liebster award

liebster award

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SOS... CME ... MTBoS

I've been looking through the CME Precalculus book and I think its wonderful.

I was just given precalc to teach, and while I've taught Alg1, Alg2 I've never seen, or can't recall ever having been taught or asked to consider the way some of the stuff in this textbook is presented.

 I think some of the ways they have introduced things is very interesting, ie complex numbers as an introduction and standard used throughout as a means of working with Trig identities.  I've never seen it before, and I understand what is happening mathematically; I also know that I'm not sure how to teach it.

The work CME provides is a good start, but only for students really prepared for that level of material.  My students lack many of the skills and the confidence which comes with them, to drive the discourse.  In my school we've discussed the issue of students cramming for assessment, without really learning the material and we agree it is an issue that needs to be fixed.  We've been working on this issue, and slowly it is being addressed, but this is a systemic issue - not one fixed easily.

As I've been working through the material, I've though how great it would be if a textbook publisher was clever enough to take advantage of the potentials of social media and how it could be a great resource, for the educators who perhaps haven't seen this material (in this way) or for whom such mathematics was 20+ years ago.

If there were a weekly/biweekly chat, a chat room or a means of connecting with other teachers using this material I know it would make me even more strongly interested in using it.  (granted this might require engaging the teaching community in a more personal way than most textbook manufacturers currently do it). Recruiting and advertising should occur fairly locally as many teachers who aren't very -social media savy do speak with other teachers at least locally.

One more thing....  Textbook manufacturers MUST consider making and perhaps offering resources (as in free, gasp) to help teachers remediate key skills in mathematics, especially at the secondary level, though not exclusively.  Had I known I was teaching this class, I would have actually spent much of the summer looking at the curriculum.  (which I do recognize is not universally standardized, which makes a social media solution better than a one-size fits all)

I know that there are many teachers who use no textbook at all.  I actually went 90% of the way there in Alg1 and Alg2.  I also know that there are teachers who go page to page in the book.  (and by way of full disclosure I think I know one of the contributors).  

I'm not yet ready to make really good decisions about how to teach this.  A popular addition to many textbooks is the student goal section.  I bet teachers would like to see the "necessary skills list" in addition to a series of activities or examples as good as those explaining the necessary content.

I've got friends in the #MTBoS who help with this, for me.  Textbook manufacturers needs to plan on enticing teachers like me as well as ones for whom that hashtag thing is a mystery, or just plain silly.

I was given a recommended pacing and curriculum (which was simply all the (+) standards) and told to"go" partway through the marking period.

Already I see concerns with the curriculum.  Vectors with Logarithms?  Complex with matrices?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sequence and Series Cards

I made a set of sequence cards over the summer and while I knew then that I wanted to use them to help students with sequences I didn't know exactly how I planned on using them.  I shared them on twitter with a few ppl, but got no suggestions on how to use them.

On Friday as I had just completed working with Arithmetic and Geometric sequences with 2 of my classes  I decided that I wanted my students to work on writing explicit and recursive equations, so I had the students break themselves into small groups (3-4 students max) and I gave each group 1 (of the 5) sets of 8 equations.

Here is where it got fun.  First, the students cut out the cards and placed them face-up on one of the desks.  Then I had them choose 1 card to give away (group 1 to 2, 2 to 3... 5 to 1).  So they gave away their hardest sequence.  Then I let 1 person from each group take 2 cards from another group (this time 5 from 4, 4 from 3, ...)  Now that the cards were exchanged, and a little attitude distributed to the groups we were ready.

I gave the groups 10 minutes to find both kinds of equations for each of the sequences.  The time limit assured that it was unlikely that 1 of the students could do this while the rest of the group watched (I hate that ).

I took a set of cards myself and shuffled them.  After the 10 minutes had passed I started randomly choosing sequences and rolling a die to choose which rule I wanted (explicit or recursive). If a correct answer was given the group picked a representative to throw a bean bag for a chance to get up to 3 points for the upcoming quiz.

Next time I need to find a way to make sure more groups get a chance to play (the first hour I did this, one groups got 4 chances to throw the bag and 2 groups didn't get called on at all).  I will do this by limiting the cards in my own shuffled deck (12 instead of the full 40 cards).  I will also make sure to keep the warm-up to just the 5 mins its supposed to take and spend less time on the previous day's homework so the time for this activity is greater.

Still, it was a great lesson.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Testing day MADE for MATH

Today I'm giving my Pre Calculus students a test (on matrices and rational expressions) and while going through my standard testing procedure checklist I rattled off my warning speech.  I made the first part up about 10 years ago and added a second part to it a couple years back.  The students find it amusing and each trimester many of them try to memorize it.

Here goes...

You may “look down in concentration”
Or up for inspiration
You may not, however, look to either side
Or behind you out of desperation
To do so means I will draw a pretty circular illustration (on the top of your page)
And you get to deal with your parents’ frustration
And consternation.

Alternatively, if you are struggling with stressful perspiration
And are led into plagiaristic temptation
You may find yourself on academic probation
And suffer familial humiliation.  

I had not planned to post this, but the students in my 3rd hour class insisted and I figured it might make a quirky made for math Monday posting.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It took me too long to figure out MTBoS #5

That my job should be all about getting kids from utter frustration, feeling like they just can't do it, to convincing them that they can (even if it appears to me that its unlikely).   If I don't at some point make a student have to look at math differently, not just a student, but every student, then I'm not what I want to be as a teacher.

It's at that point, when math looks strange is where growth in our subject occurs.

The difficult, woefully ill prepared, students give us this opportunity the most.   I know I need to get better at engaging them.   I want them to know, I want them to see and experience what I see in Mathematics.   I'm trying different things with different groups of students.  We'll see what comes of it.

Thank you, to the whole #MTBoS.  I'm better than I was and I will be better than I am.   I joke with my students that when I retire the tech in my classroom will be so magical that I won't ever want to leave.  I know that the real magic is the kids.   You all have helped me see that.  If I'm following you, please know it is because I'm in awe.

For the peeps doing the chats I attend, know you're among the very best.  #statschat , #precalcchat , #MSMathchat , #Alg2chat .

Station activity -sequence and series. Afterwards

The NSPIRE activity was definitely the most problematic.   Students struggled with how to manipulate the activity as well as how to get started, though interestingly enough one group told me they thought this one was their favorite because the calculator sort of walked them through the activity and all they had to do was observe and discuss.

The teacher led activity included 4 sequences to discuss and figure out.  I was surprised how difficult it was to hint and cajole a small group 3-4 students, through the material.  I know that at times we all want to just scream out the answer is 4 (or whatever) but it really is much more tempting with a smell group sitting there looking truly lost.   Fibonacci's sequence was the first one, with n^2 and n^2+1 beefing the second and a hybrid fraction geometric and arithmatic for the last.   I wish the second one had been first and that I had primed them by asking them to use blocks to build out each of the terms in the sequence.

There was a worksheet station in which students were required to I'd each set of numbers as arithmetic or geometric or neither and in hindsight I wish I had left that worksheet for the lower groups, but had a more accelerated one for groups ready for more of a challenge.

I had two groups in which members browsed on the IPADS, thus making it difficult for the next group to get started right away.   Fortunately given my proximity to that station I know which students were not on task and write ups and phone calls will address the issue (both students, have previously been addressed about being off task previously).

I still think the teacher led station could be reworked so that I am not tied down and busy the whole time.  I do have write-ups from the students, but its not the same as actually observing where students struggle.

Station activity - Sequences and Series - Before

I like the concept of station activities.  I truly do, but preparing one is nothing less than an exercise in frustration and just darn tiring.

Admin decided that since stations work so well in ELA that math should be doing them regularly as well.  I know people have blogged about this topic before Julie at I speak math being the quintessential example.  But the department chair (and presumably the administration) have made it clear that station activities should look a certain way.  ie. technology enhanced station, a teacher led station (forget about being able to help stuck groups).

enough complaining...My goal here is to actually blog before and after and see hwo I do at predicting how things will go.

The unit we are covering in Algebra 2 is sequences and series.  our stations include 1) identifying arithmatic vs geometric sequences (and differences and ratios) 2) finding the sum of an infinite geometric series (on the NSPIRE) 3) a teacher led station on "neither" sequences such as squares and Fibonacci and the two I worked on 4) having students find the rule for sum of angles of a regular polygon and # of triangles formed from a vertex of a regular polygon (both done through the use of geogebra and IPADS) and 5) a hands on station in which students will tie knots in a rope and measure how the length changes.

Students will rotate in small groups around the stations interacting with the activity and, hopefully, the mathematics which ties all of these mini-lessons together.  At the end they will turn in a single page which has a space for work from each station as well as a short response question at the end.

I already know that the NSPIRE activity will likely be a problem.  I've found that the students frequently find the NSPIREs complicated and manipulating the buttons and sliders is not as easy as it *should* be.

I'm hoping that being tied the whole time to a single lesson isn't frustrating as I know that normally I would prefer being able to move around the room assisting or just observing.

Check back later for the details on how things went...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MTBoS challenge #2

I've been on twitter since April, I think.

I teach in a small urban high school.   Of the 6 math teachers at the school, only I am really online with regard to anything at all relating to math.

The MTBoS is the math department I could never have imagined belonging to.  I find the relationships I have formed in twitter to be just as fulfilling and enriching as many of my off-line friendships.

WHO would i like to meet:  TheJLV. If I met you in real life I'd hug you and invite you to meet my students.  I hoped you see the promise in the future of this country and its citizens.   I recognize that we're not there yet, but the next generation is very accepting and non-prejudicial in a way no previous generation ever was.  He understands that equality in education, mathematics especially is key.  If you've not followed him, you should be.

WHY twitter ROCKS:  If you don't know about twitter chats, please let me inform you.   This is the most valuable thing about twitter to me.  On Mondays I participate in #alg2chat a forum in which topics, standards or whatever you want relating to alg2 , by alg2 teachers is discussed.  On Thursdays I participate in #statschat and #precalcchat, at the same time and haven't left a chat without something valuable each time I've participated.  The #msmathchat on Monday nights has trended on twitter overall a number of times recently.  Props to you guys!!

Then again there is my MTBoS crush... Fawn Nguyen...but that's another post...

Friday, October 11, 2013

For my students...

This week I found out that 2 of my classes were being changed.  I was asked not to reveal any of this to my students, that an administrator would come in and make the announcement.  For me the stress involved taking on another new class.  One which I haven't taught before.  I knew a new curriculum map was created and I did proof read it, but I wasn't considering the possibility that I might be teaching it so I really didn't study it.  This post, however really isn't about me.

This shift affected my second hour and fourth hour classes.   They are very different groups.   One is a little slower, but more easily drawn into the material.  They struggle well with the math, and tenaciously figure it out.  They love the puzzles and discuss them amongst themselves, with little prompting.  The interruption occurred after our warm-up and there were tears and yet we did return to and continue working on the math.   Three of these students came by at the end of the day, with a couple of Freshmen in tow telling them, "he's my favorite teacher".

The second group is comprised of students for whom math requires less struggle.   They need a bit, read "a lot", more coaxing to get talking about the math (though this isn't true about talking in general). They enjoy the warm-ups we're doing (Thanks Fawn and Mr_Stadel).  They also were the group I was hoping to show the greatest growth.  Our goodbye was less teary, but no less difficult.

I welcome my new Precalculus students, and I'm sure we'll have fun, but this posting is for the students who I will miss, who still smile when they see me in the hall and who are so excited when I stop by their new classroom and see how they're doing.

We're looking for a new math teacher, if anyone is searching for a position in the southeastern Michigan area..

Exploring the #MTBoS - favorite rich lesson

In Algebra 2 and Statistics we discuss Normal Distributions.  This interesting topic sometimes has difficulty really sinking into the students' minds.

The students, however, have no problem recognizing that I am not a very tall math teacher.  I top out at just over 5 feet 5 inches tall.  As I teach high school, many of my students are taller than me, particularly the male students.  given that height is a topic applicable to Normal distributions, I decided that this would make a good way of engaging the students with regard to something they are already interested in .

My lesson is : "Is Mr Hills Normal??"

Given that I'm the "fun" and less conventional math teacher around here their immediate response is "no" (or maybe they're just commenting on my height).

We decide during the course of the discussion that I am probably "normal" if my height is within 1 standard deviation of the mean.  Data collection is always fun and I usually get measured 2-3 times to make sure I'm not cheating.

When all the results are tallied and z-scores are computed, the results are always surprising to the students.  At this point a discussion always ensues, because the result isn't what they expect.

Cause the thing which I know that they don't is that when you factor in both genders I do fall within a normal (in both senses of the word) height. On the first day I don't concern myself with such trivialities. On the second day of the lesson I do have them divide the data up to look at samples of the data, and the natural division is by gender.  On this day I generally, though not always, end up losing the title of "normal".

I have data from the past 2 years of students saved, I really should use it in class next time I do this lesson.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Made For Math Bonus *Standard Deviation using Table*

I was in #Statschat last Thursday and we were discussing the usage of technology to simplify Statistics calculations and when it is appropriate to still make the students go through the motions of learning methods which might not be the best ways to find solutions given the complexity of some of the calculations.

The conversation started over discussing whether or not students still needed to learn the Empirical Rule, or how to use Normal Distribution tables or find standard deviation with the traditional equation.

I show my students the equation, we talk about what each of the variables mean, ahem, represent and then I tell them I love them too much to make them memorize and use that equation.

What I have my students do is use a table which seems to simplify the process.

  I write in "n = " under "n is the number of numbers in the data set"

We complete the table just to find the sum of "deviation squared" and then use that number in the equation below.

The first one we do together, then I throw another one at them to work on and then compare with their partners.

We do some homework on these (and other measures of central tendency) but only a few of them (and most students get a good portion of it done before leaving class and then the next day I review the two methods before sharing the method for finding standard deviation (and most of the other measures of central tendency) on the Nspire (which I had planned to add here, but don't seem to have with me at the moment)

Made For Math Monday *Visual Fraction plates*

I taught 5th & 6th grades for a number of years.  During that time I found that fractions, decimals and other associated concepts were particularly difficult for students because they were frequently not very comfortable seeing what the concepts would mean.

I got creative one weekend and made a cheap and easy to manipulate way of visualizing these concepts.  I have used them in the classroom and with my own children, so I know they have worked for me.

One day on twitter a question was asked about how one could help students with these concepts and I recalled my plates.  I knew I had them still (in my cabinet at work, though I'm sure there are a couple in my garage too) and I wanted to share them and how to make them.  (here ya go, Mr_Stadel)

First I take 2 plastic plates  (foam ones don't hold up and paper ones don't slide as well and they also don't hold up.  The plates should be different colors, and I chose the 6 inch plates.

 Next you will cut a radius into each of the plates.  Be careful not to go too far when cutting (with younger students this is definitely best done ahead of time)

Here I have made my cuts and slipped a piece of paper between the plates to allow you to see how they were cut.

slide the plates together at the radii.

Once together the plates slide easily allowing you to quickly create fractional representations, percentages, etc.  if you prefer, sliding the plates easily allows you to change the front color as well.

One the back I would mark particular angles on my own manipulative.  This allowed me to quickly generate fractions (etc) that I wanted students to be able to identify by visual inspection

I would have students keep their plates in their desks and when I had time left in a lesson I would have them take them out and show me 25% red, or approximate 3/4ths blue or show me what 90% red would look like.

Friday, September 20, 2013


I'm not yet able to go SBG, but I'm on my way.  I told students they could reassess standards for 2 weeks after the original assessment, if they have the original questions signed and they complete a remediation assignment.   1 week after quiz and NO ONE has asked for the reassessment assignment.

I'm a bit bothered.   I WANT my students practicing and reassessing, but I want them ready once they reassess ( unlike when they first took the assessment).

My options are not great.

1. Nag the student.  (I don't respond we'll to nagging, personally)
2. Call home and tell on the student. ( goodbye relationship )
3.  Ummm... You'd think Harry Wong would have covered this

I don't want to extend my deadline.  I think I might have to bend on this one, but I believe when I say something it should be as true as I can make it.  ( especially with so many students having little stability at home)
I want students to reassess.  I want to only deal with reassessments for a limited amount of time.  I want students reassessing to have worked on the material ahead of time.  I want the parents aware that reassessing is taking place and that their student is struggling with a concept.  I want my students LEARNING.  What a concept.

I'm thinking for this first quiz I am going to conference with students.  It will cost me class time, something I jealously hate losing.  I will make a student conference form, to document the discussion.  I want the students to understand my goals in offering reassessment and requiring something from them to be able to reassess.

I'm not sure how my student conferences will go.  I will start on Tuesday (as I will be on a field trip this Monday).  I figure if I keep myself to between 3-5 minutes that I should get most of them done by Thursday. Given that I cannot speak to all of the students before Thursday, I will need to extend the deadline for this quiz to reassess.  I am thinking that adding an additional week is appropriate.  This also has the added benefit of opening the window until just before my grades are due for progress reports.

I started on this post and accidentally published it before I had a chance to go back through it and review my thoughts.  I have another thought regarding doing a similar conference with both the parent(s) and the student.  I'm not sure that, upon reflection, it is the direction I wish to take this idea at this time.

Under the Influence

First off, the title of this blog refers to a play that was performed in front of our students today.  I've been to dozens of assemblies over the years and generally speaking I tolerate the disruption to my classes.  I politely stand with my students and police their behavior and generally am bored out of my mind.

This assembly was different.  Over the course of 2+ hours I spoke to 1 student about their phone.  I didn't once have to speak to a student about their behavior.  This is a first.

The play is based upon the book (*The Pact*) in which 3 boys (Marcus, Cameron and Shawn) make a pact to keep each other focused on their way to becoming doctors.  Before you decide that the subject matter is pretty dull, understand that these are inner-city boys who are dealing with many different pressures as well as their own goals.

The characters are easily identifiable among my own students.  As a teacher we see many students whose potential is squandered because they lack focus.  The characters interact with each other and their environments in realistic ways which my students found refreshing.  There was no preaching, just lots of dialogue sharing the characters' perspectives and feelings.

I don't want this blog piece to be filled with spoilers, but there are all couple things I will share.  A acronym is given early in the assembly for D.R.E.A.M. that I wish they had elaborated upon in the play.  During the second act, Shawn gives a speech about how "doing what (he) wanted" ended up leading him astray.  Also, Marcus' father has a heart to heart with two of the boys which as a parent myself left me content that the boys' families weren't just a source of conflict.

I'm not sure if the troupe performs just locally or nationally. I can say that if your school serves a similar demographic to mine (inner-city students primarily) then this play would certainly give the students something to think about and perhaps help some of them to reevaluate their lives and goals.  From what I've heard in many of the schools where this play is performed, students seek out and read the book from which the play was written.  For many of our students that might just be the first book they've read which wasn't assigned.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stats vocabulary

last week at #statschat we discussed the HUGE amount of vocabulary we throw at Stats students as they begin the class.  In my book's first 2 chapters alone there are 75+ words my students are supposed to understand before we even really start discussing Statistics.  We all agreed that this was a problem

Being my first time teaching Stats, I looked through the assessment materials I was required asked to use to assess students in the class.  I had little difficulty with many of the questions, except for those specifically related to levels of measurement.  (I did ok on them, just wasn't sure of my choices).

This I decided was due to the vocabulary related to these questions.

So I brainstormed and came up with 2 foldables and an activity to use with them.

The first foldable is Qualitative vs Quantitative

It is the smaller one on the left.  the top two flaps open and the bottom is an envelope.  It holds the other foldable and is useful in the sort.

The second foldable, also visible in the picture above compares Nominal/Ordinal/Interval and Ratio levels of measurement. Inside students are to define each of the levels of measurement and give an example.

I also had the students do a sort of different kinds of data.  They first had to sort them by qualitative and quantitative.  Next they had to try and identify what level of measurement each was.  Students completed this part with a partner and then we shared out as a class.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

My stumbling through Interactive Student Notebooking

I'm Interactive Student Notebooking (ISN), and I don't yet feel I've hit a stride on doing it. I can't seem to get the right side and left sides both done in a single day (of course, I am still trying to instill class procedures and learn the students, so that likely is part of my problem).

I did box and whisker plots on Tuesday with my students, we didn't meet on Wednesday (it was a district wide thing that won't reoccur again until spring), so on Thursday I opened with "on the left side, under the example we did at the top of the page, draw a line.  Beneath that line write any questions you have about box and whisker plots.  If you aren't sure about what questions you have, look back at the right side.  If you have no questions, write I have no questions."

Two of my classes did this well, with the most common questions being:

  • What does the box represent?
  • How do you make a box and whisker plot?
I revoiced the questions posed and as a class we discussed the responses.  I did none of the explaining.

This third class, however, overwhelmingly wrote "I have no questions"

Below this they were to once again put a line and the instructions for the next part were: 
  • Make believe you are writing a recipe:  Number and list out the steps necessary to make a box plot out of a set of data.
Students were also instructed to NOT simply make up a list of data and make the box and whisker.

I got plenty of hands!  Primarily from students who had written they had no questions.  I simply pointed out their previous note of having no questions needed to be re-evaluated.  By asking them to list their questions I was able to walk around the room and quickly see who was confused and what issues they were having.  

I want the ISN's to be a place where I could practice formative assessment and where the students could practice learning to speak math.  I love that I managed to get, in one day, a chance to see both of these goals in action.  

Now, how can I replicate that next week....

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Death and Statistics

I asked for the statistics class this year.  I wasn't sure I would get it, but I figured what the heck and also thought that it would be fun.

So far so good...

I was looking at a news site this evening and came across a neat article in which there is a widget which allows you to choose a year (there are about a dozen given) and it will predict how you would have died had you lived in that year. Death in History

After looking through and seeing what would come up for each of the years, I got to thinking that this would be a great lesson to tie in cross curriculurally with the Social Studies department.  (of course, doing so would require holding out on using this idea until an appropriate point in the other class arose)

It seems to me that the choices are most likely generated using a weighted system related in some way to the actual death rates for each of the given years.  What I'd like to do is have each of my statistics students use the widget 10-20 times for a particular year, pool their data (they work in groups) and then using that data see if they could predict what the actual rates were relating to reasons for mortality for each year.

I don't know if I'll wait for a History teacher for the tie in, and I can already see the students just wanting to google for the causes of death for the given year, but perhaps if they try to end run around me like that I can challenge them to figure out how the widget is accomplishing what it is doing.

Regardless I anticipate some interesting discussion surrounding the topic.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

School Has started....

I began classes on Tuesday, which annoyingly was a half-day.  While I understand that this allows the students to ease their way back into classes, it also barely gives time for attendance, scheduling issues and then something to set the tone.

I said I was going to do math on day 1, and I'm happy yo say that on day 1 I did math!  I did the 4-square activity that I had stated I would do.  In most of the classes, it worked well given the time constraint and kids were very much still talking about it the next day.

Wednesday was even less productive in 2 of my classes because of class meetings (in my 2nd and 4th hours I had less than 20% of the students actually in class).

Today I handed out notebooks and introduced the idea of an interactive notebook.  we taped a rules page on the back of the front cover and for those students who had already gotten their syllabii signed, that went there too.  We made the first page our "unit table of contents" and made 2 foldables for the 1st topic.

 Tomorrow I am planning on doing the Marshmallow Challenge. I figure it should be a good team building activity as I know our students generally find working in groups to be a challenge (some just coast, while others take over).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Applying my goal to an annoying question *Opening week activity*

I've got a number of goals for this next school year.  There's Interactive Student Notebooks (which administration has given the ok). Standards Based Grading (which the admin is less than fully supportive of) and pre-teaching.

I will devote a post at sometime to the process of pre-teaching I am considering.  This post is about how I want to use that idea to solve a problem which comes up at least 2-3 times a year in each of my classes.

"When will we ever use this?"

I have lots of responses for this question, this post is not about them.

Next week my students will arrive.  They are coming with baggage, many of them cripplingly so with regard to mathematics. They've struggled, OR WORSE YET, they've never had to struggle, to work, to imagine how to solve math questions.

Still, "when will we ever use this?"

Their newness to me is a benefit, believe it or not. Many of these students are, being high school aged, thinking of what they'd like to do as a career for the rest of their lives.  I'm thinking this might be one of my only chances to get an honest answer from them about what they might like to do.  I'll take it.

They're asking the right question, especially given the age they are.  Problem is, they're asking the wrong person.  Look at the pronoun.   "When will WE ever use this?"  This question should not, nah CANNOT be answered to the satisfaction of the student by the teacher.

So, I want to know what each of my students wants to do when they grow up, and then I want to use their answers to have them tell me, and the class when we'll ever use this.

I see the big pitfall already.  I won't need math to be a choreographer (told to me last year by a lovely young lady).  Or, I don't know what I want to be.  Well, each of my students will one day be a member of our society, preferably a productive one.  (That's the part which is up to us)

I'm going to collect this data.  I want to sit on it for at least a month.  I want to know the students better, and I want them to know me better before we discuss this little project.

Then I'll wait for someone to ask that magic question. "When will we ever use this."   I'm glad you asked.


I want a research paper.  How does HIGH SCHOOL leveled mathematics appear in the job you wish to one day hold?   No high school leveled math involve in your chosen career?  (Very unlikely) then I have a list of math topics which affect many adults, just in being citizens and residents of our modern civilization

Voting, demographics, borrowing money, lending money, taxes, population, accelerating in relation to cars, decelerating in relation to airplanes/boats, lunar cycles, average climate (temperature, rainfall), triangulation, etc...

Can't find an appropriate topic, the pick one at random from my hat.

How is this pre-teaching?  Seems to me any time I get students reflecting and/or predicting (and doing more work than I am) them I'm doing something right.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dan and Desmos present: Penny Circle!

Big THANK YOU to Dan Meyer and Team Desmos for their latest creation.  If you haven't seen it, here it is: Penny Circle.

Dan and Eli Luberoff shared what they had created, invited math teachers (and others) to play with it and, here's my favorite part, to make suggestions of other ideas which could be developed.

This is incredible, a tipping point on some level.  Up until now most online curriculum has been created, sometimes without teachers being involved in the material, and offered up to teachers looking for resources.  The idea that we might want/need/expect a hand in creating materials for our own classes would have been a nigh impossibility just a few years ago (given the large numbers of teachers and the limited number of curriculum publishers)  The discussion in education has focused for a while now on engaging students, well I want to be engaged too!!

Ok, maybe its because I'm in such a sequences mood, but I have an idea for a game/activity relating to this topic.  Remember the game Galaga?  (if not, play it).  In this game, an armada of invading ships was coming and it was your job to defend the planet.  Imagine if the ships were being released from a number strip and it was your job to predict where the next ship would be released from.  As I imagine it, ships would continue to generate (and you couldn't attack the invaders) until you managed to destroy a spawning ship from the next number in the sequence.  Different modes with progressively harder to predict sequences could be made and points could be scored (what's a space shooter game without points and bragging rights?)

Imagine walking through the lunch room and seeing kids trying over and over to beat their friend's high score, learning and practicing sequences all the while.

Finally something in the lunch room besides the chicken surprise to bring a tear to my eye.

It could happen....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sequence and Series group lesson

I've got this idea for a sequence lesson.

I see it as a group assignment.  I want to give the students 2 terms of a sequence and have them identify a sequence which could contain those two terms.  I figure that if I given only two terms, that a number of different sequences could be made using those terms.

I've never made a Prezi before, but I did work on one for this lesson. It is still a work in progress. (I am hoping for feedback on the lesson, not the Prezi)  sequence prezi

The groups will all be given the same starting information (in case you didn't look at the Prezi).  I will be giving them:

My thought is that the groups can either look at this as 5 cents and 20 cents, or they can see 1 thing and 4 things.  I want the groups to each come up with a different sequence.  Once each group comes up with their sequence they need to write the first 4 terms and a rule to get those terms on the board.  As each group adds their terms and rules, that particular sequence becomes off limits to the other groups.

Next I want the groups to figure out if their sequence would end up including the term $5.00 or not.

I can see lots of different options for a third term, giving each group a different sequence of numbers and rules.  I want different groups to view the given information differently.  I don't want the final challenge to influence the kind of sequence they choose.

ok, thoughts?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sorry to Drexel University

I have heard that Drexel University has copy written "I notice......I wonder....."

My problem comes from knowing that my students will see "I notice" as less than Drexel U. is anticipating. My modification will seem insignificant, a matter of semantics but I know that for my students it should make a significant difference.

To me the questions should be:". I SEE......I NOTICE.....I WONDER..."

First off threes seem more complete than two's. (at least to me and Blind Melon they do) 

Next, I know that if I don't separate "see" from "notice" the students won't either.   To see means to observe with the eyes.  To notice implies the brain being involved in the observation.   I want my student's brains involved before the wonder portion.

I don't want my students simply giving me visual observations before posing questions about the situation being offered to them.  I want them thinking, and preferably thinking deeply about their questions.   Our brains need to warm up before asking truly valuable questions.  Getting the brain working from concrete to abstract is a natural and valuable progression.  Without this progression I am afraid that my students will not delve deeply enough into the problems which I am giving them.

How do I see this playing out in the classroom?

Me:  Take a look at this:{1, 4, 9, 16...}  What do you See?

Multiple students:  I see a group of numbers.  I see a set of numbers.  I see 4 numbers.

Me:  What do you notice?

Multiple Students:  positive numbers.  +3, +5, +7.  Squares

Me:  What do you wonder?

and so on.

Of course, perhaps I'm just looking for a reason to use the previously linked song in my classroom/blog. (Note to Drexel University...there's a copy write thing at the bottom of my blog

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thank you, Park City Mathematics Institute

I was blown away following the Park City Math Institute online from twitter this year. I knew about the Park City curriculum, but wasn't aware the summer institute existed.  I found it fun, and the little comments in the margin really made me feel like someone was cheering me on.   Kudos to you guys and I'm soooo jealous of the ppl who were actually there.   (Any t-shirts still available?  I'll pay!!)

I'm looking at teaching algebra 2 and statistics and I want to thank you, because you got me thinking as to how I will challenge my kids.  Probability is not my first unit, it's actually supposed to be second, but I think it will be third this year.   I need a little more time to get my students to want to know things.   I'm trying to consider what kinds of questions I can ask before starting a topic. (see the previous posting about pre-teaching)  I want my kids ripping probability situations apart, in more than 1 way before I teach it.

I can't assume prior knowledge in inner-city students, especially in the suburbs of Detroit.   I need to put it in there.  I need to introduce low entry probability questions to use as warm-ups.  The pre-teaching has two effects, it gets the kids used to thinking about probabilities and it gives me the chance to see how they are looking at those ideas.  I really like the train problems from 2007 (day 5) as it is a real low entry question, which can be scaled up to allow me to use the idea a couple times.  Also the paper ripping problems (day 1), for the same reasons.    Also, from 2007 (day 4)  I want the kids playing with the finding the area of a staircase problem.

There are a bunch of other great questions in there.  I have starred about 5-6 of them, from the 2007 set I've mentioned and from this year's set (also on probability).   Those I want to save for when I'm actually in the probability unit.

If you haven't looked through the Park City Mathematics Institute's materials, and if you are teaching high school leveled math, then you should be.  2001 - 2012 problem sets

EDIT:  Thank you to Cal Armstrong (@sig225) on twitter who gave me the link for this year's problem sets.  2013 problem sets

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I've been looking at how and what I teach for years now.  I make changes each and every year, hoping to find a couple new lessons which catch fire and keep the kids interested.  This next year will be no exception, and I'm sure neither will next, or the one after that or the 10 which follow those.  

I've been reviewing notes, articles and books this summer.  One idea I was pretty hot on last year (and sadly I will admit I'm not sure I did any better this past year than I had done previously) is SLOT, or Sustained Learning Over Time.  In fact I will admit that with the exception of while I was working on my required lessons for SIOP training (sorry I don't recall the words, suffice it to say it was all about teaching to English Language Learners or Students with limited English skills) I can't recall specifically writing lessons with SLOT in mind .  

SLOT is all about getting students to retain knowledge by causing them to practice those skills repeatedly over a longer period of time.  In fact according to SLOT you shouldn't assess a student on a given topic until they have had over 20 opportunities to practice that topic.  (which originally seemed impractical to me as I have many, many topics to cover in my 180 days and I can't start them all 20 days prior to wanting to asses them on that topic).

The concept seems sound, though.  

I have a plan for warm-up activities this next school year.  Some of the activities I plan on using are, and  (there are others).  It is the last of these that I am hoping to start off using pretty heavily.   I want my students to have looked at and thought about many, many linear, exponential and other patterns well before I get to sequences and series (my 3rd unit).  In fact, before I start that unit, I want my students to have been pre-taught the concept of sequences enough times that there should be little confusion once I start that unit.  

I have decided I don't do enough pre-teaching.  I know that I am more likely to be interested in a subject if I've already thought about it.  I know that pre-teaching in this way will help seed my students with prior knowledge and hopefully instill some curiosity about what else can be done with these topics.  

I'm not 100% sure how to pre-teach all the units I am required to teach, but I do have some ideas about a couple of them. should help with the sequences and series AND Exponential/Logarithmic units. should help with all the transformations to functions which pop-up in many of the units.  I also have a few activities I am planning on doing outside of their appropriate units so that the seeds of these other mathematical topics are planted well before I need them.  

Can I afford the time to pre-teach some of these topics?  I am hopeful that by doing the pre-teaching that the actual teaching of these topics will go easier and this will allow me to make up some time.  I know I'd rather use the math to interest them when it isn't being assessed to allow me to harvest that interest later when an assessment is looming.  


Sunday, July 28, 2013

SBG in a non-SBG world

My school uses PowerSchool and a grading scale which is required by the school board.  I have spoken to both the vice principal and department chair and they are interested in Standards Based Grading, but they also seem hesitant to allow a single member of a department to deviate significantly from what other members of the department teaching the same class are doing with regard to grading. I've been told that I can make changes within the approved structure, but I cannot just throw it away.

Currently grades in the math department are calculated by using the following system:
20% final exam
40% Tests (and these are common assessments, given by all members of the department teaching a particular class)
20% quizzes (there is some wiggle-room here as these assessments are not necessarily common assessments)
10% homework
10% teacher's discretion  (traditionally I've used this as a participation grade based upon warm-up compliance and general participation.)

The first 3 listed above are pretty much written in stone.  These are the ones I really cannot change.  With regard to the 40% test category, we already do give students the opportunity to reassess the complete test (which covers either half or full units).

The common assessment tests are how I will either show that my attempt to implement Standards Based Grading is having an effect or is not.  I like the fact that these assessments will require retention from my students, which I see is a possible pitfall of most SBG systems I've encountered.  I will need to take the "common assessments" we have created and cluster the questions in such a way that I can more easily evaluate student comprehension across the standards, but otherwise these tests will likely be the same as those given in other Algebra 2 classes in my school.  Reassessment will be Standards based rather than whole assessment based as the department currently does things.

I will be modifying quizzes to be standard (or skills) based so that I can more easily determine where a student would need to reassess.  This would allow me to reassess particular skills rather than reassess a complete quiz. Also, my students will be assessed more frequently than other students in Algebra 2.  Students who will need to reassess will not receive a percentage grade, instead they will get strategies for reassessment.  The 10% teacher discretion points will factor in here. 

I want to add an additional kind of quiz as well.  I want to implement what I am calling "Mastery Quizzes". These quizzes will be focused on skills from Algebra 1 (or previous semesters in Algebra 2) in which students should be computationally proficient.  For the first trimester the "mastery quizzes" will focus on solving equations (probably 2 of them) and working with exponents(most likely 1).  These quizzes will contain 10 questions, and students will have to perform at the 90-100% level in order to not have to reassess. In later trimesters these quizzes will include factoring, completing the square and other topics I have noticed that students struggle with when we reach later units (ie, rational expressions and conic sections).  My teacher discretion 10% will factor in here as well. 

Homework:  Here's my thoughts on homework.  I have basically been told homework needs to a component of my grade scale.  So, I am leaving it as 10% (department policy) but I am grading each homework assignment as 1 point (which means first trimester should include approximately 35 - 40 points here). Another component of this 10% will be the Interactive Student Notebook.  The ISN will be worth 100 points.  Lastly, any student getting Mastery level on any standard (skill) will receive full credit (whether completed or not) on the homework related to that standard (skill).  So, potentially it is possible for a student to receive full homework credit and not have completed a single homework assignment.  

What does this look like?  Good question.  Here's a snapshot of my changes:

20% Final Exam
40% Tests (with reassessment on any major standard which is below proficient)
10% Homework (ISN and homework as described above)
30% for quizzes:  Mastery Quizzes will only count toward the 10%.  Standard (skills) assessments will count towards the 20% (department mandated) and the 10% as well.

My original thought were to make the quizzes worth a total of 40% and tests 30%, but it was pointed out to me that if what I am doing works then the 10% shift really wouldn't greatly affect the grades.  Making such a shift, would potentially make comparing my scores with the scores of other classes teaching Algebra 2 difficult and such a shift would also require school board approval which might be difficult given that no one else has tried using such a grading system previously in my district.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Twitter Math Camp 2013

Ok, I didn't get to go.  Wish I could have, but it would have required more planning than I was able to pull off this year (and my wife had foot surgery 2 weeks ago and has been couch-ridden ever since).

I followed as best I could on twitter and by reading blogs, and now that it is over I can't wait to see what great kinds of collaboration have occurred and what kinds of ideas people have taken home with them.  If you haven't seen the program list then (look here).  Reading through this course list alone gave me ideas on ways to think about what I am trying to accomplish with my own students.  It has also given me a list of things which I really want to see someone, preferably both a presenter and a observer, post a blog regarding. 

I don't know much about GeoGebra, I've heard of it but that is about it.  Looks like something I might want to learn more about.  As I'm looking to use Interactive Notebooks, Megan Hayes-Golding's presentation would have been a great one.  I saw David Wees name in the listing after Megan's presentation, and then saw him on twitter. Next thing I knew I had spent 2.5 hours reading his blog.  Hedge, I'll drop and give you 20 if you share your presentation on your blog.

Even without being there I've been thinking, growing and planning.  There is a whole bunch of us out here who didn't get the opportunity to go, but in a way impossible a few short years ago we were participating. We're teaching during an era where things are changing at an incredible pace.  I'm not sure what changes will come to our profession in the next decade, I do know many of the people who will be helping to make and understand those changes

This post is dedicated to all the teachers who participated in Twitter Math Camp 2013, in person or from their own homes.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Make-Over Monday ~ Postage

Dan Meyer's Make-Over Monday task for this week is about an example of a piecewise function.  It relates to the cost of postage since 1995.  The original problem gives the students a table, labeled with years and cost in $ (presumably per ounce) to ship a letter to a domestic destination.  (I tried pasting the picture into the blog, but the scale was all here's a link instead)

I submitted a suggestion on twitter on how to improve this question.  First off by posing the question, without taking the fun of finding out the information from the students. I know that doing this would help avoid a pitfall my students seem to always fall into, how to deal with the independent variable. (should you look at 1995, 1999, 2001, 2002, etc OR should you consider years since 1995?)

Secondly, I suggested that the students could also look at how costs for postage have changed in other countries (Canada, the European Union, or its member-states).  Lastly, I suggested that the students could also look at how shipping costs using UPS and FedEx have changed in that same time-frame.

I think this question has another good extension which could be done.  Looking at how the postage costs have changed (since 1995) could be compared to either the inflation rate (another piecewise function) OR the costs of various different products (during that same timeframe).  The natural extension for each of these explorations would be to predict when the next price increase would occur, or how much that next increase would be.  

Of course, the best case scenario would be if you could introduce the original problem (but not how the original problem was given) to the students and if they were able to come up with the extension activities out of their own curiosity on their own. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sequences and Series Unit

For me, the sequence and series unit is the third unit we will cover this year in Algebra 2.  I like this unit, because ideally students should be pretty comfortable with linear and exponential equations already (from Algebra 1).  Because of this, my assumption last year was that I didn't need to spend much time reviewing explicit (or as I called them, "function"-al equations).  This was a mistake, I figured out after the unit was done. I'm making changes to prevent the mistake and timing of figuring it out.  

As I am going to be trying to create and use an interactive notebook system with the students in Algebra 2 this year, I figured it would be nice to create a set of cards which I could use with this unit.  My thoughts progressed and as of now I am planning on using 3 different sets of cards, one of which is a set I made for Algebra 1 + 2 last year that only includes graphs. 

One of the other sets will be one in which tables and equations are to be sorted by whether they are linear, exponential or other.  In this way I can get the students looking at 3 of the different representations linear and exponential equations can have. 

The last set includes finite and infinite sequences.  There are 40 cards and most of them are arithmatic or geometric sequences.  (I debated including some non-arithmatic, non-geometric sequences and decided that an other category is a good thing because it allows me to more easily differentiate the instruction for students who need a challenge).  I figure this same set of cards can be used for series as well as sequences, with 2 dice used to identify the upper and lower values for summation. 

I haven't actually written the interactive notebook pages to go along with these card activities, though I do have an idea about what they will likely look like.  I am hoping to get to those pages sometime in the next 2 weeks, though.

sequence and series cards

Feel free to look at them, criticize them, use them.  If you have suggestions, please let me know.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How do they know how to do something we never show them...

Random thought...actually I was reading a blog on someone who I wish I knew better's site. Research in Practice - Ben Blum-Smith   If you've not seen it, take a look.  Just come back here when you're done.


I've seen some D. Ball videos.  I was forced to watch the same one 4-5 times and the little kids are cute, but they're not high school students.  My kids are a little more, um, real.  I've taught from 5th grade right through 12th.  Elementary school kids are much easier, molded.  (I sometimes wonder why I moved up)  She's still a master.

I live in Michigan, and though D. Ball is at Michigan State I still think she rocks, but my wife doesn't (really, just on general principle.  If you lived in Mi you'd understand)

I'm calling this the "Case for Co-teaching" 

Its so frustrating being the only person, in most classes, asking the questions.  Lets face it, at times we're like chess masters playing high-school neophytes.  I hate this.  I've once, in the past 5 years, had a student really surprise me, mathematically.  If only we did a better job modelling having a good mathematical discussion, then maybe they would know what one looks like (and how much fun it can be).

Our choices are to model this behavior in some way... Or, hope that mathematical discussions will just spontaneously begin and allow us to be witnesses of it.  (or you can become known as the weird math teacher with all the puppets and strange voices..)

I've done the "special-ed" co-teaching thing.  Generally with a teacher who is also teaching history and another math class as well.  I love the Special Education Dept at my school, so let me get that out into the open and honestly had I done things differently then I'd be one of them as well.  That being said, they are either stretched too thin,  pulled from the class or honestly ill-prepared and sadly the kids get an opinion about them that unfortunately is true.

I want a teacher, someone who the kids know is in the classroom to come by and visit.  I want 5, maybe 10 minutes of their time.  Just to come by and have a mathematical discussion.  It doesn't need to be scripted out, the visiting teacher would get to choose the topic (and would pre-warn me...seriously, if I've got to talk about the economic theories of Malthus or something I want a little notice).  I want to model a mathematical discussion.  I want the students to see two people work their way through a problem involving mathematics.  Imaging me coming to your class (for sake of argument, my part in any movies will be played by Johnny Depp as he is the teacher I most often get told I look like) and asking you to help me with proving Heron's formula the week before you start teaching proofs to Geometry students. (I promise I won't try and make you change all the "s"'s to "arrrrrrghs".)

I've contemplated the idea of doing this virtually.  Timezone issues make this problematic, though not necessarily too bad as I live in the Eastern Standard Zone.  For teachers in the West, sorry it is not fair. (math teachers will get that, probably no one else).  It does require two teachers willing to follow the same general curriculum timeline (hello CCSS... you've given us the same topics lets see what we do with it). Although in all honesty, it really doesn't.   Better yet imagine Skyping with my class; as students in my class help you introduce Logarithms.  In this way we first model the discussion, then we show students having the discussion with a teacher and perhaps, finally our kids could discuss mathematics with each other. Either IRL or virtually.

Liebster Award

Wow, I got an email saying I was nominated for the Liebster award (actually, now in my comments I have been twice nominated).

So what does this mean?  Well, first of all it means somebody out there is reading!!  Secondly, it means my next blog post is all about the requirements of this award.  Seems there are a bunch of questions and I have to go out and nominate a few blogs to receive the award as well.

The "Rules" to Accept the Award: 
    Link back to the blog that nominated me 
    Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers 
    Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator 
    Share 11 random facts about yourself  
    Create 11 questions for your nominees   
    Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them 

Lessons With Coffee (Jameson Michelle) questions: 
1.     What made you start writing a blog?
I've been reading blogs now for about 9 months.  Last year the MTBoS had a challenge for new bloggers.  I was hoping for one for this year and basically harassed Sam Shah one evening on twitter about when it would be and he challenged me to blog 3x a week for the summer.   
2.     What song do you most listen to when you are in need of a pick-me-up?
Lately I would have to say Get Lucky by Daft Punk
3.     Can you name a movie adaptation that was better than the book?
No, I cannot
4.     What children’s book describes the meaning of life best in your eyes? OR What book (children or adult) changed your life and why? 
I've always read so much and pieces of lots of books have helped shape my perspective.  There's a mnemonic device in Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse involving 5 lines which I frequently find my mind returning to when I am stuck on a problem that has probably influenced me as much as anything.
5.     What obscure pieces of trivia are you most impressed with yourself for knowing?
That there are 8 letters which can act as vowels in the English Language.
6.     What are you thinking about doing for Open House this year?  
Stations.  Having parents do an activity like their kids are doing and getting as many of them signed up on the grade program as possible in one of the stations
7.     What are you thinking about doing for first day of school this year?
I just blogged about this one.  Feel free to go back up and read my last blog posting.
8.     If you had to pick another career what would it be?
Ombudsman.  Plant propagator.  Own my own restaurant.  
9.     Who is your celebrity crush?
Christina Ricci (but not from Casper, like from Sleepy Hollow) Though I would totally like Nicholas Cage to play me in a movie.(not that he looks like me)   My Math Crush is of course Fawn Nguyen
10.  What is your favorite thing about your mate or best friend?
She's very supportive.
11.  What is one piece of advice you would give a new teacher?
Find your own voice.  Each day should be used as an opportunity to challenge your students and yourself. 

 Radical Robin's Questions: (from Flip Learn Share)
1. What was your favorite subject in high school/college?
    In High School, my favorite class was Humanities. In college, it was Geometry (which is odd because I didn't like it at all in high school)

2. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
     In winter it is visiting my family in Florida. In summer it is Little Compton, Rhode Island.

3. What is your favorite book/movie or play?
    There are so many books:  The Bible, Kafka's The Trial, On a Pale Horse, the Joy of Mathematics Series, too many to continue

4.  Why did you become a teacher?
June, July, August.  Just kidding.  I had a math teacher in high school who came in one day and said "I've not gotten this far in the book in too many years. I've forgotten how to do these problems.  We'll work out the first 20 and whomever gets the most correct gets to teach for the next 3 weeks" Lastly, I had a son young and the notion of being able to have a job which allowed me to be with him as much as I could was extremely appealing for a non-custodial father.

5. Do you follow your textbook from start to finish?
Heck, no.  In fact the kids complain that I make them bring it from time to time because I so infrequently actually use it for other than homework.

6. What is your favorite teaching resource?
how about top 3:  projector (sorry I remember chalk all too well), my Algeblocks and my gridded whiteboards

7. What is/was your favorite lesson to teach?
I've got a few.  I do one on scientific notation which is filled with really crude humor and its a lesson in which I have 100% of students on task the entire time, we laugh almost the whole period and scores are always very good on the assessment. (But I would never do it with witnesses present)  I do another one called "Is Mr. Hills Normal" relating to the distribution of heights and its another good one.  I'm short and according to the math I end up within 1 standard deviation of the mean (Normal) every year! (at least when the whole class is included)

8.  What kind of music do you like?
Everything.  Name a style and I'll name 2-3 groups/artists I like.  

9. What is the funniest joke you know?
I'm telling you, that Scientific notation lesson keeps 34 of us laughing and fooling around for 70+ minutes.  That's the funniest thing I can think of.  

10.  How did you choose the title of your blog?
I wanted something for my twitter handle that combined my teaching and gardening interests.  I kept the same name for my blog.

11. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Somewhere where I could have 4 seasons, enough land to garden to my heart's content, a stream where I could fish.  Close enough to civilization that a trip into town doesn't feel tedious.  Far enough that I cannot see my neighbors. 

My 11 questions:  
1.  Is there anything you wish you could teach, but don't get the chance to?
2.  Did any teachers when you were in school particularly challenge you, and how did they do it?
3.  Do you worry about continued employment from year to year?
4.  What do you think is the greatest impediment to people becoming or staying teachers?
5.  If you could have your own child in one of the bloggers who you follow's class next year, who would it be?
6.  If you could take your class next year on a field trip, where would you take them and why?
7.  If you're in the middle of a lesson which is bombing, what do you do?
8.  In the past year, approximately how many hours of (real life) professional development have you done?  approx. how many hours of virtual PD?
9.  Are you a member of the national association relating to your subject matter (ie, NCTM)? If so, why. It not, why not?
10.  What is the opinion of your co-workers (about you and what you do) in your department at school?
11.  If you were made superintendent of your district for a day what would you change about how things are currently done?

11 Random facts about me:
1.  I'm short.  5' 5.5"  
2.  I'm the oldest math teacher in my department at school and you'd never know it.
3.  I've taught Science, History, Math, Grammar, Literature, Business and Sunday School.
4. Some people have gambling or drinking problems, I have a gardening problem.
5. I have a poem I recite before each quiz, test or final.  The kids expect it and "remind" me when they think I've forgotten it.
6.  I have 4 kids, an almost 20 year old boy, a 9 year old boy and 2 new children a 13 year old girl and a 10 year old girl.
7.  I cook well, well enough that I've been told I make the best grilled cheese in the world. (and honestly that's not the extent of my ability, I swear).
8.  I cannot eat cheese.
9.  My desk is always messy...  but I know where everything is
10. I never get as much one on one time with students as I would like.
11. I love it when ex-students come back to visit

Blogs I'm nominating: (in no particular order)
1.  Kathryn at Restructuring Algebra
   This Kathryn is a friend on twitter and she is giving a great perspective with regard to trying to apply CCSS standards to Algebra 1)

2.  Kathryn at i is a number
    This Kathryn is a new find for me, but I am very impressed with her energy and perspective on INB/ISN's

3.  Andrew at Social Studies and More
    Andrew is brand-new at blogging, but I follow him on twitter and he is well worth following)

4.  Druin at Stat Teacher Blogspot
    I really should know her real name, but @druinok is her Twitter handle.  this one undoubtedly breaks the rule regarding less than 200 followers, but she definitely deserves a mention!

5.  Jessica at Algebrainiac
        Generous with her creations, been doing SBG for a while, down to earth and easy to talk to.  Well worth a look!!

6.  Amy at Teach Reflect Repeat
    I love the fans!  I really have got to find a way to use these in my INB/ISN this next year!