Aug 152015

At #TMC15 I shared my favorite of the “High 5”. Richard Villanueva is awesome enough to record them all and post, so I will just share the video of what I said. It is short and sweet:

There is the video. I want to stress a few points.

  1. Giving high fives to my learners absolutely changed me. I got 150 high fives every day. How can you NOT be in a great mood getting 35 high fives several times a day, every day.
  2. I am serious. I didn’t teach math. I taught people the subject of math. The high fives was just one step that demonstrated this philosophy.
  3. This was an evolution of my approach that on the first day of class scared me to death. I was freaked out and thinking that it was going to be a massive failure.
  4. I was wrong.
  5. It was the single thing I did all year long that had the greatest impact on my classroom environment, my relationship with my learners, and my own personal attitude.

I wrote about it last year as it occurred:

Before school started: August 10th: School started on the 11th.

After 1 week of school: August 20th

After 1 month of school: August 27th

I finally EARNED a high five from my one holdout: September 10th  : This is the one high five I am most proud of.

That was last year. Then #TMC happened. After #TMC15, several teachers told me they were going to try it. We had several Twitter conversations about it at different times with different teachers. A sample is below. And this is ONLY a small sample of the more relevant tweets.






And here are some captured images from @misscalcul8. Elissastartpic2Elissa2 elissa3  Elissa1 And finally: pic1Elissa    

Let’s pause and reflect a moment.    What effort did it take me to give a high five? Very little. I had to get over my introvertedness. I had to fight my impulse to just stand there and say hi, and I had to make the effort to actually acknowledge each learner one at a time with the motion. I had to grab some hand sanitizer afterwards as I was walking into class. …. 

Yea, that is really what it cost me. That’s it.

Not to diminish the fright / frustration / and uncomfortableness that the introversion creates, but getting over it did not damage me in any way.  

What did I gain? My learners received the one on one acknowledgement from me every day. They walked into my classroom looking forward to the personal contact that went beyond the subject and touched them personally. Learners who were just standing in the hallway saw it and started asking for a high five every day. They recognized that it was something to get and feel good about themselves.

It changed my outlook on the class period. Every period be came a 1st period of the day. Every period was a “good morning” because every period started with 30 to 35 high fives. How could every period NOT be a fresh start, a clean slate, and a new beginning. It changed the class outlook towards me. I wasn’t just that weird math teacher (and I was) who wore strange socks everyday (because I did). I was also the math teacher who treated them like human beings. I also was the math teacher who acknowledged they were weird learners (because they were) who struggled with the ideas (because they did) and who needed the reassurance that if they kept trying they would get it (because they absolutely DID.)  

The cost / benefit analysis there is pretty clear. What it cost me was very little. What I gained was huge. What my learners gained was even greater.  


I am not teaching high school anymore. I am teaching college and the standards are different, the expectations are different, and the stakes are different. Guess what I am NOT going to give up. I think these outcomes are too valuable. It will definitely be a radical departure for the college setting. It is worth it.  


Edit: Some research to back up why it works:   More teachers on board! Yay!    








These next three go together. Wow, the power in these three tweets.




Amy posted on her blog the following paragraph.

High fives at the door. Glenn’s “my favorite” has been popular for good reason. It is simple, but we have already discovered it is powerful. My colleagues and I decided to make it a department thing, and also roped in the two non-math teachers in our hallway. So the 200 hallway is officially the “high-five hallway” at our school. I am surprised by how something so small has already helped me feel more connected to my students, and how the classroom atmosphere gets an immediate boost. You just can’t be too grumpy after a high-five.

Chris Shore said:

High 5’sGlenn Waddell (@gwaddellnvhs): Glenn was right. Offering the High 5’s at the door does more for my mood and mental preparation for the class than it did for the kids.

Bob, on his blog, said:

GREETING STUDENTS WITH HIGH FIVES – Intertwined with all of the mathy goodness of Twitter Math Camp this past July was a simple and powerful device for student engagement from my friend Glenn Waddell – the High Five.

Each day last year, Glenn met his students at the door to give them a high five – a simple, caring gesture to establish a positive tone for class. I often meet students at the door before class or linger in the hallway for informal chat, but I love the tradition and rapport Glenn establishes here and hope to emulate it.

Lisa, on her blog, was even more positive about the effects:

After five days of being at the door and high fiving students, students are positioning their books to be ready to give me a high five as they approach my class. I have had students high five me in the hall when I am not at my door and walking in the hallway (when I don’t have a class). It makes me smile.

This is only one paragraph of a much longer post by Lisa, but you get the sense right there something amazing is happening.

Stephanie Bower tried it too. Her post says so much about it.

Most of the time, the high-fives give me a chance to gauge the moods of each student in a split-second. (Glenn pointed this out too.) I can tell by the tone of their high-five, the way they return my verbal greeting, and their body language if something is “off” that day.


[And yes, that graphic is golden, and will be stolen and reused. Forever.]

highfiveclub Thank you @conniehamilton.

Jul 152012

I am hurriedly packing to leave for the MathCamp next week in St. Louis, but I also want to share what I will be doing along the way. I take a motorcycle trip every summer, and I do math on the trip (as if anyone needed to be told that about me).

After the trip, I put together a little video about me and the trip to introduce myself to my learners. I have made 2 so far. Last year the trip was so close to school, and I was hired into a new position (dept chair) that I never had a chance to make it. That means this year I will have 2 years worth of materials to put in there!

This is 2009’s video, the first one.

Intro Movie 2009 from Glenn Waddell on Vimeo.

And 2010’s video, the second one.

Intro Movie 2010 from Glenn Waddell on Vimeo.

The point of these is to show my learners how I see the world around, and how I actually use the math as I go. I find these problems as I travel and from what I see. I usually have 8 or 9 mapped out in my head and edit them down to 4 or 5 for the video. It makes much more sense that way, and it creates some great pictures I can use later in the year in my classes.

So, my Made4Math this week is not something I have made for this school year, but examples of what I will be doing over the next week and a half while I am on the motorcycle. Fun, a math geek’s way.

I would do more for this week’s #made4math, but it won’t happen. I need to get the laptop packed into onto the motorcycle. Tomorrow morning at 7am I board the blue beast and head for St. Louis! Next week’s probably won’t happen at all, unless I get time to post in advance something I make at mathcamp.

2012-04-15 09.41.43 (Just in case you wonder what the blue beast looks like.)

Jun 262009

I am in cadre that was given MacBook Pros to do podcasting and vodcasting this Summer and upcoming school year. Not too shabby, I downloaded Handbrake already in order to convert video from one format into another.  This was made essential because my Flip video camera only records in .AVI format, something the mac hates.  Downloaded Handbrake, change the .m4v extension to .mp4 and I am all set.

But today I am scanning blogs on Reader, and I discover this video on on one of the blogs.

Do me a favor though. Before you watch it, turn the volume DOWN to zero.  Don’t listen to it, just watch it. It is 6:02 minutes long.

Then watch it again but turn up the music and listen to the music along with the visuals.

Do you hate the music as much as I do?

Someone has spent enormous amounts of time getting the facts, the visuals, and then the orange / black/ white color scheme just right. It is an amazing video that is ruined by the cheap GarageBand audio tacked onto the video.

I think Dan said it best.   Don’t Let Your Students Use Music In Their Video Projects. Really.  Don’t do it. This video is every reason why not to allow music.

If the authors had spent one quarter of the time on audio as they did on the video, they would have an amazing video. Instead, they get something significantly less than they wanted.

When we were doing our training on Garageband, I spoke up and asked why we were being encouraged to spend 4 hours on a video and 5 minutes on slapping a cheap sounding soundtrack to our podcast.   The answer from the Mac trainer was dismissive and pointless. “The kids really get into finding something they like.”

Big deal.

The authors of the video above “really got into finding something they liked” and because they did that instead of finding something that fit with the story, the visuals, and the emotional impact of the pictures, they weakened their video.

Don’t do it. Don’t let yourself or your learners use music in their, or your, videos.

 Posted by at 4:57 pm
Jun 252009

This post from Free Technology for Teachers made me think about the videos I use in my classroom.  In it, they go through over 30 different ways to get video for the classroom.  Some are better than others, but they annotate the sources to the quality and content.

From these sources, I use TED and YouTube and Vimeo the most.  Neither TED or Vimeo is blocked by my school district, so they are easy to use, but YouTube requires some … er … massaging to get the videos.  To get the videos from YouTube I have been using KeepVid. It works well for me, allowing me to save the videos in MP4 format and drop them into iTunes and play them on my iPod I have connected to my projector.

It has worked well, allowing me to have around 70 videos by the end of the year ready to go. This summer I am working on identifying another 70 or so and building my collection to use.

This is one of them. The Sixth Sense project. If you haven’t seen it. Do so. Now.  Don’t wait. It is short, and worth every second.

Free Technology for Teachers has a lot of links that I never knew about, so it will be fun to explore them and find more good math videos to use.

Here is one that will make your math class groan. I love it!

 Posted by at 9:02 am
Aug 162008

A couple of topics in this posting.

First off, here is a link to a site that has collected 100 videos for use in the classroom.  Not all of these are for learners, some are for teachers, but still, there are some really great videos here.

Secondly, in the comments to Dan’s post on videos (found here) there are some comments from other teachers like Jackie, Dina and Todd that we need some repository for all these lists.  We need a way to collectively work together and share the video love.

This is really hard to do.  We are all busy, we are all trying to keep up with our learners who are pushing us every day to do better.

Scott Mcleod at Dangerously Irrelevant, however, already has a wiki called Moving Forward set up and running that has a lot of this kind of content.  More importantly, he put out a call for MORE content.

Wow, kind of serendipitous that within 2 weeks all these things came together.  I posted over at Dangerously Irrelevant the links to Jackie’s, Todd’s, and my list of videos.  I think it is really up to Scott to respond on his blog and let us know if he wishes his wiki to act as such a consolidator.   I just posted my list to his “Videos and Handouts” page though.

So, Scott.  What say you?

 Posted by at 3:08 pm
Aug 092008

Okay, Dan issued a challenge, and since I have spent some time this summer working on just this topic, I thought I would contribute.  I have several different categories.  Statistics, “Gateway”, Physics, Algebra, and DYAV & Personal Development.  Some of these fall under more than one category, but I will only list them in one here. 

I have most of these videos downloaded to iTunes and on my iPod.  On my iPod they are sorted via playlists so I can find them easily.  Connect the iPod component AV cable to my pod, and push play and my class is watching the video over my projector.

I am always looking for new videos, so this is not a complete list.  It is current only through today.

It is a long list, so click for the whole thing.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:37 pm
Jul 092008

So, I finished my last post, and realized that I was talking, but showing nothing.  So, start to finish, including the time to upload to Vimeo AND for vimeo to convert the video and Photo Story to render the video and me to type this second post. 

Meaning this is all inclusive time, here.  I am not pulling punches or shaving time off just to make it seem like this was not a big deal.  I started taking pictures at 6:20 p.m., and Vimeo is showing me the video in the window right now at 6:40.  20 freaking minutes!

And here is the link, just in case as well.

20 minutes, start to finish.  This is absolutely possible to do in the classroom.

 Posted by at 6:44 pm
Jul 092008

Well, some of us are not as good as Dan is when it comes to video. Heck, I bet 99% of us couldn’t do the things he does with video.  But why let that stop us from using video, and more importantly, coming up with ways to have our learners constructively use video in the classroom.

So, before we begin, we will need some software.  First, download Photo Story 3 from Microsoft.  You can find it here.  Say what you want about Microsoft, but this piece of software is darn good, it does exactly what it says it does, and it does it fantastically.

Next, you will need some way to get voice into the story (if you want the learners to narrate).  If you don’t want the learners to narrate, but instead you want music, then skip the next couple of paragraphs.  Photo Story 3 has built in music that will solve your problem.  You are ready to go!

Okay, I am doing math, so I need some way to narrate. …. Hmmm, I have an iPod, so I could use the iTalk.  Griffin Technology makes it, it would set us back $49.99.  But I am a teacher and cheap, so I hoof it on over to eBay and find that it will cost less than $20.00 including shipping from many sellers.  Decision made.

But if I am uber-cheap, I want to do it for free.  My laptop has a microphone built in, so isn’t there some software that would record and more?  Yes there is, and it is open source and it is called Audacity.  If you want to do sound, then you want Audacity.  I even used it in a Trig class to demonstrate sound waves, beats, constructive and destructive interference.  Audacity will do all your sound needs.  Cost = $0.

But, I don’t have my laptop with me today.  Yea, I suck.  But WAIT!  Hey, there are two other different ways to do this for free.  and

Gabcast and Gcast both allow a person to call in using a phone (or perhaps a cell phone!  what high school learner doesn’t have one of those these days!!!) and make an mp3 recording of their voice!  This is called a podcast.  For free.  From a cell phone.  From anywhere  (I see possibilities for storytelling here).

Okay, so we have software that will take our photographs, or any jpeg files and will combine those jpegs into a video.  Along with that video, we can insert music, or, in the case of math, perhaps a learner’s slow explanation of how they did the problem. 

You see, I took my digital camera to school (not really, this is a plan for something I am going to do later) and took pictures, one after the other, of the learners doing a problem.  I just took a picture of the page using my old 2 megapixel camera, which is plenty of resolution for this, and then using Photo Story 3, chained the pictures together.  Next, I recorded a narration, and saved it.  Imported the mp3 file into Photo Story, and now I have my voice, narrating me doing a problem.

More importantly

Imagine having teams of 4 – 5 working on the problem.  In a class of 32, that is 6 to 8 teams, each trying to explain how to do a different problem.    They come up with a video explaining how to do it, post the video to YouTube, or Vimeo, and now we have 8 –  4 minute presentations on how to do the problems for a test.

I did nothing but facilitate the learning.  (hopefully).  Cost = $0.00.  Time = about an hour or less.    Isn’t this what learning should be?

 Posted by at 6:07 pm
Jul 032008

For one of my classes (two sections) I was given an 89 Gig Ipod Video.  This class is (badly) called the Gateway class, and it is a quarter of Post Alg 2 mathematics in Finance, a quarter of Mathematics in Art, a quarter of Mathematics in Technology / Computers, and a quarter of Mathematics in Medicine/ the Human body.

It is a very different kind of math class, where only seniors can take it.  It will be mathematically rigorous, but 100% focused on the mathematics in each of these areas.

So, back to the ipod.  Part of the issue with this is I need, I mean really NEED to use it.  After all, my district just paid $400 for me and five other teachers to each have these ipods.  If we don’t use them in class, we are in some deep doo doo trouble.

So I have made a goal for myself of finding, in advance, two to three videos that are relevant to the course each day.  I have watched a lot of YouTube crap, let me tell you.  Of course there is also DNATube, TeacherTube,, and Vimeo where you can find some good stuff.  There is also TED.

I have been using these sites to find good video.  Today I watched this one, and it blew me away.  Who know fractals and Africa had such a rich history, and that that exact history influenced Western culture to such a high degree.  I did not.

If the player doesn’t work (I had it work and not work) here is the link: Ted Talk – Ron Eglash

 Posted by at 6:11 pm