Saturday, December 30, 2017

Books read in 2017

I love reading.  I wish I could press pause and just read when I am hooked into a good book.  Yes, there are some that put me to sleep. But, my friends on Twitter always keep me in the know with the latest and greatest and don't steer me wrong. 

Here is my list of 25 books read this year.  I started to journal about them, just writing a little synopsis so I wouldn't forget them, but that stopped a few months in.  Then, I switched over to the notes in my phone and just typed the title and gave them a thumbs up or down.

First the bad...Sorry, just not my style.
These are some I do NOT recommend.

Grasshopper Jungle - do NOT waste your time.  I wasted enough for the both of us.  Just weird, weird, weird.  Unless I intrigued you, then read it.

The Most Dangerous Place in the World - yuck, snooze fest.

The Futures - just weird.

As Simple As Snow - I liked the way the author wrote.  I even liked the characters.  Just didn't like the story line.

Small Admissions - I am counting this has read but I didn't finish it.  Boring.

Now, for the good stuff, in order of how I read them this year:

Victoria - loved it, read it before the series came on and so excited for it to start back up.

Wonder - going to see the movie on Monday.

The Nightengale - a most read.  I thought the movie was coming out at Christmas but it looks like next year now.  Read it before the movie.  What a great story.

Simon vs. the Home Sapiens Agenda - love this!  And, the movie is coming out called Love, Simon and that is a great name for it.  Read this.

The Radius of Us - great, different.

The Circle - 500 pages, I committed, I read it.  I wasn't exactly happy with it but I don't want to spoil anything for you.  I haven't seen the movie yet.  Not sure I want to.

Big Little Lies - great, don't have HBO but watched the first day of the series.

City of Saints and Thiefs - a must - different - not many YA take place in Africa.  Great story. 

The Hate U Give - second time through.  I read it last year and then chose to read it again this summer for our HS summer reading book club.  I follow the author on Twitter and love seeing how the movie is coming together.

I'll Give You the Sun - love!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - love this one too!

To all the Boys I've Loved Before - cute, light, easy.

More Happy Than Not - really liked this.  I borrowed from my friend who heard the author speak and really liked it. I bought another book by him called "They All Die at the End" but it was stolen with my backpack so I didn't get to finish it.

The Beautiful List - I honestly do not remember even reading this.  I gave it a thumbs up.  I often read way too fast, I don't remember reading it, hence the attempt at journaling.
(hmmm, can't find a picture of the book.  Maybe it was something else.  Curious? I am still counting it as read).

Turtles All the Way Down - love, love, love!

The Rumor - great - oh, look, not a YA.

Zenn Diagram - cute, mathy, give it a try

Alex Approximately - good

The Nowhere Girls - Our town library recently formed a book club for adults (and students in grades 11 and 12) who enjoy reading YA.  Right up my alley.  I joined it and this was our first book.  I loved it and highly recommend it.  We have our meeting on it on Jan 22nd. I can't wait to chat about it.

I think my first book of 2018 will be Dear Martin.  Not sure what else will follow, but I will break this year's number.  You can see I love books that are going to be made it to movies, so I think I will google that now.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Blogging Challenge #MTBoSBlog18

Do you want to....

Read more mathy blogs?

Write more on your own mathy blog?

Start your own blog?

Then, I have a blogging challenge for you: #MTBoSBlog18

Starting in the new year...2018, on January 18th, I invite you to read or write blog posts.  And, continue on the 18th of each month.  Hence #MTBoSBlog18

If you are not familiar, MTBoS stands for Math-Twitter-Blog-O'Sphere - where people tweet and blog and share or tweet and read and share.

Here is a link to sign up and share your name, Twitter handle, and blog page.

If you don't have your own blog, we still need you to read.  You are our audience.  A lot of bloggers will tell you they mostly blog for themselves and their own reflection, but let's be honest, we are jumping up and down when we get a comment on a blog post.  Or, if someone retweets it, yippee!!!  We need you.  Follow the link for some fresh ideas of blogs to read and comment on.

Need a jump start to get blogging more?  Have every intention to blog an idea but time slips away?  Start typing and then #pushsend on the 18th of each month.  I will share some blog starters below.

Or, have you been reading blogs and keep saying you should start your own because you are ready to start sharing and reflecting?  Then, 2018 is a great year for you.  You will need to decide on your audience.  Mine is other math teachers.  You will need to decide on a platform.  Mine is blogger, but you can do a quick poll on twitter or some research.  Not get too hung up on it, don't let it be a roadblock.  And, a name.  Yes, you need a name and it can be a big hurdle for some people.  Do you want your own name it?  Your passion? Your hobby? Your favorite saying?  Some mathy pun?  Mine is 8ismyluckynumber (which you already know because you are here) but I like that is starts with the number 8.  I just type that into my search bar and it comes up.  Ask for help on twitter if you need more help, but let's set a goal of having it up by January 18th.  That gives you a month.  You can do it!

Need some ideas?  Here you go:
  • A recent good lesson/A recent bad lesson with reflection
  • New tech you like or dislike
  • A group activity and why it went good or bad
  • A podcast or Ted talk you like or disagree with
  • How you make an assessment
  • How you get/stay organized
  • An organizational hack
  • How you organize paper folders or digital folders
  • How you write a conference proposal
  • A recent conference you have attended
  • A school wide initiative or assembly
  • A favorite lesson so far
  • An upcoming lesson that needs a spark added
  • Desmos
  • Geogebra
  • A project
  • Social justice
  • Pedagogy
  • A student survey
  • Extracurriculars
  • Self care
  • Fun
  • Books - educational or for fun - recommendations
  • How you plan
  • Game/puzzles
  • MTBoS
  • Arrays
  • Number talks
  • Clothesline math
  • VNPS
  • Lesson openers or closers
  • Your classroom space
  • Reassessment
  • Review games/activities 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Perfect Storm of Testing

I have been straight out working all the time.  This week is no exception.  I choose to do my lesson plans at school and my grading at home.  Right now, I am in the midst of trying to wrap up all my units with quizzes and tests before our December break on Dec. 22nd.  I was getting confused on which classes had tests and quizzes and scaring the poor students by writing TEST on the board and it should have been a quiz.  No wonder I am going crazy, when you put it all together, it looks like this:

Monday: 3 Geometry Quizzes (73 kids)
Tuesday: 1 Algebra 2 Test (23 kids)
Wednesday: 1 Algebra 1 Quiz (25 kids)
Thursday: 3 Geometry Tests (73 kids)
Next Tuesday: 1 Algebra 1 Test (23 kids)

I make it a priority to grade everything that night and get it back to the students the next day so they can get the feedback and learn from what they got correct and incorrect.  So, that is grading 217 quiz/test in a week.

But, there is more than just grading.  Each time I have a quiz or a test, I precede it with a review day.  For the review day, I have a study guide list of what might be on the assessment.  And, then I have either a review game or a review packet, sometimes both.  Then, there is the assessment itself.  I have to update that each year, type it in, take it to check for time/length, make adjustments, and print.  And, I have extra help sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Plus with this being the end of the units, that means all my next units need to be ready to go.  I need to have my unit homework and calendars ready to go.

It's exhausting.

But....on a good note, all my grading will be done by break.  I will start a new unit prior to break in each class so we will have a just about fresh start in January. 

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

MIRA snowflakes

I have had MIRAs forever and never put them to use.  Today, we made MIRA snowflakes in the 20 minutes after lunch.  It was a quick crash course.  It really ended up being a course in following directions.  We have used compasses before, so we were familiar with that, but the MIRA was new.

Here are my directions:

Here are Period 5's snowflakes.  We ran out of time, but if you notice, they all have 6 parts.

Period 6 has 29 kids and is very loud and energetic.  They did not listen to the directions as well.  You can see - some have 4 parts, some have 8 parts, some skinny in the middle.  They should be skinny at the edge and fatter in the middle.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Similar Triangles at the Board #VNPS

I have been able to get the students to the boards more and more in Geometry.  I love it.  It is a lot of work up front, but the kids are really getting it.  I have all my students at the board at the same time (#VNPS).  I use VRG with and project the groups of 3 so they know their different groups each day.  Dare I say, we have reached a great flow in the classroom.  The kids now know how it works and the transitions are smooth.  Today, I heard a student say they love the "board problems". 

I presented on my first year attempting #VNPS last year at #TMC17 and I noted at the end that I wanted to do more with Geometry and more oral and I am happy to say I have done that.  I take a look at the lesson I am to teach that day and then I sort of write a script of the description I will read to the kids.  It is always one student and one marker.  After that student does their part, they "erase the board and pass the marker".  I feel like I say that all the time.  I am lucky that my colleague and I were awarded a grant for permanent white boards and really cool magnetic coordinate planes.  So, I often tell the students to "get in your board groups and grab a graph."  They really like them too.

We go to the boards and go through the problems.  Geometry lends itself so well because it is a lot of  drawing and vocabulary.  With all the students at the boards, I can monitor their work and we can catch mistakes or misunderstandings and discuss them.  I am very picky.  I will state reminders like make sure your lines have arrowheads or make sure you mark your right angles.  The kids have gotten proficient at all the particular details that make up Geometry.

It does take longer than just sitting at their desks and writing down what I tell them, but there are conversations as they build their own understanding, so of course it will take more time.  It is worth it.  As we are drawing things or calculating, I remind them to look around the room.  Geometry also lends itself well to problems taking about the same amount of time.  Students are not held back.  The board is blank when they start, so we are all starting at a low entry point and building our own ladder of understanding.

I will say it is kind of a good exhausting.  With all the movement and taking, there is a lot of energy in the room.  I have my class of 29 first.  Then, my smaller classes, so I know if I can get through them, the rest will be easier.

We will do our board problems, then come back to recap with really brief notes, mostly to get the vocabulary down and to bring it all together.  If time, we will do some practice problems.

Here are a couple of my lessons on Similarity.
In my powerpoints, I cut and paste the answers to the previous night's homework.
I take a screenshot of the page so I can have the groups in the ppt.
I keep my Geometry syllabus in a google doc and was able to cut and paste below with all the links.  Pretty cool that it worked.

7.1 Ratios and Proportions

7.2 Similar Polygons
7.3 Similar Triangles
Geo - Day 44 Board Problems

7.4 Parallel Lines & Proportional Parts
7.5 Parts of Similar Triangles

7.6 Similarity Transformations
7.7 Scale Drawings & Models

Review for Quiz 5 on Ch. 7

Monday, November 13, 2017

Intro to Polygons Lesson

Sometimes I need to remember KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.  I was introducing Polygons in 9th/10th Geometry class.  I was hoping they came in with some vocabulary and understanding.  I had them right up at the boards for three simple drawings to check for understanding.  It led to great discussions.

Board Problems

We discussed "perfect looking" hexagons vs not for the vocab word of regular.
I asked them to draw diagonals and then had them define a diagonal.
We noticed the number of triangles inside the polygon and saw the pattern to make the formula.
I finished with asking them to draw and name all the polygons they knew.  More great discussions...
Is a circle a polygon?  I had not defined it, so I asked them to and they got all 3 characteristics.
What about a square, rectangle, rhombus, and kite  - are they polygons?
One group came up with dodecagon but asked about how many sides a dodecahedron had so we discussed 2D vs 3D.
Edited to add one girl thought one of them was a "rhododendron"  Too cute.

Then, we came back to our desks for a Desmos card sort to clarify more vocabulary. Which led to more discussion.  I love when the card sorts ask for more than one way to sort things.  Genius!

Finally, a practice worksheet to put it all together.

I had the following meme on my daily agenda.  I guess this has turned into my High5.  Kids look forward to coming to class to see the meme and then it takes a minute but there is usually a smile or a laugh.  A great way to start each class.

Today's - being from Boston - we always sing "Sweet Caroline" at the Red Sox games:

It was a nice lesson for a Monday.  Thought I would share.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Quadratic Card Sort on Desmos

In Accelerated Algebra 2, we are having a Desmos Day with Quadratics. 

I dressed up in Desmos and one student told me "It was like I was sponsored by Desmos."  Proudly!

I first collected information from a Google form as a lesson opener.  We have recapped Algebra 1 Quad stuff - graphing from all forms and the start of solving.  I wanted to see where we are and how to move forward (formative assessment).

I learned quite a bit from these 8 questions.  I put my thoughts into a powerpoint for the next class's opener (using formative assessment to change teaching).  I do have one student who is still unsure of how graphs are transformed and I will definitely reach out to her.  The biggest area of unsure students is Inverse.  This was new this year, so it makes sense and we will be revisiting it.

Question 1: They understand the Zero Product Property and how it is used to solve quads by factoring.
Question 2: A few divided by zero and threw away an answer. NO!
Question 3: Write a quadratic tangent to the x-axis - one did not know what they meant (need to clarify vocab), otherwise, pretty good. And, they gave me answers in all forms.
Question 4: When would a quadratic have no solutions - got two possible correct answers and good connection to the graph in understanding this.  Next class is imaginary numbers and complex solutions.
Question 5: Write a quad in standard form with an x-int at -4.  Mostly correct.  A big problem was form - some wrote in factored form.
Question 6: Write a quad in standard form with x-int at -1/3 and -5.  Again, an issue with not writing in standard form.  But, for the most part okay.  Interestingly, a good amount of kids stayed with the fractional form.
Question 7: This one had mixed results - looking at the reflection:

Question 8: What are you still unsure of from the previous unit.

Then, I was going to try 3 Desmos Activites.  Silly me, too ambitious as usual.  The first one was more powerful than I anticipated.  Desmos Quadratic Card Sort.  It asked the students to sort quadratic equations.  All but one of my students sorted by the form of the equation - vertex and standard.  Then, in slide 3, a Desmos student sorted them into three piles.  It took the students quite a while to figure out how she sorted.  It finally took them away from just seeing the form.  It turns out she sorted by how many solutions - 0, 1, or 2 solutions.  Then, it asked them to sort another way - what, a 3rd way?  Most did it by the value of a - was it positive or negative, was it reflected over x.  Some did was it vertically stretched or compressed (still looking at a).  The original student who did not look at form, originally looked at reflection and this time now looked at form.  I read their responses and shared the analysis with the class.  It made them think for sure.

I love that I can see there progress, comments, thinking, and mistakes (as them fix them live!).

Love it.  Try it!

Desmos Activity 2: Factoring Sort - We did not have enough time to get very far (we could have used an hour period) but it did reveal some misunderstandings.  One important one was students were putting a sum of 2 squares under a difference of 2 squares.  I went around individually to each student and showed them their answers on my computers and what they did incorrectly.  Another mistake was not to realize once you pulled out a GCF it was a different of 2 squares or a perfect square trinomial. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Discovering Proving Triangles Congruent VNPS

In Accelerated Geometry, I am trying to get the students up to the boards a lot to discover and Geometry is lending itself nicely.  (#VNPS)

I was introducing the Triangle Congruence Theorems and did not just want to tell them.  Instead, I had them in groups of threes at the boards with one marker, one ruler, and one protractor.  My notes to read to them: Triangle Congruence Theorem Lesson.  We practiced our notation as I orally gave directions on what to draw.  Draw Triangle ABC with side AB measuring this, etc.  We went through different scenarios and then compared all 9 displayed around the room.  If they were all the same, we concluded it was enough to prove them congruent.  If not, then it was not going to work.  We also practiced classifying each triangle along the way.  It led to great discussion.  I did not teach how to use the protractor, so they did struggle with that, but I helped and they figured it out. 

We came back to our desks for a recap to get the theorems in our notes and practice using them in proofs. 

I did this in three classes and it went really well.  It took me about 35 minutes to get through it all.

Exterior Angle of Triangle with Geo and Desmos

In Accelerated Geometry, I introduced the students to the Exterior Angle of a Triangle Theorem.  I did not straight out tell them the theorem.  I wanted them to "discover" it using the Desmos activity.  However, the first question was what is the theorem.  Some thought it was all the exterior angles add to 360 degrees - true.  Some thought it was the exterior angle of a triangle is greater than each far angle.  True, too.  So, I drew a picture on the board and we discovered the connection that way, then we dove into practicing with Desmos.  I loved seeing them sketch their pictures:

Linear Regression: Legos Desmos

In Accelerated Algebra 1, we are learning linear regression.  I had notes from last year to add more practice and Desmos Legos fit in beautifully on a shortened class on a Friday.  I love seeing the kids make their predictions, sketching their graphs, using their equations to make predictions, and discuss Legos.  Then, we clarified what y =0.112x meant - did it mean 12 bricks for a dollar or 12 cents per brick?  I extended it to the current largest lego set the Millenium Falcon set.  It has 7541 pieces.  We used our equations and came up with about $840, so when we googled and found out it was $800, it was a steal!  Some non-lego lovers couldn't image spending that much time and money on Legos but some really appreciated it.  One student was talking about his $3,640 piece Lego set and another asked, "How do you know how many pieces? Did you have to count?"  He said, "Nope, it says it on the box?"

Also, love the new Desmos dashboard.  I did anonymize the students and they were intrigued with their mathematician.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Quilt Coloring to Bach

I love hearing about Math on a Stick that happens at the Minneapolis State Fair.  This year Annie Fetter @MFAnnie had kids coloring quilt squares.  I loved the idea and brought it to my classroom.  I went out and bought fresh packs of crayons because I wanted everyone to use crayons.  I decided to have my three Geometry classes color them in our 20 minutes after lunch block time.  Not many had time to finish, but some did and they are continuing to bring their finished quilt squares in.  I wanted to do it this week because Back to School night is tomorrow (Thursday, Sept 14th) and I thought we could make a quilt on my closet door to display for parents.

Quilt Pattern here

The word "crayons" brought up some debate in my Geometry class.  Is it "cray-ons" or "crayns"?

Even though they were new boxes, I still ended up with some broken ones because some kids color really hard.

There is a square within the square that I asked the kids to start with first, make the pattern there and then repeat in the other three quadrants.  The first square was no problem, but then it was hard to replicate - did they pick up the right crayon, did they color in their correct part.  It was harder than I thought it would be.

The hardest part was fitting the crayons back in the box.

I found some Bach music to listen to while we were coloring.  It was so nice and peaceful.  At first, some students thought it was weird or stupid but then they all got into it.  We could have used another hour to color at our leisure.

I think we all enjoyed our coloring time and we ended up with a beautiful quilt:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Geometry #VNPS Desmos Day 4

Day 3 in Geometry was a summer assessment on a summer packet.

Day 4 we moved into learning about the Distance Formula and the Midpoint Formula.  Kids "know" the distance formula.  They have used it.  They may forget what is added or subtracted, but it comes back to them.  I wanted them to see where it came from, so I had them up at the boards #VNPS and walked them through these instructions to graph on a coordinate plane, work their way to the Pythagorean Theorem (which I let them try to spell out and most of the students thought it was the "PythagoreaM TheorM" - so we corrected that misunderstanding.)  I had them solve it for C and replace with x s and ys.  They finally saw the connection between the Distance Formula and the Pythagorean Theorem!

Here is a picture of group work:

Then, I made a Desmos activity that started with some thoughts on the Distance Formula and the Pythagorean Theorem.  It moves into asking them to figure out where the Midpoint Formula comes from.  Next, I brought a map of our town, Hopkinton, into a coordinate plane and asked them to find a distance.  Then, I did the normal "If somebody walks this way around the corner and somebody takes a shortcut, how much does the shortcut save?"  It took a lot longer than I thought.  I purposely did not put the fire station on a nice integer point, so they were struggling to figure out what decimals to use and then oh my, having to work through the distance formula with decimals was tough.  But, they did understand that they could have used the Pythagorean Theorem or the Distance Formula.  Most opted for the Distance Formula.  Then, I had them find a midpoint and that was a little easier. 

One question I asked that I liked was about the Distance Formula and "Name two mistakes a student might make when using this Distance Formula."  Here is a snapshot of some results:

Here is a picture of my Desmos Hopkinton Map slide:

Meeting Spot: Midpoint:

Thanks for reading.

Geometry #VNPS Day 2 Vocab

On my second day of Geometry, I had the students up at the boards for #VNPS to learn about points, lines, planes, angles, rays.  I read this as they drew and wrote notations.  I was going to have them shift and look at others to correct, but we just had the groups correct their own.  It was great discussion.  I asked them to draw a line, they drew a segment.  After we realized it needed arrowheads to be considered a line, I asked them to write the notation.  They wrote it with a segment on top.  They realized they had to have the arrowheads on this as well.  I am hoping the making of mistakes and fixing them along the way will make it stick better than me saying, "This is how you draw a line. This is it's notation."  It took longer than I anticipated.  I wanted them to return to their seats and then write it in their notes, but instead, I asked them to take out their phones and take a picture and for homework to write it into their notes.  They could take a picture of their own group's work or another.  It was fun to see the Geometry Paparazzi form around the neatest work and snap pictures. 

Here are two examples:

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Math and Me in Geometry

I am taking a class and typed this up in a google doc and figured I may as well share it in a blog.

This is made from a Desmos getting to know you activity inspired by Emily Sliman and Anna Scholl.  Thank you!

Math and Me with Desmos in Geometry

What an amazing experience for me to learn about my students.  I was showing our IT person and he asked why I wouldn’t just use Google forms to do this in.  I said I would not know how to do all this in Google forms.  Plus, I wanted to capture pieces, sort of sneak peeks of what we will be doing with Desmos this year in math.  I will walk through a student’s responses to share what I learned.  This is for one of my students:
  1. First screen asked to graph how they feel about math.  Desmos allows them to draw on the graph and to type in a response.

2.)  One new ongoing idea that came from Sean at Twitter Math Camp was a Marbleslides challenge.  He created 36 weekly challenges for my classes to try.  I give them a code and they try it on their own.  I will give out prizes to the top 3.  I wanted my Geometry students to try a Marbleslides.  They have to adjust the given equation so that when the ball is launched, it will go through all the stars.

3.)  Step 3 was another marbleslide but they were not given the equation.  Here is what she did:
4.)  WODB: This stands for Which One Doesn’t Belong.  It is a great website collection of different pictures to use in the classroom and the cool thing is there is a reason why each doesn’t belong.  They have to be different from each other but then share qualities with others at times.  I asked the students to explain their thinking.  Interestingly, most students picked the bottom left because it doesn’t have any straight lines.  I like that she chose and defended A.

5.)  I took a class a few summers ago on Growth Mindset with Jo Boaler.  There is a lot of talk on Twitter about are you born as a math person.  I wanted to see where the kids stood.  It seemed to be if I student said they liked math, they put agree.  If they didn’t like it, they put unsure or disagree.  She is in the middle.

6.)  This is another new aspect of Desmos - the card sort.  I love matching and have kids sort things by similarities and differences.  In the “old days”, I used to have to make copies and do a lot of cutting.  Now, I can just use Desmos and re-use it.  Here are some ideas built off of the mindset in slide 5.  There isn’t one correct way to join these but they were fun to see where the students were.  It seems this year more students are finally better with making mistakes.  It is okay to make mistakes.

7.)  I liked to find out what I need to know about them. Here is her response about homework.  
8.)  Next up, I asked what they needed from me.  Some asked me to do more group work or less group work or to not call on them or to have patience.

9.)  I thought this would be a good time to find out if they wanted to be called by a nickname or a different name.
10.)  And, the last one was just for fun.  I think I will compile these because the students did get creative and funny. The slide is made so it shows the students some of their classmates responses.  They were pulling them up on their phone and sharing today.