Two Nice Things: A Gift!

I've talked about my two nice things rule before and mostly because it's the one thing I've been consistent on throughout my entire teaching career.

When someone says a rude or mean comment about someone (whether they are in the room or not, or a family member, or celebrity, or someone I've never heard of) they must immediately say two nice things about that same person.

It's not about the nice things really being meaningful but it's about being consistent and sending a reminder that words matter. Mostly it stops them from saying mean things because they don't actually want to say the nice things.

I wanted to do something fun for my students for the end of the year but 90 students is a lot to buy candy or food for. So I used what I had: paper, ink, and my brain.

I made a list of every student in the class. I gave a little speech first about raising their maturity level, being kind and thoughtful, and imagining their classmates find this in 10 years so that it would leave a positive feeling. I asked them to write two nice things about each person in the room except for themselves.

I took their papers and used Wordle to type in all the responses. Then I copied into basically the size of a book mark so I could fit four per page.

I also put their names on it but of course I'm not posting those here. Not going to lie, this took a while. I did this for all 90 students and it probably took about...3 minutes for each one. I actually ran out of time so some were on paper, some were on card stock, some were laminated, some were not. But the appreciation was the same.

The students LOVED them and they traded with others to read theirs and just stood around in clumps trying to guess who said what about them. Some of my favorite comments from the students were:

  • I'm going to keep this forever!
  • This is my self-esteem boost for the week.
  • This makes me feel really good about myself!

I also always do class awards where I make certificates for every single student in the class. They are usually in the form of 'Most Likely To...' and then I say things that they normally do. They aren't academic at all.

Apparently, the students were really impressed that I knew them so well. I guess they didn't realize that we just spent 180 days together. =) They told other teachers about it and talked about it at lunch. They decided they wouldn't have done that if they were teachers and that I am really observant.

It's one of my favorite things to do and I always have students tell me they are going to frame it or it's the first time they've ever won anything. This year I even had former students quote theirs to me from past years.

I also made a 'video' out of funny teacher and student memes. It has my name in it so you probably don't want to use it, but here it is in case you need some ideas.

And last, I used this mad lib style survey to get my students thoughts on me and my class.

Always a good time.


Positive Polly

My sixth and weirdest year of teaching is almost over (20 more days!) and I need to remind myself of anything positive that I can.

  • This week we exited two different students from special education services because they are doing so well. Hooray!
  • The ASSET scores (entrance exam for our local community college) for my sophomores (majority in geometry, a handful in Algebra II) were higher than they've ever been with a large amount meeting or exceeding for college readiness. Hooray!
  • The year is almost over and I did not give up on Interactive Notebooks in every class, even my newest prep. Hooray!
  • Speaking of  my newest prep, I'm teaching trig and I didn't die! Hooray!
  • We are creating a senior math class because of student demand; the current option is a computer course and students wanted better. Hooray!
  • I stuck with Talking Points as a bell ringer even though it went poorly at first and some students actually like it. I'm not doing it correctly but I am consistent! Hooray!


Triangle Congruence Proofs Part II

Last year about this time, I wrote part I of this post. And last year was my best experience with proofs yet.

Until this year!

I ended the last unit with labeling congruent parts on purpose because I've found that the hardest part for students is realizing that when the given says something is bisected or is a midpoint that they don't realize they have to literally write which parts are congruent.

Then I started this unit with writing congruence statements, another skill students struggle with. I mentioned some of those in the original post.

But this year I replaced my straw activity with Kate Nowak's construction paper version.

I changed some of the degrees to match the angle guide I already had and modified the handout.

But I really want you to read her post about it so I will just show you my end result.

One of the triangle combinations is impossible and a student of mine was really frustrated with this, even after I confirmed it was impossible. I liked that this activity gave them a choice which showed the triangles will not always be congruent. This was easier than using straws because after drawing, students had to go back and trace them and then we stacked them on transparencies. I liked this method better. In my class of 11, I had them work alone. In my class of 16, they worked in partners.

I followed up with the same worksheets mentioned in my original post.

More to come on proofs!


Algebra 2 Unit 1: Characteristics of Functions Interactive Notebook

Unit 1: Characteristics of Functions

Page 7- This foldable came from Kathryn Belmonte and you can see the pictures of each flap below.

Page 8 After learning the difference between a function and relation, students do this sorting activity and justify what makes it "not" a function. This sort came from Mrs. H.

Page 9- This notation foldable came from my friend Brooke Seals.

Page 10- This was a worksheet that I turned into an INB sorting activity. First they had to write in the different forms given only one piece of information. After that, they did the sorting and glued it in.

Page 11-12 - This DIX-ROY organizer came from Sarah Hagan and I'm not sure where I got the other graphs and domain and range.

Page 13-14 Increasing and decreasing intervals came from here. We labeled I and D but then highlighted the positive and negative parts.

Page 15-16 This operation with functions foldable came from Brooke Seals. The practice problems came on the RHP came straight from Kuta.

Page 17-18 Function Composition foldable on LHP came from Brooke Seals and practice problems on the RHP came from a worksheet that I don't remember the origins of- let me know if it's you!

Here are the files:


Ideas for 2015-2016

I know it's only March but we're on the downhill slide of the school year and I always like a place to document my thinking and ideas.

Here, in no particular, completely random order, are some ideas that hopefully you can draw some inspiration from:


  • Color coordinate pens to each content area's INB.
  • Color coordinate all handouts for each unit the same across all content areas.
  • Make extra INBs for students who move in
  • Copy everything possible for INBs over summer (table of contents, tabs, pages I know for sure I will use again)
  • Poster or INB page about find percent +/- and percent error, fractions, less than/greater than, prime/composite, percents
  • Duck tape dry erase INB pages
  • Page protector taped inside cover of  INB for graph paper
  • Save last 18 pages for Would You Rather writings every other week; focus on improving by one MP standard at a time, shows growth over time
  • Tape runners?

Bell Ringers

  • Move Estimation to Tuesday and develop What's Wrong Wednesday?, math mistakes from real world advertisements. Maybe change Favorite No Friday?
  • Could "Which One Doesn't Belong?" fit in here? (shapes book)

Classroom Procedures

  • Don't disrespect my math! Two nice things about math when you disrespect it (I'll never use this in real life, this is stupid, all the comments math teachers have heard forever that make us grind our teeth)
  • Use document camera to have students present their solutions
  • Duck tape plunger to organize rolls of tape
  • Giant pencil poster on the door: bring me!
  • Require/sell individual dry erase markers.
  • Year long competition between class periods- reward attendance, class averages on assessments, bringing pencils to class, stacking binders neatly, all time bests on mental math, and basically anything that drives me crazy.
  • Start the year with introductions that are mirrored between me and the students: "How I'm different from other teachers (students)" and "What to expect from my teaching (my learning)"


  • Give a quarterly cumulative test and quiz over every concept to replace unit tests
  • Rewrite EOC exams
  • Document formative assessment with seating chart form
  • Group test?


  • Year long Feltron projects to increase writing, excel, analyzing, and design skills as well as give more grades
  • Biweekly essays based on wouldyourathermath.com (related to content when possible)
  • Task cards and stations to integrate more movement and conversation in class (practice and review)
  • Fraction and percent boot camp!!

Check back for updates!