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Counting Down to Noon O’Clock

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I would like to announce that after eating the same lunch for 17 years (Ritz peanut butter crackers, trail mix, and peanut butter chocolate granola bar), this school year I resolved to start making lunches that were perhaps a bit better for me and I made it through the entire school year without eating peanut butter crackers once. And I was actually looking forward to eating lunch instead of just looking forward to it being lunch. 🙂

Of course, now they’re saying that having the same lunch every day is good for you, in the one-less-decision-to-make kind of way. But I’m still going to share my ideas so maybe it’ll help you if you do have decisions to make about lunch. Also, I’m not making any statement on the healthiness of these recipes, except for the fact that they use mostly fresh ingredients and a lot more vegetable and fruit servings than I was previously getting at lunch (zero). I usually made a recipe on the weekend that would make 3-4 lunches, then have a sliced apple with peanut butter and, yes, some trail mix on the other days. (BTW, whether or not you make your own lunch, you need this apple slicer in your life. Also BTW, I did quite a few experiments involving sprite, fruit fresh, etc, and found the easiest way to keep the apple from browning was to slice it right before school and store it in a plastic container in the fridge.) So here are some of my go-to recipes:

One Skillet Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry
It does involve a lot of ingredients, but it is yummy!

Tex-Mex Fried Rice
I actually just had this for lunch and it is also yummy! (I think I only have two food descriptors: yummy and gross.) It is a wee bit spicy as written. And it makes a TON so make sure you have your big frying pan for this.

Honey Siracha Glazed Meatballs
I make a half-batch (one pound of ground turkey) for four meals. Also, don’t tell anyone, but I use ground ginger instead of fresh because I can’t be bothered. (Don’t tell anyone that I use jarred minced garlic instead of fresh as well. I also use salted butter in recipes that say unsalted. I have yet to have anyone tell me my baked goods are too salty. [Or maybe they are and they’re just not telling me because they’re nice.] What I’m saying is if using dried spices or prediced onion gets you to switch out a processed meal for homemade, do it.)

Pasta Salad
I know there’s a thousand recipes for pasta salad out there, but I have the easiest one memorized: half a box of pasta, a tomato, a cucumber, 1/4 c of mayo, and 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. Feel free to add in anything else you might enjoy, like bell peppers or grilled corn-off-the-cob.

Salad Salad
Remember what I said about prediced onions and such? May I also recommend trying a bagged salad? My favorite is Publix Apple, Feta, and Walnut, especially if it’s buy one, get one. I also had a delightful salad at a cafe yesterday that was spinach, almonds, craisins, and avocado with poppy seed vinaigrette that I can’t wait to make at home.
Protip: Use your kitchen shears to cut up the greens right in your salad container as you assembly your lunch. I use a container, similar to this one, that I found at Target.

Lightened-Up Creamy Chicken Soup
Perfect for winter! And yes, I am a nerd and spent some of my Christmas money on a lunch-sized Crockpot. I use it to warm everything up that needs reheating, not just soup. Hey, when you only have 22 minutes for lunch, you don’t want to spend 2 of those at the microwave. I just set a text reminder to turn it on about an hour before lunch.

I always looking for more recipes, so send some my way @outsideofadog07 on Twitter. (Oh, btw, I still check @mathymeg07 occasionally, but have mostly migrated to using this new account because it seemed easier to start from scratch rather than culling my follows and followers. Plus as an added bonus, on my new account, no one’s tried to censor me and tell me not to tweet! How refreshing!)

Category: Uncategorized

#Read2018 Books

Man, 114 books!

Instead of a top ten list, here are some titles I want to spotlight:

My five-star books:

How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler By Ryan North

This book defies description: when it came out, it was at the top of the Sci-Fi and Non-Fiction bestseller lists for Amazon. A book that’s fun to dip into, but that I couldn’t stop myself from devouring in a couple days. Warning: it will make you want to tell everyone you meet about how humans really missed the boat with buttons.

Mr & Mrs American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

That’s right: I’m giving comedy its due. In terms of pure, delightful, actual laugh-out-loud-ness, this one is a pageant winner. Plus you know I’m a sucker for a found family/precocious kid story.

Goodbye, Paris by Anstey Harris

Remember what I said about found family? I also love books that make you want to travel, and this one makes me long to go to…Italy (you though I was going to say Paris, didn’t you?). Also, do not read while hungry: the food descriptions are mouth-watering! You may also not want to read in public. I may have started crying in front of my students while reading this.

[We interrupt this blog post to bring you the following advertisement. This was one of my Book of the Month club selections. I joined last March and I love it! You can either get charged monthly for $15, or a year for $150. They give you five to choose from, and you can skip a month if you don’t like anything. You can also add-on for $10/book. If you’d like to try it, you can use my link and we each get a free book. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.]

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When I read this in January, I knew it was going to be one of my favorites of the year. A sprawling love story with a dash of old-fashioned Hollywood, it’s a book that reminds you why you slog through so many books: because sometimes you’ll find a treasure like this one.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

For me, 2018 was definitely the year of Taylor Jenkins Reid. After reading Seven Husbands, I wanted to devour all of her previous work, and it did not disappoint. (I tried to stretch it out as much as possible, so I still have After I Do to read.) This was my favorite. You know when you’re reading and your heart gets in your throat because you don’t know what choice the character is going to make and you see that both choices aren’t wrong and it’s just really got you nervous? That is how I felt for the entire book. So, so good. Plus I want others to read it so we can discuss her decisions. Plus I want to read it again. Plus can I mention how nice it is to have a book where all the characters are pleasant to be around?

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Guys, don’t be like me and wait to read this book. This is the rare memoir that is both insightful (I must admit this is the first book I’ve read about South Africa) and funny. And not just, “oh, that is an amusing, wry tale” funny, but “hahaha, wait, you gotta hear this story!” funny. Read it now; thank me later.

Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce

Maybe it was because I was reading this in Scotland, but I loved this story of a young woman in London during World War II. Although it is a war story, the most descriptive word I can think of is cozy. Perfect for a winter’s night by the fire.

The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater

I read a lot of YA books, and sometimes they feel like they’re just checking off a list of topical items to include. This one is non-fiction and organically covers so many interesting topics: transgenderism, racism, justice system, restorative justice. It makes you confront these issues, but personalizes them so it doesn’t feel like you’re being forced to do Important Topic Homework. It also includes some unique storytelling elements, which is just an added bonus.

Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane and The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

I paired these together because they both defy description, but I think if you like one, you’ll like the other. I’m a bit late to Penumbra, but I’m glad it finally made to the top of my TBR list. This is a book that you definitely have not read before, and you never know where each page is going to take you. The same can be said for The Oracle Year (another Book of the Month selection that I never would have read otherwise). What if you knew certain events would happen in the future? What would that knowledge be worth? Who would want that knowledge? What could you do with that knowledge? It reads like classic Grisham, with characters you know are up to something, but you’re not sure what, and you have to keep turning the pages to find out.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

This was a re-read from 2014, but, man, does it still hold up. One of the best YA novels I’ve ever read. I can’t even think about the ending without tearing up. To quote from my sister, “If you are a teenager, have a teenager or have been a teenager, it will touch your heart.”

Otherwise Engaged and The Zygote Chronicles by Suzanne Finnamore

Two more re-reads, but I had a bit of a reading slump and these are two of my favorite books. Almost 20 years old, and the writing still zings. Like real-life love, I can’t explain why I love these books so much, all I know is that I do.

Four-star books that are still noteworthy:

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCollough
A novel in verse based on a real female artist from the 1600’s with topical connections to the #metoo movement? No, this is definitely a book that hasn’t been done before. And the writing is not just a novel in verse, but a beautifully crafted poem on each page. This one sticks with you.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
You don’t read many sci-fi books set in the past (except Star Wars), so this a refreshing blend of dystopia (meteorite crashes into earth), historical (ladies wearing pants! gasp!), and science (how fast can we get to the moon?). If you liked Hidden Figures, I think you’d enjoy this as a fun what-if premise. I ordered the second book right away! (but haven’t gotten to read it yet.)

Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

I sent so many pics of passages to my friends from this book and could have sent many more! It’s a bit eerie how well Roxanna captured the current school environment. A very fun read that may hit too close to home for some of us!

Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong by Paul A Offit

While not all seven stories are stellar, there’s some in here that really make you think. The brief history of how the opioid crisis began is just fascinating. I think these could also be the springboard of some interesting science/statistics lessons.

And that’s all folks! Be sure to tweet me @mathymeg07 with your favorites of 2018!

Category: Uncategorized

2019 Fitbos Challenge

It’s back! The fourth annual Fitbos challenge! Because working out is always better with friends!

Here are some FAQs about the challenge:

What is the #Fitbos19 challenge?  Set your own workout hours goal for the year, make that goal public by entering it on the first sheet at bit.ly/fitbos19. At the bottom, you’ll notice tabs for each month. This is where you can enter your daily workout times (if you’d rather enter them by week, just put the week’s totals in for one day). The front sheet should update your times.  Remember to put your yearly goal in as hours and your daily workout time in as minutes.

What if I want to do something other than hours, like miles or steps or pushups?
The spreadsheet is set up to convert minutes to hours. For each month, in cell 7 in your column, simply delete the “/60” part of the formula.

How did this start? In 2015, for some reason, I signed up for #500milesin2015. I made it (and did a 10K!) but not without some “knee awareness.” I wanted to still have a yearly goal but be able to vary the workouts, so I started a google spreadsheet last year. Each year I always end up slacking for the first half and then amping it up for the last quarter, but I have made my goals!

What should my goal be? I’m doing 150 because it’s a nice number. 3 hours a week with a two-week vacation. Some people are doing 100 hours, some people are doing 275. I try to find the line between possible and believable and that is something different for everyone. We don’t judge.

What counts? We’re not the exercise police. If you think it counts, count it. My rule of thumb is, “Am I not sitting on my butt when I rather would be?”  Hiking? Of course. Snow-shoveling? I’ve heard that such a thing is actually quite the workout. Dance-vacuuming? Hey, if you break a sweat and have a clean house, double bonus! Walking around the school during your planning period? Great way to get in some extra minutes and get re-energized! I personally do a mix of walking the dogs when the weather is nice and youtube videos and DVDs from Jessica Smith when the weather isn’t.

What if something doesn’t work on the spreadsheet? Yes, I was lazy and just made a copy of last year’s and did some tweaking, so there may be some wonkiness left over. Just shoot me a tweet (I don’t check blog comments very often) and I’ll try to get it sorted!

What if I’m a fitbit user? Sarah Martin (@Sarah3Martin) has a fitbit fitbos challenge group. You can give her your info and she will add you to the group for weekly challenges if you need more (or different) motivation.

What do I get when I complete my goal? Your hours turn green and you get a monthly shout-out on Twitter from me. This year I set a calendar reminder for the 5th of every month for the shout-out — sorry I slacked a bit in the fall this year! I blame it on lack of new Astros World Series gifs. As a new added bonus, if you finish your yearly goal, you get to sign up early for next year, meaning you can get a prime column! 🙂  (If you don’t get a prime column this year, some people like to color/fill their name to make it easier to find. Or you could make your own copy of the spreadsheet, put yourself in column B, then just copy and paste your times at the end of the month to the group sheet.)

Who completed the 2018 challenge? Congrats to:

Shelly (@stcarranza) 159 hours (106%)
Tina (@TPalmer207) 126 hours (100%)
Shelli (@druinok) 150 hours (109%)
Dave (@daveLanovaz) 182 hours (101%)
Brett (@ParkerMathEd) 100 hours (100%)
Megan (@MeganHeine) 299 hours (115%)
Mary Anne (@mahiker) 357 hours (!!) (119%)
Pam (@pamjwilson) 132 hours (101%)
Jennifer (@hhsmath) 197 hours (109%)
Megan (@megandubee) 258 hours (103%)
Elissa (@misscalculate) 2026 miles (100%)
Me! 150 hours (100%)

What does it feel like to complete your #fitbos goal?

And to answer your final question, “where do I sign up again?bit.ly/fitbos19!

Category: Uncategorized

Teacher Emergency Supply Kit

Today I had to make an emergency stop at the drugstore on the way to school due to the world’s worst blister. (Seriously, this thing woke me up in the middle of the night! Yes, I used a blister blocker stick. No, I did not think to rub it on the tops of my toes.) But it reminded me of a blog post I’ve been meaning to write: the teacher’s emergency kit. Treat yourself by getting a cute container (or a shoebox), filling it with this stuff, and putting it in your desk or closet. You’ll thank me later. (Also, how great of a gift would this be for a student teacher/new teacher?)

Basics:

Bandaids Our school nurse provides some, but you know exactly what type they are-those scratchy fabric kind that are about 5 inches big. I ran out of my personal stash yesterday (hence the blisters), but I usually have a regular assortment and a cartoon one. Students love the cartoon ones.  (Also, if you’re not using heel liners in every shoe that you wear without socks, how do you survive?)

Shout wipes Hey, remember when the entire sleeve of your writing arm was the same color as your overhead markers? Good times. But marker accidents still happen!

Manicure kit I wish I didn’t have to say this, but since it happened at our school once: do not give yourself a manicure at school. But isn’t it nice to not have to wait until you get home to take care of that broken nail? (Mine was actually a freebie from a long time ago, but here’s a really tricked-out version that has a lot of extra stuff that makes me feel queasy. I would say just nail and cuticle clippers and nail file would be enough.)

Feminine Products I put mine in a discreet pencil bag, which makes it less awkward to give out when someone asks.

Lint roller/sheets I guess this isn’t completely necessary if you don’t have pets, but still handy, especially if you accidentally brush up against that shelf that no one’s dusted this year.

Hand lotion Unless you’re the type of with-it person that already has some in their purse. As a person that’s sensitive to smells, may I recommend unscented?

Compact mirror FYI, I’m going to be the person that tells you if something is wrong if you can fix it (arugula in your teeth: yes. Eyebrows drawn on crookedly: no.). In case you don’t have a me in your department, an after-lunch check might be called for.

Floss See above.

Your (legal) pain-reliever of choice Pep rallies, am I right?

Snacky-snack Depending on your willpower/cravings, keep some granola bars, goldfish cracker bags, and/or chocolate in your desk. You’ll thank me when you end up grading past dinner.

Change for the vending machine For that emergency drink/snack when all you have is a twenty and two dimes in your wallet.

Above and beyond:

Sewing kit Ok, maybe you’re not going to whip out a needle and thread to sew on a missing button, but the tiny scissors come in handy. At least get some various-sized safety pins.

Fashion tape Ladies, let’s talk about bra straps. There’s no reason for us to see them at work. Keep some at home and at work. (Note: You can amazon it, but it usually cheaper at Ulta or Bed, Bath, and Beyond)

Contact solution/eyeglass cleaner For those with less-than-perfect vision.

USB phone cord For when you forgot to plug in your phone the night before.

Toolkit Flat-head & Phillips screwdrivers, small hammer, set of mini “precision” screwdrivers : You’d be surprised how often these come in handy, especially once everyone on your hall knows you have them.  I keep all my tools in a separate box to loan out.

Mini umbrella For when the weatherperson lied. Again. (Not going to lie to you, I think I’ve used mine twice in ten years because I always forget I have one!)

I think that’s it! Anything supplies that comes in handy that I missed?

[Edited 8/14/18 to add suggestions]

Of course Elissa is always prepared. I swear by Cold-Eeze Cherry Cough Drops (note: you may want to have some regular non-medicated cough drops for students.)Leslie must be grading absolute value inequalities tests, amirite?!?!Casey is not taking any chances with garlic sauce at lunch.Kathy has a toddler. No wonder she needs extra help in the afternoon. 

[Edited 8/26 to add even more suggestions!]

I was going to blame the fact that I have short hair be the reason that I forgot bobby pins and hair ties, but I guess that doesn’t work with Kristen suggesting them!
Some smart ideas from Kathryn. I really wish I would have gotten a wipeable placemat before I spilled dressing all over the place on Friday.

Duh, of course we need Chapstick!! Thanks, MegHan!

Math by the Mountain is super prepared…. (pro tip: I have one class bring in hand sanitizer for their class supply)And both Tina and MbyM are having some DAYS, people…
Thanks for all the suggestions!  I hope these ideas help make those days just a little bit easier for you! 🙂

 

Category: Uncategorized

Yummy Yummy In My Tummy: Dinner

Inspired by Math by the Mountain’s weekly meal prep posts, I’m sharing some yummy recipes today. Now, I consider myself a pretty good baker, but (cue Richard Nixon voice) I am not a cook. I’m a math gal; I need specific rules to follow, none of this “a dash” “10 – 50 minutes, depending” or “to taste.” So if I can make these recipes, I bet you can as well.

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
Recipe from Genius Kitchen

Mr. Craig gets the credit for finding this recipe. I’m not a big pasta eater, but I usually clean my plate on this one. And now that we’ve made it about once a week for the last six months, we have it down to a science and can get it on the table in 15 minutes. After cooking it that many times, I’ve tweaked the recipe by (1) cutting out the tomatoes, green onions, and Parmesan cheese (but that’s just weird pickiness and laziness of not wanting to chop things) (2) increasing the cream to ¾ cup because more cream is never wrong, and (3) using the Buitoni refrigerated linguine-it just seems a bit tastier than boxed.

Yoste Roast
Recipe from Today Show

I made this from the What Can I Bring? cookbook and Mr Craig could not stop raving about how yummy it was! It’s even better the next day(s) on sandwiches. Even though a roast that big is kind of pricey, we got 4 days worth of dinner out of it. And those meals were darn good. Serving as sandwiches would also be a great party dish. Now a bit of truth in advertising: my roast turned out like a pot roast, delicious, tender, and fall-apart, not like the lovely strips in the picture. I just wanted you to be prepared in case you had this big, elegant, Pinterest display planned, as I’m sure you normally do for dinner.

Sheet Pan Chicken
Recipe from Barefeet in the Kitchen

Spoiler: if you come over to my house for dinner, you’ll probably be getting this meal. It is so easy, yet looks impressive when you plate it. Plus you put it in the oven 50 minutes before dinner and then you’re done. Be careful not to overcrowd your sheet pan or you won’t get the perfect crispiness on the potatoes or green beans (and I think the crispy green beans are my favorite part!). Also, maybe I’m just a meatasaur, but one chicken thigh is not enough for me. When I’m serving 4 people, I keep the potatoes and green beans the same, but buy another pack of chicken thighs, mix everything up in the biggest bowl I have, and split the recipe across two sheet pans.

The Sugar Cookies that Will Change the Way You Think about Sugar Cookies

We have a local German bakery that has the best sugar cookies that I have been trying to duplicate forever. These do not duplicate them, but they are even better. Now the problem I have is that nobody “wants” sugar cookies. I get requests for chocolate chip, chocolate crinkles, peanut butter…, but sad ol’ sugar cookie never gets invited. But I bring them anyway because people don’t know what they really want until I tell them and, what do you know, these cookies become the life of the party and always get invited back. Seriously, I found the recipe in October and I think I’ve made them seven times already (and I haven’t baked at all in January!).

I used a google hack of adding “best” when I searched “sugar cookie recipe,” and read a few of top hits, then modified this one from A Spicy Perspective  by (1) cutting the recipe in half [pro-tip: WRITE all the half amounts on a post-it so you don’t accidently put in the wrong amount when you’re glancing at the recipe] (2) adding ¼ teaspoon of almond extract (3) using the smallest OXO cookie scoop and baking for about 8 minutes.

Man, just typing about them makes me want to break my no-baking-in-January pledge! Enjoy! 🙂

Category: Uncategorized

#Fitbos18

It’s back! The third annual Fitbos challenge! Because working out is always better with friends!

Here are some FAQs about the challenge:

What is the #Fitbos18 challenge?  Set your own workout hours goal for the year, make that goal public by entering it on the first sheet at bit.ly/fitbos18. At the bottom, you’ll notice tabs for each month. This is where you can enter your daily workout times (if you’d rather enter them by week, just put the week’s totals in for one day). The front sheet should update your times.

What if I want to do something other than hours, like miles or steps or pushups?
The spreadsheet is set up to convert minutes to hours. For each month, in cell 7 in your column, simply delete the “/60” part of the formula.

How did this start? In 2015, for some reason, I signed up for #500milesin2015. I made it (and did a 10K!) but not without some “knee awareness.” I wanted to still have a yearly goal but be able to vary the workouts, so I started a google spreadsheet last year. Each year I always end up slacking for the first half and then amping it up for the last quarter, but I have made my goals!

What should my goal be? I’m doing 150 because it’s a nice number. 3 hours a week with a two-week vacation. Some people are doing 100 hours, some people are doing 275. I try to find the line between possible and believable and that is something different for everyone. We don’t judge.

What counts? We’re not the exercise police. If you think it counts, count it. My rule of thumb is, “Am I not sitting on my butt when I rather would be?”  Hiking? Of course. Snow-shoveling? I’ve heard that such a thing is actually quite the workout. Dance-vacuuming? Hey, if you break a sweat and have a clean house, double bonus! Walking around the school during your planning period? Great way to get in some extra minutes and get re-energized! I personally do a mix of walking the dogs when the weather is nice and youtube videos and DVDs from Jessica Smith when the weather isn’t.

What if something doesn’t work on the spreadsheet? Yes, I was lazy and just made a copy of last year’s and did some tweaking (I changed % month to monthly hours left because math is hard), so there may be some wonkiness left over. Just shoot me a tweet (I don’t check blog comments very often) and I’ll try to get it sorted!

What if I’m a fitbit user? Sarah Martin (@Sarah3Martin) has a fitbit fitbos challenge group. You can give her your info and she will add you to the group for weekly challenges if you need more (or different) motivation.

What do I get when I complete my goal? Your hours turn green and you get a monthly shout-out on Twitter from me.

Who completed the 2017 challenge? Congrats to:

Kristen (@fouss) 170 hours (100% of goal)
Shelly (@stcarranza) 110 hours (100%)
Tina (@TPalmer207) 120 hours (100%)
Shelli (@druinok) 135 hours (113%)
Sue (@dsrussosusan) 2,418 miles (120%)
Dave (@daveLanovaz) 179 hours (105%)
Mary Anne (@mahiker) 425 hours (!!) (106%)
Jennifer (@hhsmath) 185 hours (109%)
Jim (@mrdardy) 207 hours (114%)
Megan (@megandubee) 278 hours (110%)
Laura (@laura_wagenman) 280 hours (102%)
Elissa (@misscalculate) 2017 miles (100%)
Me! 170 hours (100%)

What does it feel like to complete your #fitbos goal?

And to answer your final question, “where do I sign up again?bit.ly/fitbos18!

Category: Uncategorized

The Easiest, Most Customizable Seating Chart and VRG Generator Ever™ #SundayFunday

Updated 9/4 to add easier specialized seating and an awesome “randomize” button.

UGH, this was SUCH a simple idea that I’m mad at myself for taking this long to figure it out. But at least I figured it out in time to share for #SundayFunday’s Teacher Hack week!

I needed to make a seating chart for a class that has a really weird seating arrangement-it’s two conference room tables mooshed together, so 8 students on each side, two on one end, and then a group of six at a different table. We skype with another teacher so I wanted to be able to share it easily with her and also make it easily randomizable so we could change it if we wanted. I tried some online options but it just wasn’t happening. But thinking about flippity and then doing a little googling led me to The Easiest, Most Customizable Seating Chart and Visible Random Grouping Generator Ever™.

Step one: Enter your names.

Step two: Make your layout. If you have group tables, but want to assign seats, I suggest making a border around the number of cells for each group. You could also just make rows/columns if that is how your class is set up, or make group names.

Then for each “seat,” reference a cell from your name column by typing =A1, =A2, =A3, etc.It should look like this when you’re done (I did an example of tables and of rows).

“Uh, Meg, hate to point this out, but those are in the same order as the list you entered. Not very random.”

Step three: Oh, did you want random? I’ll show you random. Click the little arrow at the top of the column and….

How do you like them random apples?! Project this at the start of class and, boom, you’ve got your VRGs right there! Randomize repeatedly as needed. You could also use this as a random student name generator, to assign partners, or OOH! even to randomly assign topics for a project (make a list of topics, then add the =A1, etc to column next to them).

UPDATE: Bonus Step Four: Mark Kaercher developed a script to make a “randomize” button. Make the students’ names white, press the button, and they will they are at Hogwart’s with all your wizardry.

Here is his post: http://makingmymarkintheworld.blogspot.com/2017/09/adding-buttonscript-to-vrg-generator.html and he includes the file to download and customize.

Complaints I’ve had about every other seating chart program:

“I’d like to put them groups” Ok:

(Ironically, there is not one corgi in the corgi group.)

UPDATE: Great suggestion, Michelle! Two birds, one sheet!

“But what if someone is absent/moves out of the class?”

Click the box with their name and use backspace to delete it (do not try to right-click and delete or cut), then randomize again. It will automatically put the blank cells at the end. If they’re just absent, make sure to undo it at the end of class (or you could make a duplicate sheet just for that day, then clear the name.) If you think you’ll use this option a lot, be careful about how you arrange the reference cells in your layout (do you want all the blank spaces in one group/column, or spread out in a row?).

“But what if I have students that have to sit at a certain spot?”

If it is in a specific chair, you could take their name out of the list and just type it in that location. Or, if you have multiple students that need to be in the same area (for example, 4 kids that need to be at the front and 3 kids that need to be by the ESL aide), group them together in the column and use the appropriate cell reference in your layout. Then, you can select each group separately and randomize that group.

UPDATE: Teresa McCarthy came up with a much better plan, put the students in different columns, then you can randomize all columns at the same time:

“I really wish there were more corgi pictures.”

Also, for those of you that already made this discovery, why did you not tell me?!?! UPDATE: Thanks for all of you that let me know I was not the last one in the world to figure this out, and thanks to all of you who took the the idea and ran with it!

Category: Uncategorized

New (Improved?) Way to Make Math Figures

I saw this tweet from Jenn today:

I replied:

But then! I remembered a trick I learned a couple months ago about inserting a Powerpoint slide into Word.

I made the drawing in Powerpoint, using 6 point weight for arrows and 45 point font for labels. (You guys know about clicking on something, holding control, then dragging to copy/paste an object, right? So you only need to set the formatting once, then just copy the arrow or label and move it around to where you need the next one).

At this point you could do a screenshot, which in all likelihood would probably be easiest. BUT maybe you’re like me and make a mistake now and then? Or maybe you go to open the file next year to change something and–darn it–you have to draw the whole thing over again.

Well, with this new trick, if you double click on the image, it brings up the Powerpoint menu within Word. It’s like witchcraft. Watch and enjoy!

Gif made with screentogif.com (it’s free!)

The steps to insert the slide are:

Select the slide in Powerpoint, right click, copy.

Go to Paste dropdown menu in Word, select Paste Special, then Microsoft Powerpoint Slide Object.

At this point I like to go to layout, wrap text, choose in front of text. You can also resize.

You can also copy and paste the object and it will act like a separate slide that you can modify independently of the first one:

I just printed them and they look super pretty!

Let me know if you try it out and if you like better than just using a screen shot (or not).

*Side note: Yes, Desmos has geometry now!!!  But no labels or ability to change colors (yet), which is why I offered up this option. I used Geogebra quite a bit when I taught Geometry, but I always have to relearn it every year.

Category: Uncategorized

Stars of the Week Vol 6 #SOTW

Since my last SOTW post was over a month ago (!!!), perhaps I really should take Pat’s suggestion from my last post and rename it “Stars of Whenever I Want.”

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!

If you teach Geometry, you definitely need to be reading  @lisabej_manitou‘s Crazy Math Teacher Lady blog. She has tons of great ideas, but also realizes that sometimes you just need some no-frills, get-the-job-done, quality materials (a girl after my own note-taker-maker heart). Check out her quadrilateral collection. (BTW, if you interested in more materials like these, be sure to check out the comments on @k8nowak ‘s post that Lisa linked.)

I know we’re not supposed to have favorites in the #MTBoS, but I do, and @TPalmer207 is one of them. Ever since our TMC14 dash-to-get-cupcakes-before-the-store-closed, her great outlook and humor have always been something I look forward to seeing on Twitter (and in person!). Not only that, but she’s definitely the type of teacher I wish I could be – in the moment, not afraid to try new things, and constantly creating great discussions in her classroom. Check out this gorgeous teacher move of slowly revealing all the information with the absolute twist at the end that no one saw coming (not even Tina!). I know what you’re thinking, sure, everyone gets lucky once in a while, but no, Tina makes her own luck, as you can see in this segment addition postulate lesson.  You know, she only has about 60 posts so if you’re looking for a way to up your teacher game, spend an afternoon reading the entire collection. You won’t be sorry.

Speaking of teacher moves, if you teach ELL students, @heather_kohn is your gal. She is a great advocate of doing what it takes to bring the ELL student up to the goal, instead of lowering the goal down to where they may be now. Her post on scaffolding open response questions will make you rethink how you can help your struggling students (who may or may not be ELL).

Hey, here’s a great teacher move that easy to implement into any lesson on Monday: Ask Me a Question from @dsladkey. It moves the “Do you have any questions” to “What questions do you have” change to a whole new level.

Another one that’s so easy to implement, but can change the whole classroom climate: @a_schindy‘s Nevermind Strategy.

Wait, you want more teacher moves? This next post comes with a warning: This article will lead to great feelings of inadequacy and make you think most of what you’ve created is crap. So if your current mood is: ugh, I suck as a teacher, you might want to skip the @Desmos Guide to Building Great Math Activities. But if you’re feeling pretty good and want to pick up some ideas that will help make your next lesson planning be a little more thoughtful, go read it.

If you did read it (or even if you didn’t) and you’re looking for good examples of rich problems, check out @algebrasfriend‘s Algebra II examples. I LOVE the parabola one!!

Speaking of parabolas, you know function transformation are near and dear to my heart. @jreulbach created a wonderful Desmos marbleslide for them, but the key move here is the creation of an additional real-life worksheet for students to reflect on their learning and can have it for reference. (Also check out her Function Notation QR Stations–great practice problems for something my students always struggled with)

Ok: One more teacher move: let’s make mistakes a starting point for rich discussions. @Dave_Sabol shows how he used the results from a Desmos Activity Builder to decode mistakes in Calculus. (Also I think Dave should be in the SOTW Hall of Fame for his How I Teach series.)

Man, I don’t know about you, but now I’m overwhelmed by all the new teacher moves I’m supposed to be doing. So let’s take a brain break, sponsored by @mathequalslove‘s brainteaser collection.

And then let’s eat our feelings by baking these Salted Caramel Pretzel Crunch Bars from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Now onto some starred tweets!

For reals, take David’s advice:

Yes, Zippy won (Adorable) Scruffiness of the Week!

Joel’s smartass reply (does he have any other kind?) to the discussion of how to say “apothem”:

Speaking of smartass replies:

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked at this tweet and laughed out loud:

I told you Heather has the pro teacher moves:

And speaking of that pause feature:

And other features:

You know I love my shortcuts:

And this one was brand new to me and I’ve used it every day since then!!! I’m even using it RIGHT NOW.

It always warms my heart to know that people enjoy my stuff; especially when it’s someone who has so much great stuff herself!

And when someone uses my suggestion and then the result is heartwarming:

And then when someone uses an idea I had and their students do so much better with it:

Be sure to send some encouragement to Kristin next weekend!

Do I like CalcDave because of his gifs or in spite of them?

Insert picture of two beautiful math teachers here.

Now I know what the first 91 books I buy as a librarian will be.

Genius.

Genius Part II.

Genius Part III.

And I think I’ll let Casey wrap this (extremely long) edition up:

What? I’m not crying. YOU’RE crying.

#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