Category Archives: #MTBoS

Summer Reading 2019 Book 1 #hackingQs


Hacking Questions:  11 Answers That Create a Culture of Inquiry in Your Classroom by Connie Hamilton


What a great read!  So many thoughtful, practical tips that can impact my classroom tomorrow – except, its summer break, so I suppose impact my classroom next fall!

I always enjoy a lighter read to begin my summer learning and a chat with colleagues and friends to reflect on what we’ve read is always a good thing.  You can search up #eduread over that past few weeks for mine and @druinok’s take on this book.

One thing I loved about this book was the quotes to begin each hack.  I am thinking I will make mini posters, highlighting the word/focus: Engage, Think, Reflect, Listen, etc.  @druinok even stated at one point – the quotes alone could lead to some great PLC conversations.

My biggest take-a-way from the entire book is INTENTIONALITY.  There are such good suggestions, but preparation and being intentional with implementation of those ideas is the foundation of creating this culture.  Many of her strategies are simple moves on things a veteran teacher may already do – but why/how it impacts learning is very enlightening to me.  I walk away after each hack, feeling like I can do this.  I can make that work in our classroom.  There was really nothing in the book that overwhelmed me.  I never once felt I had to add to what I was already doing – but simply to adjust / make what I do better with her take on things.

A jot-down for each hack that I made…

  • student feedback with new protocols, what worked, and how could we refine?
  • IDK becomes a rise to action, not an end result.
  • a punctuated lesson models responsibility, time management and goal setting – the student has a plan.
  • teachers and students playing PINK PONG with questions – this gives a false sense of discussion.
  • what impact will my questions have on triggering their thought?
  • content questions alone are not enough – metacognitive…
  • teachers include themselves in student learning – GET OUT of the way!
  • answers are not transferable, logical thinking and reasoning are transferable.
  • most difficult to master (for me) passing the baton back to them – accountability – who’s doing the thinking? “might”
  • Very specific Questions trigger responses that expire.  we cannot without ownership of learning by asking all of the questions.
  • Come to school to enjoy a day with your students.

These are just thoughts from the reading that made me pause or convicted me somehow to make improvements.  There are numerous structures offered within each hack.  I would like to add a few more posts and share my thoughts on how I see things going in my classroom.  The author does a beautiful job of helping us see how to walk in tomorrow and make a small adjustment;  she shares snapshots from real classrooms, offers ways to think about the pushbacks we may encounter and how to overcome them.

I am very appreciative of her sharing of ready to use resources on her website as well.

This book is great for any teacher at any grade level with any level of experience – young and veteran alike.  Get it. Read it. Talk about it.  Reflect on it.

Let me know how your changes impacted your students’ learning!

Go Fish! in Math Class


Hey my TMC17 buddy, @kcnorojo!  This post is for you!

As an intro to reducing radicals…  I place students into groups of 3 or 4 and we play several rounds of Go Fish!  This by the way was not my original idea.  I will need to dig some to find the original post.  But I have used it multiple times with all attitudes of students and it has been a great concrete introduction.

Just in case you’ve never played.  Here are the official rules from

Each player gets five cards. If you are dealt a four of a kind, or get four of a kind during game play, those cards are removed from your hand, and you get a point. Moving clockwise, players take turns asking a specific player for a given rank of card.

I actually adjust the rules a bit in each round.  And I believe we start with seven cards as well.  Game ends when someone runs out of cards OR I call time.

Round 1:  Students must have a pair for a match.  Only a pair works.  I allow them to play for several minutes to get the flow of the game.  When the timer goes off, I ask them to count their matches and high five those with the most points.

Round 2:  Students must have a group of three for a match.  Even IF you have the 4th card in the set, you CANNOT lay it down with the match.  Again, when timer goes off, I ask them to count matches and we celebrate the winners.

Round 3:  Students must have an entire set of four cards to complete / lay down their match.  This round goes on just a bit longer.  Timer, count matches, celebrate winners.

Round 4:  I ask them to deal out the cards – and this time they must have a set of 5 to make a match.  A few usually continue to deal out the cards, but several pause and say – but we can’t!  There are only four cards of each type.  Yes!

We have a discussion about which round was their favorite to play.  Which round was toughest?  Which round was their least favorite.  Usually – Round 2…with three in a set, because IF you end up with the last card, you can never lay it down, thus never emptying your hand to end the game.  Hmmmm.

I literally draw a radical on the board and describe how it “sort of” looks like my hand when I hold a bunch of cards.  I make a big deal of the index on the radical – it tells us the rules of the game.  The Go Fish! game lends it to this part very well.  Though these are not the greatest examples, hopefully they will give you a quick idea of what the notes may look like.

We practice several on whiteboards and write a reflection at the end of the work.  Then I have them open their INBs and write out a few examples to complete – notate for future reference / study.  Depending on the class, I may offer a few examples if they are unable to create some on their own.

Depending on the remaining time in class, I will then pass out the Radical Rummy cards to the groups.  I have gone over how we can type in the problems on our graphing calculators – rational exponents, radicals, etc.  I explain that every card will match to form a group of 4.


When a group has gotten their matches complete, I have them create a small poster or use whiteboards to list equivalent expressions.  We then begin a notice / wonder.  I jot down their ideas, testing some as we go along, but letting them decide if their “rule” for the rational exponents holds true.

I like this task after the Go FISH! and simplifying a few radical expressions because it shows them how the rational exponents are simply asking us to find that amount of the factors.  For example, an exponent of 1/3 asks us to find 1/3 of the factors of say 8.  Since 8 = 2*2*2 and we have 3 factors, I want 1/3 of them, so 2 if the 1/3 power of 8.

There are also come GREAT discussions that arise about the negative exponents and what mathematical operations they are telling us to do.

I would love to hear how you approached these same skills and how it goes!