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).

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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 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).

I DON’T WANT

  • 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

I DO WANT

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

THE VERDICT

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.

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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

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  • show students what a negative slope looks like

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  • show students what zero slope looks like

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  • show students what undefined slope looks like

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  • 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 desmos.com.  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”.