Monthly Archives: May 2016

#readthree 2016 #MTBoS30


A couple of summers ago, I used a #readthree in an attempt to expose myself to new blogs.  There are so many good resources and quality teacher sharing, I miss so much.  My plan, to peruse down my list of followers and see what I can find… a rabbit hole of sorts.

Here’s my first edition of #readthree 2016

@jlwilliams314 over at Mrs. W is Off on a Tangent blog shared some of their INB activities for linear functions.  In this post, I especially like the flip open problems.  Scroll about halfway through to find these:

I like how they chose to give 1 representation of the function and students had to build/show the remaining models.  I will definitely be using this idea, maybe tweak to the NAGS.

Part 2 of her Linear Functions posts offered some nice foldables for residuals, correlation coefficients and interpretting slope/y-intercept.

After teaching AP Statistics, I was much more intentional with correlation and interpreting slope, y-intercept my first year back in Algebra I.  However, I want to refine what I did this year and she has provided me with some ideas to begin.

I love the most recent post celebrating her colleague!

@theericklee of (Parentheses) [Brackets] {Braces+} shared a fun mash-up lesson he did with Fraction Talks and Clothes Line.  I loved the visual of this activity and plan to use it early in the semester with my Algebra I’s next year.


@benwoodford1‘s site Mr. Woodford’s Math has several bits to review.  Under lessons, I really like the Zombie clip from MythBusters he uses to introduce a task in estimation Counting Zombies.  His Teacher Resource Page offers numerous links and a list of his favorite Ted Talks.  I will definitely be spending more time checking out his list of resources!

Laker Escape 2016 #breakout #MTBoS30


Last night was graduation, followed by a few last hours for our graduates to play, laugh and add some lasting memories to their final moments before leaving RCHS.

Several week ago, as we began sharing ideas for the nights events, I jokingly said let’s make a breakout room. Others chimed in. I laughed saying, we need a faculty trip to Lexington Breakout for some research.

On a Tuesday evening, 12 of us headed up for our research experience. I’ll be very honest, I was nervous.  What if we didn’t breakout because of a mistake I made? And even worse, what if the other team broke out. Oh no. I’d never live that down.

It was so stinkin’ fun!!!!!  Adrenaline rush. Challenging.  Definitely a team-building experience.  Add it to your summer to-do list!  Our room was Derby Heist, an evil Vet had stolen $2 million, the Blanket of roses and the race Trophy. We had 60 minutes to retrieve all items.  Even better, our gamemaster’s name was Houston! “Houston, we have a problem,” when we asked for our clues!

The other group successfully escaped Hostage, which was a hijacking scenario. So much fun.

When we returned, my colleague and I began jotting down ideas.  We gathered supplies – various locks, boxes, invisible ink and a black light.  Earlier in the week, we did some run throughs with colleagues, made some adjustments and we were ready, just hoping the kids would enjoy!


With the exception of one faulty combination lock, the night went really well. Each group’s dynamics were quite different.  We felt our room was good quality, about a 50/50 escape, but all were within seconds of getting the final piece!



The mission: to pay a library fine, find their cap and gown, get dressed and locate the missing diploma, in 10 minutes…or they would not get to walk the line!

The narrative played around all things Laker, with many clues directly connected to theor 4 years with us.  We had a total of 5 locks, 3 digits, 4 digits, key and a 5 letter lock.  A throwback to the infamous pep rally game, dizzy bat combined with trashketball resulted in the gamemaster handing over an envelope with a clue on microscope slides.  An open box contained play money for the fine, a ‘blank’ piece of paper with a hidden message from Mr. Atticus Finch to look for a hall pass, as well as magnets needed to get a key out of a glued down vase.


Another box contained the diploma with a final code to open the cap and gown.

The fastest group was 6:07 minutes, our limit was 10 minutes, but I know had groups had another 2-3 minutes would have been successful.

Groups who failed to complete their mission were retained and became a part of Class of 2017.  One group returned to play again, they simply didn’t like failing.  Their board read we made it…after summer school!

I’ve been scrolling some of the brekoutedu adventures wondering how I can create a few for next school year already.

I’ll blog a full step by step directions later, should anyone decide they want to build a room for an event.

A is the Answer. What is the Question?


Yesterday I had the opportunity to share some of my favorite tools with my school district.  We have Non-Traditional Instructional days for snowy, inclement weather.  Let’s face it, in Kentucky, a big snow can keep you out for days. 

Basically, when an NTI Day is called, students have pre-determined assignments to complete.  Our intention yesterday was to consider available, online resources to create interactive and meaningful learning tasks.

One idea I had been considering was how to merge a daily routine, like WODB with Google forms.  Based on discussions, g-forms are quite new to many colleagues.  And I was very excited to share as well.


While thinking through what I would share, an idea came to me…

What if…we gave students the multiple choices, picked an answer and they asked the question?

Let’s try this… 

What’s the Question?

I’ve done several, here’s the answer, wrote an equation types before.  I’m not sure how this one is any different, except the question must address that single choice, so students have to consider how choices are alike/different.

What feedback can you offer? Or suggestions, if you done something similar with your students?

Here’s a great article shared by @mtthman

Open Data Collection with Party Favors


Yesterday was my last day with AP Statistics.  Most had presented their final projects last Friday.  We had extended periods due to other courses taking finals.  Once everyone had finished their presentations, we had a lot of time left.

I opened the cabinet and got these items out…placed them on a desk.  I told students to get one (or more) and play.  After a few minutes of kid-like laughter, I instructed them their last daily assignment was to create a data collection lab.

Basically, they were instructed to come up with a question addressing their toy, determine what they could measure that would allow them to answer their question, outline a lab to collect data and suggest a statistical test that would allow them analyze their data.

It was quite humorous watching them combine toys to develop their questions.  It truly was a time of play, but at the same time – thinking was happening!

I believe this will be a task I use the next time I get to teach Statistics.  However, it will focus on the type of data we collect…categorical vs. quantitative and what questions could be answered based on the collected data.

Once again, I am amazed/not amazed at some of the ideas they come up with.  And remind me – why do I not do more tasks like this?  #lakerproud #awesomestudents


A Light Bulb Moment #MTBoS30


Here’s a shameful post – one of those things I knew it happened, and wanted to believe I knew WHY it happened, but in reality…I was struggling.  Until yesterday…  in after school, tutoring a student for upcoming comprehensive final.

I know how manipulating an equation will transform the graph of the function.  I can predict it quite efficiently.  I know and my students even recognize that y=a (x-h)^2 +k will translate left / right… “opposite” of what the sign / operation is in the parentheses with the h.  But why?

So one day, as I heard myself describing the transformation to a student, I thought…that sounds so stupid.  I mean, hello.  No wonder it doesn’t stick.  It makes no sense (what I had just said).  In my mind, I heard Pam, the student, asking why do we change the sign of the h, but not the k?  Why does the h move opposite, but the k translates direction of the operation?

I started really making more sense to myself when I focused on function transformations in Algebra 2 and transformations for plane figures in Geometry the past couple of years.  But I was definitely not satisfied with what I was saying.  I believe our work with equations of circles related to slope and pythagorean theorem is what started chipping away my lack of true understanding.  Because I began to explore, ask questions.  I was curious.

When I started having students create tables of values, seeing how the values changed with each transformation helped, but not to the level I’d like.

So, here it is folks… when we’re looking at the y=a(x-h)^2 + k…the h is actually NOT the x-coordinate of the vertex.  The h is the transformation back to zero (origin).  Can we look at it that way?  Does that even make sense?  The x-value is where we moved from the origin.  The h will return us back to the origin.  I know its not where I need to be yet.  But I’m open to listening to other’s ideas here.  I’m not satisfied with “it moves just opposite of what we think.”

My next failure as a teacher saga…I don’t do a good job of helping students differentiate between linear functions and arithmetic sequences.  I’m starting to muddle an understanding.  At a moment in time, they are comfortable with each idea, but they continue to mix up when its a first term, n=1 OR an initial value n=0.  The best I can do for now, verify your equation works for the values…

Rethinking Assessments


I wish I had the time to reflect on assessments like this every time. One of those areas I feel I’ve failed at this year…

the radical rational...

After my first assessment, I cut and pasted 8 problems that were missed most or even left blank and copied.  The following day, students worked in groups to complete those problems.

The conversations were great.  I attempted to ask questions of each group member to ensure they understood their peers thinking. 

As a whole class, we discussed why several had left certain problems blank. No attempt. At.All. 
It looked hard.
Too many words.
I was confused.
It didn’t make sense.

But after working on them in small groups, several shared how most were really very doable.  or at least the way ____ explained their thinking, ot made sense.  And how likely they will be to at least give effort on those “hard” problems next to me.

My issue was, when I asked them to complete a wrong answer analysis, only about half put effort into it. Some turned in nearly…

View original post 275 more words

Scholars. Champions. Leaders. #MTBoS30


No great achievement was ever produced by an attempt to be average.

Tweeted by @gregstankey, SEC Commissioner

I really like some of his statements in a commercial running as we were watching some baseball this evening.  I looked for the commercial, but could not locate it.  However, I watched some media clips from last summer.   I appreciated what he was saying.  This back drop essentially sums it up…


And here’s a link to the commercial, I finally located it on SEC.

Education, Competition, Opportunity.

I believe in a well-rounded student, whether its academics, visual/performing arts, athletics, farming, service learning projects, leadership, etc.  But I also believe, education is the core.  I disagree that athletes cannot also be academically focused.  In order to move on to the next level, they have to be prepared academically, otherwise, fewer doors will be open for them.  For a parent or even teacher to discourage an athlete to shy away from challenging coursework because their coaches / schedules are too demanding…well, I respectfully disagree.  They can do both.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Nelson Mandela

opinions are my own

Green Marker = Opportunity@maxmathforum #MTBoS30


I’ve fallen away for a few days.  I watched this video tribute from Heinemann Publishing a week or so ago.  It struck me when I heard Max state he was in the “lower” math class at the time.  He went on to explain, because when they asked him which level he wanted to be in, the difference was the number of pages in the homework packet each week, he chose “the smaller packet.”

Yesterday, as I sat in a meeting, I voiced a concern that some current students were opting to not take Pre-AP coursework because they don’t want to do more homework.  Is that the difference?  According to my administrator, yes, students were told there would be more homework.  That’s the only difference students “heard” between the course offerings.

Watching Max’s tribute makes this conversation yesterday even more prominent in my mind.  I remember the first time I met Max, he looked like a young kid at TMC St. Louis but the words and ideas he shared were from someone who was passionate about math, learning and having a positive impact on education.

Its crazy to think if it had not been for the teacher asking him to participate in the Math Olympiad, would Max have gone through his education thinking he was “no good in math” since his in-depth thinking made him appear “slower / not as smart”?  My, oh my.  What goodness we all would have missed out on with his posts, resources from The Math Forum, Ignites to engage, inspire and challenge us and Powerful Problem Solving.  How many students have missed out because our labels have limited their opportunities?

My question?  Are we inadvertently pushing students away from the Pre-AP?  My administrator’s answer – no, we’re opening it up, so they can choose to take the those courses.  My concern – if all they hear is “more homework” its obvious what some will choose, they are teenagers.  So is that language intended to scare them away?  I’m standoff on policy that does not support a growth mindset, they feel they are already set up for failure, thus choose not to attempt it.

I hope I’m wrong.  In the mean time, I will continue to have conversations and encourage those students to step up to the challenge.  So many students do not have advocates to push them, it is our responsibility to help them find their own voice.

Our state Education Commissioner stated he saw it not as achievement gaps, but as opportunity gaps.  Now, my challenge is to make sure I am part of providing opportunities to all learners.


Musical Chairs & Parabolas #MTBoS30


This is not a new idea – not even my idea, but a great one to begin or end the week, get students out of desks, working together, discussion patterns, etc.  Musical Chairs!

We started the day with a quick version of pictionary for a given quadratic function.  What are some key features / landmarks in the plane that would be helpful to note, when describing to our partners?  We arrive at the list x-intercepts, y-intercept, line of symmetry, vertex.

Students outline a page in their INBs with 4 lines at the bottom saved for reflection and the remainder of the page into 6 sections.  I have the following functions covered on the board.

Students clear their desks, grab INBs, TIs, pencils and I begin playing Walking on Sunshine!  Walk, walk, walk, dance, dance, dance. Music stops – grab a seat and a nearby partner.  Timer is set…to graph, sketch, label and noting key features.  Discuss / check with partner.  Questions?  Music plays again…some Hall & Oats…James Brown… Music stops, grab a seat and partner, repeat.  Look for patterns and hints as your graphing/sketching!

keyfeatures parabola

Students will reflect on their work at beginning of class tomorrow.  Listing things they notice from graphs / equations.  Then I will present them with factored versions of the above and repeat a similar task.

Colleagues #MTBoS30


I’ve been blessed with some amazing colleagues in the past 21 years.  I am so fortunate to work with amazing people.

These two get me, hold me accountable, encourage me to grow, be creative and try new things in my classroom.  So appreciative of them…and all they do for our students.


They keep me grounded, cause me to pause rather than react.  They make me laugh, too.  I’m a better person, teacher and mom because of them.

Missed @literarylou and @tracycbean in this pic!