Friday, July 25, 2014

TMC Day 2- Friday, June 25, 2014

Day 1 of #TMC14 was great.  Day 2 made it even harder to choose sessions.  There were literally three or four things I wanted to do in each slot.  We need more than three days or to record the sessions for viewing later!

We started with morning announcements and another round of My Favorites.
1. Edmund Harriss (@gelada) started by sharing the message that even counting is hard and was overall SO entertaining to listen to.  Wait for his forthcoming poster; it's spectacular.
2. Christine Sullivan (@mathiechris) shared her love of using an online plan book called
3. Bob Lochel (@bobloch) shared an icebreaker related to what he called "Meaningful Adjacencies."  Essentially, students list their five favorite current TV shows on an index card and are tasked with placing their cards as close as possible to the cards of others they have things in common with.  This is the same way the names of the victims were carved into one of the 9/11 memorials in NYC.  Pretty neat!
4. Glenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs) shared that an old smart phone can become a great (free) video camera for your classroom.  And...bonus...notching a slit in the bottom of a cup and placing it on a table upside down makes a pretty great tripod.  Genius!
5. Justin Lanier suggested two books by John Holt: Why Children Fail and Why Children Learn.  They gave him three major insights: 1. Look around (be conscious of your students at all times; you'll learn about them even when they're being quiet) 2. Teach crazy (acknowledge the leaps we expect students to take and that the logic of what we're teaching isn't always on the surface) 3. Trust children.
6. Michael Pershan (@mpershan) was there to plug Global Math Department, something I'm totally under-utilizing at the moment, and to have us fill in a demographic survey about the TMC participants.
7. Karim Ani (@karimkai) shared Mathalicious.  Thanks to Mathalicious for offering us a free trial; the good news for you is that my school is already paying for several licenses for teachers because I told them how awesome your lessons are!
Shew, that was a lot of favorites!

Next up, Dan Meyer's keynote (@ddmeyer).  What can I say?  He's such a good speaker.  Dan shared lots of data about the MTBoS and TMC participants.  Nothing's really conclusive, except that men and women are represented about equally.  It was interesting to look at what he pulled together and also to see how many fewer teachers seem to blog than to tweet. 

Chris Shore's (@mathprojects) presentation on "How to Teach Those Kids" could be its own post.  Oh, so much good stuff there.  My biggest takeaway is that I'm too lenient.  I knew this.  I knew I needed to address it.  Something in the way Chris phrased things just made it sink in all the more.  My classroom needs to become a classroom with "no options."  In other words, you do your work.  You didn't do it?  Guess what, you still need to.  And I'll make your life more difficult unless you get it done.  He also talked about cumulative tests.  While I don't currently do those, I get similar exposure to previous content in my math maintenance.  Boot camp, a remediation effort specific to each student was also an interesting idea.  It may be hard to get students to get past the whining, "It's not fair that I have to do twice as much work as he does," but I've never cared much about that whining anyway.  The idea is to get all of the kids to the finish line.  Take a coaching mentality.  Finally, Chris wanted to talk about a new grading/reward policy but I think he ran a little short on time and I'd be interested to hear more about that aspect of his success.  I feel like I do a great job of reaching 95% of my students, but I'm aiming for 100%.

Finally, Jason Valade (@jay2thavee) shared some techniques for editing together video clips.  He suggests videos of 6-8 minutes based on interviews he's done with students.

For dinner, I went with Greg (@mathtans), John (@Math_CS_Teach), and Kathryn (@kathrynfreed) -yay for name twins!  It was totally random; we all ended up in the lobby without definitive plans.  After a few minutes of randomly waiting, I said, "I've got room for 4 more people.  Follow me if you want and we'll just pick something."  We went to a sandwich/salad/smoothie place and had a great 90-minute or so chat sharing our best tips and a good bit of ed psych.  Kathryn absolutely has to blog about her circle paper passing activity.  I hadn't talked to Greg or John before then, so it was awesome to meet some new people.  Greg has written these awesome function stories that I can't believe I've missed for years.  John is a career changer who will be starting his first full year in the classroom this fall.  I'm so impressed that he made the trip to #TMC14 as a beginning teacher!  This dinner and several other experiences this week have shown me that one of the coolest things about #TMC14 is that all the teachers here have so much in common that you can have a conversation with anyone just after meeting them.  Within an hour, you feel like you've known each other for years! 

What would you share as a "my favorite" here at TMC?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B

TMC Day 1, July 24, 2014

Hi from Jenks, OK, which I've quickly learned is home to the Trojans.  They're very proud of their mascot around here; the high school has it's own spirit wear store and even some local businesses are "Trojan" whatever.  It's quite a change for this small town girl! 

Thanks to everyone who spent so much time organizing this event.  I'm already impressed! We got cute swag bags at check in, the rooms are labeled for every session.  (I'm a little mad at myself now for not taking a second to photograph the sign on my classroom before my presentation.)

We started this morning with an overview of the schedule then jumped right into our morning sessions.  I selected the Algebra I session, thinking that I would like more collaboration with Algebra I since I am the only person at my school who teaches Algebra I.  We started by talking about what our favorite assessments are.  I wish we'd talked about what an assessment is (and is not) since based on the examples given, I don't think we all share a common definition; perhaps I'll ask my group for their thoughts tomorrow.  Speaking of groups, we are working in groups of four to develop assessments and lessons around a topic within Algebra I.  I chose to work on quadratics because that's such a meaty unit and one that has so many exciting applications. We're talking about building a model rubber band cannon to use to collect and analyze quadratic data. 

Next, we had a lunch break.  I went to the grocery store, hit up the salad bar for a Caesar chicken salad and fruit, and decompressed.  I needed some alone time to get ready for presenting in the afternoon.  (Hello, I'm an introvert and my name is @iisanumber!)

After lunch, we had our first "My Favorites" sessions.  These are 5-20 minute presentations in which people share a tidbit from their classroom that they love.  Chris Shore (@MathProjects) shared his idea of using the Rodin sculpture "The Thinker" to encourage problem solving and persistence. 

Rebecka Peterson (@RebeckaMozdeh) shared her "Friday letter" in which students can write her a letter in place of a warm-up on Friday and she writes a personal letter back to each of them over the weekend!  It sounds like an amazing way to build trust and relationships with students.  Rebecka also shared her project in which students studied famous Mathematicians.  I liked her second version in which students selected a quotation from the mathematician and wrote about it; what a great language arts connection.  Sarah Martin (@sarah3martin) shared her "Window Math" which is a weekly problem she posts on the window next to the door in her classroom.  Students earn prizes for being right, with better prizes awarded when less students are correct, to prevent cheating.  John Mahlstedt (@jdmahlstedt) shared how important it is to share autobiographical info with students to build relationships; it even helped him meet his wife!  Also, write the date as a math problem to make kids work for it and practice some mental math skills.   

We had a keynote speech from Steve Leinwand (@steve_leinwand) next.  His big message was that the teachers at #TMC14 are the future.  He talked about the importance of having students defend their answers by asking them to convince everyone that they're correct.  Multiple representations, multiple methods. 

Following the keynote, there were two sessions and about 6-10 choices per session.  First, I went to Hedge's (@approx_normal) stats session geared for middle school teachers.  She proposed two ways to generate data: running stairs and making PVC marshmallow guns.  The PVC guns were fun; I wonder how much of an investment it would be to make that happen?  Maybe I can find a plumber who can save me scraps.  The stairs were interesting; unfortunately I don't have a staircase anywhere at my school.

The last session was my turn to present.  I had a packed room; about 10 people didn't have desks.  I shared my school's "Math Maintenance" warm-up strategy.  You can see the PowerPoint and other documents in my last post.

Then, after a short rest at the hotel, I went to dinner with four other ladies, two from Virginia and two from Iowa and since then I've been relaxing.  It's amazing how tired this awesome conference is making me after just one day!

If you're at #TMC14, what's the best part been so far?  If you're not here, what else would you like to know about?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Twitter Math Camp 2014- Jenks, OK

Thanks for visiting.  I'm so excited to be at Twitter Math Camp this week.  I'm sharing a strategy called "Math Maintenance," a ten-minute warm-up that is a spiral review meant to help students keep sharp on skills from throughout the year. 

Here's the PowerPoint:

This is an example I've used with my Math 8/Maryland Algebra I class. 

And here's a template to help you get started.

How do you start class each day?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B

Friday, July 18, 2014

A bargain "toolbox" design

Since at least 2012, I've seen "teacher toolboxes" floating around Pinterest.  Just doing a Google image search for that term yields a plethora of redesigned Lowe's drawer units.  I liked them but I felt they wouldn't quite work with my style.  Honestly, I'm lucky if my pen makes it back into a pencil cup immediately after use and I doubted that I'd be able to keep putting pencils and pens back in drawers.  I also don't keep all of my supplies in the same place.  Some live on my desk, some live on the cart where my document camera sits, and others are used infrequently enough that they stay in cabinets.
Just a few of the toolboxes on the Internet

Since I'm moving to a new classroom in the fall and I'm considering gaining classroom space by exiling my desk to the attached closet (which is a huge room), I thought a small toolbox could be useful.  My binder clips and paper clips are perpetually mixed up and I can't always find the size I need. 

I picked up a few mini two-drawer units from Dollar Tree.  That store has so many good teaching items at such a reasonable price.  The inside dimensions of these drawers are about 3" wide, 4" deep, and 1 1/2" tall.  They're not going to hold writing utensils, but that suits my needs just fine. 

I used a few small dots of hot glue to attach the drawer units together.  When you do this, I would suggest removing the drawers (bend the frame ever so slightly).  Put the glue on the bottom of one unit, then place that unit on top of the next unit.  This will keep you from putting glue where it could interfere with the movement of the drawer.

Next, I cut labels to size to fit each drawer.  If you want to make your own, they should be 1 5/8" tall and 3 1/2" wide.  If you want the sizing already done, feel free to download my file below and edit it to list the items you need, picking a font and color that you like.  Use cardstock and the labels will fit nicely in the front of each drawer.  There's sort of a little lip in front that holds the paper upright, so adhesive would be optional.  You could use a little double-sided tape, glue dots, or the like to hold the paper in place if you're afraid it will shift, but mine are loose so I can change out the contents quickly if I decide to. 

Here's the finished product (in a poor photo, sorry)!  Total cost: $3 plus tax.  Time to link up to #made4math!
I have designs on adding a few more drawers if I can find more at another Dollar Tree.   I brainstormed all my ideas in the file below.  The font is "KG What the Teacher Wants" and can be downloaded free for personal use. 

Have you made any organizational changes for next year?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B