Tag Archives: #mtbosblaugust

More Good Questions #MTBoSBlaugust Post 1


This summer I have spent a lot of time reviewing old ideas, blog posts, books. I want to be that reflective teacher again, now that I don’t feel the need of survival from the past two years. Last year was my first “semi” full implementation of Building Thinking Classrooms. One of my challenges was creating/finding what I felt were good quality tasks. Though I love the idea of non-curricular, at the end of the day, I have to be intentional with content – it is Algebra I.

I’m not sure when I read this book. But have used excerpts through the years. In March 2018, our department used the Algebra section for discussion during an NTI Day. These were our prompts we used asynchronously in our PLC. After Reading – we were asked to reflect and complete the task #4 outlined below on another document, share link here OR email a picture of your hand written questions.

  1. * Sentence/Phrase/Word – Share a quote (& page #) that is meaningful, engaging, or thought provoking to you from your reading.
  2. Connect – How do these ideas connect to what you already know?
  3. Extend – What new ideas extend or push your thinking in a new direction?
  4. Challenge – How Might We Make Connections to Our Current Teaching Practices?  What now is a challenge for you? What will you try? (you may wish to collaborate with like courses.
  5. I used to think… Now I think…

I feel like our department needs to go back and review some of these old PLCs – there were some very thoughtful ideas shared.

What I like most about this book, it is split into different domains – algebra, geometry, number/operations, measurement, data analysis/probability. Within each, there are fantastic teacher tips as well as ideas and examples from 6-8 and 9-12 grade levels. My take away from this book – it is not about reinventing the wheel, but taking what you do, making small adjustments to create either Open Questions or Parallel Tasks. I agree this is more easily accomplished while bonncing ideas off with others. But it is a task that is doable and you end up with better questions in the end.

Which leads me to the file that made me ponder looking at this book again over the summer. I am not sure which TMC this was – but mornings with @marybourassa and @sheriwalker72 were fantastic! So many great conversations. It was one of my first true experiences of Building Thinking Classrooms from student perspective. Here is a copy of the shared document for Algebra and Function tasks.

When implementing the tasks – especially with BTC structure, you will find knowledge of Five-Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussions (Smith & Stein) VERY helpful. I’ll share about this awesome book in another #MTBoSBlaugust post!

Again – More Good Questions is so worth your time. Grab a couple of colleagues to go through it together. I am always up for another chat with it!

If you’ve used the ideas from Small and Lin’s book – please share, again we are our own best resources!

#MTBoSBlaugust 2022

#MTBoSBlaugust 2022
Join the fun!

For some, summer break just began! For others, school starting is just around the corner. And a few have already started back. Whether you’re in a new role, new classroom or implementing some new strategies, reflect and share! We are our own best resources and we want to learn from you!

Possible Prompts:

  1. How I teach / do ______ (INB, unit organizers/dividers, VNPS, VRG, BTC, topic of choice)
  2. My Favorite “rich problem / task”
  3. My favorite “rich problem /task” resource(s)…
  4. Sharing an idea I learned at a PD event this past year
  5. Something new I plan to try this year…
  6. How I use ____(tech app of choice) in my classroom
  7. Share a lesson that uses tech (Desmos AB, Geogebra, applets, etc)
  8. Write a post related to pandemic teaching.
  9.  I want to grow as a #teacherleader this year by… 
  10. Share your #MTBoS Photo Challenge photos (#MathPhoto22)
  11. Go on a “math walk” – take a photo to share with us… What do you notice? What do you wonder?  How could you use this photo in your classroom
  12. How do you handle homework / daily practice?
  13. Self-Care…  how to make it a priority?
  14. Math Makeover – Take a traditional question/problem to solve and make it better.
  15. My favorite go-to ____(Online resource, book, blog).  Share an idea of how you have utilized this source.
  16. Something I struggle with as a teacher/in the classroom. 
  17. How I used something unexpected in my classroom to… 
  18. #made4math – Create something you can use this semester, such as a tarsia puzzle, question stack, game, card sort, etc.  (Or share one you have previously created)
  19. #myoneword – What is one word that you can use to focus your energies this year?
  20. What is your favorite quote?  How can you share/use it in your classroom?
  21. How do you handle Parent Communication?  What has been successful for you?
  22. Tell us about a favorite activity/lesson that makes you jump for joy when you get to use it.
  23. Shoutouts!  Give a shout-out to a former teacher, a colleague, or someone in your school or community who is a difference maker.
  24. Time Capsule – revisit an old post and reflect. If you are new to blogging – find a post on this day from the past on someone else’s blog-read, share, reflect.
  25. What’s a practice you keep doing year after year? Either something that works great or something that maybe needs examining. Why do you keep doing it?
  26. What’s the one thing in your school year you’re most looking forward to? A lesson, a unit, a field trip, a school tradition
  27. Fav [math][ed] book read and take aways for 2022-2023 (and beyond?)
  28. Favorite non-ed book you’ve read so far this year!  
  29. What’s on your reading list?
  30. How do you support struggling students?  What intervention strategies have you used?
  31. Observe yourself!  Record your lesson using your phone in your pocket and use it to reflect
  32. A peek into my classroom – show us your classroom or describe a typical day / hour
  33. A Day in the LIfe  (#DITL)
  34. Letter to my first-year teacher self…
  35. Tell us about your first day plans!
  36. How do you develop a positive classroom culture?
  37. What would you like to Start doing this school year?  What would you like to Stop doing?  What would you like to Continue doing?
  38. What are your best organizational tips?
  39. My classroom “must-haves” are…
  40. Be the Change… what will you do this year to impact the culture of your school and/or classroom?
  41. What is your focus / theme / mantra for the year and why?  (Quote / Saying / Song?)
  42. What are your favorite formative assessment strategies?
  43. What is your Professional Goal for the year?  Your Personal Goal?
  44. What are your biggest classroom pet-peeves and how do you do handle them?
  45. #Read3 – Share 3 blogs (or blog posts or tweets) that impacted you
  46. Tell us about you!  (20 facts or ABCs?)
  47. What are your New School Year Goals or Resolutions?
  48. What’s your “One Good Thing” for today?
  49. #MyFavFriday – Tell us about your favorite moments of the week!
  50. What do you do on parent night / open house?
  51. What’s the toughest challenge you face as a teacher today?
  52. How do you support / encourage colleagues?
  53. What makes you/your classroom unique?
  54. What are you most proud of in your school community?
  55. What makes your community so special?
  56. Three things on your bucket list.
  57. What’s something/someone you want to celebrate from last school year? Maybe it’s something “that kid” did or said…
  58. What is your school mascot? Describe a fun event / tradition in your school.
  59. #teach180 – Share a photo from your classroom and tell us about it
  60. What I did this summer….

Use these prompts or create your own! Blog daily, weekly, whatever works for you!

Oh yeah! Shared by @cogdog and @burnsidemath

#MTBoSBlaugust so we can all search and enjoy your posts!

Overlooking the Needs of Students Who Are Significantly Behind: (Un)Productive Practice #MTBoSBlaugust


While watching the webinar last spring, this one the one that caught my attention most. You can watch here – Juli K. Dixon addresses this one around the 45:00 min. mark. I cannot find any blog posts on the dnamath.com site, but I am sure this is one she will be sharing more about.

I appreciate her acknowledging that teachers are well-intentioned feeling that if they work hard enough, they can catch students up. However, teachers will burnout and students will fall further behind.

What are we doing to support these students? With RTI and Multi-Tier Support Systems, we often focus on basic facts – this is not the best used of our time, not the most important. Juli shares, students with extended time will get those facts. We we want to reteach everything – we simply cannot do it. She suggests focusing on strategies that will extend beyond the basic facts, strategies that can be used to figure things out as opposed to “just knowing.”

Instead, she encourages us to look at our current year – and focus on prerequisites and teach them for understanding. This is where our energy and time can make a difference. For example – figure out the 3 most important topics, consider what is prerequisite here asking what do we need to be able to do to get there? Here is a slide with examples she shared.

As I rewatched this segment, I was reminded of ideas shared in our Routines for Reasoning chat last spring. We challenged each other to revisit the last chapter in August to choose 1 routine we would consider using in our classes as we started back. I committed to starting with Capturing Quanitites during the first few weeks of our classes. I feel that this would definitely be a supporting strategy for learners who are significantly behind.

Capturing Quantities supports Mathematical Practice 2 by focusing students io consider the important quantities and relationships in problem situations, we are helping them develop their ability to reason quantitatively and abstractly.

The info-graphic from Fostering Math Practices site captures the flow of the routine.

We begin by giving students a scenario and asking

  • What can I count or measure in this situation?
  • An important quantity is…
  • A relationship we know is…
  • Create a diagram – how can I represent the quantity and relationship?
  • Share with someone – ask, how did you represent? Then I did this… and explain your diagram.
  • Together, come up diagram that best represents the scenario. Share diagrams.
  • A gallery walk in a sense is where I visualize this – students are asked – Do you see the quantities and relationships in this? Where do you see the quantities and relationships in this?
  • Then students are asked to meta-reflect…
From Capturing Quantities, Fostering Math Practices

This. This is what I struggled with as a student. How the heck do I make sense of planes, trains and automobiles leaving stations at different times going it different or same directions. I saw immediate value in this routine. Giving students the question stem – but now question and letting them make sense of it.

Juli shared the 3-Reads strategy also and it will be a part of our learning environment this year as well. However, for 9th grade students – CQ is a step in that direction – it is actually embedded in 3-Reads. Give students the scenario, removing the question stem.

  • Read 1: What is the situation?
  • Read 2: What do the quantities describe?
  • What mathematical questions could you ask?
  • Then add the question stem back and allow students to compare their questions with the actual.

Now to consider ways I can implement Capturing Quantities remotely. Sharing ideas, diagrams. It is doable. I just need to ponder it a little longer.

the classroom is coming together… #MTBoSBlaugust Post 2


Nearly 3 years ago to the day, I blogged about leaving room 148.  Last summer, everything was packed away due to renovation and construction in our building – so it was essentially another full move.  This May, I found out I was moving back down to Room 148 – primarily teaching 9th grade again (yippeee!) as well as AP Statistics.

Another move, which in my mind, I hope is the last.

Room 148 is starting to pull together again.

wpid-20150802_193042-1.jpgWe are a Leader in Me District and I hope to spend our first few weeks helping students focus on goal setting and continued development of the 7 Habits.  Each Habit is listed with a quote.

wpid-20150802_193001.jpgMy 11 year old came up with this board idea for me.  There are 5 plastic sleeves stapled to the board.  The idea is to have 5 new quotes to change out each week.  She said it would help students focus on the positive things for the day.  Hopefully I can find a fold out sunshine to add on as well.

This workstation will be accessible to students as well.  wpid-20150802_195702.jpg

wpid-20150802_192933.jpg And I am overjoyed to have this storage cabinet again! I still have to sort some card stock and folders I plan to use in creating student data folders which are stored in the bottom boxes.  But this is a true convenience and I am grateful.

wpid-20150802_194449.jpgI always loved this back wall of windows – I will do my best to post pictures of the trees this fall…simply gorgeous and peaceful to look out on each day.  The morning sun shines bright on this end of the building – a perfect way to begin your day.  My husband is planning to help me hang my window treatments, which are now just laying in the window sill.

And these are the posters on either side of the window, purposefully placed so I can glance back when I need a quick reminder…


This board is quite busy.  The fabric features each of the characters from Inside Out.  The mini chalk clipboards will list ways to be bucket fillers.  Each class will be assigned a bucket.  There will be post-its placed on a nearby student station.  When a classmates spots bucket fillers, they will simply jot the person’s name down and what they saw them doing and place it in the bucket.  Just a way to celebrate positive actions and focus on the good things students are doing!wpid-20150802_194127.jpg

My daughter helped me get my “Starters” back up.  There is an electrical drop which is also metal.  So she used magnetic tape.  Got it at wal-mart – looks like a tape dispenser but is thin, sticky magnets.  She put a small strip in the center of each starter and placed it on the drop.


wpid-20150802_194041.jpgThis student station is just inside the doorway.  Clipboards will contain a class list and I will have a student assigned to record attendance at the beginning of each class.  These will be stored in the clear folders on the wall.  While You Were Out slips can be placed in the plastic bins as well and the black filetastic will organize extra copies for the week.  I also have a clear folder on the wall containing Emergency Procedures and our Emergency packet.  Students will turn in papers in their corresponding tray – my classes are color coded ROYGBIV.

wpid-20150802_194047.jpgAs students exit the room, the are reminded to “Do Something Amazing!” There’s my antique vertical number line and my poster @algebrainiac made for me a few years ago while chatting Making Thinking Visible!  “In this room, Thinking is Valued, Visible and Actively Promoted!”

wpid-20150802_182149.jpgAfter the first few weeks, I will change out the Gear Up for Greatness board and somehow incorporate this awesome light up question mark – how cool is that?!?  Thanks to a dear friend and colleague who is constantly cheering me on!

And finally, a little note left in my door window by my big-hearted 11 year old…

wpid-20150802_194108.jpgShe is amazing.  A reminder of why I do what I do…and that every child who walks through the door of room 148 should be given opportunities to do something that makes their heart sing.