Warm up sheet 2014-2015

I started with this warm up sheet from Jessica @algebrainiac1

After a semester I modified it a little.

At Twitter Math Camp 2014, I finally got to attend Sadie’s session on Counting Circles and I learned talking points from the Group work working group session lead by Elizabeth.

I may make some changes in order to adapt to my classes as the year progresses, but these are the most important topics for my students as they start the school year. At the start of each class, I will use the appropriate resource.

  • Monday: Counting Circle because it develops number sense, mental math, and community
  •  Tuesday: Talking Points because students practicing listening to each other will seep into every lesson, every day. It can be used as a tool to develop their growth mindset and, bring out and clarify misconceptions.
  • Wednesday: estimation Builds number sense & measurement
  • Thursday: Visual patterns Develop algebraic reasoning skills
  • Friday: Number talk Build computational fluency using number relationships and the structure of numbers

Discomfort, Inadequacy and Growth

During Twitter Math Camp there was a lot of discussion of feeling inadequate because there are so many energetic folks intensely sharing a variety of awesome teaching ideas, strategies & methods.  There were moving blog posts by Mo, Lisa Henry, and numerous tweets disusing feeling scared, or inadequate.

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After all of these feelings became an underlying theme, Lisa convinced me to run a session on both how we can implement change in ourselves and in our schools. I shared this graphic because it is a tool that I frequently refer to as I try to improve my own teaching. Since this session there have been some great reflections written by Sam & Lisa on using it for their own growth & reflection.

A theme I see in the advice around growing as a teacher is that you should choose one thing at a time, and grow a manageable amount, which sounds like great advice, but in reality this does not work for me. I am in Fawn‘s camp regarding growth:

Sam said he grows the most as a professional when he jumps in and attempts a major shift here:

“… But you know what? Without jumping in, I never would have gotten the skills needed.

Let me tell you: those were high anxiety times. They required a lot of emotional energy and a ton of time. But they were also times of immense growth for me.”

In my last blog post I discussed the pace of professional development. This entire discussion is applicable to teachers as well as students:

  1. Mindset is critical: We can see the value in & advocate for developing a growth mindset, but until we truly do this for ourselves, we aren’t going to be as receptive to growth.
  2. We all have some strategies with which we are comfortable and resort to in times of stress. We have other skills that we are willing to try occasionally because we have seen them in action or have been convinced of their value and understand how to do it. Then there are the strategies that we just cannot fathom in action – we wouldn’t even know where to start. We panic & want to quit.

Now re-read these two items in terms of student learning. It’s the same for everybody.

This is where I try to keep my students in order to grow their comfort zone. This is also where we should try to keep ourselves in our growth as teachers:


The tricky part is that we (students & teachers) are all starting with different sized zones in different places. Some students reach panic if you look at them. Mindset grows the zones in order to get more out of every experience, but it does not eliminate the existence of panic. These also change based on who you are working with and the stress in the situation.

As learners, when we feel like its too much, we should breathe & take a step back and look at these feelings from the perspective of a teacher. What would be manageable? What pushed you to panic? What is missing(see the first chart)? How can you address this for yourself?

Understanding the mechanics behind your panic and acknowledging it as a teacher for whom you also happen to be the student can help you to learn persistence, develop your growth mindset and acquire skills to implement the same strategies with your students.


Twitter Math Camp Growing Pains

At a session during Twitter Math Camp 2014 Levi mentioned that he was impressed with the speed at which change and growth occurs within the MTBOS compared to NCTM members or other teachers in general. The reason we learn new skills and grow as teachers is a result of the format of constant reflection, feedback and collaboration. Our growth is occurring at a faster rate then other teachers. It’s like trying to go from walking to jumping on a fast moving walkway. You may get knocked on your ass a bit in the transition.

When I do inservice PD, I know the pace is delicate. You need to open eyes, but many good hearted people can feel a shock of inadequacy.

The feeling of the pace depends on where you currently are in teaching. If you’ve considered many topics prior to TMC (PrBL, facilitating group work , geogebra, foldables & INB’s, curriculum development, formative assessment, etc) then you are ready to jump into an intense session on implementation. If you haven’t heard of these things before, it is too much & you can’t imagine how to incorporate it into your teaching.


Many of us have been participating, learning and growing, with the MTBOS for many years we are in a different place then someone who is just trying to jump in. For example, there was no talk about standards based grading at this year’s TMC14. This was a really big topic of discussion within this group 2 years ago. We hashed it out, discussed, debated & blogged about it. We each found our way and now many of us use standards based grading, or decided that it doesn’t match our teaching style. We don’t discuss it anymore.

Now more people find us and feel inadequte. Its like starting a math degree by taking  a PhD level class. I don’t like the idea of levels because it implies a hierarchy whose nonexistence is what makes TMC awesome, but there almost needs to be different degrees of TMC sessions:

  • Introductory – What is this and how can I use it?
  • Implementation – What would this look like in my class and how can I incorporate it with what I currently do?
  • Improvement – I’ve been doing this, how do I do it better?


The reason I suggest this is because we are all at different levels depending on the session. It would benefit newcomers to see that none of us are experts in everything by our presence at all levels of sessions. Imagine seeing the guy who blew you away running a Geogebra session sitting next to you at a What-the-heck-is-Standards-Based-Grading session a few hours later.

Maybe this is something we can consider for TMC 15 in order to be able to meet teachers where they are and help everyone move forward without feeling inadequate.