Thinking Mathematically from Minute One – #ICTM2020

I LOVE WARM UPS! And I was able to present about them in my first ever webinar! Here’s the recording:

Here’s a presentation I gave about them. It’s been fun sharing with people how I structure my warm ups. If I could, I think I would do all of them all day every day. I love them, the learners love them, and real math conversations happen because of them. I also wrote more about them in this post: Some Warm Up Files.

I can’t figure out how to embed a Google Slides presentation in WordPress anymore 😦 but here’s the presentation:


Screen Shot 2019-04-08 at 11.32.16 AM
Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 2.25.47 PM


Combien de fois est trop pour présenter ce sujet? Il n’y a pas une nombre.

Using Google Classroom in Remote Learning #MTBoSBlaugust


I’ve been using Google Classroom for a while, but I’m using it in a very different way now. I set it to Hide Notifications for Classwork on the Stream. So my students should be going to the Classwork tab to see everything we do each day. I used the header template from Alice Keeler here.

Screen Shot 2020-08-22 at 11.24.33 AM

The Stream has been used only for announcements, such as noting where to click for our live meetings and reminders to fill out forms for the school. Here are some of my announcements.

I’m using topics to separate my Classwork page by day. The most recent days are always at the top. I have a Resources topic that stays at the bottom.

Screen Shot 2020-08-22 at 11.28.53 AM

In my Resources space at the bottom is a link to my Office Hours Google Meet, Desmos Graphing and Scientific Calculator, class website, our school’s schedule for remote learning, and Graph Paper (Cornell Notes-style) they can print if they have access to that.

Screen Shot 2020-08-22 at 11.29.02 AM

Here’s an example of one of our days. We are required to ask an Attendance Question each day. In order for a learner to be marked present for attendance, the only thing they need to do is answer that question (or interact with the class in some way). I used the Virtual Name Tent Desmos activity modified from Sara and Kristen and Corinne for the first five days. More on that later. And then the rest depends on the day. Here I have a homework assignment (Delta Math), challenge activity, completed notes, and recording. Other days and classes have had links to Quizizz, Desmos exploration activities, Jamboards, Google Docs homework assignments, and Google Forms.

Screen Shot 2020-08-22 at 11.29.22 AM

I saw a bunch of people on Twitter talking about using emoji to organize. I should ask my students, but I’m just assuming they are all seeing them. So here’s what I’m using for the different emoji:

  • 💻 Attendance Question
  • ⛺️ Virtual Name Tent
  • 📝 Homework
  • 📓 Completed Notes
  • ⭕️ Recording
  • 🔢 Office Hours

It’s funny because I’m noticing now how they come out different on WordPress as I’m typing here vs. what they look like on my Macbook Pro’s touch bar. My touch bar usually matches what I see on Google Classroom.

I had some students ask me about using emoji in the chat in our Google Meets and sent them to this page:

I know there are many ways to make Google Classroom work for remote learning, but I’ve been mostly pleased with this so far. Anything else I can do to make life easier for everyone?

Pourquoi nous ne pouvons pas programmer les choses pour multiples cours à la fois?!


Student Feedback After 5 Remote Learning Classes #MTBoSBlaugust #MTBoS2020


Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described here You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it!

Double-dipping here for the blog challenges and late to both but a late blog post is better than no blog post!

Well, we’ve officially finished our first 10 days of school in remote learning, which means I’ve seen each of my classes 5 times because I see periods 1-4 and 5-8 on alternating days. We are required to give an “Attendance Question” in Google Classroom each day because live lessons cannot be mandated, but as long as the learners answer the Attendance Question (or interact with your class in any other way) for that day they are counted present.

My latest Attendance Question was “What is something another teacher is doing in remote learning that Mrs. Grayson should also do?” I almost said something like “How can Mrs. Grayson do better?” but honestly I’ve only probably interacted with 2/3 of my students in these last 10 school days so some don’t even know what I do…that feels really weird to say, but it’s the reality. I also gave the same question to my Advisory, who don’t have me as a teacher.

Most students said something like “nothing”, “idk”, or “no one is doing anything different/better”. But here were the other responses:

  • give students roughly 5 minutes to join
  • Make the attendance question easier to answer.
  • Doing assignments on classroom.
  • no group work, kills too much time
  • Office Hours, i think you might do them already but im not sure. (x2)
  • they post memes to cheer students up
  • give more examples
  • Presentations.
  • more videos than lives
  • start doing notes on how to do the problem instead of just doing practice problems
  • Maybe just have a little bit of leniency with grades since some students might have a difficult time learning certain material online.
  • maybe post loom videos sometimes
  • making students turn on the camera to know that they are actually paying attention
  • My old math teacher gave us prewritten notes to look at.
  • going over math problems that most people get wrong
  • record meet in case we missed it
  • Not going to quick with the class
  • some days are short, like 15 minutes
  • uhm having notes already made and putting them in google classroom idk
  • Some teachers post in the stream about when we have a live meeting which is really helpful.
  • Tell us the day of if we have a live or the night before send out a remind text.
  • Give announcements with when what’s due and what to remember
  • Alternative practice assignments
  • Less difficult things lol

Some of those things are under my control, some aren’t. Some I asked for clarification.

Also, 27 shared that they think I’m doing good so that’s a nice pat on the back for me. It’s hard work, people! I’m glad some are feeling that it’s going well for our class.

More reflection to come in another blog post because this #MTBoSBlaugust is not gonna fill itself!

Je suis si fatigué. Il est temps de faire un somme.

Pre-Class Survey 2020 #MTBoSBlaugust


Every year I give a survey in the first few days to get some info from my new learners. Every year I edit the one from before. This year’s got kind of long because some of the things I just ask one on one or on some other sheet of paper or notecard won’t be happening with us starting remote. Some things are entirely new for me (pronunciation, pic of smile, walk up song). I also use the math preference questions again mid-year and at the end of the year to see if things are changing. The reason I ask for their name so many times is because I use this with ForMule to send out a somewhat personalized email to parents/guardians after they submit it.

Here’s what I believe I will be giving this year. I have a couple days to change my mind. Clicking this link will ask you to make a copy once you verify your Google account.

On ne peut jamais connaître trop de sur étudiants.

Goals for 2020-2021 #MTBoSBlaugust


I really am struggling to find the motivation to even set one goal for this year. I keep thinking, What’s the point? Even though this year will be different, I guess goals are still necessary.

This summer I spent some time organizing a list of blog posts that I’d saved that I wanted to do. This list has been building for years and I have used it to track big and little things that I’ve done to improve my teaching. So I guess I have a lot of goals and always have and some of them can still happen this year. Here is my list:


So now I’m going to go through my goals from last year and see if/how they could possibly be translated to a year of remote or blended learning and if I still consider them goals.

  • Stand and Talks – lol how???
  • Collection of Work – This seems to be the year to do this. I’d love to make this a community effort. Still trying to figure out the details, but I envision it involving Google Slides.
  • Birthdays – I won’t be able to give out the cards from last year, but I’ve added my birthday question to my beginning of year survey.
  • Instagram – Gonna be a little harder to get the action shots, but I’m still going to try. Right now about 1/4 of my learners haven’t signed the school’s media release consent form so I’ll have to be careful, too. Usually that number goes down in the first few weeks but with us not having school it might not. I bet I’ll be taking more screenshots of the work they submit.
    • I don’t think I’m going to continue asking for the responses to a Tweet Question in my Weekly Summaries anymore. They were fun, but I don’t know if they’re worth my time or our class time with everything else we do.
  • Vocabulary – I don’t know about this one.
  • Family Connections – Already starting strong with this one as I’ve sent two emails out and a Remind message before the year even has started. I found out I can download my class phone as an app on my iPhone once I find out a code from my phone so hopefully I’ll be able to get in my classroom soon.
  • Language – Might be easier because I’ll probably script out a lot of my stuff.
  • #VNPS – lol sorry. Maybe Jamboard can kind of take this place but I’ll have to see how many learners actually show up to live meetings.
  • Delta Math – This will be the easiest one. I can use it in my Honors Algebra 2 class, but I have to use MyMathLab for my two college pre-req classes.
  • Puzzles – Not sure on this one
  • Not working Harder Than Students – probably not gonna accomplish this
  • Not Blaming Previous Schooling – well now that I’ve switched classes, I have had 45% of my students before. So I better not be blaming their previous teachers anymore!
  • Office Hours – Mandated by school now
  • Google Level 2 – I can do it! Some day I will find 3 hours to set aside.
  • More Percussion – My puppy is not a big fan of the drumset right now. Maybe that will change.
  • More #MTBoS – I think I’ve accomplished this and can take it off my list.
  • Cooking – I’m learning some things from having had Home Chef meals for a birthday present. I just don’t have the energy right now to cook. Maybe once I get into a rhythm with school it will be better.
  • #FitBoS – Once again, time to get back at it.

Ok so some doable, some are maybe not gonna be my focus this semester/year.

Eh bien, c’était un peu déprimant.

Pre-School Email to Guardians #MTBoSBlaugust


One of the things I had saved from 2018 was a post from Tina @TPalmer207 about sending an intro email out to parents and guardians before the year started ( Obviously, this year is especially crazy with us starting remotely, so I felt this was especially important to do. I made a Google Slides presentation about me and also typed up an email that hopefully got some of them thinking about school.

Here’s the slideshow:

Here’s the email:

I only got 3 responses to the email and I’ve gotten 6 responses to the survey that I had in it. But no response doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t get through to them.

J’espère que je peux avoir les bonnes relations avec les parents cette année.

We’re /Still/ Living During a Pandemic But At Least I Have a Puppy Now #MTBoSBlaugust

It’s August already! And of course I can’t sit out a blogging challenge. Let’s see how many days of #mtbosblaugust I can make!

So for future me reading this, we shut down almost everything in IL, including schools, in the middle of March because of COVID-19. It’s now August 1 and it hasn’t gotten better but we’re all debating how to start school again. My school has decided to start remotely on Aug 6 (instead of Aug 3 as planned) and stay remote until Labor Day. After that we will go back with a blended model where half the school comes two days a week. That will last until the end of the quarter in October and then they reevaluate the situation. We’ll see how it goes.

But this post will be about what has been going on in my life during the last 4 months of pandemic life.

March was half normal and then I went on Spring Break, flew to NYC for a planned vacation just to head right back the same day because everything shut down. Before Spring Break ended we found out we weren’t going back to school for a couple weeks so I helped my department chair come up with math activities for a packet that was being sent home basically just to bide the students’ time. The community college class I was teaching for the first time went fully on Zoom. I got Animal Crossing New Horizons and played every day along with some Pokémon that I’d neglected since I got it. I also bought Nintendo Switch Online so I could visit my friends’ Animal Crossing islands and play Mario Kart with my friends in Chicago. I met my #FitBos goal!

April remote learning got real when we realized we wouldn’t be coming back for the rest of the year. Student participation was low but not as low as I thought it would be. I started with figuring out how to do some CL so my learners could do some good Desmos activities. I think I will post about those another day for the #mtbosblaugust challenge. I met my #FitBos goal again! Also, my husband found out that his summer Masters program that normally would send him to Champaign for the whole summer was gonna be remote, so we determined it may be the only time in the near future that we could reasonably get a dog. We spent a couple weeks trying to get a rescue that was about 1 year old. There were so many roadblocks and nothing was working out for us, so we started to look at puppies and found one from a breeder about 3 hours away.

May 1, we picked up our new best friend, Aria. She is the best ever and I now couldn’t imagine life without her. I clocked 0 hours on #FitBos but I was exhausted every day. I finished the semester for both the college class and my high school classes and it still didn’t feel real.

June was the start of summer break. I had had so many plans for the summer. My husband was supposed to be gone so I had set a million reminders of things to do around the house and recipes I was gonna try. I accomplished maybe 10% of that. For my birthday, my in-laws got me a credit for Home Chef (a meal delivery system). I learned a lot about cooking and found some good things to cook that aren’t too hard. I don’t think I would ever do something like Home Chef if it wasn’t free for me, but I’ve enjoyed it. I haven’t played my Nintendo Switch in a long time. I start going through some old saved blogs in my Evernote and got some things ready to use when we get back to regular school. I worked on training Aria. Again, I logged 0 hours on #FitBos but was exhausted every day. Playing with the dog every day can do that.

July was pretty much the same as June, but I also started to find out a little of how this school year will be. They decided it at the board meeting on the 13th. We found out three days before our first institute day that it would be remote, too. The institute day on the 30th (one of five) consisted of about an hour’s worth of meetings and then the rest of the institute days would be watching some videos and one more hour-long meeting. We’ve got a few days before students start.

Well I was so close to being able to get the first post in on time. I guess it’s still Aug 1 somewhere!

C’est mon premier article dont je l’ai écrit avec mon téléphone portable.

Teacher and Guardian Basic Guides to Google Classroom #MTBoS2020

Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described here You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it!

My admin recently asked me to make a “document with instructions for parents and staff on how to use google classroom”. So I did what I could and put some stuff together. Maybe this is something that could help you or your school out. Let me know if there’s anything you think I should add or change.


C’est difficile de dire aux parents qu’est-ce qu’ils devraient savoir.

Quadrilateral Instagram Project #MTBoS2020

Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described here You should join! And if you’re just here to read, then I hope you get something out of it!

Somehow this post stayed in my drafts instead of being posted in February (when I missed the #MTBoS2020 post). Whoops! So here it is!

I’m still excited about this project my Geometry learners did a couple weeks ago. I had an extra day I could afford to try something in my quadrilateral unit and after some searching on the MTBoS Search Engine, I came across this Quadrilateral Instagram Project from Julia. I also found versions from Tina here and Jonathan here.

I pretty much followed their lead and left a lot of it open. All I gave was a short description and a rubric.

Screen Shot 2020-02-16 at 2.44.55 PMScreen Shot 2020-02-16 at 2.45.37 PM


You can see some examples in the posts below. 90% of the class got A’s – this was a project they were excited to do, they had to do a self-assessment before so that really they wouldn’t turn it in without having a 100%, and I was pretty lax on the requirements. Not all of them were works of art, but the learners had fun and were proud of it. I even had some that created real Instagram account.

J’espère que je peux faire des projets créatifs avec mes classes l’année prochaine.

Guardian Feedback Survey 2019-2020

For the second year now I have sent out a survey to guardians in my last couple emails that go out to everyone. I really value family communication and it’s something I take pride in even though I know I can do better. I was hoping guardians would take the survey and share with me if I am doing what they expect.

Here’s a link to make a copy of the survey I gave:

Screen Shot 2020-06-14 at 10.27.42 PM

I have been pleased with the results, but I really only am seeing a handful of responses. Last year I got 3 responses, this year I got 13. To distribute the survey, I put it in the middle of an email I sent to all my families about 2 weeks before school ended and then I put it at the end of a second email 2 days before school ended. Also, as I mentioned in my last survey reflection post, this really only gets to my second semester families because of schedule changes. I actually had made a survey for the Fall but totally forgot to send it out. 😢 If anyone has advice for how to get more families to take the survey, please let me know!

Based on the results, next year I will plan on continuing to use my Weekly Summaries, class social media (Twitter and Instagram), class website, Google Classroom w/Guardian Summaries, and my monthly-ish newsletter-type emails home. I also, as always, want to get better at making phone calls home and finding a positive thing to email or call home about each day. I just need to find a good system for that. I gave myself a lot of excuses this year with phone calls because my only plan periods were 2nd and 3rd so they were early and I didn’t want to disturb people (but then again aren’t I always disturbing their day with a phone call?). Next year I have 2nd and 8th period off so I want to make my end-of-day routine include the positive communication. Gonna ponder on how I can hold myself to that over this summer break. Again, advice is welcome!

Disclaimer: These results that follow are being published because I like to go back and review them and see how things have changed/improved throughout the years. The rest of this post probably won’t be too useful for readers who aren’t me, but feel free to read if you wish! Since I never posted about this last year, I’m including this year and last year’s results in this post. 2019-2020 is in regular font, 2018-2019 is in italics. I didn’t ask the three “Did you…” questions last year.

Screen Shot 2020-06-12 at 6.13.35 PM

Last year: Screen Shot 2020-06-12 at 8.11.00 PM

Screen Shot 2020-06-12 at 6.13.59 PMScreen Shot 2020-06-12 at 6.13.50 PMScreen Shot 2020-06-12 at 6.13.42 PM

What do you think Mrs. Grayson did to help your student be successful this year/semester?

  • Gave C*** several example problems so she could see visually how everything works.
  • Kept learning fresh and different
  • My student missed a lot of days 1st semester, and it was very helpful that she was available to offer her assistance before school.
  • Great communication with parents
  • She tried but I believe it is harder because of the quarantined
  • Offered extra help after class
  • Always available to help him out with things he didn’t understand
  • She made sure he had individual help when needed
  • She was always proactive and was great at communicating. I like the e-learning tools!
  • Fun class activities that helped him love math again.
  • Gave ample opportunity to make work up
  • Nothing
  • communication to students and parents, easy accessibility to pertinent information (calendar, assignments, extra online help) and offing extra help (before and after school)

What do you think Mrs. Grayson could have done differently to help your student be more successful this year/semester?

  • Nothing. She did a great job.
  • Nothing
  • I can’t think of anything.
  • Nothing! great job! L***s is my 4th child and this has by FAR been the best 9th grade advanced math experience.
  • Nothing. She was very helpful when ever asked
  • Nothing. She already went above and beyond!
  • Nothing I am aware of.
  • Be more positive with students
  • I think Mrs Grayson did a great job, and I know my son was more successful because of her extra efforts!

What do you think Mrs. Grayson did to help you be involved in your learner’s math education?

  • I loved getting the emails and I loved I could see pictures on social media of all the students working.
  • Creative activities to keep Kids engaged
  • The weekly updates were very helpful. She also posted grades very quickly so that I always knew the status of assignments and tests/quizzes.
  • Weekly emailsvwere MUCH appreciated!
  • Email updates
  • Contacted me if there was a concern
  • She sent weekly update emails and always responded to my questions immediately.
  • I like the google classroom updates
  • Weekly emails, prompt communication.
  • Weekly notes
  • frequent communication

What do you think Mrs. Grayson could have done differently to help you be more involved in your learner’s math education?

  • Nothing.
  • Nothing
  • Nothing
  • Nothing!
  • Nothing. She was always very helpful
  • Nothing. She already went above and beyond!
  • Nothing, she provided the bridge and it is then up to the parent/guardian to use the information extended to them to springboard off of into engagement with the student.

Anything else you want to tell Mrs. Grayson?

  • Thank you for being so patient with C***. Your hard work that you put into your math class and your students doesn’t go unnoticed.
  • Loved the communication and feedback
  • Thank you so much for helping J*** out 1st semester, and encouraging him to work hard!
  • Thanks for sending updates to me
  • thank you for your good communication and hard work
  • X**** (9th grade) says Mrs. Grayson is the only teacher that cares about him.
  • Thank you for going above and beyond to help keep him on task.
  • You are a wonderful teacher! Have a great summer!
  • Thanks for being a great teacher.
  • Thanks so much for being a wonderful teacher.
  • Thank you for ALL your extra efforts! I wish more high school teachers would involve parents like you have this year. Also, had you not provided the finals schedule, I probably would not have seen it!

La communication avec mes familles, c’est en quelque sort mon truc.