If you are not learning from the experience, you are starting from the beginning every time.

This title became obvious to me this past week as I listened to my student discussions. I did an activity with my Algebra 1 classes where groups of three students had to make a 4 by 4 with playing cards, so that the all rows and columns add to 25. When that was accomplished, I asked them to now make all rows and columns add to 31 (if they completed that, I had them go to a 5 by 5, sums to 31). Many groups just put down cards and forced it to work. Some groups thought it through and started with a pattern. Before they attempted the sum of 31, I asked how they got 25 and could they use what they learned to get 31. I suggested they look for patterns. Again, some groups just started over. Most of the groups replaced one card at a time until they got it to work. One group discussed for a long time and JUST REPLACED A DIAGONAL to complete the sum of 31 by increasing each card in the diagonal by 6 (WOW). This would not work if the diagonal were larger card values, but they originally started by putting tens on the edges. GREAT DISCUSSIONS!

After the activity we debriefed and I explained that I was more interested in their discussions and the approaches they took. We finished the class by talking about “Growth Mindset” vs “Fixed Mindset” people. This will really lend itself to the mathematical practices discussion later.

In my Honors Algebra 2 classes I started with a 5 by 5 getting a sum of 31. The number of groups that started with a pattern was much larger and the discussions were much richer. I then asked them to think about increasing the sum to 35, but without actually doing it. This got better thought and discussions than if they just did it. AWESOME ACTIVITY.

sum 31 cards 1 sum 31 cards 3 sum 31 cards 2

Next up…VRG and VNPSs….I explained to my classes that I had way too much whiteboard space for me and I would need their help filling them with math next week.

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At this point in my life I know these things.

  • I need to use VRG (Visual Random Grouping)!
  • I need to do more VNPS (Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces) and encourage students to take pictures of their VNPS work.
  • I want to do some kind of Standards Based Grading this year.
  • Students don’t care about comments, if there is a grade on the paper.
    • I need to grade less and comment more.
  • I need to use Desmos Activity Builder!
  • I need to do some kind of student journaling in my classroom. I would like to do it electronically!
  • I want to do some kind of “What have we learned at the end of most class periods” (I would like to do this electronically).
  • Day 1 needs to be an activity, not me reading rules!
  • I need to have my students put photos in Padlet as an assignment. (ie: find an example of a parabola in nature and post a picture.)

“Find out what you love, and do more of that” @Trianglemancsd #tmc15

“Bad teaching is not knowing that what you’re doing can be better.” @fawnpnguyen #tmc15

The Answer is TMC and Desmos.

The question is: What made you start a Blog?

I attended the most amazing professional development last week. I traveled over 1200 miles to attend the 2015 Twitter Math Camp. Wait for it…TWITTER MATH CAMP? Here is the background: A little over a year ago I started to follow some of the most amazing people on twitter. One of the events that really got my interest was TMC 2014. I decided then that I would be at the next Twitter Math Camp. I since survived TMC15! I was one of the introverts that was pushed out of our comfort zone (which we need). I did avoid the late night shenanigans (maybe next year). YEA TMC16 Minneapolis, MN.

And then there was Desmos! I have been one of the biggest fans of Desmos since I first discovered it. While at TMC I spent six hours working on Desmos with four great facilitators. I thought I was proficient with Desmos before, but found out there was much more to learn. And then, Eli Luberoff (Desmos CEO) showed up and introduced us to the Desmos Activity Builder (that was actually released one week later).

Back to the question…At TMC there was a push to blog or start your own blog. I didn’t feel like I had enough to say on a regular basis, and that may still be unproven. But, as I worked for a long time mentally unpacking what I brought home from TMC, I decided I needed a place to organize my thoughts. I think I made an obvious discovery, blogs aren’t always to tell other people stuff, as much as to tell yourself stuff.

So there, I am putting myself out there, but mainly to organize the stuff in my head. Just because TMC15 and Desmos both continue to blow my mind.