2017-06-02 – Day 23 – Last Day

The combination of working on so many things, being pulled in so many directions meant the beginning of summer was especially important to pull back and refill. The last day of school with students, while I would miss our good times together, I have to admit, I was all like….


Especially considering we have an epic road trip planned to return us to the great northern reaches of this continent that I haven’t been to in over 16 years. So this summer….


….epic road trip is going to be amazing! I wish everyone a happy summer, I will be off the grid for most of that time, and be all like…



2017-06-01 – Day 22 – Report Cards

Following a great recipe from The Classroom Chefs, I wanted to give my students the opportunity to grade me and to make a note to warn my future students what to expect from a class taught by me.

My premise is simple, the students were asked to fill out an anonymous template that graded me from A to F, but I also required that whatever grade they gave me, they had to have a reason(s) for it. Although I had tried similar ideas in prior years, with the Chefs’ this explicit process, the differences in results are stunning. The chefs had warned us that the results may not be what you expect, and some of the results my

The chefs had warned us that the results may not be what you expect, and some may be quite surprising….there is a lot of truth, both in the positive and the negative of this comment. I am so happy for the experience and learning a lot about perceptions from this experience. Growing is sometimes painful, and that is how we get better.

2017-05-14 – Day 4 – Summer Learning

I have been wondering what my learning journey would look like over the summer, and I found my answer today thanks to my amazing #PLN. Starting with Margie’s (@pearse_margie) posting of great summer reads, I first thought about all the books I read without really learning from over the summer. My second thought was a book study would be a great way to make this social and provide some folks to process with, making the learning a truly engaging experience. Then my thoughts went to #MathConceptions, as I was thinking of a slow chat concept over the summer, this would be the perfect way to implement a purposeful slow chat….but what book? Of course, the answer was right in front of me, I read The Writing On The Classroom Wall a year ago, and it has several key ideas I’d like to pull out again. In addition, there seems to me an idea about this idea and misconceptions that are often present in our instruction we could address through the lens of the book. Now just getting sure we’re all on the same page and there are enough people willing to share their thinking…

…Update, now we might even be led by the author! The incredible Steve Wyborney (@SteveWyborney) is willing to jump in and support, maybe lead, our discussions! Oh the learning that will occur, this might be the best summer yet!

2017-05-11 – Day 1 – Today It Begins

So I’ve been hesitating on starting this blogging thing again, but thanks to my amazing PLN and  #ElemMathChat I’m ending the 2016-17 school year with an entry a day. So here’s my new learning from #CUEBOLD, when the amazing Ann Kozma (@annkozma723) took the time to show me SnapChat, which she did an amazing job recording the learning from the time there. I’m learning this while blogging so I’m putting them together here…along with many other new learnings…you know this is a good time to blog every day…so many things to share. Thanks #ElemMathChat (;

Update to Original Posting 2017-05-12….early…too dang early.

The lesson went quite well, having students collaborate and share their findings is always more exciting than listening to their teacher, besides you can see in the photo below, I get to practice my sweet dance moves.


I love learning new ways to capture and record learning, I think this is one tool that I might fall in love with. Especially as part of the amazing #PLN at #ElemMathChat some of us are going to blog every day until the last day of school, which is June 2nd here.  See you later today with another new learning and I’m probably going to be recording it via SnapChat…oh one surprise, this same glass has a mystery guest today…and it’s going to be so amazing!

Mission Accomplished

As I publish this reflection, I fear that this moment may turn into something along the lines of another famous moment….


I am very honored to have met #IRL (in real life) the person that inspired this learning goal for me this school year: Having students produce a weekly learnings podcast for public consumption. Joe Young is an incredible TOSA for math and education and he shared this idea a long time ago, and when I had the pleasure of teaching two courses this year, I wanted to challenge myself and use this as one way students would show what they know.

Finally, this week, I found the magic recipe to making this happen, I assigned two students, one in each class to get the job done. Friday marked the turning point for me in doing some of the things I wanted to get done and continue to build on. Friday was also our first Mystery Skype with another group of students. While the connections prevented less opportunities for conversation, it was an entertaining and fun sort of thing.

While doing the Mystery Skype, we also produced our weekly podcasts for both classes. I loved the idea of having students interact with other students around mathematics and this public display showed a proof of concept.

All in all, I was very excited to have been able to edit, publish, upload, host, and publish to iTunes. I am currently waiting on a review of my two podcasts to be approved, and if that works they’ll be in iTunes. The Mystery Skype provided the opportunities for students to strategize their thinking and be able to try to problem solve.

The podcasts are linked:  Math 8    &/or     IM3

Well looking forward to another great week. Hope your week is as magical and moving you forward to meet your new goals.

3 Things a 1st Grader Taught Me


  1. If you say you’re going to do something, you better do it.
  2. The power of observation from fresh perspectives.
  3. Curiosity and perseverance are important things for adults to model.

Although she was passionate about learning in kindergarten, her desire for academic pursuits (especially in school) have greatly diminished during her first grade year. Saddened, I wanted to combat this by engaging her in a conversation about performing some “experiments,” which garnered that familiar excitement I had loved to see a year ago.

After discussing some possible experiments and wanting to capitalize on her recent trip to a nature preserve, we settled on making a floral arrangement from construction paper. We evolved this idea into a hike through the preserve, where we would collect samples and build replica of a flower. Side note: We are in are in a severe drought here in California, and any flowers that did bloom, occurred two months ago. Two weeks later we got all ready, off on our sample collecting adventure.

The Wife and 1st grade sister, walking way ahead of me.
The Wife and 1st grade sister, walking way ahead of me.

Before I can continue, I have to say she was with one of her older sisters (there are 20 years between the youngest and her) all day, where the 1st grader had asked and asked several times if she knew about this adventure. I hadn’t forgotten, but I thought she would. Two weeks to a first grader is a lot of time, and a lot of things have happened between then and now. Well she didn’t forget, so when she got over to our house, I was in my room recovering from a long run in 90 degree heat. She tentatively asks if we are still going, I said yes, and for the first time she hugged me, straight up long embrace, Lesson 1 learned.

Arriving at the nature preserve, she was jumping for joy.
Arriving at the nature preserve, she was jumping for joy.

Back to the narrative, so we get ready and we’re out the door in 20 minutes. She was so giddy to be going, she kept asking if we were excited too. For the next two hours we walked around, collecting samples. During this time, I learned Lesson 2, she was so observant, she saw and heard everything through fresh ears, I realized that we can stop and look around, and with a fresh perspective familiar things look new. She made me think of this hot, dry environment as if it were some amazing, new place (which it was for her) and how exciting the mundane can be when viewed from different perspectives. For example, this is important to keep in mind as a teacher, as your students will often see the mathematics you teach from fresh and alternative perspectives, we need to embrace those perspectives and view things from their eyes.

The bags of samples, classified by "families" for later use.
The bags of samples, classified by “families” for later use.

After collecting samples, we went to dinner, then off to the dollar store for supplies. Having no idea  what to get, it was a challenge to think of all we would need, but it worked out. When we got back, we were ready to start. We were trying all kinds of fun things, but I learned she was curious. I didn’t know what we were going to do for constructing a flower with our materials,  when I learned Lesson 3. When an adult wants to learn the answer to a question, by what process does she go through to answer the question. Since she would not let me off the hook, I was given a marvelous opportunity to model how one might answer such a question, and how to continue through seemingly endless possibilities to find an answer.

All in all it was a great six hours of learning and time we’ll spent. The total cost:  my time, $8, and a lot of learning. We are extending this idea and building something better from it on Wednesday. Best part is, that spark of excitement for learning is back.

My girls and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
My girls and the Sierra Nevada mountains.