Feb 132018

Last week, I attended the AMTE conference. AMTE stands for the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators and is a fabulous group. I have been a member for 3 years now, but this was my first attendance at their conference.

One take away (and I had more than one) was from Samuel Otten, (twitter: @ottensam) host of the MathEd Podcast and Zandra de Araujo, both are assistant professors of math education at the University of Missouri.  The team gave a fabulous presentation on why we need to nudge teachers, and not expect radical transformation of teachers. They are right on the money, in my opinion. Radical transformation is hard, but incremental steps are easy. Think about changing my diet. If I say, “tomorrow I will become a vegan” that will take huge amounts of energy and effort. However, if I say, “tomorrow I will start eating an apple every day” that is easy, and a great first step. Day 2 I swap out regular milk for soy milk, day 3 I swap out breakfast, etc. Small, incremental steps are easy to adopt and lead to the same results.

Think about Steven Leinwand’s 10% rule. No teacher should be expected to change more than 10% of their practices in a year. However, every teacher should be expected to change 10% of their practices in a year! Small, incremental changes.

During their presentation, they put up this image.

Claim 4: reform doesn't stick because it leaves in place the foundation of its undoing

Don’t get hung up on the percentiles or quality of instruction axis. There is no scientific basis for this graph, just a gut check, a collective grasp of what do we think is the distribution of teachers at each level of quality. But, we believe there is a distribution of teachers who are at the low end of quality of instruction, and some at the high end, and some in the middle.

And we have been talking about radical change in the quality of instruction since 1989 when NCTM published the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards. That is 30 years of conversation about changing math instruction.

30 years.

At that point, we really have to admit, that the real leaders of mathematics education are those teachers who are on the low end of the Quality of Instruction scale, whether they are 25% or 75% of the teacher population.

That group has been driving and leading the discussion on Quality of Instruction for 30 years.

We don’t discuss the gains we have made in changing mathematics instruction, we constantly talk about and research the lack of gains. They are the real leaders.

That is really sad!

They also showed what happens when we stop talking about radical change, which only moves the right side of the graph higher, and does little to move the left.

what radical change looks like compared to nudging

Moving the left side of the curve requires nudging teachers. Introducing small changes, that build over time. If we really want to change the shape of the curve, we need to stop expecting radical change, which only a small number of teachers adopt. We need to gently add to the skills and abilities of all teachers.

This was a powerful presentation. I only cherry picked 2 slides out of the entire thing. He gave a much stronger argument, using a variety of approaches.

Thank you Samuel and Zandra!

 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Aug 162016

I took yesterday off of blogging because of being overwhelmed with todo lists for work. Fixed that. Yay! So, another #BlAugust post for me.


OMG! I also earned a “Star of the Week” from Meg Craig for this post! Wow. That is an honor coming from her. She also made a shortlink for the page: bit.ly/mtbosresources. I guess I better keep it updated!


Stars of The Week

Okay, on to the post.

I attended a board meeting of the local math group last night. Some of the most amazing educators in my region (not just my county), and it is a pleasure to work with all of them again. I am on the board as the Higher Ed Representative, which is a good fit.

During the course of the meeting, a call was put out by a member for resources, activities, and other things for the newsletter. Of course, I volunteered a list of 5 or so things off the top of my head from the MTBoS. There was concern about the amount of time it would take to “find” these resources, so I volunteered fix that.

This collection of #MTBoS resources is here so I can find it easily in the future and to provide a page where other teachers can be directed.

First off, what is the #MTBoS? The hashtag stands for Math Twitter Blog o’Sphere. Dan Meyer has an interesting take on the MTBoS.

Sites that are ‘organizational’ in nature:

These sites try to organize or provide structure to the #MTBoS in some way.

Exploring the MTBoS: A site created by math teachers to help organize, explain, and yes, explore the MTBoS.

Welcome to the MTBoS: A site created to welcome teachers new to the MTBoS. It gives them support, some guidance, as well as helps them find some good tweeps (Twitter peeps) to follow and get to know.

A dedicated MTBoS search engine: Have you ever wanted a lesson on XXX, but googled it and came up with a bunch of crap? This search engine searches only math teacher blogs, K-12, and will pull up lessons that are tried and tested. If the lesson sucked, the blog post will tell you that, and how to improve it.

TwitterMathCamp: An annual conference that meets in July to connect teachers. It is PD for teachers, by teachers. It also has an archive of blog posts from every year. In addition there is a wiki of sessions, My Favorites, and Keynotes.

The MTBoS Directory: This site lists teachers who are self-identified as members of the #MTBoS. Want to join? Just submit your name. That is all it takes. It has a map of members to help you find local math teachers, as well as multiple ways to sort and select people.

The hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter: Ask a question relating to math or math teaching using the hashtag, you will get an answer.

A Facebook MTBoS group: Another way to connect with math educators

A Padlet of “High Fives” for others in the #MTBoS created by Sam Shah. He is amazing. The “High Five” is relevant because of the speech I gave at TMC15.

A Chat list of Educational Chats: They list themselves as “official” but of course there is no such thing. It is rather comprehensive, and although the chats change times each year, it is pretty complete and accurate.

A MTBoS LiveBinder: This binder collects and organizes resources for the MTBoS. There are a lot of different links in this binder.

Resources / Activities created by the MTBoS (many are crowd sourced, submit your questions too!)

  • Global Math Department: Every Tuesday evening, a presentation by a different math educator on a relevant topic.
  • Daily Desmos: Different Demos challenges every day. 6-12
  • teacher.desmos.com: Yes, Desmos is a company, not a person. However, they are an active member of the MTBoS!
  • Estimation 180: Andrew Stadel’s site with different estimation challenges for each day of the year. K-12
  • Visual Patterns: Fawn Nguyen’s site with different visual patterns, challenging learners to create the equation / expression for it. K-12
  • Math Talks: Fawn Nguyen also curates this site which prompts to get your learners talking math. K-12
  • Which One Doesn’t Belong: Mary Bourassa’s site that poses the age old question. K-12
  • Math Munch: Justin Lanier’s site that has lots of fun, engaging lessons. K-12
  • Would You Rather? John Stevens asks the simple question, would you rather have this, or that? Justify with math. 6-12
  • Fraction Talks: A great visual way to get learners talking about fractions. K-12
  • Collaborative Mathematics: Poses questions to get learners engaged with each other about math. K-12
  • Open Middle: Robert Kaplinksy created this site to collect open middle questions. K-12
  • Math Mistakes: Michael Pershan is fascinated by what teachers can learn by looking at mistakes. K-12
  • Talking Math with your Kids: Christopher Danielson’s passion for doing math with little ones is celebrated. K-6
  • Math Arguments: The Math Curmudgeon curates problems to create math arguments in your classroom. 7-12

Teacher resources (not for learners necessarily)

And this is before we get into lessons from:

Bit.ly links created to archive and store awesome lessons.

  • bit.ly/desmosbank – Managed by Jedidiah Butler, a way to store all the awesome things created by teachers around the world with Desmos. Add yours too!
  • bit.ly/cardsortbank – Created at the Descon16 by Julie Reulbach to keep track of the amazing Card Sorts her group was creating. Add yours too!
  • bit.ly/mtbosresources (this page so I don’t forget it!)

These are just a few of my favorites.  For more activities, teacher created materials, sites, and just all around engaging stuff go to the Welcome to the MTBoS site. http://mathtwitterblogosphere.weebly.com/cool-things-weve-done-together.html

I hope this helps. Now that I have it typed up, I am passing it along to teachers in my region for sharing as well.

Have a wonderful day!

Edited: 17 Aug 2016

Edited 22 Aug 2016

Sep 242015

Dont always say something stupid

I purposefully waited to post on this topic again, because the first post was so controversial. No really. Crazy controversial. I was not prepared for that, and I had no clue it would be. How controversial was it? This one comparison says most of what I mean:


The 135 hit count was my post on “High Fives” from #TMC15, and the 400 hit count was this post. Google Analytics says that one post was viewed over 1200 times. For my little blog, that is a lot of traffic. The conversation on Twitter was also interesting, and I grew a new appreciation for the complexity of the topic. When I first made the post, I was irritated, and now I am calm and reflective. I think I did make some mistakes in the original post, and I want to clarify some issues for myself so I remember the complexity. With that in mind, I see 3 issues now, and I will go through them one at at time.

The “Sharing economy where teachers win.”

I will start with the original article from the New York Times. The clear assumption of the article is that teachers ONLY win when they make money from the selling of their lessons.

One of her best-selling items is a full-year collection of high school grammar, vocabulary and literature exercises. It has generated sales on TeachersPayTeachers of about $100,000. Speaking from her tiny home office,  formerly a bedroom closet, Ms. Randazzo still sounded amazed at her success.

The teacher interviewed made over $100,000 from one collection and now she has a home office. That is a WIN! (heavy sarcasm) The clear subtext by the NYT is that winning = making lots of money.

Teachers often spend hours preparing classroom lesson plans to reinforce the material students are required to learn, and many share their best materials with colleagues. Founded in 2006, TeachersPayTeachers speeds up this lesson-plan prep work by monetizing exchanges between teachers and enabling them to make faster connections with farther-flung colleagues.

Teachers often times spend HOURs doing their jobs with no reward, but we can ‘monetize’ the process! That is a WIN! Because, you know, those ‘connections with farther-flung colleagues’ would not or could not occur without the benefit of monetization. (more sarcasm)

Mr. Freed took the helm of Teacher Synergy in 2014. One of his first tasks was to bring the technology behind the homespun company up to date without introducing radical changes that might upset its following. That goal has become more urgent now that TES Global, a British company with its own teacher-to-teacher marketplace, has entered the American market.

That’s right. This isn’t just a homespun, backroom business, it is an international business. This “Winning” has nothing to do with teachers, or education, or students. It has everything to do with making money for major corporations. After all, Mr. Freed isn’t an ex-teacher who is running this business to benefit classrooms, he is a corporate venture capitalist who is trying to squeeze as much money as possible for the investors.

And please, don’t get me wrong. I am not a staunch idealist who believes that money always corrupts and destroys education. But I am firmly opposed to the current trend of treating education like  a business. These are people we are teaching, not ID numbers. Every dollar stolen from the educational system and given to corporations is one less dollar that can be used to help people learn, develop and grow.

The NYTimes blew it. Big time. I realize they have corporate sponsors they answer to, and writing an article about how dangerous TPT is to education may not be good for them. Except they have run that article. But is wasn’t in the business section, it was in the education section. And it was 6 years ago, before they NYT, like all newspapers, had to pay more attention to their bottom line and run fluff pieces that were devoid of journalistic integrity.

And those amazing numbers of teachers getting wealthy from selling their lessons? That may not be all that grand either. Look into it. You will see a few teachers make a lot of cash, while the larger majority of teachers are purchasing Mr. Freed a second guesthouse. (Okay, that is a snarky comment. Who knows where the rest of the money goes. But TPT does have an $86 million dollar debt to venture capitalists to pay off. That is money not being spent on classrooms, we can agree on that much.)

In my opinion, the New York Times still failed.


Which brings me to the next point:

The Commodity of Education

These are my personal feelings and frustration towards the growing trend of making education a commodity. I personally don’t like TPT because I believe it turns the education of people, of human beings, into a commodity that can be bought and sold. Even writing that sentence raises a bit of anger in me (and that is the frustration and anger that spilled over into the previous post.) We hear daily from the media that “Education is in Crisis” in the US. Except it isn’t. The story has been well written and pushed through most media channels how horrible our educational system is.

I sat through a presentation by one important person in my state who said, “Our K-12 system is broken, no one comes to the US to attend our K-12 schools.” [This statement is demonstrably false, but ignore that.] His next statement was, “Our University system is the best in the world and students from other countries fight to attend our schools.”

Stop and think about that for a second. …. …. Really? If the K-12 system is so broken, how is our University system the envy of the world? Is it because of the extremely small percentage of foreigners who attend our Universities? No. It is because of the amazing students coming out of our K-12 system that are innovative, creative and demand to learn, and the completely dedicated faculty at both the K-12 and University level.

We have companies like Pearson raking in gobs of cash in profits on the backs of our students. Why? Because of this narrative that our system is broken. This is the same narrative that has been pushed on the US for the last 25 years or so. “K-12 education sucks, deprive them of funding because they suck, and when they don’t perform because they have no funding, claim it is because the teachers suck.”

Breath…..  Really. You could not plan a better way to destroy public education than what is going on now. [Evidence here, and here but behind a paywall so here instead, and here, and here (and really, if you read only one, read that one)]. I could go on and on.

So the answer from the business world is clearly to make education a commodity that can be bought and sold. Make schools private so they richest families can send their children to good schools, and let’s just give them the tax money along with it (back to starving our schools of resources). The rest of the children, … they don’t really have a good plan for them. Just corporate schools to move them through. (seriously, read the last link in the previous paragraph.)

And if that isn’t good enough, let’s create away to “assess” and “teach” our learners in a way that will require HUGE amounts of money to be thrown at companies regardless of the company’s success. In fact, let’s create more ways to give educational money to companies and call it “charter schools” which can be run by corporations. John Oliver’s take down of the corporate testing agenda is mandatory watching.

And, if that isn’t enough, let’s define the concept of “success” in K-12 education as “graduating” but make the definition of graduation so narrow that it is guaranteed impossible for any school that does not purposefully select its students to meet. [Really. Look into it. How are “graduation rates” calculated? I have looked into it. No comprehensive high school can meet a 100% rate. It is mathematically and physically impossible to achieve. Success is defined to be impossible for K-12, but the corporations making the rules will never admit that in public.]

But our schools are NOT failing. Not by a long shotThe reformers are wrong. It is a myth. Absolutely a myth.

This whole process results in one thing, making education, making people’s education something that can be bought and sold on the open market.

TPT is one symptom of that. I really dislike that aspect. I don’t have any hard feelings for the teachers who use TPT, but the company itself? I find the company reprehensible and a symptom of  purposeful attacks on education to serve a commercial agenda.

And that brings me to the final point.

Ownership of teaching materials

One issue that did not consider (and this is my mea culpa because I did blow it on this) is ownership of our work product. I accused teachers of “selling out.” That was wrong. Teachers are not selling out, they are using a corporation to earn some pennies on the material they create. If lots of other teachers buy their materials, then they make lots of pennies (but to be clear, the corporation makes far more than the teachers do.)

But, do the teachers actually own their intellectual property?

My opinion is that I believe what ANY teacher makes on their own time, at home OR AT SCHOOL should be owned solely and completely by the teacher who created it. Even if I stay until 7 pm at school building and creating things for my students, I should own that product even if I did it at school. If I choose to give it away, I should be allowed. If I choose to sell it, I should be allowed.

It appears that the belief I have may be false.

Would you believe there is reasonable case law to say that the school district actually owns the material I made, and I am not allowed to sell it?

And it gets worse. If I take materials I make at home and upload it to the cloud service the school district runs for my benefit, I could lose the rights to it.

Um. yea. The entire situation became incredibly complex. In talking to teachers, I found a school district in Texas that will not allow a teacher to even share a single example of a lesson they use. Everything used in the classroom is immediately copyrighted by the district. (I didn’t ask where, I didn’t want to know.)

I found out that in Utah, they have a very open policy and teachers are given rights to their material for sharing purposes.

This entire issue is one big, giant, messy, ugly, hot mess.

That teachers may not own the things they create for their classroom, that they don’t own the intellectual property they create is baffling. And this is not an issue of corporations wanting to own our work. These laws were created years ago before the current corporate takeover of schools started.

Do I fault teachers for selling their intellectual property. Not one bit. I think teachers should have that right. I think the teacher I spoke with in Texas is in a very difficult position. I believe that teacher owns their work, even if the district attempts to falsely claim ownership. I believe I own every single lesson I created. If I want to sell them (and I don’t) I should be allowed.

A large hot mess.

But I think I addressed some very constructive and much appreciated comments I received from teachers who use TPT. I am posting their comments below and emailing them that I responded.

Thank you for challenging me on what I wrote. I do appreciate it.

Shana wrote:

Good point, but I see things a different way. The time teachers put into their Teachers pay Teachers resources is time that is outside of their teaching job. It’s a second job, if you think about it. When I buy an activity from TpT, I am not only buying the activity, I’m buying time with my family.

If you are a teacher you’ll know that we have at least 2 jobs: the one where we are delivering instruction, which takes very little time but is the part of teaching all non-teachers imagine we do all day, and then there is the part where we plan lessons. Wait, then grading papers. Oh, and planning meetings and writing reports if we are Special Ed teachers. At the end of all that I am happy (overjoyed, elated, giddy) to be able to spend $3 to spend more time with my family.

As for the comment about doctors selling lesson plans. I don’t understand this argument. Doctors get paid well for their jobs and sell every part of it. And how about tutoring? A lot of teachers do this to make ends meet. Should they give their time away? Should doctors give their time away? It’s weird to me that teachers are faulted for asking for their time to be compensated when no one else is asked to do this.

I love Teachers pay Teachers. By having cheap access to master teachers’ resources I bring a better school experience to my students and more time to my family. Faulting teachers for getting $2 for hours of their time is ridiculous and small-minded.

How do you feel about censorship?

Gina wrote:

Hi! My name is Gina and I run the store All Things Algebra on TpT. I firmly believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion. However, I do want to clarify a couple things. I can speak on the behalf of most all TpT sellers that yes, we do collaborate and continually seek to improve. I am constantly asking my colleagues for feedback and tweeking my resources to make them better. I am much of a perfectionist and never settle for just okay. Second, many of us take our original ideas and translate them into other grade levels/subject areas per request from those that have used our materials. For example, I spent 5 years+ writing an algebra curriculum. Many of those who purchased it asked (okay pretty much begged!) for a geometry version because they had seen the success of the algebra materials. They could have absolutely taken my ideas and written a curriculum for their personal classroom, but wanted ME to do it.I agreed to do this, and gave up about 60+ hours a week of my life over the course of a year to do this. I am now doing the same for Algebra 2. I take custom requests all the time, some are huge projects like those I just mentioned, and some are smaller. This does not make me a “sell-out”. Teachers should be compensated for this type of extra work. And also, I’ve noticed an increase in district purchase orders, which is great! Schools are seeing the benefits of teacher created materials over textbook companies.

Please consider these things and do not create an “us vs. them” environment as someone mentioned above. We are ALL working for the benefit of all learners. There is so much going on at TpT than I think you understand, and I’d be happy to chat with you about it. Feel free to email me at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.


 Posted by at 6:23 pm
Sep 062015

In my Feedly this morning popped up the article by Larry Ferlazzo called, “Disappointing NY Times Article On Teachers & ‘A Sharing Economy’.” Okay, let me be more blunt. I am not disappointed in the NYT, I am frustrated and a little ticked off. It stems from this article in the NYT: A Sharing Economy where Teachers Win by Natasha Singer.

Read the article. I call foul AND shenanigans. How much did TeachersPayTeachers pay for this fluff piece that was nothing more than an advertisement for teachers selling out other teachers.


Maybe it is because I am active and love the #MTBoS (that is the MathTwitterBlogo’Sphere, if you are not familiar with it.) I embrace the sharing, the collaboration and the freely giving of resources that the math teachers do on Twitter, their blogs and the internet in general.

The article should have been titled, “A sharing economy where teachers win, but collaboration dies.” Sure, some teacher just made $1000 by selling her lesson plans to a 1000 different teachers for a buck. She won, but collaboration died. Is she seeking feedback from people who have used her lessons? Is she improving them by discussing and talking about how others have used them? Probably not. It is in a store, and people are buying it. There is no reason or need to improve it.

Meanwhile, in the #MTBoS, teachers are making, sharing, improving and resharing lessons all the time. They are coming together to make better lessons. And then, they talk about these lessons, which spawn more, better lessons. This is a collaborative community where ALL teachers win, and more importantly, our learners win. And our learners continue to win. Over and over again.

Seriously, look at the amount of resources freely created and given away.

First up, websites created by teachers collaborating:

  • Let’s start with the MTBoS Directory. No one claims this is an exhaustive list. It requires teachers to add their names to it, but there are currently 344 teachers in the list, all with an online presence, and all sharing things.
  • Nixthetricks.com – created by Tina Cardone and teachers all over the #MTBoS who contributed tricks. You can download the most excellent book for free.
  • Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns and Math Talks. Both are excellent sites. I have used the Visual Patterns site frequently in my high school classroom, and am working on learning more about Math Talks and implementing them in the college classroom where I am now.
  • Would you Rather Math is a site I used regularly in my teaching as well. Great questions, created by and curated by John Stevens.
  • Michael Pershan’s Math Mistakes. See an interesting math mistake? Submit it to this site and have a discussion on the thinking the learner made while making the mistake. We can learn more from mistakes than we can from correct work.
  • Dan Meyer’s Google spreadsheet of 3 Acts lessons. More on this to come. I am working on an idea taking shape out of my current position as a Master Teacher with a UTeach model school.
  • Mary Bourassa’s Which One Doesn’t Belong. So Mary saw Christopher Danielson’s great shapes idea, and realized that there was some amazing math thinking that could be done. BOOM, another collaborative website created.
  • Open Middle Dan Meyer introduced the idea, Nanette Johnson, Robert Kaplinsky and Bryan Anderson ran with and created the platform.
  • Desmos Activity Bank A site created by Jed Butler out of the need to share Desmos files, first showed at TMC15 at Harvey Mudd College.
  • MTBoS Activity Bank created by John Stevens (second time his name is on the list) to collect and curate some of the awesome materials created. Anyone can submit their own, and searching is easy.
  • The MTBoS Blog Search also created by John Stevens (I don’t think he sleeps). This site allows you search the blogs of a long list of math teachers for lessons, content, whatever you are looking for.
  • Robert Kaplinsky has a Problem Based Search Engine, to find those specialized lessons that are, you guessed it, problem based!
  • The Welcome to the MathTwitterBlogoSphere website has a further collection of collaborative efforts that includes some of the above but is even larger.

But that isn’t even all of it. There are teachers who are collecting curriculum, links or materials and sharing it all back out; lock, stock and barrel. These teachers have “Virtual Filing Cabinets” full of lessons that have been tried and tested, re-written and shared back out. Some call their pages VFC’s, some are just curated sites of materials.

And then there are great organizations giving away curriculum:

  • Illustrative Mathematics, free ever-more-complete curriculum that is CCSS aligned and incredibly high quality.
  • Shells Center/Mathematics Assessment Project, good as lessons, problems or assessments. I forget about this site until I am desperate, and then kick myself because it is just so good and thorough.
  • Mathalicious has free lessons and paid lessons. I have used them in class. They are worth paying for!
  • Igor Kokcharov has an international effort in APlusClick. Lots of great problems and lessons.

And this list is FAR from complete. It is what I pulled together in 15 minutes of thought. And this list does not even begin to talk about the 180 blogs

So, NY Times and Natasha Singer. You blew it. You didn’t show teachers winning, you showed teachers selling out. If you want to see winning teachers, click on any link above and read their sites.

The above are all winning teachers. TeachersPayTeachers is an example of teachers losing out on this kind of collaboration.

Aug 172014

Can I tell you how much I love my learners! A sophomore girl walked into my classroom this week with these shoes and and said, “Mr. Waddell! Look what I found this summer!”

2014-08-13 07.42.29 How awesome are Calculus Toms. If you know or have any influence at Toms, tell them to make them again! I am so bummed that they are not for sale anymore. This learner found them in a used clothing store and was completely excited that she found math shoes. I must be doing something positive in the classroom if my learners from last year are this excited about shoes.

As far as my classes at the end of the week, they went well. The first week of school was successful. My algebra 2 learners are crushing the rules and can solve any literal equation I through at them. This means that they CAN solve any equation they need to all year long. Tuesday, I connect those dots with them and then move into parent functions.

One thing I am very proud of is my syllabus this year. I completely redesigned it, and I incorporated Remind into it in an important way.

2014-15 Alg 2 syllabus    Syllabus-AP Statistics

These are pages 1 and 3 of my syllabi, with page 2 being the signup sheet that Remind prints out. I have almost every single learner signed up for Remind in my classes, and even some parents. I am really excited by that level of commitment. What makes me even happier is that I heard from one learner that every single teacher she has is using Remind.

At that point the teachers are being consistent and even in their approach to communication and usage of the tools for communication.

One thing that I have done this week is record one of my classes. It wasn’t hard. I took my old cell phone (a Motorola Mini) and created a super high tech platform for holding it.

No, really. Super High Tech

2014-08-15 16.21.07 2014-08-15 16.21.15

That is it. Just a paper cup, cut with a slit and room for a power cord if necessary. I recorded a class on 720px and got 50 minutes of video in a 4gig micro SD card. I will move it to the laptop, delete, and be ready for the next recording.

One thing I want to do is regularly record and observe my classroom. This will give me a way to observe my class as an observer would. What will I see? Not sure yet. But I will be using those videos as part of my reflections. I can not show the videos online, but I can describe and use them to change my teaching.

All in all, a great first week, some very positive response to the syllabus, to the lessons so far, and the development of the classes.


Aug 132014

My last post brought up the fact I am on a block schedule. It is a good schedule and I like the way I have created interaction with learners because of it.

Our schedule goes like this.

First class every day is P.A.S.S. – Panther Academic Student Support. It is 45 minutes of work time where each teacher is either teaching a “for grade” class or a “S/U” class. The “for grade” classes are just like any other class, but meet 5 times a week. The “S/U” classes are flexible and can be anything the teacher wants them to be. I have 26 of my AP Stats learners in my class. They are all motivated, great learners, so I help them be successful in all their classes.

The rest of our schedule is more normal (if you can call what I describe now as normal).

We have 72 minutes classes every day but Wednesday. On Wednesdays we are released 45 min early for PD time, so we have 60 minute classes.

In the morning, we rotate through a schedule of 1-2-3, but see only two of them per day. So Mon we see 1, 2, Tuesday we see 3 and 1 again. Wednesday (the short day) will see 2, 3, then Thursday will be 1, 2, Friday will be 3, 1, and Monday will be 2, 3, etc. It is a rolling 1,2,3 in the morning.

The afternoon is the same except for 4,5,6.

Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Monday Tuesday Wed
1, 2 3, 1 2, 3 1, 2 3, 1 2, 3 1, 2 3, 1
Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
4, 5 6, 4 5, 6 4, 5 6, 4 5, 6 4, 5 6, 4


What I like about this schedule is that I see my learners two times consecutively, and then a day off. So I see period 1 on Monday and Tuesday, then not on Wednesday. That allows me to stage the assignments so there is a short brief, and a longer more thoughtful assignment.

I also do not see the same learners at the same time every day. At the end of the day, I see period 5, then period 4, then period 6, not the same period 6 every day. Seeing them at different times of the day allows me to see them when their energy levels are different (as well as mine) and at different attention levels.  That is very helpful in how I set up to teach them and give them what they need.

It also means that my planning goes in 3 day cycles. This makes it hard to do a 180 blog, but I will be doing my best at least to do a 120 blog.


AP Statistics

Today is my happiest day. I teach 3 AP Stats classes in a row. Because of the schedule above and my schedule (per 2, 3, 5 = AP Stats; per 4 = Alg 2; periods 1, 6 = prep and dept lead prep) on the “C” days [2,3,5,6] I get to have PASS, then AP Stats, AP Stats, AP Stats, Dept Prep.

There can not be a better schedule.

—-(time passes to afternoon)

Today we did the “W’s” and “H”. [My PPTX file w/ problems]

Whew. I always think this is one of the toughest lessons. The confusion about when numbers are categories and when numbers are quantities is confusing at first, and the notes are hard to do, and the reading is tough, and … and … Arg.

Plus, it was the short day, so we didn’t do the reading I wanted, just the notes. But that means tomorrow and Friday we can do lots of reading. Yay!

I added something to the book’s W’s and H, which is “By Whom”. I have found that adding the “By Whom” eliminates the learners trying to write “Gallup” for the “Who”.

The assignment was to go to ScienceDaily.com, find ONE article from there and do the whole breakdown.

Tomorrow we are reading lots of articles, as well as some problems from the textbook.

All in all, a great day.

Aug 042014

2014-07-25 12.48.04

My Favorites are some of the best part of the TwitterMathCamp experience, and this year was no different. I know one favorite I had was walking into this building and seeing that even a public high school could afford to build a dedicated Science & Math Center!

But inside the building, we were offering our own My Favorites. I had one my favorite that I offered, which is a cheap (free) way to record your class so you can observe yourself.

Take an old smartphone and remove all the apps. It is best to use a phone that has a SD card, but if you can clean enough space off of an internal memory phone that works too. Once you have at least 4 gig free, then you have enough space to record 45 minutes of video at 720p or 30 minutes at 1080p. Ideally you would want at least 8 gigs so there is extra space.

Once you have this phone ready, you can use whatever you have on hand to construct your own stand. Lego’s work great, a coffee cup, or even a paperclip. Learners will freak out at a tripod and video camera set up in the back of the room (I know, take it from personal experience) while they will not even think of the phone sitting on a shelf recording them.

Two other My Favorites that were offered by others that I really liked are Plickers and a very interesting and annoying problem that has incredible extensions.

Plickers are “Paper Clickers” and it is genius. Using a cell phone or tablet with camera and the paper funky symbols you can poll the class on a question and have the responses immediately tracked and recorded. You can show the class results in bar graphs, and later can use the results for data tracking and demonstrating what you are doing for your admin. Great discussion and engagement in class and  data tracking for later. It is a win-win.

Finally is this problem. IT is tricky, fun, amazing, and all around a well designed problem.


What proportion of the triangles is shaded?

That is it, just find the shaded area. The solution has extensions all over the place and is a great problem to try and work through.

I hope you Enjoy!

Jul 202014

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

 Posted by at 1:31 am