Monthly Archives: September 2018

9/24/18: Monday Motivation – Christopher Danielson

Every Monday, I will highlight someone who motivates me to become a better educator and this week goes to Christopher Danielson!

I’ve only known Chris online but he is an integral part of my Twitter community.

I *think* my first interaction with him was in this tweet:


He is an expert in math, but he doesn’t make others feel intimidated. I’m trying hard to follow Max Ray-Riek’s idea of “listening to” rather than “listening for” and I can totally see that Christopher does this, as seen in this example:

I love that he has Math on a Stick to show the general public how fun math can be. A lot of math educators do a good job showing how math is fun within the classroom, but I love how Christopher extends that to everyone.

Lastly, I love that he supports the LGBT community. I posted my “Just married” photo a couple months ago, mentioned that I always lose followers whenever I mention being gay, and he says:  

I know it’s 2018, but I am still amazed at all the people who support our community. Thank you Christopher. I don’t take your support for granted.

Christopher is a wonderful educator and human being. I strongly believe that the way you live your life is a vote for what you want society to look like, and the world would be a better place if we had more Christophers. Thank you for enriching my Twitter experience and I cannot wait to finally see you in 2 weeks!

9/18/18: The People I met at Math Unleashed

Rather than a Monday Motivation, I’m going to highlight the great people I met at Math Unleashed this past Saturday:

(Pre-conference dinner including Carole Pryor, Casey McCormick, Chrissy Newell, Devin Rossiter, Heidi, Kathy Henderson, Allison Krasnow, and Sarah Galasso)

Chrissy Newell

Though she didn’t go to Math Unleashed, it was awesome that she was coincidentally in Sacramento when we were. I sat next to her at the dinner and I loved how the conversations just felt like we’ve been friends forever. I’ll always admire how knowledgeable she is with math ed and I’m excited that I get to see her a couple more times this semester.

Kathy, Casey, and Allison


I’ve met Casey before, but I’ve been waiting a while to see Kathy and Allison. Looking around at the dinner the night before the conference, I was on the verge of being teary-eyed because I’ve finally met them. I will never not be amazed at the relationships built with someone that we haven’t met in person. They are all super kind and I cannot wait to see them next month at Taste of TMC NorCal (which you should go to, too).

Devin Rossiter (pictured at the dinner)

Devin drove all the way from Bakersfield for this! Such commitment. At the dinner, he said that he wants to present in as many conferences as he can and that takes the courage that I’m still learning to build. From starting with Sports Broadcasting, I’m glad he made his way to the math field. We really need him and his ideas.

Sarah (pictured at the dinner)

Sarah is doing great things with Carnegie Learning, traveling all around California and Nevada giving PD. She is super approachable and kind and I’m sure I’ll see her at a conference soon.

Heidi (pictured at the dinner)

Heidi was SUCH a fun person to hang out with. The night before, she said she would come to my session even though we just met. After the session, she even nudged Carole to make me the keynote next year (jokingly of course). Thanks for being my cheerleader for the weekend!


Demetrius came up to me towards the end of the day to shake my hand saying that he follows me and I wish he did so earlier! I talked to him later and he has wonderful ideas and passions, such as wanting to use tech to make teaching easier. I hope I get to see him at another conference.


This was the first time I ever talked to Fawn in person and it feels like we’ve known each other for a long time. She is one of those people that can talk for 3 hours and I would not get bored. I loved the math problems she gave us, including the 25 mice race, Conway tangles, and the host/handshake problem. She deserves the world and I am so honored to have her as a friend.

Ed Campos Jr.

Ed is a treat to watch. Hilarious and loves to give shout outs to other educators. I met him before very briefly at CMC Central but this was the first time I watched him present. If you haven’t yet, you absolutely need to.

Carole Pryor (pictured at the dinner)

Carole, thank you for letting me present at your conference. It was my very first conference talk so Math Unleashed will have a special place in my heart. The entire time, you were all smiles and warm-hearted. The people you work with are so lucky to have you.

Debbie Hurtado (not pictured 🙁 )

Debbie came up to me at the very end of the conference to say hi to me and I wish she did sooner. I hope to see her at another conference soon so we could have a more proper chat!

People at my session

I remember most but unfortunately not all of their names (Nicole, Colby, Syndi, Herman, Heidi, Andrea, Katie, Fawn,…), but I was so grateful that they all had a good time during the presentation, especially since I had a dream a couple nights prior where a guy said “yeah…you shouldn’t be presenting.” I saw Heidi’s friend Andrea write “Great energy!” on her notebook just minutes in and that made my day. From someone who has pretty low self-esteem, it’s unreal that people would use my ideas, so thank you for validating that my ideas *are* good and that other teachers will implement them in their classroom.

Aside from the travel, Math Unleashed was a great experience. This is my first of 6 conferences that I’ll be attending this Fall and if this was any indication of how the others will turn out, it’s going to be a great semester.

Thanks for reading.

9/10/18: Monday Motivation – Robert Kaplinsky

Every Monday, I will highlight an educator who has inspired me to be better, and this week goes to Robert Kaplinsky.

If you’re a math educator, there’s a very high chance that you know of Robert.

I saw him at CMC South last year and he said something that I think about at least once a week. It was something along the lines of “Well, we were taught procedurally and we came out fine, so why is it important to change how we are teaching?” To be completely honest, I forgot what he said after that and I didn’t write it down in my notes, but I’d like to answer that with “Because our students deserve it.” (Robert, if you’re reading this, I would like to know what you really said).

I love that he emphasizes DOK levels and Open Middle. Those are my go-to’s for low floor, high ceiling activities. I love it so much that I’m making it into a project for my future elementary school teachers. Also, it is awesome that he is giving free live webinars next week! So selfless!

I also love that Robert is really interested in meeting other educators. I’m not going to lie that I freaked out when I saw that he DMed me about going to the CMC South dinner. Fawn tried to ruin it saying that it was a mass DM, but it still counts even if it was a mass DM. =P

I have much more respect for Robert after reading his math story ( It is obvious that he reflects on his past experiences to drive his motivation today. Also, I cannot imagine going through his experiences with math and getting to the point to where he is today, so mad props to him on that. His heart is definitely in the right place. By the way, after reading his math story, I finally understand why he said “You know how marijuana is a gateway drug? Pre-algebra is the gateway to math.” during his talk at CMC South.

Thank you Robert for inspiring and helping many math educators. Your purpose is sincere and you are moving mountains. I hope to be as impactful as you one day. 

Thank you for reading.

9/9/18: Tips of the Day

(Photo by student Noemi Gonzalez)

When we talk about humanizing the classroom, we focus on humanizing it for our students, but don’t forget that we need to humanize the teacher’s role too. That is why I incorporate Tips of the Day in my classroom, because I have knowledge/insights that I would like to share with my students that are not necessarily in the curriculum. I start class every day with a Tip of the Day. At the beginning of the semester, I tell my students to dedicate the first two pages of their notebooks to the Tips of the Days because if they were to take anything from the class, this would be it.

Some of my tips include:

  • Math is not about speed.
  • Focus on depth, not breadth.
  • Closed mouths don’t get fed.
  • Say “Ask me at least 2 questions” rather than “Do you have any questions?”
  • Teachers and students are on the same side.
  • It’s okay if you don’t understand something the first time you see it.
  • Mistakes are expected, respected, and inspected.

When I student-taught in an 8th grade classroom, I would have a Tip of the Week just so we can practice that tip the entire week. Some of those tips included: “Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’” and “Try to make eye contact when talking to someone”. Of course, I told my students that they are their own critical thinkers so they don’t have to agree with all my tips just because I say it.

Remember that you deserve to humanize your role as a teacher. You have experiences that your students can learn from, so go out and turn your experiences into Tips of the Day!

Thank you for reading.

9/3/18: Monday Motivation – Sarah Carter

Every Monday, I’m going to highlight someone who has motivated me to become a better educator and this week goes to Sarah Carter.

I have my students create an educational Twitter and though they are future elementary school teachers, I still have them follow Sarah because she is the epitome of what I like about EduTwitter. She shares SO MUCH and all her materials are FREE. Every semester, I use her Zukei puzzles and let me tell you, students are so engaged when they do them. I am not alone too, when I posted an appreciation tweet, there were so many so related:

I also love that she highlights what happens on Twitter in her Monday Must Reads. My heart fell out of my chest when I got mentioned one time. To be honest, because she follows so many people (she follows all of her followers back!!), I’m always shocked when Sarah likes one of my tweets, like “oh my goodness she noticed me.”

Sarah, you deserve everything you want. You are positively affecting math education around the WORLD and that is something that I hope to achieve one day. Thank you for being my motivation.