It made me step outside of my comfort-zone. I listened. I learned. I presented. I sat in the front row. And I made myself socialize. This time I did not stand by the wall and take it all in, well not that much. Instead I found a seat and introduced myself to someone new. Chit-chat, even where you are from and what session you went to earlier, does not come easy for me. BUT I DID IT!

There were times I wanted a placard that said “Introvert – Ask Me To Join Your Group for ___”. Instead I found someone I knew and invited myself. Because of that, I met a variety of interesting new people and had some great conversations. So a big THANK YOU to all who said “yes, join us!”

Since returning from Jenks, OK I have spent my days on Coursera Calculus: Single Variable class that I have been enrolled in since May! This class has become my full-time job for the summer, and yes, it is **hard** as professor @robertghrist said it would be in his very first lecture (his words, not mine – I would say challenging). To that end, I have not had much time to digest #TMC14.

I did, however, make plans to “spread the word” about #MTBoS and #TMC. My county hosts an annual required professional development day in late August. I was scheduled to share a worksheet-makeover-activity, but instead I am going to share about #MTBoS and #TMC, I don’t want my session to be a recap of #TMC14 because most of the folks I have mentioned it to don’t know about it and think I am off my rocker – Twitter Math Camp, really? Instead I plan to show Desmos, Mathalicious, Global Math Department, blogs, tweets. I want to capture the who, what, where, how and why. Big aspiration, I realize.

Please, help me out. I have my own ideas, but how would you answer these questions? (Choose as many as you please)

- Who are #MTBoS?
- What does #MTBoS do?
- Where does #MTBoS hang out?
- How can I get involved with #MTBoS?

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- Having a picture related to the subject
- Course description and course syllabus
- Announcements created
*at least*weekly - Upcoming events posted
- Use of Web 2.0 tools

Most of this is just fine, it is what I do anyway. We are a sort-of technological school. Well, we at least have Project Lead the Way and a kick-butt Robotics Club. But we are also the School for the Performing Arts (we are getting a new auditorium after 40 years!) and the top-rated high school football player goes here. But looking at the list of requirements, is it what is important to students, and will they use it? I think the most important items for students to have electronically are class notes and class handouts (for when they lose ’em). Our Web 2.0 tools consist of a blog option, online quizzes, and a discussion board. I have tried all three to a huge flop. So, why spend my time working on “check-box” items that the students will not use? I am not.

Speaking of sort-of technological … how about my classroom?

Yep, that is my wanna-be SmartBoard you see. One of my students said it was a ghetto-SmartBoard. And a parent at Back to School Night asked if I was going to get a real one? I had one and I was good with it. Colleagues came to me for help. And then I had an opportunity to move to a bigger room downstairs tucked away in a corner out of the fracas. I was supposed to get a portable SmartBoard, but it, like quite a few in our school, was broken. So improvisation. What you see is 3 pieces of white paper with a purple-duct-tape border. I use my laptop, which has SmartNotebook, and a Watcom Bamboo tablet and off we go. I also have a document camera.

Not writing on a board is challenging, but being able to move around the room is awesome! Usually I perch on a stool upfront with my seating chart (I don’t know names yet), but I have been known to wander and lean against the back wall. Being flexible is just part of the job of being a teacher (thank you Honest Soul Yoga)!

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For the **very first day of learning and first task** in Functions/Trig (our pre-calc for A/B) my class tackled the first portion of what the group developed at TMC13. Here is what I gave the students: Analyzing Circles On The Coordinate Plane formatted to be taped into the composition book students will used for their notes and classwork.

After a brief discussion on how to use a protractor and going through the directions that set up the rotational system, I set students to work and collaborate in their groups. For the next 75 minutes I circulated around the classroom showing how to use the protractor (again), reviewing how to estimate, working with students whose answers were WAY off, and clarifying directions. Most students were comfortable on the “forward problems” but questions began to fly when it came to the “backwards problems”. Most common misunderstandings were x=0.30 is a vertical line and slope = 1 can be turned into a fraction. Once students had these clues, they were able to complete the “backwards problems”. The sixteen problems presented took most students a full 75 minutes. Only a few completed the reflection questions, so that became their homework for next class. Of those that did answer the questions, very few noticed anything, and the wondering was mostly “why are we doing this?”

We will revisit this activity in a few classes once we learn about the trigonometric functions on the unit circle. At that time we will compare their estimated values to the actual and see if any noticing, wondering, or “ah-ha moments” can be gleaned. I think there will also be a non-candy prize for the student with the closest estimations … any suggestions??

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To preview, we looked at the calculator problems and tried to answer without using calculators. This was a great reminder/review that the TI calculators “know” order of operations. In one (of three) class it lead to a discussion that not all calculators, especially the four-function and scientific, have this capability so students need to understand their tools. In every class I managed to stumble into the wrong answer of 24 for “8+4*2” first by randomly calling on a student. I did not say it was wrong, rather I asked if anyone had a different answer, which I had also done for the previous problems with no challenges. That problem our reminder of order of operations and the first student usually wanted to change their answer. When I asked their reasoning for changing their answer, they referred to forgetting to use PEMDAS in every case.

I then had students work on Acts 1 and 2 in their groups. I used this activity as an opportunity to get students to start talking to each other about math, something the higher level students I have are not used to doing. I did not intervene except to clarify directions and I spent most of the time listening to groups discuss (and praising them for it) or prodding the silent ones to talk. I found out that talking in a math class and talking about math is very uncomfortable for many; something we will have to continue to work on! We came back together as a class after about 15 minutes and went over the answers to the right/wrong calculations. Students generally did well with using the order of operations, but struggled a bit when they were expected to work left to right, regardless of the operations presented. Students worked on the rest of the worksheet at their own pace, most finished but some did not.

The highlight of the activity is the *Survivor* video clip. I didn’t find if very funny but every class was laughing at the inability of one of the contestants to get across the balance beam. In two classes I paused the video before it was done to have the students work the final problem. I did have to read the operations to them as most were so focused on the video that they forgot to scribe the operations. I turned this into a contest for the first with the correct answer. I had some questions about whether they should use PEMDAS (what have we been studying?) which was a great review of calculating with fractions. Only a handful in each class got the correct solution using ordering of operations. The prize was a composition book, a required supply for class. After 5 minutes of telling students “that is not correct” we watched the rest of the video. The best response was from one of my freshman “Since I did it the right way (using order of operation), I just lost a million dollars?”

For me, looking at the students’ response to whether PEMDAS is a good way to remember order of operations was the most enlightening aspect. Quite a few students proposed “GEMS” … Grouping, Exponents, Multiplication, Subtraction. I had never heard this acronym and found it interesting. I shared it with my colleagues which sparked discussion about Division and Addition missing and will students be confused if we change to GEMS when they have heard PEMDAS for the past few years. I also made sure I gave some feedback to every student to get them to realize that I am going to read what they write.

I liked starting my school year off with Mathalicious. It made planning for the first day painless and the activities were structured such that if I had 20 minutes or 90 minutes, this activity was still do-able. Even though the lesson is geared towards 6th/7th grade, it was a great way to ease into math for a more advanced class and sparked great discussions.

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There are 6 “clues” for the students to solve, each eliminating either a suspect, a weapon or a location. Since the clues did not have to be solved in any particular order, it allowed the students to have ownership by choosing their clue. As the students worked in groups they also had competition and were very concerned about not letting another group see their clue – and I did not even offer a “reward” for solving the crime! I knew this activity was a hit when we ran out of time to complete and the next day students **asked ****to work** on it more!

TrigonometryMurderMystery TrigonometryMurderMystery_ANSWERS

I hope you have success with these!

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**Pre-Calculus Morning Session** – in this session we looked at the overall big picture and our “hard-to-teach” topics. Top take-away: Sam Shah’s “Introduction Junction” where each student has a headband with a graph. Students ask each other one question about their graph trying to determine the equation of their graph or create a sketch of their graph. This is a great way for students to get to know each other as well as review graphing.

**My Favorites** – *Pam Wilson* and the Hole Punch Game. Students work together to solve problems, agree as a group, and get a whole punch on their paper if correct. Post-it notes with + (could do better), ! (learned, don’t forget), ? (still unclear), lightbulb (that ah-ha moment) … use these to have students do a self-analysis and post around the room. Leave up for teacher to read at a later time. Can use + and ? comments to structure review at a later date. *Anne Schwartz* – sometimes just listening for 5 minutes to a student is enough. You don’t need to fix everything. *Michael Pershan – * check out his blog at mathmistakes.org. *Justin Lanier* of mathmunch.org making an math-related internet world for students. *Michelle* – mathematizing the world by looking at every form together: picture, graph, table, equation, verbal scenario. *David Weis* – student questions fall into three types (1) the “stop thinking” – is this right (2) proximity – you are nearby and (3) the “start thinking” curiosity types. Stop answering (1) and (2) to build mathematical independence by responding with a leading question or tool and jump on the (3) types to explore. Also wait for the second or third hand to call on so you are not always getting the most extroverted student. *Heather* – texting Olympics to collect data. Have students text a phrase exactly and another student time. Find the line of best fit. *Peg Cagle* – paper folding and record # folds, # layers, area of top layer (use area of unfolded = 1) to explore exponential growth and decay. Measure your smallest folded – how many times would you have to fold to be as tall as you? as tall as ___? *Anthony Rossetti – *the wireless tablet that I covet and Remind101. *Me* – Trigonometry Murder Mystery … I will post here later but it is also on the wiki.

*Max Ray* presented on “I Notice, I Wonder” having students write an “I Notice” post-it and an “I Wonder” post-it. This can be used with gallery walks, problems, pictures and more. Similarly *Glenn Waddell* spoke about “Problem Posing” where you have students pick out the attributes and then work problems by changing one attribute. Justin Aion did a great recap at Global Math last night.

Other great presenters were Karim from Mathalicious. I suggest everyone check it out, some cool stuff that we as teachers do not have time to do ourselves. And Eli Luberoff showed us the Desmos graphing “calculator” that is free and web-based. There were geek-gasms at the powerfulness and ease of his creation. I will be using this tool next year and beyond…

“Making Math Sticky” by Elizabeth Stratmore. Try to make problems simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and/or storied. One interesting technique we tried was problem solving with your non-dominant hand. I found I thought differently and was definitely slowed down. I will try this in my classroom. Another was to have two people solve the same problem but back-to-back – what a great way to talk and explain a problem!

Megan Hayes-Golding share the Interactive Notebook with lots of examples and ideas of what can be done in an INB. While I will not be doing a “true” INB, I will be incorporating many aspects but not as strictly. I like the matching activity and how to fits in the INB – match type, graph, and parent function of all the Algebra 2 equation types. I will be purchasing tape in bulk.

I wrapped up my TMC experience with a discussion on SBG. I found out I was not alone and there are lots of hurdles that make SBG difficult and for us to develop our own hybrid system.

Overall, TMC was awesome and I hope to be able to travel to next year’s location, no matter where it is, but we shall see. I met some of the super-stars and found out they are real people. I made friends from all over and can only hope those friendships hold over the school year. I realized how cool it was to be with a group of people just like me and that we are all super-stars in our own way. I may not publish awesome blogs or indoctrinate my top achievers into the unicorn-universe or play ukulele while my students work, but I have my own quiet, super-star ways. I read children’s books to my class – and most listen intensely and will wait after the bell rings for me to finish (The Paper Bag Princess is a favorite). And I do some basic chair yoga moves with my students, which they have nicknamed “moga” for math-yoga, to calm down, transition, or start an assessment. We are teachers and we are super-stars! We just need to find our way of expressing it.

**Thanks TMC for helping me find my super-star. What is yours?**

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Now that I have been out a bit over two weeks here is some of what I have accomplished:

In addition to what you see here I have also made a mixed berry pie to take to the neighbors when they invited us for dinner and pizza crust from scratch 4 times. Pizza on the grill is the best!

I am also taking the How to Learn Math Class and am super-excited to attend TMC13. And hopefully the spouse and I will have the opportunity to get away for a week or weekend or two – it all depends on his job. And, of course, there is SY13-14 to plan. I know I will have a few summer meetings and Mr. W & I are going to reorganize our Algebra 2/Trig curriculum.

So, just because it is July or August, we teachers are not necessarily laying by the pool, eating bon-bons and consuming copious amounts of beverages with umbrellas. Oh, how I wish that was true!

SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING THIS SUMMER?

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Jane was in my class again this year – Functions/Trig (pre-calc A/B) and Jane had a much better year. I rarely saw her after school, sometimes before school for a quick question, no tears, and genuinely seemed to like math class now. Meanwhile, in Algebra 2/Trig, I had a handful of “Janes” without the tenacity or work ethic. Without any luck the usual route, I asked Jane to write a letter to these students to try and motivate them. Here is Jane’s letter:

Hi!

My name is “Jane”, and I am not the best at math. But Alg 2/Trig? Completely passable. Let me elaborate a bit.

Last year when I took this class, I had a tough time. Algebra was never my strong suit and on top of that, I had missed an entire week and a half of school towards the end of the first quarter due to the flu, had to learn the current material of this class, 2 AP classes, and another pre-AP class (along with all my other core classes), as well as catch up on all the work I missed, go to basketball practice/games, and try and fend off getting sick again. It was not easy, and there were plenty of times when I just felt like giving up, but guess what? I made it! I passed with a C-!!! I had a C the entire year, got a D on the midterm, and barely passed the SOL with a 414, but I

passed.You might be thinking, “Cs? You’re proud of Cs?” And to answer your question, I must honestly say

absolutely.After getting test after test back with grades varying from 70 to 20 (the only section I passed last year was Logarithms, which we barely spent any time on and weresoeasy), I was ready to give up. Practically all of third and fourth quarter, I was positive I was going to fail. You have no idea how absolutelyrelievedI was that I passed with a C. It probably is one of my biggest accomplishments (and I’ve won Rockband in a day along with being named captain of my basketball team, so yeah,it was a big deal).

So, I’m going to tell you this straight up, and I’m not going to baby you, or sugar coat it: If you want to pass, it is not Mrs. R’s responsibility or your parents, it isIt is your sole responsibility to decide that you are not going to take anything less than a C (or A or B), that you need help, that you need to figure out a way to get help, and actually benefit from it. No one can make you do it. You have toyours.wantto do it.You already have the biggest advantage possible: Mrs. R is your teacher! Mrs. R is the best math teacher I’ve ever had. She’ll give you points if you

tryon a quiz. You don’t have to get the right answer, but if you try and put some work down, you’ll get one or two points, which can make a big difference. She always has bonus questions, so be sure to take advantage of them! She is very patient, she gets to the school early so you can review in the mornings if you are unable to stay after school, and she is willing to do things step by step until you get it.The key to getting the most out of any teacher is

asking questions.No question is dumb, especially in math. If you are confused about what a term means, ask. If you don’t understand a step, ask if they could repeat it. If you forgot how to do something (which is very understandable, you do a lot as a student!), ask for a refresher. The only way to get anywhere, when you don’t know where you are, is to ask for directions.There are also numerous other resources for you when Mrs. R isn’t around. Google is very helpful! There are many people who struggle with algebra and there are even more people who

getalgebra and are nice enough to make videos or websites dedicated to helping those who don’t. Khanacademy.org is very useful if you like watching someone figure out a problem. Just search the topic that you are studying and there are sure to be several videos explaining it and solving similar problems. Khan Academy even has practice problems you can solve and you receive points for getting answers right and you unlock achievements! That makes it slightly more interesting, right?Once you make it through this class, Functions/Trig will be a piece of cake! All you have to do is pay attention in class, be sure to do the homework (even if it’s optional!), and memorize a few rules, formulas, and graphs. Here’s a tip for memorization:

write.Just write what you need to remember the night before a quizseveral times. Review that before the quiz and immediately write it down once you get your paper. Trust me, it helps! Writing something a lot basically burns it into your mind and then you never forget it! It’s awesome!Don’t give up. As long as you try, no one can fault you. Algebra is hard! Hard, but manageable. Always remember that you are smarter than you think and always try. Trying makes things so much easier.

Good luck and don’t stress! It’ll be fine.

I ** love** this letter! It makes me proud of Jane for realizing what she had to do to succeed and being able to put it on paper.

So, I gave a copy of this letter out to 10 or so struggling Algebra 2/Trig students in February. Most actually acknowledged and thanked me for it (really they should thank Jane). Jane did sign her name, and some knew her. I never heard if any actually spoke to her about it. Of those 10, the majority did indeed pass, some barely. Did Jane’s letter make a difference? I know so for one, I hope so for the rest.

May we all have a “Jane”!

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We had a a CRAZY May and June, running different schedules every day for 6 weeks! Our day was generally the same in May – 1st block 3 hours, 2nd block 90 minutes interrupted by a 25 minute lunch, 3rd block 40 minutes – and in June – 1st block 2 hours, 2nd block 2 hours, 3rd block 90 minutes interrupted by a 25 minute lunch – 4th block 20 minutes. And to top it off, the blocks were all different period orders each day and you may not see a specific period for 3, 4, 5 or more days. Keeping up with those days and keeping the lessons figured out was a job in itself.

So, on one of those 20 minute periods when my students had finished the curriculum and all exempted out of their final exam, I gave them a feedback assignment. Two pieces of paper – one colored and one white. On the colored paper they were to write good things and on the white paper, bad things. I was pleasantly surprised with what I received:

POSITIVES

*“I like how you posted up corrected homework answers online so I could go through and look at what I didn’t understand”*

*“I found the tests/quizzes to be on topic and easy if I knew the information”*

*“You were one of the sweetest teachers I have had this year. I actually wanted to come to your class and learn one of my favorite subjects.”*

*“You understand how the Smartboard works.”*

*“Thank you for staying after school for help.”*

*“Whenever I needed help you were always there to help me. I really appreciate the letter you gave to help motivate me, it was really thoughtful and it definitely did motivate me.”*

*“Notes online.”*

*“I think the amount of homework, the quizzes, and your teaching all were great and I wouldn’t know Algebra 2 the way I do without you.”*

*“Strict but fair.”*

NEGATIVES

*“I should have done all of the extra credit opportunities. And the homework.”*

*“There should be more incentive to do homework.”*

*“I have to do my homework.”*

*“Understood what you would teach in class but them screwed me in the test.”*

*“Not using the calculators – it was just cruel.”*

Wish I had the opportunity to do this with all classes, but the schedule did not warrant. More posts to come as I unpack. Looking forward to #TMC13 and learning how to twitter!

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**1. Training Pays Off**

First period Friday, my Functions/Trig (pre-calc) class was working through problems in prep for Monday’s test. I was AMAZED at how **engaged** they were … I heard talking about math, I saw students going to other student’s desks to explain. I am a proud ~~momma bird~~ math teacher!

Looking back I realized that I have been setting the stage for the last few weeks. First the classroom is set up in “pods” of 4 all facing the board (need a picture) and I have encouraged the students all year to “work with your group”. * WOWZERS!* It paid off. I put the solutions on the board and circulated. I did help some students, but I found many going to their groups before raising their hand.

**2. Fire Drills Aren’t All that Bad**

Since we are required to have a fire drill weekly for the first month of school and monthly thereafter, I took the opportunity this week to use the time to get to chat with a student about their non-math life! It was nice to get to know something personal about one student and their interests – turns out our schools Robotics Club is so popular that they have to limit the membership. So my student, who has been part of this for the last 2 years, was in a tie because it was “selection day”. We talked about the club, its purpose, what they do and why he was interested. Now I want to go to one of their meetings after school to show my interest in that student, and maybe I will find others in my class who share this interest.

**3. Paper Placemats**

Thursday the hubby came home, asked wha’ts for dinner and decided he wanted to go out. No big deal since I was grading papers until he walked in the door and had not even thought about which dinner from the list I was going to make. So down to our local greek/italian/family restaurant just to find out it was family night with face painting … not good for us for that night. So to other local place we come and they have paper placemats. Well, I was explaining some things that had come up in class, using the placemat as a scratchpad. When our server cleared the table we got into a conversation about high school math. Our server revealed that he was worried when his kids got to high school math because he could not do it. That lead to the rather than say **I don’t know how to do ____ ** change the comment to **why don’t we google ____ **(or ask the teacher for some sites/resources)** and figure it out together**!

If I changed one parent from the “I can’t do it therefore you can’t do it” mindset, I have made progress this week!

**4. Animals in the classroom**

I realized that some of my Algebra 2/Trig students still don’t understand function notation. So I put the following on the SmartBoard:

(minus the blue mathematical interpretation which came after they solved the problems). Surprisingly, not a single student struggled when I gave them the problems with pictures, but once we change it to letters/letter combinations …. “it’s confusing” “that’s not the same”. Next time I am going to start pictorially and teach them the language of mathematics! Maybe, I’ll do a matching game of some sort where they have to match the pictorial representation to the mathematical representation.

All in all, it was a good week. I learned that training pays off, about a students, and came up with a new approach to teach a (review) topics. Now I am going to trade the school circus for the real one, literally. We are off to the Big Apple Circus today … with clowns and a ringmaster and hopefully lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!

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