Calculator Check Out #MTBoS30

At the start of the year, I was given 5 TI-82s and 4 TI-83s to use as a class set. The other math teacher at my school had about the same for her classroom. When my principal came in to see my first observation, he noticed that that was a problem. My students were never asked to have their own calculators since middle school, so very few had more than a TI-30X. I guess students used to be able to check out calculators from the library but that wasn’t happening anymore. So my principal used a grant to get us some TI-84s right before second semester started! He got us 33 TI-84s and we still had 34 TI-83s and 20 TI-82s that worked that we could split. The Physics teacher also asked if he could have some. I put my class set into one of these shoe organizer things to keep track of my class set and none got lost! The other math teacher only lost 3 from her maternity leave between the two subs, so I’d call that a minor success!

We split up the calculators but there were some TI-83s and TI-82 left over after we had a class set for each of us. With the extra ones, I made a calculator check out form for students that wanted to take them home. I used the Add-On “CheckItOut” and it is incredible! I put the link to the form on my website and had kids fill it out when they were checking them out so it was easy to see who had what calculator. And they all came back by the end of the year! Woo! The librarian was impressed.

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Maintenant nous devrons simplement trouver les trois calculatrices manquantes!

Guardian Contact Log #MTBoS30

I forgot who I got this idea from and I’m really sorry about that, but I have really liked the guardian contact log that I used this year.

I created a Google Form to use whenever I contacted a parent. My attendance/gradebook system doesn’t have one, as far as I can tell. I wish my school had something like at my last school where you could see all parent contact for a specific student in the gradebook system.

I like that I can search for a student in the spreadsheet that’s created and see everything I’ve communicated in one place. It was also nice to be able to share this with my principal so he could see my communication for my Danielson rating.

I did not include my Weekly Summaries in this because they were done by the students, and it just would have taken too long to enter all those in. Next year, I want to personally communicate more with parents. A teacher at my old school suggested to me once that I call one home every day. I might try one from each class every other week (that’s six contacts every other week). Just another goal to add to the list for next year!

Quelquefois les chose les plus importantes ne sont pas faites. Où est le temps?

LiveJournal Throwback #MTBoS30

I never had a Live Journal but I’ve still done plenty of these. Always fun.

A- Age: 24
B- Biggest fear: Forgetting something really big
C- Current time: 3:22
D- Drink you last had: Water
E- Every day starts with: Shower
F- Favorite song: Waiting by Green Day
G- Ghosts, are they real? Sure, Maybe, don’t think about it too much
H- Hometown: Highland Park, IL
I- In love with: Music
J- Jealous of: People that get to meet my favorite bands
K- killed someone?: Um no…
L- Last time you cried?: Two weeks ago at my boyfriend’s last band concert
M- Middle name: Wrae
N- Number of siblings: 1
O- One wish: That I could be in a rock band with the members of all my favorite rock bands
P- Person you last called: Mom
Q- Question you’re always asked: Are you really a teacher? Or a high schooler?
R- Reason to smile: It’s summer and that means no setting the alarm!
S- Song last sang: Fallout by Marianas Trench
T- Time you woke up: 8:30 because it’s summer!
U- Underwear color: Grey
V- Vacation destination: France
W- Worst habit: Cracking all my knuckles
Y- Your favorite food: Pad-see-ew or Pho or Sushi (or really most non-spicy Asian foods)
X- X-Rays you’ve had: teeth, left pinky
Z- Zodiac sign: Gemini

Quelques questions ici étaient très difficiles!

Using Popsicle Sticks #MTBoS30

So this year I attempted to use popsicle sticks in my classes.


I say attempted because it only was good sometimes and I have better plans for them next year.

I was using them because I read Dylan Wiliam’s Embedded Formative Assessment and it had a part about using popsicle sticks for participation. Using them should keep students engaged, help you hear from every student, creates a safe environment for admitting if you don’t know something, and help the teacher gauge understanding. There are other benefits that Wiliam discusses in Embedded Formative Assessment and Embedding Formative Assessment, which I am in the process of reading. I also read Sam Shah’s post about using them. I really think it’s a great idea for the classroom

I had a few issues with it this year that I will fix for next year:

  • I had students make their own popsicle sticks. Showing their creativity from day 1. However, this made some of them really noticeable, even from afar. Students would notice that I was picking a specific one (or not picking their own) and they could turn off for a few minutes. Next year, just write the name so none stands out.
  • I wasn’t consistent on when I would use the sticks vs. letting students raise hands vs. students just shouting out their thoughts. I like Wiliam’s idea “No hands up, except to ask a question”. I need to be consistent with it and train my students well at the beginning of the year.
  • I didn’t make it clear why I was doing it. This was an issue with a lot of the things I did this year. My students were used to very different things in the classroom. I feel like I could have avoided a good amount of resistance if I just gave students my reasoning. Maybe. It’s worth a try.

J’étais timide en lycée. Mais peut-être j’aurais été plus à l’aise si mes profs avaient utilisé cette idée.

Monitoring Chromebooks #MTBoS30

My school has been using GoGuardian this year to monitor student activity on their Chromebooks. I like GoGuardian, even though I wish there was a way to send a message to a student without locking their screen (really my only gripe about the site).

In my class, Desmos is the main reason for students to be on their Chromebooks. I have been using Google Classroom and other websites, too, but usually it’s pretty easy to monitor my students because there’s only one website they should be on. I know that in other classes, it’s tough when there are a few they could be on at a time. Really, teachers in my school have had issues with kids playing games and streaming YouTube during class and it has caused some teachers to want to say no to Chromebooks in general, but I have some rules that have helped me with the monitoring.

  1. Use the Go/No Chromebook sign that the Tech Committee made for all teachers at the beginning of the year. Yes, I will sometimes forget to flip it. However, because I’ve been so adamant about it, I usually have a student who will let me know that I forgot to flip it. If the sign is on No Chromebook, then it shouldn’t even be out on the desk at all. If the sign is on Go Chromebook, then the Chromebook should be only on the websites that I have directed them to.
  2. Show the students at the beginning of the year what GoGuardian is able to do. Not only can I see their current screen, but I can also see what they were on before through their timeline. If I wanted to, I could look at their screen in particular and see all of their open tabs. With GoGuardian, I can also close tabs, open new tabs, and lock screens if I need to. Once the students know that, they are *usually* ok about what they go on and I don’t have to sit by my computer to stare at GoGuardian. I have even used GoGuardian to show the class what students were doing that I wanted to exemplify (mostly before I was using Desmos Activity Builder, though).
  3. Have a warning system – the first time I see a student on a site they shouldn’t be on, it’s just a warning. The second time, they lose their Chromebook for 10 minutes. The third time, they lose their Chromebook for the rest of class. The fourth time, I take their Chromebook down to the office. These are stricter rules than what the school has in place at the moment, but once you show the class that you mean business here by doing this for the first few students, they don’t want to risk their Chromebook being taken away. And yeah, it sucks when students are supposed to have their Chromebooks to use and they get it taken away, but they can share with someone or do something else until they get it back.

These aren’t revolutionary ideas or anything. They just have to be consistently enforced. Sure, there will always be students who try to get away with more, but Chromebooks help more than hurt, in my opinion.

Sauvez les Chromebooks!

MTBoS Search Engine and Other Resources #MTBoS30

This post is a tribute to John Stevens @jstevens009 and his work to create the MTBoS Search Engine.

How many times have you Googled something like “factoring lesson” and gotten nothing good? And then you look in your Evernote tagged pages and that’s so unorganized you don’t even want to deal with it…Then head over to the MTBoS Search Engine and you’ll instantly be shown so many amazing blog posts about factoring that you’ll wish you had the whole year to just do that topic.

I would not have made it through this year without this search engine. Ok, maybe I would have, but I would not have done nearly as good of a job. I’ve shared this resource with many teachers and everyone is just like “Wow”.

I also know there are other search engines and virtual filing cabinets and I appreciate all the people that put those together, too. Ones that I can think of that I’ve used recently (I know I’m forgetting some):

Thank you MTBoS for being the most helpful part of my math department this year – you guys are the best!

MTBoS, j’aime tout chez toi.


Google Classroom #MTBoS30

My school is one to one with Chromebooks this year. It was the first time the school has this technology and my first time using it. My old school had a cart of Chromebooks we could check out but the math department didn’t get to use it too much. There has been a lot to learn about using Chromebooks in class, but I think the best thing about having them after Desmos is Google Classroom. I have all my classes set up and National Honor Society, as well. It is a great place to keep assignments, and students get very used to checking it daily since all of their classes are on it.

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I set up my About page to have links that students would go to very frequently.

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Then, in the Stream is where I put announcements and assignments. I use assignments way more often than announcements because they get more attention.

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It is really easy for students to find assignments and turn them in. You can also leave comments for them and then students can unsubmit the assignment and resubmit when ready. The “Make a copy for each student” feature is awesome for distributing worksheets. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go paperless unless I have tablets to write math notation on, but Google Classroom has saved a lot of paper.

Another awesome feature is the extension Share to Classroom. This allows you to send a website to every student in a class as long as they have the extension, too. Want every student to have your pre-filled Desmos Activity on their screen right now? Push it to their Chromebook. Want to have every student do your Weekly Summary now? Push it to their Chromebook. A student wants to send you a website right now? They can push it to your computer, but it will just send you a notification.

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I know that some people do not like Share to Classroom because it opens a new tab automatically. It’s an invasion of their privacy or something like that. But frankly, I don’t care (I feel like I’m channeling my inner Fawn here)…if students are on their Chromebooks in my class then it’s for a specific reason. If I need them to be on a website that they’re not on and I don’t want to waste 5 minutes making sure everyone put a backslash instead of a forward slash or getting everyone to go to a link I posted on Google Classroom, then I’ll use Share to Classroom. I don’t use Share to Classroom for any other reason or outside of my class.

I’ve recently been saving a lot of the posts that Alice Keeler @alicekeeler has been tweeting about Google Classroom (and all things Google in general). I can’t wait to use some of the things she’s been mentioning. Check her page out if you haven’t yet!

J’aime quand la technologie fonctionne et quand elle aide avec chaque classe.


Class Website #MTBoS30

(Updated 9/2/18 after changing my name)

I feel like one of the least important things for me as a teacher is one of the things that’s on my mind the most. That is my class website. If you want to see it, here it is:

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**Side note: I used to try to be kind of anonymous on this blog. I only had my first name, I tried not to mention my school. But then I was presenting at MMC and wanted to put my slides on my blog and realized that in my slides I had information about me so there is where (as far as I can tell) I lost my anonymity. Also, Dan Meyer figured it out and posted it so I’ll take the loss of anonymity for a chance to be on Dan’s blog. Thanks Dan, you’re my hero. 🙂

So my website is where students go to see their homework, a calendar, and other web resources (and math games that aren’t blocked by the school network). My brother (recent Information Systems grad from Carnegie Mellon University) is the webmaster and, in his words, he wants it to be the best teacher website there is. In my humble opinion, I think it’s pretty good. Easy to update and visually pretty nice. Next year, I will be using it to post my notes, too, kind of like Meg does. I put my brother to the task of figuring out the best way to integrate that into the website. I will also be integrating the Google Classroom Calendar into it and might also make it kind of like this one but I haven’t decided quite yet. Special shout out goes to Mr. Wood because I wouldn’t have made it through teaching calculus this year without his worksheets. Also sorry I stole them without telling you… My brother is also ashamed of my Resources page because he says it looks like poop (that page was all me, can you tell?).

My biggest issue is that students don’t like to go to an extra website – they already have Google Classroom for my class and every other class and club they’re in. I have my website posted on the About page of my Google Classroom, but I know that not all of my students use it. However, I know that the ones that do love it because they tell me they love it. They also all love that I own the website

What do you put on your website? What else should I do on my website to make it “the best teacher website there is”?

Je veux avoir le meilleur site web de classe!

Teacher Report Card #MTBoS30

I did an end of the year survey in all my classes again. I stole most of it from Matt Vaudrey. All but six of my students took it. I am mostly happy with the results and the honesty. There wasn’t much that I didn’t expect.

Here is a copy of the survey that I gave on Google Forms: Teacher Report Card

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There are two sections – one that is generally about the class and one that has some more specific questions about aspects of the class. I didn’t want students to see it was super long and then not put an effort into it, so I made the second part optional. I still had half of my students go on to the optional part.

I’ll be posting about the results later – I promised that I wouldn’t look at them until after the students’ last day of school, even though it was anonymous (also, more #MTBoS30 posts). This was mostly for my sake because I know from past experience that kids can say some pretty mean things when their name isn’t attached to it and I didn’t want that to affect my last days with these kids.

What surprised me was that many students said their teachers did not give anything like this at the end of their class. I guess this is surprising to me because so many of the teachers I follow have been posting about their surveys and I just thought it was kind of commonplace. But now that I think about it, I don’t think most of my teachers in school had students give feedback. It’s weird to me that teachers go all year giving feedback to the students, but then wouldn’t think to get it back from them. I know some say that students don’t always know what’s best for them, but I think their opinions should at least be heard. I’m especially interested in how they respond to the questions about my Daily Warm Ups and homework policies.

Les opinions des étudiants ont l’importance pour les profs.

Teacher Appreciation #MTBoS30

During Teacher Appreciation week this year, I was feeling really let down. Sure, I got BOGO Chipotle, but besides that my school pretty much did nothing else. This is in contrast to my last school, where the entire week was amazing from our PTO and Board of Ed – every day had breakfast and lunch provided, there was a masseuse that came in for 15 minute sessions, we got little gifts every day. I was incredibly spoiled at my old school. But there was nothing done this year at my current school (until Friday at our Teacher Institute when we each got a lunch bag with a nice note from our administration). Since I was feeling a little like I was missing out, I wanted to do something about it and Sarah’s post came at the perfect time. I printed out the notes on colored paper on Thursday morning and had my classes write notes. We got at least one note to every staff member. I feel bad because I only saw this in time for half of my classes to do this, but I think it was still good enough. I purposely left myself off the list of teachers, then folded all of them (without reading them) into envelopes (also learned from Sarah’s blog) and delivered them to the teacher’s mailboxes that night. I don’t think anyone knows they were done by my classes and that I delivered them. If they did, they didn’t say anything to me. I have seen some teachers hang them behind their desks, so I know they got them.

Even though I was off the list, I did receive some. Yay for little things to make you happy! These give me all the feels.

Étudiants, je vous remercie mille fois de me faire plaisir cette année.