Building Class Culture and Community

Sunday August 16th 2015

We’ve had a busy week in 8th grade.  We spent time thinking and discussing qualities that we want to have in our groups and procedures we want in place to help our class run smoothly.  Each class analyzed their data that was collected in class and made a poster to show the priorities.  Common themes presented were respect, participation, everyone’s opinions matter, fun and fairness. The posters are hanging up in the room. Nine questions for 5 classes make 45 posters.  Who needs to do bulletin boards?  I will link a picture soon.

Intervention class this week has been awesome.  We did a weeks worth of Estimation 180 as warm ups and then I reviewed the rational numbers and irrational numbers they were studying in their regular math class.  We all talked each day about prioritizing their homework and discussed ways to study each of their other subjects.  I like to use some of our Intervention time to work on whatever is the concern of the week.  I am the intervention teacher who is supposed to help them pass their math class, but I am so much more.  I am the keeper of tape when their Language Arts paper rips I have the folder they forgot for the papers in Social Studies and I have extra computer paper for them to draw a picture for Science.  Our deal is they can get their needs met in my class, even if the need helps them in a class that isn’t math related.

Intervention Class also painted on Friday what will be a 7 piece wooden puzzle they will use to help build confidence and perseverance.  Stay tuned, more on that later.

I incorporated and modified another idea I learned from Twitter Math Camp 15 thanks to Glenn Waddell Jr.  Friday, at the end of each period, I high fived students as they left the room and told them to have a great weekend.  Glenn Waddell Jr. does it everyday as they enter the room, but I had already missed 5 days so I decided that “Hi Five Friday” should be born.  The smiles, giggles and energy made me feel so happy.  It was a great way to end our week.

Looking to start my #Friday foto15, but might be moving it Twiducate instead of Twitter.  Stay tuned.

Until Next Time,

Math Students Mean It


Welcome to the New School Year 2015-2016

Wednesday August 5th 2015

Today was the first day of my 31st year teaching in public education.  I began my career as a first grade teacher, moved to third, then several years in 5th and 6th grade.  Later I went on to get a math supplemental credential that now allows me to teach all math up to grade 9.  I love teaching students who haven’t been success in math.  I work to build their confidence and teach them ways to persevere through puzzles and fun.

School was hard for me as a student and in third grade I still wasn’t reading.  I had learned to be a good listener and could figure out the story by listening to the discussions.  I got help from teachers who thought highly of me and my attitude.  I didn’t develop a love for reading until I was a college student.  I liked working on a team and solving word problems, but I was never a math scholar.

While teaching 5th grade, I fell in love with teaching math and problem solving.  My principal was always giving me “raises” by moving me higher and higher.  I always accepted the challenge of a new grade level and remember joking with my grandfather about my latest raise.  I now teach 5 periods of math from Integrated 1, 8th CC and 8th Intervention.  I think each grade level was rewarding, but math has been the most challenging subject to teach.  It is also the most gratifying.

I survived my first day with a smile on my face, my students were awesome and my feet are tired.

Choose Your Attitude,

Tami Llewellyn

#FridayFoto15- Photos that REPRESENT

August 2nd 2015

This summer I enjoyed participating in the #mathphoto15 challenge. Malke Rosenfeld @mathinyourfeet has put together the summer challenge and her detailed descriptions inspired me to try a modified versions with my students.  I am always looking for ideas that might help students see math in their world.

I came up with  #FridayFoto15 Challenge

This photo challenge is for students.  Each Friday I will ask students to look around their community for a picture to represent the word of the week.  I loosely arranged the words around topics being discussed at that time in class.  I want students to see the similarities and differences between vocabulary words they use in class and how that vocabulary may look in their world.

I will be asking students to post the picture to twitter using the hashtag for the word and #Fridayfoto15.  I would like to open this up to any teacher and class that would like to participate.  I hope to learn how to storify this challenge in order to collect the results.  Any student that can not tweet me a copy of the picture will be asked to email it to me at  Our school is transitioning to Microsoft 365 for education so that will also give me options for sharing the results of the challenge.

Please use or modify if you wish!

Until next time,

Tami Llewellyn

#TMC15 Adventures of a Newbie at Twitter Math 15 @HarveyMudd @TmathC

July 30th 2015

Sometimes I think at 52 years old I should be thinking about what to do when I retire.  I guess I still want to learn new things and when I do I’m excited to share them with my students.  For me the #MTBos started when @judykeeney told me about this great group of people.  Almost daily, she would send me blog posts that she had read and thought I might like. Fawn Nguyen  was one of the first bloggers and I fell in love with her visual patterns website along with her blog. Next Judy sent me posts from Andrew Stadel and his Estimation 180 site.  This was perfect for my intervention class and my students thought that Andrew Stadel was a star.  After all he was on the internet.  I would be attending a math conference in Palm Springs that year and my students begged me to bring back a picture of myself and Andrew which of course I did.

After increasing the number of people I follow on twitter and doing lots of lurking, Judy encouraged me to attend TMC15.  Since I live in Southern California and a hotel room would not be an expense, it was possible.  I’m not new to teaching, (30years) or to attending professional development opportunities, but this was the first time I would attend a 3 day camp during the summer when I would normally be gone on vacation.  I wasn’t disappointment.

New to me was the idea of choosing a morning session that would go for all 3 days.  This format worked great for me, because I have the tendency to attend sessions that don’t give enough information to change my practice.  I normally leave with just a task or activity I can use but isn’t connected to my overall goals in class.   I attended the morning sessions offered by Alex Overwijk and Mary Bourassa entitled Activity-Based Teaching (grades 7-12) .  I paid really close attention to the teacher moves and what the student moves would be as Alex explained his “all activity” approach to teaching the standards to his 10th grade students.  I appreciated the details he shared about unloading the key concepts students will need during the a course.  His lack of empathizes on direct instruction with his struggling 10th graders, who enter not having been successful in math, gave me hope that students do learn content while doing many well planned activities.  I like the spiraling of the activities and the spiraling homework.

He showed pictures of his classroom where students, all the students, were standing at whiteboards around the room.  I learned later in another session led by Alex that these Vertical Non Permanent (VNP) whiteboards increased students participation and engagement.  The more I saw and I more he talked I knew this was going to be my take away from #TMC15.

My classroom looks different thanks to Judy, #TMC15, Alex and Mary.  I start school Monday August 3rd and my students come Wednesday August 5th.  I have rearranged my room into groups.  I reorganized files and removed one large 5 drawer filing cabinet and my second teacher desk that was in the front of the room.  I made space around my room for 36 students to stand up and write all at one time.  I have chosen activities (we call them tasks) I will blog about later for each class I teach.  My Intervention class will be my chosen class to do only activities.  In my other classes I will increase the number of rich tasks and decrease the number of lectures I do to deliver content.

I have found many tasks on Mathalious, Math Munch, and Illustrative Math  and plan to use them at least twice per unit.  I will also use Mary’s Which One Doesn’t Belong as warm ups once a week.

Until I write again, I will continue to read and respond to others,

Tami Llewellyn

Judy Keeney @judithkeeney – Colleague and Friend

July 20th, 2015

I am blessed to have colleagues I call friends. One such friend is blogging at 3yellowsandpails.  Judy came to our district as a Teacher on Assignment, but most of us saw her as a consultant and leader.  We started to work together in the Central School District in Rancho Cucamonga, California.  I had been a teacher for MANY years and I was so impressed by how knowledgeable she was about what I call “All Things Math.”  She was encouraging as well as motivating.  I felt like I had been re-energized and motivated to continue my work with the math department with a new sense of focus and direction.  I continue to think with Judy as a coach and a mentor.  After the district professional development sessions, I often call or email with follow up questions, and ask for her opinion or advice.  She has a great way of listening and helping me to reflect on my teaching.  She has stretched me to step out of my comfort zone, whether it is to start this blog or to actively participate on twitter.  She will email me ideas from her many friends on twitter and I love doing the tasks with my students.  My colleagues ask where the great new lesson came from and my answer is normally, “Judy shared it, let’s try it.”  My students and my teaching are a genuine interest to her and I truly appreciate all she has done for my professional growth.  I feel like even though I am getting older, I continue to stay current, always willing to try something new and Judy being available with all the current research and deep understanding of curriculum and instruction, is there to hold me accountable.

As a friend Judy and I can talk about how our family life impacts our teaching and how our teaching can impact our family life.  Having a mentor, a friend, a colleague and a person that you trust to be honest is a blessing.  Thank you Judy for helping me to be a better teacher and for investing your time and energy always going above and beyond.

Your Friend,


It Takes A Village

July 10th, 2015

Thank goodness for customer support.  Did you know that when you buy a domain name from Google they don’t host it? They have (who has ever heard of Enom anyways) host it.  You find out the Enom is the host when you try to publish your Blog using WordPress.  Wordpress makes you map your domain to them and then you have to prove to WordPress that you own the domain name.  You have to call Googleapps support, who tells you that Enom hosts the domain, but it needs to be registered through WordPress.  Customer support at Enom tells you that you have called the wrong number and you have to deal with will help you register your domain, but they don’t handle verifying it which is an additional step that has to done using google administration dashboard.  Gone are the days that you are prompted to complete certain steps in order as you need them.  I understand why people pay others to set up their web pages and blogs.

I’m Such A Beginner!

July 9th, 2015

Today I have worked many hours deciding how to set up a blog/website that will benefit my students and allow me to participate in the Math Twitter Blogosphere! #MTBOS.  I’ve been lurking on twitter and my teaching has improved while I’ve stayed current with everything math.  I’m trying to customize my blog, choose a theme, edit sidebars etc.  The learning curve is high and I am feeling low.  I have vocabulary to learn, tools to use and technology that is not as user friendly as I had hoped.

My goal is to have a place that-

*Parents can get ideas to help their students.

*Students can find downloads of class notes and assignments.

Teachers can find ideas that might be helpful to them.

I’m not a quitter, but I am going to take a break.