First Day Blogs, 2017-18 #MTBoS

Blog posts appear in the order they were submitted. 

From the archives! Collections of blog posts about first days from past years.


MTBoS SunFun Logo

Our topic for next week is, “Classroom Management”

Due: Sunday, August 20th, 6AM

Recently, Fawn wrote a post on Classroom Management that I really enjoyed.  As Fawn pointed out, Michael is right, we don’t talk enough about this!  Because sometimes, we do pick the right task, and are doing the right things, when something goes wrong.  How do you handle that?  What are your policies that help your class run smoothly?  What are your go-tos?  How do we engage the student that doesn’t like our class, or is disrespectful?  When do we contact parents and what do we say to them?  What resources have helped you that others could turn to?  I’ve been teaching for many years and this is still hard for me.  So, let’s write this week for each other, and especially for the new teachers out there.  Because this is a topic that is not often covered enough, especially in a positive way!

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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First Day 2017-18

The FIRST DAY is SO EXCITING!  Even though I am not ready to go back to school yet (I still have so much I wanted to get done and …. SUMMER), I love thinking about the first day back.  I can’t wait to actually meet and interact with the amazing young learners that I will get to work with this year.  Their enthusiasm for learning is at a high the first days of school and I am excited to harness that and turn it into amazing math!

I do not go over my course guidelines the first day.  I would rather spend that day getting to know my kids, having them get to know each other, and playing with math!  I have found that it is better to go over one guideline every day or so in the first few weeks, as they naturally come up.  I usually say, “Refer to this place in your syllabus.” in response to a student question.  This reminds students that the syllabus taped in their notebooks is a great place to look for important information that they may need.

Sarah Vanderwerf is a thoughtful educator and you should definitely follow her blog if you don’t already.  Basically my entire first day is coming from her!  Last year I did Sarah’s name tents and I loved them!  I think my students liked them as well because later in the year I learned that some students had shared part of their name tent on Snapchat.  I also noticed some of them kept their name tents in their notebooks.  Even though replying to name tents took a lot of work the first week, getting to know each of my students better was worth it, especially if they appreciated it as well.  I also did Sarah’s 100’s Task later in the week last year.  But I loved it so much I am doing it on the first day this year!

Our first day has very short class periods, only 25 minutes long, so I don’t have time for much. We still have almost two weeks until school starts so my first day plans aren’t firmed up completely yet, but this is what I am thinking.

  • Greet students at the door with a Hi-Five and instruct them to look for their seat.
  • I always have a seating chart the first day to help ease student anxiety.  I will have their names on their tables and may even project it.
  • Name tents will be waiting at their tables to give them something to start on before class starts.  I am a die hard “bell to bell” teacher and there is no better time to start this than the first day! I will have an example name tent for them on each table.
  • Display what they need for my class this year and briefly talk about it while they finish their name tents.
  • Have student introduce themselves to the other students at their table.
  • Have each student write down their favorite movie, ice cream, and vacation spot.  Then each table group compares answers to determine the favorite move, ice cream and vacation spot of the group.  After they finish, they will share their group answers with the class.  We did this in our CPM training and it was a fun and low stress ice breaker activity.  (I may not have time for this, and may have to push it to day 2).  I will pass out textbooks during this time.
  • 100’s Task!  I will take pics of the action!
  • Discuss 100’s Task and share the pics I took to show them what great group work looks like! I’m not sure how I will record this yet.  I will either write it on the white board or type their responses into a google doc so I can print it out and share it with them.  (I may do this on day 2 so I have time for the ice breaker above).
  • Closing. I’m terrible at class closure.  I’m going to set a 5 minute timer on my watch so I can remind myself daily to close the lesson.  Not sure what this looks like yet. They will need to clean up their tables and turn in their name tents.  I don’t know if I will have time for an additional closing activity!  This may just be a time for me to say goodbye and have a great day!

Last Year Was ROUGH, But I’m Back #MTBoS

Over the summer, once school is out and my week of catching up on sleep is over, I get inspired.  Last summer I decided it was finally time to remodel my house.  The planning begin in August, we moved out in November (right before Thanksgiving), orchestrated a whole house remodel throughout the spring, and moved back in June, just one weekend after school ended.  It was insane.  I was also granted the Desmos Fellowship last year and flew to San Fransisco for an amazing long weekend in November.  During my Desmos weekend, one week before we were set to move, the house we were going to rent fell through.  So I spent part of my Desmos weekend in panic mode trying to help my husband pick out a new rental home.

Last year I didn’t tweet much, I blogged even less.  I tried to start up #Alg2Chat in the fall, but could not maintain it.  I merely survived, and barely at that.  I love blogging, and I missed it dearly last year.  But, I simply didn’t have the extra time to give, I didn’t have time for me.

I gave everything I had to my family and supporting my students, but I did not have much left.  I felt terrible about losing so many of my connections last year, about failing.  Thankfully, I was able to attend #TMC17 and reconnect with many of my close, albeit long lost, friends.  I apologized to many of them for my lack of connection this year.  “I’m sorry.” I said to all, “This has been a rough year for me.  I don’t know why, but it just has.”  It was when I said this to Tina Cardone that everything changed.  She reminded me that the election happened this year, and that many of us have had a devastating year, and were having a tough time recovering.  What Tina said rang true for me.  Yes, I had been extra busy this year, but above that, this year was very rough for a singular reason.  The election profoundly affected many of my close friends and students.  I was busy being there for my upset friends and terrified students.  I had a Muslim student who returned to Kuwait in December.  I was obsessed with news stories and got into battles with family and “friends” on social media.  I felt lost, I was confused.  My heart was broken.  I needed time to be there for my students and friends more than ever before.  I needed time to recover.

So if YOU had a really rough time this year, consider all of the extenuating circumstances that we were barraged with this year that we have not ever had to deal with.  Do not let anyone tell you are not good enough, or need to do better because you were too overwhelmed to keep up with some of the things you used to do and still love.  Surround yourself with people who understand this.  People who will TELL you this when you didn’t even realize it.  This year many of us were in survival mode.  Time has given much of my heart back, and I am more determined than ever to help people, and make a difference.  But I needed that time to heal.  And I am glad that I took it.  And I’m glad you did too.  Welcome back.

A Collection of Goals from Across the #MTBoS, 2017-18

Wow! I am blown away by all of the blog posts this week!  We had almost 50 posts!
Blog posts appear in the order they were submitted. 


MTBoS SunFun Logo

Our topic for next week is, “First Day Plans”

Due: Sunday, August 13th, 6AM

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)*, #PushSend 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
    • #Alg2Chat (Alg2 Teachers)
    • #PreCalcChat
    • #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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I Use Worksheets & WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH!

I was going to title this “We ALL Use Worksheets!” because I think that we all probably do.  But then I didn’t want to speak for ALL of the math teachers everywhere.  But really, do we?

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this amazing online community of math teachers that I follow.  #MTBoS!!  I read their material and am often just blown away.  I read about problem based learning and project based learning and standards based grading and rich tasks and problem solving and debate and ALL OF THE THINGS.  I even read about teachers creating an entire Calculus curriculum, from scratch.  And I’m like, “Wow, I suck.”  So I steal and steal and steal.  And through all of this reading and stealing, I am inspired to work hard to create a lesson that is not only fun, but possibly educational.  And then I blog it, so I can give back.

And that is it.  I don’t blog my sucky days, obviously!  Just like I post on the rest of social media, I blog my highlights.  And even though I try really hard to make each day an amazing and engaging experience for my students, I do not do SEXY activities like Barbie Bungee or Catapult Quadratics every day.  So thank you Kate for posting  “In Defense of Unsexy”.  Because so many of my days are unsexy.

Next year we are adopting CPM.  It is a curriculum.  I have never used a math “textbook” I loved or wanted to follow each day, and I have never had an actual “curriculum”.  But when I saw that many of the CPM lessons were actually lessons I had used in the past (most often from bloggers), I was excited!  But at the same time, I felt guilty.  I felt that I was not enough if I was using a curriculum that I basically followed every day.  I felt that I was not an awesome math teacher if I was not creating (or stealing from the #MTBoS) crazy interesting lessons as much as possible.

Then a few awesome things happened to show me that I was wrong.  In my Rich Tasks morning session at TMC (Twitter Math Camp), we spent a morning analyzing how we could change a worksheet into a rich task.  Or how we could even change an existing worksheet into a rich task simply with implementation (I plan to blog about this later).  Then Peg Cagle spoke about how incredibly difficult writing curriculum was. And that there are many, many great series out there that are research based, teacher created, and teacher/student tested that teachers could use (and some were even free).  So if we are able to use one of those we should!  (And if not, we could use the lessons as a resource.)

Our TMC Keynote speaker Carl inspired us to all just #pushsend.  Many people started tweeting some variation of, “You are enough”.

Finally Sean talked about using worksheets in his Marbleslides talk.  Once home, I read Kate’s “Unsexy” post and then the expert below, from the blog of a true newbie.  Taylor will be a first year teacher this year.  Even though she has never taught (other than student teaching) she was brave enough to come to TMC.  And she was brave enough to write this.

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And, the magic lives on since.

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 6.18.32 PMSince incorporating as many math teachers the #MTBoS as possible is such a giant part of my life, I am having a tough time understanding the feelings of exclusion.  I am trying.  But maybe this is a big part of it.  WE ARE ALL GOOD ENOUGH.  We are teachers for goodness sake.  We are MATH teachers, who chose to be here because we want to teach math to kids.  We are all trying our hardest.  We are working hard to get better everyday.  It is ok most days are unsexy.  In fact, it is great.

WE ARE ALL GOOD ENOUGH.

Love,

Unsexy Julie

Let’s Blog Together! Sunday Funday is Back!

MTBoS SunFun Logo

Blogging is something wonderful that you can do for yourself.  I’m not a great writer and grammar mystifies me.  But that is OK, I write for myself.  I write to brainstorm, to reflect, to hold myself accountable, and especially to remember my past lessons for future years!  When I first started blogging, no one read it, few if any commented.  And that was ok, even better at first, because I didn’t have to worry about an audience.  It was almost like a diary, and it was freeing.  I was writing for me.  

This past year has been tough.  I tweeted much less, I rarely blogged.  And I missed it.  In fact, maybe NOT blogging contributed to this being a tough year?  Blogging takes time, and I didn’t TAKE time for me.  I didn’t MAKE time for me.  I need some ME time.

Carl Oliver gave a keynote, Hitting the Darn ‘Send’ Button at TMC (Twitter Math Camp) last week where he encouraged everyone who is a current tweeter/blogger or is interested in tweeting or blogging to “Just #PushSend“.  All of this talk about blogging inspired me.  And then everything changed with this one tweet from Shelli.

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MS/HS SunFun was a blogging initiative that existed a few years back.  It was fun, and inspiring, but especially helpful to have a weekly prompt!  So YES, it was an amazing idea, and once Shelli suggested it we jumped right on it!  Thankfully Jessica also got all excited and whipped up a logo (actually multiple logos like a logo savant).  We pulled Sam in for logo design suggestions and were soon on our way!

Have you never blogged before?  Are you afraid to blog? ME TOO! Blogging can be scary for everyone.  It can even be tough for long time bloggers to #PushSend.  But blogging has done so much for ME, and I want to help bring that to YOU.   Please know that you are good enough, and that you deserve it.  You should blog for YOU.  Just #PushSend“.

If you would like to blog, but have a hard time coming up with ideas, join us for Sunday Funday blogging!   “Sunday Funday Blogging” is for ALL math peeps out there, elementary, middle school, or high school teachers, math professors, math coaches, math ed students, and anyone that just wants to blog about math!  There will be a new prompt each week!  “Just #PushSend“.

Our topic for this week is, “First Day Plans”

Due: Sunday, August 13th, 6AM

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)*, #PushSend 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
    • #Alg2Chat (Alg2 Teachers)
    • #PreCalcChat
    • #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!

THANK YOU to Shelli, Jessica, Sam, and everyone else that jumped on that thread to help today!

Archive of MS Sunday Funday’s of the past

* 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 Jessica,  @Algebrainiac1, for creating our awesome logo!

Monthly Algebra 2 Blog Posts! #Alg2Chat

Thanks to all of the Algebra 2 Teachers who submitted a blog post this month!  Don’t forget about our Algebra 2 Twitter Chat, this Thursday at 9PM EST (#Alg2Chat).

We would love to have you blog with us!  Here are the topics that we will be discussing at the #Alg2Chat’s on Twitter this month.  It would be great for you to blog so you can share your blog link during the discussions.

9/8/16 – Student Engagement

9/15/16 – Rich Problems for Algebra 2

9/22/16 – Making Groups Work

9/29/16 – How You Use Technology

Fill out this form to submit your blog post.

Blogging Initiative, 2016

2015 was a tough year for me, as I was at a new school, teaching all new classes in a different division!  I did not have much time to blog.  But now it’s 2016, and the new blogging initiative is almost here!!  With the new year comes a new resolution for my blog…

I, Julie Reulbach at iSpeakMath, resolve to blog in 2016 in order to open my classroom up and share my thoughts with other teachers. I hope to accomplish this goal by participating in the January Blogging Initiation hosted by Explore MTBoS.

You, too, can still join in on this exciting adventure!  All you have to do is dust off your blog and get ready for the first prompt to arrive January 10th!

We matched new bloggers up with mentors during the month of December.  However if you would still like to mentor anyone (or get help) please check out the spreadsheet.  This is a self-directed spreadsheet, so be sure to pick a mentor or someone to help when you sign up!

Blogging Class for Middle and High School Students

At my school, the first week back is called “WinTerm”.  It is a week where all of the students get to take different classes.  We have all day and half day classes, and some students even go on trips for the week.

I decided to teach a half day class on blogging.  I created a blog for my students on how to blog with daily instructions.  It has been such a fun week!  My students have done an excellent job – and even ran through everything I wanted to teach them by Wednesday!  So Thursday I had them read and comment on each other’s blogs.  Today I am going to teach them how to REALLY use Twitter.  Teenagers seem to use hashtags pretty randomly or mainly for sarcasm.  I also introduced them to Code.org so they could understand the coding behind the blogs.

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About mid-week we decided to do a group blog called “Study Songs” where songs and mnemonics are posted to help them study for school topics.  We put a form on there so anyone reading the blog could submit their favorite mnemonic.  Share it with your students so they can contribute too!

You could do blogging with a middle school class as well, probably beginning in 7th grade.  I taught one of my 7th grade students how to blog last year because she had a great idea that needed to be shared!  I have included her blog as well.

I was pleasantly surprised at how fast they went through the material I wanted to teach them this week.  And I really love reading their blogs!  I am learning about fitness, fashion, books I need to read, movies I need to watch, and food!  I have included their blogs below so you can also see what students are capable of!

Check out our blogs!

7th Grade Blog (8th now)

  • Leila, Only at Woodlawn, This blog is written by the class of 2019 about all of the wonderful things that ONLY happen at Woodlawn!

Why I Love To Blog

Kate’s question, “Why do you blog?” could not have come at a better time.  This Tuesday, I will be talking about social media with the math teacher education students in the Master Teacher Fellow program at at Wake Forest University.  I can’t wait to share all of the responses to Kate’s question with them!  I hope that all of your responses will encourage them to blog as they enter the wonderful world of teaching next fall!

1. What hooked you on reading the blogs? Was it a particular post or person? Was it an initiative by the nice MTBoS folks? A colleague in your building got you into it? Desperation?

After being out of teaching for almost 10 years, I heard about Dan’s blog from a speaker at NCCTM.  Reading his inspirational blog made me want to be a better teacher. I was hooked.  Reading Dan’s blog also led me to many other math teacher blogs.  I was amazed at all of the free resources that I found on every blog I read.  This type of sharing simply did not exist when I first entered teaching.  I was amazed at the generosity of the teacher bloggers. 

2. What keeps you coming back? What’s the biggest thing you get out of reading and/or commenting?

The quality of the resources I find on blogs keep me coming back.  The thing I love the most about blogs is that it isn’t just a lesson like you would find in a book or on a website, but there is a dialog.  Teachers not only share their lesson, but they tell you how tell you how they taught it, how it went, post examples of student work and even pictures, and even tell you how to improve it when you teach it.  This type of dialog is invaluable when you are considering teaching a new lesson for the first time.

3. If you write, why do you write? What’s the biggest thing you get out of it?

I love to write because I want to give back to this community.  I am so appreciative of all of the support I have found and want to share this with as many teachers as possible.  I also write so that I can remember specifically what I did in a lesson and can refer back to it.  I like writing about lessons I need help with.  The teachers that comment on my blog and help me make lessons better are so helpful to my teaching.  I am not a great writer, but I am comforted that mostly math teachers read my blog.  

4. If you chose to enter a room where I was going to talk about blogging for an hour (or however long you could stand it), what would you hope to be hearing from me? MTBoS cheerleading and/or tourism? How-to’s? Stories?

I would love to hear your story Kate.  I think that it would inspire others, as you and so many other bloggers have inspired me.  I could never thank this community enough for all that they have given to me.  They have changed my teaching and thus made my everyday work like so much more enjoyable.  THANK YOU ALL MTBoS!!