Brand New One by One Sessions Involve Kids!

Watch Kids in Action as they Interact and Learn with Sphero, Seesaw, BeeBot Coding and Scratch!

K-2 Seesaw Classroom Observation & 3-5 Seesaw Classroom Observation
Come and see what Seesaw looks like in action!  See how students are able to use Seesaw when given choice in demonstrating their understanding.  

K-2 BeeBot Coding Classroom Observation
Bee-Bot is an exciting new robot designed for use by young children. This colorful, easy-to-operate, and friendly little robot is a perfect tool for teaching sequencing, estimation, problem-solving, and just having fun!  During this session, participants will be able to observe students learning to code and problem solve.  

3 – 5 Sphero Robotics Classroom Observation
Sphero Edu uses app-enabled robots to foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science. Sphero goes beyond code with collaborative STEAM activities, nurturing students’ imaginations in innovative and engaging ways. During this session, we will be able to see students being introduced to the Sphero, and engage in programming to solve a problem using the Sphero.

K-2 Sphero Robotics Classroom Observation 
Sphero Edu uses app-enabled robots to foster creativity through discovery and play, all while laying the foundation for computer science. Sphero goes beyond code with collaborative STEAM activities, nurturing students’ imaginations in innovative and engaging ways. During this session, we will be able to see students being introduced to the Sphero, and engage in programming to solve a problem using the Sphero.

3-5 Ozobot Coding Classroom Observation
Ozobots are miniature smart robots that can follow lines or roam around freely, detect colors, and can also be programmed. During this session, we will be able to see students engage in programming to solve a problem using the Ozobots.  

K-2 Scratch Jr. Coding Classroom Observation & 3-5 Scratch Coding Classroom Observation
Watch kids create their own interactive stories, games and animations using Scratch.

Listen to Students’ Honest Stories of Their School Experiences
Uncovering Hidden Bias
During this session, a panel of high school students will share their stories and experiences living and learning as an EL in Evergreen Public Schools.

Find Your Tribe

The best learning is organic; it happens because we seek it out, we discuss it, we explore it, we do it, and then we do it again! Learning is risk-taking. In the book AMPLIFY, Kristin Ziemke talks about finding your tribe; those professionals that share your passion, that sharpen your thinking, that force reflection.

Connecting with others can sometimes feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but seeking out professional relationships will “nurture your teacher soul and inspire you to be great”. (Ziemke)

AfterMath is a group of Evergreen elementary teachers who are working together to improve their instructional practices in math. These teachers meet face to face and they connect online. For more information, or to join their Facebook group contact

You can connect with many of your Evergreen colleagues online to share resources or view each other’s blogs. Here’s a peek at some of Brian Cleary’s work: Personalized Learning is isn’t just for Big Kids,  Old Brain Teacher

There are endless opportunities to connect with teachers around the world online. Here is a resource to help you get started:

Put yourself out there! Connect with others who share your passions. Lean on them for ideas and inspiration.  You’ll be glad you did.


Math Anxiety

I wonder how many of us experienced some degree of math anxiety as we moved through our required  math courses and how many of us pursued another subject due to the knots and angst in our stomachs. Perhaps just the title of this blog post brought back unpleasant memories of your own mathematical encounters.

I remember struggling with and dropping out of my high school trig class and being chastised by a college professor who informed me in front of the class that “You are stupid.” Yet, I still saw math as challenging, rewarding and exciting all at the same time. This is why I chose to persevere, ignore the insults and pursue both my Bachelors and Masters in Mathematics. I felt accomplished and as if I could tackle challenging problems outside of math and be a contributing, problem-solving team member.

In Math Anxiety, Jo Boaler shares five reasons why math anxiety is still prevalent in our educational system.

  1. Math is taught as a performance subject. Students see their role in math as to get the correct answer.
  2. Communication to students centers around either having a math brain or not in spite of the fact that all students can learn math.
  3. Math is often taught as a series of procedures and calculations rather than an opportunity to be creative and collaborative.
  4. Math is not portrayed as an opportunity to struggle, to dig deeper and to generate ideas.
  5. Math seems to be the subject that has the most homework.

As I read these, I easily saw how, at times, my teaching fell into several of these areas and wished I could have a mulligan and better meet the needs of my students.

Research by Ashcraft and Krause indicates that math anxiety “severely impacts student’s ability to enjoy math, motivation to take more math or do well in math.” As math educators, we get this and we continuously battle with the age-old stigma of  “You either get math or you don’t”.  We have the opportunity, though, to change this and mold our students’ thinking to perceive math as both pleasantly frustrating and exciting as well as to believe that they can be successful at it; in other words, they can become mathematical thinkers!

Mathematical Thinker



Normalizing Math Discussions Outside Of The Classroom

log truck

How many logs are stacked on the bed of the truck? How did you count? 

Fact is, we’ve all been stuck with this view, and more likely the first question that comes to mind is, “How soon can I get around this truck?”

Which is the better deal? How many caramels come in a pound? 

caramel comparison

What do you notice in this picture? What do you wonder?


We encounter math every day in a variety of situations, however it is rare that it is brought up in every day conversations within the homes of our students.

So…how do we get parents involved? Gain interest in talking about math without feeling intimidated? Start conversations with their children that construct understanding and number sense? John Stevens (@jstevens009) is working to foster these exact kind of discussions within the home in his new text Table Talk Math. If you are looking for a resource to support family involvement in the area of mathematics, look no further. This inviting text provides parent assistance in understanding how to support math fluency, provides prompts to discuss mathematics and build number sense in an informal and enjoyable way.

table talk math.JPG

Subscribe to John’s site for free newsletters to promote math conversations (many available in Spanish).


Glazin’ Saddles

Everything is bigger in Texas, and celebrations are no exception. Check out this display of doughnuts in honor of the celebration for the Independence of Texas.

Texas Flag in donuts

What do you notice? What do you wonder?

Here’s what our students came up with…

Notice and Wonder Texas Task

A few things to note. Yes, there are observations that are not necessarily mathematically relevant to possible inquiry pathways within this picture. However, all student voices are validated, and all observations are important as it encourages students to pause and consider and make sense of the context of the situation. Much like we ask for students to do when approaching a story problem. When they pause to make sense of the situation, the quantities suddenly carry much more meaning, and operations become more obvious.

The next step, the “wondering” phase is equally as accessible to all students as the “notice” phase. Again, contextual and mathematical questions from students are validated and noted. Our students quickly became interested in the question that we had hoped they would which was, “How many doughnuts in the entire flag?”

Before students set out to solve, they were invited to establish an estimate, and ask questions for information that might help them in getting closer to a solution. Questions such as, “is there more than one layer,” or “does the star count?” and “can I see an un-cropped picture to view the entire flag?” All evidence that students are considering variables that could impact both their estimate, and their solution path. Information that was provided to them: a full picture of the flag, a “zoomed” in box of blue doughnuts to see the smaller array, and we provided them with information in “yes” or “no” form as far as layers of pastries or whether the star would count.

Then…magic happened.

All kids worked diligently to arrive at their solution. There was consensus in the answer: 54 x 35=1890, but no one seemed as interested in that as the various methods we discussed during debrief to help make the math easier. They described the ways in which they determined the number of boxes: 54, by partitioning the flag into different areas to help them break down the problem into more reasonable chunks:

student visual representations texas task

Then went on to describe how those smaller areas helped them to manage the problem 54 x 35. Take this example:

Student work paper 1

She “chunked” the flag into one row of boxes noticing that there were 9 in a row, with 35 doughnuts in each square. After knowing what was in one row, she simply multiplied that number by 6 to arrive at her answer of 1890. Three digit by one digit multiplication was more efficient for her than double by double digit.

A second approach other than the standard algorithm:

student work paper 2

This student set up to solve using the algorithm, and quickly switched to an approach that made more sense to him. See if you can figure out his strategy, it took us all a while, and probably required a lot of patience from him as he explained his thinking to the class. Give it a shot, the “ah-ha” moment is worth it.

At this point, students were satisfied with their answer of 1890. They had accomplished the task they set out to solve, compared it back to their estimates, and were convinced of their answer. Now to match their thinking to the final reveal:

That’s correct, you heard him right…1836 Doughnuts to represent the year of Independence. 1836…How did our students respond?

What What What

Two camps were quickly established:

  1. We are wrong: maybe the arrays were 5 x 6, there were different numbers of doughnuts in each box, one missing from each box (we assumed all had 35)…
  2. Texas is wrong: people miscounted, they lied to match the year, they announced the number they are giving away at the celebration not actual count, someone didn’t double check the boxes, there’s one fake doughnut in each box, there are no doughnuts under the star…

Ultimately, this led to more math. Students were interested in mathematizing their theory. They started thinking about reasonableness of some of these claims. Coming up to the board for a closer look to see if 54 doughnuts could indeed be missing from under the star…trying to catch spaces in the boxes where a doughnut should be (MP4: modeling). Or calculating other possibilities for the sections of color. The theory that blue boxes have 35 doughnuts, red have 34, and white have 33 received applause and cheers from the class. Students began working to check a variety of array possibilities, and were left with the questions, “What would the flag look like if there were 1836 doughnuts?”

To be honest, I was nervous about trialing this task on kids. Mostly because I knew their answer would not match the reveal in Act 3. But the outcome brought the MPs to life more than I could have anticipated or even planned. Take MP 3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. These students took on TEXAS. They were beyond critiquing the thinking of their classmates, and were ready to put in a call to Krispy Kreme or the governor. They revisited their math, were happy to think through this real life situation quantitatively (MP2) there was no need to explore options for those kids that were “done.” These students definitely persevered throughout the entire investigation (MP1).

In addition to the layering of the math practices, this task specifically addressed standard CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NBT.B.5 Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

The alternative to this task might have appeared as:

Multiply 54 by 35. Show your work using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

Not to say there isn’t room in the curriculum for that type of mathematical experience, but to emphasize the importance in making room in the curriculum for rich math tasks. Keep it real.

If you are interested in taking on Glazing Saddles with your class, here is the link to a slide deck of images to support the 3 Act Structure: Glazin’ Saddles.  If you do, leave a comment about how it went! This task was appropriate for this specific group of students, as their teacher had just gotten back from a trip to Texas, making the context engaging for kids. But…who are we kidding, doughnuts are always engaging to kids ;).

To learn more about 3 Act Tasks, or for more 3 Act Task ideas, please visit:

Graham Fletcher:

Robert Kaplinsky:

Mike Wiernicki:

Dane Ehlert:

Geoff Krall PBL Curriculum Maps

Supporting our students and immigrant families in turbulent times…

I’ve been in several buildings in the past months and I have seen first hand and heard from teachers in the field, that our students and immigrant families are stressed with the recent increased enforcement of immigration policies.

…And ‘stressed’ is putting it mildly.

No matter what your political affiliation is, supporting our students and making sure they feel safe in their learning environment is a primary concern for any educator. If children, even the big ones, being scared for their family’s security doesn’t tug at your heart strings then at least an understanding of the impact of stress on the learner’s brain should give us pause.

This issue became even more apparent when I attended a recent “Immigration 101” session held at ASC. Families of immigrants were in attendance to hear about their rights and how the latest immigration policies and enforcement are impacting families of students in our community. The thing that stands out when you are in a room full of immigrant families is the level of concern these parents and guardians have for their children. Many families are facing the realities of being torn apart by detainment or deportation. There was talk of creating a safety plan should a parent or guardian be picked up or detained by ICE. Sadly, many families have reached the conclusion to leave their children behind should the parents be deported.

I myself, cannot imagine the daily stress of not knowing if my parents were going to be home when I return from school. Some students, students who are here legally, born in the United States, have been asked by their peers “So when are you going back to (fill in the blank with assumed country of origin)?” Even when these questions aren’t intended maliciously, our students still suffer anxiety. Some high school students who are on a path to graduation and college are having to make difficult decisions. One student is facing a decision to continue on the education path he has worked hard to achieve in order to stop school entirely to work full time so money can be saved for his possible deportation.

So what can you do? What can any of us do? 

Dr. Catherine Carrison, EPS ELL Department Manager, recently gave a talk at the Evergreen Faith Based-Coffee. She shared the following advice to community members:

faith based coffee ELL

  •  Educate yourself so you can tell the “Counter Story” of our children and their families. People who don’t know our families like we do may not know or realize the value our immigrant families add to the fabric of our community. Emphasize the assets our diverse students bring to our classrooms. The media and politicians have their versions of who our students are, but we know them best. Knowing a student means caring about him or her as a human being, a person with a name and a story, not just a statistic.
  • Advocate for multilingualism and multiculturalism. Emerging bilinguals in our schools bring many assets to our classrooms and our community. Diversity in our classrooms promotes diversity and creativity in thinking and innovation. An important new study by economists Quamrul Ashraf of Williams College and Oded Galor of Brown University help us understand the economic benefits of a diverse population. “Cultural Diversity, Geographical Isolation and the Origin of the Wealth of Nations,” recently released as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It finds that “the interplay between cultural assimilation and cultural diffusion have played a significant role in giving rise to differential patterns of economic development across the globe.” To put it in plain English: diversity spurs economic development and homogeneity slows it down.
  • Promote a message of advocacy and compassion for our children and their families. Be a “safe place.” This goes beyond our schools being safe-havens where ICE raids cannot legally occur without prior consent. This speaks to our attitudes and mindset about how we consistently work to build a sense of community and trust within each of our classrooms. Some great resources on restorative practices and mindfulness have been implemented in our buildings and the impact is evident. Learn more about these resources by contacting Carl Smith, EPS Special Services Assistant Director.
  • Pay attention to your government – WA State has more ELLs than all but seven other states (137,000+ or 10%). The old adage goes: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil”. Use your voice and your vote in local elections and government agencies to promote your concerns and values.
  • Volunteer at your local school! As educators we obviously are not ‘volunteering’ our time but we can encourage more diverse community members to be in our classrooms. Contact your community liaisons to recruit  volunteers that can be models for diversity themselves and bring in community members to get to know the diverse learners in our classrooms.

Learn more about information for families and educators by following the links below:

Information for Families of Immigrants

Information for Educators about Immigrant Students


Lindy Sims

Welcome to Lindy Sims’ classroom at BBC where you are invited to join the learning environment and provide feedback directly related to her goals as a teacher. Why? Because she believes that her growth in instructional moves is supported by having an outside perspective of her practice. That there is power in collaboration.

Lindy rose to the challenge presented by Robert Kaplinsky’s Call to Action to steer teaching away from the one room school house that can become the norm within the field.

Thank you Lindy for leading by example. Your classroom was a buzz with student discourse. The students supported one another, challenged one another, and learned from one another in a way that was so seamless. My favorite was the genuine respect they had for one another during their discussions. They weren’t just waiting to share their thinking, they were truly listening and considering what they understood, agreed with, or disagreed with based on their findings. It is evident that you have put some heavy lifting into your goals as a classroom teacher.

collaboration 2collaboration