Too Many Tandle Tangents!

So far, I am not blogging as much as I would have liked during the month of August. Sometimes, life just gets in the way. Now that school is soon upon me, I’m back in action and ready to share more of my Tandle Tangents.

Since I last posted, I vacationed in Boston, attended two conferences, and started watching CSI: Miami. I’d like to think that it’s been a very productive past few weeks.

The first conference I attended was the SAMRi Teacher Camp. Being a second year teacher who lives far from her school, I went in not knowing anyone and was honestly a little nervous because of that. It didn’t matter in the end because I walked away learning many helpful activities and skills that I can apply to my classroom. Below is an outline of the sessions I chose to attend:

Session 1: The Amazing Race EDU: Digital Edition

I have watched The Amazing Race since Rob & Brennan won in Season 1. So when I saw the session about it, I knew I had to attend, even though I did not think it was very applicable to the math content area. It was very neat to learn about the education version of the race. Essentially, students use a combination of Google Forms & Google Earth (which can be accessed online via Chromebooks) to go through and “finish the race.” Using the response verification aspect of Google Forms allows you to give students a hint if they aren’t quite at the right answer. This means that students cannot move on to the next question until they answer the current question correctly (using the “sections” feature of Google Forms). It was very cool, but I do not think there was too much of a mathematical application. When we start talking about shapes and Geometry, perhaps I can find some places around the world and use them. Or I could use places of my choosing but ask a math problem that has to do with the places. I will need to take some time to explore these more

Session 2: The Digital Dive

I love technology. As a matter of fact, I’ve already started my Master of Education in the Technology Specialist concentration. I am always looking for new tools, tips, and tricks to incorporate technology into my classroom. This session gave me a myriad of new tools to use! Some of my favorites are outlined below:

  • Symbaloo: visual method of organizing tabs/bookmarks
  • Autodraw: auto recognizes drawing and provides “neater” drawings for students to use (so they don’t have to be embarrassed if they are not artistically talented)
  • Slides Carnival: FREE templates for Google Slides and PowerPoint
  • Modified Google Image Search: You can search for images that can be used freely without needing to cite your source
  • GeoGuessr: Fun, short activity that places students somewhere randomly in the world and they need to figure out where they are by exploring their surroundings

I left feeling like I had a great arsenal of tools to use to help me with my teaching and organization.

Session 3: Technology Trends: Facilitation Digital Literacy with the 4Cs

Again, more great resources to use in the classroom! The four foci that us attendees chose to learn about are as follows:

  • Communication: Google Slides Presentation Q&A
    • You can set up an ongoing Q&A link during Google Slides Presentations
    • You project the link
    • Students ask questions
    • Presenters can see questions asked so they can address them in their presentation!
  • Critical Thinking: EDpuzzle
    • Great way for the Flipped Classroom
    • Add in required questions or comments at various points of the video
    • Takes a record of when students complete it (and if they did not complete it)
  • Collaboration: Padlet
    • Neat way to ask a question during class and collect real-time responses
  • Creativity: Sketchnotes
    • Various methods for students to take notes during class


Session 4: Google’s Hidden Gems

There are SO many aspects of Google that I discovered during this session. Did you know Google has an Applied Digital Skills Curriculum? Have you used the copy shortcut so students don’t edit your Google Doc? YouTube videos can be sped up or slowed down to meet the needs of all learners — make sure to touch on that if you’re showing or assigning videos in class! My favorite part of the session was the end when I learned about Add-ons. I FINALLY found a way to insert equations into Google Docs 🙂

Overall, I was happy that I attended the SAMRi Teacher Camp. It was free professional development, and I felt that it was a worthwhile investment of my time (and commute out to Aurora).

The second conference I attended was yesterday, the Southland Learning Conference in Oak Park. Again, I did not know much about what to expect since I imagine that there are other people, like me, who attended both conferences. Here are the sessions I attended for this conference:

Session 1: Get Your Own Data!

I was torn between this session and another, but my gut was telling me this was the one to attend. My gut was smart. This is single-handedly the best thing I have learned from a conference. Ever. I have only been to 3 conferences, but I have a feeling this will be my best takeaway for the foreseeable future. I walked away with ELEVEN different activities that I can use in my classroom that directly align with my 7th and 8th grade math standards. The presenter, Robert Hollander, is an 8th grade math teacher who is passionate about data and providing real-world examples to help students better understand concepts. From unit rates to integers to scatter plots to scientific notation, I know have excellent activities to use in the classroom that will pique students’ interest while allowing them to analyze real data. I was so impressed by all of the activities and cannot wait to begin using them in my classroom this year.

Session 2: Helping Students Retain Math

Since I already learned about 3-Act Math Tasks during college, I figured this session would help me learn more on how to help students better succeed in the math classroom. My assumption was correct. I learned how the brain process math facts and ways to help students transfer them from their working memory to their long-term memory. I was introduced to the Math Theatre website that contains videos with songs to help students remember concepts (aimed at high school students, mainly, but still had some helpful videos I can use). I learned the story of Descartes, Gauss, and Pythagoras (with a little elaboration) that I can share with my students. I added a few new brain breaks to my repertoire. One of my favorite parts of this session was the Hunt for Activities. With this, students search through their notes for a problem they enjoyed solving, a problem they had difficulty with but know how to solve, and a problem they are still struggling with solving. This is something I can use as formative assessment to see if there are common trends and concepts I need to revisit. Again, another very useful session.

Session 3: Healthy Teachers Matter

Time for some me time. This session was all about simple steps to wellness. I learned which macronutrients to incorporate into my diet, how to detox my home, and signs of stress to watch out for. I learned where in my spine that my symptoms (asthma and allergies) come from, so I now know where to focus on to become more efficient. I also learned the importance of good posture. This is something I have (sadly) overlooked, but I am very glad that I know about it now so I can make sure I don’t end up with a hunch back when I am older.

Overall, I was very happy about the Southland Learning Conference. I intend to return next year as well. Both conferences were great — I cannot pick a favorite!

Today I am at my school to finally set up my classroom for this year! We got all new furniture, so I cannot wait to put everything together and see the final product. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!


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