Day 3: Who I am

We had an assembly in the morning so the time we had for each period was kind of funky today. I had Algebra students go though estimation180 day 1 and then average their guesses. All four of my periods were within 2 inches of the actual height and one period was exactly on, we had some interesting conversations about why that was. After students filled out Who I Am by Dan Meyer and that pretty much wrapped up the period.

In Geometry we started with an area problem. At first I was set on using a system to get an exact number but then realized it was more important for me to have students think of different ways to approach the problem. I regret going through and showing a solution; that should not be the emphasis so early on.  Day3

Students then on a cup stacking problem and calculated my height in Styrofoam cups. This was pretty hectic and chatty; I felt rushed and was not about to clearly communicate my expectations. I  really struggle in finding a balance between how much I let students work as groups or independently and how much time I spend actually teaching/lecturing. I have been letting Geometry pick their own seats, but I think next week I will give them a seating chart for a little more structure and to learn their names quicker.


Day 2: Broken Squares

We had full periods today so I used the first half to introduce students to visual patterns. Algebra went though a linear pattern, which students seemed to enjoy. Geometry went over a fairly complicated and challenging pattern. I told students I wanted them to struggle and that it is a good thing. Here is the pattern I gave Geometry:

I wanted them to try it first by themselves; this didn’t go as planned but I didn’t stop them because the discussions were awesome.

Students then came up to the document camera and we were able to cover 4 – 5 different solutions all of which were built around the general equation of x(x+1).These discussions lasted about half the period, then we go into broken squares.

I came across this activity in a college class and really like the ideas it communicates. Here are the goods Broken Squares

A quick run down:

  • Students are broken into groups of four and asked to each create a square.
  • They are finished when they have each created the exact same sized square.
  • The catch: They are not allowed to talk. At all.
  • They cannot communicate in anyway and may not take a piece from another group member; but may receive one.

Groups took anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes the complete the task, once finished they packed up their pieces and observed another group. In the end the entire class is surrounding the final group, once they the finish their squares, everyone gives them one clap.

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It is interesting to see student’s personalities. Some would complete their own square and sit back expecting everyone else to do the same, however that is not possible. Students were hesitant to backtrack and deconstruct a completed square.

After we talked about how it is important to let everyone have the satisfaction of solving a problem on their own and how difficult it is the have onlookers who expect you/your group to instantly see the solution. I hope this problem sets the stage for more productive and meaningful group work this year!

Day 1: Freshman

Today was freshman only at my school, which means I had almost all my students. The day was used to give the freshman a feel for high school without all the upperclassmen. Each period was 20 minutes and I used the time to introduce students to estimation 180 and find out a little about them.

They walked into the room and filled out the information on a note card.
They were really into this; not too much of an investment. I told them if they were calculating anything that was too much work.
Wrote our estimations up on the board, there were names attached to each of these.
“Does this change anything?”
Closest answer gets 1 clap

Almost every student was on board for the estimation portion. I was really happy with the low entry point this set for students and message; math shouldn’t be intimidating. Great first day!

Day 0

This year I am excited to have my own room. Tomorrow is the first day and Freshman only, which means I will have all but 3 of my students. I spent quite a bit of time this summer setting up my room and wanted to share it out.

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I found the letters online and spray painted them. They have become one of my favorite things ever.
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Problem of the month on the back board and turn-in bins.
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Mullet mug and the money tree my wife insisted I needed (it is really cool). I am trying a pencil experiment this year; if students need a pencil, take one and return it at the end of the period.
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8 Mathematical Practices + poster, math is magical.

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I am really lucky to have a document camera. This year I invested in appleTV so I can work from my iPad in the back of the room.

I am looking forward to a great year and to be blogging about everything that happens.


I am one week away from starting my second year of teaching and can’t wait.

Last year I came across several 180 blogs and followed these teachers for a year, reading about and seeing incredible growth in their students and teaching. A voice in the back of my head has been working at me for the last few weeks and I want to give this post once a day for 180 days thing a try.

Before starting this I have created a list of goals/reasons to always keep in mind and come back to when things get tough (oh February…)

Here they are:

My Goals:

  1. Get plugged into the math blogosphere
  2. Challenge myself to always be better
  3. Accountability
  4. Provide resources for others

Pretty straightforward, I expect to struggle and grow just like my students. Again, this is only year two for me, but I want to provide a resource/community for other new teachers who are in the same boat as I am. One of my biggest struggles last year was comparing myself to master teachers out in the blogosphere who seem to have an amazing lesson for everyday of the school year. For us new teachers that is near impossible, but having passion in what you do everyday in the classroom is and I want to share that experience with you.