I Have, Who Has

I love this game! I usually play it with my kids on the first day. It’s a great way to assess mental math skills and it’s a great introduction for a conversation on listening skills, auditory verse visual learners, etc. The set of cards I use is one I made, probably 15 years ago. Sarah at Math=Love has a blog post where she compiled a list of cards she found on the Internet. I’m linking it here so I can reference it in the future.


First Days

First week of the 2015-16 school year is in the books! Monday and Tuesday were professional development, meetings, etc. for teachers and the kiddos showed up on Wednesday.

My team created a modified schedule of classes on Wednesday so the kids could meet each teacher for introductions and we spent the rest of the day doing team building/community building activities.

On Thursday we held “regular” classes to continue team building in smaller groups. I used “Dealing in Horses” from Marilyn Burns’ blog.

I displayed the following on the board as students entered the classroom:
A man bought a horse for $50 and sold it for $60. He then bought the horse back for $70 and sold it again for $80. What’s the financial outcome of these transactions?

Each class had a different experience with this problem. Below I am capturing the experience of one of my classes.

I greeted the kids as they entered the room and practiced learning their names but didn’t say anything about the problem on the board. It was fascinating to observe which kids read the problem, which kids read the problem and immediately began to solve it and which kids never glanced at the board!

After everyone had found my classroom and I took attendance, I asked the kids to think about the problem individually for a few minutes.  Then, I asked for volunteers to offer answers. Answers included +20, +10 and 0. I Identified different locations in the room for each answer and had students choose a location. If someone wasn’t sure of the answer, I told them to remain seated and join a group when ready.

Groups in each location formed a team to come up with the most convincing argument for their answer. Each group was instructed to choose a spokesperson and the goal was to convince people to join their group. I wandered around from group to group listening to the reasoning. After I few minutes I gathered everyone’s attention and the spokesperson from each group began to convince their classmates of the perceived correct answer.

Some kids got confused midway through the explanation and asked a teammate for help (awesome!), some kids asked to use the board to help illustrate the thinking (yes!), one student kids switched groups midway through his own explanation (so very cool).  All this led to a great class discussion about being precise with our language, how to properly and respectfully disagree with someone, how visuals can aid in our understanding, learning from each other, taking risks, etc. I was then able to point out the Math Practice Standards on the wall and talk through each one.

There were a few kids who struggled with the answer to the problem.  I displayed the following on the board:

     I bought a lamp for $50 and sold it for $60.

     I bought a table for $70 and sold it for $80.

     What’s the financial outcome of these transactions?

Some students said this was the same problem, some students said this problem was easier. We had a great discussion – students were able to point out the structure of the problem was the same but the way in which it was presented was different. Students pointed out the first problem was presented as a block of text and the second was “broken out” into three sentences. Three separate sentences made it “easier” to “see the information”.  Students also noticed the second problem talked about two distinct objects rather than one object seemingly being sold back and forth. This led to further discussion of the Math Practice Standards. It was great class discussion about problem solving and communication.

Friday was Laptop Deployment Day and we ended with some more large group team building.  It was a fantastic week. I have such great kids – I love them already – and I’m looking forward to a great year!


One Good Thing

Every day may not be good, but there is one good thing in every day.

There is a collaborative blog within the MTBoS community for sharing and celebrating the good things that happen each day.  I think this is such a great idea, especially on those stressful, draining days.

A few years ago one of my students had this quote written on a bright green sticky-note on her computer. It stayed there the whole year. When I asked her about it she said it helped her get through math class – my math class! She told me the class was difficult but she loved the challenge and tried to find one thing she was proud of everyday.  This was an 8th grade student with maturity and poise beyond her years. At the end of the year, when she had to turn in her computer, she took the sticky-note off and headed toward the trash barrel. I asked her if I could keep it. It stays on my bulletin board to remind me to look for the good among the difficult and to remind me of this very wise student.


Back To School

It’s almost time to go back to school. My first official day is Monday and students arrive on Wednesday. I’ve already met with my team and started planning for the first few days. Because my classroom is used for a summer camp, I am unable to get into my room until Monday – my first official day that is mostly filled with meetings. Who else but teachers would stress about not being able to work for free? The amount of prep that needs to occur at the start of the school year is enormous. It’s frustrating to not be able to work in my classroom. Thankfully a few of my students from last year promised to show up on Monday to help me unpack and set up before my meetings start. I have such great kids!


Back to Blogging, I think…

I really enjoy reading math teacher blogs. I started this blog about a year ago and never got in the habit of posting. There are two posts in draft form from August 2014 that never made it to publish. I also go through phases of participating in the MTBoS on Twitter. One of my goals this year is to be more active with blogging and the MTBoS. I would like this blog to be a place to share good teaching practices/lessons, a place to connect with other math teachers, and a place of reflection; a tool to help me continue to improve my practice.


A Day in The Life… MTBoS #7

Clearly this is a very late submission… I found this in my drafts… written in March of 2014.  I’m not sure why I never published it.  Maybe I was planning to elaborate?  Who knows!  School is starting up soon and I’m attempting to re-boot my blog! 

5:15 Alarm goes off and hit snooze.

5:30 Roll out of bed, stumble to the shower … on the way to the bathroom stop to put eggs on the stove to boil.

After I’m showered and dressed (and more awake) I make breakfast sandwiches, coffee and lunch.  We leave the house no later than 6:30.

7:00 Arrive at school.

I unpack my bag, computer, lunch, etc and get ready for the day.  Today another teacher stops by for advice.  We chat for a little while and as she leaves my teammate come in and we go over our plans for the day.  I eat breakfast at my desk as I check email and update my website.

7:35 Kiddos start arriving for home room.

I greet the kids, ask about the hockey games, the basketball games, etc.  A few kids have questions about last night’s homework.

7:50 Pledge of Allegiance and announcements

Classes and meetings all day….

2:03 Students arrive for extra help.  Some are here just to do their homework, others have questions.

2:50 Kids pack up for the late bus.  I grab my painting clothes and head to the bathroom to change.   We’re in the middle of Tech Week.  I set up my sewing machine and greet one of the parent volunteers who has come to save me!  We work on the costumes until the kids go home at 5pm.  Once the kids are gone I crack open the paint.  I finish the last few painting projects and head home around 6:30.

7:15 Home

I eat dinner while I grade papers.


Head to bed to read for 15-20 minutes before I fall asleep.






MTBoS: Mission #5: Twitter Chatter, Subject Matter

This was the assignment:

  1. Write a blog post reflecting on your Twitter Chat experience.
  2. Tweet out your blog post. Include the hashtag for the chat you attended (#alg1chat) as well as the #MTBoS hashtag.

I sort of already did this last week (2nd blog post). Jumping back into Twitter has both re-invigorating and overwhelming.  I’m loving the chats – I’m new meeting new people and getting lots of great ideas.  I’ve found some great new blogs to read and it’s comforting to know there are others out there struggling with some of the same things I am.  Two chats are now in my calendar: #alg1chat and #msmathchat.

My new favorite find is the TweetDeck – thanks to Mission 5 and @jreulbach.  With the TweetDeck I am able to follow my own feed and multiple chats at once.  I can follow a chat and post without closing out of the chat.  Perfect!

As part of the Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere I have started this blog.  In some ways I’ve added more pressure and one more thing to my ever-growing, never diminishing to-do list.  🙂  I’m curious to learn how some of my favorite teacher-bloggers find/make the time to create such thoughtful and informative posts.