Seriously, You believe this about Math?!!!

First weeks are over, grades are set for the “progress report” period, and now I’m looking through the answers to “What is Math” page that my students replied to at the beginning of the year thanks to Sara VanDerWerf’s blog post.

A couple ideas were collected.  The first is pictures of students’ thoughts about mathematics.  The second idea is the definition of math, asked by students to their parents and friends:1

1. Draw a picture representing how you feel about Math:

These make me worry  but inspire me to work harder to change their minds.

These made me happy, look at the GRIT!

There were many more….

2. Ask two people what their definition of Math:

Math Is:…
How numbers interact with each other Numbers that are stupid and pointless
A way to get smarter My favorite subject
A language to describe how the world around us works The means by which most of our world operates
Numbers and actions A specific way of learning
A way of decribing the natural world and theories about things we can’t see My favorite subject and I use this skill everyday.
“A headache” but also “way to solve the problems of the world” The art of computation
The foundation for every day survival The systems and relationships between figures
The practice of using identified nubmers/formuas/equations, variables, graphs and diagrams in conjunction with each other to solve a problem that is missing a variable Something that kills you in high school and then you don’t need it
A waste of my time Magic with Numbers
A quantification of real world problems using numbers Extreme brain exertion
Addition, subtraction, multiplication,and division ….that define time, space, movement, amounts,…
Numbers fighting over letters A study which involves critical thinking and trains the brain by showing the relationships that the numbers are involved in


I hope this year is different for students, and for myself.  I hope I can draw their interests out, that they can relate mathematics to other disciplines, and that their mindset grows positively .

Week four… here we come!




#MTBos or #iteachmath — Change is hard (for me)

The other day, a math guru of our time, Dan Meyer  made a suggestion that rocked the world of math educators and my world by suggesting that we change our hashtag #MTBos to #iteachmath.   I was livid, I was hot.  Who was he to want to change things?!!!  I had worked hard to remember those 5 letters to the right of a pound sign.  I had worked at writing blogs (less often than I should) and sending notices about them to the blog-o-sphere.  What about @mpershan?  What about @samjshah?  And @k8noack? What about others who worked to bring this blogging affair together?

And then the idea that it is a “Fraternity”?…  a secret society that only a few knew of?…  Well of course!  Not the secret part per se, but a group of people, a community, “an organization or club formed for a particular purpose or activity.” who work together to better a situation – this being the teaching of mathematics….

Now, there are people who have tweeted, stating they had no idea what that hashtag meant…. Just that it was on the end of some tweets within math ideas/activities….  Well, I like to think that they would look it up, and find out more information about it, or ask!  And these are people who are on Twitter, who have gotten past the ins and outs of Twitter itself, which I found rather daunting to get started with myself.  And I’m sure they’ve looked up ideas on Pinterest (yep, it’s there, try MTBoS)

The bigger frustration:  Maybe I was just frustrated that here’s something else that has to change.  And why should one person make a change like this?  There’s a multitude in the teacher’s curriculum that’s been changing over the past few years… STEM, STEAM, ST(A-Z)M, LMS, Twitter, Flipping, Saging or Guiding, Blended Learning, PBLs, ….

And…  then…. I….  read….. the replies….  the comments…. the positive ideas….

There IS a place for both hashtags.

The #MTBoS is a place for those who enjoy:

  1.  reading of other educators ideas that have stood the test of children
  2.  empathizing with the stories that bring tears to those who read and identify with the blogger
  3.  laughing at things that have gone right, and things that have failed miserably
  4. sharing opinions, recognize their shortcomings, and introducing new ideas and beliefs

The #iteachmath is a larger affinity:

  1. a hashtag that takes educators to read other ideas and to comment
  2.  a place to share ideas and stories in 140 characters or less
  3. an identity where everyone can join in celebrating mathematics of all levels

Hmmmm….. funny how both hashtags seem very similar!

So, after 20+ years at this love, I will continue to stretch, grow, think positively, and share.


CAMT 2017 Elevators & Escalators of Educators

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Where else, but at the Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching can you walk the halls with teachers, discussing calculators, hip hop songs, parabolic movement of footballs, and smiling and laughing with other friends and new acquaintances?   But it’s happening this week in Ft Worth, TX.   Teachers, administrators, university students have converged upon Cowtown to learn new ideas, support each other, and enhance their teaching methods with this conference.

I love attending CAMT every chance I can.  This year I am looking for ways to challenge students by incorporating STEM activities more in both 8th grade and Algebra 1, and working to utilize the blended classroom concepts.  The sessions attended have been well done,  offering up thought-provoking ideas and challenges to take back to my classroom.

Below is a short synopsis of the sessions I’ve attended and activities I am excited to use this upcoming year:


Implementing STEM Activities in Algebra 1:   by Denise Young of Blue Valley School District –>

Density Lab:  *A great discussion for the idea, is mass dep on volume, or volume dep on mass, and should the label for density be mL/g or g/mL?

Pendulum Exp:  A practice in linear relations or as a square root relation (depending on the grade level)

Periodic Table Relationships:  Practice with scatter plots and linear relationships between the atomic number and the atomic mass.

Flexible Math Groups:  An Approach to Small Group Instruction in the Secondary Mathematics Classroom:   by Nancy Foster and Erin Schmidt of Clear Creek ISD

-“I am a Math Expert.  I am here to help you understand the math.”

– Small Groups are Opportunities – must have student buy in

– The first few weeks of school should be used to familiarize students with the management of the classroom, the expectation of the teacher and students, an understanding of how small groups will work for all students.   Students need to know the processes for the activities, so that the teacher can pull 4-6 students for a short 10 min lesson, review, activity during the 45 min class.

– The small group lessons should be reviewing topics, using previous exit tickets, and prior tests or wkst to identify Ss struggling with a TEK or topic.  There is no reason to work at making two lesson plans for the day.!

– While other students are in small groups, the “Got It Kids” group can be engaged with Task Cards, walk-abouts, technology including:  Prodigy, Manga High, Nearpod, Quizlet Live, Quizizz, Blendspace,  Braingenie, Desmos, Kahoot, TTM, Compass Learning, Dreambox

Mathematical Analysis, Modeling, and Argumentation Using Science Content: 
by Shelly LeDoux, and Denise Thornton of the Charles A. Dana Center

– There are many connections between mathematics and science.  However, not all teachers and students recognize this.

– The scientific method includes, thinking of a question, creating a hypothesis, testing out the data and making observations,  refining the hypothesis, and developing a theory or conclusion.

– The mathematical method includes analyzing given information, communicating ideas and reasoning, then connecting the ideas and relationships, all while formulating strategy, selecting tools to determine a solution, and evaluating the reasonableness

– Activity Coupled pendulum  – Describe the motion of the pendulum balls and demonstrate it mathematically  (could be a graph, a picture, a table….)  What influences are occurring on this system (activity)…



Students must use evidence to support their data.   It’s interesting to see that all groups created different graphs, but similarities can be seen, too.


Flatland:  The Movie 10 Year Anniversary Screening:  with Dano Johnson and Seth Caplan of Sphere World Productions

– a cleverly written movie depicting the book by Edwin Abbott, ‘Flatland.’                               (written in 1884)  flatland-the-movie  (Link)

– love the connection and uses of vocabulary:  St. Eulcid’s , Cubical, Spherical, Squarical,  Truncated, Area 33H (love the humor of that hexidecimal #)

– “What’s the difference between upward and higher?”


Investigate STEM Behind Football Creatively and Interactively:  by Tom Reardon using TI-84 and Smartview

–  TI offers an activity for students to model the flight of a football graphically and algebraically.   Although students use the sine and cosine to model the parametric changes of x vs y,  (length vs height at any given sec), the students can predict whether the ball will make it through to goal post.  Students can also investigate changes in velocity, angle of the kick to alter the trajectory of the football.

– kick (link)