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!


  1. For the biweekly essays - have you considered using The Math Forum's POW's?

    Regarding the warm ups: I also like counting circles & talking points!

    I've also been considering this one:
    "Give a quarterly cumulative test and quiz over every concept to replace unit tests"
    I don't want it to be a long test of isolated skills, but instead more focused on application and problem solving. How do you picture this working in your class? I use standards based grading, and I've been considering adding a learning target each quarter that says "I can apply a variety of math concepts to solve problems" I'd also like to reinforce algebra skills. I'm not sure how this would look in action. Please share your thoughts as you approach next school year.

    1. I'm thinking about using the PARCC practice test for the quarterly test. But I also want to use that to rewrite my EOCs so I haven't decided yet.

  2. How has engage NY been working with doing an INB? We are slowly implementing engage NY this year and will be doing a full implementation next year and I'm also wanting to implement INBs as well. Has this worked well for you?

    1. It's ok. I wasted a lot of time in the beginning in the first module that just introduces stuff that you come back to later so I wouldn't do that again. I try to use the main lesson for my INB pages and the problem sets for practice. When it came to systems of equations I just went with my own materials. There are 5 modules I think for Algebra I and I never made it out of the first one so it didn't work so well for me. I liked the depth and it approached things differently than I ever would have came up with but I don't know if I will jeep using it or use it again. For next year, I might use the PARCC exam to align my curriculum.

    2. I was afraid of that. We are being required to use Engage NY as our main curriculum, but can veer from it occasionally. Do you do standard based grading? How do you work that into your course? I may be trying to bite off way more than I can chew, but I have to change something before I have to change my career. I'm hoping that the INB will help with engagement somewhat, or at least give their parents and them something to really look at when practicing.

    3. I sort of do standard based grading. I've changed it year after year. A concept represents one set of pages in the INB, left and right. There is a quiz over every concept. So in the grade book they are broken down by concept. Then at the end of the unit, I give a unit test. Which I kind of hate. I used the main student materials for my INB pages and then the problem sets for class work. And I made up my own quizzes and then tried to use some of the questions from the end of module assessments. But how in the world do they expect you to go so long between assessments? I don't know, I basically do what I want and spend every year doubting what I do!!!!

  3. I feel the same way... lol. One of these days maybe everything will just click. I feel like I will spend my entire teaching career questioning everything I do. Hope you enjoy the end of your year. Thanks for answering my questions! I may hit you up some this summer while I'm planning out my interactive notebook.

  4. The classroom I did my student teaching in was HUGE on having students share problems with the class on the document camera.

    We did entry tasks every day for 10 minutes. Then we called on a student (usually popsicle stick method) to share their entry task with the class.

    By the end of the year, everyone was so comfortable with sharing their work. Even their mistakes. The class was really supportive about helping one another share their work. It's also 2 minutes of public speaking practice for the students and helping them communicate the math they were performing. That's a huge thing for me, having students become comfortable and more confident explaining math to their peers. I feel it helps develop conceptual understanding on a deeper level.

    1. Taylor,
      Thanks for the positive feedback. Someone mentioned on Twitter that they used their document camera for that only and I was so shocked. It NEVER occurred to me to even have students do that! I just thought they would look at someone's work around them or ask me for help.

      I've really done my students a disservice these past 6 years. It will be hard for me to build this routine but I am determined to try. Did you classroom teacher start out having them show their correct answers only until they felt more comfortable? Did the teacher do anything in the beginning to create a safe environment?

    2. At the start of the year he was purposeful with whose work he chose to share. But it wasn't always the correct answer. That started students thinking that the right answer is not always the best answer. He made it clear that you can often learn more from mistakes. He was also very good about immediately shutting down any negative comments and making sure students were showing respect as their peers taught the class.

      From there he moved into the randomization of calling on students to share work. The student was in charge of explaining their work, but other students were encouraged to help before he would make any comments on the work.

      By the end of the year, one of our lowest students (who ended up failing the class) said, "I know mine is wrong, but can we use it as an example so I can know how to do it correctly" That was pretty neat to see that she wanted her work shown so that her peers could help and so that she could work on her understanding.