There are moments in life where you feel like that this must not be real, but in reality, it is. Moments, for example, when you are working side-by-side with your mentors, planning and working through some amazing things and you’re just so happy to be a part of the conversation. I am never more surprised that I am working alongside my master teachers to plan courses for other teachers. Being able to have an intelligent conversation is the first level, but then being able to contribute in a meaningful way is the whole next level.

After racing home yesterday, I had to meet up with my mentor, and we had an amazing discussion for two hours. We were reflecting on our course, looking at what went well and what we could grow in. If we get the chance to do it again, we’ll definitely make some small changes, but it is truly an epic adventure, we learned a lot going through.

Growing up my father was the mechanic, Mr. Fix-It, and he would fix anything that was broken in life. A few years ago, we found something he couldn’t fix, himself. Suffering an impact trauma to his C6 spinal chord meant he has limited mobility and needs general support daily from family. I do have to say, his attitude and ability to cope with this tragedy saved us all, so this is not a pity story, but a story of growing and admiration.

My dad has always been that stabilizing force in my life, and I have continuously relied upon him for calming the turbulence of life. That being said, I was never forced to learn how to fix things as a kid, as Mr. Fix-It would always take care of it, but now that I’m the able-bodied adult in the family, I am becoming Mr. Fix-It. Wish, if you knew me, I’m like…

…so it is with great pride that I say that I fixed multiple things this day with tools and it felt great. Time, careful observations, and all the fun of fixing something marked this day as a personal victory.

This morning I was out the door by 6:15 for a three hour run. My thoughts wandered along the way but I kept coming back to the idea of the power of threes in things that we do. Looking at this now maybe 3 way in my head as the time I had to run for, but I just see it in some many ways and really enjoy that number.

The views were amazing and the run was spectacular. I love long run days, I am all…

I don’t love how your body lets you know in little ways how different parts exist from pain. Good times.

Wow, the day is almost over and the grading is done with all my finals. I always forget how much I dislike grading, especially when looking at student thinking. Today, we had our last of the finals, with one week to go!

Something that stood out today that I am so proud about with respect to my students. My HS students had two hard finals that challenged them, and I saw many using their devices to find out information on how to solve, examples to attack the problems. I saw students problem solving their finals, that was awesome. I also saw lots of great, long, and dedicated study today among all the students.

In my final period, I was worried about the 8th graders, they have had 3 finals at that point all day long, and math is last…they were in for surprise because it was probably as difficult as the HS for them. I heard students excited when they realized half of their final is on Quizizz (my students love this) and the other was more traditional. My 8th graders were solid for the entire time working to get through the challenge, and I was so impressed.

What I was also excited to see was lots of writing when students didn’t understand a problem. I saw #NoticeWonder on problems which made my heart all warm and fuzzy. I learned a lot today about my students and I am going to miss these classes in a week. Well, grading is done, the week is quickly wrapping up, and I have a 3-hour long run tomorrow.

So this marks the beginning of a very busy graduation season for the next few weeks. Friday, last week, we watched two of my students graduate from college.

Today, we watch as my wife’s cousin does the same.

State testing finished two weeks ago, warming weather, and multiple field trips all indicate the sun is setting on the 2016-17 school year. The looming giant of finals is the final hurdle many of our students are left with in ending this school year, and here we sit investigating this idea.

Getting students the opportunity to do the work, we covered examples yesterday, and today we are doing a combination of 360 Math (thanks, @edcamposjr) for the inspiration there and karaoke presentations when we are finished.

In Math 3, students used Flippity (thanks again to Ed for that tip) to form our groups. Each group was given 90 seconds to capture the 7 problems on paper 360-style around the room, students used mobile phones to take pictures of the problems, and then shared the with their group. Students broke up the problems, some students would solve 2 problems, others would solve 1 problem, in the 15 minutes.

When time was finished, random selection for each group assigned the problem they would build the solution to the poster. Their goal is to write a solution clear enough that anyone could present it, which is the next phase with the presentation karaoke.

The Math 3 students hit some of the road blocks I was anticipating, but this process uncovered a couple more as well. The students did not get to the point they were going to present, we will capture those tomorrow. Students did see me solve all 7 problems in 3 minutes, not emphasizing the quickness of solving, but the efficiency of ease of these problems the concept of multiple iterations of inverse operations. I do feel I needed to give them more opportunities, and I should have started with this approach on Monday, then used it to set the stage for any clarifications or additional input the students would need from me, not the other way around.

In Math 8, we followed a similar format as in Math 3, the students opened up with a Quizizz review, getting a single shot of the year. Next, we chose 7 problems posted on the walls, viz a vie 360 Math. The 7 problems were taken from review problems previously covered, with small alterations, each team was assigned a problem and given 10 minutes to solve. Their goal is to write a solution clear enough that another group could present their solution viz a vie Presentation Karaoke.

Getting students to present would go smoother is more reps, this is our first time trying this Presentation Karaoke. While herding cats is challenging, it is worth the effort in that students are really engaging in their learning.

One of my students stayed after to tell me that another student explained what “simplifying” means in a way that he now understands it. When students stay after to share about their learning you know something went well.

An amazing teacher was inquiring about the use of BreakoutEDU having heard about it at some point. A “little birdie” in the form of one our equally amazing technology TOSAs let her know I have some of the boxes and am willing to demonstrate.

She reached out to see if I’d be available to showcase it, and we set up a time a few weeks out. Today, was the day we chose and the time, so we set it up and got it ready to go.

On a fun note, I am incorporating more of the digital locks, and using SnapChat to create more of the clues, like the one below, adds a lot more personalized fun.

One of the things that I absolutely love about BreakoutEDU is how it engages students to challenge themselves and work through difficult mathematics without feeling like it. Although I have run many games multiple times, I love that every game is unique. Running the same game, with the same class, minutes apart still produces a different experience and that is so fun.

On this day, with this group of scholars, we found that the teamwork was good, the communication worked, and the breakdown of connecting the ideas of individuals to the whole created opportunity for students to find their First Attempt In Learning (FAIL). We debriefed what went well, and what could have gone differently, we then planned what we might do better this next time and we ran the same game, picking up where we left off.

Students were more determined the second time and knowing the majority of the game, they went back at it for 20 minutes (they had 25 minutes the first time).

With time running down, they were still a little behind, and the teacher was sure she wanted them to experience success (which is usually a good default, especially the first time, I would be less likely to be flexible again). So we paused the time to clarify questions a couple of times and provide guidance to help students be successful.

Pulling together in the final few moments, the students were really good at working together to breakout of the game.