Goals 2017-2018

I am so excited that Julie (@jreulbach) brought back #MTBoS #SundayFunday, which is a weekly blogging initiative. In years past the blog posts written about the given topic helped shape things I was doing in my own classroom, it’s great because they all get linked together…like a one stop shop for amazingness! It took me all week to look at everything I wanted to do this year and pull out what my main goals are, so my submission is a little late.

mtbos-sunfun-logo

At the start of 2017, rather than set a bunch of resolutions I went with one word…Intentional. As I started reflecting on my goals for this school year, I found the word Intentional to be very fitting as well.

And as I was looking through my endless to do list to prep for the new year, I saw one simple theme…Building Community.  Over half the items on my to do list are related to the engaging community of learners I hope to build. Here are just a few of those things:

BE INTENTIONAL WITH BUILDING A CLASSROOM COMMUNITY

  1. Flexible Seating – Last year my intervention students wrote a grant to get flexible seating and I found out it was funded after I found out I was going back to teaching core math at 7th grade.  I talked to my Assistant Principal and got the go ahead to do it in my room this year.  So then I spent most of the spring and summer looking for items to help create an environment of flexibility and comfort. I LOVE a good challenge to be thrifty and find cute things for the classroom. I can’t wait to share pictures of what it looks like…that means I need to get it set up first though. 🙂
  2. #VNPS – Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces to allow students to work together while standing when doing math in my classroom. For table work, I have individual whiteboards and the group whiteboards from WhiteboardsUSA. I have the Standard-L Seconds and the students love using them. You can’t tell there is anything wrong with them…at all.  However #VNPS has been something I have been reading about on Twitter and because two of my walls are covered in CHALKBOARDS, I thought that would be a fun way to incorporate #VNPS and give students a different medium for working together. I bought chalk and magnetic chalk holders and erasers….we will see how this goes!
  3. Visible Random Groups – To go along with the flexible seating, I was trying to figure out how the students will choose their seats and how often we will change. I am going to incorporate visible random grouping in my classes this year. I haven’t decided how often I will be switching them, I think I need to see how they do working together first. I saw a Tweet from , and   where they posted a pic of these sticks in prep for . I have printed the following sorting sticks on cardstock and laminated them so they should last the whole year.  Click here for the file with the sorting stick guide shown below.
  4. Student Roles & Responsibilities – Funny that I am coming back to this…I had a conversation on Twitter back in August 2015 with Joy (@JoyKirr) about her classroom jobs for students.  She shared this document, though she says she has trimmed down and changed them since.  I never put it into place and my goal is to be intentional with student voice & choice in my classroom community. I’ve been brainstorming with Jac (@JacRichardson) about how to set them up and keep them organized for our middle school classrooms.
  5. Positive Peer Feedback Jar – Another idea from Joy, students fill out a feedback/recognition slip for a kind act/ responsible deed/risk in class, and it will be emailed to that student’s parent. 
  6. Friday Feedback – I am going to implement bi-weekly feedback google form where students can give input on how class is going and how to make it even better.
  7. Saturday Sunshine – Another idea from Joy, pretty simple because it’s two good news emails home, sent each Saturday. 
  8. Mindset Mantras – I am going to give this a go...see what happens!

There you have it! I am excited for all of the things listed above and how I can build the best community of learners that I can for this school year.  I have 15 days until our first Institute Day and 18 days until the first day with students. I have a lot to do before then, but I couldn’t be more excited to get all those things done! 🙂

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Posters 2017

I love making posters (as seen here and here), it’s the design process and being creative that I enjoy.  I used to scrapbook, so it’s the digital version of that in a way. 🙂 I like making posters because it helps me create exactly what I want to say or how I want it to look.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to do ALL the work, so I also borrow a lot of posters that others have made that I love.  Those are from @mathequalslove, @msrubinteach, @mathymeg07, @SweetBlessShan and many others!

https://mathequalslove.blogspot.com/search/label/Posters
http://everybodyisageniusblog.blogspot.com/p/classroom-posters.html
http://www.megcraig.org/tag/posters/
http://www.technologyrocksseriously.com/p/school-signs.html​https://www.dropbox.com/sh/aktxpn25p6lacsz/AABG3PmGzVwSseTBhpcr1N07a?dl=0

At the end of this past school year, I bought colorful paper and I printed A LOT of posters that others made to start prepping for this year. I was even lucky enough that my LMC had time to laminate them, so they are already cut out and ready to be put on the walls for this year.  The posters I printed came from @mathequalslove and @msrubinteach.

I am very good at procrastinating.  I could write a book about all the things I get done when I should be doing something else. I am putting off planning the start to my year and looking at the first unit, so it was easier to turn to twitter and offer to make posters.

I also retweeted it the next day and got a few more responses. I had fun making the posters and totally avoided the work I should have been doing! Here are a few examples:

And here is the PDF link to the 25 posters that I made.  Enjoy!

 

Becoming a connected Math Educator

Many times in blog posts, in facebook groups or at face to face conferences, people suggest Math teachers should jump on Twitter and check out the #MTBoS to find helpful people and info. I couldn’t love that idea more.  Creating a blog and joining Twitter have had the most impact on my teaching, my lesson planning and my reflection than anything else in my career.  That’s because of the people whose blogs I read and activities I used, who would respond to my questions and share their ideas freely. And because of the people who I followed and interacted with on Twitter by asking for help or feedback on something I needed.  You don’t have to have a blog to read others blogs and check out their activities and ideas.  You don’t have to have a Twitter account either because you can find information through the blogs as well; though I do highly recommend joining Twitter to connect with others and create your online PLC.

I started reading blogs in 2005 starting with @ELanghorst‘s US History blog (http://speakingofhistory.blogspot.com/) because I was teaching US History and wanted to find better resources.  Then I started finding and reading math blogs in 2007 (like http://www.teachforever.com and fell in love (stalker-ish style) with @misscalculate when she started blogging in 2009. As I started to read more blogs, I would find more blogs to read…recommendations and favorite blogs listed on the side on the blog I was reading lead me to so many amazing people and resources. I had a blog reader set up and would spend time reading blogs newspaper style at night. I have 145 blogs in my blog reader that I follow now and I have a bunch more to add of educators I just started connecting with. I would email myself links of blog posts that had activities I wanted to try or ideas I wanted to incorporate into my classroom. (I still do this today, but I am working on using Google Keep instead.)  I became the crazy math teacher at my school because I was always saying things like “oh on this blog they did this activity.” or “I found this online and it looks awesome.” or “Let me do a google search for a blog post I remember.” or “I just watched this presentation about this topic, let me send you the link.” I used google, blogs and online resources like crazy to transform my teaching. And then I wanted to participate more and give back, so I started a blog and joined Twitter and the rest is history. 🙂

Teaching can be a lonely career because we are in our classrooms all day and while we may connect with our teams of teachers in our buildings, it’s usually about scheduling or behavior so we don’t get a lot of time to share and connect during the day the way we need to about curriculum, lesson planning or building rich tasks and activities. Therefore teachers have to look for it in other ways, through meetings outside of the school day, reading books, math conferences and connecting online with other math teachers, etc. It’s through these connections that I have learned the most and I have made amazing friendships to boot.

I think the key to become a connected Math Educator is to look for people, resources and help outside of your school, your district, your state.  At first maybe you just read, save helpful links or activities and try them in your classroom, but over time you will find more and more resources and (I bet) you will eventually want to give back or explain how a lesson someone shared was used in your classroom.  My evaluation system uses Danielson, which focuses on teacher reflection, creating my blog helped me learn how to reflect before it was part of my evaluation. Through Twitter and blogging I came across Global Math Department, which is a weekly webinar about tons of amazing math teaching topics. It started in August of 2012 and has SO many informational presentations!  The past two years I was on the board and for many of the weekly meetings you will hear my voice as a host and I’ve even done a few presentations. 🙂 I try to make it in person so I can interact and ask questions as needed during the presentation, but if I can’t the best part is they are all archived for future reference and easy sharing with teachers via email! You can find them all archived here, https://www.bigmarker.com/communities/GlobalMathDept/conferences .

Here is a little more to explain many of the things that are out there online for Math Teachers to help you start your journey to becoming a connected educator.

  1. Check the graphic below for a great explanation of #MTBoS
    Capture
  2. Watch this video for even more info: https://youtu.be/AIZOGCuFuas
  3. Welcome to the MTBoS site was created to welcome teachers new to the #MTBoS. It gives them support, some guidance, as well as helps them find some good tweeps (Twitter peeps) to follow and get to know. http://mathtwitterblogosphere.weebly.com
  4. Find & connect with other Math teachers in your 2017-2018 subject area: https://goo.gl/6kt3VS
  5. The MTBoS Directory lists teachers who are self-identified as members of the #MTBoS. Want to join? Just submit your name. That is all it takes. It has a map of members to help you find local math teachers, as well as multiple ways to sort and select people. http://mtbos.org/directory/
  6. Exploring the MTBoS is a site created by math teachers to help organize, explain, and yes, explore the MTBoS. https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com/
  7. Have you ever wanted a lesson on XXX, but googled it and came up with a bunch of crap? This search engine searches only math teacher blogs, K-12, and will pull up lessons that are tried and tested. If the lesson sucked, the blog post will tell you that, and how to improve it. http://www.fishing4tech.com/mtbos.html
  8. Find blogs to read weekly by checking the list of bloggers from the link in #7.
  9. Check out Robert Kaplinsky’s Problem Based Lesson search engine:  http://robertkaplinsky.com/prbl-search-engine/
  10. Like the Facebook MTBoS page: Another way to connect with math educators – https://www.facebook.com/ExploreMTBoS/
  11. Use this Chat list of Educational Chats to find chats that interest you. They list themselves as “official” but of course there is no such thing. It is rather comprehensive, and although the chats change times each year, it is pretty complete and accurate. https://sites.google.com/site/twittereducationchats/education-chat-official-list 
  12. Check out some of the books that have been written: https://goo.gl/BQLXkA
  13. Check out Global Math Department weekly presentations:  https://www.bigmarker.com/communities/GlobalMathDept/conferences
  14. Check out Jo Boaler‘s site, youcubed.org, which is important to helping change your mindset and the mindset of your students in regards to learning math. The three week’s of Inspirational Math have some great videos and activities to share with your students.
  15. Find and join a facebook group that applies to you, I really like doing BreakoutEDU in class, so I find the Math teacher’s breakout group helpful: https://www.facebook.com/groups/breakoutedumath/
  16. And finally check out the Desmos Bank– a directory for Desmos activities http://mtbos.org/desmosbank/

Do you have suggestions or ways to help others become connected math educators? I am sure I missed some!  Toss them in the comments below!!!

Here’s to a great 2017-2018 year of being a connected Math Educator!

Holiday Circles

Hi…I know I got some of you to read because 1. I haven’t blogged in forever and 2. The title may have sounded like something you could use in your math class.  I promise there is math involved, but it isn’t as apparent to the non-math folk when they hear about these things.

In the last 24 hours, I have seen people in my facebook feed posting about joining a holiday circle/loom for $100 and at the end you get paid out $800. They say it’s a great way to get some holiday money this season. PLEASE don’t be sucked into those holiday gift circle/money loom things and in fact, educate your students about them because at some point these will rear their heads during their adult lifetime. They are absolutely a scam, sure you MIGHT get your money but someone definitely won’t because it’s impossible. They are unsustainable because of exponential growth. (See…there’s the math)

Holiday Circles seem like such a great thing. They tell you everyone freely gifts $100 into person A’s paypal account and in a bit it you get to decide what to do with your $800. (They also float around in other start up amounts too.)

Wow, you say as the wheels turn in your head. Two fb posts later after seeing a friend post pictures of her paypal account growing by the hour, you freely send the $100 via paypal thinking of all the things you can do with $800. (Which is really $700, since you paid out $100, but they just assume you will understand that.)

loom

You may even sign a special ‘contract’ that looks all legal and everything that says you voluntarily gift this money without any expectation of ever getting it back. Of course, as soon as you pay in your money you become one of the blue spaces above. Once there are eight new blue spaces, the purple person in the middle gets their $800 – an 800% payoff. The chart then splits in half and everyone moves up a level. The two pink spaces are now their own charts and they are purples, the green moves up to pink, and the blue are now one step closer to their own big payoff. Maybe.

Now, nobody is required to bring in new special friends to gift money but how else are you going to help make sure you have fun holiday money to spend?  That, plus as soon as all your “blue spots” get eight new people to kick in you get one level closer to your own $800 jackpot. You start dreaming about what kind of things you can do with $800 and many people even join multiple looms once they start seeing and dreaming about the payout.

Posts by people involved that sound like this make it seem all okay, “It’s like pulling off of the church Christmas tree at Christmas time and shopping for a kid in need. Do we actually know if they get their gifts? No, but we only hope. We’ve all spent useless money for no reason at all. While you may be a skeptic, at least you know you helped a family at Christmas time this year. If we spread the holiday cheer we can make a lot of families happy. It’s time to put our own struggles aside and help ones in need. We’re all in here bc we could use the extra cash for Christmas. But blessed money comes from those who help.” And “its not a scam.. call it a “pay it forward tree” because that’s what we are basically doing”

I asked someone in my fb feed who is participating and posting to get others involved how does it end because mathematically I know these things can’t really keep going. After all, the numbers don’t really work. She said “oh, it never does, it just keeps going”. And then she asked me if I wanted in…um, not at all. She shared this with me…

loom3

So where’s the scam, you ask? It’s a reasonable question. Most of the time the people involved don’t see the crime, either. After all, the $100 is a gift that they give freely and without any expectation of any return so they’re not victims. Just like a $100 birthday present to your niece, right?

 

Wrong. Gifting Clubs are illegal pyramid schemes but they will try and tell you they aren’t because one person isn’t making money off the others. They’re done with really slick emotional appeal and promises of huge payoffs but sooner of later these clubs are going to run out of people to scam. It’s simple exponential math.

Lets assume you get in as one of the first blue spots. For all eight of you blue to move up to be green after the first split you need to recruit a total of sixteen new people. Then for all eight of you green to move up to pink you need to bring in 32 new people. It keeps going. All of your initial eight might get paid after 128 new blue spaces join, but to keep going and let everyone in the system receive their own $800 the scheme needs to bring in more people than exist on the planet.

If you do the math, there is logical, rational, left-brained evidence to support the conclusion that these circles are absolutely unsustainable in the end.

There is a mathematical certainty that up to 87% of the people who gift their money into a circle will lose their money.

To see the math in action, see this spreadsheet.  You can play with it  and change the variable on the number of times people re-up after cashing out so you can see what happens when people reinvest in the circles after receiving their gifts.

Bottom line: If 100% of people who complete the circle and receive their $800 in gifts rejoin another circle 3 more times, 80% of people who join will still lose their money.  The best possible scenario would be that every person who completes the circle rejoins 6 times and you still end up with 50% of people losing their money.

Google Forms Gets Even Better

This August, I’m participating in a monthly blog challenge called Blaugust. To see the list of participating blogs, click on the logo below. Please cheer on our participants with either a tweet or a comment on their blog. It can be hard to blog on a daily (or even regular) schedule! 🙂

If you want to join in the blogging fun, it’s not too late!  Go HERE to sign up! 🙂 And here are the directions and some awesome helpful prompts if you need something to help you blog!
_____________________________________________________________________________

I LOVE Google Forms! I use them all of the time for a variety of reasons- both education related, with my swim team and for personal use. They are such a super easy way to collect info into a spreadsheet super quickly!

This may not be NEW news for many of you as Google introduced it at the end of June, but for those of us on summer break who haven’t opened Google forms to use in a classroom all summer, it is new and exciting information.

QUIZZES!
This new feature will allow auto-grading multiple choice and checkbox questions which can give INSTANT feedback to students and allow teachers to see if they need to spend more time on a topic. SO STINKIN’ AWESOME! I have used the Flubaroo add-on before to do this same thing, but I always found it glitchy and a little hard to manage. I have already played around with this and it is SO easy to use.
Creating a quiz is super simple, here’s how:
  • Go to your Google Drive.
  • Click on New and then choose form.
  • In the upper right corner, click Settings in the top right corner and choose QUIZZES.
  • Next to “Make this a quiz” click the on button to make the form a quiz.
  • At this point you have a few options you can choose to turn on or off,
    • Release the grade immediately after each submission or do not release the grade
    • Change what students can see, Missed Questions, Correct Answer and Point Values.
  • Click Save to save your chosen settings.
After that you just start building your quiz.  You can make an answer key for multiple choice, checkbox, or drop-down questions.
  1. To add a new question, click Add.
  2. Fill out your question and answers.
  3. In the bottom left, click ANSWER KEY.
  4. In the top right of the question, choose how many points the question is worth.
But wait…there’s MORE! You can even add explanations to answers- including links, videos, or websites so students get immediate feedback!
To add feedback, just click on Answer Key and then on Add Answer Feedback.
Type feedback for both INCORRECT ANSWERS and CORRECT ANSWERS.
You can find out even more about creating a quiz with Google Forms HERE.
Way to go Google- YOU ROCK!

 

#descon16 – A WHOLE day of Desmos!

One of the things that excited me about attending #TMC16 was the Desmos pre-conference.  Except that as TMC was getting closer, I couldn’t remember if I had signed up for the pre-conference. 🙂 Couldn’t find it in my email or anywhere.  Then I received the reminders via email along with my ticket as the event got even closer, so I knew I had registered and my excitement returned.  YEAH!

My district is going 1:1 chromebooks in the middle schools this fall, which is going to be a benefit and a curse as teachers learn how to build skills in their classroom in an online environment and find useful resources for students to use.  I think Desmos is going to be key for teachers because of its many uses and the awesome new features they shared with us today.

My FAVORITE PART – Desmos shared a new organization of the teacher.desmos.com landing page, bundles of topic based & sequenced activities with helpful notes on how they build upon each other, and the really awesome labs option which enables teachers to use the brand new customizable feature for the ever popular marbleslides activity and the BRAND NEW  create your own card sort feature. I kid you not, you would have thought it was Christmas the way we all freaked out over the card sort. Well, we also freaked out over the free Desmos socks, but I think the card sort wins overall.

Things you can do with the card sort:
*Drag and drop images from card sorts you already own that are paper copies or electronic copies.  (While this isn’t the BEST use of Desmos, it is the easiest way to get started with the sorts initially.This isn’t the best because you can’t edit and change easily when the cards are images. Creating them using Desmos would be the best, most modifiable option.)
*Gather data on the card sorts…think about doing a paper card sort…you would walk around and see how students were sorting the cards, but wouldn’t really know if ALL of the sorted the same way or if they all had the same misconceptions or the same successes. GUESS WHAT? Desmos gives you data! Like amazing, real time, USEFUL data to guide your lesson, to guide your teaching, to make you a better teacher for your students! It will show you the sorts with all the names of the students that sorted that way…just think of what you could do with that.  Data you didn’t have before and it’s real time in your face, ready for you to use. The impact this can have in the classroom the same day you use the sort is amazing.
*Share your sorts with other teachers easily by sharing the link.
*DUPLICATE a shared sort so you can modify it, enhance it and make it something to work for your specific students.  When you duplicate the sorts, they become YOUR sorts and show up under Custom so you can use or edit them as needed.

Of course, the teachers of the MTBoS that were in attendance started creating card sorts left and right and created a google spreadsheet to share the links to them so you can duplicate and use. Because we are going 1:1 this year, I can’t wait to share the card sort feature with my district teachers. I see it as a great way to introduce Desmos in a new light to get them using it more.

Desmos has also made its graphing calculator fully accessible for visually impaired and blind students. You can enable voiceover on your device (command + F5 on mac)*, Desmos will read the expressions mathematically (ex: reading sin as “sine” instead of s-i-n) and it will give students helpful hints where they are as they work through the expression (ex: saying subscript, superscript, reading the opening and closing of grouping symbols). It is also capable of playing through a graph left to right across the screen to give a pitched audio representation of whatever has been graphed. It sounds like music! So of course a handful of teachers took the task of recreating songs using Desmos. And if they can get so excited about it, imagine what your students would do to try something like that out, even if it isn’t directly content related.  Think of the exploring, learning, stretching and sharing students would do with each other as they work to figure it out.

*It doesn’t work on ipad devices and to get it to work on a PC, try using this http://www.windoweyesforoffice.com/ and let me know if you can get it to work. I can’t get the native accessibility options to work on my PC. For a Chromebook, Enable accessibility on chromebook. click bottom right (near account pic),choose settings,advanced settings,check enable chromevox.

End of Year 16…

Wow…I just completed my 16th year of teaching middle school math…is it a milestone? a qualification for being crazy? 🙂 Ha ha ha…honestly, it is a great milestone for me.  It’s about halfway through my teaching career, give or take a few years. Heck I don’t even know when I will be able to retire let alone when the state says I can. But I am not thinking about that because I am in this for the long haul, this is not a job for me, it is a career, it is my calling.

Teachers relish the summer to refresh, recharge and reignite their passion for teaching. We don’t lose it, but it sure gets beat down throughout the school year and sometimes we lose sight of our love for it. We use summer time to read books (educational or not), research new methods to teach our subject, start planning for the following year, take classes, attend/present at conferences, reflect on the past school year, rewrite curriculum, relax, sleep, connect with family and friends, travel, pick up or continue a hobby, doctor/dentist/eye appointments, etc. all those things that get pushed off for planning and grading during the school year. Some of us even have a second (or third) job that we do during the summer to help pay bills, to save more for retirement or even just for our “fun” money, so we may not have summer’s off entirely from any form of work.  And even more of us tutor students throughout the school year and summer as well.

Teachers do a lot of awesome things and we get tired like everyone else, but we need to always be able to come back to our WHY…WHY we became a teacher, WHY we do what we do. If we focus on our why, we can continue to reach more students, touch more lives and push the learning curve as far as we can. Summer allows us the time to reconnect with our WHY and redefine it as we continually grow as educators.

So for those who will say they wish they had summer’s off…consider the work we do throughout the year, the hours we put in with your children, who become our children, the sweat and tears we shed over the good and the bad we see each day. Consider the time we put into honing our craft and teaching our subject(s) and the time we put into teaching students to be good people, to take chances, to be different, to not be afraid to fail, but to learn from it and grow.  We not only push to get all of our curriculum in the allotted days, we also stress so many important things behind the scenes. Like the day your student couldn’t focus because they were upset about a misunderstanding with a friend, and I noticed and pulled them aside to listen and really hear them. Or the day that your student came in so excited to show me what they created in their free time and I take an honest interest because I care. Or the day a student thanks another in front of the class for taking the time to help them with a problem, and the student they thanked was someone who typically struggles. Or the day we debated over one problem in class for a whole period and I sent them home frustrated and angry we didn’t come to an answer, only to have over half the class return the next day telling me they spent an hour working to figure it out.

There is so much more to teaching than just a degree or some classes we took…and for many of us, we can’t put it into words, we can’t quantify it because it just is. It is our life, it is our passion, it is our love, it is our drive…it is teaching.