Episode #289: How To Build Teaching Confidence: An Interview with Lori Martin

Jun 10, 2024 | Podcast | 0 comments



Episode Summary:

Are you ready to transform your math classroom by shifting the focus from grades to genuine learning?

In today’s educational landscape, many teachers struggle with moving away from a grade-centric approach to fostering a deeper understanding and love for mathematics in their students. 

In this episode we speak with high school math teacher Lori Martin about her shift from traditional teacher to Building Thinking Classroom practitioner. 

Stick around and you’ll learn practical strategies and insights that can help you make this important shift.

What you’ll learn:

  • Discover Peter’s Liljedahl’s building thinking classroom methods to engage students in meaningful mathematical discussions and problem-solving.
  • Gain insights on how to become more confident in experimenting with new teaching approaches and embracing a growth mindset.
  • Understand the importance of creating space for students to think and problem-solve independently, leading to a more student-centered classroom.


Attention District Math Leaders:

How are you ensuring that you support those educators who need a nudge to spark a focus on growing their pedagogical-content knowledge? 

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Episode Summary:

Pre-Interview Discussion and Technical Issues

Jon and Lori had a pre-interview discussion about technicalities and personal background. Initially, they had issues with Lori’s microphone, but eventually resolved it. Jon informed Lori that their conversation would be conversational and would last about 30 minutes. Lori expressed her excitement for the interview and mentioned her anticipation to discuss certain topics not initially requested by Jon.

Lori’s Transition to Focus on Learning

Lori, a college teacher, discussed the challenges she faced while shifting the focus from grades to learning in her concurrent algebra 2 classes, particularly with the introduction of computer-based assignments. She shared her success in tailoring her teaching approach to emphasize learning, with Jon agreeing to continue discussing this and related issues in future podcast episodes. Lori, a high school math teacher and basketball coach, also shared her journey into education, from her mother’s influence to her roles at various schools and her current position at Prior High School.

Improving Math Education With Holistic Approach

Lori and Jon discussed their personal experiences with math and agreed on the importance of teaching students the “why” behind concepts rather than just memorizing formulas. They highlighted the need for a more holistic and integrated approach to math education, emphasizing the significance of understanding the interconnectedness of concepts. Jon expressed his concern about the delayed introduction of calculus concepts, suggesting that younger students could benefit from an earlier introduction if algebraic tasks were automated. Lori agreed and stressed the importance of teaching students the big picture of mathematical concepts.

Emphasizing Alignment in Education

Lori and Jon emphasized the importance of alignment in education, particularly with regards to teaching different grade levels. Lori highlighted the need for consistency in verbiage and understanding of concepts across different grades, sharing an example where her son’s 6th grade teacher used different terminology from his 7th grade teacher, causing confusion. Jon agreed, noting that alignment is crucial for teacher growth and school growth, and that it is a significant component of the 4-stage process they help schools implement. Both stressed the importance of valuing and learning from teachers at all levels, and the need for open communication and understanding among teachers.

Lori’s Classroom Transition to Building Thinking

Jon and Lori discussed Lori’s teaching approach and classroom dynamics. Lori explained how she implemented Peter’s building thinking classroom techniques, such as daily visible random grouping and “huddling,” and how her students responded positively to peer assistance and collaboration. Lori also shared her transition from a lecture-based teaching style to a more student-centered, flipped classroom model, using Ed Puzzle to track video watching and encouraging group accountability. She emphasized the importance of one-on-one conversations with students who didn’t watch the videos and credited Peter’s session as a significant influence on her shift towards a more student-driven, visible random grouping approach.

Improving Teaching Confidence and Student-Centered Classrooms

Lori and Jon discussed strategies for improving teaching practices, with a focus on helping teachers feel more confident in trying new approaches. Lori emphasized the importance of teachers being willing to fail and learn from their mistakes, and the value of building strong relationships and trust between teachers. They also discussed the challenges of teachers who lack confidence in their mathematical understanding and how this can limit their ability to experiment with new teaching methods. Jon asked Lori about the first steps a teacher could take to begin building a more student-centered classroom, but the transcript ended before Lori could fully respond.

Growth Mindset and Teaching Strategies

Lori and Jon discussed the importance of building a growth mindset in teachers and students. They emphasized the value of small, incremental changes and the importance of not being discouraged by failures. Lori shared her experiences with a special education teacher who was initially hesitant to try new teaching methods but eventually became more confident. They also discussed the need for teachers to create space for students to think and problem-solve independently. Lori encouraged teachers not to expect perfection from their students, but to redirect them when they revert to old habits. Finally, Lori shared her social media handles as a way for other math teachers to connect with her.

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00:00:00:03 – 00:00:21:10
Lori Martin
I have used some of Peter’s building thinking classroom techniques. We do visible random grouping almost every day. And I have in my outer underscore two class. Right now I have 39 students, so they have worked with each other. We they worked with everyone in the room by now. And they know when they come in that we are.

00:00:21:12 – 00:00:53:04
Jon Orr
Are you ready to transform your math classroom by shifting the focus from grades to genuine learning? In today’s educational landscape, many teachers struggle with moving away from grades centric approach to fostering a deep understanding of love for mathematics and their students, and also many teachers just lack a little bit of the confidence to take those steps forward. In this episode, we speak with high school math teacher Lori Martin about her shift from traditional teacher to a building thinking classrooms practitioner.

00:00:53:06 – 00:01:24:00
Jon Orr
Stick around and you’re going learn practical strategies and insights that can help you make this important shift. You’re going to be discovering building, teaching classroom methods to engage students in meaningful mathematical discussions and problem solving. You’re going to gain insights on how to become more confident in experimenting with new teaching approaches and embracing that growth mindset. You’re also going to understand the importance of creating space for students to think problem solve independently, leading to a more student centered classroom.

00:01:24:01 – 00:02:01:15
Jon Orr
Let’s go. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pierce and I’m John or we are from make that moments dot com. This is the only podcast that coaches you through a six step plan to grow your mathematics program, whether it’s at the classroom level or at the district level. And we do that by helping you cultivate in foster your mathematics program like strong, healthy and balanced SRI.

00:02:01:15 – 00:02:25:13
Jon Orr
So if you master the six parts of an effective mathematics program, the impact that you are going to have on your teachers, your students will grow and reach far and wide. Every week you’ll get the insight you need to stop feeling overwhelmed, gain back your confidence and get back to enjoying the planning and facilitating of your mathematics program for the students or the educators that you serve.

00:02:25:15 – 00:02:36:08
Jon Orr
Hey there, Lori. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. We are excited to chat with you today. Do us a favor. Let us know where are you most you coming from? What’s your current role in education?

00:02:36:10 – 00:02:55:20
Lori Martin
I am Lori Martin. I live in Pryor, Oklahoma. This is my 29th year of teaching because I started when I was like ten years old. Just kidding. I currently am teaching honors Algebra two and then three concurrent courses for R2, and I’m the head of the math department at Pryor High School.

00:02:55:22 – 00:03:17:11
Jon Orr
Awesome. Awesome. Thanks for that. Give us a little bit of a snapshot of your journey into education. Were you a high school teacher coming right out of university or college? Is it always what you wanted to go into? Painting a picture here about like the journey to teaching honors Algebra two in the concurrent, you know, and where you are currently?

00:03:17:13 – 00:03:35:20
Lori Martin
Okay. I’m also the assistant girls basketball coach here as well. My husband’s a head coach, so I’ll throw that in there too. So my mom was my high school math teacher. By the time I got into high school, she was teaching the upper level math. So pre-calculus, the highest that we had. And so I was in her math class and, you know, they did the senior predictions.

00:03:35:20 – 00:03:59:00
Lori Martin
And my senior prediction was I always wanted to be a pharmacist. But my friend said teacher, basketball coach. And I was like, okay, I am not doing that’s not happening. And so here we are. I played basketball at the University of Oklahoma and then finished up at Southwestern Regional University, close to where we lived in My first job right out of the gate was at Weatherford High School where I’d done my student teaching.

00:03:59:02 – 00:04:16:12
Lori Martin
I had I started an AP class there, but also had an Algebra one class that was more of a fundamentals hands on type class. And that was the beginning of my journey. And with coaching I was also the head girls basketball coach. So a coaching, you kind of move around quite a bit. You don’t really get to stay at one school.

00:04:16:14 – 00:04:35:06
Lori Martin
So I moved after four years to a small school, started a AP cow, met my husband there, got out of coaching, we moved to Norman. So that was I went from a for a school to a six day school. So that was a change. Met and amazing mentor there, Lenny Gibson. I mean, he really helped me with my math journey.

00:04:35:06 – 00:04:55:05
Lori Martin
Besides my mom, I always had my mom to bounce things off of as well. She was teaching at the University of Oklahoma at the time, so moving to Norman put me close to her and my dad as well. And so that was a great part of my journey. And then my husband and I had our third kiddo and decided to stay home so I couldn’t stay out of the math.

00:04:55:07 – 00:05:13:09
Lori Martin
So I taught for an online school, the Potter School, which serviced missionary kids and homeschooled kids. So I had kids all over the place. I had a class that was in China, which was super cool. I had kids in the U.S. I had kids in Nicaragua just Honduras, all over the place. It was amazing. It was fun time.

00:05:13:11 – 00:05:41:10
Lori Martin
I was able they already had the upper level math, but I was able to start sixth grade math with them and it was live instruction. So that was cool. And then after a couple of years, I did that for probably, I don’t know, five years maybe or so, seven years. I also, during that beginning time, helped start a classical school in Norman, and so I taught fourth and fifth grade math science, English, Latin, which I had never taken before.

00:05:41:12 – 00:05:50:03
Lori Martin
So just some kind of fun and history, Just some kind of fun side. Yeah, and history. My husband teaches history, so maybe.

00:05:50:08 – 00:05:51:21
Jon Orr
Colorful past for sure.

00:05:51:21 – 00:06:01:03
Lori Martin
Yes. And we got back into coaching and then we’ve been ten years coaching together now and. Yeah, we’re a prior now and hopefully stay here forever.

00:06:01:05 – 00:06:25:04
Jon Orr
You’re talking my passion basketball and I also coached probably not that the level probably you’re coaching at that did some some when I was first starting as a teacher as well but love the game of basketball played a pretty high level here in Canada too so love that kind of journey. Tell me about your math moment. You know, we always ask every every guest, you know, when we say math class, there’s like images that pop in our minds that have stuck with us.

00:06:25:06 – 00:06:36:16
Jon Orr
They’re just carry forward. And sometimes they’re you know, sometimes they’re positive, sometimes they’re negative. But they stick with us for reasons and tell us what yours is like when we say math class, what pops into your mind that you know sticks with you all this time?

00:06:36:18 – 00:06:59:17
Lori Martin
So my geometry teacher in high school was very traditional and so asking questions, I asked her a question a couple of times at one particular time that I remember vividly ask her a question, and she sat down at her desk and yelled from her desk, I’ve already explained this to you. You figure it out and my mom taught in the same school.

00:06:59:17 – 00:07:15:14
Lori Martin
And so I went home to her and said, I don’t understand this, and told her what had happened. And at that point I didn’t say anything to my mom, but I said, I’m not asking any more questions at class like I’m done. And my mom said, Well, if you don’t understand it, I’m sure there are other kids. So it became like we had our little step.

00:07:15:15 – 00:07:33:00
Lori Martin
So we formed study groups. Great things came out of that research study groups. When I got to Trig. I love Trig like it’s one of my favorite classes to teach. It was my favorite to take and my mom’s like, Okay, now wait a minute. You hate geometry. So you say, But she was my breakout teacher, and so she explained all the why behind it.

00:07:33:02 – 00:07:51:14
Lori Martin
Like, how do we get 4545 right triangles and how do you find the area of a triangle without it being a right triangle? And why does that work? And what about angles of elevation and depression? Like how can we figure? And so just the why behind everything. And I think that’s probably where I always liked math, but I worked really hard at it.

00:07:51:16 – 00:08:14:11
Lori Martin
But it just all started making sense through Pre Calc and then through my Calc series in college, everything just started coming together and making sense. And then the more I it, the more it makes sense to me too. Like, wow, I haven’t ever thought of that. Or kids bring up things and, you know, it’s just that I feel like math is a roller coaster, like there’s highs and lows and explaining that to my kids like, okay, we’re on a high right now.

00:08:14:11 – 00:08:36:06
Lori Martin
You’ve got this. And they’re like, But we know what’s coming tomorrow. But it’s okay because you know, it’s going to go back up like and the just the joy of learning. And I call it brainwashing. My principal calls it indoctrinating students into believing that they can do it, convincing them this. We can figure this out. It’s going to take work, but you can do it.

00:08:36:10 – 00:08:41:13
Lori Martin
So that’s really my favorite part. I think that was instilled by my parents at a young age.

00:08:41:17 – 00:08:58:13
Jon Orr
Get sounds like we have a lot of similarities. My father was also like, we come from four, come from teachers, math teachers, like my my father was a math teacher. And even though I think it sounds like your moment in my moment would be very different because my my dad was a very traditional math teacher. So do it this way.

00:08:58:13 – 00:09:12:19
Jon Orr
This is the way you do it kind of guy, right? Instead of the why. But I love that you said math is a roller coaster because it soon as you said it, it’s like every year in my classroom I kick off the school year by asking students to fill in like one key phrase on the very first day.

00:09:12:19 – 00:09:27:13
Jon Orr
Like I always leave the syllabus, all that kind of stuff for later. Or even if we it’ll trickle in, right? Like, like these things don’t really matter. And let’s set the stage right. One of the questions or prompts I give kids to think about is to say, like, what is math? Like math is like dot, dot, dot, fill in the blank.

00:09:27:15 – 00:09:42:16
Jon Orr
And then kids will write very different things about their experiences with math. Really, really getting out is their math moment, right? Like they’re thinking about their math moment when they fill in. The math is like. And so some of the examples I give and I always give the example of math is like a roller coaster. And then I always fill it in.

00:09:42:16 – 00:09:58:13
Jon Orr
Like what? You have to explain why you say what you say, right? So math is like a roller coaster. I say sometimes there’s up, sometimes there’s downs, sometimes it makes you feel sick that you’ll get back to the gate. And then some kids are like, Well, sometimes you go get back to the gate, right? Oh, my gosh. That’s I’m glad you said that.

00:09:58:13 – 00:10:16:17
Jon Orr
But I also wanted to comment on I have a wonder here for you, too, is about I sometimes think that when we it sounds like you had, you know, the Y explained to you early and I’m not sure how early that started for you could have been right out of the gates. But for me, the whys didn’t come up again until I was a teacher.

00:10:16:17 – 00:10:48:05
Jon Orr
And I think that progression of the aha moments come most when we start teaching. But I think when we take Calculus two, we hear a lot of ahas because calculus kind of brings a lot of the algebra together to go, Oh my gosh, this is why we’ve been factoring all this time to make this thing easier. It’s like we’ve done all this kind of legwork to get to this really great thinking and, you know, and actually we were and I’m going to go down a rabbit hole, but there’s so much goodness in thought around like how simple some of the ideas in calculus actually are.

00:10:48:07 – 00:11:15:04
Jon Orr
But it’s so disappointing that we can’t or it’s not like we can’t, but we don’t tell or let kids know about those amazing ideas until calculus or the 12th grade or universe City. And and I was talking we were talking with Conrad Wolfram, and he’s part of the Wolfram Alpha Association. And Mathematica, all that kind of stuff. So he was saying, like, how simple these ideas are.

00:11:15:04 – 00:11:37:19
Jon Orr
And it’s such a shame that we don’t teach it to younger kids and say, Well, why can’t we teach it to younger kids? Because the algebra is preventing us from them exploring it. But if computers can sometimes take care of that algebra, then we can explore these ideas so much sooner than waiting so long, which is again, a whole other episode that we could we could go down and kind of explore like why and when.

00:11:37:19 – 00:11:50:20
Jon Orr
And we actually do that with Conrad. But then the question, I guess to you is to think about was it calculus that kind of feels like brings things together? Like you said it was coming together around there or was it the you know, was it having a mom that really explained things to you?

00:11:50:22 – 00:12:11:01
Lori Martin
I think probably both. But I think even with my students and we’ve talked about this recently in my department with some of my colleagues, we get stuck on, I have to teach these standards like these are required. These kids have to master these standards. If those kids haven’t seen that material before, you get to that standard, they’re probably not going to master it.

00:12:11:01 – 00:12:40:10
Lori Martin
Most kids aren’t. So I think sometimes in calculus we’ve done these things so many times getting up to that point or should should have done those things so many times and maybe not fully understood that calculus is the part where everything starts coming together and all the why I’ve been doing this and I tell my kids, it’s like and I tell them this with other concepts, but when I’m trying to talk them into taking Calc one and Calc two, all the things that you’ve been practicing, it’s like football practice.

00:12:40:16 – 00:12:57:17
Lori Martin
Do you go out and run these plays and you do all the things in all things? Calculus is game day, this is it. You’re going to put it all together. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be like a rollercoaster, but it’s going to be fun and you’re going to see how everything pieces together. And I think kids have those aha moments as we’re rolling through other content.

00:12:57:19 – 00:13:01:09
Lori Martin
But I do feel calculus is where it’s all put together.

00:13:01:11 – 00:13:20:22
Jon Orr
It’s kind of like the puzzle comes together, right? The pieces of the puzzle are fitting together. It feels like, Oh my gosh, there’s a picture here. I didn’t even know there was a picture here, Right? Even though there was a picture here altogether. And sometimes I reflect on obviously, you have such a profound understanding of how all of the standards connect to each other.

00:13:20:24 – 00:13:48:01
Jon Orr
And we get that through our experience as teachers. We get that through teaching different subjects or classes, different grade levels that comes together that way. And sometimes I wonder about how much of that picture the teachers that we’re working with who haven’t had that experience or haven’t had. What are kids seeing in this picture? Because sometimes it’s like we got to teach these things for us to really see the picture, even though calculus kind of put some puzzle pieces together.

00:13:48:01 – 00:14:09:16
Jon Orr
But I always often think about who’s seeing what puzzle and how a piece fits into that puzzle. What does the picture actually look like and how do we help people, teachers, students, administrators, parents see the full picture before and not have to wait so long to like to get to calculus.

00:14:09:18 – 00:14:27:21
Lori Martin
Right? Well, I think my principal made an amazing genius move this year. He moved one of my colleagues. She’s still teaching algebra to an AP stat, but he gave her Algebra one classes, which I taught at other schools too hard. I’ve been through that, but she hadn’t taught Algebra one in a while. I mean, she’s so excited right now.

00:14:27:21 – 00:14:52:24
Lori Martin
She’s like, okay, I know where the gaps are now. I can see them where we’re gapping in algebra to why our kids don’t know these things because they’re not hitting it hard enough in Algebra one. And so the first time they’re saying something like I was talking about just a minute ago, but I think you’re right. And I think it goes the other way, not only teaching the upper level, but sometimes we have to drop and teach the algebra one the geometry, to remind ourselves, hey, these kids are accountable for these things.

00:14:53:01 – 00:15:14:12
Lori Martin
And I think, like we have amazing instructional coaches at prior, but one is math oriented, the other one is more English history. But she has become we’ve brainwashed her, She loves math, she loves it, and she’s actually going to a math conference with me this summer. But she understands the vertical alignment and I think we’re missing that. I know we are.

00:15:14:12 – 00:15:35:19
Lori Martin
And my colleagues would agree we’re missing that at our school right now, but we’re working back toward that. And it’s kind of like coaching. Like if you’re a junior high coach, if you’re a seventh grade coach, that’s the most important thing to you. Seventh grade, that’s it, right? You don’t coach anything higher. But as a high school coach and I coach seventh grade last year, I can see where they need to be when they get to high school.

00:15:35:19 – 00:15:53:19
Lori Martin
I know you guys don’t want to do these mundane drills, but you have to be able to master this to be successful in our team in the high school. And I think it’s the same way with math or any other subject. Those teachers, Algebra one, Algebra two, whatever geometry, they have to be able to see, Hey, these kids need this.

00:15:53:19 – 00:16:11:24
Lori Martin
It may not be a standard, but they have to be able to master it here. We need to make sure they understand it. And then as an upper level or algebra two teacher, higher grade teacher, I need to know in sixth grade, in seventh grade what those kids have learned so I can hold my kids accountable and use the same verbiage right in junior high.

00:16:12:00 – 00:16:34:03
Lori Martin
Sometimes they’re using different verbiage. I don’t know what they said when we are Bartlesville. My son was in sixth grade and we were working on greatest common factor. We were working on simplifying radical functions and expressions, and he was working on greatest common factor and he showed me what his teacher was doing and the verbiage she was using.

00:16:34:03 – 00:16:49:07
Lori Martin
And I was like, Holy cow, I’m going back the next day. And they were like, Why don’t you just tell us that we did that sixth grade? Why don’t you just say it that way? So that was kind of an aha moment for me. Like we as teachers need to do a better job with a verbiage. And then I think finding ways to pull teachers in.

00:16:49:09 – 00:16:56:16
Lori Martin
I think our administration is on board when we’re on board with each other. I mean, our administration loves it when we work together, right?

00:16:56:18 – 00:17:24:20
Jon Orr
Yeah. Lineman is very key for teacher growth, school growth. Kyle and I consult with school districts across North America, and that’s a huge component of the four stage process we help them put them through is how to create alignment across the district, across schools so that teachers feel supported, but also know that the pathway they’re going down, the principal knows they’re going down that pathway and isn’t shocked all of a sudden when they’re working on something that they think is important.

00:17:24:20 – 00:17:45:00
Jon Orr
But the principal doesn’t think it’s important. Like all of a sudden, this is when there’s disjoint there in no connection to words, the alignment. This is why teachers kind of go, I’m not going to try that because if the is not valuing the same things, then when parents start pushing back and the principal’s not supporting, all of a sudden it’s kind of like, well, why would I put my neck out there?

00:17:45:02 – 00:18:01:23
Lori Martin
I think the alignment is critical for relationships between teachers because, I mean, you know, there’s teachers like to play the blame game right? Well, they didn’t they don’t know this in Algebra one. And what did they do in eighth grade or pre-algebra? Why don’t they know it’s always somebody else’s fault down the line? Well, in algebra two, they don’t know this.

00:18:01:23 – 00:18:25:13
Lori Martin
What did they do in algebra one instead of where are the gaps and what are we missing? Maybe they did that. And I’m using a different verbiage than what they used. And so just building that trust among teachers to be open and have conversations and know that seventh grade math, if you’re a seventh grade math teacher, and that’s the most important thing to you, it’s super important to me to I want to know what you’re doing.

00:18:25:13 – 00:18:39:19
Lori Martin
And I can’t learn from a seventh grade math teacher. I still activities all the time from third and fourth grade. So I think just knowing teachers, knowing that they’re valued at whatever stage they’re teaching, whatever level is super important as well.

00:18:39:21 – 00:18:51:15
Jon Orr
Let’s get granular here. Let’s zoom in to your classroom. Tell us like, what does it look like? What is a classroom? And this is Martin’s room look like was a typical lesson look like what’s a typical day? And then and then we’ll kind of branch out from there. Okay.

00:18:51:19 – 00:19:15:03
Lori Martin
Well, in general, controlled chaos is probably a good way to describe it. So I have used some of Peter’s building thinking classroom techniques. We do visible random grouping almost every day. And I have in my outer honors Algebra two class. Right now, I have 39 students, so they have worked with each other. We they’ve worked with everyone in the room by now.

00:19:15:03 – 00:19:33:02
Lori Martin
And they know when they come in that we are going to great. So they’re super sneaky. So at the beginning of the year, I was handing out cards in the hallway. You know what happened when they went in my classroom? Right? They tried it. Cards got in the groups they wanted to get into. So I don’t remember where I learned this, but we started huddling.

00:19:33:02 – 00:19:55:07
Lori Martin
I started thinking about what we do in basketball before we start. We get in a circle, we huddle, we talk about big picture for the day or for the practice, and then we get busy. So I started doing that. If my class was like, okay, we’re going to huddle. So we’re in the classroom. They’re all standing around. I give them just an overview what we’re going to do, and then I hand out the cards and then the people that I knew were trading.

00:19:55:07 – 00:20:09:24
Lori Martin
I’d be like, Hey, where did you get today? So that I know they know that I know what card they have and that stop they’re trying to get with a group. And then they understood that, hey, there’s a chance that I’m going to get with my friend anyway. They get super excited, you know, when they draw the same card.

00:20:10:01 – 00:20:40:01
Lori Martin
So we do that and then I switch it up some. They go to the boards and work sometimes. Personally, this is a selfish thing when they go to the boards at work, I can see everyone. So I have 39 vertical and 39 I have 13 vertical spaces so I can have groups of three with 39. But what I found I did a professional development for my school and jury on claims, evidence, reasoning and I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but we did English science, math history, and I just said, Can I bring some of my students to do this?

00:20:40:03 – 00:21:02:09
Lori Martin
And so they were on vertical spaces and they I gave them some problems that we hadn’t done before, so they didn’t know what was going on. Groups of three and they made their claim started working. The algebra for the evidence. Evidence didn’t match the claim. So instead of turning around and asking me a question, they had me and I didn’t tell them anything.

00:21:02:10 – 00:21:22:20
Lori Martin
They immediately turned to each other and started talking. And the teachers that were standing next to me were like, Why didn’t they just ask you? Because this is what we do in my room. And so that for me was like, okay, I am going to continue doing this because their habit was in. It’s weird because usually it only happens when they’re on the boards, when they’re at tables working.

00:21:22:20 – 00:21:37:15
Lori Martin
Like today we were working on a semester review. Coach will come over here and help me come over here and help me. I need help. I need help. You’ve got groups around you, but it’s more difficult for them to ask for help from a peer than to just peek over at a board or look across the room at a board.

00:21:37:15 – 00:22:04:21
Lori Martin
Right. And get a little idea. So a lot of math conversations in my room. I’m not going to say 100% engagement, but I feel like highly engaged. Do they get off track? Of course they do. I mean, they’re high school kids, right? Sophomores and juniors, but they are pretty quick to get back on track. I have students who are so on Mondays and Fridays, my college students don’t have class, so they will come in and help for nothing.

00:22:04:23 – 00:22:18:08
Lori Martin
They don’t get anything for that, but they’ll walk around the room and help because they had they were in my class for algebra two and so they know what the layout is. And it’s so fun to just sit back and watch them help other students. It’s beautiful.

00:22:18:10 – 00:22:34:12
Jon Orr
Sounds great. And you’ve painted us, I think, in classrooms picture and given us kind of a snapshot of like what it looks like when they come in. What does it look like when we go to the boards? Does it look like when we knock or the boards? I think we we’re painting a picture, especially if you’re familiar with Peter’s work and what that looks like in their classroom.

00:22:34:12 – 00:22:56:02
Jon Orr
Now, I know because you’ve got to be like all of us, is that we didn’t always teach this way. And I’m curious, what did Mrs. Martin’s class look like before for this realization? And then maybe like early or maybe it was like maybe middle of your career before you made this switch. What does it look like? And then what was the mood like?

00:22:56:02 – 00:23:10:11
Jon Orr
There was something that changed and that made you try this, or maybe you had some success somewhere, but fill us in on like that, the linking between going from where you were and going from where you are now.

00:23:10:13 – 00:23:23:23
Lori Martin
Okay. So when I first started teaching, we had ever had projectors, so that’s fun just to do. Yeah. Which I liked because students were looking that direction and I could see their little faces and see if they really understood or if they were nodding.

00:23:24:00 – 00:23:25:09
Jon Orr
Except the lights were off.

00:23:25:11 – 00:23:52:04
Lori Martin
Yeah, that’s true. Yes. But I have always tried to do like cards, swords or I attended APS, AP Institute shoots where I could gather different activities for my students so I could keep them engaged. But it was always and I’ve done things in groups at times, but it was always more lecture style. And then I got out of the classroom and went to the online smaller classes.

00:23:52:04 – 00:24:13:15
Lori Martin
Kids were working in groups and the online piece kind of triggered in me like, there’s got to be a better way to do this. So when I got back into the classroom, I started thinking about flipping my class. So I started creating short videos. I was out prior. We were not one.

00:24:13:17 – 00:24:16:21
Jon Orr
Thousand ten 2000, 11.

00:24:16:23 – 00:24:22:08
Lori Martin
Thousand, 14, 13, 14. This is when it was big, right? Yeah.

00:24:22:10 – 00:24:24:01
Jon Orr
Class was spreading around.

00:24:24:03 – 00:24:42:05
Lori Martin
Yeah. So I could do my research, right? I could see what other people were doing. I could avoid their mistakes. I made plenty of mistakes on my own. I need to make other people too. So I started to flip and I wasn’t really happy with the way it was going because students weren’t watching videos before class like.

00:24:42:07 – 00:24:42:16
Jon Orr
I was.

00:24:42:18 – 00:25:00:13
Lori Martin
Right now I have like two or three people, or they’d be like, Oh, I forgot. Okay, well now they have to watch the video. We can’t get to the activity I wanted to do. So I was trying to figure out how to make that work. It is amazing the accountability that you have when you randomly group kids and they’re supposed to watch a video the night before.

00:25:00:15 – 00:25:19:15
Lori Martin
It’s amazing because they don’t want to be the one in the group that didn’t watch the video. So that realization came about four years ago. So I started using a puzzle to track whether kids have watched the video or not, but also they can throw questions in at the end of the video if they have questions that we need to cover.

00:25:19:17 – 00:25:40:08
Lori Martin
So at the beginning of class, when we do our discussion, I talk about any misconceptions that I saw they get in their groups. We may work a problem or two together and then they’re off and running. Now I have students. They could go without watch in algebra two. They can go without watching the video because some of the content at the beginning of the year is algebra one second semester, right?

00:25:40:08 – 00:25:58:01
Lori Martin
So they can create that habit. So I try to have one on one conversations with students who are not watching the video because I don’t want them to teach themselves on the video. I’ve tried that too. That doesn’t work. It’s too long. So I’m 7 minutes done and I don’t do it all the time, but most of the time they have a video.

00:25:58:01 – 00:26:26:16
Lori Martin
So as we are working on this review today, my student said, Will you please make a video for this? Because some of those kids need to hear and see and work multiple like they need to see it several times. Why is she doing what she’s doing? And they come back with questions. So I think building thinking classrooms probably two years ago and then I saw Peter last summer in Texas, went to Fort Worth and I was able to attend one of his sessions and it just solidified.

00:26:26:16 – 00:26:44:19
Lori Martin
I had already started it last year, but it opened my eyes to what it should look like, the visible random grouping. All of the things doing it for myself just solidified. Okay, I’m going to run with this. I am always trying to research and find what’s best for my kids. I’m always going to do what’s best for them, even if it’s more work for me, I don’t care.

00:26:44:21 – 00:27:13:17
Jon Orr
What do you think? I think a lot of you know, a lot of us who are coaches, consultants, coordinators, teacher leaders in schools, we think about how do we help the teachers that were working around us do more of those good practices things. So because Peter’s research is his own research, but there are a lot of elements inside of what he’s doing, which are part of the ineffective teaching practices and how do you how to blend those together like people are.

00:27:13:18 – 00:27:37:02
Jon Orr
You know, you need to pair the five practices from, you know, Peg Smith, Mary case. Diane is is you know, as a structure that is really modeling what Peter’s doing. So it’s like there’s a lot of great practice in a building thinking classroom. We try to think, how do we spread that Well, how do you help a teacher who’s not doing that yet maybe wants to, but then is like not sure.

00:27:37:02 – 00:27:59:01
Jon Orr
Like, what do you think some of the qualities or the moves that we need to, like give a teacher so that they’re like, I feel more confidence to try something new? Like, what do you think is that you obviously had something that you wanted to take a risk around your career. Always were thinking about engagement early. You did the flip class back then.

00:27:59:01 – 00:28:24:23
Jon Orr
It’s like you’re always willing to take a step in the direction just to see if it works or not. And I think that’s a lot of confidence. That’s a lot of comfort in your content knowledge, comforting classroom expectations and behavioral in classroom management. Like there’s always that. Then there’s other things that teachers need, I think. What do you think teachers need to be able to like, grasp and like take on a different style of teaching.

00:28:25:00 – 00:28:44:16
Lori Martin
While for math teachers, it’s relinquishing control, right? And that’s really difficult for math teachers. I mean, it really is, especially if they have been so like you said, I’ve always been rogue and trying new things and and I’m willing to fail and say, okay, that didn’t work. Let’s try again. But I expect my students to be able to do that, too.

00:28:44:18 – 00:29:06:24
Lori Martin
I think most math teachers are like, sure, I’m going to deliver the content. You’re going to learn it. When we went to Bartlesville a few years ago, everyone was traditional, but we met and they got to know me and I started sharing what I was doing and then the kids were talking about it. So the kids that were in my class were going to these other classes and saying, Hey, coach, let’s flip in the class.

00:29:06:24 – 00:29:25:22
Lori Martin
It’s awesome. I can watch the video like much as many times I want. And then I think it’s the trust and the relationship, like the teacher to teacher relationship has to be strong as well. I think I would never tell the teacher, Hey, what you’re doing is not right. Right. Because you do your own thing. We have stuff that we have to cover.

00:29:25:24 – 00:29:51:09
Lori Martin
But I also am willing to share ideas and I have a small group that I have teachers that teach at different schools that we bounce ideas off of each other all the time. And I think just trying to spider that out and pull more people in is huge. But I mean, there’s no way you can make people do something that they are confident in doing that they don’t trust in the outcome.

00:29:51:14 – 00:30:05:01
Lori Martin
Right? They have to do their own research. They have to try it and be willing to fail. It’s just like your kids in your classroom. You can hand it to them and say, Guys, this is so good for you. Like this is going to be life changing and they can go, No thanks, I don’t wanna do it.

00:30:05:03 – 00:30:29:03
Jon Orr
They have to come to the realization themselves. And that’s the tough part when you’re trying to coordinate your school and coordinate your math department. And because not everyone’s at the same level of position, but I think a lot of people are still unsure of the mathematics itself to go. And I go like feel comfort in their understanding of the different representations in the different what strategy is to solve problems in.

00:30:29:03 – 00:31:01:15
Jon Orr
And if you don’t have that confidence and that confidence sometimes comes right out of the gate, but I think more often comes from experience, from teaching kids every day for a long time to see what they’re doing on a regular basis. And then when we have that confidence, it’s like, now we’re going to like, I can release some control because I know that I’m flexible enough to be able to like, handle questions when they come at me and figure out what you’re thinking so that I can steer it over here if I need to or relate it to some other students thoughts.

00:31:01:17 – 00:31:31:03
Jon Orr
That’s all things that I’ve built or will build over time. And if let’s say I know we have a teacher who’s maybe they have some of that competence, some of that understanding and have built up some of that throughout their career and they haven’t yet tried, say, in their case, building thinking classrooms. What would you say is the first step to kind of stepping into that realm to experience, get a win, like we always want to say, like, what’s a quick win?

00:31:31:03 – 00:31:42:10
Jon Orr
Because you can get the teacher a quick win. Then like you said, it’s like then the next, you know, like the next thing is going to fall, the next domino falls. So what would you say is a quick win that a teacher could take?

00:31:42:12 – 00:32:00:11
Lori Martin
Yeah. So to get the flywheel moving right, we got to get it moving a little bit. So we had a small book study prior on building thinking classrooms and one of the special ed teachers joined us. So it’s just four of us. And as we’re going through, she’s like, I can’t try this. I can’t do it. I can’t, my kids can’t do it.

00:32:00:11 – 00:32:18:20
Lori Martin
And I’m like, just try. Just try this. So every once in a while I would throw an activity to her to try. And she’s one of the teachers that’s going with us this summer. And we are actually going to see, Peter that she has completely bought into. Okay, I can give up a little bit of a control at a time in my group.

00:32:18:21 – 00:32:42:15
Lori Martin
Move for her was just try one thing, just try one and know that it may not work and then you can say, okay, that didn’t work. I’m going to try this. No one is going to die. Like it’s just a math class. Like it’s going to be okay. You’re not going to mess anyone up. And so I think just continually trying to build confidence in your colleagues that it’s okay to try something, just try something.

00:32:42:20 – 00:32:47:17
Lori Martin
Right. It doesn’t have to be a full blown building thinking classroom lesson, right?

00:32:47:19 – 00:33:08:11
Jon Orr
Yeah, I think a lot of people think we do jump from one to the other, right? It’s like, Oh, I’m doing this. And then I see everyone saying it needs to look like this. And therefore it’s such a big gap to think about all the moves that need to go in there, even though that person like yourself, like you’ve had a long journey of trying this and seeing if that worked and trying that and seeing if that work.

00:33:08:11 – 00:33:24:19
Jon Orr
And we always think about or we always see the finished product and that’s too far. Like, I can’t do that. But it’s like no one talks about the little moves that are needed to change and be okay, that it’s like I did this one little move this year and that’s all I did this year. But it worked great throughout the year.

00:33:24:21 – 00:33:39:00
Jon Orr
And then next year is a different little move and the year after, that’s a different little move. And that’s like eventually you’ll get to a place where you feel comfortable doing big changes. But we often forget or don’t share. The messy middle.

00:33:39:04 – 00:33:59:11
Lori Martin
I think for her was trying an activity and not explaining it. I’m going to give you this task. You’re going to try to figure it out. I think that was a micro move. And I also think to as you were talking, I was thinking we do see the end result, but no one saw all the things that I said, wow, that was a fail like that did not work.

00:33:59:16 – 00:34:16:23
Lori Martin
And so I’m not sure, Hey, this worked great yesterday. Let’s try it again today. Nope, didn’t work today. You’re dealing with high school kids. It’s not going to work. And even hour to hour sometimes, right? Like sometimes my fourth hour class, it’s exactly like my third hour. My third hour got more than my fourth hour did out of it, or vice versa.

00:34:16:24 – 00:34:22:18
Lori Martin
I mean, it just happens that way. We’re dealing with human teenagers totally.

00:34:22:20 – 00:34:29:05
Jon Orr
Lorie, if there was one message, you could leave the listener right now from the conversation we had here today, what would it be?

00:34:29:07 – 00:34:50:24
Lori Martin
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail. Especially if you’re going to ask your students to do that. And then don’t expect everything to be perfect. I watched my kids today. Old habits started creeping in. They were doing an app or working with an application problem that was doubling money by the day, and they’re thinking out loud and processing and talking through the problem.

00:34:50:24 – 00:35:08:03
Lori Martin
And I was standing there going, Wow, that is amazing. And they look at me and go, What’s the formula for that? Again? What? You don’t need a formula. Like you’re thinking like out your students space to think and then be ready for them to try to go back to their old ways and don’t be disappointed. Just redirect them.

00:35:08:05 – 00:35:24:06
Jon Orr
Awesome. Yeah, I love that. I love that. Laura, I want to thank you for joining us here on the Make Math Moms Matter podcast. Is there any spaces that you’re hanging out in lately? If a listener wants to get a hold of you or message you or where are you hanging out that other math teacher should should learn about.

00:35:24:08 – 00:35:39:05
Lori Martin
I’m on X formally Twitter at Coach Laurie M and then also on Facebook and I’m on the building thinking classrooms, groups and all the things. And then I don’t really check Instagram X or Facebook is probably the best place to get to me.

00:35:39:09 – 00:35:45:10
Jon Orr
Awesome. Awesome. Thanks so much for joining us here today and looking forward to meeting up with you somewhere at a conference.

00:35:45:12 – 00:35:47:09
Lori Martin
Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks. Awesome.

00:35:47:11 – 00:36:09:12
Jon Orr
Thanks so much. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Laurie. And you know what? Stick out sticks out to me about that. Our classroom trees is Laurie. She built confidence along the way and her journey. It wasn’t just like jumping right into trying new new methods, even though she may have been, like, encouraging herself or taking steps in those right directions.

00:36:09:12 – 00:36:46:01
Jon Orr
But confidence in teaching methods builds over time. And I think about that. I think about the soil, the water, the sunlight, like what do we need to take those steps forward? Like what kind of mindset do we need to have in order to kind of be confident, to take a step? We talked specifically about the roots that we had and how to strengthen our own roots so that we had that confidence, like in the mathematical content knowledge that we tend to maybe overlook or take for granted in a way like I took for granted for a long time, that my content knowledge and I had a surface level content knowledge to a high level, but

00:36:46:01 – 00:37:07:14
Jon Orr
not a deep content language in my opinion. And I think that when have that content competence, it allows us to take those steps easier. And I often think about that when we work with teachers, you know, when we work with districts is how do we build that? How do we strengthen our content knowledge that we have the confidence to take the moves or make the moves when it’s needed?

00:37:07:17 – 00:37:45:21
Jon Orr
That’s to me, that’s the blend of the soil, the water, the sunlight, but also the roots of our classroom tree. I wonder what your big takeaway in this episode with Laurie was if you can, we’d love to hear about it. We love for you to reach out to us on any social media platform where at at McMath moments on Instagram, Facebook X, share with us your big takeaway if you’re looking for any links to the resources we talked about here or you want to connect with Lori head on over to make Matt moments dot com for episode two nine That’s McMath moments dot com Board Session Episode 289.

00:37:45:23 – 00:38:07:12
Jon Orr
All right their math moment makers and until next time I’m Kyle Pierce and I am John or high fives for us and a high bar for you. Oh maybe.

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The Making Math Moments That Matter Podcast with Kyle Pearce & Jon Orr
Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building a math classroom that you wish you were in.


Download the 2-page printable 3 Act Math Tip Sheet to ensure that you have the best start to your journey using 3 Act math Tasks to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in your math classroom!

3 Act Math Tip Sheet


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These prompts are given each lesson with the following conditions:

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Make Math Moments Problem Based Lessons and Day 1 Teacher Guides are openly available for you to leverage and use with your students without becoming a Make Math Moments Academy Member.

MMM Unit - Snack Time Fractions Unit


Partitive Division Resulting in a Fraction

Shot Put Multi Day Problem Based Unit - Algebraic Substitution


Equivalence and Algebraic Substitution

Wooly Worm Race - Representing and Adding Fractions


Fractions and Metric Units


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Represent Categorical Data & Explore Mean

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