What 8th Graders Want From Your Classroom Expectations

I’m grading my first set of final exams and I had a small survey at the end to get ideas for next year. I’m always thinking forward, but I thought this would be a powerful opportunity for reflection from their perspective.  Especially this class.

I asked them to tell me one classroom expectation they liked having and why. I don’t really know what I expected them to say because my expectations aren’t outlined anywhere on a poster in my room. It’s one of those, “When you walk in, you just KNOW.” Because of that, I wondered if they would ask me what I meant by the question. They didn’t. And I was pleasantly surprised by the expectation they appreciated the most: respect from each other. 

Just so you know, I don’t allow “shut up” in my classes – NO EXCEPTIONS. I correct it immediately and they learn quickly to rephrase those two words in a more polite way.

I also don’t allow kids to “roast” each other.  I don’t like it and I don’t allow it – NO EXCEPTIONS. We are a community of family and trust for 94 minutes, and we don’t speak to each other disrespectfully.

Here are some of their responses about my expectation of respect:

I should also tell you that in the past, I’ve always been proud of my classroom management skills. When you teach for 17 years and kids always seem to “buy in” to what you expect with no pushback, you think you have it all figured out.

Ahem. Well… Lemme tell you. I don’t think that anymore.

This class really challenged my thinking on classroom management. When I got them, they were used to running the show and I had some behavioral issues and personality conflicts I had never experienced before. Unlike my other two classes, it took months to bring this class into a culture of respect (not only of me, but of each other).

But you know what? I wouldn’t change it because it pushed me to figure out how to find a way to get kids who hated each other to appreciate and respect each other.

And in the end, they actually appreciated that I made them respect each other ALL YEAR LONG.  


So yeah. That was pretty awesome.

And this was the best compliment I could ask for:

Thanks, Z. 🙂

I’m curious what tomorrow’s group will say.

I’ll keep you posted.


There’s always that ONE…

Archery season is finally over. It’s always a bittersweet ending because I’m happy to finally get my life back, but I already miss it like crazy.

I have the same feeling towards the upcoming end of school. I’m prepping/planning/reviewing for our state assessments, while thinking, “GAH – I need to remember to do this thing activity again next year…” and “NOOOOPE. This idea is going in the ‘burn’ pile because it was a hot mess and a half.”  So there will be a lot of reflection and pre-planning for next year while this year comes to a close.



Most days, I know I’m in the right spot.  Teaching middle school is THE BEST. I have amazing colleagues and I couldn’t ask for a more supportive administrator.  Most days are like most of those arrows – TENS. But there’s always that one screwup that brings me back to reality. And even though it’s an outlier, I can’t seem to let go of that one.  I sometimes forget to celebrate the other times I get it right.  If you know me, you understand how incredibly hypocritical this is because I’m constantly telling most of my colleagues and friends (and students) to let go of that one bad thing.  You can’t fix it, you can’t change it, and obsessing about that one failure will not do anything to make it any better. I tell my archers, “Forget the last arrow.  Only the next one counts.”

I think to do that, I need to make some changes.

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Out of the Classroom – Year in Review

Reflection time.

I’ve always been pretty tough on myself at the end of any year in the classroom. It was never in a “pity party” way, but more like a “come to Jesus” meeting with myself to keep me accountable for the following year. As a teacher, I always found things that needed tweaking the following year (classroom organization, boring lessons that needed tweaking, scaffolding issues, etc.). 2013-14 was completely new for me in every way. Needless to say, this is going to sting a little lot more than usual.

I’m going to set this up “Letterman” style.

5. Online PD Modules

I really wanted to put a lot of PD online so that we could cut down on the time that I had to pull teachers out of the classroom (which I HATE to do). Hopefully I can work on developing some of that over the summer. Teachers deserve access to PD that allows them to learn on their own time. They deserve for our professional development opportunities to transition with emerging technology in the same way they are expected to transition their courses with emerging standards.

4. Organizing Resources for Teachers

I’m constantly finding resources for teachers that I think might be helpful. I had such great plans to disseminate those resources to our teachers, but could never find a method that would work. But I need a method that I can use quickly and easily. Does something like that even exist? Here’s what I envision for my perfect app: I receive an e-mail, see a tweet, read a blogpost, etc., and here’s this amazing link that I want to make available to my teachers. I want to be able to immediately (from phone or computer) categorize it by pre-set notebooks/tags by grade and/or gradeband/course, then CCSS domain, possibly along with specific Common Core standard(s) and/or math practice(s). I want to be able to do this within a few seconds. I want teachers to be able to have access to those links as well. My brain screams “EVERNOTE, you big dummy”, but I can’t seem to streamline it so that it happens in the time constraint I want. What am I missing? I know there has to be a way.

3. Read

No, I don’t mean recreationally (I didn’t do that either). I mean I failed at reading things that matter to my profession. I didn’t feel like I had the time. I saw the books and book studies my MTBoS crew collaborated on and I was honestly in envy. I only read one professional book this year, and I need to make time to do this over the summer and next year. With my a.d.d. brain, I need to make a schedule and commit to this 100%. Opportunities for professional development for math coaches/specialists are limited in my area, and I need this in order to serve my teachers and schools the way they deserve. In the same way I would research and study to learn something to be a better teacher for my students (like I did with logarithms), I need to do this to be more effective for the teachers in my district.

2. Meeting with PLC/CLT from K-12

Some schools call them Professional Learning Communities, some call them Collaborative Learning Teams. I met with several across the district and across the grades, but I felt like it was Waffle House-style: scattered, smothered and covered. Next year, I need to set up a scheduled rotation to meet with our teams. Not half, not most – ALL. They can’t believe I’m in their corner if I don’t see them all face-to-face. I can’t make them comfortable with my presence in their classrooms if they can’t get to know me on a personal level. I can’t build trust if they don’t see me as a resource. I need to find a way to make this work.

1. Getting feedback to teachers after visits

I honestly thought that being in classrooms would be the majority of my work. I realized pretty quickly that a lot of work has to go on behind the scenes, and I struggled trying to keep a balance. I got overwhelmed a lot. I would often pop into classrooms and have small conversations immediately after, but not the in-depth ones that I wanted and needed to have. I need to learn more strategies for questioning when I talk to teachers. In the same way that we have strategies for questioning students about their thinking and understanding, I need those types of strategies when talking to teachers. But with that also comes scheduling and time to have those discussions. I want it to be meaningful, but I am very respectful of the limited time teachers have during the day. I feel e-mails are way too impersonal for something so important. I would rather do it face-to-face and soon after the observation. But I don’t feel that I did that well at all. Not even a little. Not even close. This is my biggest failure, in my opinion.

If any teacher from my district were to read this post, I’m sure they would have dozens of additional ways that I failed them, and I would probably agree with every single one. It might have been easier to roll into a position where norms and expectations were previously defined, but then again maybe not. The great (and completely terrifying) thing about my position is that I am creating a job description from the ground up. But would I say that I fulfilled all of the expectations that I set for myself in the beginning? NO.

We have many upcoming changes in our district over the next several months, including an election for a new Superintendent. I have no idea what might happen over the next year, but here are some things that I do know:

    • One of the best things about my job is being able to see teachers in action that I’d never have met if I was still in the classroom. I have found teachers that are, for me, the equivalent of professional “Red Bull” – they bring it 100% every day and I get energized as soon as I walk in their classes.
    • Everyone in my department puts students first and we support each other. I don’t think I could have made it through the year without my ELA “partner in crime”. I have never seen anyone fight harder for students and support teachers more than our Assistant Superintendent. And our Federal Programs Director wears so many hats and does more in a day than I think I do in a month. None of them read my blog, so this isn’t about kissing up. It’s about saying up front who I am thankful for (and who I’d lose my mind without). If any one of those people left our organization, our district would suffer tremendously.


  • I’ve lost friends over this job and it sucks, but it’s reality. However, I have to remember that I know where my heart is in all of this (even if other people don’t). I have to remember that sometimes a person’s concern/fear needs a target, and that my forehead now offers that bullseye. I have to remember that it’s probably not personal but if it is, it’s probably because of my approach.


I have a lot of work to do (as you can see by my summer calendar):

And, just like when I started teaching, it may take me a few years before it runs like clockwork. Implementing CCSS cannot happen overnight and it won’t be a complete success the first year. But I think our teachers and our district are both dedicated to making it happen.

I hope they will allow me to continue to support them in that process.

Sunshine Blog

I usually do my reflective blogs at the end of the school year, but @jstevens009 nominated me for this “Sunshine Blog” thing. Since I never back down from a challenge and I totally personify “Little Miss Sunshine” hahahaha…. Here goes.

First of all, the agenda. Sorry guys, I’m redesigning items as “acts” because there’s just A LOT of “11’s” so I need this for my wackadoo brain. 😉

Act 1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger

Act 2. Share 11 random facts about myself.

Act 3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for me.

Act 4. List 11 bloggers that I believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love! (These people can’t include the blogger who nominated me.)

Act 5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers I nominate.

Soooooooo, here we go:

Act 1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger

If you don’t already follow @jstevens009, STAAAAHP reading right now, follow him on Twitter and add him to your blog feed now. John is one of my favorite new “finds” of 2013. I found John because I’d seen a few retweets of his tech/app suggestions that were straight up legit. Then I read his blog (cuz I’ve become quite the blog stalker in my new life) and he’s become my “go to” for helping teachers with tech. He also has this really awesome “Would you rather” site that I think is great for student discussions along the lines of Fawn’s Visual Patterns and Stadel’s Estimation180. Go check it out, cuz it’s great. John also has some great concept extensions (projects, labs, etc.) for the courses he teaches. On top of all that, he’s wicked smart, very funny, and understands my weird little brain. Looking forward to attending his sessions at TMC14. I was honored by his nomination.

Act 2. Share 11 random facts about myself.
I would’ve been finished with this post DAYS ago without this freakin’ section. Grrrrrrr. Here comes the boom! (I’m kidding – skip this part cuz it’s really boring)

1. I had two other majors before math: computer science followed by accounting. It’s a really weird story. And no, I wasn’t the reason my calculus professor died – it was an ACCIDENT, not any wicked voodoo.

2. 2013 was my first year to ever coach archery (so you might not wanna make me mad) and we were state champs.

3. I failed prob and stats the first time I took it. Another weird story, but (thankfully) no one died in it.

4. Although I’ve never played a game in my life, I am a ferocious HS/college basketball spectator. It’s the only time I don’t seriously need A.D.D. meds, but I have thrown my phone and gotten in trouble with admin and security at my school. (See what had happened was…)

5. Anything good/positive about me comes from my grandparents. Those two were by far the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life.

6. My kid is the best thing that ever happened to me, but he LITERALLY almost killed me at birth. If you’ve seen my tweets about the crazy stuff he says, you’ll see why I think he’s amazing. I don’t deserve someone as handsome and witty as that kid. I fail him MISERABLY, but I love him more than he’ll ever know.

7. Once I adopt you as a friend, I am fiercely loyal to you…almost to a fault. I will fight for you, defend you, listen nonjudgementally for hours if you need to cry or complain, give you anything I can if you need it, and do my best to protect you (even if it’s from yourself). But even I have my limits, and (like the mafia) if I cut you from my life YOU ARE DEAD TO ME.

8. When I was in jr high, I was a cheerleader and part-time mascot for our high school squad. And I may still be the same height…

9. I’ve broken my nose twice (cheerleading pyramid crash and bike ramp accident – landed on my face both times) and my wrist once (Olympic pole vaulter wanna be).

10. Because of an encounter with Ronald McDonald as a toddler, I am terrified of clowns. Don’t try to be funny around me with this – I will react out of fear and seriously hurt you.

11. As much as I joke about it, Gavin DeGraw has never actually filed a restraining order against me. He did tweet me once. But after this last album (from which I haven’t downloaded a single song), I think we are done for good. He is no longer the “boyfrand”.

Act 3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for me.

1. Why do you teach?

I went into teaching because of the calculus professor I mentioned earlier (he was really awful). No one deserves to be belittled for not knowing/being exposed to/understanding certain areas of mathematics. I went into teaching to give students the confidence and skills to deal with jackasses like that.

2. If you didn’t teach, what would you do for a living instead?

I’ll combine my two favorites: statistician who is secretly an undercover FBI agent.

3. Money being no obstacle, where would you like to visit? Why?

So easy – Greece. Myrtos Beach, Santorini, Lindos, the monasteries of Meterora, the Parthenon, Herodeon… Beauty and ancient architecture. Love.

4. Kids always ask who your favorite student is. Describe the characteristics of yours

This is TOUGH. It would be the most schizophrenic kid ever. I like different kids for different reasons. Quiet ones, loud ones, sweet ones, bad ones, tall ones, short ones… Crap, I miss teaching so much. This is kind of depressing. THANKS, JOHN. :p

5. What is your favorite board game and why?

Right now it’s Blokus. My kid loves it and it reminds me somewhat of Tetris. Not a really challenging game, but something about playing a game your kid loves changes your perspective about it.

6. What is the most frustrating component of education right now?

I personally get frustrated when people will take something they “hear” and run with it without doing any research of their own. “Common Core math standards are weaker in our state than anything we’ve ever done!! We’re lowering the expectations of our kids.” Really? SHOW ME where CCSS is weaker than what we’ve been doing, cuz ‘honey child’ we live in the SOUTH. I want a standard vs. standard analysis. “Common Core is teaching our children that Obama is the next Messiah and you should pray to him every night!!!” WHAT??? Crazy stuff like this shows up on Facebook every day. I’ll say, “Show me where it says that in the CCSS ELA standards.” They can’t show it to me but swear it’s true because “they heard it” from Billy Bob Joe Mack’s uncle’s sister’s cousin’s wife when she had her big toe removed. Just please STOP IT.

7. Would you rather buy a Mac or a PC?

Mac. I’m still learning and I have yet to become a fan of Pages and Numbers, but overall I love my Mac.

8. What is your favorite book?

I’d love to give you the impression that it’s some extremely intellectual book, but it’s not. I like to get lost in flawed characters and plots that make me forget where I am. I like the “Divergent” series and I also liked “Digital Fortress” by Dan Brown (although I know a lot of people hated it, but that’s ok).

9. If you had to choose blogging with no way to share it (ex. via twitter) or tweeting with no way to elaborate (ex. via a blog), which would you choose?

Twitter, hands down. I couldn’t live without the people in my Twitterhood.

10. Who is your hero? Why?

My grandparents. Both were mechanics, so I’ve been a grease monkey since I could crawl (instead of Legos, I had spark plugs). We had people of every background, class, demographic, etc. you can think of come through that garage. While my grandparents worked on cars, the customers became family – they were fed, talked to about their lives, and ALL treated with respect. And every person was accepted as an individual and payments were dependent on each person’s situation. Some could pay all up front. Some would have to barter. Some would have to pay what they could every week, but they ALWAYS paid because they respected and appreciated my grandparents. They taught me how to treat people and that differences were NEVER a bad thing, but an opportunity to learn. I didn’t encounter any prejudices until I started school.

11. What is the most exiting part about your job? Why?

When I revisit a classroom now and bring teachers resources or ideas and they LIGHT UP like a Christmas tree, that is wicked cool. Because I get to know them (like I did my students), I can find things that match their teaching styles and personalities. I also like walking into classrooms and kids say, “Ms. H., are you gonna be here all block? SWEET!!” or “I want to show you what I worked on last week after you left!” I know I’m not in the classroom anymore, but I’m still developing relationships with students.

Act 4. List 11 bloggers that I believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
#2-11 are not in any particular order – just #1.

1) Shelli Temple – she’s the reason I’m in the Twitterverse and the reason I didn’t BOMB at teaching stats
2) Christopher Danielson – makes me really think about math and teaching in ways I haven’t before. And he invited/trusted me to meet his family – homeboy can COOK
3) Fawn Nguyen – because I love this wicked smart awesome woman who kicks butt in the classroom
4) Kate Nowak – her blogpost on teaching logarithms saved my students from my crappy explanation
5) Andrew Stadel – estimation180, 3 acts, and he’s one of the few tall people I like.
6) Sam Shah – his calculus ideas make me understand it (finally) and his virtual filing cabinet is amazing
7) Frank Noschese – he teaches physics but so many great applications to math and he gets SBG like a BOSS
8) Chris Robinson – also really makes me think about education and mathematics.
9) Zach Patterson – I adore this kid. Lots of good lessons at “Hungry Teacher” and he once did a race in these fox pajamas and a red wig.
10) Nik Doran – he’s British and there’s the whole “maths” thing, but other than that he has some pretty good ideas and I like his “hinge questions”.
11) David Cox – fascinated by his middle school blog

Act 5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers I nominate:

1) If you had to pick one area/concept of math that is your “jam”, what would it be?

2) To quote Rodney (Chris Rock) from Dr. Doolittle, “You can’t save them all, Hasselhoff.” True, but there’s at least one student that sticks out in my mind that I feel I failed. Do you have one?

3) Twenty years from now, what’s something kids will probably remember about you (phrase, moment, habit, characteristic, etc.)?

4) I nominated you because I think you’re great, but I know we are all our own worst critics. What’s something that you’d like to “fix” about yourself in your current job?

5) Name a movie title that describes you and why.

6) I love TMC because at night I can hang out with my favorite tweeps and learn so much from them. Which tweep would you love to have a conversation with over a beverage?

7) If you couldn’t teach your specific subject, what else would you teach?

8) Everybody has a song they car dance/jam out to. What’s yours?

9) TMC13 enlightened me on karaoke night. A few people completely blew my mind (I’m lookin’ at you, Pershan). Who would you love to see karaoke at TMC14 and why?

10) What’s one thing (item, app, software, etc.) that you love so much that you can’t imagine doing your job without it?

11) If you could job shadow one tweep for a week, who would it be and why?

Well, that’s about all the sunshine I can handle one post. 🙂
This is probably the hardest blog challenge I’ve ever had, but it really made me think (so thanks, John!). But I HATED leaving people off for Act 4. UGH. Check out these amazing people to the right in my blog roll that are all WONDERFUL.

TMC13 Brain Dump

I can’t believe it’s over.

A year of waiting and anticipating (and stressing!) and it’s already over.

This was my 2nd year to attend Twitter Math Camp. TMC12 was a very emotional time for me and, as you can read here, totally ruined my reputation. I was afraid that the increase in attendees for TMC13 would make it difficult to develop new relationships. That was true and then again it wasn’t.

Wednesday morning started at 4 a.m. as I headed for the airport in New Orleans. To say I was wicked-hyper-excited would be an understatement. But as much as I was looking forward to TMC, there were several people I knew I was going to miss. @druinok and @fouss were not going to be there and, as expected, TMC13 wasn’t the same without them. Also missing from my adventure was my partner in crime @mesimmons5. Traveling with him is always amazing and I was completely bored in airports and on planes without him. Our ability to make people uncomfortable with our honest conversations is so entertaining. I missed him very much. And also missing from the original crew were @colinmac10 and my brotha-from-anotha-motha @troystein (who was being the Super Dad that he is). So three of my best friends and the whole crew of amigos wouldn’t be on this trip. I couldn’t imagine what TMC13 would be without them.

My original plan was to meet @mathdiva77 at the airport, wait on @justagirl24, and then catch a ride with @hfxmark to the hotel. But as usual, airports said “Oh you made plans? SURPRISE!!!.” Poor Summer was stuck and had plane delay after plane delay. And poor Roxie was the first tweep to incur my excitement over TMC. I may have hugged her in half (sorry, babe!). We made our way towards baggage when I saw this sign:

Mark got his nieces to draw it for me and I absolutely loved it! At baggage, we met up with @_mattowen_ and the four of us piled up and headed to the hotel.

That poor hotel staff didn’t know what to think when we got there. I was hugged, spun, picked up and thrown around by @mythagon, @aanthonya and my favorite Brit, @nik_d_maths. I squealed like a little girl and didn’t care about the looks I got. That night we all went out and witnessed the craziness of a crew of kids on the streets of Philly. The kids were pushing people down, stealing, throwing things through windows, etc. (a real “WHOA” moment for me). We started with dinner and seeing @fawnpnguyen‘s obsession with “muscles” and @wahedabug‘s notorious sassy loud personality.


I also got my awkward-small-child-hugging-me reaction from @sarcasymptote and it was as awesome as I’d hoped it would be.

Thursday morning:
It didn’t seem real until all of us piled into this large room at Drexel and I got to see @maxmathforum. There are few people in this world that are as helpful and humble as Max. I think he’s awesome.

After the announcements, we headed to the morning sessions. When I got to the stats session, I realized that there were fewer “stats” people and more that were interested about learning about stats. Kinda threw a monkey wrench in my plans, but just like we do in the classroom, we rolled with it. We discussed the overview of the course, different ways to approach it, and some of the ways we tried to bring life into the course.

After lunch and the “my favorites”, Max presented his “I Notice, I Wonder” session to the whole group. Max is so awesome to watch, whether in a 5-min Ignite session or for a full hour, I’m always completely fascinated. He makes everything about math so interesting and wonderful. I would have loved to have him for a teacher/instructor.

I attended @trianglemancsd‘s “5 practices” session. I found this session so interesting and helpful for the upcoming year. Using something as simple as a Tootsie Roll, we did some pretty intensive modeling and conceptual mathematics relating to fractions. I really needed this because it’s my job this year to try and help elementary teachers do more of this type of teaching than the standard algorithmic instruction. I wish I could steal Christopher and bring him to our local university to teach our elementary teachers. THIS is the type of instructional modeling they need to see. Although I think he would be a fantastic teacher to kids, I understand the value he has in post-secondary education. And he’s even nicer in person than I thought he’d be. Let me clarify – I didn’t think he would be a snot, but he COULD have been. I always think “brainy” people are going to blow me off, but Christopher is extremely friendly and witty. It was an honor to meet him.

Afterwards, I attended @johnberray’s “Make Math Memorable” session. John is freakin’ hysterical, to say the least. I’m betting that middle school kids fight over having his classes and rightfully so. He had some very funny ideas for engaging kids in the classroom: “hot carrots”, “I’m a REAL” boy, the “future/past” phone, and bananas. I laughed a lot in this session and took some cool ideas away to bring to teachers in my district.

At this time, I would like to formally request that “karaoke night” be a new standard to Twitter Math Camp. I loved it. Here are a few recap pictures:

And I finally got to have a “sit down” conversation with @absvalteaching. Didn’t think it was possible to like and respect him more than I already did, and I was mistaken. Chris is just awesome. And TAAAAAAALLLLLLL. And I got to do burpees with @mgolding – I’m not sure what the purpose was, but we did them (much to the confusion of @lustomatical, but he thinks I’m a weirdo anyway).

After the morning session, the stats group went to work compiling resources and discussing sampling distributions and Central Limit Theorem. @gwaddell had a great method for teaching CLT using pennies.

I also got a new source for stats. “The Code” may be my new favorites series – here’s a clip we watched that’s prettY cool:

Team Mathalicious rolled out a preview of some secret stuff. I think that the new direction they’re going is pretty awesome and I look forward to seeing the final product with all the “bells and whistles”. I think that’s all I can say without fear of death. Although I will say that what @cheesemonkey noticed about the “RoCo” gave me the giggles.

I went to @cheesemonkey’s “Adding “Stickiness” to Rich Tasks & Math Projects” session and wasn’t disappointed. She had some great activities for making us think “outside the box” on those lessons that are tough (or boring) to teach. I think I got a lot out of it because helping teachers make rich tasks will be part of my job this year. So once again, E totally saved me. And she’s deliciously funny. 🙂

Later than night was a trip to Jolly’s Dueling Piano Bar. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but had to eat my words. SO much fun – if you’re in Philly, YOU HAVE TO GO.

We danced. We sang. We roasted @sweenwsweens

Can I just say how much I love my sister, @mgolding? Like L.O.V.E.

Her session on INBs was even better than I could’ve expected. I think the way she let us put together a notebook just like her kids was exactly what I needed to experience. Being able to cut/tape/experiment with our notebooks helped me see the awesome possibility of the INB. It was here that I started having my first regrets of leaving the classroom (and that’s a compliment, Megan).

After lunch was the most terrifying moment of my educational career, Stats Bootcamp. Please understand, I don’t get nervous. I don’t get scared. I’ve presented at conferences for 150+ people like it’s nothing. But this was different, and I wasn’t sure that what I’d planned would convey the awesomeness that is statistics. Especially not to the MTBoS! Poor @druinok had to go through about 3 or 4 drafts of my presentation before I finally felt it was “ok”. And had she been there, it would have kicked SUCH major butt because EVERYTHING that I love about stats really comes from ideas and conversations and brainstorms with her. She’s the godmother/guru of stats in my mind. And poor Summer – that woman was a blessing that day. She was able to “sass” me out of my panic attack and helped me prep when she didn’t have to. I think that those who attended Bootcamp got something out of it and I plan to submit a 2-hour “Stats Basic Training” session for TMC14 where we actually go through 3 or 4 of the stats labs I talked about. Just not the ones with the pigs. My eyes can’t go through that again.

After my session, I led a little horsepower lab that I stole from Penny Smeltzer out in the the lobby. I only had a handful of people to show up, but I hope they enjoyed the lab as much as I did. See if you can match each person with their horsepower:

And here’s Eli from Desmos with the fastest horsepower. As I said, that is one fast little booger:

That night I thought we were going to eat sushi, but we ended up eating… well, I don’t really know WHAT we ate. Indian? Thai? Mush? All I know is that I had a one night stand with that buffet and I do NOT plan on ever calling it back again. YUCK. I felt awful because @samjshah felt bad that I didn’t like it. But I did TRY it, so I get props for that, right Sam?

I hate the last day of TMC. HATE IT. I told myself I would NOT cry this year but UUUGHHH. I gave in. I held it together until Fawn hugged me. HARD. I don’t live close enough to this woman who I’m blessed beyond measure to have found. Same with @jamidanielle, @jreulbach, @marshafoshee and @mathdiva77. It’s so hard to say goodbye to the women in my Twitterverse who make me feel normal. I don’t get that feeling anywhere else because I’m so ABNORMAL in my corner of the world. But… I hope they know how much I love them and appreciate them.

To lighten my mood, Nik talked me into going to eat Mexican food. I misunderstood “Dining Days” and before I knew it, each of us had 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and a dessert. That’s 10 PLATES of food. Deliriously full as you can see:

I’ve never wished for a wheelbarrow so bad in my life. I had a “food baby” for reals, y’all. Came back with 10 extra pounds, I bet.


Flight cancelled. Drama ensued. How much drama?

this wasn’t the end of the call – just a brief pause at almost 2 hours. TWO FREAKIN’ HOURS!! Y’all, I don’t talk to people I LIKE that long, much less airline reps. Just get me on a plane and get me home, y’know? Summer and I walked Nik to the train station and we said goodbye to our baby Brit (who still can’t believe we haven’t been on any trains other than subways).

Summer and I made our way to the airport and I walked her to her gate. Talk about a tough goodbye. Anyway, I bounced around from gate to gate and airport to airport, finally making my way back to New Orleans after midnight and getting home around 2:30 a.m. That actually worked out for me because I had a presentation the next day and was still wired from the flight. I’m weird, I know.

Some insight from TMC13 that I couldn’t fit anywhere else:

@calcdave has some cool shirts

Mussels are GROSS (no matter WHAT Fawn says)

@ultrarawr is a super nice guy and was gracious enough to let me spend a lot of time pouring over some INBs from his class.

His “my favorite stupid point system” talk was pretty funny and also really great.

@sophiegermain is amazing. I’m fascinated when she talks and she’s the best karaoke buddy ever. She and @rdpickle are so much fun to watch.

I didn’t spend enough time with @sarcasymptote. And I absolutely loved that he serenaded me at karaoke. Might have been the highlight of my TMC13.

@samjshah can talk me into anything. Karaoke, leading a crowd, etc. I can’t say no.

Drexel University is gorgeous.

I’m adopting @aanthonya and @hfxmark as my new big brothers. I love these guys so much.

Teacher Proof” is an awesome book. I highly recommend it to help you wade through the fluff of educational research. And Ch 2 should be used in every stats class.

So although I got to spend time with old friends and make new ones, there were still SO many people I didn’t get to meet. To be honest, Sunday I looked around the room wondering, “Who is THAT? Where did he/she come from? Have they been here the WHOLE time?” And that wasn’t the case at TMC12. We knew everybody. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the increase in attendance, but I know I missed out on some amazing conversations. And that’s just the consequence of the awesome family we have in the MTBoS. The stronger we are in numbers, the less connected we *could* become. But that’s a debate for another day.

Thanks for the fun, peeps. See you guys next year.

*Sigh* TMC12 is TOTALLY going to ruin my rep…

It happened too fast and ended too soon.

That’s really the first thing that comes to mind when I think of #TMC12. Which might be why it’s taken me so long to write this. I just want to write and not really think, so please forgive me if it comes out weird or stupid, or… you get the idea.

I was honestly kind of nervous about TMC because I know I’m pretty much just a smartass juvenile in the Twitterverse (YES, I’m aware you didn’t need me to say this outloud). I don’t contribute much mathematically because I really don’t think anything I do is worthy in comparison to the other tweeps I follow. I’m afraid people will think it’s stupid and make fun of me. Yes, I still have scars from the mean girls that tortured me in high school (“Oh, did you shop at the Salvation Army for that outfit? How sweet.” “Did they ever catch the criminals that beat you with that ugly stick? No? What a shame.”). Plus, let’s just say I have to put on a different persona in FaceBookLand and in my “real life”. Twitter is honestly the only place where I’ve felt 100% comfortable to be ME. So if I put something out there that my tweeps viewed as crappy, that would be hard for me to deal with because of the respect I have for them. I don’t want @k8nowak or @samjshah or @calcdave to know how dumb I really can be am. So, in short, meeting everyone was going to be intimidating as hell. What if I AM as annoying as I think I am?? Oh well. I was about to find out. Balls to the wall, love me or hate me, I decided I wasn’t going to be anyone but me.

I conned convinced my new parter-in-crime (@mesimmons5) to go with me to TMC. He’s still relatively new to tweeting with my math peeps, and I thought this would be a good initiation for him. However, I really think everyone would agree that the initiation was mine. I’ll keep the details on the DL (that’s how much I LOVE you, man), but let’s just say it was entertaining to say the least. And I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have for a colleague. That guy has some great ideas for bringing media into the classroom and will have SO much to share with you guys at #TMC13 (and I mean that in the non-Jerome/Tyrone way). Please follow this guy and hopefully I can get him to blog soon. His creativity impresses the hell out of me, but don’t tell him I told ya.
By the way:
Simmons + airplanes = ohmygoshmysideshurtfromlaughingsomuchI’msosorryyouhadtoseethatTSA.

When we got to the airport in STL, the first “real” tweep I met was @jreulbach. Well, let’s just say it was love at first sight. She is BETTER than what you think she’d be but just better live and in stereo. Not only will she belt out “Country Road” anywhere (and get EVERY stranger to sing along with her), but she is genuine and funny and NOT OBNOXIOUS. I think everyone at camp would drive to North Carolina anytime to hang with her on the lake. You can’t NOT love this girl. TOO much fun in such a tiny package, and she rolls with anything you throw at her (even if it’s a huge corn dog). As I tweeted during camp, I really wish I could be one of her students. Her kids are so lucky to have her and I hope they know it.

I also got to see @troystein again. I don’t consider Troy a colleague anymore. Troy is like that awesome best friend from college that you know will always have your back. I’ve known him so long that he honestly feels more like family. I wasn’t prepared to introduce him during camp (and don’t have a clue what I said), but I hope you all experienced what I was trying to express. Troy wants kids to succeed and wants to enable teachers with whatever tools they need to make that happen. Yes, he’s a TechSmith guy, but his conviction is about the kids. He LOVES great teachers and what they do in the classroom. I really have to thank you guys for letting him into our weird little world and sharing with him as openly and honestly as you did. That meant a lot to me.

As always, I was happy to see my BFF @druinok! One day we’ve got to blog about how we “met”, because it’s a crazy story that turned two total strangers into BFFs. I appreciate everything she does for me during the year with AP Stats, and she motivates me like no one else does. I appreciate EVERYTHING she did to help organize TMC12! Mad props, girl. MAD props. She also didn’t kill me, which is always appreciated. Sorry, mom. Maybe next time. <— LONG story. Hopefully next year won’t be so crazy and we can hang like we usually do. I don’t think she was able to sit longer than a few minutes at a time and I MISS that collaboration that I usually get to do with her. Had a wonderful dinner with several people, including @lmhenry (and hubs). I also have to thank Lisa and her hubs for everything they did to prep and carry out this conference. I owe Lisa so much. And I’m going to apologize to her in advance for anything that happens at TMC13 (it wasn’t my idea, I swear).

Later on that night, we had a “tweet up” in Lisa’s room. I saw someone I didn’t recognize, and it took me a minute to realize it was @mathbratt. That girl is SO cool and funny. She was definitely one tweep that surprised me because we didn’t really talk much on Twitter before (but she can organize a photo shoot FO SHO). Now that I’ve met her in person, I think that will change (whether she likes it or not). Also met @jamidanielle who was new on my radar. But I have to say that I liked her immediately. Sometimes you just “click” with someone and you can tell them ANYTHING. That’s Jami.

I also met “it” and, like clockwork, we started fighting and insulting each other.

Twitter is weird for me. I feel like I’ve really “known” these people the last three or four years, but how could that be? I’d only really MET one. But some you just click with and that’s why I’ve always felt like @fouss was on my team. She’s wicked smart, supermom^2, has great ideas in the classroom, and always seemed “real” on Twitter. I’ve overshared personal stuff with her many times and she’s always had my back 100%. I was SO nervous about meeting Fouss because I have CRAZY respect for this woman on so many levels. Guess what. She was so much more than I hoped she would be. She is witty and sweet and one of the most admirable/adorable women I’ve ever met in my life. When you see her, you can’t help but smile and just feel like everything is right with the world. That might be an overshare, but I don’t care. I love that lady (as you can clearly see by my Twitter avatar – sorry I attacked you, Fouss, couldn’t help myself).

And as we were hanging out, the newsflash came in – Sam was in the building. I ran out of the room, down the hall, off the elevator and OHMYFREAKINGCRAPTHEREHEWAS. As he was getting onto a different elevator I sprinted (a.k.a. was RUNNANNNG like Forrest Gump) towards him, only to have the doors close in my face. Not to be deterred, I watched what floor he stopped on and took the next elevator up. I ran up and down the halls looking for any sign of Sam, but found nothing. I sulked back to Lisa’s room in defeat. And then it happened. Sam walked in. I went from obnoxiously extroverted to curling up in a ball and staring at him for an awkward period of time. I couldn’t say a word (which is NOT like me). SAM. WAS. IN. THE. ROOM. And so began the first of MANY embarrassing events for which I will apologize. Sam is the CUTEST thing I have ever seen and after he told me I was being weird, I loosened up a bit and was able to talk to him without making him extremely uncomfortable.

Exeter problems to start the day and it was really amazing! TWITTER MATH CAMP WAS HAPPENING!! It was so surreal I just couldn’t really wrap my mind around it. Having the opportunity to experience problem-solving with my tweeps and discuss student thinking was great. I think this was the first time that I really got to hang out with @mgolding. And whether she likes it or not, I am adopting Megan as my new sister. She is so much funnier and wittier than you could ever imagine, and yet she has NO idea how awesome she really is. More on our misadventures later. I also got to get to know @mwmathews – talk about not what you expected (but in a good way). I’m hoping he’ll pipe up more on Twitter now that he knows us a little better. He’s funny!

My Favorite Thing – ok, can I say I have never been so nervous in my entire life??? I’ve done presentations on marshmallow guns at NCTM national conferences for 150+ people without a second thought, but the 39 of you just made me want to pee my pants. Apparently I say “twine” with an annoying Southern accent (thanks DAVE…)? My bad. But I hope I made SOME sense. If not, you can read it in print here. Thanks for not laughing TOO much (to my face, anyway, hahaha). And thanks to @maxmathforum for letting me shoot him.

I was honestly nervous for Troy’s presentation on the Flipped Classroom. I know that when we say “flip” some people assume we mean Khan Academy and that’s not the case. I didn’t want anyone to tune him out because they stereotyped “flipping”. THANKFULLY no one did. As Troy showed us, you can flip your classroom as uniquely and individual to your needs as you choose apps for your phone. Your videos don’t have to be straight lecture or procedural. They can be investigatory, open ended, summaries, if-then-try, etc. I always love how open and honest Troy is about what his kids go through and I was glad to know that it made some of your reconsider how you view this new area of instruction. Still might not be your jam, but your questions and dialogue really helped me rethink some ideas myself.

Afterwards, it was time for @bowmanimal‘s Geogebra session. Holy crap, this guy is a mathematical rock star. I’ve always liked Bowman and thought his blog was unbelievable. But watching his thought process (especially during Exeter probs) just impressed the hell out of me. No joke. He’s so smart and funny and TAAAALLLL (but he’s on the “good” tall list, so it’s ok).

And of course, I had to go to Julie’s “Foldables” session. I got some great ideas for statistics and Algebra2 that I plan to put in use the first week of school. Also learned what a “cootie catcher” was – one of the MANY things I learned at TMC12.

I have to admit that, although I was having a blast, I was starting to miss some of my tweeps that were not at camp. I realized quickly I could NOT “camp” and “tweet” at the same time. This was difficult because there are some people I tweet EVERY day. I was having withdrawals. I told @fawnpnguyen I would take her with me to camp. And I did (even though it made her mad). 🙂 I also missed my sista, @wahedahbug and the 3-Acts king,@mr_stadel. And I missed trading quips with the always witty @MrPicc112. I wanted them with me at TMC12, but I heard they started a camp of their own (some sort of “jealousy camp”?). Next year, you four WILL be at TMC13 (and Timon, you can’t say no cuz you’re Canadian – we had TWO Canadians at TMC12). Hedge has spoken – make it happen.

After camp, we had to haul butt over to the Budweiser brewery to catch the last tour. The gift shop was unreal (you know how I love Bud Light Limes), but I (somehow) resisted buying anything. The tour itself was really cool. The strangest thing for me was the extreme change in temperature from building to building on the tour. One minute we’re outside in 100 degree weather, then we’re in a cooling area where it’s 50 degrees, then in a boiler room of some sort where it’s 90+ degrees again. It was cray cray!! [Oh, speaking of cray cray – let me PLEASE apologize to @rdkpickle for making her uber-uncomfortable. My bad, girl. MY BAD.] The Budweiser grounds were really awesome and we were extremely juvenile during the whole tour (which I LOVED). But THE BEST part of the tour? Like the UNBELIEVABLE part of the tour? Like the TOTALLY MOST AMAZEBALLS THING that would have ONLY happened in my DREAMS part of the tour??? Sam gave me a piggy back ride for like TEN minutes. OMG. *sigh* Yes, THAT was my Bieber moment. After the official “tour”, we got to “taste” some of the Budweiser beer and hang for a bit. I got to meet @colinmac10 (what’s the 10 for again?) and found out I’m not the only teacher who had students get in trouble for being, er, “hands on”. So it was cool to be IRL buddies with someone BEFORE we were Twitter buddies. Colin seemed like a sweet and reserved Canadian at this time. I realized quickly this was just a front (more on that later).

So you get your 2 beer limit (well, really – they weren’t exactly keeping track and we totally took advantage of it) at the Budweiser tour and then what do you do? Go for pizza at a restaurant who themes its decor and menu around PI. We all got to sit together in the same area and I got seated next to @jamidanielle, @justagurl24, @calcdave (and his beautiful genius wife), @troystein, @bowmanimal, and @mesimmons5.

Here’s where the problem came in – I was so busy talking to Jami, Troy, Roxi and David, that I didn’t really notice the bonding between Simmons and “it“. Apparently the bonding started over the “green” and “silver” buttons in the bathroom (for which there are pictures somewhere that you shall not see for your own good). At one point, Simmons whispered, “Hedge – I’m sorry but I think Seiler is kinda cool.” HUH? My ENEMY?? SERIOUSLY??? OMG. I had to leave the table at that point (Et tu, Simmons?) and I found a spot near @karimkai. Because I’ll talk to anybody (yeah, sorry about that everybody), Karim was my next victim and was nice enough to let me sit next to him for a bit. After a minute or two MAYBE I might have taken a friendly shot at my friend @fnoschese, but Karim totally stuck up for his buddy and clipped me with a few shots at my Southern roots. I appreciate someone who can give insults as well as take them, and Karim did just that. I didn’t expect him to be funny, so he’s on the “good” tall list. He also told me the story of how he got into Stanford (which is a great one, but he’s full of crap if he thinks I buy that’s the ONLY reason he got in). After 20 minutes of listening to him talk about Mathalicious, I really gained a new respect for the guy and he’s now on my very short “hero” list. Mad props and respect to him for what he’s given up over the last 3 years to put Mathalicious together. At the end of the meal, the waiters told us our meal was taken care of. I don’t who or why, but that was BAD ASS. Just saying. There may or may not have been some pole dancing on poor @jruelbach, but she laughed it off and didn’t appear to be TOO traumatized.

So back to the hotel we went and down to the hotel bar we collected. Most of us anyway. I have to keep much of those details on the D.L., but Simmons, Colin, and Seiler started to bond in this trifecta of evil that they soon dubbed “The Three Amigos” (–>0:48 to see what they continued to do the whole night). Honestly, it was more like “The Three Stooges”, but y’know – whatever helps them sleep at night. This was the first time I got to really hang out with @marshafoshee, who is a TOTAL sweetheart. But don’t let that sweetness fool you – she is quick-witted and and can throw an insult around here and there like nobody’s business. But I think that @mgolding and I both experienced the first of many scarring events. Let’s just say there may have been some booty-shaking and stripping that we all witnessed, but Megan and I were particularly subjected to specific events that neither of us will forget. Some of us left with different clothes than we arrived in, but we still loved each other enough not to judge. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.


Holy frick-n-frack, Batman! Exeter problems day 2 and Simmons and I just started looking for things we could use in our classroom. If you’ve never looked through those problems, I HIGHLY suggest you do.

Another great day of “My Favorite…” – I can’t remember who did what on which day, but I’m sure other bloggers posted better than I did. I really love this part of camp and I hope that TMC13 has daily hour sessions of this. Just 5 – 15 minutes of what you do that you love. So many great ideas!!

Karim showed us some discovery ideas on Mathalicious that were so freakin’ cool. I know I was supposed to tweet the crap out of this session, but SOME of my #TMCjealousycamp peeps (*cough* @wahedahbug, @mr_stadel, @mrpicc112) did some serious voodoo on my phone that killed my battery. But Karim did a great job (no shocker there) showing us how Mathalicious is transforming the usefulness and coolness of mathematics. (And Karim is a cutie, for all those single ladies out there… Just sayin. I’m trying to play Cupid, cuz he’s a nice guy.) Afterwards, I went to the Google Docs presentation w/ Glenn and Julie. Again, this gave me so many ideas of keeping up with student work in my statistics class. Not to mention keeping track of student info. Love love love to these two for showing how to simplify your life w/ Gdocs and Gdrive.

Then I had to support my former Southern brother @calcdave on his “You Might Be a Mathematician If…” session. David had some great quotes from this one. “Mathematicians are like 2 yr olds – always asking, ‘Why? Why? Why?'” “What if 1+1 isn’t equal to 2? Like in combining drops of a water?” “How many grains of salt until it becomes a ‘pile’?” And my favorite: “Telling me you hate math is like going up to a full-time mother and saying, ‘I hate babies'”. Side note: I didn’t get to hang out with David as much as I wanted at TMC12. Hope it wasn’t because he found me too obnoxious/embarrassing. But there’s always TMC13. 🙂

A quick return to the hotel and then STL CARDS GAME!! For those of you that didn’t attend, you missed some great silly fun. After a few rounds of musical chairs, we all kind of found a spot to chill in for the majority of the game. Sam got a helmet of nachos, and Julie was presented with a humongous corn dog by some obnoxious tweep (who appears drunk in EVERY picture, yet she WASN’T). The “after game” party was the best, though. WHO KNEW that @colinmac10 (a) would break into the Cupid Shuffle with some random poor drunk girl (to make her feel better) and (b) be the BEST DJ EVER??? We had a serious music war with the people in @fouss’ car, but we won that battle HANDS DOWN.

Back at the hotel, we gathered in @mgolding’s room for an “after game” party where the DJ blast continued. I think we only got security called once (or maybe twice?). But it was a ton of fun. Colin continued to DJ, Fouss was chillin’ and keeping the peace, “It” made my beer volcano, I had to climb him like a brick wall to get my sunglasses back, but Troy helped me get SOME revenge. Then Troy picked @druinok’s brain for some ideas about why (some) teachers are afraid of constructive feedback – I think they had some really good open and honest dialogue. But I crashed early. My brain needed to reboot. 🙂


Instead of working on Exeter problems, I spent the morning with Simmons collaborating on Algebra 2. @aanthonya joined us after a while and started showing Simmons and I some of the things he’d created for his class using media. This is Simmons’ JAM. So he started showing Anthony some of the things he’d created and I think the two of them sort of started planning their TMC13 presentation. How cool??? By the way, Anthony is a total troublemaker. Just sayin’. hahaha

And I loved that we all showed our immature “camper” mentality during Shawn’s presentation via Skype. How funny was it to continually throw him off track typing random stuff on his Gdoc? He should know that teachers are the WORST students. Mad props to those of you who let your juvenile side show. It was entertaining. My apologies to Simmons for the things I wrote on his notes. I know I’m awful. And I love that you don’t judge me. Much.

Then I went to @mgolding’s interactive notebook session – AH-MAH-ZHANG. I seriously could’ve spent 3 hours in that session and been 100% engaged the entire time. Sure she’s blogged and tweeted about it, but to hear her talk and answer questions in person was really super awesome. Megan is just SO freakin’ cool. LOVE this girl fo sho. And I think the most endearing thing about her is that she’s CLUELESS as to how engaging,funny and lovable she really is. After her session, she was worried about how it went – are you KIDDING me? She rocked it like a hurricane and was so humble about the whole thing.

Subject area breakouts – STATS PEEPS!!! I had my first real opportunity to learn from @stwillott, who I have stolen from for YEARS without his knowledge. Thankfully he was pretty cool about the whole thing and offered some great ideas during our collaborative time. We all talked about assessments (because stats is so different from other math courses) and how we can get the most bang for our buck. I think a few of us are going to collaborate on flipping in the AP courses so we can work more on FRs and applications. Should be some good stuff to blog about soon.

After camp, we all had the munchies and there was a GREAT German bar across the street from the hotel called Schneithorst’s (which I can’t pronounce to save my life). You can tell by the picture it’s a GORGEOUS bar. And although we’re all math teachers, let’s just say some of us were not aware of how much a liter (litre, for you Canadians) of beer REALLY is. Then again, some of us chugged it like it was a can of soda. And Julie led us through several rounds of some “ziggy zaggy saggy bottom boy oy oy” something or other that I couldn’t ever figure out (not her fault, I’m just dumb sometimes). And I found out that Fouss loves me enough to share. 🙂 The only problem was she left earlier than I did. And for those who stayed, FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS CARRY “IT” ON THEIR BACKS and then take pictures. Just saying. *cough* MEGAN *cough*

But we couldn’t stay there all night – THE DARK KNIGHT was calling. Ok, SOME of us went to see Batman and SOME went to see Magic Mike. I’m not judging them and they’re not judging me. Megan was kind enough to drive since I’d been getting lost and making people mad driving all week. At a stop light, @jryske stunned everybody by jumping out of Megans jeep and running around Fouss’ vehicle – NEVER saw that one coming and it was SOOOO awesome. I didn’t have to wait in line for a ticket at the theater for some reason (GRRRRRRRRR, FOUSS, GRRRRRRR). And luckily we all got tickets for the same show, but we had to sit on the 3rd row from the screen. That was kind of freaky (tall things frighten me). As was the reaction that some of us had to the previews (LOTS of hand holding and awkward moments – sorry, Fouss). Batman was pretty cool – I spent more time laughing at people as they watched it, though. (And I think I fell asleep a few times… shhhh!). Oh, don’t judge me… SOME PEOPLE were texting. #busted

Afterwards, we came back to the hotel. @jryske and I tried to help Megan find a parking spot. What we found, however, was a unique view of the moon – in triplicate. FYI – just like an eclipse, that will burn your retinas and scar you for life. Just sayin’. We found our way to the bar to recover, but… yeah, more stuff I can’t talk about. Security came through at some point and told us we had to leave (party pooper). So we went into the lobby to bug the crap out of the front desk. That was fun. I finally got to thank @sweenwsweens in person for the life lesson he taught me (“LMGTFY”). Might have been weird (sorry, Sean, that you had to be included in my “awkward moments” club) to say that outloud to him, but it was the truth. 🙂


Because the “My favorites…” run together in my mind, I don’t really remember who said what on which day. I do remember that I loved @misscalcul8’s “2 nice things”. Basically, if a kid says something rude or mean to another kid (or about themselves), you tell them to immediately say to nice things about that person. She said it grew into a culture of the kids calling each other out if they were rude, which I like. And who can forget @justagurl24 ‘s “thank you”. She’s so stinkin’ cute and sweet – that was just so touching (even though I didn’t write anything for the blog she was referring to). Then Colin got up and became the ROCKSTAR by showing us SOCRATIVE. And in case you don’t believe me, let’s just say @cheesemonkey (who I ADORE soooo much!!) was VERY VERY excited to see it. So much so that I almost fell OUT of my chair. I think that she should get an award for that. I’ll go make her one (but send it on the DL as it’s not going to be very appropriate – but it WILL have a unicorn). Then the AWESOME “Tweet Me Maybe“. Holy crapola did I LOVE that. It was awesome. No surprise, considering who wrote and performed it.

But after my favorites… it happened. I’m ashamed of it, and I know it’s going to ruin my tough and scrappy reputation. I didn’t want it or expect it, but it happened and I have to admit it.

I cried like a wuss.

But WHY??? I talk to these people EVERY DAY!! I see their little avatars and I banter, joke, laugh with them all the time. It’s not like this was the last time we’d ever communicate. What was wrong with me? Why the HELL was I crying?

Because what we did was special. No. What we did was KICKASSAMAZEBALLS all rolled into one. We proved that you don’t HAVE to pay $250 in registration for a national conference and walk around like zombies in silence among strangers HOPING for that ONE amazing new idea to take back to your classroom. We proved that a few great friends can put on one hell of a PD camp and we all grew from it and each other. We proved that you can’t stop great collaboration. We proved that WE KNOW what we need and WE can help each other grow professional and personally. We proved that our Twitterblogomathematicrazysphere WORKS. TMC12 was like the most amazing math department on the planet that just happened to consist of about 40 of my closest friends.

And it was honest to God one of the best weeks of my life.

So thank you all.



New Semester Resolutions (thanks @druinok)

It’s sad when I have to ask someone what I should blog about. It’s not that I don’t have an idea – I have TOO MANY. Remember that song, “You down with OPP?” I need to rewrite the lyrics to “You down with A.D.D.? Yeah, YOU KNOW ME.” Well, the two of you that READ this blog know that I have a LITTLE trouble focusing on one thing at a time. My brain goes 90-to-nothing. Sometimes that’s GOOD and sometimes (well, MOST OF THE TIME) it’s bad. But I had to ask @druinok what to write about because we’ve been talking about SO much the last few weeks. She suggested New Semester Resolutions.

The good thing about block scheduling is a new start. Those of you that have been with me for this semester know that I had some SERIOUS issues with one student that almost took me to the court room. Although I would have LOVED to fight that battle (because I would have been COMPLETELY vindicated 1000 times over), I have got to get over that. After 11 years of teaching, I need to come to the realization that I CAN’T reach all students. Some are going to hate me for absolutely no reason because they have their own personal issues and I am an easy target because I DO bust my @$$ for all students. The bad news is that the student is still in my math club and will be going with me on trips to competitions the rest of the year. So I’ve decided that I will NOT be sponsoring the math club after this year is over (or at least until that student graduates). I have no desire to put myself in situations where I have to be around someone so poisonous and I have nothing to prove to the student or the student’s parents ANYMORE. It’s bad for my teaching mojo.

So, what will be awesome about Spring 2011?
1. AP STATS!!!
2. TWO sections of AP STATS!!
3. Two FULL sections of AP STATS!!

What am I afraid of for Spring 2011?
(See #1 – 3 above)

What do I want to change for Spring 2011?
1. I want to delete all my videos and start over. I want more videos of STUDENTS teaching – not me.
2. Algebra 2 needs more cool stuff. It’s too boring. I don’t like boring. Boring sucks – for them AND for me.
3. Students need more ownership in the learning. I don’t want to stand up there and teach all class. Crap, I wouldn’t want to watch me do it either. Ugh. I don’t even like looking at myself in the mirror every morning.
4. The only way to make students understand the power of practice is to MAKE them accountable for it. I hate paperwork, so I’m thinking they could Jing some of their homework. Now how will I manage that? I have NOOOO clue. I wish I had some WACOM tablets that students could check out and take home. It’s REALLY hard to work problems with just a mouse and Microsoft Paint.
5. I’ve got to be on my “A” game with Stats this year. I have a ton of smart kids who are going to challenge me (which is a GREAT thing). I need to pick @druinok’s brain aboug SBG in Algebra 2 and talk to @jasonchri about SBG in Stats. I’m not sure if I can manage the retake paperwork nightmare that I have envisioned with this process. I believe in SBG, but it terrifies me to no end.
6. Organization. What can I say? I SUPER SUCK at this. After 11 years, I still can’t organize worth a crap. I’m guessing I will need to have 3 boxes of file folders – one for each class. Students will put their work in those boxes so that when I need to pull for documentation, I can put my hands right on all of their work. But I am just awful at keeping up with original tests and keys. And I HATE grading!! OK – I said it!!! I’m sorry!! I know it makes me a horrible teacher, but I DO NOT like grading at all. I feel like I destroy the students’ confidence everytime I make a mark on their paper with my purple pen! No matter what you say, they cannot understand that the NUMERIC grade on their paper doesn’t determine their worth. That’s a whole other blog post, though.
7. I would love to redesign my classes so learning is by discovery – not lecture. (Did I say that already? Probably so.) If you read Teaching Statistics, you saw her latest blog about effective integration of technology and the link I gave her on the Flipped Classroom. I wish she and I could find a way to do this (even though we live about 650 miles away from each other).
8. I would like for my students to build an online wiki-textbook for statistics. That class is SO awesome and amazing, but it’s so unlike anything they’ve ever done before. Although I LOVE my textbook, it would be nice for them to have an online reference to look back on that THEY built themselves in THEIR own words.
9. I need to learn how to say “NO”. I’m on about 10 committees for my district.
10. OMG – I need to tame the academic vocabulary demon that has invaded my district. UUUGGGHHHH.

I have more, but none that I can say publicly (heh heh heh). Anyway, I am totally excited for January, which is a real positive in my life. I dreaded the last two months of school last semester and that’s just NOT me. I love teaching, I love my students, and I MISS the “WOW!!” factor. So I’m hoping that I can bring that excitement back into their lives and my own!