Episode #104: Straight Outta Campos – An Interview with Ed Campos Jr.

Nov 23, 2020 | Podcast | 0 comments


In this episode we chat with Ed Campos Jr. who is building inclusive classrooms through music, technology, and dry-erase paint! 

Stick around to hear about 360Math and why you need to be teaching it; what super-moves help students think and feel safe in the classroom and, how to choose ed-tech tools to use with your students.

You’ll Learn

  • What is 360Math and why you need to be teaching it. 
  • What super-moves help students think and feel safe in the classroom. 
  • How to choose ed-tech tools to use with your students.


Start your school year off right by downloading the guide that you can save and print to share with colleagues during your next staff meeting, professional learning community meeting or just for your own reference!


Ed Campos: I think it's the easiest thing to do to get in the game for math teachers, and not even just math teachers because I think this scales beyond this because I think this whole idea of the whiteboard surfaces in the classroom. Now, you've been to any of these Fortune 500 or innovative companies, Google and stuff, this is what they all look like. They all have standing desks everywhere, nobody's in a cubicle, there's whiteboard surfaces or glass surfaces everywhere for ideas to flow freely, and if we want that kind of space... I've got kids crosstalk.

Kyle Pearce: In this episode, we chat with Ed Campos Jr. who is building inclusive classrooms through music, technology and dry erase paint.

Jon Orr: Stick around to hear about 360 Math and why you need to be teaching it. What super moves helps students think and feel safe in the classroom, and how to choose edtech to use with your students.

Kyle Pearce: All right, Jon. Let's get to it!
Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I'm Kyle Pearce from tapintoteenminds.com.

Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr from mrorr-isageek.com. We are two math teachers, who together-

Kyle Pearce: With you, the community of Math Moment Makers worldwide who want to build and deliver math lessons that spark curiosity.

Jon Orr: Fuel sense-making.

Kyle Pearce: And ignite your teacher moves! Jon, are you ready to dive into this awesome conversation with our good friend, Ed Campos Jr?

Jon Orr: Yes! Yes, of course, Kyle. Of course. We are honored to bring on Ed to chat with us. We've been looking forward to this one for a while, but before we do, I think you've got some details about a giveaway contest to share.

Kyle Pearce: Yes, absolutely! We're really excited about this. It's for all of you wonderful Math Moment Makers, but really, only for those who are listening to the podcast. We've got a special giveaway just for you, and we want to make sure that each and every one of our listeners is on the in.

Jon Orr: You can win one of five copies of Peter Liljedahl's new book, Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12.

Kyle Pearce: Oh, my gosh. Jon, this is something that so many people have been anticipating. Here are the details on how you can get in. First off, you're going to head over to your favorite podcast platform. I'm guessing that's where you are right now, listening either in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you're listening, and we're going to have you leave us a five star rating and review, or whatever the rating scale is on your particular podcast platform.

Jon Orr: Step two then is to take a screenshot of that review and share it on Twitter, or Instagram, mentioning @MakeMathMoments, or share it in our free private Facebook Group, Math Moment Makers K-12.

Kyle Pearce: On that post, again your choice on Twitter or Instagram or in our Facebook Group, be sure to use the hashtag #MMMgiveaway.

Jon Orr: And that's it. You're in. Right now, we only have a handful of ratings and reviews each month, so you're all Math Moment Makers out there. You know your chances are really high walking away with an awesome read with Peter Liljedahl, our guest from episodes 21 and episode 98, his brand new book: Building Thinking Classrooms.

Kyle Pearce: Yes, that's right. So, get in on that because we're going to be giving away those five copies of this awesome book, but in order to get in on this rating and review giveaway, you'll need to get your rating and review in by December 31st 2020.

Jon Orr: If you're listening to this after that day, December 31st 2020, go ahead and leave that rating and review, and follow the same process to be entered into our future giveaways where we'll be giving away stuff periodically.

Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff! More announcements on that in the new year, when we release episodes in the new year. All right. Enough from us. Let's get on to this fantastic conversation with Ed, and good luck in the giveaway.
Hey there, Ed! Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. We're super excited to have you on the show today, especially a colleague that we'll say is into the vertical non-permanent, and we're going to get into that a little later with his 360 Math. How are you doing today down in what I think is pretty hot California day?

Ed Campos: I'm doing pretty good, man. I got my walk and my run in early before. It's 90 degrees right now, about to hit noon time, going to be 100. So, I got my routine down and I get out there early with the sunrise before it starts getting too hot, and then I just hunker down inside my AC, crank that baby up... Crank it down, and then I get cooler than a polar bear's toenails as I chill the rest of the day on some Zoom channels.

Jon Orr: When you said up and down, I always get confused on that too. It's like, "Do I turn the air conditioner up, or do I turn it down?" I never know which one is the right thing. It sounds like an integer kind of situation for us, but... We know a little bit about you, but our listeners might not. Also, they might. Why don't you take a few moments here and fill our listeners in on a little bit about yourself, where you're coming from, and what's your role in education right now.

Ed Campos: Right on. My name's Ed Campos. I currently have two main jobs that I work. I work for Brown University's computer science department most of the time as a program trainer, and run the social media for this research project called The Bootstrap Project, bootstrapworld.org. It's a curriculum. It's math integrated with computer science curriculum for middle school and high school teachers. Mainly targeted to math teachers. That's what I do about half of the time. The other job that I have in education is I work as a partial math, computer science/edtech consultant for a local county office event, which I think are similar to your guys' boards up there. crosstalk

Jon Orr: Yeah. Yeah, you got it.

Ed Campos: Translation. Working with the white inaudible. I've learned the whole lingo. I work for them part-time, which is cool because I'm in classrooms more there, coaching teachers, coaching math teachers mainly, trying to get computer science up off the ground, and then now obviously, I think I've become the unofficial edtech consultant there with a lot of the distance learning things going on. Before that, I was in the classroom for 15 years, taught high school math and computer science here in the Central Valley of California.
I live in a town called Tulare, a very agricultural area of California, not what you probably think of when you think of California with the palm trees and stuff like that. I mean, we have In-N-Out Burger and there's usually palm trees around the In-N-Out, but I'm in between LA and San Francisco, or even closer in-between Bakersfield and Fresno, so that's kind of where I live, where it's hot right now.

Kyle Pearce: Nice! Nice. It sounds like you've got kind of a really cool employment situation there where you get to do all kinds of learning and sharing, and really just kind of keep your foot in with the district, doing all kinds of work there. You get to do a little bit of traveling through that Bootstrap program, which sounds just fantastic. I love it. You know what, Ed, when we invite people on the podcast, we never skip over this question. This is essentially based off of the title of the podcast, Making Math Moments That Matter. We want you to dig back into your past and when somebody asks you or says, "Math class," and that first memory that pops into your mind, that moment. It could be a great one, it could be maybe one that you're not so happy about, but what's that moment that pops into your mind for you when we say, "Math class?"

Ed Campos: Oh, man. It's tough to nail down one moment, and I think because I've been so blessed with amazing math teachers my whole life, but I think probably in high school, when I was taking calculus. I had an amazing calculus teacher, Jon McDowell at Delano High School, and I think just that moment of that year. If I can say a moment is the year that... He really instilled in me that confidence... He made calculus so easy for a lot of us that it was just such a confidence booster for me. I already had a good knack for the problem-solving and for the perseverance skills required to do well in math class. I played the game of math class to be honest, like what I learned early on to be honest, but to give me the confidence to be able to choose math as a major and realize that I could do this, I think. I might say, just my education as a lifelong learner, even as I connected to...
Because my math degree opened up so many doors for myself, I think, but a moment to inaudible as my adult life as a teacher is when I started learning about Jo Boaler and Fawn Nguyen's work with visual patterns and things like that. I think that moment is probably even more impactful, whereas Mr. McDowell gave me the confidence to kick open that door, give me a little crack in the door to get into the math space. Fawn Nguyen and Jo Boaler's work with visual patterns pushed me to think about math in a totally different way, and made me realize that I really didn't understand as much math as I thought I did, even though I had a degree from UCLA and could pass the tests.
I was just good at playing the game of school. So, it was kind of a scary moment at the time, but then an exciting moment because I started making more connections with the stuff and I started realizing, "Wow! I've been doing this wrong, but now I have so much more to learn." It's kind of changed everything about what I do with Dr. Boaler's work and Fawn Nguyen's. I like to call Dr. Boaler my Maths Khaleesi, but I call Fawn Nguyen... If she's the Khaleesi, Fawn Nguyen is the Arya Stark of maths, like straight-up slaying The Night King, you know what I mean? Spoiler alert.

Jon Orr: I get what you're throwing down there. I don't think Kyle kind of catches on. Kyle is not a science fiction kind of guy to catch on these Game of Thrones references.

Kyle Pearce: I'm over here with a big confused look on my face, but that's okay. It's a podcast. Nobody can see it.

Jon Orr: Yeah, nobody can see you right now. These are huge ideas, I think, and I think we have some long-time listeners of the podcast who know some similarities in Kyle and I's kind of past math experiences in the sense that we also had that awakening as a teacher to see how it was such a different experience, even as a teacher early in my career... It's their two works plus many more work that has kind of opened our eyes to seeing how powerful the connections in math can be.
The other similarity, I was stretching back to your high school experiences, it sounds like you said you had so many great math teachers, whereas I felt like I was the memorizer. I was that all the way through school, and my teachers I think reinforced that, especially in high school. My calculus class was definitely came in, said, "Good morning," every single day and then wrote notes on the board, and then that was pretty much it. I felt like I went into math because I have a math major too, but I went in mostly because I was like, "Hey, I'm pretty good at this because I can play the math game." That was my shtick, and it wasn't until later where I discovered that there's so much more to what we're doing as teachers, led me down that journey, but there's definitely lots to unpack there.
One thing that's coming to mind is, like you said, that calculus teacher inspired you so much, did you have any other teachers earlier in your career, or in your student career that sparked that love, or was it until then?

Ed Campos: I mean, I have to give my science teacher in middle school a whole lot of credit. Dr. Bruce Roas, who just passed away a couple of months ago, but he's just such an influence. I think tapping into just all skills that I think he recognized that I had, like as an illustrator. I very much thought I was going to be a cartoonist growing up, which is really weird because... He would be like, "I see you like to doodle. I want you to be an illustrator for this project. Oh, you're good at math? I want you to be in MESA," which is an engineering club for middle school kids, and we were building a car out of a couple of wheels, some straws and a piece of paper and things like that, and doing egg drop challenges and things like that.
So I think even though he wasn't my math teacher, he probably had more of a recognition of some of my mathematics skills, the things that are really important, whereas my traditional math teachers in the class were good in the fact that they were good for that system, good in teaching me how to play that game. Totally agree with what you're saying. I learned how to play the game of school, the game of math couldn't apply it to squat. Now I've learned, "Whoa. I got a lot to learn," but it's kind of scary, but it's fun.

Kyle Pearce: It's so funny because... First of all, I want to back up to the cartoonist piece and your ability, your artistic side because I saw on Instagram recently you were drawing and it was almost like you had either just you sped up the video, or it was like the time lapse video, and you were drawing like with chalk on the sidewalk I think it was at your niece or nephew's. It was so awesome. I was like, "Wow!" I saw the picture first and I thought, "Wow. I wonder who did that. Where did you catch that photo?" And then I saw the video of you do the whole thing. I'm like, "Holy smokes! I had no idea."
So, that was pretty cool, but then going back to your piece about your science teacher, it's interesting because a lot of science teachers, or at least people look at science because there's experiments as a more of an exploratory or investigative experience, at least when we think about a lot of our own experiences in the math classroom as a student, and I would agree with you. I would hate if my former math teachers listened to this podcast and thought, "Oh, my gosh. Kyle didn't actually learn anything for me," because I did. Like you said, it's like we learned how to learn math in that system with that approach, which is what everyone thought it was and still a lot of people are stuck in that sort of mode of this is what math education is.
They were really good at doing those things and trying to break out of it is kind of what we're trying to do here, but I had so many great teachers that were nice, and I could tell that they cared about me, and those things, I think, trump everything, right? Knowing that they care about you, knowing that they want the best for you, and these teachers did their best given what they believed at the time, or what they understood at the time as to what math education was all about. So, it just kind of dawned on me. I'm like, "Wow. When this episode comes out, it's probably going to be close to 100 episodes out and we're constantly talking about a procedural way of learning math, and I think we always have to remember and reflect that there's so many teachers that are doing their best given what they know and given their own experiences." So, that's a big reflection for me.
I want to turn this back to you, Mr. Campos, and I want to say when I think of your name, images pop into my mind and it might be because of that Instagram story thing you've got going on, and I see a lot, and you've got amazing views when you're on your morning walks. I actually probably know a lot more about your daily routine than you realize from social media, which is kind of creepy, but something I also think about and the reason we brought you on this podcast is that I know you have a love for this thing called 360 Math. It's really similar to what Jon and I really pitch and promote about vertical non-permanent.
So, I want you to take a moment and kind of unpack what is 360 Math for those who haven't heard about it, what inspired you to start doing, and why do you actually find it helpful for teaching math? What about it sort of fuels you to want to do it? I've actually heard you say before that that was I think one of the biggest changes that you would if you could only take one of them. I heard that recently on a podcast episode. Take us down that path. What is it, 360 Math, and what inspired you?

Ed Campos: And it still connects to what we just talked about, that procedural, the way that we were taught... The system, the math system, and we're learning a lot about systemic things lately, and systemic things that can be undone that we just don't know have been done to us. What I realized is I started really coming to grips with what math anxiety was because although I never had math anxiety growing up because I could play this game and had privilege and had a space to do homework. I had all of these types of resources available to me that I didn't realize that my students didn't have the access just to the same resources, didn't have the same experience.
I would always notice this really interesting look in their eyes that I learned later was anxiety, and as good as I thought I was at explaining step-by-step and maybe drawing some pictures with the word problems, there were still quite a bit of kids that just looked stressed out, and I always wondered, "What am I doing? I'm not doing this right. Maybe this job is just not for me." Then I stumbled upon at a Q conference... So, Q is like this edtech organization. I was at a Q conference, I was walking in the hallway in Palm Springs and I saw this poster session. The guy had ditched his poster session, but he was a kindergarten teacher who had painted dry erase paint on his kindergarten door and his tables, and he had pictures of his kids doing stuff on the tables, doing stuff on the door.
I was like, "Oh, my God." I just stopped. The guy wasn't even there, so I couldn't ask him questions. I ended up learning who it is later. I found out who it was like a couple of months ago. Robert Pronovost from the Bay Area, but I was just like, "This is amazing." So, I took that back too, and then I was in class with my students and I would ask them, "Hey." I looked it up online, what is this IdeaPaint stuff, and then I was showing my students that stuff, and they started going, "Oh. That's awesome. Are you going to do that to this class?"
I said, "If we get some money, I'm going to do that to this class because this stuff is not cheap," and it ended up being perfect timing because my boss at the time, Heather Rocher, at the inaudible independent study school I was at, recruited me to say, "Hey, can you help write this grant?" So I'm like, "I just want a bunch of IdeaPaint, and then maybe some big flat screen TVs and some iPads, Chromebooks and MacBooks," and we ended up getting it all, like $250,000. Then I asked her, "Well, who's going to come and paint the classroom walls? When is the maintenance guy going to come?" She goes, "You're going to be the maintenance guy that paints the classroom because the maintenance guy didn't write that grant." I'm like, "All right."
So, I look on YouTube how to paint classroom walls with IdeaPaint. So, I did that and it was like the biggest game changer ever. I went floor to ceiling whiteboard walls, and around that same time I started learning... I watched the Teach documentary. It was a CBS documentary hosted by Queen Latifah, and half of it was on Khan Academy. The other half was on this idea of 360 degree math. Comes from a math teacher turned principal named Sean Cavanagh in Colorado, and he started mentoring. One of his math teachers says, "Hey, how about we change the game in math class?" And if you have 36 kids, you can have 36 whiteboards around the room, and the kids are performing instead of the teacher.
You get away from this direct instruction and you're checking for understanding like a boss looking around, you got 360 degrees of visible student work. So I was like, "Oh, this is in line with what I'm doing." That was kind of like my entry point into this, and here's the thing is I was still doing procedural stuff. The kids were doing it now and they were doing it on the wall, and that was really just the difference for me. So, I give myself grace because like we said, the system has done things to us and I give myself grace and other teachers grace because everybody is coming into this journey at a different point, but I was doing drill and kill one through 55, just now, they're doing it on the board, but it was a big change. It was already like, "Damn. This is cool." Kids are doing stuff, they're having more success, they're peeking over at each other.
Then that led me to one of my good buddies, John Berray. You guys know John Berray, and I love John Berray. He called me and said, "Hey, I see what you're doing on this thing, your pictures of your classroom. You should check out this guy named Peter Liljedahl in Canada. He's doing that stuff. He's got research with it. It's called the Thinking Classroom." So I was like, "What?" And I had never met John. That was John's first like... He just tweeted at me, and he's like, "We have a mutual friend, Reuben Hoffman, that told me... And he said, 'You should follow this guy, Ed.'" And we started following each other.
So, we had started having conversations, and so I'm going to give all the credit to John Berray for introducing me to Peter Liljedahl's work, which really took it to another level and although I have never been to a 360 degree math training, I have never been to Peter Liljedahl's Thinking Classroom training, I've kind of like taken little pieces of each of what I've seen from the internets and created... I'm like, "Okay, I think I like this part. I like this part," and it's kind of like little remixes of some things. I would love to eventually attend any of those trainings in person.
So, that started and then especially with Peter's... The collaborative approach to it, like the random physical groupings, that changed the game for me, and small groups of two to three with one marker per student. I was like, "Okay. Let me get one student holds the marker so you can use purposeful color, but that kid is the artist who gets to draw and do whatever his group is deciding." So, I don't know. It's just been a really fun journey, and what I noticed is just anxiety... Just drop way down. Fun level, success, perseverance, the metrics that Peter has done the research on. That was the biggest thing when John said, "Look at all these things he's measuring," and I'm like, "Yep." Start to inaudible, questions asked more, all of these things are like, "Yeah, that's awesome. Oh, I've been doing research this whole time? I didn't even know! You know what I mean? I've got to get a hold of this guy in Canada soon."
I think it's the easiest thing to do to get in the game for math teachers, and not even just math teachers because I think this scales beyond this because I think this whole idea of the whiteboard surfaces in the classroom. Now, you've been to any of these Fortune 500 or innovative companies, Google and stuff, this is what they all look like. They all have standing desks everywhere, nobody's in a cubicle, there's whiteboard surfaces or glass surfaces everywhere for ideas to flow freely, and if we want that kind of space... I've had kids that would come in, that weren't my students, and they would ask me, "What gets taught in here? This is crazy looking classroom," because at the time, I had a turntable in there, I had a beat pad, I had giant PA speakers. It was like a club, and I would have kids playing music and doing whatever. "You're done with your stuff? You want to DJ for today while we get our math on, or whatever, and do some music cues?" I would pull in inaudible music cues because kids like... It just helps the time go by faster and it signals to them.
I would have students come and ask, "What gets taught in here?" And I said, "What do you think I teach in here?" And they're like, "Music or art," and I was like, "Nah. You're pretty close though. It's another creative subject. It's math," but I think that's very telling I think that that kid said then, is very telling of maybe how non-creative some of our math spaces have been and if that's the product that we want, maybe we can open up our spaces to open our thinking.

Jon Orr: Yeah, for sure. I want to dive deeper on some of the things you just said. I want to get your take on some whiteboard moves and some of those things before we get there, but I wanted to give the shout out to John Berray. We were going to have him scheduled on the podcast. Such a great guy. Every time we see him at a conference, we give him a high five, we chat with him. I would say he's one of the most fun-loving, easy to talk to guys, and we were deeply saddened by his passing this last year. I'm glad you brought him up because we haven't had a chance to talk about him too much since then.
Ed, I wanted to also comment on your journey because I'm really fascinated by it because I love these stories of people coming to the same kind of conclusions about their teaching but from different pathways. I really love that you got to this whiteboarding area of your teaching similarly to me and Kyle, but it was in a different path. My first evidence was I was the same as you: I just did the very traditional, "Hey, we're going to walk in, we're going to do some examples, you guys are going to crunch these out for 20 minutes." I was also at the point where I wanted to pull my hair out and not teach some of these kids on a regular basis until I saw Marian Small's work with open questioning, but I had paired that with little whiteboards at your desk, and that also-

Kyle Pearce: Because you didn't want them to get out of control, right Jon?

Jon Orr: Well, at that time I hadn't thought about whiteboards on the walls, but it was like I had a lot of success with kids who hated math class, with little whiteboards and open questioning, and getting them to just show thinking before I told them about that thinking. That sparked me to also want to paint everything with whiteboard paint. I approached all the people in charge to say, "Can I get some whiteboard paint on the desks? Can I get them on the walls?" And then I was shutdown every step of the way.
There was like, "Oh, it's too toxic to put up on the walls. Who's going to put it up? You can't put it up because of legal reasons," but it never got done, and then from there, I was stumbling on Peter's work and catching his work and seeing him live a few times has really kind of shaped that path of our journey, but I really love that we kind of converged on the same kind of spaces but from different spots. You saying and starting in Colorado and kind of catching up to you, and us from Ottawa. It's a pretty cool story.
I want to ask you this one question because I love super moves. What are super moves in your classroom, like when you're facilitating this with your students? One super move that I'm loving lately is when my kids are paired at the walls, or groups of three, and you got stations set up around the room, and you can see pockets of kids. One of my super moves is when we're working on a problem and I want to switch up the group's right then, I'll just say, "Who ate the healthiest breakfast today?" And then some kids will decide who that is between the group and then whoever did eat the healthiest breakfast maybe that day, you're going to rotate one space to the right, and then everyone's got a new partner, and then we're off on to something else. That's a super move that I'm really loving lately. I'm wondering, what's a super move when you guys are working at the walls that you're into right now?

Ed Campos: I mean my super move is just with the music. I think music cues, which I totally took from Matt Vaudrey's @mrvaudrey on Twitter. It also decreases the anxiety in the class, which there's a lot of anxiety going on in math class, let's be realistic if we've taught math, and that's a big one. So because I like to play... When we do a little gallery walk without having to say anything, I have a playlist of songs. I play Bob Marley's Get up Stand Up when it's time to get up to the wall, so they know, "Oh. Get up, stand up. Stand up for your right to get a math education," and then they're working.
When they're working in twos or whatever, I'm playing Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock It Takes Two to make an angle right, or something like that. Then when I transition like, "Let's do a gallery walk before we share out," I'll play Walk Like an Egyptian, or Walk This Way. By Run DMC and Aerosmith, and it's just like a little break. They get to see all of the work and then before they share out, and then I hit them with a little bit of Welcome Back, Kotter theme song, Welcome Back. So, I say, "Bring it back together and let's get the share out."
My anxiety has come from public speaking. That's where I empathized with kids because I never had the math anxiety, but I have dealt with public speaking anxiety up until lately now that I'm teaching, I get a lot of reps, and now that I do some keynotes, which is really crazy. I never thought I would be able to do keynote-type of stuff. That's totally conquering fears and things like that, but to be able to give kids the confidence to push down that anxiety in an environment so that they can bring up their thinking and their risk-taking, I think is the biggest move that I have with some of that music and then getting them to share out because I know I've seen kids that wouldn't share even one-on-one, and I've gotten them to...
When you're standing in the middle of that circle, it's just so unconfrontational because that idea... I didn't know what it was until looking at Peter's research, that de-fronting the classroom, that de-fronting is huge because going to the front of the classroom is anxiety-inducing, stress-inducing, panic-inducing, and when you de-front it and you ask kids to share from the wall, they're really just talking to their teacher in the middle of the room, or presenting where everyone's in the same safe... There is no front of the room. So I think for me, that's the biggest move for me.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah, that's huge. I think too, even just the getting up, and music I think adds another element to it. It's something that Jon and I do when we present with teachers. When I'm in a classroom, I always play some music. You can just see maybe a weight or that anxiety, that stress sort of go away for some students. It's like, "Oh. I walk into a class for the first time because I'm not in my own classroom right now. I'm at the district, and I get to go and teach in different classes," but for a lot of students, that's a scary thing, right? There's this new guy in the room. Is he going to be nice? Is he going to pick on me? Is he going to ask me to spit out a times table, or something? That could be really scary for them, so even just having that music at the beginning of the lesson, sometimes it even sparks a conversation, that community piece for students, and then once they're up...
I know I'm this person. Whenever I'm brainstorming, whenever I'm thinking about something or I'm being creative, in my thinking, I do so much better walking and standing, and people always say, my wife always laughs like, "Kyle's on the phone right now, because he's walking around in a circle." I would not have done well back in the days with the phones with the cord, right? So I was never big on talking back then, but now I can get up and move around. So, those are some great super moves. John's talked... Obviously, random groupings one that's big. I love the music cues. We'll make sure to link up Matt's website because Matt Vaudrey has some great things to say, so he's definitely worth checking out.
Before we kind of move to the next part, and actually, we're looking at the time we're going to be wrapping up shortly, but I just had this vision. I'm picturing your room. I'm looking around it in my mind right now and all I can see is this big sign on your door that says, "Straight Out of Campos." Do you mind sharing a little bit of background on that one? We were talking about music. I'm curious what's the story there, and why did that become something that kids wanted to experience with you and sort of, I guess, riff on?

Ed Campos: Yeah, that's a good one. I want to add one more thing before I tell that story though, but with the songs, what ended up happening with the music is the kids are like, "Oh, I see what you're doing. You play Beyonce to the left, to the left when you want us to move two whiteboards to the left. That's funny. You think you're witty," and then the kids would start to say, "What about if you play this song when we have to work in a group, like Come Together by The Beatles?" And I'm like, "Oh. That's a good one." So, then it was like they were creating their soundtrack to their classroom because it is their classroom. It's not my classroom, and then inspired by Peter's research, I started surveying kids about the music and I would really find that some of the kids would say, "Oh, I like when you play music, because it's just loud enough where I'm not afraid to say what I think to my partner. Nobody can hear what I'm saying."
It's like me singing in church. You don't want to hear it on your own, but I'll do it and I'll belt out some stuff with all my heart in church, but the Straight Out of Campos thing was pretty funny because my kids and I, we would talk about music a lot and then the N.W.A. movie Straight Outta Compton had just come out and I came back and that's all I could really talk about because it was like that's what I grew up on. I was like, "Man, this movie's so good. The production, the music, it's just such a glimpse into this culture at the time," and so my kids were like, "This is crazy. You're a math teacher talking about this gangster rap movie," and I'm like, "Yeah, but this movie is bigger than gangster rap. This is like Goodfellas. This is like Martin Scorsese how brilliant this was directed. You don't understand." So, we had this really deep conversation and they started calling me, "Oh. You're like Straight Out of Campos," and I was like, "That's hilarious."

Kyle Pearce: That is the best.

Ed Campos: So, they gave me that nickname, and I said, "That's good." So then we found out this website that Dr. Dre had and Beats by Dre had, straightoutofanywhere.com or something. So I printed out something, and they said, "That's cool. You should put it on the door." So, I taped it on the door and then even when I left that classroom, kids were like, "Oh, can you print me out one of those? I'm going to put it in my binder," and I'm like, "You're going to put this in your binder with your math teacher's name on it?" I'm like, "Okay."
I was like, "That's kind of weird, but that's kind of cool. Maybe I'm doing something right," and then they eventually asked me like, "Hey, you're all into stickers. Why don't you create some Straight Out of Campos stickers and you could give them?" So, the kids were slapping them on their skateboards and their laptops and stuff like that. I was like, "Hey, this is cool. I must be doing something right," and hip-hop is the biggest, most popular genre in the world, so maybe kids are into that too and that's a good way to relate to them.

Jon Orr: It's awesome because I think what you're doing in your classroom, you're building this... You're proud to be part of that group. Kids are proud to come straight out of Campos. They're proud and put their sticker on their own stuff, and I think that says a huge amount. If listeners of the podcast right now are like, "That's something to strive for." If a kid walks out of your room being like, "I'm part of that class," or "I'm a member of Campos' class," then that's huge for so many reasons and sounds like you've got that for sure.
Ed, before we go, I do want to bring up technology in the classroom because I know that you were a big advocate for it, and you alluded to that early on with you got a ton of investment into your classroom to make it the way you want it. I've always wondered this too, is like, "Well, how do you go to filter out all the noise of tech or edtech?" And something that I've been thinking about for years is how do you pick what's good and what's not good to use in your classroom, because there's so many apps. There's so many websites that are saying they're going to help your classroom. There's so many technological tools you could bring into the room, but what does it go through? What do you go through when you try to decide what comes into your classroom for your students?

Ed Campos: That's a great question. I think for me, it taps into whatever our teachers prior knowledge is. For me, the technology was not much and just the whiteboard, okay? I'm used to doing that there and I'll put it on the wall, you know what I mean? If whiteboard paint is a technology, and it's like, what are you using already? What kind of activity are you doing in the classroom that we could maybe make a little more engaging, maybe make more anonymous, so that kids can take more risks, your graph paper in your graphing or whiteboard becomes like a Desmos activity builder, right? Now it's totally anonymous with just the amazing things that Desmos is there to do, and one of my favorite tools, I think is a good low floor to get into the high ceiling of things, is the Pear Deck add-on.
I'm not sure if you guys have used the Pear Deck add-on for Google Slides? And because it is an add-on for Google Slides, or PowerPoint, and because most educators are using some version of Slides or PowerPoint, I think it's an easy entry, and a low floor high ceiling to add to something that they're already doing. You already have your slides and just add a little hot sauce to it and make it interactive, a little fairy dust or whatever you want to call it. Then you make it interactive, and then the possibilities are really endless with that one because once you're in...
The fact that you can push out a Desmos activity builder where it's embedded right into their quizzes, maybe a GeoGebra applet they can explore, and things like that. Then when you turn it on student paced mode, kind of like Desmos does, and now they added the feedback feature, so it's so similar to Desmos, I think, but a wider range of applicability because it's just a slide and it just converts your slides, so whatever you're doing.
I've been really introducing a lot of folks lately with this whole remote learning thing and I kind of focus on that, and then Flipgrid. For me, those are the two. I think Pear Deck and Flipgrid. Flipgrid for the social, emotional learning, to check in with our kids because they're so... Let's just forget academics, we just want to make sure kids are safe and check in with them, and check in on their faces and see how they're doing and see how their moods are. Pear Deck, I think it's the sky's the limit, but to get in is pretty easy because most people are already doing some version of a presentation.

Kyle Pearce: I totally appreciate you're starting with this idea of starting with something that is low floor enough I suppose, like you were saying, like the whiteboard going to 360 Math like you said earlier. It is such a easy shift because you're not introducing all kinds of new technology, but it is. It is a new technology for many of us, especially in how we use it. So, I love that. What I'm hearing your voices kind of picking a tool that's going to help you with a specific outcome. I heard you say Flipgrid's great for that social, emotional side of the student, so it's like you have a purpose in mind there and I think that's so important. It's so easy for us to lose sight of that when it comes to edtech. You hear people on campus at school, or maybe even your administration saying, "Hey, I want things more interactive. I want more tech use."
So, there's a lot of teachers just kind of looking for tools, but not knowing where to fit them instead of thinking the other way around as like, "What am i hoping to accomplish and what tool might best suit that particular use?" Ed, I'm looking at the time here, and I'm seeing we have blasted through a ton of conversation here. I had no idea how far along we were, but we want to be respectful of your time. I'm wondering... Folks that are listening, where can they find more about Ed Campos and Straight Out of Campos if they're interested in learning more about 360 Math, or some of the tech tools that you're using in your class, about cue conferences and all those other great things that you're involved in? Where can we send them?

Ed Campos: First of all, thank you for announcing my last name correctly. A lot of people don't. I appreciate that. I do have a blog, but I don't update it. Edcamposjr.com, but I'm working on that this summer. Most of the stuff is just on Instagram, on Twitter, and that handle is the same thing: @edcamposjr, and on Facebook... I mean, I share most of the same stuff. Facebook's a little different, but Instagram and Twitter is kind of where you can reach out and connect. I always look forward to connecting with new folks, math folks, especially my Canadian folks, man. I'm learning. I used to think my two favorite Canadians were Bob and Doug McKenzie because I used to watch Strange Brew when I first got HBO back as a kid, and then I'm like, "Okay. My new two favorite Canadians." Then it became Toby and Frank from White inaudible.

Kyle Pearce: Oh, yeah. Two cool dudes.

Jon Orr: We know those guys.

Ed Campos: And now I got two more: Jon and Kyle. I think I'm going to have a championship racket of Canadian pairs, or we do a remix, or some kind of a skit to pay homage to Strange Brew. I'll come up there and we could film-

Jon Orr: We'll all wear some plaid coats and some hats.

Kyle Pearce: So ready for that. Who can say eh the most in one sentence?

Ed Campos: I have a funny way to relate to that because I grew up around in California, large Mexican-American community, Chicano, but a lot of Mexicans say, "Eh," all the time. I grew up saying, "Hey. What's up, eh? This and that." And I got to college, people were like, "Are you Canadian or something? What's going on?"

Kyle Pearce: We'll take you, my friend. Come on over.

Ed Campos: Give me a room, bro. Give me an Airbnb, I'm there.

Jon Orr: Thanks so much, Ed. We appreciate you coming on and taking the time to speak with us and the Math Moment Maker community, and looking forward to meeting up with you in person hopefully soon at a conference when we're all kind of back to seeing people on a regular basis, but hopefully that's sooner than later, but again, thanks Ed for chatting with us.

Ed Campos: Oh, my pleasure. This has been a blast. Thank you guys.

Kyle Pearce: Pleasure's all ours. Talk to you soon, Ed.

Ed Campos: Okay.

Kyle Pearce: All right. It was great to finally welcome Ed onto the show. We've been talking back and forth for quite some time, and finally the schedules were allowed to align for us to have a great conversation, but before you take off, remember we're having a special contest giveaway just for you, our Math Moment Maker community who is listening to the podcast. Yes, you can win one of five copies of Peter Liljedahl's new book, Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, Grades K-12.

Jon Orr: Here's the details on how you can win: Step one, head over to your favorite podcast platform, Apple Podcast, or Google, or Spotify, wherever you listen, and leave us a five star rating and review.

Kyle Pearce: Number two, take a screenshot of that review and share it with us on social media. Really, Twitter or Instagram work by tagging us, or mentioning us, @MakeMathMoments, or in our free private Facebook group, Math Moment Makers K-12.

Jon Orr: On that post, be sure to use the hashtag #MMMgiveaway. That way, we will see it and enter you in the draw.

Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff, Jon. Keep in mind, this particular draw is going to go until December 31st 2020, so go ahead and leave that rating and review, and follow that same process afterwards even if you are listening after December 31st 2020 because we're going to be doing some future giveaways as well, and we'll be announcing those in the episodes released shortly into the new year. Go ahead, Math Moment Makers. Go win some awesome reads from Peter, and we really are rooting for you.

Jon Orr: Show notes and links to resources from this episode, and also full transcripts that you can download can be found at MakeMathMoments.com/episode104. Again, that's MakeMathMoments.com/episode104.

Kyle Pearce: All right, my friends. Until next time, I'm Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I'm Jon Orr.

Kyle Pearce: High fives for us, and a big high five for you.

powered by


Download the Cheat Sheets in PDF form so you can effectively run problem based lessons from a distance!

MMM From A Distance Cheat Sheets Smaller.001


There is a LOT to know, understand, and do to Make Math Moments From a Distance.

That’s why so many Math Moment Makers like YOU have joined the Academy for a month ON US!

You heard right: 30 days on us and you can cancel anytime. Dive into our distance learning course now…

Make Math Moments From A Distance Course
LEARN MORE about our Online Workshop: Making Math Moments That Matter: Helping Teachers Build Resilient Problem Solvers.

Thanks For Listening

To help out the show:



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Pedagogically aligned for teachers of K through Grade 12 with content specific examples from Grades 3 through Grade 10.

In our self-paced, 12-week Online Workshop, you'll learn how to craft new and transform your current lessons to Spark Curiosity, Fuel Sense Making, and Ignite Your Teacher Moves to promote resilient problem solvers.