Math Talk

Math Talks are a great idea, but I wish I knew how to get my students to push themselves beyond their comfort level and beyond their current level of understanding.  Many of my students generally struggle with grade level math concepts and when posed a question and told to think about an answer – they don’t.  They do not have the resources to even begin thinking about the problems let alone coming up with a strategy to solve.

Questions I have:

1)  How do you ramp the problems without going to far or making the problem too long?

2)  How do you encourage students without leading them?  This has been a part of the training I have received through Profession Development (West Cook Math Initiative), but I still struggle with this since it is hard to let one math talk take an entire period or more if I don’t step in and say something…

3)  How do you really get students motivated to learn and learn from others?  This applies to all math, but in a math talk where they should be hearing their peers discuss the strategies they used and how they solved the problems, how do you get students invested in their own learning?

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July 17 – Share a great classroom management strategy:  I am not sure if I have one.  I guess I just start with a strong sense of what is expected and then I loosen up as the year goes by.  Once you know the few students to keep an eye on – it is easier.  I can make sure they are on task without spending all my time with them.  Part of it is seating arrangement and part of it is standing in a place that allows you a view of that student without standing next to them.  I also plan on using Class Dojo this year to help with behavior issues.

Once there is an issue – I prefer to talk with the student one on one to get to the bottom of why they are doing what they are doing.  If anything, it takes them to a place where they must confront what they did out of the way of other students and hopefully I get a real answer from my middle school students. :/



So, I always go back to the same question…What is the best way for my students to learn?  

I struggle with this because I feel like I am always trying something new to see if it will work and then I become frustrated and think it is not the best way for them.  For example, when I started flipping, I thought it was great.  Then I heard about mastery flipping, I thought that was great and then I feel like I need more time in each period to effectively get them to do the flipping and check in with them and have math talks/conversations.

Basically, I am thinking about the coming school year and wondering what I can do to better teach my students.  I want to continue flipping when I can, but I want to make sure they talk about math and get excited to learn about math.  Maybe that’s where I should really be directing my thoughts –

How do I get them excited?  

How do I introduce the concepts in an interesting way that will not take too long?  

Our first unit is geometry…is there a way to introduce this concept that is interesting and encompasses all the ideas we need to teach?  Kind of like the Dan Meyer activities, but every time I look at those I get confused as how to use them.

I am open to suggestions and ideas…

I just always want to do the best for my students that will help them remember what they have learned without getting too far from the standards or taking too much time introducing the concepts that they do not see the connection to the standards.

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July 16 – Favorite movies/tv shows:

Movies:  Of course, my favorite movies are the Harry Potter films 😉 I also love most of the Disney/Pixar films – Incredibles and Monsters Inc being among the favorites!  I also love the Muppets movie with Jason Segal.  Mostly – I am a kid at heart!  On the serious side, I loved Primal Fear.

TV Shows:  I may have a problem and watch too much tv…I love So You Think You Can Dance, Big Bang Theory, Blacklist, Bachelor/ette, Castle, Switched at Birth, Suits, Justified, Sing Off, and I think I am forgetting some – if I remember I will add them here…Some are guilty pleasure and some I really LOVE!

Recently ended series:  How I Met Your Mother and Psych

Common Core NCTM


Short one today.  I am a member of NCTM and in the most recent email, the president did an extremely nice job of promoting Common Core and addressing the concerns that so many (especially those not in teaching) have expressed.  I appreciate that this organization is supporting Common Core! 🙂

Here is a link to the article: Click Here

Follow her here: @dbriars

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July 12 – Share about my most important friendships:  I feel like there are so many different parts of me and my different groups of friends reflect those sides.

I have one friend that I have had since birth – Leslie and I started as friends because our mom’s are friends since grade school.  Leslie and I never went to the same school, but have remained friends and we both know we will be there for each other no matter what.


I have a small group of friends from HS (Colleen, Tracey, Christine) that still talk and spend time together.  We may each be very different, but we are there for each other and have great memories doing even the smallest of things together!  These are my more serious friends and laid back.  The most important friend I made in HS is also my best friend – my husband Steve!

Meagan & Steve's Wedding


In college, I joined a sorority (Delta Gamma) and there are 8 of us that remain friends(Alison, Connie, Martha, Erika, Sarah, Darla, Katie).  Sadly – we are all spread out over the country (and at times…world).  We may not see each other often or talk nearly as much as we would want, but when we do talk (Google Hangout or our trips), it is like no time has passed.  We pick up right where we left off and have a great time together!  I also have another friend from college, no in the sorority, but nonetheless a great friend!

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I have a few past and current co-workers who I consider friends…i.e. we see each other outside of work and talk about things other than work.  They are people who inspire me with their teaching and also are easy to talk to.  They understand the frustrations and celebrate with me in the successes.

Some of them…

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Friends are how we get through life.  Family is always there for you, but friends choose to be there for you.


Student Blogging? Share your thoughts!


So after doing some research I have seen a few student blogs that are actually their portfolios.  I am intrigued to say the least.  I knew it would be a valuable tool for ELA and SS and Science, but I was unsure about its usefulness in math.  Yesterday when I posted about some math apps, that is when I saw one teachers blog about apps and came across one of them that led me to an example of her students.  I went to it and saw how it was being used for math.  It looked like the students needed to post assessments and summaries of learning to their blog.  I found it a great way to keep all their learning in one place, that was not random sheets of paper that they through away after the test or notebook that is hard to follow.  The assessments went from pictures of assessment tests and  quizzes to explanation videos of their learning for a specific concept.

This blog post if looking more for your input…

Questions I have:

1)  How is checked by the teacher if you have 110 students?

2)  What sites seem to work best?  The one I saw had a password protected for students.

3)  Did the students find it worth it and use it to for their advantage?  Did they have one for each subject or one blog that has all subjects in it?

I am sure I will have more questions, but let’s start there…

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July 8 – How did I end up in teaching?:  I actually started in TV/Radio Production so my path is different.  I finally knew I wanted to be a teacher after I started coaching and realized I had the patience to teach young people how to do things.  I then tested the waters by becoming a teachers aide while going back to finish off some endorsement credit hours at a community college.  I then got into a program that was specifically designed for students who had a bachelors degree in something else and wanted to change careers.  I think it has always been a part of me because I could distinctly remember playing school at home with my little easel.

Math Apps

Just a few apps I have either used or found recently for Math…

Photo Measures:  Just read about this app and I am excited to use this in the coming year!  It allows students to take pictures of different objects and then the app will help them measure it and then they can label the type of angle it is!  Hands on and seems easy to use!

Oh No! Fractions:  This is a great app for fraction practice.  The free version really only lets them compare fractions, but I feel that is the most valuable anyway.  I teach 7th and 8th and they struggle to see which fraction is bigger than another.  If they are not sure, there is a visual component that they can use to compare and if they are wrong they can see why they got it wrong.  I have used it as a warm-up in class!


Questimate: Just found this and think it could be amazing!  An engaging way to practice estimation.  I know my students really struggle with estimating anything and this could be the perfect app to help them!

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Dragon Box Algebra 5+: Just saw this and am intrigued.  Not sure it will work or if it is worth the cost ($6), but I wonder if it can help tech algebra without teaching algebra. Would be another great way for students to practice logical thinking that will help solving complex algebra problems.


July 7 – Favorite books as a child or adult:  As a kid my favorite book was The Giver, as a HS student I enjoyed reading The Jungle, The Scarlet Letter, To Kill a Mockingbird. As an adult, just out of college, I finally read the Harry Potter books and they are my passion!  I love them, probably a little obsessed! 🙂

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