Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Finding Space for Whiteboards

I work in a small portable classroom.  It is one room wide, so has windows on two parallel sides, and a door that goes into the next classroom in the back of the room.

I have 20 desks in this small space, and since there were no built in shelves or cabinets, have used wall space for storage units.

Therefore, here is my first attempt at creating vertical non-permanent space.  Most pieces are velcroed to the surface.

(my asst. principal, when he saw the velcro, suggested I cover one of the shelves of my bookshelf.)

(this is my laptop cart)

(this is btwn the outside door and one of the two windows on this wall. Peek out the windows and you can just see the railing of the deck that leads to my room.)

(I had 2 smallish extra pieces which I pieced together on the side of a metal cabinet.)

(my metal cabinet)

I do have 2 smallish bulletin boards which I plan to have pieces of white board that will hook over them.  This way I can have both bulletin boards and white boards in the same space.

9/10/15  A few more spaces for whiteboards!

Here is a before picture (note Velcro around edges)

 And here is what it looks like once the board is attached!

These two are attached over my only two bulletin boards:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TMC 15: Reflections on Amazing Professional Development

Before I can even talk about all the things I learned, I have to mention that once again I was outside my comfort zone.  This was my second Twitter Math Camp, and I was heading across the country to be with some people that I had met once before for 3 days and had spent time "chatting" with in 140 characters or less throughout the year, but being the shy person that I am, even that was extending myself, and I didn't do it very often.

Last year I was especially grateful to @jaz_math who took me on as a roommate, and introduced me to a number of people.  This year, I decided that I should do likewise and met the wonderful @numerzgal.  We found each other on the roomie "blackboard", and it turned out that not only would we room together, but we were both flying out of Boston on the same flight!  I got to introduce her to a bunch of people I had met before, and then we met lots and lots of others.

For some of you who have had the TMC experience previously, perhaps you would want to think about "mentoring" a newcomer.  I forwarded emails, replied to texts, and answered lots of questions for my roomie prior to heading out to California.  In return, she reminded me not to leave my backpack behind as we prepared to board the plane, and she ALWAYS had our room key with her!  I called her "Mom"!  :)

And now on to the reason for this post!


  • Greet the students at the door.  Every day.  With high fives. Or fist bumps. Or elbow taps. Or whatever.  But do it.  This will be a challenge for me since I teach in a portable classroom and the door the kids come through opens straight to the outdoors.  This means rain or shine or cold or hot, I need to be by that door!  Thanks, Glenn Waddell!
  • Find what you love.  Do more of that.  I love teaching.  I love finding out new ways to get the message of the coolness of math to more students. This is my passion.  Thanks to Chris Danielson, I will do more of this. I will choose NOT to get caught up in other stuff that I DON'T love.  I have 7 years left in the classroom and I am going to do what I love.  And then I will do more of that.
  • Number talks. For years I have done what I call "Noggin Math" - getting kiddos to do math in their "noggins":  1/4 times 20 (scary!) becomes 1/4 OF 20 (NOT scary!).  20% of $30 is "so simple"  because they can take 10%....twice!  (Or 15% because it is 10% plus half of the 10%.)  Before heading out to TMC15, I had read Making Number Talks Matter, a philosophy that a class can spend 15 minutes a day, or every other day, or.... and improve their ability to do quite a bit of pretty challenging math in their heads!   Thanks to Chris Harris, I believe I can do these with my students!!  This is way beyond my "Noggin Math", and I think it will be a great complement to it.
  • Ask GOOD Questions. This is an area that I have been working on ever since reading Powerful Problem Solving, and thanks to a session with Rachel Kernodle and followed up by a session with Robert Kaplinsky, I have some MAJOR thinking to do!  I am sitting here right now trying to think of a way to ask this question: "Do you know how hard it is to ask a question that doesn't have a yes or no (or one word) answer?" in a way that would make you answer with a more thoughtful response than yes, no or maybe! So here is my attempt:  "I often find it challenging to come up with other ways to question students so they can't answer with just one word.  Could you share some of your techniques with me?" (Whew! That was tough!)
I learned so much more than just this, but these are the four things I think I can do and/or improve this year.  (Thanks for the challenge, @stoodle !)