Category Archives: #mtbosblaugust

#TMC18 Meals… #MTBoSBlaugust Post 5

#TMC18 Meals…  #MTBoSBlaugust Post 5

Sunday mornings are the only morning that I actually cook breakfast through the week.  One of my favorites is a dish I first enjoyed at Kouzzina in Disney several years back before it closed.  Simply scrambled eggs with Roma tomatoes, spinach and feta with a bit of salt and black pepper. Yum.


So, my post today – nonmath, is about some great meals I shared with friends at TMC18.

After arriving Tuesday evening, my roommate Mary and I ventured out to find some later than usual supper.  We happened upon The Chocolate Bar.  Of course we wanted to try an entree with chocolate in it – that was part of the experience, right?  Well, our server was a bit hesitant of our choice of the white chocolate pasta.  She said, you will either love it or hate it, and you cannot send it back.  So made another choice…


Flatbread with melted mozzarella, strawberries, balsamic reduction, basil and white chocolate shavings.  Sliced turkey sandwich with jack cheese, greens and raspberry mayo.  And their water glasses, rotated around, are oblique…  how could we use those in geometry class, right?

The following day was desmos pre-conference, which we are pampered with some yummy breakfast and tasty lunch.  Thanks guys!  You always make us feel loved!

That evening, Mary and I ventured to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  What a treat!  I believe my favorite things were notebooks and papers with lyrics scribbled on them.  Words crossed out and replaced – actual hand written pieces made me know these were real people…

We came back through 4th Street area and met up with my Kentucky pals, Jenn & Laura, at Zocalo.  My Mexican flatbread was all the flavors I love.  Though I could have overstuffed myself, I chose to skip most of the bread and finish off the toppings.  It was so good.  And their guac was quite tasty as well.20180718_200822.jpg

Opening day of TMC, we chose The Hot Spot, knowing service would be a bit slow, and upon arriving, seeing only one gentlemen serving tables.  But my hearty-homestyle breakfast of fried tators, toast, eggs and bacon were just right.  But the fresh-squeezed OJ, I could have drank that all day.  So refreshing.

Mary, Jenny & I all had sessions that afternoon, so for lunch we wanted wanted something reasonably quick – that we could bring back to the beautiful campus of St. Ignatius and enjoy the perfect weather.    We stopped into the Souper Market just down the street.  Small, but quick and friendly service.  My grilled cheese was good, my spicy tomato soup was scrumptious.  Just a bit of heat, great flavor.  Their salads looked amazing too!

souper market

I love all the people of TMC, but I am not a big crowd person.  Small, quiet settings of people enjoying conversation in the evenings help me keep leveled out from the exciting, sometimes overwhelming (good kind of way) – work of my brain all day.  Many were already attending the first timers dinner.  Mary put a tweet out we were walking back up to Lake Erie if anyone wanted to join.  Yay Cori & Elissa was along for the walk!

We had a good meal at Nuevo, which was very near the water.  Sitting outside was great, except the sun was setting and Elissa had to strategically position herself in Cori’s shadow.  The guac was my favorite part of the meal.  Trying new things is always a fun venture.  But I kept it safe, not choosing the beef tongue and going with chicken.  lol  It was great just chatting and enjoying the company.

The next morning, we made an attempt to locate the crepes place.  Someone shared it was closed, so we stepped into West Side Market Cafe.  I learned what a red-eye coffee was, thanks Wendy – I know red-eye gravy…  But too much caffeine may keep me up for days!!!    They had an eggs benedict special with spinach, tomato and feta.  Do you remember my favorite breakfast treat?  Of course, I wanted to try it!

I will behonest, I wasn’t sure about the homefries when they first came out.  But they were so tasty.  Crunchy edges, soft centers.  And I very much enjoyed my eggs.

For lunch that day, we took ran a little over, searching West Side Market before actually ending up at the Flying Fig.  Pulled Pork Nachos – with pickled red onions as a garnish.  Again, great choice.  Perfect serving size.  It was a fun atmosphere sitting on the street, once again, great weather…until we just finished up and it started sprinkling.

Mary and I ventured back to The Chocolate Bar – we had to get dessert!  We split another flatbread, philly steak, she got a sundae and I chose the peanut butter mud – Creamy milk chocolate and buttery caramel with sweet and salty peanut crunch all layered twice over a brownie cake base ( from the menu, gotta be good, right?).

For breakfast the following day, it was sprinkling rain, but we loaded up the car with Jenn, Allison, James, Cortni, Mary and myself and were on a mission for crepes at West Side Market!!!  Strawberries with lemon curd.  oh. so. good.


And a few souvenir treats for home.  BUT I forgot MY POPCORN!!!

I also grabbed this pecan, sweet roll thingy from here for a mid morning snack.  The only thing that could have made it better… 10 seconds heated in microwave.  delicious.  I am not a macaroon fan, but my daughter loves them.  The Jerky – the dr. pepper was fine but I really like the spicy lamb.  yummo.

Some of our morning session buddies had invited us to join them for lunch.  We ended up at Great Lakes Brewing.  The pesto chicken was very good.  It was my last meal before leaving for home.


Math, Memories & Meals…

Cleveland was a nice surprise for me.  It is a place, I would enjoy visiting again.

Where to Begin… #MTBoSBlaugust Post 1



What happened to June?  AND July?!?!?  Home remodel…County Fair Food Booth, TMC, Altering Band Uniforms…  I’ll share more later.

As the Naked Ladies begin appearing around home…


I know that means school is just around the corner.  Yesterday was my first day actually in my classroom to work.  Basically, dusting things off, cleaning tables & chairs and sweeping up.  Our custodial staff are the best – such hard workers and I am always amazed at the face-lift they give our rooms, hallways, school over the summer.

Assigning Random Seating

After reading @druinok’s post this morning, I wondered – what will I write about for August 1?  Then I came across Allison’s post about how TMC makes attempts to welcome newbies.  Ah yeah.  That text reminder I sent to myself last spring…


And look, it is scheduled to arrive TODAY at 5:35 pm.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

After listening to my own child and even my own experiences as I walk into trainings/PD, even faculty meetings (where I KNOW most everyone) – there is a stress of where to sit and who to sit with.  I cannot imagine being a teenager…entering the dreaded algebra classroom.

I do random grouping, usually on a weekly basis.  (However, after Mary & Sheri’s morning session at TMC, I am considering it more often.  Will blog about that later.)  But often on the first few days, I allow students to sit where ever.  They can find a friend.  Be in a comfort zone.  Right?  Wrong.

I observed my students – if they sat with this group, then they would look like they were leaving someone else out.  What if I have to sit with someone “who doesn’t like me”?  They seriously pondered where to choose. There are two sides to this coin, but I will attempt to remove at least one stress from their day and randomly seat students as they enter my classroom the first few days of school – by color / mathematician table.  You can see how I label my tables – here.  Though I am attempting to find a new arrangement to allow for larger class numbers in one block this fall and will need to add a new table/mathematician.


The other thing that Allison mentioned was the “Pac-Man Rule” suggested during TMC.


When gathered in a group, ALWAYS leave an open space to welcome others into the conversation.  I am definitely going to encourage this with a small poster reminder in my classroom.

My Daily Choice

And lastly, I saw this hamper from Natural Life and think I want to paint/watercolor something similar for my desk.  To remind myself – its my choice.  I get to set the tone.  I want a safe spot for my students.  I want them to feel valued, protected, sufficient, cared-for.  I can choose to offer a smile and welcome my students… so that they too may just be happy, even if only for a moment while in room 148.



2017-2018 #GOALS #1TMCthing #SUNDAYFUNDAY


NERVES. Anxious.

We have opening day for teachers and open house tomorrow night.  I am always nervous to meet new students and parents.  Scared.  Because I want to be great for them, I want to value their time.  I want them to learn and think and be challenged.  Somewhere in the mix, I want them to at least not *hate* math.

The past couple of years have been, well, not my best.  I chose to disconnect – because things were happening out of my control and I quickly became bitter.  So as not to spread that ugly, contagious monster at school, I added space between myself and most everyone in proximity at school.  I trusted no one.  I gave up.  I walked into my classroom and I left.  It was miserable.   This is not the work life I wanted, but it felt safe to isolate.  It seems selfish looking back now.  But I needed time to heal, forgive.  Sadly, my students did not get the best me and that breaks my heart.  I apologize.


Last year in an effort to dig my way back, my friend and I read a book Choosing Joy (kindle is only $0.99 right now).  Its a 52-week devotional with a 4-page format.  Easy, but challenging.  I was reminded that no matter what, I get to choose.  I plan to pull the book out again this year for frequent reminders.

I almost didn’t attend TMC17.  Even being a veteran, the voices in my head – nearly convinced me I shouldn’t go.  I had submitted my proposal way back when – I wasn’t sure if anything I had to share would benefit anyone.  I have such respect for this community, I didn’t want to waste their time.  My friend, the book fairy said, “But you love math camp.  It re-energizes you.”  She was right.  Its what I needed.  A BIG, jumbo shot of mathy-filled joy to jumpstart this school year.


I had 2 things on my list I wanted to learn more about and experience #talkingpoints and #clotheslinemath.  I’ve dabbled in both, but never saw them completely through for what they can be.  So, my #1TMCthing will be these 2 actually.  I teach Algebra I – basically 3 levels CP using Springboard Curriculum, Algebra I – using our own resources, and Collaborative with Co-Teaching Model.  I am excited to see how each of these routines / tools will play out with all of my students.  My goal to implement each one time in each unit.

This may seem odd, I see both of these supporting my goal of intentional vocabulary / literacy strategies.  Several years ago, I worked hard at implementing ideas with this focus – I need to refine and focus on these as well.


I need to be very intentional about my self-care.  In order to be my best for my family and my students, I need to make better choices for my health and down time.  Ideas:

  • take a 5-10 min brain break to recharge somewhere in the middle of the school
  • read for pleasure throughout the school year.
  • journaling my food.
  • #FitBOS to work towards my activity goals. S/O here to @sarah3martin for always including me in fitbit weekly challenges.  Thank you.

So I will protect my self-care time by including it on my calendar, sadly this gives me permission to do it without guilt.


I have worked very hard for several years learning about formative assessment, questioning and closure activities for reflection.  I intend to continue working to improve these and keep using some that I have found to be very beneficial to my students.  But improving and being more intentional with my follow-up tasks to the formative assessments.

I would also like to continue implementing some of the big ideas from our chat on #Makeitstick a couple of summers ago, that Anna does an amazing job of sharing in her posts and presentations.  Spaced practice, interleaving, being intentional and explicit about retrieval practice.

And I will continue life-lessons in my classroom – that’s what kids will take-a-way in the end.  (If you have questions about this poster, just ask.)

jim carey

here for the kids

When I was younger, I remember wanting to “Be a Barnabas” – yeah. That too.


Bonus Session – Teacher Hacks #TMC17


So about 5 minutes before my afternoon session began, I shared some of my favorites…  Just to help me get calm before the actual session began.

Then Anna tweeted


Several asked me to share, so here goes, even a few ideas I didn’t share during the pre-session.


Index card with stop light colors and a paper clip.  Students can keep these in front pocket of their notebook and can use individually during independent practice and/or quizzes, assessments.  As I walk around the room, this can indicate they need me without raising their hand.  Can also use in place of stop light cups during group work if you have small desks, etc.

#makeitstick suggests retrieval practice – basically a flashcard flip book.  Fold piece of card stock in half, can fit 20-26 index cards inside.  GREAT tool for review, just 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  If you use this for a year long or semester long review, students can tape a mid-size manilla envelope into back cover of their notebooks to store.

Magnetic Tape – it was around $5 at walmart, not great with heavy items, but for light weight cardstock or smaller items, perfect.  This particular card set was from Kelly Boles Histogram Buckets! And the accountable talk starters from this post.

Re-purposed Containers…

If you have an activity or set of flashcards, consciously make them the size to fit the Extra  clear box.  Also the Ice Breakers Cubes, these boxes are great for dice, paper clips.  And finally the Crystal Light or other drinks flavors – cover the cylinder with favorite paper and store pens, sharpies, etc.

#pocketphone – I learned about this from some of @suMACzanne’s tweets a while back.  Basically you can hit record and carry your phone around in your pocket for about 10 minutes during your class time.  When you play it back, what is it you are looking/listening for?  Are you concerned with questions / types of questions?  Maybe wait time during student interactions?  Maybe giving concise, clear directions?  Transitions between tasks?

Playback, listen.   Jot notes.  How did it go?  Make plans to adjust, improve whatever your goal may be.  Research, ask for help, work on it.  Then in a couple of weeks, #phonepocket again. Compare / Reflect.  Remember, the goal is to improve, not be perfect.

I love this idea (and have used it several times) because it gives me a different view of my classroom.  It’s un-intrusive, because I am the only one to hear it.  No one has to know, not even the students.  But there is a level of accountability.  I cannot ignore what I hear. Also, Hattie suggestions the influence of microteaching has an effect size of .88.


Microfiber Cloths – to erase dry erase markers.  They wipe away any residue.  When they get gunky, take them home, wash, reuse.  You can find them in household or car cleaning sections.  Watch for sales, shop around.  I got 12 pack $3-4.  I previously cut them into quarters and they work fine.  They did not ravel, but I prefer the larger cloths.


Calendar Numbers – 2 sets to create, then laminate a vertical number line.  This one by my door has been around since 2002ish.  I only used -15 to 15.  But you can often see students looking up to it as they are working.

Feel free to share your hacks!

Summer Reading 2016 #MTBoSBlaugust Post 7



I had big plans for the summer – reading, but I’ve only read 1 book from my initial list.  Well, I’ve skimmed a couple of them, and still have plans for Mathematical Mindsets (Boaler) this fall.  But I look back over summer and wonder – what have I done?

I’ve enjoyed time in these- a project shared with my dad – daily reading, morning coffee, evening reflection.


I finished Creating Cultures of Thinking and revisited Making Thinking Visible and had some wonderful chats with @druinok and others on Twitter about them.  CCoT was a great read after having read MTV 3 years ago.  It emphasized the implementation of the thinking routines and offered some good illustrations of them in classrooms, along with discussions that helped lead to success.

Ritchhart explains how creating a culture of thinking is more important to learning than any particular curriculum and he outlines how any school or teacher can accomplish this by leveraging 8 cultural forces: expectations, language, time, modeling, opportunities, routines, interactions, and environment.

After completing, I revisited MTV with @druinok’s first time reading it.  Again, it was challenging to see how some routines would look in math class, but some great discussion led to doable ideas.  Here is a link to slides I started creating to use as reminders during my planning time.  I hope to revisit these soon and get them completed.

While at the pool, an elementary colleague recommended Hacking Education (Barnes & Gonzales), which I already had on my Kindle.  Some good tips and thoughts for how to make simple, but high return changes to impact school.  I had actually read (listened to) The Five Minute Teacher: Maximizing Time for Learning (Barnes) while traveling over Memorial Day.  This led me to Cult of Pedagogy blog and eventually her podcast.  Since there were some nice convos coming out of #TMC16 with Make It Stick, I picked it up to skim over some highlights and notes from our chats last summer!


But I have taken time to for fun reading this summer too (@stappsarah, you’d be proud!) Ninie Hammon is my new favorite author – several of her stories have a Kentucky connection, one even mentioned a business in my hometown!

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Need to finish:

  • Walk Two Moons – my daughter asked me the other day if I had finished it yet #accountability
  • Embedding Formative Assessments
  • Principles to Actions
  • Rethinking Grading (skimmed)

On my to-read shelf:

That’s 13 books I’ve completed, reread or skimmed to review.   I still need to finish those 4!!!

In the summer of 2010, as I began my journey as part of Kentucky’s Leadership Network, I chose the shortest book to read, because “I didn’t like to read” I considered myself a nonreader and I was proud of it (smh).  But I made a decision over the next few years to begin reading more.  And I continue to make that decision, because I believe its imperative to read if I want my learners to read.  Its imperative I continue to learn if I want my learners to learn.  I must model what I wish to see in my students…

I’m pretty proud of all that I’ve read this summer, not being braggy, because it takes effort (reading is not my strong suit), yet I have grown to truly enjoy – it has become my escape.

Inspirare Post 4 #MTBoSBlaugust


Inspire.  Encourage.  Support.

I’ve always wanted to be the marigold.

When I was younger, my favorite Bible person was Barnabas – my role model, I wanted to be a real life Barnabas.

But I feel that I get so frustrated with things that don’t even matter.  I tend to isolate myself in order to not poison someone else’s attitude.  Maybe I should pack up and leave my job.    But then I remember why I’m here.  Then I remember who it is I work for…

I saw some amazing kids tonight at open house.  Spoke with many wonderful parents.

I am being trusted with these kids every single day.  What if I fail to challenge/support them?  What if we don’t laugh enough?  What if I’m unable to convince them math can be fun?  What if they don’t like me?  What if I’m unable to encourage and inspire them?  What if they don’t learn anything?

But, what if they do?

Forward Ever, Backward Never.  Those things we should keep from our past to stand on as we move forward.

Equity.  Achievement.  Integrity. (@DrSPruitt)

Do I provide every student with the same quality / access to learn?  Do I maintain a high level of achievement for every student, everyday?  Have I done the right thing because it was the right thing?

As I walk into my classroom next Wednesday, its all about my students, sharing some laughter, create some memories, share in the fun of math, challenge them, support them, give them opportunities to think and to celebrate…the day, the accomplishments, the students.

I must remember to breath.








My Hopes for #MTBoSBlaugust 2016 Post1



Thanks to @druinok I have a new challenge for August.  This has been a great summer filled with new adventures learning.  My hope is that the Blaugust challenge will allow me to focus my summer learning at I gear up for students August 10, but also, that I can utilize the challenge to develop a habit of daily reflection once school begins.

My goal is to blog more this month.  My ultimate goal would be a post a day, however I may just settle for multiple posts on days when I have the time.  Like most of you, my first days of school are Ca-RRAAAA-ZZZ YYYYY.   WE are using Springboard for our Pre-AP courses this year, so that means I’ve got to dig in with that since we just got access end of last week.  Not to mention my daughter is in marching band this year, a small part in The Little Mermaid (The Star Theater) at our local theater the last two weekends of August.

I will be outlining my first days plans this week, preparing for open house Thursday night- hopefully will post pics of room, initial training for Google Classroom pilot in our district tomorrow.  Yep, I think that qualifies the end of summer for me.  Though the pool is on our radar today and maybe some water fun on Friday.


The Cube – Designing More Engaging Tasks #MTBoSBlaugust Post 8


I shared in Post 5 how we had a wonderful thought-provoking, energizing, filled-with-laughter district PD this week.  I spoke with a board member at an open house Thursday night to let her know how wonderful it was.  She cackled saying, It must have been pretty good – I heard people bragging on it who NEVER have anything good to say about anything!

Former teachers and designers of the Look 2 Learning model John V. Antonetti and James R. Garver visited more than 17,000 elementary and secondary classrooms to prove that learning-focused instruction is essential to boosting student achievement. This infographic gives a comparison to what 17,000 classroom visits look like and why they can't be wrong. #teaching #education #schoolsColleagues on Call

We spent quite a bit of time looking at Medina’s 12 Brain Rules and connections to John Antonetti’s Qualities of Engaging Work.  I will post more on my notes with Medina’s work later – but it was actually a precursor to this information.

About 3 years ago, our district had a PD where we spent (wasted) too much time on defining rigor.  This cube was actually shared at that session.  However, I never actually did anything with it.  I would pull it out for a moment while sifting through files.  I think I used it once to complete a district initiative, but never to be used again.

Well, it is Mr. Antonetti’s cube so I suppose if anyone could bring it to life, it was him. An he introduced it by flashing pictures of a Rubic’s Cube – He shared how they ( a school in crisis that turned things around ) chose a cube since it is actually the interaction of 3 domains.


Before jumping into the cube, I think its interesting to note some brain research Mr. Antonetti shared.  Girls and boys process information the same, but in different order.  Visual, Pattern, Emotion or Emotion, Pattern, Vision

We did a task to determine if we were Visual or Emotion.  So interesting, yet powerful to see how different people sitting around you processed differently.  It was eye opening, yet also confirming.  One statistic he shared that really made me pause.  There’s a population of students… 7% actually skip emotion & vision and go straight to pattern. (Autistic).

After looking at separate sides of the cube, we realized each side represented some aspect of student processing.  If we consider each side, ensuring our planned learning tasks address each domain, then the task is more likely to be engaging for the learner.  Every task that was modeled during our PD, we took a moment to reflect and highlight which parts of the cube had been evident.

He also described 2 students: Melissa Sue & Bubba.  One who is very into school and the other, not so much.  The typical classroom will often support Melissa Sue’s mentality – “the model student”  and we often leave Bubba behind because we fail to engage him.  One comment made was that if we plan activities to teach Bubba first, Melissa Sue will still get a chance to make connections and learn.  But if we plan activities that address Melissa Sue first, well, Bubba feels defeated, disengages and little learning takes place.  (This is my interpretation of the notes by the way).

The front of our cube is based on work from Schlechty Center.  I will go my best to post later on each of these aspects.

Finally, this Powerful Task Rubric for Designing Student Work was in our packet.  Sadly, too often I have fell into the 1 & 2 column.  My intentions are to purposefully plan tasks that will fall into columns 3 & 4 – leading to more student engagement – leading to more learning and better retention.


 Goal:  (hopefully as a department) to plan, implement and reflect on one task each week for each class utilizing the cube.

Strategies for Getting to Know HOW Students Learn & Think #MTBoSblaugust Post 6



I’ve enjoyed reading many ideas shared through the #MTBoSBlaugust challenge!  This is #21 on our list…Reblog an old post.

Reading  @Chaugnehand’s post last weekend reminded me of @maxmathforum’s Ignite Talk 2>4 a few years ago.  It was one of those “just what I needed.”

There are a few other strategies I shared last summer in this post (& reposted below as well) of ways I Get to know my students, especially how they learn and think.

If we want students to own their learning, we must listen to them, but first, we must give them room to think.  They need to know we value their thoughts and ideas.  When they see how we value their thinking, they will begin to share more.  Here’s a post from last summer that I will continue in my classroom.


Get to know your students, especially how they learn and think.

Taking my lead from this post, my intent is to consider how I can improve or implement the 14 ways discussed.  In my last post, I shared how important I feel it is to know our students as real people.  This one is to share #5things that impacted my classroom and helped me know how my students learn and think.

My 3 years with Kentucky Leadership Network and my experiences with #MTBoS have changed my mindset.  The work with KLN introduced me to a new set ideas and #MTBoS allowed me to explore with others and develop a new frame of reference as I seek to grow as an effective educator.

I cannot be grateful enough to all those who have challenged me and help me grow.  But as I think of the experiences that have opened my eyes to see better ways I can consider my students as learners, these are the ones that first come to my mind.  #5things for getting to know how my students think and learn…

Wait Time II
I learned about this routine from 75 Practical Strategies for Linking Assessment, Instruction and Learning (Keely, Tobey 2011).  A simple adjustment.  Yet it forced me to really listen to my students.  You can read more on a previous post, here.  Basically, it allows  the students AND teacher to process a student response.  We were all told in undergrad to wait 3 seconds after asking a question before calling on a student.  Some people actually think this deters the class flow.  I disagree. The idea with Wait Time II is to wait again, after the student response.  It allows the responder to consider what they said, the classmates to process what was said and the teacher to consider next steps, questions, etc.  A bit uncomfortable in the beginning, but once I explained the rationale to them, they got it, as did I.  Waiting and listening adds value to what students are saying.

What Makes You Say That?
Making Thinking Visible, (Ritchhart, Church, Morrison, 2011)
A chat with Liz Durkin challenged me to consider ways I could implement these routines into my high school math classroom.  It was the question “What makes you say that?”  that helped me begin drawing out student thinking.  What were they seeing? What evidence supported their statement?  With this routine, I began learning new ways of seeing problems myself.  Students’ ideas, strategies and approaches are way more intuitive than my own.

Notice and Wonder
I was first introduced to Notice & Wonder with Max Ray’s Ignite talk sharing The Math Forum’s simple, yet impactful strategy.  You can read more in Powerful Problem Solving (2013) as well.  When I pose a problem, scenario, graph, students may not readily know where to start.  But they can tell me what they notice.  Its a starting point.  Everyone can share something.  When we listen to what others are saying, that ignites other ideas as well.  And they begin sharing their “I wonders” which are great transitions to explore more.  Its great.  Its simple.

This routine carries over to standardized tests as well.  Students shared how they didn’t know how to approach certain problems on ACT or their EOCs, but they looked at it, thought about what they noticed, connected it to something they knew and was able to at least make an educated guess.

Friendly Class Starters
After reading What’s Math Got to Do with It? and completing the Jo Boaler How to Learn Mathcourse last summer, I knew I needed to find ways to invite students to think differently about math in my classroom.  Some major a-ha’s and sad realizations as to why so many kids are down on math.  I began with things like Number Talks she presnted during one session.  Amazing how many different ways students can see / approach a single problem.  When I invited them to share their thinking, they owned the math.  This past year, I implemented Counting Circles, Estimation 180, Visual Patterns as well.  These resources were primarily used as bell ringers to get students in math mode. However, there were days it lead to deeper, richer discussions and I was flexible enough to go with it.  My students’ confidence began to grow.  Their number sense was developing.  They were sharing their reasoning without me asking them to.  I saw some big gains on benchmarking and standardized testing for several students and I attribute them to these “friendly” and accessible resources.

Small Groups and Discussions
When I completed my initial National Board Certification in 2002, I quickly realized small group discussions provided a definite means to seeing student thinking.  It was a chat last summer, that made me realize I needed to quit butting-in.  I would hear a misconception and jump to add my 2 cents rather than allowing them to reason out if they were correct or needed to adjust.  I was stealing their learning opportunities! Yikes.  I began listening more-offering questions rather than telling them the direction they should go.  It was frustrsting for some students.  They despised me answering their questions with questions.

5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions (Smith & Stein, 2011) is a quick read that offers samples to incorporate into your classroom. The 5 practice provide structure to help you develop discussion based tasks rather than step-by-step inquiry lessons.

Another valuable resource for me are the Formative Assessment Lessons provided by Mathematics Assessment Project.  Most lessons follow a similar format to the #5pracs.  I used to struggle offering questions that would move learners forward.  Though some disagree with scripted lessons, this resource supported me with sample questions for specific student misconceptions.  As a rssult, I began asking better questions on my own.

Another aspect of the FALs is the way they suggest grouping students, not by ability, but similar thinking – whether it be similar misconceptions or approaches to a problem.  This supports what I have been reading this summer with Ilana Horn’s Strength in Numbers (2012).  She presents how social status in the classroom may actually hinder student learning and achievment.  I believe grouping students homogenously by approach and thinking puts them on equal playing fields to share and build their ideas.

By observing student responses and listening to their discussion, I am able to select and sequence ideas for them to share that will allow more engagement from the class as a whole.  Students are able to listen and view strategies similar to their own, but also consider new approaches which in turn builds their own skill set and toolbox for thinking.

The common thread is to not to do all of the talking, but to sincerely listen to my students and their thinking.

Something I Read this Summer that Intrigued Me… @MTBoSBlaugust Post 4


We had open house last night – a what a great turn out!  Based on papers I copied and shared with parents/students – I saw about 90 students on my rosters.  Plus another 19 from my homeroom.

This summer, I’ve participated in the #eduread chat with the book Make It Stick, Peter Brown, et al.  I came across this book last spring while searching for ideas on how to help students retain more for a longer time.  I ran across interleaving and had no idea what it was, so I researched and an excerpt from this book came up.

Much of what I have read intrigued me.  I love @mathymeg07 poster of highlights from our chat!

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There were many questions and wonderings during our chats.  I am looking forward to seeing how our check-in goes to see where / how everyone has made a few changes to support what we have learned!

During discussions, @henripicciotto has shared some of his writings as well – check out his blog at, what a great resource!

I am planning to implement several of the components share either in the book or from Math Ed Page this year.

This is a file of what I shared with my parents/students last night.  I want them to know not only what strategies I am doing, but why I am doing them.  Study Strategies – Parent Newsletter


On the back side of this file, I had one panel with contact information, Remind codes, link to classblog.  On the other 2 panels, I had supply lists for my classes.  I am looking forward to any conversations this may initiate with parents.