Week 2 (technically 1.5?)

Last week was week 2, or more technically 1.5, of school and getting into a routine was proving to be a tad difficult! I am liking my schedule and trying to use my time effectively. I believe it was misscalcul8 who said to use all time at school you have to work and not walk around talking with people (which I actually love doing). We are on a different schedule this year where MWF we go through all 7 classes and then TuTh we have longer blocks and do 4 classes. I like it but it is taking getting use to for adults and kids alike. I think some of the parents are having a tougher time than their kids when it comes to these changes this year.

Over the weekend I started by 8bit computer and failed right away. Good thing I have friends and brilliant students to help me along! I also learned that the game roller coaster tycoon was written in all assembly, which not only amazed me but also inspired me… to download roller coaster tycoon and spend at least 5 hours playing this weekend! :]Breadboard

I found a new book that has been great so far! Definitely recommend it. bbook

I am struggling a bit with the feel of IM in my classroom. The routine parts are awesome and the kids are liking those. We had a good number talk fo ra warm up, which opened my eyes to how little these kids have ever been asked to look for different strategies and talk about them when solving even just arithmetic problems. But then during the lesson kids were talking in the same way they learned during the number talk so that was great to see! I think for my new 7th graders, there is always a learning curve to the types of problems they see in eureka math and IM. I think MY biggest struggle is figuring out how much I can leave unsaid in each lesson. The balance between letting the kids discover some of the math and just telling them some big concepts or notation customs is hard to find for some reason and then the openness that is allowed for the kids makes them uneasy right now because they aren’t use to it. I am interested to continue to see how this progresses as the year goes on and hope to start to feel more comfortable. I am using the online lesson explanations for IM to help prep for the classes but often feel like I forget what exactly I need to do when the class begins. I did have an amazing answer to an exit ticket this week though! Love the thinking behind this one…bimanswer

Kids are starting to put picture up for the scavenger hunt!

I printed some Scutoids and put information about them out for the kids. So far my colleagues have been more excited and interested than the kids. I put the zome tools out as well though and I have a feeling that will start to spark more student interest.

I also had a student ask me to print more penrose tiles :]bPenrose

And besides roller coaster tycoon, I played with this quite a bit this weekend! But I haven’t read this chapter yet but hope to get there this week! Bowl



Just trying to keep my head on

Ready or not, school is here! Work week happened and so did a trip to Nashville for some goat yoga and axe throwing! goats

This was all great fun but left me feeling a little behind going into the first week of school! My first few days went about as expected, some great moments and some frustrating moments as well (my expectations for organization and communication seem to be a little too high at times). All in all I am super excited about quite a few things this school year.

I have the starts of my mathematical cabinet/play area. This year Carly and I have classrooms right next to each other with a joint flex space that we have turned into a math zone. I wanted two projects to start the year with and then one ongoing project throughout the year. There is an area where students can learn about prisms, antiprisms and frustums. The goal is for them to make their own and explore combinations of these. In a week or so I plan to put information about the Scutoid out there and 3D print a few Scutoids as well. The video about the Scutoid by Matt Parker was my inspiration for this activity. So far a few students have made some different prisms. I think I will pull out some zome tools with this soon as well.


Another area has Penrose tiles but no information about Penrose. The tiles are there just for play right now, I cut them using our laser cutter at school. There is a definition of tiling on the wall with some questions about which shapes tile, which don’t, why, and questions about possibilities of different kinds of tilings. In a few weeks I plan to add information about Penrose (kids always love the toilet paper story) and have kids design their own tilings that they can also laser cut.

The activity for the year is a scavenger hunt. Dr. Harriss had that idea and I thought I would give it a try. I bought a little fujifilm portable printer that I believe will really motivate the kids to take pictures in real life. They can hook their phones up to the printer by bluetooth and it prints out like a polaroid. Each class will have some different words for a unit or so (words not yet included in picture below, more to come). I am excited to see what the kids bring in photo wise! scavenger

I have enrolled in a topology course this semester and I am excited and a little nervous. It has been quite a while since I have done serious proofs.

I also just ordered some curvahedra and can’t wait to play!

I have been reading Henry Segerman’s book on Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing and am ready to start printing some of the figures in the book. I had a student pick the book up off my desk and show great interest in it. We have a flex time in the day where kids can work on their own interest projects and I have a feeling he will want to use my book.

Another group of kids wants to spend the year designing and building a board game. I hope to get to hear lots about it as the year goes on.

Two of my students and I will be embarking on an adventure in building an 8-bit computer by watching Ben Eater’s youtube videos. These are two of my more advanced math students and the plan is to have them help me build one in order to work on their communication and explanation skills (this was not my idea, I have an amazing coworker who is behind this project).

I have AP stats and alg II as new preps this year, and have switched my 7th grade math and pre-algebra courses to Illustrative Mathematics curriculum. Between these 4 preps and my graduate topology course, I have a feeling this will be quite a busy semester. I also attempted an estimation station in my class on Friday but did not prep much for it with all of the chaos the first few days brings. I videoed the board throughout the estimation station and watching the video this weekend was a bit painful. I always struggle with watching/listening to myself teach, but it is always eye opening and helpful. I hope to do it more through out this year.

Finally, last Tuesday’s global math department webinar with Jon Orr and Kyle Pearce was wonderful but I especially enjoyed watching them eat chocolate backwards! And in an attempt to get more out of my weekends this year, I took advantage of all of the rain we have had in NWA lately and went to The Glory Hole for the first time this weekend. It was beyond amazing! hole2holehole3

I am sure I am missing something I meant to blog about…

estimation station

At TMC18 I had the opportunity to work with Chase (@mathgeek76) on his project, estimation station. We sat down with Eli Luberoff and talked with many MTBoS peeps for feedback. We have finally settled on 6 estimation stations to begin with and we want them tried and tested in classrooms! Feedback welcomed and needed!

Activities and more explanation found here!


TMC18 was wonderful for many different reasons. It was also a radically different experience for me than TMC17. The things that remained the same were the family feel, the humanity of everyone there, and the lasting friendships/relationships.

After last years camp, my goal was to implement some of the hundreds of ideas I had stolen and to blog. After TMC17 I felt overwhelmed in a wonderful way. After this year, my goal is to become more apart of the community and grow as a professional. I feel re-energized and more connected but less overwhelmed.

TMC is a wonderfully humbling experience in that everyone seems to be absolutely amazing at what they do. Julie’s keynote about being enough was much needed. I spoke at this years TMC about PBL and went into the talk feeling a little unprepared and very much like an imposter. I am still deciding how I feel about how it went. I believe I mentioned that I felt like I had failed at implementing PBL many times in my session but I still left my session with not the best feeling. In the end I am proud of myself for trying and it was a learning experience.

The first night I returned home, I went to dinner with some friends and my conference was brought up. Twitter math camp became the joke of the evening. This was somewhat hurtful, even though it was all joking and mainly because of the name of the conference, because this community and conference means so much to me. It feels like I won the lottery to even be a small part of this community.

The start of school is now fast approaching. I am struggling with goals and mindset going into this next year for many reasons. I hope to blog more frequently and become more involved in the community this year. I discovered Feedly and that should help some!


I’ve got that anxious feeling of summer slipping away. I realized today that I have only about 4 weeks left really, and about 3 of those are spent at math conferences (which is totally ok!).

My first trip of the summer was down to Texas to visit family and to attend the AP stats training at UTSA. This training was amazing and I can not wait to teach AP stats next year! I need to work on my syllabus and figure out which book I want to use soon.

I spent last weekend in Denver with my brother and step-brother. We went to multiple breweries, some of my step-brothers favorite bars and restaurants, and of course, Red Rocks! The Avett Brothers played Saturday night and it will now be hard to beat my first experience at Red Rocks!

Prior to that I was able to head to Omaha on a whim to watch the Razorbacks. I had amazing seats to game 1 and 2 but luckily headed home for game 3 since I left for Denver the next morning. Still a wonderful experience despite the loss.


Now, I just arrived in Kansas City for the Math Plus 2018 conference with Greg Tang. I have checked in, received a huge resource book for all the different sessions the next three days and I am so excited! It looks great!

On the way home from Denver I picked up The Game of Thrones book, since it was about 9 bucks, which is a steal for a book in an airport. I have seen the series but decided to read the books finally and so far it has not disappointed!

Off to do all the math tomorrow!


Summer is finally here! I have realized how much I did not use this blog this year and of course want to make a goal for next year to use it more. I have been reading a lot lately and I realized I could use this blog to also get my thoughts down about some of my readings. Kind of mixing my common place book in with my education blog. It is my blog and I started it for myself so thats what I will do, Ha!

Carly and I presented for the first time ever at the OCTM this past Friday! This year has been tough but talking with Oklahoma teachers really put Carly and I’s struggles into perspective, sadly.

Carly and I got together two days last week to try and get a presentation together. It felt a little rushed and we did not practice it once. I was very nervous. Not so much about speaking in front of people, but rather about the worthiness of our presentation and the way it was laid out somewhat bothered me. Since this was the first time either of us presented, I figured just getting through it was enough. I also made it a goal of my presentation to have something tangible or a concrete idea that anyone in the audience could leave with. This way, if our presentation wasn’t great, at least you could leave able to steal an idea or two about a project rather than leave empty handed.

At the end of the presentation (we accidentally finished 10 mins early), someone asked a question that I have been thinking about for days since. I realized Carly and I had approached our topic completely wrong and our presentation was full of fallacies! BUT, this was a great thing to realize as we are presenting again later this summer at TMC and not many others noticed or spoke up about noticing that our presentation was all sorts of wrong! Everyone was excited to leave with ideas of projects to do and more resources to get projects from which was one of my goals.

I am starting to work on tweaking our presentation and am excited to present again. I also need to start thinking about what my goal will be going into next school year. At this time last year, I had had a goal setting meeting with my boss and chose project based learning. But I am getting a new boss this coming year so I have not had a meeting like this. And, as many things in life and in education go, there hasn’t been a follow through, I am just now realizing. There has been no meeting to discuss whether or not I met my goals and to what degree. Missing out on this introspection with a mentor is unfortunate but at least I can think it through on my own (maybe write about it in another blog post soon).

I assume I will get many great ideas at TMC and may be able to decide on a goal for this coming year then. I would like to do a more research based type goal this coming year. I would also like to set myself up to have something to present about at a conference again next summer. hmmm.


And now the book part! I try to read a variety of books. Some of the books I read are more about intellectually pushing myself in order to think deeper in life in general but also from a career stand point, some are to push me to improve in more personal ways, career aside, and some are just for fun. One of my favorite books I have read in 2018 so far has been Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. This book was amazing and I am still, a few months after reading it, thinking about things from the book every other day or so. I read Start With Why by Simon Sinek which was also good but not my favorite and a little outdated to me since it was published in 2009. I also read Learn or Die by Edward Hess and it was very good. My for fun reading in the past few months has included Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, If Buddha Got Stuck by Charlotte Kasl, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. Ishmael was definitely life changing and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone.

One of my favorite things that happened this semester happened while reading, and because of reading, Where Good Ideas Come From. In the book it is discussed that if you give a group of people a more routine question and one person in the room answers completely incorrectly, everyone else in the room starts thinking more creatively basically because you have kicked everyone out of the routine mindset with the completely incorrect answer. The day after I read about this I was teaching a group of 7th graders and a student answered one of my questions completely incorrectly to be funny in front of his peers. I told them all that although he is trying to be funny, he actually increased the creativity in the room and has everyone thinking more now. I explained why and that I learned this from a book I was reading. They all found this to be quite interesting and then also, of course, made it a goal to have at least one completely wrong answer shouted out in class just about every day for the rest of the semester. I realized that moment in class would be remembered and thought out for years to come by at least one student in my class and that made me very happy.

Now it is about time for Westworld so I will sign off, but I have AP training and much traveling coming up and I think this will actually (ironically) give me some time to continue to blog in the next few weeks in the hotel at night.

Here is Carly and I after our first ever presentation! presentationselfie.jpg

Current Happenings

This week seems to be super super busy! We have our Arkansas Council of Teachers of Mathematics competition this weekend at the U of A, which means again lots of donuts and then sending kids into a room to take a math test all sugared up!

Next weekend we have the State MathCounts competition. We are having a celebration for our Mathletes next Friday as a state send off. We created posters for each of our mathletes. These posters have their picture and answers to random questions about what their favorite number is, what they want to be when they grow up, what they would do if they found a talking penguin in their freezer, and would they rather fight a horse sized duck or ten duck size horses. The answers are great and the kids (and parents) love it! We are getting cookies with math symbols and the other students will sign a big poster for the mathletes!


We also celebrated Black History Month with the http://mathematicallygiftedandblack.com/ website. Students were all assigned an honoree and had to do some research and create a poster honoring their honoree. Some of the kids really enjoyed doing the research when they found out their honoree worked for the department of defense or was the math checker for the movie Hidden Figures.


Finally, I started another project in Pre-Algebra that involves creating scavenger hunts all over the school campus using linear functions. So far this has been very successful. I have been chunking the work and giving the students one part to do each day. I will post again when these are done and again after they have switched and tried each others scavenger hunts!