Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writing in Math Class

One of my goals for the year has been to include more writing in my classes. Teaching in an area where English is not generally the first language the students speak, writing in classes other than English is crucial. I am also teaching 11th and 12th grade this year and I have become more aware of the need for writing practice that will help them be more successful with SAT, ACT, and college essays.

The first big writing topic I had the students work on was describing function behavior. I gave them a picture of a piecewise graph and had them describe what was happening. They were required to include the domain, whether it was increasing, decreasing, or constant, and what type of function it was (linear and quadratic). They also needed to include whether or not there was an undefined domain on the graph.

At first, I said write a paragraph without much guidance, and I quickly learned they needed a few more manageable steps. I asked them to annotate their pictures first because that seemed doable to them. From there it was easy for them to form sentences because they already had their information in front of them.

Like anything, they needed some practice with this, but they began to figure it out and writing domains became more natural for them. The structure of their sentences could still use improvement, but I still have a lot of time to work with them.

The second writing task I gave my students went along with rational functions. The students had to figure out the places where the denominator would equal zero. Those places could either be a hole or an asymptote.

In their sentences, they needed to include whether it would be a hole or asymptote, where it would occur, and why. I gave them a sentence stem to help them structure their sentences correctly. One thing I've noticed is that they don't know why they are doing things or why certain things happen. Including the explanation portion has helped them solidify why something is a hole verses an asymptote.

Overall, my writing experiment has been really positive. They kids complain because they don't think they should have to write in math class, but the complaining has decreased as they have figured out that the writing is not going away.

I also shared some of these things with my cross-curricular group of teachers I meet with once every six weeks. One of them is a 9th grade English teacher, and she was very pleased that writing with explanation and support was happening in math classes. Some of the other teachers in the group want to include writing prompts in their classes too. I love that this very important need for writing practice is spreading.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Classroom 2014-2015

My room has gone through a few changes this year due to a new subject, buying crazy technology, and adding 5+ students to my class sizes from last year.

I am teaching Pre-Calculus this year, so I needed some new/different posters for my room. I have a stolen borrowed trigonometry poster from my super awesome Pre-Cal teammate that one of his students made for him.

I have joined the crazy podium sensation that started with a purchase of the Intuos medium tablet and ended with a trip to Fry's Electronics where I discovered boys behave the same as I do in a shoe store. Who knew? 

Learning to use it has been an adjustment, but it's only been a week since school started.

The best part of my room...DISNEY GROUPS!

This part of my room began with @froynboy's idea last year for 90's rap groups. Then my Frozen poster inspired the change to Disney groups.

Yes, I did actually say that. I may pay for such a huge compliment in the future. I was just so excited and giddy that I wasn't thinking clearly.

Here are my fantastic groups. <3


The Lion King


The Little Mermaid

Beauty and the Beast


Here's some general pics from my room: 

Wreck 'Em! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014


My cousin, Sarah, and I are crazy. We've always been crazy. About 10 years ago, we decided to play with Grandma's hats. It was a different time, and I wish we wore hats now. They are kind of fabulous.

Recreating a picture of my mom...same dress and hat as me

A few weeks ago while we were visiting family, Sarah and I ended up trying on dresses from our parents' weddings. We hadn't seen each other in 5 years, so we were making up for lost time. Gotta play dress up, even though we're 25. I ended up in her mom's bridesmaid dress from my parent's wedding and Sarah ended up in our grandma's dress from both of our parents' weddings.  

And so the idea for a princess photo shoot was born.
David, a friend from my previous school, is a photographer, and HE suggested (NOT ME, surprisingly) that we do a princess photo shoot. Naturally, I jumped at the chance. I mean really, how fun does a PRINCESS PHOTO SHOOT sound. 

Last week, David, my sister, my roomie, and I went to a park in Houston and took some pictures. What made this fun (besides the obvious) was all the people who did not know what to do with a woman dressed like a princess. All the people running and biking were thoroughly confused by the sight before them, so I princess waved at them and said, "Good morning!" in a British accent.

Snapchat love
Perfecting the princess wave

Diva status
Here are some of the shots David got...Go check them out. There is one where I am attempting to ninja kick. Please don't judge me. He also blogged about our fun, so check that out too.

The lesson learned: I should dress like a princess every day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Life Changing Professional Development #TMC14

This past weekend I was able to attend Twitter Math Camp 2014 (TMC14) in Jenks, Oklahoma. Looking back at last year's recap, I realized how much my teaching has changed in the last year, mostly due to Twitter Math Camp 2013. It was such a great experience, and I knew going to TMC14 was a non-negotiable.

Then I started thinking, "Why was TMC13 so powerful and life changing for me?" I think the answer is more about my mindset and less about the things I learned. Being around teachers from all over the place, who all love their jobs and want to be the best possible teachers they can be is transformative and contagious. It's not something that is as powerful via Twitter and blogs. It's something that happens when 150 fantastic teachers are in the same room for 4 days straight. That is TMC.

I think the most impactful thing from TMC this year for me is realizing that none of us really have it all figured out. Last year, I felt so inadequate and unworthy to be in the same room as these people because I just wasn't a good enough teacher. STUPID, I know. We all come to TMC because we know there are still things for us to learn and things that we have figured out that we are able to share with others. We have also all figured out that it's okay to ask questions, not know the best answer, and work towards the best solution together. Bonus: it's so fun to talk math with other people who LOVE talking math.

Morning Session - Pre-Calculus

This was probably my favorite. I will be new to Pre-Cal this school year, so I went in with some fears of being terrible teaching a new subject. After this weekend, many of those fears have been washed away. We shared so many ideas, activities, and strategies and created some things for Inverse Trig, Vectors, and Conics. (All things I might struggle with!) I remembered more than I thought I would, and I realized that I am going to be just fine. If I get stuck, I have all these wonderful new friends to work through it with.

Afternoon Sessions - Some of the highlights

Math Maintenance - This session was all about making your warm-ups more meaningful and structuring them in a way that allows you to spiral curriculum or review previous year's information without spending weeks reviewing topics. I envision using this to review my kids' algebra skills to help them succeed in PreCal and Calculus.

My Favorites - I got lots of little nuggets from these shorter presentations. New ideas for games and posters in my room, reminders to teach crazy and trust children, and saying two nice things.

Stats with Hedge - If you don't know @approx_normal (how can you not?), you need to meet her. She's the best! We got to play with cheap toys and ponder ways we might use this in our classrooms. Thinking outside the box is not always my strong suit, so good practice for me. I also got to shoot my coworkers with kid toys. Bonus: she gave me a marshmallow gun that I am only allowed to use for good. Yeah, right.

Keynote Speakers - saving the best for last

Steve Leinwand spoke on Thursday and transformed my thinking of education. He's a great speaker and a humble human being. He reminded us that it's necessary for us as teachers to acknowledge different ways of thinking about things. He presented it in such a powerful way that made me want to walk into my classroom tomorrow. Also, Steve and his wife Ann went to Rwanda to do the gorilla trek about a month before I went on my first mission trip there. We got to share stories. Cool stuff people.

Dan Meyer is a giant and hilarious. I did not understand the extent to which these facts are true until Friday. He discussed in great detail the stats for #MTBoS vs #TMC and how there is a very definite us vs. them. What makes us the same/different? Interesting things to ponder and ask questions about.

Eli Luberoff is the creator of Desmos, the coolest free online calculator ever. (Fangirl moment: Eli played cards with us one night and then started following me on Twitter.) His speech involved nerdgams when he showed us all the cool new things Desmos can do and testing the new lesson "Central Park." If you haven't looked at their online activities, do it NOW.


So yeah, my life has been changed yet again by a spectacular TMC. I am rejuvenated to start a new school year, plan a new course, and be the best class sponsor possible. Some of my goals for the year include: making my classroom more application/explanation based (prove to me why you know what you know), surviving year 1 of teaching Pre-Calculus, continuing my 180 blog, blogging about my classroom at least once a month, and committing to read other people's blogs as much as possible.

Fun things:
1. Road-trippin with 4 of my coworkers is kind of awesome.
2. I listened to more 90s music than I knew existed.
3. 5 people from Houston can get lost in an itty bitty town really easily.
4. Cupcakes are still the delicious.
5. We played with water guns at the Riverwalk. The children won.
6. #TMCrunners grew this year!
7. @rawrdimus and @froynboy have exceptional dance moves especially when listening to Katy Perry and Mariah Carey.

Monday, July 7, 2014

26 Things for my 26th year

We all have goals, dreams, and excitement for the year to come. Some things are silly. Some are serious. Some are going to happen they way I think they will. Some All will happen the way the Lord has planned them. I may not understand His plan, but I choose to follow Him even if the following list doesn't all happen. 

1. Dress up like Cinderella at Disney World.
2. Run a Half Marathon.
3. Water ski on one ski for more than 3 seconds.
4. Take dance lessons: I think swing or two-step could be fun.
5. Take cake-decorating classes.
6. Plan a senior prom with my amazing co-sponsor.
7. Watch two of my favorite Alisons get married, and lots of other people.
8. Lose weight and actually keep it off.
9. Finish reading all the way through the Bible. And be more consistent in my time spent with the Lord.
10. Read at least 15 books.
11. Blog more about my classroom.
12. Sing like a black woman. (not realistic but it can be a goal right?)
13. Figure out where the Lord is leading me. Rwanda or stay put or somewhere else.
14. Play my flute more than once a year.
15. Survive my first year of teaching Pre-Calculus.
16. Memorize a chapter in the Bible.
17. Willingly watch more manly movies. My collection is extremely girly…
18. Eat less dessert or at least healthier choices.
19. Do something fun with all the pictures I have from Rwanda.
20. Write more letters. Like in the mail. Every one likes getting real mail. :)
21. Find new ways to work out my upper body. #girlprobs
22. Get involved in the worship team at Grace.
23. Have more game nights with friends including holy laughter, of course. (AKA laughing uncontrollably)
24. Try new recipes baking and actual meals.
25. Train for a small triathlon.
26. Find my Prince Charming.

Any encouragement or suggestions are welcomed in the comments! <3

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Quarter Century Birthday

Here are 25 things from my 25th year on Earth.

1. I moved in with a new roommate, who I love so much!
2. I watched my sister follow in my footsteps and do marching band.
3. I baked Star Wars cookies, a Double T cake, a double layer cake, and Christmas cookies for the first time.
4. I ran 2 10K races and 1 5K race.
5. I watched White Christmas 6 times between September and January.
6. I was able to go to 2 Tech football games last season.
7. I got to visit my grandma, whose memory is failing. Cherishing every moment.
8. I spent time with the sweetest group of women who challenged me and encouraged me in my faith in Jesus.
9. I sat through the COLDEST football game of my life with my entire family.
10. I went to Twitter Math Camp and met some of the coolest people ever.
11. I watched my sister dominate and lead her volleyball team.
12. I helped my sweet juniors (now seniors, YIKES) raise money for prom.
13. I watched and stood next to so many friends joining their lives with another human.
14. I survived the busiest fall semester of my life.
15. I spent an entire day watching Pride and Prejudice (movie and tv series) with my roommate and coworker. Pjs required!
16. I got bangs.
17. Ruby hit 100,000 miles. We’ve been through so much together.
18. I went to the Kite Festival in Houston.
19. I went to Africa. Twice.
20. I memorized every word to every song in Frozen and can sing multiple different parts at the same time. Skillz.
21. I ate more cupcakes than I should have.
22. I’ve started biking. A pink bike helmet was a necessity.
23. I survived my 3rd full year of teaching and kept my 180 Blog going all school year.
24. I went to a wedding in a dinosaur exhibit.
25. I did all of those things with type-1 diabetes. Year 3!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone!!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Akagera National Park

During our time at Akagera, we were either singing The Lion King or Jurassic Park. Just to give you a little background...

To save time, we stayed at the lodge at Akagera since it was closer to Kageyo than Kigali is. It worked really nicely and it gave us a fun safari day at the end of the trip!

Dr. Seuss came to Africa for inspiration for the trees in his books
Beautiful view from our room
At the lodge
The beautiful view

Our resident Monkey leader, Wesley Spencer Carpenter

Electric fence...reason for the Jurassic Park theme song

Bees making honey
We were playing cards and this crane landed so close to us!

These are African Longhorns. You won't find these in Texas.

This buffalo was injured above his eye.
Close up

Baboons AKA Rafiki :) #disneylove
"When I was a young WARTHOG"

Hippo out of the water


They have to spread their legs to bend down.

Gorgeous bird!
Baby zebra!

Crocodile bones 
The closest we came to an elephant
Rwanda <3