CPM Conference 2020–Part 2

After the Keynote, I was super excited about what potential learning I would have at this conference.  My goals for any conference I ever attend, is to find 1 thing, each session, that I could see myself doing in my classroom, from that list what is 1 thing I can implement in the next 30 days and 1 thing I can do next week. As previously written, I was here to figure out the assessment process using the CPM curriculum.  My first session:


This session will look at assessments through the lens of standards based grading. Action-oriented formative assessments will be discussed as well as how evidence of mastery is identified through various forms of assessments. Participants will work in small groups to score assessments with a rubric and create rubrics for their current courses. Note: This is not a session on standards-based grading (SBG); participants should be familiar with SBG and/or have used SBG in their practice. Continue reading “CPM Conference 2020–Part 2”

CPM Conference 2020-Part 1

In my 20 years of teaching mathematics, we have had several different textbooks & curriculum.  As a district, our teachers decided to move towards the Integrated Model as the Common Core Standards were rolled out. We unofficially adopted MVP. After attending several of their training’s, I fell in love with their curriculum.  But, since it wasn’t official, training wasn’t offered/supported district wide, teachers struggled with the different implementation method.  Standardized test scores were dropping and teachers were complaining. Since it was unofficially adopted, our district rushed through an adoption process, and CPM was the final choice.

I had never taught using this specific method.  I was never a student using this method.  All reviews, were mixed, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Year 1 consists of 8 training sessions with people who are experienced with the CPM model, (“work for CPM”) but not necessarily the Integrated approach.  What I had going for me:  I have been using groups for the last 4 years. Having my students work together and collaborated on the mathematics was not a new idea. Enter year 2, I became increasingly frustrated regarding the assessment process and felt like I wasn’t getting answers from anyone or anywhere. Continue reading “CPM Conference 2020-Part 1”

The Price We Pay


Being a teacher is difficult sometimes. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

I came across a post (below) from the Riverside Police Department which explained a massive case, where multiple arrests were made. As I read the post, I see familiar names, and their pictures. Students that spent nearly 10 months in my classroom. People that I have come to know. People whom I still see when they come to Homecoming games. My heart hurts. 💔

The young men I knew, wouldn’t be involved in those situations.

I had them during their senior year, I helped them through our math curriculum, successfully, so that they could graduate. I held them accountable for their work, their grade, I made them put in the work.  And they did whether it was because I pushed them to do it or whether they began to believe they were capable and wanted to show me.  The point is, we did it together.

I talked with a coworker who knew at least one of the men, then I spoke with my son. Because, my son went to school with them. He gave me a bit of his perspective since he saw them differently. He “knew” a different side. The reality is…I know that I only spent 10 months getting to know a small part of them, the part that they wanted me to know. The part that allowed me to only see the good parts of them and perhaps allowed them to see the good in themselves.

It’s been a few years since they were one of “my kids”. Life happened, they got wrapped up in a life, a life where they made one decision that lead them on the wrong path to more decisions. They were battling within this life for a long time, and they let it win. They made that choice.

Another co-worker reminded me:  Just as we are touched by the ones who succeed, we grieve for the ones who made the poor choices… it’s the price of caring about our students.

I whole heartily want to save every.single.one.of.my.students. I want them to see there is so much more out there. I want them to be their absolute best, always. I want them to know that at least 1 person is on their side. I still think, they can. They need to believe it for themselves. ….And maybe they could use a little bit (or A LOT) of a believe in a higher power. 🙏🏻


5 Arrests in 2 Separate Riverside Slayings Lead to Gang Bust Spanning 3 Counties



Everyone has some type of memory around Kobe Bryant, so here is mine.

In 1996, I was only two years older than him.  I grew up in Southern California, and both of my dads watched the Lakers growing up, so obviously I was a fan.  I remember it being such a big deal, a 17 year old skipping school and going straight to the NBA.

I started teaching, in my own classroom in the Fall of 2000.

My greatest pet peeve, is the throwing of crumbled papers into the  trashcan. I do not remember a time before the words “Kobe” were shouted as the young boys were throwing their paper balls.  In the Fall of 2004, I moved to the high school, and I don’t remember exactly which years Angel was in my classroom, but this kids would swear he was the next Kobe Bryant.

Angel had a love for basketball like no other.  I found myself purposefully watching the game just to make sure I could debate with him the next day.  Angel, was the only kid that I actually looked forward to his “Kobe” shots, because…..Angel missed, and he missed a lot, but occasionally he did make it and his face would light up like no other.  From almost every corner of the classroom, no matter where I moved him, he would attempt to make that shot. I allowed that kid to break my greatest pet peeve for two years! My last conversation with Angel was at his High School Graduation in 2009.

In May of the following year, I received a phone call from a former student, Angel had died in a tragic roadside accident. My heart was broken.  I attended his memorial service, and even brought myself to speak which I normally do not do. But I wanted his mother to know how he affect this teachers’ life, and how I will remember Angel.

Hearing the news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, made me think of Angel.  I hope they are up there just shooting some hoops.

Lessons from 2011-2013

A little back history…

In October of 2009 my personal life went to crap, unexpectedly.  My entire world seemed to be falling apart and I was barely hanging on.  I wish I was in a position to take a sabbatical, but that just wasn’t an option. It took me a bit to pull myself out, but by the school year 2011-2012, I was doing much better personally which allowed me to be more present as a teacher.  But I had an administrator (that I will refer to as ‘A’) that felt differently about me and my teaching.

Half way through the 2011-2012 school year, ‘A’ began to require weekly lesson plans from me. I had three formal evaluations completed by ‘A’, I requested two additional evaluations by two of our other administrators as a balance to the other three. In May I got my final evaluation, which had more RI (requires improvement) and DN (does not meet standard) than I could have ever expected. By the end of that school year…he made me his mission, (unfortunately, I wasn’t the only target) and that wasn’t a good thing.

I always connected with my students and spent significant time building positive relationships with my students.  I loved them they loved me.  Lesson delivery, was very much like EVERY math classroom on my campus, sit and get. They participated and my grades were what they were.  I didn’t let students use notes (unlike my colleagues), I didn’t agree with how they ran their classrooms and they didn’t agree with me.  We had specific district requirements as far as how are grades were calculated and we all complied.  I will admit that I was probably difficult to work with. But my students knew their content so why was I being picked on???? (at least that is how I saw it.)

In Fall of 2012, the school year began exactly how it left off except, I was given 5 classes of the exact same course, all freshman. I was still required to submit lesson plans and have multiple evaluations.  I felt like I was up for the challenge.  Especially since I had my previous evaluation and knew what ‘A’ was looking for. I worked my tail off, made changes, to how I taught, I forced myself to be more open with the other members of my team, I started to use foldables and allow my students to use them on assessments. I became “THEM” (just like my other colleagues) … my grades were far better than all of theirs, even better than their grades from the previous year, ‘A’ made a point at consistently comparing me to them. Guess what, ‘A’, could care less.  I went on visits to other schools to see other teachers, I was given a mentor, who could see that I was making progress, that I was doing exactly what ‘A’ asked, yet, it was still not enough.

I then decided to have the union get involved, because now it felt like I was being personally attacked.  By the end of our next meeting ‘A’ and I could no longer have a meeting without another administrator and a union representative also present.  After 2012-2013, ‘A’ was transferred to another campus.  I am still teaching at the same campus, and have not had an issue since.

Why bring this up? Why discuss it now? ….While cleaning out one of my file cabinets I found the evaluation and re-read it. It took me back to the exact same feelings that I had when I read it for the first time. AND, it also opened my eyes to something I didn’t realize. ‘A’ was on to something, and as much as I despise how I was treated, perhaps, ‘A’ actually saw that I was capable of so much more than I thought or knew.  ‘A’ wasn’t asking me to become a clone of them. (AH-HA moment here!!!) The teacher that ‘A’ was asking me to be, way back in 2011….is the teacher I have become and then some.

I will elaborated more on the changes I have made in future posts.



Last week I spend 4 days at the University of San Diego. First of all, it is a beautiful campus. I spend what ever free time I had exploring different areas, as well as at the reflection pool. You can’t see the pool/fountain here, but this is the spectacular view!


I was there for a math conference, put on by the Mathematics Vision Project. I spend two days doing their units on Transformational Geometry, and two days doing the Statisitics and Probability units.  I cannot express enough the value of having presenters who still teach the curriculum they are presenting on.  They bring experience, and real solutions to problems, issues, and know what it is exactly is like to be in your shoes.

During the first two day, I felt like I was working within my strength. I love constructions. I love teaching constructions. But, I just didn’t feel like my students were getting what they were suppose to be getting out of the tasks. Within the first hour, I knew exactly what I was doing wrong! I assumed too much prior knowledge and did not allow enough time to have them develop, practice, and solidify their understanding of the three basic vocabulary words. Translation, Rotation, and Reflection. Traditionally, I would just give them the definitions and GO!. After going through the lesson study, I realize….that is the absolutely wrong way to do it, DUH! Before starting the task, we should be asking the students for words that describe translation, rotation, and reflection. (The words in blue reflect the responses of the teachers)  We completed the first three tasks in their unit, Math 1 6.1-6.3. We went back to the definitions poster, and added additional information that we learned about translations, rotations, and reflections, based on the tasks we completed.


You can see, through the tasks, a more precise definition is being constructed. (and yes, this development truly is seen and developed through these tasks). After these new working definitions, we worked through the next task, 6.4. Then went back to the posters to formalize the definitions.IMG_5920

These definitions (which look vaguely similar to the formal definitions we would give) do naturally develop. However, you have to let the students be curious, wonder, explore, experiment, and use trial and error to allow for this to happen. I cannot wait for this unit this next year.

Summer School

Once again, I am teaching summer school.

  • Fact: I am jealous of those teachers who travel and relax, while I am teaching.
  • Fact: I do it for the money.
  • Fact: 5 hours of math instruction, is a long time!
  • Fact: I am absolutely loving this year’s summer school students and content!!!

I was chosen to teach our Integrated Math 2 course for summer school. This is a relatively new course in our district, this was the first year it was taught. I taught the first semester of this course twice, (first semester, then a restart of first semester during second semester) so, this really is my third time around with the first semester content, and honestly, I am loving it.

I have learned so much each time I have taught the content, and each time I keep getting better and the student’s understanding is better. To see them try, and actually think through a task, has been nothing more than spectacular.

We are using the Mathematics Vision Project curriculum, completely task based. I am getting comments like:

  • “this is so much fun”
  • “why didn’t we learn it like this during the school year”
  • “this is so much easier than the way it was taught during the school year”
  • “I wish my teacher last year let us use manipulatives”

Before I even began the content, on the first day, I taught them about algebra tiles. (I learned this trick on the second time around) Adding, subtracting, and multiplying polynomials. At first, it was difficult to “MAKE” them use the tiles, but I kept reassuring them to trust me, they want to be able to manipulate the tiles.

Yesterday, they understood why! In task 2.3 Building the Perfect Square, the students begin to explore rewriting a quadratic equation from standard form to vertex form. As they worked through the task, one by one, each of them got up and went to the manipulatives table and picked up a set of algebra tiles. I wish I would have taken pictures, but I was too involved and engaged in the discussion of what they were doing. I was watching them make connections between the algebraic representations and what they were doing with the tiles. Listening to them have that “ah-ha” moment. Sharing their understandings with each other.

This is my 20th year in education, my 13th year teaching at my current school. I love teaching. I love math. And I am still learning this curriculum, it even challenges my understanding at times. I certainly was not taught this way, and has been challenging to change my mindset, as well as move to a task base format, instead of direct instruction. However, this is way more rewarding, and the students are doing the work and doing the learning!


Living by the bells….


4:45 alarm #1: This used to be my normal wake up time when going to the gym (Before I dislocated both knees)….I don’t want to give up the notion of going again, because I am nearly cleared to return to “normal” activities.

6:00 alarm #2: This is my fitbit alarm warning me finish up my work out!, however, this is now being used as my alarm to get out of bed!

6:15 reminder alert: Asking me did you text your daughter yet? (I have a high school daughter who is very self sufficient…I just remind myself to check on her, just in case!)

6:30: alarm #3 COFFEE!!!!! (as long as I remembered to set it the night before…other wise, It is time to make it)

6:50: alarm #4: almost time to leave! (time to get my bag, lunch, snacks etc….)

7:00: alarm #5…hits snooze: Time to leave….we actually never make it out at this time. but this alarm gives us about an additional 10 minutes before we actually have to be out the door!

7:10: alarm #5 again, now we actually leave.

7:20: drop off my daughter at her high school (not where I teach!)

7:35: arrive at my high school

7:40: Once I arrive in my classroom: start up computer, warm up projector, send weekly HW assignment to the copy room, unlock chromebook cart, drop off lunch in work room, check my box, back to the work room to pick up copies. Chat with a few colleagues, as we are all waiting for copies.

7:48: End of zero period, first bell time to head to unlock the door.

7:50:  Students pile in and read the board messages I wrote from last Friday, pick up their chromebooks, take out their INB, and their starter/hw notebook…

8:00: (The first 3 classes I have are Personalized Learning, Integrated Math 1) Starter is up. I pass out the papers for this week’s review. We are preparing for final exams next week, and at the same time preparing for our final assessment. The Starter is reviewing dot plots, all the way from the beginning of the school year. (Oh how they act like we have never talked about this!) I begin to hear table discussions, with positive students remembering we did do this and explaining how we did them…..brings me such joy!

8:08: Review starter. We discuss the starter, memories are refreshed and the infamous question: “is this going to be on the final”? …of course.


  • Tables 1 and 6 are  working on completing their Gooru collections for our unit.
  • Tables 2 and 5 are working on a group assignments, or partner assignments, depending on what section of the collection they are working in.
  • Tables 3 and 4 are working with me on completing assignments, they need more guided instruction

8:17: Hand goes up at table 6. I leave tables 3&4 and head over to table 6. Students has a question regarding his Aeries account. (where they check their grades). I remind him that all questions about specifics of grades can be answered at lunch or after school.  (I go ahead and answer his question anyway.) ..then I head back over to tables 3&4.

8:20 Phone rings. It is one of our counselors requesting to see a specific student. Student is absent. Back to tables 3&4.

8:22 Door opens. It is a student running passes for the attendance office. Attendance office wants to see 3 of my habitually truant students. I hand out the passes and return to tables 3&4.

8:53: my alarm goes off, 3 minutes until the end of class. Students log off, and put their chromebooks back in the cart. Clean up their materials and pack up.

8:56: Bell Rings:  End of 1st period. Students remain seated, and await my usual “Enjoy the rest of your day”, I like to end class positive.

7 minutes passing period. I take attendance.

9:03: Bell Rings:  Begin 2nd period, runs similar to to 1st.

9:56: my alarm: 3 minutes until the end of class.

7 minutes passing period. I take attendance.

10:06: Bell Rings: Begin 3rd, period, again, similar to both 1st and 2nd.

10:59: my alarm: 3 minutes until the end of class.

11:03: Bell Rings:   class ends

11:03-12:11 CONFERENCE PERIOD!!!!! Check email, print out last week’s attendance report, sign, take to attendance office. Use the restroom. Make copies of the Semester 1 Concept maps (for finals review) for 5th and 6th period. Back to the office to have a conference call with a Spanish speaking parent and an interpreter. Pick up the district assessment Performance Task, to be given on Friday. Bell rings, never enough time to get everything that I need to  get done.

12:11 Bell Rings:  Lunch time, open door for students to come in. 12 students come in with various questions. Most of them pick up their chromebooks and complete work they have not complete. Student from first period comes in to fix his missing work and have his Aeries updated.

12:46: Bell rings: Lunch is over, bell rings. Students put away materials. 5th period begins to roll in.

12:53: Bell rings:  5th Period begins, Algebra 2. Starter is up. (I love the consistency through my classes, each class begins the same…) I pass out their final exam concept map. Before I finish, there are at least 10 hands up to ask questions. Purposefully ignore them….I know what they are asking…Once I finish passing out, we review the starter. This class has a volunteer who would like to instruct the class, or share their solution. They come up to the front, put up their work, and students ask them questions about their solution. I move to the back to observe. (We attempted this in the morning classes earlier this year, however, it has not been as successful….yet. This is a second semester goal for them!) We are nearing the end of our unit of study on Quadratics and their applications. Each table “real world” problem they have to solve using what they have learned about quadratics. They will get the whole period to work on this, then decide how they want to present their findings. (Unlimited potential right????) They seems to all decide to make a poster and present to class….( :/ ) But, listening to the academic conversations, and the correct vocabulary, and them utilizing their understanding of concepts is the ultimate. While I check in with each group, my brain explodes with an IDEA!!! I decide that tomorrow, they will not present like they want. We will do a gallery walk of the posters. Each team will go around and comment on post-it notes, ask questions, observe, and evaluate the solutions the other groups problem.

1:40: students begin to finish up, store their posters in the back of the classroom. I will now take questions about the concept map passed out at the beginning of class. (Less hands than at the beginning! By waiting, they have figured it out.)

1:46: my alarm: 3 minute warning: Students clean up their materials and make sure they have everything they need.

1:49: Bell rings, I dismiss class. (…stomach grumbles, wait, I forgot to eat lunch! Find a snack stored in my cupboard….NatureBox  has been my lifesaver so many times.)

7 minute passing period

1:56: Bell rings, 6th period: Integrated Math 2, Students look at board to see what table they are sitting at today, some are grumbling with their assigned tables, only because they know they will be slightly challenged at that station. Starter is up. This is a small class, only 22 students….nice way to end my day. I pass out their final exam concept map.

We review the starter, similar to how 5th period does their review

2:05: Begin station rotation. Students will visit two stations today, and two stations tomorrow.

  • Station 1: Graphing 3 three methods
  • Station 2: Factoring
  • Station 3: Solving 3 methods (I am at this station today)
  • Station 4: Applications of quadratics

2:25: my alarm: SWITCH

2:45: my alarm: 5 minute warning, clean up, and questions

2:50: Bell rings, I dismiss students. Catch up on attendance for 4th-6th. I collect my laptop and keys to the math lab, I have tutoring today.

2:55: head over to the Math Lab for tutoring.

3:00: Tutoring begins. 5 students attend. One of them is my student to take his final early since he will not be there the week of finals.

3:50: my alarm, 10 minutes until the end of tutoring, hit snooze.

4:00: my alarm again, time to head back to my classroom, bathroom again! I still haven’t had my lunch! So I head to the work room and heat up my lunch, I head back to my classroom to eat it and check my email again.

Monday’s are my long days. I stay until 6 or 7 to make all of my copies for the week, and to make sure all of our technology components are up-to-date. I also use this time to update grades as much as possible.

6:45: my alarm: GO HOME! I grab my backpack and laptop and head out.

7:00 arrive at home. I am not even hungry since I at lunch so late. I go up stairs to check on my daughter, she at when she got home, isn’t hungry. I ask her about her day, she fills me in briefly.  She has to finish he homework, and politely asks me to let her get back to work. I go down stairs have a seat on the couch and loose myself in social media. I have a twitter chat at 7:30-8.

11:00 pm: go to bed!

I take less than 10 minutes every night to fall asleep according to my Fitbit.