#TMC18 Memories… #MTBoSBlaugust Post 9


We come to TMC for the Math…  with leave with the Memories…

Its about relationships.  Some of the people I’ve met through TMC I have known longer than some of my collegaues.  While at TMC18, a fb memory popped up from the morning of 2012…  I had no clue the level of respect, love, friendship, laughter and encouragement that would come from this adventure.


I’m not sure where to begin – so many I adore I failed to get a picture with.  Sadly, I still feel awkward asking for a selfie – especially if I’m a new math buddy with you.  But I am grateful we met in real life  and now I can hear your voice as I read your tweets and posts.

I won’t lie, TMC overwhelms me – in a good way.  Every single moment is filled with math and people.  My morning session was filled with the best of both…


I texted my friend at some point on day 3 for me… a bit on overload, a little homesick  and she replied, take a break, go for a walk.  I literally have to unplug from big crowds to keep myself leveled – in any situation, not just TMC.  I am the teacher who needs 10 minutes of quiet time after a pep rally at school.  Weird, huh?

Each evening, my awesome roomie and I would go for a walk, one evening we actually had to drive to find the sand beach where we could dip our toes in Lake Erie!  But the lake was about a mile from the hotel, perfect distance.  And the views.

The lake on different evenings.  Something about water is so calming.


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Sitting alongside the water with new and old friends…just chatting about life and math and adventures for hours.


with Elissa, Mary and Cori

Cleveland was a pleasant place to visit.  I had no idea.  But I very much enjoyed.  At the water park, we watched an adult kickball league…it was the championship game.  There were many people getting their pictures in the Cleveland signs.  The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was such a treat.  As you walked the city, there were many things to see.  A nice little street with many restaurants to enjoy.


From cheering our foiled-travel plans friends on (Jenny!), to sharing a moment while signing Casey’s book, hanging out in St. Ignatius mall, learning about Pokemon Go!, finding the coolest math tshirts, admiring the work of our talented Justin Aion, and the amazing works shared by others…



Your first year at TMC can be a bit weird, trying to find your groove, meet people in real life, or even just meeting people during their first year, new friendships begin to form.  Your second year it truly is like getting to see old friends from camp the previous summer.  Year three…  you’ve developed strong bonds with some of these folks, they’ve become more than just colleagues.

I will never be able to name everyone that had an impact on me at TMC, but I am grateful our paths have crossed…


May we lift one another on difficult days, laugh with one another in hilarious moments and celebrate goodness and joy that comes each day…  I ❤ you friends!


Literacy Day 1 #MTBoSBlaugust Post 8


I was asked over the summer to participate in cohort for our district’s literacy team.  Sure.  For many years, I have believed literacy to be the foundation for other learning.  Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.

Last night I was a bit nervous.  But once I arrived, I was able to settle in.  At our table was a diverse group of teachers – social studies, world language, science, math and a curriculum coach, from a 1st year through 20+ years experience, some different ideas and view points. This post is more for my reflection on notes I jotted throughout the day.

Much information was shared concerning the grant making this possible, the district literacy plan and we were given an opportunity to read through our school plan as well.  One of our first tasks was to find a statement in the needs, goals, action plan that resonated with us and paraphrase on a post-it.  It says….  I say… (our reaction / feelings about the statement) and then we shared with someone not at our current table.

We were given a list of 15 recommendations sometimes given to schools as they work to build a strong literacy plan.  As we read the statements, we were asked to color code how we saw this statement…

Personal Strengths      School Strength      Target Area

Upon completing the reading task individually, we were given color dot stickers and asked to walk around the room – where statements had been posted and place the appropriate color on them as we saw fit.  Once the group returned to our seats, and we viewed all of the statements – it was very obvious which ones were strengths or targets for both our middle and high school.  

We had a time of discussion and sharing – wondering, asking questions for insight.

Next task we were asked to flip back to appendix pages, where we found a list of literacy strategies.  We practiced a type of text coding by placing hearts next to ones we used and loved and an N beside ones we had never used.  There were several in the list – that when I read the description, I recognized, but maybe called it by a different name.  Volunteers shared some of those they loved and how they implemented in their classrooms.

To end the morning session, we watched a TED talk by Adora Svitak – who is a literacy advocate.  A few things that stuck with me:

Learning should be reciprocal between kids and adults.

In order to make anything reality, you have to dream first – kids don’t consider limitations when thinking creatively.

Distrust leads to restrictions.

When expectations are low – we will sink to them.

My take-a-way…  it should be my goal to help children become a better generation than mine.

Following lunch we read 8 pages from our text resource.

Implement any text coding we were familiar with.  = resonated with me, ? question about it, * revisit / discussion

We did a table – share of one idea from each.

WE were given an AlphaBlocks paper, which essentially contained empty boxes with each letter of the alphabet.  We were asked to review the reading again, adding words or phrases to each box.

We shared at our table once more…it almost had a scattergories feel to it.

Some suggested the alphablocks was a way to summarize a lesson / unit – I see it as a great review, even of having students revisit their notes.  One teacher say they even used it as a review of say a time period, like American Revolution…students had to write down an event, person, etc.  but then share a sentence of why this was so important to this time in history.

List. Sort. Label. Share.

We then compiled a list of agreed upon words, then sorted them into categories.

Whole group share – with the reasoning of our group labels in the sort with completed.  Very interesting to see the many different, but all correct completed charts.

So many tools we used within this “one” task.

I have done some similar things in math class – brain dump – tell me everything you think you know about ________.    Now, go GIVE ONE, GET ONE.

At your tables, sort your ideas any way you wish, but be able to justify your groupings.

The ABC Blocks almost feel like a stretch for algebra I.  Geometry is more vocabulary rich and I think it would be more purposeful.  But I may consider finding a way to try it in Algebra I.

Frayer Model – though most people were very familiar, our trainers added a layer of giggles to it.  We used some modern day adolescent phrases.  Simply hilarious.  Many of us were using urban dictionary – what was quite interesting though, was the history of where the slang originated.   Most people were texting their kids, asking for some phrases.  It offered some needed belly laughs in during the mid-afternoon slump.

Reader Response – they provided a list of sentence starters to use in response to a given quote.  We were asked to use I agree / disagree with ____ because ____.  I cannot remember the exact statement, but it was about 10 years of research showing that vocabulary knowledge being the single most important factor in reading comprehension.

I was the only one at the table to disagree.  And it was an excerpt from Daniel Willingham’s book Why Students Don’t Like School – I need to revisit the research he shared.  But if I recall correctly – it was supporting prior knowledge and experiences having a large impact.

It was a full day.  My brain was tired.  And though I had seen / even used most of the strategies shared – it was nice listening to my colleagues share their thoughts and experiences.  There were some small tweaks I feel I could make to ensure what I’ve been doing has an even greater impact on student learning.

Our presenters were great – very approachable, not preachy, asking questions, listening.  It truly felt like they were there to be support for our journey.

I am looking forward to tomorrow.  When’s the last time (besides TMC) I had that thought on PD?


My Last Day of Summer Break #MTBoSBlaugust Post 7



This is home.  Beautiful Lake Cumberland, Kentucky.

My dear friend invited us out for the afternoon yesterday.  It was so peaceful.  After a brief downpour shower, the sky was blue with fluffy white clouds, a gentle breeze.  So relaxing and joyful – listening to our kids belly laugh, having a great time.

There were a million other things I “needed” to be doing, but this afternoon was exactly what I *needed* and I was grateful for the pause to relax.

Tomorrow I report for the first of three days, as I get to be a part of our district literacy team training.

So… goodbye Summer ’18  you have been good to me – filled with memories, blessed moments and few minutes to pause.

#MTBoS Ambassadors #MTBoSBlaugust Post 6


So, Mattie B.  did this really cool thing last summer – requesting volunteers to monitor the #MTBoS hashtag one day per month.  Simple enough – watch the tag, respond, retweet, redirect …  just basically a welcoming committee helping new folks find their way.

Even better each month, I receive an email reminder.

And what happens if I miss my day or are unable to follow as much as I would like?  Nothing.  No big deal.  I don’t get kicked out.  I can pick up another day.  It is all good – to give as much time as your are able.

Which is good because today was a day I couldn’t spend a lot of time on twitter interacting with others.  By the time I check my email, I had already done final fittings on 50+ band uniforms, reorganizing (parts of) that crazy room – an afternoon with friends on the lake- last outing of the summer, a booster meeting and my supper, a bowl of cereal when I arrived back home at 9.

Its been a busy day, with a last bit of summer relaxation.  I spent a bit of time on twitter, but it is past my bedtime folks and I didn’t want to skip out completely.  Some time is better than none.

  1.  Thanks Mattie B. for organizing this.  I have read many, many new blogs and been able to help connect people with similar course assignments, etc.  I am excited to do another year.  It keeps my mind afresh.
  2. If you are interested in being an ambassador, contact @stoodle for a link to the information.

#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.

Love / H@+e #MTBoSBlaugust Post 4


You don’t hear me use the word “hate” very often.  In fact, former students and my child will usually tell you my response to it is “Hate is such a strong, ugly word…”  And it sticks with them.

I apologize for the scattered-ness of this post.  I simply am not able to clean it up.  But that’s okay.  This is more for me – to reflect and remind myself…

My thinking with this post is the struggle I have when a challenge such as #MTBoSBlaugust is made.  Wow.  The participation is great.  But overwhelming.  So many good ideas being shared.  But I fall into the trap of “wanting to do it all.”  And I can’t.  And as a seasoned teacher, I accept that.

I Want (to do) It All and I Want (to do) It Now…

Julie & Sam & others reiterated this sentiment at #TMC18 – we simply cannot do it all.  And that is okay.

I believe it was @mathprojects who shared from @steveleinwand – 10% Challenge.

 It is unprofessional to ask teachers to change more than 10% a year. It is also unprofessional to ask them to change less than 10% a year.

I interpret this as focusing on 1 thing at a time for me to improve.  When I feel I have met that goal, I can move on down my list of want-to-do’s.

In February, I shared my thoughts about getting away from this pull to do more and more.  I listed some questions I began using to weigh the value of a task/lesson, etc.  This summer, after reading Why Don’t Students Like School (D. Willingham) and reading some thoughts from @druinok’s tweets,


I would adjust my questions a bit to include – what are students thinking about and focused on during this activity?  Will it lead them to think / discuss about concepts leading to the learning goal?

When I am restructuring an activity – I have to keep in mind my own goals for the school year.  How is this adjustment better than what I currently have in place?  How will this support my classroom goals & our school wide mission?  How can I ensure this will lead to student thinking?  And the piece I was missing for years – after I have implemented the new resource / task  – reflect.  How did it impact student learning?  How do I know?

What if I forget the thing I wanted to do?

Find a system – to record your reminders and want-to-do’s.

  • pinterest  (became overwhelming for me),
  • one note or drive – see Jenn & Mary’s TMC18 session,
  • a post-it note wall,
  • notes in a planner (I make a list and keep in the cover of my planner so I see it often – I also do this for my books I want to check out at the library),
  • bullet journal
  • Set up a reminder in your device calendar for a few weeks into the school year and ask if you’ve tried ___ yet.
  • Find an accountability partner and chat online/slack/hangouts/email…

@JennSWhite Get-it Done Wall

Then ask yourself questions as you plan and implement.  Give yourself room – knowing there are not enough school days to do it all.  File away your favorites, the ones that had students thinking, working together and asking questions…the ones that had the most impact on their learning.

But also remember, when you try a new structure / lesson – you learned about from someone else – your students are not their students.  It may not work out exactly as you had it in your head the first time.  But don’t give up completely.  Adjust it and try again in a later unit.  Give yourself permission to not be perfect.

Just think about our students…we don’t ask them to be perfect.  We ask them to try.  Persevere.  Learn from mistakes.  Become a better you.

Goals & Focus for the School Year

Write them down.

And hold everything you do up to it.  How is this supporting my goals?

And I will soon being finding a mantra for the year…a focus…  my friend @druinok often does this.  I have learned to put it in a frame on my desk as a daily reminder.

Math by the Mountain shared here:



“Smart Talk” #MTBoSBlaugust Post 3


As I have been in my room working a couple of mornings this week, I pondered on my starters for “smart talk” and thought – that may be a good blog to revisit and share.

Though I have had them up since initially creating them, I have not focused on them as much as those earlier years. I believe these are going back on the top of my to-do list this school year!

the radical rational...

After attending @pispeak’s session on debating in math class st #TMC14 and hearing so much about @cheesemonkeysf’s Talking Points, I wanted to have an anchor chart of sorts for students to refer to, a resource to help them build their accountable talk.

I pulled phrases from Pinterest boards, discussions with others and some of my go-to favorites.

During class the first week, I modeled and encouraged students to agree, disagree, state their claim/warrant, etc. One student sat up a little straighter as she stated this “smart talk” makes me sound like I know what I’m doing.

So here’s a picture of my board. I intend to add to it as the year progresses.

Here is the file to accountable talk starters. You’ll need to edit for your own fonts, but it’s a starter for you. Let me know how it goes!


What other phrases, sentence starters or questions would…

View original post 4 more words

#TMC18 Session #MTBoSBlaugust Post 2


I have never actually posted my #TMC18 session resources, so I am sharing it as part of the #MTBoSBlaugust Challenge.


Formative Assessment Lessons – Where Do I Begin?

Reflecting on our session, I am not sure I ever go to the part of how I find a lesson, plan it out.  The slides are included at the end of the lesson we partially complete in our afternoon session.  An hour was simply not enough time to go through a lesson as students / share my experiences as a teacher.

I have been utilizing the Math Shell resources since about 2010ish.  I am happy to answer any questions you have concerning these lessons.  I am not as familiar with the Grades 6 & 7, however, depending on my Algebra I students, I sometimes fall back to the 8th grade lessons – as an introduction to a unit or needed support of certain concepts they have not fully moved from working memory.

I have several posts sharing experiences with various lessons through the years.  Here is one of the first where I attempted to address questions.

The Math Shell site has some great PD Modules if you have time, however, this document, A Brief Guide  for Teachers and Administrators, is an GREAT intro to the Lessons’ ins and outs.  You can also find research linked on the site as well.  When you get to the main site, the FALs are listed under the Lesson tab.  From there you can see a list of all lessons, and links by grade level as well.

My session was basically to experience a FAL from the student’s perspective, but also taking some time for sidebar – convos, questions, suggestions.  Only a handful of people had actually used FALs in their classroom.  Several had looked at them, but did not know how to implement – time constraints with curriculum maps, etc.  My selling point was sharing a student comment from Algebra 2, when they referenced a FAL we had etwo years prior in Algebra I.  I believe investing in the extra time using a FAL, allows students to learn because the lesson is well-thought out, very focused on what students are thinking and talking about, thus the learning is more apt to stick.

At the end of the slides, I have outlined my process for choosing and planning a lesson.

Link to the Lesson PDF referenced in the slides.

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.





Chatting with @druinok always gets my wheels turning.  Reading her ramblings here  on homework and grading, reminded me of a structure I used several years ago.  I think I may have actually blogged about it.  Quick search on HW and it pops up, first on the list!

The post is title Lagging Homework – I suppose that was after the summer I read Make It Stick, Brown et al, and Henri Piccotio and Steven Leinwand.  But what I remembered about the post was the Structure I planned to use for students to self-monitor their HW practice.

There were 8 problems in each practice set.  At the top of the booklet were the numbers 1 – 8.


As students completed the problem, they were asked to circle the number.  When they entered the classroom the following day, answers were posted and they were asked to mark their circles accordingly.


After sharing this with @druinok, she asked if there was some way a student could mark the question number with a ? if they had gotten stuck/had a question.  Maybe mark with a half circle, upside down – to note they had emptied all their options?

Any way – I used this for several weeks that year and I am not sure why I dropped it.  I cannot remember any major event that would have taken my time away from continuing this structure.  Anyway – I am pinning this in my to-do folder to use again.

They idea for students to self – monitor, then after assessing, allowing them to reflect similar to what @druinok shared in her post linked above.

While looking through other posts – I ran across this one – Where the idea came from – I will assume a chat.  But I don’t recall ever actually following through on this one.  A Routine for HW Practice & Retrieval with Peers 

It would consist of having varied, but parallel sets = which would take some work in the beginning, but once they are done – well, they are done.  Maybe only have 1 practice set 1 day a week be varied to use this structure is more doable – what I mean Set 1 and Set 2 would be the same sets for all students, vary set 3, Set 4 the same for all students.  This would make the workload much more doable.

I love the idea outlined in the post – thank you – whomever shared it in the chat.  I can see it as being an informal assessment, no pressure, just practice quizzing.

I’m curious how you handle student self-monitoring with homework and practice sets…