Goals for the year

I am working on being a better blogger and so I have accepted @teachthought challenge.  The challenge is to do a 30 day reflective blog, you can find the detail here.

Day 1 My goals for the year:

1. Use a math workshop model in my classroom.  I read Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer this summer and knew I needed to try this.  I am hoping  my students can become problem solvers and critical thinkers instead of just redoing what I do in examples.math book

2. We started school last week and the energy was great.  I want to help keep that energy up and positive. What are your tips and tricks for keeping teachers upbeat?

3. Be a leader who is willing to listen more than talk.  I find myself always being the first to share at team leader meetings and during PLC’s.  I can learn more by listening first and then sharing my ideas if necessary.


3-2-1 Summary Week 3

3 Things that went great last week

1. Last week was the first week of school and it was one the best first weeks of my career.  We did a number talk on the first day and for many of my kids it was what they wrote about on reflection Friday.  They liked learning there is more than one way to solve a problem, this makes me so HAPPY.  I decided to do number talks 2 to 3 days a week with a couple of classes.  The kids in those classes have traditionally struggled in math and I think teaching them that there are lots of ways to solve a single problem will make them feel and be successful.   Fawn Nguyen posted a list of ideas for math talks & number talks here and here.  I plan on using these down the road, right now we are focusing on addition problems.

2. Weekly warm up.  I decided to do a daily warm up with my classes this year and I made this weekly warm up 1template.  On Monday we did a number talk, Tuesday a would you rather , Wednesday was Estimation180, Thursday we attempted visual patterns and reflected on Friday.  These went great, kids were engaged, they seemed to like most days.  I am excited to do these every week.

3. Marshmallow Challenge revisited.  I did the marshmallow challenge with my exploration classes on Monday, first day.  It went well, but with everything we had to do day 1 we did not get a change to discuss the learning.  They wrote down their answers to my reflection questions so they would have them when we got to talk about it again.  I am so glad I had them write it down because we didn’t get to revisit the challenge until Thursday.  I am also glad we didn’t get to until then because on Wednesday I read Justin’s blog and was inspired to revisit the challenge.   We started by watching the TED video about the challenge, then we discussed what they had written down on Monday.  Finally, I explained to them the new challenge.  They were going to again build the tallest freestanding structure in 18 minutes, this time however, they could swap or add one thing.

  • They could use fettuccine noodles instead of spaghetti.  Either way they still get 20.IMG_2797 faces edited
  • They could use 1 yd of duck tape instead of masking tape.IMG_2791
  • They could use 1 yd of string instead of 1 yd of yarn ( No one chose this option)
  • They could keep everything the same, but have 8 mini marshmallows to use in building their structure.


  • The tallest tower was 34 inches, they used fettuccine noodles.IMG_2794IMG_2796

It went great and I can’t wait to do it again.

2 Things I need to work on this week

1. I need to work more on being a guide on the side with my classes.  I find myself showing them the pattern or how to do something instead of letting them struggle a bit and discovering it them self.

2. My presentation for the Northwest Math Conference.  I will be presenting on Friday morning at 8 am on the Practices in Practice.  I will be demonstrating ways to incorporate the math practices in the middle school classroom.  You should come, if not for me then to see and meet Fawn, DanAndrew and Jo will be there.  It’s gonna be awesome!

1 thing I am eagerly anticipating

 Thursday night 5:30 pm!  GO HAWKS!!!!


3-2-1 week 2

3 Things that made me happy this week

1. Family Reunion – I got enough done in my room on Friday that I was able to drive to Wenatchee and surprise my family.  The annual Chadderdon family reunion was this weekend and we weren’t going to go.  But I surprised not only my daughters, but all of my family in Wenatchee by attending.  Best decision ever.  It was a much needed get away before school starts on Monday. 

2. Inservice Week – We had a great kick off week, yes we still had 2 half days of meetings.  But the meetings started and ended on time and were interactive. We got time to share, discuss, laugh and come together as a staff.  1/4 of our staff is new and I think it was one of the best starts we have had.  Our district also gave us most of a day to work with our PLC.  This time allowed us to set our goals, get some CFA’s written, review curriculum map and vertical alignment with 6th – 8th grades. 

3. My husband is home by 8:00 on the night before school.  He is a night owl and usually works in his classroom until 11 or 12 on the night before the first day.  This year he got it all done early and we actually got to enjoy dinner together as a family.  

2 Things for me this week

1. Haircut – The first day of school is tomorrow and I didn’t get my back to school haircut this weekend – instead I went to Wenatchee and saw my family.  It was totally worth it, but I need to get a haircut sometime this week. 

2. Pedicure – I don’t have to have one, (don’t tell my husband) but I want one.  And I want the pampering that comes with it.  I am thinking of getting the pi symbol on my big toes.  Has anyone done this, send me a pic so I can see if I like it.  Thanks!

1 Thing that is going to keep me awake

1.  The first day of school is tomorrow and that means, even though I am really tired, I will be awake way to late tonight.  It happens every year.  So here is to a great year and an even better night sleep tonight. 🙂



3 things I am excited about

1. Teachers start school on Tuesday and I am looking forward to seeing my colleagues again.math book

2. Trying a math workshop model.  I read Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer and have been reading Sherri’s blog from last summer to get ideas

3.  Having dinner tonight with my mom and grandma.  My mom lives about 3 hours away I don’t get to see her as often as I would like.


2 things I am stressing about

1. Getting it all done – my room is looking pretty good, thanks to my husband John.  But the lesson planning and having rich tasks ready to go needs some work.

2. Being a positive, effective teacher leader in my building.  We have 8 new teachers in our building including 2 new math teachers on our 4 person math team.


1 thing I hope to change

1. Students’ mindsets.  I want my kids to believe they can learn math at high levels.  I will be using Jo Boaler’s class and youcubed.org to help kids believe.

1st 5 days

I started this blog last fall as part of a #mtbos challenge, but I didn’t keep up very well. So I am trying again with the new challenge, you can read about it here.


I have read through so many blogs and posts that I was struggling to get started.  You know that feeling you have when you have so many great ideas and don’t know where to go with them.  So the last day or so I have just decided to get some ideas down and then talk with colleagues next week during in-service to firm up my plans.  So here they are for now.

1st day

We will start by doing a Number Talk .  I am choosing addition & subtraction problems for the first week because many of students struggle with fluency.  84 + 48 is there first problem.  They will not be allowed to write anything down or use any calculator.  They will have a few minutes to solve this problem, then will signal me with a thumbs up under their chin.  When all students have solved it, I will call on students to share their solutions as I write down their thinking.

Next I am going to introduce myself by showing kids this.  Then the students will complete their own.  I will have students present their entire poster to the people at their table.  Next 1 person from each table will stand up and share 1 or 2 numbers about everyone at their table.

Then we will be discussing the Rules, Norms & Mindset.  Right now my rules are 1) Be respectful of yourself, your classmates and your teacher.  2) Be responsible for your learning.

Finally I am going to steal an activity from Fawn and do weekly problem solving.  We are starting with Cooper’s dog pen

2nd day

Number talk  18 + 77, same procedure as day 1.

Textbook checkout – All the 8th graders do text book check out on Tuesday.

I always want to do student surveys, then I collect them and they sit in a drawer.  This year I am going to use our active expressions to do a get to know me activity.  I haven’t written it out yet, but I am going to use this as my guide to write the questions.

Next students are going to work in groups to solve the penny a day problem.  I can’t remember where I found this one today, so if it yours please let me know so I can give you credit.  The problem is  Would you rather get 75 cents a day for 15 days OR 1 cent the first day, then doubled each day for 15 days?

Then we will be continue discussing the Rules, Norms & Mindset, including the expectations for my classroom.

3rd day

Number talk 49 + 12

Students will then complete the group personality worksheet.  I found this activity at Math McMatherson’s blog  Students will share their worksheets with the class.  Then they will do the Noahs-Ark Problem that I stole from Fawn

4th day

We will do a number talk and then I will be going over the handbook slides that are required by our district.  I hopefully will have time to do another math problem or activity.

5th day

We will start with number talk and we are going to be playing a math game.  I am not sure which one yet, so send me your favorite.

My first day is not until Aug. 25, so I have some time to add or change my plans.  I think I have a good start for now.  Please share your 1st 5 day at Sherri’s blog

This week in math class was a like riding a roller coaster, while I had some good times I am not sure I want to ride it again.  I teach 2 sections, an advanced math class for 7th graders – we learn the 7th grade & many 8th grade standards during one year.  The other 3 classes are regular 7th grade math. Both classes were working on a performance task from smarter balanced to start the week.  You can read the entire problem here

The middle school I teach at has four 6th grade, two 7th grade, and two 8th grade math teachers.  We work well together and decided this last summer to all complete the same smarter balanced performance task each quarter.  We would then use our professional development time to talk about trends, problems and how we would score them.  The first one we did was a 6th grade task, we also decided no calculators and students could work in groups.  Other than that teachers were free to choose how to set up the lesson and how kids completed the task.

I started mine later than I wanted to, because students were finishing their chapter 1 test.  So instead of 3 days to complete this task, I had 2 class days – both of which were shortened periods.  I started it with the advanced kids first.  The task has an intro piece that teachers are supposed to do about field trips to help guide the kids in thinking about all the things that teachers think about when planning a trip – cost, distance from school, etc.  However, all it did for my adv. kids was get them jacked up about the possibility to go on a field trip. Then I had to spend a ton of time calming them back down and refocusing on the task at hand.  I explained to the students they were to do tasks 1 and 2 today.  I knew they would not finish 2, but figured they could get a good start.  I let them work in groups of 2 or 3 and they could chose their partner(s).  There were a few questions about the first problem, but most groups did good with it.  The 2nd question however was more challenging .  While most of the advanced students understood the math they needed to do, very few remembered to change the miles to round trip and their organization skills were a disaster.  There were random calculations all over their papers.  They did not label any of the calculations and just did them willy-nilly on their paper. So I stopped class and reminded the groups that the bus also needed to come back and demonstrated how to label their work.  I would love to say that my suggestions were immediately taken into consideration and the students all started over creating beautiful tables, charts and labels; Let’s be real, these are middle school kids, who think mathematically and assume that everyone thinks like them, so they don’t need no stinkin’ labels.  The period ended, I collected their work and began to reflect on what I would do differently with the “regular” kids.

I skipped the entire teacher set up with the regular classes.  I showed them the table of student votes and then gave them a sentence frame to help them answer the question.   Next we went over the information for task 2.  We discussed the need for the trip to be a round trip rather than one way and how we would calculate the miles for round trip.  We looked at how many students were going and the entrance fees.  We starred the fact that the school was giving us $200 and discussed that we would need to subtract that from our total.  Finally, we noticed it wanted the cost per student.  Someone said we would need to divide.  YEAH!!  So we put a division symbol next to that part of the problem.  I was feeling great and turned them loose to work in their self selected groups of two or three.  As I walked around I reminded the students to organize their thinking.  I even went so far as to demonstrate with one or two groups that were really struggling.   This lead to a couple of really well done student papers that I used as examples for the other classes.  I even showed them to the advanced students the next day, so they would see what I was expecting.

I had already used up my two class days for this task, so I took my half finished projects to the group and we shared.  We all ran into the same issue of organizing, but different teachers handled it differently.  Some scaffold even more than I did, while others provided no scaffolding at all – here’s the work kids go for it.  Because this is something new and we want kids to be successful with it I think we need to model it and scaffold it so we can get them to be able to do it independently in a year and half on the smarter balanced test.  I also found it interesting the amount of writing teachers were having their students do.  Here are a couple of student papers.  What are your thoughts?

So after a long weekend I returned to my room and told the kids today was it.  We were going to finish task 2 and I wanted them to complete task 4 also.  We were skipping task 3 in the interest of time, but if they finished 2 & 4 they took do 3.  Day 3 did not go as I planned, kids who were totally into the problem on Thursday were off task and chatty on Monday.  I am not sure what the problem was, but only a few groups finished task 4.  It was very frustrating.  Since I did not want to spend another day on it, I collected them and we moved on.  Is that wrong?  Should I have given them another day to finish?  It is a great problem and the math is at a level that was accessible to my 7th graders, but the time it took seemed excessive.  What are your thoughts?

Songs in Math Class

I love music, and I can often recall lyrics to songs that I haven’t heard in years.  So I often play math songs for my students, some of my favorites are by Al G. Bra and can be found here.  I also like the song y=mx + b.

This year I decided to push myself and create a song myself.  No I have not made a video because even my kids don’t like to hear me sing.  (There was a reason I was in band for 7 years).  However, many of students know understand the process for multiplying mixed numbers because of my little song.

I was able to write the song in about 10 – 15 minutes. I thought about the process of multiplying mixed numbers and brainstormed the words I would need to use.  Next, I chose the tune “Are you Sleeping” or “Frere Jacques.”  I liked this tune because it repeats it self so I didn’t have to come up with as many lyrics.  Other good tunes include: Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle or Jingle Bells.  You want to use something familiar that students have probably heard before.    My first version went like this:

“Change to improper, Change to improper; Cross cancel next, cross cancel next;  Multiply the numerators, Multiply the denominators;  Simplify your answer.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say kids love it, but all I have to do is start singing the first line and they remember what to do.  Earlier tonight as I was correcting their tests I was pleased to see that very few students got the multiplying mixed number questions wrong.  Most were also able to explain, using complete sentences and transition words, the process for multiplying mixed numbers.

What is your favorite math song?  If you have a video send me the link, I would love to show it in class.