I thought about it for a second. I have a 3 year old. Why don’t I try it with her? So, I read the blog post, and took a screenshot of the instructions to play with my daughter Everly, who just finished her first year in pre-school. I highly suggest reading the original blog post that Morgan quote tweeted.
First of all, she was super excited with the simple question, “Do you want to play a game with me?” We counted out 10 cards each and I planned for her to help me with my turn and I help only when necessary.
So, the beauty of playing side by side, is if she had a card revealed that I didn’t have revealed, she could reference her cards to help with placement, as seen below:
She quickly picked up that if she is trying to play a card that’s already down, that you can’t and have to put it in the garbage:
I was high fiving, hooting and hollering, and so proud of my daughter. It really was a special moment for us to enjoy math together. We practiced counting from 1-10 to place cards initially, and she learned that ace represented 1. She also totally understands Q is the Queen, and still needs practice identifying the J as Jack and K as King. Interestingly, she seems to have some understanding of what numbers come before or after another because she would say “7 is there, because 8 belongs there (pointing to the right).”
The next day, I decided to visit my mom watching my nieces so I could teach my 4 year old niece C the game. She had never played before, and picked it up pretty quickly and enjoyed it. It took some encouragement to explain why a card went into a certain place. Like my daughter, one reasoning was “it belongs there.”
My 8 year old niece going into 3rd grade already knew the game. So my mom decided to play Solitaire with her while we played. She demonstrated some good understanding of alternating colors as well as the descending order of numbers.
Solitaire holds a special place in my heart because growing up my grandma would play while she was cooking dinner so I learned it from her. She eventually got alzheimers and I missed having meaningful conversations with her. One day I decided to pull up a table to her and I set up the game of Solitaire in front of her. Without saying anything, she immediately started moving cards around mostly correctly. It was a very happy and emotional moment for me because I got to connect with her again. I asked her questions like, “Grandma, you know what number comes before this.” My grandma passed a few years ago, and I’ll never forget that moment where I got to spend some quality time with her at the end of her life.
Then, on Saturday night, I got a video text from my mom. My nieces that night wanted to show their grandpa, my dad, how to play garbage. So, he got to watch them play each other. Here’s a video of that:
That’s special to me, because after I left the impact was still felt. My dad got to connect with his grand daughters with a cool new game.
None of this would have happened if not for Kent Haines, Morgan Stipe, Brooke Powers, and the rest of the math teacher community on Twitter (#MTBoS) that shares their ideas freely.
On Sunday night we played again. I wanted to see how she could do starting the game. Everly knew that 10 would be the last number. Then she correctly placed a 7. I am amazed. I love that in a couple years when she starts grade school she will see numbers or dots in a ten frame and have some familiarity of that structure.
My wife brought my 2 kids to my classroom on my birthday before back to school night. It was the highlight of my birthday because she brought cannolis and also Everly asked to play garbage. My colleague Mr Lee dealt himself in to play along.
As part of a sub plan on April 15th, 2018, I assigned my students to give me a “Teacher Report Card” with about This is one of the suggestions offered in the book Classroom Chef by Matt Vaudrey and John Stevens. I have given a much smaller version of asking for feedback as an extra question on a Google form that I blogged about the year before last year given very close to the end of the school year.
I decided to ask for feedback from all my classes, 1 6th grade and 4 8th grade sections and to not modify it in hopes of adjusting it for next year. I took their advice and did it closer to the middle of the year. Maybe this upcoming year I will try it before winter break.
It’s a great time to be vulnerable, take a risk, and ask for feedback.
Here are my averages and results of 147 student submissions. To get averages on google sheets you can use something like: “=AVERAGE(P3:P145)”. I tried to sort these numerically but that resulted in some reference errors.
…respects each student
… makes me feel important.
… tries to see the student’s point of view.
…encourages me to be responsible.
… has a great sense of humor.
… treats me as an individual.
… does a good job of treating all students the same.
…answers questions completely.
…says his words clearly.
… uses language that we can understand.
… explains topics clearly.
… tells us our learning goals.
… keeps the class under control without being too tough.
… seems to enjoy teaching.
… provides time for review of material.
…has bad breath.
…listens to our ideas.
…leads good class discussions.
… tries new teaching methods.
… gives good, fair assignments.
…has a good pace (not too fast or too slow).
… gives fair punishments.
…encourages different opinions.
…gives enough time for assignments.
…has interesting lessons.
…gives tests that reflect the material in the unit.
… dresses professionally.
…praises good work.
My highest scores were praising good work and then dresses professionally (I wear a tie often). My lowest score was bad breath (throwaway / funny question) and then great sense of humor. I think this may have been low because my sixth grade class says my jokes make them cringe so I’m a “cringey” (sp?) teacher. Definitely disappointed that interesting lessons got a low rating. I suppose they may mean that when the routine is the same, it can be less interesting? I think that it could be more interesting if I get them standing at the whiteboards more often. I’m also not surprised that my next lowest rating was keeps a good pace (I feel that for some students I’m rushing, and others I’m going too slow, trying to find the happy medium). That was tied with keeps the class under control without being too tough. I think that as you’ll see from the feedback below, I tended to yell when I felt the class got too out of control, which is interpreted as being too tough, I think.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that after this survey I really tried eliminating yelling at students or the class. This was especially prevalent in one particular period that was very challenging. I posted a blog post recently about student testimonials and many students appreciated that I read all of this feedback and took it to heart by stating that I wanted to pause before reacting with anger or raising my voice when I was frustrated. Myself and students were helped by us piloting a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum from a company called Second Step.
It teaches to reflect on what you value. When you feel an emotion like anger, pause, reflect about how you will respond that will show what you value. If I value kindness, then I will not yell. And, I came to the realization that the kids who I’m yelling at are winning because they are getting under my skin. The kids that are doing nothing wrong are losing because they don’t deserve to feel scared or feel fear in my classroom because of others. This is also something that I’ve taken into the parenting of my 3 year old because I am the role model and she will take cues from how I respond and respond the same way.
There were also these open response questions. I am going to put my comments in brackets  Bolded comments I am proud of.:
Sometimes, the teacher __________, but not always.
I don’t have a response
gets angry and says bad words
turns red and says”DO YOU WANT TO LEARN!”
lets us move around
Doesn’t give us enough time on cool downs [trying to give at least 3 minutes daily]
turns red and says “DO YOU WANT TO LEARN”
eats oatmeal before class
can teach boring lessons
i don’t care
spends a lot of time reviewing a lesson that people understand when there are more lessons that we don’t understand
[with my 2nd full year of Open Up Resources 6-8 math I think I’ll be better at anticipating where students will need more time and support]
helps us with our tests to get better scores
i think the sometimes he go to fast but not to slow
goes too fast
goes to fast
goes to fast
gives time for the cooldowns
is in a bad mood and releases his anger towards us
lets us play around
lets us work with people
wakes up on the wrong side of the bed
yells at the class
wakes up on the wrong side of the bed
angry at us
makes some mistakes
explains why the answer is wrong
Sometimes the teacher is mad, but not always just us let him mad
is in a good mood
will mad at a student
Gets really mad and starts screaming
gets really angry and needs to meditate or stay calm [thanks for acknowledging that I try to stay calm]
Yells at students for sometimes reasons that dont need to be so serious. It also wastes more time if you are lecturing the class. [knowing when to fight my battles]
get too angry
gets mad at students that fool around
Will do his job
is easy to understand
teaches at a good pace
gets really angry
lets us have fun
teaches lessons way to fast
Will do his job
Will do his job
get pretty mad
Will become frustrated
goes too fast
includes fun activities in the lesson plan
doesn’t make sense
makes funny jokes (should more)
gets really frustrated
does new dances. he should more lol (:
goes a little too fast or doesnt explain some lessons enough
has long conversations with students
will get off topic
Uses humor to teach
*i’m not sure*
gets really mad
ignores our question [ouch.. Maybe I’m listening 4, not listening 2 (google 2 > 4 Ignite by Max-Ray Riek]
makes bad jokes
eat during teaching
is fun and teaches alot
is super angry for a long period of time
gets super mad at us, (not our class specifically but other classes say you do)
puts some of the classwork on the test
burps [honestly don’t think I do this..?]
eats food in class
doesn’t make the lesson clear enough to understand
Can be really nice
goes to each table during individual think time
listens to others idea and tries to support them
scream at the call but it’s because of people are being loud and don’t listen
gets mad for no reason
has fun lessons
uses his weird gadgets to silence the class
lets me go to the bathroom
lets us have fun
lets his temper go
doesn’t give us enough time to work and doesn’t explain the topic clearly.
is not tuff on grading
yells at us
Is kind of harsh
Grades too harsh
Sometimes, the teacher lets the class __________, but not always.
use math toys
I don’t have a response
use their phones as calculators
do fun activities
make some funny jokes
talk to eachother
lets us use our phones as a calculator
No answer, because doesn’t let us do anything fun.
do group projects
I don’t care
have free time
talk to each other on the math topic and whatever we want to talk about with our friends
do interactive activities like measuring our height and wingspan and using the blue paper cards around the room to study for a test [blue cards were an around the world review activity where the answer to 1 card was at the top of a new card in a different place in the room, thanks Desmos for that one]
talk each other for ech work
talk during classroom discussions
he doesnt let do nothing in the class
work in tables together
you don’t let us do anything
you don’t let us do anything
work in group
use the computer
work in a group
use phone for math
Use our phone for the calculator on desmos [I had students download Desmos Test mode app that locks their phone during a test]
Play guess the student [this is the mystery student activity using their mathographies]
talk to each other for a little bit.
pull out our phones
stays in class during lunch
be really loud
pull out our phones
pull out our phones
play a game
talk a lot
have free time to talk after the lesson
take a break,
turn to our elbow partner and chat
Get off task. ( thanks for being lenient)
talk amongst themselves
get a bit off task
work on our own [interesting, bc all work starts with individual think time, but I suppose this person doesn’t like the interactions of partner work]
get a little out of control
Get off task (But not that much)
chat about the test
have time for cooldown
get super bored
pick our seats talk before tests which I find very helpful because it gets rid of some of the pre-test jidders [Shout out to Howie Hua for suggesting this!]
have enough time to work on cool downs.
go to the bathroom
go to the bathroom
work in partner
talk about answers
do table work
lets everyone talk with their table mates
talk about random things
play and talk
do projects together
Talk and go off topic.
Have no free time. not always though
[A common answer I saw here was “talk.” It’s interesting because as math teachers we want the students to talk… about math. I think when they say I don’t let them talk I think they mean I don’t let them talk off topic. I openly tell my students I can’t realistically expect them to talk about math 100% of the time. But I think 90% is my goal. In CPM training they called it “the grease” of the conversation. The side comments and questions about other classes that build trust. The issue is the students that then can’t get right back on topic. I will continue to try to address this clearly to students]
What do you like BEST about the class?
I like that he does a lot of work in class and gives no homework.
Mr Joyce’s sense of humor
I love the way that Mr.Joyce teaches math because it makes everything more clear to understand
I like that he lets us talk to a partner and do fun things
That there is not a lot/homework.
him teaching me new math
i don’t know the posters
learning new things
I like that he lets us talk to our partners.
There is no homework.
The math part.
A lot of things
the opinions [I think they’re talking about in general, and some of the conversations in the launch of the activity that make sure students understand the context and we hear from students who have background knowledge related to it]
That I can learn
The people and the random seats we got. [Most kids like getting a playing card for a random seat daily, called VRG in the math world (Visible random grouping)]
Having good table groups
I don’t care
Talking with my friends
The engaging wit
i like it when wew can sit with the poeple that we feel comfortable to work with and when we disscuss the things that we dont fully understand
that mias in it
What I like the best is no homework because I am busy with other homework.
How everything is taught
Some of my friends are in it, and they help me with work.
Not really anything
My seats that I have currently.
i feel comfortable with the people i am around with in the environment
The engaging wit
My friends in this class
my friends in this class
I like how we get to work with others when we are allowed
The engaging wit
teaching methods and homework
I don’t know, I guess everything is fine.
The math and they way he treats it.
A class can help me work.
i don’t know
The teacher teach some dull things but he can teach very gentle.
the student is nice to each other
Everything I guess.
Sometimes I actually get it
It is math.
my friends in the class
learning new units
the ending where we leave
The responsibility,bravery,encouragement,ambitious,and determination Mr Joyce have [thanks!]
its realy funny and they are fun to work with.
when I randomly sit next to my friend
Getting to talk with classmates.
The random seats and the lessons
the ending where we leave
the ending where we leave
The fact that there’s no homework
Everyone is productive and respects Mr. Joyce
How everyone is open to answer a question and if now one knows the answer he encourages the students to.
I like the positive vibe I get when I am in this class.
In this class, I enjoy working together as a group.
How fun it is and how understanding the teacher is.
I like that there is no homework.
How the teacher provides a good learning environment and teaches most lessons well
i got to sit with friend
the partner work
The problem-solving work
i like when i understand the material
we get to talk to people when we need help or just in general
To be able to get to know other students in the class by using the cards.
How everyone shares their ideas and learn as a community
there is not much hw
sitting with my friends
I like that the teaching style of he teach and he always make some jokes about math and tell us to be focus and make us very relax and learn the same time.
that now we have table groups we choose
the part where the bell rings and i get to leave this extremely boring class.
card sorts that make me think a LOT and posters.
i feel like i learned a lot of math this year, more than my previous middle school years.
Learning new things and working with people I like to work with
I get what we learn about
we can talk with our table
I learn stuff
that he helps me get a better grade
how energetic it can be at times
sometimes my partners
this class have great ideas and opinions
the lessons are helpful and the class is fun
You can learn a lot
to discuss with my classmates about math.
I like the teacher and the atmosphere of the class.
The class is chill and not too hard.
learning math !!!!!
I like how I can fix my test grade.
The best about the class is the fairly decent work.
the environment, he lets us have fun
All of my friends
I like how we get to talk about the work in our groups, and that we get to do some activities to visualize concepts.
He helps me
That I understand almost every thing and if I don me Joyce explains to me how I can solve this
How does the teacher make you FEEL?
like a Mark Chan
Like I am doing okay as a student
i dont know
I don’t know you make me feel like a normal person I don’t feel any different.
it makes me feel secure and happy
i don’t know smart
Makes me feel like a normal human being
I feel great because work in class is not that challenging.
he makes me feel safe
Like I’m learning
Good about learning math.
like a student
i don’t care
the teacher makes me feel that i can do math and that i know what to do
good, like a student
he make me feel confident
He makes me feels confident.
Good he is nice
Nothing. Just want ace the class.
like an individual
that I will be able to figure out problems
like a good student
like i do good work
He makes me feel good when I do well.
I feel really comfortable.
i don’t know
Good but just sometime he is mad
Sometimes smart and sometimes not so good [bummer!]
He makes me feel like I can could get help whenever I need it.
uncomfortable jk not really
Like we have to rush everything [there’s that pacing again…]
like i am part of a group
like a student
I don’t know, like any other student
like a student
like im being taught
He is a good teacher he is fair.
He makes me feel scared. [super bummer!]
smart when i get something right
The teacher makes happy and confident.
accepted in our community.
He makes me feel comfortable about asking questions.
like a student
in a friendly
As part of the class
I feel smart when he shows my work but im not the biggest fan of math .
he makes me confident in sharing out my answers
The teacher makes me feel confortable in the class room.
like a student
The teacher make me feels nice and comfortable.
idk, usually I’m comfortable and get nervouse talking in front of the class but I can work easily in this class.
Confident in learning
makes me feel like an individual and that my voice matters
amazing because he stays after school when I work on things
important and that we can improve in math
he encourages other to try to solve the questions [wait time, hear more voices]
I don’t know
I am feeling comfortable .
The teacher makes me feel appreciated and safe.
sometimes tired, sometimes awake
The teacher makes me feel somewhat important.
Like im the bestest
like I am part of the class
How can the class be improved?
by learning and listening
I don´t know
more use of the computers!
I don’t think it needs to
More interactive lessons
It can be improved by going more slower during lessons and make the class in more control
I don’t think the class is fine as is.
He can give us projects and check our homework
more parties like pi day
following the rules better
Following the rules
I think the class can be improved by moving seats.
More Projects more parties like the pi party
I don’t know
It cant be improved.
More hands on activities
Students should actually listen
The math we learn.
The lessons can be more interesting
let us use our phones
i dont know
Fun lessons and more free time for us.
More social time
no, not really
more interesting lessons
if he could review and go slower
if he could review and gpo slower
If the teacher could review more and go slower. Also to be more specific when a student asks a question so that we can really understand.
Give us some test answers.
More time for specific things. One example is the cooldown. We only get 30 seconds to do it, and sometimes it requires math.
I don’t know
to not tell classes that he hates his 1st through 3rd periods [this is partially true, I unprofessionally openly said my 4th period was my hardest class]
I think that this class is fine besides the things I have explained.
different learning methods,longer lessons (don’t cram a lesson in one day) easier grading, extra credit on tests, [pacing, sorry, I’ve got to aim for lesson a day]
participation should count more towards our grade
let us work more with tablemats
stop disrupting the class
more group work
It’s already good in my perspective.
Make more interesting activities.
by making a better seating chart
Everyone do they work
homework is extra credit
The class is fine.
We have to not waste time and explain things clearly
PACING IS EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!
no more yelling
It’s great already.
with a new teacher
people need to stop being annoying
New and creative punishment for those who doesn’t want to learn
if people listen to others (not me but others)
If no one gets off topic.
teaching at a slower pace
less angry speeches because after a while they stop being effective and we kinda just sit there and laugh in our heads about how much you do this (no offense, I am sorry) [this must be a student from 4th period, I’ve got to remember this thought so I don’t repeat the same mistake thinking my speech is helping]
teaching at a slower pace. Dont stop the lesson. Give us key concepts about quizes and tests that we need to know or should know abt the quiz/test before we take it. [I tried to emphasize cool-downs were study tools, not enough I guess]
with a new teacher
with a new teacher
More chances to improve your grade.
The students and teacher should be more positive
not so much partner work
more rewards 😀 like at the end of the trimester
I think it perfect the way it is.
Give us more time to do cool-downs because I don’t have enough time to finish.
The class can be improved by getting more hands and not just the same hands. [I try really hard on this, specificially wait time]
I need help with math ):
We can do more activities.
Check in with the class if they understand what you just explained or if they want further clarification on some things
shut the freaking door lol
more oppurtunity to discuss with partners
slow down on the lessons
More problem-solving work
he can give us a little more time to work on the math
More rewards for good behavoir.
more clear lessons
pizza everyday 😂
To giving good rewards to the good behavior students.
GET RID OF MATH! BE GONE.
more people should participate.
more time for cool downs and more of the material we learned in class in the tests.
Eating a little snack to keep our energy up for the end of the day
allow food or give candy if someone gets the answer right. [against the law, not going to do it, doesn’t sound like a good idea]
more time to work on our posters
by letting students eat in class and listen to music
by not talking when the teacher is explaining the lesson
NOT TALKING while the teacher is talking.
more partner talks
more people could participate
maybe help each other or work together to let those who do not participate have a chance to talk but also not peer pressure them but help them out
the class can be quiet and let others learn [year 9, still working on classroom management, specifically without yelling]
If Mr.Joyce improved the grading system because if you mess up missing a couple of points it can affect your grade a lot, although there are ways to help change your grade in a positive way the grading portions are too large for each assignment or test.
Have a stationary seats. [someone that’s not a fan of random seats daily…]
I wish the lessons would be more hands on instead of just solving problems after problems. It can be very tedious and boring. [need to get them standing more]
maybe a bit more energy
Go a bit slower on the lessons. Currently if you don’t understand something we move on to fast which doesn’t give us time to understand.
I think better grading because one bad test could bring my whole grade down.
Less self work more group work.
i dont know
The class can have more time to work together.
The class can be improved if the teacher tries to make concepts more clear and help the students understand them more. For example, Mr. Joyce tends to go normal paced in the beginning of a unit, but then begins to get faster paced as we go along the concept/unit, which is inefficient because some students get lost and confused by the time the pace gets faster. It would be more helpful to keep the steady, normal pace that we start off with, throughout the unit. [This is great feedback. I think what would help would be me identifying these crucial challenging lessons in the middle of the unit]
Nobody should be talking
More people in the conversation.
not to talk
More outside lessons
Give us homework.
Anything else you want to tell me?
Yes but I’m too lazy to type
not really, thanks for being our teacher
I wish we could have more parties such as every month
I want to tell you that I have something important to say. That important thing is very important. That thing is that I think that it is very important. That thing is nothing. Lololololololololol got you. P. S. Don’t take that joke seriously
nope but that you are a great teacher!
I have an important thing to tell you and that thing is… THat thing is very important. It is so important that it is my secret. That thing is….. Nothing lollolollolololololol got you Don’t take this joke seriously
Buy more vans [I’m going to blog about this when I blog about the key takeaways from the book For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood. Buying shoes that the students wear creates an instant connection for many students who may or may not have one with me yet. It’s instant conversation. To be continued!]
no, not really
he can give us like more easy work
Being more specific and going slower helps a lot.
be more sibifec when we ask qutions
Nope. I am for sure that is it.
be more fair with your classes
Buy more vans
Nothing else 🙂
Buy more vans
help students instead of telling them they’re wrong and leave them to think on their own. [Hmm. Ouch. I want to reinforce asking peers before me, and if they’re all stuck, let’s all talk as a small group, or whole class]
No you do great.
no, not really.
take a break and calm down sometimes its not good to just react i feel like ur reaction has a cosiquence causing the other persons cosequince to be bieced [not sure what the ending means, but yes, I’m trying to improve there]
No not really only that yelling is not the key to stop children from acting bad thats the attention they usually need if you just ignore a kid who tries to talk back then they will stop hopefully. But it wastes time and gets the class distracted and thinking about it the whole class period and even after.
[a lot to chew on here. I don’t think ignoring them is the answer. At first yes, but there has to be a line. Then students will think I’m not fair if they can get away with more than others?]
It might be worth mentioning that the questions where you asked for engaging the students, I was considering what others looked like they were thinking.
have a good day
is god real
You are the most determined,and ambitious teacher i’ve ever seen so far, you also took on great responsibility in teaching 4th period, perhaps the one unteachable class ever, regardless you never gave up this class, you always comes up with new ideas to fix our unorganized class. But most of all you are a caring teacher who cared for your students, and others.
[YES!!! Thank you for this acknowledgement. Italicized also for emphasis]
you kinda rush things, like you make us have a lesson a day and i cant understand it, you also mostly let the students teach then you will say what you have to say but wont elaborate on what you are saying. And you maybe you can just let us say our jokes. Maybe just slow down on the lessons. I haven’t really learned anything this year and im trying but i dont understand.
[It looks like I rely on the students to help with synthesis, but I need to take on a greater role in synthesizing]
Go follow @kokoisloco and @austin.the.pyrenees on insta
Follow @kokoisloco and @austin.the.pyrenees on Instagram.
Over all i enjoy the class and understand most of the topics
Remember when you threw your scarf at the wall, yeah maybe don’t do that again. Sorry if offended you but otherwise your a good teacher. [this is definitely a 4th period comment, that was probably not a good idea]
giving us more time to enjoy the math and not make us feel like math isn’t a fun subject. And being patient with everyone because most of us or not fast learners that can’t learn every new lesson you give us each day and week. Most of us need more time. guive us time to prepare for things like quizes and tests
slow down a little bit sometimes
You are a good teacher
nope im good
Hello, you are doing great as a teacher. Also am I just as good as my sister Natalie Ching.
you are a great teacher
You are really nice and you do your job well (:
ur a pretty chill teacher, overall you’re doing great as a math teacher!
no u REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
unnescessary bias to students [Teaching without bias is extremely hard]
I think moto moto likes you 😉
suck it [eek]
you’re an amazing teacher and i just sometimes really don’t understand the material such as when we learned pi.
how can i raise up my grade?
That you are a good math teacher!
you are a chill teacher
Yes, Is 5 period class your favorite class?
no fam bam
mr joyce fifth period math class is extremely boring.
BaNdS bAnDs I wAs FiGhTiNg SoMe DeMoNs
you should be more calm when disciplining a kid and not point them out. [100% agree. I have work to do in this area]
Good job! Im learning new techniques
you should let us eat in class and listen to music
No that is all
your’e the best teacher
Thank you for staying after school when I work on the worksheets until I finish it.
no thats all
He gets mad a lot for us “wasting his time” when a lot of the time he just rambles on and on and on wasting a lot of our time too. [Yikes. I probably should avoid saying that. Also, less teacher talk. But then again, I try to do that and then I get complaints about not explaining things enough or clearly. Hard to balance it.]
I think you’re a really good teacher and other people can tell you love what you do. [this means a lot]
I think this class is pretty good on the whole.
I think also sometimes the class gets
i love you mr joyce
your pretty radical.
my teacher is awesome
your’e the best
Thanks for being such an amazing teacher this year and after this class I actually enjoy doing math and I hope all my teachers to come are just as great
Wow. That was a lot. I am surprised you made it this far. I think the first 2 questions seemed to be more open ended and felt a bit harsh towards me, but clearly some students feel I am harsh towards them. I want to be better. I want to be the best version of myself, and get better everyday. I’m never satisfied. The comments did get better towards the end I felt.
There’s a lot for me to chew on here.
Classroom management. No yelling. And how to give more reinforcement to students who are making good choices.
Pacing. Find the happy medium between too fast and too slow. I have a better idea about what lessons are going to be more challenging.
Continue to work on variety of students participating. I want to track this with a class roster so I can encourage students who haven’t shared and check on their work more.
Also, I gave this Teacher Report card around Spring Break. Matt Vaudrey suggested I give it around right before winter break. I will try to do that this year. This idea was suggested in his book Classroom Chef. It’s scary to give this out. Also, students may or may not realize it’s anonymous because there’s no field for them to put their name in. As the survey says at the beginning, be honest. Our students know us best. They’re with us everyday. We need to listen to their feedback. And I’m going to #pushsend and share this with the world because I can look back on it later and see if I’ve made the choices to refine my craft.
Here is some student work from one of my favorite student projects. Last year’s work and more details are available in this blog post. This project is not meant to be an introduction to the Pythagorean theorem, but a review. It’s a great way to review vocabulary and the expectation for how to show work. The biggest issue I have seen students have is when they square both legs and add them to together and set that equal to the sum, rather than c squared. They get lost in what they are solving for. But, if they can determine that c^2 is equal to that sum by looking at the equation above, they can figure it out. I like to show both ways. I hope that made sense.
I usually grade these projects since we spend a day in class on it, but this year I just gave credit if they turned it in. I heard the dreaded question, “Is this going to be graded?” It reminds me of how students are trained to “do school” and if something is not graded then why should they do it or put effort into it. This is super disheartening because this question was asked even after showing the student work from last year to inspire them. This is not all the work, just examples of work that is unique to this year.
I was looking through my current and old blog and couldn’t find any testimonials from last school year. I did find ones from 2016-2017 along with an end of year survey results from that year. There is a blog post in the works about the Teacher Report Card I gave (suggested in Classroom Chef) to my students about 2/3 of the way through the year that gave me valuable feedback that I tried to use to reduce / eliminate yelling and to listen carefully to my students. Also, I do not post these to brag. I post these letters because they motivate me. Also, I am trying to be less of a hoarder and not hold onto every piece of sentimental paper so if I post it on my blog, I can throw it away. Here’s a link to the 2016-2017 testimonials.
Also, we piloted a social emotional curriculum called Second Step which addressed a lot about anger. Anger is a popular emotion that can take over us and cause us to make poor choices. We can also channel anger towards making positive choices. We learned that some emotions are stereotypically thought of us as positive or negative. In actuality, they can be both, and students investigated these in groups during one lesson.
My students and I learned that when we feel anger, stop. Think. Then make a choice. Think about how your next choice reflects your values. If I value respect, then I won’t yell at my students and I will talk to them in a respectful tone. This has also made me reflect on how I talk to my 3 year old and 1 year old.
We are adjusting our school schedule so that every Tuesday students have a Social Emotional period and I am confident it will improve our students and staff alike.
Stay tuned for a blog post where I show my teacher report card. I was looking at the data in the spread sheet and was having issues sorting the scores in numerical order so I think I will just post them as is.
So, it has been 3 weeks since the HIVE conference by Open Up Resources, so this recap post is long overdue. I feel like I put it off because I didn’t want it to be a subpar description of an extraordinary experience. As we say in #MTBoS though, sometimes you need to just write it and #pushsend.
Some background: the year before last we officially piloted 1 unit at all grade levels of Open Up Resources 6-8 Math and some of us piloted multiple units. Our staff overwhelmingly voted to adopt it over CPM.
Last year I taught a full year of the curriculum to one section of Grade 6 and 4 sections of Grade 8. Last summer I was hired to be a “guru” for Open Up Resources which entails weekly twitter chats (Monday at 5:30 PST, follow #OpenUpMath), monthly grade level PLC meetings over Zoom, book chats, Facebook group discussions, and much more.
The school year culminated with Open Up Resources hosting their very first conference in Atlanta called the HIVE from June 17-19. We were generously brought out to facilitate 2 days of PD in the “Community Pathway” where we had 2 sessions each day. We would open as a group for 20 to 30 minutes, break out into grade levels for 2-3 hours, and synthesize as a whole group the last 30 minutes. There were other pathways run by “Better Lesson” which I would love to hear more about from anyone willing to blog about it.
On the flight over on Sunday evening, I peered out the window as we got closer and I noticed something very familiar: the irrigation fields from the 7th grade Unit 3 on circles!
I was also amazed at how the outskirts of Atlanta appeared to be in the middle of a forest.
Coincidentally, I ran into Phil Daro, one of the writers of the Common Core and a member of the Open Up Resources board. We chatted about my school year and role with Open Up and shared a Lyft to the Omni Hotel when we arrived.
Here I am jet lagged at the hotel. I was so excited Sunday night that I tossed and turned and didn’t sleep much at all. When I did fall asleep it put me in a deep sleep that made me snooze through my first alarm but luckily I jumped to it and was on time for the end of the keynotes and the start of Session 1 of our community pathway.
In session 1, Morgan Stipe launched with personality coordinates. It’s basically 4 points on a first quadrant graph and you fill out the axis labels based on the commonalities amongst your group members. I joined a group with Melynee (@MNmMath) and we had fun getting to know each other. Here’s what we came up with: Graph
In grade level groups we made the distinction between instructional routines and MLR’s (Mathematical Language Routines) with a card sort and discussions. At first the routines we sorted by your own created categories which produced some very interesting results.
For 6th grade we focused on the MLR Info Gap with an example from Unit 8 statistics. To warm everyone’s brains up, we established the prior knowledge students would / should have at that later point in the unit. I shared an interesting idea I saw someone share on twitter of tracing your hand print to represent the 5 number summary of a box plot and we established that with those numbers we could also find the range and IQR (Interquartile Range).
Small groups were assigned a routine to dig further into and then present to the group. We did a gallery walk before the presentation to give feedback to each other.
For Session 2 after lunch we were lead by Sara Vaughn on a deep dive into Synthesis. Also, we used Flippity to randomize groupings and pairs as well as a spreadsheet to create random partners. In addition, we are all big believers in Name Tents by Sara Vanderwerf so at the end of each session we collected name tents after everyone had a chance to give a comment, feedback, or ask a question. This really helped us a lot. One of the biggest pieces of productive feedback I got was to have less teacher (facilitator) talk and more time to discuss. This also meant I needed to give clear instructions and check for feedback. Silly me that I do this in my classroom (Who can tell me what we are about to do? No one? OK I better repeat the instructions and I expect to see multiple people raise their hand) and forgot to do it in PD!
In the picture below you can see participants matching learning goals, synthesis, and lesson titles. These were pretty challenging and created some great discussions!
We also gave a card sort and then handed out a role playing info gap activity where people had to ask their partner for essential elements about the lesson to figure out how they are going to synthesize the activity or lesson when emergencies happen like a shortened period from a fire alarm, etc. People started to realize how important the synthesis is. It reminds me of what Phil Daro has said: go fast in the beginning of the lesson, so you can go slow at the end during the synthesis. Also, it’s perfectly acceptable to cut an activity short to synthesize it and move on for your pacing. This makes sense because when you go over something, you can’t expect everyone to be done or else students might be bored and get off task.
After Session 2 we did an Ed camp style session where we split off into 3 groups: students with disabilities, standards based grading, and 1 more. I joined the students with disabilities discussion to see how other teachers were modifying the materials. Melynee shared how she identified the essential standards over grades 6-8 and focused more time on those lessons. I love that idea. I can’t wait to hear more about it.
Monday night we had Marian Dingle for her keynote. This was live tweeted heavily under the #OURHive hashtag, so I suggest you search for her Twitter handle (@DingleTeach) and that hashtag to get quotes from it. It was also live streamed. Afterwards we did our weekly Twitter chat in the same room which was a unique experience that got more people on the best platform for Math PD!
Marian’s talk was called “Time is Up.” You could tell she did SOOO much research about time, music, to set the stage for her message of it being time to listen and do your homework on issues of social justice to increase equity in the classroom. I took this picture because it struck home because I love talking to kids at the park about analog clocks, and there’s rich opportunities to discuss math in it, but it is an outdated form of telling time that students aren’t using as much.
Marian talked about the math involved in music and gave us samples of music that had different beats than the standard 4/4. She counted along to the music to show us where the beat came from. One very familiar beat was the Mission Impossible theme song which had a unique beat that was not 4/4 or 3/4.
I snapped a picture of this slide because the authors of March, the graphic novel about the life of John Lewis came to speak to our 8th graders after they read the first book in the series, pictured here. It’s a great way to teach students about civil rights in a format that many like: graphic novels. She also talked about how students wanting to grow up and be a professional YouTuber is actually realistic because many people are making careers out of video logging (vlog) their life and topics they are passionate about.
Marian shouted out the Blog posting series that’s linked up at 31daysIBPOC.wordpress.com that celebrates the teacher voices of Indigenous, Black, and people of color.
I took this photo because I haven’t watched “13” on Netflix yet but plan to.
Here are some hashtags to educate ourselves with.
This is a bulletin board at Marian’s school that was not up just for Black History month, but all year.
All in all Marian’s talk was magnificent. She prepared really well from it and was well received!
Here is a link to a great sketch note from from someone that was also there: Sketch note.
Here’s a video of the thunderstorm that happened right before the twitter chat:
So on Day 2, we launched with Session 3 which focused on the 5 practices. I lead the warm-up where I showed how I use my phone and Google Drive app to collect and display student work and did a quick overview of the 5 Practices to Orchestrate Mathematical Discussions. I also asked everyone to brainstorm strategies and representations used in your classroom and the curriculum to aid students in problem solving. Here’s what we came up with:
The check marks represent what they used that day when we wrapped it up in the synthesis.
We went into more depth with a video introduction by Dr. Kristopher Childs, which is worth a watch.
In grade level groups facilitators lead an activity that was designated as the 5 practices. In 6th grade we dug into the activity Two Containers from Unit 4 Lesson 9. We had some student work samples and a Monitoring Sheet where we looked at the lesson plan to see how you would sequence the responses. I also took pictures of these examples from what participants did:
I used some chart paper to synthesize the main idea of the method above. Keep in mind that this lesson is before the standard algorithm of dividing by a fraction is introduced so it’s laying more conceptual groundwork to understand. Hopefully kids later see that dividing by 2 then multiplying by 5 is the same thing as multiplying by 5/2, which is the reciprocal of 2/5.
After this participants teamed up to select their own activity to solve in as many ways as possible (anticipate), and then fill in their monitoring sheet with those methods, then share their ideas with another partnership and hear what the other partnership came up with. Below in bold are the lessons that we did as examples and partners selected lessons containing 5 practices lessons to investigate. They were also on chart paper so they could cross them off so no one doubled up and did the same one.
A key concept was coming up with pocket questions for those students who had trouble starting with a task. Also, next to the method students used on the monitoring sheet, you write probing question to further students thinking or to connect their thinking to other representations in preparation for your synthesis discussion. (Update: here’s a link to the blank 5 practices monitoring sheet that we filled out)
In Session 4 Brooke Powers, our Community Manager, shared her Open Up Resources story with the awesome standardized test results her students achieved as a result. She discussed much much more and everyone appreciated her humor and was able to relate to her story.
We then finished up with another Ed camp style discussion where all of us tried our best to answer questions off the Parking Lot and ask questions to the group to get different perspectives. We then did the same activity we did at the conclusion of our 5 Practices book study, and created a meme to describe a takeaway from HIVE. Here’s mine:
And here’s the one that Megan made:
Day 3 was the major keynotes. Fawn Nguyen started it off, followed by a panel with Tashima Price and John Stevens. Then we heard from Caroline Hill who shared some powerful stories about a student who passed away on her watch and about the school she designed and helped run.
In summary, HIVE 2019 was a blast. The nerves of preparing to facilitate sessions were real, but meeting my colleagues Brooke, Morgan, Sara, and Jen in real life who I have had plenty of Zoom and Twitter chats over the past year truly was special. I also got to meet many of the people from our national PLC and look forward to more amazing learning together. There is much more I could have said in this blog post, and I feel it’s impossible to cover every detail. Thank you Open Up Resources for your generosity!
Actionable Steps for Classroom:
implement expectation that no student is allowed to write “IDK” on their cool down. They must brain storm everything they think they learned on the paper. Early finishers must work on practice problems to maximize time and let everyone else finish
Observe my colleagues (#ObserveMe) and work on implementing the 5×8 card observation tool from SERP
Post Synthesis questions on board at beginning of class knowing that we will be discussing them in depth at end of class to keep myself and students accountable
Make anchor charts for difficult MLR’s to aid myself and students and videotape myself doing them
Having students sign their name on their work or labeling it myself. Participants really felt great when I mentioned their name to the room, and of course students love it too.
Educate myself to actively be anti-racist and make sure all voices are heard in my classroom
Reflect on original question: “What does it mean to you to do math?”
What did it feel like to do math tonight? What felt different from your school experience? How might this approach improve learning and understanding in math?
After writing up that overview of my slides, I’m starting to think about trimming down on some of the details that I think interest math teachers more than parents. Any feedback is welcome, I will revisit this blog post after the meeting happens tomorrow. Also, this was one of my professional goals to reach out to families and improve the line of communication about what is happening at our school and inside our classrooms.
BLOG POST UPDATE: (4/9/19)
Family math night went great! It went for about an hour, than an extra 10 minutes for some answering of questions. Thank you to the PTA for providing time before their meeting for it. I think it’s a great idea to partner with your parent association to make events like this as successful as possible.
The opener was great. I wrote what students and parents were shouting out in orange. Then at the end, when we reflected on the math we did and this original question, I circled ideas that we did. Parents weren’t sure we had done geometry, until I lingered before circling and then they realized that the distributive property was the area model of a rectangle, which indeed is geometry.
I also asked, are there words or phrases we can now add to this list? Those are written in green. They said that they were “cooperative, collaborative, challenged, visual, think time, etc.” I asked if I checked for their understanding; which was the cool down exit ticket.
The curriculum program overview went well. I didn’t talk much about the Math Language Routines because I think that would have been more depth then what was necessary.
We then looked at the learning goal of Grade 6 Unit 6 Lesson 9. I remembered to give the parent and students credit by writing their names next to their method. One parent came up to show how they did the standard algorithm. Before I had them start activity 1, I reinforced how their methods were basically the area model, decomposing a rectangle into pieces.
Then we reviewed the answers. Like I anticipated, parents weren’t used to seeing a prompt that says “select ALL the equivalent expressions.” As I walked around, some people had stopped after getting one answer so I prompted them to look at all choices. I also made a connection to SBAC testing where they will see these types of questions, as well as on the End of Unit assessments. After starting the activity synthesis with an answer they were confident with, I followed up with then what can we eliminate and why?
Then I had everyone start on the next activity. I wanted to model Think Pair Share, so I asked everyone to work quietly and individually for 2 minutes, then I asked them to work with a partner to see what ideas they had come up with. I cut them off about 4 minutes after that. Now I wasn’t going to discuss all the correct answers, so I opened it up to ask what interesting patterns or structure they saw.
One parent said they liked the last 2 rows because it was challenging. I asked them if there was only one correct way to do the last row? He said no. So I agreed that I thought it was kind of a cool potential conversation to have about multiple correct ideas.
On the flip side, a parent spoke up and said that they didn’t see the value in the last 2 rows. They felt it would confuse students who don’t understand the basics. The parent thought that if you know 9+12, why do you need to go backwards and fill out the rest? I tried to explain that if students see non-routine problems like this, they can deepen their understanding and understand the structure of the distributive property if they can go backwards as well as forwards. Please add any suggestions in the comments about this.
I also mentioned that the 3rd to last row had fractions, which was a great time to review content from Unit 4. The row above that was decimals, which was a big chunk of Unit 5. Another opportunity to review.
I told my audience that this is what makes this curriculum so special, and the top-rated one in the country. The people that designed it are smarter than me. I trust them. My old brain thinks when we finish a Unit, we are done with that topic, and I kind of freak out. my new brain has not freaked out as much this year because now I see that topics are revisited. They especially will be revisited if you make time to have students do practice problems. Later in the Q&A session the parents were wondering about lack of homework. I said that that the homework policy is up to the teacher. Personally, I said, to deliver the best and most thorough lesson possible, I can’t if I’m spending time checking and discussing practice problems. Therefore I do not assign them, but do for a study guide before a unit test.
I then discussed how we did the lesson synthesis as a class, but didn’t spend time on it. Then we passed out the cool-down to show how we check for understanding, and then reviewed the answer quickly.
Then I launched into another routine that I love, Which One Doesn’t Belong:
I should have discussed it more, but I had this hung up and barely discussed that these were sentence frames that help ALL learners. D’oh! Forgot that. I did give 1 minute of quiet think time, and then had people share. I also reminded everyone that there was a reason why each did not belong, and that you are correct as long as you explain why it doesn’t belong.
One parent said the top right didn’t belong because it wasn’t the same equation as the rest. I saw a parent in the front row who had solved all the equations before I even had talked about the prompt. So I asked him if he could provide evidence based on the work he had done earlier. He showed how the top right got a different answer then the rest. So, I infused some vocabulary and said that it was the only one that didn’t have the same solution.
One person said the bottom left had a dot, the rest didn’t. I reiterated that in 6th grade they lose the dot and start writing “next to notation” like 4x. This can be a bumpy transition.
Then I briefly talked about the card sort that followed, and emphasized that there were different correct ways to categorize the cards.
Finally, I talked about the 8th grade activity of taking turns solving equations. They saw that that reinforced more collaboration, and allowed some room for choice, partner practice, and finally individual practice in class.
Then I modeled how to go to the parent section of the Open Up Resources web site to see the explanation of the topic, and a task they can try with their kid.
I also slipped in a slide from Fawn Nguyen that is in my Back to School Night slides 20 minutes before the presentation. It helped me end the presentation with a bang and some useful advice. Here it is if you’ve never seen it:
For the Q&A session, I started by talking about our procedure for selecting the 32 students who will take accelerated math together over their 7th and 8th grade years. That will be another blog post…
Another question was what curriculum would students take for Algebra 1 in the 8th grade accelerated course next year? I did not have an answer for her yet… because it is not clear if Open Up Resources Algebra 1 by IM will be ready by the fall, and it could possibly be MVP math in the fall, the other curriculum that Open Up will be publishing.
“You did a WONDERFUL job Martin – thank you again for planning the Math Night! I’m so glad it was a good turnout. Thank you for having sent reminder emails to your students. The math night was a good refresher for me, and it also nudged me to see math in a slightly different way. I also hope to make use of the Open Up Resources web site, it’s a great tool, and I wish this event happened even earlier in the year!” -PTA President
I will definitely be using some of the materials on Unit 1 from the IM blog post I linked at the top of this blog post earlier in the year to set students and parents up for success earlier in the year.
“Hi there. Thanks for taking the time to do the math presentation, I really enjoyed it. I also am glad to know about the do more work (Ed note: I think she means the “are you ready for more?” challenges.) as I am encouraging Sarah to do it as extra practice.” -parent of 8th grade student, PTA member