CMC South Palm Springs 2018 Recap

Before I head down to CMC North after work tomorrow with my colleagues Bob and Allan, I need to summarize everything I learned from CMC South a month ago before I arrive at Asilomar tomorrow.

It was my first time at south, and when my speaking proposal for 3D printing Desmos graphs was accepted, I was beyond excited, and a bit intimidated. I had never flown to a concert. I spoke at Asilomar and CPM’s national conference last year, but CMC south was uncharted territories. It lived up to and beyond the hype.

My principal paid for a substitute Friday and I flew out of SFO Thursday night. I planned my day for Friday, and here’s how it went:

Session 1: Grace Kelemanik: Contemplate then Calculate

I own Routines for Reasoning already, and I arrived early to introduce myself and she signed it. Grace is so nice and personable. Her name is pronounced “Kelluhmanick.” I also met someone I know from twitter at my table, Megan, @meganjoy5, and met Deborah. Megan shared the same admiration for Sara Vanderwerf and her name tents and Megan was raving about how stand and talks made her usually quiet students speak more. I have to watch that Global math on it at some point.

Back to the opening session. The goal was to learn how to facilitate productive math conversations. Why do we want students to learn how to discourse? Students construct knowledge socially. She played “Let’s give them something to talk about” by Bonnie Ray.

We were also reminded how important it is for teachers to have a poker face when listening to ideas so we don’t immediately give away that the answer is right, or wrong.

Instructional routines are great for many reasons. They have a predictable design, and students get better at it the more you practice it. Her website is

My biggest takeaway was this: in contemplate then calculate, the first pair of students that share have a sentence starter: “We noticed…” When you listen to them, you gesture to the dot talk image, do not write. Then, ask the rest of the class to restate their thinking with this sentence starter: “They noticed… so they…” THEN you annotate. I love this move so much because it keeps students accountable for knowing what others say, and you only write it when someone else repeats it.

All the routines end with a reflection prompt. You can choose your starter, such as “to find a shortcut, look for…” or “Noticing _________ helped count _______.”

My reflection was, “Knowing area of squares comes in handy when counting quickly because you can quickly get an array of dots that form a square quickly.”

It’s important to be explicit about the goal: how you learned to think like a mathematician in the future.

Session 2: Daniel Rocha, then Robert Kaplinsky

Daniel Rocha was given an awfully tiny room and I was rejected due to fire code and not being allowed to stand. He gave me the link to his slides at

I had never seen Robert Kaplinsky present, but I had met him at NCTM SF a few years back. I have also liked his Ignites when I watched them online, so I was excited. He was in a huge room with a lot of attendance.

His session had us ranking lays, nacho cheese doritos, cool ranch, cheetos, sun chips, and fritos from 1-6 to see how they could distribute them in a variety back to maximize profits.

We also looked at a task of a large drug bust of money. We estimated how much money the huge brick of 100 dollar bills would be.

Session 3Think Like a Mathematician by Vicki Vierra and Jim Short

I was really excited about this session. The description clearly said that we would be working on mathematical language routines. That was one of main focuses, since they are integrated with the Open Up Math curriculum. Vicki and Jim did a great job. We worked on this task:


They flashed it on the screen briefly, just so we could discuss what we noticed. It was great because it didn’t make you quickly solve. I think this was Contemplate then Calculate, #cthenc, again, but I was glad it wasn’t a dot image.

Once again, the first person to share, the presenter, had sentence starters: “We noticed… so we… We knew.. so we…, or our shortcut works because..”

Again, you only gesture when the first person shares. Second person who restate, the audience, says “they noticed… so they… They knew… so they… or This shortcut works because…”

My reflection was, “to find a calculation shortcut, look for relationships between numbers and see if they are divisible by a common factor.

In our group discussion, it came up that shortcut had a negative connotation. So we brainstormed replacements: elegant or efficient” method.

The 3-read strategy or routine helps students identify quantities and relationships. We want students to ask themselves, “What can I count or measure? How are those things related?”


  1. What is the problem about? (3 types of laughs)
  2. What is the question? (how funny is a cackle in point value?)
  3. What information is important

Making a t-chart helps, brainstorming quantities and relationships. We were also asked to do a sketch. I had read parts of the book Routines for Reasoning where students didn’t make sketches to scale, so when I worked on mine, I used my grid paper to properly scale the problem, like this:

Session 4: Geometry Practices by Jed Butler and Jenn Vadnais

The audience here was great because I got to sit with Casey, Chrissy, and Michael Fenton was there too. They had a huge Desmos activity builder that they ran the presentation through and it went really well. Tons of cool little activities that showed the progression of geometry from area of rectangles to much more complex shapes. We did a paper and pencil Steve Wyborney activity. We also used the Desmos sketch tool to find area. We were creating formulas by decomposing and rearranging.

Day 2 Session 1:

My session! I was first one of the day, and it was great. I think I’ll have a separate blog post about that. I was surprised by the great attendance, at least 60 people and I got great feedback from people in person.

Day 2 Session 2: Student Agency by Daisy and Katerina from

Here we did some role playing about lesson study. We watched a group work on an open ended problem where figure 1 is 1 tile and figure 2 is 8, and watch what they could come up with.

We were attending to status, sharing a student’s idea for the class to consider, and they are trying to abolish the phrase “I’m not a math person.” I recognized Katerina’s name and I was right, she is the same person who wrote the Functions unit with the border problem that’s on YouCubed!

Day 2 Session 3: Empower Students with Disabilities as Math Thinkers by Rachel Lambert

I follow Rachel on twitter (@mathematize4all) and know she is well respected when it comes to students with disabilities (SwD). She asked us what problems we see in math teaching and learning for these special populations? Cognitive deficits, achievement gap, SwD not offered access to standards-based instruction and not participating deeply.

I can honestly say I’m so glad our non-mainstream classes are using the same Open Up curriculum with more support and a slower pace. That’s awesome news to report.

What are her main takeaways? We need to change the way we think about disability. We need to offer intervention in our classroom, build relationships, see student strengths, invest in problem-solving routines, and provide scaffolds.

Then she talked about UD, Universal Design. It is when we design anything we want to expand the group of people who use it. We need to students to participation in math discussions because this predicts achievements. They need to engage in the strategies of their peers. Without supports, SwD participate less actively. The SMPs, or Standards for Mathematical Best Practices are best practices for ALL students, SPED, EL, everybody.

Rachel researched a 5th grade classroom where they had a consistent routine of number strings and CGI story problems. They worked on fractions, partitive and measurement.

They noticed that SwD are more willing to share if they are collaboratively sharing in front of the class with their partner, not standing by themselves.

Day 2 Session 4Mathematical Practices for Struggling Learners by Amy Lucenta

Amy co-authored Routines for Reasoning with Grace. She was also gracious enough to take a picture with me and sign her book.

When students work within contexts, they are using MP 1, 2, 4. When they communicate their ideas: MP 1, 3, 6. When they connect ideas and representations: MP 2, 4, 5, 7. And when students abstract and generalize, they are using MP 2, 7, 8.

We can ensure all students are doing these by using specific routines that support students in how to communicate effectively.

That is interconnected and makes sense.

How can we support our special populations? Give them avenues for thinking.

Like helping their quantitative reasoning. A quantity is something you can count or measure. It has 3 things: a value, sign, and unit. A simple tip like giving a sentence starter like “The number of…” helps students track important information in problems.

We then did a dot talk. We looked for repetition. I came up with the equation 4(N-1)+4 by visually looking at the pattern. My reflection was: when looking for repetition, I learned to pay attention to how groups of dots being added is related to the figure number.


Friday night pizza was a lot of fun, and it was great taking selfies with all the people I talk to on Twitter. It was also shocking that people recognized me from Twitter and as the guy who is the “Open Up Math guru.” CMC South was awesome and I hope to go every year. The fact that they cover your travel costs is a huge motivating factor. Now that I’ve blogged about my experience, I can come back to these notes and actually use them and now create more space in my brain for this weekend: Asilomar!


#MTBoS Math Colleague Photo Gallery

Whenever I go to math circles, trainings, conferences, or any events I like to take selfies with people I’ve talked to on Twitter, read their book/blog, or been a participant in their session. Here are my like minded people:

Mike Serra, author of Discovering Geometry, at Desmos HQ
Cory McElwain, Desmos engineer
Dan Meyer, author of many 3 act tasks, presentations, & Desmos CAO checking out an #openupmath lesson I taught!
Tyler, Aristotle, & Scott at lunch during #tmcnorcal
Mayor Kawata checking out my math class on his visit from Japan
Lisa, IM curriculum writer, coach, & Desmos employee


The two nicest Canadians I know on Twitter: Kyle & Jon
Andrew Stadel, creator of Estimation 180 
I chaperoned our Sojourn to the Past field trip, and met civil rights hero Jimmy Webb
Not a math teacher, but our music teacher Mancho. There’s music in math!
Marc Petrie had a great presentation at CPM SF 18, and was mentioned in Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets book
My fellow CPM assessment question writers
Founders of CPM: Judy Kysh and Tom Sallee
Civil rights legend Minnijean Brown: one of the original Little Rock Nine
Not a math guy, but one of my heroes: Jon Taffer. I posted his meme in my classroom: “I don’t embrace excuses, I embrace solutions.”
Chrissy Newell, IM certified trainer, after her great session at CMC Asilomar 2017
My first born daughter, Everly, helping me grade
Leeanne & Kathy at the Illustrative Mathematics training in San Francisco summer 2018
Marisa Aoki, savior attendee of my first ever Asilomar presentation and also at the IM training
A few of my math department members: Carrie Wong, Jessica Yee, myself, Jonathan Lee, and Bob Rodinsky.
selfie with Casey, the #MTBoS chief evangelist
Selfie with Desmos founder Eli Luberoff, at CPM Academy of Best Practices in Seattle
Howie Hua at #TMCNorcal
Desmos engineer, Anand, checking out some #openupmath

My plan is to continue to add to this list. I obviously don’t have pictures with everyone I know, but plan to!

Open Up Resources 6-8 Math Grade 8 Unit 2 Lesson 13… Math routines & cool-down comment codes!

Today was the culminating lesson of Open Up Resources 6-8 Math grade 8 unit 2, lesson 13. I wanted it to go better than the last lesson of Unit 1 went with students not really getting too far past the warm-up activity of exploring angles of pattern blocks.

This lesson started with a notice and wonder of 2 photos of 3 pens, one outdoors with equal shadows and the other indoors with a lamp as light source. Students were very intrigued.

Here are the images from reference, linked from the lesson plan freely available above:

After 2 minutes of quiet think time and passing out the lesson 12 cool down, I gave classes a minute to share with their partner before writing their thoughts on a T chart (MLR 2: Collect & Display). Here were highlights from 2 classes:

I’m glad that someone from another class also noticed that the bottom photo created slope triangles. Also, a few noticed the direction the sun was shining based on the direction of the shadows.

In the slide show the next photo draws lines from the light sources to show the angles created by the shadows indoors are not equal but the light rays from the sun outside create parallel light rays that make the angles with the ground equal.

Before jumping into the lamp post activity, I re engaged students with the lesson 12 cooldown that challenged students to check if a point was on the graph of a non proportional equation. When students took the cool-down, I prompted students who were stuck or blanking out to try to find the slope of the line. Before looking at each classes results, I worked the steps myself to guide my thinking of how students may approach the task and to plant a seed on how I wanted students to re-engage with the task the following day.

This is where I created some comment codes, that I’ve talked about in our weekly Open Up Resources 6-8 Math chat at 5:30 PST every Monday, and many people have inquired how I do it. Here is a perfect example to show.

Students received an “S” if they were unable to identify the slope of the line. If they did figure it out, no “S” code. If they weren’t able to set-up an expression or equation equal to the slope, they got an “E.” If they didn’t check if the point was on the line or incorrectly used their expression or equation (switching order of ratio, switching x and y coordinates) they got a “P.” So the less codes you got, the more you understood the task. My general marking codes are similar to the ones I learned in MARS tasks: check mark for correct, x for incorrect, and ^ (caret) for correct but incomplete thinking, that wouldn’t get full credit on an assessment.

To re-engage students the next day, I asked students if this was a proportional relationship. They said no, it doesn’t pass through the origin. Some kids divided the y coordinate by the x coordinate to see if they would equal to the slope, 1/2. They were referring to the classwork activity a day before where the line was y=3/4x.

So, I asked the class what the slope was. Many said, 2/4 or 1/2. I then asked raise your hand and prove it. So many talked about drawing a triangle between two points, and labeling the vertical and horizontal lengths, and writing vertical/horizontal.

I asked students to call out lattice points, points that were on the line and exactly on the corner. As they called them out, I marked and labeled them. I then labeled how the student volunteer found the slope, and pushed students to see how the slope was related to the pair of coordinates. Kids saw the vertical was the difference between the y values, and the horizontal was the difference of the x values.

Then I said, let’s mark the point at the edge of the graph, not a lattice point, that we aren’t sure of the coordinate and call it (x,y). This represents a point anywhere on the line. If we can make a slope triangle using this, we can find out if any point is on the line. Then I asked how to label the slope triangle between (x,y) and (8,7). [I was careful to not pick a point whose x and y coordinates were the same, as this would not help differentiate the x and the y coordinates]. They said y-7, then x-8. I asked students what we should do with those expressions, and they said divide the vertical by the horizontal. I replied, and that should equal to…? (1/2). I reminded them this is true because the slope is equal between any two triangles on the line because they are… similar! [I’ve noticed a lot of mix up between the words corresponding, congruent, and similar. It’s a lot of language demands for students]

Then I asked how do we see if (20,13) is on the line? I honored that some kids made a mistake here and I understood that for slope vertical is the difference in the y coordinates first, but in an ordered pair, y is not first, x is first. A few kids switched this around. I asked what should we write instead of y-7? (13-7!) Instead of x-8? (20-8). That equals 6/12, and wala, it is equivalent to the slope, 1/2. I also had students write a sentence, declaring that answer: “(20,13) is on the line because when you substitute 13 for y and 20 for x in the equation, it equals 1/2, the slope.”

I have to show what this student did. Although there’s no equation, the SMP’s are evident all over this with the perseverance, and the repeated reasoning of a pattern.

Then we jumped back into the lesson. Students had 2 minutes to notice any relationships between the heights of the people and lamppost and their shadows:

My students asked if I was the guy in the middle. I did admit that this gentleman is the same height as me (72 inches or 6 feet), although he has 2 sons, and I have 2 daughters much younger.

Most kids found the approximate constant of proportionality (1.5), but in my first class, one student had a REALLY clever way of finding the lamp post height. I mentioned him, Carson, in later classes to show students there was an alternative method. He got his protractor and measured the man’s shadow and got 2 centimeters. He then measured the lamp post shadow and got 5 centimeters. He reasoned that 2 times 2.5 is 5 centimeters. So, he said that the lamp post must be the same size of 2 and a half men! He said 72 plus 72 is 144, and half of 72 is 36, so 144+36 is 180, which is pretty darn close to the answer students got of 171 inches when multiplying the lamp posts’ shadow by 1.5.

The next activity is pure genius. After that activity synthesis, it fades out the photo and draws black lines on the angles created by the people and their shadows. Students are given 2 minutes to come up with their first rough draft explanation of why there is an approximate proportional relationship between shadows and heights.

This was my first time I was going to use the MLR 1 (Math Language Routine), Stronger and Clearer Each Time with successive pair shares. I first experienced this routine at Asilomar last year in Chrissy Newell’s session that was right after my session. I didn’t follow the instructions exactly how I was supposed to, after referring to the Course Guide outlining the procedure, I realize that students were supposed to think about what they were going to say to their partner without looking at what they first wrote. I will read through that again before I try this great routine again.

When I executed the routine, having cards taped to each desk for random seating really helped. Students matched up with students at the table across from them with the same suit to share their thoughts, listen to their partners, and critique each others reasoning and add to what they wrote (some had wrote nothing in their independent time). I could see students who usually didn’t produce as much work output, working harder to incorporate notes from their partner’s ideas. I then had them think and write a bit, then pair up with a different table. This really helped in the activity synthesis because students were more willing to share one idea they had.

The main point to drive home was that the shadows and objects created triangles that were SIMILAR. Yes, they were all right triangles, but that only proves that which angles were the same? The 90 degree one. So, students, how many pairs of angles must be the same to be similar? (2!) So, how about a second pair? They saw that they were corresponding because the light rays appear to be all be parallel. This means that the side lengths are proportional to each other, and are scaled copies.

Then students went outside with clear roles: 1 student would stand, whoever knew their height by heart. Two students would measure with a meter/yard stick, and the 4th group member recorded the data. Then they measured the shadow of a tree or a tall object and then went in to do their calculations. We ran out of time, and one of my classes had inattentive behavior that slowed the flow of the class period which made me omit the outside portion and just have a longer conversation about why the relationship was proportional.

I am really happy with how this lesson went. With this curriculum, Brooke Powers reminded me that my students are making memories of learning experiences in math class that I believe they will remember and recall later on.

As Illustrative Mathematics says, the units and lessons follow this model:

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 8.21.21 AM

I really am happy with how students consolidated and applied their learning in this culminating unit 2 lesson. I am also excited to try successive pair shares (MLR 1) again with a different concept.

OUR Grade 6 unit 2 lesson 1 Intro to Ratios

I felt that this lesson was a great introduction for students to grapple with the language of ratios and to see them come to life.

The warm-up is such a great start to the lesson. I don’t have it pictured here, but basically there are different colored shapes with different areas and arrangements of squares. This is where having the consumable workbooks from Open Up Resources really comes in handy because they are printed in vibrant color! It gets students thinking about what color categories they could be sorted into, as well as how many groups that is. Then they sort by area, and then come up with their own sorting. One student named all the types as small rectangle, square, big rectangle, small L, big L, and I forget what they called the other two shapes. Others said rectangles and non-rectangles.

The lesson plan offers a teacher collection of dinosaurs of different colors and characteristics, but I decided to use a prominent collection I’ve had up for many years: my bobblehead collection:

I brought them down in front of my display TV so kids could see them better. Here they are asked to come up with a way to categorize them. I’m glad they said the primary way I thought they would: by sport. There’s baseball, football, and basketball. They also said animals and people. A really creative one was if they had a helmet on or not. I asked if a hat is a helmet, so we revised it to headwear/headgear or not. Another suggestion was if they were in the act of playing the sport or not. This lead into us co-constructing ratio sentences based on my collection. The lesson plan is explicit to come up with one from each type of sentence. Here’s what we came up with:

After this, students sorted their own collections. I had at least one collection per table, but one group no one had brought any in so luckily I had some of Christopher Danielson’s wooden tiles to sort.

Here some students sorted B’s massive collection of erasers:

I think the 3 categories were food, animals, and non-living objects
Sorting process
Sorted! And you can see the warm-up question in the background.
Here’s their categories and data.
@trianglemancsd to the rescue!
I love how they named the pentagons crowns.
Then they were like, hey they fit together!

Afterwards, they were given an exit ticket (cool-down) with pictures of cats, mice, and dogs. I was really impressed how well students were able to apply the knowledge of the ratio sentences and the reference on the poster was a huge help for all learners. This lesson was an exciting launch into Unit 2 on Ratios!

Open Up Resources 6-8 math Unit 1 lesson 12 surface area

I tweeted out my excitement to teach a lesson that I have taught in the past to 7th graders before. This time it was built in to the Open Up Resources 6th grade curriculum.

Chrissy Newell posted some of the funny things students wondered when she taught the lesson recently:

Here is what my one section of 24 6th graders came up with for their Notice and Wonder Routine:


I like to answer, “why is he doing this?” with: “to make learning math fun for all of you!”

In hindsight, I should have asked for a too low and too high estimate in addition to their estimate but I was concerned I would run out of time for the snap cubes activity after this part of the lesson.

We didn’t spend too much time giving reasoning behind the estimates, but I think some estimated for only the front face.
At the end we addressed this common misconception: dividing the volume of the file cabinet by the area of a post it note. 
Three different students contributed to me scribing how they solved it. 

One student excitedly added that instead of adding the areas of all the surfaces first, he divided the front face’s surface area of 2,592 square inches by 9 square inches to get 288 post its. I pointed this out to him when we watched Act 3, the reveal.

People on twitter said they couldn’t find the video reveal linked in the lesson, so here’s Mr. Stadel’s original lesson link that has the sped up video of the answer reveal.

A different rectangular prism than the one pictured in the book, but same number of snap cubes (volume).

In the next activity of the lesson, students spend a minute looking at a nicely color coded rectangular prism on an isometric dot grid. I showed my students my name I wrote on the same grid paper using 3D letters made of prisms. I gave them a minute to figure out why the surface area was 32 square units.

Anakin talked about how the top is 4 squares so the bottom must be 4. Then the 4 faces surrounding it are each 6 so 6 times 4 is 24 and 24 plus 8 is 32.

I feel this was the first new prism kids got at first.
Drawing these was challenging for many students!

It was an action packed day in 6th grade math on a Friday, and I felt pretty satisfied. It was hard to get in a good lesson synthesis at the end and I did not have time for a cool-down, but I feel students felt the joy that math can bring you when a challenging problem is solved using the power of math.

Open Up Resources 6-8 Math by Illustrative Mathematics Leadership Academy… and the SLC work after

Here is my tweet about the blog post leading up to this training from July 25 to 27th in San Francisco:

A little backstory: we piloted Unit 1 of Open Up Resources 6-8 Math at all grade levels, and received one day of training from Chrissy Newell at our school, Taylor Middle.

The academy was for 2 days, and I attended the 3rd day to be trained how to bring back the materials to my school and train my colleagues who did not attend the training. The first two days covered the same lessons we discussed at the one day training at our school. We went into further depth into the 5 practices and how it shows up in the lesson plans.

Here is part of our Math department enjoying the training!

I’ll start with a brief summary of the three days of the PD. On day one we established norms for how we were going to discuss math together. We looked at a diagram of the problem-based lesson structure. Many noticed it’s not I do, we do, you do, and it’s students warming up, activity, activity synthesis, another activity, lesson synthesis, and a cool-down to finish off. We then worked on a lesson in Unit 1 of grade 6 finding the area of some parallelograms using either decompose and rearrange or enclose and subtract. Some of the diagrams force you into the latter method, which we want students to be flexible with. We reviewed the structure of the 5 practices after the facilitators had taken notes and had participants come up and show their methods. We also looked at how to prepare a lesson or a week of lessons in advance.

On day two we analyzed a 5 practices lesson about proportionality with cups of rice. We then looked for evidence of the 5 practices in the lesson plan.

We then looked at the research behind the MLR’s, or Mathematical Language routines. They are described in detail in the Course guide at the top right of the Open up web site. We did an info gap routine. Kevin Liner said both students in the partnership should solve, with the data card trying to figure out the question the clues are for.

When I saw Chrissy Newell’s presentation at CMC Asilomar, she showed an anchor chart with the structure of the info gap presentation, which I made and used later during my PD and have used with students:

We looked at the design principles that support ELL students in the curriculum. The PDF is available through the Stanford web site and you should definitely check them out. We jigsawed them and shared at our tables what we learned.

Then we did a teacher materials scavenger hunt. This is where I believe the professional development could have been differentiated a bit because there were many participants that had taught a unit, a couple units, or a whole year of the curriculum. My team used this time to work on getting the cool-downs in some print-friendly formats.

We then looked at a lesson planning template. The process is writing down what materials need to be prepared, your goals, what to stress in the warm-up and lesson syntheses, and how the cool-down connects back to the learning goal.

We then did a great post-it note activity, where we responded to this statement: “Cultivating a community of learners where making thinking visible is both expected and valued.” We were asked to put our answers on post-its to two questions:

  1. What does it look like?
  2. How do we accomplish it?

We then posted these in our small groups, organized them by similar ideas, and gave category names to those groupings. It was amazing when we did a gallery walk and saw how many of our ideas were similar, and we got new ideas.

I’m proud of what our group came up with here. You can see we want our classrooms to show off evidence of student work, see the student engagement in the discussions, a class culture where discourse is respectful, and us using teacher moves to put students in the position to succeed and share their ideas.
And here is a group that we didn’t even talk to. Don’t their categories look similar to ours?

Day 3 was one room rather than two rooms and much more intimate I thought. We first brainstormed about our own PLC or Professional Learning communities. When do they happen? Who is involved? Success and challenges? I know we meet at least once a week as a department, once a month as a staff, and once a month as a grade level.

We discussed how to plan a PLC session centered around the 5 practices. Basically, do the math, read the lesson, complete a template, discuss implementation, and reflect on that.

We also looked at a PLC sesion about mathematical routines. The process is to read the lesson, define the purpose of the routine, enact routine, anticipate student responses, and reflect on how it went.

Time was spent on the unit 1 pre-unit diagnostic test and how the skills assessed their showed up in the first 4 lessons and to brainstorm opportunities to reteach those skills. I’ve seen on the Facebook group that people think if students nail the diagnostic then they already know the material from the unit. No. This does preview some of the content, but it looks at some prior grade level skills to identify any gaps as well. The course guide goes into detail behind the purpose of these.

Afterwards, we completed a cool down in grade level groups and analyzed student responses that were scanned to a Google drive link. Finally, we reviewed the unit dependency chart.

From there, we were given all the PDF’s and Google Slides. These materials are copyrighted by Illustrative Mathematics, so I cannot share how I spliced those together to plan the professional development back at my school the week before school started.

In the day of professional development I had with my department, we spent the first hour organizing materials for unit 1 because the 6th grade teachers had to attend an hour meeting on using Amplify for Science materials.

Then I shared my first week plans briefly to suggest to my colleagues to use some materials from You Cubed’s week of inspirational math to give us all more time to prep for Unit 1 without plunging into it right away.

I started by reviewing Illustrative Mathematic’s vision statement:

“A world where learners know, use, and enjoy mathematics.”

I then reviewed the overarching design structure: Invitation to the mathematics, deep study of concepts and procedures, and consolidating and applying those. That macro view then shifted to the micro view of each lesson’s problem-based structure which I talked about previously in this post.

I then asked my colleagues to read the summary of each lesson component from the PD handouts and highlight or underline what stood out to them. We then went over it. This was great.

Then we looked at Unit 1 Lesson 18 of grade 6. We looked at it on the Open Up web site from the student view, had a hard copy, and I had the slides on my display screen. We completed the warm-up and saw what we needed to stress (meaning of exponents, being repeated multiplication and that repeated addition can be written as multiplication).

This was the most common net. I had to prompt some colleagues to label their net by pointing to the second part of the sentence.
Notice how Mr. Rodinsky not only wrote his answer of 125 cu in but the expression before it 5 x 5 x 5. I made sure to snap a photo of this and show it from my Google Drive app as part of one of the 5 practices of sequencing and connecting student work.
I used to this show how this student used something besides words (exponents) to show the square and cubic units.

I prompted colleagues, is the T shape on the left the only way you can draw a net (all teachers did it this way or it rotated). Miss Wong looked up the NCTM site where it had all the methods. Part of the activity synthesis is closing with asking “What is the surface area and volume of a cube with an edge of 38?”

We then completed the cool-down. We then read the framework for the 5 practices and identified evidence from the lesson plan where we saw the 5 practices. You can see how the lesson plan gives you the learning goal, anticipates misconceptions and correct methods.

We then breaked for lunch. When we got back we jumped right in with the most unfamiliar routine to most people: Info Gap. I selected one from the last units of Grade 6 on statistics and it was a pair of challenging tasks on box plots. This tweet shows the task and it generated a lot of interest on Twitter. The main point is I had to establish background knowledge students would have had a chance to learn earlier in the unit before teachers experienced the activity:

Then to get people moving, we reviewed the number talk routine and enacted it.

I used material from the 6th grade curriculum that was different from the training but still in Unit 1.
Here’s a nice sight: colleagues discussing strategies. They had a long discussion on the area model for multiplication. Up front you can see the workbooks (no photocopy machine!!) from Open Up Resources 6-8 Math curriculum.
Here is Mr. Lee practicing the Number Talk string routine by scribing Ms. Yee’s thinking.

Finally, we took our unit 1 pre-unit diagnostic test and analyzed it. Jenna Laib blogged about that also. We did not have time to analyze cool-downs, which we will save for a later department meeting.

The 8th grade team took the Unit 1 pre-unit diagnostic test and looked at how the concepts may predict success or struggles in the lessons 1 to 4. We split up the 7 problems between us.

I got some good feedback, although some thought it was repetitious of the training. I tried to remind everyone that the training was for the people that weren’t at the 2 day training. I know everyone appreciated though that we used different content and somewhat more challenging material.

Mr. Lee made a post it note of what we are going to try to have students glue into a notebook to bring to class in addition to the consumable workbook. They are decided to do 2 skill assessments on Fridays rather than the 3 a week we did last year.

I’m looking forward to a great year. I’d also like to thank Open Up Resources for hiring me as a guru for the 6th grade level. It’s been awesome so far with our Twitter chats. Join us mondays using #openupmath at 5:30 PST. We will also be having some Zoom chats for more personal professional development. Also, join the Facebook group for Open Up Resources, with a general group and there are grade specific groups.

First Week Plans

With the start of the school year coming Monday August 27th, I felt the urge to do a bit of planning of the first week to feel like I accomplished something. I also still want to blog about the 3-day IM training I went to, and devise a day long PD with my math department to deliver the most important bits from the training. The first day of school is such an important one, and I blogged about it on NCTM’s Blogarithm in a post titled Strategies to Create and Maintain Positive Classroom Culture. I suggest you read that, because I don’t want to repeat myself in this post. It includes a link to Sara Vanderwerf’s name tents, and here is a link to a Google doc to make a copy of and edit.

[Side note: by Julie Wright’s suggestion, I am adding a part for students to tell me the preferred pronoun they want to be addressed by. Avery Pickford pointed out it makes for a more inclusive environment ]

Day 1Attendance at door, Name Tent, Cups Challenge, Debrief about names & activity

I will follow everything I outlined in that post on day 1, and making sure that I assign them their mathography assignment which will be due Friday which will be instrumental in doing the mystery student activity each week. At some point this week or next week I want to make time to have students sign up for Seesaw to upload a photo of one of their first cool-downs and pass out the IM workbooks for Unit 1, with the expectation that they are brought to class everyday. Also, I have to remember to post the learning target of students learning the names of every classmate by the end of the first week, or about 5 new names per day.

Icebreaker activity:

I learned this activity from CPM’s Academy of Best Practices called the Cups challenge. I saw it online with some different directions, but basically students are given a stack of cups, a set of 4 instruction cards, and a rubberband with 4 pieces of string tied to it. The rules are that you can’t show your card to your group and when you move a cup each group member must be holding 1 of the 4 strings. All of these instructions are laid out. I suggest printing these on card stock and cutting them out.

Here’s what it looks like in action (found this off a Google search, not my students)

recent tweet of video

Here’s the activity, formatted in Google Docs:

Day 2Video Clip, Norms, Four 4’s, Revisit Norms

I want to start Day 2 with high fives at the door and see how many names I can get by heart. We will immediately launch into some activities from the Week 1 of Inspirational Math.

  1. Video: 5 minute video clip from Week 1 Day 1 WIM. Purpose: everyone can achieve to high levels in math)
  2. Prepare to establish norms: On a T-chart, I’ll label the left side things we like people to say or do when working on math, and on the right side things we don’t like people saying or doing when working on math. I’ll invite any ideas from the Cups challenge from yesterday, and tell students to be ready to share additional ideas after the next activity.
  3. Four 4’s: First with some individual time (5 minutes), students will write down the numbers 1 to 20 and see what numbers they can come up with using any mathematical operations and only the digits 4, 4 times. Then I will ask them to share with a partner for 5 minutes, then with their group the rest of the time. This will mimic the Think-Pair-Share style that the Open Up 6-8 curriculum usually is.
  4. Revisit norms

Day 3:

  1. Video: Weekly 1 Day 3 (Day 2 is short and not that great) Purpose: Being good in math is not about speed.
  2. Number Visuals: Week 1 Day 2… Think-Pair-Share format.
  3. Debrief
  4. Dot Talk: Number talk from Weekly 1 Day 3
  5. Revisit norms

Day 4:

  1. Video (5 minutes): Weekly 1 Day 4 Purpose: Math is the study of patterns.
  2. Pascal’s Triangle:
    • Introduce Pascal’s Triangle (French mathematician, but found by many other cultures)
    • Find the missing numbers on the Pascal’s Triangle handout while working in pairs (page 4)
    • Investigate the 4 questions on the Pascal handout (page 3)
  3. Presentations, Debrief, Revisit Norms

Day 5: (Here I debated the paper folding activity or the visual pattern. I’m going with the visual pattern because I think there are more approaches to it)

  1. Video (3 minutes): Week 1 Day 5 Purpose: Mistakes and productive struggle are good.
  2. Tile Pattern: How do you see the pattern growing? (follow up questions)
  3. Presentations, Debrief, Revisit Norms

I have consolidated this plan into a Google Slides that I plan to share with my math department. The plan is to have all students at all grades do this week of mindset messages and then start Unit 1 of Open Up Resources on Day 6 with workbooks.

Google Slides link

I’ve already had some fun digging into the Four 4’s… I’m hoping to catch some kids using the square root operation and then I will have those students share that out to the class. I doubt any will know about factorial, which as the YouCubed notes say, must be introduced to get the last two numbers: 11 and 13.