Modifying Problems for Workshop – a PD Session

Today I found a post on  Drawing on Math  by  Tina Cardone (here) .  Talk about timing!  She was talking about getting ready for a PD presentation she did in July and asked twitter  what they liked and didn’t like about PD.  Yes! Yes! and YES!

I’m presenting 4 sessions next Tuesday (August 10th), 50 minutes long for our district about how to make textbook problems less sucky for students. The real title is Modifying Problems for Workshop. As I was working on this I really tried to keep things I hate about PD in mind. I have my aaughfactors indicated 1 – 5, 5 is  the W.O.R.S.T!

Pet-peeve number 1 — someone reading the slide to me. Dang it! I’m an adult, I learned to read a L O N G time ago. You read to me, I’m not thinking about what you’re saying anymore – I’m thinking about #1 where I’m getting lunch, #2 who I’m going to get lunch with, #3 what I need to get done in my classroom  and #4 my lessons, INB ideas, or working on a math problem I’m thinking about using.  Yes, in that order.  aaughfactor 5.

No, I am not going to read the slides. I have copious notes on talking points about each slides – but I’m not going to read those suckers.

Pet-peeve number 2 — get up and … . I’ll do it, but I don’t like it. I’ll speak but only as much as I absolutely have to.  (Unless I know you, then we’ll talk about the topic and then about what we want). Presenters usually give too much time for this. They say a minute – but it’s usually 3 minutes. (Yep, I can tell time too!)  aaughfactor 3.

Truth be known, I WAS going to have my participants get up and move to another group but I took it out. Teachers will come in a sit with their friends, people they recognize. That will be good enough.

Pet-peeve number 3  — Think-Pair-Share.  If I’m sitting with people I don’t know, again, I do the minimum.  If I’m sitting with friends (same course or not) and I think the question you’re asking us to talk about is good – we’ll discuss it, if not – we’ll talk about what we want.  Yes, it is obvious when presenter’s just throw a semi-related question in there to have a Think-Pair-Share.   aaughfactor 3.

Pet-peeve number 4— Work on the math. If I’m sitting with people I don’t know – I’m really intimidated (I know my math and I shouldn’t be, but I am).  If I’m sitting with friends – I have no problem working on the math, asking questions and for help — zero intimidation. aaughfactor 2.

I have two times where teachers will be working on changing a  problem to be less sucky. They have 3 choices of problems (7th/8th grade math, algebra and geometry). I don’t care if they work on their own or with their friends and neighbors. That’s their choice too.

I have one place where I want them to Think-Pair-Share but I’m going to tell them to “talk to their paper or to their neighbor.”  Give participants a choice!

I am going to have them share out what they came up with (1 from each grade level) to wrap up the session.

I have a slide that has resources I think are important such as MTBoS, Global Math and others, because I want them to join in the fun! The presentation and other documents used will be in Google Drive shared by a

I think I’ve taken care of most of the aaugh factors in my session. I’ll see what the feedback is next Tuesday. Wish me luck!






Okay, I’m Gonna Do This Blog Thing.

I am a stalker lurker. I have been for over 5 years. I read tons and tons math blogs. I keep thinking I should blog, but what would I talk about? I’m not creative or innovative or anything like the rest of the MTBoS group. I am not worthy!

(how do I add a meme from Wayne’s World here?) (Got it!)

I'm not worthy

Our district is going towards a Math Workshop Model, which is really about the students collaborating, thinking, writing, having productive struggle and way less teacher talk. Just what MTBoS has been talking about for years. So, that’s what I’m going to reflect about.

Katrina Newell,  at Mrs. Newell’s Math, talked about her class sizes. Hmmm.  I could do that.

I teach 7th pre-ap, 8th on level, and pre-ap algebra 1 in the Texas panhandle. We have about 650 students (at least we did last year). 94% free and reduced lunch, and 30% English language learners. Student demographics are almost 55% are Hispanic, 24% Asian, and about 12% each African American and white.  So far, (and they are still working on scheduling) I have 140 students. About 45 more than the other math teachers — but I’m not complaining I have better classroom management with larger classes.  I really do not like classes less than 20, but I’ve had a high of 42 in a class. It looks like my largest class this year is 37. I like groups of 4, so I need 1 student to be added to this class or moved to the other class — hopefully moved to the other class because my classroom is on the small size and that will reduce the number of desks I have crowding the room. (Dang! I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining, I’m not…. I just would like there to be room to walk between groups.)  Anyway, approximately 14% are English language learners, 2% with IEPs, 20% gifted and talented.  Working above grade level in 7th pre-ap are 9% of my students and 48% of them are in algebra.  Thirteen percent are in an 8th grade math class, but half of the did not pass the state mandated test (which in Texas they have to pass the 8th grade test to move on to high school). So I have gaps to fill in all the classes (except for the algebra students, I had them last year a 7th graders– but there may be a gap or two I didn’t catch).

What do I need?  I need to feel more comfortable with (in no particular order) number talks/number strings, blogging, and how to do a book study in addition to the math I have to teach.  Oops, can’t forget I also need coffee and dark chocolate.

I’m signing up for MTBoS Blaugust.  You can join here and find  a list of participants here.