Posted: May 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today, we celebrated our retiring teachers after school.  While listening to their introductions, I realized all 7 had individually spent 30+ years in our township/high school.  One teacher talked about missing the teachers eating together in the teachers’ lounge.  Early in their careers they had a principal that made it “mandatory” for teachers to eat together.  They were a tight group… a family as many of them refer to their colleagues.  We teach in a culture where the majority of us have only 30 minutes with which we eat at our desks grading papers and writing lesson plans.  There isn’t time to collaborate with each other, let alone eat lunch together.  That is, or we don’t make time!  So how do we get back to the “good ole” days when we had time to care about each other as much as we care about our students?


A1 Mini Projects

Posted: May 4, 2014 in Uncategorized



I am a little late to the party… the MTBOS 30 day challenge that is.  But I am going to try to join the fun.  Thanks to Julie for the motivation.   

On my mind today:  Algebra 1 Mini Projects

This week my A1 Enrichment students take the ECA (state test) then we have 2 and half weeks until the final exam.  That leaves me about a week and half of two periods a day to fill.  We have hit all but one chapter of required material so I will start there and I know I will end with Bungee Barbie.  My students loved it last year so, I will again use Barbie for the Final Exam in the afternoon section.  So what to do with the morning classes?  I think I will lean on Dan Meyer‘s 3-act lessons.  I have been reading a lot about teachers using Mathalicious so I might allow for choice for my students.  The classes are small enough that I could allow different level groups work on different problems.  Now I have one week to figure it all out.  What does everyone do to keep students engaged during the last month of school?


State testing on my mind

Posted: May 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

So you want to be a teacher… so do I.

Next week, the ECA will hit the desks of my redshirt freshman.  We spent the last 9 months learning the new Algebra 1 material.  What makes this a different experience than all the other A1 classes in my building, is that we do more than just A1 material.  We spend a lot of time digging into their past math experiences and trying to fill in the holes left from a lack of comprehension.  I look at acuity data, differentiate new material, use the Aleks program to help remediate, and even reteach when needed.

I have worked harder this year than I have ever thought was possible.  I spent more time reading about methods of teaching math than I did grading or sleeping.  We have tried Interactive student notebooks, foldables, notes with examples, video tutorials, computer games, whiteboards, differentiated instruction, modified “standard based grading”…. do I need to go on?

Whether my students pass or not next week… I know we have been successful this year.  My students have been successful, and I have data to prove it.  I don’t need a score on a state standardized test.  I have seen them grow over the past 9 months and I  know what they can do and what they still need to work on in order to reach mastery.

So next week when the booklet of problems that the state dictates my students should have mastered is opened in front of my redshirt freshman anxious and scared eyes; I already know the results.  I have done some of the best teaching of my career.  I have gotten students to be engaged on a daily basis.  I have gotten kids to learn the math they hadn’t in previous years.  I have even gotten students who on day 1 hated math to smile on the way in the classroom.  I have been a teacher.


How I used Desmos to move up the levels of SAMR:

The ANCIENT method is to use graph paper to get a visual representation of a function.  I used to use this method to teach the skill of graphing lines in Algebra 1.  I typically do not spend too much time in my Algebra 2 class using the paper and pencil method because the goal is to understand how the transformation form (vertex form) changes the parent function.  Using paper and pencil is so time consuming and I really struggle to wait for students to use it (especially when they all love to use rulers)

Graph paper


Substitution is to use a TI graphing calculator to speed up the process of graphing functions instead of using a paper graph.  I can remember being a senior in high school and having my pre-calculus teacher required us to purchase a graphing calculator.  I think it was the TI-82 and the students knew more than the teachers.  It was the first time we got our hands on technology in the classroom and it actually changed how I viewed my math classes.  We require Algebra 2 students to have one but with the implementation of chromebooks TI might become obsolete in our classrooms with the accessibility of free online competitors.

TI calculator

Augmentation is to use Desmos to increase the ability to graph multiple functions at the same time (addition of color as well).  Desmos blows the TI out of the water when it comes to so many functions.  Multiple graphs, accessibility, easier saving, printing, sliders, function forms (doesn’t have to be y=),  etc.  TI has a better battery life than my laptop but that is about all I could come up with.

desmos quadratic

Modification is to create a “picture” using multiple functions with domain/range restrictions.  My students loved this project.  We had great conversations about domain and range restrictions and limitations of functions.  I know how uncreative the paper and pencil project would have ended up.  My students weren’t afraid to try different functions and could quickly restrict the parameters without fear of “wasting time’ or paper.  It also opened my eyes to the power of Desmos and I have never turned back.

Desmos cat

Redefinition is to have a student create graph(s) and have another student try to recreate by writing the functions or using Desmos to graph the exact same picture.  Also, Daily Desmos does this on a daily basis from easy to complicated so it would apply to every level of student.

Daily desmos beginnerDaily desmos advanced




Web Tools 2.0

Posted: April 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Some of my “new” favorite Web Tools:

Symbaloo – perfect homepage that allows me to visually see and quickly organize my links.


Canvas – better than Moodle, better than My Big Campus, can not wait to get this implemented with my classes.

Remind101 – Just in case I forget to remind my students about a due date or reminder to meet in the computer lab.


Shmoop – Need a resource for an upcoming unit/lesson?



Posted: January 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

CIESCTLC = Central Indiana Educational Service Center Technology Leadership Certificate

I was lucky enough to be chosen by my principal to attend 4+ day “workshop” with a few of my colleagues.  Not knowing what to exactly expect; today surpassed my imagination.  It was a fast paced and enlightening day of learning about technology in the classroom.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“I just herd cats”

“Technology is not going to make a bad teacher good”

“Never knew twitter could be so educational”

“Google docs also makes printing obsolete when teachers can share assignments and grade online”

“Broken doors, broken dreams, broken school, broken kids”



MTBoS week 1

Posted: October 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

Week 1 challenge is to blog on one of two topics (favorite open-ended/rich problem or what makes your classroom distinct).

I believe that there are a few characteristics that make my classroom distinct, so I choose the “easier” writing prompt.  I have already blogged about my NO HOMEWORK philosophy.  Students are not requesting to “transfer” into my class because of it, but I truly believe in the philosophy.

Students want to be in my class for one reason: my ability to help students make the necessary connections that lead to student learning.  I believe in connections as much as I believe in no homework.  Both are at the very foundation of my teaching philosophy.  Learning occurs because of the connections made between the student and the material.  I look for connections to previous knowledge.  I look for connections to make the material relevant to the student.  I look for connections to future concepts.  Yet, the most important connection that I spend the most energy and effort looking for is creating a personal connection between myself and my students.  I am the teacher I am because of these connections.  I connect with students because I have a sense of humor.  I connect because I care.  I connect with students because I am passionate and persistent.  I connect because I strive for mastery from myself and from my students.  How do I show this?  I celebrate the small success, I go to their extracurricular activities, I ask about their weekend, I listen to their jokes (and I even tell my corny ones too), I notice when they seem down, I notice when they seem excited, I notice when they are tired, I notice, I notice, I notice.

Teaching is so much more than the math we teach.  Students want people to care about them.  Students want to connect with others.  I am not the only teacher who cares, but it does make my classroom distinct.