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Showing posts from 2016

Revamping Student Blogging in Math

My algebra and geometry students have been creating digital portfolios (using blogger) for the last 4 school years. Summer 2013, spurred on by my school's upcoming 1:1 laptop program, I attended CUE Rockstar conference. While there, I had time to think about how I might have my students use their laptops in class. I wanted them to be able to look at virtual manipulatives, graph things quickly and interactively using desmos, create constructions using geogebra, use online formative assessment tools like socrative and generally be able to use the internet as a tool to enrich their learning.

All of these enhance learning, but I was also looking for a way to build in reflection and creativity into class also. After all, as Dewey said “we do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.”

My theory was that blogger would be the house for my students' reflections. 

Via the blog they have...

... Reflected on in class problem based learning tasks
... Embedded videos t…

Unit Recap: Getting Started

New use the digital portfolio this year - a digital nod toward interactive notebooks - concept summaries and reflections for key problems for each unit. I am trying to make the my students' blogs simpler and more helpful for them as they look back on key concepts. We will see how it goes. I will post student work when I have some examples.

Back to School Night Ideas with GMD

Tonight I presented in a webinar with Global Math Department for the first time. I always find it strange to teach or talk to a computer screen. It's hard to present dynamically without being able to make eye contact with the audience.

That aside, I presented what I usually do at back to school night - which is a jammed pack 10 minutes of class information & requirements, my teaching philosophy, the rationale behind blogging in math class and explaining how standards based grading works. It isn't ideal, but it is my only chance to explain how my class works to parents.

I also gave a few ideas for alternatives - talking about math anxiety, brain based learning strategies and having parents experience a lesson.

What I really liked about participating in the webinar, was getting ideas from my co-presenters (@MsDiMaria and @algebrainiac1) and from the participants. How had I not heard about Which One Doesn't Belong?!

Check out the recording below.

My slides with links are 

Learning, a how to

I have been meaning to publish this for quite some time, but have waited because I really want to post a video of the presentation with my commentary.

Well that has fallen to the bottom of my list.

So until I get around to that, here at least of the slides of how I explain to my students how learning works and why therefor, I choose which teaching strategies that I choose.

The bison might not make sense without my commentary, but ah well.

Interactive (Digital) Notebook

This is now the 3rd year my students in Algebra and Geometry have made digital portfolios using blogger in my 1:1 laptop classroom. Posts range from simple summaries of in class PrBL tasks to elaborate projects. In geometry, students make constructions using geogebra and embed those on their blogs.

Over the summer, for about a month I had "have students in algebra make interactive notebooks?" on my to do list. I was inspired by Sarah Hagan Carter and the sense of ownership her students must get from creating their own mini textbook via Interactive Notebooks. Additionally, her students are making a convenient and interactive study resource. I ended up deleting the to do item and moving on as I didn't want to give up on digital portfolios and I thought that having both seemed like too much.

Yesterday in class I was thinking about how students can find a sample problem of an older concept when working on one of our interleaved problem sets? We don't use a textbook, rath…

Discovering Radius/Chord Relationship

Today my geometry kiddos used our favorite Geogebra to construct a line through the center of a circle that is perpendicular to a chord.

1. Draw a circle
2. Draw a chord (use a segment)
3. Construct a line through the center of the circle that is perpendicular to the chord.

4. Add a point at the intersection of the line and the chord; measure the segments.
5. What do you notice?

Make a conjecture and publish via digital portfolio.

Homework Circles

The following post can also be seen on Chalkup.

I stand at the door of my classroom, greeting my 6th period algebra students as they peel themselves from the herd of middle schoolers thundering down the hallway. As my last student makes his way to me and we exchange hellos, inside the classroom, students are already taking their binders from their enormous backpacks while continuing their conversations. Without prompting, their conversations shift to discussing the homework. “Hey did you get number three?” asked one student to her seat partner. Before her partner can answer, another overhears and eagerly jumps in to point out what she did in order to get number three correct. On the other side of the room another student, the appointed classroom manager, takes her completed homework to the front of the room where a document camera is on and ready to project. Seeing her, students quiet. She asks, “Does anyone have any questions?” Hands shoot up and a student requests to see number thre…

NAIS 2016 Recap

What I love about conferences, is having the time to reflect on best practices and hearing stories that I wouldn’t normally encounter in my usual day to day. NAIS2016 did not disappoint - I attended sessions that will inform how I relate to others and think about school for years to come. I also heard talks that while not clearly about school, challenged my thinking and broadened my perspective.

The conference was also a time to spend with friends and colleagues at other schools. I reconnected with my Klingenstein cohort and chatted with former colleagues. Catching up with old friends feeds my soul and also counts at professional development as we invariably spend our time talking shop and sharing what we’ve been learning. The teachers that I love not only share my dedication to lifelong learning, but also enjoying sharing realizations and asking for ideas on working through challenges.

I was at the conference Wednesday - Friday and will summarize my major take aways.

Wednesday aftern…

Space Diagonals 2016

I was really happy with last year's reboot of the space diagonal (aka diagonal of the solid) lesson, but my story about the prince craving the ideal bread stick wasn't the best.

This year I changed the story to my (true) childhood story of visiting Disneyland and wanting candy.

For next year, how might I add an open middle? Can this be morphed into a 3 Act Lesson that incorporates a prediction?

Digital Portfolio Update - Geometry Vlogs

Here are a few of my favorite student video blogs. I assigned each kid a different proof from our book to demonstrate.









Tips for making video blogs and embedding

1. Must be typed, including diagram, symbols and tick mark notation (I suggest using Google Drive's Drawing App)
Must have decent "watchability"Copy/Paste diagram and proof into slides of a presentation, adding a new step on each slide (make sure diagram is always visible)Energetic ExplanationNEVER type out reasons as you talk...add tick marks as your prove congruencies 2. Must use a screen capture tool like jing that will record your voice and your typed completion of the proof
Practice. Find a way to inject humor and energy into this video. I have to grade like 50 of them. Make yours pop!Remember that you can pause jing 3. Must be embedded in your blog - control the size of the embed 750 x 750 ish is great
4. As always, creative title and 3-4 sentence introduction/refle…


I miss blogging. I enjoy writing and reflecting. It is how I think, learn and improve my practice. Given research projects for grad school, doing more admissions work and revamping curriculum, updating this blog has fallen to the bottom of my to do list.


So, quickly, here is my to blog list (that probably won't get done anytime soon):

1. The value of students reviewing homework in small groups over a student lead presentation
2. Game in geometry - Name that Congruent
3. Math talk in algebra for writing equations of lines
4. Add a presentations section to the blog navigation
5. Lego Space Shuttle Three Act I made up and used last week in geometry to introduce similarity.

6. Oh, and write my personal mission statement for teaching, an updated philosophy of education that includes how and why I became a teacher linked to articles and research that informs my practice... (this has been on the list since I came from TC in August, full of Dewey idealism).

Proving Parallelograms

New year! Among my resolutions include trying to blog more. Given grad school and school and family, it falls to the bottom of my list, but I really miss it. There is something about taking the time to reflect about my teaching that feeds me. I can't explain it other than to say that I am a major reflector.

Today my geometry kiddos dove into the new year with discovering one method for proving a quadrilateral is a parallelogram using geogebra. Geogebra constructions are great for getting students to make sense of the theorems and for getting students to do a bit of inquiry.

They are getting more proficient at using geogebra and publishing their creations on their blogs so it took 20 minutes for them to get to the point of publishing.

Here is the Prompt.

I will try to remember to add student examples once they turn things in.