• instruction

    MTBoS Blogging Initiative Week 3: Better Questions

    You’re planning a lesson and you try to come up with super good question to ask to get kids to think about something. What is that question? Why did you phrase it the way you did? Why do you think it will prompt discussion/thinking? I’m returning to work at my International Baccalaureate school on Monday after seven months of maternity leave, and teaching Middle Years Programme (MYP) Math 9 for the first time. I’d written a few MYP-style units before in spite of teaching only Diploma Programme (DP) classes. I’m trying to be more thoughtful and intentional about unit planning now to create more effective assessments that tie into the…

  • instruction

    my favorite: trig tale

    I originally chose to teach math because I thought that it’d be so cut-and-dry, with one right answer for everything. Eight years later, I find myself looking for ways to assess that have multiple right answers. A recent conversation with two of my best college friends reminded me of that, and led me to pick trig tale for my favorite. One of those friends is a German teacher, and she likes to give open-ended quiz questions that are unlike the typical matching ones. In a recent class, some students got quite agitated at the question “How was your last report card of freshman year?” One student said “but what do you want…

  • instruction

    shaped houses

    “Want to live next door to the famous “round house?” ;-)” A lot of condo listings and sublets often pop up on the Somerville Moms email list that’s so popular around these parts. This one intrigued me, so I hit the Google. Turns out the round house has some interesting history. There is also a hexagonal house in Jamaica Plain and Octagon House in D.C. I’ve had students design their dream houses before–might add on a historical research or current real estate / house design aspect!

  • instruction

    technology to try

    Day 2 Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration. I first heard about Plickers at EdCamp Boston and put them on my “to-try” list for 2015-2016. This year, two awesome math bloggers posted about them on one good thing (misscalcul8 and Sam Shah). I’ve found it hard to incorporate edtech that needed constant access to the computer lab, Chromebook cart, and school Internet. I’m hoping to cut down on the transition time usually inherent with such integration. I’m also hoping to improve my formative assessment.

  • instruction

    goals for the (second half of the) school year

    When poking around my blogroll for blogs to comment on today, I found this challenge linked from Everybody is a Genius. I know it was meant for September, and I’m not in the classroom right now, but I want to think (and write) about teaching. Day 1 Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or abstract as you’d like to be! This is for when I come back from maternity leave on February 1. 1) Figure out how to get my lesson planning and grading done efficiently so that when Parker is home from daycare, I can have quality time with him and my husband and get…

  • instruction


    This post is a shoutout to my father-in-law, who recently had kids (aged 4-12) make catapults out of Dollar Store materials at a school open house. He made one working model as an example in case students really needed help starting, but otherwise aimed to not tell students how to make them and encouraged them to put together what they wanted. The art teacher also had a center set up for the kids to decorate their catapults. I love the incorporation of both art and the design process. I’ve used catapults for quadratic modeling before, and would love to modify that activity with some of the aspects from this one: Using the bigger…

  • appetite,  instruction,  parenting

    on math, date nights, and yummy food

    My husband’s boss gave us the following sage advice for new parenthood: go on a date night once a week. I didn’t realize how important and effective that advice was until last night’s date night (our first since September 1st). We’d gotten into more of a parenting routine over the past three months, including getting out and about with the baby to events such as a Halloween party or to a sushi restaurant for my birthday. However, we were always “on.” Watching one kid used to seem theoretically easier to me than watching 29 at a time in the classroom. Now, teaching a packed classroom would feel like relief from the…

  • instruction

    students as teachers

    A belated post…catching up on my “to post” ideas about good things in the classroom. Back in April, I had students in one of my 12th grade IB Math Studies classes review for a calculus test by having groups teach various processes for finding stationary points. It was getting close to April break and IB exams, so student morale was pretty low. I circulated through the groups and observed their progress, interested to see how their presentations would reflect what they’d learned. One of the students did an amazing job breaking down the steps of finding maximum or minimum using the graphing calculator. He patiently and slowly explained each step, taking breaks to ask…

  • instruction

    are you the one? part II

    Last year, I pondered the math in MTV’s Are You The One? and recently caught up on Season 3. The premise of the show is that ten guys and ten girls are put together in a house and given ten weeks to figure out their “perfect matches” (pre-determined by matchmakers). If all ten matches are found, the group splits $1 million. Each week, the group can send one couple to the truth booth to get a “yes or no” to whether that couple is a match. After that, there is a match-up ceremony in which either the guys or the girls (varies by week) are called up by the announcer to…


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