I’m An Expert At Making Mistakes #MTBoSBlogsplosion

When I saw the prompt for this week’s #MTBoSBlogsplosion, I was so excited because this is something I feel like an expert in a lot of the time. Especially if you go to my first period class. But I feel like I’m pretty honest about being terrible at times, and that makes me feel more ok. Here are some examples:

–I was teaching summer geometry (I did a whole 180-type blog about it) and I wanted to do this 3-act task called Meatballs. I actually blogged about it. Except the memory of this lesson doesn’t resemble what I said in the blog. What I remember is we watched the 1st and 2nd acts, and then the students did a bunch of math. I walked around the room facilitating as they were doing this. All the groups did do some math. And they were like all wrong. All were different. But there was one group, the most unsuspecting group, that got the answer exactly right! So I was super excited that I was going to be able to share the 3rd act and they would be able to share the correct way to look at this problem. So when the time came for them to share, they were equally excited because all they did was guess! I prodded so much – “Well share the formula you used.” “We didn’t use one.” “What numbers did you use?” “We just picked a random number.” “But like what did you put in your calculator???” “Oh we were just messing around so you thought we were working.” Yeah. So all that time for absolutely no progress. In fact it probably was more harm than good. That memory to this day haunts me whenever I’m thinking about 3-ask tasks.

–I apologize to my first period almost every week for something. My planning is just really bad. I will plan way too much and get lost in the time and forget to give my first period something really important. Or I will think an activity will take a lot longer and then it goes in the wrong direction and I have to stop it and it makes things awkward. My evaluator commented that I could improve my flow in the classroom, and she observed my 6th period, after I’d taught the same class twice that day. I can only imagine what she would have said if she saw my first period. Even though I hate it, I’m pretty lucky to have my 2 plan periods right after 1st period so I can redo my whole lesson if I have to, and I have multiple times. Also, I’ve had to send Remind messages like this multiple times:


This was before their final exam where the other math teachers had just informed me they were allowing a notecard for the test. Those kids probably just go home and laugh at me, but that’s fine because I laugh at them all the time, too. (Side questions: How is it only read by 3/12? Like doesn’t it go to all their phones? And how do I get more students to sign up for Remind?!)

–Behind my desk I have this oversized pencil and eraser. I had been having a rough day already and walked into my classroom from being in the hall during passing period to find a student at her desk drawing with my oversized pencil and a bunch of other kids crowded around it. This is a student who frequently makes rude comments to me and others, usually followed up by her asking me why I would want to teach in a school with “bad kids like her”. I shouted, “Put down my pencil! You cannot just go behind my desk and grab my things!” She proceeded to yell back at me something slightly offensive and I just pointed for her to go out the door. I immediately knew I overreacted. She didn’t come to school the next day. I wrote her an apology note and gave it to her 1st period teacher to give to her. The note went something like “I’m sorry that I sent you out of the room last time we saw each other. I could have dealt with the situation in a much better way. I really care about you and how you grow as a student in my class, so I hope we can talk about what happened one day without raising our voices.” She came into class after that and didn’t mention the note, but wasn’t acting any different than she did before the pencil incident so I figured we’d address it when she wanted to address it. A week or so later, someone made a reference to my big eraser, and then I heard that student say, “well you better not try to use her pencil or else she’ll send you out and write some note saying she cares about you and give it to Mrs. G to give to you.” I was honestly pretty hurt, but I know I was the one who made the mistake in the first place. She’s improved her attitude a bit since last semester when that happened, though. I wish I had a better way to deal with rude behaviors.

Je suis la meilleure à commettre des erreurs.

MMC Thinking Mathematically in Daily Warm Ups Presentation

Here are my slides and documents from my presentation for the MMC Conference of Workshops on 1/28/17. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or want to bounce ideas off me!

Thinking Mathematically in Daily Warm Ups Google Slides

Handout: .docx     .pdf
Warm Up Sheet: .docx (editable)    .pdf



Please share with me if you end up using any of the resources that were shared in this presentation. I love to hear how you make these things work in your classroom!



You Guys Are Great #MTBoSBlogsplosion

This post is really really hard. I started reading blogs during winter break of the 2013-2014 school year and immediately my Feedly was filled with almost 100 blogs to follow. Right now I’m at 194 that I follow. I haven’t read every single post, but I do save them all for later so I can read many of them eventually. As I’m reading I tag them in Evernote if they’re about something content-specific. That way when I’m lesson planning I can search the MTBoS Search Engine and my Evernote.

But this post is hard because there are so many posts out there that made my life better/easier. Here is a compilation of some, and I’m sure I’ll be thinking of others after I post this:

For lesson planning:

  • Meg Craig’s Files – Meg didn’t know it at the time, but she saved me so much stress last year when I was the only teacher in a school teaching four different preps. I used so much from her that I can’t thank her enough. I love that she not only puts her files up as Word documents so you can edit them to fit your class but also that she usually shares her teacher keys so you can see how she goes through everything with her classes. My favorite by far was her advice on Graphing Polynomials, which I taught in College Algebra and then later in Algebra II. My classes ended up dancing like John Travolta and playing R. Kelly’s Remix to Ignition (for the bounces) all the time after that. It was so fun and it just clicked for the students.
  • All the Virtual Filing Cabinets. Here are some to name a few: Sam’s at Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere, Beth’s at Algebra’s Friend, Elissa’s at Misscalcul8, and Julie’s at Sad Armadillo
  • MTBoS Search Engine – duh, just do it

For engagement and just straight up awesome teaching:

  • Everything from Sara VanDerWerf. I go to her blog so frequently that it’s one of the suggested sites from Google when I open a new tab.
    Screen Shot 2017-01-21 at 7.24.50 PM.pngThe post I go to the most is The Pursuit of 100%. Practical Ideas for Engaging Students. I learn more every time I go to it. I’ve used so much of it this year and I’m impressed every time at how my students are really engaged more than I ever had seen before. And this post is long, but every word is important. Sara is so intentional in what she does and makes sure that when she shares something, she shares why she does it. If you haven’t read anything from Sara yet, stop reading this and go spend the rest of your time on her site because it will blow your mind.

And I always have blog posts to catch up on. I think I do it wrong – since I save everything before I read, I still have posts from people’s beginning of the school year at the bottom of my saved posts. So on the days where I read blogs, I usually try to read a few from the top and then also a few from the bottom, and sometimes a few in the middle. I used to just read the bottom of the list but then I started to miss things from people like Dan Meyer’s [Pseudocontext Saturdays] and would feel left out when I saw references to it on Twitter. It’s also kind of fun to read old posts and see how things have progressed throughout the year. So here are some posts I read recently that I learned from and/or they improved my life in some way:

Vous êtes supers!



Soft Skills: Encouraging Perseverance #MTBoSBlogsplosion

I kinda got really busy over winter break and didn’t read or write anything, even though I had every intention to. I missed Week 1 from https://exploremtbos.wordpress.com/, but I’ll start up again with Week 2:

So after reading through the list of soft skills prompts, I’ve confirmed to myself that I still have to work on soft skills. I fully believe that once I have my own children I will get better at this, but I still wish I was better right now. But there is one thing I am doing much better at this year: encouraging perseverance. And it’s all because of Alex and Sara.

So I’ve always talked about in the beginning of the year how everyone has the ability to do math and all the growth mindset stuff and then I would just never talk about it again. I’d have kids give up and then say something like “Don’t give up! Keep trying!” and they’d roll their eyes and pretend to keep working for a few minutes. And I still have my Mindset Moment List, but that’s just one day every so often. But this year has been different.

The first thing that was different was that I started using Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces and Horizontal Non-Permanent Surfaces. Alex did a great TMC16 presentation about Flow and using VNPS, so I built my own white boards to use with the few in my classroom and my students have been using them. I wrote about it here. Dry erase is such a great tool for encouraging making mistakes and perseverance. I used to think pencils and erasers were the best, but now I think dry erase is the best. My students typically pick up some markers (or bring their own) at the beginning of class so they can write everything they practice on their desks.


The other things that’ve helped for perseverance are two videos. Sara posted about a Week of Persistence where she showed a video about people stuck on an escalator and a beagle going after a chicken nugget. I showed these right at the start of second quarter before we were going to start factoring. I tweeted about the effects:

Just like Sara, I have these posters up in my room at each end of my Promethean Board and reference them often. I love hearing other students encourage their peers to “get off the escalator!”

File: Scale Of Persistence.pptx    Scale Of Persistence.pdf

I just started my new semester and get some new students and keep some of the same. I’m hoping I’ll have the same results as last semester.

J’espère m’améliorer mon enseignement des qualités personnelles.