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Algebra Reviews in my Geometry Class #blaugust

The Geometry curriculum we use at my school is heavily Algebra based.  Therefore, we take some time to review some Algebra concepts.  Today, I used some clothesline math with my students.  I am amazed that this version of a number talk can take a variety of turns in class and no two conversations I had today with my students went in the same direction.  Most classes were able to review what a variable is and what (1/2)x means on the continuum.  I really like clothesline math but realized that I need to “invest” in a better clothesline than just some string as the string has too much give to it.

The clothesline included the following two tents which also led to some healthy discussion of equality and the meaning of the symbols.

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With that discussion of equality we were able to springboard into “noticing” and “wondering” about some mobile math.  IMG_7466.JPG

I realized JUST how out of practice I was with running math talks by the time we began talking about this picture.  I gave my students too much scaffolding in my first period.  By the third time, I was happy with using the notice/wonder structure that gets talked about all the time with #MTBoS.  I LOVED the result of what students were able to notice and wonder without me and it led to me seeing the math in some much different ways.

We also touched on having a viable argument and critiquing the reasoning of others (one of my FAVORITE practices).  Students were able to say that the diamond was 2 but articulating “why” was really a challenge until they realized that I just wanted students to share their thinking.

I need to work on closure.  Each class today left without me “getting their pulse” on if they learned anything – I mean it felt like they got something out of today but I really can’t be for sure.  I need to be much more deliberate about getting that information in the future to guide my instruction.


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Great Start To The New SchoolYear #blaugust

This year has had a great start in my classes.  I have been happy about how they have started and my students seem to be “buying” into my class.  The feedback regarding the name tents activity has been incredibly positive and I hope to do this activity maybe once a month with my students. I also did some work with my students on productive struggle which gave me some great insight into some of my students’ work ethic.  I have fallen behind in my #blaugust posts but hope that I can catch up in the next couple of days.  Here are some blog ideas that I need to flesh out:

1.) What I do/leave for substitute/guest teachers teachers

2.) The Solar Eclipse Hype

3.) My experience using an online lesson plan book and whether I think it is sustainable and useful

Moving forward from surviving the first week of classes, I am considering implementing homework that is reflection as opposed to practice or problem solving.  I need to resolve what to do about 1.) students who do not do the reflection and 2.) students who are absent.

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Building Relationships and a Shout Out #blaugust

I want to thank the entire #MTBoS for their support these last couple of years.  From positive vibes online to providing a window into your classroom, I am really grateful for the great lessons and ideas you have shared that I have implemented.  Special shout out to @saravdwerf for her blog.  It has been instrumental to me reconsidering some aspects of my practice.  

I really was drawn to a couple of Sara’s posts related to the first week of school.  Specifically, I was drawn to the name tents as a way to start building relationships.  I have a REALLY hard time remembering names.  I’ve been amazed at the names I have learned through this activity AND the unique things I probably never would have known without this activity.  


I am always floored when students reveal very personal information after just one day.  I am glad she told me so now I will be aware. I really liked this activity and might incorporate it later this year as well.

On a side note, I have always been on a quest to have a better way of distributing and collecting Chromebooks.  I have a two sided cart with 30 Chromebooks.  You cannot see #1-15 when you face #16-30.  Here is what I am doing.  I will get the computers out before school, set them up on the wall like this.  Have my students (seated in fours) to come grab a stack for their desk.  At the end of class someone else will return the stack.  Thoughts?  Better ways of dealing with this situation.

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Shell Centre’s FALs and Desmos Card Sort

It’s no secret that I LOVE Desmos.  To the point that my teaching friends roll their eyes when I bring it up.  However, the awesomeness was stepped up a notch today when I searched Desmos Activity Builder for a card sort on expressions and found a familiar FAL. I am excited because 1.) I’ve always wanted to try the activity builder since the launch but haven’t made the time and 2.) I am well aware of the quality present on the Shell Centre site so I know this will be a good one.  

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Where Does Your Allegiance Lie? #blaugust

I grew up in a household that would drive all the way to the state line to be able to watch Packers games as a kid.  Therefore I grew up cheering for the green and gold.  I knew that being a Packers fan in Chicago was tough but when I married into a season ticket holding Bears fan family I started questioning my allegiance.  I wonder how much of my attachment to my beloved Packers as due to my loyalty to my family as opposed o a true love for “my team”.  How do you form these allegiances and should it be for mere geographic reasons or should there be more? Can there be more with just a sport?

I have now been to at least five times as many Bears games(if not more) than Packers games. I talked about potentially switching sides to my mother in law and she encouraged me to stick with my own side (which I know that I will as long as my daddy is living).  

With relation to math teaching, how do our allegiances to things like FOIL, keep change change, or the alligator eats the bigger number become so entrenched when we know that it is not the best way to teach all kids?  On the other hand, how do we get so stuck in our other ways that we do not think it is ok to allow some of these other methods in. Just my musings. Carry on 

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Slow Down #blaugust

I’ve been planning and replanning the first week of school for the last two weeks.  I have read blog after blog with great ideas.  I decide on one initiative, then another then decide to just do it how I always have.  Then I watched this video called Slow Down and realized it spoke to me. This summer I purposefully did not work so I could be with my kids and lately I have been so wrapped up in my social media habits that I am missing out on some great stuff with them.  As for my “initiatives” I’m going to “try” SBG for the first unit in both my preps and see how it goes.  I’m going to “put it in the river” and trust that it will be ok.  This idea of “put it in the river” came from some teaching from a former student I watched that also spoke to my heart.  I feel good about both of these things and know I will be better for both of them.  

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Found #GeomChat Tonight! I love the #MTBoS

I am soooooo excited to have found the #GeomChat tonight on Twitter.  Totally happenstance as I happened to be on Twitter while it was happening and I saw some tweets from people I follow.  I know that this is a short blog post but I am totally in next week.  Also, to anyone who does not know how to follow a Twitter chat I totally suggest using an app like Tweetdeck.  It is so nice.