Thrilling Thanks

Thrilling Thanks

MTBOSBLaugust2018 (1)

Note: I am participating in a blogging challenge. Learn about how you can participate here. Send me a tweet and let me know if you are participating!

How is it August already?!?!

Once this month hits everything gets real and joining this mtbosblaugust will be just the thing I need to get back into the swing of things. (My goal is to blog at least twice a week…hopefully more!) I am slowly going through stuff from last year to prepare.

As I was going through I found some thank-you cards from students as seen here

Thank you cards

These are always so amazing to receive and their is something about getting a handwritten card at the end of the year from a kid makes everything seem so worthwhile. This has caused me to stop and think about how often I write a thank-you card for someone.  I have decided that a new goal of mine this year is to write more thank-you notes and not just when I receive a gift. Maybe when a colleague shares a great idea, maybe to a parent of a kid that has made some great strides, maybe to a friend who is willing to listen to me vent about something stressing me out.

The world needs more appreciation these days. Next time, instead of just saying it verbally, I am going to take those couple of extra minutes and put it in writing. I believe it will be much more valuable. Special thanks to my students who continue to inspire me with their notes and words of encouragement!

Classroom Chaos – My take on management

Classroom Chaos – My take on management

This week’s topic for #SundayFunday is all about classroom management. While I do not view myself as a master of this YET, I do feel like I have certain strengths. The following are the things that lead me to be successful in the classroom:

  1. Students need to see you care about them. I do not mean you should be telling them this verbally everyday but instead showing you value them. I try and find various ways to keep them engaged and practicing the material. They notice that I have put in effort to create a review activity or that I took time to give them feedback on something they wrote me. I believe students also see that I am fair. It does not matter if it is the student who is always making bad decisions or someone who has never gotten in trouble before but I am consistent in rules.
  2. When a student does something that I do not want to see in my classroom, I try and pull them aside to talk about rather than engaging in an argument in front of the whole class. I can always give a look or a quick verbal cue and then have the students start working on something so I have a chance to have a discussion about what just happened. It does not hurt to stand outside the classroom as students enter and talk to a kid this way as well.
  3. I like having both routines and chaos in my room; sometimes happening simultaneously. When students enter everyday, they know to go to the front of the room and grab whatever is out for an opener and begin work. They also know to have their homework out so I can check it and they can discuss. While this is happening, some students might be up at the board putting up homework questions they were stuck on while others are up answering them. At first glance it might seem a little bit crazy but students do a great job with this once I explain my expectations. This type of controlled chaos is what I enjoy having. I can hear conversations and discover misconceptions while looking on as others are trying their hand at a few practice problems. It seems to work for me and helps me decide right from the start of class where I need to proceed and anything I still need to wrap up from last class.
  4. One of the biggest things I have learned, especially being an early career teacher, is that having something for the students to engage with generally keeps issues down to a minimum. If they are actively working and participating on a task or a good problem, it is much more difficult for students to act out. It seems like when students finish something early or they already know how to complete a task, is when I tend to have most of my issues. I have learned to always have something extra to differentiate when needed and has helped out several times.
  5. My last, and probably most effective quality, is enthusiasm. When I get up in front of the room, I flip a switch and am really excited about whatever it is we are learning. I tend to flail around the room (as one student described it once) and constantly checking for understanding throughout the room while my students are working. Students can see I love this stuff and I believe it makes them want to like it a little bit more than they originally did. I get excited about students sharing methods. I get excited when they get something wrong that everyone can benefit from. I am just always excited to be in the room (even if I have to fake it a little on a particularly rough day). I may throw in an anecdote or a terrible joke for good measure too to get a laugh or raise the interest level.

I think that many of points go back to relationships. I believe this trumps everything else. Without that, I would have no buy-in and I feel like I would have a rough time managing any classroom. I am constantly working on making every student feel comfortable with me and with everyone else in the room. These are the things that have been vital to my success and I will continue working on them.

TMC17 Truths – I Learned Nothing

TMC17 Truths – I Learned Nothing

As I am back home and reflecting on Twitter Math Camp 2017, I feel like I have learned a whole lot of nothing.

  • I learned nothing but friendly and amazing people attend this conference to make a first-timer feel welcomed
  • I learned nothing but amazing things from Desmos and have inspired me to use the software even more
  • I learned nothing can change how I feel about incorporating more student voice into my classroom
  • I learned nothing will change in my classroom unless I take more risks
  • I learned nothing but being vulnerable will help me grow even more
  • I learned nothing will keep me away from the MTBoS and all the wonderful people involved in it
  • I learned nothing was gained except an amazing new group of friends and an overload of ideas
  • I learned nothing will stop me from attending as many TMC’s as possible

I learned a whole lot of nothing and I couldn’t be happier.

Loving Local – Shoutout to Illinois Bloggers

I was sick last week and failed on getting my second #mtbosblogsplosion up so I have to prevail on this one! I like the idea of picking people’s blogs and reflecting on them. I decided to focus on Illinois bloggers since I am one of them. Annie Forest (@ has been trying to highlight some Illinois bloggers so I thought it would be awesome to pick some of them and read some of their posts to see what I could learn from them.

From @mrsjtweetsmath I read her post about how to restart 2nd semester. I have so many things that I want to change and I always fail with my grand plans at getting everything because I tackle too much. My one focus is going to be student focus so I am going to be a lot stricter on phones and focus on my classroom management. Once that is under control, then I can pick something else. I needed this reminder to just fix one thing at a time.

From @JDaomath I read her post about social justice in mathematics. You can tell this is something she is definitely passionate about. I have done scatterplots but I never thought to include something like what she did. This has the wheels turning and I think I need to incorporate something like this at least once 2nd semester. (Small goal = at least once!).

From @kirk_humphreys I read his post about changing his look at assessments. I gave my honors geometry students a project with quadrilaterals that was really fun (I could definitely blog about that next). I haven’t done a project for my algebra II class like this yet so his quadratic water fountain problem has intrigued me. Not sure what I want to do but I think I need to find some form of a project to get them to show me what they have learned.

There are so many amazing Illinois bloggers but this is just a few of them that caught my eye and got me thinking about things as I start 2nd semester. Check them out!


Super Survey

At the end of the school year, I always give my students a survey to hear their thoughts about what they liked about our class and what the disliked. I tell them to be honest (they don’t even have to put their name on it) and I always get some really useful feedback.

I was reading some of their thoughts and I was really amazed that I stuck with doing an opener almost every day when the students walked in for some consistency and many of them said that it really helped! A few said that we should break away from that once in a while (even though I know I did but maybe not apparent enough or needs to happen more often).

I have put the survey I used this year below. I would be curious to know if anyone else uses something like this or maybe has better questions I should be asking? I kind of like that is open-ended for them. I am thinking of trying maybe some smaller ones at the end of the quarter to maybe get some more feedback and try to make some changes during the school year too.

Grueling Grading

With some time this week having Monday as a professional day and today as the ACT day, I have had some time to think about stuff so I figured…why not blog?

I have been thinking about grading lately since I had a huge pile of papers to catch up on over this weekend (don’t worry, I am all caught up as of today!). These are just some ponderings that I don’t really have the answers to:

  • Green Vs Red Pen
    • Does it matter if I grade in a positive color versus a negative one?
    • Are student’s self-esteem lowered if they see a bloody red paper versus one that looks like St. Patrick’s Day came way too early this year?
  • Stickers on students paper
    • If I start the beginning of the year putting them on papers, students seem to like
    • If I don’t start at the beginning of the year, nobody asks for them
    • If I start doing it and then stop, they complain and what their sticker
    • Is a sticker worth my time? What benefits does it really have?
  • Positive Vs Negative points
    • If I put a +4 on a problem versus a -2, does that make a difference?
    • Will a student actually look for their mistake if I do one way or the other?

Are students more or less inclined to read my comments I spent a lot of time doing if any of the above are followed or not followed? Maybe I need to explore more of this but just a brain dump for right now…


Contemplating Comments

Block scheduling, grad school, new books for courses, new students, life….I feel like I have so many reasons why this school year is especially grueling for me. I always feel like I am playing catch up and with break, I finally feel like I have some breathing room. Hopefully I can keep it up with a post a week…I actually put it in my calendar as a task. For some reason, that seems to help me get things done when an alarm is going off telling me to do it now! A new year is right around the corner and new resolutions…like staying on top of blogging and grading! Speaking of grading….

This stack of tests/quizzes are staring me down from across the room and as I pretend to grade them (make the answer key and then get distracted to do something else) I wonder how useful will they be to my students….

  • Will they remember what they were thinking two weeks ago?
  • If I make note of an error will they bother to look at it?
  • Can students remember how they tackled a problem if it has been two long?
  • Will writing a lot of comments be helpful or just clutter the page?
  • If I went over how to do all the problems in class be more or less beneficial than writing comments?

Michael Pershan’s ( has been exploding with feedback discussion and it has been making me think what would be most helpful to students? Generally, I give the feedback asap so that way it is still fresh but I wonder how much effort I should put in over break if they might not even remember what they did in the first place. Are these comments going to help anyone but me?