Math = Love

Monday, September 28, 2020

Monday Must Reads: Volume 66

It's Monday! For my school, that means it's a distance learning drill day. We are face-to-face Tuesday through Friday. Each Monday, we have a distance learning day to practice learning digitally in case we need to pivot to full-time distance learning. I don't know how those of you who are teaching virtually everyday are doing it. After six google meets in the span of three hours, I am exhausted. So kudos to those of you doing this everyday. I am in awe of you. You are amazing. 

I should really be planning lessons for the rest of this week, but I decided to take a bit of a break to scroll through my twitter favorites from the last twoish weeks. I hope you enjoy this new volume of Monday Must Reads. It's my weekly-ish attempt at capturing the amazing ideas shared by mostly math teachers with a few inspiring science teachers thrown in as well. I hope you find an idea worth using or adapting for your own classroom. 




I've really enjoyed scrolling through Shannon Fusina's twitter feed and seeing how she is modifying her chemistry classes for distance learning. I think we could all learn something from her and her creativity! 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MsFusinaChem/status/1247242932949848064


Image Source: https://twitter.com/MsFusinaChem/status/1309223883166421010


Image Source: https://twitter.com/MsFusinaChem/status/1310567201091522564

Julia Anker shares a Desmos Activity Builder that takes a look at real life IRS data. 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/AnkerMath/status/1309910539368239104

Tierney Kennedy shares a great math puzzle posted on LinkedIn of all places! 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/kennedy_tierney/status/1309620053847941120

Fawn Nguyen shares a best practice when working with students and visual patterns. 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/fawnpnguyen/status/1309174182668832769

Looking for a self-checking activity? Look no further than Farica Erwin's AMAZING Digital Sum Em Up Template! 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Nerd_QED/status/1307120985649426432

Mark Kaercher shows how to incorporate @1to9puzzle into Desmos. Brilliant! 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/shskaercher/status/1306939505946038275

Miss Bohr shares a fun getting-to-know you activity. This could still be fun a few weeks into the school year! 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MissBohr_Math/status/1295420587985317893

Check out this great way to check in with students and provide extra help from Jessica Keen

Image Source: https://twitter.com/jjkeen42/status/1306960560622391302

Interesting thoughts from David Butler regarding the order of operations...

Image Source: https://twitter.com/DavidKButlerUoA/status/1306688687955042305

Mrs. B shares a way to organize digital resources. I know we can all use more organization right now. 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrsB50753231/status/1289292064585158656

I really like this focused trig practice from Chris McGrane

Image Source: https://twitter.com/ChrisMcGrane84/status/1306625033238990848

Ella Hereth engages students with the real number system by having them draw their own maps. 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MsHereth/status/1306517669341016065

Nathan Day shares some inspiring posters. 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/nathanday314/status/1286940354315517952

Austintacious Mathematicians shares an idea for using sentence strips in the math classroom. 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Math_Pi_rate111/status/1254746983325196289

I also really like this idea for using dominoes to practice finding slope between two points. 

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Math_Pi_rate111/status/1270761678574178305

And, why did I never think of using popsicle sticks for teaching domain and range?!?

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Math_Pi_rate111/status/1304518553270464513


Keep sharing those awesome ideas! 




Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Goals for the 2020-2021 School Year - PANDEMIC STYLE

Earlier this month, I shared the files and inspiration behind my 2020-2021 lesson plan book. One of my new pages for this year is a goals page. I decided I wanted to pick 5 priorities for this school year and commit them to writing. My plan is that once per month, I will reflect on how I'm doing and how I can further improve.


So, what are my goals for 2020-2021?

1. Google Classroom
2. Parent/Student Contact Log
3. Blog Regularly as Reflective Practice
4. Stop Reinventing the Wheel When I Don't Have To
5. Desmos Computational Layer

I'll elaborate on each below.


Google Classroom

This is my third year using google classroom. Each year, I've tried to use it effectively. But if I'm honest, I only really used it to send out assignments when I was unexpectedly absent OR to post answer keys to study guides.

Maybe it's cheating a bit to set this as my goal this year because I don't really have a choice in the matter. I MUST master google classroom this year. We are teaching face-to-face, but we frequently have students quarantining after being exposed to COVID or because they are exhibiting symptoms. Sometimes these quarantine periods can last up to 24 days. Students need to know exactly what they are missing when they can't be in the classroom with me.

It is my goal that my Google Classroom classwork tab for each class will represent a comprehensive list of what we did EVERY DAY of the ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR. Does this do away with my need for a lesson plan book? No, not at all. My lesson plan book's purpose is to provide me an "at a glance" view of what each course is doing each day. It's a place to write notes to myself about what went well and what needs to be overhauled in the future. I will say that when you get three days behind in filling out your lesson plan book, though, that google classroom then provides an excellent resource for remembering what you did each day!

We're currently 14 days into the school year and my google classroom is still up to date, so I guess I'm doing good so far. I've learned some lessons about using google classroom effectively, but I will save those for my first goals check-in post.

Parent/Student Contact Log

Parent contact is an area which I can definitely improve upon. It's probably one of my weakest areas. I often wait until parents contact me, and I know I need to be more proactive in my approach. This year I'm teaching almost entirely juniors and seniors, so I'm hoping I can also be more proactive in communicating with them to hopefully avoid having to do as much bad news communication with parents.

In the past, I tried to keep a paper-based parent contact log. It did not work at all. I would fill out a page or two, and then it would sit collecting dust the entire rest of the year. As soon as I forgot to log a single conversation, I would decide that it just wasn't worth it to keep logging conversations since my log was no longer 100% comprehensive. This is one of those areas where my perfectionism flairs up. If I can't do it perfectly, I just don't want to do it at all.

This year I tossed all my old (blank) parent contact forms and have taken a digital approach. I don't let myself archive any emails from my inbox until I've added them to my contact log, so that's forcing me to stay of logging things as I strive regularly for inbox zero.

I based my digital log off of a log my school required us to keep back in the spring when we were first experiencing distance learning. I don't want to share too much until I make sure it actually works.

Blog Regularly as Reflective Practice

When I first started blogging as a student teacher, I was constantly reflecting on my teaching practice. I talked about what was going well and what was going not so well. Somewhere along the way, my blog posts shifted into "Here's a cool puzzle!" or "Here's a printable activity I made for my students." That shift isn't a bad thing. It probably resulted from just gaining confidence in myself and my teaching skills.

But, like everyone else in the teaching profession right now, I'm feeling like a first year teacher all over again. I don't have perfectly polished digital activities to share with you that you can implement tomorrow. But, I do have built and my reflections on what worked well and what didn't work at all. This year, I want to focus more on blogging to share these reflections. For it's through the writing of these reflections that I get a chance to learn from these lessons. And, hopefully you learn something, too.

Stop Reinventing the Wheel When I Don't Have To

I don't have to make all my own activities. I don't have to make all my own videos. It's okay to borrow and adapt resources from others. It's okay to borrow them and not even make any attempt to adapt them at all. I didn't write it as a goal on this list, but my number one goal for this school year is to SURVIVE. I have three preps this year. Even though I've taught each of them before, I've never taught any of them in the midst of a pandemic. I've never taught any of them using only digital resources. I've never taught them to students quarantined at home.

I need to remind myself that I am still a good teacher even if I am relying on the work of other teachers. So this year, I will create resources when I feel inspired, and I will adapt and use the resources of others when I need to.

Desmos Computational Layer

I've played around a tiny bit with Desmos Computational Layer, but I know I have SOOOOOO much still to learn. As I make my own activities this year, I hope to become more proficient in CL. I've already learned a bit this year that I'm super excited about. But, learning this little bit has shown me how much more there is to learn. I'm hoping to share one tiny tidbit of CL I've learned each month when I post an update on how my goals are going.

I'll be back next month with an update about how my goals are going. I'd love to hear about your goals for this school year!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

New Puzzle: Only 'Takes' and 'Adds'

I did a lot of thinking this summer about how I wanted to incorporate puzzles into my classroom this year. Over the last few years, puzzles are one of the things I've become known for sharing on my blog. Hello, I have an entire page on my blog dedicated to all things puzzles.


There are so many excellent puzzles out there in the world, but my favorites for the classroom are those that involve pieces to manipulate. I love putting magnets on the back of each piece and hanging the puzzle up on my dry erase board for students to play with throughout the week.


We've been teaching face-to-face since school started back in late August with required social distancing and no shared supplies/materials. This means I have to rethink my weekly puzzle station since it often involves an entire group of students congregated at the dry erase board while manipulating the same set of puzzle pieces.

Someone on twitter suggested mini laminated versions of each puzzle that get sprayed with lysol between uses. But, I'm at the point this year where I feel like I already have too much on my plate and something like sanitizing puzzle pieces on a daily basis might just send me past my tipping point.

So, I'm currently on a quest to build myself a new collection of puzzles to post in my classroom that students can solve that don't involve any pieces to touch and manipulate.


Since I have many students this year who I also taught last year, I went ahead and made a no touching sign to hang under my puzzle of the week sign. A blog commenter suggested awhile back that I try matte finish Krylon spray to keep my laminated stuff from having an annoying glare. I finally tried it out, and I am super impressed with the results. 

Check out the difference between the no touching sign I sprayed and the puzzle of the week sign I didn't. 



This week, we'll be testing out the concept of no touching puzzles with Brian Bolt's Only 'Takes' and 'Adds' puzzle from Mathematical Cavalcade (affiliate link).


I reworded the task a bit to make it easier to turn into a poster. Write down the digits 9 to 1 in descending order. Make 100 by adding only addition and subtraction signs.

For example: 98 - 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 = 100.

How many ways can you find? Can you make 100 using only 4 signs?
I love this task for several reasons. First, I appreciate the fact that there are multiple solutions. When I solved the problem myself, I found it pretty easy to find A solution. It was much more difficult to find a solution using only 4 signs. There was a nice bit of logical thinking that I had to go through to figure out how to organize my work to make finding a solution more feasible. I also really appreciate that the task provides one solution as an example. This prevents having to specify, for example, that concatenation is allowed.

Want to print a copy of the puzzle for your own classroom? I've uploaded the file here.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monday Must Reads: Volume 65

Wow! It's been a long time since I last sat down in April to put together a Monday Must Reads post. I usually take a break from these posts during the summer, but the craziness of this pandemic meant an extra long break this time. Anyway...I'm excited to be sharing with you today some of the awesomeness of other teachers on twitter that has been sitting in my Twitter likes for the last five months. I hope you find some inspiring ideas to use in your own classroom. There are a ton more digital ideas than normal in this Monday's round-up, but I guess that's to be expected.



Check out this open middle math problem from Stephanie Minor. I LOVE seeing how teachers are incorporating critical thinking tasks in their virtual classrooms. I have so much to learn about being an excellent digital teacher,

Image Source: https://twitter.com/minor_math/status/1304472883306131457
Need to type a weird symbol into your Desmos activity? Druin recommends coolsymbol.com. I am definitely going to need this site this year. I couldn't figure out how to get the degree symbol the other day, so I just ended up writing out the word degrees.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/druinok/status/1305206739680350211
Druin also shares a great teacher hack for taking attendance through a Desmos activity.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/druinok/status/1300058303112900609
Looking for a prompt to help you get to know your students better? Check out this one from Todd Feitelson. That student response is priceless.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/toddf9/status/1304447633671495681
Benjamin Dickman shares a fun bit of trivia that I'm going to save for when we get to logarithms this year in Algebra 2.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/benjamindickman/status/1304167496816226309
Lisa Navarro Garcia proves that teaching virtually doesn't mean that you have to give up the train game.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/lisagarcia28/status/1304466858632859648
Mary Williams shares some great slides from a Desmos activity with credit to Luke Walsh and Carole Pryor. I LOVE the emoji slide.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/merryfwilliams/status/1304367956948910081
Lisa Biber shares an excellent idea for getting students to engage more in google meets.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/LisaBiber/status/1304207528172158980
I really like this idea for a Zoom game from David Butler.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/DavidKButlerUoA/status/1304241850186825729
David Butler continues to inspire with a new take on the numbers game he created seven years ago. I think this would make a great game to play collaboratively with students during distance learning.  Even though I've never met David in person, he inspires me to be a better teacher with each idea that he shares on twitter. I admire how he always shares the process he goes through to solve a math(s) problem or create a puzzle. Too often, we just share our shiny finished products and not the beautifully messy path that got us there.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/DavidKButlerUoA/status/1302349517698641920

Mark Kaercher
shares an idea for using the Desmos graphing calculator to teach students to solve multi-step equations. As long as the graph doesn't change, they have done a valid operation to both sides of the equation. Brilliant!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/shskaercher/status/1303809584277139456
Alyson Eaglen highlights an excellent breakout room structure from Miranda Lambourne that incorporates some math history into the classroom in a fun way.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/aleaglen/status/1303766868579278848
Want to teach your students to play SET? You MUST check out this Desmos activity from Greta Bergman. It is AMAZING.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/g_brgmn/status/1303120827773333513
Mr. Q shares a great math find in a newspaper article from 1978. Can your students spot what is wrong with this alleged prime?

Image Source: https://twitter.com/literallyjustq/status/1303064490561470468
Anna Vance shares some brilliant Google Classroom ideas in this thread. I am definitely stealing her idea of having a "Template" classroom. Be sure to check out the entire thread for even more awesomeness and examples.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/TypeAMathLand/status/1301595518007681024 
Allyson Klovekorn demonstrates how to use Jamboard to allow students to participate in a Which One Doesn't Blog (WODB) activity. The virtual sticky notes are an idea worth stealing/borrowing!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Miss_Klovekorn/status/1298349243397214208
Looking to get your kids interacting on Zoom/Google Meet more? Check out this number scavenger hunt idea shared by Casey. She claims she got the idea from someone else, but we're going to give her the credit for sharing it with all of us!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/cmmteach/status/1298303747722903553
Looking for some interesting data to analyze? Check out Erick Lee's latest data collection project involving grocery store receipts.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/TheErickLee/status/1297193863925440513
 Love fun fonts? Love math? Check out this find shared by algoritmic.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/algoritmic/status/1293860862126628864
Liz Coleman shares that the cooperative counting to 10 game works well via video-conferencing as well. Good to know!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/bikecoffeeteach/status/1294435974236139521
Needing to rethink manipulatives this year? Check out this idea from Lauren Bohm.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrsLaurenBohm/status/1292500055820312578
Need an example of a bad graph? Check this one out - especially the edit from Miss Neutrino!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MissNeutrino/status/1291775584016769031
I'm glad that Jo Morgan shared this old textbook find since I missed it the first time around.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mathsjem/status/1290014776236490752
I love this warm-up question from John Rowe.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrJohnRowe/status/1288681780698968065
Madeline Gorley shares a great idea for helping students stay organized during this strange time of distance learning.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MadelineGorley/status/1248655660788723712
Teaching calculus? Check out this Which One Doesn't Belong activity from Howie Hua.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/howie_hua/status/1284632290107068416
Don't teach calculus? That's okay. Howie also shares a great fraction task that might interest you.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/howie_hua/status/1281635544565313539
How cool is this hundreds table from Emma Bothma?!?

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrsBpriSTEM/status/1283728809561337856
This columbus cube tower shared by Amy Castle looks like a fun origami project. I'm adding this to my list to make someday.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/AmyJCast/status/1283883192022433794
Keith Anliker shares an idea for using balloons in chemistry class.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/KeithAnliker/status/1283498408175534081
Jshm shares a lovely scientific notation task.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/jshmtn/status/1283295364880257024
Amy Hogan shares a statistical valentine.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/alittlestats/status/1228083615881482241
Can you tell how long it's been since I've done a Monday Must Reads post. Here's another Valentine's activity from Nancy Fitzpatrick. This one involves area of irregular objects.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrsFitzMath/status/1227957585426493441
I like this idea from Tracey Nesrallah to survey students weekly about their favorite activity.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mrs_nesrallah/status/1262454890963578880
Matt Enlow shares an interesting function task.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/CmonMattTHINK/status/1262124404282216460
Cathy Yenca shares a great idea for reusing a getting to know you activity at the end of the school year as well.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mathycathy/status/1261325210126626816
I'm really liking this logarithm task from Amy McNabb.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/amcnabb3/status/1256288901880254467
Until next time, keep sharing your awesome ideas!