Category Archives: 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?)


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


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 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?!

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: 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 (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
<div align="center"><a href="" rel="nofollow" title="Stars of The Week"><img src="" alt="Stars of The Week" style="border: none;" /></a></div>

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 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

#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

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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