Posted in EdTech, Education, Math, MTBoS, Professional Development, Sketchnote

NCTM Regional Conference in Chicago

Who loves being around math people?  Well I do and I had the great opportunity to be with a whole bunch of them (3,000+) at the Regional NCTM Conference.  I should mention that I was able to attend the opening presentation virtually.  Huge thank you to the people who posted live video and tweets that night so that I could put my kids to bed AND learn from the session.  The session really spoke to me so Thursday morning I attended a presentation on equity that was hosted by one of the speakers from the previous evening.

8am Hidden Figures by Dina Williams

I was unaware that when I chose this session based on the idea of equity in our classrooms that it would be led by one of the speakers from the previous evening but was pleasantly surprised when she began singing a song similar to one she did the previous evening.  During the piece she sang on Wednesday evening the quote that stuck out to me was “no need to wonder why, just write it down”.  I think that quote can come out of anyone’s mouth in utter desperation to “get through” things or “cover” topics (speaking of “cover” have you ever noticed that that word “cover” can mean to hide or conceal something, I realize that teachers don’t MEAN that when they say it but it is another meaning, but I digress).  I really liked Dina’s songs and it made me think of how powerful a force music can be.  I’ve been using “bumper music” in between classes lately and it has been a great addition.  Parts of her talk that really spoke to me included:

  • the use of pictures from our students’ world to teach the content of my class (she showed the image below, overlayed a grid and talked about having students estimate which was more and by how much)

I loved her use of math talks to get at some very important fraction skills.  First, she talked about using money.  IMG_7153

I remarked to someone near me that idea was all fine and good but what about thirds and Dina happened to be standing right there and she was excited about how that was the next portion of her talk.  It was awesome.  I do question on whether my students would know that 1/6 of an hour is 10 minutes but I believe it would be worth teaching if necessary

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I really liked this session and I hope to incorporate these number strings soon.  My biggest issue with these ideas is thoughtfully incorporating them.  I find that I get these great ideas and if I don’t use them the next week I lose them, however, this doesn’t always work well with whatever I am teaching in my curriculum.

Volunteering

Sendhil got me to volunteer for this event.  I didn’t know what to expect but it was a worthwhile experience.  First, I was privy to the wi-fi access from before the event even started.  Second, when I checked in for my assignment I was introduced to the layout of the hotel which was good because the only way you could get to one side of the hotel to the other was on the second floor.  Also, I became VERY familiar with the rooms on that side of the building which made my own experience of finding rooms much easier. During the lulls in the crowd I was also able to make lunch plans for my crew which was amazing because about five minutes after we were seated we saw a line forming outside that was down the street a bit. I LOVED getting to help people where they wanted to be and I even got to see some people that I haven’t seen IN AGES in the process.  It’s crazy when you see people you know from outside of the context of the conference you are attending….for instance, the picture below is of one of my former students who is now an administrator!  I barely recognized him but was so glad to see him.

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Coteaching with Tech by Allen and Eutsler

It was so amazing to see this team of teachers work together.  You could tell that they truly shared their responsibilities in the classroom and had the utmost respect for each other.  That kind of relationship is amazing to watch in action and gave me so much to think about my own co-teaching relationship.  They even named their classroom as a combo of their two last names.  Maybe we could be Janicone or Staniki.

TI Rover/Programming 

I walked in late to this session but am soooo glad I made that move.  I loved doing a little programming with TI’s new product, the TI Innovator Rover.  We got a quick lesson on how to do the basic code commands in TI’s menu system and then were set loose to get the rover to move through a short course.  I have a little programming experience (three courses in college, writing SHORT TI programs on my calculator, and dabbling during the hour of code every year in my classroom).  I was able to capture a short video of my second to last trial run with the rover (I’m mad I didn’t get my last run as I got the rover to basically parallel park which was pretty sweet).  I was saddened when I was running my last run and I overheard someone questioning the application of this activity in a math classroom.  The TI person was caught a little off guard and I stepped in a little to talk about how I loved how this activity really spoke to the attendance to precision and measurement (I would make my students measure the course in order to do the programming) and discussion possibilities of area versus perimeter and I could keep going but you get the point.  I will admit that this changed my mind about TI.  I have been a little down on TI products with the advent of Desmos and Geogebra as those products are FREE and it is hard to argue with FREE.  However, this product made me reconsider their products.

Team ASAP

This session intrigued me as I know that my school would like to improve AP offerings, increase the number of students enrolled in AP, and get students to achieve scores of 3+ on the exam.  They mentioned that their school has both regular and honors taking the same curriculum which I LOVE that idea because think everyone deserves to be challenged and get high quality instruction.  I was intrigued by their Geometry in the summer program as I wanted to know if the topics dealt with in the summer were to the same rigor as a typical Geometry course.  It definitely gave me food for thought.

Standards Based Grading with Darshan Jain

I just loved this presenter from the beginning.  He was so welcoming and I felt like I wanted to learn right from the start.  He was very interested in the story of the people who attended his 8am on a Friday session.  He talked about the difference between assessing and evaluating a situation which is slightly nuance but an important idea.  I loved that he took time to discuss why teachers get into teaching because I believe that SBG/SBL really speaks to who you are as a teacher.  He talked about a process of asking some vital questions to structure the standards assessed:

  1. What do I value?
  2. How can you show this value?
  3. How well can you show this value?
  4. What helps to show this value well?

Check out my sketchnote on the session below.  I had other sketchnotes from the conference but spilled water on them :(.

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I loved some quotes from this session like the idea that 21st century illiteracy means someone who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.  This really spoke to me as I know plenty of people, myself included, who struggle to unlearn something even if it is not a correct understanding.  I loved that the idea of SBG/SBL does not mean that we forget everything that we as teachers have done to get to this point – hence the house quote of “don’t tear down the whole house, just rearrange the furniture”.

#MTBoS

I volunteered to work at the #MTBoS table during this morning for an hour.  I loved getting to meet some of my #MTBoS fangirl favorite people.  I always struggle with how to explain the community to people ESPECIALLY when they don’t have Twitter.  However, I usually say something like “well I was you once, where I thought Twitter was only for celebrity gossip and couldn’t possibly offer me anything”.  Working the table made me highly aware of all the great things that the #MTBoS has exposed me to, the fact that I love this community and that my teaching practice has improved because of it.

Side note to working the booth is that I got to play with Mannifold which I LOVED. Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 8.58.02 PM.png

I couldn’t put it down so I promptly ordered my own stackon Amazon for my playtable at school.

Math Games with Susan Chadaz

I felt like I learned some things through this session (even if they were not my personal intended goals of attending this session).  First, she incorporated sign language into talking about the common core math practice standards.  We learned one sign for each of the 8 standards.  Additionally, she showed us how to tie a string without letting go of the ends which was comical to see a whole ballroom of people attempt to do.  She showed us a couple of her games.  I don’t know if I will use them in my classes but others seemed interested.

Tech to Increase Conceptual Understanding with Annie Fetter

I was so excited to meet Annie when I was volunteering at the #MTBoS table.  I liked her applets for this session.  The triangle applet was fabulous as I hope to use it the next time that I introduce triangles in my Geometry class.  I loved how she modeled the Notice/Wonder routine for this activity.  Notice/Wonder has really been a game changer in my classroom this year and I hope that I can continue to do it justice in the future.

Chicago

I could probably go on an on with this post but I am going to just #hitsend or in my WordPress world hit Publish on this.  But before I do, I will mention that I am thankful for Chicago.

IMG_1480.JPGI love being so close to a metropolitan area that attracts great events like this one.  I love all of the food, culture, and unique opportunities that this city affords.

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I am grateful for the AWESOME weather during the last two days and just so proud that this is my home.

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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.

 

Slap-it

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.

Auction

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.

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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

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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

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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:

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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.

Sketchnoting

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 Education, Math, MTBoS

What is Data? What is GOOD Data?

I miss teaching statistics sooooooooo very much.  I have to work hard to try to get the class BACK at my school because statistics are literally EVERYWHERE and the class is required for so many careers these days.  Everyone wants to be data driven and make decisions with data in mind.  We are looking for improvement and maximization or minimization.  We are looking to see if there is a significant difference which is literally the culminating topic for most statistics courses.

Today during our weekly late start Wednesday professional development session more “data” was distributed to our staff about attendance and discipline.  I really appreciate the transparency of our administrative team with this distribution.  Anytime I am presented with data I want to know more about it before I make any judgments.  I wonder if my students look at data with that same lens or if that is something that I need to teach to them.  When I do get the opportunity to teach statistics as a course, our first unit is all about data and what data is.  So I pondered the question for myself:

What is data?

I began thinking about a definition that we develop from class about the fact that numbers become data only when we have a context.  Google says:

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When you actually dive into the definition of data, you are almost forced into considering the following:

What is GOOD data?

Now THAT is tricky because now you have to make a value judgment.  Or do you?  Does just putting it in context make that value judgment for you?  Can what I consider GOOD data to me be just mediocre or bad data to you?  As an educator, what do you consider to be GOOD data?  Why?  How do we get others to consider this when they present data?

I wonder if people think that I am being “type A” or a “B*&$%” when I ask about the who, what, when, where, and why of the data that I desperately want to know before making any data minded decision.  I won’t stop asking though.  It is important and I want others to see the importance too.  Without that information, how can you know if you have GOOD data?  I guess for me, GOOD data can satisfy all of those questions and provide a good basis for decision making that will allow the most positive outcomes to occur.

Posted in Education, Geometry, Math, MTBoS

“Upside Down” Triangle

I’ve incorporated Which One Doesn’t Belong tasks into my bellwork.  I love how they fit nicely into my Geometry lessons about definitions and saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  Given the image below, I was not expecting my students to write what they did about the upper left corner image.

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Students wrote some of the following statements:

  • the only upside down one
  • it is the only regular triangle <— especially shocking since we have worked with the term “regular” in this class already
  • the only normal one
  • different shaped triangle

I was shocked at how many students referred to the triangle as “upside down”.  It really made me think about how we represent triangles to our students.  I plan to do more work with showing multiple representations and pressing students to work on how they verbally express themselves.  How do you address this issue of “right side up” in your class?  I think it is really important especially when we head into concepts like area and perimeter.

Posted in Blaugust, Education, Math

The Beginning of My “Math Play Table” and Broken Circles #teach180 #blaugust

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I was excited this morning because the magnatiles I ordered for my play table will arrive sometime today.  However, I realized that I already had some puzzles that would work well on the table for this week :).  I already had some students try out the math puzzles here today so I am looking forward to what this table will do in the future.  I thank Sara Van Der Werf for the inspiration for this in my room (I believe my students will thank her too).

Additionally, today my students worked with the Broken Circles activity.  The inspiration for this activity came from reading the Math Equals Love post about this activity.  I believe I learned more about my students through this activity than they learned for themselves but I am ok with that outcome because I really do think they learned about how to work on a team and that sometimes your solution will not help other people with their problems. At one point, this team had waited a VERY LONG TIME to have one student give up any of his pieces so they just gave them all to him.  He struggled and was unable to put the four circles together himself.  I tried to check in with the students and I look forward to reading their feedback to see what this group gleaned from this experience.  I definitely learned something and plan to use that information to move forward in my class.IMG_7507a.jpg