First Days—
Click on Image to see what #SundayFunday is all about


This year may be different because our HS has adopted CPM Integrated curriculum. CPM does a lot of upfront team building, which is what I naturally do. I hope I will have time to play around with my beloved openers and try some new ones from #talklessam.

I start by having my students make a name tent. This year I will use something like mathequalslove.blogspot.com, with room for feedback and questions on the inside. I like name tents because I use them for random grouping, learn student names, and giving the students an opportunity to express themselves. I usually ask them for birth order, and favorite something. I found this slide from last year:

I saw that I used the Right Hand Side for a Bell Ringer that was a visual pattern and I used the Left Hand Side for an Exit Ticket that was to answer: I notice…I Wonder…Some questions I am considering are "One thing you want me to know about you," " What is making you happy this week?" and "Tell me something I don't know, it could be about you or about the world at large." (Taken from Dinner Party Download Podcast)

After Name Tents and Warm Up, in Geometry, we start with WODB. (Which One Doesn’t Belong?) I get the students used to Upper Left, Lower Left, Upper Right and Lower Right by doing my version of Lines and Blobs, but only use the Blobs. I name the corners by preferred genres of movies, more likely to be (ie playing  a video, at the beach, texting, etc) Have students notice who is in the pod, so that they know who their peeps may be. (I also use these pods to make the next days seating charts!) I talk to the kids in the Blobs, ask them why they are there, I also poke around for folks to speak up when I ask if anyone is willing to share why they are there. Here are some of my favorite WODB to start with:
and



The 2nd day, I use an icebreaker I used in a “My Favorite” at Twitter Math Camp in 2016 . Check out the power point here. Basically from asking a group of 4 students to come up with a single favorite movie, book, and game, you gather a list of how group work gets done. It isn’t always the ideal; time constraints, loudest gets the voice, yet it is totally real. And then you get talking points. What is ideal? What does bullying feel like? How would you most like to get group work done?

Speaking of talking points, I want my students doing more talking and me doing way less, so I am going to try to set that culture up early. I will have the students do a silent response, a talking point, explained here best by Elisabeth @cheesemonkeysf, and a delve into this article, The Myth of "I am Bad Math," that is super revealing when you have the students first respond to the question about their beliefs and then let them read the article and observe if there has been a shift. 

What do you do that sets the norms in your classroom?






I attended my 3rd TMC (Twitter Math Camp) this summer in Atlanta. I must thank Sam Shah for blogging all those years ago when I discovered the TMC, then #MTBoS and was encouraged to start blogging in 2012.

Every year there is magic in the air, and this year, from the TMC 2012 founders to the 2017 first timers, it seemed everyone had a magic wand. It turns out that very early on we made inclusivity our theme and equity our unifying passion. It was wonderful, political, and complicated.

There is no particular order to this list of goodness, just a bunch of random thoughts and one or two regrets, as I left before the wonderment of the Sunday morning session. If you are lonely in your math world, please consider joining #MTBoS and venture out to Twitter Math Camp in Cleveland the summer of 2018. The folks you will meet, will become, like they have for me, my allies, mentors, colleagues and friends.

First, I wrote all my notes for this post using my purple pen from the Math Forum. Thanks, I love it.

I must thank Holy Innocentes School for their hospitality. From the bus driving director to the receptionist who liked my corduroy jumper. The folks and thoughtfulness of the building design complimented MTBoS perfectly.

The AtlantaCenter for Civil and Human Rights is a must see. Within minutes, I met my 19 year old’s future husband, the amazing young man at the information desk; articulate, smart, kind (okay, and handsome). The powerful images, (looked at the segregationist in their 3x3 matrix and they looked just.like.Trump’s cabinet—heart-sinking and disgusting), the interactive diner counter, the music, photos, artifacts, and world political freedom map were all intense, beautiful and pitiful, hopeful and cruel. My roommate and I Norma, happened upon one of two performances of The Collision Project, an original performance of 21 diverse, crazy talented high school students who work with an artistic director and a work of literary merit (This year, John Lewis’, graphic novel trilogy, March) to create a choreographed, musical, spoken word original work. For 70 minutes or so we were entranced, lifted up, and felt true hope.

TMC Takeaways:

James Cleveland’s watch. (And his energy and positivity)

Lisa and Jason Henry. Enough said.

#Talklessam, my morning session. Led by Chris and Mattie, the room was alive with the sound of well-facilitated openness, invitations to build a culture classroom of acceptance and productive debate. I am grateful to all the participants. Some highlights that show how easy it is to build in more student talk are using Ken-Ken puzzles to get students accustomed to My Claim is…My Warrant is… to using Estimation 180 to build definitive sides and let the claims roll. I also found out there is research against cold calling, take that Raul.

Universal talk of growth mindset and open invitations to take risks and #pushsend.


The explicit tone of social justice, opened up by Grace A. Chen’s keynote, “Math is necessarily political,” kept on our minds again and again, through open discussion, continued discussion, and our collective heavy sigh learning of the transgender ban in the military, renewing our efforts to be kind, warm, and inclusive.

Sam Shah’s favorite counter bell, for “math joy moments.” This is exactly what happens in my head when I listen to my favorite podcasts and my mind wonders out my mathy lens.

A special appreciation to first-times who stepped up to share a My Favorite or lead a session.

David Butler’s SQWIGLES for 1-1 tutoring.

Carl Oliver

Someone, not sure who, (please let me know) introduced the idea of “Graph of the Week,” to engage math as a vehicle for understanding.

I appreciate Graham Fletcher’s Friday’s keynote for the much appreciated humble humor and for the picture of an incredibly long Georgian worm that will gross my sister out. And thankful for his pearls, Always do a second problem for those who got the first wrong to redeem themselves, and “Vulnerability is the birthplace of professional development.” (Truly, this is why the MTBoS works the way it does.)

The willingness of folks to give up their lunch-time for more peer to peer time like the math and equity discussion sparked by Grace Chen and facilitated by Carl Oliver, (@carloliwitter) and for the Julie Reulbach ( I Speak Math) facilitated meeting of folks using CPM.

Definitely for the new folks I met, like Andrea who invited me to do the 5K fun run at Red Brick Brewery. Nothing like a fun run to understand where you are.

And for the catnaps I was able to sneak in on the chairs and benches of HIS.


That’s a wrap. If you have any questions about any of it, DM @zimmerdiamonds
Thirty years (yipes!) into this career, I know how I roll, and Lord knows, I am not perfect, I am not sure I am even an expert (though I chastise myself for not being one), and I can say with certainty, I am who I am.

Who am I as a teacher? Pretty much who I am as a human. Compassionate, maybe too much so for some students, Passionate, Geeky, Dorky, Kind, Interested, Introverted, and a tad prone to getting very animated (I prefer Hummingbird-like).

Inspired by  Hedge at http://approximatelynormalstats.blogspot.com/ I gave an end of the year exit survey to 4 of my five classes. (I forgot to give it on the first day of finals!) My goal was to see if I corroborate what my flaws are and to see if I what I thought was working was indeed working. And from that information, COULD I, was I WILLING to make changes.

On expectations that work for the students, the confirmation is nice (Nice as in, yes, it is nice to hear kind things about oneself and…), with some students touchingly articulate:

·            Everyone being loved
·            That we always had fun
·            Friendly classroom environment
·            Safe
·            I like that we had a planned schedule on what we would be doing

And these two beauties:
·            Just to be in class because we can get something out of every lesson
·            Classroom expectations are to be further dragged out of our cave by being Inspired and welcomed toward our own individual enlightenment. Next to math I learned about the world around more than I thought I would. As someone about to enter the crazy world as an adult I appreciated this very much.

And this major “ouch” in the classroom expectations that worked section:
·            N/A

On what expectation should I introduce or be more consistent about, I was not surprised by my weaknesses:
·            Yell at ur loud boys more
·            We should all be quiet and paying attention
·            I know it is hard, but she needs to be better at getting her kids to pay attention. She should be in complete control of her classroom

On these comments, I am not going to change much. I like loud. I think learning is social. I want students to feel like it is THEIR room. (I do not like teachers who think they "own" their room. It is a PUBLIC place for crying out loud. tax payers paid for it and most of its contents (if you are lucky)) I know some students like the quiet. They want to be filled up. Or maybe their life is chaotic and they come to school to quiet down.  What can I do to help those that feel unsafe? My first reaction is “thank goodness there are several us always teaching the same subject,” another reaction is from how I parent, “people are not the same, we need to be flexible and adaptable*,” and then I dig in, “you are not serving the needs of some teenagers, what are YOU going to do about it?”

*As I talk this out with other teachers and think about mentors, (whether veteran's like my AP, or new teachers that I supposedly mentor, but whom in reality become mirrors for me) I realize I would add another view that goes before "what is wrong with me as a public servant not meeting needs of clients" that is what CAN you learn from this teacher who is DIFFERENT? 

The other set of what expectations are desired and not felt are of these type:
·            More notes and explanations
·            Explain better
·            Slow down
and this one that is out of my comfort zone:

·            Explain the method to do a problem in more detail

More notes, explain better, the method, slow down...can I be more organized when I summarize, yes. I am a circular thinker. Works for some, but not for the concrete sequential learners. I am mindful of starting from where the students are at, AND I exist on trying to help students think broadly, think out of the box, move beyond their comfort zones, make meaning in their own way. How do I do both, explain, AND get students to think? I am darn determined to strike this balance. I will buck against "this is how you do it," for as long as I teach, because we have computers to do just do it. For me it is all about the "what" that needs to be done.

If you have any suggested reading, comments, or personal stories that can crack this code, I would be so grateful. Going for a bike ride now, time to strike a balance between getting it right and getting some fresh air.

Ach, this just in from my tweetdeck, I don't know who inspired the question, but thank you and I tweaked it for next year, "In what ways did this class help you see yourself as a math learner?"