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My Spiky Door Project, Days 2/3 (and 4 :( ) #MTBoS

I saw these posts on the Spiky Door Projects (here and here) and was inspired to do this project with my classes.


Throughout this project I was impressed with my students’ desire for perfection when it came to the actual 3D object.  This was surprising to me actually.  My students typically do not have the greatest attention span.  I was trying to get them to realize that using the “slant height” of the pyramid to construct the triangles would be better than trying to achieve isosceles triangles with a ruler alone (these students have only been exposed to compass and protractor on a very rudimentary basis, one of my “flaws” this year).  I didn’t want to give students “direct instruction” on how to construct their pyramids but eventually for some of my students I just had to because they just could not understand  why their lateral triangles would not meet at the right point.  However, I couldn’t believe how many students did not stop after their first iteration was not completely successful.  I loved how some students who “got it” were really helping others around them.  Some students who are typically not as engaged were going all out for this project.  Maybe it was the timing (close to the end of the semester so students REALLY will grasp for anything that will improve their grade) or maybe it was the lower threshold for the task, but whatever it was I really enjoyed seeing my students engaged.


Anytime I break out rulers in class I am always dismayed at how many students do not know how use them.  I had students in multiple classes exclaim that they couldn’t use the ruler i provided as it was in millimeters but the project says centimeters (insert bang head into wall here).  A couple of students wanted to start their measurement of a segment on 1 as opposed to 0.  Approximately half of the students were confused about how to measure a lateral edge versus a slant height and how to label those aspects on their sketches.  Although these issues make me cringe, they also point out how vitally important doing projects like this are to my curriculum.  Students may never need to find the surface area of a trapezoidal prism in the future, but measuring with a ruler (or similar device) is a life skill and therefore incredibly important.  I will make this project and others a mainstay in my curriculum.


For the future, I plan to do a couple of things.  First, the rubric I used needs some better defining for my needs (although I totally appreciate the person who first posted theirs as it really helped make this project more manageable).  Second, I will spend a little more time going over the rubric so that students focus more of their energy on the scale drawings and calculations of the task.  Third, I will find a way to entice my students to finish this project in three days.  Four is entirely too much time for a majority of my students.  I will find a way to get students more on task during the early part of the project18527853_10211765912437584_1035856140326627421_n.jpg.

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Spiky Door – Pyramid Planning – day 1 Reflections #MTBoS

I saw this post about making a Spiky Door and knew that I wanted one for my class :).  Today was day one and I was amazed at the kinds of learning going on.  First, almost all of my students were engaged which is AMAZING for 14 days out from the end of the semester.  Second, I was impressed with my students’ desire to perfect their original sketches after cutting out some trial pyramids.  I am hopeful that this will result in better products.

On the negative side, I had more than one student comment that the ruler they had was not good because it was in mm and the directions said cm (I guess I should mention that it is good they read directions).  I was saddened because this is not the first time we have measured in class but obviously I have more work to do.  Additionally,  I had a student who could not figure out where the lateral sides belonged on her scale drawing.  She kept drawing her sketch like this:IMG_6272.JPG

However, the good part about this experience is that I think she learned A LOT today about visual representations and spacial reasoning – at least I hope.  An additional good part is that one of my least successful students in class actually was helping point out what she needed to change which was awesome to see.

Overall, I like the direction of this project thus far.  I can already see areas of improvement for myself in the future but am happy with the experience regardless.

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Clementines, Density, and Games OH MY! :) #MTBoS @MathICTM


I was excited when @MrsForest invited me to be the blogger of the week for @MathICTM.  Followed by terror as I have not been blogging much lately.  The last two months included having a student teacher quit after five weeks (I WILL NOT blog about that, but I learned SO MUCH from that experience and I am a better teacher today because of it) and holding our annual four-day Snowball retreat which included about 140 people from across our district that I realized that I have been a little bit busy 🙂 so I’ll cut myself some slack.  Here are some quick class thoughts that I have had recently…

Surface Area of a Sphere: USE CLEMENTINES!

I searched for a Geogebra way to derive the surface area of a sphere but came up short.  I’ve been happy with all the applets I have found for the other various formulas and was sad not to find quite what I was looking for.  I searched Twitter and found this gem:

And then found this video:

Awesomeness!  My room smelled awesome because of the clementines and I really do believe that students will remember the formula for a while.  I will tweak it a little for the future as not all of my students drew “good” circles and so some had less than 4 circles worth of area.  However, overall I liked the activity and the students enjoyed it as well.

Density Tube

There is nothing much better than a good prop in class.  When I taught about density this week I bought honey, karo syrup, liquid dish detergent, water, olive oil, and rubbing alcohol.  I dyed each with food coloring and layered the liquids in class in a narrow flower vase.  My students got a kick out of doing science in a math class which I thought was awesome.  Unfortunately, I did not get a picture before we “played” with the finished product by dumping it into an empty water bottle to see if it would separate again – it did, but it wasn’t as “pretty”.  I totally recommend the prop.

Game: Lucky Lottery

After looking through other featured bloggers of the week from @MathICTM, I found a quick little game called Lucky Lottery.  I used it in class today (which was going to be a boring worksheet review, don’t judge me too hard) and the game was engaging and I really knew what students KNEW and what they will need help with before their test this week.  I highly recommend it for a quick easy set up game.  Side note, I also made a SmartNotebook with 100 numbers on it.  You need to tweak the slides to make the spaces a little bigger but it worked well.




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Great Factoring Activity #MTBoS

I struggle with teaching factoring to students because it can seem boring and some students “get it” and others have a huge challenge with understanding.  My Honors Geometry class integrates Algebra topics throughout in order to better prepare students for Pre-Calculus next year.  Factoring was the topic of last week.  I am not quite sure where the inspiration came from, more than likely a MTBoS blog somewhere on the internet, but I stumbled upon what might have been my favorite assignment with relation to factoring.  After a talk in class reviewing the topic (everything from finding factors, GCF, binomials, trinomials with leading coefficient >1, leading coefficient = 1, difference of squares) my assignment to students was this:

Create and factor three trinomials of your choosing.

That was it.  And it was AMAZING!  Seriously.

Students were determining on their own that some trinomials couldn’t be factored.  Students were finding the mistakes in their own work as they were checking their answers.  Some students determined that “doing it backwards” was a more efficient way to start, thus understanding the link between the factored and standard forms.  I was really amazed at how deep such a simple task could take my students and the level of engagement as well.  I am excited to try this sometime with my regular students as well.

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Things I’ve Been “Reading” #Hoopla #MTBoSblogsplosion

I’ve been into “reading” while driving for a while now.  About the same time that I stopped pumping in the car, I wanted to continue to own the 45 minute commute to and from work and decided that recorded books would be a great way to go.  Below is a running list of the titles and my thoughts since the beginning of 2017.

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

I’ve dabbled in the waters of the self help section on occasion (The Power of Now  by Eckhart Tolle, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, Good To Great by Jim Collins, How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman).  I like the positivity and good feelings I have when I “read” these types of books.  You Can Heal Your Life had that same effect on me.  It really made me evaluate the kinds of self talk and self criticism going on in my head.  I’m amazed at some of the effects from changing my “beliefs” and focusing on positive thoughts instead of negative ones.  Even when I have had negative situations occur, this new mind set has really aided me in getting through the situation without feeling despair.  I have applied the affirmations and they seem very similar to the idea of prayer in my Christian ideology.  I do not necessarily believe all of what was espoused (especially when it came to Hay’s ideas about curing cancer).  However, I fully support the ideas of positive thought patterns and that everyone is doing the best that they can at any given moment.  Although forgiving myself is a challenge, it is necessary.  I actually “read” this book twice in my car so I could absorb everything that Hay had to say.  I highly recommend this book.

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

I can’t remember the last time that I laughed out loud while “reading” a book, but I kept doing that during this book.  I love how brutally honest Sincero is and how applicable everything she had to say was.  I ended up making a vision board based on her recommendation.  It is the wallpaper for my computer.  This book helped me think about my students in a different way.  I am convinced that they are all capable – it is my job to help them realize that too.  There is a new vibe in my classroom and I absolutely love it.  This year was the first time that I taught 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 triangles and felt amazing afterwards.  Part of these revelations came from reading this book.  I found that I’ve been so busy blaming students or blaming myself for lack of understanding that I haven’t focused on what students DO understand and that blaming doesn’t need to occur.  I loved this book.  I HIGHLY recommend it.Copy of Inspirational3.jpg

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!