Wednesday is a Friday,

when you have a personal day on Thursday. I’m looking forward¬†to tomorrow!

The best part is having a great sub showing up in the morning and you’ve got an awesome lesson plan ready – formatted by an excellent teammate (Woot! Tina!)



A brisk run across campus

A sensor in the fire alarm system went off in our building this morning. We evacuated and noticed we were the only four classes outside. It was just our building. While they check out the building to make sure there was nothing wrong, we needed to be elsewhere to hold classes.

Thankfully, my class is blended, so we jogged across the football field and headed up the flex computer lab in the 8th-grade hall. It was empty! WooHoo. We started class and then halfway through were able to go back and finish class in our room.

Hooray for Google!

Horray for extra computer labs!

Horray for flexible students! It was an interesting start to the day!

It was an interesting start to the day!

Desmos Experts

So yesterday I was trying to make a Desmos activity work and was talking with another teacher about it. We had a question for Desmos, and I asked them on my class twitter account.

And they responded.

I love Twitter and the #MTBoS.¬†@mathycathy¬†‘s solution was great.

Here’s my fourth period full of card sort experts. With five minutes left in the period, no one wanted to pack up early. Awesome!


DITLife – October 17th, 2016

4:45 AM Рearly alarm as I know I need to post an announcement for my online class.

5:00 – actually get out of bed, exercise, shower, get ready for the day

5:45 – wake up 13 yo then work in online course

6:30 Р rewake up 13yo and hustle to get out the door.

6:55 – ¬†drive out of the neighborhood and realize my lunch is still at home, as is 13 yo’s lunch. Mentally cross of stopping for a bacon biscuit and note that there are crackers to eat for breakfast, lunch is more important.

7:23 – arrive at school before official start time but 3 minutes late from the time I tell students I will be there to help them.

7:26 Рfirst student walks in for help Рhe just wants to use a computer Рfreeing me to  unload my car of supplies I brought for the unit rate grocery shopping activity for tomorrow. And go to my box to get my attendance card and the report cards that go home today.

7:38 – student comes in to ask about retaking a quiz (is asked to come in at lunch or the following day as there isn’t enough time to start/finish now)

7:40 – Homeroom. Play Channel One. Notice no sound, but add close captions and move on. Hand out¬†Report Cards, Yearbook Order Forms, answer a phone call from a fellow teacher, translate a¬†loudspeaker announcement (the system is broken and it sounds like someone speaking through water and a bad cell phone connection), switch to the school announcement (now the no sound thing is a problem). Check connections and move on. Start the pledge as the words scroll and avoid the awkward “nobody wants to be first moment”. Take roll, nominate a student of the week and put it in the roll. Hang the roll outside.

7:55 – Switch to Extended Learning Time (ELT) Today, I keep my first period, but I gain three more students who are split from the ELA teacher who is working with small groups this rotation. While students are working, I finish setting up the websites and resources I’ll need for class. It’s a bit a breather for me to have this time today with a group who can do something fairly independently¬†(and have something to do). I get to eat 6 crackers and drink a glass of water so that means it was basically free time!

8:25 – Switch to First. Send three students back and transition first-period students to my agenda rather than their own. Today we did a number talk string. It went well, it showed the usefulness of the distributive property and that’s always a good thing to see! Students filled out a foldable and then worked on 5 different rate problems, flexibly moving between independent and partner/group work as needed. They didn’t finish, so this will wrap up tomorrow. Welcome¬†a student teacher who comes in to watch 2nd period. She’ll be here Friday too and then continuously for a few weeks.

9:30 – Switch to Second. Today we’re trying stations again. I put a lot of thought into this lesson and now that I’m reflecting I think I see where I go wrong in stations. There can be nothing new in a station that isn’t teacher directed. If students are working independently, the station needs to be a type of activity they are familiar with, it needs to be content that is review¬†or level 1 type learning. I should have figured out when 2nd period struggled to change it up for third. I didn’t. I tried to just give better directions.

10:35 – Switch to Third. Take attendance. I’m using Attendance questions, this is only the third day of them, so there is still a learning curve, but it’s getting better. Dismiss to lunch, walk to the end of the hall with them and assign a “parent” for the week to walk them to lunch, this procedure (implemented after modeling correct lunch entry during the first 6 weeks of school) allows me to heat up my lunch before the students who requested makeup quizzes come to my room. A few random checks on how students are doing in the lunch job usually keeps them in line (literally and figuratively). Mondays I’m staying in my room to eat to work with students who request it, I had 10 students request a makeup quiz – 3 showed up (maybe the others will come tomorrow morning). All students finish quiz before we normally go out to break, so we join everyone else at our¬†break. Get increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

11:05 – Break outside. This is time not built into the day from the school. Our grade level builds it in so we can let our students move a little more during the day. We play in the upper parking lot which is usually free of cars in the center. Four square games are the big hit. We Get increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

11:16 – My alarm goes off and I go back inside to open the door. That sounds weird, but I walk to get to the door my key will open and then open from the inside the door that is closest to where the students are playing. Get increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

11:20 – We’re back in 3rd and I’m getting increasing frustrated that this lesson doesn’t seem to be working. Find a bright moment or two when working in the small group. There IS a lot of value in those discussions, so I need to find a way to get my students working so I can have small groups.

12:20 – Switch to Fourth and restructure the lesson so that everyone completes 2 stations together and we start on the third together. I get “more accomplished” but lose the small groups, so I’m not sure anything as gained. Hopefully, students have good notes to use tomorrow. I’ll have them do the last station together and then I think I’ll use the rest of the other station as fodder for small groups. I’m feeling good about that idea. During this period, I also deal with 2 student issues via phone and individual conference.

1:25 – Students head to connections and I head to my colleagues to discuss what may need to change on one of the stations to help students. We agree that the content is grade appropriate but that many students may struggle because the directions are explicit in “do this, then do this”. It’s open and that’s hard. We do note that we’d like students to be able to check their work if they are doing this independently. We don’t see that as an option. I tweet @Desmos to ask about it.

Set up activity in science lab for tomorrow. Leave it not quite finished to head over for Make Stuff (a STEAM after school program). Students are working on two projects both headed up by additional teachers. So I have a little bit of time to talk with a teacher and help them set up a couple online resources. I had planned on working with a student to rework our Cardboard Challenge announcement but all students were engaged in one of the two projects, so those are still needing work.

3:10 – Make Stuff

4:30 РHead back to Science Lab and finish setting up activity, pack up my computer. Plug in Chromebooks and head out.

5:05 – Drive home, stopping at a couple of friends houses to drop off the brownies I had my teenage daughter make after school. Said teenage daughter brought them to school along with my car, so 13 yo and I could go home.

5:50 – Get home. Admire cookies my husband got at work for Boss’ Day. Take cookies an start working on online course.

6:30 – Break for dinner with the family. I love that my husband likes to cook and that my daughters can cook too and that they help out. Two jobs would be too much if they didn’t help!

7 PM – continue working on online job til about 10:30 – assignments were due Saturday night and I don’t work in the course on Sunday, so Monday is a heavy grading day.

10:30 – write a blog post and wonder if it is too late to watch one show

11PM – decide it probably is too late to watch a show and go to bed.




Working with a small group on converting between fractions and decimals and fractions and percents. We looked at dividing vs converting to an equivalent fraction out of 100 when the denominators were factors of 100. Had a student realize that division “wasn’t hard”. This was a surprising development as I expected students to see that converting to an equivalent fraction was faster in nearly every case. The same student went back to his seat, finish my assignment and then move over to Khan Academy where he mastered two previously skipped skills in division because he hadn’t gotten it before. High five!

Making Rotations work in Middle School

This is a question I should put to the MTBoS. Has anyone had success with this in middle school? ¬†I like the idea, but I have trouble with the execution. When my students are not in the teacher-led group, they struggle to stay on task. When I’m working in a small group, I have trouble getting my students to understand within the time I have for the rotation. Hm. I’m reflecting and realize I have had rotations work before, but I guess I’m remembering the times it hasn’t more prominently (there have probably been more times of it not working).

Brainstorm of ways to make these work better:

  • have a video station for students to watch an explanation and take notes before meeting with me, for students who are going to need to hear it more than once – ¬†maybe this should come after the teacher meeting
  • ¬†the content to be taught should be very narrow – so it’s not more than can be explained multiple ways in 10 minutes.
  • have more hands-on
  • don’t give any new activities for the independent stations (I won’t have time to explain a new game or task-style)

I think I’ll make rotations a goal for this next concept. I want students to use proportional thinking to solve percent of problems.

Station Ideas:

  • Ratio Tables
  • Double Number lines
  • Comparing tables and # lines to tape diagrams
  • Tape diagrams with teacher
  • Video examples
  • Math In Context book has error ratio tables for analysis
  • Task Cards – answers available to check
  • Khan Academy practice