Wednesday, February 26, 2020


Yestereday we played the game FLUXX in my high school Geometry classes. I randomly placed students in groups of 3 or 4. My purpose wasn't to teach any Geometry content standards but it definitely should have made them think!  The students recognized that the order in which they played their cards made a difference on their possibility to win. Hmm...the order in which they solve a right triangles matters too!  I guess it will help to teach trigonometry this coming week! 

Everything I ever ask my students to do has a purpose. But that purpose can change after the fact.  The original purpose of the game was to give my students time to relax and de-stress. But after student comments about the order cards are played being important, my purpose has changed.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Number Sense for all!

Have you ever played a game with your family and realized how much mathematics and reasoning you have to use to play the game?
I have! 
Have you noticed that your students have struggled with basic number sense?
I have!
Have you ever put the two together?
I have!!
In my high school Geometry classes, I want my students to think! I want my students to increase their number sense. I want my students to enjoy mathematical ideas like I do!  So what did I do? I spent one hour a week at the asking my students to play games. I randomly assigned students to groups and gave them a game to play. I started with easy games like Uno and Tenzi. I seldom explain the games forcing the students to read and follow the directions. As time progress, they played games like Tiny Polka Dots, Prime Climb, Numero, Quadfactors, etc. My students have built relationships AND have improved their number sense. WIN-WIN!!
Where to start...try one game day. Find all of your own games that connect numbers and and put a different game at each table. Make sure the first games are easy to understand, like Tenzi. It takes a LOT of dice, 10 per person but it gets students thinking! 
About Tenzi...There are a wide variety of rules. I created a list for students to follow for each round. Students keep their own score. 5 points for winner of each round.
Round 1...roll all 1s. Etc.
Round 7...roll all evens.
Round 8...roll all odds.
Round 9...roll all primes.
Round 10...roll all composites.  Etc.

If you're students get a chance to play, they WILL think mathematically!  Just try it!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Number Sense

Today was the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics Pre-Conference 2019 with John SanGiovanni. I was not prepared for his session. I had several preconceived ideas about his session. He works with elementary teachers. How will this help me? I have taught high school for 25 years. I have no desire to sit and listen to elementary school mathematics for a couple of hours. But, I still attended.

It is hard for me to say it but I was wrong! He spoke from his experience with all levels of students. He spoke with general idea vs specific elementary content. Many of his comments about teaching philosophy and procedures made me wonder if he had a Big Brother camera in my classroom. I knew that he and I had similar thoughts and ideas. I was hooked!

He started by asking us to tell a partner our favorite number and why it is our favorite. Easy start! I made math personal from the first second of his session!

The he continued by asking us to look at a picture and make a prediction, discuss with a partner and share with the group.  He guided our thinking through his questions.  He asked for a few answers but focused on the process. Well, that's easy AND it got every math teacher thinking.  He said that it takes students time to be trained to think mathematically. But through questioning techniques, the discussions become more and more mathematical.

Every few minutes we were experiencing new number sense activities that get students thinking. There were so many ideas I can't even remember all of them but now I am ready to prepare for the first 5-10 minutes of every class period.

And now I wait. Wait to experience more. Wait to learn what questions to ask.

OCTM teachers -  Tomorrow's keynote speaker, John SanGiovanni, will NOT disappoint! Get ready! He will make you think and show you how to make students think!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

My students notice and wonder

Today in Geometry, I asked my students what they noticed about a pair of perpendicular lines.  There were a several students who stated observations.  Then one student said "I wonder how we can tell if the lines are parallel without having to graph them."  She jumped to wonder before I even asked!!  SUCCESS!

My geometry students have become amazing thinkers!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

First day of school mathematics!!

Today was the first day of school! Sometimes no matter how well you plan, you need to fill 3 - 5 minutes at the end of the hour.  Today I asked students questions about the day. I made the questions mostly mathematical answers. It was fun and made students think!
(I had told students that this was my 25th year of teaching and had shared a variety of information about myself.)
Sample questions.
1. How many school years have I taught?
2. Do I have more children or more chickens?
3. How many years have I lived in Collinsville?
4. What percentage of your semester grade will come from test grades?
5. Which is greater the age of my son in years or the age of my chickens in weeks?

They had NO CLUE that they were doing math!!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Geometry...My Style of Thinking!

I am starting a new year at a new school with a new prep.  A return to Geometry!!

After a summer with 10 days of PD included, I am ready to try new things and make my students work harder than me. My plan includes the following:
1. A lot of "What do you notice?" and "What do you wonder?" throughout many, if not all, daily plans.
2. Giving my students a change to guess and learn that a wrong guess is NOT a mistake. It is chance to learn more.
3. Go and talk - I just read about this idea a few days ago and love it! Have students stand up, walk up to another person, look them in the eye and discuss mathematics!
4. Creating Mathematicians who are constantly thinking.

This is a short blog post with more to come. My goal is to share my thoughts and ideas at least weekly.  More to come...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Math Department Lead Teachers/Chairs

This past week was the EngageOK Conference sponsored by the SDE.  One session that I attended was about the role of Math Department Lead Teachers/Chairs.Here are several ideas discussed.

A lead/chair should...
1.  Focus on excellence in their own classrooms
2.  Build relationships
3.  Focus on helping teachers who want to improve
4.  Be aware of and tend to issues as soon as they arise.
5.  Be a good example in all areas (ex.  Strive to learn on PD days, be attentive at faculty meetings, be positive in lounges/workrooms)
6.  Mentor all newer teachers
7.  Inspire teachers to inspire students
8.  Communicate opportunities to improve
9.  Share information about standards
10.  Collaborate with teachers in other areas and buildings
11.  Strive to discuss vertical alignment
12.  Pay close attentions to individual teacher's needs and help get them met
13.  Be willing to take on challenges within the department 
14.  Be an advocate for the department
15.  Hold department members accountable
16.  Focus on improvement
17.  Share your wisdom
18.  Let the department know that you have an open door policy (allow teachers to enter your classroom to observe your teaching anytime)
19.  Observe the teacher in the department to ensure that they are doing what they say they are doing (non-evaluative) and discuss what you see.

Feel free to add additional thoughts below.