They Called Me a Murderer


As I circulated around the room the lyrics from a Notorious B.I.G. song kept playing in my head, “Somebody got to die!”

That sounds harsh, but its my truth.  We couldn’t continue like this, its had gone on long enough.

No, this isn’t the beginning of my mystery novel, it’s actually my thoughts as I circulated watching my students engage in a Desk Hop activity.  I learned about Desk Hop from a blog I read several years ago, I wish I could cite it but I cannot remember the blog:-/.  At any rate, students went from desk to desk answering questions involving percent increase and percent decrease.  Some were fairly simple while others required a bit more reasoning.  However, the reasoning was stunted with one phrase.  One phrase that cause them all to stop thinking in their tracks and wave the white flag of surrender, paralyzed in their positions.  I can’t possible walk them through the thought process forever.  That’s when I devised a plan to get away with murder.

It was easy, I just did it.  I killed “I don’t get it”.  We had a funeral for it so that the kids would have time to mourn the lost of their old friend, which I referred to as their frenemy.  Many of them called me a murderer as they “wept loudly”.

Lucky for us “I don’t get it” is survived by “Here’s what I know… Here’s what I don’t know…”  As students became acquainted with their new friends they began to realized when they identified what they knew, developing a plan was easier than “I don’t get it” let off to be.


Rest in peace “I don’t get it”.  I for one will not miss you!

It’s a Celebration Teachers


When students are able to make connections for themselves I find it truly exciting. I think moments when students turn the corner and begin to reason, become more human and less like a robot a celebration should occur. This past Friday a group of students made the connection between the area model and factoring and simplifying expressions. It’s a connection the task they worked on earlier last was promoting but I’ll tell you not every student did so.

Someone once told me, that kids don’t naturally make conclusions or summarized math concepts without teachers making it plain for them.


Picture above is the sequence of thoughts these students had in regards to factoring and simplifying expressions. The thought begins on the right and travels left. I was the scribe and facilitator through the process but NONE of the thoughts on the board are mind. The most beautiful part was right at the end when students were given the expression 5x + 20 and asked “what would you do with this?” Several of the students jumped describe the how they would create a large rectangle, split it and label the areas 5x and 20. They went on to reason that 5 had to be the width of the entire rectangle because the first area of 5x and if x were the width, the other area would contain an x. With enthusiasm they explain why the length was x and 4. From that, they wrote the factored expression. When given a factored expression, with even more excitement they explained their strategy of using a rectangle to help simplify.

I had not thought them this strategy, they made that connection from engaging in task from the GA math frameworks. More on that later…