In which a blog is recommended

There are a lot of blogs out there but one I actually email subscribe to is One Good Thing. If you don’t read this one, it’s teachers posting about one good thing that happened in their day. Some are big things but most are the small things that happen to make us remember why we teacher.

News is inherently biased toward the ugly and the depressing and the horrifying because that is what sells and generates clicks. This is also why I think sites like One Good Thing are critical for retaining sanity and a balanced outlook on life.

A post this morning from Mr. Dardy made me want to write a quick note to myself her as a reminder when I get back into the classroom. Specifically this bit:

She told me ‘I thought my job in a math class is to know what formulas to use and how to solve equations with them.’ I explained to her that this was certainly part of her job, but that success in a math class should involve more than that.

So, note to self: Sometime early in the year make sure to ask students what their job is in a math class and what qualities are needed to be successful. Use this to start conversations about growth mindset and what mathematics really is as early as possible and maintain those conversations throughout the year.

in which I ‘fold’ cubes with others

A while back I posted some dice ‘folding’ I did that was inspired by Eric Aberg. While I was working on it, the thought crossed my brain that it would be extra fun to do this with teachers at PCMI. I figured I could probably get a small group together some evening and have some fun.

picture of the group that showed up to fold cubes.

See? Just a small group for an evening of math art shenanigans. If you look closely you can spot @crstn85, @zaduma, and @matienda.

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A blog recommendation

Oh travel. How you mess up any attempt I make at routine.

Quick post as things are busy! I’ve been trying to learn more about elementary math as it feels like a gaping hole in my knowledge. I only learned the words partitive and quotitive about a year ago and now there is this thing called subitizing and with the number of niblings now in my life I have a compelling interest in elementary math ed beyond pure intellectual curiosity.

To that end, my recommended reading of the day is Nicora Placa over at Bridging the Gap. She posted about number bonds today, which is a topic that’s come up a few times in the last month for me so it was pleasing to further my understanding.

Back to work with me. I’m resting my head in 5 different places over the next two weeks and have PD to finish prepping :]


travel season

Late spring/early summer are busiest for me with respect to travel. Since the start of the year, the only trip I’ve taken is to NCTM, but that changes this Wednesday when I fly out to Boise, ID for a conference where I get to work with middle school teachers on ccssm stuff. After that it’s to Washington state (Walla Walla, Seattle) to see friends and family then to Honolulu, HI for a 2 day PD I’m running then back to home for less than 24 hours before heading to DC for a conference for 2 days then home for 4 days before heading to PCMI in Park City, Utah for 4 weeks. Inhale. There is another trip at the end of July to Chicago for the NCTM HS Interactive Institute, but that’s after being home for 1.5 weeks, so it’s not as attached to this 7ish week jaunt.

I am very much looking forward to all the teachers I get to meet on these travels. There are so many cool things happening in classrooms all over and I feel privileged to get little windows into so many places.

If you’re in one of my destinations, hit me up on twitter as tweet ups are wonderful :]



foothold situation

I’m reading 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematical Discussion and ran across the term foothold. Now, I watch a fair amount of sci-fi so this typically means alien possession within an organization to me so I did have a moment of confusion. That’s definitely not how it’s meant here.

While laying out the case for good task selection as a way to promote equity in the classroom, on p19 Smith & Stein note that

“Once a student has a foothold on solving the task, the teacher is then positioned to ask questions to assess what the student understands about the relationship in the task and to advance students beyond the starting point.”

I really like the term foothold used this way. “Will this task allow all my students to gain a foothold?” Isn’t that a nice question to ask as you plan out tasks for your kids?



What’s on your walls?

There was a lot of artwork in my classroom. Origami everywhere, as you might expect, but also a large poster by Alex Ross of the Justice League, decals of transformers (including a 3 foot Optimus Prime behind my desk), video game posters, photos from my backpacking trips, space posters by Greg Martin, Escher prints.

My challenge to those still working on #MTBoS30 (and everyone with a blog, really), is to post some of your favorite classroom decorations that you either have or want to have.

These posters from Zen Pencils are on my want list :)


fun with folding dice

I posted the video below on my facebook back in March when I made it and as I ponder topics for #MTBoS30 I thought I would post it here as well.

Inspired by Erik Aberg’s Ghostcube video, I ordered some reject casino dice and went to town with them and some packing tape (after discovering scotch tap is useless with sharp-edged dice). I highly recommend giving it a go if you want a fun project.