Category Archives: #TMC17

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!