Star Wars – 8 Jedi Math Practices #MTBoS #msmathchat

I am blown away by the response to my Jedi posters, and am grateful that people are asking for the files and have already put them up in their classrooms! A special shoutout goes to @JustinAion and @jrobbins00 for being major “sneezers” to make this possible!


Taking this to the next step, I created slides that can be printed on 11×17 inch paper so I could post them around the room.  I also included the technical wording of the mathematical practices on the slide so I could say, “Let’s persevere in solving these problems, work past the point you want to give up!” Or “Give me a viable argument, tell me how you did this.”  Hopefully this could provide a bridge to other classes as they move on.

Here is the link to download the slides, both in 11×17, and a smaller format to use on a presentation. I have also included a blank slide if you need it.

SW-8MPsm   SW-MP1smSW-MP2smSW-MP3sm

SW-MP4smSW-MP5sm  SW-MP6smSW-MP7sm



WANTED: Teachers for 7th grade math online PLC #msmathchat #July2014Challenge #mtbos

WANTED:  Average height American White 3rd Career 2nd Year 7th Grade Basic Math Teacher seeks 3-4 teachers to join forces to create an online PLC that conquers that challenge of training homone-laden boys and girls that are trying to attain adulthood while still acting like children to see the beauty of math in our everyday world.

Teachers desiring to be in this PLC….

  • Must have a passion for students to succeed and for math to matter to people around us. If you really don’t like students, math, or teaching, you will bring me down, and I don’t have the capacity to support you right now. Maybe in the future I can, but I am still trying to get a handle on this myself and I need people who are enthusiastic and encouraging about teaching math to push me forward. 
  • Must be willing to share lesson plans, formative assessments, summative assessment, resources, worksheets, exit tickets, wacky ideas, grand failures, virtual high-fives and fistbumps, and anything else that can make my life easier as a math teacher and richer by way of sharing the successes and struggles of other professionals.
  • Must be working with some variation of the CCSS. (I am on the Florida Standards which are almost exactly the same, word for word, as the CCSS)
  • Must not be in a 1 to 1 classroom. (No offense to those that are 1:1, and I am sure you would make this online PLC fantabulastic, but my coveting of your situation would cause me consternation. I have four computers in my room and no BYOD, so I will be limited in the technology that students use this year.)
  • Must be teaching 7th Grade math that is the class before Pre-Algebra. 6th grade math teachers could be considered for this as well, but I am not sure how the standards will cross. I may or may not be teaching 8th grade Pre-Algebra, but my curriculum will focus on the 7th grade standards. 
  • Must not be one who merely complains and grumbles, but is able to move on and find solutions. I get it, teaching is tough, people we work with can be difficult, insurance is expensive, politicians mess everything up, students hate us. We can commiserate in a virtual pity party for about 5 minutes, but then we need to move on and figure out what in the world we are going to teach tomorrow. 
  • Does not have to use Standards Based Grading, but if you do, that would rock! I have drunk the SBG kool-aid, (berry flavored!) and will be using some form of it this year. 
  • Must be willing to post some of our resources, thoughts, conversations, plans, etc. online for the world to seeI know there will be thousands of math teachers just like us who are up late one night figuring out what in the world they are going to teach tomorrow, and I think it would be amazing to have a resource where someone is really struggling can find immediate help. We can decide what we put online, as not all of it would be ready for prime-time. 
  • Must be able to meet in an online google hangout/or something like that at least once a week. I am hoping that it will be an hour one night a week, but because I have never done this before so we may need more time, or even less time.
  • Must be willing to put up with random quotes from movies, typically 80’s or 90’s. I should be able to say something like, “Slider, (sniff, sniff) you stink.”  And you not take offense to it. 
  • Must not be envious of the fact that I live in a sunny climate with palm trees. I have lived in the north and I feel your pain, but if you have 36 inches of snow on the ground and post a picture of it, I will post a pic of my pool and palm trees in my backyard inviting you over for a drink with a tiny umbrella in it.  

Applicants can be:

  • Local in the states, or teach internationally, but must adhere to the CCSS
  • Male, Female, or other, of any race, color or creed. I am an equal-opportunity PLC creator.
  • Teaching for between zero and 50 years.
  • A blogger or twitterer of any capacity.
  • Willing to use 3 Act Math Tasks, Estimation180, and any of the other cool online tools.

About me:

  • I am married to an amazing woman, going on 15 years now, and have a middle school age son who seems to be smarter at math than I am.
  • My prior careers were Video Production, and a Pastor of a Christian church.
  • I have a  B.S. Video Production, and a Masters of Divinity (Bible and theology type of stuff.)
  • I recently completed an online program to be certified to teach in the state of Florida, and have received my professional certification.
  • I was the Computer tech at my school for a year, the AVID coordinator one year, and taught 7th/8th grade Math this past year.
  • My curriculum is from the Go Math series, but will be pulling from different resources.
  • I am a procrastinator, and may be frustrating to work with from time to time, but hopefully this can help keep me on track!
  • I am sure there are other grave shortcomings that could derail this experiment but none are coming to mind right now.

How this will work:

  • Honestly, I have no clue. I have not done this before, and may find that after a month it is way too much work and will go back to picking and pulling things from the #mtbos. But, I hope that we can form some sort of community of like-minded teachers who can do more together than apart.

How to apply:

Shoot me an email with something witty and funny about yourself and why you would want to be a part of something like this.  I am honestly making this up as I type this post and I have no idea if anyone will apply. So that may be the extent of the application!



Mindset – Jedi Edition #July2014Challenge

#MTBoS30 Day 11

At a Professional Development workshop for the district this summer, we were introduced to Carol Dweck’s Mindset. We were given a copy of her book, and I believe there was a bit of buy-in from the teachers there.  I mentioned before that I wanted to do a Star Wars theme this year including a Jedi rubric for Standards-Based Grading.

In doing some more reflection on mindset, I decided to take a couple of different graphics and mash them together in order to refer to “fixed” and “growth” mindsets in my classroom.


Kindness in Teaching #July2014Challenge

#MTBoS30 Day 9

Kindness must be used with wisdom within a structure of justice and fairness. Consider the role of a teacher. Love moves and empowers a teacher to be kind toward all the students; otherwise it will be mere favoritism toward some. Kindness moves the teacher to encourage the dull and the average as well as the bright students. But if kindness forgets about honesty, it will turn into cruelty. For instance, a teacher criticizes a student essay honestly, toughly, pointedly. Not to do this is to rob the student of a chance to grow through an interchange of power. But there must also be a gentleness, a feeling for the student’s anxiety about his own abilities. And so kindness searches for something in the essay that can be praised, at least for its potential. Kindness compels the teacher to look until finding something worth commendation. —Lewis Smedes Love Within Limits p. 17.

I met with a mentor today, a first meeting hopefully that will last for awhile, and he reminded me about truly caring for students.  He said something along the lines of “The one thing I want to impart to every new teacher that I get a chance to talk to is to love the students. Show them you care. When you show them you care, they will go the distance for you.” 

I get that. I really do. I know that students need love and care shown to them. I know that students will go the distance for you when they know they are safe and free to make mistakes and you won’t judge them for it.  I know it, but it is sometimes hard to show it. 

There are those moments in teaching when a class mistreats your sub, bombs a test in which you went over every single type of question twice, when a student you have given multiple opportunities to throws you under the bus for whatever reason. Those moments are difficult to show love, compassion, and kindness. What is easy to forget is that students will test you to see if your love is conditional. Students will try to prove that there is a limit to how much you care for them. It could be just another excuse for them to quit when they think you have on them. 

I read the above quote and realize yet again what is at stake in the classroom. It is more than high-stakes testing, Marzano performance observations, and whatever subject you are teaching. What is at stake is the value of a single person. Every student will remember something from you. Sometimes it is your sense of humor (or lack of it!). Sometimes it is your manner of teaching or the tasks you give. Most often, it is how you treated them.  

I had a professor in Seminary who was one of the kindest men you could ever meet. A friend of mine said about him, “Even if you raise your hand and absolutely butcher the answer to the question he just asked, he’ll make you feel really good even when you’re wrong.” 

The self-worth of a student is constantly in flux due to social media, their home-life, their relationships, their performance in the classroom or the athletic field.  In my classroom however, I have the power to control what I say, how I react, and how I treat that student. Whether or not my words or actions change them at that moment, I can’t control. But I do know, that love and kindness have the power to change a person for a long time. Each student is deserving of that love, no matter what. 


In a classroom not too far away…#mtbos30


Last year, in my first year as a Math teacher, I wanted to create an atmosphere that was a bit more interesting than just a math classroom. Superhero movies were coming out left and right, so I wondered if I could come up with some sort of tie to it, and here’s what I came up with:

  1. Superheroes solve problems.
  2. Math has problems.
  3. You solve math problems.
  4. Therefore you are, a superhero!

Cheesy, I know.  I had great plans to come up with superhero questions to post on my board, but after I posted my first one, I didn’t do it again. I had the room setup with tables, and above each table I hung a mobile of some comic book pages from a specific superhero group. The groups were: X-Men, Justice League, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Transformers, and Teen Titans. During the first half of the year, whenever I called on a table to give a specific answer, I would call out the team name. I created these by buying some comic books from the store, cutting out the pages, and then taking some foamcore and cutting pieces and taping them into boxes, and then I attached the pages with the spray glue.


It definitely generated some interest, and I had several conversations with students during the year of “who is better, Deadpool or Superman?” I caught several of the students just gazing at the comic book mobiles before, during, and after class. I think if I would have stuck with it, it could have been cooler.

This year, I played with a new theme, possibly one involving tools, trying to get students to see that they have different tools to use in their math tool box to create solutions to problems. But then I saw this post, and I knew what I had to do next:




jedi rubricI love the Jedi Master rubric, and feel that it is something that we can do to carry it through the year.  It’s all a great idea now, but we shall see how it works throughout the rest of the year.





*Update – 7/5/14  – I didn’t know if it would be helpful, but I decided to go ahead and post a few of the files I used for my superhero theme last year.