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?


5 responses »

  1. It’s a little surprising (or maybe not!) that these are all still good ideas. Ha! I threw out most ideas from the first few years of my teaching career – around ten years ago was when some of them started being good enough to reuse.

  2. Thanks for reminiscing! As mathsfeedback stated, I wonder if/which you would bring back. For those that you wouldn’t bring back, with what strategies/activities did you replace them and what did you try to accomplish with the old strategy that your new one now does? Gosh, I hope these questions make sense!! Look forward to your thoughts

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