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:

Screen Shot 2017-08-16 at 7.56.16 PM.png

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, 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 ;-).  

Posted in Education, MTBoS

Found This! Ideas That I Want to Revisit #blaugust

When I did a #MTBoS30 challenge a while ago, I would always keep one of these in my draft folder for when I was stuck and couldn’t think of a good blog topic.  So here ya go….

  • color coding buckets of supplies! Thanks @SamShah
  • Rich Math Tasks love this collection and I’m thinking that maybe a Google Doc like this would solve my problem of finding a way to house non-routine problems for later use
  • First Days of School Mobius Strip Activity looks like a blast – I really need to narrow down my list of first day activities and it is really growing…and school starts in a week and a half!!!
  • This looks like a data girl’s dream FLIPPITY
  • There is this awesome WELCOME sign I’d like to incorporate
Posted in Blaugust, MTBoS

Reflections on PD Presentation on @ Geogebra #blaugust #MCMIPD #MTBoS #iteachmath

Today I co-presented a session on Geogebra at the Metro Chicago Math Initiative’s Summer Institute.  

The goals of our session included 

  • Familiarize teachers with Geogebra to the point that they would feel comfortable using it in their courses this fall
  • Utilize non-routine tasks to help with that process and show teachers places where these could be useful in class

We planned the session via Zoom and Melanie was instrumental in introducing me to some great tasks that I plan on using myself this year.  Crucial to the success of this presentation (as well as other MCMI presentations) is actually doing the math. I’m always amazed when math teachers scoff at doing the tasks that we want to present to students.  We relied on these problems, a variety of worksheets from Geogebratube, and a Formative Assessment Lesson (an always, sometimes, never card sort that I would like to Desmos Activity Builder translate). 

The aspects of the activity that went well were the group challenge tasks and non-routine tasks.   I was scared at first because our group was silent while working but they were just THAT engaged.  If I were to do the session again, I’d include more sharing on their part.  I needed to engage them more in the discussion. However, I was satisfied with the session. The participants’ feed back all was positive which was a further validation that we met our objectives.  I liked having a partner which made me psyched for this year of co-teaching ahead.  

During the time we allotted for searching the database we came across this intriguing gem from my favorite Geogebra author, Tim Brezezinski.  Next time I’d like to use it during the presentation for one of our challenges.  

During my limited time at the institute, I introduced many teachers to the idea of using Twitter for their math teaching practice. I continue to be floored by the number who have not been exposed to this fabulous group, the #MTBoS, as well as the numerous other connected educator opportunities available through Twitter such as edcamps. I need a better way of explaining it to teachers so that they will actually LOG ON and find the PD treasure that is present online which is arguably better than some of the mandated PD or traditional PD offered in our schools.  Maybe THAT is what I need to work on.  

Posted in Geometry, Math, MTBoS, Uncategorized

Beginning 2017-2018 #blaugust

It is the end of summer.  13 weekdays left of summer (edit: now there are only 8 – eek) – about 2 and a half weeks.  I am determined to remain positive in this time and moving right into the school year.  This summer has been filled with awesome accomplishments:

  • personal records in my squat, bench, and meet total
  • drove all the way to Florida, spent 8 days together, enjoyed Disney, and all the way back home with minimal problems
  • Jacob has been working on his writing skills
  • Jacob can put his head under water
  • redid our master bath about halfway – the rest will come sometime this fall or spring when we have the money 🙂 but I love it already
  • I’ve rejoined the Twitter community and am getting fired up to go back to school!

Goals I have for the last week and a half:

  • take my world powerlifting congress judges’ written test
  • get in this blogging habit again (I did a 30 day challenge before and it was a struggle IN MAY so I can only imagine what it is like in August with school starting BUUUUT I’m not one to back down from a challenge)
  • decide on a teaching initiative for the school year for myself and go full speed ahead (interactive notebooks, flipped classroom, replacing homework completely, or standards based grading).  All are worthy intentions and I need to stop thinking about how great they are and start moving ahead with at least one of them because I am tired of just being in the knowledgeable stage with them and not actually trying them out in my own classroom environment (this year 5 sections of Geometry which I taught for the last two years and now have SMART board lessons for the entire year, 3 regulars and 2 honors, of the 3 regulars 2 are cotaught, low-income school, Chromebook cart in classroom, 16 years of experience on my side)
  • clean my house like it is my JOB (as it is until next week at this time
  • present at the conference on Wednesday

Go #blaugust I got this and I hope you will come along for the ride

Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS

I’ve Gotten All Twitterfied Again, Thanks to the #MTBoS and #iteachmath Debate

I’ve spent more time on Twitter in the last couple of days than I probably have in the last year.   I got an email about Dan Meyer’s post on his blog about Retiring the #MTBoS because I have subscribed to his blog.  I highly respect what he has done for mathematics education.  However, this post caught me off guard.  I am a HUGE supporter of the #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-O-Sphere) and have found INNUMERABLE resources that I use on a regular basis because of this hashtag.  At first glance, my guard was up and I couldn’t believe that someone of his status in the math community would make this suggestion ESPECIALLY given the fact that he himself has blogged about introducing math teachers to the #MTBoS in this blog post and especially in this blog post.  I thought the timing was an extra zing since the #MTBoS community has a conference called Twitter Math Camp that was occurring when his blog went to press.

I consider myself open-minded and have given the idea more thought.  I’ve prowled all over Twitter to get a handle on how others feel about the suggestion of the #iteachmath hashtag versus #MTBoS.  I’ve read many blogs about the arguments for and against the change.  I’ve seen other suggestions for hashtags.  I’ve considered my own experience with the hashtag and agree that it is a little hidden (gem) of a meaning.  I make up hashtags on the regular and with this one I was hesitant to use it for two reasons.  Like others, I felt like maybe you had to be part of “the club” or maybe an attendee of Twitter Math Camp to use it.  I Googled it and found a wealth of knowledge.  I am unsure of whether I had my blog before using it or around the same time, however, using the hashtag is a reminder to me to blog more often.  On the other hand, I am judicious about when I use it as I know the community that I am pinging when I do and there is a higher level of respect/judgement involved than some of the other hashtags that have been suggested.  I don’t even follow #edchat as it is full of spammy stuff.  Even #TLAP can be problematic at times (though I still love that community and follow the hashtag).


  • to follow a hashtag that is full of old school worksheets that have just been uploaded to a site
  • a hashtag that includes talk that is negative about student mindset


  • a hashtag that is more inclusive
  • other and more math instructors to be able to access this community and be part of the conversation


My English teachers would hate this blog as I do not have a clear argument.  I could easily argue both sides of the issue.  My jury is still out.  I will follow both hashtags and probably use both hashtags (if I remember to do so – still kind of a rookie when it comes to tweeting at times)

While I’ve Been Back to Twitter…

While prowling and determining my personal stance on the issue, I have found some more great stuff.  So here are some of the good things I would like to incorporate this year:

  • quick online team making app because I will ALWAYS love games in my classroom
  • Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces” for a new way to do problem solving
  • I want to finish listening to this awesome RadioLab Podcast on Numbers
  • I need a place to properly house unique fun problems that don’t necessarily fit into my curriculum units but would still be a great to use.  Consider the picture below:

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or this one

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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.