Saturday, December 20, 2014

Photocopier Survey RESULTS

In preparing for 2015, I asked for your help the other day. Thanks for entertaining my hunch.
Here are the questions and results (from 65 people):

Question: What are the joys of a photocopier?
You had many great things to share about the efficiency of providing your students with copies and some of the detailed functions of the machine. An interesting number of you find joy in the warmth of the copies (I'll admit, me too). Some of you veteran teachers shared how you appreciate the evolution of photocopy machines. Here are a few of my favorite "joys" quotes:
  • The smell of ozone, the warmth of fresh copies, and the feeling that I'm ready.
  • I usually bounce/jam to the rhythm as I wait for my copies...
  • Solving a paper jam. 

Question: What are the frustrations of a photocopier?
Overwhelmingly, paper jams are the most frustrating part of a photocopier according to you. I would say low toner and long lines are on the heels of paper jams. Here are a few of my favorite "frustrations" quotes:
  • Remembering my code
  • When it thinks it knows BETTER than you what size paper you want.
  • Time lost from my life that I will never get back.
First-world problems, right? The next set of questions asked about your feelings, using a Likert scale from one to five.

Question: When the photocopier is functioning, what's your level of satisfaction?
1 = Not satisfied
5 = Extremely Satisfied
Close to 60 people felt satisfied to extremely satisfied.

Question: When the photocopier is malfunctioning, what's your level of satisfaction?
Over 50 people felt little to no satisfaction.

Question: What's your alert level when the photocopier is functioning?
1 = Ho-Hum
5 = High Alert
Varied data, but most seemed to lean toward Ho-Hum.

Question: What's your alert level when the photocopier is malfunctioning?
I'd say close to 50 people felt some alert to high alert. 

Select any feeling(s) you associate with the photocopier malfunctioning.

Select an initial step you typically take if a photocopier malfunctions on your watch.
Let me translate. Most answered that they "Try and fix it (replace ink, clear paper jam, etc.)

Select any feeling(s) you associate with YOU fixing the photocopier.
Look at that! Accomplished! Happy!
We have to respect that there are times we still feel frustrated, maybe even excited.

Here's where I'm headed. 

  • Can any of these feelings or photocopier experiences be similar to learning math?
  • Is fixing a photocopier error analysis?
  • Are there times students just go through the typical process at a ho-hum alert level?
  • Are students given opportunities to be problem-solvers?
  • Are students frustrated with math?
  • Are students frustrated when problem-solving, but persevere and feel accomplished, happy, and excited at the point of resolution?
I have many more thoughts and questions. My goal for 2015 is to provide teachers with a conference workshop/session where we use error analysis as one way to help students better learn and understand math. I've blogged about this a couple of times (Exponents and Linear Systems), but want to continue exploring this arena.

What are your thoughts?


*Google Forms to create the form
*Google Sheets to organize the data and create charts
*Wordle to create the word clusters.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Photocopier survey

I'm preparing a new math-conference-speaker-session for 2015 and would love your input.

This survey (found here) will take about 3-4 minutes and your input will prove extremely valuable with the direction I take in preparing my session. Thanks in advance for your participation.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


CueThink is an application (iPad) I would love to see get some serious math love in schools and the online math community. I had the good fortune of being introduced to CueThink by the wonderful people at The Math Forum (thank you Suzanne). I simply want to give you a glimpse in hopes you'll take a tour of the app and teacher dashboard.

*Look over CueThink and keep potential in the back of your mind. The app already has fantastic features, but think how it could potentially support students in being better problem solvers.

Download the app. Take the tour:

What do you Notice? What do you Wonder?
  • Highlight text and see where it goes.
  • Make an ESTIMATE (so cool).
Choose your strategies:

Show and record your solution:
  • Cool tools on the right
  • Record the audio explanation of your solution
Review everything before you submit:

I was giddy exploring this app for the first time; seeing how well it could support students through the problem-solving process, seeing the functionality for feedback, and having a teacher dashboard. I know there's more to come to make this app even better, but think of the potential.

Teacher side: give students feedback at specific points of their recorded solution:

Hungry for more? Check out the CueThink teacher dashboard!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

LARGE Whiteboards: GET 'EM!

This post is simply a way for me to quickly document/share a few ideas on large whiteboards.

I went to Home Depot and did the following:
  • Found the large whiteboard sheets: 
  • Had someone make two cuts:
  • I get one large whiteboard and two smaller boards:
  • Took home and sanded the corners to get rounded edges:

My classroom desks are in groups of three or four, depending on my furniture, space and mood. Besides using these boards for 3-Act Tasks, here are my favorite everyday activities:
  • Placemat:
Students are given a question to work on. Each student carves out a section on their whiteboard to solve on their own first. As you can see, there's an open space in the middle.
Once students are done with their individual work, they discuss what their group answer should be and write it in the middle section. This really allows students to compare their work with their peers and give each other support, especially for those who might be stuck or need a nudge. Great everyday use and for review activities like Race Car Math. 
  • Brain Dump
Brain dump: Project something and have the students write down everything they know about it in their section. Then they compare and contrast as a group before sharing whole group. You could also do a Notice/Wonder (a la The Math Forum).

Put the timer on and ask students to write as many ways as possible to get to -100 or whatever you fancy. GO!

The Home Depot boards can be a little weighty. If you have the budget, I’d recommend you first look into the large whiteboards from They weigh less, have a slightly better writing surface, have rounded corners, and have a carrying handle for kids to easily carry around the classroom. You can get a set of 10 for a little over $100. Top-notch whiteboards. 

I use cut-up dark t-shirts and socks as erasers. There are plenty more things you can do with whiteboards and I've documented some of them in a few blog posts. Probably the best investment I've made as a teacher. At teacher trainings, workshops, and conferences, I'm practically begging teachers to get these whiteboards in their classrooms.  

Now, I have a blog post in which teachers can refer to. But, here are more awesome additional uses of whiteboards. Nathan Kraft outfitted his entire room with whiteboards, inspired by Alex Overwijk. Don't miss Frank Noschese pioneering all this whiteboard magic. You can see Fawn Nguyen using these on a regular basis too.
Huge style points for them all!