So,

Dear Principal,

Your teachers are working really really hard at this thing called teaching. The role of a teacher is not unlike that of a parent. And if you’re not a parent, then think of being a neurosurgeon or an astrophysicist, being a parent is way harder than that.

It’s practically guaranteed that your teachers have not reached all their students today. But, there is tomorrow and the day after that. Please remember that Teacher

Ain room 23 may not have reached all her students in the academic sense, but she smiled and said hello to Melissa, gave Joey a granola bar and Jake a sharpened pencil, laughed at Amanda’s joke.Your teachers need your implicit trust and continued support to thrive. Show them you have their back and give them feedback frequently, but wrap each feedback in kindness, empathy, and humor. This makes all the difference in whether or not they want to show up for work tomorrow.

Some years ago, I had a principal who asked me the same question more than once, like he forgot or didn’t hear my answer the first time. He asked, “Fawn, how do you motivate kids?” I replied, “I don’t know. If I knew the answer, I’d write a book and make millions and quit teaching.” Now that I think about this, clearly he thought I’d given him the wrong answer, therefore he had to ask me again in hoping that I’d learned something over the course of two weeks.

Before I became a parent, I judged all parents. You’re a horrible parent because your child is a brat and disrespectful. It’s your fault that your spoiled kid is ungrateful and entitled. What a loser of a parent you are that your kid fails half of her classes and makes all sorts of excuses while doing so. You must be a bigger asshole than the little asshole you’re raising.

Then, I gave birth to three kids. At one time or another, honestly, more like an extended period of where’s-the-goddamn-light-at-the-end-of-this-tunnel, my own flesh and blood were disrespectful, ungrateful, entitled, jerks, assholes, whiny, rude, arrogant, mean, neurotic.

But, if you had said any of these things about my kids to my face, I’d probably stab you with a fork. I’m equally defensive as I’m protective. Until you walk in my shoes, you have no right to judge me. I’ve been a teacher longer than I’ve been a parent. One role blended into the other.

When an administrator makes a statement or asks a question to imply that his teachers are not working hard enough, it unravels the trust like pulling on a loose thread of yarn. Sure, there’s ineffective hard work, but it’s hard work nonetheless. Teachers want pretty much anything and everything to help us do a better job, but this advice or suggestion cannot come at a cost of making us feel any smaller and more unappreciated.

So,

]]>Dear Principal,

Please stop being evaluative, start being helpful and send doughnuts.

There are 75 olives, 40% of which are green. I eat some of the green olives until 10% of the olives that remain are green. How many green olives did I eat?

How would you solve this?

I solved it using algebra. Then, immediately, I thought, *Fawnzie, since when do you use algebra to solve stuff like this. C’mon, do your rectangles*.

I think of 40% as 2 of 5 boxes.

So, 75 olives must split into 5 groups of 15, so there are 30 green olives.

Then, I ate some olives to end up with only 10% of the remaining olives are green.

Well, since I didn’t eat any of the 45 black olives, so these 45 must make up 90% of the olives remaining [in the 9 boxes], so 45 must split into 9 groups of 5.

Oh, look! I began with 30 green olives, I now only have 5 green ones left, so I must have eaten 25 of them.

Okay, your turn.

There are 80 olives, 75% of which are green. I eat some of the green olives until 20% of the remaining olives are green. How many green olives did I eat?

Because if I tried to show my kids the work below, or versions thereof, a few might just shit in their pants.

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It was there that I first learned about Exploding Dots from Diana White, an associate professor from the University of Colorado Denver. Diana said that Exploding Dots was developed by James Tanton — and I recognized his name instantly because I have his book *Solve It* and have seen many of his great videos online.

Exploding Dots is way fun! It was like playing a game [with an exploding dot machine] that became more and more challenging, and this machine invited us to make connections and explore different algorithms. And when we got to explore a fractional base, my mind was blown. Of course, we wanted to share Exploding Dots immediately at our first MTC, so here’s Nate Carlson, one of the leaders at our site, facilitating the session back in September 2012.

**If you’re not familiar with Exploding Dots, you want to get in on this!**

Exploding Dots is an astounding mathematical story that starts at the very beginning of mathematics – it assumes nothing – and swiftly takes you on a wondrous journey through grade school arithmetic, polynomial algebra, and infinite sums to unsolved problems baffling mathematicians to this day.

And this brings me to the Global Math Project (GMP)! Founded by James Tanton, Raj Shah, Brianna Donaldson, and others, the GMP is launching its first **Global Math Week, starting this October 10, 2017**. Its goal is to do what the Hour of Code did for coding, but for mathematics. The goal is to reach 1,000,000 students across the globe to do Exploding Dots! (Over half a million students in over 100 countries have already registered!)

Please register and join me and my 130 students in grades 7 and 8 to experience this wonderful and joyous content of Exploding Dots!

]]>So, if you teach mathematics (grades 6-12), please-please consider signing up! Registration does not open until October 16, but I know requests for funds can take time, and you’d want to ask before your school’s budget goes to curriculum *X* and supplies *Y* that may end up collecting dust in storage land!

Even if you live in Brussels or Shanghai, you should still try to make it because Disneyland is less than 3 miles away from the hotel. Yup! So, bring your whole family and make a vacation out of it. :)

I’m still in the classroom full-time, and this year I’m teaching Math 7, Math 8, and Coding. I feel your pain. Yes, we work too hard for too many long hours. Yes, we grade papers while we scoop dinner onto our face. We have the most neglected bladders of all humankind. We lie sleepless at night because we want to find a better way to explain concept *A* to Johnny and build math confidence in Mary. And I share your joy. If teaching mathematics is not a joyful profession for you, then maybe we can talk about that. We *need* to talk about that. Our failure is not here to shame us, it’s there to remind us to seek smarter and kinder ways to operate.

I’m truly hoping that you’ll come away from the two days inspired and motivated to make your classroom the best that it can be for all the math learners in your care.

If you sign up using this link — http://www.

This is an incredible opportunity for me, and I’d be honored to share the learning with you.

]]>From the About/Contact page:

The inspiration for this site came from John Allen Paulos’ book

Innumeracy. I read the book back in 2008, but reading it again this past summer reignited the inspiration and turned it into fruition. In my lesson plan spreadsheet, I started a column of “tidbits” to share with my students; it’s filled with mathematical fun facts, latest news, and stuff you see on here. I teach middle school mathematics, and ratios and proportional reasoning make up large portions of the curriculum, so I’m always comparing stuff, like tossing my flipflop onto this big Danish clog while visiting Solvang, CA, and wondering how big or tall the person wearing such clogs would have to be.

My goal is to have at least 40 entries to match the number of school weeks.

I would love to hear how you would use the site with your students and any other feedback.

And I hope your school year is off to a great start. I get to teach 7th and 8th-grade math this year. We’re on a block schedule for the second year now, and I’m getting used to it. Be well and teach well, my friends!

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