Looking the (Twitter) Past in the Face

My Twitter profile says that I have been an active member since 2009. Yet, I can only recall enjoying my Twitter experience more recently, like in the last few years. Twitter will let you download your entire archive, so I decided to do some analysis. It’s interesting to say the least. I recommend it.

My First Tweet: To my brother and very profound.

My first “Mathy” Tweet: Actually it was a “re-tweet” so I’m not sure if it counts.

Then I went through an awkward stage where I tweeted every time I would earn a sticker on an app called Get Glue. I would just tweet it to get the sticker. Now I have dozens of these random stickers from TV shows and movies. I mean, a Dr. Who sticker? Everyone knows I don’t watch that show! (But, STICKERS!)

I had some fun at the expense of celebrities from 2011-2013. Not my proudest moments, I’ll admit. I think I remember a response from Howie Mandel being a highlight whilst watching America’s Got Talent.

Fast forward to April 11, 2013 – the beginning of my real interactions with #MTBoS educators.

Discovering this was kind of a special moment for me because I recently got to meet her through her work with Math-on-a-Stick and TELL her this exact thing personally.

After that I tweeted, again serendipitously, to John Golden. He then tweeted this:

I (of course) didn’t tell him this at the time, but his response was the digital assurance I needed that the #MTBoS was a welcoming group of individuals. And it was then that my eclectic, quirky personality emerged on Twitter.

Embracing Her Rules

I want to preface this post with a declaration: My daughter Maria is the love of my life and being her mother is my greatest blessing.  That being said, to describe her as a “free-thinker” would be a sugar-coated understatement of my little non-conformist. (I mean would it kill her to play one game of Sorry by the rules?)

Enter Math-on-a-Stick.  The very purpose of the exhibit is to help parents help their children develop their own ways to make sense of ambiguity.  Relax, Mom!  Even a business teacher can do it!


My husband, Scott, creating a tile design.


But wouldn’t you guess, my sweet darling figured out a way to diverge.  Here she is making “caves.”


There’s nothing wrong with this, by the way.  She just threw me for a loop when it came to asking probing questions. Onto Malke’s table.  Maria decided to make a bird.


This is where the conversation gets good.

Me: How do you know it’s a bird?

Maria: (tossing paper) Because it flies. Let’s make another bird.

[She folds the paper once, makes her cuts, and opens the paper]

Maria: It’s not a bird.  There’s no wings.

Me: What do you think went wrong?

Maria: Maybe I didn’t make the cuts big enough.

[She grabs another paper and tries again with bigger cuts]

Maria: It’s still not a bird.

Me: Could we maybe try folding the paper twice instead of once?

[Bird-making, take 3 with two folds, instead of one]

Success.  We ate delicious food, we rode rides, we bought trinkets and treasures. But this conversation with my precious, independent child was the best part of the fair today.

This angel will be 5 years old tomorrow. Happy birthday, sweet girl.  I learn from you every day, and I am the luckiest mommy on the planet.


An Open Letter and a Note of Gratitude

“I’ve been married for forty-two years which means I’ve been to forty-two state fairs.”  I’m not sure why this little tidbit from the Park-and-Ride attendant didn’t instantly put me in great spirits.

And then I walked up over the hill, took one look at Math-on-a-Stick, and the indifference melted.  The humble smile of satisfaction from Christopher Danielson was enough to warm the cockles of my heart for months.  But the kids and the konversations around shape, number, space, and patterns were nothing short of inspiring.  “This is exactly how I envisioned this,” Christopher said.  And his vision becoming state-fair reality is going to change the way parents and kids talk about math.  I love hearing kids explain their reasoning.  It’s what makes my job as an educator joyous.


Dear Adults: (all of us)

The children in your life are creative, driven, passionate, and intelligent.


Ask them how they see the pattern. Let them experiment with the shapes.  Let them lead the conversation.

Listen to what they notice. Encourage them to say more.

Then ask them how they know.

The “right” answer is so much less important than a child leading you on their own mathematical journey.


Thank you, Christopher.  Today you not only added a great new structure to the landscape of the Minnesota State Fair. But tonight, in hundreds of households, the conversation around mathematics is changing. And after nine more days, thousands more will get a chance to embrace this shift.  When my husband and I have been married forty-two years, we’ll go to the fair and stop by and listen to the kids talk at Math-on-a-Stick.




Arooo to the #MTBoS

National Dog Day seems like an appropriate time to create a blog post using the photos I collected from #DogsOfMTBoS.  (You had to see this coming at some point, right?)

I find the love that people and dogs share endearing and also inspiring.  I recently created a Polygraph using photos of beagles.  I actually put some time into this and tested it with Sadie Estrella and her nephew.  There’s some quality craftsmanship in there for sure.

Alrighty!  Here they are, the Dogs (and a few cats) of the MTBoS!


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Topper just wants to give you some love.




Practice These Principles…

From: http://shebrand.com/more-gratitude-less-attitude/

I’m in the process of starting a new blog to post about my sober journey.  I’m not sure what to start with so I’m posting this here until I figure that out.

I’ve had an eye-opening summer, to say the least. I have experienced an emotional enthusiasm like I haven’t felt in years, yet weeks later felt lows that made me question my role as a mother, a wife, and a teacher.

Paraphrasing Step 12, as addicts, we are tasked with “practicing the principles” of the twelve steps in every aspect of our lives.  I’ve said this before about AA.  The only step that mentions alcohol is step one.  The other eleven involve self-renewal, relationship mending, and spiritual enlightenment.  (Here is a link to the steps if you are curious.)

The desire for alcohol has left me, but that does not mean my addiction has been cured.  Far from it.  Hidden right beneath the surface is the pattern of addictive behavior that got me into this mess in the first place. That isn’t going away, and I have to deal with it every time it bubbles to the surface.  The other alternative is to let the addictive behavior slowly take everything from me, just like alcohol tried to do.  

I need to repeat that because it’s that important.  I may never drink again.  But if my addictive behavior isn’t dealt with and eradicated as alcohol was, I’m doomed to the same fate as if I were still actively drinking.  “We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves,” (Eric Hoffer) and I’m lying to myself if I think that sobriety simply means living without alcohol.  

I’ve written about acceptance on here before, and I definitely think acceptance is key to a healthy recovery from any addiction.  Melody Beattie, author of The Language of Letting Go, offers an additional challenge:  gratitude.

To accept our circumstances is another miraculous cure.  For anything to change or anyone to change, we must first accept ourselves, others, and the circumstance exactly as they are.  Then, we need to take it one step further.  We need to become grateful for ourselves and our circumstances.  

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

My goal for the 2015-2016 school year:  More gratitude. 

Custom Polygraph from Desmos

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about a math-specific activity.  But today, I spent the better part of 5 hours creating a Polygraph Activity with scatter plots on Desmos, and it was a ton of crazy math fun.  Here is the link if you’d like to use it. 

It’s kind of like the game Guess Who, but with mathematical concepts like parabolas, quadrilaterals, and systems of equations.  It’s relatively easy to make one of these activities, but incredibly complex and time-consuming to create a good one.

Christopher confirmed my inclination:


Bob and Michael had some helpful thoughts:

Here’s what I came up with for my scatter plots:




I had my husband field test it for me.  He used language like “mostly linear” when eliminating graphs but then seemed to focus on how many points are in each quadrant.  I took out the axes to see if that solves the problem but I’m worried that might make the graphs indistinguishable to students.



What I learned:

  • The Math:  By first experimenting on StatKey (thanks @rockychat3), I was able to determine the effect on the line of best fit when maneuvering points.
  • The Logistics:  The only window available is -5 to 5.  I had to edit most of my graphs to fit in that space.  Also, intermediate saving is not currently available so ensuring your graph inputs are ready to go is helpful.
  • The People: I’m never short of completely humbled when I reach out for help with something on twitter.  Thank you everyone for your input.