Posted in Education, Geometry, MTBoS

Introducing Solid Geometry with Marshmallows and Toothpicks #MTBoS

Today we began the last unit of the year in my Geometry class that involves solid 3-dimensional figures.  I opted to play a game with my students and challenged them to build towers out of marshmallows and toothpicks in a group of three.


The idea was to build the tallest free standing tower in seven minutes..IMG_6245.JPG

It was fun to listen to students as they determined what would make the strongest foundation, ensure that their structure did not get too heavy and topple over, and ensure that they had enough building supplies.

IMG_6243.JPGIt was a good activity and in the end we were able to define some terms for class as well:

edges – “toothpicks” – where two faces meet

faces – the flat “surfaces” of the “solid” (which in our case were invisible and the solid was not really all that solid at all)

vertex or vertices – “marshmallows” – where two edges meet

After the building, students then went online to do a Quizlet (I found one that suited my needs and adapted it) even though I had not introduced the terms.  It was awesome that they were able, through trial and error, to determine the meanings of some of the terminology.

Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS

New Reflections on SchoolNet

When SchoolNet was originally introduced in my district a couple of years I found it to be clunky, not user friendly, and the fact that we were FORCED to use it did not bode well with me.  However, I have learned that sometimes technology needs some time to get the bugs out and that you should never just toss out anything for good.  I’m glad that I gave this product another shot.  I have found some good things in there and have found a place for this product in my teacher life – albeit not the one designated by my district.

How My District WANTS Me To Use This Product

My district would like for me to do my lesson planning through this product.  There are some nice features with calendars and integration of standards.  However, the lack of ease of use and plans that don’t really assist me in my classroom are true drawbacks.  Also, given the fact that my district changes initiatives almost yearly makes me less likely to plunge in and embrace the lesson planning features (along with the huge time commitment of that).

How I Use This Product

I have taken our common assessments and retooled them to upload into SchoolNet.  I still give my students the common district paper tests for each unit because through the grading process of these assessments I have a better handle on what my students know and can do as opposed to the online feedback I get from SchoolNet.  I like using SchoolNet for my quizzes for the following reasons:

1.)  Students get IMMEDIATE feedback on their quiz which will allow them time to work on the skills IMMEDIATELY before they take their test for the unit.  Typically when I grade quizzes (I have about 100 students for Geometry alone this year) it takes a couple of days to return to students which is time that they could have been coming to get extra help.  Additionally, even in that turn around time I do not give great feedback due to the quantity.

2.) The grades immediately post to my gradebook.  Although entering grades doesn’t take THAT long it is a nice feature.  Additionally, I don’t have to hand anything back.

3.) It’s paperless.  We produce SO MUCH garbage that it is nice to eliminate 100-200 pages of paper for each unit.

4.) The drag and drop features now present make it MUCH easier to create these quizzes.

What I Do NOT Like

I have a feeling that some students have learned how to cheat in this format.  It is sad to me because I want students to view assessments as opportunities to identify areas in need of growth and make changes before the summative assessment.  When they cheat, they deny themselves of this opportunity.  I am working on relationships with students as well as ways to find new safeguards against this in my classroom.

Take Aways

The biggest “take aways” from this experience of using this tool are:

1.) It is still JUST A TOOL.  You should not replace everything in your class with it.  Some teachers have put EVERYTHING on SchoolNet and I think that any tool that is used too much will dull and not be as useful.

2.) It is always a good practice to give things a second chance.

Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS

Grateful and Happy

My current book Live Happy has great insight on how to live a happier life.  One of the ways is through gratitude.  I found this especially profound as my word of the year is grateful.  I think that I need gentle reminders of this especially when it comes to school.  We have an incredibly late spring break this year (it doesn’t start until next week) and some of my students have been mentally checking out (and a few who have physically checked out as well).  I think devoting some time to gratitude lists for at least the next week will help me (and them) get through to Spring Break.

Five Minutes of Gratitude List

1.)  We had a fire alarm go off last week and today.  I am grateful for these alarms so that people are not injured in real emergency events.  I am grateful that my students follow our directions even in the face of the high likelihood that the alarm is a false alarm.  I am grateful for the building that has stood the test of the last 50 years and is a safe place for my students and I to learn.

2.)  I am grateful for the use of textbooks and other resources.  When my students forget their textbook, we have means of getting the information from the textbook to their eyes through taking pictures with camera phones and online textbooks.  There are people in this world who would be happy with the paper version alone.  We should be grateful for these resources and not get so hung up when students forget (or even purposely leave) their textbook in their lockers.

3.)  I am grateful for the water I can drink.  Not only is it freely available but here at school we even have a purifier.  Other parts of the world would just like the luxury of pumped water.

4.)  I am grateful that despite the circumstances that surround my students that they typically come to school every day.  I know that some come from broken homes that are filled with situations that are not conducive to learning.  Yet they still show up and I have a job.

5.)  I am grateful to color.  I love a new box of crayons or markers or colored pencils.  I love the rainbow of hues that surround me.  Color is beautiful.


Posted in Math, MTBoS, MTBoSblogsplosion

My Favorite Topic: rate of change #MTBoS #MTBoSblogsplosion

I can say with confidence that my favorite topic in math is rate of change and/or slope.  I love talking about slope because of the ease to find real world applications, the fun activities I deploy in class and the low floor and high ceiling when it comes to teaching this topic.  I’m not sure if it is a benefit or a drawback to our high school curriculum that the idea of slope turns up in all of our required courses (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II).  Additionally, I love what I get to do with slope in my Statistics class.  Here are some of my favorite activities related to slope.

Slope Simon Says

I cannot claim this activity as one I created.  It falls under the “beg, borrow, and steal” mantra I accepted as a student teacher.  Anyway, the activity works like this.

  • have students stand up
  • review the basic rules of Simon Says (it is Ms. Stone Says in my class, but I digress)
    • have to say Simon says or you are out
    • have to do the correct movement or you are out
    • flinch and you are out
  • show students what a positive slope looks like

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 8.54.36 PM.png

  • show students what a negative slope looks like

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 8.54.49 PM.png

  • show students what zero slope looks like

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 8.54.58 PM.png

  • show students what undefined slope looks like

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 8.55.16 PM.png

  • play the game

Students have ALWAYS requested to play this game more than once and it is so much fun to get out of our seats.


Slope Cheer

I teach my students the slope cheer to help them remember that the y’s go on top.  The words to the cheer are:

READY?  OK!  the change in y divided by the change in x is slope

When I say READY I have all of my students stand at attention and I will wait until the whole class in unison says OK!  Then we make a delta symbol with our arms for the word change in y, a karate chop for divided by, and another delta triangle for the change in x.  I am looking for one of the videos I took of my students doing this and will update my blog if I find one.


Function Carnival

Function Carnival is one of the activities prepared by  When you do these activities the students REALLY get an idea for the meaning of slope.  I love when they are doing cannon man and verbally without prompting ask questions like “how do I make him go slower” or while doing the bumper cars they figure out “how can I make the car stop but not disappear”.  It is amazing to me that I can truly be a guide on the side when I do these activities and REALLY get a good understanding for my students inquiry skills.


Parallel Lines and Desmos

I love when we get to discuss parallel lines and use Desmos for understanding.  I have students “guess” what would make the lines parallel and we discuss how do we know that we have gotten close enough.  Actually, I also love using Desmos to talk about what slope will make the line go horizontal and vertical.


Slopes Are Like People

Sometimes when I have students who are struggling to remember the direction of slopes we talk about how slopes are like people.  I’ll ask “who are my positive people in the room” and after the show of hands I will say something like “positive people walk up right because they are proud an happy, positive slopes go the same way, up and to the right“.  Then I will ask about who are my negative folks, and usually some people will embrace their negativity and I will remark “negative slopes are negative people.  Is there any way to get a negative person out of their negative mood?  NO!?  Well, one would say that negative people are just down right negative”.  Then I will ask for people who are not necessarily positive or negative.  After a show of hands, I will say “people who are not positive or negative are just CHILL” I’ll slowly extend my hands along the horizontal and say “zero slope is just CHILL” and I have my students show me just chill.  Finally, I will ask for people who really don’t feel like they are in any of these categories and say “people who don’t really fit are kinda out of this world.  Point to out of this world.  Where is it?”  Students point up and I say “just like the sky goes on to infinity and those people are out of this world, infinite slope or undefined slope is vertical”.


Posted in Education, MTBoS, MTBoSblogsplosion, Uncategorized

Crash and Burn, Lesson Learned #MTBoSblogsplosion

Every once in a while I have a humbling moment while teaching.  This time, I had not only the audience of 26 sophomores but my aspiring student teacher as well.  However, like a phoenix, I rose from the ashes.  It was enlightening actually.  I’ve been listening to the book on tape entitled You Can Heal Your Life and when I sat down behind my desk in defeat I heard the negative self talk in the back of my head.  I knew at that moment that my students probably have to deal with those voices much more often than I do.  I could have wallowed in my despair, but decided to salvage my lessons for the remainder of the day.  Some great things came from this experience.  As I recounted the experience to my other classes they all listened intently and were eager to learn.  I was able to really relate the experience to life and how we always have the opportunity to choose what we believe, it is truly the only thing we have real control over.  I got my students logged into Khan Academy and did some trouble shooting for students who were unable to log on.  All in all, I would say that the day was actually a good one and had learning, just not the original objectives.

It was good to see how far I have come.  Years ago, I would not have learned much from the experience and instead would’ve berated myself.  I’m proud of what happened in the end and continue to believe that everything happens for a reason, even the occasional crash and burn lesson.

Posted in Education, MTBoS, MTBoSblogsplosion, Uncategorized

January 2017 Institute

Last night I attended an online training.  The training was led by Justin Baeder.  I was impressed with the training because he was honest from the beginning that everything that he was about to mention was not necessarily new information and that participants should come into the experience with an open mind.  I was so glad he said this because 1.) he was right (disclaimer: I used to work in a Career Center and helped people with editing resumes and cover letters) and 2.) because I had an open mind it helped me realize the problems with my own cover letter, resume and letters of recommendation.  This experience gave me confidence to head into this new job search with a competitive mind set that I am the perfect candidate for the position and now I just have to show the interviewer.

I’ve included this reflection here as I approached today’s institute sessions with that same open mind and I really think that I have benefitted from that mind set today.

Schoology Session

I signed up for Schoology because I wanted to learn more about this system.  I like that everything is housed in a central location for students rather than piecing together a variety of websites (right now, I direct students to my personal classroom website, instruct them to use Remind, direct them to an online version of the textbook, and use a variety of web resources (such as Geogebra, Desmos, etc) that sometimes I put on the personal classroom website and others I just give them a stand alone shortened website for the day to use).  I’ve altered my first day back lessons to include Schoology sign ups, so it begins :).

Fashion Construction

I’ve never created a whole project like this before.  I tried taking up crochet when I was home last year for maternity leave and I got kinda close to making a potholder 🙂 but not close enough to actually use.  I’m SERIOUSLY considering purchasing a sewing machine because I always have to ask my mom to help me when the dogs tear up my kids dog toys or when I need a button or a hem.  I believe that I could actually handle those tasks.



Manufacturing Program

From this awesome session I learned all about the application of math in the real world.  My previous Principal, Mark Kramer, spoke about how there are workplaces in Chicago that have jobs available but cannot fill them due to lack of training/experience.  6 out of 10 positions remain unfilled due to the talent shortage.  They currently have plans to give recent graduates of the manufacturing program abandoned homes in Park Forest, the student will only be responsible for paying the taxes on the property, the village gets a tax payer and someone living on a property that did not have someone there or even much of a possibility of someone living there in the near future.  Specific to math, the teachers said that students needed to know about the cartesian coordinate system is important along with geometry and trigonometry.

This presentation was so inspiring.  I loved the passion the students had for their work and I wanted to be able to instill some of that in my own class.  I loved the connection to the community.  It was GREAT!



Posted in MTBoS, MTBoSblogsplosion, Uncategorized

My One Word for 2017: Grateful #MTBoSblogsplosion #oneword2017 #MTBoS

I was unsure about doing the #oneword2017.  It’s a challenge to just pick one and there are so many areas that I want to focus on.  However, I selected grateful because I believe that it can translate into my “one word” for my outside of school life as well as my inside of school life.


I am grateful for my students who do choose to come to my class each day.  Unfortunately, I have some students who make other choices as to how they spend their time Monday through Friday rather than come to Geometry.  Although we do not want it to be a choice, in the end it really is one.  I need to be grateful that they made that good choice and reward that good choice by giving students a lesson that they can use.

I am grateful for my school.  I have always been afforded a great deal of room for creativity in my classroom, which is not the case elsewhere.  I need to push myself to take advantage of that opportunity on a more regular basis.  I need to challenge myself to find creative ways to get students more involved and be grateful for the supportive atmosphere present in my school.

I am grateful for the technology in my school.  When I think about what is available in my classroom on a daily basis, I am in awe.  I have a set of Chromebooks chilling in the back of my room to use as I please any day I please!  I have a new flat panel SmartBoard that I am grateful that I have been able to become more able at using.  I have technology knowhow oozing from my brain.  Although I can be thirsty for more, I am incredibly grateful for everything that I have.  I’ve come a long way from the overhead projector and some vis-a-vis markers, baby!

I’m grateful that I have a job.  Plenty of people would love to be in my position with full benefits and a nice salary.  Not to mention holidays off and summers off.  I need to come at this job with a sense of gratefulness.

I want to commit to writing about this idea of “grateful” in the coming year to keep it on the top of my mind.