Visual Patterns and Missing Figures

Reflections in the Plane

The past few years I’ve used Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns site as the structure for building an 8th graders understanding of linear relationships. Students GET patterns–even the most struggling learners can identify what’s happening in a linear pattern and complete a table of data points. What I’ve done recently is used the patterns to build an understanding of finding the constant rate of change between two points. Here is an example of what the students are presented with… Instead of giving the students something like this: Missing Figures 1   I give them this: Missing Figures 2   The students work on their dry erase board to create an input-output table of data points beginning with x is 0.  We’ve spent A LOT of time creating our own tables that it has really started to become second nature.  I didn’t tell them how to figure out the missing figure numbers…they just figured it out on their own…

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Desmos, WODB, and Open Up

I’m working with teachers as they implement the Illustrative Mathematics Middle School Curriculum released by Open Up Resources.

The first unit in the 8th grade is on Rigid Transformations and Congruence.

This weekend I worked to edit a Desmos Polygraph activity that was originally authored by Mike Waechter. You can check out my version of the activity here. Please provide feedback if you think of ways to refine it.

I also thought it might be nice when using the Polygraph activity to open the class period with a Which One Doesn’t Belong task. This way the teacher may be able to highlight important language to use during the Polygraph activity.

Polygraph Transformation WODB

If you create activities/resources that work with the Illustrative Mathematics Curriculum OR just want to see what others have created, access the link in this tweet from @k8nowak.

Tackk, Geogebra, and Dilations…

Ever since I discovered Tackk I’ve been eager to use it as a way to deliver content to students.

Our 8th graders have been learning about transformations without the benefit of any geometry software.  There have been issues with our license for Geometer’s Sketchpad, which is the software that we have used in the past.

I’ve fiddled with Geogebra here and there…but, have not found the time to truly sit down and figure it out.  However, I pay close attention to what these folks are doing: @a_mcsquared, @MathButler, and @mathhombre.

I spent a good chunk of my time this past Friday figuring out how to create this lesson on Geogebra so that I could upload it to GeogebraTube.  I kind of geeked out when I figured it all out…because now I can really see all of the possibilities.  And…I can understand the hype!

I decided to deliver the entire content of this lesson using Tackk because…it’s just so easy!!!  I’m pretty pleased with what I came up with…although I know there is always room for improvement.

Check out my Tackk…

Image of Dilations Lesson


Here is the link to the organizer for the Dilations Explorations.

I would love feedback on what I’ve put together!!!

A Sunday Summary–Writing SLOs and more…

I want to Keep It Sweet and Simple with this post…I’ve gotten in over my head by taking on teaching the undergrad course along with a full-time job, three kids, and a husband.  But, I do have some interesting things going on.



3 things that I’ll follow up on this week:

  • I came across an interesting folder last spring regarding writing your SLO in terms of looking at the math practices.  I plan on writing my SLO in this way because I believe it’s more meaningful for instruction.  We are going to discuss it at our department meeting…I think several in my department are on board with trying to figure out how this might be done.  Hopefully I’ll be able to post a follow up.
  • Our book study bundle of Powerful Problem Solving came in (our PTSA purchased this for us).  I’ll disperse those on Monday…and we can begin digging in.
  • I’m going in to an 8th grade classroom tomorrow to introduce Pythagorean in 3D.  I thought this lesson from Yummy Math was a good intro.  I created my own worksheet to go with it because I want to see if the students can visualize the scenario and come up with the important information needed to solve the pic

*It’s not perfect…but going to see what happens…

2 things I’m looking forward to:

  • I’m taking the online Math Forum class–Looking at Student Work.  It began this week…I can’t wait to learn from the others that are taking this course.  I also think it will fit in nicely with writing SLOs in terms of looking at the Math Practices.
  • The nice weather that we’re having…moving further into the fall, leaves changing, going to see a Redskins game, …

1 thing I want to work on:

  • @jreulbach posted a Desmos lesson she’s working on.  I was planning on writing something similar for Algebra 1.  I want to take all of the great feedback she’s getting…and make an attempt as well.  I’ll get around to it soon…  😉

This Week’s Sunday Summary… A New 3-2-1

Another Sunday…another summary for the #MTBoSChallenge!  




Students returned to school on Wednesday, but the week began with district-wide, pre-service professional development by content area. 

3 things that happened this week:

  • Monday was the district-wide professional development for secondary math (grades 6 – 12).  As part of the professional learning experience provided for the teachers, I created this Thinglink that allowed the teachers to work through at their own pace, based on their own needs.  This was out of ordinary for professional development in our district–and I was incredibly nervous about how it would be received.  There are opportunities for feedback built in to the Thinglink…I was ecstatic to find that most of the feedback was extremely positive!  A big thank you to @Algebrasfriend for encouraging me to move forward with my idea for providing a professional learning experience in this format…as well as for providing me great feedback for refining some of the rough edges!
  • I began to work on my schedule for providing support in my building.  I will be mentoring a returning teacher that is teaching all of our 8th grade Algebra 1 courses.  So, I have made being in her first period class part of my day.  She has 2nd period planning, so we are able to reflect and revise rather easily and determine if there needs to be any adjustments for the rest of the day.  I also know for sure that I will be co-teaching a 90-minute 7th grade class as well, in order to meet the needs of the students with special needs in the class. 
  • Our district has adopted a new model for students that have to serve in-school suspension.  One 45 minute period of my day (each period of the day is covered by certified teachers) will be working with any student(s) that have been in school suspended.  My role will be to help them complete any of the work that they missed due to being removed from class.  I am also looking into creating some math file folder activities to pull, in addition to creating a Google site where students are linked directly to games for math practice.  When I went in to work with a student this week, I used the Thinking Blocks site to help model some of the fraction problems that needed to be completed.  

2 things on my to-do list:

  • One of the teachers in my building team teaches with a special educator all day.  She is interested in how to minimize teaching to the whole class–and instead deliver instruction in small groups through the use of stations.  We will be working together this week to figure out what this will look like, and determine next steps.  I’m thinking a lot of cutting, gluing, and laminating is in my future!  (PS…if you have any input on using stations regularly in your classroom–I’m all ears)
  • I REALLY need to add more problems to this site for each grade level.  

1 thing I’m hoping to be consistent with:

  • As the resource teacher for the building, I’m trying to keep track of the great tasks, lessons, activities that the teachers in my building are using to build instruction.  I want to pay close attention to the sequencing and the pacing. I’d like to build an in-house resource so that we aren’t constantly saying “What activity did we use for….?” and then have to recreate the wheel.  


A Sunday Summary for the Beginning of a New Year #MTBoSChallenge

I’ve decided to continue on this journey of blogging more because I really see the value in it.  I’ve joined a new challenge (who doesn’t need motivation, right?)…and we’ve decided to stay connected on Twitter using #MTBoSChallenge.

As an Instructional Resource Teacher (IRT), I will approach each challenge with a different lens than if I was still in my own classroom.

We started back to school this past Thursday…but, honestly, my mind never leaves work behind.  We only have two days in as teachers so far…with students returning on Wednesday.

Here is my Sunday 3-2-1 summary:

3 things that I’m looking forward to this year:

  • I’m attempting to implement the Lesson Study process with the teachers in our 7th grade.  There are 5 of us on the team…4 general education teachers, 1 special education teacher, and myself.  I believe it will be an extension of the work that we’ve been doing…we will just hopefully dig a little deeper.
  • I’d like to implement #myfavorite at our monthly department meetings.  I stole this idea from the #MTBoS …Teachers do so many things that are great and they just don’t realize it b/c they are locked in their own room.  I’m hoping this fosters sharing and collaboration…but most importantly provides an opportunity for each person to see that they do have something to contribute to our community.
  • I’m hoping to bring some of the great educational technologies into the math classroom~Desmos, Thinglink, Plickers, Aurasma, Padlet~just to name a few.

2 things that I want to get better at:

  • Providing really strong qualitative feedback to students…and supporting teachers as they do this.  It’s a lot of work…so I’m going to be on a mission to figure out how I can help to streamline this process.
  • I have a lot going on in my head ALL the time.  I can tend to overwhelm if I’m not careful…I want to work on streamlining my own process of engaging with the teachers that are doing the work in the classroom.  I’m really glad that @approx_normal retweeted this post from @jedipadmaster


1 thing that I’m nervous about:

  • Having time to get it all done.  I probably need to prioritize a bit better…still a work in progress.

July Challenge #12 Sharing Strategies and Playing Catch Up

Well…so much for keeping up with this challenge!!!  I have 19 more posts to make the 31 needed for July and only 10 more days to do it… YIKES!

The other day I noticed that @druinok and @pamjwilson were discussing this book.


They really must have been reading my mind…because I had been thinking that I could share a strategy that I’ve used for one of my posts.  So…here goes…

Three 3’s in a Row

Here’s how it works:

  • Complete the Three 3’s in a Row template by creating nine questions based on the content being learned.
  • Students should walk around the room asking classmates to explain one answer (only one answer) to them.  (I like the speaking and listening component here – AND we know kids just love to move!)
  • Students should summarize their classmates’ responses in the appropriate box – Don’t let students write in each other’s template or you’ll end up with a passive game of pass-the-paper. Only the owner of the template writes on the template.
  • Students should repeat this process of finding classmates to answer questions.
  • Students may not use a classmate to answer more than one question.
  • Go over the answers as a class, by asking volunteers to share their responses.

Here is a version I did when teaching Introduction to Special Education.  (Can’t locate my math example right now.)

If you do a quick Google search…you can find some decent PPts highlighting many of the books techniques, like this one here.

July Challenge #11 I’m a Day Behind-A “Few Good Posts”

So I’m a day behind on this challenge…but, I will persist until I make it up.  I REALLY want to respond @mathtans about “Why I Post!” but I’ll do that another time.

Today I want to highlight a few of the bloggers that Google led me to before entering into this world of Twitter and Blogging.  I’m including one of their posts that I particularly like.

I feel fortunate to have found SOOOOO many more bloggers AND posts that I find valuable since jumping in with both feet!

July Challenge #9 Cleaning Out Old Notes

If you’re like me…you probably come across so many great thoughts and ideas that it’s impossible to hold onto them all, let alone implement, or even remember where they came from.

I went to school today to pull some resources for pulling together mini-assessments for CCSS Algebra 1 units.

In rummaging through my boxed up materials, I came across a notepad with notes from a workshop I attended YEARS ago at the The Lab School of Washington.  It was a workshop on teaching math to students with special needs.

In leafing through the notes…I came across this quote (but, I have no idea where it’s from or who said it)…

Good mathematics is NOT how many answers you know–but how you behave when you don’t know.

This is what we want for kids isn’t it???  It’s the essence of what the Common Core Standards for Math Practice are promoting.  It just shows you that what was good math…still is.  

If you are familiar with this quote/sentiment…please let me know!

July Challenge #8 Working with the Struggling Learner

This will be quick.  I’m trying to fit this post in…and it was hard to figure out what I’d have to offer.

My entire teaching career I’ve worked with students that struggle to learn math.  Here are a few simple things I’ve picked up:

  1. When you are having a whole group discussion and you are going to ask a question…call the student’s name, give a little wait time, and then ask the question.  That way they aren’t put on the spot.
  2. About #1…best case scenario…if the question has to do with something that the students have already completed, walk around the room to be sure that the “less than confident” student that you are going to call on has the right answer.  Give them their moment to shine!!!!
  3. To engage all of the learners…set the timer.  Tell them, “I’m going to give you one minute and 41 seconds to jot down your thoughts” (random amounts of time are engaging–and I like to use palindromes!).  Walk around the room to gauge understanding and next steps.
  4. I like to walk around the room and tell individual students quietly, “I really like what you did on #5.  I’m going to ask you to share that one with the class.”  It helps to build confidence and prepares them for what’s ahead.
  5. Some students need to be given choices when asking them a question.  Ask the question and then say “Is it A or is it B?”  Be sure to always make the correct answer the first choice.  If a student doesn’t know…it’s typical to give back the last thing they heard.
  6. For students that you know have difficulty getting started, focus them on specific tasks that you know will bring them success.  If I get these students started…inevitably they will complete more than I’ve asked.
  7. Choices. Choices. Choices…Let students pick the tasks that they feel they are capable of completing.  Usually…students pick either what you’d pick for them…or above.

This everyday blogging is tough!