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 :]


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 🙂


cleaning day–digital edition

It’s possibly I use cleaning to avoid other work, but we’re not going to get into that right now. This is about information flow.

On a whim I pulled open my spam folder in gmail today and found a bunch of emails that shouldn’t be there. Nothing critical, but still. I also found some subscriptions I had forgotten about (and clearly didn’t miss), so I unsubscribed from several of them. Anything after this paragraph is me rambling. The takeaway for this post should be: check your spam folders regularly for things you might not want to miss.

Information is a curious thing. There is so much out there and it’s easy to get sucked into reading thing after thing after thing until you’re 20 clicks deep in wikipedia trying to understand the history of miners and worker’s rights in Turkey.

And everything has a bias. It’s the sensational stuff that makes the top headlines. I’ve been reading too many things lately that just break my heart from Syria refugees to kidnappings to rampant privilege and sexism. When I worked with students every day, these stories didn’t hit me as hard because each day I was confronted with evidence the world has good people in it who want to do well and make things better. Working from home that is not as much true.

But I still get to read blogs from you all who are doing cool things and working to help your students become the people they want to be. So thank you to all the bloggers out there for helping me stay optimistic. The little paintings of your worlds mean a lot to this stranger.

post-edit: bonus! Today’s xkcd sums up nicely how I feel about all the information sliding across my screen this past week.


Thinking about folding

Ever want to give each kid in a class a piece of patty paper and have them measure out a line of length l somewhere on it and then tell them that’s the hypotenuse of a right triangle and then ask them to drawn in that right triangle (but it has to fit on the paper they have)? Then take all the papers and line up all the l‘s?

Because I do. Though I’d probably also throw in that isosceles right triangles are boring and that I expect more interesting angles from them.

These are the semi-random musings that interrupt my reading. Bonus points for anyone that has a class do this and send me pictures  [:


in which I learn a new term

I find that the ability to remember names of things is not a forte of mine. I’m reading an article from Mathematics Teacher on The Circle Approach to Trigonometry and got to a section where they kept using the word ‘subtended’ and for the life of me I was not picking up what that meant in context (“an angle measure of 1 radian implies that the angle is subtended by an arc 1/(2pi) of a circle’s circumference.”) and I couldn’t pull up a definition from the ol’ memory banks. My brain is a bit slow after a day of reading all the things, so thank goodness for wikipedia and it’s graphics.

The other fun term in this article I think I’ve seen before but never really dug into was covariational relationships. Google search popped up a study from 2002 that defines covariational reasoning as “the cognitive activities involved in coordinating two varying quantities while attending to the ways in which they change in relation to each other.” (p354, Carson, M., et al, Applying Covariational Reasoning, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 2002). I like this term a lot as I think it describes the type of reasoning that is very challenging for mathematics students as they are confronted with more and more types of functions.