Monthly Archives: July 2017

And One Time at Math Camp… #TMC17


Each year after I leave TMC, I ponder and am always amazed as I realize the theme that ran through our few days together…the similar ideas shared within sessions / key notes / conversations.

connections, relationships, community

mary math

When Mary tweeted this – I immediately wanted to make a poster of Annie’s statement.

But then I thought, TMC is about the relationships, but others think TMC is about math.

Then this convo happened last night / this morning about a weekly blogging initiative…


And @druinok’s last statement – building connections.

In my morning session, #cheezyexeter – I was finally able to experience talking points for what they are.  A structure / routine that creates a space for each student a turn to talk without fear of judgement or interruption as we used NO COMMENT.  With the 3 rounds and each person talking, I was afforded the opportunity to LISTEN, not worrying about jumping in, but knowing my turn would come.  Creating a safe space to talk and listen.


I was challenged by @graceachen’s keynote.  The moment she shared her question to her grandmother – What did you want to be when you grew up?  And her response, Full.  And I knew I had never shared those same experiences.  Her impression left me to ponder more about stereotypes and their origins so I might have better understanding and genuine compassion.

I have cried many times feeling I was not good enough to share – thinking I am the one seen as privileged and there were moments I felt guilty.   I have never walked in many experiences of my students – so what gives me the right to share?   What gives me the right to be in a classroom?  I am grateful for what experiences my parents provided me and the life lessons they instilled.  I should never feel guilty for what they’ve given me.  But I am challenged to create a small space in my classroom of what I want to see in the world.

I am grateful for my friends of MTBoS of whatever you wish to call it – because it has tried my beliefs, tested my faith and helped me realize – I am who I am.  You are who you are.  My experiences have lended to who I have become.

I have never walked through the experiences @veganmathbeagle has so openly shared.  But other experiences in my own life – I have learned – we can never judge because her journey could have just as easily been mine. I am in awe of her vulnerability, so much courage.   I will print this as a daily reminder for my desk…


To me, MTBoS is just another way to connect – Tweeting and/or blogging have given us a vehicle with which we can connect over the math – but the rich conversations that follow allow us to build the relationships that sustain…

And how we can take an idea shared, and make it our own…

hug clip

This quote from @math8_teach’s  afternoon session… I want to hold on to…
What I love most about TMC – we are all different, so many varying beliefs, abilities, experiences, but the same.

I appreciate @algebrasfriend’s statement – its not a clique, they’re just friends.  So true.  These people have become my friends.  And though I may squeal with excitement and a big hug to follow, I look forward to our conversations and new friendships becoming the same.

And finally, one of my favorites from my friend @mathymeg07 and Auggie in Wonder #choosekind .

And One Time at Band Camp…


I had the opportunity this past week to help with alterations for my daughter’s marching band.  It was also the second week of band camp.  As I sat in a back hallway or in the uniform room with an almost closed door, I got to see, well hear actually, former students teach.  

Each on a different path in life, but getting to share their talents as instructors at band camp.

It was obvious they were passionate about what they were teaching.  Three very different students, three very different teachers…  but more alike than different.

1.  They loved their students – they cared about them as people.  And their students knew it.

2.  They loved their content. And their students knew it.

3.  They challenged their students, pushing them just beyond what their students thought they could do.  

4.  They supported and encouraged their students, giving them feedback, direction, and pushing them until they got it right.  Perseverance was both modeled amd instilled.

5.  The analogies they used in their instruction, made the learning feel intuitive.  Constantly connecting it back to something the students already knew.

6.  They recognized when students were on overload.  The story telling for brain breaks allowed a rest to ready them to try again.  

Seeing former students doing something they love reminded me that I still love what I do.  

Looking back, way back… 10 years ago


These past couple of days, I spent some time in my classroom – sorting through old files / purging.  I found there were some things I was sad to run across – wondering – “Why did I give that up?”  Below you will see a cover sheet from nearly 10 years ago of a session I presented in a fall regional conference.

Bell Ringers

A couple of my very favorite bell ringers were Math Dice and Krypto the website in the picture no longer works. I love both of these because they basically review the order of operations without reviewing the order of operations.   There is a level of competition, but also how many different ways can we…  which allows students to keep looking for other solutions.

A quick run down of each – Math Dice, you roll 3 dice and use those 3 digits to create an expression that results in the target determined by rolling the other 2 12-sided dice and multiplying to get the target.  Krypto choosing 5 “cards” 1-26 and students create an expression that results in the target card of 1-26.  I even remember one year having paper crowns from Burger King that the Krypto King/Queen could wear.  It was a great way to get students thinking about numbers.

I shared how we simulated the 2 games with random number generators.

PLAN Practice

Basically we were benchmarking before I had ever heard of benchmarking.  Three times a year our students would take practice plan.  We would look at our entire results and develop a plan to address any concerned areas.  We had a report we sent home to parents after each practice, sharing where students were and what we were doing to help them reach their goals…yep, when I met with my students, I asked them to set their goal for the year.

These gave us a baseline for our 9th graders and allowed us to communicate gap areas with 10th grade teachers, since Kentucky utilized the ePAS system with Explore, PLAN, ACT back then.  And again, 10th grade teachers analzyed those results to help find areas of needed growth before the 11th grade ACT.

Quick Quiz

These 2 question skills quizzes seemed to always be a part of my routine / instruction.  I would typically give them at the end of class, beginning of the next class or while students were independently practicing, I would call them over to my desk individually and have them work a couple of problems for me.  I often mixed students between who I knew was likely having trouble so I could help them catch their misconceptions early on before practicing too much and those who I knew just needed a quick check.


I was ecstatic when I got my first set of clickers.  Ah-mazing!  I will never forget my administrator bringing them in my room apparently another teacher had them and had never even broke the seal on the CDrom.  Heck yeah – I wanted them!  I used them for Daily / HW quizzes.  IF less than 80% of the class were “successful” – I assigned what I called an MP set…More Practice assignment.  4-6 questions short – but hopefully after addressing commonly missed questions, discussing common errors / wrong answer choices, it allowed students to revisit and revise their thinking.  The following day we would have another Daily Quiz and almost always – everyone was where we needed them to be! Formative assessment at its best.


Each student had their name on the card, I could jot quick notes based on student approach / performance, even note days they were absent.  I would try to type in a note on progress reports to reflect student participation.  AND this allowed me to draw names and shuffle during class – calling on every student, everyday.  This was important to me.  I remember once sitting after school one day, looking through my roster.  There was a student who I could not remember interacting with and it bothered me.  I sought out suggestions on how to ensure every student was at least acknowledged every single day.  So important to look them in the eye and let them know you see them and care.

CATS Matrix

Commonwealth Academic (?) Testing System is that what CATS stood for?  I cannot remember, but that is UK’s mascot C-A-T-S!  Anyway, we had a matrix/excel file we could key in student results and it weighted to estimate the student assessment rating.  Once again, we conferenced with students about their performance, discussed areas for growth, revisited some concepts, then reassessed.  Again, asking students to set their own goals.  Well, this was the plan, but as with many initiatives, not everyone follows through.  But for those who did, I observed some strong student growth.

Cool Math

A fun site that had a bit of novelty, but offered immediate feedback on some skills practice.  It was well organized, easy to navigate and with a couple of desktops in the classroom, a great resource to use during station days.

USA Today & Stat Rat

Stat Rat used the USA Today Snapshots to develop the lesson.  We eventually took it a step further, asking students to find their own Snapshots, write a brief summary, but then create questions for their submission.  The attention to detail and informational reading was definitely strengthened through this task.  It was a great resource.


I suppose the purpose of this was me – just reflecting on what I used to do and to realize I wasn’t completely off course.  There were some other tasks inside the presentation packet – maybe I’ll share those another day.

What’s a lesson  / instructional task you have run across recently that is something you used to do?