Good Things: Year 7. Week 1.

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I love the first week of school, but I’ll be honest, I love a few weeks down the road more -when I know my students, they know me, and we’re in a routine.

I think that’s why many of my good things from this past week of school (my first week for the year) came from students I had last year.  It felt like we picked up right where we left off.


A student walked in and excitedly asked, “How was your Desmos thing?!”

I overheard another student, “She got a new sign.” as she pointed to the wall.

I was sharing a bit about myself and had a picture of my cousin’s daughters up because I spend quite a bit of time with them.  Another student asked, “Which one is the ABC girl?”  (Last year I shared with them a video of the youngest singing the ABCs.)

All of that happened in the first 10 minutes.

And later when I was going through Name Tents, a different student asked if my cousin’s daughter ever learned out how to “stop the ABCs” (She would get to the end and sing, “now I know my abc….defg…” and it was an infinite loop.)

My heart was full.  We didn’t just learn math together last year in my room.  We learned about each other and what’s important to us outside of school, and we asked each other about those things.

And it gave me hope and reminded me that I’ll get there with my other classes too.

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When I was introducing my favorite first week problem (thanks Fawn!), I asked them what they thought I would tell them after they solved it, and a chorus of students enthusiastically said, “Try to find another way to solve it!”  It was almost as if I had told them to say that and they rehearsed.  It was music to my ears.

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And when I tried to interrupt them seconds after giving them the problem because I forgot to give part of the directions, I couldn’t because they were already too into the problem.

I didn’t even care that they didn’t stop to listen.

*****

The day after we started that problem a student pulled these out while her group was working on it.  I was maybe a little bit too excited about this.  I immediately wanted to have enough of them so that we could “act” out the entire problem.

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*****

Name tents.

Middle schoolers really know how to make you feel good the first week of school.

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100 Numbers Activity.

I think this will forever be one of my favorites.  And every year I laugh when the students I’ve had for the second time are shocked that I was taking pictures while they were working -they knew I did it when I had them the first time!

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Set.

I LOVE using Set the first week with my 6th graders to introduce them to some of my routines.  I start by doing a notice/wonder with it.  Then I had students do a Stand and Talk and had students talk about what they noticed.

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Then later in the week, once students understand how to play Set, I pull out all my decks, put students in groups, and have them play.  This is also the perfect way to revisit what we talked about on day 1 when it comes to group work in math.

 

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*****

My week ended with a student coming in my room after school on Friday with the problem we had been working on all week.  It was not assigned, yet she so badly wanted to figure it out that she was working on it outside of class.  ♥

What a perfect way to end the week and start my weekend!

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Desktop Wallpaper Organizer

A few years ago, I spent way. too. much. time creating a desktop background for my school computer.  I Googled “How to create a desktop background” and learned about aspect ratio and then learned how to save it as a pdf so that I saw the whole picture and not just a small part of it (file > print > save as pdf and then I’d have to click Page Setup and make sure that Wallpaper was selected as the paper size).  I remember saving the pdf and making it my desktop background only to find that part of it got cut off on my screen.  Then I’d save it again to find out that the boxes I had for the different categories didn’t line up with where the folders would snap into the grid on the desktop.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I repeated that process.  It took FOREVER.

However in the end, I was happy with the outcome.

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Watercolor background found here.

As soon as I finished, I wished I had written down or wrote a post about the steps I took so I could remember it for the next time.  I had every intention of doing that this year.  Then I realized I could just pull up the one I had made, change the background picture, fonts, and color of the boxes and call it good!  Yep, that’s definitely what I did.

As I shared in this post, I’ve heard Annie F. Downs talk about Savor This on her podcast and also watched her Instastory where she talked about it.  After watching that, I knew that was my next background for my computer.

This is what I came up with.

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Flower background found here.

So while I don’t have a tutorial for you of how to create this, I can share the files I’ve made for these.  I don’t know if they’ll work on your screen or not, and I probably can’t tell you how to make one for yourself if it doesn’t work.  However, feel free to reach out if you’re trying to make one, and I can try to help!

Here are the files for both.

Savor This

A friend introduced me to Annie F. Downs this past year, and I *very* quickly turned into a fan.  Binge listen to her podcast? Check.  Follow her on all the places?  Check.  Buy her books?  Check.  Read her books?  Check.

She’s SO great!

As I’ve listened to her podcast (That Sounds Fun), I’ve heard her talk about “savor this”.  When I heard her talk about it on Instagram, I knew that I wanted needed this somewhere in my classroom this year to remind me of it throughout the year.  Below is what she said in her Instastory.

“I try to rush through every single thing I do, and I want to move on to the next thing and I don’t like living like that.  So for the last year and a half I’ve been saying to myself, thanks to Jenn, I want to savor everything.  I want to be right in the middle of where I am and really appreciate it, even if it’s heartbreak, even if it’s hard.  If it’s awesome, I want to be right in the middle of it.”

I heard that and immediately thought of me in my classroom.

How many times toward the end of a class period am I already thinking ahead to the next one?  How many times do I catch myself wishing it were the 3:30 (or the weekend, or Christmas break, or summer)?  How many times do I just want to get through *that class* because I know/think the rest of my day will be better after that? How many times do I wish I was done with the current concept so we could move on to one of my favorites?  How many times do I miss out on something amazing going on in my classroom because I’m too busy thinking ahead to the next thing? 

This happens a lot more often than I’m willing to admit.

So that is my goal for this upcoming school year not only in my classroom but also in life.

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I want to be right in the middle of whatever is going on.  Not planning the next thing or worrying about anything and everything.  I want to savor and enjoy and be present with whatever is going on.

 

 

 

Student Marbleslides 2018-2019

For the past couple years (2016-2017 and 2017-2018) I’ve had students create their own Marbleslides.  Every year it is one of my favorite things I do with my students.  Here’s a few reasons why.

  • I get to see my students explore math.  Whether my students have 2 lines on their slide or 20, they are exploring and learning math!  Sometimes it’s easy for me to get more excited about the crazy graphs, but I try to remind myself that the “simple” graphs can require just as much exploration and thinking.  It’s all awesome!
  • I get to see my students’ creativity!  Every year I’m amazed at how creative my students are as they work on this.  They are creative in where they have the marbles fall from, in the “extra” lines they add to a graph to make it look more visually appealing, and their overall ideas for their Marbleslide challenge.  They amaze me!
  • I get to see my students persevere.  Because the students are the ones to come up with the ideas for their Marbleslides, they are SO persistent and are bound and determined to get it to work out how they want it.  It’s unbelievably fun to watch!
  • I get to see them celebrate over MATH! Because they were so persistent in making their idea come to life, they get SO excited to see “Success!” on their screen!  It’s not uncommon at all to hear screams of excitement or to have multiple students impatiently call me over to see what they just did.  I absolutely love it!

Here is a link to their creations this year!

Note that my students made these on Chromebook, so sometimes some won’t “work” on different size screens.  All of the slides are copied and pasted from my students’ work, titles and all.  I love how you can see students exploring non-linear equations (y=xx).  They hadn’t learned those yet.  We had covered linear equations and that was all.  Any domain and range restrictions were learned from doing other Desmos Marbleslides activities.  In some cases I made notes of where the marbles are dropping from so that you know it might take a while for it to work because you know if middle schoolers are able to have marbles fall from crazy coordinates like (1,1000) they will! 🙂

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Desmos Fellows Weekend

This past weekend I flew out to San Fransisco to the Desmos headquarters for their Desmos Fellowship Cohort 4 weekend.  I had the absolute privilege of learning alongside 40 other Cohort 4 fellows, 10 returning fellows, and several Desmos staff for the weekend.

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Imposter Syndrome was definitely a thing for me from the moment I got my acceptance email from Desmos.  I personally know and have met many people who had been accepted in prior cohorts and to now be included in that list with people such as Julie Reulbach, Sara Van Der Werf, Elizabeth Statmore, Jonathan Claydon, Mary Bourassa, and Sam Shah to name a few (and that doesn’t even include those who now work for Desmos) only adds to my Imposter Syndrome feelings.  Not only that, I could name a handful of other amazing educators who have applied and gotten a “not yet” email from Desmos.  Yet, I was selected to be part of this group?  I honestly thought I’d get an email saying, “Sorry, we made a mistake with our previous email.  Please apply again next year.”

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My feelings of Imposter Syndrome increased as we started communicating as a group of  Cohort 4 on Slack before our weekend.  I so appreciated what Stephanie shared with us, “I want to remind everyone. We hand selected each and every one of you. You are enough right where you are today.”  I did my best to go into the weekend with those words in mind.

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With that, here’s a recap of the weekend.


I got in early Friday morning and had some time to sightsee before things started at Desmos.  Ashley, Melissa, Chris, and I headed out in the streets of San Fransisco.  We ended up missing a few turns as we spent more time talking and getting to know each other than focusing on the map, but we eventually found our way to the cable cars and rode to Fisherman’s Warf.

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After that, we headed back to Desmos HQ for the “official” start of the Fellows weekend.

Friday

We started the weekend in our Home Groups -each returning fellow had a group of about 4 current fellows.  The returning fellow touched base with each of us prior to the weekend, and we met in this group for a short period of time each day.  My home group was led by Kathy and included Jamie, Louisa, Vickie, and me.

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Friday night the schedule was really focused on creating a comfortable space for the rest of the weekend.  Shelley talked about the norms for the weekend.

  • Stay strengths-based
  • Stay engaged
  • Embrace our growing edge
  • Attend to self-care throughout

We did introductions (which was somewhat intimidating with such a large group of amazing educators), Mary shared responses from a 20 questions Desmos activity we had completed.  I loved the activity itself and the way she complied the information as another way to get to know our group at the start of the weekend  (much of our group was introverted, reminding us all that calculus is something several of us hadn’t done much with in a while, as well as having us talk to someone next to us and discuss how we answered some questions).  We then had time to talk with different groups of people as we were able to select from a few different options they had set up for the night.  Going into the weekend, I had met a few of the other Cohort 4 fellows, returning fellows, and Desmos staff from TMC or other conferences.  I really tried to be intentional about meeting people I hadn’t met in real life already, but also giving myself time to have conversations and get to know people better that I had already met.

Takeaway:  Here’s what stood out to me Friday night.  Shelley let us know prior to starting that we didn’t need to bring our laptops.  We were at Desmos (an ed tech company), yet the first time we met as a whole group, technology wasn’t needed.

Our hotel was about a mile away from Desmos HQ, and I loved the opportunity to talk with other Fellows as we walked as well as the time to get some exercise and decompress after a day of learning.

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Saturday

Saturday started with Faith and Lisa sharing some of the principles Desmos uses when creating activities.  Lisa led us through Point Collector.  Nico and I worked through this activity together, and I enjoyed starting by using math that my 8th graders would know and then as we progressed we expanded by using other things that we ourselves hadn’t used in a while such as circles.

Takeaway:  I really enjoyed how Lisa made it clear to us while we were working on the activity that we didn’t HAVE to get to all the challenges.  We may try all of them, but maybe we just focused on one and that was ok.

So often in my own classroom I want students to complete everything. Lisa paced the activity in such a way that it wasn’t expected that everybody did everything.  They could have, but it wasn’t expected.  As Lisa used the Snapshot feature to share examples of our work, she focused on the creativity and not the ones that earned the most points.  I also liked how seeing others’ work encouraged me to think of ways that I could apply their strategy to another challenge.

Breakout Session 1 (Lauren and Christelle)

I went to Lauren and Christelle‘s session titled Turning the Diamond on Desmos.  If I’m being honest, I don’t know that I feel “qualified” to write about what I learned and what was discussed at this session as I’m still processing everything.  Please, give me grace here.  We started by talking about why we love Desmos (the tool -rather than Desmos the company) and how those reasons address Access, Achievement, Identity, and Power in our classrooms.  Lauren and Christelle challenged us how to think about how to be more intentional about addressing identity and power in our classrooms.

One of the quotes/questions they shared that stood out to me is, “Do I get to be a better me, or do I have to become you?” in regards to students in our classrooms.

“Do no harm.” is one of Desmos’s principles, and they brought up something I’ve been thinking about following their presentation, “Do anti-harm.”

Takeaway:  Lauren talked about how this work isn’t only for teachers who teach in racially diverse classrooms, but it’s also important for teachers who teach students of the dominant culture as they work to educate those students on these things.

Desmos Design Process (Jenny and Zack)

Jenny and Zack talked about and walked us through part of the process (Crazy 8’s and Storyboarding) Desmos goes through when creating activities.

Takeaway:  I would like to try using both Crazy 8’s and Storyboarding when creating an activity this year.

Keynote (Eli)

Eli talked to us during lunch, and it’s always fun to hear from him, the founder of Desmos.

Takeaway:  I appreciate how Eli is upfront about the fact that he dislikes technology and dislikes ed tech even more.

Worktime

Then we were given work time to collaborate with others on a project or idea.  I worked with Nicole, Vickie, and Ranesha on a distributive property activity using algebra tiles.

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Trivia

We ended the day with Desmos trivia and then walked to the food trucks for supper.  I’ll admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to trivia, but it was SO fun.  It was also fun to have a few other former Fellows join us as well as other MTBoS friends (Elizabeth and Howie).

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Sunday

Graphing Calculator (Christopher and Michael)

Christopher and Michael did a session on the graphing calculator where Michael led us through his activity Charge!, and Christopher had us think and talk about that activity as a learner, teacher, and leader.

Takeaway:  There is an activity builder for this activity, yet Michael chose not to use it.  How often do I try to make an “activity” out of something where the Desmos calculator might be a better option and lead to more creativity for students?

Breakout Session 2 (Martin)

I went to Martin‘s session titled CPA CL Skills (Copy, Paste, Adjust Computation Layer Skills).  It had been a while since I’d worked with CL, and it was a good refresher.  I would really like to continue working with and learning how to use CL better.

Worktime/Shareouts

We had time to continue working on the project we started the day before and then shared what we all had started working on.

The Imposter Syndrome started to creep back in as I saw (and continue to see in Slack and on Twitter) all of the amazing things others created.

Goals

We had one last opportunity to connect with others as we talked about our takeaways and goals after our weekend together.


In some ways the weekend was everything I expected and more, and in other ways it was so different than what I anticipated.  Other than simply giving a recap of what happened, it’s hard to put into words the entire experience.  It was truly amazing.

I related to so much of what Brett wrote in his reflection in this post, “I’m amazed at how little time I spent in the Desmos environment.  When I applied, I expected to learn all kinds of new things about Desmos, spend time coding in CL, building and critiquing activities builders, but my experience was far more transformative than that.”

I didn’t use my computer charger once all weekend.  Going into the weekend, I anticipated that much of the weekend would be spend being explicitly taught how to do certain things in the Desmos calculator, in CL, or in activity builder.  None of that happened.  Instead, learning in Desmos was organic -when we were working in Point Collector and needed/wanted to do something or when we overheard another group try something new.  Read Jennifer‘s post for more of these.

A huge focus of the weekend was spending time building relationships and connecting with the people there -relationships that will continue online long after our time in San Fransisco.  If this experience parallels other experiences I’ve had with MTBoS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere) friends, I believe that our online communication will be stronger now and more online learning will take place because of the relationships that were strengthened during our time in San Fransisco.

And I am so excited to see that learning that take place!


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the whole group

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Some of the Desmos staff (top left – Michael Fenton,  top right – Shelley Carranza, bottom left – Eli Luberoff, bottom right – Dan Meyer

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Old Friends (clockwise starting in the top left – Lisa Bejarano, Sean Sweeney, Jay Chow, Jennifer Williams and Jennifer White, Mary Bourassa, Joel Bezaire)

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New Friends (Clockwise starting in the top left – Mark Kreie, Nicole Madrigal, Larissa Peru and Stephanie Blair, Joce Dagenais)

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More New Friends (top – Shira Helft and Ashley Goetz; bottom from left – Lauren Baucom, Melissa Paletta, Kathy Henderson)

 

 

More Awesome Stuff from the MTBoS in 2018-2019

I shared in this post some of my favorite Tweets from the 2018-2019 school year.  All of those Tweets are ideas of things I could use in my classroom in one way or another.  However, there are so many other amazing Tweets from this past year that don’t necessarily fit in that category.  These are Tweets that remind me why I love hanging out on Twitter for a bit after a long day.  Tweets that remind me that these are my people.  I love seeing random, funny snippets from other people’s classrooms.  I love seeing an awesome Desmos graph someone or someone’s student created.  I love seeing a conversation someone had with their own kids involving math.  I love seeing an amazing mathy thing someone found and took a picture of to share.  I also love knowing that Twitter is a space where I can share those things and that these people will get it.  So enjoy more awesomeness from the MTBoS community from the past year.  And thank you MTBoS for sharing.  Please, don’t ever stop.