About I Speak Math

I am a mother to three boys. I have a BS in mathematics from Marshall University (Go Herd!) and a MaEd in Mathematics Education from Wake Forest University. I started out as a Math Grad student but discovered my love of teaching when I was teaching night classes to supplement my fellowship at Wake. I switched to MaEd in my second year of Grad school and have had a passion for teaching ever since! I have taught in public, private, and charter schools. I have taught community college, high school, and middle school. I am currently teaching high school at a private school in the suburbs of Charlotte, NC.

BE WARY of Teachers Pay Teachers

TPT sellers told me in the comments that the majority of sellers are only selling authentic material that they have created.  However, since I posted this, every blogger that has searched Teachers Pay Teachers has found at least one person selling their copyrighted material.  This is a huge problem that should be a concern for ALL teachers, especially if they are buying or selling material through TPT.

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Bloggers:  If you blog and create awesome math resources that you intend for other math teachers to use for FREE, then you should hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers to make sure that there aren’t teachers trying to SELL your FREE stuff.  Teachers Pay Teachers makes money off of every sale, however, they do not monitor the site to make sure the posted material is authentic.  They leave that up to US with a “Report this resource” link on the page of the activity.  It is so disappointing that they don’t have any preventative measures to stop this.  Robert found three different sellers selling his free lesson with one keyword search.  To see if your material is there, go to the site and type the name of an activity / worksheet / foldable you have created into the search engine.

 

Teacher Consumers:  I know some teachers love the site.  And I can see how it could be helpful for busy teachers.  Much of the stuff on there is activity based, very “polished”, and already finished, all packaged up for you to purchase.  But PLEASE, before you purchase, do a quick Google Image (or even Pinterest) search, to see if you can find the same material for FREE on a teachers blog.  Even better, you can also search math ed blogs using the MTBoS Search Engine created by John Stevens! In addition to the resource being FREE, there are two other great bonuses.  First, the blogger usually has the EDITABLE version in a word doc on their blog.  Second, the blogger usually explains how to use the resource in detail (and pictures) and will even comment back and forth with you about the work if you have questions.  And if you are on Twitter, great work is often found for FREE under the #MTBoS and #iTeachMath hashtags!

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I go on the TPT site about once every six months or so, and usually find at least 2 teachers that are selling my material.  I comment on their item to let them know that I created the material, it is for free on my blog, and they should not have it in their store.  Then I try to find the seller on social media so I can ask them to promptly take the item down.  The seller is usually apologetic, and will take it out of their store.  I have had a couple of people that claimed they didn’t steal it because they added a border or changed the font.  But, that is the exception.  TPT now has a “Report this resource” on each activity, but since I don’t trust TPT I usually try to find the person myself, and let them know.  As in, please take down my material and stop trying to make money off of teachers for stuff they could get for FREE online.

I know that it may be crazy to think that many, many, math teacher bloggers offer all of the materials that they create for FREE.  Some teachers you work with may not even share their materials with you, am I right?  We chose share our work freely so that we can become better, together!  Publishing our work for free allows many teachers to see and comment on it, so we get great feedback.  When we publish our work, other teachers often take it, tweak it, and share it back with us.  And, we have usually spent much time on our work, and want to share it to benefit another overworked math teacher.  We have all benefited from someone else sharing their work, and we want to pay it back!

Update:  Thank you to all of the commenters!   I love hearing and learning from other perspectives.  Teachers have different philosophies about sharing and or selling our work, and that is ok.  I do not feel that teachers should not buy or sell from TPT.  I have purchased material off of TPT (My students enjoy Virge Cornelius’ Circuit Training Sheets).  This post is about protecting all teachers, not accusing them.  The math education community has an extensive network of teachers posting quality work for free, but I know that this is not the reality for many other disciplines.  This post was a warning for bloggers and consumers. Most bloggers are not even aware that their work could be for sale on the site. And I think it is important to warn anyone, especially hard working teachers, to “look around” before purchasing a resource. I have found too many resources on TPT that can be found for free.  It upsets me that other teachers, that are also naive about TPT, are paying money for these resources.  It is not enough for TPT to take things seriously after an activity has been reported. TPT is making money off of the site.  Thus it is their obligation to monitor it, not the burden of individual teachers who do not profit from spending their time combing through the site.  Everyone should want TPT to do more to make sure stolen work is not being sold, because that is what is truly upsetting here.  Even if it is only one persons work that is stolen and sold, that is one person too many. But, it is more than just one person.  I hope that TPT starts doing their part by cleaning out the dishonest sellers, because that will benefit all teachers.

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There is a great article in The Atlantic, written by Abigail Walthausen, that everyone interested in this topic should go and read.  The last two sentences of her article say it all.   “The fact is, teachers’ work is already bestowed on the American public whether or not it is polished for sale or uploaded to an OER platform. But whether a teacher decides to share on a micro or a macro level, the choice should be open and judgement free.”  Thank you Abigail!

Featured Comments:  

Dan pretty much sums it all up here.  Thank you Dan. 

The TPT sellers in this thread need to get it together. There is a pretty simple response here that absolves them of wrongdoing and restores whatever connection they want to the online math ed community. Instead of that response, every seller cites (1) how great TPT is, (2) instances of plagiarism, exploitation, and copyright infringement by other businesses and in other fields.

(1) is beside the point. Julie isn’t calling out the service as a whole, except insofar as they don’t take violations seriously.

(2) blows my mind. “Other companies do bad things so only call out TPT plagiarists if you’re also going to call out Amazon, Apple, British Petroleum, Monsanto, and the Zodiac Killer.” Huh?

Here it is for free:

“That is lame, Julie. I’d never do that and I love what TPT offers me as a seller so it makes me mad when other sellers give the service a bad name. I’m going to forward this to all of my contacts at TPT and ask them to take this more seriously.”

 

TPT takes customer feedback very seriously. If someone is reporting a product I’m sure they are getting an email from TPT immediately. I cannot speak to this directly, but I did once accidentally upload the wrong product, and immediately after receiving a comment from a purchaser, I received an email from
TPT with an ultimatum to fix it within 48 hours or face consequences. – Brianne

 

There is nothing in this post that criticises teachers (or anyone else) from buying and selling resources using TPT or other avenues. The criticism is of the TPT platform itself. This seems reasonable as any site that profits from the trade in Intellectual Property needs a robust mechanism to ensure that the seller actually has the rights to offer what they sell. Youtube has their “Content ID” system to detect freebooting and TPT really should have something to do basic automated checks of uploaded content against existing material elsewhere on the web. – Chris Heddles

 

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“Speed Dating” Review – Get Them Moving!

“Speed Dating” is a very easy way to spice up a review / practice day.  It’s a quick twist on an otherwise long day of just working review problems, especially when we have too much material to get through for some of my favorite games like Trasketball or Survivor.  I do it a bit differently than it has been done in math classes previously.**  Each students sits with one partner to do one problem that I project.  They each work on individual whiteboards, but talk together while working.  I walk around and answer questions while they work.  After we finish each problem, one person at each table rotates to the next table.  The same people move all period.  I usually have them do a quick rock, paper, scissors, to determine who has to move.

I usually have the students put everything away and clear off all of the tables.  Then, I have them put their bookbags against the walls so everyone can move around the room more easily.  I really like that they don’t have all of their “stuff” out during this activity as I think it helps them focus on just the math and their partner.

I make a big deal about saying “HI!” to your new date after every rotation.  I also tell them to be a good date by talking and helping each other out.  Occasionally I will have an odd number, then I just put three people at one table.

I think it works so well for two reasons.  First, the kids are moving all period long, which helps them stay alert. Second, they are working with a new partner for each problem.  The combination of these two things keeps them more interested and alert than the normal review day.   I also love doing groups of two because each student feels more responsible for helping their “date” and getting the work completed together.

**The original “Speed Dating” in Math Class idea came from the amazing Kate Nowak.  She does it a bit differently, where each student is an expert on a certain problem and then explains it to others.  I like that as well when it is a review with different types of problems, but use this method when I need the same type of problems to get progressively more complicated for the entire class.

Making Groups Work

It’s not Sunday and this post is a week late!  I just finished up the first trimester at school so I’ve been swamped!  We have also experienced a blogging slow down.  It’s the busiest time of the year for most people!  So instead of a weekly posts for the month of December, let’s do one blog post this month.

The topic for December is “Observe Yourself:  Phone Pocket“.  At Twitter Math Camp this year, Peg Cagle encouraged us to all “Phone Pocket”.  It is when you put your phone on audio record in your pocket for 10 minutest to record your conversations with students.  She said you can learn so much from this practice!  So you don’t get overwhelmed, don’t try to observe everything about what you say and do, but pick one or two things you would like to watch for when listening to the playback.  Then, blog about what you discovered.  Tell us what you do noticed, what you do well, and what you would like to improve.  It is due December 16th.   Submit your blog post here.  Then, you can start working on your  “New Year’s Resolutions!” blog post, due January 7th.

Blog posts appear in the order they were submitted. 

 

MTBoS SunFun Logo

Our topic for next month is, “Observe Yourself:  Phone Pocket”

Due: Sunday, December 16th   Submit your blog post here.

Helpful tips:

          • Submit your blog post (below) to have your post included in the weekly summary.
          • Tweet out your post!  Use the hashtags #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere)*, and #SundayFunday to get more traffic to your post.  This is especially important if you are new to tweeting because only your followers will see your tweets unless you include a hashtag.
          • Additional Hashtags:  Of course you can always add more hashtags to your Tweet so more people will be exposed to your post!  You can search any keywords to find a hashtag, and here are some of the more popular ones:
            • #ElemMathChat (Elementary Teachers)
            • #MSmathChat (Middle School Teachers)
            • #GeomChat (Geometry)
            • #Alg1Chat (Alg1 Teachers)
            • #Alg2Chat (Alg2 Teachers)
            • #PreCalcChat (PreCalc and Calc)
            • #MathChat
          • JUST  #PushSend!  🙂

Submit your post using the form below by Saturday at midnight! Just #PressSend

You can also click here to submit.

New to Blogging?

If you are like, “Wow!  This sounds like so much fun!  I want to blog but don’t know where to start!” then you must read “Mission 1: The Power of the Blog” on the Explore the MTBoS site.

** The hardest thing to do week after week is come up with great prompts.  Please help us out by telling us what you would like to blog about (or even read about) here!

* The Math Twitters Blogosphere is not an organization.  Rather it refers to ANYONE that is involved in MATH in ANY way!  You do NOT have to Tweet or have a blog!  But, you can find many teachers that do tweet and blog by searching the hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter.  All are welcome, no invitation necessary!  Please join in the conversation!  Just #PushSend!  

Thanks so very much to @DruinOK for getting this all started and Jessica,  @Algebrainiac1, for creating our awesome logo!

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Self-Care Tips

The topic for next week is “Group Work:  How Do You Make Group Work WORK?“.   Submit your blog post here.

Blog posts appear in the order they were submitted. 

 

MTBoS SunFun Logo

Our topic for next week is, “Group Work:
How Do You Make Group Work WORK?”

Due: Sunday at 6AM

What do you do for group work?  How do you make it work?   Submit your blog post here.

Helpful tips:

          • Submit your blog post (below) by Sunday at 6AM to have your post included in the weekly summary.
          • Tweet out your post!  Use the hashtags #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere)*, and #SundayFunday to get more traffic to your post.  This is especially important if you are new to tweeting because only your followers will see your tweets unless you include a hashtag.
          • Additional Hashtags:  Of course you can always add more hashtags to your Tweet so more people will be exposed to your post!  You can search any keywords to find a hashtag, and here are some of the more popular ones:
            • #ElemMathChat (Elementary Teachers)
            • #MSmathChat (Middle School Teachers)
            • #GeomChat (Geometry)
            • #Alg1Chat (Alg1 Teachers)
            • #Alg2Chat (Alg2 Teachers)
            • #PreCalcChat (PreCalc and Calc)
            • #MathChat
          • JUST  #PushSend!  🙂

Submit your post using the form below by Saturday at midnight! Just #PressSend

You can also click here to submit.

New to Blogging?

If you are like, “Wow!  This sounds like so much fun!  I want to blog but don’t know where to start!” then you must read “Mission 1: The Power of the Blog” on the Explore the MTBoS site.

** The hardest thing to do week after week is come up with great prompts.  Please help us out by telling us what you would like to blog about (or even read about) here!

* The Math Twitters Blogosphere is not an organization.  Rather it refers to ANYONE that is involved in MATH in ANY way!  You do NOT have to Tweet or have a blog!  But, you can find many teachers that do tweet and blog by searching the hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter.  All are welcome, no invitation necessary!  Please join in the conversation!  Just #PushSend!  

Thanks so very much to @DruinOK for getting this all started and Jessica,  @Algebrainiac1, for creating our awesome logo!

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Desmos Art Project

Last year I had my students create an art picture using Desmos.  I showed them examples from Desmos.com Staff Pics, Creative Art to motivate them and give them ideas.  My students loved the art they saw on Desmos, and were excited to create their own pictures.  They came to me outside of class to learn how to graph certain functions, restrict their graph, and color in their art.  It was a blast for me and a great learning experience for them.  I loved how excited they were about creating their art!  I have done this with students in Pre-Algebra and up, but you could change the project to make it appropriate for lower grade levels by having them graph only lines, or having them plot points in a Desmos table and connect them.

To keep all of their art projects in one place, I created a Desmos Activity Builder for the project.  Having them do the project through an Activity Builder helped me manage all of their graphs so I could easily view them and access them for help.  By using an Activity Builder, I was also able to include the instructions for the projects and helpful tips for them.  I used teacher pacing, and restricted the screens to 1 – 5 during the project.  After they finished the project, I turned on the “Reflection” slides so they could fill those out.

I had them print out their Desmos Art, and I made a huge collage of it on my wall in the back of the room.

My Activity Builder Includes:

  1. Project Instructions Screen
  2. A link to Learn Desmos so they can use more advanced equations
  3. Example screens that taught them how to restrict and color their graphs (and more) for them to examine and play with.
  4. A blank graph screen for their project
  5. A screen to describe their project
  6. Two “Reflection” screens for after the project was finished.
    1. What did you like the most about the project?
    2. What would you change about the project?

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Here is the work of the Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 students at my school.

Desmos Art

Desmos Art Collage on my wall!

Photo of the Week, #MTBoS

The topic for next week is “SELF CARE TIPS – How Do You Take Care of YOU?“.   Submit your blog post here.

Blog posts appear in the order they were submitted. 

MTBoS SunFun Logo

Our topic for next week is, “SELF CARE TIPS:
How Do You Take Care of Yourself?”

Due: Sunday at 6AM

We are deep into the school year.  Please share some ways you take care of yourself!    Submit your blog post here.

Helpful tips:

          • Submit your blog post (below) by Sunday at 6AM to have your post included in the weekly summary.
          • Tweet out your post!  Use the hashtags #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere)*, and #SundayFunday to get more traffic to your post.  This is especially important if you are new to tweeting because only your followers will see your tweets unless you include a hashtag.
          • Additional Hashtags:  Of course you can always add more hashtags to your Tweet so more people will be exposed to your post!  You can search any keywords to find a hashtag, and here are some of the more popular ones:
            • #ElemMathChat (Elementary Teachers)
            • #MSmathChat (Middle School Teachers)
            • #GeomChat (Geometry)
            • #Alg1Chat (Alg1 Teachers)
            • #Alg2Chat (Alg2 Teachers)
            • #PreCalcChat (PreCalc and Calc)
            • #MathChat
          • JUST  #PushSend!  🙂

Submit your post using the form below by Saturday at midnight! Just #PressSend

You can also click here to submit.

New to Blogging?

If you are like, “Wow!  This sounds like so much fun!  I want to blog but don’t know where to start!” then you must read “Mission 1: The Power of the Blog” on the Explore the MTBoS site.

** The hardest thing to do week after week is come up with great prompts.  Please help us out by telling us what you would like to blog about (or even read about) here!

* The Math Twitters Blogosphere is not an organization.  Rather it refers to ANYONE that is involved in MATH in ANY way!  You do NOT have to Tweet or have a blog!  But, you can find many teachers that do tweet and blog by searching the hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter.  All are welcome, no invitation necessary!  Please join in the conversation!  Just #PushSend!  

Thanks so very much to @DruinOK for getting this all started and Jessica,  @Algebrainiac1, for creating our awesome logo!

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Your Teaching Story

The topic for next week is “Photo of the Week!“.   Submit your blog post here.

Blog posts appear in the order they were submitted. 

 

MTBoS SunFun Logo

Our topic for next week is, “Photo of the Week”

Due: Sunday at 6AM

Take a picture of something that happened this week and share it with us!  Tell us all about it!    Submit your blog post here.

Helpful tips:

          • Submit your blog post (below) by Sunday at 6AM to have your post included in the weekly summary.
          • Tweet out your post!  Use the hashtags #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere)*, and #SundayFunday to get more traffic to your post.  This is especially important if you are new to tweeting because only your followers will see your tweets unless you include a hashtag.
          • Additional Hashtags:  Of course you can always add more hashtags to your Tweet so more people will be exposed to your post!  You can search any keywords to find a hashtag, and here are some of the more popular ones:
            • #ElemMathChat (Elementary Teachers)
            • #MSmathChat (Middle School Teachers)
            • #GeomChat (Geometry)
            • #Alg1Chat (Alg1 Teachers)
            • #Alg2Chat (Alg2 Teachers)
            • #PreCalcChat (PreCalc and Calc)
            • #MathChat
          • JUST  #PushSend!  🙂

Submit your post using the form below by Saturday at midnight! Just #PressSend

You can also click here to submit.

New to Blogging?

If you are like, “Wow!  This sounds like so much fun!  I want to blog but don’t know where to start!” then you must read “Mission 1: The Power of the Blog” on the Explore the MTBoS site.

** The hardest thing to do week after week is come up with great prompts.  Please help us out by telling us what you would like to blog about (or even read about) here!

* The Math Twitters Blogosphere is not an organization.  Rather it refers to ANYONE that is involved in MATH in ANY way!  You do NOT have to Tweet or have a blog!  But, you can find many teachers that do tweet and blog by searching the hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter.  All are welcome, no invitation necessary!  Please join in the conversation!  Just #PushSend!  

Thanks so very much to @DruinOK for getting this all started and Jessica,  @Algebrainiac1, for creating our awesome logo!

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Desmos Activity Builder for All Disciplines

I am presenting “Do More With Desmos Activity Builder” for ALL disciplines at the annual NCAIS Conference (North Carolina Association for Independent Schools) October 27th.

I am excited to bring Desmos to other disciplines because it is not only an amazing engagement software, but it is also FREE for teachers.  I presented it to non-math teachers at my school last week.  They loved it and one teacher even created a card sort before she left my session!

I created a self-paced Desmos Activity Builder for non-math teachers.  This activity showcases the Desmos screens and includes tutorials on how to get started with Desmos.  Please share the Desmos love with non-math teachers in your school!

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Stephanie Blair, another Desmos Fellow, created a Google Doc to share other non-math Desmos Activity Builder.

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Math Games!

The topic for next week is “Your Teaching Story“.   Submit your blog post here.

Blog posts appear in the order they were submitted. 

MTBoS SunFun Logo

Our topic for next week is, “Your Teaching Story”

Due: Sunday at 6AM

Tell us your teaching story!  How did you get where you are?  Who inspired you to be a teacher?    Submit your blog post here.

Helpful tips:

          • Submit your blog post (below) by Sunday at 6AM to have your post included in the weekly summary.
          • Tweet out your post!  Use the hashtags #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere)*, and #SundayFunday to get more traffic to your post.  This is especially important if you are new to tweeting because only your followers will see your tweets unless you include a hashtag.
          • Additional Hashtags:  Of course you can always add more hashtags to your Tweet so more people will be exposed to your post!  You can search any keywords to find a hashtag, and here are some of the more popular ones:
            • #ElemMathChat (Elementary Teachers)
            • #MSmathChat (Middle School Teachers)
            • #GeomChat (Geometry)
            • #Alg1Chat (Alg1 Teachers)
            • #Alg2Chat (Alg2 Teachers)
            • #PreCalcChat (PreCalc and Calc)
            • #MathChat
          • JUST  #PushSend!  🙂

Submit your post using the form below by Saturday at midnight! Just #PressSend

You can also click here to submit.

New to Blogging?

If you are like, “Wow!  This sounds like so much fun!  I want to blog but don’t know where to start!” then you must read “Mission 1: The Power of the Blog” on the Explore the MTBoS site.

** The hardest thing to do week after week is come up with great prompts.  Please help us out by telling us what you would like to blog about (or even read about) here!

* The Math Twitters Blogosphere is not an organization.  Rather it refers to ANYONE that is involved in MATH in ANY way!  You do NOT have to Tweet or have a blog!  But, you can find many teachers that do tweet and blog by searching the hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter.  All are welcome, no invitation necessary!  Please join in the conversation!  Just #PushSend!  

Thanks so very much to @DruinOK for getting this all started and Jessica,  @Algebrainiac1, for creating our awesome logo!

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My Favorite Math Games

Playing game in math class can engage even my most reluctant students.  It is so inspiring to see them light up with competition!  For this weeks challenge I decided to compile all of the games that I have blogged about in the past.  Most of the games listed below include powerpoint templates that I have created.  I always forget about the great games I have used in the past and hope this will be a good reminder for me and anyone else who may need it!

My top three for high school are Math Survivor, Trasketball, and Speed Dating!

 

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‘s here! –>

Math Survivor Game (Powerpoint Template included) – This is currently my FAVORITE game that I play in class.  I usually play it on review days.  I love seeing kids make alliances screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-8-53-16-am
Trasketball (Powerpoint Template included) – Another great review game that is always a big hit with the kids.  I love to get them up and moving. photo-1
Speed Dating – Great to get kids working with different people all period. HS students will be embarrassed bc of the name and work quietly. lol! Thanks Kate!
Row Games – These are partner activities for specific topics instead of a general review. Thanks Kate!
Flyswatter Review Game (Powerpoint Template included) – Students screen-shot-2011-05-12-at-9-21-00-am
Matho (Powerpoint Template included) Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 11.13.55 AM
Draw It! Game (Powerpoint Template included) – Students compete by writing or drawing  or Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 10.03.50 AM
Add It Up Partner Activity Thanks Rachel! 20120929-131353
Kahoot – I have used other online quiz games, but my students always beg for Kahoot. IMG_3157
Zero Game for Integer Operations – Great middle school game! img_3850
Euclid the Game (Geometry) – This is a game that helps kids learn constructions. screen-shot-2014-09-07-at-9-39-41-pm
Favorite Middle School Math Class Games – A Compilation