Monthly Archives: August 2015

Changing Schools, Part 1: #TMCHANGE

This summer, I moved from my New York City public high school to an independent, all-girls school (teaching middle and high school) in Los Angeles, CA. My new school is dramatically different, but amazing! I’m so excited. The Head of School at my new school is framing this year using Gratitude. So, in the spirit of gratitude, I want to shout out some of the amazing MTBoS people and ideas that have helped make this transition as smooth as it could have been:

  • Julie for sharing all of her amazing middle school activities. Thanks to her, I’m blowing away my co-planners! Army men, stickers, etc, etc, etc = AMAZING LESSONS!
  • Julie for sending me amazing colored pens that I used to write colorful notes to all my advisees!
  • Elizabeth, forever my teaching soul-mate, for inspiring me with Talking Points this summer and sharing all those wonderful resources.
  • Sam Shah, my DH! His amazing virtual filing cabinet and other ideas just blow me away.
  • Thank you cards (that Sam pushed me to buy!) that allowed me to express my gratitude to those co-workers who helped me in these first few days and build lasting relationships with them.
  • Mattie for sending a hilarious dubsmash video that made me giggle after an exhausting, emotional day.
  • Alex Overwijk for inspiring me to cover all my walls with dry-erase boards. It’s SO GREAT!
  • Mary Bourassa for sharing with everyone here amazing Which One Doesn’t Belong site. I think my new math dept colleagues are impressed by this resource!
  • The outstanding MTBoS friends I have made who checked in on me, made me laugh, sent good vibes, or helped me choose a spirit animal. As warm and supportive as my new school is, I needed all of you to get through the past week and a half. Without you all, I would have been crying at my desk at least five times this week.

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Ms. Barile was a Genius!

One of the last sessions I attended at TMC15 was on Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces. The amazing Alex Overwijk talked about how he covered all his walls with dry erase boards (non-permanent surfaces) and made students stand (vertical) and write their work/solutions/ideas daily in class. Basically he would randomly pair or group students and send them to the board to work on a problem. Not only was this amazingly engaging for students, but the research behind it blew me away:

Vertical Surfaces (2)

Let me first explain a few things:

Vertical vs. Horizontal – basically means standing versus sitting in groups and writing on desks.

Permanent vs. Non-Permanent – permanent surfaces would include poster paper and worksheets, where marks are more permanent, whereas non-permanent surfaces would include chalk or dry erase boards.

The first three rows (not including the number N of groups) – show (1) how long it took students to get started on a task, (2) how much total time the students spent working on the problem or task and (3) how much time it took until students started writing some math notation.

The last six rows – students were scored on a scale from 0 (bad) to 3 (amazing!) for various qualities/actions seen during their work time.

Notice how non-permanent surfaces seem to make a HUGE difference in how fast students get started and how well they participate. The vertical version on non-permanent surfaces is slightly more effective in the different attributes and students tend to work longer on average.

As I sat sitting in this session (which was amazing!) I had flashbacks to my student experiences in 11th and 12th grade. I had the same teacher for PreCalc and Calc. Her name was Ms. Barile, and she made us all stand up and solve problems in pairs or groups on a very regular basis…and I loved it! Somehow in the years the have passed and the mounds of research and observations I’ve experienced, I completely forgot about how important this was to me as a student. Ms. Barile knew it all along. Now I want to do this with my students!

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