Blog Archives

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: ,

Favorite Podcasts #MTBoSBlaugust

I should finally admit it: I’m addicted to podcasts. Last year, when I was doing my 500 miles challenge, I would only allow myself to listen to them as I was walking or running. But now that I’m mostly doing workout videos, I allow myself to listen to podcasts at any time and now I can’t stop. I basically listen to three podcast brands (networks?) so here they are with my favorite podcasts and episodes.

My newest addiction is Common Room Radio, and I’ve been working through the episodes of two shows:

Odd Man Out: Two of the three gang up on the Odd Man Out to try something new (television show, movie, food). I always think, “man, how are they going to talk about ___ for an hour?” but then the time just flies! Favorite episodes: Alan and Cooking, Alan and Marvel’s Agent Carter, Gotta Love It: Parks And Rec, and Liz and Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog (side note: I found out at TMC that there are people that have not seen Dr Horrible and/or its commentary musical? WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?!?)

Disney Princess Death Match: Who will be selected as the best Princess? Anyone that grew up watching Disney will enjoy these. Favorite episodes include Mulan, Belle, and Merida.

The network I’ve been with the longest is Storywonk. Lani and Alistair were my constant companions last year while I was running. My favorite thing about listening to them is their positivity and their motto, “Love what you love.”

(hmm, looks like their having some technical issues on their site, so here is the link to the main podcast page.)

Story and Star Wars: It may even make you not hate the prequels! Obviously you should listen to whole series.

The Light Bulb (sadly discontinued): This was by far my favorite of theirs, just a pop culture conversation each week. Favorite episodes were We Know Her Value, Technically Correct, and SGU, We’ll Never Be Done.

StoryWonk Sessions (sadly discontinued): All the Pixar films! Fun times!

They’ve also just started a Marvel discussion podcast and will soon be restarting their Dear Mr Potter podcast with book 2!

I like most everything from Gimlet Media, but especially:

Reply All (h/t to @mrdardy) Two dudes that are just fun to listen to. Some fave episodes: A Simple QuestionIn The Desert, Raising the Bar (last one would definitely be of interest to #educolor)

StartUp Three seasons about starting a startup. First season is the best, along with any other Gimlet updates.

Surprisingly Awesome is surprisingly uneven, but the Frequent Flyer Miles episode is a classic, and just waiting for someone to make a lesson plan around it. Some other good ones were Tubthumping, Concrete, and Mold.

Mystery Show I want a Starlee Kine in my life. Seriously, the mystery is WHERE IS THE SECOND SEASON? There’s only six, so go ahead and listen to all of them, but my favorites are Britney, Belt Buckle, and Source Code.

Try one of them out while you’re setting up classroom, commuting, or talking walk and let me know if you liked ’em! And be sure to comment or tweet me your faves as well!

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5 Ways to Accessorize Your Function #Alg17 #MTBoSBlaugust

My first contribution to the AlgebraTEEN magazine!

5 ways to accessorize grey

(word file here) What started as a joke reply to Julie soon turned into a real thing with an AlgebraTEEN website and everything!  Make your own “article” and submit it! (It’s doesn’t have to be all graphic-design-y but it can be if you want!) Or if you just have an idea for an article submit that, too! I totally want to take the submissions and turn them into a real print magazine! Wouldn’t that be too much fun? Thanks to Julie and Mattie for taking a silly idea and running with it!

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First Day Materials #MTBoSBlaugust

Spurred by this tweet:

I thought I would share some of my first day materials. (Side note: Ali is starting up her first year teaching! Go give her an encouraging shoutout! She’s going to be awesome!)

Our first day is usually chopped up quite a bit, what with a super-long first period for everyone to find their place, then grade-level assemblies, crazy lunch, etc, so I usually don’t like to plan an activity for the day because it will just get all jumbled. I know, I know, not cool, but sometimes it’s easier to just go with the flow. I always have Four Fours ready if we have extra time at the end of class! We usually start on a Thursday, so I spend Friday doing the “fun” first day stuff then we’re ready to jump in Monday.

All that to say this is my “not fun but necessary” first day stuff.

My syllabus (2 to a page because trees):


File here  I also had a different version that had 10 tips for success that just got too wordy and me-talky:

steps to success

Maybe spread them out and talk about 2 each day as a warm up? Or just copy the genius of Becca Phillips:

For the survey, I usually have directions for the students to start the survey on their phones when they get into class (and yes, I understand a url and QR code are redundant, but I found many students didn’t have a QR reader installed). I also have my phone and my computer available for those that don’t have one. The survey is a google form that starts with last name, first name, preferred name, class period, grade level, then some get-to-know-you questions:

student survey

I also need to add birthday so I can do something fun for them!

I also liked Sarah & Kathryn’s idea of having the kids introduce themselves on a padlet–maybe upload a photo too so I can get to know names?

As for the parent survey, most of the teachers have parents sign the syllabus the first day, but I tell my students that they need to take the survey instead (and yes, some students respond pretending to be parents but you can usually sniff them out, and really, didn’t some students sign their parents name when we did it the old fashioned way?  I also tell them that they can pick up a paper form on the way out if getting online is a problem.

parent survey

The “proud of my child because” one? That is teacher-parenting communication gold right there! I do the “terms of service” for anything that I routinely get emails/phone calls about. (For my precal, I have that they do need a graphing calculator and can rent one from the school if needed.)

I also do a fun “getting to know Mrs Craig and man she is really weird and makes really stupid jokes” powerpoint:

I just updated the states page (Thanks, TMC16 for #27!) and the countries visited page (14!). It seems like a cheat to count both Sint Maarten (Dutch side) and Saint Martin (French side), but they are separate countries!

Will have to come up with something different for ACT prep this year…maybe have a goofy multiple choice test?  Like Mrs Craig has (a) a cat (b) a pig (c) a gerbil (d) a corgi?  Things to think about next week!

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