Episode #69: How Can I Get More From My Students? A Math Mentoring Moment

Mar 23, 2020 | Podcast | 0 comments


Today we speak with a 23 year veteran teacher from Alabama; Tiffany Roddy. Tiffany joins us on this Math Mentoring Moment episode where we will explore a struggle or challenge she is working on and together we’ll brainstorm next steps to ignite her teacher moves! 

Stick around and you’ll learn how you can move away from the “I do, we do, you do” approach to teaching math class; how you can gain more time in your course instead of feeling like you’re always behind; and finally, we’ll dive into the two moments that are most important in your lesson.

You’ll Learn

  • How to get your students to share their thinking instead of wait and get. 
  • How can I move away from the I do, we do, you do math class. 
  • How do I pace my timing? 
  • What two moments are the most important in your lesson.


Download a PDF version | Listen, read, export in our reader


Tiffany Roddy: We have really been trying to get students to think, not just mimic, not just copy with the I do, we do, you do, but actually think. I am very, very used to doing the I do, we do, you do. It has been, like I said, over the last four or five years, I’m really trying more rich tasks, more even of the three act math tasks, you guys your tasks. I just want to do more. It just seems like I want to do more, but sometimes it’s like they’re fighting me like, just tell us what to do …

Kyle Pearce: Today, we speak with 23-year veteran teacher from Alabama, Tiffany Roddy. Tiffany joins us on this math mentoring moment episode where we explore a struggle or challenge she’s working on and together, we brainstorm next steps to ignite her teacher moves.

Jon Orr: Stick around and you’ll learn how you can move away from the I do, we do, you do math class, how you can gain more time in your course instead of feeling like you’re always out of time. Finally, you’ll learn about the two moments that are most important in your lesson.

Kyle Pearce: All right, let’s do this. Welcome to the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. I’m Kyle Pearce from tapintoteenminds.com.

Jon Orr: 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 engagement …

Jon Orr: … fuel learning …

Kyle Pearce: … and ignite teacher action. Welcome Math Moment Makers from everywhere around the globe. You are listening to episode number 69, how can I get more from my students a math mentoring moment?

Jon Orr: Let’s get ready for another jam packed and resource rich episode. First, we’d like to say thank you to all of you Math Moment Makers out there and around the globe who have taken the time to share feedback by leaving us a review on Apple podcasts.

Kyle Pearce: This week, we want to highlight CJ, who gave us a five-star rating and review on Apple podcasts. That said, this podcast renews my love of teaching. I love the sound of that, Jon. Here’s what CJ says, this podcast is like a one-on-one hour with your instructional coach at your time and pace. I often listen to episodes twice to get all of the good information. Thank you for all of your work. That is so awesome to hear from CJ. I’ll be honest, CJ, when the episodes go live, I re-listen to the episodes too because it feels like such a long time since we record them with our guest. I’m telling you, every time I re-listen, I learn something new from our guests as well. So happy that you’re taking the same approach.

Jon Orr: We can’t thank CJ enough for taking the time out of their day to not only listen, but to help us increase our number of ratings to over 150 round the globe and 60 reviews.

Kyle Pearce: If you haven’t taken a moment to go and give us an honest rating and review on Apple podcasts or whatever platform you’re currently listening on, we would certainly appreciate it. It helps so much in terms of getting the word out and ensuring that we can reach as many Math Moment Makers just like you around the globe.

Jon Orr: All right. Now before we get to our discussion with Tiffany, we want to give you a sneak peek into this episode as Tiffany shares that she’s rocking vertical non-permanent surfaces in her classroom to get our students up and actively fueling sense making while regular old chalk and whiteboards do the trick. Oftentimes, there aren’t enough vertical non-permanent surfaces in your classroom to accommodate all of your students.

Kyle Pearce: Well, that’s where our friends at Wipebook come in. Toby and Frank from Wipebook have these super cool and very portable flipbook chart packs that are great for filling the vertical non-permanent surface void in your classroom or presentation space.

Jon Orr: Kyle and I even use them at conferences and workshops to get our teacher participants up and actively fueling their sense making. Now you can too. We’ve partnered with Wipebook for you to grab 40% off a flipchart pack by visiting makemathmoments.com/40moments.

Kyle Pearce: That’s makemathmoments.com/40moments. If you’re going to be at NCTM 2020, which is next week in Chicago, Jon, I can’t even believe that it’s already here.

Jon Orr: Woo!

Kyle Pearce: If you’re going to be there, well, Wipebook is going to be there too, and so are Jon and I. Wipebook is going to be giving away some free swag at their booth and we always pop by the Wipebook booth to say hello to both Toby, Frank, and to you Math Moment Makers if you’re around. Make sure you come and say hi and visit us in our session. I think it’s on Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. All right, let’s jump into our conversation with Tiffany. Hey there, Tiffany, thanks for joining us here on the Making Math Moments That Matter podcast. How are you doing this evening?

Tiffany Roddy: I’m doing great this evening, guys. It’s so good to hear from you.

Kyle Pearce: Tiffany, fill us in and our listeners, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where you’re coming from, how long you’ve been teaching, what’s your current role, what part of the country you’re coming from?

Tiffany Roddy: Well, I am in a little town called Brent, Alabama. I’m in the southern region of the United States. I’ve been teaching for about 23 years.

Kyle Pearce: I couldn’t tell.

Tiffany Roddy: I bet. That’s funny. My husband asked me if I was going to say y’all while we were talking. I’ve been teaching about 23 years. My current role is I am a classroom teacher. I teach eighth grade math. I started out in third grade. Now I’m up in eighth grade.

Kyle Pearce: Fantastic. Fantastic to hear. We love hanging out in those middle grades. I feel like the concepts just get so rich and the math can be really exciting. It can also be really boring if we do things the way I did them for so many years. Before we dive in here, when we say math class to you, what is a math moment that comes to mind for you? What pops into your mind, if you don’t mind sharing with the Math Moment Maker community?

Tiffany Roddy: Well, I tell my students all the time, back in the olden days, we used to do math like this and it was straight rows, and learning all the algorithms, and following the procedures. That’s not how I view math class anymore, personally. It seems to me like the kids still want to have math class that way. I like the rich tasks of the things that help the students see, hey, this is something I am going to use every day in my real life.

Kyle Pearce: How does that vary? Or how does that compare contrast to maybe your experience as a math student? You had this vision of math being always in rows and probably happening a certain way. Do you feel like that was typically your experience when you think of math class? Or were there any of those maybe teachers that pop out that maybe tried things a little bit differently and shook things up for you?

Tiffany Roddy: Most of what I remember for math was rows, maybe a little bit in middle school. I think we might have had tables, but we were at the ends of tables. It wasn’t like we were there collaborating together. I can remember receiving the instruction and then we had …

Kyle Pearce: Because you had to, right?

Tiffany Roddy: Right, right. Then we had the practice problems. I don’t guess I really saw any of the what we call modern day math class now until I got into my college classes. I started dealing more with the cooperative groupings and different things like that.

Jon Orr: Yeah, that’s so true. I had the same experience where my math classes were just like you described and it wasn’t until we got to teachers college or college where it was like, now we’re going to shake things up, we’re going to actually try to implement these great teaching strategies and try new things. It wasn’t even until years later where I felt comfortable enough to implement those in my own classroom. Totally reciprocate that feeling about math class that you’ve just shared. We’d like to dive in a little deeper into what you’re doing in your classroom and what struggles you have. Before we talk about a struggle that you’ve had or currently having that we want to explore here today, but before that, do you mind sharing a success that you’ve had in your role recently?

Tiffany Roddy: Yes. Last year and this year, I got really into the vertical non-permanent surfaces. With Wipebook, as a matter of fact, I use some of my classroom supply moment and I purchased a pack of the Wipebook boards or the flipcharts. I put those up all in my room. It seems like whenever we work on those, there’s a lot of collaboration that goes on. Still have some things I’d like to work out there, but I feel successful when we work on those. Recently, even more recently, back in January, I believe it was, when I started my exponent unit, I introduced it with one of your penny activities, where if you have the penny and it doubles each day, would you rather have a million dollars or would you rather have that amount after the 30 days? We did those on the vertical non-permanent surfaces and it went really well. We enjoyed that.

Kyle Pearce: That is an awesome fun task. Actually, as I’ve shared on my website when I put that penny a day task up there and created the visuals for it, I remember it was actually a colleague, Dave Bracken, at my first school that I taught at who proposed that challenge. I think it was just in the staff room one day where all the teachers were just thinking about it. Again, it was one of these things where it’s just inherently curious, where you’re like, “There’s got to be a trick here, something’s going on.” It really gets you thinking. I really love that task with my students. It’s a great one to do early in the year.

Kyle Pearce: Or when you’re looking at this comparison and looking at exponential versus any other type of function, whether it be linear or even just this flat 10,000 I think or 1 million, or whatever that quantity is that you want to throw for students. I really love too that you’ve mentioned vertical non-permanent. Actually, I was just in a classroom yesterday with a fellow high school teacher. I’ll say this particular teacher, I’m going to say his name’s Dylan. I won’t say his last name just for privacy, but I’d call him a good friend and a great colleague. He is a really sharp and routine teacher. He does things really well, but he’s looking to expand his teaching a little bit.

Kyle Pearce: Vertical non-permanent, to me, was the suggestion that I gave him as that first step because it felt really easy to implement and play with. Then also, I feel like the results are really awesome right off the bat. What would you say to Dylan if he’s listening right now, Tiffany, in regards to your shift in trying to bring vertical non-permanent into the classroom?

Tiffany Roddy: Well, I don’t know if Dylan uses flippity.net or not, but that is one of the ways that I get my students going to the stations, and so that we’re not always working with the same people. You can mix it up, mix it up. They’re going to different stations. Really, I think you just have to jump in there and do it. That way, you can see, okay, do I need to jump in there and do those stations? Flippity.net is the one I use, like I said, to get different random groupings, and then just get them up and go into the board. It just seems to me like having them up and talking about the math is so beneficial. I can see so much more of what they’re doing than when they’re sitting in their seats.

Jon Orr: Yeah, for sure at Flippity. I think I just saw this on, I think, maybe it was even you that posted this on our Facebook group, somebody was asking about random grouping and how do they group people at the boards and that website came up. I haven’t used that one yet, but I definitely want to try it because I think it can be great. I use the random grouping cards that I created a model of cards that I’ve seen around where they just have different shapes, different numbers, different colors on them.

Tiffany Roddy: Yes, I love those too.

Jon Orr: Yeah, and the kids come in, they can choose a card, and they go and sit with a partner. My cards are designed more for partners or groups of three. If you wanted more groups, I think that Flippity is a great resource. Thanks for sharing that one. Now, Tiffany, we’d love to keep diving into this with you. I know that you wanted to share something you’ve been currently struggling with or working on or thinking about, would you mind sharing that with us? What’s challenging you lately in your teaching?

Tiffany Roddy: Well, like I said, I’ve been teaching for 23 years. It just seems like over the last four or five years that I want more from my students than just them following procedures, algorithms. I want them to do the sense making that you guys talk about. I am what I call a rescuer at heart. Because I used to think that students, when they struggle, that meant I wasn’t providing the right kind of examples or I wasn’t doing something. The last few years, the last several years, I just want them to start thinking outside the box, and try new methods and be okay when something doesn’t work, and try something else, and not just give up and not just quit.

Kyle Pearce: Right, right. That makes so much sense. I think this is one of those pieces and we talk about it on the show so often that most of us got into teaching because we are really passionate about helping kids. That is such a great mission. It’s a great goal. At the same time, it’s also the thing that I think makes it so difficult, because we end up hurting students and helping them too much. I’m wondering currently, right now, if you were to think about your classroom, what makes you feel like you’re maybe not where you want to be? I don’t want to say that you’re not hitting the mark or whatever.

Kyle Pearce: We all want to get a little bit better, but try to paint us a little bit of a picture as to where you are now and maybe where you were and where you’ve shifted to since so that we can get a sense as to where about you are today, so that we can maybe try the three of us figuring out our next step to nudge forward.

Tiffany Roddy: Okay. Well, in our system, we’ve been really trying to come up with some different strategies to use. I’m going to go back maybe 10 years now. Some of the best practices was what it’s called, and it’s called scaffolding teaching. It’s the I do, we do, you do. I’m also part of an initiative called AMSTI, which is the Alabama Math, Science, Technology Initiative here in Alabama. We have really been trying to get students to think, not just mimic, not just copy with the I do, we do, you do, but actually think. I am very, very used to doing the I do, we do, you do. It has been, like I said, over the last four or five years, I’m really trying more rich tasks, more even of the three act math tasks, you guys your tasks. I just want to do more. It just seems like I want to do more, but sometimes it’s like they’re fighting me like, just tell us what to do so we can do it.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. It’s like they’re so used to the process in math class, especially by the time they reach you in grade eight, that the way math class is supposed to go or at least the way we told them or train them math class is supposed to go is I’m going to sit here and I’m going to essentially mimic you. I love the words that you’re using. Clearly, you have been on board with the Make Math Moments 3-Part Framework because you are talking about this idea of fueling sense making. I’m hearing the words, this I do, we do, you do, that guided or that gradual release of responsibility.

Kyle Pearce: We talk a lot about that in our framework guidebook, which is on our website, makemathmoments.com/framework. It sounds like you’ve had a look in there because a lot of those things come up in there around this idea of how students mimic. We cite some of Peter Liljedahl’s work and research and all the vertical non-permanent pieces. This is really something that I think a lot of people are struggling with. Even Jon was mentioning to me here in the chat just saying this idea that oftentimes we’re harder on ourselves than maybe we should. You’re probably doing a much better job at this than maybe you’re giving yourself credit for.

Kyle Pearce: However, we do definitely appreciate how reflective you’re being and that you do want to continue pushing forward. I think we always want to do that. I’m wondering, if you were to picture right now your classroom and you’re picturing all the seats, and you’re picturing the students sitting in the seats, and you were to just take a look around, what would you say the percentage of students that are actually demanding this more traditional lecture style is like? Do you feel like it’s a couple students and then maybe they’re rallying the troops like everybody else is saying like, yeah, I’m going to just follow the lead here?

Kyle Pearce: Or do you find that maybe some are just being a little bit more loud or more vocal than maybe some of the others? Maybe some of the others aren’t actually sharing that opinion, but were making those assumptions based on those louder voices. I’m just curious if you visualize that. You might need a moment to think about it. What would be your perspective if you reflect on that thought?

Tiffany Roddy: Well, that is so funny that you ask that because I teach five math classes a day, four pre-algebra classes, and one algebra class. I would even have to go between the different class periods, I’ve got a couple class periods that are all in, whatever you want to do, Ms. Roddy, we’ll try it. However you want me to do this. You want me to get up at the boards? We’ll do it. Then I’ve got a couple of class periods that I won’t say they’re vocal. A lot of times, they’ll just see it. I’ll be like, “Okay, guys, you know this, you know how to do this.” They still just see it. I’m really working on trying to elicit responses for more than just the same five people in those two classes because I do have some good mathematical thinkers there. I just want everybody on board.

Jon Orr: Yeah. You know what, we have to I think congratulate you on that success. By you saying that you’ve got full classes that are like, I will do whatever you want me to do, and they’re buying into that, that is awesome to hear. I’m sure you are creating moments for those kids. They’re going to take with them from the next class to the next class. That’s awesome. I think we all struggle, Tiffany, with some students who will refuse to buy in or want to be shown what to do and don’t want to think because it is easier. It’s easier not to think and it just be shown what to do and get on with your homework. I think a lot about this lately.

Jon Orr: I think Kyle was hinting at this question like, how many kids are actually saying that because there’s this bias that we have? It’s called the availability bias. The availability bias basically says that we overemphasize the recent examples for many different things. It’s not just math or teaching. It’s lots of things that you’re thinking that something is fresh and examples fresh in your mind. You overemphasize that’s what’s actually the thing, this is what is driving this thing, or these are the results because they’re just fresh in our mind. After a lesson, I tend to always think what you think. I’m like, ah, the whole class wasn’t into that lesson.

Jon Orr: Really, when I step back and go, okay, am I thinking about the whole class? Or is the availability bias creeping in on me? When you think about it, I’m really focusing on three vocal kids who are just loud in a sense that they’re going to make their opinion known to me. Then it makes me go the whole class because I really just am thinking about those kids that were … I had to work harder to get them to buy-in or engage and do some thinking. Generally, like what Kyle said, it’s like, how much percent are we thinking here? It’s only maybe two, three kids that I really think about after class that I’m like, ah, I just wish I could get those kids, but then I group them as a whole.

Jon Orr: I think you’ve got a lot of success here. I think we just tend to be hard on ourselves because of that bias. I think there’s lots that’s probably going on in your classroom that you’re doing really great at. Sometimes it’s fresh in my mind about that lately and I just got to take a step back and go, what are the things that we did do well? Who are the kids that did show that? Let’s focus on those because we definitely … I know all teachers do this, we focus on the kids that give us the most challenge. This is good for them. This is why we get into teaching, is we want to be challenged in the sense that we want all of our students to learn.

Jon Orr: I think we can frame in a little bit more to go on. How can you get some of those students to engage? How can you get some of those students to think? Kyle and I have done lots of thinking on that and lots of resource sharing on how to get students to problem solve, how to get students to think more. I think we can dive in on that. Before we do that, what have you tried so far to say, I know that you’ve said you’ve got three act maths trying and you’ve got the kids at the boards, but what else would you say you’ve tried so far to get your kids to not just mimic math but think more on their feet or think about what they’re doing instead of just sitting there? Kyle and I can share some of our thoughts.

Tiffany Roddy: I like doing games. I think we have done so much standardized testing over the years that a lot of students just don’t think math is fun anymore. I don’t ever remember not thinking math was fun while I was in school. I just always thought math made sense, its patterns. You’re looking for things that made sense. I’d like to have some things that make sense and games, a lot of times that these students don’t always play now like we used to play games on the weekends or board games and things like that. I’ve tried to incorporate some of that to help with fluency. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if you want me to share this or not.

Tiffany Roddy: Just this week, I use the stacking paper videos and the three X math task is what I call it, to introduce proportionality. We were talking about proportionality. We’re going into equations, linear equations, and things like that. I guess one of the things, and this may not be answering your question, but one of the things I was seeing with the students is they were taking all the information and maybe they would just add all the numbers. That’s where that sense making. I do a lot of number talks or I try to do a lot of number talks. I even like the clothesline math. I haven’t got to do a lot of that this particular year, but working with the double number lines and things like that. Those are some of the other things that I try to incorporate in.

Kyle Pearce: Yeah. It sounds like just listening to some of these ideas that are coming out is that you are doing some innovative things. I think you are right about games and some of the things that were, I guess, more built into how we grew up. We played a lot more games at home and we did a lot of other things like our experiences are really changing. An example would be I hear teachers a lot saying like, “Kids can’t count change anymore.” When you really think about it, it’s like, oh, how often are they actually counting change anymore? There’s kids in grade eight that are using debit cards or gift cards or all of this digital currency, which those are lost opportunities for kids.

Kyle Pearce: I think those are things that all of us are facing and having to confront and think about how are you going to address these differences and how students experiences in math and working with numbers is changing. I’m wondering, you mentioned math talks or number talks, which I think is great. When we talked about trying to get some of those students on board, and again, to Jon’s point about thinking about that availability bias, I also think about there’s a few different ratios out there. Some are three to one, some are five to one. I’ve even read of up to seven to one.

Kyle Pearce: For every negative comment or negative thought, you have to have three positive thoughts to neutralize it or some research says five. The same can be true here where when one thing goes bad in our day, it tends to really throw it off. Yet there’s also all these other positive things happening, and we’re either just completely ignoring them or we just assume that that’s supposed to be normal when in reality, their wins. I’m wondering if we think to your classroom and we go, okay, the bell just rang. We walk into class, you were saying that number talks is something that you like to do, and I think that’s fantastic.

Kyle Pearce: I’m wondering about how long you feel like when the students or when do you prompt students to start interacting with one another, and specifically trying to address this challenge you had with a couple of groups who were saying where it just feels like it’s the same kids participating? I’m curious what that might look like or sound like if there’s certain intentional moves to get them interacting early or do you find it’s in the middle of your block or near the end of the block when you start to ask them to get more interactive with one another. I’m wondering if you can paint us a picture of what that might look like or sound like.

Tiffany Roddy: When the students come in, we have a procedure where we are required to do a bell ringer, which is like bell work when you come in. You could take attendance and do the teacher things you have to do at the first few minutes of class. That’s also our time when we’re supposed to work with small groups or individuals for intervention. About the first 10 minutes of class, I have the students work on various things. It’s spiral review stuff so that I try to keep it fresh, but that bell work normally is more procedural. There’s not a lot of interaction going on during that time.

Tiffany Roddy: Although if I am working with a student or a group, then sometimes I’ll say, okay, you can ask so and so at your table or things like that. Just so it doesn’t get chaotic while I’m trying to work with a smaller group or an individual. Then I have a timer that goes off and they automatically put those things away. I introduce the lesson, or ask the question, or whatever. Almost always right after that, there’s always some kind of, okay, take a couple minutes to independent think. Then after that, it’s a turn and share with your partner or share with your table group. Then we come and share it with the whole group if things are needed. I love the which one doesn’t belong.

Tiffany Roddy: Those really do spark some good discussions. There’s some other opening activities I like and they just flew right out of my head just thinking. Which one doesn’t belong is one of my favorites though, because everybody can come up with something for that.

Jon Orr: That’s exactly what I was going to say. It’s really a low floor, for sure, wodb.ca. That website put together by Kyle and his good friend, Mary Bourassa at Ottawa. I think you’re trying lots of good things here and something to think about, I think, for your bell ringer. That sounds like what’s happening in my class, we have to have a bell ringer. We got attendance to do, we got a couple things procedurally we got to do. We want our kids thinking right away. I also try to emphasize the low floor immediately. It sounds like your bell ringer is individualized and it might set the tone to be more quiet, be more, hey, wait, is my first inkling about a bell ringer where it’s not actively asking our students to engage and discuss.

Jon Orr: That’s what I’ve been doing with my bell ringer. I was reading a book called when by Daniel Pink. It’s all about the science behind timing. He goes on to say that there are two really important times off. This is not really a no brainer here. He says that the beginnings of things are really, really important and the ends of things. It’s like beginnings of class and ends of class is how I translate that into my math teaching world. Because the book When by Daniel Pink is not a math book. It’s not a teaching book. It’s just about timings of various things and the science behind timing.

Jon Orr: When I translated that into my class, I said like, I really need to make sure that I nail beginnings of classes and I really got to make sure that I nail ends of classes because I want my students to be coming and thinking and then feel like they’re welcomed, and then also end the same way like go out thinking but also go out feeling like class was a success today. These are the things I’ve been thinking about lately. I think right now, bell ringers are a great way to lower that floor immediately and get that discussion happening right off the bat. One way you could, I think, take advantage of that, and you even mentioned that the tool and the technique I think pair share is you need a few minutes to do the attendance, but that could be the thinking part.

Jon Orr: Then it’s immediately turn and talk to your neighbor about what you’re saying. Which one doesn’t belong, awesome for that. Estimation 180, writing down three estimates, not just one estimate, awesome for that. Lots of discussion can happen there. Would You Rather Math from John Stevens, this is a great one to get that talking. You can do these in any class. It doesn’t have to be just a class that you might be working with that particular topic on that prompt, but I do them for any class. It doesn’t even matter what the prompt happens to be, just to get kids talking.

Jon Orr: Kyle and I, actually, we employ that same strategy of thinking about the beginnings of things when we go to do workshops and presentations with teachers. It’s how can we get the audience talking right away, because it changes the dynamic in the room so that it’s more welcoming, but also more conducive to allowing voice to be heard in the room, which makes everyone relax a little bit and then allows the ears to go, okay, I’m going to listen to what these guys are going to say. This is the same thing we want in our classrooms. It’s how can we get our kids to talk right away so that they feel like their voice is going to be heard.

Jon Orr: Their voices heard, they’re going to start to think more and they start to have that problem solving will come easier. It won’t come all over right away, but a lot easier. Just that beginning of class, I think, is a huge thing you could probably do to change things just in a small way, but I think could have huge effects.

Tiffany Roddy: Yes. It’s funny that you say that because back before Christmas, I had run out of printer ink, which is how I print off my bell ringers. What I would do is when the students would come in the classroom, I would already have the Flippity groups up and they would have to immediately sit their things down and go to the stations, the whiteboard station. Then I would put up either, and I don’t know if I’m going to say her name right, Fawn Nguyen.

Jon Orr: Fawn Nguyen.

Kyle Pearce: Fawn Nguyen, yeah.

Tiffany Roddy: Okay. Anyway, I would up some of her visual presentations and have them try to come up with the next couple of sequences in the pattern and then the 43rd sequence or the 43rd term would be what I would call it now. Either one day I would do that, the next day, they would go get in that same group. They had that same station for the week, but then I would put up … Have you seen the emoji number puzzles?

Jon Orr: Yes, I have. I think that might be mashup math, Anthony at mashup math maybe.

Tiffany Roddy: Yes, mashup math.

Kyle Pearce: Makes that ring a bell.

Tiffany Roddy: Yes, that’s it, where it would give you three of the same ones and it would give you a value. Then you would use that value for the second equation. They didn’t know they were doing equations, but they were getting them left and right. They loved it. It was hard for me to get my procedural stuff done, but I did notice more early engagement when I did things like that.

Kyle Pearce: Right, right. I was thinking as well, as Jon was mentioning that, and thinking of creative ways that you can try to … I know that there’s certain things that are tough because you do have to get them done, you have to do certain things at certain times. Like Jon said, we always are trying in our minds and we reflect on this all the time. If we do a presentation, oftentimes we’ll do a presentation or we’ll plan a presentation and in our minds, we’re like, ah, it’s a pretty slick slide deck. The messaging is really what we believe to be clear. Then sometimes at the end of a presentation, especially the first time we do it, we look back and we go, oh, there was something missing today.

Kyle Pearce: It just didn’t feel like people were in it like they usually are. When we come down to it, oftentimes that’s like, oh, we waited too long to get people talking. For me, and talking about that teacher earlier that I had referenced, that was another thought that we had, was vertical non-permanent is one thing, which is great. The quicker we can get kids up and moving is really good and having transitions. Then also, thinking of how we can get them talking and getting them talking often. Sometimes it’s something as simple as reframing how I was going to ask a question.

Kyle Pearce: Changing that questioning technique to put it in the hands of students, instead of it being and like you had mentioned, you admitted just like Jon and I where we were really, really eager to help kids and we’re saving kids too early. Sometimes if we just bite our tongue and we think, how can I, instead of telling right now, phrase this idea as a question for kids to discuss, give them a tight timeline. Saying like, you have exactly 60 seconds for each of you to share one idea about blank, and then we’re going to try to argue it out as a class what makes most sense.

Kyle Pearce: In the class, I was watching yesterday, something as simple as wanted to recall the idea of where the independent and the dependent variable go on the X and the Y axes. Rather than asking a question like, where do you think it goes, and why do you think it goes there, or does it even matter? Just gives kids that opportunity to take that one minute to talk it out with someone. Then when I go to ask the class to share, now that they’ve shared it with someone else, they’ve gotten that confirmation from someone else in the room to go, “You know what, that idea, Tiffany, that was a pretty good idea.” You get that head nod.

Kyle Pearce: You get that hat tip and students go, “You know what, I am going to share that out.” Whereas when I don’t have that chance that your mind unfortunately always playing tricks, it’s never giving you good advice, your irrational mind is saying, oh, what you’re thinking is probably not very useful or probably doesn’t make any sense. I’m wondering thinking about that turn and talk time, how that might maybe more intentionally come into how I pose those questions. Because one of the things that I really struggled with for a long time was I was using a variety of really cool tasks and resources.

Kyle Pearce: I now realized that the task itself might be cool or shiny or fancy, but it’s really what we do with it. By what we do with it, it’s those little tiny pieces of just me reframing how I present something and put that power, like empower students, put it in their hands to give them a little bit more of that opportunity to chat and share.

Tiffany Roddy: I don’t have any problem with the collaboration issue. I love to hear the students talk about math. I sit around, I would talk about math all day to somebody if they would listen, which is what my students have to do. Nobody else wants to do that.

Kyle Pearce: I love it.

Tiffany Roddy: The time factor, it has me just all knotted up right now. Those state tests are coming, and we got to get to this and we got to get to that. If I don’t feel like they’re ready to get to that, do I just go ahead and push them there anyway? Will that help bring up some of those rich tasks in and help bring that learning that I need them to get to? Am I not just giving them enough credit for thinking maybe? I’m just stumped right in that area.

Jon Orr: Yeah, about that, Kyle and I say a lot here because it’s not a copout or anything, but we say it depends. It depends on the readiness factor, but also time is a reality. We do have to cover curriculum and standards. In my class, we have to definitely move along. Also, I want to put my students in positions to explore concepts, but then practice those concepts. Then we do have to move on to new concepts and explore. Consider the time aspect for sure. I think, for me, that time aspect has alleviated itself a little bit when I’ve done course planning, you’ve taught the course so many times, you know what topics are going to flow together, what topics you can blend together.

Jon Orr: I think that’s helped me save time by saying, you know what, I can do some patterning right now, that introduces quadratic relations. At the same time, that patterning might lend itself to multiplying binomials because a kid might write an expression for a quadratic pattern that is one way, but then an equivalent expression written differently because they saw the pattern differently, can be written in another way. All of a sudden, we have introduced quadratics, its second differences and also talked about how to simplify expressions all the same lesson. We can build on those as we go. Hitting a few topics can be helpful in those open task discussions.

Jon Orr: You’ve open the door to things and then you can dive deeper. The other thing that allows me to do is learn about your kids. We’ve said here on the podcast before, when you do tasks like those openly for the first time and they can see them at the boards and could see what they’re doing and you’re giving them a chance to showcase their understanding first, it’s like a diagnostic assessment. You might realize you don’t need to spend two days from your course plan on topic X because most of the class is showing good thinking on that topic. You can go, okay, well, we can spend more time over here or less time here. We can move on here. You get to play with that.

Jon Orr: I think I’ve got that time back because I see so much more of what my kids know and what they can do. That gives you the time because you now can make your plan flexible. The way I used to teach it was like two weeks straight. That’s for that chapter no matter what. The test day was set just because I had that mindset that we had to get through the course. How do I get through the course? Well, there’s eight chapters. Divide the whole year up by eight, and there you go. That’s the timing per chapter. It’s been a lot more flexible for me in these last few years, because of the way we engage our kids in the task by just listening to what they can do.

Kyle Pearce: Tiffany, just listening to that, the time challenge for me, I know that’s always going to be that huge weight on teacher’s shoulders that we feel because of time and because of high stakes tests and all of those things. I know no matter what we say here, it doesn’t remove that weight. At the same time, I always, always think to myself, whenever I’m thinking and thinking, ah, I don’t have enough time here, I need to move faster, I just think back to all the years where I covered curriculum. Students didn’t really learn curriculum. Now I realize, I’m like, if I can do more, if I can dive deeper and give kids the ability to problem solve, which sounds like I want to tip my cup to you, because it sounds like what you’re doing right now is you’re making a big shift.

Kyle Pearce: You’re in that process, the process that will probably never end, will going to continue trying to shift and trying to refine until the day we retire and we hang it up. At the end of the day, you want your kids to be more resilient problem solvers. That’s what I’m hearing. I think by giving them those opportunities to reason in math class, even if I didn’t cover every single ounce and every single drop of that curriculum that I am supposed to cover, I think I’m doing a better service to my students. I think I’m setting them up for more success by teaching them how to problem solve so that when they see something on that high stakes assessment, they have that ability to think.

Kyle Pearce: They have that perseverance, that resilience that we want to build for them. Before we ask you one last question here and hang it up for the evening, I do want to say, it sounds like you’ve got so many great things going on in your classroom right now. I’m hoping that you think about, I’m going to call them little tweaks, because I think it’s like little things that we can do that can have a huge impact. Sometimes in our minds, we’re thinking we have to do something super radical from what we’re doing. What I did today, tomorrow I got to do something completely different or approach it completely different. To me, it sounds like you are on that right path.

Kyle Pearce: That path is right there and it’s little tweaks along the way that might be able to make a big difference. Like when Jon and I switched that presentation and say, you know what, we’ve got to get people talking within the first three minutes of our presentation. What are we going to do to do that? It doesn’t take us long to think of that move, but we could have completely scrapped the whole presentation and started over. It was just that little tweak that can make all the difference. I want you to think for a moment here. We’re wondering, are there anything from this conversation that you found useful? Any takeaways that you might be able to bring with you after this call, reflect on it, and help you as you plan forward looking towards the remainder of the school year?

Tiffany Roddy: Yes, I am definitely going to try to tweak the beginning. Because I do, for the most part, during that bell ringer, I do require them to be silent, so that I can work with the other groups. I’m going to have to figure out something so that I can get my intervention in at some point during the class time and still go ahead and get them talking right there at the beginning so that they do understand that’s what I’m looking for that now they’re going to talk and don’t let me say that they won’t, but wanting them to talk about math.

Jon Orr: Awesome. That’s great to hear, because I think those are the things I’ve been focusing on a lot lately, is the beginnings, but also the ends for me is something that I’ve been working on this year and trying to think about. Because it’s like you get to the end of the class and you’re like, okay, there’s only five minutes left, everyone stands around or everyone whips out their phones. I sometimes feel like it’s like let down. All of a sudden, everyone leaves. It’s like we could be doing something with that time to bring the level back up.

Tiffany Roddy: We are required to do some exit slips, not every day. Every day, you can’t get to an exit slip. That formative assessment, some type of formative assessment there so that we can see where they are. I feel bad on some days if things don’t move as fast as I think they should. Getting to that formative assessment is a struggle.

Jon Orr: Those are some great takeaways for you, and we’re actually really looking forward to. If you would, we love to have you come back on in, say, six months or next year after you’ve tried these this year, these ideas, and then maybe started the next year with some of these ideas. We would love for you to come back and share your learnings with us. Thanks so much. We know that you’ve grown a lot. You’re a fall online workshop participant.

Tiffany Roddy: [inaudible 00:44:05]

Jon Orr: You became a certified Math Moment Maker. I think from talking here, Tiffany, it sounds like you’ve come a long way and you’ve learned a good deal. I think your students will thank you for sure.

Tiffany Roddy: Well, I’m still trying to be that certified Math Moment Maker. I haven’t gotten to make it in there yet.

Kyle Pearce: Well, you know what, you are doing great. It was awesome following you along that journey this past fall, and continuing to learn alongside you on Twitter, and online, and the online communities. We are so thankful for you sharing this conversation with the Math Moment Makers around the world. Like we say, in the online workshop, it’s just the beginning, right? It’s just the beginning of a very long journey. We’re going to always have to continue refining our practice. Like Jon said, you are doing such a fantastic job. We want to give you that hat tip to you. We hope you have a fantastic evening. We can’t wait to bring you back on and see how those little tweaks are going along the way, especially to that beginning of your class routine.

Tiffany Roddy: Well, thanks, guys. This is really been an honor. I appreciate all your help. I’ve enjoyed finding you on Apple podcasts and following you on Twitter and Facebook and all that good stuff.

Jon Orr: Thanks so much.

Kyle Pearce: Awesome. Thanks so much, Tiffany. We hope you have a great night and we’ll talk to you soon.

Tiffany Roddy: Thank you.

Kyle Pearce: As always, both Jon and I learned so much from these math mentoring moment episodes. They are our favorite to record. In order to ensure we hang on to this new learning so it doesn’t wash away like footprints in the sand, we must reflect on what we’ve learned. An excellent way to ensure this learning sticks is to reflect and create a plan for yourself to take action on something that you’ve learned in this particular episode.

Jon Orr: A great way to hold yourself accountable is to write it down or even better, share it with someone, your partner or colleague, or the mailman, or the Math Moment Maker community by commenting on the show notes page, tagging @makemathmoments on social media, or in our free private Facebook group, Math Moment Makers K through 12.

Kyle Pearce: Awesome stuff. As you heard from Tiffany on this episode, she is rocking the vertical non-permanent surfaces. We want to remind you again that our friends at Wipebook, Toby and Frank, have super cool and very portable flipbook chart packs. They’re great for filling the vertical non-permanent surface void in your classroom or wherever you are presenting.

Jon Orr: Kyle and I even use them at conferences and workshops to get our teacher participants up and actively fueling their sense making. Now you can too. We’ve partnered with Wipebook for you to grab 40% off a flipchart pack. You can do that by visiting makemathmoments.com/40moments.

Kyle Pearce: That is makemathmoments.com/40moments. If you are going to NCTM 2020, which is next week in Chicago like we mentioned at the beginning of the episode, both Wipebooks going to be there with their booth, giving away some free awesome swag. We’ll be sharing some free awesome swag at that booth as well. Make sure you pop by, say hello to Toby and Frank. If you’re around, make sure you say hi to Jon and I as we’re cruising around the NCTM conference area.

Jon Orr: Yeah, we can’t wait to be there. Are you interested in joining us for an upcoming math mentoring moment episode just like this one where you can also share a math class struggle? You could apply over at makemathmoments.com/mentor. That’s makemathmoments.com/mentor.

Kyle Pearce: Do not delay. Make sure that you smash that Subscribe button on your favorite podcasting platform, especially Apple Podcasts, because that’ll ensure that you’re notified of new episodes as they come out each and every week.

Jon Orr: Show notes and links to resources from this episode can be found at makemathmoments.com/episode69. Again, that’s makemathmoments.com/episode69.

Kyle Pearce: Well, until next time Math Moment Makers. I’m Kyle Pearce.

Jon Orr: And I’m Jon Orr.

Kyle Pearce: High fives for us.

Jon Orr: And high fives for you.

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!



In our six module (16 week) online workshop you’ll learn how to build and adjust your own lessons that engage students, build deeper understanding of math, and promote resilience in problem solving.


We’ll release one module each week for the first 6 weeks. Then you’ll have another 10 weeks to work through the content ON YOUR SCHEDULE!
LEARN MORE about our Online Workshop: Making Math Moments That Matter: Helping Teachers Build Resilient Problem Solvers. https://makemathmoments.com/onlineworkshop

Thanks For Listening

To help out the show:


Submit a Comment

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