Saturday, December 31, 2022

Preparing for 2023


It's still Winter Break for another day, so even though I've completed my 12 posts, I'm still considering this a Yule Blog post!

We've made it through another year.  In my head, 2020 was just a few days ago, so I don't know how we are already at the doorstep of 2023, but here we are!

I report back to school on Monday for meetings and collaboration time, then kids come on Tuesday.  Like most teachers over the break, I've been thinking about what to do on the first day of the semester.  I like this time as a reset and definitely plan to do some non-curricular tasks and to revisit our classroom norms.

But I also want to do something to recognize the fresh start of a new semester.  The past few years, I've not done a great job of really reflecting on the old year and preparing for the new, so that's one of the things on the list for Tuesday.

In 2020, I played off the 20/20 vision and posted them on the board.  In 2021, we were still very restricted in classroom movement and shared supplies, so I didn't do much other than the Word of the Year.  In 2022, I had switched schools and was still trying to figure out life, so again, I let it slide.  

The New Year has come around again and I really want to do something again, so I had already been thinking about what to do for 2023 and since there isn't a pun with 2023, I decided to go with more of a 3-2-1 idea.  

  • 2 good things that happened in 2022
  • 0 - something to stop in 2023
  • 2 things I look forward to in 2023
  • 3 goals for 2023
As I was thinking through this, I saw other people posting similar ideas on social media, so I know I'm not the only one planning to do this, but I wanted to share it anyway!  Like I did in 2020, I will print these on quarter sized colorful paper and have them as my warmup on Tuesday before we get involved in our math tasks.

If you want the 2023 paper, click here for a PDF!

Friday, December 30, 2022

#MyFavFriday - Favorites of 2022


I've made it to the last post of the #MTBoSYuleBlog Challenge!  My goal was to blog 12 times over Winter Break and today is Post 12!  I still have a few more posts to write and I'm hoping to get back into the habit, but today I'm bringing back another old series from 2012... #MyFavFriday!  

This blog series was started as an answer to "My Favorites" at TMC, where people could share some of their favorite things on Fridays.  Over the years, it morphed into a Friday reflection post, so in honor of the last Friday of 2022, here's some of my Favorites from throughout the year!

My Favorite New Home Addition
Meet Gracie!

Gracie joined our family in late June and is our 2nd cat that we've adopted from Animal Welfare, with Josie, our ringtail tabby, being the first.  Gracie was estimated to be about 6 weeks old and I'm guessing she was found in a park as her name at the shelter was Fruit Salad (her siblings were Potato Salad and Pork Chop - I'm not even kidding!)

I don't know that I've ever had a cat so human oriented though.  For the first several weeks, she would wake us up around 3am screaming her head off because she needed to go to the bathroom, so we would have to take her upstairs to the litter box.  While she thankfully sleeps through the night now, she's still into everything, loves to climb, and loves to be held.  Her favorite place to snuggle is right next to your face and often drapes herself across my neck to take a nap.

My Favorite New Classroom Addition
In February, our state used some of the federal pandemic money to give classroom grants through Donors Choose.  Teachers could apply for up to $800 of materials, so I asked for magnetic whiteboards (4' x 3') plus some markers / erasers.  These whiteboards have been a game changer for me!  We tend to get up on the boards a couple times per week, plus they allow me to easily hang things around the room, such as posters seen here for Back to School.  With these 7 boards plus my large whiteboard, I have room for up to 10 groups of students.  Earlier this fall, I also applied for a grant to get magnetic graphs, so hopefully that will be added soon!

My Favorite Classroom Hack
Since the whiteboards are magnetic, I am often hanging things up around the room, whether it's a scavenger hunt or some other resource.  Originally, I was carrying around the magnets by hand, but it was too much to juggle, so I had the idea of putting them on a cheap cookie sheet and it's been an awesome hack!

Now I just walk around my room with the cookie sheet and whatever resource I'm putting up (or taking down) and the magnets stay nice and organized.  

My Favorite Math in Nature
Last week, we had a cold front sweep through and we ended up with about 1" of snow and a bitter cold wind.  I kept watching outside my front door for our outdoor stray cats to make sure they were okay and I noticed this bizarre circle just off my front porch.  I couldn't figure out what could have made the imprint as it looked like the bottom of a plastic pail, but there were no pails in sight!  Just then, a burst of wind happened and I noticed the leaf that was stuck at the center rotating.  As a Geometry teacher, I had to snap a photo to show my students about nature's compass!  

What have been some of your favorites from 2022?

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Books on my #EduRead list for 2023

 I broke my streak.... shocking, I know!  I looked a few days ago at previous #MTBoSYuleBlog challenges and I think I've only made my goal of 12 posts one time.  This is Post 11 for this year, so I'm *almost* there (and I still have 3 more days to go until Winter Break is over!)  Yesterday was just a rough day and while I wanted to blog, I was at a total standstill.  After I had stared at my screen for about 5 hours, I gave up and ran some errands, then came back to settle in with my Kindle.

Then, in response to my whiny tweet about breaking my streak, my dear friend Meg responded with:

Oh man - that's a toughie!  So here we go....  (in no particular order)

The Imperfect and Unfinished Math Teacher by Chase Orton

On Tuesday, we went to my Mom's for Christmas and to set up her new phone.  When I got home, this book was in the mailbox as a gift from a dear friend and I'm so excited to dig in!  I had heard of this book from Twitter, but other than liking the title, I really didn't know much about it.  From the sample on Amazon, it's about a journey of professional development on a more personal level.  I know many teachers have already had that realization that our professional growth is truly our own responsibility versus the "sit and get" PD that many schools and districts provide.

Most of my #EduReads are on my Kindle:

This is not all of the books I have ready to read, but it's definitely the most recent ones! :)  

A few weeks ago, @pamjwilson mentioned she would like to read the Teaching Math in the Visible Learning Classroom this semester and try to implement some of the strategies, so it's at the top of my list!

The other books seen here were all books that were on sale on Kindle recently.  In fact, Math Games with Bad Drawings is currently on sale for $2.99.  I read his book on calculus (Change is the Only Constant) and LOVED it, so when I saw Math with Bad Drawings and Math Games with Bad Drawings on sale this fall, I snapped them up, but haven't read them yet.

I check the Kindle Book Deals about once a week just to see if there's anything new on sale or on Kindle Unlimited.  I like having the ability to read / highlight passages and then I purchase physical copies of the books I liked for my classroom.  

If you are interested in reading any of these books and chatting about them, please let me know!  If there's another book on your to-be-read pile, let me know that too - I'm always looking for new books! :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Exploring Open Middle Math


I have always loved books and loved to read.  As a kid, I loved spending time in our town library and as an adult, used book stores are some of my favorite places.  In my home office, I have multiple bookcases of math / math-ed books and even have a healthy dose of "to-be-read" books on my Kindle regarding math (but that's another post for another day....)

Over the summer, one of the books I picked up was Open Middle Math by Robert Kaplinsky.  I was already familiar with the idea of Open Middle and had used some of the problems from the website in my classroom in the past, but I was interested in learning more about how they could be used.  Here's a quote from early on in the book:

To be sure, using Open Middle problems does not eliminate student misconceptions entirely. However, since using them, I now see student misconceptions more clearly and can use them as talking points to strengthen mathematical understandings during the lesson instead of simply lamenting missed opportunities afterward.

I should say that prior to reading the book, I had watched the webinar and had looked at the DOK Matrix for Open Middle Problems, so I was very familiar with the idea, but I thought of Open Middle problems more as a warmup or a formative assessment piece rather than to explore misconceptions.  I was intrigued by this concept and decided I wanted to try more of these in my classroom....

Again, early in the book, Mr. Kaplinsky has this suggestion to introduce the process of Open Middle:

Using the digits 1 to 9 at most one time each, place a digit in each box to create a sum that is as close to 1,000 as possible. What’s great about this problem is that very few children or adults get it right the first time, yet very few give up either because it doesn’t feel unreasonable.

Okay - I can do that!  I made a quick template for Sum of 1000, printed off one per table, put them into dry erase sleeves with a small envelope of numbers and set it aside to use as one of my first days of school non-curricular tasks. 

But, as often happens, life got in the way and this task didn't get used until a few weeks later when I was doing another activity and needed something for the groups that finished first.  This task was a great one for that purpose as it was challenging, yet do-able, but it didn't quite meet the goal of introducing all students to the idea of an Open Middle Problem.  

Still, I really liked this idea.  I dug through the website, looking for all of the Geometry problems that I thought would apply to my classes and made 8.5x11 sized printouts for each of them.  

A few weeks later, we were looking at the midpoint of a line segment, so I decided to give my students this problem to see how they would tackle it.  This group started with the points that gave a negative slope, then drew in the horizontal and vertical lines to show those values could NOT be used for the positive slope points.  As was noted above, one misconception that I noticed while my students were working was the tendency to want to make all of the line segments have a slope of 1 or -1.

In the book, Mr. Kaplinsky really ties in a lot with the idea of the 5 practices, including the element of how to have students share their work with others.  To be honest, I haven't made it to that point yet and I need to re-read the book on a better way to do that, but right now, I'm just trying to figure out how to make them better fit into my classroom.

Our last chapter before Winter Break was an Intro to Triangles, so I think this Pythagorean Task might be one that I try next week before we continue into our next unit on Congruent Triangles.  As recommended by the book, I need to sit down and try it myself first so I can anticipate issues!

I really like the idea of using Open Middle tasks more, but honestly, I run into the problem of I hear of these wonderful and great ideas and I want to try them, but there's just not enough time in the day / school year to do all that I want to do! 

But I really do see the value in Open Middle, so here are other tasks I am looking at for next week....  Now to sit down, give it a shot and see which one I really want to do!
- Area of a Triangle (Coordinate Plane)

If you have experience using Open Middle Tasks in Geometry (or Statistics) or want to collaborate, please let me know!  

Monday, December 26, 2022

#Made4Math - Creating a Scavenger Hunt


Happy Monday!  

Over 10 years ago, in June 2012, @pamjwilson and I started a blog series called #Made4Math Mondays.  Since then, so many wonderful ideas have been shared from the MTBoS.  I kept up with my weekly Monday posts for a long time before it ended up being just a summer thing and then trickled into a very sporadic posting.  But I do miss those Mondays - it was a great way to push myself creatively and to come up with new ideas for my classroom.

This year has been a lot about creativity for me.  For the past few years, students have been pretty passive participants in the classroom, either due to being online or due to COVID restrictions that kept us from doing more active learning.  One of my subgoals this year was to have kids up and around the classroom at least once a week, so an Around the Room Scavenger Hunt is a go-to activity for me!

If you've never used a scavenger hunt, you can see an example at the right.  There are 13 problems on this one, which is just about right for the size of my classroom.  Each page has a problem at the bottom and a "Previous Answer" spot at the top.  Kids start at any problem, record the letter from the top corner, work the problem and go find its answer.  If they work through the problems correctly, they should end up back where they started.  This scavenger hunt is one I made about a month ago for Triangle Sum Theorem and Exterior Angle Theorem.  The problems are from a Kuta worksheet.

Why I love Scavenger Hunts:
  • Gets kids up and moving
  • Only takes about 15-20 minutes, so it's a good post-lesson practice
  • Kids are more willing to do 13 problems here than a 5-6 question worksheet - go figure!
  • Low stakes - the answers are somewhere in the room!
  • Kids can work with a different partner
  • Promotes mathematical discussion
  • I love hearing the "productive noise" that occurs during these!
Okay - are you ready to make your own?  All you need is a copy of the template and 13 problems, each with a unique answer!  Here we go...

When you open the template, it looks a lot like a blank Powerpoint file.  I like to start out with the file in Slide Sorter Mode, so it looks very similar to the image on the left.

The first screen is a place for you to record your answer key / order.  The rest of the screens are currently in alphabetical order, but I find it easiest to go ahead and scramble them at this point so I can just add my problems in order from screen to screen.  After I'm done with all of my problems, I will put it back into alphabetical order so I can print the file to post in my classroom or print to PDF to post on my LMS for absent students.  

To add the problems, I just use the Snipping Tool function to copy and paste into the blank section at the bottom of each page, adding any textboxes that I need, then type its answer at the top of the next page in the Previous Answer box.  You'll notice that the Previous Answer uses a colon instead of a dash to hopefully reduce confusion with negative answers!  You can use any problems you have on hand, but you do need to make sure that each problem has a unique answer and no duplicates!

I often use scavenger hunts to practice a couple of concepts together, as a way to break up our test review days, or as practice after lecture to get them up and moving.  

When we do a scavenger hunt, I give students a  half-page recording sheet seen at the right.  They record the order of stations at the top, then they have boxes below to show any work.  I also put any formulas or tips / hints that I feel might be helpful.  One thing I like about the recording sheet is that I can easily check their work with my answer sheet since I just need to shift the paper to see if the letters line up!  

In case you missed them above, here are the files:

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Review Games I Want to Try


Wow, y'all - I've made it to Post #8!  It's Christmas Day and all is pretty quiet around here.  We still have some snow on the ground, but it's supposed to make it above freezing today, so I'm pretty excited about that.  The typical daytime high in my area of the world for this time of year is in the upper 40s, so to have been below freezing since Thursday morning is not the norm!

Several of the posts over the Yule Blog Challenge this year have been about my Professional Learning Focus (PLF) and my goal of having a more active and engaged classroom.  Today, I want to look at some of the games on my "still-want-to-try" list.  Many of these are on my list because I just haven't figured out some of the logistics - I would love to hear your ideas!

Balloon Pop from MissCalcul8

When I asked on Twitter earlier this fall about favorite review games, one of the frequent comments was about Castle Attack.  For whatever reason, I really struggled to figure the game out, so I went to my trusty Pinterest board to look for review games and found this link to the MissCalcul8 blog for Balloon Pop.  While I was looking around at review games, I also ran across this link from MathEqualsLove where Sarah also tried Balloon Pop with success!

Sadly, the link to the Balloons file doesn't appear to be working, but since I got a color printer for my birthday, I'm really excited to try this one out soon!  

Connect 4

Another game on my Pinterest board (and my "want to try" list) is Connect 4.  The version that I saw on Pinterest used sticky notes for each team.  I've also seen printable versions that can be used with dry erase sheets and in Rebecka Peterson's session this summer, she shared a Google Slides version of the game with movable electronic pieces.

I really like the simplicity of the game and I remember it being one of my favorite indoor recess games as a child, but I just can't bear to waste that many sticky notes in a day!  Since my boards are magnetic, I'm wondering about creating a projectable game board and then  printing colored game pieces that are reusable.  Since my markerboards are all magnetic, I think it could work, I just need to figure out some logistics -   How many game pieces do I need?  How large to make them?  How big of a game board?  If you have any experience with this game, please do chime in! :)

Let the Cards Decide
A few days ago, Beth (@algebrasfriend) shared a Back to School blog post that had a link to Let the Cards Decide by Mrs. E.  While I've not played this game, when I read the post, it reminded me a lot of why I like the Blooket games - there's an element of luck / chance about who ends up winning!  This also reminds me of the spinner game that Rebecka shared last spring.  

Candy Land / Board Games

This tweet from Jennifer Abel has been in an open browser tab for way longer than I want to admit!  I have in the back of my mind that I'll scour some thrift stores to find old board games, but honestly, I don't have the storage space for that in my classroom.

Then I found this beautiful printable game board that I could put into a file folder and laminate, but that hasn't happened yet either....

In Rebecka's games session that I mentioned yesterday, she shared a digital game board, but again, since my whiteboard is magnetic, I thought that having actual game pieces to move might be fun, so I purchased some inexpensive magnets from Amazon to try, but like everything else on my list, this is still on the "want-to-try" list!  

Bean Bag Toss
Over Thanksgiving Break, I was asking on Twitter about Review Games and Elissa (@misscalcul8) was sharing that a favorite of her students was a velcro dart board.  I knew I had seen them at Dollar Tree, but our local Dollar Tree store leaves a lot to be desired, so I started looking on Amazon at the Black Friday deals.  

I ended up finding this 3-in-1 game for $8 - it has a bean bag toss, a velcro dart board, and some other game that I haven't figured out yet.  Best thing is that it folds up into a small carrying case, so it doesn't take up much space in my cabinet - yay!  (Sadly, this particular one is no longer available on Amazon, but I'm sure you could find something similar!)

Like the other games on the list, I have thoughts about how to use this, but haven't actually put it into practice yet.  I can really see some of my classes really getting into this, but as someone with very poor hand-eye coordination, I can also see other kids having major anxiety.

Okay, so there you have it - a list of games that I want to try this semester.  If you have any suggestions or ideas on the logistics, please let me know!

What are your go-to review games?  What games are on your "still-to-try" list?

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Another New to Me Tool in 2022

Happy Christmas Eve!  I've been out of school for a week and thanks to the bitterly cold weather, it's been a pretty quiet week around our house.  We got out a bit on Wednesday to wrap up our shopping and to have dinner with my siblings, but we've been inside since the bitter cold hit on Thursday.  As a result, I've been spending time catching up on blogs and looking for resources to use in the new year.

One of the resources I've revisited during this break was a PD session I went to this summer on Engagement Strategies for the Secondary Classroom by Rebecka Peterson.  As I shared a few posts ago, my Professional Learning Focus (PLF) this year was on having an active and engaging classroom, so what a perfect fit!

During the session, Rebecka shared about how she uses games in the classroom (see a post here about Connect 4, another with Chutes and Ladders, and yet another about spinners).  She gave us links to online ready-to-use templates that could be used with any worksheet and links to some blog posts with other game ideas.  While I haven't used most of things Rebecka shared in the session, there is one I tried this semester.... Bingo Baker!

To be honest, I've taught math for 25 years and never really used Bingo as a review game - until now!  

Bingo Baker ( is a free, easy to use bingo card maker.  One of the coolest features is that you can add images to your card / questions!  You can create a 3x3, 4x4, or 5x5 Bingo Card by selecting the drop down at the top right corner of the blank card.  

To create your card, click in one of the boxes and the little sidebar comes up.  Here is where you can add an image and change the alignment or color of your answer.  If you want to add a custom question, click on the rotate button at the bottom of the sidebar so that the question and answer are associated.  You can add as many questions / answers as you want - there's an area below the card for additional problems to be added.

Once you've made your cards, you'll save your set.  You can set it to be public, hidden, or private.  

The Bingo Baker at the right is for practicing the Pythagorean Theorem.  At the top, you can set how many cards you want to generate or you can play online if you are in a 1:1 school.  When printing, you can choose to print 1, 2, or 4 cards to a page.  At the bottom right is the call screen.  I just did "Full Screen" and showed the problems on the projector, then clicked each problem to turn it over for the "answer" for students to check their work.  When I played with my classes, I hit "Scramble" each hour so they wouldn't have the problems in the same order.

If you don't have time to make your own game, you can also search through the cards that have already been made - I saw games for trig, calculus, vocabulary, etc.

All in all, I was really pleased with how well the website worked and at the end of each hour, students would BEG for one more question because they were trying to get a bingo and a chance to grab a toy out of the goodie box!

What are some of your go-to games in the classroom?

Friday, December 23, 2022

Something New I Tried in 2022


Y'all, I'm halfway through the Yule Blog Challenge!  My goal was to blog 12 times over Winter Break (a play off of the 12 days of Christmas) and this is Post #6!!  I know I say this a lot, but I really do miss blogging more regularly.  I can't tell you the number of times I think "gosh, I need to blog about this", but then life happens and when I sit down at my computer I can't remember what it was I wanted to blog about!  I know I'm a better teacher when I reflect on my practice, so it's definitely an ongoing goal for me to blog on a regular basis, but it just doesn't always happen...

Anyway, today I want to share about something new I tried this semester - Blooket!

I had heard about Blooket before ( but had never used it until October-ish of this year.  I already was familiar with Kahoot and Quizziz and I really didn't want something else to mess with, but after receiving multiple recommendations, I decided to try it.

Before I get much further, let me say that the first time I played it, I was AMAZED at the engagement from my students!  They were asking to play again and again!  Like I said, I've used Kahoot and Quizziz before, but the student reaction is what sold me on using Blooket.

A Blooket teacher account is free which allows you to have unlimited games, assign HW, create your own question sets, use the question bank, etc.  I did end up purchasing the yearly subscription (~$35) in order to allow me to organize with folder, copy / duplicate / edit existing sets, have enhanced reports, and to give me a few more game options, but the subscription is completely not necessary to have a great Blooket experience!

When you log-in, you can create or discover sets, favorite them, etc.  Once you are ready to go, you click the Host button to choose your game mode.

Some of the games can be assigned as HW where you can put a link on Google Classroom (or other LMS) for students to play individually.  There are also special game modes for holidays, like Santa's Workshop, which is a seasonal themed version of Gold Quest.  I have not played all of the types, but my students really like Gold Quest because they can steal other people's money, so the fastest team isn't necessarily the team that wins.  They also like Fishing Frenzy and Battle Royale.  Many of the games also have various ways to slow down (or sabotage) your opponent.  For example, on Santa's Workshop, there's a sabotage that trees your screen so you have to click every tree to clear the screen before moving on to your question.

My classroom is set up in tables of 4, so I tend to play with teams and one Chromebook per group.  Once you choose a game mode, you can set the game to end at a specific time or when a specific goal is reached.  I have found a 10-12 minute game to be very engaging and a great way to practice quite a few problems in random order but not take up my entire class period!

While I don't use the results as much as I could (or should), the reports feature is pretty nice too.  You can see an overall report for the whole class with the number of questions correct vs incorrect.  I set the timer for this game at 12 minutes and every group worked 30 - 50 problems in that time frame!  I can see the group by group breakdown with how many they solved correctly / incorrectly.   Notice that there was a group that didn't miss any problems, but they still weren't the overall winners.  

You can also click on a specific group to see which questions they missed.  Since they only had 12 minutes and there were 65 questions, not every group saw every problem and that's okay.  I had also set this as a HW link so they could go through it on their own if they wanted.  Further down the reports page is the question by question breakdown where I can see how which problems were the most commonly missed.

Overall, I've really enjoyed having Blooket in my bag of tricks and it's been a great addition to my classroom!  If you've played, what are your favorite games?  If you haven't played, I encourage you to try it out!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

An Ongoing Challenge


I changed schools in the summer of 2021.  At my previous school, I had taught AP Statistics for many years and had built that program into something I was very proud of.  When I interviewed at my new school, I had asked if they had a Stat program (no) and if they would be interested in starting one (yes), which was good news for me!  They had already done their enrollment process at the time I interviewed, so there was no Stat program for the 2021-2022 school year, but when enrollment came around in the Spring of 2022, Stat was on the list!

I didn't know what to expect, but the class made!  I ended up with 18 students enrolled in the inaugural class.  I had never taught an on-level Stat class before so I dug through my resources and tried to pull together what I saw as the most vital concepts of each unit.

Looking back, there are definitely some lessons I enjoyed and some that I felt went well.  But there are a lot more that I think could be modified and improved.  In general, the kids are college bound students who wanted another math class or knew that stat would be required for their career path (nursing, etc)

A few weeks ago, one of my Stat students came in during her aiding hour to help me with some Geometry activities and she asked why they didn't get to do as many activities as my Geometry classes.... I honestly did not have a good answer other than the difference in freshman / sophomores vs seniors, but her question got me to thinking....

So now I'm on the search for more activities for my Stat classes that aren't geared toward AP.  Thankfully we are about to start probability, so I know I can create a lot of activities there.  I think my goal with this class moving forward is to infuse more fun and joy into the curriculum.  Obviously I still have standards and content to teach, but this semester was a struggle when it came to figuring out homework and tests, so that's something I want to revisit as well.

My Stat Goals for 2023:

  • More Active Learning using the list I use for Geometry
  • Using more projects for assessment as possible
  • Gathering real data to use / explore the concepts
  • Figuring out a better HW / Testing system
  • Just have FUN!  Stat is an amazing class - let's have some fun!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

#Read3 (or 6!)


Several years ago, there was a hashtag floating around called #Read3, where you would share 3 blog posts, tweets, etc that impacted you.  Today, I'm sharing more than 3, but I couldn't narrow it down!  So here are some of the things I've read in 2022 that I want to remember....

Book - Teaching Math with Examples by Michael Pershan:

I read this book twice over the summer (and honestly need to read it again).  I've known Michael for many years and met him at TMC14 but this was the most informative book with regard to his teaching methods.  Teaching Math with Examples is also a pretty short book and a quick read, but filled with practical tips and hints on effective math teaching and learning.

While I have yet to implement these strategies, they are still on my to-do list for 2023!  When we return from Winter Break, we will be tackling triangle congruence proofs, so I need to re-read the chapter on how Michael introduces proofs to his students.  

Hashtag - #MathsTLP

A few weeks ago, I just happened to be scrolling on Twitter when the #MathsTLP thread started.  This is a UK based Sunday Twitter Chat where teachers post what they are teaching that week and others share resources and links to help them out!  It's collaborative Lesson Planning at its best!

After the Twitter chat, one of the hosts curates the links and shares them in a blog post (archive here:  I loved this idea so much I started posting a similar idea each Sunday on my state NCTM affiliate FB page.  

Blog Post - Number Talks

First off, can I just say how much I adore Beth (@algebrasfriend)?  I've had the pleasure of knowing her for many years and have shared a few meals with her and her husband.  Beth is a retired teacher and principal, but still actively supports math education by curating links and resources to help others out.

I had been thinking about bringing back Number Talks to my classes this semester when I ran across Beth's most perfect post on Number Sense in the Secondary Classroom.  I'm really excited about starting Number Talks back up in January and I super appreciate Beth taking the time to gather those resources and share them!

Tweet - Potty Puzzlers

Jessica (@MsJBogie) is another dear friend and last year she became an Instructional Coach in her district after teaching middle school for many years.  As part of her new role, Jessica really wanted to build an awareness of math and started curating and printing monthly Potty Puzzlers to post in the bathrooms around the district.  She often shares these on her Twitter feed for others to use as well.  Every month that I see these, I think about printing it and posting it in our faculty restrooms, but I haven't done it yet.  Maybe in 2023.... :)

Podcast - Sermon Series on Anxiety

This past summer, a dear friend and former administrator shared a snippet of a sermon series on Anxiety.  The pastor was a great speaker and the series really spoke to my heart as the anxiety of a new year was approaching.  

Instagram Feed - Teachers of Oklahoma

Teachers of Oklahoma is the passion project of the 2022 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Rebecka Peterson.  If you don't follow Rebecka, you should!  Rebecka is one of the most positive and inspiring people I know and is totally my teacher crush!  Several years ago, Rebecka started posting daily on the One Good Thing blog, inviting each of us into her classroom and now she is travelling the state inviting us into the classrooms of teachers around Oklahoma in order to highlight the good that happens every day.  This profession can be frustrating and lonely, but this is just a reminder that you aren't alone and to "be the change"

What are some of the things you've read or listened to in 2022 that impacted you?

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A favorite task of 2022


One of my goals this year with my Honors Geometry class was to bring in some challenging tasks.  I can't say that I've been extremely successful, but there are definitely some days that I feel like I did an okay job.

One of those days was during our Coordinate Geometry unit and the students had this task to solve:

I honestly didn't know how they would tackle it.  Some groups tried to algebraically solve it with the distance formula but quickly got bogged down in the algebra.  A few groups figured out a Pythagorean method by drawing a line at x = 7 and thinking about a right triangle:

 but then I looked over at another group and saw this...

This group drew a line 20 units long on patty paper, placed one endpoint at (-5, 14) and used the line segment like the radius of a circle to find out where the other endpoint would have an x value of 7.  I had only introduced patty paper a few days before and definitely not in this manner, so to see them make that connection and know how to use their resources to think through a problem really made me happy!

If you have any favorite geometry tasks to share, please let me know!

Monday, December 19, 2022

Student Engagement Strategies


Each year, as part of our evaluation, teachers in my state are required to have a yearly goal, called a Professional Learning Focus (PLF).  Here's my goal this year:

Our evaluation rubric has 20 elements, things like classroom management, leadership, instructional effectiveness, and professional growth.  Each of the 20 elements has multiple indicators for the evaluator to assess and the PLF has to align with one of those.  

After the "pandemic teaching" of the past few years, my school is mostly back to pre-pandemic times and I was determined this year to bring back more active learning to my classroom.  

Last summer, at the OKCTM Conference, Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove) was the keynote speaker and her topic was about Embracing Joy.  During her presentation, Sarah shared this photo of her lesson plan book where she highlights activities and games in order to be more mindful of their use in her classroom.  While I haven't quite gotten to the highlighting part, I loved this idea!  What if I was able to infuse joy and fun in the majority of the days?  Could I get by with minimizing the lectures / notes / homework cycle of the past few years and get back to a more active classroom?

I've taught Geometry for years, so I had a cabinet of slightly disorganized activities, so I set out to clean it up and get things labeled.  I pulled out every set of cards and made a list by chapter so I knew what I had already made, plus took a pile of binders and file folders home to organize my larger activities into a file crate.  Crazy enough, this file crate only holds activities from the 1st semester - things like Around the Room activities, Card Sorting Mats, Stations activities, etc.  In the smaller crates, there are index card boxes with Question Stacks and Task Cards.  

In general, when I'm lesson planning, I have my list of already-made activities handy, plus a list of my go-to strategies in case I need to make something.  I aim for 2-3 days a week of having some sort of activity and hopefully at least one of those days, we are moving around the room, either at the whiteboards or doing some sort of Around the Room activity.

Here's my list of strategies:
  • Around the Room (Scavenger Hunt)
  • Question Stack (Similar to Scav Hunt but at their tables)
  • Card Sort
  • Matching
  • Whiteboards (either at their tables or on the big boards)
  • Stations
  • Bingo
  • Kahoot
  • Blooket
I'm always looking for new strategies, so if you have an idea to share, please let me know!