).  Anyway, it has been a goal of mine to be more positive, which lead to a goal of being more grateful, which lead to a goal of being more present.  All of these things have worked well together and I can honestly say that I am in a much more positive place in my life now than when he made that comment to me :).  Whether it be standing at my door thanking my students for coming each day (which was a “fake it before you make it” thing for me at first but now I TRULY am grateful – like for real, and I recommend it to everyone) or handing out my new Bitmoji-fied Post-Its (blog coming this week – they really are my favorite thing right now) or taking the time to REALLY get to know students, this positivity thing has done wonders for my classroom management (I’ve only written 4 referrals this whole year and two of those I really had no choice but HAD to write them up) and wonders for my students’ work ethic.

The Angel Project idea really spoke to me as I had actually mentioned this idea to my administrative team – and it got me thinking that maybe I could do this for just my students in my classes as in I would put my own dots next to my own students who I had made a personal connection with this year already and really make it a goal for me moving forward to make connections with the ones I have not made that connection with yet.

With my son I want to implement the idea of asking him “How were you kind today?”.  Such an awesome question and one that will show my son what I really value out of him in addition to asking him what he learned today.  Maybe I should ask my students the same question.


So sad that I had to dip out of this one early as I am new to Sketchnoting but I totally believe in the power of it.  I shared my story about how I got started (long story short, an administrator admonished me during a faculty meeting for what was in her eyes “off task behavior” and so I started sketchnoting so I couldn’t get in trouble for taking notes 🙂 .  Anyway, I loved hearing how one teacher was using this technique with her special ed students and it made me think that maybe I should be deliberate about giving my students the opportunity to try sketchnoting in my classes. Below is my sketchnote about sketchnoting. One thing that I didn’t get to note is that when you sketchnote you have a built in picture for blog posts and everyone knows that pictures get more views than just text alone.Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 7.53.43 PM.png

I think to take my sketchnoting to the next level I need to incorporate more icons.  Also, although my dog doesn’t have a name, I believe I already have a learning mascot, or maybe he is my creativity creature…whatever, it was nice to think about him in a new light.

Posted in Books, MTBoS, Sunday Funday

My Education Book Recommendations

I’ve really been into “reading” books lately through listening to them through Hoopla or Audible.  I have a 45 minute commute which gives me LOTS of time to listen.  I used to fill that time with NPR but given our current political scene, I just *couldn’t* anymore.  I was looking for a new job last year to shorten the commute but given my new use of the time, I am thankful for the time.  I highly recommend the format for reading books.

Here are my book recommendations.

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

This book has had a huge impact on my instruction!  I loved how you can take what you read in the book and apply it in your classroom right away.  There is a THRIVING online community of #TLAP on Twitter that if you haven’t experienced, you should.  I hosted a Twitter Chat for people who JUST read the book.  I was geeked when people just showed up but got STARSTRUCK when the author showed up too.  Since that point, there have been books like Learn Like a Pirate and Lead Like a Pirate and movements like Explore Like a Pirate.  I need to check these out.  I remember reading this book in the summer by the pool and getting excited for the school year – who does that?!#$  I highly recommend this book and this community if you haven’t checked them out yet.

Additionally, a previous post I wrote a couple of years ago, My reading and SummerLS experience thus far, includes a couple of good education reads.  I’m saddened by the fact that I have been researching standards based grading and flipped lessons for several years yet have not found the courage to fully implement either of these strategies in my classroom full time.  I’ve flipped a couple of lessons and have been working on getting others on board to try standards based grading with me in my school (I really don’t want to be the lone wolf with that one), but feel like I have failed myself when it comes to both of those initiatives.

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

Not necessarily “education” but definitely had an impact on my teaching, this is one of the books I highly recommend to just about anyone.  Here is the blog post where I discussed this title.  I think as educators we get caught up in looking to administrators for validation of the work we do since students sometimes won’t be completely honest in their assessment of our teaching (for example, you might be challenging your students which is good but they will not realize that it is good until much later in life).  This book helped me look within to find my validation.  It helped me get my swagger back in my classroom after a season in my life where I felt like I was not meant to teach anymore.


Posted in Uncategorized

What I’ve Been “Reading”

Ever since we started back to school I have been listening to books on tape.  Honestly, if I would’ve known how well I respond to this media I would’ve used books on tape in high school and college.  However, Hoopla really makes everything easy and economical.  Typically books on tape start at $20 each and through Hoopla (thank you Indian Prairie Public Library) I can borrow 7 titles a month.  I’ve also started an Audible subscription which for $15 per month you can purchase one title at a much reduced rate.  Here are the books that I have “read” lately:

The Case for Christ by: Lee Strobel

This book intrigued me from beginning to end.  From all of the courtroom stories and metaphors to the real objective look at the history behind the Christ story, I was hooked.  This book strengthened my faith in Christ and I will wholeheartedly recommend it to Christians and Atheists alike since it really reads more like a secular book.  I have recommended it to almost everyone that I have talked with lately about the general topic of books.

Mind Hacking by: Sir John Hargrave

This book had me laughing out loud and really thinking about my thinking.  It was a relatively short read if you do not include the 21 day challenge.  I have used to help me track the 21 day challenge (I am on day 16 at this point).  I have found it difficult (read: impossible) to do the meditation during the weekend.  It is my current challenge to myself to actually carve out the time and do meditation at home.  However, the meditation and challenges have really helped center me at work and people have already made comment about how much happier I seem.  It is nice to hear that, but it is even nicer feeling that.

Present Over Perfect by: Shauna Niequist

This book was just ok.  At first, it really seemed like the author was INSIDE my head.  It was really crazy how it seemed as though she was reading my mind.  Unfortunately, toward the end of the book, I got tired of what seemed like an endless stream of her consciousness.  My biggest takeaways from this book included the use of pajamas to really get my body and mind ready for bed, finding the strength to say no to make room for better yeses, and the reminder to myself that I don’t want my eulogy at my funeral to be “she was really efficient”.  I liked this book, but could see how to some it might not be their cup of tea.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by: Mark Manson

This book dropped the F-bomb like 100 times in the first 5 minutes.  The author laid off the word as the book went on and went to a much more standard vernacular by the end.  I like how he pointed out counter-intuitive ideas about what we choose to care about versus what we choose not to care about.  This book really reminded me of when I was taking a course called History and Thought in high school and how my teacher would go on and on about “free will”.  At the time, I thought it was just a buzz word for him.  Now I realize that really free will is all we have and the concept of free will is a big one.  I love how the book talked about how you always get to choose what you take as your responsibilities (though you don’t always get to choose the circumstances that led to those responsibilities).  This book was pretty far from most of the positive thinking self help books I’ve been reading but the more realist change of pace was good for me and my psyche.