Advice to Next Year’s Students

I give my students an end of course survey every year.  One of my favorite questions is advice my students would give to next years students.  I love their responses!  I make a word cloud that I show my new students at the beginning of the next year.

Screen Shot 2017-05-21 at 10.24.47 AM

I also sort their advice by topic, and then print them out for my new students at the beginning of the year.  I let the groups spend some quiet time reading them, and then discuss as a group. Here is what this year’s class said.

Advice for Success in Alg2T: (from last year’s students)

 Summer Delta Math Assignment

  • Do summer work and homework. Go in for help

Delta Math / Homework

  • Always check delta math. There is probably an assignment that you forgot about.
  • Check every day if you have homework or delta math to do.
  • Make sure to do homework so you understand what we are doing in the class!!
  • ALWAYS DO HOMEWORK! It is extremely important and even if you do grasp concepts, go to the help sessions.
  • Do your homework, make one-sheets, do the delta math (this will definitely help!!), and do not be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS!
  • Do your homework, study for tests, don’t stress, one-sheets are your friend, and be nice to Mrs. Reulbach. Good luck!
  • DO THE HOMEWORK AND TALK TO HER AFTER CLASS! it will help a lot! and do not wait until right before the test to seek for help.
  • do your work
  • Make sure you always do your homework, and never fall behind.
  • DO DELTA MATH and homework so you can come into class with questions.
  • Always do your homework and try to keep up with the speed of the class
  • Always do homework.
  • Always do your homework
  • Try hard and do your homework!
  • Do your homework
  • Do your homework
  • Do your homework
  • Do your homework
  • do your homework
  • Do your homework.
  • do your homework kiddos
  • Lots of practice problems

One Sheets

  • Seriously, do your one sheets well and in detail. I told myself I would remember everything and come exam time I forgot so much.
  • Do one sheets thoroughly!
  • Do one sheets!!
  • DO THE ONE SHEETS and do them well!!! They REALLY help with reviewing for the midterm/final exam.
  • Do your one sheets!!
  • Do your one-sheet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Don’t forget one sheets! Even if it isn’t assigned as homework, it will help you for the final exam!
  • Make good one sheets because you want to be able to look back when you don’t remember anything related to the topic and learn how to do it.
  • Use review guides

Keep Up!

  • Don’t get behind
  • Don’t get behind. Ask for help. Actually do the homework.
  • Stay on top of your work
  • Don’t bomb the mini quizzes bc they add up quickly

Math Help

  • Make sure you attend Mrs. Reulbach’s help sessions! They are super helpful!
  • Go to math help and always ask questions if you are confused.
  • go to the teacher when you need help. if you do your homework then that will help you a lot in the class. Never be scared to ask something even if you think it is stupid
  • I guess go to absolutely all the help sessions if you even think for a second that you are struggling and always ask people who understand the material what is going on.
  • If you don’t understand something, ask!
  • Always review and do your work, study and you will be successful.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Come in with a positive attitude, listen, and have fun. GO TO MRS. REULBACH FOR HELP!!!!!
  • Come to all of the extra help sessions, even if you’re a little late they go a long way.

Pay Attention / Participate in class

  • Make sure you pay attention in class
  • Participate
  • pay attention
  • Pay attention
  • Speak up if you don’t understand something. Ms. Reulbach won’t know if you don’t say you’re struggling
  • Take good notes

 Last Thoughts…

  • Keep everything organized
  • To trust Mrs. Reulbach and trust that you will understand the material she is teaching you.
  • Try to understand not only what, but why this math exists.
  • Do not stress. This class can be challenging sometimes but you just have to give it your best effort. Go see Mrs. Reulbach, do your delta math and don’t overthink anything – think smarter not harder.
  • Its fun, good luck.

Cannon School Math Department is Hiring!

Come work with me (and Julia Finneyfrock, Chris Taylor, and Danny Scurlock ) at Cannon School in Concord, NC.  It is about 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte.  Many of our teachers live in the amazing city of Charlotte!  It is an awesome place to work!

Upper School – Math Teacher
Cannon School is currently seeking candidates for the 2017-2018 school year in the Upper School Math Department. The Math teacher will be responsible for providing a safe, nurturing environment for students utilizing the schools instructional program. The ideal candidate will have experience teaching Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II with Trigonometry in addition to a willingness to teach a range of other High School Math courses.

Education/Experience Requirements: A Bachelor’s degree is required, Masters preferred. At least 2 years of teaching experience is preferred.

You can apply online.  The deadline is February 17th.



Quadratic Fireworks! (Projectile Motion)

Today I taught my students about projectile motion.  Well, I say that, but I hate to actually TELL them anything.  I like for them to discover things!  They often make “much ado about nothing” when it comes to the projectile motion equation in Algebra 2, even though it should make sense to them.  They get all caught up in the particulars of the formula and stop thinking about what is actually happening.  So today, before I taught them about the equation, I gave them a picture of a quadratic graph.  screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-6-46-33-pmI had planned on making up my own scenario, until I saw this terrific post by Sara Vanderwerf that involved a creative fireworks graph.  I loved how Sara described clicking on one aspect at a time.  As soon as I saw this graph, I knew I had to use it!

I did not follow her fireworks task exactly.  Instead,  I just gave them this.  I told my students to create a story with their team from this graph, using as much information as they could from the picture (below). I told them they could write it, or draw a picture, or both.


After they created their stories I had them share with the rest of the class.  As I walked around I heard one students say things like, “No, the rocket doesn’t start at the ground because you can’t start at negative time.”  I loved this part because of the conversations but especially because of the laughter.  Kids were coming up with some hilarious scenarios, and enjoying a math problem.  Here is what they came up with.


Hidden Figures!

After they shared their stories, I clicked on each piece of the graph as Sara had.  And then I told them to write the equation that modeled the rockets path from the information I gave them.  This is what I left displayed on the board.  screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-6-54-12-pm

I also wrote two different forms of the quadratic equations on the board and told them they could use either form.   Some groups still forgot to include the a, so I had to walk around and remind them.  I loved seeing students pick different coordinates to plug in for x and y.


After everyone came up with a = -16, I gave them another problem.  This time I only gave them the roots and the the y-intercept, so they HAD to use factored form.  I am doing the Candy Catapult tomorrow, so they needed practice with this.


After writing the equation, they solved for a and came up with a = -16 again.  As the groups came up with this, I asked each of them to think about what was going on.  Was this a coincidence?  What could be happening?  I had someone in every class realize it was gravity!  In Physics last year (our students take physics at 9th graders), they all used -9.8 m/sec².  I put that into a meter to feet converter so they would realize it was the same thing.

I also had the students convert the equations to standard form so they could see the y-intercept appear in the equation.


Student Blogging Class, 2017

Each year my school has a week of Winterm, where students can explore interesting classes offered by faculty.  Each year I teach a Blogging 101 class.  As always, my bloggers were amazing!  I almost always read math teacher blogs, so the student blogs are always so fun and interesting to me!


  • Allison – Fandom Fanatic, Blog about Discussing the various fandoms I’m in.
  • Annie Annie Likes Words, My blog is generally about reading and writing: books I like, a few short stories I’ve written, etc.
  • Audreyaudreyrdlife, Blog featuring my photography
  • Bailey Beauty Products, Posts about makeup and what the product does
  • Kayla – Kayla Goldsberry, Blog about my experiences as a dancer
  • LeahThe Stories We Tell, Blog about Books, book reviews, short stories
  • Morgan – Get Your Shine On, A lifestyle blog. Food and Beauty.
  • Vibhaonline shine, Blog about motivation and/or life style

You MUST Try Desmos Activity Builder

Desmos Activity Builder is the favorite thing that I use in my classroom.  I use it almost everyday.  I use it for in class lessons, differentiation during class, independent work, homework, and even for assessment.  You need to at LEAST check it out.  Right now.  TODAY!

Desmos Activity Builder will change your teaching life.  It takes your regular lesson and makes it interactive.  It enables the students to actively learn while allowing you to closely monitor that learning in real time.

Imagine one of your Powerpoint or Smartboard lessons.  But now imagine that instead of you going through the slides at the front of the class, the students are going through each slide at their desks, each on their own device.  And, when you ask them to graph something, you can see them all graphing at the same time.  Instead of asking a question to the class, you ask them the question on the same slide as the notes.  They can put in a free-response answer, or a multiple choice answer with explanations.  You can see every students answer in real time.  You can also chose to have all of the students see each others answers.

screen-shot-2017-01-08-at-10-27-22-amIn Activity Builder, I can have the students work at their own pace, or I can chose teacher paced so I control how they move through the slides.  The thing I love most about Desmos is that I can see the students working in real time.  They have multiple choice slides so I could even give a Desmos Activity Builder quiz if I wanted to!  There are already many pre-made lessons in Desmos Activity Builder, so you don’t even have to make your own!  They even have bundles of lessons for each topic!  Below is an preview of the Desmos Bundle for Linears.


I did a very brief “Learn Desmos” for my fellow faculty at the beginning of the year.  I modified it so that you could go through it independently and learn all about Activity Builder!  Click here to experience the things you can do with Desmos Activity Builder!



If you have never used Desmos I highly recommend the great tutorials on the Learn Desmos site.  These will walk you through the calculator (great for students) as well as the Activity Builder.



Desmos Tutorials


Where to find additional amazing Desmos Activities:

Desmos Teacher Lesson Directory

Desmos Bank



Also!  If you are new to the Desmos Activity Builder, you should attend the Global Math Webinar this Tuesday at 9pm EST, Diving Into the Desmos Dashboard!




New Year, New Blog!

Yes! It is that time of year again! It is time to dust off the old blog, or even be brave and make the jump to start your very own blog!

Please join us during the Explore the MTBoS for the 2017 Blogging Initiative! It is for old and new bloggers alike! Don’t be afraid – it’s just FOUR posts, one a week, to get you started (or jump-started).

Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere

Welcome to the Explore the MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative!

With the start of a new year, there is no better time to start a new blog!  For those of you who have blogs, it is also the perfect time to get inspired to write again!

Please join us to participate in this years blogging initiative!  To join, all you need to do is write just one post a week for the next four weeks.  To make it easier for you, we will post a new prompt every Sunday!  Once you have blogged, please fill out the form below.  Each week, your blogs will be posted on this site for all to enjoy!

This Week’s Theme:  My Favorites

This week, the blogging theme will be “My Favorites”, where you can post about one (or many) of your favorite things!  Called a “My Favorite,” it can be something that makes teaching a specific math…

View original post 430 more words

Explore the MTBoS Blogging Initiative for 2017!

Yes!  It is that time of year again!  It is time to dust off the old blog, or even be brave and make the jump to start your very own blog!

Please join us during the Explore the MTBoS for the 2017 Blogging Initiative!  It is for old and new bloggers alike!  Don’t be afraid – it’s just FOUR posts, one a week, to get you started (or jump-started).

Learn more about it on the Explore the MTBoS page.  And, don’t feel like you “missed” it if you start late.  Because it’s never too late to join!  Jump in during any week.  We would love to have you, and I can’t wait to read all of the amazing posts!



Exams / Testing Using Desmos

I use Desmos in class on a daily basis.  For our midterm, I decided to let my students use Desmos.  As new Algebra learners, many of my students often make small mathematical errors, especially on exams.  My hope was that using Desmos to verify their answers would help them see graphically when they had made an error, and be able to correct it.

How I created it:

I made a traditional exam on paper and then a Desmos Activity builder to go along with it.  I created a “Welcome to the exam” slide with instructions.  I created two slides for each question, one introduction slide and one working slide (usually a graph slide).  I also added “STOP” slides in-between each question to help the students.  Most of the questions were on paper,  then students verified their answers with Desmos.  However, I did have two slides where the graphs were on Desmos, and they had to write the equations of the graphs.  Here is a sample of the slides.


How I implemented it:

If you have iPads, Desmos has a test mode app you can use.  We are 1-1 so my students did the Desmos part on their computers.  I did not want students having the exam on their computers, or accidentally sharing the exam, so I made sure that they were not signed in to Desmos.  Since we use Desmos frequently, I had to instruct my students to sign out of Desmos after they went  I sat behind the students, so I could see all of their screens at the same time to ensure they only were on this screen.  I had them close the window when they were finished.  When they put in the code without signing in, they have to hit, “Join without signing in.”

  1.  Go to
  2. Sign out of Desmos  screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-7-33-59-pm
  3. Instruct your students to enter the code, and to click on “Continue without signing in.” I had them enter their first and last names. screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-7-38-32-pm
  4. I went around to each computer once they started to verify they were not signed in.  **To do this, at the top right hand side of the page, you should see their name, and then an option to sign in or create an account.  Then you know they aren’t signed in.screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-7-34-59-pm
  5. You can “pause” the activity at the end of the exam so students could not go back to individual screens after the exam. I did not do this, but will in the future. (Thanks John Rowe!)

How I graded it:

I had them put all of their final answers on the test paper.  This way I could grade it like a traditional exam.  I went to Desmos if I had a question about their answers.  For a few students, I was able to give some points back if their Desmos was correct, but they messed up on their test paper. I loved being able to verify their test paper answers on Desmos.  It helped me see what they were thinking and award partial credit where appropriate.

I loved it!

During the exam I kept an eye on the teacher dashboard to see how kids were doing.  I loved seeing kids quietly go, “YES!” and celebrate at their desks when entered their answers in Desmos and it worked.  I also liked using the teacher dashboard to watch the kids work during the exam.  I saw one student enter the incorrect graph, and then see that it was wrong.  They went back to their paper to think and work more, and was able to enter the correct graph the second time.  It was amazing.  The tough part was when students didn’t know how to do the problem, and then their wrong answer was verified on Desmos.  For the future, I really want to try to incorporate Desmos into more assessments, not just midterm exams.


What they said:

Most of my students really loved being able to use Desmos.  It was a great reassurance for the majority of the kids.  The last question (if they had time) asked students how they felt about the exam and if they felt Desmos helped.  I loved reading their replies!  My favorite was, “DESMOS WAS A LIFE SAVER”


Here is the Desmos code if you want to check out the sample Desmos midterm in more detail.

Updated – Great tips from commenters!

For future, just “pause” from the teacher dashboard and that prevents them from accessing it outside of class time. – John Rowe

John Rowe had an excellent suggestion that I had not thought of before!  At the end of the exam, you can hit the PAUSE button so kids will not be able to access the exam later.  Brilliant idea and I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me!

I made shortlinks and printed them on the assessment paper which had the actual questions so being logged in wasn’t as much of an issue.  – John Golden

John Golden had a great idea about using just a Desmos calculator link instead of an activity builder and then giving the students short links on their tests.  I love this idea, especially for shorter assessments.  It is what I was looking for to be able to incorporate Desmos into smaller assessments.

SeeSaw – Student Generated Help Videos

As an educator, there is nothing I love more than awesome professional development.  My school recently held “Mini-Conferences”, given by our teachers, for our teachers.  We were able to go to two mini-conferences.  I attended Standards Based Grading and SeeSaw.  Both conferences were great, and actually reminded me of Twitter Math Camp, professional development by teachers, for teachers.

img_9365I had not heard of SeeSaw before, but it sounded amazing.  SeeSaw is a digital portfolio that students can access from their phones, iPads, or a computer.  Students can take pictures or videos on their phone (iPad or computer) and then instantly upload it to the app.  They can also add links, files, notes, or annotate anything on the app.  Once something is uploaded, the whole class can see it in a “Facebook” like live feed.  Students can like and comment on uploads.  Students don’t even need to sign in, which is great for younger students.  Once they download the app, they can just scan the provided QR code and they are instantly in.

img_9364I was doing a Station review of Functions the day after the professional development and decided that I had t incorporate SeeSaw.  After a great suggestion by Julia Finnyfrock, I decided to have each student video themselves explaining just one problem on the review we were working on.  I told students that I wanted them to look over all of the problems in the review (or the previous review homework) and pick one they wanted to work on.  While working, they could ask me for help.
After completing their problem, they checked their answer with me.  Then, they created and uploaded video explaining how to do their problem.  I created a folder for each station, so that it would be easier for students to find problem they needed to see.

I loved using SeeSaw because if a student needs help during station work, they can watch a video until I have time to come over and help them.  Also, they can watch the videos when they are working or reviewing at home.  A great benefit is also for absent students.  I uploaded the worksheet with solutions from the review and even a one-sheet that we created in class.  All of the work for the review, including work we did in class, was all in one place.  They can watch their peers explaining problems they missed in class.

I encouraged, but did not require all students to make a video.  I wanted my students to do what they needed to do for their review.  Some students did not want to create a video, and some students created more than one!

Here is a glimpse of what students see in the SeeSaw feed.  When they click on the folder, they can see all of the videos that relate to that folder.

Math Survivor Game!

Math Survivor!  Which team will be eliminated first?  Which team can survive?

img_9343After reading about Grudgeball on Elissa’s site and then here, I couldn’t wait to try it.  I decided to call it Math Survivor since we were “voting teams out of the competition”, and I didn’t have them shoot a nerf ball.  I’m glad I eliminated the nerf ball, because the voting people off took forever by itself!

I love jumping right in and trying new things.  However, sometimes this means I fail.  And fail I did at first!  I must have misread the instructions.  I thought that ALL teams got to erase x’s each time.  That made sense to me, as why else would they work hard to get the question correct?  However, it became obvious during my first class, when ALL teams were quickly eliminated, that my game had a flaw.  I adjusted it for the next class, letting them add points back more easily, but then everyone was just tied.  Finally, for my third class, I decided to let only one team at a time take off x’s.  DUH.  To keep kids active, I told them that if the team voting x’s off missed the question, I would roll dice to see which team got to take their turn.  This keep everyone motivated for every question.

The game I made is for Piecewise Functions and Transformations, but I also made a blank template.  Here are my rules, templates are below.

Goal:  To be the last team standing (still have x’s)


  1. Every team starts with 10 x’s.
  2. Every team works on every question.  Only one team at a time gets to eliminate x’s for each question.  I just rotated around the room.
  3. One team at a time gets to erase 2 x’s, if they get the question correct.  They can erase 2 x’s from one team, or erase one x from two teams.  They cannot commit suicide  (erase their own x’s).
  4.  If the designated team misses the question, then another team gets to erase the two x’s.  I rolled dice to decide which team.  You could also pick popsicle sticks.
  5. Once a team is eliminated, they cannot add x’s back, but they can still vote other teams out!  (Some teachers let teams add points back or eliminate x’s).
  6. I let kids make alliances.  It almost never works out!  Just like in the real Survivor, alliances quickly crumble.  lol!
  7. TIP:  Only let one person per group erase and make them decide BEFORE coming up to the board who they are going to eliminate.  Otherwise, peers from the other teams can influence them once they are at the board.  I even do a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… count down.  You can also ask them (have them write it on a white board, and erase the x’s yourself if you have a very enthusiastic or overly competitive class).

Blank Template and Piecewise Functions and Transformations Template.

Update: Thanks to the Twittersphere, I had some great feedback from Bowen Kerins!