#2minPD Project: Using ThingLink for Pre-Teaching

Thanks to a connection fostered by my pal Guido over at Nearpod, I found out about a unique opportunity to do global professional development in 2 minutes flat.  The #2minPD project is the brain-child of Stanford fellow Melissa Pelochino, whose goal is to reach 1,000,000 educators per day with relevant #2minPD videos.  These short-and-sweet vids are currently being created, collected, and curated with a bigger purpose of global sharing described here.

You know that cool strategy you do with your students that you think is “normal”?  I’ve learned over and over again that my “normal” is not necessarily everyone’s “normal”.  That thing that you think is “nothing”… that isn’t worth sharing… that thing that you just *do* because it’s what you do…?  The #2minPD project is a grand opportunity to share that thing with the world.  Let’s get some great math examples out there!

If you create a video, I’d love for you to post your link in the comments.  Learning and sharing classroom strategies in this manner can have a huge impact!  Besides, folks definitely have 2 minutes to spare.  :-)

Here’s my first #2minPD video – hoping to create more!

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Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged , | Leave a comment

#NCSM14 Take-Aways

photoI had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the NCSM Conference in New Orleans last week.  I’d never been to an NCSM conference, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  As a classroom teacher, would I feel out of place?  Would those in attendance be open to hearing about 21st-century tools and how my colleagues and I have been using them with our students?  Would the sessions presented be relevant to me?

I heard the statistic more than once that the average age of an NCTM member at the moment is 55 years old.  I sense we’re in a transition between educators primarily valuing the experience and authority of professional organizations like NCSM and NCTM, and the impact of social media like Twitter, blogging and online meetings like Global Math as professional development in real-time with real people.  I find value in all of these sources, yet sensed a divide between math educator generations a bit while chatting with folks over meals and while standing in lines.  I made it a mission to inform people I met about the value of Twitter and pretty much twisted their arms to sign up in my presence. :-)  I challenged then to begin following the #NCSM14 hashtag for the duration of the conference to see if Twitter feeds offered them additional perspective.  I appreciated the number of sessions highlighting technology, as well as a very apparent theme about the importance of effective formative assessment in math education.  Though a divide exists, I sensed that NCSM aims to provide sound research and resources yet simultaneously values the way PD is changing through current mediums.  I did not feel out of place, and sessions were certainly relevant to me.  So glad I had the chance to attend!

Some highlights, takeaways, and opinions on sessions I attended:

Dr. Mike Schmoker’s tongue-in-cheek session FOCUS: First Things First for the 21st Century reminded us that fundamentals of teaching are still relevant.  The ideas of an objective, anticipatory set, small chunks of content, guided practice and monitoring seemed blatantly obvious from our “Teaching 101″ experiences.  Yet, Schmoker made the staggering claim that 95% of the classrooms he’s seen do NOT look like this with any consistency!  Do teachers know how to effectively plan their lessons?  Ouch.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 8.42.41 AMI like these reminders, as it’s very simple to get pie-in-the-sky with 21st century learning.  Having a focus and asking fundamental questions is a great place to start with any initiative in my opinion.  I love the last bullet point here – with new TEKS on the way (Texas is not a Common Core state) we need to start this thing right and have a detailed map of what we’re teaching, the sequence we’re following, and what common assessments we’re using.  Additionally, the second bullet point is a case for students writing in their mathematics classes more often.  I love “5-minute paper” strategies in math – pose a question to students very generally, like “Tell me everything you know right now about Probability.”  Set a timer for 5 minutes, let them write freely, and ask students to share what they wrote… or trade papers and comment on one another’s papers… or I just collect ‘em and read a few out loud.  Written communication also applies to mathematics education!

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 9.56.23 AMAfter running to shake the hand of the great David Wees, I went to Jere Confrey and Erik Johnson’s session Using Digital Environments to Foster Student Discourse.  Jere and Erik painted a picture describing the ideal digital math workspace with a variety of tools at students’ disposal that also foster a social environment valuing student communication, as well as the ability to share student work efficiently.  They demonstrated features of Amplify as a digital solution.  I’ll be curious follow the development and implementation of this… tablet?  Software?  Tool?  Potential silver bullet?

Having had experience as a math coach, I attended several coaching-themed workshops as well.  In Contributing to a Culture of Mathematics Coaching for the Standards for Mathematical Practice, John Sutton, Arlene Mitchell, and Clare Heidema did a great job describing what a coach *is* (stands alongside the teacher but doesn’t do the work for the teacher) and *is not* (an evaluator, one who overtakes during a lesson in progress, one who imposes).  A spin I hadn’t heard articulated well before this session was a description of an “effective consumer of coaching”.  This is a person who asks a coach for targeted feedback, is open for reflection, tells a coach what kind of classroom interaction s/he desires, and is willing to examine her/his own content knowledge.  Describing an effective “consumer of coaching” places responsibility and ownership on both the coach and the consumer.  I like that.

In Agents of Change in the Era of the Common Core State Standards, Lucy West and Antonia Cameron honed in on a coaching model that works on instructional goals and content goals simultaneously (you can’t teach what you don’t know).  Helpful videos showing what a pre-conference, lesson enactment, and post-conference look and sound like helped us experience a true coaching session.  These were not touchy-feely and fun, but challenged the teacher in ways that could have resulted in conflict.  To paraphrase Lucy, however, conflict HANDLED WELL can be the juice that stirs the pot, and makes possible a new thought or inspiration or improvement.  Coaching doesn’t always “feel good” but it sure has potential to foster good things.  Likewise, emphasis on communication and planning between administration and the instructional coach was refreshing.  Principals took videos of themselves in action, shared with other principals, and modeled a willingness to grow, change, and become more self-aware.  Nice!

The session that challenged my colleagues and me from the get-go was Tim Kanold’s Beyond Teaching for Understanding: The Elements of Authentic Formative Assessment!  See that exclamation point right there in the title?  TOTALLY APPROPRIATE.  Kanold is not afraid to make bold claims backed by research that smack you in the face in such a way that you don’t quite know what just happened.  Here are his slides, and I venture to say that perhaps “you had to be there” to experience the true impact of their contents.  Kanold has a gift – he makes his audience question every single thing that they’re doing… or not doing.  There’s some kind of magic in the way he made me question my practice in a painful and exhilarating way.  Two conversations that immediately got a rise out of us:

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 9.17.08 AMQuestion: Are we calling something “formative” that is simply “diagnostic”?  To truly be formative, ACTION must be taken.  The idea is a “feedback loop”.  Once we access that valuable data from our students, what the heck are we doing with it?  Students need us to take action, and to be part of the process.  Don’t keep that data to yourself… do something with it.  Now that’s truly formative.

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Question: What’s the purpose of homework?  Kanold says that “homework should never be graded” and I agree.  Why would I put a mark in the book that represents a student’s first experience with a new concept?  Kanold claims students should have answers to all of the homework in an upcoming unit so the practice homework provides includes instant feedback (finding out if the problem is correct the next day in class is too late).  Ask students to “embrace their errors” and take action during independent practice outside of class as a regular part of their homework experiences.  Kanold also poo-pood the idea of giving mass amounts of homework.  For math, he basically says less is more.  Very controversial ideas for some folks right here.  I’m diggin’ it.  Follow him on Twitter here.

I also plan to get my hands on John Hattie’s book and want to spread Kanold’s terminology of asking “What are the solution pathways?” versus “What’s the answer?”

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 10.47.08 AMIn Teaching Math Through Real World Topics, Karim Kai Ani engaged us with perplexing questions and media to support them.  For example, should a certain pair of athletic shoes cost the same regardless of their size?  What is the price per ounce of each shoe?  How might the price of shoes be adjusted if we consider the cost of materials?  Let’s graph this thing using Desmos and continue the conversation… I love what Mathalicious is up to.  I think you will too… check them out here.

I appreciated the emphasis at NCSM on using digital tools for formative assessment to make student thinking visible.  Two sessions, Digital Tools 4 Capturing & Analyzing Student Thinking with Jonathan Wray, and Creating a Classroom Climate that Fosters Mathematical Thinkers with Katie England, both highlighted the ways technology helps generate and share student work, and how this positively impacts classroom culture and student achievement.  You’re speaking my language, folks.

"For Our Yearbook" - Made with ImageChef

“For Our Yearbook” – Made with ImageChef

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We are divisible by three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, okay… so no math conference is complete without a shout-out to Dan Meyer and his 3-Acts!  Dan literally feeds off of crowd participation, skipping off the stage to hear what we think, as we hang on his every word.  For the “whats” and “whys” of 3-Act Math Tasks, NCSM is featuring resources here… and I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll be seeing Andrew Stadel and Robert Kaplisky on stage with a packed ballroom at a future conference.  Is there a requirement that one must look like Dan Meyer’s next-of-kin to be in this superstar California-guy math club?  ;-)  C’mon, the resemblance is uncanny!  It’s an honor and a privilege to chat with these folks in person after admiring their work digitally from afar.  Check out Andrew’s blog here, Robert’s blog here, and Dan’s blog here.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 11.42.40 AMOur last session was… ours!  Jerri LaMirand, Laura Wright, Laura Ringwood and I shared about using iPads in a 1:1 environment.  Each of us highlighted formative assessment apps and tools that aren’t math specific, but can be used with gusto in mathematics classrooms to foster metacognition.  Details regarding our session, including resources, samples of student work, and our online Smore flyers can all be found here.

Just For Fun

#NCSM14 was in New Orleans, so “fun” was also part of our #NCSM14 equation.  Here are some goodies we thoroughly enjoyed.

Pearson’s table in the exhibit hall featured the amazingly talented digital cartoonist, Doug Shannon.  Equipped with an iPad mini, a drawing app, and his fingertip, Doug whipped up full-color digital caricatures in minutes.  Here’s an Eanes ISD shout out – thanks Doug!  Left to right: Jerri LaMirand, Laura Wright, Cathy Yenca (that’s me looking CrAzY), and Laura Ringwood.

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We spent an evening at the Audubon Aquarium thanks to ETA, where I found some perplexity to incorporate into studies of volume next year.  A fish tank with a cylindrical portal was quite amusing… and I plan to find out its dimensions to make an authentic 3-D task. (P.S.  See dimensions below!)  Looking at this photo, I can see why my caricature looks like it does… well shoot, I really do look like that, don’t I? ;-)

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Our “commute” from hotel to conference center included an efficient stroll through a Harrah’s casino every day.  Three days out of three I was carded by security.  This is to be celebrated.

 

To promote the Smore online flyers for our session, we shopped for, packaged, and distributed 200 literal s’mores to folks at NCSM.  From deciding how many boxes of graham crackers to buy, to comparing unit prices of Hershey’s chocolate options, to designing, cutting, and attaching information cards to each s’more bag, this sweet and impromptu project was a math bonding session with my colleagues that I won’t soon forget.

Yes, we went shopping before the conference.  Trust me, it's not what you think. #200s'mores

Yes, we went shopping before the conference. Trust me, it’s not what you think. #200s’mores

Considering Unit Prices and Wrapper Importance

Graham Crackers and Marshmallows

 

 

 

 

 

NOLA food was amazing.  Goat cheese and crawfish crepes… red beans and rice… and beignets were some highlights!

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Final Fun:  Immediately after our session, I found out via e-mail that I’ve been accepted to the ADE 2014 Global Institute.  Here’s my reaction.  Yes, I almost dropped my beignet on the floor right there.

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P.S.  The Audubon Aquarium responded to my e-mail                                                                 and provided the following dimensions for the crab tank:

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Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

S’more Time! Who is in the Driver’s Seat? #NCSM14

Who's in the Driver's Seat: Last session of the day!

Who’s in the Driver’s Seat: Last session of the day!

Three of my colleagues and I had the pleasure of presenting at the #NCSM14 conference in New Orleans this week.  Our chat was during the last session timeframe… on the last day of NCSM… and our talk was alphabetically last on the list… but we made the most of it!  Given the number of sessions and speakers throughout the week whose focus was on formative assessment in mathematics education, our message was on target, despite a sparse, but genuinely inquisitive audience.  Thanks to all who stopped by!

First, we hoped to introduce folks to a web-based presentation tool free of slides.  It was quite liberating to use Smore to create “flyers” that we hyperlinked to one another.  No pressure to obey design rules of “slide etiquette” or fear we wouldn’t get to the final slide of our preso – a free-flowing flyer approach with embedded resources afforded participants direct access to our goodies as we shared.  Much more engaging than PowerPoint if you ask me.  *Ahem.*

Who's in the Driver's Seat?  Apparently, none of us!  At the NOLA Aquarium

Who’s in the Driver’s Seat? Apparently, none of us! At the NOLA Aquarium

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We did not take our use of Smore lightly.  We took it quite literally, actually.  Knowing our time slot and alphabetical order woes put us in a plight motivated us to promote our talk.  Ever in Dan Meyer style, we found ourselves taking photos in a grocery store as we weighed the pros and cons of purchasing Hershey’s chocolate bars in varying sizes and prices, with and without wrappers.  After deciding a slightly higher unit price was worth the individually wrapped mini-Hershey bars… 5 bags of marshmallows and 7 boxes of graham crackers later, we assembled 200 (literal) s’mores complete with tags detailing our session.  Every step of this s’more assembly process required math and measurement, of course.

Considering Unit Prices and Wrapper Importance

Considering Unit Prices and Wrapper Importance

Graham Crackers and Marshmallows En Masse

Graham Crackers and Marshmallows En Masse

 

 

 

 

 

200 (literal) s'mores to promote our (digital) S'mores!

200 (literal) s’mores to promote our (digital) S’mores!

Yes, we went shopping before the conference.  Trust me, it's not what you think. #200s'mores

Yes, we went shopping before the conference. Trust me, it’s not what you think. #200s’mores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After distributing the (literal) s’mores to smiling passers-by Wednesday morning, our (digital) Smore session gave us the opportunity to share a bit about our district’s one-to-one iPad experiences.  We highlighted a few handy formative assessment tools and how we use them with students in our math classrooms.  With perspectives ranging from elementary school, middle school, and high school, to administrative leadership, we were happy to share more than chocolate.

See my Smore below.  To see the Smores from my colleagues, Laura Wright, Laura Ringwood, and Jerri LaMirand, scroll to the bottom of my online flyer and click the provided links.

P.S.  We’ve submitted a proposal for NCTM Boston 2015 ~ hope to see you there!

P.P.S.  I’ll post a synopsis of all the great stuff I learned, the great food I ate, and the rockstars I met at #NCSM14 later this weekend.  Stay tuned – my brain needs time to marinate on everything.  And I need sleep.  But no chocolate please… anything but chocolate…

Our Digital S'mores

Explore Our Digital S’mores

 

Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SuperTeacherTools.Net: Speed Match

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 8.19.35 AMHere’s another formative freebie that’s iPad-friendly!

I recently used the Speed Match on SuperTeacherTools.net to review probability vocabulary with my students.  I remember the days of using Speed Match on a SmartBoard, allowing only one student to play at a time at the front of the class… now the Speed Match works on iPads so every student can play simultaneously. The best score of all time and the best score of the day are posted, so students love playing again and again to attempt to beat the record.

What is a Speed Match?  It is what it says it is – a matching game based on speed.  Content can be anything where matching is appropriate, but for math, vocabulary is a fitting source.  Vocabulary terms float above definitions, and the player drags the matching term to the definition at the top of the stack.  If the term matches the definition, a new definition rises to the top of the stack.  Rinse and repeat!

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A Speed Match quiz is simple to create – type words and their respective definitions into the web-based template, and leave the rest to Super Teacher Tools.  One can also search quizzes that others have created, but they are only organized by the date they were created, not the content.  Click around and you might find something you like.

Here’s the quiz my students played repeatedly.  The stats that show up are completely wrong, however, as all of my students played (not just 7) and it was barely a week ago (not 77 days ago… hmmm!)  The important parts, however, (the fastest time and the bearer of that time) are indeed accurate.

I added this new link to a Probability ThingLink I had created previously, which already included vocabulary.  That way, students could explore the ThingLink before playing the SpeedMatch to improve their speed… and reinforce the terms, which is the goal all along!  Note the Speed Match link is the target at the center of the spinner.

Our Math PLC plans to create Speed Match quizzes for every unit of study next year, to serve as one more support for academic vocabulary.  Likewise, our classes can compete against each other!  I wish the leaderboard included more names than just the fastest student – it would probably motivate kids to know that more than one student had a chance to earn that kind of recognition.

Note – many of the tools on the Super Teacher Tools site are still flash-based.

Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kahoot! A Great Formative Freebie

It’s no secret that my heart belongs to Nearpod, Socrative, and ThatQuiz.org.  That being said, another web-based formative freebie has joined my top-three-tools.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 5.47.25 PMKahoot! is a game-based quiz show platform that can be used with any content area with ease.  I tried my first Kahoot! yesterday with 8th graders who will take their Math STAAR test later this week.

Students had previously worked problems from the 2013 released Math 8 STAAR test on paper, and entered their responses in ThatQuiz where I’d prepared an answer-entry “quiz”.  That way, students received an immediate report from ThatQuiz on their efforts, and so did I.  To prepare for Kahoot! I used the data from ThatQuiz to choose 12 released STAAR questions that students missed often.

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After using my favorite Mac shortcut (command-shift-4) to take screenshots of the 12 STAAR problems, I uploaded these images to Kahoot to serve as the questions, and made the four answer choices A, B, C, or D… or F, G, H, or J.  In Kahoot, I set the time limit for each question as 90 seconds.

Students had their STAAR paper problems and work handy as the Kahoot review began.  The suspenseful music set the tone for some stiff competition, ha!  Students each entered a PIN generated when I initiated the Kahoot to start, as well as their names (their REAL names… this must be stressed with middle schoolers so as not to get names like BigBoySwag and such).  Each multiple choice problem appeared on the big screen as students used their iPads to choose the final answer.

http://quick.as/nyyt7bIf you haven’t experienced Kahoot… it’s all about how FAST students enter the correct answer.  In turn, they earn up to 1,000 points in Kahoot currency per problem.  Since students had worked the problems previously, some were able to ring in quickly… but were these quick responses ALSO correct?  Not always – after the last student entered his/her answer choice, the timer stopped, and a bar graph instantly revealed student progress.  We discussed each problem in depth before moving forward.  Then, the part they love the most – as I clicked “Next” a leaderboard showing the top five students and their respective Kahoot points motivated everyone to keep going.  Great fun!

I wish Kahoot allowed zooming in to the images within the Kahoot quiz, as the screenshots I’d uploaded were quite small on the big screen.  In this case, it wasn’t a big deal since students had paper copies in front of them.  For future Kahoots, I’ll have to be careful about the readability of images on the screen up front.

An aside on Kahoot philosophy – sure, it would be easy to have the problem statements on students’ screens, but Kahoot is careful not to have a classroom full of zombies staring at iPad screens.  Having the problem statement appear at the front of the class keeps folks facing forward and looking up, more aware of their social surroundings.  I like this a lot.

Another fun fact – our middle school did a school-wide Kahoot through our in-house student TV network, and we had nearly 400 students competing in a Kahoot about Texas history.  The questions were broadcast through our TV network, and students across the school rang in responses on their iPads.  It was amazing to see that Kahoot could handle such a large audience of participants with ease!

Want to see Kahoot in action with teachers?  Here’s a great post by Clay Reisler (@recessduty) with videos included!

I had the pleasure of meeting the creators of Kahoot! when they stopped by my classroom after the SXSWedu conference.  So glad to have found this web-app!  Give it a try!

P.S.  Happy April Fools’!  Here are some of my favorite resources:

Here’s a very clever video.

Here’s a cumulative “quiz” I designed and use annually as part of our STAAR review.

 

Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

After the Testing is Over

My students begin STAAR testing this week.  That means tired students, a tricky bell schedule, and no homework allowed.

I created the ThingLink below to serve as a menu of options for students once our morning testing sessions are over, and we have an afternoon of non-curriculum together.  We have some activities planned, but I always like to have an extra anchoring activity in my back pocket.  Feel free to use these resources similarly.

I’d love suggestions for additional resources to add, so please send ‘em my way.
 

Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

True or False?

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 8.02.56 PMI must give credit to former-colleague “Mr. OC” at Nitschmann Middle School for this novel way to introduce compound events.  Ever since I saw him do it, it’s become a regular part of my practice.  So easy, so effective, and the kids’ reactions are priceless!

First, tell students they are having a quiz… surprise!  Everyone number your papers from 1 to 10.

Next, say with appropriately dramatic pauses,

Teacher: “Number one… true… or false?”

Students: Waiting patiently for the actual question.

Teacher: “Number two… true… or… false?”

Students: “Wait, what was number one?”

Teacher: “Number one was true… or false.”

Students: “No… the QUESTION for number one!?!”

Then a few of them start to catch on.  And… a few still have no idea what’s going on.
I love teaching middle schoolers.

Teacher: “Number three… wait for it… false… or true?”

At this point, some students have randomly answered all ten questions while others wait for me, just in case I decide to switch it up on them.
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After dramatically asking the question ten-fold, it’s time to “grade” our papers.  I read the “correct answers” which I’ve randomly jotted down ahead of time, so as not to be persuaded by my students.  They cheer at “correct” responses and scoff at the ones they missed.  It’s a riot.

We talk about the probability of getting problem #1 correct, #2 correct, and so on.  I ask, “What’s the probability someone would get a perfect paper?”  After writing one half on the board ten times, we decide multiplying the probabilities together will answer our question.

1/1,024 it is.

“How many people got a perfect paper?”

No one has.  As a matter of fact, these quiz scores are usually pretty crappy.  However, the impression this little task makes on students is worth it! :-)

Irony –> I *just* stumbled upon this great video follow-up!  How neat!

Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why Pi?

IMG_5531Since moving to Texas, I’m a little disappointed that March 14 occurs during our spring break every year.  Several Pi Day traditions have survived in my classroom, despite the fact that I don’t get to celebrate with my students in person.

The day before spring break, I greet every student at my classroom door, hand each of them this greeting card, and wish them an early “Happy Pi Day”.  Upon starting class, we briefly discuss the history of pi and I proceed to recite 50+ digits as my students gaze at the back of the greeting card to catch my bluff… only to realize I really am reciting memorized digits.  This usually challenges a few of them to study and exceed my record post-break.  Someone beats me every year, and it’s usually a student I’d never expect to “own” this type of challenge.  Fun stuff – not very practical, but curiosity about any mathematical topic is powerful, so I’ll take it.

I also tell students to send me a “Happy Pi Day” e-mail on March 14 at 1:59 AM or PM (I don’t judge… it IS spring break after all) and as long as the e-mail message is time-stamped 1:59, the student will gain a bonus point on our next test.  I love watching my inbox explode as a result of this offer.  Students often e-mail me from other time zones and tell me where they’re spending their break.

There is one little issue that’s also an annual Pi Day event, and this one’s not so great.  Every year I ask my 8th graders, “Why is pi approximately 3.14?  Why is it a little more than 3?  Why isn’t it 7.14? Or 25?  WHY PI?”

And then, the crickets chirp a bit.  Then someone says something about decimals that doesn’t make much sense.  Then, they just stare at me.

Teachers who celebrate Pi Day with students – will you make it your mission to help students understand that every circle is about triple the distance around than it is straight across?  Every circle that ever was and every will be must possess this mathematical truth, or it’s simply not a circle.

Some students have memorized a statement like, “Pi is the circumference divided by the diameter.” Not bad.  But, when asked, “But why is pi a little bit more than 3?” in my experience, students have absolutely no idea.

When I taught younger kiddos, we wrapped string around plastic lids and any circular object we could get our hands on, then we measured diameters, and “discovered” pi.  It’s not a new lesson, but it seemed to click with younger students.  Make discovering pi part of your festivities if you don’t already, and enjoy your Pi Day!

P.S.  Next year’s Pi Day will be epic!  I will have to adjust my e-mail challenge to be on 3/14/15 at 9:26.  :-)

And… stunts like this show exactly why I love living in Austin, Texas!

Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged | 2 Comments

Facebook, Math, and The Common Core

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 8.36.40 AMI try to sort my social media options into little life categories.

Twitter –> math and ed-tech talk

Facebook –> personal friendships

More and more, social media can’t be compartmentalized.  Just as learning can be messy, life expressed through social media isn’t always so concise.

I kept seeing this hand-written math problem with the title “This is Common Core” floating around Facebook.  I did so well keeping my mouth shut about it, until a friend invited my opinion.  So, I posted the problem on my own wall and encouraged discussion and feedback.

While I teach in Texas, where we do not teach the CCSS, I found this problem to be interesting, especially because so many comments absolutely bashed this so-called “new” method… which appears to have been written by an adult with an agenda, but I digress… (By the way, I’d love to specifically know where this work came from.)

My take-away:  Parents and teachers, if a child presented you with work that resembled the “new” way, what would your first reaction be?  Would you first seek to understand the student’s method and thinking, or would you break out a red pen?  I would hope the former.

Feel free to continue the conversation here.

Update: It appears I’m not the only math educator out there who couldn’t stay silent.
Posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra | Tagged | 2 Comments

#SXSWedu 2014 – Highlights

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I just attended my first SXSWedu Conference & Festival.  I’ve never wanted to clone myself more.  I was on choice-overload from day one.  I’m not complaining – I’m simply trying to express how up-my-alley so many of the topics sounded upon reviewing their descriptions.

For past conferences, I chose sessions based on their titles and descriptions, but I found myself looking for the names of familiar presenters as a priority this time.  It was great to see so many colleagues-from-across-the-miles come together in person.  Several of my Twitter-only virtual friends became in-person friends too.  Love that.  I have found my people – it’s great to have friendly faces to “geek” with.

I also had the chance to meet folks from Querium and Nearpod whom I’d only known virtually prior to SXSWedu.  I’m thankful to have had opportunities to work with such classy people on projects that further math education in this exciting 21st century.

How can I sum up four days of ed tech bliss?  No matter the medium, it will fall short of actually being there (goes without saying) but here’s my attempt.  These are sessions I attended first-hand, and you can experience their essence.

Red “nubbins” highlight the session title, and link back to the SXSWedu schedule page, which provides more detail about the session and presenters.

Blue “nubbins” link to additional resources provided in the session.

Twitter “nubbins” will help you get connected with the presenters, as well as search Twitter for that session’s hashtag to see archived conversations online.

Exclamation point “nubbins” provide my biggest take-away from each session.

Did you attend #SXSWedu?  What was your biggest take-away?

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