#MTBoSBlaugust 4 Calculator “Museum”


I got distracted while in my classroom yesterday looking at my old calculators from college days.  I thought about them when Sara VenDerWerfshared shared about her calculator museum.

Ever so often I tell my students about my “good ol’ days.” I show them my

  • high school (and college) slide rule – IT WORKS

!Slide Rule

  • TI SR 10 (Slide Rule) w/charger but no longer chargeable – receipt for $36.88  (only used for during college chemistry 2nd semester)

SR 10 Box      TI SR10

  • TI-30 LED (9-volt battery) – IT WORKS! initial price of $19.88 (a 1 hour special late evening!) bought 2 years later – maybe used for 1 or 2  college classes (can’t remember for certain)

TI 30 box (2) TI 30



  • I also show them a 1937 book of tables for square roots, logs, and trig given by a parent of one of my former students – it’s really just an older low tech calculator.  IT WORKS!  (If there’s class time, I tell the story of Napier solving the chicken thief mystery – although there are doubts over the authenticity of that story)


And now I pass on my love for Desmos – so much so that a student wrote my name in tiny Desmos words (maybe about 50-100 “Desmos” per letter of my name) on my whiteboard during an informal lunch study hall.  I wish I had a picture of that!  This will have to do:


That student moved away before i got to hint at gifting me a pair of desmos socks!!!



#MTBoSBlaugust 3 2’x3′ Whiteboarding


After reading various blogs, I became interested in the slightly larger whiteboards of about 2’x3′ for group work.

Kelly O’Shea  @kellyoshea has lots of ideas with great details to help a novice.   Her whiteboard Mistake Game and Monk Whiteboarding are high on my list to use this year.

Bowman Dickson (@bowmanimal) presented “Group Whiteboarding in the Math Classroom”  Global Math Dept. video from Oct. 2014.  He also has several posts about his use in the classroom on his blog  – “My 3 Favorite Math Whiteboarding Modes” on (Guess and Check with Partner, Color Coding Problems, and Mistake Game)

Another blog post by @NatBanting on whiteboarding can be found here 

After reading and hearing about these boards, I got to see/use them in action while attending the MathEd Out Conference last Feb. with @PumphreysMath .

Last spring I still had some money from my teacher stipend when classes ended.  A colleague went with me to Home Depot.   I bought 2 of the 4’x8′ boards which they cut for free – so actually 12 smaller boards that are 24″x32.”  I decided to get Duck (duct) tape (4 colors to give one way to identify the groups) and some really cheap microfiber washable cloths in the car care department as erasers from Walmart.

Since I’m not planning on using them every day, I’m thinking I would have the option to set up initial questions on the boards before school to get the students off to a quicker start.

I’m sure there are more posts on whiteboarding or ideas that you have used but never wrote about.  Feel free to share.



#MTBoSBlaugust 2 Short Intro Activities


This summer I have tried to think of ways to improve on my starting/ending a class.  I have a mixture of beginning of the period activities such as Which One Doesn’t Belong, What’s Wrong with this Picture(Geometry), Visual Patterns, Graphing Stories, Homework “Quizzes”  over previous recent lesson either on paper or mini-whiteboard.  Almost always they were connected to the current  lesson/chapter.

I looked at various blogs for more ideas. I know I looked at others so this is an incomplete list.

So new additions:

I got hooked on the Set Game this summer – So I made a smartboard background to make it easier to display.  I use a SB Screen capture and edit the transparency and size to lay on top.  Quick and easy. I have about 60 with answers now so a nice stash for the year (and probably next if I do once a week)!  I like this protocol:  Michael Fenton – Reason and Wonder

Set1   Set2

Also I want to add Estimation 180, Would You Rather, Open Middle, SolveMe Mobiles, 7Puzzle, Don Steward’s MEDIAN,  the occasional ACT (or AP Calc) prep and more Visual Patterns.  I thought about a specific daily routine but I still like to keep some that are related to the topic of the day or review of recent topics.  Most of my class periods are 44 minutes and Thursday’s 35 minutes so time is precious and will depend on what that lesson and related activities are.  I also want to include some thoughts from a philosophical/Biblical approach to math –  some books I have that are listed by Josh Wilkerson and resources by Sean Bird and  James Nickel

I am working this week on setting up the first chapter of each of my 5 preps.  Some I’ll put in the smartboard file to display – others I will make half-sheet papers.  And then see how it goes when classes start in a couple of weeks.





Summer 2016 and #MTBoSBlaugust 1


The thought of daily blogging seems too overwhelming especially with back to school so close.   So I’ll have to admit up front, my plan is to blog a few times – I haven’t blogged since the last challenge during Christmas break!  I have 2 weeks until our first day of in-service with classes starting 3 days later.  I decided to calculate what fraction of my life is that compared to those first starting out to teach.  Two weeks is only 0.063% of my life now as compared to 0.168% of my life when I started 38 years ago.  So yes time does seem to be going faster!

This summer has been a time to slow down to read, rest, and reflect. Last year was a hard year – I actually took some sick days ( a rarity) due to pneumonia in the fall. Soon after that time, I realized that teaching the extra load of geometry was just too much.  What started out for one year when a teacher left to go back to school turned into four, but it was time to stop after this past year. The other full time secondary math teacher is picking up the geometry as she hands off an Algebra 1 class to the part time teacher that was hired 4 years ago. So now back to my Alg. 2; Honors Alg. 2; College Algebra, Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus, and 2 study halls. The Honors Alg. 2 was causing fits in scheduling so there will actually be 2 sections.

I enjoyed reading the tweets and blogs about #TMC16; watching the periscoping by Julie‏@jreulbach and other videos (And while watching, I found out that my local library has the book, Radical Equations, by Robert P. Moses – it’s next on my reading pile); and playing various Desmos card sorts that folks were making during DesCon. So thank you to all the #TMC16 gang.

Some non-fiction books from summer reading courtesy of my local library:

Several faculty from my school watched a video series on Ephesians by Donna Gaines, “Stand,” and discussed both personal and school applications. And we got to have lunch together a couple of times. Ephesians is my “goto” Biblical book for spiritual replenishment.

Next blog post – more about the new school year.

My Favorites – Desmos and Geometry


my fav


Desmos.  Yep, maybe a common favorite for many these days.

  • I had used Desmos for class demos and even took my handful of Alg. 2 students to the library to play Central Park on the PCs there.  Then last January the school got a couple of carts of chromebooks.  The students got to explore graphing with Desmos – using sliders, restrictions, etc. – and a few of the activities.  They got to actually switch x and y to see the inverse relation.  In calculus we could see the implicit graphs.
  • And now this year, I have enjoyed using the activity builder to set up my own activities.  (I even used it for geometry to share some links and ask questions without using the graphing part of Desmos.)  I got to attend in October the ICTM conference with Eli Luberoff for the Saturday main session, workshop, and seminar.  One student in wrote my name on the whiteboard using LOTS of tiny “Desmos.”  Already several of my classes have given 2 thumbs up on the Marbleslides!

I’ll include a favorite geometry quick activity that I learned while teaching in southern Africa in the ’80’s. – NO tech needed!

  • Ask for a couple of volunteers to come and stand several feet apart.  Then ask for another volunteer to come and stand the same distance (equidistant) from each of the first 2.  Most will stand between the first 2.  Then ask for another volunteer to come and stand the same distance from each of the first 2.  If a student is quick to volunteer, often he/she hesitates thinking through where to stand.  I sometimes repeat my instruction.  When a place is chosen I ask the class if they agree.  Then I ask for more volunteers one at a time until the whole class is standing.  I ask the question what they just formed (perpendicular bisector).
  • 1 volunteer to stand as my starting point.  Then volunteers to stand “an arm’s length away from the original volunteer. (circle)
  • Equidistant to 2 intersecting walls  (angle bisector).

These are fairly simple, quick demos and get the kids moving.  I still remember some of students over the years that were my “points.”





A Day in the Life of a Math Teacher

EdayExploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere    #MTBoS Week 1

My day Wed. the 13th

5.50 am – alarm goes off  –  cold outside 6F (and rather cool inside) – breakfast, on-line to check email, devotional time – Tuesday – I attended my aunt’s funeral yesterday afternoon.  Pastor spoke on Psalm 23, a very familiar passage, and connected the phrases together of walking through the valley of the shadow of death .. . and I will dwell in the house of the Lord.  Different combining that caught my attention.  Grade a set of geometry quizzes.  Hubby warms up the van.

7.10 head off to school after catching the morning new headlines – 5-7 minutes commute (depending on the 3 stoplights).  Get stuff set up for morning classes.  Chat with a colleague and then attend a faculty prayer time at 7.45.

8.00 – in the hallway by my room near the juniors.  Chat with some – do a quick visual check for dresscode – fairly relaxed one (no uniforms) – During the rest of the passing periods, I try to get out out in the hallways to help with hall supervision

8.10-8.54 – AP Calculus/Calculus – Differentiating exponential functions

8.59-9.43 – Geometry – Proportions if Triangles – “Side-splitter” theorem and angle bisector theorem.  Also short quiz review for Thurs.  Quick dash to the restroom after this class.  A couple of students were absent so set up make-up time for quizzes at the end of class

9.48-10.32 Honors Algebra 2 – Properties of Logarithms – including a little history on Napier

10.37 – 11.20 Regular Algebra 2 – Fundamental Theorem of Algebra – we’ve been studying solving equations of cubic, quartic, and quintic polynomials, mostly by factoring – reviewed that yesterday to consolidate information – connected that with the help of desmos (chromebook cart checkout) with functions,  real and imaginary zeros.

11.20-11.50 Lunch study hall – informal – more chatting as they wait to go to 2nd lunch period.  Helped a couple of students with questions

11.55- 12.20 – lunch time while eating a slice of pizza … help a student struggling with Alg. 2 factoring – also shared some on-line resources

12.25 – 1.09 prep period – check mail, email, get list of ones in detention after school, a little photocopying, check through homework collected yesterday afternoon by the sub

1.14-1.57 Geometry – while checking homework and quiz review – also review the previous day’s lesson when absent so a bit longer than the morning group that I was present the day before.  Then on to the new lesson see above.

2.03-2.47 Honors Pre-Calc – Test review – (and a little reteaching from yesterday’s lesson on trig ratios)  Seem confident about the test.  First trig test of the year.

2.52 – 3.35 College Algebra  – Test review – Exponential and Log functions including a short session of  Desmos activity: Polygraph: Exponential & Logarithmic Functions by Amy Prior

3.40-4.10 Detention Hall Supervision – only one today for the 7-12th grade – and only 30 min. (potentially some can have 60 min.)  chatted briefly at the end with the student – although I do not have him in class, I gave had his 2 older brothers several years ago.

4.10-5 – did some preliminary prep for tomorrow including a little more photocopying.  Chatted with a couple of colleagues.

5-8  home -supper, time with hubby, 2 cats, relax read some blogs, etc.

8-10 prepped 2 Quizizz activities – one for geometry review on similar triangles and one for the honors alg. 2 on logs.  Just started using this – uploaded some pics for triangles from a review sheet that I normally have used.  I liked how easy it was to add some log questions from others – I had used Socrative but like the Quizizz having some math symbols and subscripts, superscripts.


Tomorrow – full day and Parent Teacher conferences from 5-8 – will have to do some prep for that tomorrow.








#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge Day 6


#MTBoS12days   Yule Blog Challenge  Day “a tried and true task/strategy – I can always count on”

I’m quite a traditional teacher mostly using direct instruction with about 44 minutes per day (except on Thursday with 35-40 minutes).  I do try to ask good thinking questions to help the students explore the concepts, provide some variety of activity occasionally such as desmos or geogebra, card sorts, etc.  About a year and a half ago, I mentioned to my colleague I was thinking about getting some white boards.  She had a class set of small boards that she gave me to try.  The students really enjoyed them – yes, some classes more than others.  So when I feel like I need to spice up the class a little or just wanting them to review some skills such as factoring or graphing rational functions or differentiating implicitly, I bring them out.  Sometimes I have a few problems on the smartboard, but often if a spur of the moment, I just make up some problems and give then orally.  Sometimes they “buddy up,” sometimes work alone.  Sometimes it’s a quick time, sometimes longer.  Occasionally we look at a mistake – especially common ones.  Mostly done at the beginning of a class, but occasionally at the end to see what they know from the new lesson.

#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge Day 5

#MTBoS12days   Yule Blog Challenge  Day 5  “Reflection on last semester… What will I start, stop and continue in the new semester?”

Stop – getting down on myself  – can’t rescue/fix everyone, can’t inspire everyone, can’t work super long hours without affecting my health – physical and emotional,  etc.

Start – getting back to enjoying the students again – find the good even in the annoying ones  🙂   I started the semester off ok but declined when I was battling health issues.  Relax more!

Continue – making small changes of adding things such as Desmos activities which I really enjoy, Which One doesn’t Belong, Patterns, Geogebra, etc.



#MTBoS12days Yule Blog Challenge Day 4

#MTBoS12days   Yule Blog Challenge  Day 4  “A book I’ve read… a book I’m reading… a book I want to read…”

  • A book I’ve read…   Mathematical Mindsets:  Unleashing Students Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching by Jo Boaler.  I took her MOOC course a couple of years ago and saw her in person at the ICTM conference near Chicago this past October.  After the conference in October, I placed a hold on it at my local library (the library had it on order from another request!).   I got it the 2 weeks  before end of semester.  I do want to check it out again since I did a quick read without jotting/thinking through as much as I would like in the midst of the end of semester busyness.  It’s always good to have the ideas, research, activities in one place.  I do like her bilingual approach with maths and math 🙂   I still occasionally say maths and zed (for the letter z) and trapezium instead of trapezoid, etc.
  • A book I’m reading…  The Biblical book of Isaiah – Our church hosted a group for a Handel’s Messiah sing-a-long a few weeks back.  A passage I remembered hearing sung several years ago from Handel’s work was from Chapter 40  so I thought I would read through the book again – fairly lengthy and rich in content.  A verse in chapter 41 was an encouragement during my first year of teaching over 30 years ago ….‘Do not fear, for I am with you;  Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,  Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’  It was a good year!
  • A book I want to read… Redeeming Mathematics … A God-Centered Approach by Vern S. Poythress  I always am thinking WHY –  and I do appreciate some good philosophical thinking.  I have read some chapters of an earlier work by him although it may get postponed to summer reading.  I’m always looking for ways to mention backgrounds of mathematicians although briefly to show how worldview affects our thinking and doing.  Pascal, Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, Napier, Russell, etc.  Since it’s Christmas time – the lyrics of the Christmas carol “Joy to the World” were written by Issac Watts.  He also wrote  the lyrics to “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and many more English hymns.  In Geometry class I mention his book, Logic, or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. It was used as a text on logic at Oxford for many years (and other places).

I usually am reading some mystery book, but not currently.  Sometimes it’s nice just to relax with some of the Christmas movies on TV and read some blogs.


#MTBoS12day Yule Blog Challenge Day 3

Challenge 3 of #MTBoS12days   “How I relax and rejuvenate over the break”

I enjoy a mix of the following not in any particular order:

  • Reading – a good mystery or suspense,  a book on theology, the Bible, blogs, etc.
  • Watching African live streaming webcams especially Africam and WildEarth.  I got hooked on these back in 2008 – and early 2009 signed up for Twitter to get tweets  when animals were at the waterholes.  And got recruited to tweet via the Africam website for a couple of hours a day.  Although once school started up that fall, I stopped.  WildEarth streams safari drives twice a day.  I took the following screen capture a couple of nights ago (early am there)  Love the sounds – heard lions roar also this week and saw giraffes.

NK  Cheetah  12.20.15

  • Time with my husband, friends, visits to Panera
  • Celebrating Christmas with church family
  • Cooking/Baking and Cleaning – yep – I think it’s relaxing as much as I can stay on top of it during the break and not feel like I’m behind.