Sunday, December 30, 2012

Common Core, Common Shmore

 I Need to Sort This Common Core Stuff Out!

I am still fumbling around the Common Core Standards in my planning.  In particular, what exactly do they mean?  Where do i fall short?  Where do the students fall short when they come in to my class?

The PDF document that is provided is not very user friendly in my opinion.  I'm more of an Excel guy.  I like to search, sort, filter, report etc....

I did a search to see if anyone had already done the hard work of getting this mess into an Excel document.  Even though I teach in New Jersey, I looked at the Illinois BOE site and found a pdf with almost exactly what I was searching for.

Using that PDF, I was able to copy and paste into MS Excel and then add some fields with additional descriptions and sort fields and end up with a much more usable document (in my opinion).

If you like Excel and use the Mathematics common Core Standards, you might like this.

Common Core Standards (MS EXCEL)

Please share any input you might have to make this better, and feel free to link back to any docs or edits you make.  :-)

How do I plan on using this?  Well...

  • I will be adding fields that specify when I cover each of the standards I am responsible for
  • Add field to specify which HS course (Alg1, Alg2, Geom, Precalc, etc...) is responsible for each standard for better planning.
  • Determine which standards students fall short in when they enter my class and leave my class.
  • Note which previously "mastered" standards might need some additional focus.  Share that info with other teachers for their planning.
  • Field feedback from other teachers about which standards students fall short in for better planning.
I can think of a lot more to do with it and will share when I finish killing this monster.

Glenn also has another version of a similar spreadsheet.  Worth checking out!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Statistics: Murder in the United States (Wall Street Journal)

This looks like a great set of data to use with my Statistics class. very interactive, very real and is sure to open up class for some real discussion about what statistics mean.

Check out this interactive page at Wall Street Journal.  You can view, filter and display stats in various ways.  Click the image to launch the page.  Goof around with it.  What kind of interesting things can you find about these statistics?

Click to launch page

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How far is Sacramento from Austin?

Distance and Midpoint Formulas (yawn)
How far is Sacramento from Austin? 


Link to SmartBoard Notebook file
Link to PDF
Link to this in the INB content repository I added to msmathwiki

This week I move into Distance and Midpoint formulas and wanted to have better examples than the ones in the book.  I made a SmartBoard Notebook file that helps me walk through using the formulas step by step by trying to find the distance between the two cities.  This isn't much different than the book examples except for the fact that using technology we build to the conclusion step by step.

Where are the cities on the map? (you're welcome Social Studies teachers)
How do I plot points on a map?

What does the scale mean?  How do I use it?  How else could I find the distance between these cities?

Use the grid to plot the points then remove the grid because we really don't need it anymore.  I talk about how I can put the whole map in the first quadrant to make all of the values positive if I wanted to.  In fact, I can put it anywhere.  The important fact is the relationship is the relationship between the two points.  I could move the grid and do a second example if needed.

We work through the example by plugging in the x and y values to get an approximate distance of 1,458 miles.
Since GOOGLE is the shizzle to my kids, I justify the answer online.  We're pretty close.

I also have large wall maps that are dry erase so will have the students work in groups to work out other distances and midpoints.  I really got those just to add color to that wall, but hey, a little geography in math class never hurt anyone! (I have little globes too, from my pre-calc class two tears ago)

You can see my group sized white boards in the lower center of this picture.  They are in their home made white board stand I made out of PVC pipe.  I have 12 boards there!
If you look in the back near the window, you can see the individual sized white boards in their stand.

My updated room

So here is what my room finally ended up looking like:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Interactive Notebook Content Repository Wiki

I made a place dedicated to Interactive Notebook Content.  Stuff that we can all use and share.  A place where we can upload pictures, links, files etc... to one place that is organized by subject and topic.  Please visit the wiki, borrow stuff, share stuff and PLEASE give me feedback so I can make this better.  Any suggestions are good suggestions!

I added a section and folders to the msmathwiki

I actually started by making a totally new wiki just for this, but realized I would only complicate by giving yet another place to go for those that wish to use it.  So...I added the structure to the already heavily visited msmathwiki.

I have been trying to get a handle on how to implement Interactive Notebooks this year.  There is so much information and so many smart experienced people out there I  simply had too much stuff to look through.  I needed to make a place to comile all this stuff for my own sanity.

As they say in my previous career (marketing & advertising), I was in a state of "Analysis Paralysis" ... information overload!

Megan Hayes-Golding (@mgolding) and Julie Reulbach (@jreulbach) sold me on implementing the INBs and foldables in my classes this year while we were at Twitter Math Camp 2012.  I hope they don't mind me bugging them so much!

This is where the section is in the msmathwiki main page

This is the main page for INB content in the msmathwiki

 Choose your topic from the list to go to the page/folder created specially for content in that subject arranged by topic.

So far I have started populating the Algebra 1 page.  Hopefully we can all populate this wiki with images, pdfs, Word files, etc... so we can compile an amazing source for content.
This is the Algebra 1 page for INB content in the msmathwiki

How it works:
1. Each topic has a folder (MS Math, Algebra1, Calculus, etc...)
2. Each folder has a file with topics listed with links to resources for that specific topic.  Of course files can be uploaded too, that's whey there are folders for each subject.
3. Find your topic in the list and either add to or use the info.
4. You can add topics in the approximate chronological order the topic would be covered.

I (@aanthonya) added the section to the msmathwiki, @mathtastrophe uploaded the first batch of information in the Algebra 1 section. 

Who else is helping to get this going?:

You can start using what's there already and/or contributing immediately.  Please tweet me @aanthonya or e-mail me (aanthonya at yahoo) if you have any issues.  

There are sites, people and wikis already dedicated to INBs and associated things.  This wiki is dedicated to organizing content and ideas that is immediately usable.

  • A good place to start, then here at Megan's blog.
    • Megan's blog is here. She is an Interactive Notebook Guru and a role model to many of us!
    • Megan is the leading force behind Global Math Department .
    • She's on Twitter too 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fibonacci Sequence in Nature (Activity/Lesson)

First I'd like to say I am so much better when I collaborate with my Tweeps! They make me feel like I'm Ringo with The Beatles vs being Ringo without The Beatles! Thanks Tweeps!

My project this week is a SMARTBOARD activity you can use as part of a lesson on fibonacci sequence.

 This is a great way to show the Fibonacci Sequence in Nature

You can download my SMART Board file Here

You can download a handout in PDF format that explains this bee thing first Here

If you don't have a SMART Board, here'a a PDF with all the slides

First go through the way certain types of bees reproduce (read the first PDF).
  1. A male honey bee only needs an unfertilized female bee (no male bee required) parent.
  2. A female needs a fertilized female bee (requires a male and a female).

The first slide is a summary of the handout and short explanation of this process.

Next, we move to the activity.  We are going to trace the family tree of one male bee based on the information about the reproduction process. 

I created a table for placing bee graphics and a table for logging the generations.  In this case, we start with one male bee and go backward through his family tree.  This is a little bit different than my traditional fibonacci lessons.  BTW, I lost my whole folder for this topic and have to recreate it from scratch..ugh!

The two bees on the top of page 1 are set with the "infinite cloner" tool in SMART Board which means you can drag an infinite amount of copies of the images by clicking on it and dragging.  It's sort of like that thing the ice cream man used to make change.  Remember that thing?

We start with one bee, lets call him um Anthony.  When n=1, there is one bee, Anthony.  There he is in the bottom of the table.  We need to create the table by dragging the right combination of male and female bees into each previous generation.

Next we go to Anthony's parent.  He only has one since he's a male he only needs a female parent, so
when n=2, there is 1 bee.  Drag one female bee into the previous generation.


Anthony has two grandparents.  Since his mom is a female, she has both a male and a female parent.  When n=3, there are 2 bees.  Drag one female and one male bee into the previous generation.

One grandparent is a female and the other is a male.  The female has both a male and a female parent.  The male has only a female parent. When n=3, there are 2 bees.

I hope you get the idea by now.

The beauty of using the SMART Board for this activity here is that it allows students to make mistakes and correct them easily because they can move the pieces around, delete or add more if needed.
As @fnoschese points out in this post, the SMART Board in not necessarily the only way or the best way to have all of your students interact with learning.

@bowmanimal sold me on whiteboarding and on using larger group sized whiteboards at #TMC12.  Also @approx_normal and @calcdave contributed recently to my decision to acquire 32" x 24" whiteboards for my classes.

This fibonacci honey bee activity could also be done by small groups using their whiteboards.  I will have my classes use their whiteboards and multicolored markers to make their own version.  

I could also see this activity being done using the actual students setting themselves up as male and female bees.  So I see at least three ways to do this activity is a fun/cool way.

Ways to do this activity:
1. SMART Board
2. Whiteboards
3. Student lineup (boy | girl | B+G | G+B+G | G+B+G+B+G | etc...)
4. Make a deck of cards with male & female bees on them.

Oh!  Here is the link to the SMART Board file again.  :-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

CutePdf Writer (FREE PC App)

I love my Mac but I love my PC too!  With my Mac, I can easily print or save documents to PDF format.  Not so easy with a PC.

Enter CutePDF Writer (FREE PC App)

When you install the program, you will have a new printer added to your list of available printers. To create  a PDF, simply print as you normally would, but select CutePDF as your printer.

You'll be able to save the file to a folder of your choice.  It's that simple, free and awesome!

Download the program here (


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Work in Progress (My room)

So I have been spending waaaaaaay too much time at school, but I can't help but work on the setup of my room.  I have posted some pics.  The posters on the wall are up mostly so I can see what I have, nothing is permanent.

Pleas make comments!

Here's my new whiteboard and SMART Board.  Notice the number line above!

There are 25 desks in the room.  I set up pods of four except for one that is five seats.  I still need to figure that out.  Maybe some pods of three?

I like the idea of being able to walk around the room rather than have me in the front and that imaginary separation.  This might help with behavior problems if I am more in the "mix".  Fingers crossed.

That rectangular table in the front can be a group work table or something.  I plan on using it as my work space during class.

There's a free standing white board in the front (right).  I imagine placing this one and the one I made in the back corners so I can circulate and do examples in more than one place.  I could evn have students work problems on those boards in the "back" of the room instead of coming to the front.

Here's my little runway...or should I call it a catwalk?  or neither?  Anyway, I think I still need help arranging the room. Please point out why it won't work so I can fix it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cone of Silence (Think Get Smart!)

CONE OF SILENCE (Think Get Smart! TV show from the 60's)

I got the idea for this week's M4MM from a Twitter conversation I had with @druinok and @LaurenDeReche about setting up desks in our rooms.

@druinok has her desks set up in groups of four like this@LaurenDeRoche had referenced a blog post she saw here which basically is the same set up that @druinok has.

So I was sold.  Here are the way I will set up my desks:

But, I really hate giving my lovelies an even better opportunity to how can I stop it?  Well, I could rearrange desk for assessments or put up folders to block their vision across desks.  That simply doesn't work for me.

I need to make this as complicated as possible for myself, so I decided to make vision blockers out of PVC pipe.  @druinok's response was

"lol - you and your pvc pipe! :) Love it".  

She was referring to my M4MM from last week.

I thought and realized there has to be an easier way!  A way that appears complicated and out of the box, but is simple and inexpensive.

On a trip to Costco later in the day I found the answer!  Here is the solution I came up with in action...

That's right! Those flat cardboard pieces are perfectly sized to create cubicles in my room!  Almost as if they knew I was coming! Do the folks at Costco follow us on Twitter?  Maybe!

So I call this contraption the "cone of silence" named after one of my favorite shows from when I was a kid and played hookie!

Maybe I could have the kids paint scenery of sunshine and blue skies or a quiet pond with fluffy clouds to keep them in a good mood during tests?

I'm off now to grab about 10 more pieces of cone of silence.  :-)


Here's another possibly better solution posted by Amy Gruen.  I like her idea because it seems very easy to execute.  I am off to Pizza Hut today!  I was considering cutting my cardboard pieces to fit on top of the desks, but this idea is just so perfect!  Thanks Amy!