2016 Reflection

This has been one of the best years of my life so I couldn't wait to share some highlights!

January- I started using my new curriculum and felt like I could breathe for the first time in eight years! I also started using a bullet journal which is so pretty and fun!

February- Went to a Google Appa conference that was productive

March- A blog post of mine was published in our first ever MTBos book

May- I completed my first ever 30 posts in 30 days for #MTBoS30 and to top it off celebrated my 30th birthday in St. Louis

June- I canoed for the first time and zip lined for the second time. I got new teeth!

July- I went to Minneapolis Minnesota for the first time to attend my fourth Twitter Math Camp

August- I lost 50 pounds in one year thanks to my Fitbit and walking. I also started writing posts for the Day in the Life series.

September- My grandma came to visit; my uncle fixed the power in my basement and built me a beautiful hall tree

October- I surpassed my all time best of 109 blog posts in one year! This makes post 114.

November- I got a new phone

December- I had one of the best end of the semesters, Christmas break, and Christmas's ever!

And now some ideas for 2017...

A bad habit I'm going to break: crossing my arms when I walk around the class

A new skill I'd like to learn: an instructional routine to use

A person I hope to be more like: Rebecka Peterson

A good deed I'm going to do: send home happy notes or postcards to parents

A book I'd like to read: Making Number Talks Matter

A letter I'm going to write: individual letters to my seniors

I'm going to do better at: getting to school earlier

My students wrote to me that my classroom is colorful and welcoming, they look forward to my class, they like math now, I've helped them be more organized, I explain things in a way they can understand easily, they know that I care about them and their lives, and they enjoy being around me.

Good-bye 2016! 👋🏻


Am I Basic?

aka Am I a Fraud?

I always laugh at basic white girl memes and how I really am none of them....I don't like coffee, I've never bought anything from Starbucks, I don't really care for tacos or Mexican, I don't feel comfortable wearing leggings in public, I think Uggs are ugly, and I can't do a messy bun to save my life.

But when it comes to teaching...I just realized I might be basic.

I've been proud of myself for using a new curriculum, getting my resources aligned, reinforcing my routines, being organized and keeping my students organized, working less throughout the week, being more open with students....

But has my teaching improved?

I'm not asking higher order thinking questions {maybe I'm not really sure what they are}, I don't use any instructional routines {maybe I'm not really sure what they are}, I don't do any fancy three-act tasks or really any tasks at all {maybe I'm not really sure how to find/make/use them}, I'm not writing comments, I don't do low floor high ceiling, open middle, I'm not using Desmos on a daily basis, my students are creating anything, I'm doing pathetic job with number talks, and I haven't mentioned growth mindset since the first two weeks of school.

I just finished reading and grading all my students' first semester reflection papers and the comments were overwhelmingly positive.

I'm the teacher I always dreamed of being.

Until I met you MTBoS.

My students are happy with me and my abilities because they don't know any better. I'm an improvement over past teachers so they are satisfied.

They don't know what they're missing out on.

But I do.

And I'm not saying that in a feeling sorry for myself  way, just an honest way. This has been one of the best years of my life and I'm happier than I've ever been.

But what now? Where do I go from here?

I'm not sure which area I need the most growth in. I feel incapable of even trying some of the things I listed above, let alone using them in a way that is beneficial for my students.

Which thing would benefit my students the most....that I can actually accomplish?

Can someone just create a to-do list for the rest of my teaching career?

I've been wanting to try national board certification but I'm too scared I will fail miserably because I'm not sure I'm as a good of a teacher as the professional learning standards requires. I would love to present at TMC but I have nothing to present. Every year I find less and less things to even share as a my favorite, let alone present for an entire 30 minutes. You can tell in my blogging that I have less and less to share....I'm using a curriculum so I'm creating less which means less to share.

I feel like I was on the front edge of the MTBoS when it started and now I've been left behind. I don't even get on Twitter anymore because it feels like everyone sharing these amazing projects and lessons and achievements that drown out my basicness. Also it is so filled with politics that I don't even feel safe posting much anymore.

Again, this is not for pity. At all. It's my brutally honest way of evaluating myself, my year, and my career.

How do I go deeper? What's the best route? What is sustainable?

How do I become the teacher I've learned I'm so far away from being?


#DITL Saturday, December 10th, 2016

I promise I didn't go through and pick out the 10th as a day that mostly falls on weekends...but it sure seems like it!

Today I had my alarm set for 9:30 but my dad woke me up at 9:00 to work on a pipe. I got up and got ready for lunch with my friend at 11:30. Leaving my house around 10:45, I had to stop by the school and set up a laptop for the music at tonight's Junior High Prom.

Lunch with my friend lasted until 1:30. I ran a few errands around town until 2:30 and headed back home to baby-sit my niece and nephew from 3-6.

My sister got off work and my parents joined us all to go to a live Nativity scene acted out at a nearby church. We finished there and went to McDonald's. Then my sister and I ran to Wal-Mart to get a few groceries. We got home at 11:00 and all I could think about was how grateful I was that I didn't have school work to do. This is the first weekend since school started that that has happened. We finished last week up with semester review and this week we are doing semester exams and papers which meant nothing for me to create/prepare.

I have been counting down the days since Thanksgiving for this break to come. Over Thanksgiving, we had a basketball tournament over an hour away and we played a game every single day except Thanksgiving. I also had to fit in baking desserts, cleaning house, decorating for Christmas, and my regular school work into each of those  5 days. Since each game took anywhere between 4-6 hours of my day, I didn't really get a break at all.



#DITL Monday, November 10th, 2016

6:00 Wake up and get ready for school.

7:42 Leave my house for school- I live 5 minutes away and I'm still late. :/

7:54 I have enough time to turn on my air fresheners, clock, and SMART board, put away my stuff and it's time for class to begin!

1st hour- We start math talks with this problem: "Which is greater, 65 x 47 or 67 x 45?" and the struggle is real! Students don't have any strategies to share other than write them on top of each other and multiply them. Students are finishing a handout on angle proofs and then taking a quiz. While they are working, I am trying to cut up task cards for third hour and grade fourth hour quizzes- I always promise to return things I grade the next day and I didn't feel like doing it last night. Of course I'm also answering questions before first hour takes their quiz.

2nd hour- We are finishing cutting our 'slices of pi' for our lesson about radians (Thanks Mimi!). It's taking forever and I start to wonder if it's worth it. We arrange them on a unit circle to visualize the angles in standard position- I question them on what quadrant it's in, if it's close to half a circle or whole, and what that would be in radians. Next we will move to drawing the angles and not need the pi pieces anymore- did I just waste a class period for nothing? :/

3rd hour- We are struggling through number talks again, even though I change the question to just 65 x 7. One student volunteers how he thinks I would do it- they know I base things off of 10's. He suggested 65 x 10 minus 65 x 3. So that was nice. We finish our notes in our INB and then I hand out a graph to each group to work. We debrief and then do one dry erase problem before starting task cards, At the end of class students comment on how fast the class went by and always does- I'll take little success where I can. =)

4th hour- Between classes I am making 93 copies of next week's bell ringer since I am leaving school at 11:30 for a SAT workshop. This is a repeat of first hour. Once again I am trying to grade fifth hours quizzes and get sub plans printed out while also answering questions,

5th hour- I forgot to tell students that I would be gone today and we didn't get as far as I wanted to yesterday. That means I taught them how to solve quadratics by square roots in two minutes with two problems. Luckily, my sub is a retired math teacher. I gave him the answer keys last night and he reworked every problem 'just for fun'. #blessed

11:39 I leave school and head to a SAT workshop that is 45 minutes away. It is also the same SAT workshop that I attended a month ago, ironically, in my last blog post.

2:17 The conference is over and it's the start to my 3 day weekend. Time to shop!

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?

A good teacher move was adjusting the number talks questions and some good questions I asked today. Definitely worry about the balance of a hands-on lesson and it's payoff  in trig.

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas break! My challenge is now that cheerleading practice has started, I'm staying even later to get things done and getting even less sleep. 

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

Our Student Council had a chili supper and a student that's not even in StuCo stayed to help clean up. She stayed longer than anyone else and we ended up talking for almost an hour. I've been trying to connect with her anyway- she's had some intense life stuff going on and needs a good adult role model.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

Keep working on a better work/life balance. I will survive!

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I'm getting a new phone finally!


#DITL Monday, October 10th, 2016

Today is Columbus Day which means we are out of school. We actually have a 3.5 day weekend. On Friday we had our Regional Teachers Institute until noon. I'm always excited for long weekends so I can catch up on the extra stuff I have to do or put off.

Nothing this weekend went as planned. I did not even touch my school stuff until today. Which was not the plan.

8:48 Wake up. Make myself go back to sleep.

11:00 Wake up again. No shame since I average 5 hours of sleep or less during the school week. Eat breakfast, scripture journal, straighten up the house.

11:45 Get to work on my laptop. Update my trig lesson on finding an angle with trig ratios to include text problems where students have to draw their own diagram, Updated notebook file that goes with it. Create solving trigonometric equations interactive notebook pages, a pong review game powerpoint, and a quiz for my senior math class. Next it's on to Geometry- I update the interactive notebook pages I already made for conditional statements with a foldable I made a few years ago since I feel like it is a better fit. Update notebook file to match. Next create new interactive notebook pages for deductive reasoning, a pong review game, and a quiz.

3:00 Eat lunch while watching Jimmy Fallon. When I'm done eating I walk around the house watching tv on my ipad so I can get steps in. My goal is 12,000 a day and when you don't go to work and spend hours on your laptop, it's hard. When my show is over I start walking around with my Bible...gotta get those steps.

5:15 Back to work. I need to make a practice activity for Algebra I inequality word problems. So I google problems and create...you guessed it- a pong review game powerpoint. It's my go to activity. Then I, you guessed it again- made a quiz. It's almost the end of the quarter so I make up a binder check 'quiz'.

6:00 I have more work to do but I'm running low on motivation so I start wasting time on e-mail and social media. Then I realize I haven't read any blogs lately so I catch up on those.

7:30 I remember I need to create and print posters for our Student Council Socktober drive. Cue google images and pinterest.

8:00 Realize I should eat dinner. Eat while watching TV and again finish my show with walking around the house. I'm only up to 7700 steps.

9:00 Spend 30 minutes doing my workout and walking around for a cool down. Pack my lunch and get my breakfast ready for tomorrow. Pick out my outfit.

10:00 Shower.

10:15 Get out the ol ipad and go for another walk. I walk until I reach my 12,000 goal which brings us to

11:15. I sit down to start this blog post and realize that I forgot about the 92 bell ringers I need to respond to plus the 9 trig quizzes, 10 Algebra 2 tests, and 8 geometry quizzes I have to grade. And I wanted to paint my fingernails.

This was an embarrassing post to write- I don't know if it's because I'm bad at managing my time or because I feel like I have to justify how I spend it. Or maybe it's because my job is like a second job on the nights and weekends. I never feel like I've done enough. Not to mention I have a painting project in my downstairs bathroom that I didn't even get to touch this weekend.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?

Zero teacher moves today.

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?

I spend so much time putting together notes, practice, and quizzes from my curriculum. It's mostly formatting and copying and pasting. As soon as I feel accomplished for having everything prepared, I start questioning if it's the best way to teach it. I can't feel content.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

I've been getting along better with a colleague at school. Although it's been unintentional, I know that it's healthier. I'm still getting better at laughing and sharing things with the students. Although I've always felt like I shared a lot with students but somehow this year seems different.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

Keep working on a better work/life balance. My weekends are consumed with school work in an attempt to free up my week nights but I still can't seem to leave school before 5:00. I do know that next year will be a million times better. With my curriculum, I am finally aligning things in a way I am mostly satisfied with. I'm making notes of things to change or fix for next year and even doing some now if they are quick fixes. NO MORE STARTING OVER.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I've been teaching trig identities for the first time. I have struggled, actually sat with the kids and worked the problems along with them, and got to the point where I could make up problems for the students to practice.

11:41 Off to do at least another hour of work!


We Don't Know Everything

Reading Dan's post, What Should Math Teachers Do When They Don't Know the Math?, really resounded with me and the timing was ironic.

We were working on constructions in Geometry and we were working through notes from the curriculum. Admittedly, I had not looked made an answer key as I had performed the constructions in past years, albeit not according to these directions.

There was one step I just could not figure out. I read, reread it, positioned my compass, re-positioned my compass. I stopped and stared at it for an awkward amount of silence.

And then I turned around to tell the kids, "We're going to skip this one and come back to it tomorrow."

S: "So you don't know how to do it?"

Me: "No, I'll have to figure it out and then tell you tomorrow."

S#2: "But you're the one who is supposed to be teaching us."

Me: "Teachers are humans too. We don't know everything. Would you rather me lie to you and tell you the wrong way to do it?"

S#3: "Yes. Then we would feel better about knowing how to do it."

Me: *mind blown"

The next day at the beginning of class another student was quick to ask, "Did you figure out that problem from yesterday?"

Me: "Yes I did! Let's start on that one now since some of you were hating on me for not knowing how to do something.

S: We weren't hating....

Me: "How would you feel if I treated you that way when you don't know something?"


And we went on with class and it wasn't brought up again.

So...what do we do when it becomes clear, in front of a class, that we don't understand math like we thought.

Admit it. Show room for growth, Use growth mindset on your own set of teaching skills. Explain your old thinking and how that changed or hit an obstacle. Explain your new thinking.

And the ability to do this comes from the confidence and purpose that you feel inside. It comes from a place of being prepared and experienced. It's embarrassing for like 10 seconds and then my brain switches to "Well, I guess I'm going to learn something new today. Glad I won't have to make this mistake again."

That's worth sharing.

Students aren't used to that at first but the older they get and especially as they advance through higher math with me, I am very open about my math abilities and struggles. This year more than ever I've had students ask me why I decided to teach math and what my favorite subject was in school. I'm open about all of that. I did very well in high school and hit a wall in college. I passed most of my college courses with a C. I don't understand calculus at all. I don't even know how I passed any of those classes. I struggle with trig and some of the more advanced topics in Algebra 2. I used to call my mom every day in college, crying, telling her I didn't think I could do this.

How can I teach math when I don't understand it myself?

And then somehow I wound up in the classroom, magically able to do most of the things I have to teach with ease, and not really knowing how it happened.

But in case I ever forget, there is always a moment like I mentioned to humble me and remind what it is like to struggle, feel unsure, and be embarrassed.

I'm really trying to communicate to my students how important it is to continually better yourself. Not try to just get through things and get things over worth. Not just distract yourself and waste time with social media and video games and YouTube. But to really think about, on purpose, areas of weakness or how to make things better.

I hope it's working.

I hope they see mistakes going hand in hand with success.

I hope they see a real person can be good at their job and make mistakes.

I hope they see that making mistakes doesn't have to ruin your confidence or your day and that you grow because of and in spite of, making mistakes.

I hope it becomes normal and comfortable for them to mess up and see me mess up and learn and go on with our lives.

I just read this quote yesterday but already forgot from where, "Successful people feel comfortable being wrong."

I hope when they see me, they see both.

That's what I'm here for.


#DITL Saturday, September 10th, 2016

My normal routine is to do all my shopping and errands on Friday nights so that I have nowhere to go on Saturdays and I can do all my work and clean all day Saturday.

I have a lunch date with my bestie on the second Saturday of every month so my plans were already thrown off. I thought that I would stay at school and work a lot on Friday, get groceries after my lunch with my friend, then come home and do the rest of my work.

Friday my sisters messages me at the end of school and needs me to baby-sit my niece and nephew. Well there goes my working Friday plans.

My mom sets up a birthday lunch for my Grandma, who is visiting from Florida, for Saturday at 6:00 at a place an hour away.

Well there goes my working Saturday plans.

I am a routine person so I really really really hate when my routine is interrupted by someone other than me.

Routinely throughout the day, I just stopped myself from worrying about school.

Mental speech: "You still have Sunday to get things done that must be done. No, you can't do everything you wanted to do. Yes, you will have to work more weeknights this week than you want to. But enjoy the moment! You are having lunch with your best friend and dinner with your grandma! Those are fun things that you like doing. So do them!"

Even when I am not at school, or doing school work, I'm planning/worrying about school work. But I can't let that overtake my actual life.

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to create a better work/life balance.

I'm doing it.

I'm not perfect.

But I am present.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of?  What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal? 

I am proud that I chose to put my personal life above my professional life and enjoy my weekend. It was all ideal. =)

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately? 

I am looking forward to a school year when I don't have to slave over everything. A challenge for me lately is getting things done on my plan period. It is the last hour of the day and I am so tired and spent that I zone out on my e-mail and the Internet rather than accomplishing anything. Then I have to stay after school and do it anyway. I feel like I have no time at home and I work late at school and still have things to take home.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

Overall I feel like I am way more open and relational with my students this year. I can think of several moments in the past weeks where I told them stories from my life and we laughed together or when students have asked my advice on clothes or boys or asked me to look things up or give my opinions on the election and so on. One student has been confiding in me about relationships and I've been trying really hard to change her focus and build her confidence.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

Keep working on a better work/life balance. Continue asking good questions, asking students to notice similarities and differences, asking students to try a problem before they know what to do, asking for strategies, and doing number talks.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

I've been posting some #teach180 photos and I've never done that before.


Guys, I'm Killing It

I don't know exactly what gave me my teacher mojo back but I definitely know that last year was my seven year slump.

I've had good things that I've wanted to blog every day but my internet has been lame at home and I'm still so tired every day that I've gotten behind.

Day 1 and I already knew everyone's names.

My biggest class is 18 and my smallest is 5.

I've tried so many new things already: number talks, Google classroom, Google forms, a clothesline activity, asking students to notice things before we start working, introducing growth mindset, using my Plickers multiple times, and my questioning skills have greatly improved.

Here are some highlights from the past two weeks:

Using a beach ball every Monday at the beginning of class- we hit it while we talk about our weekends and we stop when no one else has anything to share. This has been a GREAT way to get energy flowing on a Monday and to get more students talking and for longer amounts of time. And almost every class will ask me about my weekend too- maybe to just keep hitting the ball longer.

I asked our tech person about the possibility of sharing some Chrome books with the two teachers who have classroom sets and she showed up at my door the next day with six that are mine to keep, one per table group. I literally teared up at her kindness.

During my growth mindset discussion with my seniors I kindddddddd of went off on a tangent about being a confident woman and how important it is to make being with yourself a safe place and being successful in the future and etc.....when I finally finished a student said, "Wow, you should be like a coach or something." {I've always wanted to write a book and I think I might have just stumbled on the topic}.

I tweeted about my favorite problem of all time and in my freshman class, the first person to get the correct answer was the student who spent the first week of school telling me how math was not her subject and to please not call on her when she doesn't know the answer. I said "I thought math wasn't your thing and yet you were the first one done." She said, "Well I thought it wasn't!" She worked really hard the rest of the class period.

I was talking to a group of students when one almost let a cuss word slip; she cut herself off and said "This is why you shouldn't make me like you so much- then I talk normal around you." Lol

Number talks have been going well but they really prefer dot talks to anything else so far. Some students are purposely counting them in an unusual order just so they can share their thinking. I've had multiple hands go up to share their thinking and it feels like everyone is comfortable with that.

I feel like it was so easy to just jump right into how I want my classes to run- I already feel like I've known my freshman students for a long time and it's such a testament to how being consistent and building routines and procedures can enhance your classroom culture.

I taught the same piecewise functions lesson that I always teach but I started by asking them to notice things about the function and then notice things about the graph. It seemed like the lesson went so much smoother because they made connections all the way through.

It's only week three I know but I haven't really had to beg people to work; I feel like I have a good mixture of students that helped make this happen.

A few students have made real efforts since last year to change their attitude and effort and it's so cool to see them grow.

I feel so blessed to get to be in their lives year after year and to know them so well that I can see change and growth over time. Also after reading tweets and blog posts, I also feel blessed to be in a school that provides me with all the colored paper {and most school supplies} that I want and that my biggest class size is smaller than most people's small class size.

I still love when students come in and love the way my room smells- I didn't it was so odd for a teacher to buy air fresheners. ;)

A student asked me how much I spend on all of this stuff and I just appreciated that she noticed the extra that I put in.

This was the first year I didn't dread back to school time, the first year I had no school nightmares, and the first year {that I can remember} that I don't have that one class that I'm just dreading.

I can't really explain how my questioning skills have improved but it's like I am self-editing in real time- I'll have my next question on the tip of my tongue and it's like my brain says 'Here's a better idea!" and a more interesting question comes out.

Three lessons that I already had resources for meant I could think deeper about how to present them in a more conceptual way- this is another area I see improvement in myself over time.

I still maintain that Jesus gives me supernatural patience and I can feel the moment I enter into it- helping students one on one I always reach a point where I want to walk away and it's like this supernatural patience washes over me and I just continue like nothing happened.

I don't know why but I think it is so cute when students tell me bye as they leave. It's not every student but it's just endearing.

I've started almost every paragraph with 'I' so far but as hard as we are on ourselves, I think we can all stand to brag on ourselves. One of my gifts is making connections with people and I love seeing that come to fruition- this year feels just like a continuation of last year rather than a new start. Maybe it's not the best thing but I felt like starting school as a tee again- I loved hearing the updates of what all my friends did over the summer and what was going on in their lives.

I feel like finally all of my experience and ups and downs and talents and strengths and weaknesses are coming together and I'm approaching the ever elusive peak of 'actually knowing what I'm doing'.

My career is on an uphill swing and that is definitely ONE GOOD THING.


Plan With Me...Infinite and No Solutions

So I'm planning this lesson for the upcoming week and I have 3 slides that I feel like are a good start. I'm just about to tweet them out and ask what I can add to them when I decide to check the MTBoS search engine first. I land on this great blog post about using Desmos to check answers after combining like terms by graphing.

And instantly my lesson just got better. I get to use Desmos for the first time with my freshman and we are just beginning!

Here's a general outline and my thought process.

I will ask students to share out some answers and I will write them on the board. I will have one chrome book per group of three students and ask them to each take turns typing in an expression from the board (I'm thinking 6 so each student types in 2 and purposely include wrong ones).  But what if I don't get very many answers?

I will ask them what they notice as they type in each equation.

We will discuss the connection between the expression and the line.


I will ask students to prove me right or wrong. I'm thinking I'll have to explain that they either need to solve for x or plug in random values and see what happens. Some kind of work will happen which will lead us to graphing it in Desmos and seeing if it is the same line or not.


Some kind of work happening, either with Algebra or Desmos leading up to the fact that they graph two parallel lines which have no intersecting solution and how they simplify to the same slope with different y-intercepts.

Is that it? Now we just practice?

What are some good questions I can ask? What needs to go in their notes?


First Days 2016-2017

I was not ready. I spent my last few days getting my classroom ready and not preparing actual activities. This should have been an 'easy' week for me since it's the only time I can get away with doing the same thing every hour. Instead I didn't go to bed earlier than midnight all week. =( Definitely making a check list so this doesn't happen next year.

Today we did Mental Math Monday and got our binders ready: dividers, tabs, names on the spine, pencil bags, new pencils, and dry erase markers. We folded our name tents; I loved having students write to me every day. The name tent part was not really necessary since we are so small and everybody knows everybody. Next year I might not use an actual name tent. It also took me up to an hour and a half each night too respond. I would say it is worth it but I definitely couldn'tdo it all year.We did our first number talk!

I used Google Classroom for the first time today and I think I was successful. Students used an ipad to sign in to their account add my class by code. I posted a question asking them they're favorite animated movie. Then I posted a google form for estimation180. They commented and opened the form. I showed a picture on the board and they gave me a too low, too high, and estimate. We looked at the answers on the spreadsheet and then I showed the correct answer. I had 4-5 students guess correctly throughout the day and that has never happened. Google Forms FTW? Next, we did Amy Zimmer's icebreaker to set up groups and group roles. I noticed that the designated time keeper kept time for the rest of the period, even after the activity ended. From there we went straight to Sara's
1-100 task making groups work. The kids LOVED it!! In between rounds we discussed strategies for working together and improving their times.

We started with our Work It Wednesday problem, how can you arrange 8 8's to add up to 1000? From there I showed them pictures from the previous day's 1-100 task.

They could not believe that I took pictures! Not a single student in any class noticed I was taking pictures. Not even in a class of 5! They have already asked to do it again. My best group made it all the way to 91 and two groups made it to the 80's. We reviewed the group work strategies and from there we went to Sarah's Broken Circle task. This only took 2-3 minutes since my students were in groups of 3. We finished the day by setting up our INBs.

Thursday are my designated day for number talks and it started out rough. Read more here. We again used Google Classroom to open a pdf of my syllabus. I tried Brigid's idea of doodle notes using this doodle syllabus. I still have mixed feelings about this. My artistic students really appreciated it. The students did agree that taking notes from the pdf was better than listening to me talk the whole time. But most of these students have had me for years and know my policies and procedures. More than one person asked why we were doing this and most people didn't even get it finished in a class period because they spent so much time doing what I asked...doodling! I can see it working much better in a lecture heavy class but thankfully, I am heading in the opposite direction of that.

We ended the week by taking our end of course exam which will be given again in December and May. I spent my time making answer keys and updating my spreadsheet data.

Comparing the first administration last year to this year

Algebra I 15% to 24%
Geometry 18% to 20%
Algebra II 16.5% to 24%
Trig 30% to 19%

I'm using new exams except for Trig so those numbers basically mean nothing but I like that they are moving up. Except what the heck happened in trig?

I'm so glad that thanks to my blog, I have a record of everything I've tried during the first days of school. If you teach in a small school, you know you can't repeat activities until four years have passed. Check out my first days tag if you need more ideas!


My First Number Talk

I was inspired by Sara Van Der Werf's post to finally start doing number talks. I haven't read any of the books yet so forgive me if I'm screwing this up.

It took me three days of number talks before I realized I should start saving these pictures.

They are pretty terrible but I'd like to have a starting point to look back at.

The first two days were counting items in a picture so when I threw this one at them, I realized maybe a fraction problem was not the best one to use first.

We had a rough start but there was about one interesting answer per period so all was not lost.

A lot of them chose 5/8 because they said they learned that the smaller fractions are bigger pieces.

I'm really trying to put the emphasis on how we are thinking about things over right answers.

I also used Sara's name tent idea and more than one student wrote that they liked how we were learning about different ways to think and that they appreciate me letting them be creative.

Be still my heart.

It was much easier to get them to talk about counting dots and footballs but I'm not giving up!

Suggestions appreciated.



Things I want to instill in my students or that I hope they 'inherit' from me and my classroom!

P-persistence. Let's get it right and get it done!

H- happiness. I'm really working on two things: to operate out of love and to let life be on my lips. How can I speak life, love, and happiness each day to my 90 students?

A- assertive. Learn the difference between aggressive and assertive. Know how and when to stand up for yourself and others. Learn how to not back down graciously.

R- resilient. You wouldn't believe the things that four of my students in particular are facing this early in the school year. I hope they see in me the 'fighting spirit' to show up every day and do hard work well.

A- attitude. As we learn together about growth mindset, I want to teach them the importance of their attitude and how it sets the tone of each day and the future.

O- original. I think I am pretty good at standing out and being unique. Hopefully my students take away that it is okay to have strong passions and interests and to put them on display.

H- honor. I'm trying my best to start off honoring the different ways of thinking my students have, honoring their identity by asking them to share it, and honoring the important of our relationship by building it.

S- spirit. Take pride in who you are and where you are from. If it's not the best place, then try making it better. Give back. Be successful and share how you got there.

Pharaoh Pride!


#DITL Back to School! Year 8

I don't count today as our first day because I only saw my kids for five minutes per period. But this was one of the best starts we've had and an all around positive day so you know I have to share.

The day started with the Principal giving updates to the students for about 20 minutes. Then students were released to their classes for 5 minutes each.

This was enough time for me to have students write down their birthdays and favorite candy. I gave them an address label with my Remind number and code. I asked them to get composition notebooks and then I said good-bye!

I asked my freshman class how many of them liked math and none of them raised their hand. I !asked them how many were good at math but didn't like it. No one. I asked them if we could all agree to think positive and that this is going to be a good year of math class. All smiles and head nods. So now it is my personal mission to ask that question at the end of the year and have a majority of the hands go up.

We rotated through all of our classes and then around 9:30 we went to the gym. A student group had some cute games planned but it wasn't super organized. Middle school students had a blast and most of the high school sat on the bleachers and talked. We were there until lunch at 11:30 which was a little long considering we are having air conditioner problems but I made my way around talking to students.

It just felt so nice to be reminded of relationships I've been building for years and the comfort of being surrounded by students I know and I like. I have no classes I'm dreading this year. I spent most of the day smiling and chatting with students and that was just enjoyable!

We had a 12:00 dismissal and then a Google training from 12:30-2:30 which means we also had an hour lunch.

I really love having Back to School night on Thursday and an early dismissal Friday.

Have a great weekend!


#DITL Back to School Night

My day did not start out very positive. Nobody likes their Teacher Institute to start with the principal reading a 22 point packet out loud word for word of new rules and expectations.

But that is not what I came to write about.

We revamped our Back to School Night and I really enjoyed it so I wanted to share with you. It started at 5:00 where students get their schedules in the lobby and sign up for door prizes. Then they travel around to each classroom and have their teachers sign their schedule. Showing your schedule with all the teacher signatures earned you ice cream in the cafeteria.

Students were in the gym doing face painting and hosting sign up sheets for clubs. This was also the time for students to find their locker, test the lock, etc.

In the library there were videos from last school year playing on a loop.

At 6:30, everyone returns to the gym where the Principal speaks about announcements and updates.

Then names were pulled for door prizes and that wrapped up the night!

If only the air conditioning worked correctly...

I was surprised to see a large group of people in the lobby at 5:00 on the dot.

Only one student I talked to today told me they didn't like math!

Our community 4H group donated Back to School baskets for us- so thoughtful!

I went home feeling energized which is a lot better than the day began.

I can't explain the growth I've experienced since January...or why. But there has definitely been a shift. I have a lot of things to do and get ready still but I'm not overwhelmed. I'm going to take it a day at a time- and it's going to be fine! I'm doing good work. I'm also doing good work to sustain my energy levels. My students deserve the best Ms. Miller I can be right now- not the best Ms. Miller I will ever be.

My motto for the year is 'Add good things to the pile- no more starting over!"


#DITL August 10th, 2016

9:00 AM Woke up....second to last day to sleep in. =(

10:15 AM Got to school to finish decorating my classroom. Tomorrow is a half day teacher institute from 1-5 and then Back to School Night from 5-7.

Things I accomplished today:

  • Cleaned all 6 carts and drawers and put new labels on each drawer (120 drawers)
  • Attached new labels inside plastic bins to put in the cart
  • Took my pentaminoes, tangrams, and counters into ziplock bags for each cart
  • Refilled the cart with supplies
  • Finished my Instagram/Milligram bulletin board
  • Decorated my door with my lovely chevron stickers
  • Rehung my chevron borders around each whiteboard (I'm never taking them down again!)
  • Cut out balloon and star shapes on our die cut machine for student birthdays
  • Printed out my Plicker cards
  • Took the chairs down
  • Printed new number placards for each group of desks
  • Took down streamers and paper lanterns that I didn't want anymore
  • Finished hanging my 'custom' wall clock
  • Changed three bags of trash
  • Swept the floor
5:15 PM Got home and made dinner; changed clothes and went shopping

Shopping included MORE classroom stuff:
  • Wal-Mart: (plastic unit tubs, washi tape, air fresheners, and groceries)
  • Aldi (sugar and biscuits lol)
  • Walgreens (pictures for my bulletin board)
  • Hobby Lobby (light switch covers, silver hanging decorations, foam letters, scrapbook paper, poster board)
  • Dollar Tree (plastic bins and baby washcloths for dry erase markers)
  • Target (washi tape for binders)
  • Staples (my fave green Staedtler pencils)
  • Chinese food for a celebratory lunch tomorrow
  • Half price shakes at Sonic since I never ate lunch
10:15 Then because I'm a crazy person I went BACK to school to finish some things so I won't be rushed tomorrow

  • Rehung my diploma frame that fell and broke
  • Hung up my pictures from Walgreens
  • Added the baby washcloths to their labeled white bins
  • Added scissors labels to their bins
  • Hung up the silver hanging decorations 
  • Set up the air fresheners
  • Switched out the light switch cover
  • Put out my pencils in my pencil holder
11:30 Finally home. Unload my crap and pick out my outfit for tomorrow. I always like to dress up more for Back to School Night since I look younger. Got everything ready for tomorrow because I hate mornings- even though I don't have to be at school until 1:00, I don't want to get up any earlier than 9:00 and I don't want to be rushed.

And that's a normal day for me- I do crazy things at crazy times all in the name of creating!

I got 12,354 steps today and walked 5.48 miles. I also drank 64 ounces of water.



How To...Teacher Assessment

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

Again, let me just say that assessment is not something I claim to be any type of expert at. I steal most of my assessments/questions, I don't feel great about the way I grade, etc etc.

But the least I can do is try new things and talk about them.

So here goes!

  • Class Discussion: This doesn't happen often or well in my classes, tbh. Mostly students asking me questions and me asking them questions- not much 'discussing'. I really like the idea of using controversial words like always, sometimes, never, best, and worst to spark debate among students. That feels like something I can try.
  • Desmos: So far I've only used activity builder for some investigations but it's great for formative assessment because I can see all student responses at the same time or individually.
  • Feedback Quiz: link here 
  • Kahoot: Students LOVE Kahoot but unfortunately iPads don't. I've only used them for formative assessment, more like practice but they definitely inspire the kids to try harder. Time limits are the only drawback for me but I like that there are so many public Kahoots that I can use and that creating my own is easy. 
  • Participation Quiz: link here 
  • Plickers: The students also LOVE plickers and they always point out to me that we didn't used them enough...like once or twice a year. But behold, thanks to Jonathan Schoolcraft, we will now use them EVERY Friday for Which One Doesn't Belong. Hooray!
  • Quiz: Just your standard quiz. I quiz over every concept but considering combining 2-3 concepts per quiz. Although I always have less grades in the gradebook than anyone else considering I only grade quizzes and tests. Hmm...
  • Self-Check Quiz: link here; I read about this years ago and it seems to fit feek with self-quizzing concepts mentioned in Make It Stick.
  • Unit Test: enough said
  • Whiteboard Practice: I mostly use this in my smaller classes which is not awesome but there is something magical about it; students just automatically teach each other or self-correct which is great formative assessment


How To...Self and Peer Assessment

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

Thanks to mathbythemountain for suggesting this post; after my last post, she asked me to explain each activity.

So here goes! Let me first say....I haven't done any of these and some of them I just learned about this summer.

  • Brain dump: link here; although it's pretty self-explanatory. I'm thinking of doing this for the first five minutes of study guide day
  • Circle Graph Reflection: blogged about here with an INB download
  • End of unit summary INB sheet: blogged about here with an INB download
  • Reflection question on quiz/test: inspired by Pam Wilson and mentioned in my "Make it Stick" post, I also read about this in Mathematical Mindsets. Seems really easy to implement and useful for both students and me, and apparently students can be very accurate at it.
  • Rubric: this is pretty generic and I don't have any examples to share but it could be used for any assessment or project


I'm obviously weak in both of these areas. Do you have ideas to add to this?

How To...Self and Peer Assessment

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

Thanks to mathbythemountain for suggesting this post; after my last post, she asked me to explain each activity.

So here goes! Let me first say....I haven't done any of these and some of them I just learned about this summer.

  • Brain dump: link here; although it's pretty self-explanatory. I'm thinking of doing this for the first five minutes of study guide day
  • Circle Graph Reflection: blogged about here with an INB download
  • End of unit summary INB sheet: blogged about here with an INB download
  • Reflection question on quiz/test: inspired by Pam Wilson and mentioned in my "Make it Stick" post, I also read about this in Mathematical Mindsets. Seems really easy to implement and useful for both students and me, and apparently students can be very accurate at it.
  • Rubric: this is pretty generic and I don't have any examples to share but it could be used for any assessment or project
I'm obviously weak in both of these areas. Do you have ideas to add to this?


How To...Implement Activities

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

Thanks to mathbythemountain for suggesting this post; after my last post, she asked me to explain each activity.

So here goes!

  • Dry Erase Practice: my students can write on their desks with dry erase markers so I guess you could just call this desk practice. If I have problems prepared, then they work it on the desk and I show the answer. If I don't, then I walk around and look at their work, Or both.
  • Task Cards: these are kind of popular now but basically they are problems printed individually on cardstock. I set them on the whiteboard ledge and students or groups come get one card and work it and then return it. Each group should only have one card. Sometimes the cards have answers on them so they can self-check. Sometimes I walk around with an answer key.
  • Investigation: for me, this is basically a scaffolded activity that leads them through new instruction. It usually involves a lot of questions, maybe some color coding, maybe some matching, sorting, or calculator directions.
  • Desmos: So far I have only used Activity Builder, which is amazing, but over the summer they introduced marble slides and card sorts so I can't wait to use those. Desmos is also great for verifying things with graphs, showing visuals, and introducing transformations.
  • Card Sort: these are my favorite of all time and I plan on blogging a 'how to' post about creating them. Basically, if there is something you know students mix up or something they never notice, make a card sort out of it. Ask them to sort the pieces into groups and explain how they sorted. Then give them hints until they find it such as: you should have four groups, each group should have the same amount, etc. SO much more meaningful than you just telling students to look for or pay attention to something- let them discover it on their own.
  • Grudge Ball: link here 
  • Row Game: link here 
  • Four in a Row: link here
  • Triples: usually a set of 15 problems, students in pairs/groups work them out and then at the end they sort into 5 groups of 3 that have the same answer. If they can't find three cards with the same answer, they work together to find their mistakes

Activities that Involve Movement:
  • Chalk Talk: link here
  • Centers/Stations: students rotate to stations that focus on different topics; answer key to previous station provided after rotating; usually used to review.
  • Cornhole Review: link here 
  • Gallery Walk: link here
  • Hedbanz: link here  
  • Pong Review: link here
  • Scavenger Hunt: link here 
  • Speed Dating: link here
  • Trashketball: tape a line on the floor some distance away from the trash can and set out a ream of paper. Students work in groups, everyone works the problem, the group answer that is correct sends one person to shoot. Make up your own rules. I put tape for 2 and 3 pointers. If they don't get the problem correct then they don't get to shoot.
  • Vertical Whiteboards: link here

Next up I will explain the assessments mentioned in my previous post. Thanks again Audrey!


How To...Create a Pacing Guide

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

I'm not going to claim to be an expert in any of these 'how to' posts but I've made quite a few pacing guides and I can at least explain my thinking behind it.

Here is my Algebra I rough draft. Look at it first so that I can break down each decision.

First of all, I want a clear list of topics that I plan on teaching. I want those nestled inside cozy little units. I want a specific number of units that spans the course of a year.

I want these things so I can break them down into small, manageable chunks. I will be starting my eighth year of teaching and to be honest, I usually get about halfway through my pacing guide. That's pretty terrible.

I've just decided: no more starting over!!! I want to focus on adding.

I've started with Algebra I. There are 12 units...which means 3 units per quarter which means 3 weeks per unit. I have 6 or less skills per unit which means 2 skills per week. This is the goal I'm shooting for while knowing that some units will go faster or slower than I predict, the weather will mess up my good intentions several times, and instead of getting upset, I will focus on getting farther and farther along in my pacing guide each year.

I also align my pacing guide to the final exam or end of course exam. This means that next to each skill, I put the question number from the exam that corresponds to that skill. This way at the end of the year, I have a list of each question that students *should* be able to do (since I never get through everything).

This year I added activity structures to check off, mainly because I want to see how often I use certain activities and I want to make sure I include movement more often.

I also included the mathematical practices because I've never done a good job at focusing on them.

Reflection, seld-assessment, and peer-assessment came up a lot in my reading and at TMC this year so I added those sections as well. As you can see, this is a weakness of mine since I have very few ideas to attempt.

I put a 'notes' section at the bottom because I'm trying to get better at reflecting.

For next year, I would like to add vocabulary words, good questions, and prerequisite skills. I will try to add those things along the way so that next year: no more starting over! Hopefully I will remember to update this post in the next month or so with *this year's* final draft.

Oh, and the color strip at the top of each page will be color coded for each course and to that course's INB...of course.

This will also be a great tool to include in my teacher evaluation binder!

What else would you include in a pacing guide that will help you focus? What are some of your favorite strategies for self and peer assessment?


Classroom Instruction from A to Z

Classroom Instruction from A to Z
Barbara Blackburn

It isn't the strategy- it's how you use the strategy that makes a difference.

My goal is to give them information and let them internalize and give it back; not just force-fed info and make them regurgitate it. I want to give them an opportunity to internalize and express [their learning].

If they are allowed to choose how they will show that they understand the content, many students will invest more time and effort in the task.

Start with one idea and build on your success.

"Learning and teaching is messy stuff. It doesn't fit into bubbles." -Michele Forman

Think of data analysis like a triangle: classroom performance and standardized test scores should be evaluated together with a third data point, your teacher judgment.

Data shouldn't replace your judgment; it should help you make decisions.

Our students are not in their final state when we are teaching them.

The word but can serve as a red light or a stop sign for progress, The word and is like a green light.

Your language reflects your beliefs, and your students follow your model. If they hear you using words as an excuse, so will they.

Give students your BEST: belief, encouragement, support, time

Many students do not have a vision of anything more than where they are right now. You can help them create a vision for themselves through your words, actions, and activities so they they support each other.

"Students learn over half of what they know from visual images." -Mary Alice White

If your form of delivery isn't working, then find a different way to deliver it.

Rigor is not just about difficulty. Rigor is also about helping out students learn to critically think about their learning.

Complexity isn't about doing more work, it's about doing less drill and practice and more higher-level thinking activities.

Allowing students to take a zero reflects lowered expectations. It permits a student to get by without actually doing the work and says to the student, "You don't have to learn this."

Less is more. Give students small amounts of focused work that requires them to apply knowledge and evaluate information.

Our mode of instruction says, "Trust me. I know where we are going, so you don't need to." But students don't always respond positively to that approach.

Effective homework can be completed independently with minimal and appropriate support. If the assignment is too difficult, students are more likely to ask someone else to complete it for them.

"The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer." -Alice Wellington Rollins

As you create questions for your students, remember to build in questions that are open ended, those that have more than one answer.

There are three types of reflection for students: reflecting on what they have learned, reflecting on how they learn, and reflecting on their progress.

Checking Prior Knowledge- First, she gives students three minutes to answer a short true/false questionnaire. Next, in pairs, students compare responses and use the textbook to check their answers. Each set of partners must rewrite any false statements so that they are true. She ends with a whole class discussion to ensure understanding.

During "Three Alike", she writes three words on the board or overhead projector. Students then have to explain what the words have in common.

I shuffle playing cards and each student takes one. While they are taking their cards, I make up the rules. Find your group by matching either the suit, the number, or picture. I prepare the deck ahead of time so that I will have the correct number of cards that will create the desired number of groups.

Just because we do something a lot doesn't mean it works.


How To...Mathematical Mindsets: How Do I Start?

In my own personal effort to #ExpandMTBoS, I'm starting a new category of blog posts called 'How To' so I can share the strategies behind the resource. I hope new and veteran teachers alike can find something useful. Click on the tag to the right for more posts!

If you're like me, the last five posts were probably overwhelming.

Part 1 {here}
Part 2 {here}
Part 3{here}
Part 4 {here}
Part 5 {here}

Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching
Jo Boaler

There's a lot of things to change, fixm and improve. I tried to break this massive shift to my brain into categories of practical things to do.

Easy: things I can do from day one this school year with no prep
Medium: things I can do in the next couple of months or with some prep
Hard: things to think about this year and plan to do over next summer

  • Ask students to think visually first
  • Ask students for the different ways they see and solve problems
  • Ask students to look for patterns, similarities, and differences
  • In every math conversation, ask students to reason, to explain why they chose particular methods and why they made sense.
  • Honor hard work and the struggle over effortless achievement
  • Think of all the ways to be mathematical. No one is good at all of these ways of working, but everyone is good at some of them.
  • Classroom mantra/poster: Always give help when needed, always ask for help when you need it.
  • Do not include early assignments {review?} from math class in the end-of-class grade .
  • Do not include homework, if given, as any part of grading.
  • Honor student thinking- say, "incorrect but helpful"-there is always some logic there.
  • When students want me to tell them how to do a problem say, "Do you want my brain to grow or do you want to grow your brain today?”
  • Praise people for having good thinking and for being accomplished, learned, hard working, and persistent; not being smart or fast or for effortless achievement
  • To take student thinking deeper say, "You may know a rule for solving this question, but the rule doesn't matter today, I want you to make sense of your answer, to explain why your solution makes sense."
  • Teachers can encourage students to use intuition with any math problem simply by asking them what they think would work, before they are taught a method.
  • Tell students, "I am not concerned about you finishing math problems quickly; what I really like to see is an interesting representation of ideas, or a creative method or solution."
  • Ask students to draw connections between concepts in mathematics when working on problems. Encourage students to propose different methods to solve problems and then ask them to draw connections between methods, discussing for example, how they are similar and different
  • Ask students to play the role of being the skeptic; explain that they need to demand to be fully convinced. Students really enjoy challenging each other for convincing reasons, and this helps them learn mathematical reasoning and proof. When students act as a skeptic, they get an opportunity to question other students without having to take on the role of someone who doesn't understand.
  • Offer all students high-level math content and believe they can do it
  • "One of the greatest gifts you can give to your students is your knowledge, ideas, and feedback on their mathematical development, when phrased positively and with growth messages".

  • For definitions, give nonexamples and barely examples instead of perfect examples
  • Introduce and build a growth mindset!
  • Introduce the headache before the aspirin
  • Replace class lectures with instructing reporters who go back and instruct their group.
  • Participation quizzes! {Yay Sam!}
  • Put student questions on posters,
  • Always allow students to resubmit any work or test for a higher grade {I already do quiz retakes but I let students use their notes on tests. Should still allow them to redo tests as well?}
  • Take students' ideas and make incorrect statements for the students to challenge
  • Instead of asking students to simplify ask students to find all the ways they can represent that are equivalent.
  • Tell students what they should know and let them reflect on how much of it they know. Frequently.
  • Self and peer-assessment {"Questions that ask students to think about errors or confusions are particularly helpful in encouraging students' self-reflection, and they will often result in the students' understanding the mathematics for the first time."}
  • Number Talks
  • Ask students to compare and choose methods to problem solve
  • Grade multidimensionally
  • Give group tests and randomly choose one paper from the group to grade.
  • Learn more about Assessment for Learning, A4L
  • Do not use a 100-point scale.
  • Give diagnoistic comments instead of grades. "The students receiving comments learned twice as fast as the control group, the achievement gap between male and female students disappeared, and student attitudes improved."
  • Study after study shows that grading reduces the achievement of students. Share grades with school administrators but not with the students.
  • Give students rich mathematical tasks that are low floor, high ceiling
  • Open up the task so that there are multiple methods, pathways, and representations. 
  • Include inquiry opportunities.

Do you feel better now, seeing that the easy section has the most things to do?

Did you notice that most of them include the verbs ask, tell, show, say, show, think, honor, encourage? Those are all forms of talking and I don't know about you, but I am pretty dang good at that.

Look how we can make great change with small changes in our words and demeanor. I am encouraged that there are so many positive things I can do for my students RIGHT AWAY.


All day.