Mathematician Alphabet (Not Just Dead White Dudes)

First, if you haven’t heard of the Mathematician Project aka Not Just Dead White Dudes from Annie, read this here: https://arbitrarilyclose.com/2016/08/21/the-mathematicians-project-mathematicians-are-not-just-white-dudes/

I think this project is super important and I’ve tried to incorporate it in a number of ways. I haven’t gotten the chance to actually have my learners do the project, but I’ve done it where I present mathematicians for a warm up, where I had a bulletin board of it, and where I used them as table/group labels after seeing them from Pam on her blog here: https://pamjwilson.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/table-labels/

But then I moved to a new room with desks instead of tables and got the idea from the teacher who had been in the room before to have colored tape on the feet of chairs to label the groups. So I put the 8 table labels (A-H) up on my wall to display since I wasn’t using them anymore. But I kept thinking that I wanted to complete the rest of the alphabet someday. Today was the day.

I made cards to print and put up that have a different mathematician that are Not Just Dead White Dudes. I know I’m not citing my sources correctly, but the information was all pretty much gathered from The Not Just Dead White Dudes Bank, Wikipedia, or the MacTutor History of Mathematics site.

It’s very possible I have a typo even though I tried to quadruple check everything. Let me know if you see anything weird or if there’s more you think I should do. It was pure luck that I ended up with an even number of men and women.

*Edit 1/2/20 – Thank you Amie @nomad_penguin for finding a typo on C. The file has been re-uploaded. Please let me know if you all find any more!

Feel free to use/edit them for yourself!

Google Presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1huFNdJ2fWbvrNWONwDj1A5pn_l0icLM9LQCDZXl0ENY/copy?usp=sharing

PDF: Mathematician Alphabet (Not Just Dead White Dudes)

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C’est important que nos étudiants voient les mathematiciens comme eux.

New Student Checklist

My class rosters change very frequently all year.

(This lasted 4 days)

Because of this, I realized I needed a list of things I need to do every time I get a new learner ASAP. When I lose a student, the getting-rid-of process can really be done whenever it comes up so I don’t worry about it as much. The faster I can make a new learner feel welcome, though, the better.

I used to have a sticky note of all the things I’d have to add a new student to that I taped behind my desk and it was fine, but I decided to make it a bit more official.

New Student ChecklistFeel free to make a copy for yourself here:

Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LmHPbGQ8uZZCUdHkfhxVrMzsqoEyRJiCgIGI_EaP3Ek/copy?usp=sharing

PDF: New Student Checklist

J’espère que mes nouveaux étudiants sentent qu’ils sont les bienvenus.

Delta Math Homework

I’ve gone back and forth about how I should do homework. I don’t really fully completely think that homework should be given. I’ve done a few years without giving regular homework and I don’t think my learners’ understanding was any lower than when I did give regular homework. But then also I teach mostly freshmen and the biggest complaint I hear from both previous learners and their new teachers is that they are not ready for the homework load. I’m not at a place right now to try to change those teachers’ minds about homework, so I had to shift my thinking. If I’m going to truly prepare my freshmen for the years ahead, I need to prepare them to work outside of class.

Enter: Delta Math. I’ve been using Delta Math (DM) this year with both of my classes, but more consistently with Algebra I because it has more topics for that than Geometry. So I have one DM assignment going per unit. They typically have a few weeks to complete each assignment, and I have a bunch of topics in them. Our first unit after our two-week October break didn’t have a DM assignment, so that’s why you see such a big date gap right now.

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I’ve learned from my tries at DM last year to keep the number of problems required low. You want to do more with your learners, but for me, 1-3 is usually enough to show they know the topic but doesn’t burn them out on it. If it’s something where there are multiple levels of difficulty, I’ll maybe have 1 easy, 2 medium, and 1 harder problem. I also allow them to have multiple attempts (2-3 depending on the type of problem) and do include a penalty (0.25-0.5 off) for incorrect answers. I went back and forth on the penalty thing, but after seeing them do their first assignment and how they just wanted to click submit after barely doing any thinking on a problem, the penalty decision was confirmed. It slows them down. Even though they get multiple attempts, they really think about it more when they know that they can’t get more wrong or else they’ll have to do it more.

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I also have a due date schedule because after they get out of the Freshman Academy, most teachers do not allow late work at all. However, they are coming from their junior highs where they were able to retake and resubmit everything until the end of the year. So this transitions them a bit easier. I do forgive lateness for certain circumstances, like chronic absences and 504/IEP directives.

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Not all of my learners have access to the internet at home, but that hasn’t been much of an issue. I always give at least a few days’ worth of class time to complete DM and also, I make a paper copy by screenshotting double the amount of required problems for each section. I have only had to actually print that for a few learners at the beginning of the year who didn’t know to use their time more wisely.

These are worth 10 points each in the grade book and I give them their percentage out of 10. So if they did 85% they would get an 8.5 in the grade book. I use the Problem Logs in the Student Data dropdown frequently to see if I should update someone’s score on an old assignment, but also remind learners frequently that they need to tell me when they have updated an assignment. I also post this as an assignment on Google Classroom, so sometimes their way of telling me is to just resubmit the assignment so I get a notification.

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Overall, I really like using DM for homework. At first, I did get some push back because it wasn’t what they were used to and they got a lot wrong at first because they didn’t know how to structure their answers. For example, they didn’t know on the solving equations ones that you just needed the number and not x= with it. So I learned then to demo how to answer each question where it wasn’t obvious. It’s made my learners much better at attending to precision, too. And, sure, there are some that still get 0’s on their DM just like you’d get some that got 0’s on a paper assignment. And some guardians do not get why they’re not seeing a textbook out to do the homework. But then when I talk to their guardian about how they can do this anywhere they have access to the internet, including on their phone, they get on my side pretty quick.

My learners have really come around to it, too. At first, there was some anxiety around it. Like “If I press Submit and I get it wrong then I’ll have to do more!!!” But now it’s more like “Ok I worked through it and then I got it wrong the first time and then looked at how DM got the right answer and saw my mistake and now I got it right!” Well, I’m sure they think that, at least. But they look forward to DM days and feel like it’s helping them learn, and I agree. I can even say – hey you only did 1/3 problems over this on DM and then you got the question wrong on your quiz, soooo what are we going to do for the next quiz?

Another thing I added this quarter on our first DM assignment two topics at the end that are review from first quarter. I should have done that from the beginning. I need to do more spiraling in general. But even the learners expressed that it was nice to go back to that to try to keep it fresh.

I want to express a big THANK YOU to Zach Korzyk @MrDeltaMath who makes this amazing resource!

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What do you do for your homework/Delta Math to make it good for your learners?

J’aime que mes étudiants voient leur connaissance avec Delta Math.

Rigid Transformation Unit and Superhero Transformation Project

I’ll admit, I was really nervous about teaching Transformations in Honors Geometry. It was a topic I didn’t remember learning myself and I had never taught it before. I luckily had the #MTBoS and especially Michele Torres (@Teachmathtorr).

Lots of people suggested using things like patty paper and Miras to help learn the different transformations. Unfortunately, I do not have access to those and I’m trying to not buy a lot of things this year for my room, so I hope to one day be able to use those. Instead, I did a lot more Desmos than I ever thought I would! If you haven’t seen her Geometry Desmos Activity document yet, be prepared to blow your mind here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1m82reYFkQZtjnptTWo0_G0k6Kmbc7jjo-OFjT3l0wMY/edit?usp=drive_open&ouid=104053001916447058622

I also loved the advice to focus on points transforming instead of the entire shape – it really helped my students who were having trouble visualizing the transformations.

We started with a Polygraph. I’ve noticed that in an honors class, I don’t get too many that get it wrong when they’re trying to find the graph. Instead, they just use a ton of questions. I challenged them to try to use the least amount of questions.

We also started off with some Des-Patterns.

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After learning all the transformations, I think my learners would agree that this Multiple Transformations Check Desmos activity made the biggest impact. I had them work in pairs and had them do the worksheet first and then check with Desmos. This was really a turning point for the class. A lot that thought they didn’t know were able to confirm that they really did, and it was also much more apparent to them if a transformation was off than when they did it on paper. My struggle sometimes with having students check in Desmos is that when I try to project the summary, the names have to get so small as I zoom out so I can fit everyone. Sometimes I forget that working in pairs not only helps them learn and have awesome math conversations but also just makes them have fewer names to look for.

I somehow ended up with three free days before Fall Break and they had already taken a quiz over transformations. I wasn’t ready to start a new unit (congruent triangles) right before a two-week break. I had remembered Mandi Tolen’s Global Math Department Presentation and thought to look for anything she shared. She did not let me down.

I modified her assignment a bit. Here’s what I did:

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This was a blast for the learners to work on and for me to grade. My biggest advice is to encourage them to make a plan for their story first. A lot of them spent the entire first day just making their superhero and other images. Even though that really brings the project to a higher level, it also made them have to work on it outside of class and that was never my intention. Also, I learned that demonstrating some of the shape and arrange and grouping tools to the whole class at once isn’t good enough. Instead, make an expert at each group and have them be the ones to ask after that. Also, next year I would like to add a peer review component. I hope that will save some of the ones that decided to wait until the last minute or not do it at all. Any advice on what to do when you’re giving 3 days and nothing is getting done by one or two students? I don’t want to be too hover-y, but I also had my smiles turn to frowns a few times when I had to give a couple learners 3/35…

This twitter thread below has a bunch of pictures from my projects. These weren’t all 100%s and I only included one page of the comics, but I just loved how they were able to show their understanding in a cool creative way that most of them are really proud of.

La créativité de mes élèves m’impressionne!

2019-2020 Midquarter 1 Check-In

I had set a reminder for myself to check in on my goals that I posted about before school starts. So here I am checking in.

  • Stand and Talks: LOVE IT! I have done at least one a week in my two different classes. Not only does it get them up and moving and talking about math, but it also helps them remember a lot better. I am still referencing stand and talks I did in week 2.

 

  • Collection of Work: Haven’t done it yet
  • Birthdays: It’s working! See this post.
  • Instagram: LOVE IT! Check out @MrsGraysonMath. I get way more engagement on it than my class Twitter and the learners want to get on the ‘gram. I haven’t had the learners take pics yet. Maybe will soon.
  • Vocabulary: Falling short on this one. This is a good reminder to think more about it.
  • Family Connections: Yeah the calling every phone number didn’t happen. But maybe it will soon. Also haven’t taken advantage enough of the schedule send in gmail. However, I have gotten a great response through email from families and I have fewer families that do not have an email address. I have made a fair amount of calls, but all were more on the “I’m noticing ___ falling behind” side and not enough on the welcoming to my class side.
  • Language: Need to focus on this more.
  • #VNPS: I’m doing ok. It’s been a lot of individual work at the boards, but that’s ok. I learned from a PD at the MMC Conference of Workshops last year about having learners draw the stem of a flower and add a petal for each problem they get right and I call it garden growing time. It is one of the times I have evidence of 100% engagement. The other time is Stand and Talks. I want to do more tasks where the groups are working together at the boards.
  • Delta Math: Going great. On assignment 2 so far.
  • Puzzles: I had a heartbreaking moment when my first hanayama puzzle that I put out (that I had had since I was in high school) went missing in the first week of school. I made a Wanted Poster for it. It still hasn’t turned up. So I kind of gave up on the posters, but I’m probably gonna go the route of Sarah Carter and make some laminated puzzles.

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  • Working Harder Than Students: I feel like I am accomplishing this. Although I’ve felt more behind than ahead and I am changing that this weekend.
  • Not Blaming: Check
  • Office Hours: Check
  • Google Level 2: Not yet – set a reminder for October Break. Also found out my Level 1 Certification expired. Didn’t realize it was only good for 3 years.
  • More Percussion: I bought a pair of Audio-Technica headphones when they were on sale on Amazon and now I’m playing drumset way more! I feel so much better playing it. I wish I could play percussion in a community band, but I’ll take what I’ve got.
  • More #MTBos: Yeah it’s been better. Could do more.
  • Cooking: I’ve been focusing on cooking what’s in my garden/what’s from my coworkers gardens that I’ve traded for. Made three batches of tomato sauce (no recipes, just blanch and peel a ton of tomatoes, add all the other things like carrots, peppers, herbs, and don’t forget tomato paste!) and discovered how amazing an immersion blender is. Also really sped up the process of making this zucchini blueberry cake with lemon buttercream frosting by using a hand mixer. SOOOOOO YUMMMMMMY!
  • #FitBos: So I didn’t meet my goal for August, but I did get 84% of my goal accomplished. Considering how hectic the beginning of the year is, I’m not disappointed. I know I can do better in September now that things have gotten more into a routine. I’ve been working out in our school’s fitness center a couple days a week with one of my coworkers and it’s been awesome. She’s retiring this year and I will miss her a lot, but she’s a beast. I’ve also lost some weight and feel good!

It has been great to check in and really see what’s been accomplished and what still needs work. This year’s been going well so far. I am excited for the rest to come. I think I might try to make this a regular thing.

Je suis fière de moi. J’ai fait beaucoup!

Recognizing Birthdays!

I love celebrating my birthday (June 4, in case you wanted to know). My family was always great at celebrating birthdays. My husband thinks birthdays aren’t a big deal. He’s wrong. Every person deserved their day to be recognized.

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher that celebrates birthdays in my class, but just never thought it through enough before the beginning of the year. This year, I had a goal to do better.

I still didn’t do it perfectly. I finally remembered to ask my learners for their birthdays on the Day 3 of school. I gave everyone a notecard and asked for three things.

  1. Name
  2. Birthday
  3. Something that makes them smile

On Day 4, I organized all the notecards in order by date. On Day 5, I had my first birthday and realized that I had missed a birthday that was on Day 2. So it was on Day 4 that I realized I didn’t really have a full-fledged plan for this whole birthday thing, and I had a little bit of a night left to figure it out. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Have a “Happy Birthday” section on the board that I keep for the week. I had only done the two daily birthdays on their own this week, but after doing some research and asking about it on Twitter, I think weekly or monthly is better because it will help recognize the weekend birthdays better. I’ll play catchup on the four that I am missing this weekend and I already talked to the one learner that had her birthday on Day 2 and we’re going to do it on her half-birthday.
  • Give a Birthday Bracelet that I printed on gold paper and attached a piece of tape to. This Birthday Bracelet was found on misscalculate here. I’d love to do Elissa’s other brag bracelets, but don’t think I’m at that point yet.

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  • Give a birthday math trick that I found on Eat Play Math here. Lisa gives it with a piece of candy and a sticker, but I just fold it into its own envelope like Sarah does here (this is my favorite and only origami I know) and write a note on the envelope that ties to what they said makes them smile from the notecard. My first one said, “Happy Birthday! I hope you get to spend extra time with your brother and friends.” She had said that her brother and friends made her smile.

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Bon Anniversaire!

Helping Freshmen Transition: Advocating Forms and Grade Tracker

 

I teach mostly freshmen. The junior highs have this program where anyone with certain low grades is mandated to this after school study program. Last year, I had the lowest grades overall that I ever had first semester and when I talked to the rest of my teaching team, they were dealing with the same things. There were many teachers starting to play the blame game (including myself), but one thing I’ve learned from the #MTBoS is that we need to teach our learners the behaviors and procedures we want them to use. So second semester I started to add Sara’s Advocating Forms to my Algebra I class. My thought was that I had to teach these freshmen that they need to advocate for themselves in high school. The ones that really needed it had been told when and where to get help up until now.

The way I introduced it was that I was giving my classes a super easy way to not only get points but also to help them help themselves. I told them that there were many of them who didn’t need this assignment because they already did everything they needed to do to get help for themselves. So the only thing they needed to change about what they did was to bring the form and get it signed. Other learners needed to make an extra effort to come in to me or another teacher for help outside of class. I really stressed the outside of class, and that they could only do one in each time frame (like they could do one in Pride Time and one after school that same day, but couldn’t do two in Pride Time in the same day). But I also added a little bit to it that Sara didn’t mention. My Algebra I classes are so mixed in ability levels that I know there are also students that needed challenges that I just wasn’t reaching enough. So I also added that I knew there were learners that didn’t need help at all outside of class, so it was time for them to advocate for themselves that they needed challenges. Those challenges could only come from me, and it was the only advocating form they could work on during class (if it was an acceptable time to do so). Sometimes I had a challenge made up on a printout, sometimes I just asked them a verbal extension question that they would then write down.

I am so happy to say that this Advocating Form assignment helped so much for every single one of my students. I am for sure introducing this again very soon for my Algebra I learners this year. (I didn’t see the need to do this in my Honors Geometry class last year, but will re-evaluate if I need to do it for them after the first unit.)

Here are the files I modified for my use from Sara:

Advocating Form Assignment and Forms (docx)

Advocating Forms (pdf)     Advocating Form Assignment (pdf)

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I was so pleased that my learners did not just come to me for help. I had the football players asking the two math teachers that were football coaches because they already hung out in their rooms. I had learners asking their science and social studies teachers because that was who stayed after school that day (and those teachers came to me later saying they enjoyed realizing that they still knew some high school math!). But mostly, I had students coming to me during Pride Time or after school. We have a 25-minute Advisory period in the middle of the day where 3 days a week the learners can choose what teacher they want to meet with using a website called FlexiShed. Every teacher offers help, but the sessions fill up quickly because only 20 seats are available unless teachers raise the limits. First semester, this time in my class was maybe 50% productive. Second semester, it was 110%. I would have some Pride Times where I’d barely get to everyone for help, and I started to sign off on when I saw them ask other students in my Pride Time while they were waiting for me. Also, in my school all teachers are required to stay until 3:30, but the last bell rings at 3:18. First semester, I spent those twelve minutes monitoring the hallway for a few minutes while learners packed up, and then just went into my room and got work done/packed up. Second semester, I’d still spend those first few minutes in the hallways, but then I had usually 2-5 students come to my room. And they’d rarely be there past 3:30. My learners started to understand that asking a question doesn’t take more than a few minutes! And sure, I had some learners that waited until the last minute to get help and some that didn’t complete the assignment in the end, but overall it made a noticeable difference in attitude and (perhaps more importantly) grades. I had comments from my learners and parents that they really appreciated the little push to get in the habit of asking questions. Their other teachers saw a difference, too!

Another thing that my team did to help motivate learners was to have them track grades. I chose to do this every Friday (or end of the week). I made this Grade Tracker for my team:

Grade Tracker (docx) and  Grade Tracker (pdf)

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I would say that the grade tracker really helped my freshmen who were coming from Standards Based Grading and not being able to fail a class to a traditional grading system really understand their grades more. There were no surprises anymore.

When I first joined the Freshman Academy at my school, I’ll admit that I didn’t quite buy into the belief that the transition from junior high to high school was important to acknowledge. I understand more now that there’s way more to teaching freshmen than just algebra.

Quelquefois, je pense que ces jeunes étudiants sont extraterrestres.