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.