ADE Academy #ADE2017 – Unforgettable!

This was my first opportunity to attend an Apple Distinguished Educator Academy that welcomed in a new class of ADEs.  I’ve been looking forward to returning as an alumna while having the chance to welcome a new crew, and I’m especially glad I was chosen to be in Houston this year!


Reuniting with other alumni!

It’s always great to connect with kindred spirits in person!  Many of us live all over the country, and bringing us together in one space ignites an energy that can’t be fully replicated virtually!


Being *wowed* at how the new 2017 class dove right in!

So many 2017-ers were quick to collaborate and share!  I had a blast getting to know my 2017-er roomie Kristen Brooks, and enjoyed her 3-minute showcase, as well as many other new classmates who were absolutely fearless on stage!  And while I’m at it…


Sharing my own 3-minute ADE Showcase (with 2 seconds to spare!)

I felt ready to take on that pesky red 3-minute timer this year, and had 2 seconds left to smile before leaving the stage, ha!  Check out the recording I made of my talk (shared below), inspired by a mini-keynote given by Adam Phyall at iPadpalooza ATX last year.

Creating with Clips!

Our project this year was to create resources using the new iOS Clips app and share them with the world.  Search #ADE2017 and #ClassroomClips and you’ll see a sampling of the work that’s already being shared!  I included my first three attempts at creating with Clips below (inspired in no small part by Jo Boaler and resources available at  I’m hoping to use these brief Clips during the first few days of school to help frame my classroom as one where mistakes are valued, struggle is real (but GOOD), and communication is respectful and constructive.  Feel free to use these as well!


Learning from Ben!

I’ll admit it – I adore using Keynote to create… well… EVERYTHING.  However, Ben Mountz raised the bar and had us all gaping in awe when he shared his Magic Move 3-Minute Showcase.  Check it out for yourself below!

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Well, after witnessing this talk live, we were all wanting to know… *how* did Ben create those Keynote portraits of so many ADE “heroes”?  And… Ben was kind enough to oblige:

I was so inspired and excited to give this a go, that I recorded my first attempt!

Alas, as in real life, sometimes a bad hair day is best handled by starting over… 🙂

AND NOW… Why the ADE 2017 Class has ultimate bragging rights

henceforth… summed up in one word…


Our guest speaker was THE Sady Paulson!  If you haven’t heard, she is one of the most inspiring women on the planet.  Check out this sampling of her work:

Sady was kind enough to share a heartfelt talk with all of us, telling of her own triumphs and how Apple technology has empowered her to fulfill her giftings and dreams. She was a joy to meet in person, and her super smile is about the most contagious thing there is!  After Sady shared her stories with all of us, she was surprised by a special announcement… the new ADE class of 125 was about to become 126!  Welcome, Sady!

It was truly OUR honor to hang out with you in person!  Keep up the fantastic work!

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Learn more about Apple Distinguished Educators here!

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#ISTE17 Reflections: Post 3 (of 3)

I hope your summer has been as equally rich and relaxing as mine has been thus far!  I’m still working on striking the balance between presenting and meeting folks at professional conferences, traveling for pleasure, spending time with family and friends, and frankly, unplugging from math-ed-tech and taking time to do other things… or… to do a little bit of nothing!  (It’s nearly impossible for this Type A+ gal to completely unplug!)

I’m still thinking about #ISTE17 and the common themes that seemed to emerge through my session choices.


  1. Letting go of classroom control!
  2. Giving students choices!
  3. Having students create, create, create!
  4. Using Apple iOS apps and Desmos to do all of the above!

Check out my reflections for items 1, 2, and 3 if you’d like.  Item 4 addresses some tools that can help items 1, 2 and 3 come to life in the classroom!

It was exciting to participate in both a Keynote session and an Apple Clips session, hosted by Apple, and facilitated by folks who directly impact the development of these tools!  Regarding the Keynote session, my biggest take-away was the idea of utilizing the physical space *outside* of Keynote slides to better use “Magic Move” for impressive animations.  If you haven’t heard, I’m kind of a Keynote junkie, and any new tips I learn are like, well, chocolate.  Deeply satisfying!

And the Clips app… wow!  Using Clips, I can’t wait to give students opportunities to share their thinking through video creation and editing on the go!  Click here to see how folks are already brainstorming about and creating with Clips!  I loved how all of the workshop participants were literally moaning in delight as we learned how to use this seemingly simple but fascinatingly well-designed, user-friendly, and complex tool!

Finally, attending a GarageBand session and learning about the new Tuniversity book gave me a taste of music creation and has my hopes high to see how math and music might be connected in future Tuniversity resources!  While my husband and I were having fun with GarageBand, photographers captured the moment, and Apple Education tweeted our photo and a quote from me! Of course, I was floored!

I thoroughly enjoyed attending a Desmos session facilitated by Julie Garcia and John Berray.  An added bonus was sitting beside Jed Butler, being invited to help attendees during their teacher work time, and being interviewed with Jed right after the session by some ISTE camera crew folks!  I’m not sure where or when our interview will turn up, but we sure had fun!

My husband Tim and I also had the opportunity to lead a Desmos session at ISTE.  It was great to see some familiar faces come to our session after taking part in Julie and John’s.  A highlight of our session was being the first to introduce teachers to who were previously only aware of  I watched them OMG and saw their lives literally change as we showcased Activity Builder! SO FUN.  Resources from our session can be found here and here.

I’ve been asked more than once how I “have time to do all of this technology” while also addressing all of the content that will be on the “test”… and I don’t often know how to answer, except to say, technology can help create rich experiences for students to explore, discover, and deeply understand the content, and to assess their learning.  Technology tools can help empower every student’s voice in ways not previously possible, promoting efficiency, error analysis, collaboration, and communication… about the math.

Technology tools like Keynote, Clips, and Desmos need not be viewed exclusively as “add-ons”.  Just as with pencil and paper, we don’t simply stop learning mathematics to have “pencil time” or “paper time”.  Purposefully chosen tech tools help facilitate the learning of the material.

How do I use technology and still address everything on the “test”?  I use technology to support the math, and believe it or not… there are times that I don’t use technology if it’s not the best tool!  However, I can’t think of better ways to get every student involved than using tools to showcase thinking and make it visible for me AND for my students, and many of these tools involve tech.

In my humble opinion, some of the best tech tools, ironically, are *not* math-specific (Desmos is an exception here) because these non-math tools capture student thinking in various formats – written, video, audio, – using variety to get students communicating about their learning paints an accurate picture of what they know.  It’s amazing how adding an audio or video component, and hearing students explain in their own voices, adds a whole new level of learning!  I hope to do a better job of giving my students more opportunities to record explanations of their mathematical thinking, especially with Clips!

Fellow ADE pal Jenny Grabiec’s quote here also deeply resonates with me:

 Additionally, if you haven’t already, check out Reshan Richard’s Qualitative Formative Assessment Toolkit with the best acronym ever. QFAT Toolkit. SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave SaveSave





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#ISTE17 Reflections Post 2 (of 3)

My #ISTE17 Post 1  focused on ways to thoughtfully and purposefully let go of classroom control to foster a growth mindset, while also providing students with brain breaks.  Up next…

2. Giving students choices! 

3. Having students create, create, create!

We educators appreciate having options, don’t we?  When it comes to PD, we enjoy having the freedom to do meaningful work that is relevant to our students.  When we attend conferences like ISTE, we choose the sessions we’d like to attend.  Shoot, we even get up and leave when a session isn’t meeting our needs and try another session instead… or we choose to meet up with folks in hallways and lounges to talk about philosophy, what’s happening in our own districts, and share stories about our successes and challenges.  We educators-as-lifelong-learners prefer choice.  Having choices makes us feel like our time is being respected.  Having choices makes us feel trusted as professionals.  Having choices empowers us in our own learning.

How often are we giving our students choices?


How often are we empowering students to create?

Thinking back to #NCTMAnnual San Antonio, the session that celebrated this idea the most (to me, of the sessions I attended) was  Classroom Dessert: Putting Assessment into Students’ Hands with John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey A.K.A. Classroom Chef.  Here’s a photo I snapped from this NCTM session, showcasing a sampling of ways students can demonstrate their understanding.  When I saw this slide and various student examples, I understood more deeply and concretely the POWER of student choice.  Whether a student uses paper and pencil (an aside… this can still be a valid choice, even in this 21st century!) OR creates art OR a video OR a song… if understanding was demonstrated, the student LEARNED. Period.

Fast-forward to ISTE – I had the pleasure of attending The Power of Music for Learning: GarageBand and Tuniversity.  If you haven’t seen the press, Pharrell Williams, Brent Paschke, and Kiko Doran collaborated to create a GarageBand-meets-iBooks multi-touch book experience that teaches students how to create music through the reverse-engineering process!  The beautiful Tuniversity book presents all of the layers of the song “Happy” for students to tinker with and explore, empowering learners to understand deeply the process of creating music with GarageBand.  Those in attendance not only viewed a heartfelt video message straight from Pharrell himself, but also got to learn from Brent and Kiko in the flesh, while rewriting our own “Happy” lyrics and creating our own recordings!  (P.S. Here’s a sampling of mine!)

As we were having fun tinkering in GarageBand, I instantly remembered seeing the word “Song” on Classroom Chef’s slide back at NCTM.  I remembered that I used to have students write “Math Carols” every December, and perform them to the class before winter break, and how much fun (and sometimes painful, ha) they were to hear.  I want to bring more choice and more fun to the creation and assessment process.

Okay, so some of your are reading this and thinking, wow, that sounds fluffy.  That sounds like it takes/wastes too much time.

Hanging out with Brent Paschke, long-time guitarist of Pharrell Williams!

Whelp, you don’t know what your students can create until you let them.  I still value tremendously the creation process that my students have worked through in creating their own math eBooks using Book Creator the past few years.  Having students create their own media and housing these creations in a book has been a worthwhile project and process.  Add to our options using GarageBand to create a song!

And… a huge and affirming #eduwin of #ISTE17 was meeting Darren Best and hearing about how AP Calculus students in his district used Book Creator to author Calculus eBooks after seeing the work my students did in Math 8 and Algebra 1.  Woot!

One last thing!  I finally got to meet Dan Kemp of Book Creator!

Stay tuned for more #ISTE17 reflections…












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#ISTE17 Reflections, Celebrations, and Healthy Kicks-in-the-Pants: Post 1


This post will inevitably turn into a paperback if I don’t “chunk” it, so this is post 1 of 3… I think… 🙂

This was my second ISTE Conference, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to connect with kindred spirits from near and far this week in lovely San Antonio, Texas, a popular destination for a few of my favorite conferences this year (lucky me)!

Though I haven’t yet recovered from the sleep deprivation and sensory overload that is ISTE, I prefer to reflect here while I’m as *fresh* as is feasible!






Themes for the sessions I chose to attend this year seemed to be:

  1. Letting go of classroom control!
  2. Giving students choices!
  3. Having students create, create, create!
  4. Using Apple iOS apps and Desmos to do all of the above!

While this list is grossly over-generalized, and doesn’t truly do the sessions justice, AND maybe sounds familiar as far as things we should be accomplishing with our students… perhaps these messages continue to be shared because we’ve heard them, but haven’t crossed the threshold of *doing* them?  Or doing them as *often* as we could/should?

For the record, I am pointing at ME here – inspiration that doesn’t translate to classroom action is, well, a warm fuzzy.  That’s it.  Time to take these warm fuzzies to our classrooms, more often, and better.  We can do this.

In each of the next 4 posts, I’ll share ideas I’m thinking about regarding the items on the aforementioned list, starting with…

  1.  Letting go of classroom control!

Ah, the “control thing”… it’s real, isn’t it?  And, striking a balance can be tricky. Furthermore, what should this balance look like and sound like with our students?  Is a quiet classroom one that guarantees learning? (Rhetorical question? NO – the answer truly is NO here!)  And with all the emphasis on “personalized learning” and “student voice and choice”, it’s nice to be able to take these eduspeak terms and apply them to something specific… so…

What’s my ISTE take-away on this topic of “letting go of control”? I want to try something new.  Specifically, I think improv strategies have the potential to impact class culture in a big way!  Want students to understand that making mistakes is part of learning?  Want students to overcome the paralysis that often happens in math class regarding the fear of screwing up? A bit of improv can really help here, and I had the pleasure of attending a session on this very topic!

It could be truly beneficial to try improv strategies at the start of the school year, and sprinkle them throughout the year as well.  There’s a double benefit here, because activities that involve movement also provide students with “brain breaks” they often desperately need.  Growth mindset AND brain breaks?  Check, and check.

Thanks Lucas and virtual Carl for engaging us in a slew of strategies that can be used or adapted for our classrooms!

Also, I’d never heard of pechaflickr, and loved the way this tool delivered an impromptu slide deck based on random images generated from a key word… and an attendee did an on-the-fly improv presentation, almost Ignite-style!  While pechaflickr provides great fun, I can see creating a strategically chosen image-rich slide deck for my students ahead of time, and asking for volunteers to do “Ignites” about them as pre-assessments… or even as reviews after content has been explored!  This improv idea could become a great way to encourage the use of academic vocabulary and exploring multiple representations of various math concepts, while engaging (and entertaining) students and having a few good laughs!  I’ll even volunteer as tribute to demonstrate!

In the past, students have always enjoyed writing their own story problems, and many of these story problems have a spirit of improv and silliness… but the math is pretty on point.  These moments enrich class culture and celebrate each class period as its own little family… a safe place to try math, mess up math, and fix math.  That is to say… to learn math.

Stay tuned for more #ISTE17 reflections…












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iPadpalooza 2017: Learning on the Go!

“Counting Finished”… #iplza17

Year 6 of iPadpalooza in Eanes ISD is a wrap!  And… it’s true, the countdown is finished, as this year marked our final “iPadpalooza Learning Festival” in Austin…

Thankfully, folks traveled far and wide to join us this year!  I had the privilege of meeting a team from Guam!  I also finally got to meet Ed-Tech blogger extraordinaire, Jamie Forshey!

Jamie Forshey and I stole the Carpool Karaoke car for a photo op!

From a “Carpool Karaoke” opening session to a “Rock Opera” closing session, iPadpalooza was, and has been, the ideal blend of learning and light-hearted fun. Sessions I attended ranged from practical tips on content design to eye-opening global perspectives, such as entertaining the idea of truly student-led learning and future-ready skills.  I took some time to “play” with Swift Playgrounds, and learned more about Apple retail stores’ PD offerings through their new “Today At Apple” site.  Post-iPadpalooza, I joined fellow teachers at a “Collaborating with Keynote” Teacher Tuesdays session!  What a great, laid-back way to learn!

Collaborating with Keynote at our local Apple retail store! #TodayAtApple #TeacherTuesdays

I had the opportunity to lead a morning “Learnshop” with Tim Yenca to get folks creating using Desmos, as well as an afternoon session experiencing digital tools that empower student voice, and creating classroom-ready resources for our new batch of students this fall!  I also shared about the many ways I use Keynote to literally make EVERYTHING! Check out the Tackk take-away below from my Keynote session – it includes classroom-ready examples and ideas to inspire you and your students to create with Keynote… then use your Keynote creations in other learning tools such as Nearpod, Desmos, Explain Everything, ThingLink, and QuickTime!

My favorite part of any professional conference learning festival is connecting with other passionate educators!  Sessions are great, and so are the impromptu side conversations that inevitably happen.

To live vicariously through those who attended #iplza17, click here!

And… stay tuned… though this year was our city’s last iPadpalooza…

I’ve heard it just might be time for this “learning festival” to EVOLVE…

A shout-out to the Eanes ISD iVengers for their tireless work and attention to detail throughout iPadpalooza!  Your work and planning behind-the-scenes is what has made iPadpalooza the unique success that it has been these past 6 years!

















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Wrapping Up Another Year and the Impact of #MTBoS “Celebrities”

The funny thing about teaching kids is that, every year, they show up, still 12-14 years old. It’s easy to forget that, while they show up the SAME age each year, I am indeed an entire year older than I was the year before.  Another funny thing about teaching middle school is how students can keep ya feeling young!  I mean, where would I be today without water-bottle-flipping and fidget spinners?  🙂

Word cloud of things students liked in 2016-17.

In keeping with tradition, on one of the last days of class, I gave my students the Matt-Vaudrey-inspired  Teacher Report Card/Google Form (go here, and scroll ALLLLL the way down to grab it).  Students never disappoint in the honesty department.  Be brave – ask your kids to grade you, and you’ll get some heart-warming and heart-wrenching feedback. Some of the feedback might leave you feeling like you’re not sure what to do with it… like the kiddos who say SLOW DOWN when other kids say SPEED UP!  Or, I love your personality versus, you’re kind of loud sometimes… Nevertheless, taking students’ pulse and considering their feedback is something I brace myself for annually, but I am always, always glad I asked.  (Note: I also created a word cloud of things students thought should be improved, but all of those words out of context made no sense.  I don’t want to imply that students didn’t also have feedback that was constructive, because they did!)

Celebrity guests offering best wishes to our Hill Country Cougars in my annual Animoto End-of-Year Celebration video montage

That moment when Nathan Kraft’s video message shows up completely unexpectedly! Do you think they were excited?!?

Another tradition I’m so glad I do, because I’m essentially designing a video-yearbook archive of my classes of students each year, is creating an end-of-year celebration video using Animoto.  Animoto is one of the easiest tools I know of that merges photos, video clips, text, impressive transitions, and music to create memorable montages.

While I had plenty of media of my students, I added a twist this year – I reached out to some “celebrities” who have become “household names” in my classroom, and invited them each to record themselves wishing my students well in brief personalized videos.

Jamie Brooker (Kahoot!), Guido Kovalskys (Nearpod), Nathan Kraft (the famous “man” that showed up in this Desmos activity  screen 7, and henceforth became one class’s mascot for the year), and Eli Luberoff (Desmos) each recorded a message for me to share with my students.  I couldn’t be more thankful that each of these fellas played along with my crazy idea – my students felt SO SPECIAL and couldn’t believe that these important people took the time to send them such kind, personal messages!

Ms. M’s student, sporting a student-created Mathy Cathy shirt with original art! What?!?!? 🙂

And then today, I hear from Jen McAleer that some of her students have created t-shirts sporting their own artistic impersonation of… me!

Who knew that the Math-Twitter-Blog-O-Sphere community would extend to our students in this “celebrity” way?!?  

I think it’s darling.  I also think it proves that we truly never know the extent of our impact!  Here’s to another awesome year in the books.

So, who else is done with school, and is already thinking about planning for next year? 🙂

P.S.  I stumbled upon this added bonus today on the NCTM Facebook page.  It gave me warm fuzzies to think back to #ShadowCon17.


Jen McAleer’s students created an impressive end-of-the-year video project, and elected me to be “Math President” for my instructional role in it!  It’s not every day you win an election like that! 😉



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Using Desmos on iPads… for the Algebra 1 EOC STAAR Test… Take 2

This week, our Algebra 1 students took their STAAR End-of-Course exam.  This round marks year 2 of Algebra 1 students being permitted to use both a TI handheld graphing calculator and the Desmos Test Mode iPad app in light of this TEA calculator policy change that went into effect last school year.

An annual tradition for my Math 8 students (who recently experienced year 3 of TI and Desmos Test Mode access for state testing) and now, my Algebra 1 students, is to give a quick 3-question follow-up survey.

I asked three questions:

  • In general, which tool do you prefer?
  • Name a few math lesson topics for which you like using the TI Graphing Calculator more than Desmos Test Mode.
  • Name a few math lesson topics for which you like using Desmos Test Mode more than the TI Graphing Calculator.

Though my Algebra 1 sample size this year is very small (36 students to be exact) this round marks the first time that not a single student answered the first question by saying they prefer the TI calculator…!  This hasn’t necessarily been the case with Math 8 students annually.  You can see their preferences by checking out this post.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of this year’s Algebra students and last year’s sample size of 49 students.  Additionally, you can check out the unedited and anonymous responses from this year’s Algebra 1 students regarding their favorite concepts to explore using each calculator.

Algebra Calculator Survey Yenca 2016-17

What struck me most was that we’re paying over $100 a pop for a calculator because it can graph stuff, but these students aren’t actually using the TI handheld graphing calculator for that purpose…!

Hands down, these Algebra 1 students use Desmos for graphing, and the TI primarily for quick calculations using the four basic operations.

More calculator commentary here and here and here and here and here and here and here !

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Using Desmos Polygraph to Establish “Intellectual Need”

Have you seen Dan Meyer’s fun little “Pick a Point” geometry task?

If not, watch this before reading on.

Today, AFTER I’d already introduced polynomial vocabulary (not the most interesting topic) I had students play Desmos “Polygraph” with tasks created by John Stevens and me.





And then it hit me.

I just passed up the opportunity to establish intellectual need.  I *TAUGHT* the vocabulary, then used Polygraph to practice it.

Which was fine.  First, I used a Nearpod lesson to introduce the vocabulary.  The Nearpod lesson continuously asked students to create polynomials with varying characteristics.  They clearly applied the vocabulary and created a variety of polynomials (correct and incorrect ones) that far surpassed your average textbook’s bone-dry examples, while creating interesting and misconception-revealing non-examples.

Nearpod Draw It Prompt: Create a monomial with a degree of 5. #nailedit

But… couldn’t I have applied Dan’s “Pick a Point” strategy on a grander scale, asking ALL students to play a round or two of Polygraph with little to no vocabulary to lean on… first?

The answer is yes… I could have… and probably,  I should have… and definitely, I WILL do that next time. 🙂

What math topics and concepts come to your mind that might benefit our students more if they’re given a shot at a Pre-Polygraph and a Post-Polygraph once “intellectual need” is established?

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Teachable Moments

Five minutes before the end of class yesterday, a student made an interesting claim while everyone was working on something else. She said, “Did you know that by the time you’re 90 years old, you will have been asleep for 9 whole years?!?!”

I told her I hoped not, and that 30 years would probably feel a whole lot better.

Every nearby student was shocked by my claim.  Absolutely disgusted and disappointed. How could I say that?  Could THAT much time be devoted to dozing?

We had a quick chat about the ideal average of 8 hours of sleep per night, and they quickly realized that, of their 13 short years on earth, they’ve already been asleep for over 4 years. While I saw students’ faces droop at the realization, they sure were motivated to explore this side conversation.

So… who’s going to turn this idea into a Desmos Activity? 😉

Speaking of… I had a math moment with my pantry this week.  I was rooting around for a snack and was suddenly struck by the number of boxes and packages that show dilated food stuffs.  Most were enlargements, but one cracker was a reduction.  I put my munchies on hold and grabbed my phone to snap a few photos, and this was born.  It’s in draft-mode, and I appreciate the feedback folks have been sharing on Twitter, and/or any edits you make and share back.  I’m hoping to have this polished and ready to go for my 2017-18 students.

Now, about that snack…

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Highlights from #NCTMannual San Antonio

Glancing through the NCTM Annual program, I could almost feel my arms and legs being pulled in no less than 4 directions for any given session timeframe.  Respected colleagues in our community shared their expertise and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from so many folks who continue to do great work.  Here are some highlights from my experiences in San Antonio.

Classroom Dessert: Putting Assessment into Students’ Hands

John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey showcased alternative ways to assess student understanding by encouraging student choice.  Whether students preferred to show what they know through a paper-pencil task, a creative video, or a work of original art with accompanying written explanations, student work-samples featured unique ways to arrive at the same goal – learning!

Looking for ideas?  Check out the list of ideas John shared in the photo below.  Even more here:

Math Task Makeover with Desmos Activity Builder

Bob Lochel, Michael Fenton, and Jed Butler provided before-and-afters of some all-too-familiar textbook spoilers and worksheet ho-hums such that Desmos Activity Builder up-leveled student experiences!  Check out the latest support resources for teachers at and a visual summary of the session through one of many amazing sketch notes shared by Karen McPherson!

“Noticing and Wondering” as a Vehicle to Understanding the Problem

Annie Fetter helped attendees realize that there is a part of problem solving that good problem solvers do naturally.  We educators need to put natural structures in place to help students problem solve.  One way to do this?  Withhold the numbers at first – give students a chance to seek relationships and patterns rather than rush to “the answer”. Everyone can “notice” and “wonder” about something visual.  Does it take time?  It sure does, but this time spent upfront reaps rewards once a lesson progresses since students have already done so much of the “work” up front. Noticing and wondering is not a time zapper… it’s actually a time saver!  All students are “doing something” – it’s not a strategy where “fast kids” get the answer and the others are just waiting for them to tell the answer.  Annie’s pointed reminders about the power of “noticing and wondering” are already impacting my lesson plans for tomorrow!  Watch Annie in action here:

Mathematical Mindsets: Creating a New Future for Math Teachers and Learners

Jo Boaler continues to press on with her math revolution!  I was thrilled to hear her speak in person, and I think my neck is still a bit sore from nodding in agreement with her philosophies and findings.  Visit and be prepared to spend a few hours there.  Check out my favorite slide from her talk below.

Open Educational Resources: Designing a Middle School Curriculum

Kate Nowak, Ashli Black, and Bill McCallum shared about the process and progress of developing a cohesive OER middle school math curriculum set to be released in July 2017, so stay tuned!  Attendees got an exciting sneak-peek in this session.  I can’t wait to further explore this work.  To learn more now, check out the math curriculum tab at Open Up Resources using the link below:

Looking Forward: What’ll Be Possible in Math Ed in a Decade?

Eli Luberoff, the CEO and Founder of Desmos, emphasized the importance of our students’ ability to solve non-routine problems as we dive into future careers.  Eli addressed the purposeful use of technology in our math classrooms to assist our students in preparing for their own futures, even claiming that our math classrooms are one of the most important places on earth!  Feel the weight of that honor and responsibility for a moment!  Additionally, Eli proposed the use of a tool like Desmos Marbleslides to meet unique differentiation needs of our students because of the “low floor, high ceiling” nature of these tasks.  Finally, in WWDC-Desmos-Style, Eli let us play with the latest and not-yet-final-draft of the new Desmos Geometry construction tool at  I wish I could have recorded the audio of the attendees during this time.  There were oooo’s and ahhh’s and even moans and groans of delight as teachers began imagining how this tool will change the ways students explore geometric concepts.

Using Digital Tools to Give Every Student a Voice

With a foundation set on NCTM’s Position Statements regarding formative assessment and technology integration, we explored how connecting a math standard to a #MTBoS resource by using a technology tool can give every student a voice in class.  Check out a self-paced experience by visiting and use the code FHBNX (valid through April 2017).  Feel free to participate if you weren’t able to make it, or if you were in the session, to provide any feedback you’d like to share to help me improve upon the delivery of these ideas!  It’s challenging for me to share about something I experience with my students in my classroom in a conference setting where the attendees aren’t 12-14 years old, and I’m looking to get better at this!  Also attached below is a handout that includes links to take-away resources to use and/or edit for your own classroom use. NCTM 17 Attendee Notes Session 529 Yenca

Fun fact: Our live Nearpod session code was GIJOE.  I thought for sure someone at Nearpod was messing with me, and had created that code intentionally.  It turns out, the code was generated randomly.  The probability of that happening is (1/26)^5 folks… or as a decimal…   Perhaps I should go buy a lottery ticket.

 Math Is Power Not Punishment

Dan Meyer used Guershon Harel’s paper as inspiration to pursue the idea of creating the “intellectual need” for the mathematics we explore with our students.  I’m pretty positive we’ll have a video of this talk to share later.  You know Dan – his talks can be tough to describe in a blog post.  You’ll want to experience this one for yourself. (Will post a link later).

The Struggle is Real: Tasks, Academic Status, and Productive Problem-Solving

Geoff Krall challenged us to think deeply about “productive struggle” and how we promote productive struggle to students who’ve been conditioned otherwise.  Geoff’s take on the topic is that it takes a wholistic approach of three elements: Quality tasks, Academic safety and Effective facilitation strategies.  Visiting is a great place for folks to find an abundance of quality tasks.  Additionally, we explored this Open Middle task in Geoff’s session and got surprising results that sparked conversations lasting beyond the session!

Empowering Digital Collaboration in 3 Acts

I finally got to meet Cory Henwood!  We’ve respected each other’s work in this realm of digital collaboration for several years, and it was a treat to experience his session.  The benefits of using digital tools to capture and share student thinking are worth considering.  Additionally, Cory shares a boatload of resources at


One of my proudest moments to date in my 40ish years on the planet may well have been having the opportunity to share at #ShadowCon17.  At LEAST a Sagan of thanks to Dan Meyer, Zak Champagne, Michael Flynn, and NCTM leadership for the opportunity and support you’ve offered to help us four Shadowcon-ers to prepare for this experience.  I look forward to continued work as we launch our free online courses this fall.  Sign up here.

LIVE from the NCTM Annual Meeting in San Antonio—it’s ShadowCon V3.0! This year’s ShadowCon will discuss academic language, technological integration, and more. Once again, the goal is to expand access to and extend our engagement with the speakers’ ideas. So each speaker’s 10-minute talk will serve as a preview for a FREE 10-week online course! You won’t want to miss this kick-off. Thanks to Dan Meyer, Mike Flynn, and Zak Champaign for making this be one of the most must-attend events at #NCTMannual! #NCTMLive #ShadowCon17

Posted by NCTM – National Council of Teachers of Mathematics on Thursday, April 6, 2017

Of course we attend professional conferences to attend sessions and soak up the goodness like a sponge, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite part of this conference: CONNECTING WITH YOU!  “You” includes so many familiar faces that, until this conference, I knew from a tiny Twitter photo and a vast collection of work through blogs and shared resources that have made my teaching practice and my students’ classroom experiences all the better.  I can’t describe the feeling I felt when I first walked in to the #MTBoS game night on Wednesday evening and finally got to high-five and hug so many awesome folks in our community.  I was so giddy, I had a hard time sleeping that night.  I was overwhelmed with joy, humility, and frankly, as a colleague of mine, Nadine, describes the feeling… cognitive crushes, ha!  

I love your brains, I love your work, and I respect you immensely.  

P.S. Check out the Global Math “My Favorites” from NCTM sharing-session here:

Check out another great NCTM reflection from Kim Morrow Leong here.

Valuable presentation advice compiled kindly by Dan Meyer here.


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