Monday, November 5, 2018

Dance Dance Transversal in Geometry

I tried Dance Dance Transversal for the first time in Geometry today and it went great. I had 20 kids, did 2 groups of 10.  I had them each do it twice and videotaped a little of each and then shared the videos.

Ideas from Jenn @rilesblue and Jessica @algebrainiac1

Jenn's files with music.

My videos:

Video 1    

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Friday, October 19, 2018

Alg 2 Quadratics - Check in #MTBoSBlog18

This blog post is part of a monthly blogging initiative for the MTBoS to blog on the 18th of each month.  Today is Friday, Oct 19th, so I am a day late.  Better late than never.  I knew what I wanted to blog about but went to see the new movie, The Hate U Give, and was too drained to type when I got home.  Guess what, I saw it again today!  Yep, same movie within 24 hours.  I took my 19 year old son.  I was so happy he actually wanted to go with me and I think it was important enough to share with him.

When I teach Quadratics in Accelerated Algebra 2, it is mostly a review because they have seen most of it in Accelerated Algebra 1.  I teach it as if it is a review, so it is important to do a formative assessment to check in.  I was out of school on Tuesday so I emailed a Google Form to my students for their formative assessment and then I could review their results and summarize it into a Google Slide to use for discussion as an opener when I returned to school.  At this point, we reviewed graphing and solving by factoring.

I have three classes.  These are the results.

1st question: Tell me what the Zero Product Property is.  We discussed two student responses:

2nd question:

3rd question:

4th question: This one was multiple choice with 6 possible answers. Most students chose one answer but should have chosen both.

5th question:  I asked if these were in standard form.  We talked about which ones worked and which ones didn't.

6th question: More discussion:

This was an extension of #6....

7th question:  This was a great one for discussion:

8th question: For this last question, I asked what they were still unsure of from the first unit which was all our family functions, graphs, inverses, systems, and matrices:

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Reflecting on my 1st NCTM presentation

I was out fishing on the lake in Maine on a beautiful fall day when this blog post consumed me and I needed to get it all out.

About a year ago, I wrote a proposal to present at NCTM Hartford and to my surprise, it was accepted.  It was "Doing More with Desmos: Learn How the Desmos Activity Builder Promotes Discussion through Discovery." That is a mouthful as I put it on the title slide of my presentation.

I have presented on Desmos before. I am a Desmos fellow.  I love Desmos and I use it a lot in my classroom. 

Along with teaching, I also coach and volunteer as our church youth group leader, so when fall hits, I get super busy.  By September 21st, I still didn't have my presentation ready, but, that day, I was motivated to prepare it and it just came to me.  I used @RobertKaplinksy 's "What I've Learned from Being a Presenter" to develop my presentation.  The biggest thing from him was the idea of planning on paper first.  I am one to jump right to the powerpoint slides, or now google slides.  I loved brainstorming and organizing on paper first and it made it so much easier and probably faster when I did go to google slides. 

Things I kept in mind while planning:
  • Use at least 36 font
  • Don't put too many words on a slide
  • If relying on tech, use a screen shot of what you need just in case
  • Have an agenda and refer to it often to show progress 
Here is my presentation: Doing More with Desmos

I was presenting at 1:30 pm on Friday of Columbus Day weekend.  My family always goes to Maine for the long weekend, so I wasn't staying overnight in Hartford.  I woke up at 4:50 am, showered and hit the road at 5:15 to leave from MA to CT.  I arrived around 6:40.  Registration opened at 7.  I listened to the rotating keynotes and then went to 2 presentations. I got to have lunch with some MTBoS friends and delicious pizzas:

I had to eat and run so I could get to my room early and check out the technology and wifi because I was warned the hotel had different wifi than the conference center and I definitely needed everyone to have wifi.  @davecesa told me the new username and password and suggested putting that into my slideshow (great tip).  I even added the password to the first few slides in case people came in late.

The room was set up for a workshop style with tables which was perfect.  I was able to figure out the HDMI cord and my clicker as working, so I was all good.  Just making sure your tech will work is very stressful.  Once you are all set, then you can focus on the people in the room.  I welcomed everyone as they came in and let them know about the new wifi information.  I suggested that a laptop would be best, but Desmos would still work on ipads and cell phones.

I got started right at 1:30 and had 75 minutes.  I planned out my time.  I had 4 activities for them to play with - Marbleslides, Polygraph, Card Sort, and Parent Graphs and their transformations.  I was figuring I would spend about 10ish minutes on each, let them play, and then I would talk, because then I wanted to show them the teacher side of it all and then give them time to play with others at the end.  My timing was pretty good.  I did keep checking my watch to stay on time.

My title slide was so long, I forgot to add my twitter handle and blog site. I think I intended to add it, but just forgot. I have since added it, so it will be there if people go back to find it through the NCTM site.

I did introduce myself, name, and school, should have plugged twitter more, but that's okay.

One thing about conferences is you don't often know how many people, their math ability level, or if they have used Desmos or not, so I polled my audience.
 "Raise your hand if you have used the free online computer,"
I had a room of about 50 people and about 75% raised their hands.
  "Hands down, raise you hand if you have used Desmos Activity Builder."
About 10 hands went up.
I said, "Perfect"
That was what I had planned for, more of a beginner session on Desmos, but I would have been able to adjust to diving deeper into the activities if my audience was more experienced. I was glad it was going in the direction I was anticipating.

I will say @steve_leinwand came into my session and I got a tad nervous, but never let them see you sweat.

I let the audience know that there were going to be other sessions on Desmos - there was a calculus one, an Algebra one, and one about middle school. And, I thanked NCTM for allowing for so many Desmos sessions.  I am happy that my fellow Desmos fellows offered to present a variety of Desmos - a little bit for everyone - @DaveCesa @BobLoch and @Allison_krasnow!

I made a google doc and used a LINK so I could have a way to share my presentation with the audience as well as my virtual filing cabinet of Desmos activities.

I had my agenda with one of my student responses on it to read for fun.

I started with Marbleslides because it is one of my favorites and I like it best 2-1 - that is 2 people to one computer.  Remembering that my title including discovery and discussion, this was perfect.  I gave them the opportunity to play - that is their discovery, and with 2 people on one computer, the discussion is a natural development.  We did the lines version.  I asked them what they noticed.  They participated which is OH so helpful.  I was sure to get to everyone who had something to share and I repeated what they noticed or their questions so the whole room could hear.

I told them I was going to pause the activity and counted down, 1, 2, 3 and paused.  Some of them didn't realize what happened, but they stopped.  I had frozen the projector so I could see my Desmos teacher dashboard to see that most of them were progressing through.  So, I switched to my dashboard so I could show them what they would see as a teacher.  I showed them how to anonymize students before showing the class.  I shared with them these were the names of famous mathematicians and the students could see the name in the upper right hand corner of their own screen.  I showed the graphs at the top showed the progress of the class and students. If I hover, I can see which students might be stuck on screen 1 and check in with them.  I can see if students have finished the whole thing.  Next, I asked what they thought the difference between the dots and check marks might mean and they figured out that it meant that they were correct.  One teacher asked if a student reset after they got it correct, would it still show as a check mark.  I did not know the answer to that but we looked because there was a group that reset every time and they still had check marks.  Question answered.  I was happy that throughout the presentation I was able to answer almost all of the questions asked of me.  I don't like it when I have to keep answering, I don't know, I don't know.  I have taught with Desmos long enough to be able to answer most and that is comforting.

The next activity was Polygraph - another fun and powerful activity.  I asked the audience to know go one to one and use their own computer.  I explained the Guess Who-like face game before I gave the code to explain that was for students to get used to asking yes or no questions.  I also shared the story of the first time I used Polygraph in class, I thought I would have to pair the kids up and then once they were done, keep pairing them up but I was pleasantly surprised when Desmos automatically did it.  It was a risk worth taking.  My audience loved it.  I walked around and listened to them working.  I froze my projector and checked in on my teacher dashboard to look at their questions.  Someone asked if the graph was in the 3rd row.  I announced to the room that asking location questions like "is your graph in the upper right hand corner"? weren't going to be helpful because Desmos has thought of that and rearranges them differently on each computer.

I asked if I could pause and got an overwhelming NO!  Someone raised her hand with a question at the same time, so I walked over to answer and told them they could play for a bit longer while I helped her.  I came back and hit pause and they moaned loudly.  Ah, that was the response I was going for.  Tells me they were engaged and invested.  I showed them my teacher dashboard.  I shared that there are many polygraphs and I like to use them before I am introducing a graph to build a need for the vocabulary - like with quadratics.  Kids want to talk about slope with quadratics.  I ask them not to use slope because that is for a line and they are wanting to know what to say - build that need!

Also, in the corner of each slide, I put a little desmos icon that was actually a link to my teacher dashboard so I could quickly get there from each page.

Next up, I shared card sorts - geometry - point, line, ray, and segment.  I used these for the first time in my geometry this year and could share that.  I let them know that they had to drag one on top of the other and hover there for them to click together.  And, I let them work. I walked around and checked in, answering questions.  One question that always comes up is how do they know if they are right.  I let them know that I think it is okay that they don't know that to start.  If they were to turn green or red for right and wrong, then it just becomes a game of dragging green and red.  I showed them that I usually monitor the classes' progress and when most people are starting to be finished, I will project my teacher dashboard and show them if they have a check mark or not.  You can also show individual students screens and then it is green and red and they can see if they are right or wrong now.  I shared how one of my students did it.  At first, she just did groups of 2, not 4 like intended.  So, then she did groups of 4 but it still wasn't correct.  Turns out she groups all the pictures, all the definitions, all the notations, and all the vocab words together.  She wasn't wrong, just different :)

My fourth activity was Parent graphs and their transformations which uses the desmos calculator and sliders, so if people weren't familiar with the calculator or the sliders, they got a chance to play with that.  It was super long, but I let them work their way though just a bit, noticing patterns.  I monitored my teacher dashboard for a few to get to a challenge on screen 10.  Then, I paused them and showed them the teacher dashboard for screen 10.  I can see each student or I can do an overlay and we can have a class discussion.  It was a parabola that should have shifted to the left 3, some people went right, some went down.  I asked them how they would discuss this in their classroom.  (I knew I had captured this same challenge slide 10 in my class later in my slideshow so I could refer to that later.)
I also showed them how to pace.  I said it was 42 slides and my class didn't finish all in one class, but as a teacher, you might want to just pace slides 1-10, get people to that challenge and then discuss and check in.

As all these activities were happening, people were loving it and thinking about how they could use it in their classroom.  One woman said about the geometry one, Oh, I just taught this.  I told her she could use it on Monday as a check in and formative assessment to check for understanding.  A few people were wondering how long the codes stay in use for (almost 6 months, then they go inactive but can be reactivated.) They asked how long student data was stored.  I said I still have all my codes from the past few years.  Again, so happy I was able to answer these questions.

Other do we assign them? I will get to that.
How do we find them? I will get to that.
Glad that was where they wanted to go because that was where I was going.

After these 4 activities, but before going to the teacher side, I shared a little more of a Math and Me Survey I did in Desmos so share that you can do more than just graphs and I shared student responses.

Then, I switched to the teacher side.  I taught them how to assign the activities, checking them out first. 

I took a screenshot of the dashboard and used arrows to recap - anonymize, pause, and pace.  

I showed them the teacher view with individual students and with the overlay and how that can allow for class discussion.  Someone asked what if someone drew something inappropriate, could you remove that.  I suggested instead of showing the entire class, you could use the screen shot and pick a few to put in a slideshow and discuss, so you are ignoring that other one. 

I shared how to find the activities and reminded about just googling it to find even more, explaining that if it is officially on Desmos - they have really tested it and tried to break it.  If little old me makes one, you might not find it on desmos, but you could find it on google.

I showed how to edit them.  I said to go to the dot, dot, dot in the upper right if you wanted to change an activity up - maybe delete or add slides or change some vocabulary to get started.  I didn't remember to show them how to enable the marbleslides, polygraph, and geometry, but someone was trying to edit one later and then I brought it to the audience's attention.  Go to your name in the upper right hand corner and click on Desmos labs and then enable all three with checkmarks.

I shared how to learn more including reading the teacher tips within the activities and requesting a Desmos fellow.

And, on the final screen I listed a bunch of different codes for them to play with.  I had a title of Let's Play and I got there with 20 minutes left.  I told them they could play with them as I walked around and helped people with their individual questions.  I changed the title of the screen to be the so that people could have that to take with them.

Phew!  I had so much fun.  I will admit after lunch and an early drive, I was hitting the wall at 1 pm with my presentation at 1:30, but Desmos is awesome and it sells itself.

I had a volunteer outside the room who listened to people's comments as they left and also asked people what they thought.
She said, they said, "best one of the day", "that was so cool", "I'm going to use that next week." "I learned so much."  Bingo!  Yes!

This positive feedback followed up with 2 really cool tweets:
One from Steve Leinward:

Followed by a reply from Eli Luberoff, Desmos Founder:

Thanks to everyone for all the great support!  I am so happy to have had the opportunity to share the Desmos love with even more math teachers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My September by the Numbers #MTBoSBlog18 Post

It is Sept 19th.  I was hoping to blog on the 18th as part of #MTBoSBlog18 but I was grading and tired and it didn't happen.  That meant I woke up this morning thinking about it.

With back to school, that means I go from relaxing with no schedule, floating on a peaceful lake to full speed ahead with the start of school, coaching cross country, and youth group.

We started school on Aug 29th.  There are 16 week days we could be at school.  I do enjoy the choppiness and coming back slowly.  Here is what it has looked like so far by numbers:
  • 16 week days
  • 11 full days of school
  • 9 days of classes (because we are on a rotating schedule and don't see the learners everyday)
  • 4 days off
  • 1 half day
  • 6 days teaching in a sauna due to a hot start
  • 4 hours of mandated teacher training to do
  • 12 letters of recommendation to write
  • 1 day of math team practice
  • 2 days of extra help
  • 1 youth group meeting
  • 1 youth group volunteering
  • 1 youth group host coffee hour
  • 1 cross country meet
  • 2 cross country spaghetti dinners
  • 1 failed SEI teacher test (Sheltered English Immersion teaching ELLs, so now I have to pay to take the test again and find time to study more)
  • 3 preps 
  • 1 prep is new (as it is every year. I have 4 pets.  I always imagine what it would be like to clean a house without any pets and fur.  I think it is like what it would be like to NOT have a new prep each year.)
  • Lots of Desmos :) working to incorporate more
  • 0 Algebra 1. I have always taught it in my years of teaching it and I am not this year.  I miss it.  I miss having the freshmen, I miss the MTBoS activities I built into like the catapult candy lab, the Barbie Bungee, a Disney project, lots of 3 Acts.
  • 3 Conferences this fall to present at and I need to prepare for them.
  • 1 book to finish reading before book club this Monday (Out of Darkness)
  • 1 college to visit today with my youngest son (UMASS Amherst)
  • 1 crown on my tooth
  • 1 surgery for my son, screw put into his broken wrist
Next week is our first full 5 day week.  If the heat and humidity stays away, I think I can survive.  Tuesday the 25th is my 25th wedding anniversary and my kids have planned a weekend away for us next weekend, so I have something wonderful to look forward to.

Today we have the day off due to Yom Kippur. Plans:
  • blog
  • visit UMASS
  • make chili for dinner to leave in the crockpot while visiting
  • go for a run
  • write an assignment sheet for Geometry CP
  • write letters of recommendation
  • put popsicle sticks in order for XC meet tomorrow
  • print out recording sheet for XC meet tomorrow
  • go to the library to renew my book
  • read my book.     (I hope today is like 40 hours long to get it all done).
 Thanks for reading and have a great school year!  Hopefully I will post again before Oct 18th because I have been creating some fun new lessons in CP Geometry.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Hottest 1st Day ever

We had our 1st day of school today.  My room was probably 110 degrees.

I also sweat like a pig.  There is no stopping me once I stop sweating so I just give up.

It was so hot I became delirious along with the kids.

In one class while doing 4 fours, two groups wrote 4 + 4 + 4 + 4 = 20. I didn't notice.  My student teacher noticed.  I said the class, "Everyone look at your work, there are some mistakes."  They couldn't see their mistakes. 

With that being said, we did do a lot of stuff today once I looked back at the pictures I took.

In Algebra 2, we did the cup challenge and 31derful, plus one class did four 4s.

In Geometry, we explored a Visual Pattern analyzing it "As the step changes, ____also changes."  I did this last year at TMC17 and then did it on the first day of school.  I had the kids brainstorm individually, then discuss in their groups, then share as a class and investigate one of them.

If you notice, there are some random sticky notes.  Andre Sasser offered me the idea at TMC18 when doing a gallery walk, have kids walk on the sticky side and then stick it to the board so as the other kids walk around they aren't reading or influenced by the comments.  We did the gallery walk and wrote noticing and wondering with sticky notes and then presented our findings to the class.


As part of our 2 day teacher PD to begin the year, our school wrote a grant to bring the ADL (AntiDefamation League) in to do training with our students and our teachers.  We had a 3 hour training session for our teachers and our students will have leaders participate in their own training.  If you go to the website, there are a ton of resources!

I have not been in a session about this before.  I am mostly writing this as a method to share ideas, links, and resources with you and to also process my own thinking.

We started with this brief video the ADL made to celebrate 100 years. 
It is called Imagine: A World With Hate. 
Watch carefully.  What do you notice?
Pretty powerful.

We did some small exercises.  Here is one.  Quick, count the Fs in the following sentence.  Don't look below until you have counted. 

"Finished files are the result of years of scientific study combined with the experience of years."

counting, counting

Did you say 3, 4, 5, 6?  Hmmmmm.  The answer is six.  Go ahead, go back and look.  What did you miss?  Oh, those f's in the word "of".  Why?  Because the "f" in "of" sound like a v and not an f.  It shows us that we didn't notice the small words.  We need to become aware.

Now, something different, go ahead and fold your hands together. Yes, so your fingers are all entwined.  Which thumb is on top?  We did this in a room of about 100 teachers and it was about 50/50 with left or right on top.  Now, go ahead and switch your thumbs around.
How do you feel? Uncomfortable...but not wrong.  There is no right way to do it.  Just different.  But, we are comfortable with it, so we might think it is right, or the only way.

Another.  Again, we did this with a group of 100 teachers.  We were instructed to take a piece of paper in our hands and then close our eyes.  Now, fold the paper in half.  Fold the paper in half.  Rip off the bottom right corner.  Now, flip the paper over and rip off the new bottom right corner.  Open up your paper and hold it up in the air.  Open your eyes and look around.

What did you look for?  You probably looked for someone, anyone to have one that looked like yours.  We are looking to be correct.  We are looking for others that are like us.

Oh, and this final one.  He had us count out loud as a chorus as he showed one number at a time.
Say the answer as you add each number.  This probably won't work as well because you can see all the numbers.  Just read right to left and add.
1000 + 40 + 1000 + 30 + 1000 + 20 + 1000 + 10 = what does it equal

No peeking

Did you say 5000?  Are you sure?
Look again.
The answer is 4100. How do you feel?  Stupid, maybe shutting down because you were wrong?  You fell into a pattern and went with it, kind of like a stereotype.  Maybe because we all said it together, you were influenced by what others were saying and stopped thinking for yourself?

Just some activities to make you think. 

WGBH has a video called Peanut Butter and Jelly Racism about implicit bias.

MTV has short vignettes on microaggressions at  These vignettes are on Youtube.  Link

And, we finished with John Cena and a video about the Love Has No Labels Campaign.  You can find resources at Love Has No Labels

As I said this session made me think and then I wanted to share.  I hope you are able to take and use and share some of this information.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

My Vacation #selfcare #MTBoSBlog18

I am blogging this on August 18th as part of the #MTBoSBlog18 initiative.  Plus 8/18/18 is a cool date!

I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at a lake house in the middle of nowhere, Maine.

Keep in mind I have 4 sons, ages 17-26 and they all live at home along with our two dogs and two cats.  Our house is a busy one but thankfully they are all employed!

The first week of my vacation was basically by myself.  Yep, me, myself, and I.  I haven't ever been by myself.  From Saturday until Tuesday night, it was just me - no one to talk to, no responsibilities, eat only when my stomach tells me to.  I could listen to music, watch whatever sappy movie I wanted to (again, house with four boys, plus my husband).  I could fish for many, many hours and I did. I woke up each morning and either went for a run or did a workout and then went fishing. Then, I would read. Fish, read, nap, repeat.  I lost track of time and it was heavenly!!!!  I went to Bingo by myself on Monday night and they recognized me.  "Weren't you here before?"  Me: "Yep, two summers ago."  I didn't win anything.

On Tuesday night until Friday morning, my friend joined me.  We went to the musical, Grumpy Old Men, in Ogunquit, ME.  It was the first night of this first every production anywhere!  So cool and so funny.  Sally Struthers and Hal Linden were in it. 

On Wednesday night, we went to the Beach Boys at Hampton Beach.  It was their Then and Now tour and it was cool how they lined up a slideshow from the 50s and 60s of them playing the same songs they are now.  And, Mike Loves' son is a signer in the band too.  I was surprised by the young kids in the audience too.  It was kind of a reverse concert.  The old people up rocking and dancing and the young kids looking confused.

On Saturday, my family came up, my husband, my 4 kids, 2 dogs, my mother in law, and her dog.  And, so our family vacation part began.  It rained from Saturday until Wed so we had to get creative with what we did.  We still fished in between rain drops.  We got a friendly round of mini-golf in.  I got a hole in one, as did my husband, and one of my sons.  We went to Bingo again on Monday and I won.  I also caught the most fish.  You can see how my family gets annoyed with me and all my winning and catching. 


I am NOT a humble fishermen. 

Yes, I even fish with everything pink.

I fished for 15 days consecutively and I caught 28 fish.  Our family doesn't count the blue gills, pickerel, or crappy, just the bass, so I caught 21 bass.  Fished in the morning, fished at sunset.  Kept a journal of what I caught.  and, this is my biggest fish:


I read 7 books.  I'm lucky. I loved them all!

I had the neighborhood beach all to myself.

I watched sappy movies on Hallmark and Netflix.

We got ice cream.  Had lobster (of course, we are in Maine)


We did a puzzle.

I started knitting an indoor/outdoor pillow.

I painted a rock garden for my classroom (the only school work that got done).

I did not end up scrapbooking for my youngest son.  He will be a senior and I make a high school book for each of my boys.  I bought all the supplies and pictures and brought them up here, but then I was too busy fishing and reading and figured I have all school year to do that.

We hung my wind chimes.  They make me happy.

Floated on my big pink flamingo in the lake.

The boys went golfing (and didn't kill each other).

The seaweed in the lake is spiral in form.  This is a picture of it in the water.

We had a campfire and roasted marshmallows.

It has been a great vacation, really recharging.  It is the simple things.  It is more than just hours of fishing.  It is listening to the loon, seeing the great blue heron take off, spotting a bald eagle.  The cool, calm morning on the lake when no one is out there and it is just me.  I love it.

I think I am ready to get ready to head back to school.  It's been a great summer.