Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Zombie Migration(s) Complete

Happy holidays everyone! I give you the wonderful present of discounting my new books, Advanced Coordinate Graph Art for Grades 6-8 & Advanced Coordinate Graph Art: Student Edition down to the same prices as my first books! ($14.99 teacher, $7.99 student) That's right! Five chapters for the price of FOUR! Give Amazon a couple days to update the pricing, and then you're good to go with hopefully an abundant stack of Amazon.com Christmas gift cards from your students ;)

As you may have anticipated from my total lack of posting in the last few months, the Zombie House Listing Experiment was a brain-smashing success. Our house sold in under two months, and we somehow closed in the old & new houses exactly a week apart. I have no data one way or another if our buyers used the QR code I provided and watched our video tour repeatedly until they put in an offer, but the video does have 25 hits! So it's definitely not just me viewing :) 

At any rate, to any teachers out there who are thinking of listing their house during the school year, I would say, "Go for it!" IF you have at least a week's break prior to prep your house for listing. It's really not that hard to keep the house clean, once it is clean. Or at least it's only hard when you have to get it back to that uber-clean state in time for a showing. And we kept ours in that state of semi-clean-ness for almost 2 months straight! With 4 pets! So yes, go for it! Just bear in mind, you will be kissing any and all spare seconds of free time "good bye".

Teacher-friendly Packing Tips:
-Try out a furniture planner site to see where your stuff will actually fit in your new house. Major reality check for me. I used HomeStyler with great success. The house listing should have dimensions for each of the major rooms to get a good floor plan built.
-Steal boxes from the lunch & copy room whenever possible (although they are usually happy to give them away)

-Start packing non-essential items (like cats) first, and stuff all those boxes in the back of the garage. Make sure to label the boxes with where they are going in the new floor plan!

-Avoid packing on school nights. Unless you're really
motivated. Or you have just had the final inspection and are really excited to pull all the boxes out of their secret hiding places. 

-Make the kids pack their own toys. We had piles of boxes out labeled "play room" or "bedroom" or "garbage" or "donate", just like Toy Story 3. I tried really hard not to think about that movie while we worked, how many broken/worthless toys found their way into the trash.

-By luck of the draw, although you may want to plan this, we had just had a ginormous garage sale a month before we listed our house, which cut back greatly on purging or packing JUNK.

And that's pretty much all she wrote on that. In the month since we moved, we have settled into our old semi-messy ways, gained half an hour of sleep, eliminated a cumulative hour of driving time to work/school, and to top it all off, hung some *kind of pathetic* Christmas lights. Right before 8+ inches of snow fell.

Now onto the plural part of "Migration(s)": I have completely "gone Google"! In addition to moving my physical house, I have also transitioned my email, calendars, notifications, groups and hordes of archived folders over to the Cloud that is Google. Our district is leaning this way anyway... let me tell you why I jumped on board early: 

1. Starting the process mid-year gives you extra time to migrate any saved/important emails you might need. After getting tired of logging into Outlook to reference filed emails in folders, I got smart and downloaded the "Eagle Filer" program to make copies of all my Mac-formatted emails. I now have a searchable hard-copy on my desktop. 

2. Re-creating "Groups" in Google is easy, as long as you've emailed the people beforehand. Those of us on Macs have been frustrated anyway that Macs don't play nicely with Outlook Groups, so this was a nice change.

3. Re-creating "Events" in my Google Calendar was semi-easy, with an easier-to-use recurring appointment calendar... especially with the "Bulk Action Tool" Chrome App that cleans out appointments during holiday/vacation breaks. I say semi-easy because Google Events do NOT like Daylight Savings Time. Either my calendar has to be set to Eastern Time, or all my appointments show at the wrong time of day. So all my appointment bells "ding" an hour early. Fairly annoying.

4. The Google Mail interface is *pretty* :)  I added a beach "theme" so every time I log into my gMail, I get a different rotating background but can still see my email on top of it. So much easier on the eyes. 

5. Spam is eliminated! Once you shut off your forwarding address, all those pesky retailers and spammers are off your trail. For the time being. Give it a few years, they'll be back. 

6. Ease of communicating with students who also have gMail at school. Not just via email, but also with "hangouts" and G+ and whatever other social gadgets and gizmos you want to add to your profile. Works great with Schoology too. 

That's all for now! I have a new post planned soon for all the cool apps and tools I just learned at the latest Minnesota TIES convention. I promise, it won't be two months until you hear from me again. Maybe just two weeks this time ;)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Zombie Home Listing Experiment!

Happy Fall to one and all! 

We are selling our house in Montrose, MN in the hopes of moving to Waconia, MN where I teach (and where my oldest son now attends school). In my efforts to document the new fall decor on my front step, I created my own zombie moment. Check out my reflection in the door glass. It LITERALLY looks like a zombie is coming to attack my house. 

The start of the school year has been absolutely insane! Between deploying 800+ iPads, to trouble-shooting WIFI, helping with app downloads, dealing with password resets and then all the fun at home of preparing our house for selling, the past 5 weeks have raced by.

Now that I am in a position of helping others with their classroom and not having my own students' data to monitor, I'm kind of going into OCD withdrawal. So I have a little experiment to exercise my slowly atrophying *math teacher brain cells*... drum roll.... 

Question: "How much does social media networking affect the sale of a home?"

Data: We have a fabulous realtor, a great MLS listing, nice photography, a clean and updated house (granted it only has a 2-car garage, but there's not much we can do about that), a great backyard perfect for a young family, located on a quiet cul-de-sac in small town 40 mins. west of the Twin Cities... HOW FAST can we find the right family who will appreciate what our house has to offer?

As you can see from our daily MLS site hits (our listing is located here) we started out strong and then have been kind of putzing along for the last week and a half. I feel as though it would be helpful if someone would set up a "match.com" site for houses, where people not only could put in their house specifications, but also click on personality/family preferences like "includes workout space" and "playground/sandbox" and "huge walk-in closets" and "we have small & clean pets" and "granite countertops and stainless steel appliances really don't matter to us!".

I continued my professional development into technology integration by recording and editing a superbly amateur virtual tour using Windows Movie Maker software. Easy and fun!! Click here to watch:

Virtual Tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zusVxslqMiQ&feature=youtu.be

Task: Zombie fans unite and forward our listing to anyone you know in the greater MN area who might be looking for a 2000 sq.ft. 3 BR/2BA home. Let's see how many listing "hits" and "saves" a girl can get, just by word of "digital mouth".

I will share an in-depth graphical, statistical analysis of the results at a later date... stay tuned.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Advanced Graph Art is now up on Amazon.Com!

Get your purchase orders ready! My new book is already up on Amazon.com! And it's already on SALE too!! List price is $16.99 and Amazon has it reduced to $15.18. (not sure what the 18 cents is all about)

Click the picture above to purchase the teacher edition and here to purchase the student edition.

Also, as I previously blogged, many teachers will want to use the instructional sections for whole-class teaching on Smart board or projector. To make this process more engaging, I'd recommend purchasing the complete Teacher's Edition eBook, just listed in my TpT store by clicking here.

Eventually I'll get the stand-alone chapters 5 & 6 on TpT as well. Right now, I'm stuck at work away from my files... and I have a full basement and stairs of carpet to wet vac in order to prep my house for selling!?!? And yes, it is 95 degrees out by the way, with a heat index of 110. My poor husband just texted me that it is 85 degrees and extremely humid inside our house, so the boys are all going out to dinner. So maybe the carpets won't get done tonight. Or I might just melt like the wicked witch.

Enjoy your first few weeks back! And here's another shameless plug to buy my book!!!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Advanced Graph Art for Grades 6-8 & Student Edition now available!


Happy Fall everyone! I hope your back-to-school prep has been rejuvenating and not to stressful. I have been slowly transitioning into my new role as a tech integration coordinator all summer, which is bittersweet, but also really exciting. In addition to work changes, we also successfully resurfaced and repainted the deck, and redecorated two bathrooms. Summer went by in the blink of an eye, as usual. 

Good news for you all, as you head back to your classroom, is that you have a glut of new fun math activities available in my new book! The first edition contained 25 puzzles to walk your students through the basics, with a taste of transformation challenge. The new second edition (click either picture above) will take your students' skills to a much higher level of understanding in the area of coordinate plane geometry. 

Both books are available for purchase now on CreateSpace.com. Rest assured, the Amazon.com listings will be up in a week or so for schools who require purchase orders for online curriculum orders. You can also purchase the first 4 chapters on TpT. I will be posting the last two chapters, as well as the full book, hopefully on Sunday this week if you are itching to get your hands on a digital copy. The really nice thing about having both the hard copy edition and the digital copy is that the digital keys and instructional segments are full-color. It makes instruction on a Smart Board or projector really come alive. So buy both!! :o) 

Stay tuned for updates. I will post as soon as I can with more info about the new TpT listings and when Amazon.com is up to purchase. Enjoy your first few weeks back!

Here are the listings:

Teacher Edition: 

Student Edition:

-Zombie Out

Monday, August 5, 2013

Advanced Coordinate Graph Art: Sections now available on TpT

Happy August! Where did the summer go??

I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to my wonderful editors who have gone through sections 1-4 with a fine-toothed comb, offering lots of helpful suggestions and (gasp!) even catching a few typos.

While I still have Section 5 and Section 6 to write, I am happy to announce that Sections 1-4 are now available on TpT! Each is listed at $2.99, same as my previous book. 

I am hoping to finish the rest of the book in the next two weeks before heading back to work. Or it's not going to get done. Send good vibes my way! 

Click here for my TpT store front.

Each section contains preview images as well as a preview section that you can download and try out. If you are liking all of the sections, you may want to hold off purchasing as it will be cheaper to buy the eBook at $14.99 than 6 sections at $2.99. 

Meanwhile, here are some fun free samples to keep you occupied. Remind me to try not to give away the entire book before it even goes to print ;)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Warning! Zombie Digital Footprint Sighted

Man, it's HOT in Minnesota right now. My Advanced Graph Art / Transformations book is 2/3 complete and much of the editing is done as well! Perfect day for vegging by the computer with a bowl of popcorn in my air conditioned kitchen, NOT doing that work.... maybe some other work instead... so I've been perusing Digital Citizenship curriculum for my students, bookmarking helpful pre-made resources.

Teaching students about their Digital Footprint is an important first step in Digital Citizenship. It's a good idea for everyone (students, teachers, parents, etc.) to "google" themselves every once in a while to see what kind of trail you're leaving. Here's mine.

I find it hilarious that I've been with Twitter for three months and it's my #1 hit, compared to LinkedIn, my MathByMandy.com website, and my Pinterest account that have been around for years. Twitter must have a deal with Google for prime searching.
You have to actually search my full name (Immanda Bellm) to get any references to my published works. And my physical address on WhitePages.com didn't even make the top 5 search results!

This is a good exercise for students, to see what (if anything) comes up when they search for themselves. Adding key words like their hometown, school or middle initial might help for common names, to see if they have begun leaving a digital trail yet.

Once they start networking on Social Media, they will begin to find themselves in searches, which of course means... everyone else can too. Having a talk about limiting contact info, and especially about appropriate pictures/tags and language is very important, as well as what is not appropriate to include. They need to be told about the very real possibility that their future employers may search their name, and they will be judged on their digital footprint all the way back to their teen years. 
Begin the conversation EARLY. "Digital footprints" are summed up in this excellent lesson example from CommonSenseMedia.org. It's really worth watching the whole video.

An important next step is to talk about the latest trend of attracting "followers". Like in the picture above... I look like a total nerd compared to the goddess Amy Farrah Fowler. We have similar numbers of tweets, BUT... While I am following over 250 people, I only have 29 followers (follow me!?!? please!!??)... and Amy is only following 11 people, but has over 32,000 followers!!??? WHAT!?!?!? 

Seriously people, I know it's super trendy to try to attract followers to market your brands, sell products and network (which I am doing just that) but our students are on a totally different course of perceived POPULARITY, in the latest "tag for likes" and other following tools. Several of my students have comments on their homepage, "Follow me! I follow back!" to help newbies start gathering their own network of "friends", "followers", or whatever you want to call them. Many of whom they don't even know. You click on their profile information and they have their cell phone number listed, their email, and sometimes even a physical ADDRESS! Yikes!

One of my favorite examples is a former student who has TWO, count them... one TWO... pictures on his Instagram account... yet has 200+ followers. Why!?!? Because it's "cool".  My Instagram, on the other hand, is relatively in control... 99% of my contacts are people I know, and I try not to tag or upload pictures of friends and/or family on my sites without their consent. Students have NO FILTER when it comes to snapping pictures of friends, photo-bombing each other, or taking video without asking for consent. This is a big privacy violation, especially for school device usage.
LinkedIn is equally dangerous for adults, especially when we are looking for work... giving out copious amounts of personal history and contact information in the hopes of finding new employment.
The problem is... personal data on LinkedIn doesn't necessarily mean much! Take my "Skills & Expertise" for example... while this is pretty accurate to what I'm good at, 100% of these supposed "endorsements" come from people that I have never met. Yep, that's right... you can solicit endorsements, or individuals can look through your digital "stuff" and endorse you for things they think you are good at, without even asking your permission.

Pinterest is another of my big obsessions that scores high on my digital footprint search. There is a lot of really good image sharing going on, especially on the education boards. The thing that worries me, is that the general public doesn't even need to log in to see any or all of my boards. 

My "Silly and Often Inappropriate" board may be offensive to some people, even though I try to keep it pretty G-Rated. Likewise, certain individuals might create a "pretty undergarments", or "nude canvas paintings" board that contains some pretty sketchy stuff (however tastefully it may have originally been perceived). They get searched, not realizing their boards default to "public" and badabing! They get a nasty parent call that their student was looking at their "naughty links" and YOU get fired. (I have no personal experience there, thank God!!!)

I guess the bottom line for everyone, kids and grownups alike, is... if you're not sure that you should post something, you probably shouldn't. If your partying ways are some day going to come back to bite you in the butt like Katie Perry's "Last Friday Night" song, you might need to rethink your lifestyle. Kids especially can be bullied or peer pressured into doing or saying much less risque things online, whether in text, pictures/editing, video chat, you name it... but it can affect them for the rest of their lives. 

On that happy note, here are some great resources I found in my searches! Please, if you find more resources I have overlooked, tweet them to me @MandyBellm! (and then "follow" me so I can feel "cool" ;)

Yahoo Digital Safety Kit (differentiated by Age)

Digital Footprint Survey (for HS, College, Adults)
How's Your Online Health? (for professionals, how to build a healthy footprint)
That's all I've got for now! The sun is setting, I should probably go for a run... although I did DVR a few episodes of HGTV Star and Food Network Star... hmmm... 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Zombie's Amazingly Easy Egg Sandwiches (no brains included)

Happy Wednesday!

I had a dual-epiphany last night that #1-I haven't shared a recipe in a while and #2-My boys beg for egg sammiches for breakfast all the time. So here you go, one recipe post that's sure to wow. Yes, "sammich" is in the Urban Dictionary so I will use it as frequently as possible. Plus it's WAY more fun to say than "sandwich" which just sounds gritty ;) 

My Egg Sammich recipe can taste as similar to, or as different from, an Egg McMuffin as you want it to. Although, if you're anywhere near a McD's, their new low-cal Egg White Delight McMuffin is absolutely divine for 250 calories. Your call... mine doesn't require you to get dressed, leave the house, or spend nearly any money at all. And it only takes about 5 minutes to make.

-Bread product of your choosing (bagels, sammich thins, English muffins, toast, etc.)
-1 egg per person (~1/4 cup per person for Egg Beaters)
-Shredded cheese (colby jack or cheddar works best)
-Meat of your choosing (we usually do precooked bacon, but ham is good too)
-Spread for your bread (I LOVE BUTTER)
-Cooking Spray (or go old school and grease your pan with BUTTER)


1. Spray your egg pan with PAM and heat to just under medium (mine is set to 4.5). I usually go with a small sauce pan because there are three of us, and I want the eggs to spread out like an omelet.

2. Crack your eggs into a small mixing bowl or measuring vessel. Since I have 3 people eating (my hubby hates eggs, so none for him!), I have three eggs. 

3. Whisk your eggs until they are nice and smooth. Don't bother adding any milk since this is more of an omelet recipe. You can see that if I had been using pourable eggs out of the carton, I'd need about 3/4 cup for the 3 of us. 

4. Pour the whisked egg mix into the pan and leave it to firm up for a good 4-5 minutes. I will sometimes spread the loose eggs on the top around or push them to the edge to help it cook faster if I'm really impatient.

 5. While the eggs are cooking, microwave your bacon or slice up your ham or canadian bacon. We go through at least 2 boxes of precooked bacon a week. It's SO easy, pretty cheap, and doesn't make your house smell a ton. Space out 1-2 slices of bacon per person between 2 paper towels, microwave for 25 seconds, and you're good to go! Only 25 calories per slice too.

 6. When the eggs are nearly set, work your spatula all the way around under the edges until you can flip the whole circle in one big motion. Cover the top immediately with shredded cheese and let the eggs cook for another minute before removing from heat. 


7. While the cheese is melting, toast and butter your bread product of choice. My boys go back and forth daily between bagels, toast, muffins, or half of each. 

These mini bagels are usually perfect for each of the boys to have two sammiches. Avery (the youngest) has wanted THREE lately! Must be going through a growth spurt.

8. Build your sammiches. If serving to adults, you may want to throw the final product in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to meld all the flavors together. 

9. Serve with fruit and a glass of milk! You've got yourself a healthy, yummy breakfast!

Calorie Breakdown per Sammich: (the way I make it)

1 light English Muffin  - 100 calories
1 tbsp light spread - 50 calories
1 egg - 70 calories
1/8 cup shredded cheese - 50 calories
1 slice bacon - 25 calories

Total: 295 calories! Boo yeah! And I used the word SAMMICH seven times! (Eight now ;)

Enjoy :o)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Advanced Coordinate Graph Art for Grades 6-8: 44.44% finished!

 Happy 4th of July everyone!

Yesterday was by far the most relaxing day yet of the summer. As it should be. The weather was a perfect 10 with blue sky, light breezes, low dew point and temps in the 70's. It was also the first year that the kids made it through the entire Delano parade, loaded down with huge bags of candy (now safely hidden in the cupboard). 

Rather than engaging in house cleaning or yard work, I am back at the computer, chugging coffee and playing Candy Crush with a fluffy cat by my side. The boys are silent on their respective couches, recovering from yesterday's fun with their favorite iPad games. 

Now that I have burned through my lives on Level 147 (please send me some more!), I suppose I should get back to work on the task at hand... which is finishing my second publication by the end of the month! Between the teacher and student versions of my first book, I have sold over 250 hard copies... plus another 20 digital copies, and then there are the chapters on TpT (which you can still purchase, by the way). My "Let's Get Cooking with Ratios" and "Number Systems that Rock Your World" are only available on TpT so check it out! I may expand those chapters into full books at some point... you never know.

My point is... if you are a semi-decent writer, whatever your vocation (especially you stay-at-home moms and home-schoolers), you too can start publishing yourself! We all have something to say, whether it's sharing worksheets or blogging or tweeting or sharing expertise on raising many kids, and someone out there wants to read it. Start small, say writing a free blog or posting a small unit on Teachers Pay Teachers... if you get some bites (haha not from Zombies), then you can start expanding up to a full book. 

Here's how I did it:
  1. Start with a really great idea that your students, kids, friends, etc. already really enjoy, and most importantly, YOU enjoy making materials for. Mine, obviously, was graph art puzzles. 
  2. Digitize it, if you haven't already. I use Apache's Open Office software, which is free and converts into virtually any other format you could want, including .pdf.
  3. Play with your computer's Paint program or an iPad app such as Skitch to make your own graphics. Most teachers, or whoever your audience is, don't go looking for products based on their "looks". They are searching for good content, not state-of-the-art graphics. I also use Smart Notebook, if you can afford it, (or try the 30-day free trial) because you can layer, group and clone the images much easier than with Paint or Skitch. 
  4. Sign up for TpT or even eBay and follow the prompts to set up your store front. (did you know you could sell digital products on eBay? Yup!)
  5. Sign up for your own blog, or Twitter, and/or LinkedIn account and start marketing your product! The more you "follow" other people and groups, the more they will "follow" your products. It will spiral from there. The more you post and market, the more you'll sell!
  6. Ready to publish a whole book? Sign up for www.createspace.com and they will walk you through the rest of the process! CreateSpace is a free, online self-publishing company that partners with Amazon.com. All you have to do is decide what size and roughly how many pages your book will be, and then you download their pre-made templates to complete your project. When you're done, you save it as a .pdf, upload it for CreateSpace to proof, and Viola! you will be self-published on Amazon.com. 
  7. BEFORE you make your book available to the public, make sure you order a copy to check the layout of the cover art, pages, and to proof for typo's. (speaking from personal experience, I think I mailed myself 3 versions before I was satisfied)
As usual, I am getting very off-topic. And my Candy Crush levels must be nearly back to full by now... so back to what I wanted to share, which was a preview of the new chapters. 

As much as I tried to make parts of my first book "difficult", my top students still found it too easy. Hence, the first chapter of my new book covers the same material as the first four chapters of my old book. With much harder puzzles. Like this one! It "cracks" me up! LOL, it's called "Which Came First". Get it?? :)

The second chapter, or section, or whatever you want to call it, is a much more in depth study of translations. Puzzles start easy and get harder, ending with a super challenge puzzle sure to keep even your highest high-flyer busy for at least ten minutes. Maybe fifteen if you make them color it ;)

The third section, which I am just starting, is a full section just on dilations including an introductory activity with dilating your EYES! My students ooooh and ahhhh over watching their neighbors' pupils expand and retract, which immediately engages them in a review of radius, diameter, circumference and area of their dilating eye balls. 

Most of the print material on dilations that is available is either Quadrant 1, or 4-Quadrants, but not both. I'm taking the same training-wheels approach to transformations in this second book, as I took to coordinate graphing in the first book. Start with Q1, then add Q4, then add Q2, and then try all 4 quadrants. 

Such as this one... "Sail Away". Dilations limited to Q1, with graphing practice included in all 4 quadrants.

Stay tuned for more book updates!

I will post Sections 1 and 2 on TpT as soon as my editors finish their proofing work. 

In the mean time, I am still looking for more teacher editors for later sections of the book. What do you get out of it? Just your own free digital copy of the book, with unlimited copyrights for your home and classroom, and your name published in the book as an editor. No big deal! 

Have a great Holiday Weekend!
-Zombie out

Monday, June 24, 2013

Who's iPad is on 1st? No, that's What... Why? Hmmmm....

Do you have a tablet or smart phone that is still defaulted to the stock photo background it came with? This can be a real security problem especially in offices or schools where everyone has the same device, case and only a serial number sticker to tell them apart. 

Save yourself a headache and make a "lock screen" so your device is personalized. It doesn't have to contain any personal information (like a photo of you) unless you want it to. For classrooms of iPads, especially in the younger grades, a student picture may be the way to go since they can't read each others names. 

Click here to watch a screen cast from start to finish, of how to change your lock screen.

OR... are you a directions follower? Here is your to-do list:

  1. Find a background picture you like, preferably from Google Images so it is different from the stock backgrounds that everyone else already has. 
  2. Save it to your iPad's camera roll
  3. Open the Skitch program and import the picture you chose.
  4. Write a lock note like "Bart's iPad" on top of your picture with the pen tool
  5. Click the "share" button that looks like a rectangle button with an arrow (top right)
  6. Select "Camera Roll" again to save your annotated picture
  7. Find the picture in your photos and click the "share" button again
  8. Select "Use as Wallpaper"
  9. Select "Set Lock Screen" and then exit the program
  10. Click the sleep/awake button to make sure it saved.
The below example is what I would suggest doing with your younger students (sans cat). The name on the iPad doesn't matter as much as the picture but it's helpful to have both the name and the picture on the device in case you have a substitute teacher or other classroom assistant in your room. 

I was trying to do my best Caesar Flickerman pose, but clearly I need some work.

In other news, I have begun work on my second workbook, entitled "Advanced Coordinate Graph Art for Grades 6-8: Transformations in the Coordinate Plane". To be written, edited and published some time this summer. I have much of it mapped out in my head, but I haven't had the time yet to sit down and flesh out the details. What I can tell you, is that the sections will look like this:

Section 1: Review the Basics of Cartesian Coordinate Graphing
graph in Q1, Q1&4, Q1&2, Q1-4 + Q1-4 challenge puzzle

Section 2: All about Translations
graph in Q1, Q1&4, Q1&2, Q1-4 + Q1-4 challenge puzzle

Section 3: All about Dilations
graph in Q1, Q1&4, Q1&2, Q1-4 + Q1-4 challenge puzzle

Section 4: All About Reflections
graph in Q1, Q1&4, Q1&2, Q1-4 + Q1-4 challenge puzzle

Section 5: All About Rotations
 graph in Q1, Q1&4, Q1&2, Q1-4 + Q1-4 challenge puzzle

Section 6: Transformation Challenge! Mixed (X,Y) Rules
-translation + dilation (larger)
-translation + dilation (smaller)
-translation + dilation (X larger, Y smaller)
-reflection + dilation (X smaller, Y larger)
-rotation + dilation + translation

I did two self-edits, one peer edit and one set of student edits before publishing my last book. It's now much earlier in the summer the second time around, and I don't have a class of students to fall back on anymore as my guinea pigs. If you are interested in editing a section for me, I will send you a free digital copy of the final product once it is published, and list your name on the copyright page as an editor. Win Win!

Drop me a line at support@mathbymandy.com if you are interested.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Zombies invading Wikis near you!

Greetings and Happy Summer Zombie followers! Nearly two weeks after school ended, I finally have a day to sit down and catch up on life. Housework is out of control so I figure a few more days of laundry/dishes piling up won't make much difference. 

What will make a difference, in the short and long term, is sharing the amazing things my students accomplished in the last few weeks of school. In addition to building a Stage 5 Tetrahedron, we also built our own collaborative Wikis that are now public and editable by members of the Wikispaces community.

You may be asking yourself, "What's a wiki?" The simple answer: a wiki is a website developed collaboratively by a several users, where any user can add/delete/modify content. The best wiki sites (like wikispaces.com) are free and have their own web software that is easy to use and requires little to no web development skills on the part of its users.

Wikipedia is the most popular example of a wiki. It is a free, online encyclopedia that is amazingly accurate, although anyone on the planet can edit the content. One of the authors of the textbook for my technology course actually tested this theory, by posting 13 pieces of false information on Wikipedia. All were corrected within a few hours!!!

So how did all of this come about in my classroom? Well, I had to make a wiki for my grad class anyway and figured it minus well be a purposeful task. I absolutely loathe doing projects for "school" that serve no purpose in my real life. You'd think we'd take that comment more to heart for our own students, since I'm sure they feel it too. 
We were covering linear equations in my regular math classes, and sequences in my accelerated math class. In my search to find an engaging chapter opener, I stumbled across the Fibonacci video at the top of the page. I was brought almost to tears watching how amazingly mathematical nature is. Not only did I show it to my class, I also linked it to the aloe picture on the home page of the Sequences wiki so students could watch it again if they wanted to.

I made two wikis and let the students contribute to them as an assignment choice. I still offered the book and worksheet assignment options as I always do on my math menus, but I went heavy on the technology to stimulate interest and engagement during those last few weeks. Boy did it work out! I've never been able to teach new concepts so late in the year (especially after state testing is over), and have students actually excited to keep learning past grade level standards. Here is what their last menu of the year looked like.

In developing the wiki pages, many of the students were interested in the photo journal choice. I gave them time to use their smart phones at home and school to walk around (with a pass) and take pictures of linear equations and/or sequences. They emailed, texted, Instagrammed, and in some cases, directly posted their pictures either to the wikis or to the Pinterest boards I'd made using universal student logins. This circumvented the issue of students who are not allowed to have their own emails, in that they could sign in as a student, and still use Pinterest and Wikispaces. 

I would recommend teaching Pinterest posting, Wiki building and Google video/picture searching/saving in small chunks, to small groups of students. And NOT just your G/T group. Some of your lowest, most uninvolved students will be really engaged in technology assignment opportunities. This is one of the biggest benefits to the Flipped Classroom model; my students were able to read the lesson and take notes, and watch example-by-example How-To videos on Holt McDougal's online site

When class time rolled around, we did a quick warm-up of the concepts they had read, talked through the lesson and what was easy/confusing/too hard for them and I had to reteach. Then, we still had 75% of the class time to work on their assignment choices. They branched out all over the place; some doing worksheets with their work groups, others roaming the halls for the photo journal, and still others getting help from me and other tech-savvy students to work on the wiki on our school laptops. We still had a summative quiz, which by then, most students felt was extremely easy. 

The most valuable learning, however, was looking through the Wikispaces sites and Pinterest boards we had created, and having the students feel they had contributed to something important and meaningful that is out there "published for the world to see". 

My challenge to you, fellow educators and blog readers, is to click on the wiki picture/links above, peruse what we have made, and see if this is something your students would like to be a part of. You can either start your own, or join WikiSpaces and ask to be added to our Slope and Sequences wikis. I would be thrilled to see our wikis grow as more classrooms jump on board.

Now get outside! Get off your computer/device! Lay in a hammock somewhere in the shade, sip a giant iced tea, and do nothing. While you do that, I'm going to attempt to go out for a 10K run. Although... it's pretty hot and humid... maybe I should take a nap instead ;)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Exponential Growth of Zombie Brain Decay & Tetrahedrons!

Well folks, we have reached the end of another amazingly transformative year. My biggest regret is that life trumped my ability to blog. Although, I have switched over to "micro-blogging" on Twitter, so if you're not following me there yet, you're missing out on my more frequent (and less wordy) life/school updates. So much has happened since my last post, I hardly know where to start! Maybe working backwards is best. 

This past Saturday I ran my first half-marathon and nearly fainted. Everyone said, "It's really hilly!" and I assumed they meant just the downtown portion. I knew that, and had trained on it. Lake Waconia looks relatively flat, from a distance, but IT IS NOT. Thank goodness for the Twin Cities Orthopedics Pacer Team who kept me going with all their shouting and cheering on. I finished with a personal best of 2:01! 

It's laughable to look back on my first day running, almost exactly a year ago, and how much I whined about my 2-mile run being as bad as child birth. Now, here I am, running 13 miles at a 9:11 minute pace. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Really and truly. Start small and set goals. Keep a fit journal. You'll get there eventually!

Backing up further, I am proud to say that my 7th graders this year exponentially surpassed last year's goal of a Stage 4 tetrahedron (256) and built a Stage 5 tetrahedron! (1024 individually cut, folded, taped and glued tetrahedrons). We made individual nets that were slightly smaller than last year, knowing that the Stage 4's wouldn't fit through my classroom door otherwise. 

I used the Educreations app on my iPad, projected onto my Smart board, to launch the project. I took screen shots and uploaded photos to my iPad on slides in the app, and then hit the "play" button and dubbed over each slide. It took me about 4 tries to get comfortable with my own recorded voice, not say "um" every two seconds, and figure out exactly what I was trying to say.

Students in four PLP's (prescribed learning periods) and one math class, took part in constructing the Stage 5. It all came together at the second to last hour of the day, on the last instructional day of the year. Talk about cutting it close! This is as big as you can go, without reinforcing the corners and connectors with some sort of Popsicle sticks. 

Click here for more information about the book that inspired our class, and how to get started on your own version of this interdisciplinary project.

Rewinding a few more weeks, when I was still well into training for the race, and my students were hard at work on their first Stage 4, I finished my Learning Technologies Certificate from Learner's Edge. The best part of this distance learning program, is that they partner with Pacific Lutheran University. I got 12 semester credits for a fraction of the price of attending graduate classes in person. The learning was all hands-on, apply in your classroom today, and very motivating. Highly recommended!

My favorite new skill is building wiki's! (like Wikipedia, except student-made)  A wiki is an online site that allows registered users to interact with and add to the content. You can sign up for free at www.wikispaces.com. I found it helpful to create a student account, that anyone could use, so my students without emails could still access the program. Several students created their own wikispaces accounts, and with the tech skills they learned on the projects, can now build their own wiki sites. 

I also created a school Pinterest account, and a student login that could be used, both to find existing pins of slope and sequences, and to upload their work to a safe and secure account (not requiring their own email). Many students were so fascinated by Pinterest that they created their own accounts there too!

Click here to see the Slope Wiki my students built in Math-7 classes.

Click here to see the Sequences Wiki my students built in Accelerated Math-7.
*Click the main aloe picture on the home screen for an amazingly inspiring video on the Fibonacci Sequence in nature!

The last bit of big news is that I applied for, and was hired as, a Technology Integration Coordinator for Waconia Schools! I am really excited for this new role. Many of my coworkers asked, "Why would you want to leave the classroom?" My answer, was that I really don't have to leave the classroom. I get to work in all levels and types of classrooms across the district, as well as sharing instructional and pedagogical best practices with staff! It's really the best of both worlds. For me anyway. 

How will this affect my blog? It won't really... I've always been pretty interdisciplinary-minded, and I'm sure the math focus will still remain. You may notice that I'm posting more about learning technology, standards-based grading, and backwards design (UbD). I'm quite sure that I'll still be a zombie, and in my heart I'll always be a math teacher, even though I'll be reaching out to a wider audience. 

Speaking of... have you read The Fundamental 5 yet? One of my administrators recommended it for staff development and I second his high opinion of the content. It's a fantastic (and short) read. It reminds us all what we already know about best practices for instruction. If you're looking for some inspiration this summer, and/or a guide for PLC or teacher evaluation, this book is as great place to start.

That's pretty much all that's new since my last posting.

Here's my parting thought: 

Teachers tend to keep their blinders on to all that is dirty/broken/unfinished around their house and in their personal lives during the school year. We have that first night of celebrating, "WAHOO! School's out!" Then we go home and open our eyes to the overwhelming mess waiting for us to clean up in just 11-12 short weeks. On top of that, many of us have summer jobs (like writing more books, hopefully?) or attending staff trainings or grad classes... or curriculum writing or teaching summer school. Anyone who says teachers "work for their summers off" is seriously deluded. 

My advice to anyone who is fighting the panic of their summer to-do list, like I am, is to THROW IT AWAY. Mark down on your calendar the dates/events you ABSOLUTELY have to accomplish. Let the rest happen as it will. It's a very powerful feeling to wake up in the morning, and say, "What do I want to do today?" You'll be amazed how much actually gets accomplished and you won't feel so overwhelmed. 

And you won't feel nearly as guilty for taking those well-deserved days off, sipping a margarita and laying out in the hammock, doing absolutely nothing :)

-Zombie Out.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Zombie invasion on Twitter

Greetings, oh fellow tech zombies. Long time no talk! Between working on a Learning Technologies certificate, jumping head-long into Google Apps in the classroom, and training for a half marathon, it's been a very busy spring. State testing is just around the corner as well... I am hypothesizing about how I can make the most of my digital resources to make cumulative review more interesting. 

I found a great scholastic article entitled "Using Games & Team Activities for Test Review" that had some specific strategies that would engage students better than a giant multiple-choice packet. It reminded me that my Holt/McDougal curriculum has a jeopardy style game show disc that we could use, for starters. I am still planning on running review packets by strand (Number/Operation, Algebra, Geometry, Data/Probability), but it will be a choice. In lieu of this, students can complete interactive games on my Schoology site for 30-60 minutes per night, depending on how many extra credit points they want. I'll share my strand-by-strand review sites in a few weeks once they're done.

Meanwhile in Zombie Land, my grad classes on technology have suggested that I need to step outside my comfort zone of Facebook and Blogger, to play around with some of the more popular social networking and tech resources. Kids today are all over the place on the internet. I wanted to look around and see how I could use their vast skills to make class more interactive, and help them use their knowledge for educational purposes (and not just fun). Here is what I've tried so far:

1. Google+ 

The biggest benefit to Google is that you can register with any email. You don't have to use a Google email to create a Google account. If your students know your school email, they can "share" documents with you.  The hard part is deciding which email account you actually want to use. I think I have 4 active Google accounts, counting my school account, my personal Yahoo account, my U of MN account, and a gMail account that came with my phone.

Need help getting started? I found a great online "binder" with many helpful links to using Google in the classroom: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play/135530

2. Twitter

I am new to Twitter, so there's not much on my profile yet. But I keep hearing over and over what a great source it is for teachers, so I'm going to find out! I have already discovered that there is real power in "group thought". I made my first hash tag ever for "ihatewinter" to share that I'd seen a silly Minnesotan snow-blowing his sidewalk in a t-shirt and shorts, as the temperature had changed 50+ degrees in a day.  Just today, I made the first ever hash tag #zombiemathteacher which I will be using shortly to tweet all my previous blog posts. I am thinking it might be a helpful place to post online learning opportunities, as your tweets can feed directly into Facebook and Schoology, and various other teacher sites. So exciting!

An excellent resource for using Twitter in your classroom is "100 Ways to Use Twitter in Education, By Degree of Difficulty". I've barely scratched the surface of this site and have already found many helpful tips and tricks. 

3. Instagram 

My students are on Instagram all the time. Sharing on Facebook/Twitter, uploading, hash-tagging topics or tagging their daily lives. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could utilize this tool in the classroom? The photo editing and grouping tools (like Instapic Frame) are second to none. While students can visit Twitter and shared Google documents without having their own account, Instagram does require members to be 13 or over. This is probably most appropriate for high school. 

Classroom ideas for Instagram can be found at Edudemic

4. Facebook (obviously)

I have separate accounts for personal/friends/family, and one for current/former students/parents. There are very few pieces of information and/or people that apply to both spheres of my life. I have to apologize to those who do fall into both categories, who occasionally get repeat news that is worthy of sharing with both groups. Gone are the days when summer rolls around, that students and teachers stop talking to each other. I have already received several graduation party invites, via Facebook, for students whom I've kept in touch with for 5+ years. It gives a whole new meaning to teaching/mentoring. 

You have to be very careful what you share though; you never know what might get shared or posted. 

Here are some pretty obvious don'ts: "Eight Ways Teachers Get into Trouble"

Here are some uplifting do's: "100 Ways to use Facebook in the Classroom

And something to cheer you up for the day! We definitely need to work with students to develop appropriate online etiquette in various venues and social networking apps. Here's an interesting way to tackle it...

That's all for now! I'll continue to share as I find the best of the best in each suggested site, and let everyone know how it goes in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

iPad for Instruction: Zombie Cat Approved

Bruce waves his stylus at Zombie's new iPad and meows "I approve!"
My humblest apologies for the extended time between posts as of late. I have been playing virtually non-stop on the iPad provided by my school district and have had time for little else. Having owned a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Tablet since my August blog post, I was unsure that an additional device in the classroom room would make much of a difference in my instruction. BOY was I wrong!!!! 

If/when you are able to afford or acquire an iPad for your classroom, you absolutely MUST get one. End of story. The tablet still has its uses, but seriously... the instructional apps in the Android/GooglePlay store for my Samsung Galaxy are far inferior to those available in the iTunes App store. Most notably, Doceri Desktop and Reflector App (currently only available for iPad) have made Smart products virtually obsolete in my classroom.

Here's a price comparison to make my point:

Typical "modern classrooms" outfitted with Smart products: ($6000-7000 per classroom)
  • Wireless capable laptop ~$500
  • Smart Notebook software suite ~$500-600 (very hard to find pricing!!!)
  • Smart Board & Projector ~$5000-6000 (plus ~ $500 for installation)
  • Teacher must be touching the Smart board or markers to interact
  • Time wasted if/when students walk back and forth to interact with board
  • Time wasted importing teaching materials, pdf, PPT into Smart program
  • Needs specialized instruction and installation with all components
  • Warranties must also be purchased for tech servicing/upgrades
  • Good WiFi infrastructure/speed is helpful, but not critical

New "classrooms of the future" with iPads/projectors: ($1500-2200 per classroom)
  • Wireless capable laptop ~$500
  • iPad mini or 10.1 ~ $400-500
  • Optional iPad Stylus ~ 10 for $3.24
  • Computer Projector ~$500
  • Optional Projector Cart ~ $150
  • Optional roll-down Projector Screen ~80
  • Doceri Desktop App ~ $30  (remote controls computer/projector from iPad)
  • Reflector App ~ $13 (reflects iPad or iPhone onto computer/projector)
  • Teacher can control computer from/with iPad from anywhere in room
  • Teacher can hand the iPad to a student to interact with content from desk
  • Teacher can interact and/or write on Doceri ink layer from any program 
  • Teacher can record instruction with Doceri/other program and post online
  • Any Joe Shmoe with wifi and average tech skills could set this up pretty easily
  • Warranties only needed on laptops and iPads for drop/spill protection
  • Bundle pricing discounts are available for school-wide use of apps
  • District/school MUST have great WiFi infrastructure & tech support
  • Access to online and/or computer versions of content is extremely helpful

Granted, I have a Smart board and LOVE it... having the flexibility to interact with either my Smart board, or my laptop, or my iPad from anywhere in the room. But if you don't have a Smart board yet, there is going to be less and less need for one in the future, and you simply cannot argue with the pricing difference. I mean really... a typical school has around 60 classroom teachers.... that's a difference of roughly $240,000!!!!!

Are you lucky enough to fall into the "classroom of the future" category? Here is what is working for many of the teachers in my district. 

1. Set up an interactive classroom. Schoology.com is free with no ads and can be accessed from anywhere. There are Schoology apps for all types of devices. Cloud Storage can be used to link your Google Drive. You can also share documents, links, pictures, class content and videos within classes and in "groups" with colleagues.

2. Try out lots of different Remote Desktop control apps. You never know which one you are going to like the best for your particular grade level and subject. For instance, many of my colleagues prefer Splashtop 2 over Doceri Desktop. Both apps remote-control your computer from your iPad. Splashtop 2 is nice because it is available in both Apple and Android formats, and many users find the interface more friendly. Doceri Desktop has a big advantage in its ink layer that will write over ANYTHING. But you have to close the ink layer to go back to interacting with your content. Both apps have recording capabilities.

Doceri Desktop is my favorite desktop app. Watch the video to see how I use it. 
1. Install the trial version of computer software at http://doceri.com/download.php 
2. Install the free app from the iTunes store on your iPad (not available on iPhone)
3. Launch the program on both your computer and your iPad BEFORE instruction
4. Search for the device or use the camera feature to locate the bar code
5. Once your iPad and computer are communicating, set up a Doceri password!
6. Minimize the app on your iPad to do other things if needed, like checking email.

3. Want to project a video or app or game from your iPad onto your computer? Download the free trial of Reflector App. You can show iPad content on your computer/projector for up to ten minutes before the free trial will shut the program down. That's usually all the time I need it for. I like to use it with the MyScriptCalculator app to show a math problem on the Smartboard (or projector). See the video below for how it can be used.

1. Install the computer program from http://www.reflectorapp.com/
    ( you do NOT need to install an app for this on your device)
2. Launch the program on your computer and set a password
3. Open the gray app tray on your device
4. Slide the tray to the right. You should be at your iTunes player bar
5. The bar should have a new rectangle button that is your Reflector app "mirror"
6. Click the button and search for your computer under the device list
7. Once you find your computer, toggle the mirror button from "off" to "on"
8. Right-click the iPad/iPhone image on the screen to adjust its view/width
9. Make sure to turn the reflector "mirroring" button back to OFF when done!!!!

**PLEASE NOTE** You CANNOT use Doceri Desktop and Reflector App at the same time. Their program types make your iPad "compete" with your computer, so that one reflects the other, which reflects the other, which reflects the other, on and on into infinity. It takes some time to perfect switching between programs. But they both have their uses!

4. Math teachers - I highly recommend using and inviting your students to try MyScriptCalculator. You can add it to any devices, whether phones or tablets, Mac or PC. It's free and extremely helpful. You just need to have semi-decent handwriting. Here is a video that shows how it works:

Have fun playing! I will post more updates as I find cool new apps and instructional uses.