I am still so catching the teachable moments. I am happy and annoyed that the CCSS chatter won't shut up in my head every minute of my teaching day. I know I can do better. I need to get the procedural stuff down too. I have to be patient.

I did get to have this moment with my Algebra 2 students:

We first did a Frayer Model for Linear Functions in our INB's. It looked like this:

Then I stopped and said, "prove to yourself, your neighbor, and me that xy =12 is not a linear function." (At the end of the day, I got looser and said, choose any one of the Non-Linears). OMG, it was so interesting! Granted this is only their 4th day of Alg 2 AND I thought they just had a year of Geometry with proofs and stuff. Proofs and Viable Arguments are clearly two completely different animals!

I loved that the students were engaged and active. I gave one person in the groups of four a whiteboard pen and spread them around the available whiteboard space (and two large whiteboards in the middle of the room). Guess what, NOT A SINGLE GROUP in one of my classes tried to show the function wasn't linear by graphing!


The word "formula" made me cringe, and they got it!

I thought their last argument went nicely with the one above.

These guys got stuck so I fed them a possible argument

I commended the students on what was good, I teased them (am I allowed to that?) about their lack of plotting points and looking at the graphs of the functions (when do the students understand the relationship between x, f(x) and a graph), I loved looking at their faces and "getting" what an argument means. I also loved KNOWING that the students were seeing that this was the math that connected to the rest of their academic life.

Happy Three Day Weekend Everyone!

Any thoughts, suggestions, concerns, next steps would be greatly appreciated.
My first day bell ringer for Algebra 2 came from Fawn Nyugen's lovely site, http://www.visualpatterns.org/:

(Her's looks WAY more professional):
I gave the students quiet time. Then opened the conversation to the entire class:

I was a bit flummoxed when no table emerged at first. It was both WONDERFUL and odd that NO ONE after the first block class (the next 2 classes) made a table. The part I liked about the conversation was this:

Ss: I notice that the perimeter grows by 6 each time.

T: So you mean after the first term you get + 6 and then the next one you +6 again?

Ss: Yeah

T: How do you say that with your big girl/big boy pants on? I mean, if we want that to happen on every nth term?

Ss: Times Six

T: So if we said 6n, what does the "n" represent

Ss: The nth day, I mean the nth position

T: But does that work?

Ss: No! you have to add two for the ends that don't get shared.

T: So which of the various answers are now reasonable to eliminate? How can we test the answers that left ?

Blah, blah.

MTBoS, please let me know if I could have done a better job with the generalization of this pattern. What parts were good? I was completely unsure of how to end this lovely conversation. Suggestions? 

We are out here rocking the Blogosphere!

Just because I am teaching Advanced Algebra this year, doesn't mean I am going ignore my MS peeps. Love you Guys/Gals!

Linking up with Julie Reulbach for Sunday Funday Goals and Changes for the 2013-2014 School Year. (Check out the Sunday Funday last week for Ice Breakers)

So if I am saying this in public, then I am committed, right? Right!

  • 100% Engagement--my expectations from students--what this means for me is that I am so prepared, so into providing interesting, Goldilocks Challenging problems, that the students are that focused on math.
  • 100% Safe--We provide a safe environment for students to make mistakes, think aloud, and take risks.  
  • 100% Prepared for Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Statistics and mathematics beyond High School--rocking the common core state standards and keeping the growth mindset flourishing.
  • Including more useful technology--make sure my students have experiences that prepare them for taking the CCSS online. 
I think that is plenty. Keep me to these goals please. 

I am linking up with Carol at Real and irrational who is inviting High School Teachers to add to her First Day Activities for High School Math Teachers. ( This is really kicking my butt to remember all the years! I have notes in my planners like: Card Sort...and guess what? I have moved rooms so many times and packed up so many times, I have no idea what that means)

Here goes:  (90 minute block)


Finding your seat. I put students is groups of 4. As the students enter, they get an index card with an equation to solve or expression to reduce. Sometimes the number is related to trivia: The number of children Ms. Z has (2) , or silly, like what a golfer yells before he hits the ball. There are 8 sets, the students have to find their table and take one of the seats. It always a good idea for them to figure out if they are in the correct place with each other. The difficulty of the card relates to the subject.


Students get the mindset straight away "This is a math class and we do mathy things, even on the first day."


Students find a "mathography"
survey at their table that they can begin filling out.  Also, there are very bright card stock "calling cards, " that have my email and the class website on the front and a supply list on the back.


We all need time to find the classroom, I need to take role, I want the students to know right away that I care about who they are,  and I don't want to overwhelm the students on the first day with a big 'ol long syllabus with a bunch of dense language making their heads spin. They need to get the essentials right away.


Uncommon Commonalities:

The students make 2 concentric circles on a piece of paper. Then quarter the rings. First they write their names in each section and something unique about them. Then in the center they have to figure out something they all have in common. (No age, grade, where they live...gotta dig deeper!) We then go around the room and introduce ourselves. (I have the eldest be the speaker, the youngest be the scribe)


It is important for the students to get to know each other and I use this activity for my first seating chart.


Ignite speech. First time for this. Running with Andrew Stadel.


Why are we here? I notice and I wonder. Setting the tone of collaboration and grit, self-determination and growth mindset.


I have done many math tasks, depending on what I am teaching.

For Algebra I start with 4 fours. Students need to number their papers 0 -10. They must use exactly 4 fours and any operations to achieve the values from 0 to 10. I have them work silently at first, then in pairs, then in whole table groups. We do a whip at the end.

For Geometry and Advanced Algebra I have started with CPM's: Yarns.
Basically the students get a length of yarn per table. They then must build a square, a 5-pointed star, a square based pyramid, etc...

For Pre-Calculus we start right away with family of functions. Tell me everything you know.


Working together, working on math tasks, students get a feel for what assumed knowledge I am expecting.

Changed Actions for this fall because I am smarter and wiser and taking Jo Boaler's How to Learn Maths Class, a Stanford supported MOOC.:

Instead of the above Action, I am starting both Geometry and Advanced Algebra with a number talk. (See Jo's Class for this).


We all have something to bring to the table. Math study is fluid, not static.

Advanced Algebra Action:

I will use Math Munch's notion of Fraud from the Park City Mathematics Institute with flipping coins and cryptography.


Multiple entry points, and where's big kid panties at the same time.

Geometry Action:

I will be stealing, finding/using something from the CCSS or MTBoS

Have a great opening day and best wishes for a growth year! 

(Come back for links to my ignite speech slides, my mathography blank, and uncommon commonalities blank)