Saturday, November 8, 2014

Why you should advise a math club (Mu Alpha Theta) , Math Department Halloween Costumes, Monkey Bread Recipe


I cannot begin to describe the buzz of excitement that occurs in my classroom Thursday afternoons as students prepare for the Interstellar Competition. Every seat is taken in my room as well as in my colleague's across the way. The countdown begins, "3-2-1", and then the room silences. For 30 minutes, students take a 7 to 9 question competition against another school in a bracket known as "math madness." Afterward, kids discuss the problems, which they missed and how they solved them. It is not uncommon for me to find pictures such as these on my board at the end of the day.

One of our favorite competitions is the FAMAT Interschool Test. We have a week to compete on tough math problems, logic problems, codes, and random questions, such as anagramming the initials of famous artists to discover a famous painting, or figuring out which great works of literature allude to each was a work in progress to that one below:

The most fun, however, is when we actually go to regional competitions. Usually about 50 students in Mu Alpha Theta attend these competitions. There are individual rounds and team rounds, and of course, an Interschool test which we often place at because of the tenacity of the team (and their advisors!) One of our favorite questions? "What's the longest sentence with one word." Click here for the answer. 

While tests are being graded, we take students somewhere fun to burn off some steam. I think the most fun was when we went paddleboarding for an hour, but we also go bowling, ice skating, or just to the mall depending on the location of the competition. Then we head back for the awards ceremony, where electricity fills the room as we wait with bated breath to see if one of ours has one something. If one of us wins, the whole team wins is how we see it, and the cheering for our own is so exciting! 

The group has grown so much since our start 4 years ago. We started with about 20 kids, and we now have 80, and have grown to be the biggest club in the school! We now have a math teacher advisor for each course. They motivate me, these kids who enjoy doing math with each other and finding others "like them." Last year's president wrote her college letter about the club, and it brought tears to my eyes. At the end of the day, I feel so nourished and enriched--and cannot wait for the next day to watch them actively participating, laughing, and just having a good time with each other. 

Sometimes there are challenges for the advisors...two of my students sent me a picture of themselves with thumbs up and "you will kill it!" written across as I was heading into competition. How could I not love my job?

If you want to start your club, go to and then you will also need to join your local Mu Alpha Theta chapter. We require members to tutor 5 hours a semester, and will start making video tutorials next week. 


I couldn't ask for a better department. Here were our "pi" themed Halloween costumes! Can you guess them all?


Monkey Bread is always requested in my house. This pull-apart doughy cinnamon and sugar goodness is perfect for dessert, but it is also a big hit at brunch. Here is a recipe that I use, but I definitely double everything but the dough. I also use the honey butter store-bought dough, and I use one big bundt pan. I put it in the oven for about 28 minutes.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

How DESMOS changed the way I teach.

I am really excited about Desmos. We are a 1-1 laptop school, and students can whip out their laptops at any time and sketch beautiful graphs on Desmos. Forgot their graphing calculator somewhere? No worries...they can download the app and still do their homework if it requires graphs!

Here are four ways that I have used Desmos so far this year...and I've included a fifth I will use when I get to Trig. I am sure this list will grow and grow. I used it almost every day last week. The sliders are so easy...they just appear when you type in a letter other than x. So user friendly!

1. Facts about quadratics...even more than just what "a" does to a quadratic...what happens when the discriminant is greater than 0, equal to 0, or less than 0 can be reiterated using Desmos when other methods are not "clicking" for students. It's a great visual. I was tutoring a student yesterday, and he understood the relationship between x-intercepts and the discriminant when traditional methods were not working for him.  I will be teaching this next week in class and look forward to it.

2. Piecewise functions. My students struggle drawing piecewise functions. Many do not truly understand domain restrictions. They end up drawing the whole graph without domain restrictions and their graph fails the vertical line test. Enter Desmos. I used this during class, and particularly during extra help over and over again. I found this video when I was googling about piecewise functions. It's excellent and is from mathcoachblog by @bobloch. He also has a variety of Desmos videos that I strongly recommend: I also used this one in class on inequalities, and I used it over and over again in extra help: Investigating Polynomial Inequalities using Desmos. I will also use Desmos next week when talking about inverse functions and restricting domains of functions so that the inverse will be a function.
3. Transformation of parent functions. There is so much to show here. Students who struggle seeing why y = f(bx) has a horizontal shrink when b > 1 can see this in moments. The sliders appear automatically...SO EASY! This is an example from the Desmos catalog, which you get by clicking on the three bars at the top left.

4. Fun activities, such as Central Park. Students need to move dividers to fit a proper number of cars in the lot...but then this changes as they have to calculate the spaces and finally use variables to get the answer. I was really surprised that so many of my Pre-Calculus students struggled with the variables! This is a perfect thing to do on a half day or the day before a holiday.

5. Trig, Trig, Trig! Unwrapping of the unit circle. I found this here:

Honestly, I could go on and on. There is great stuff on Calculus, Conics...and really neat things on sequences...I saw this one on sequences again on mathcoachblog--it's awesummmm haha! 
Here is a similar picture of what you can do with sequence and series:

This is more info from Desmos:

And so is this:

And two more amazing links I will continue to explore: and Desmos youtube channel.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

The review game ZAP, Buddha fountain, Peanut butter chicken with panko recipe

Math ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I recently read a tweet where someone mentioned Algebrasfriend's blog. I looked it right up I discovered @algebrasfriend's post about the review game ZAP.  I got (stole?) a ton of her ideas and added some of my own. Feel free to do the same here! What I love about it is that it is not specific to any one topic, so any discipline and/or any math course can use it.

I made 28 cards. I wrote questions on the back of about 20 of them with points listed if they got them right, ranging from 50 points (easy) to 300 points (hard). This left 3 cards to "ZAP" another team's entire score (only if they got the next question correct--then they got those points, too), and 5 cards that had random things written on them: "find another student to bring into class within 30 seconds" was definitely the most fun. Others had to sing the school's Alma Mater, hold a handstand for 5 seconds, or make an ugly team face.

I broke teams up into groups of about four students and had the first group start by picking a card. If they got it right, they got their points and then the next team went to pick. If the team did not get the question right, the next team got the opportunity to win the points (this guaranteed that all teams were working, even when it was not their question.) Whichever team got the question right (in order, allowing each sequential team to try), the next team would be the team to pick a card. By the way, I'm not 100% sure of the rules...I made my own! So make yours :)

I created my ZAP board by first getting poster board and then using double sided tape to attach envelopes. I bought these envelopes at the dollar store a hundred years ago and was glad to finally find a use for them. I cut some left over stock card paper I had and wrote questions on the back of them that corresponded to a review sheet. I numbered the problems so that I could quickly pull the proper problems up on the Smart Board. I always find that when I play review games, students want the questions to practice at home. So I also put the handout on our school site. Here is a copy of the handout in case you want to use it for your Pre-Calculus (or even Algebra 2) class. It is a review of Algebra 2 and correlates to Larson Pre-Calc with limits 6th edition, sections 1.1 - 1.3 and A.3 - A.6.

Student's gave a great suggestion after they were ZAPPED. They suggested to ZAP only the number of points listed on the if students pick a 100 point card right after a ZAP card and they get it right, they get 100 points and can ZAP any team by only subtracting 100 from their score rather than ZAPPING their entire score.

Play ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I always look for things to make me feel "zen" and grounded. Last spring, I ordered this Buddha Garden Statue and my husband built a fountain around it. He placed flameless candles with timers around it that go on at dusk. It definitely relaxes me and makes me feel calm when I see it. The fountain does not seem to be on in this picture but it normally is!

Eat ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I think most recipes that I post will either have peanut butter (or some nut variation) or chocolate or both since that is mostly what we eat in my house. The other night I made peanut butter panko chicken  from The peanut butter sauce recipe is so good that I could have used it alone and dipped grilled chicken in it like Thai chicken satay. But for this recipe, I dipped chicken breasts in flour, then peanut sauce, and then browned panko crumbs. Then the chicken is then baked. I made the coconut noodles shown in the recipe, but my family preferred the first time I made it, when I only put peanut sauce on the noodles.

Have a great week!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Two of my favorite problems: Einstein's Puzzle and the Locker Problem

As school is now in full swing, I am finding that I don't have time to blog as much about the "play" and the "eat." But truthfully, the thing that brought me to blogging is the "math." I was going to skip blogging last week because I didn't have the "perfect" eat play math combination...but I have heard if you have a blog, you should blog at least once a if I have to skip a little eating and playing, so be it!!

This week, I want to blog about two of my favorite problems/investigations. I just wrapped up teaching the first unit in my Algebra 2 Honors class, and I decided to take two days on our special schedule days to allow students to "play." I think they were relieved that they could attempt some difficult "famous" problems and not be graded on them. Here was their homework the night after their test...with a 40 minute time limit:

Einstein's Puzzle.

Students came in very excited to present. One came to the board and got stuck, and then another came to help him finish. We crossed out everything we used until we realized we needed to write all remaining possibilities on the board. Once they realized through process of elimination that there was only one possibility for one of the houses, everything started to fall in place. One student said she solved hers by guessing at one point, going the wrong way, and then finishing by choosing the other method. Explaining to each other in class was hard for the kids to do, but it is early in the year, and they will soon come to realize that explaining to me is not what matters, it's explaining to those who do not yet understand, and getting them to see the light that matters! After all, that's the best part of teaching!!

Once the explanation was done, I handed out the next investigation. Students who did not get Einstein's riddle the night before were extra determined to solve this puzzle. Students went up to the board in pairs to try to solve this puzzle for about the last 15 minutes of class.

The Locker Problem:

On a recent problem from the first day of class (I will have to blog about that another time), the problem solving method was "the method of exhaustion"...writing down every possibility. Obviously that was not the best method here. So the only hint I gave them was to start with a smaller, simpler problem and generalize a pattern. Some asked how many should they start with, and I told them it was up to them.

I walked around, watching students and advising them if they made a mistake, but not telling them much. Finally, a group discovered the answer. I did not want them to give it away to the others, so we talked quietly...but the next, perhaps more important question was WHY  did these locker numbers that remained open. Another group got the pattern, and again, I asked why...then the bell rang. The assignment for the night was, for some, to find the pattern, and for all, to find why the pattern. Again the next day, the students who discovered the answer were excited to share.
SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM YOURSELF. It turns out that lockers are touched by the number of factors the locker number has...and the pattern that remain open are perfect squares...because perfect squares have an odd number of factors. We talked about why that is...for locker 6, for example, the factors are 1,2,3, and 6...and so they pair up...1x6 and 2x3 = 6. But for locker 4, the factors are 1,2,4. The factor of 2 repeats, which results in an odd number of factors, and this only happens with perfect squares. An extension could be which lockers are only touched twice? (the lockers that are prime.)

Finally, each student was given an index card with a locker number on it and they "acted" as lockers...opening and closing by turning away and toward the front of the classroom so any who did not understand could visually see which lockers remained open.

We ended class with a few more brain teasers...most notably Crossing the river with a goat, a wolf, and a cabbage. Students acted it out, and they were very cute. Their homework was to come in with their favorite (or newly discovered) brain teaser that we will solve throughout the year.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What to do during the last 5 minutes of class

Inevitably, one class is gets finished earlier than the other. Not always, but often it happens. What do you do for the last 5 minutes when you finish earlier in one class? My classes play the Set Daily Puzzle. They compete against themselves and other classes for the fastest time to find all 6 "sets." They even compete from year to year.

Click here to see how to play. Basically, a "set" of 3 must have characteristics that are either all the same or all different. The characteristics are as follows: color (red, purple, green), shape (diamond, squiggle, round), number (one, two, or three), and inside (solid, striped, or open). You can have, for example, a set of all green or a set of one green, one red, and one purple. So all must be the same, or all must be different. This must continue for all of the characteristics.

Here is an example from

The top left is a set because they are all different colors, all different shapes, all different numbers, and all different insides.

The top right is a set because they are all the same colors, all different shapes, all same numbers, and all different insides.

The bottom is NOT a set because although all colors and numbers are the same, the insides have 2 the same (solid) and one not (striped.) The rules are all the same or all different, so you cannot have two the same and one different.

Three years ago, one of my classes finished all 6 sets in 21 one has beat them...yet!

Have a great week,

Saturday, September 6, 2014

1089 Math Magic Trick, The Good Girl (Book Club), Apple Pie Cookies


It's incredible to me that I learned this math trick over 25 years ago. I was at a workshop for new teachers at my alma mater, Rutgers University, ( the summer between graduation and my first year teaching. I do not remember much other than being very nervous about the start of teaching, but what did stand out to me is this one magic trick that I learned. I have done it every year, and kids are really cute about it. Here is how it goes.

I tell the students I am going to perform a math magic trick for them. I ask for a volunteer to go to the board, and I stand in the back of the classroom and face the other direction. I tell them to:

1. Pick a 3-digit number whose numbers are in descending order, i.e., 531, and to write it on the board.

2. Reverse the digits, write that number underneath the original number, and subtract.

3. Reverse the digits in the answer, and add that to the answer from step 2. 

I make sure that students are in agreement that the answer is correct. I ask another volunteer to write the answer on a piece of paper and crumple it up. I then ask the first student to erase the board.

I tell the students we are going to go outside, but I need to grab my lighter first. This sparks some attention and excitement. We find a good place outside, and I put the paper on the ground (a pie tin works better) and light it with the lighter. After a minute or two, when the paper is done burning and students are curious about what is going to happen, I tell them I will see the answer to the problem in the ashes.

I look in the ashes when the burning dies down, grab them, and wipe them on my arm. The answer of 1089 "miraculously" shows up on my arm.

After the initial shock, students come to the conclusion that the answer must 1089 every time. Here is a simple proof. Here is a more involved proof. I like to do the more involved proof when I teach 10t + u and the reversal of digits in Algebra 2 Honors, but all of my classes definitely enjoy it.

I almost forgot to tell how I got the number on my arm...a good magician never tells her secrets, but I could not help but ask the demonstrator how he did it back when I was 20 years old, so I know the kids are very curious about how it is done! The answer is to just take liquid soap and write 1089 on your arm before sure to wear short sleeves and let it air dry first!


I am in a book club with some teachers from my school. We don't meet terribly often, but it is definitely great fun to get together with a mission and to talk with these wonderfully bright women about something other than school work. Our book this time is The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. If you liked Gone Girl, you will love this book.


Fall is definitely a time for apple recipes! I recently made apple pie cookies from
They were very messy but very fun to make. I had no idea how to do lattice work for a pie, so I found that here. I also made a Kale salad with reduced apple cider dressing from a Publix Apron's demo class I recently took. Just a quick note: instead of using anise star, the chefs used an anise star tea bag and then never had to worry about the cheesecloth...just remove the tea bag and bay leaf before putting in blender. The walnut oil mixed with the cider made for an amazing dressing...I forgot to take a picture!

Have a great week,

Friday, September 5, 2014

My Top 5 Technology Bloggers/Websites for Google, Green Market, Cheesecake Brownie Bites

Math: My Top 5 Technology Bloggers/Websites for Google

Do you remember the commercial Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? I think that, in a good way, our school has gone Cuckoo for Google. Last year, we changed our email from Outlook to Google, we started using Google drive instead of our then beloved h: drive, and this year we are learning how to implement Google Chrome, Google docs, Google sheets, Google forms, etc. in our 1:1 classroom. With our buzzword "collaboration," many of us now see the benefits of creating a lesson in Google docs, in which all students (or teachers!) can work on at once. In fact, as the math department is up for our review this year, we will be using Google sheets to collaboratively enter the concepts our students are expected to know by the end of each course. And we just revamped our Math Lab sign-in by having students sign into a Google form on a computer or iPad--no more running out of sign-in sheets and easy access to see who attended...I am in awe of how we have been growing technologically!

This summer, I went to a Google 101 course at ISTE 2014, and it only touched on how Google can empower both teachers and students. I came home excited and found webinars and youtube videos about cool extensions, apps, etc. Completely geeky. I know. If you want to "Go Google" with me, here is a list of the top 5 websites and/or bloggers I discovered and learn from every time they post. I may never use Safari again!

1. by Amy Mayer @friEdTechnology. Watch these two videos just to get an idea: Smarter Chrome Lesson 2: Themes and Extensions, and Smarter Chrome Lesson 3: Favorite Google Extensions. These are just simply awesome. I learned so much just from watching her videos. Extensions are kind of like apps, and they can be added to Google Chrome right next to the omnibox. They make work life SO. MUCH. EASIER. And who wouldn't want easier? You can make your chrome screen unique to your particular needs. And I love the Kate Spade colorful theme for my background :)
Extensions help you do things you need quickly and easily.
They appear to the right of the "omnibox," or search bar.
There are many more videos from friEdTechnology, and I encourage you to look them up.

2.  Richard Byrne, author of this site, is an incredible resource, and I can't stress enough to follow his blog. He is often the first to blog about new technology features that are free for educators. You can also follow him at twitter here: @rmbyrne. This is one of his Google Tools Tutorials. I attended his webinar on blogging, and he has given me great ideas, one of which is to make a top 5 list. He has also taught me a bit of html. Thanks Richard!

3. Alice tweets AWESOME quick facts that help with anything and everything about Google. I learn things from her whenever I check my twitter feed. If you only have a minute to learn, follow @alicekeeler and you will definitely learn something. She is a "Google Gooroo!"

4. Kasey Bell creates FABULOUS Google Cheat Sheets that help to navigate anyone from beginner to expert. I often pin these sheets on Pinterest. You can follow her on Pinterest here, and learn how to navigate through Google.

5. SimpleK12 is a teacher learning community that can help you to Transform your Google Classroom with SimpleK12 . They offer free webinars weekly. They are great! The webinars are 30 minutes long, and they cover topics such as:
  • How to use google forms
  • How and why to get a google phone number 
  • Quick start guide to using Google tools
  • How to use Google chat
This list is endless. I have gotten so much out of just 30 minutes. I strongly recommend these not only because they are free, but because the speakers are excellent and you can pick and choose which webinars to watch. They are GREAT for beginners, but everyone can learn from them.

Through SimpleK12, you can gain access to tons of resources by purchasing a membership...but the webinars I mentioned are FREE! And everyone talks about getting the "bunny slippers." I want a pair!! 

And honestly, I learn a TON from my colleagues. Whenever I show them something I learned, they share something with me that they discovered, and therein lies the collaboration. It is really an exciting school year!

Play: The Green Market

My husband and I went to a Green Market in Palm Beach Gardens this Labor Day weekend. That's what they are called by us, but I think in the north, they are called "Farmers' Markets." I don't often have the chance to buy local, and it does feel good to support these small, fresh businesses.

I got an AMAZING smoothie from this guy:

I told him I like papaya, and he concocted his own blend for me: a ton of beets and carrots in a juicer, then poured into a Vitamix filled with papaya and banana. 

The samples of freshly made hummus, artichoke dip, pepper relish, and more from this guy below were so yummy. We bought a bunch home and served them as appetizers with the fresh pita chips we purchased. 

We bought bread from this shop, shown below. We were told to keep the bread sliced in the freezer to keep it super fresh. I've been taking out a slice every morning for breakfast, and it tastes amazing.

It's great to just walk around and take in the sights and smells. Highly recommended to do on a weekend were you just want to get away for an hour.

Eat: Cheesecake Brownie Bites

I know I just posted about Ghirardelli brownies last week, but I had a request to make cheesecake brownies for a Labor Day get together. So I searched Pinterest, as usual, and came up with this recipe from I changed it up by using one bag of the Ghirardelli brownies from Costco rather than make the brownies from scratch, but I did use the cheesecake recipe. Mine took a little longer than the 12 minutes suggested.

Have a great week!


Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School Night QR Codes, Playful Yoga, Ghirardelli Brownies

Math ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back to school night is very early at our school - during our second week! I usually try not to change things up from year to year because I am so busy getting ready for the new school year. Of course, that never seems to work, because I inevitably have learned something over the last year that I want to add in. This year, it's QR codes. Last year, I got an idea from Pinterest to make a label for a single bag of microwave popcorn. It said "Thanks for 'popping' in!" and gave all of my information on the label. Not only did parents go home with some popcorn to make, they had a label with all of my info which made it easy for them to contact me. This year, I decided to use a QR code to give parents all of my info, so that they could store it in their phone if they so desired, and so they could begin to see how technology is being integrated into my classroom. I used the website to create a free QR code that included my information. It was so easy! Then I bought 2"x4" labels from Target and created labels just like the one below (by the way, 120 labels from Target's brand up&up cost less than $5.) I hid the QR code here just because I didn't want my cell phone number obviously it does not look like that on the label. 

My cat, Tiki, loved the idea of the "popping in" popcorn for Back to School Night.
Labels for single size bags of popcorn.

Here is a copy of the labels...insert your own QR code:

Play ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yoga is an activity that I have been doing for about 15 years now. I have been to numerous studios and several different instructors. Here is my guide to finding a good studio:

1. Go to several local yoga studios to find one that you like. If you have to drive far, you probably will not go. Instead, you could use DVDs, but I find that when you don't anticipate what comes next in yoga, you actually feel freer ,and you can do more than if you know what is coming up.

2. See what the other members of the studio do before class. Are they welcoming? Do they smile or say hello when passing you? Or are they taking themselves too seriously, and are there noticeable cliques? I feel so much more comfortable in a studio where everyone is chatting before class than one that is serious and quiet. 

3. Does the instructor recognize you and/or greet you by name? This is not a must, but it makes me feel very comfortable when the instructor is personable. It definitely makes me want to go back for more.

4. Are there a variety of good instructors at the studio? If you only like one instructor, you are very limited to the times you can go, which means you won't go when you have the time if your instructor is not teaching.

5. Are the instructors playful? What does playful mean? It means they laugh during class, they can have fun, they do not take themselves too seriously. Maybe they yell out a big "WOOHOO!" They have a good following because people are drawn to their energy. They will take risks and try new things and will admit when they cannot do a pose. And they will help you to become your better self by allowing you to play and possibly fall - only to encourage you to get back up and try again. 

Of all the places that I have gone to, the most playful and joyful studio is Haute Yoga. Holly is the owner, and I have been going to her classes before she opened her studio. Her studio is one of pure happiness. Holly always has a smile, and her enthusiasm during class is catching to others. She loves to challenge you to your fullest, and I come out of her classes drenched, sore (a good sore), and craving more. I love Holly!!

Here is a picture of Holly taking a Caroline's class (another awesome instructor!) at her studio. I mean, seriously, how cute is she???

I want to mention that I bought a pair of pants at her studio from They are amazing and are out of Palm Beach Gardens. I love the bright colors, and the pants are so comfortable and colorful that I feel so much more playful during yoga when I wear them. I wash them constantly because I want to wear them time I do yoga.

I emailed Nikki from Jiva and she offered 5% off if you order Jiva pants (so worth it!) Use the code EPM5 at checkout! You will definitely feel playful! 

Eat ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

These are the best brownies out there...better than scratch, according to my brother-in-law. And they are sooooo easy! I use the Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix from Costco

I timed myself, and it took 3 minutes 45 seconds from start to oven from this picture below:

I top with powdered sugar from a shaker. Another option is to put a can of frosting in the microwave (no lid) for 30 seconds, stir with a butter knife, and pour on top of uncut brownies. Then smooth with the knife. So so easy and tastes so good. You can also add a little kahlua and/or walnuts to the batter, but I don't do this when making it for students. 

Hmmm two pieces are father like son...

By the way, the next morning, more was missing?!

My students seemed to enjoy them!

Have a great week!

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Classroom Set Up, Workout Buddies, Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake


I was told by my department chair a few weeks ago that she had both good news and bad news. The bad news was that I was changing classrooms. I had just moved classrooms two years ago, and I worked hard at the beginning of the summer to finally get the feng-shui right in the room for next year. So I was kind of bummed. The good news was that I was moving to a much bigger room, the room that used to be the Math Lab (a place where math students go to get extra help, staffed by a math teacher every period of the day). This was going to be great because last year, my students were very squished in my classroom. The math club that I am faculty advisor for, Mu Alpha Theta, has been growing exponentially since we started the club here three years ago. There have been many days where there were not enough desks for students in the club, and we meet weekly. So I was very excited, but I had a lot of work to do, as the Math Lab was filled with books, cabinets, and tons of supplies that were outdated and abandoned.

My friends in the department helped me for what seemed like hours to move necessary items to the new Math Lab, and to discard or find new homes for the many items that have been sitting in there for years. Even after that was all done, I was very overwhelmed. There is a lot to do to make a classroom feel like "home."

I began by hanging up art work and poems from several students that I have collected from over the years. Here are some examples:

These pictures came from this assignment:


This is a view of the entire wall where I hung most of the art work. There were also some very good conic art drawings, but they did not fair well when when I removed them. I will take pictures this year and post them at a later date. I have gotten so many interesting projects over the years, and I do remember which student made them. The math sneakers have been hanging in my classroom for close to a decade! Also, can you see that I'm a Jersey Girl originally?

Now to other parts of the room. Ahhh, the couch. Boy do my students love the couch. It was in our garage at home, and I tried to sell it. No one would buy I brought it to school and all the students vie for it...I do not let them sit on it before class...only after school or when we have a break from our block period, because otherwise the students do not want to get up! It is cute how much they love the stuffed animals. Kids can feel like kids again when they are working so hard to become adult-like in their high school classes.

The cubbies are left over from the old Math Lab, and they are awesome. I can see kids coming in after school to complete their homework here. My math club won these awards from our three years of competition in Mu Alpha Theta...we need an awards case! We have to find a place in the school to showcase them.

This will be our club wall when we go to events. We have a historian who takes pictures. Last year we won 2nd place in our digital scrapbook at States, and it was our first time ever going! I will blog about this wonderful group of kids at a later date.

This was the idea that I posted in l last week's blog. Students had to find parent functions around school or their home and take a picture. Next year, I will ask them to name the parent function as well. This well help them, I hope, to recognize the parent functions more easily when we learn them. 

To the left is a poster of NCTM calendar problems, and to the right are posters that I just love.

I made the "Everything is going to be OK" poster on I saw something very similar in a restaurant near my house, and I thought, wow, wouldn't it be great for the students who stress to see that every day. My friend Dave made fun of the overuse of all the polka dot boarder...I did overdo it. You don't see it, but I had polka dot letters that I bought, too, that I took down...oh well. That was a waste of $12. Hopefully a friend will use it. 

My husband was away for the first week of school and sent roses...that was a big and awesome surprise. And yes, of COURSE I had to buy the π decal for my Mac. I bought it here. (BTW did you know if you hit alt-p on the Mac keyboard you get π?) 

 Can you figure out this puzzle? I put a up a plexer puzzle every day and will try to post it on twitter under my handle @lisaqt314. This one is "Welcome Back"

And I don't tell students the date...ever. They have to figure it out...and kids who are hanging in my room after school will put the next one up for the day...they love to make them harder than I would!

This is my prize box. It's where I keep prizes that I give to students for creative thinking. A student made the box for me. Usually I put snacks or interesting erasers in the box. Sometimes the prize is to sit on the couch for a class period.

No body puts baby in a corner. At Back To School Night, parents always notice this. Love Dirty Dancing!

My seniors write where their names and where they are going to college when they get accepted. This is kind of a big deal! The board fills up quickly second semester, and the whole board gets filled.

I stole this from Pinterest. I love it. 

And from the outside...notice the little blue flag that says "math geek." Got that at a T-cubed conference in Las Vegas this past spring.

My clock. I love when I teach the unit circle and kids say, "Oh so that's what that clock was all about!!!"

I am looking forward to an amazing year. I met the kids twice so far and they are an amazing group of kids!


I try to work out at least 4 times a week. It may not always happen, and sometimes it happens more times. But it is definitely hard for me to do during the school week. This is why I think it is really important to have a workout buddy and a good workout program. My workout buddy is Liz, and we try to work out at least twice a week together after school.

This is our first week of school, and we needed to kill it. So we did a workout from Kayla Itsines,  an awesome blog, twitter, and instagram workout enthusiast. All you need is weights, a medicine ball (I just used weights), a mat, and two benches. Sometimes you can use chairs for the benches. Kayla promises a bikini body in 12 weeks. Her workout is HARD! But I can tell you that you feel fantastic when done! And it only lasts 28 minutes! Liz and I projecting her workout (it is a download that is about $69 USD) on the SmartBoard, and we were sweating like crazy. And afterwards, the endorphins kicked in, and together we felt like we could conquer our brand new 1:1 school design as well as our spanking new Whipple Hill grade program.

Find a work out buddy or buddies. You push each other when the other one does not feel like working out...and I promise you will feel better after...and even if you really do not feel like working out, just go for a walk. You will both talk through ideas and things that are bothering you and will feel better emotionally and physically. Just do it!


Yes, I work out, but I also eat. And I LOVE peanut butter. I think I have it at least once a day. I have worked at camps that are peanut-free, and it was difficult for me to last more than a few days. I have made this Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake from Bird on a Cake recipe (of course found on Pinterest) twice and have not been disappointed either time.

I made it below once for my son and niece, who have birthdays three days apart, and for my husband who is nicknamed "Mookie" by our nieces. As one niece (who is 20 years old) used to say when she was 2 years old, "Umma Umma!!" (= Yum!!)

Have a great week!