Hi there, I'm Amy! A high school math teacher, poet, crafter, athlete, and mom. This blog features both math and teaching tricks as well as some of my favorite recipes and everyday triumphs and struggles.
Ever since I read about Stand and Talks on https://www.saravanderwerf.com/ (The amazing Sara Vanderwerf's website) they have become the single most important routine/device/exercise/strategy I use in my classroom. You can also hear about them in this Global Math Department's webinar:
Just like warming up before exercising in earnest, like if you take a class at a gym or are getting ready for a race, the coaches ALWAYS warm you up. "Run 500 meters." Then we stretch and THEN we exercise, Stand and Talks open students up. They warm up their minds and activate an openness to learning through safe dialogue with a partner first. I love them.
What is a Stand and Talk?
Here is my proposal for the CPM 2020 conference: (Still holding my breath, I was rejected, but asking to be included in some other way--advise accepted)
Stand and Talks--5 minutes that will reshape your classroom culture
Think/Pair/Share is a common go to strategy to give students a cognitive boost. But what if instead of sitting, you could create a similar, potentially richer, easy access, sky’s the limit, non-disruptive experience moving and standing? Stand and Talks take five minutes and will increases math discourse, always gives a student something to share out, and shifts the cognitive lifting from teacher to student.
Stand and Talks begin with a prompt to look at and hold so there are no awkward silences. The directions are simple, the possibilities are endless. I have used them for review, preview, introduction, and vocabulary. I have used them as an icebreaker with students and with colleagues. I have used Stand and Talks with Notice and Wonder, What is the same and what is different, Examples and Non-Examples, Who did it better, and What can you label? I was introduced to the this strategy by Sara VanDerWerf @saravdwerf and I can’t wait to share it with you! As Sara says, “My goal is for students to say it before I say it.”
My directions are modeled after Sara's: You will be standing up and pushing in your chair when I finish giving you the instructions. You are going to move at least 15 steps away from your table mindfully and quietly with no devices or writing utensils. You will find someone to partner with that is NOT at your table. If there are an odd number of folks, someone needs to find me and I will tell you what to do. When everyone is partnered and standing, I will give you a card with a picture, graph, or problem on it. You will find at least 5 things to say about what is on the card. If you can't find more, repeat the ones you have. You only have 90 seconds so we are not going to worry about who our partner is and you will not complain about standing the entire time.
I walk around and listen, make sure the students are on topic, nudge them in their thinking. I also can have "plants" for the whole class discussion that comes after. When the 90 seconds are up, I ask students to freeze and then I give them a silly instruction for who pics up the paper copies on the table in front of the room. "The tallest replaces the card and gets two paper copies, the one who slept the longest, the one with the oldest living grandparent, the one who lives closest to school...(see the community building there?)
When the students get back to their seats, we annotate them together. This can reinforce, re-engage or front load a lot of student thinking! The oohs and aahs are super fabulous and a lot of good information comes from not just the top students. We then glue them into our Everything Notebooks (see earlier post). And move on with our day. 5-10 minutes max. (We have 95 minute blocks every other day)
They look like this on a half sheet of card stock:
Anything can be a Stand and Talk. I saw this on Twitter and wrote that if you take out the original prompt and replace it with "What do you notice? What do you wonder?" you get a really cool Stand and Talk.
I will post what they look annotated tomorrow. I just wanted you to get this information.
Is there anything I should add? That you have questions about???
Hi There! Thank you very much to the inspiration of @cluzniak and https://clopendebate.wordpress.com/ for this College Readiness Project. The class is Pre-Calc for the Liberal Arts--those not going into stem fields (they don't think), don't want to take AP Stats, and aren't strong enough for a STEM Pre-Calc class, but they do want to keep their math chops up after Algebra 2 and want to A) do well on their ACT and SAT's and B) place directly into a college level class.
The students had serious Senioritis. As bad as I remember it. I was getting 25% homework in. (In class they were fine, the students just didn't produce outside of class--Senior Project presentations feels like their capstone, and those were delivered April 24. For their final weeks I wanted them to be engaged in the math we had studied. I saw Chris' idea of using Margaret Wise Brown's, The Important Book for a project in his Pre-calculus and Calculus classes. "The important thing about a spoon is that you eat with it." I played some of it being read for the students on Youtube (Chris was much smarter and had each student read a section aloud). I then explained to the students we had a three part final:
Part 1: Each pair of students received a manila folder. The cover needed the topic, and three facts or properties about the topic. The inside cover was a continuation of the properties and rules of the topic, or examples and non-examples. The back inside were two worked problems for the topic. I encouraged students to find an SAT or ACT question as one of them. And the back cover was a Stand and Talk (see https://www.saravanderwerf.com/stand-talks-the-best-thing-i-ever-did-to-get-students-talking-to-one-another/) with one blank copy and one annotated copy.
This worked fabulously. I gave the students 3 full classes to pick topics (each student pair got a number, then I random generated numbers for the pair to choose in the order their number came up) including choosing their topic, researching it, and having me print anything they needed.
Part 2: On the due date, the students made flip books with all the topics. They could use each other's "Important Books." They needed a minimum of five topics from the eleven, but they could have all eleven, because they got to use the information to answer Part 3 that was given on the day of the final.
Part 3: One non-cheatable non-replicable question based on the role of a twelve-sided die and the number assigned to the ELEVEN topics. That is right, ELEVEN. So if you rolled a 12, you automatically got the 10 points. It was soooooo fun and the students really committed to the process. Some felt over confident given their flipbooks, but in general there was cheering, "Yes I got Lines," and total groans, "I got Logs, NO!" I was really proud of the questions. Here is a sample:
Given a system of the equations of two parabolas, how do you know they will intersect and how many times. Be thorough in your investigation.
Given system of two linear equations, how do you know if they are parallel, perpendicular or neither. Be thorough in your investigation.
Can two matrices that can be multiplied, be added? Be thorough in your investigation.
How many arrangements of ice cream can Bella enjoy given that she has a choice of 24 flavors.
Be thorough in your investigation.
We had one student roll a 12 and there was much celebrating for them. (pronoun preferred).
Here are some pictures of the "Important Books." Next year I will make the cover facts say "Logs are important because you can use them to find out how much time it will take for you need to achieve a future goal."
Taking suggestions for tweaks. I have the rubric if you want it.
Hey There! @Druinok suggested I blog about how my colleague and I use a stamp sheet in class for student accountability and paper management. So here ya go:
I used to collect homework with an assignment sheet. 10 went on the student paper and 10 went on the assignment sheet. The stamp sheet score went on a paper grading roster and when I had time, the whole hot mess went into an online grading program. I was going mad! Can you imagine, when you didn't get homework graded and you had a kid's assignment sheet? OY!
Then I had the most amazing and talented beginning teacher ever! Ms. Danielle whipped me into shape in no time at all. (She is a Millenial, so no Twitter handle and I don't Instagram...so...) Heh, I was supposed to be her support provider. I taught her how to "sandwich--" a nice thing said, the real heart of the matter, and then another nice thing, she just made be better. Period. I digress...
Through trial and error, we came up with the all and one--EVERYTHING notebook. Syllabus, Notes, Stamp Sheet, Classwork, Homework, Toolkits, and Team Tests. You never run out of room, you never run out of graph paper (ha! it is graph paper), you never lose anything because it is SECURED into one handy-dandy spiral notebook.
Through our district, I can get them for $2.00 each!!! I ask Students for $2 donation, they know that is a good deal. They can even bring $.10 per month. Yes, I do end up eating about $5--
Page 1: The Fun Title Page. This student loves her notebook.
Page 2: First Stamp Sheet for Assignments and Classwork per Unit. I only stamp for CLASSWORK. One stamp is that you are starting, working with your team, two means it all classwork is complete for the day. I stamp sometimes in the middle of class, sometimes at the end, sometimes at the beginning of next day. I only collect notebooks ONCE per unit and add up stamps. Takes less than 1 minute per. I can go through during Individual Test. If it is a team test day, I can also get through the entire class. Gives me a chance to check in with teams, check on students etc...
* Extra note about stamp sheet: You will notice sometimes it works great, sometimes it I have to make adjustments due to inspirational moments, shortened days, reteaching, field trips, you know, life.
Next Pages: Warm ups, Stand and Talks, Classwork (notes), Assignments (homework), rinse, repeat.
Assignment (homework grades): Students do their work in their notebooks. They come in, they get a key, they have red pens, they make homework corrections (and find my mistakes). I make it clear EVERYDAY, that my solutions are only a suggestion of how to complete the problem, there could be and should be more ways to do the problems. They can ask me if there solution is a valid one independently. They have rubric for assignment grades something like this: All red pen bc you didn't do it and are copying answers for later--3, some done, rest in red pen or no red pen because you didn't grade it--4, all done, all correct or all done and all correct--6. You can see this student makes all kinds of good notes.
Fun Stuff: Students get very creative about folding and securing the pages. They accordion them, they fortune fold them, they cut them out to make them fit better.
Not So Good Stuff: Some students get very behind in gluing things in. These are the students who stuff everything in their backpacks and ask for a new handout every day and usually have three or four of the same thing in their bags. They also are the kind of kid who has done their homework but can't find it. At least the Everything notebook helps in that case. Once or twice at the beginning, I will sit with these students and we will sort and glue. (I go through a lot of glue sticks!) (oh, and I love double stick tape.)
Sometimes absences can be troublesome, but I have all the handouts by day in milk carton and hanging files for them.
What do you do like about your notebook system?
I think that is everything about the Everything Notebook.We will be presenting at CPM National in San Francisco, come say Hi!
Today was a magical day of learning and camaraderie. I met the fabulous @allison_krasnow (Pretend there is a happy, smiling picture of two Ts lucky enough to meet in person after knowing each other from our beloved #MTBoS) We finished each other's sentences and "got" each other. We talked living in Nor Cal, what makes an elementary school great and what does part two of wherever we are in our lives look like.
Then we talked Math Intervention. Allison teaches middle school in urban Berkeley. I teach in Suburban Windsor. She teaches 7th grade math intervention, I teach, um, a class of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. You would NOT at all be surprised how much those two classes have in common. Both have management challenges. Both have students that lack confidence. Both have students with gaps in their math education. Both need more practice looking at operations with flexibility. Both have teachers with multiple preps and not enough band width to do everything we want to do in our math intervention classes. Both have white teachers, who for the most part, don't share our students non-whiteness. We both agree that beyond the gaps, learning how to be students and advocate for oneself are essential keys to helping these kids believe in themselves not only as mathematicians, but as students.
Being together today made doing a little more seem not so impossible.
Allison does number talks almost every day. She asks students to keep a notebook. She grades them once per week. She Students need to write down a few of the strategies of others. She does this amazing tweak of @saradwerf 's Stand And Talks. Instead of holding card stock, she shows a short part of an instructional video, pauses, has the Ss move to talk to a partner about what they learned, heard, wonder, notice, then they get Ss get to sit ON(!) the desk nearest them and watch the second part. Pause video, stand and find a new partner, discuss, sit on desk, repeat.
We talked about the confidence that comes from playing games. How we both wanted to spend more time playing board games, how we both dread how long it takes to teach the rules and the fear of managing game pieces, how we both have grants with money just for intervention support. I grabbed Maya Madness and Scan, and we played some quick rounds. Out came the phone, pictures snapped. (You are welcome Ebay Sellers). She will try using IXL or Delta Math to occupy 1/2 the class while she teaches game rules, then switch.
I have done many things in my HS Math Support Class. I am the one with the 28 students from 8 different teachers, teaching 10th, 11th, and 12th graders taking Math 1 and Math 2. I have done Number Talks and Clothesline Math, Close Reading and Vocabulary Sorts, SSR and Activity Logs, and now I am on to the Math Question of the Day. I have a 33% of the student's grade based on a Delta Math Component. 50% of my students are still failing their math classes (not a proud stat for me) as they have D's and F's in at least 3 classes.
I am in the process of interviewing each one of my students. Asking them how they feel about math, about how they are doing, and how they are being successful. I have access to all their grades so I know where they are being successful. I have interviewed several the teachers. The teachers talk about making the learning exciting (They teach Music and Integrated Science) and relevant. Folks I am trying. I want to learn what they need from an intervention class. Ah, from sharing this with Allison and her wish to be able to do the same, I came up with the idea of a Google Form for their Math teachers. "How can I support you?" And Allison and I decided this would be a good idea to give the question to the students also.
We both talked about the comfort of routines (see this post by @lisa_bej) and how we weren't so consistent about it, but thought it was good idea to be better about it.
We shared other ideas like using the NY Times What's Going On in This Graph (we both had it bookmarked) and Allison is going to share with me her work with Fraction Strips.
It was so helpful to know I wasn't alone, that there are amazing and generous and real and SMART folks at the other end of my keyboard and we look forward to the lucky chance to meet up again.
What do you do in your Support Classes that has a positive impact on your students ability to be students?
My College Readiness students did pretty poorly on their review test--topics from Algebra 2 that were supposed to be review. I am not proud to say this. I do believe I play a definitive role in their mediocre showing. AND I saw them doing the problems in class! They were being so smart! I was not expecting them to mix up exponents in simplifying radicals, I did not expect them to forget how to rationalize denominators, I did not expect them to refuse to enter
I did not expect them to thoroughly forget what we had practiced.
I just don't think their hearts were into it. I tried not to take it personally.
Here's what I did to try to turn this defeat into a learning opportunity:
I started by telling the students the truth: every single student put something intelligent on their paper. I was really impressed by that. Then I shared my favorite no:
Question 1: What is the same? What is different? Give at least five examples all together: (yes we practiced in class prior to the test!)
Student Responses: (x - 5) in the second one has an exponent and the first one doesn't.
Next we talked about the nuances of academic vocabulary verses what is written. I used:
What is the same? What is different? Give at least five examples all together:
After some low bar characteristics: they both have l's, they both have vowels for the second letter:
the students went deeper: both have 3 syllables, both are adjectives, both have eight letters, they have different meanings
I applauded them for using academic vocabulary and asked them what could they say instead for the polynomial function.
I then showed them a list of possible mistakes: (Thanks Tina Cardone)
Next I handed back the tests and gave them a template for considering their work with all the topics we covered (same list I gave in the review sesh) Thank you Krystal Mills (Lessons From The Middle)
I did a complete test with them.
We looked at each problem and the topic for one student. Next they will look at the type of error they made and correct the problems they missed. I am giving the students an entire week to do the corrections because I want them to have time to access me, the web, and each other. I am hoping they will engage and learn.
I will do an exit survey and let you know if they did!
How do you turn mistakes into learning opportunities?
Warm-Up Blank--I am always running out of these and needing to copy more.
Making Number Talks Matter Grades 4-10--a progression from Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker.
A Rumi Poem--Out beyond wrong doing and right doing, I will meet you there.
A Quote From A History Teacher's Door--Some getting more rights does not mean you get less, it's not pie.
Finding the Words: Leaning the Language of Mathematics--An article by Drawing On Math on increasing equity in math through strong vocabulary. Tina gives us a road map to meet students where they are at, but not leave them there.
Strategies For Students To Move Around--from I have no idea.
Things that are in there because they gave me comfort, but won't be carried with me next year (but may get filed for handy reference).
CPM Lesson Plan Blanks. They are helpful to review.
Lots of Scratch Papter
More Scratch Paper
A Blank Name Tent. After not seeing the students for two weeks during the fires last October, I re-introduced the name tents. First Question: What strength do you bring during challenging times?
An Algebra 2 Test. I picked up it up off the copier. It has 19 short answer questions on one page. It was a reminder to ask College Math Educators how they format tests. I did ask, and it wasn't like that. (This format makes my ADD brain hurt)
I have been at a CPM workshop (Math 3) all week. I love geeking out and playing math with my colleagues. I love how we think of teacher moves the best ways we can facilitate student engagement and learning.
The trainer gave us a carousel activity where each group of teachers got a card and, using post-its on the back, we gave one or two possible answers to questions like these:
I thought this would be an excellent way to have groups re-visit the individual team member roles of Facilitator, Task Manager, Recorder/Reporter, and Resource Manager early in the year. (Has anyone ever had their students "apply" for a role? Maybe this could be a fun way of creating groups if there was an equal distribution of 1st and 2nd job choices)
So I started thinking about a carousel/post-it activity for the students that I would use after 3-4 classes of using and defining the roles:
One team member has gone ahead of the others.
The______________ could ask_________________.
What other questions would you like to see the students think about?
If you use groups of 4 and have team roles that you find effective, what are they?
Hello from Washington, D.C. Not my usual hood, but my daughter lives here and I get to visit this amazing city.
My head is swirling with history and observations from 5 weeks of traveling in Eastern Europe and then back to visit family in NY and DC before heading home to California. On this trip the hubs and I asked each other' "Why do you travel?" My response after a gigantic pause:
To Understand Time. To Be an Ambassador of Peace and Mend Cultural Misunderstandings. To Get Out Of My Comfort Zone. Understand History from Place and Culture. Finding Beauty EVERYWHERE.
I have an earlier post < > where I contemplate my judgment of what teachers ought to bring to their students. I used to be in a state of dismay, that so many of the teachers at my large high school grew up in the same place they taught. I used to think this was unfair to the students. Our community can be fairly provincial. For example, we are 65 miles north of San Francisco and many of our students have never been to the city. Even though we are 40 minutes from the beach, some have spent very little time there. (Our students have a wide variety of experience, from traveling to Mexico each year, to a few who have been to Europe and Washington DC, to those will go as far as the lake for the summer)
Many of our teachers went to the local Junior College and Cal State Campus. Very few are from UC’s (Including myself) or from prestigious universities. I used to think our students deserved teachers who were worldlier, more academically, “high brow.”
Then I had an epiphany, that the local teachers spoke the student’s language. They show the students what IS possible. They possibly do a better job of meeting them where they are at. Maybe I was the one that made them uncomfortable, always challenging the status quo.
Some teachers relate to their students by reading YA fiction, some play country (cough) music all.the.time., some are into super
heroes, some are into shoes and fashion, and some are so cool, they surf before school.
I am not at all hip.
Here are some photos to go along with the reasons:
To Understand Time:
400 BCE Wailing Wall Jerusalem, Israel
To Be an Ambassador of Peace and Mend Cultural Misunderstandings:
Muslim Ladies taking their Children to the Beach, Hertzalia, Israel
Ifran, a Muslim, gave us an all day tour of Jewish Sarajevo.
Understand History from Place and Culture:
Those are shrapnel holes outside our amazing apartment in Sarajevo received during the 1992-1995 war. (up to 350 + average missiles on civilian targets daily for over 1400 days)
Left: Old Jaffa port manhole cover, Tel Aviv.
Below: Love is Love.
To Get Out Of My Comfort Zone:
Konjic, Bosnia. River Rafting on the Neretva River. Jump from 6 meters. (Love mostly because it turns our notion of “Bosnia” on its head)
What did you believe that you no longer believe about what makes a teacher effective?
What hobbies and/or interests give you “creds” with your students?
It is hard for me to wrap my head around the call for #MTBoS reflections for the year, but when Jennifer Fairbanks asks, I do.
Why is it hard? Because I am in Slovenia, having had 7 days of biking, hiking, rafting, swimming, running, and International School Interviewing, that's why! Please put this amazing country on your list!
Piran, Slovenia, Seaport, Adriatic
I don't get that much attention on Twitter, but I did when I posted this:
It was a pleasure to reflect on what I did that makes me smile. I connected with students, I worked closely with colleagues and I spread the MTBoS gospel at the CPM National Conference in San Francisco in February.
It was tough year emotionally for the students. On October 7th or 8th, wildfires spread throughout our area, burning over 6000 structures. School was closed for two weeks, as students, doctors, teachers, and caregivers were displaced, lost homes, and evacuated. Our school's gym was a Red Cross housing/crisis center. 1 in 5 doctors at our Santa Rosa Kaiser Medical Center lost a home. The air quality was horrible. Anyone not evacuated was housing friends and relatives and helping at shelters and feeding the hundreds of volunteer and emergency workers. No one is the same. EVERY time you open your medicine cabinet, your closet, your pantry, you just ask, "What does this look like, feel like, smell like when it melts together? What does that loss like?" No one knew how long the crisis would last so no plans could be made. Immediately we all combed through our belongings, making piles to donate to victims, putting together a single box labelled, "take this in case of an emergency."
And our current presidential administration's war on humanity has many of the students scared and feeling uncertain. That has taken it's toll too. The racism and fear and suffering is heavy for students and us teachers trying to find the truth in telling our students who are undocumented or have a family member that is, that all will be okay.
Trying to teach in these circumstances has been challenging. Add in the complete abuse of vaping (both tobacco and pot), a parking lot with 400 cars that is not being monitored with enough adult power and a school suffering a budget crisis (no raise in 5 years, health care costs increasing, not being able to recruit or retain talent, and getting further and further behind in tech) and you would think you have a complete disaster.
And it isn't. In these times, I must emphasize art, and creativity, and relationships, and belonging the best I can within the context of teaching math. I have to believe that what I teach is important and make it have meaning. That is my job.
The MTBoS (MathTwitterBlogosphere) has been invaluable in keeping me centered. The inspiration, support, and feedback have provided me with the energy and momentum to keep moving forward. My desire to own my white privilege has led to hard questions and loving responses, my desire to make it real and make it stick has helped me grow and keep pushing my comfort zone. And so...back to math...
Our first year teaching Integrated Math 2 went well. The team was tight and mostly on the same page. My colleague, Danielle and I, in particular, brought out the best we had to offer, bouncing creatively and organizationally off of each other. My Senior Math Class collapsed a bit. I am way too empathetic to their crazy schedules, and all the other stuff above. AND they would say they learned a lot, (not necessarily all math) and I would say 90% of them tested directly into a college level math class!
Oh and my BTSA mentee became a clear credential holder! (And my former BTSA mentee became Rotary teacher of the year)
Next year means it my turn again to be Department Chair, in a year where we are deciding for reals about Integrated vs Traditional curricula and CPM vs. ????? I will continue to push my colleagues to examine if they have missed anyone's perspective and do their classrooms and curriculum include their student's voices.
I will miss my fourth TMC and will live vicariously through you and my hope is that my spot went to a first time attendee.