November 30, 2013


I really want to fully implement standards-based grading. Here is my current level of retesting and mastery.

My current hangups that I'd love help/feedback with:

  1. What does the classroom flow like? feel like? Are there many students working on many different things? How is this managed? Planned for?
  2. How do I meld SBG with common core investigations? I love using Mathalicious, Yummy Math, and similar uses of relevant mathematics, but how do these combine with very static assessment. At least SBG currently seems static/procedural to me...
A few current thoughts on #2: Just thinking out loud here as I type... Could I give students a large list of all standards to be accomplished throughout the year at the very beginning (overwhelming?) and then hit multiple topics as I worked through relevant investigations. 
For example, we do a Mathalicious lesson and discuss the individual components. Students then take a short quiz over procedural knowledge and this relates to their SBG progress. All students would continue with all investigations/discoveries/activities throughout the year but only complete quiz questions for the sections they have not mastered yet? 

Like I said, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE your feedback about this. What has worked for you? Flopped? Thanks in advance...

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November 19, 2013

Desmos Investigation

Remember this tweet? From November 6th? Gulp...two sorry!

Better late than never?? :) Right??

Background: We have been doing a lot tasks and investigations that form linear functions, the kiddos just don't know that's what they're called yet. They think we're just saving money, changing temperature, renting ATV's etc. They were catching on about constant rate of change and initial values, though, and we started writing equations and drawing graphs that represented our scenarios...

Then, I did this one day.

Students set up their interactive notes pages like this...

Then they paired up with a partner and got a laptop.
I gave each group the following directions:

Glorious and wonderful mathematical investigation followed...

We then debriefed as a class. 
The ideas of slope, y-intercept, slope-intercept form, horizontal lines, and vertical lines all came together wonderfully!! I even had at least one student in each class that remarked something similar to "I can't make a vertical line because it isn't a function, right?" Oh yes, dear child, you are right. 
Thank you for making this math teachers day!!!! :) 

What is your favorite use of Desmos so far???? Please share!

Desmos Piecewise Project

This has been my favorite project for two years now! I have reserved the computer lab for an entire week each time and let the students show their skills!

is the project overview I give students about a month before we go to the lab. They complete their sketch on graph paper and record their functions with domain constraints. I tell them that once we get to the lab they need all the time they can get to input functions into Desmos and mess with colors. Inevitably they also have to tweak some functions to make it work. If most of their ideas are already on paper it makes the week go much more smoothly.

They work so hard writing functions of all kinds, not just limited to our Algebra 1 skill base. I have students independently researching conics, logarithmic functions, and working so hard to make their details perfect. I have printed these in color both years and put them down the hallway.
Best comment of last spring: "I didn't know algebra could be that cool!!!"

Here are some awesome student works:

Gah...8th graders!!! Love them!!!!

November 12, 2013

One to Many

Sure, 1:1 technology is the dream!! But what about when it just doesn't happen? You didn't quite get that grant? Your district just can't afford that many devices? What then? Can you get 4 laptops? 6? 15? 

I want to start the discussion here. Please be apart of it! 
How do we implement a 1:Many plan?

If you have devices permanently in your classroom that you don't have to check out I'd LOVE to hear from you! How many do you have? What are you favorite activities? Just a quick comment would be great! Or send me a longer email ( 

Are you trying to implement 1:1? 1:Many? What's your technology situation?

Please, please, please-- let's talk about this!!! :) 

It's only been a day and I have some awesome feedback! I love my online PLN - you guys rock!
Let's keep this conversation going!
Please comment below, email me ( or tweet me (@MrsHestersMath)!

Some ideas so far...
  1. Formative Assessments: get a pulse of the classroom in real time using poll everywhere, socrative, a google form, etc.
  2. Do units as projects. Divide students into groups and assign them something to investigate and present. Give a day or two (block schedule) of work time and then allow groups to present. Students take notes on other group's projects.
  3. Real-life investigations. Use sites like Desmos to investigate graphs, Mathalicious content for other ideas, Fawn Nguyen, lots of functions/sequences/etc. using visual patters, Dan Meyer 3-act, Emergent Math's PBL curriculums, etc.
  4. Student Check-ins. This was a fun emailed-to-me idea where students enter the classroom, sit in groups, and immediately log on to a machine. They pull up a google form (probably through a bitly url) and record who in their group did their homework, what were the most challenging problems, who didn't do their homework, why not, etc. I can see the answers on my machine in real time and discuss the challenging problems. This gives students time to discuss with each other and I can read all responses as they arrive, instead of circulating around the room and possibly missing some responses.
Yes, #3 above is a HUGE topic. I realize that. #3 is the ultimate goal of edtech. But realistically I will probably integrate #3 slowly as I do #1, 2, and 4. To do it well, #3 entails an entire re-vamp of instruction and assessment. Something some districts are still working to make progress towards and individual teachers don't have autonomy to make those decisions. 


    Idea #5. Stations. I am so glad Shelley sent me a wonderful email because this idea has been turning around in my head as well. It's so grateful to get to bounce math ideas around with others!! Here's basically what we talked about. Could we pull off running our entire classroom as stations? We both teach in a block setting (~80 minute classes) which is a long time for junior high kiddos to stay still. They need to get up. They need to move around. We've both utilized stations around the room as activities. 

...But could we structure our entire classroom as stations???? Kiddos are assigned to a group based on who they work with well. We have four groups of about 6 - 24 kiddos per class on average. Through our email chat we came up with these groups: (1) teacher time: mini lesson, interactive notebook time, etc. (2) work time: basically doing homework (3) remediation and extension: this is where the laptops come in doing remediation through MangaHigh or extension through Daily Desmos or Visual Patterns. (4) still tbd. 

So what do you think? Could it work?? A couple of our hangups that I'd love to get your thoughts about...
--1-- What do the kiddos do in "work time" that haven't seen the teacher yet for new material?
--2-- What should station 4 be? We tossed around a few ideas but nothing stuck. Are we forgetting some integral portion of a mathematics classroom?