Category Archives: Made4Math

Desmos, Giving up Control, & Pretty Happy Things

Mishmash of stuff going through my mind this week:

Desmos Function Carnival

Confession: I had not been to the computer lab at school for 10 years because the last time I went nothing worked.  The second day of school is normally picture day, so I  thought I might venture into the lab again, since it was already a wasted day.  (Of course, they rescheduled picture day.) I tried out the Function Carnival with PreAP Precal and Algebra II w/ Trig.  I think both classes had much success and enjoyed it as a nice way to ease back into math. I have 52 minute classes and some finished with 15 minutes left, many with 5-10 minutes left, and a few were working until the bell.  Since we ran out of time for class reflection, I wish I had made a worksheet (or google form) for them to do about what they noticed/wondered and, maybe for Precal, describing what type of graphs they had seen.  If you’re trying it for the first time, I would definitely recommend having a tablet device of some kind.  I brought in my own iPad, so I could use the teacher dashboard and monitor as I went to talk to kids.  Once they got to the final screen, I could also quickly check their graphs and have them work on ones that could be better (or congratulate them for being very precise).  I think this Friday (the for-real picture day) I will be trying another one–maybe the penny lab?

Giving Up Control

I’ve been tweeting with the group work guru herself, Ms. @CheesemonkeySF, about doing talking points tomorrow.  I asked if I should monitor the “NO COMMENT” rule and she replied:

Capture SF

She went on to say, “So many…don’t delegate this authority and, as a result, they don’t actually gain the benefits of the group work they believe they are using.  If you want kids to go deep you have to set up a structure in which to trust them.  And you can’t test trust cautiously!”

AAHHH.  But it’s scary to give up my authority.  I like feeling like I’m shepherding these little lost sheep to safety.  I don’t know if I can trust them because I’ve been both surprised and disappointed at what they can do when left to their own devices. What if they just stand out in the rain with their mouths open and drown?  And if they can be trusted, how does that change my role as their teacher?

Also going through my mind is a tweet from this week about how we need to build relationships with our students so that they will do anything we ask just to please us (or something to that effect, maybe it was walk through fire just because we asked?).  I do not have this type of relationship with my students.  Yes, most of them come in and do their work and I don’t have many behavior issues, but I don’t see this ever happening in my class.

Is that ok?  If it’s not ok, what can I do to change it? Is there some code word like “BaaRamEwe” I need to use like Babe?

Pretty Happy Things

Man, things are getting a bit deep around here.  Let’s look at some pretty things for Made4Math.  Some of you may have seen my notebook at TMC14:

02-party binderI made it using my Silhouette machine.  It’s like a Cricut, but instead of using cartridges you design things using its software.  That means it can cut ANY font, and a lot of other cool stuff, too.  If your school/district has a teacher resource center, you may want to talk them into buying one.  It can cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, heat transfer, stickers, all sorts of things.  For the notebook, I cut it out of pink vinyl and applied it to a black notebook.  Some other people wanted to get in on the action, here is Susan Craig’s (no relation)

Capture nb

BTW, how can you nicely insert tweets into posts, besides this horrible attempt at screenshotting?

I also have this one from last year:

03-FNL binderAnd as a special offer for reading this far, I will send a notebook-size (or clipboard-sized) vinyl cutout to the first three (3) people to leave a comment.  You can choose from above (I also have “Whenever I’m sad, I stop being sad and start being awesome instead.”) or if you have a favorite quote, I would be glad to make a new one!

Inspired by my FNL notebook, let’s end this post with a little Coach Taylor motivation:

Listen to me. I said you need to strive to be better than everybody else. I didn’t say you need to be better, but you gotta try. That’s what character is. It’s in the trying.


My Classroom

I start my first day back at school tomorrow, with the students coming back Thursday. Mr Craig & I spent some time last week trying to rearrange my room into groups. I think I may have at least one class of 30 AND I have a really bad closet/projector/projector connection/whiteboard layout AND I have attached-chair-desks. All of that meant that I could not get any traditional grouping to work, so I ended up with this:

11-classroom from front

Need to do some poster rearranging. Don’t you love Rosie with “MATH: We Can Do It!”?

There are a couple of issues, the main one being that I have only have enough big whiteboards and card sort games for 8 groups, which means I’ll have to think of something if I end up having to use the full 10 groups.  Plus I’m not sure how easy it will be for the guys on the end to share with each other if the middle one is working.  But, as @mathtans said, it’s the “least worst” of the possible options I had. Here is the view from the doorway:

12-classroom from door

Cleanest my desk will ever be. Also note the requisite “what if the Earth was…” geometric shape posters.

And from the back:

06-classroom from back

Don’t be jealous of my curtains that I’ve never hemmed. Also, no, I don’t know why they didn’t mount the flag higher.

If I end up with less kids, I’d like to try groups of four but my computer needs to be where it is so it can connect to the projector, which means I lose the best “in front of screen” desk locations.  The desk on the left is a standing-height desk that I use with my document camera; I got it from Overstock last year. It’s much better than playing hunchback over the cart I had previously and I can spread out all my papers.

Now for a few closeups.  This is my make up work station.

04-makeupI write what we did every day on the calendar, then use the calendar to help with planning the next year.  I use this hanging folder to hold handouts for absent students.  I put the name on top of each worksheet and then stick them in the period folder.  If you look closely, I tied paper clips to the folders so I can clip half-sheets to the top of each folder (my paperclips kept walking off and I was too lazy to keep going over to my desk for new ones, which is why they are tied now.).  No excuses for not getting a handout! Since I fill out new notes with the document camera every period, I put the filled-in notes in the pink folders-students can either copy and put back or keep the copy (first come, first serve).

This is probably the most important part of my room, my Wall of Cute:

10-wall of cute

Sometimes you need a picture of a corgi butt to get you through 6th period.

Some people post growth mindset posters. I have these:


Click the pic to read them easier.


Ok, ok, I also have a few motivational posters, too.


Capture5 Capture6


Any fans of Wonder out there?

The first two I made: PDFs here and here.  (If you’d like one with a different background color, Contact Me!)  The third one is available here.

I didn’t even plan the color coordination on these two:

05-DFTBAThe first one is a sign from the second one I printed, but I can’t find my original source. 🙁

I forgot to take some closeups of my Harry Potter ones.  Here they are.

I can't remember who I stole this idea from originally, please let me know if it was you!

I can’t remember from whom I stole this idea originally, please let me know if it was you!

Capture4Capture2Capture3They can all be found in this folder.  If you want the “PEMDAS” version of the curses poster, it’s the original one in the folder.

This last one I stole from Math Teacher Mambo, with modifications. We have two different schedules throughout the week, one with a 7th period study hall.  The long arrows are for long period days and the short arrows are for short period days.  I made the arrows using my Silhouette machine.

08-clockPlus it’s a fun thing for kids to guess about on the first day of school.

I’m also linking this post to Made4Math. Sure wish a lot more of y’all’s projects were listed on there (hint, hint).

Hope you enjoyed my classroom tour!  If you have questions on anything, don’t hesitate to ask!