First Day Activities

Today was our first day of school with students, and overall, I’d say it was pretty awesome. I over-planned a little because our periods ranged from 35-48 minutes, with 48 being the norm, and I did not want there to be any extra time. However, this led to some rushing through the activities because I wanted to do all of them!

On their way into class, students collected three worksheets: Ms. Kohn’s Life in Numbers, Class Syllabus, and Parent/Guardian Contact Letter. I projected a seating chart on the board and students found their seats. Then, we did these four activities:

1. Life in Numbers: Unfortunately I cannot remember where I found this last summer, so if it’s yours, please let me know so I can attribute it to you!

This activity is so much fun. At this point, students don’t know anything about me so everything is a guess. I let them work in pairs and then as we go over it, I share little stories about each question. If there is enough time, I have the students share one number statement about themselves. Today we didn’t have enough time so I read them by myself after school.

2. Syllabus: We reviewed it rather quickly.

3. Consensogram Activity: A consensogram is a chart that shows the frequency and distribution of responses to a question or statement. I thought it would be an interesting activity to get students chatting, noticing, and wondering. I gave each student 3 mini post-it notes, then we discussed the statements and answer choices. I did not have students write their names on them so they would be anonymous. I gave students time to think about their answer, and I demonstrated how I wanted the post-its to line up (this didn’t go very well, I had to realign most of them so they were even).

Algebra 1 (three sections):

photo-17 photo-16 photo-15Favorite student statement regarding groups: “When you’re listening, you’re quiet. But when you’re quiet, it doesn’t mean you’re listening.”

Algebra 2 (two sections):

photo-14 photo-13


I asked my students to make observations about what they saw and noticed while looking at the graphs. We had some great conversations about what they’re afraid of in high school and how to overcome it and succeed. The conversations were rushed a bit, but I think we’ll talk about them some more as students come in tomorrow and see all the other responses.

Extra benefit, my back wall now looks like this:


Special shout-out to @algebrainiac1 for some great sample questions to ask!

4. #MathIs Tweets: Sarah blogged about this last summer and I did exactly what she said. I will post some responses in another post because they were really creative and thoughtful.


MTBoS Professional Development

Steph Reilly generously shared the letter she sent to her principal regarding Twitter Math Camp and I liked it so much I knew I had to send one to my admin team too. I made some VERY minor changes and emailed this one. The biggest change I made was in the final paragraph, where I tell them I’m emailing because I want to run a PD session for all 6-12 math teachers in my district (approximately 30 teachers).

I’m very luck to work in an extremely supportive and collaborative environment, but I do wish more of my colleagues were involved in the Math Twitter BlogoSphere (MTBoS). A few of them follow some blogs and we occasionally pass around links, but for the most part, I know most of them aren’t aware of all the awesomeness this community has to offer. Therefore, I was psyched when my district’s Instructional Leadership Director and STEM Director agreed to meet with me to hear a recap of TMC 13 and discuss running a PD session. We had a great 1.5 hour conversation regarding everything I have learned from the MTBoS and the best ways to get more teachers involved. The end result: The loved it! They really loved it! I’ll be running a 2 hour session on an early release day in November. What follows below is the general outline for the session as of right now, obviously I’m hoping for some feedback to make this the best session it can possible be!


I’m going to make a brief online survey for participants to take prior to the actual PD session. I want/need to know who else reads blogs, writes blogs, tweets, and/or knows about some of these websites. It will not be anonymous, I want to be able to address these teachers and ask them to share their experiences.

Also, in the blurb for this session that teachers will read in the master PD grid sent by admin, I’m going to label this as TECH FRIENDLY. Participants will be encouraged to bring smart phones/laptops so they can explore during the presentation, but we’ll also be in the school library so they can hop on computers during play time.

Intro (5-10 minutes)
A very brief explanation of how I got started in the MTBoS and my experiences at TMC13. I’ll provide participants with a list of a few blogs to read and individuals to follow on Twitter to get started.

MTBoS Highlights (approx 5 minutes each)
The following bullets are all websites or ideas that I think everyone needs to know about it. I consider them to be “Things that will change your teacher life dramatically” and “Things that you can implement tomorrow.” I’ll project the websites and walk everyone through the basics. Some I have used, some I have not, but want to. I know there are so many more, but we do have a limited time. Please let me know though if you think I’m missing a biggie.

Time to Play and Debrief (30-40 minutes)
After running through everything above, I think it’s important to give participants time to explore these sites on their own, but in a guided format. I will encourage them to choose at least two sites to investigate and to think about how they could start using them in their classroom. Hopefully we’ll have some time to come back together and share the things we are most excited about.

Conclusion: My Favorites (3-5 minutes each)
The MTBoS is all about sharing. I know that my colleagues have so much they could teach me, so I’m very eager to see what they might present. I’ll start with a few TMC ideas, such as Jenn’s 4 to 1, The Teaching Channel’s My Favorite No, and Nicole’s Orangamallows. I’ll also line up a few presenters ahead of time by directly asking some of my colleagues to think of something to share. My hope is that everyone gets a sense of what it’s like to be a part of this community, always sharing, always passionate, always there for each other.

So, that’s my plan so far. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Live Tweeting a Lesson

In his book, Teach Like A Pirate, Dave Burgess asks, “Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?” Ever since Twitter Math Camp, where live-tweeting is the norm, I’ve been wondering, “What would it look like if my students live-tweeted during a class period?” Will they post pictures? Quotes of things I say? Quotes of classmates? Key math concepts learned? Will they ask me questions???

What is live-tweeting?
“Live Tweet (v.): to engage on Twitter for a continuous period of time—anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—with a sequence of focused Tweets. The focus can be a big live event that everybody’s paying attention to (e.g. a TV show or an award show) or it can be an event you create yourself.”

Initial Thoughts:

  • I’ve already created a teacher twitter account for my students to follow. I’ll be using it to tweet homework assignments, class reminders, and answer questions after school hours.
  • Students who don’t have a twitter account will be able to hand-write tweets.
  • I would spend some class time reviewing what live-tweeting is… maybe provide a storified example of when one of their favorite music artists live-tweeted a concert, and also provide an example I create pretending to live-tweet a math class. The goal here is to model effective and appropriate live-tweeting.
  • We will decide upon a class hashtag so that we can all follow along. Something like #MHSmath (hopefully more creative). This way they don’t even have to tweet directly at me, and I can scan my phone during the lesson to see what they’re thinking.
  • At a few key moments during the lesson, I will pose a question for students to answer via tweets. Since I’ll be on my phone too, I will use their responses to formatively assess how everything is going. The rest of the time, they are on their own to tweet as they wish.

Educational Benefits:

  • Student Engagement
  • A documented snapshot of the lesson for students to review when studying for an assessment
  • A way for students to “speak up” and ask questions they otherwise might not have asked
  • Showcase of student creativity and expression


  • Will the WiFi cooperate on the day we want it to?
  • What if they are too embarrassed to do it? Twitter is really big at my school. My students have A LOT of followers. If I ask them to tweet using a math hashtag, and they do it, are their friends going to make fun of them?
  • I have three sections of Algebra 1, and two sections of Algebra 2. Will students read their classmates’ tweets before even coming to class? Is this even a bad thing? Or does it build anticipation?
  • What if they tweet something inappropriate? Do I stop the tweeting right then and the phones go away? Probably. We’ll have this discussion prior to the lesson.
  • Will my school support this idea? Our policy states it is up to the discretion of the teacher when using technology, as long as there is an educational purpose. Are my reasons above enough? Can you think of more?

This idea is definitely a work in progress… I’d love to hear your thoughts.