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Day 100: Getting Ready for T3 in Orlando

I am sooooo excited.  Once again I am heading to a Texas Instruments International Conference this year in Orlando, Flordia.  As a TI Regional Instructor, I’ve run enough week-end workshops, attended enough PDs and helped out in other ways to earn a free round-trip air fare and hotel lodging for the 5 days!  Since I will be presenting my Precalculus Folder Activity, I get a free registration!  Whoot-whoot!  I learn so much at these conferences. I think the T3 conferences have such great sessions and opportunities for collaboration with teachers from around the world as well as around the country. Love, love LOVE it!

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The downside is prepping for a sub for 3 days.  In my precalculus classes, not so bad as I will have them complete a Mathematics of Finance packet where they explore Present and Future interest situations.  I usually have them do an online exploration of these rates by “shopping” for a home and then determining the going interest rate and their monthly payment.  Also have them “invest” in an annuity to see how much they can make over a given time period.  Since I won’t be there, I decided it would be too much for a “non-math” sub to handle.  The packet still gives them some interesting situations to explore.

AP Stats is a different situation!  They will have their test on confidence intervals on Wednesday, but then we are starting in on significance tests.  So many places to develop misconceptions even when I’m there. So I spent almost 2 days over our mid-winter break just prepping for my absence in stats.  I needed to re-write handouts and activities so my neo-statisticians could proceed without me.  I also hunted for videos that would accurately explain concepts like p-values and alpha-levels, processes like writing hypotheses, and the general rationale behing a significance test.  I think they will be in good virtual hands.

Day 91: Mathematical Mindsets

As part of my instructional coaching duties, I offer various PLC’s throughout the year.  I am really excited about this one: Mathematical Mindsets based on Jo Boaler’s new book.  I read Carol Dweck’s Mindsets book this summer (and did a book study with a colleague) where I wanted to try to incorporate some of the principles in my classes.  However, I found it challenging at times to find the right venue to share, re-enforce and deepen students understanding of their mindsets.  Also, I was struggling with using the vocabulary and verbiage that supports a growth mindset.


Along came Jo Boaler’s book that specifically talks about the mindset aspects in mathematics.  One idea I found particularily interesting is compression, which basically says that people can compress conceptual ideas after a bit of intellectual struggling with them, whereas procedural methods are simply not compressible.  you can make room in your brain by connecting concepts but process and memorization doeesn’t necessarily link to compress.  More about that idea later.


If you get a chance, I think this book is a must read for mathematics teachers (especially secondary teachers) because we often forget (or don’t recognize) how important it is to teach and value all of the ways a student can approach a problem.

Day 34: NWMC 2015

I love to go to conferences!!  I especially “heart” the Northwest Math Conferences because there are always good speakers, timely topics and awesome people to learn from and share ideas!  This year, we traveled to Whistler, BC.  Heard some amazingly interesting and thought-provoking topics such as Standards-Based Grading, Improve your Questioning Skills to Formatively Assess your Students Understanding, Gateway to a Better Number Sense (clothesline math), Doing Much More With Your iPad, Trig with Paper and String.

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I also presented “Infographics as a Learning Experience.”  Here is my presentation if you are interested.  I was so thrilled to share how I use them in my classroom.  More to come in later posts!

One of the most interesting experiences at conferences has been the IGNITE series.  Ignite’s motto: ‘Enlighten us, but make it quick.’ is the perfect balance of form and function. Ignite speakers get five minutes and 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.  It is an exhilarating experience and I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to attend one!

And of course, no conference would be complete without a twitter post!

Tweet about NWMC


Day 8: Problem-Solving Folders

Students get scared of long-winded problems.  For example, this problem doesn’t even have the questions yet, but they freak out!

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I used the same activity about the Crop Duster as last year to start out this block class activity.  The premise is to get students to think about the situation without initially knowing what the questions about the situations are.  Once they organize the information into “What is known?” “What are the possible mathematical relationships?” and “Sketch the situation” students are then given the actual questions to solve.


In using the follow-up activity, I’ve found that the hardest thing for students to determine are the potential mathematical relationships.  Once they have the question, they totally forget these relationships and almost blindly try to solve without thinking about them.  This activity slows them down and gets them really thinking about the mathematical constructs in the problem.  They also learn that all potential mathematical relationships may not be used, but recognizing them helped clarify how to approach the questions.

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I hope to do this activity with different function types throughout the year so that I have some student work examples for a presentation I hope to give at the Texas Instruments International Conference in Orlando Florida next February. Here is my submission:

Using a Problem-Solving Activity To Develop Mathematical Habits of Mind

Have you ever wondered how to help your students to think thoughtfully about a non-routine problem situation before diving in to solve it? Or help them persevere during the needed productive struggle phase? Or encourage students to use meta-cognition during and after the problem-solving process? So did I!! This student-centered problem-based collaborative learning activity requires students to read the problem thoughtfully and then obliges them to work and think together to organize what they know (including a graphical representation) generate questions determine an answer and finally communicate the solution in a cohesive and understandable way. Come and enjoy the fun!

I’m a little nervous at this point, but I know as the year progresses I’ll have more student work to share and some suggestions for how to use in other classes besides precalculus.

What professional risks are you planning to take on this year?

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