I’m Audrey and I teach math in Oregon. I have a passion for making math accessible for all students by focusing on creating a classroom culture that values students at all stages of their mathematical careers. I love to create resources and activities that are meant to build up students’ confidences in their own mathematical abilities so they can see themselves being successful in math as well as see the fun that math can be!
What I’ve Taught
Over the years, I have taught just about every class at the high school level. I’ve taught in a variety of school settings from urban, Title 1 to semi-rural. I’ve taught:
- Algebra 1,
- Algebra 1 Support,
- Algebra 2,
- Algebra 2 Support,
- Pre-Calculus, and
What I Stand For
I firmly believe all students are capable of rising to your expectations and I absolutely refuse to lower the content standards, even if a group is identified as needing “support.” Support comes in many ways, but it does not include a watered down curriculum. I always aim to teach math in a way that builds, as I call it, a “conceptual snowball” as the year goes on. At first, the ground work needs carefully laid, but once it is, things should be building in an extremely natural manner that allows the pace to move fairly quickly. Imagine building part of a snowman–it takes a moment to get it going, but once you start rolling the snowball, it grows, and it grows, and it GROWS at a rapid pace. Before you know it, you have a belly for your snowman that’s too big.
From one day to the next, students should not feel like anything is really that different–the topics need to be well connected, which allows for easier understanding of the WHY, and allows students to use logic and reasoning to deal with new concepts. In short, it makes sense. As the year goes on, we can easily keep picking up speed because it feels like more of the same to students. It’s a huge confidence builder for students, helps connect and strengthen past concepts to new learning, and deepends students’ ability to apply old info to new.
If you’d like to learn about how I lay the groundwork in Algebra 1, check out this blog post that walks you through my first unit of the year.
If you were to walk into my classroom at a random time, I could guarantee you would find several things:
- WHITEOUT – I use SO much whiteout. I am a true lover of color-coding my notes, so it comes with the territory, I suppose. I say “I done goofed” about 15 times per class as well. I think these both model to students that my class is NOT about perfection. Who cares, we’re all human? I have them check my answers, as we go, because I’m not a human calculator, either. If I goof, witeout to the rescue!
- LAUGHTER– I like to laugh and I’m rarely serious. I have high expectations and routines for what my classroom looks like, and that affords me the luxury to be more relaxed with my students. I want to have fun doing my job, and students are hilarious. They do know, however, that there’s a time and a place and we can only have this luxury if we’re getting things done. I’m not afraid to say “Nope, don’t need to hear about Minecraft right now, moving on.” My Statistics students have shared how annoying it is that they can never seem to get me off topic in class.
- MURDER – In my class, math is murder. Almost everything in math is designed to precisely kill something else. Yes, we go into a great deal of vocab and use it on a regular basis, but there’s just something catchy about saying “muuuuurdeerrrrrr” when you cancel out the 3’s in 3x/3, okay? If you need an engagement boost, go for it. The more dramatic the better! A cube root with x^3 on the inside? Murder! Doing elmination with systems? MURDER! We discuss at great length the idea of inverses at the beginning of the year, and I’ll always ask for a justification about WHY we were allowed to do it (the murder, that is). That’s how you get off the hook, right, a solid reason?
PS: Also, when I draw popsicle sticks for student responses, I always call it “picking a victim.” You could say the class is a little dark, but it’s super lively and it helps bring out those students who normally wouldn’t say anything.
- STRUCTURE – I have a structure to my notes. In pre-calc, I always box my topic of the day in a blue marker. If I forget or use a different color, my students call me out on it. In Algebra 1, we use notebooks and are literally on the same page. In stats, we make a team cheat-sheet as we go throughout the unit. No matter the class, there’ll be a structure to the notes. I also have a structure to my class. Students know to quietly come in and begin working on their warmup. They have a few minutes to go solo, and then a minute or two of structured time to discuss with their table group. Then, victim-picking time (aka, drawing pop-sicle sticks). Then notes, then work time/activity (and an exit ticket when I am prepared). Each unit has its own structure, too. I find that with structure, students can flourish so much more.
- PARTICIPATION – I’m big on participation from students. They need to contribute, but yes, it can look different. Building up the confidence and capacity of a student normally makes this a non-issue, from my experience. When students know the classroom is safe and they are valued, it can be an impressive transformation to witness.
Anyway, I hope to serve you as best as I can by sharing how I structure my class and by showing what I include each unit to build this “conceptual snowball,” as I call it.
Audrey has a BS from the University of Oregon in Applied Mathematics where she focused primarily on applications to economics and computer science, minoring in both. She also has a MAT from the University of Portland, and will be receiving her principal’s license from the University of Portland in June 2020.