Week 2 – The Week is Right!


Well, here today, on Monday, I labor reflecting on how week two has gone.   The week has gone well.  The kids are settling into the way the class operates.  I’m starting to figure out how they operate as well.

The Price is Right

Price is rightAlgebra 1 and Inequalities

After success with having students choice in equation reviews, we’ve jumped into inequalities.  I’ve always wanted to use the Range Game from the Price is right to work through inequality problems (even if there’s an absolute value to discuss).  Of course these days, when hands went up, only about 5 or 6 out of 25 kids in each class had ever seen the show.  A quick explanation, and we were on the way to watch the segment of one of my favorite games.    Game Show intro    At the end,  the contestant loses, but a few really understand the gist of the game. So I told them that they’d have a chance to view another Range Game episode at the end of the notes.   So after reviewing a couple notes (they had watched the flipped lesson on this topic the previous night), we were able to view   Game Show #2  This clip is great.  Kids were cheering him on, saying things like, “that’s not fair”, “they’ve gotta give it to him!”, and finally cheers at the end.  The equation?  |8365-x|<150 .   The 8365 is the actual price, and the x is the range that is within $150 in either direction of the the price. And to complete the talk, I mention how in coding this equation would cause the computer to light up green.   If it was outside the range, the computer would light up the price in red.

Hanging out the Numbers on Lines

In Math8 we covered those infamous Real Number Systems.   I was inspired to use “clothes lines” from Andrew Stadel  We used time in class to discuss where numbers were to go.  Starting off with -2, 0, and 3, I have three kids put those up on the chain which stretches from one end of the board to the other.  And yes, in one class’s that first group placed them all on the left side of the board…  Gently we “suggested and questioned” that they should be spread out more. Finally a student who struggled to sit still, placed them accurately along the entire 10+ feet clothes line/chain.  We then added four numbers at a time, and discussed them along the way until every student had added his/her own numbers to the line – lots of fractions, some decimals, and of course pi!  I was pleased with how the talk went.

Squares and Dots  Area and Side Lengths

Imperfect Square   Perfect square

The next day we discussed squares and square roots.  In previous years, we would cut out these pictures and fold them, cut them, rearrange them in order to see how the area is constructed/counted.  Unfortunately, time ran too quickly and we skipped this important step.  So after a similar problem on our quiz, I’ll be reviewing this with those who need a bit more hands on activity to really grasp the area concept.

So, now a three day “vacation” comes to an end…  But it’s great to have a moment to breathe, think about the next steps and jump in to the fall and the lessons.




Week # n^0 – The Start of an Interesting Year….

                                                                      great expectaionsSharing what my plans are for the week, and how things worked out.  This includes both M8 (math 8) and A1 (PreAP Algebra 1)

Should be interesting.  As educators we ALL know how great intentions at the beginning of the week do not always remain the norm.

The Sunday before school starts….   I’ve met many of my 8th graders this year.  Well, ok..  shook their hand and glanced at their smiles.  Meet the Teacher Evening was another success.  Over 80 of my students showed (out of 120) – most along with their parents (without questions to ask yet of us or their child’s).


  1. Name Tent:  Tell me a math memory that you have, good or bad, in school or out while shopping, with your family, etc…Thanks Sara Vanderwerf for the name tent activity.   If you haven’t checked out her blog, and you teach math, I’d suggest you try it.  I’ll blog more about it later.
  2. All about me page. Yes- I know lots of teachers do this at the beginning of the year (you can tell by the sighs by the last two periods of the school day).  However, at the end of May, four years later, they will receive these papers, along with some Laffy Taffy in their Senior packet.
  3. And of course I share a little about myself through a Prezi. We can’t know our students without them knowing a little bit more of us than just the name on the door  After doing this this year, I may wait a bit to share with the kids…  Maybe surprise them with things as I go..
  4. Finally, Students will color their Pi page with numbers that make them happy.  I always joke about asking for room 3.14X102 when staying at a hotel.  This will end up in their journals


  1. Name tent:  If you could become better at something (not necessarily math related) what would it be?
  2. Rules and Expectations.  I tried this last year and appreciated the ownership it gave the students.   Students will determine the top 6 most important rules in groups of 4 or 5.  Then we will post these on the lockers in the hallway.  This takes about 15 minutes of discussion, listing ideas, and working towards making them more concise. Then I place them up in our room with the stickers included, to demonstrate the importance students felt for these “rules”  I came across someone’s idea to rate them a special way… but I can’t locate it at this altitude (as I fly home from dropping my freshman off at college)
  3. I gave them more time  to build their interactive graph lined notebooks (journals) and place the needed papers in the notebooks.
  4. TEXTBOOK checkout  -a whole 6 minutes…


  1. Name Tent:  Comment about something in the classroom. (insert Pic here)
  2. Canvas introduction to requirements and expectations using Chromebooks.  Nice to have those books now.  .   Students watched a district introduction to the new style of canvas.  They then took a quiz to check understanding of the features.
  3. The rest of the day was a completion of their journals with certain pages required to be glued in.
  4. Name Tent request:   If you could become better at one thing, what would it be?


Thursday:   Jumping into the math of it all.

  1.  Name tent warmup:  Ask Mrs. Burwitz  a question .
  2. We practiced a flipped lesson and my expectations.  Basically students, at home, watch a lesson that I have prepared.  They take notes in their student companion notebook that the district supplies for them.  The next day, we go over any questions they have from the video.  This evening, I waited with baited breath at all the questions that would be emailed me.   I only had one!   Wow!  I was thrilled.   – Now, will I always flip.  No.  I can’t afford to miss the questions that will soon come up for discussion with the kids.  The “Ah Ha” moments that I want to see, and the light bulbs that flash on with the kids when discovering some subject material.  However, when we’re talking equations, I have found that this method works.
  3. M8: OH my….  My favorite…  Patterns.  We followed the first part of Fawn Nguyen’s blog entry.  This year, it went so much better.  We used this to practice taking notes in our journals.  We discussed how we see the blocks,  how to get to the 10th and 23rd term, and the rule.  Those discussions are so important.  Then I shared with story, One Grain of Rice by Demi.  This tale discusses the exponential growth over a month of a grain of rice (of course).  The book is illustrated beautifully, and when the pages unfold, there are gasps, yes, by eighth graders.  We then record this pattern in our journals. (Insert Photo)

Friday:  Last day of the first week!!!!!!   WAHOOOOOO!!!!


I planned so much for today.  I need more time!!!  but that’s a comment I’ll have most likely every day.  🙂

  1.  Name tent wrap up:   Using a word with five or more (next year it will be 6) letters, describe how your week went
  2. Safety drills throughout the class periods…  a necessity, but some classes missed out on time (5 to 10).  And calming of students after a fire drill….  herding cats sometimes, I’d say.
  3. A1:  Loved this introduction to equations and the three results (No solutions/ Identity/ All Real Solutions)  from Everybody is a Genius – thanks Sarah- we all loved it.
  4. M8:Homework discussion…  loved seeing how students saw four of the patterns that I scooped up from Ms. Fawn Nguyen.
  5. M8: Finally, a vocab activity over Real Numbers, which is a work in progress with a new method learned last year.  I struggled with having the students work through the process of stating the vocabulary word’s picture and definition.  I see a great importance to doing this…  Time stips again.  Next year, more time on the process – I get the importance.

I can’t figure out if that went fast or furious or slowly…. no, as I type on a Sat morning listening to chrome Jazz music –  it went fast!…

And finally, I couldn’t do this each week without my superstar teachers, Blend that Learning- Stolarkski, Glitter in Lesson- Benjamin, I’ve got this Techno- Dimoulakis, and Straight and Practical- Babin.  They are a great support system within our PLC as we share ideas, discuss data, make decisions, along with our PLC admin, Anthony Arnold.




Summer Time Sickness Exponentially

Hand Print Germ(Photo by Dr. Tasha Sturm)  Some people, including my husband, just shake their heads.  It’s summer time, what are you doing?…  Oh, I’m just looking around on Twitter, looking for ideas for next year….  it IS only 7 weeks away!!!!   And since we don’t have a pool that would lure me into the warmth of the 100 degree sun along with  the coolness of the water, I’m on the couch, clicking away on this laptop….  which I LOVE!!! –  Thanks to Texas Regional Collaboratives and We Teach CS… I now have a perky purple computer to do my “research.”   Two of my summer weeks involved learning, and appreciating Computer Science.   In Texas, as I suppose every other state, there is a push for students to appreciate and learn computer science skills…   UTD offered a courses on Python, Scratch, Alice, and JavaScript and challenged me and my mindset for an exponential growth of learning.  But, that discussion is for another day…..

I am looking to PBL my way into exponents this year for my Algebra Students.  I am dabbling with the idea of bacteria and patterns.  Having read segments of  Chaotic Fishponds, by Richard Elwes,there is an excerpt that might be a jumping off spot.  Also today, I came across Everyday Einstein  with Sabrina Steirwalt after reading a Scientific American Article, “Does Soap Really Kill 99.9% of Bacteria” .  So, with this, I am going to get to work on a problem for my kids…  I love the quiz about the # of germs on my cell phone – seriously gross!-Germs on my CellPhoneand will be able to bring this into my Math 8 class as we discover the excitement of organizing numbers with Scientific Notation and exponents as well.

Stay tuned for more on the results of my mental conundrums with this PBL and where I go from here….  Love any thoughts that you’d like to share as well!