Monthly Archives: August 2016

Stars of the Week Vol 5 #MTBoSBlaugust #SOTW

Here are my Stars of the Week–aka favorite posts and tweets! If you’re a #SOTW, grab the badge using the code below if you’d like it for your blog!

Stars of The Week
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Remember you can always use the nomination form and I will put it in my next post!

Let’s start with a super happy post from Elissa (@misscalcul8). Sometimes it’s nice to reminded that, yes, this job can sometime rock. And it couldn’t be rocking for a nicer person! I bet making lessons like these is definitely helping the positive trend!

Man, I love books. Beth (@algebrasfriend) was nice enough to share some that are great for any age! (I added The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires because I LOVE reading that book to my classes. Look at this cute video of it!)

E (@cheesemonkeysf) is a pro at turning everything into a good set of Talking Points. Her newest one has the theme of (loosely translated): Keep Calm and Carry On; You Can Do This.

(I never know if I should use someone’s name if they don’t use it on Twitter. Thoughts?)

Pam (@pamjwilson) has a easy way of getting students to slow down and think about graphs.

If you need some logic games, make sure you visit Julie’s (@fractionfanatic) blog. So many good ones that are new to me!

I found Math PD for Substitute Teachers fascinating, both the idea of having PD for that and what Allison (@allison_krasnow) chose to do for it.

Scroll, scroll, scroll and you will see the most genius idea ever from Jennifer (@MrsCookKHS): ZIP TIE PENCIL POUCHES TO DESKS. I feel like it is so genius that everyone must already know it but me.

This has nothing to do with math or school, but it made me laugh. 🙂

And now for some starred tweets:

A Good ACT Score #MTBoSBlaugust

Trying to get back onto the Blaugust bandwagon! Man, does school ever take it out of you or what?!?

As you may know, I’m teaching ACT Prep this year. All the sections, not just math. With no curriculum. Oh, and have I mentioned I grew up in Texas where we take the SAT so I’ve never even taken it? (I am taking each practice test with them. We’ve just done the reading one and I got a 35/36. I feel like I’m back in high school again comparing scores…)

Did I mention that I was given no curriculum. No workbooks. No website. No books. No idea what I’m doing.

Which means the PrepScholar ACT blog is my new BFF. So far it has been the most helpful site I’ve found. The posts are very thorough and well-written. They also have hints for people that are middle-of-the-pack trying to improve and for those that are trying to get a perfect score. One thing I really liked was their What is a Good ACT Score? post. I liked it so much I modified it and made it into a day’s activity:

Good ACT score

(ugh, gdoc file here. I’m sorry.) (Thanks to Chris Haren for letting me know I had the complete wrong description for 75th percentile. It is now fixed in the pic & in the file!) The neat thing is they have a page for each college with GPA, SAT, and ACT scores-just google “schoolname prepscholar ACT.” And if you scroll to the bottom of the prepscholar page, it even has a little calculator that tells you your chances of getting in.

For example, here’s my alma mater: Samford University. It’s also fun when a student mishears it (as many people do) and we end up comparing it to Stanford University.

After the students got scores from five colleges, they figured out their goal scores. I then had them make a motivational poster with their goal GPA and ACT score to hang in the classroom because who doesn’t like a motivational poster, amirite?

I know most of y’all are not teaching ACT, but I thought it might be a good thing to file away for an emergency sub plan, weird scheduling day, or when you just can’t even.

Category: ACT Prep | Tags: ,

Stars of the Week Vol 4 #SOTW #MTBoSBlaugust

It’s that time again!  Here are my Stars of the Week–aka favorite posts and tweets! If you’re a #SOTW, grab the badge using the code below if you’d like it for your blog!

Stars of The Week
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In case you haven’t noticed, I need to branch out more in my reading-I have “only” about 100 math blogs in my reader. My goal is to start clicking on some unknown blogs using  @MTBoS_Blogbot, but of course I can’t read everything that’s out there!  So if you’d like to nominate a post, you can either post on your own blog OR use this handy nomination form and I will put it in my next post!

Greta, @g_brgmn, is someone I want to hang out with more. I love her idea about using the “math about me” numbers later in the year to make kids think she has mind-reading powers! And then she confessed that she’s a font/quote lover like me!

Seriously, have I mentioned how brilliant Dave (@Dave_Sabol) is for starting the “How I Teach” series? Reading Anna’s (@TypeAMathLand) answers makes me want to go back and change mine because hers were so darn good!

Man, Sara Vaughn (@Vaughn_trapped) knocked the wind out of my sails with this post about being intentional. I’ve totally used up my share of miracles, too, Sara. Thanks for being so honest and giving me a much-needed wake-up call!

Two Saras this week! Love the 10 Things Not to Ask Me about Your Calculator from Sara Van Der Werf (@saravdwerf). I’m thinking I need to make one for Google Classroom!

Glenn (@gwaddellnvhs) is going to be so happy that he’s won TWO #SOTW! My goal this year is to find where I’m supposed to be.

Speaking of which, I probably would have starred Desmos’s (@desmos) post announcing their first cohort of Desmos fellows even if my name wasn’t on there. So many MTBoSers! So many rock stars!

Beth (@algebrasfriend) makes me want to DO ALL THE LABS for function exploration. Hey, wait a second…I do have this problem solving course with no set curriculum. That means I get to DO ALL THE LABS!!

Hey, are you following @SheaSerrano on twitter? He’s totally not-math-related but his tweets always make me happy. If you want to be happy as well, you should read his post (“article”) about the US Gymnastics team.

Wait, I bet you didn’t read it, did you? FINE. I will still give you the link from there that is a slow-mo breakdown of Aly’s first tumbling pass. (even though you don’t deserve it since you didn’t go read the original article) (unless you did go read it, in which case you deserve to watch the video again)

You know what else you probably don’t deserve? The best damn news story I’ve read in a while.

But you may have had a long week and maybe have the Sunday Stinkies/Monday Moanings, so you probably deserve some of my favorite tweets!

This is a GREAT cheatsheet for first-time twitter chatters!

And finally, everything about this picture makes me happy. 🙂



Stars of the Week Vol 3 #SOTW #MTBoSBlaugust

Sorry for the delay! I’m going ahead and making my post for the week, even though I still have 60+ posts to read in my reader. You’ll just have to stay tuned to see if there were any stars in those!

And for those of you that are SOTW, feel free to use the code below to grab the badge!


Stars of The Week
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Here are some of my favorite posts:

Glenn (@gwaddellnvhs) has achieved his goal of writing a post that was #SOTW-worthy with this awesome collection of MTBoS stuff. BOOKMARK IT NOW to send it to that teacher you meet who hasn’t heard of the MTBoS (or for when you think “who did that thing…?”). I even made a bitly for you: You’re welcome.

Casey (@cmmteach) has been knocking it out of the park with her MTBoS ABC’s. Maybe it’s back-to-school emotions, but her B post made me tear up a little.

Math by the Mountain, WHO ARE YOU?!? I mean, I know you’re @MathByTheMt, but WHO ARE YOU!?! I love her/his (but the font choice makes me want to say her?) justification posters! Wouldn’t it be great to have a wall covered at the end of the year with all the cool stuff you learn in Geometry?  And if you’re an exit slip type of person (or want to be) then this Exit Slip Extravaganza is for you!

So I think maybe I should rename Stars-of-the-week to Sara-of-the-week! This week Sara (@saravdwerf) has updated her math wall of shame  and posted a very cool visual for units. I love her visual course-at-a-glance at the bottom of that post. That would be so much more beneficial than a boring ol’ syllabus or table of contents!

And as if she didn’t have enough awesomeness, she’s now forcing other people to be awesome, too! I can’t WAIT to have my problem solving students make Stephanie’s (@mrswoldumtrig art BUT WITHOUT ALL THE GLITTER. (That was a very cool trick you played on your friend. I should revoke all of your SOTWs just for that.)

This feels a little self-promotional, but I LOVE Dave’s (@Dave_Sabol) idea of a “How I Teach” series! (and it just happens I was the first to volunteer as tribute.)

Hey, let’s give Ali (@AGEiland) a big high-five as she blogs her first week as a teacher! I’d say she picked two very good words.

And to book end Ali’s blog, here’s a great list of 13 Things I Was (and Right) About in My First Year. All of y’all follow the Love, Teach blog, right?

And now for some of my favorite tweets:

Be sure to join in the high-five padlet!!

THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (poster coming soon)

Becca coming to the rescue after NBC made it difficult for me to find a much-needed gif!

And some more gold-medal Olympic tweets:

PUPDATE: My Wall of Cute images were located and then scanned for posterity by Mr Craig.

And I think that is the perfect image to end this post on! Bound forth and be the joyous stars that you are!!

#MTBoSBlaugust How I Teach

Stars of the Week will be a day or two delayed this week. I currently have 100+ posts to read in my reader! #FirstWeekProblems, amirite?

giphy (1)

But I do have one fun post to share with you today-Dave Sabol (@Dave_Sabol) has started a “How I Teach” series on his blog based on the Lifehacker series. And since I was one of the people who urged him to do it, I thought I should volunteer as tribute. So head on over to Dave’s blog and read all about my 2 favorite life hacks! Thanks Dave for starting this, I’m definitely looking forward to reading about how all the MTBoSers work!

Category: Uncategorized

#MTBoSBlaugust First Day Free Verse

So as not to break my Blaugust streak, I submit my free verse poem:

First Day

3rd Period computer lab

Of which only 3 computers work.

Which we found out today

During 3rd period

When students were going to take a google form and learning styles test.

Oh, just have them use their phones, you say.

Except did I mention the computer lab is in the middle of a cinderblock school?

And therefore is a cellphone dead zone?

Oh, they can use the school wifi, you say.

Except it hasn’t been configured for student use yet.


Keep Calm And Carry On

And talk about how you need to order

(yet another)

poster that looks like a window because it really does





You casually mention maybe this one will be of the beach.

Cut to end of class.

All the students are leaving.

And then one comes up and hands you a silly sketch of

a sun, clouds, waves, and palm trees

surrounded by a window frame

And says, “here’s a window for you.”

And you’re reminded

(yet again)

why you can’t quit this job.

Category: Uncategorized

TMC Takeaways #MTBoSBlaugust

Just a quick post with my notes from some great sessions! Thanks Sarah, Kathryn, Wendy, Sam, and Tina!

From Sarah & Kathryn’s morning session:

New Doc 41_1

New Doc 41_2

New Doc 44

From Wendy’s Problem Solving Class thirty minute session:

New Doc 42_1 New Doc 42_2

And Tina & Sam’s brainstorming session of how to #ExpandMTBoS

New Doc 45

Hey, look! I did one of the things I said I’d do! I started a #myfavorite except it’s #SOTW! I’m awesome.

(Quickest blog post ever!)


Category: Uncategorized

You Can’t Pick Your Pollinators #MTBoSBlaugust

I’ve been having frustration recently about how much I share online. I’ve taken so much from the MTBoS that I want to give back in my little way; I don’t have Big Ideas like 3 Acts or WODB or Life Changing Theories of Teaching, but dammit if I don’t have a note taker maker for almost any topic you can think of. I’ve put a lot of time into creating all of my materials and it is nice knowing that my work is appreciated by some.

But sometimes I feel a little bit like I’m giving away the milk, if you know what I mean. Why would someone want to have me work as a math teacher when they can just take all my stuff? Today I reached my limit and told Mr Craig that “I want to burn that blog to the ground.”

His response: “You can’t pick your pollinators.”

You see, I’ve been trying to grow a pollinator garden to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. We first had a batch of Japanese beetles I had to deal with. Then a herd of deer came through and destroyed half the plants. Then we had a bit more wasps than usual. Then I got stung by a yellow jacket. At that point I told Mr Craig that I was pretty close to being done with nature and tearing all the plants out.

His response: “You can’t pick your pollinators.” I can’t put a sign that says “Bees only!” or “No Stingers Allowed!”

So yes, there’s a few bad guys out there, but so are some butterflies. And big (nice) bees. We’ve even been getting hummingbirds recently. And, oh yeah, even some pretty flowers that I get to enjoy just because they’re pretty!

So I could worry about the “bad” pollinators and the possibility of being stung or I could focus on how I’m giving bees and butterflies that are working hard a place to come to get extra energy that will help them build up their hives.

No, you can’t pick your pollinators.

But you can focus on the beautiful and beneficial ones.

And squash the stinging ones under the heel of your shoe.

Category: Reflections | Tags:

Alg II Files: Matrix Multiplication Application #MTBoSBlaugust

I’ve already blogged most of my matrix notes on this post (and as always, you can find all of my Algebra II Files and FAQs here), but I did do a new introduction to matrix multiplication that I liked:

Alg II T 10_2

(NTM file here, practice file here) Sure, you have to do a little teacher manipulation to make sure that the second matrix on the calzone example is a column matrix, but I think it really helps to see why we multiply matrices like we do, and what the resultant matrix tells us.

It also gives us a reason to play this in class:


And as an added bonus, a pretty worksheet with a calculator picture and arrows! (Also I totally skipped finding determinants and inverse matrices by hand. Sorry, but sometimes you gotta ruthlessly cut stuff.)

Alg II T 10_3

(file here) Yes, it is required that you play Jackson 5 after the last problem. REQUIRED.

Stars of The Week Vol 2 #SOTW #MTBoSBlaugust

Back again for Stars of the Week! I even made a badge you can grab to put on your blog if you’ve been featured!

Stars of The Week
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First off, an apology. In my recent binge-watching post I recommended The Paradise before I finished the second season. Do yourself a favor and stop after the first season. I’d replace that recommendation with Stargate Universe (amazon, hulu) because it is good and you are good and good things should be together.

Now onto my starred posts!

I may be a bit biased, but my favorite new website of the week is Julie’s creation of AlgebraTeen! I’ll share some of the tweets that started it at the bottom of this post, but basically we want to create articles like you might see in Seventeen magazine, but with math. Be sure to read all about its creation and submit your own story idea!

I may also be biased about Heather’s Desmos Professional Development post. I wish I would have had it when I gave some PD in June! (I did learn not to start with awesome Desmos art or else they will become obsessed with it.)

[Side note: The reason I’m biased about the Desmos post is that I found out this week that I won the Desmos Lottery and will be part of their first fellowship cohort! {Funny side note: In this post from last year, I actually wrote, “Now I just need to figure out how I can get a job going around to schools and playing desmos bingo with teachers.” I’m not there yet, but closer! I feel like Chris Pratt predicting he’ll be in Jurassic Park 4!}]

Have you seen Sarah’s collection of Japanese logic puzzles, complete with semi-translations? I’m definitely going to be printing some of these off for 3 days of professional development meetings my own entertainment. I think it would also be great to have a stack of them for kids to pick up after a test.

I still can’t believe Sara VanDerWerf held out on blogging as long as she did when she has so much to say. Be sure to read her moving post on how to deal with the grief of others.

Heather also has a great post about reminding us we teach people.

I love Dave Sabol’s idea of spreading Which One Doesn’t Belong to outside the math classroom! Such an easy thing to implement!

I love it when Elissa reads a book: she gives such detailed notes that I feel like I don’t even have to read it. With Mathematical Mindsets, she even gave a nice summary of actions to take, and many of them are listed under the “easy to implement” column. Pick a few to try this year!

Beth may have retired at the end of the school year, but she has definitely not turned off her teaching brain! Check out her virtual filing cabinets and her five tips for teachers!

Jennifer also provided 5 great tips to read, especially for newbies!

Sarah came up with a genius idea on how to get students talking about awkward group work situations: make them give advice! (I would also love for her to make her students’ responses into an article for AlgebraTeen!)

Speaking of groups, Bonnie has a nice method of making sure all students participate during card sorts.

These chocolate peanut butter snack bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction look super delish. Maybe I’ll try to substitute them for my daily granola bar!

No, this wasn’t from last week but I just relistened to Pam’s video voice-over of her TMC16 talk about self-reflection to get myself geared up for the school year. Hers was one of the sessions I was most disappointed in missing so I am so grateful that she made this for me us!

And now some of my favorite tweets:

This may be my favorite joke ever:

And some of my favorites from #Alg17:

And for those of you (like me!) who are starting back to school this week…the struggle is real.  Good luck!!!

Category: Stars of the Week | Tags: ,