Thursday, September 8, 2016

Distance Floor and Desk Activities

Yesterday, all teachers did walk-arounds.  During our planning period, we met as a group and were given two lesson plans for classrooms to visit.  Each group consisted of about 3 teachers and at least one administrator.  Eight teachers volunteered to open their classrooms for observations, including me!
My purpose statement was to "use the floor activity to develop understanding of how to use Pythagorean Theorem to find distances on a coordinate plane".  After my students completed and turned in their bellwork, they joined me at the back of my room where I had taped the axes on the floor.

I used pre-planned coordinates for my students to graph.  Two points created a vertical line, two created a horizontal line and two created a diagonal line.  In the discussion, my students decided they could count spaces for a vertical or horizontal line, but not a diagonal.  Then, I mentioned the Pythagorean Theorem and had them discuss in their groups what they remembered about it.  After their discussions, we created a right triangle and they solved for the diagonal line.  We did a couple other examples.

After that, they went back to their tables and used them to graph their given points and find the distance on paper between the two points.  I taped their two-students tables down the middle before school, so I used that for the x-axis.  The y-axis was the crack where the two tables met.  The day before, I discretely made tick marks with permanent marker and labeled the axes.

I taught 6 classes, with at least 6 groups each and DID NOT TAKE A SINGLE PICTURE!!!!!! UGH!!!! So today, in anticipation for this blog post, I chose a couple examples and staged pics.  I was just so wrapped up in the excitement of my students learning and my fellow teachers observing that I didn't even remember I had my phone in my pocket!

 This is the best year I've had at my current school!  I loved working with some teachers/math coach/literacy coach/admin!  My math coach emailed me, principal texted me and literacy coach put a note in my mailbox!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Back to School: First Week (3 days) #MTBoSBlaugust

The calendar this year is perfect: teachers started a week ago Tuesday and students started this past Wednesday.  We had 6 pre-planning days and I felt very relaxed in getting stuff done.  I made myself available to help some of our new teachers get their rooms ready or answer any questions they had.

We had our Open House the Thursday before students arrived, so I got to meet about 90 of my 158 students!  Our school decided to have a mock school day for parents and students with 7-minute classes.  From a teacher stand point, this was a phenomenal idea.  Every year I find myself repeating the SAME THING OVER AND OVER as each small group came through my door.  I got to where I was giving them a shortened version of the speech.  This year, there was a lack of communication to parents about the schedule, so I still had some walking in at all times, even my mock planning period! LOL!  After the usual speech, I asked the parents to write one positive word about their child on a post-it note and stick it on my ONE WORD bulletin board.  Like my students, they were a little shy doing their first classroom activity!  Here's a pic...

I had an amazing 3 days with students this week.  Here is the assignment I wrote out prior to Open House (READ: things change!).  

For Bellwork, they had two tasks to complete: post-it note activity and name tent.  Wednesday's post-it note activity was to write ONE GOOD THING that happened to them today. They found it easy and I wanted to start on a positive note!  

The next task was to make a name tent and ask me a question or make a comment inside to turn in at the end of the period.  I took them home and wrote a comment on every single one that had written to me.  I got my idea from Sara VanDerWerf here.  I made mine have only 3 days.  I also printed dotted lines on the back so students could fold it a little easier.

After that, I had my students take the syllabus and a pencil and do a gallery walk around my room to read my posters.  They had to write down things they read that were important.  After they were seated, I asked each group to tell me something they read that was important.  This is a great way to go over the rules without droning on and on about things they aren't allowed to do.  Many of them noticed all my inspirational posters.  I really think this set the positive tone for my classroom.  

I was disappointed that I had to postpone the cup stacking activity.  I'll blog about it when we do get to it.  Last was the MATH IS... math tweet.  I have used this for a few years now (even though I wasn't on twitter myself!).  I got the idea from Math Equals Love (Sarah Carter).  I have to admit that I haven't read any of them yet!

Thurday's post-it note activity was to write ONE FACT they wanted me to know about them.

I had planned to go over Google Classroom with them and have them complete a SMART goal and WHO I AM (both on Google Slides).  Of course, first period I found out that I didn't have the correct naming convention for their new emails and the Google Chromebooks wouldn't let them sign in. Anticipating typical tech issues, I had those two documents printed out, thankfully!  Boring, but doable!

Friday's post-it was to complete the sentence IF I KNEW I WOULDN'T FAIL, I WOULD...

Regrettably, we didn't get to do the Formed Paper exercise, but I did get the right emails and they ALL WORKED!!!!!  That's a first!!  I went over Google Classroom and walked them through two assignments.  They completed a WODB individually in Google Slides and turned it in (see examples below).  The other activity was playing around with Geogebra, taking a screenshot and importing it into a Google Doc to turn in (see examples below).  They were then given a homework assignment.  It is a Google Form with a YouTube video embedded at the top.  They will watch the video, answer the questions and submit the assignment.  I set the Form up as a "Quiz" so it will be graded as soon as they turn it in.  Honestly, there is no reason for them to miss any questions because they can simply rewatch the video to answer them.  This is slight flip of my classroom.  Video notes are going to be given as homework, so students can watch as many times as they need to and have success on homework.

I've grade 4 out of 6 classes on the WODB assignment.  It is SO EASY to check it, assign points, write private comments if I want and return the work to them.  Plus, I don't have to lug two tons of paperwork home to grade.  There's some serious procrastination going on when that huge stack is on the table staring at me!!!!!!

I hope this next week and every week this year will be as good as last week!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

20 Facts about Me #MTBoSBlaugust

20 Facts about Me

1.  I am Mama to 2 beautiful daughters, Caela (25) and Alyssa (20).

2.  I am Nana to 3 sweet grandbabies: Aria (almost 5), Lena (1) and Owen (8 months).

3.  I am teaching at the high school I graduated from, but the old school building that I attended no longer exists.

4.  I have been teaching for 17 years.

5.  My favorite math class to teach is Geometry.

6.  I married my husband Randy on Pi Day (3.14.16).

7.  You probably guessed from fact #6 that I'm a math nerd!

8.  I love to use my Silhouette Cameo to make new decorations for my classroom.

9.  I have also used it to create Disney stuff for a fellow math nerd.

10.  This year I am using it to help a new teacher deck out his room in Hogwarts decor.  There are at least 4 Harry Potter fans (freaks) in our building (10 teachers).

11.  I used to be a ghost hunter locally and have had numerous experiences that I can't explain, including this photo.

12.  I received my Masters Degree the end of April in Math Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida.

13.  My husband and I love to go bass fishing!  We go almost every Saturday on Lake Okeechobee.  My 7-pounder!

14.  My favorite colors are turquoise and lime, and all the variations that you will find in my classroom decor.  My favorite shape is a hexagon, also found in my classroom.

15.  I think this is actually a common teacher trait: I am a school supply freak!!  I love colored pens and markers the best!

16.  I have influenced a younger cousin (like a lil sister to me) and both my girls to also be school supply freaks!!  My girls still order their colored pencils or markers in rainbow order before they write anything or color with them.  EVERY time we buy new pens, we write our first name in every color on the back of the package.  It's kind of an unspoken rule!

17.  I'm OCD at school, but not at home!!

18.  I drive an orange Fiat with a UF Gator tag!

19.  My first blog post was in June 2012 (here).

20.  I joined Twitter a while back, but never tweeted or followed anyone!  This summer, I jumped right into it @MathByTori!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mascot Acrostic #MTBoSBlaugust

Here are a few characteristics I wish to instill in my students.


Eager to Learn

Google Classroom PD #MTBoSBlaugust

Friday, another teacher and I taught a PD to 36 teachers, many of whom were not interested in what we had to offer.  Let me back up and explain how this came about.

At the end of the school year I had a discussion with my Principal about wanting to use Google Classroom in my class this year.  I was excited to do more research over the summer.  He mentions having a PD on it at some point.  Fast forward to July 24th when I was looking over our back to school pre-planning schedule.  I texted our Math Coach to see if he could move the math PD because two of us math teachers wanted to ATTEND the Google Classroom PD at the same time.  It was about 15 minutes later that he informed me that I was going to be CO-TEACHING the GClassroom PD!

So I set about planning to meet the other teacher to plan.  I had created a class called Staff Development.  He made an agenda (google doc) and an announcement while I created a google form and google sheet.

I discussed with admin that if GClassroom wasn't going to be mandatory, then we needed to offer it to only those interested.  The entire staff was told to attend.  As with any technology, two things happened: they had difficulty signing onto the Chromebooks and many teachers were immediately overwhelmed!  I did learn a couple things though: Chromebooks won't let you sign in if the date is wrong (I still don't know why or how the date was wrong!) and if you want teachers to be students in a class, they must first be a teacher of at least one class (which caused us to have to email our IT people).

I was extremely frustrated as this was my first opportunity to conduct a training at my current school and I felt it was a total flop!  After the overview, we allowed those teachers that were not interested in more information to go work in their rooms.  We were left with about 8 of the interested teachers.  I told a few of my close teacher/friends, including the new math coach, that I thought it was a complete failure.  They all reassured me that it was an awesome training, and that they always expect the technology issues that I had no control over.

The math coach said his wife enjoyed it and learned a lot.  He said I was being hard on myself.  We discussed setting up other opportunities for me to train teachers possibly on their planning periods, but only for those that are interested.  I'm looking forward to doing these smaller trainings.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Decorating My Classroom (Part 2.5)

After I cut out the Word Wall title and unit numbers this morning, I headed back to school.  I absolutely LOVE the way the title looks with the pocket chart.

I centered my calendar with Command hooks and it looks better.  I also used a black marker to color the bright white hooks.  

I relocated my computer and printer to my podium.  I think it's gonna work better because I always stand up to use it with my Promethean board and my printer is out of sight too.  My document camera is now on a regular student desk.  I need to neaten up the cords and redecorate the front of it.  I think I'm gonna leave the COTTON sign (my maiden name), but the flowers are a little crumpled from being shoved into the storage room.

I still need to finish spray painting my mismatched file cabinets, but I'm contemplating relocating them in the storage room.  It would either look cleaner or more bare.  I won't be able to move my computer any further back because the cord coming from the board is tight now.  Maybe when I neaten up the cords, I can find some slack.

Decorating My Classroom (Part 2)

Well, I went back to my classroom today.  This time the A/C was on and it felt good!!  The only bad thing is they were testing the bells and I realized I only have one more week at home before I go back to work on August 2nd! Ugh!

I stopped by the Dollar Tree beforehand, picking up 2 magazine holders (small, only a little over 8.5"), some party birthday cups (in red, yellow and green) and a new bulletin board border.

These were too cute to resist with their mathy decor.  You can see in the second picture that I put a yard stick next to it so you could see the width.

I have resisted the use of red, yellow and green cups in groups for years.  My Mom used them over 10 years ago in the computer lab at an elementary school.  I plan on using them when students are in groups, each group getting one of each color.  Green means they are doing fine, yellow means they may need help soon and red means they are stuck.  I want my students to learn to communicate and work together, so they must come to a consensus about what they want to ask before they put the red cup on top.  When I get to the group, I will answer questions from one person.  This means that they will have needed to discuss it prior to me coming over.

I used this new border to cover up some of the (ugly) burgundy around this window.  I don't like that the calendar isn't centered.  Right now its held up with strong magnet clips, but I'm going to try to get command hooks to stick to it.

I am the most proud of this section of the room.  I freaking LOVE these colors together and am amazed that they match so well, being made of plastic tablecloth, paper, duct tape (on top of table) and tutu netting!  

The day before, I created many posters, some inspirational (in blue, teal and lime green) and some necessary rules (in yellow, oranges, red and hot pink on another wall).  Some of those posters were found from different sources on the internet.  The 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th posters are from Light Bulbs and Laughter and is a free download.  The "Strengthen a Dendrite" poster was downloaded free from here (as soon as I find the tweet/blog I found the link in, I will give credit...SORRY!).   At the end I will give links to the posters I created for free download.

I love this set of posters about respect and the main color is lime green!  I downloaded it for free from Digital Divide and Conquer.  I printed them two-to-a-page so they are half the size they were designed to be.  I wanted them to line up with the side of my assignment board.

The WELCOME posters on the front of my desk came from Sarah Carter at @mathequalslove.

I have an unhealthy love of pocket charts!  This one is huge and will hold the vocabulary for multiple units.  Each unit is a different color, so there are 5 units shown here.  The remaining units of vocabulary words are in the container sitting on the end of the table.

I've now designed the WORD WALL title and unit numbers and will cut them out with my Silhouette Cameo (a machine that no teacher should be without!!).  You can see the measurements on both the title and the group of unit numbers.  (More pics later...)

This is a view of my assignment board (still waiting on my magnet strips to come in!), the RESPECT posters and the word wall.

The Mathematical Practices are on the posters below the board.  My new last name is on teal chevron party plates above the board and at the top is a sign I made last year.  It says, "Make Yourself Proud".  I think it fits in well with my Growth Mindset approach and inspirational posters.

And of course, we have to have rules and expectations.  Here are posters of the policies: for tardies, for cell phones, for food/drink, for restroom passes and for backpacks and purses.

Still on my list of things to do:
  • Put teacher computer on the podium (large one I built several years ago)
  • Spray paint file cabinets (not inside, even though Magic Erasers help get overspray off the freshly waxed floors)
  • Put up Word Wall title and unit numbers
  • Finish the assignment board, including titles: M, T, W, T, F, Agenda, I Can, EQ, Power Hour Schedule, etc.
  • Draw out the brain (using the projector) and finish Growth Mindset bulletin board
  • Hang my ROBERTS pegboards (4 of the 7 fell using Command velcro, UGH!)
  • And any other crazy idea I can come up with!

Free Poster Downloads (all in PDF form):

Choices, Chances, Changes

Before You Leave

Cell Phone Consequences

No Cell Phones

Challenge & Change


Easy Learning


Fair Is...

Not Willing, Determined

Instead of...

Make Mistakes


No Purses/Backpacks

Restroom Passes

Results or Excuses

Tardy Policy

Food/Drink Policy



Math Anxiety

Relationships & Using a Formula

Sorry about the crazy formatting of the posters.  I wanted to go ahead and publish this post, so I'll work on the formatting later to satisfy my OCD-ness!!