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.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My #TMC18 Experience

I just spend last week in Cleveland at #TMC18.  If you get a chance to go to Cleveland, I recommend it.  It has so much character.  The houses are so cute, all with little front porches, all different designs.  There are so many restaurants, cafes, breweries.  It is a very walkable city.  It is right on Lake Erie.  It has all sports areas.  It has an airport.  All right there.

My husband, Rick, and my colleague, Kathy, and I rented a car and drove from Hopkinton, MA to Cleveland on Monday, June 16th.  We left around 8:30 and arrived about 7:30 after stopping for lunch, dinner, and one more bathroom break.  It was literally Rt. 90 the entire way.  It was quite boring, but easy.  I will admit I only drove for about an hour.  I get so sleepy when I drive.

Tuesday was our sightseeing day.  We went to The Christmas Story House (highly recommended) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Wednesday was the Desmos preconference where I spent time with the Geometry aspect of Desmos.  I am very excited for the new snapshot option in Desmos.  I use snapshots all the time on my apple, but this looks really easy to use within the teacher dashboard.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning Kathy and I presented.

Here is the blog post: My #TMC18 Morning Sessions

Here is my blog post: My #TMC18 Favorites and Keynotes

Link to My My Favorites

Link to a Google Doc of all my Memes for Geometry

The food was so good.  It deserved it's own post: My #TMC18 Food

And, a blog post about: My #TMC18 Afternoon Sessions

Thank you for reading.  I had to get it all out now before I forget.  I love to look back on these blog posts throughout the year.

As we leave #TMC18 with a ton of good things, we are asked to pick just 1 and make it our #1TMCThing and check in in October to see if we are following through.  Two years ago, it was to use VNPS and I have done that a million times over.  Last year, it was to use Clothesline Math which I did not get to.  I bought the stuff but just didn't have the time to spend with it.  I still hope to.  I will be honest, I am not sure what my 1 thing will be.  I think it will be to play more in Geometry.  I teach an Accelerated Geometry course which doesn't have much wiggle room, but I will have a new to me College Prep class this year. I want to play with geometry more - I will have them draw the eyeball I did.  I will have them make Islamic Art in class.  I will have them use Desmos Geometry.  Yep, I just convinced myself.  My statement:

My #1TMCThing is to play more in Geometry class.  Thanks for reading.

My #TMC18 My Favorites and Keynotes

I love the schedule of #TMC in general and My Favorites is one of my favorite parts.

It is 3 days long with 3 morning sessions that you commit to.  They are two hours each day.
From 9-9:30 am each day, we have My Favorites sessions where people can speak for 5 or 10 minutes on a My Favorite from their teaching.

There are more My Favorites from 1-1:30 pm each day and we finish with 2 hours of My Favorites on the 4th day from 9 am - 11 am.
It is a great opportunity for people (new and old) to get a taste of what it is like to present in front of people.  This year went really smoothly because Jami Packer @JamiDanielle put each of the sessions into a google slide show and had each presenter just link to it.  In the past years, each person would bring their computer up and hook up and hope the technology worked.  It was so smooth this year.  Thank you.

There is also a keynote speaker each day.  I didn't get many notes on the first one because I was just trying to listen and be present.

I love to take color coded notes, so this is what I have.  I did include a link to mine on Friday morning.  One thing I spoke about (yes, it is My Favorite, but I mentioned 3) was using memes each day in Geometry.  I will be putting together a google slide of my memes and sharing soon.

Wednesday was Desmos pre-conference and they brought us Robert Q. Berry, III, PhD, also known as the President of NCTM.  Here are my notes on his keynote: (It should say Desmos Pre-Conference Keynote, not Twitter keynote) 2020 will be NCTM's 100th birthday:

Wednesday's Desmos Keynote by Eli Luberoff @eluberoff - brief but fun as he revealed the ability for teachers to take screenshots of students' work in the dashboard and snapshot it in order to further facilitate discussions:

Thursday pm My Favorites:

Friday am My Favorites:
My Favorites Link

Friday pm My Favorites:

Friday Keynote: Julie Reubach @jreulbach

Saturday am My Favorites:

My Favorites Link 

Google Link of Memes

Saturday pm My Favorites:

Saturday Keynote: Edmund Harris @gelada, John Golden @mathhombre, Glenn Waddell @gwaddellnvhs

Sunday am My Favorites:




Thanks for reading!

My #TMC18 Morning Session

A few years ago, my colleague, Kathy Campbell, @kd5campbell and I heard Alex Overwijk @alexoverwijk speak about vertical white boards #vnps.

At our first TMC, #TMC16, Kathy heard him speak again on the subject and we both decided to make it our #1TMCthing for the school year of 2016-2017.  We went to Home Depot and bought the 4x8 feet shower boards, super strong velcro, command strips, and duct tape for the edges and we outfitted our rooms.  We started teaching with it here and there that school year. We loved it so much, Kathy and I wrote a grant to the HEF, the Hopkinton Education Foundation, and received the grant.  It allowed us to buy permanent whiteboards and materials for our classrooms!  Thank you HEF!

At our second TMC, #TMC17, we presented on Going Vertical: Our First Year Experience with Whiteboards in an hour session.  We loved sharing together because it really lent itself to conversations both ways, us talking in the session, but also great ideas coming from our session participants.

In school year, 2017-2018, I was to teach Accelerated Geometry.  I taught Geometry years ago and was excited to try VNPS in this class.  I went into it trying to find situations where oral directions from the teacher and students standing at the board would provide opportunities to discover geometry and practice it.  Not every lesson used VNPS, not even every unit.  I might sit down and try it and it just didn't fit, or it would take too much precious time to describe where direct teaching might be better.  Often, I would look at the section in the book, the content, the vocab, and the example problems and just change them to oral directions with kids at the boards.  Totally different experience than sitting individually at their desks.  The oral directions allowed the students entry into the problem.  With everyone at the board, the fishbowl takes effect and I can see all their work and they can see each other's work.  Mistakes can be caught and discussed early rather than repeated without knowing it is wrong.  The conversations are priceless.

As I began to teach the class this way, I knew I wanted to share the next step in my thinking classroom at TMC, so Kathy and I proposed to do a morning session at #TMC18.  She hasn't taught Geometry in a long time, but we share rooms and I taught that class in her room so she got to experience it as well.  And, it turns out she is teaching it next year.  She got a preview!  Our proposal was accepted.

I would often take pictures of my students' board work and then blog about it.  Having my scripts, student work pictures, and blog posts really help me put my session together.

Kathy and I worked on the presentation at the end of the school year.  We had three mornings, 2 hours each, from 9:30-11:30 am to really dig in and share.  Our plan was to have them right up to the boards doing problems on Day 1.  On Day 2, we would analyze.  I showed them a video of my Alg 2 class doing the Law of Cosines at the board.  I had every intention of videotaping my Geometry classes this year, but it just didn't happen.  We also discussed how we bought the whiteboards first, then got the grant for the boards.  On Day 3, we wanted to flip the class.  We would have the participants brainstorm ideas for which they wanted to create a lesson and then give them time to go through that process and finally, they would read them scripted lesson to their classmates to practice being the teacher.

I will admit, I was nervous/stressed/anxious, all of the above.  It was just the not knowing.  We didn't know how many people would be in our session.  I had planned 4 problems for the 1st day and 4 for the second.  Would it be too much, too little.  Well, thank goodness, it all went so perfectly if I say so myself.

We had 10 people in our session.  This lent it so well to great conversations.  We had them take a survey first thing to see what they were bringing to the session - how long, if at all, have they been teaching geometry, and have they done whiteboards.  Here are the results:

2.) How many years have you been teaching Geometry:
9, 6, 20, 11, 12, 8, 3, 8, 10, and have in the past and will again this year.
Look at those numbers!  Remember, me - 2 years, Kathy 0 years, presenting to these people with years of experience!  But, we kept in mind, they chose to come to our session to learn about VNPS.

3.). Was to explain their interest in the session.


Day 1: We went through this Google Slide 1 with links to the 4 problems.
We came up with our own hashtag #vnpsgeo.  If you happen to use VNPS with Geometry this year, please use it so we can all share.
It was a classroom of Geometry teachers with TIME - imagine that.  We could talk about what is important to us.  I am pretty picky with notations - is it a lower or upper case A?  Do you need arrowheads?  If I state the units as inches, do they have to write inches every single time?  To some teachers this important, to others, not so much.  One thing I learned at a conference a while ago, if you mind, it matters.  I go by that rule.
We had such great conversations that I just don't have the time to have during the school year.  Kathy and I were learning from them as well.  Each of the teachers chimed in on how they have taught that lesson and how they might be able to change it to oral and vertical.  They all offered ideas for ways to label points around the room, to what to use to erase the board, to how to ask a question or make a statement different so it worked better.  We were tweaking lessons together!
Away slipped the nervousness and the anxiety.  It was going to be okay.  This was good!

We ended with handing out an exit ticket asking:
1.) What did you learn today?
2.) What are 2 questions you have?
We went home that night, and read through them, entered them into our Day 2 Google slide and thought about how we might answer them.

Day 2: We did this Google Slide Day 2.
Within this google slide, I included two links, that I will include here:
Link to all my vertical board problems for Geometry.
Link to my notes for this 3 day session.
Everyone showed up again, plus one who couldn't make day one and the awesomeness continued.  I loved it.     
We did not get to the last circle problem, but that's because of so much great conversation.
Oh, and I baked cookies for Days 1 and 2.  Had Hershey kisses for Day 3.

Day 3: This Google Slide 3.
We brainstormed what we might try to convert into a vertical/oral lesson:
Cavaleri's Principle
Polygon Interior Angle Sum
Area of Polygon Formula
They worked on this for about 45 minutes in groups of 2-4, then we took a break and then they practiced on their classmates.  They were getting to practice being teachers and trying out their lessons.  It was so fun.  I wish we got to collaborate like this all year long.

I hope our participants got as much out of this session as Kathy and I did.  I can't wait to hear what they share throughout the year.

Here's our group on the last day as we became a family over our 3 mornings together.
By the way, we were lucky enough to get to work in our #TMC18 host's room, Dave Sabol.  Thank you!
Shout out to our Geometry morning session family:
Elyssa Miller @misscalcul8, Barb Lynch @Stelladuma, Todd Feitelson @Toddf9, Philip Taylor @phitau13, Lisa Henry @lmhenry9,  Andre Sasser @MrsSasser, Melissa Allman @MAllmanAHS, Brian Cerullo @bcerullo12, Carolyn Fisher @FishercMHS, and Maggie Mocete @MMocete.