Monday, July 9, 2018

My New Mathematical Mindset

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I'm really sad that I came across this book, Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler, after 8 years of teaching because I think of the past 8 years and how differently I could have been teaching math. However, the past is in the past and while I may not have been teaching math the best way, I did make sure my students enjoyed math even if they felt they "weren't good at math".

After reading this book I have come up with my list of things I will do moving forward in my math instruction:

  • I will tell my students on the very first day of school that they are all mathematicians and everyone of them will enjoy math at some point this school year. I will no longer allow them to say "I'm not good at math" or "I'm not a math person".
  • I will establish the seven math norms created by Jo Boaler in my classroom to help set my expectations of them as math students in my classroom. (see my posters here)
  • I will no longer use programs that encourage fast recall of math facts.
  • I will use low floor, high ceiling tasks that will push all students to work at the highest level.
  • I will no longer assign meaningless homework, but rather have students reflect on what they learned that day.
  • I will push my students to create a visual representation of problems.
  • I will allow my students to explore first rather than teach methods/procedures.
  • I will ask my students to reason and critique others by convincing themselves, convincing a friend, and convincing a skeptic.
  • I will teach students to work together by establishing group norms and roles.
  • I will make sure my students know I am not necessarily looking for an answer, but rather how they get there (and that there are often multiple ways to get there).
  • I will provide constructive feedback and take the focus off of the grade.
  • I will give assessments for learning that will allow my students to see where they are now, where they need to be, and provide feedback for ways to close the gap.
  • I will slow down and go deep into math topics rather than rush through them to keep on pace with the curriculum guide.
  • I will provide real-world context for math problems when appropriate.
While this list seems long, many of the things I am already doing some form of it in my classroom, this list is more to hold me accountable as I begin looking at my lessons in the beginning of the year.

Next up on my reading list is the Mindset Mathematics, Grade 5 by Jo Boaler, Jen Munson, and Cathy Williams!
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Friday, July 6, 2018

Book Review: Leadership and Self-Deception

I was given the book, Leadership and Self-Deception, by the Arbinger Institute last summer. However, having just come back from maternity leave, I set it on my shelf and left it. While cleaning up my room at the end of the school year I decided to bring it home and it happened to be the first book I picked up this summer.

It was a surprisingly easy book to get through (done in 2 days), but it definitely opened my eyes to the types of people that I will encounter as a teacher leader and hopefully as an assistant principal one day. I should hopefully be completing my administration internship this year and am beginning to open my eyes to look at things from not only a teacher perspective, but also an administration perspective.

This book was all about being "in the box" and being "out of the box". I created a sketchnote about my takeaways from the book:

My biggest ah-ha moment came at the end of the book, where there was a list of things that you should and should not do in order to stay out of the box. On my sketchnote are the two quotes that resonated with me the most as a leader.

  • "Don't focus on what others are doing wrong. Do focus on what you can do right to help."
As a leader, it is easy to want to focus on what teachers are doing wrong, however, in order to stay out of the box (and keep that teacher out of the box) we need to focus on what can I do as a leader in order to help that teacher.
  • "Don't worry whether others are helping you. Do worry whether you are helping others."
I often hear this type of situation at the teacher level. There are teachers who enjoy sharing their lessons, activities, ideas, etc. and there are teachers who don't. We have to stop worrying about whether everyone is sharing or helping us and instead focus on am I helping others.

I would like to say that I am "out of the box" most of the time in my life and career, but as I was reading it definitely made me think of times that I was "in the box" and made me think about why I may have felt that way.  This is a great book, not just for the education world, but for any business/company.

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Technology Spotlight: Flippity

While attending the EdTechTeam Maryland Summit I was able to attend a session by Abbey Futrell (, she's hilarious and if you ever get the chance to see her speak I would highly recommend it!).

In her session I was introduce to the tool called Flippity. You can access this tool two different ways. You can use it as an Add-on through Google Sheets, or you can go to and make a copy of the templates that can be used with Google Sheets. (I recommend just getting the add-on since you only have to do this once, then all of the templates are easy to access anytime you open Sheets) The website is awesome though because it gives you a demo of each template, instructions for how to use the template, and a link to make a copy of the template.

While I don't know that I would use all of these templates in my classroom, there are a few that I think would be beneficial for my students this upcoming year.  I really like that for many of the templates you can add images, which would greatly benefit ELL students who need help with content-specific vocabulary. I also think many of these templates would benefit the primary grades where you have students working on sight words (ie. matching, bingo, flashcards). Lastly, my focus for this upcoming year is to incorporate more creative writing with my students and I feel that the MadLibs and Mix & Match templates would lead to some fun creative writing.

Check out my presentation here for how to get Flippity as an add-on and a preview of the different template types that can be found on their website or under the add-ons menu for Google Sheets.

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