Prezis for Day 2

One of my many faults as a teacher is that I forget to give students the roadmap to where we are going.  I am good at connecting what we are doing now to what we learned before and building on prior knowledge and I completely have a roadmap in my head- I just need to share it with them.

Day one I am doing fun getting to know you/ data collection activities with them… but I am working on Prezi roadmaps for my “What is this course about and what are the classroom expectations” portion of day 2.

Looking for feedback!

For my Numeracy course, which I am considering calling “Number Theory” in an effort to make it sound fancy and like a separate course instead of a support course.  The classroom norms come from JoBoaler’s Week of Inspirational Math and I love how this Prezi template looks like her You Cubed logo!

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For my AP Statistics course.  This language is stuffy and from the AP Central website- need to make it student friendly- the course I teach is way more dynamic and fun than this sounds- promise!  Just need to make the Prezi more reflective of my practice.  I do love the template of this Prezi- looks like a Normal Curve!

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Twitter Favorites

I was on a massive road trip this summer and since my husband loves to drive I spent loads of time leisurely perusing Twitter.  I have spent the last few hours going back to my “to do” list that I made via favoriting the tweets.

Lots of inspiration to start the school year right!

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Mental Math from MTBoS

Here are some of the “mental math” activities that I used with my Numeracy students last year, which I will refer to as a “Warm Up” in the year to come.  Students would engage in this work individually after they responded to the exit ticket reflection prompt.  We would then discuss the “mental math” activity as a whole class, which then would lead into the “lesson launch.”

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I tried to have the skills developed in the “mental math” activity be ones that would be helpful to them during their group work.  The one pictured below was used as a precursor to a lesson about how their GPA is calculated.








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Thank you visual patterns!


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Thank you estimation 180!  *Apparently there is a month “44”  April Fools?

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Thank you Transition to Algebra!


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Thank you Steve Wyborney!

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I forget who posted the one above and I was super nervous about the 14-year-olds hating on it- but they LOVED IT!

Do Now Prompts

Students come back to school in five days. And that’s a day after teachers report for the year.

This is my 10th first day of school and I still have a “How will I combat first period lateness” crisis. If anyone has any ideas- I am open.

I am making a commitment RIGHT NOW to blogging more. Blogging will serve as my co teacher, my student teacher. For the first two years of teaching, I was in the ninth grade initiative where the 300 students had either myself or Danielle and we would talk through and plan everything together every afternoon. Then, we would have phone calls every night and a pow wow every morning in the copy center. The next two years I taught Geometry with Erica. Again, we planned and debriefed and scoped and sequenced every day. E-mails late at night and early in the morning and on the weekends.


Then, for four years I was a mentor in the UTR/MASTER program through New Visions and Hunter. Being a mentor was the best MENTORING I ever received. The four young women (May, Megha, Sonia, and Evelyn) who I had the privilege to work with were strong and inquisitive and pushed me to re-examine all of my “ways.” When they asked me why I did something a certain way, I would try to articulate why it made sense to me- but what I found was that some of my practices didn’t make sense to me and I had just never thought about them. They opened my eyes to new methods and ways of organizing both the content and the classroom materials.

Last year, I didn’t have an official mentee. I was teaching classes that no one else was (Statistics and Numeracy) and found myself bouncing around from one idea to the next without taking time to reflect on what was working and why was I doing what I was doing. This was especially true in my ninth grade Numeracy course where I struggled to balance skill development and engagement. I found a good stride in February through the use of Interactive Notebooks. I really liked how it organized the flow of the class (both for the students and for myself) and love that since I kept one updated myself, that I have a scrapbook of the last third of last year.

Each day, I would end class with an individual exit ticket to serve as a check in of the skill we had been working on. Then, I would give them feedback on those- asking them to push their thinking further either because I had identified a misconception or because I wanted to push their thinking further.

I would put these exit tickets in their folders and when they came in the room each day they were prompted to gather their folder and notebook, take out the exit ticket from the day before and write in their notebooks using the prompts:

“I am good at _______”

“I need to work on ______”

Here I am now looking for… begging for new prompts!

My goal is to have students look, really LOOK at and interact with the exit ticket from the day before and my written feedback (I don’t give checks/check plusses or a numerical scale) and reflect on the last day’s lesson so that they are primed for that day’s work, which I planned as I myself reflected on the work they did on the exit tickets.

Many students wrote the same sentences daily for their do now, something to the effect of, “I am good at adding. I need to work on finishing my work.” This year, whatever the prompt is, if I want them to LOOK at the exit ticket, I must make that more explicit.

Here is an example: “I answered it all.  I need to write neater.”

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Another issue is that they struggled with the vocabulary to describe what they were “good” at and what they needed to work on, so the beginning of class became a vocabulary review time where they would describe what they were good at and ask me to name it- but that led to opportunities for a class discussion and vocabulary review session- which was cool with me.

Even though this prompt was not getting the results I waned, I stuck with it because I was focusing more on their feedback on the exit tickets than their responses to the feedback- I need to close the feedback LOOP.

One thing I loved and will keep with my exit ticket routine was a self-evaluation of meeting classroom norms for the day.  I LOVED how this student said they had brought a pencil, realized that they had borrowed one, and then erased their circle.

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In conclusion:

I am good at looking at exit tickets on a daily basis and giving them daily feedback.

I need to work on finding ways to make the feedback I give them meaningful and finding evidence of them making meaning of the feedback.

In future posts- I will also include the student exit tickets that correspond to their prompt responses.  They were put in paper recycling last spring.

Mental Math

In my ninth grade Numeracy course, I have been following the Transition to Algebra curriculum while supplementing with other resources and ideas.

One of the tenants of this curriculum is to begin each day with 5 minutes of Mental Mathematics.  For each unit, there are generally 13 Mental Math activities suggested in the back of the teacher unit materials that “help students build working memory so  that they can keep multiple pieces of mathematical information at once.”

In their guide, they suggest that the Mental Math activities be carried out verbally and in unison.  I recently went to a TTA PD at New Visions and asked the facilitator why they promote verbal call and response rather than written.  I explained that when I tried this in my classroom, I felt that my 24 students started falling into a heiarchy of verbal mental math where about 6 of them (1/4) were regularly participating.  She suggested that I use wait time, which I had, and also explained that their intention was for students to learn from one another and that the teacher should adapt to where the students are, on a whole, getting stuck and retrace their steps back to that place so that more students can participate.

An example of an activity would be “Adding 9.”  The first step in the Mental Math activity this day is to add 10, where the teacher would say “23” and the students, in unison, would say “33.”  Then, step 2 is to is to bridge to Adding 9- “Adding 9 is adding 1 less than adding 10.”  So the teacher would say “25” and the students, in unison, would say “34.”

My modification has been a verbal call and response launch to the activity (today with guest speaker Jason)

And then a written worksheet that they work on independently:

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I circulate as they work and if a student seems “stuck” or is continuously making an error, I will re-engage them by repeating the strategy from the video and doing a mini verbal mental math with them.

In order to have been programmed for my Numeracy course, the students must have scored a 1 or a 2 on the 7th and 8th grade New York State math assessments (out of 4 points) and have traditionally struggled with math.  I want my room to be a place where they can feel successful at math and struggled to balance that with the verbal Mental Math practices, where the 18 students who were not verbally engaged felt “less than” the 6 who were.  I also do not want my classroom to be a place where the students who are “quicker” at mental math are “better.”  That said, I want to find ways other than call and response to use verbal mental math in my classroom.

I am interested in incorporating Number Talks and Counting Circles and Number Strings into our mental math rotation this semester.  What I like about the Counting Circles is that there is a pattern and a way for the students to “ready” themselves compared to the Mental Math call and response.

Engaging for whom?

I am recommitting to keeping a blog  in order to reflect on instructional strategies that I am implementing in my classroom.

I want to use this space to keep track of my own initiatives.   I find myself getting excited by approaches and prompts that I find on Twiter or Pinterest and believe that by adding them into my classroom rotation, that I am increasing student engagement and giving more of my students access to the mathematics since I am presenting it in a new way.  But I worry that it is I who is engaged by the new strategies- as this is my 10th year of teaching and I use what is NEW to keep me excited.  But I also want to know what WORKS with my specific students-

  • What initiatives/strategies are working for them and which are working for me and which are working for both?
  • Are the strategies I am using engaging them in learning for a deeper understanding or simply engaging them with better classroom management results?

Here are a few of the initiatives that I would like to track on this blog:

Transition to Algebra Curriculum- brought to you by the good people at EDC- I use this with my 24 ninth graders in a class called “numeracy”- it is a support class that intends to bridge them towards algebra).  I specifically want to track the time I spend each day doing “mental math” exercises and reflecting on how to show students their growth in this area.

Google Classroom– I use this with my AP Statistics class to assign internet based assignments, such as watching YouTube videos of me “going over” the week’s problem set and asking them to reflect on the feedback I put on their paper or having them watch “Against All Odds” Statistics Videos which otherwise spend most of the class period “buffering” with my school’s internet

– Standards Based Grading- I use it in both Numeracy and AP Statistics.  I find tracking their growth informative and continuously surprising, but I worry that they are not reaching the level self awareness that I had in mind

– Interactive Notebooks–  TTA, Google Classroom, and SBG are already daily parts of my planning.  As we enter our coordinate geometry unit in Numeracy, I would like to dabble in making use of these foldable graphic organizers for notes and examples and will track my trials/successes/blunders on this site

Building a Deeper Understanding (formerly known as test prep)

I am home from NCTM full of ideas and classroom practices I would like to put into place when classes start up again next Wednesday, but I am also looking at the calendar and realizing that AP and Regents Exams are soon upon us (me and my students).  I have been teaching for 9 years and still struggle to find a balance between meeting my students where they are at and preparing them for high stakes assessments.  This spring, I am teaching both AP Statistics and Algebra2/Trigonometry.  As exams go, they are both what I would call “icing on the cake” exams- it would be great for the students to pass them- they could earn college credit for Statistics and the Trig exam is the gatekeeper to the advanced regents diploma and access to PreCalc, AP Calc, or AP Stats- but my students need neither for graduation.

Before spring break, my AP students were officially “done”with being exposed to new content- but my feeling is that THIS is when the learning is solidified- when we can go back through the curriculum and weave the units together.  AP Statistics is the best course I have ever taught because, unlike the disjointed laundry list of topics tested by the New York Board of Regents, the APStats test consists of four interconnected strands:

1.  Exploring Data

2.  Sampling and Experimentation

3.  Anticipating Patterns (Probability and Simulation)

4.  Statistical Inference

On my blog, I am going to post about the ways in which I push my students to go back in time and travel through the curriculum to make these connections and solidify their understanding so that their exam on May 9th becomes an opportunity to communicate what they know instead of having the questions make them realize what they do not know.  In the weeks to come- I want them to engage in a whole class journey where the students, at all times, know what they know, know what they do not understand, and know how to help one another change what they do not understand into something that they do.

I will be using some of the methods that I learned recently from Rhonda Bondie’s AL-ED Mini-Course  at a Math for America.

Once the AP Statistics exam is done, it will be time to use what I learned there in order to start to review the Algebra2/Trig curriculum in my other classes.