Category Archives: #MTBoS30

#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!

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…

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.

Landmarks & Falling Objects #MTBoS30

Algebra I Quadratic Equations

We have prom this weekend, FFA ( a lot of my students ) are gone to Mammoth Cave, so I thought this would be a valuable way to end the week with so many students out and distracted.

Dan Meyer’s 3 Act Falling Rocks

Dan Meyer’s 3-Act Dropping Glowsticks

So, our practice problems consisted of finding the heights of tall landmarks (student generated list) and solving to find the time it would take an object to hit the ground after being dropped from the top of that landmark.

tall landmarks

As we continue working with quadratic functions / equations next week, we’ll take a look at Coyote & Road Runner and the Catapult to introduce parts of a parabola. Post discussing these  files: Quadratic Files.

For more skills practice / workbook 356/357.

Laughter Yoga, It’s a Real Thing @MTBoS30


 “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” — Audrey Hepburn

So last night was check in for my LIFE CHANGE class.  Topics – planning meals/snacks and STRESS!  At the bottom of how to reduce stress list…Laughing Yoga.



Laughing Yoga.

What’s that?  Google it.  It’s a real thing.

Because my next door colleague was testing 3 hours this morning with On-Demand writing, I was limited to the classes I tried it with. First thing this morning.  Some of the kids were stared at me, wide eyed.  But all at some point laughed.  Out loud.  Smiles.  And, it was free.


Studies say laughter has health benefits.  I know it relieves stress.  I said last year, I wanted to laugh more in my class.  We will end our school year, with laughter yoga.

Look it up.  Give it a try.  Laugh a little.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s crazy, Mrs. Wilson.  It’s a great way to start the day…laughing.”

“A minute spent laughing, is not a wasted minute.”


Just 1 Second / It Can Wait #MTBoS30


As an introduction to Quadratics, we’ve been looking at speed and stopping distance in Algebra I.  The formula d = 0.045v^2 is a great way to start practicing solving quadratics by square roots.

We created a table of values for various speeds.  Asked the question, if you double your speed, will your stopping distance double?  If you triple your speed, will your stopping distance triple?  Hmmmm.  Good discussions.  Why/Why not?

For the speeds, 40, 50, 60 mph, which interval had the greatest rate of change?

Was Jake Speeding?

Jake had an accident.  The accident report states the skid was about 222 ft.  Was Jake speeding?  Provide evidence for your claim.  How fast was Jake driving?

Some compared the stopping distance to previously calculated for given speeds, then reasoned where to begin their own calculations.  Again, I am proud of their thinking – no trying to replicate something I had said or done.  I will take their reasoning any day over replicating my procedures and thinking.  There were students who solved the equation algebraically and some students picked up on their classmates procedure, once it was shared.  But it was their thinking, not mine.

Just 1 Second

If Jillian was driving at 58 mph.  How far would she travel in 1 second?  Hmmm.  One would think this was a simple conversion problem, but some students were stuck.  Okay, give me a value you believe is too low.  Too high. Pair share.  I wrote several values on the board and allowed students to confirm or dispute.  Finally, after some sharing, we agreed on 85ish feet.

We step out in the hall and student walks off 85 feet.  1 second.  That’s not much time.  That’s a pretty far distance.  When we return to the room, I play a PSA from ATT Close to Home, It Can Wait.

It Can Wait PSA

I’m using this as part of our Program Reviews (Integrating Arts/Humanities, Practical Living/Vocational Studies, Writing, Global Awareness). Students will include a math fact we’ve used this week in our intro to Quadratics to write a 20 second PSA or create a print ad for Distracted Driving… Just 1 Second.



Braking Distance and Speed #MTBoS30 Day 2


8 minutes…here goes…

A quick retrieval from last week’s exponential growth / decay to begin our day in Algebra I. Four functions:

  • y=1200(1.13)^x
  • y=1200(2)^x
  • y=1200(.91)^x
  • y = 1200(2)^-x
  1.  60 seconds:  Tell how they’re alike / different.
  2. State which ones are increasing and decreasing without “doing any math / graphs.”
  3. Graph each, sketch, noting the end behavior…does it support your description?
  4. Let x=3, find the function value for each.  Is it greater or less than the initial value?

Texting Olympics!


That’s right, thanks to Heather Khon, we did a little sprinting and hurdles in class today.  

Sprint:  staying for help in math pick me up at 4

Hurdles:  Laker baseball has a winning season!!! woooo!  #lakerproud

Recorded our times and will use them tomorrow as we look at breaking distances more…adding on to our distances how far we’ll travel in just 1 second at various speeds, then leading up to a written PSA, print PSA, recorded 30 second PSA to support ATT’s campaign, Its worth the Wait.

Here’s where we began our new content – a look at some quadratic data.

These lessons are taken from A Visual Approach to Functions, 2002, Key Curriculum.


  1. Notice / Wonder about the speeds and braking distances.
  2. Create a scatterplot, then run a quad reg because we don’t see a constant rate of change for linear and no common rate of multiplication for exponential.
  3. Some are amused when they see this crazy function pop up and just how well it models their data when graphed.

f(x) = .0975x^2 – 2.5x + 65.25 (its pretty close to this, but I don’t have it written down with me.)   What’s that, you want to know how far you’ll travel at 90 mph, Brooke?  Let’s see.

The lessons go on with varied graphs asking students which models given sentences.  Three tables of values are shared, asking them which is likely the data for their chosen graphs.  And finally, equations – which one matches each data set.

Again, open questions because students were not limited to a single strategy.  Some students chose to use x-values as inputs into the equations and find the one that modeled.  Another group used their data to create a scatter plot and/or regression equations, and others found the rates of change within the tables and compared to determine if linear/quadratic.

All in all, I was please to see such varied approaches – and  correct in their reasoning.  Looking forward to continuing these conversations tomorrow as an intro to quadratic functions.  Maximizing Area will follow braking distances.

May Day, May Day #MTBoS30 #5pracs


Thursday night, I printed off a packet of handouts from a session I’d led at KCM conference in 2012, simply because there was a data collection activity “Look Out Below!” I wanted to use in class on Friday.  As I flipped through the pages, I was taken back by what I used to do.  And it made me sad.  I walked in Friday morning, straight over to a colleague’s room and asked for accountability these last few weeks of school.

Multiple times the past several months  I have been directed back to 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, Smith and Stein 2011. I read the in book even participated in a chat.  The following school year, I implemented a few lessons purposefully using this structure.  I found that the FALs from Mathshell often followed the same format.  It led to great discussions, thinking and sharing in my classroom.  So, what happened?  A rut.  I still used the structure, but not intentionally planning NEW lessons, just recycling the ones I’d become comfortable with.

Last November, I attended an ACT Boot Camp sponsored by@UKPIMSER, one of the strategies shared was the 5 practices!  This winter, we had 8 Non-Traditional Instructional Days in our district- where students / teachers participated in learning tasks during Snow Days.  Our department used NCTMs Principles to Actions book, focusing on the 8 Mathematics Teaching Practices, one of which was promoting whole class discourse, and using Smith & Stein’s outline.  This spring, I have come across several chats mentioning the 5Practices for discourse.

Just today, I read @marybourassa’s post Day 80 Ropes and Systems, that described how she used a chart to track observations and conversations inspired by this book.  I also read @bridgetdunbar’s Teach Math as a Story post as well as watched @gfletchy’s Ignite Talk on becoming an 83%er – one who is asking questions to effectively engage students… We must focus on task planning – better questions (Frank’s hot sauce!) in order to listen to our students rather than for their responses.  (S/O @maxmathforum 2>4 Ignite!).

As soon as I arrived home, I grabbed a box from the shelf to get out my #5pracs for a revisit.  And all these treasures were there with it!20160501_145551.jpg

As I flipped through my book, I found these notes…penned on the last day of summer break, on a final trip to the water park, I’m assuming 2012…reading while my daughter and her friend splashed in the wave pool.

I was preparing for the first few days / unit of Algebra 2…

So, here’s my goal for the #MTBoS30 challenge: to revisit #5pracs and plan a couple of intentional lessons, ask better questions, monitor observations and conversations – maybe even record with my phone in pocket and see if  can accomplish some of the “Try This” Smith & Stein have outlined in their book.

I’m asking for accountability, MTBoS.  Mayday! Mayday!

The title, I thought was fitting, rather than sink these last few weeks – which normally kick my butt, I am determined to finish strong in an effort to leave a great impression with my budding, almost 10th graders – allowing them to see that math is more than just math.

from etymonline:

mayday (interj.) Look up mayday at Dictionary.comdistress call, 1923, apparently an Englished spelling of French m’aider, shortening of venez m’aider “come help me!” But possibly a random coinage with coincidental resemblance:

“May Day” Is Airplane SOS
ENGLISH aviators who use radio telephone transmitting sets on their planes, instead of telegraph sets, have been puzzling over the problem of choosing a distress call for transmission by voice. The letters SOS wouldn’t do, and just plain “help!” was not liked, and so “May Day” was chosen. This was thought particularly fitting since it sounds very much like the French m’aidez, which means “help me.” [“The Wireless Age,” June 1923]


First Day of Summer Break #MTBoS30 Post 23 non math


One of my favorite down times is a bit of sewing.  So the first day of summer break, I put off doing laundry (gasp) and got to work on some quick projects.

My 10 yo will be attending camp in just a few weeks.  Since the beloved pet cannot travel along, she chose some kitty fabric for a pillowcase.


For all that dirty laundry, I wanted to help her keep it all together.   With some green chevron she picked out, a laundry bag, complete with shoulder strap.


Finally, something I saw last spring at a swim shop.  Jammer/Capris made from a beach towel.  Great cover up for those late evening meets.


#readthree Summer Challenge #MTBoS30 Post 22


Last summer I wrote a post after a tweet from @burgess_shelley (she’s married to that Pirate guy)…but I enjoy reading her journey and experiences as an educational learner and leader!

Time to read the blogosphere is sometimes put on the back burner during the school year.  I hate this because interacting with #MTBoS challenges me to be a better teacher.  But it happens.

So today, I offer this challenge (again) to myself, but feel free to join in.  Read posts from 3 people you follow on twitter.  If you cannot do it daily, set a goal for yourself. I am challenging myself to 4 days a week and one day to reflect and share my take-a-ways by compiling my to-do list for next year. 

My intentions for next year are to incorporate more hands-on labs/data collection, focus on vocabulary and literacy strategies to empower student reasoning (writing and summarizing, @druinok!), providing more purposeful interactions/discussions (Strength in Numbers, @tchmathculture!) and planning more engaging tasks/activities.  Hopefully these goals will guide my focus in this challenge.

I am looking forward to reading from some new bloggers as well as catching up with those tried & true!