2012-2013 New Beginnings

I met with my instructional coach yesterday and we came up with a lot of good ideas that I'm ready to try and hoping will work.

Bell Ringers: I will no longer cut and print these. I will have half sheets of blank paper on the shelf (along with golf pencils) for students to grab as they come in. Bell ringer problems will be projected on the screen. They will be a review of the previous grade, concepts students should know and be able to do without my assistance. I plan on trying to do 3 questions per day and a different concept on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The first week the problems will have hints and formulas. The second week I  will take those away and the students will do the same type of problems. So the students will see 3 new concepts every two weeks. Hopefully, this will build in some retention of the earlier concepts as well as start every class off with each student experiencing some kind of success. I also plan to try Amy Gruen's green pen idea (except with purple probably) where I star a students bell ringer (when it is correct) and then give them a purple pen to coach/star someone else and so on.

Homework: I am giving up on grading homework. Even though I've only graded it for completion so far anyway, it still is just...bleh. I am going to quit calling it homework and call it a practice sheet. Every day I will post the answers to the practice sheet and answer questions. Next, I am going to give a practice quiz every Thursday by picking a few of the most important homework problems from the week. These will be the exact same questions from the homework, same numbers and everything. Students who did the homework and asked questions will do well and students who didn't really need to do the homework can still do well. The people who won't do well are those who needed to do the homework but didn't. Hopefully that will teach them that practice does have a purpose. Should I let them use their homework or will that just encourage asking me how to do every single problem in class and writing it down to use for the quiz?

Exit Slips: Students will use the back side of their half sheet from the bell-ringer to answer a question projected on the SMART board. When they leave, they will stick their paper in a green, yellow, or red folder attached to the door, based on how well they understood the day's lesson. I can judge based on how they feel as well as the worked out problems what to do next.

Summarizing: Earlier I posted my math portfolio idea. Now I've decided that it's entirely too much. I want to have students write skill descriptions but I just don't know how practical it is. One piece I do plan to use is my unit summary sheet. At the end of each section we will do summary bingo. I [left this blog post and took about three hours to say that I] created a summary bingo powerpoint with 25 different summarizing questions. I actually have a bingo game where you spin the wheel and a chip pops out. I will take all the bingo chips out that aren't an option so that every day we can spin the wheel, a chip pops out, and we choose that summary question for the day. Students write their answer to the question and keep the sheet in their binder. Then do exit slip, drop in folder on the way out, the end. I am concerned on how long it will take to do a summary question and exit slip. I probably won't do both every day so I guess we will just see how it goes.

Unit Review: I'm not sure how this will work since I am attempting sbg this year [again!] and not having unit tests. I guess if I quiz more than one concept at a time, maybe? Not sure. We are going to go back through our notes and highlight the main ideas of each section. This, combined with the unit summary sheet, is going to be a good way to summarize and review the unit while hopefully teaching a study skill. I'm also going to try to build in a summary space throughout our notes instead of leaving it all to the end. Summarize, summarize, summarize!

Classroom Management: Thanks to @approx_normal my official classroom management mentor, and my instructional coach, I hope I have a better handle on how to deal with issues in the classroom. At some point in the beginning of school, I'm going to discuss two things with my classes: an atmosphere of respect and an environment for learning. We are going to split the board in half and brainstorm what both of these things should look like and sound like. From there, the first time something happens that [minorly] disrupts either of those, I'm going to quietly ask the student to see me after class. I'm going to remind them that their behavior is disrupting my teaching/interrupting other students' learning and ask what they can do to remember not to do that again. Then tell them the next time it happens I will have to write a referral. The next time it happens, I will again tell them to see me after class. I will apologize that I now have to write a referral. My IC advised me to keep it from seeming like these things bother me personally and keep the focus on the class and interrupting learning. She told me I stick my head in the sand and ignore things when they happen. Similar to Hedge telling me I'm not committed to changing anything. Hmm...She also said that when I get in a bad mood, I tend to turn away from the kids and ignore them which makes them feel like I don't really care how they act anyway. I know this approach isn't as B.A. as @approx_normal is, but hey, what is?

The important thing is I think it fits me. I think I might actually be able to do this.

See Me After Class Cards: This is a brainstorm I just came up with. I'm thinking of creating a little See Me After Class card that I can quietly drop on a student's desk as I walk by. If there is a discipline problem, I can drop the card and leave the kid squirming, wondering if they will get written up. If a student does something good, I can also drop the card and later reward/praise them for their behavior with one of my cute new cards. Although the good kid will then be squirming too, possibly thinking they did something wrong. Maybe I should just drop the cute new card on the students desk instead of asking them to stay after. But I kind of like the idea that a student doesn't know exactly why I'm asking them to stay after. What do you think?


Made 4 Math #5- Organizing Unit Activities

I love sorting! I like to create activities for students to sort things and find patterns and make predictions. Or just anything hand-on that makes math concepts come to life.

I did very few my first year up to quite a few my third year. So after three years, I had accumulated a large pile of activities. Before school ended, I cleaned and organized my room. I began to find activities I had forgotten about. I started throwing them all into one filing cabinet drawer for "later".

Later finally came.

While in St. Louis for #TMC12, I visited a Dollar Tree and bought 8 cute bins. Then I went to school and dragged everything out of that hideous drawer and stuffed it in a trash can. Literally, I couldn't find anything else to carry all that crap in.

I brought them home and gave them the evil eye all night long. Finally, I made a deal with myself that I would organize them into three piles (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II) and leave the rest for the next day.

From there, I sorted activities in the order I teach them for each class. I put everything I could into expandable files. All the overflow was then sorted into bins. Of course I wanted to color code but my expandable files were pink, purple, and teal and my bins were green and blue. So I ghetto color coordinated: I just used pink, purple, and teal index cards taped inside each bin to label the contents.

Now everything looks so nice and pretty! But then I will go to school and shove all these into a drawer. How will I ever find anything? How will I avoid making the same activity twice? (Yeah, that happened.)

A handy-dandy spreadsheet to the rescue! (Now, if I was Julie it would be a google doc, but I'm not Julie). I made a tab for each course and of course- color coordinated- pink, purple, and teal. Then I typed in what was in each tab and if there was a corresponding bin. I even color coordinated the text in each tab! Yay for color!

Now I can easily see what I have for each unit and easily add in (hopefully) new activities.


Super Cute School Supplies

I went to Target, Dollar Tree, Staples, and Hobby Lobby today for cool school supplies, even though most of this was for me. Here's what I got:

Awesome dry erase markers from staples that are FOR ME ONLY.
$1.49 each or 5/$5.99

My clever SMASH stamp with dates and fun phrases. Sold at Target and Wal-Mart also but only $3.55 at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon.

My awesome pencil holder found at a yard sale for $1.

 Click this picture so you can read and get warm fuzzies.
These awesome cards! They are supposed to be for parents to put in their kids' lunch box and write them little notes. But how perfect for a teacher to give to their students! Some I wouldn't use ("I love you", "Kisses and hugs from home" Ummm, look what your parents sent to me to give to you, umm yeah...) but they are mostly cute and clever. The back says Today I... with lines so I can even write them a message as well. LOVE!

I'm going back to buy some more tomorrow. $1 at Target.

Also from Target, these pocket charts which I plan to use as a Boggle game for my middle school exploratory class and a ZAP review game like @mathtastrophe using these letters I got from Dollar Tree (which you may see again).

And last but not least, these cute file folder labels that I've been coveting because they come in teal and turquoise, two of my favorite colors. Again for $1 from Target.

Grand total: approximately $20. Not too shabby!


#myfavfriday Funny T-shirt Designs

My Favorite Friday was born at #tmc12 and will now continue you on throughout the lives of our blogs. So not only is Friday my favorite day of the week, it's also my favorite day to share my favorite things with you (cue singing... "These are a few of my favorite things"... anddddddd cut!).

In this week's edition, I am sharing a favorite website. I am one of the student council sponsors at my school and so we have our own Stuco shirt design every year as well as a school pride shirt we design for the entire school. As a result, I get a ton of catalogs in the mail with really lame t-shirt designs.

But there is one catalog I look forward to. It's from http://www.midwestimpressions.com/mwiindex.html and it is just full of clever, witty, hilarious t-shirt ideas specific to different clubs even and they are just great.

Luckily, a teacher at our school also owns a shirt printing business so once we find a design we like, we take it to him and get whatever colors we want and he gives us a fantastic deal. I've never actually ordered anything from this company but I just love their ideas.

Here are a few of my fave's:

So long, farewell, to you my friends, good-bye for now, until we meet again.


#TMC12 Leftovers

I found some more notes from #tmc12 that I want to type up before I lose them

On problem solving...

Teach students to rephrase word problems to increase understanding, whether the problem is badly worded or not. You are teaching a new skill set and a new way of taking ownership.

Create the AHA! moment in class then send home the glue that holds it together.

People store things in their brains based on similarities but access them based on differences. When we teach similar concepts (latitude/longitude, parallel/perpendicular, convex/concave, elevation/depression) on the same day, students cannot later remember the difference.

It's misleading to talk about slope as on thing when it is really the relationship between two things. Why do we teach slope out of context and without units?

How do you take things that are not in context and make meaning out of them?

On Dan Pink's 'Drive' (flow)...

We need to help students enter the 'flow state' as often and as long as possible.

Purpose is necessary but not sufficient for every learner.

Cultivate autonomy- disrupt student expectations through alternative activity structures.

By focusing their conscious attention, we give then unconscious attention a chance to tap into flow.

Honor the courage it takes for students to show up every day for something that's not their strong suit.

Invent opportunities for student self-investment.


Made 4 Math #4- Clear Tote Becomes Cute Tote

I'm only doing this because I hate to break my routine.

This will not be awesome. You've been warned.

I have a lot of random papers from meetings and lessons and conferences etc that I don't necessarily want to throw away but don't really know where to keep.

As of now they are messily stacked on a bookshelf. I was looking for a nice basket that I could shove them all into and hide the messiness but it was hard because I'm cheap.

I finally found this clear tote at Hobby Lobby that was like $8 and of course I used my 40% coupon to get it even cheaper.

Then I bought some teal zebra striped scrapbook paper (12 x 12) and taped four pieces around the inside of the tote. I trimmed the top with scissors and then also taped the tops.


A cute tote.

Best of...#TMC12

Best hotel goes to Drury because we actually had free Internet, a microwave and refrigerator, awesome breakfast, free dinner and drinks and still cost less than the Hilton :)

Best weapon of math destruction goes to Hedge's @approx_normal marshmallow gun because it's simple, awesome, fun, and actually works.

Best session idea goes to whoever decided we should do My Favorites because I'm pretty sure we could have an entire conference based on that alone and I felt like it was blog reading come to life...like a book of pop up bloggers....except real.

Best session goes to Geogebra because it is now accessible to me, the tutorials were great, and I learned a skill that I will use and which will make my life easier and my worksheets awesomer.

Best presenter goes to Bowman @bowmanimal because I have never seen anyone bounce and smile and talk simultaneously before.

Best new app I downloaded goes to Touchpad (although Educreations is a close second) because I have always wanted to advance my slides while I'm walking around and now I found a free way to do it.

Best moment goes to Roxanne @justagurl24 because she reminded us why we do what we do and how far we have come since our first [terrible] year.

Best ending goes to Rachel @rdkpickle and Sean @SweenWSweens because they awesomely serenaded us with their creative and twittery "Tweet Me Maybe".

Best surprise goes to the goody bag because we got free stuff!

Best new website goes to socrative.com student response system (Thanks Colin @colinmac10) because it's free, easy to use, awesome, and even aggregates data for you.

Best new brainstorm goes to starting the school year with students observing and writing down observations [from videos, demonstrations, measurements, charts, photos, rhythms, etc]. Notice and wonder. Compare answers. Think out loud. Uncover assumptions students make when translating from reading and translating to writing. Practice math vocabulary. Review units. Because students struggle with so many of these things, maybe I can address those right from the beginning and actually have something kind of fun to do at the beginning of school.

Best new product goes to the Fabric Wall-Mount Magazine Organizer from the Container Store because Megan @mgolding gave me the link and it is lime green and matches my classroom. Yayyyy.

Best thing I should have known about but didn't goes to Mathalicious lessons because Karim @karimkai is intense and because there are videos and handouts and standards, hooray!

Best conference location goes to St. Louis because I could drive my own car and do lots of shopping at all my favorite places and have a place to put it. :)

Best Dollar Tree goes to the one on Olive Boulevard because it was half a mile from me and had super cute colorful tubs that my store at home doesn't have.

Best plot twist goes to The Dark Knight Rises because I didn't see it coming and because some things are just true whether you want to believe them or not.

Best awkward moment goes to all the ones involving me because I felt so weird that people actually knew my name and especially that there are people who know me that I don't know.

Best realization goes to the fact that four years ago I didn't know you people but now I know you for the rest of my life, all because of Twitter.

The end.


#TMC12 Problem Solving

During our first morning session, we worked on Exeter Academy problems. I chose Math I which is mostly Algebra I. We basically just sat there and worked problems and stopped to discuss/brainstorm after each page.

Here are some notes I took on the idea of problem solving in general:

Students have trouble organizing and labeling information.

Students aren't familiar enough with measurements to easily make conversions.

'Spaghetti' method: don't mix the the noodles and the sauce in the pot. Keep them separate until you know how much you need. Analogy: don't mix all the information together. Keep things separate until you know what you need.

Write answers in [complete] sentence form to alert students to things that don't make sense.

Relate non-integer [messy/ugly] answers to the check out. How often does the register come up with exactly $20.00?

What numbers can we substitute into the concepts we already teach to make them richer?

Start the year with students making and writing down observations [from videos, demonstrations, measurements, charts, photos, rhythms, etc]. Compare answers. Think out loud. Uncover assumptions students make when translating from reading and translating to writing.

I know that's not much but it's what stuck out to me and what I've been ruminating (ooh I'm such a scholar) on.

Exeter Math 1 Problems I want to try in class: Page 1: 7, 8, 10,11 Page 2: 5, 6, 7, 10, 11 Page 20: 4, 8 Page 22: 1, 2,  Page 80: 2


Made 4 Math #3- Positive Behavior Punch Card

I saw an idea on Pinterest where an elementary teacher had ordered business cards from Vistaprint for different subjects and punched them after a certain achievement.

I thought it would be a nightmare for kids, especially elementary age, to try to keep up with all those different cards. What if the punch card was on a full sheet of paper that could then be put in their binder?

And so, my positive behavior punch card was born.

The stars are where you are supposed to punch and I used this format because a hole punch will only reach so far. :)

I chose six behaviors that I've either had problems with or want to increase. Here's what the boxes say:

Persevere in Problem Solving
I worked hard on a problem without giving up or complaining.
5 punches

Random Acts of Kindness
I chose to do something nice without anyone asking me to do it.
5 punches

I volunteered to work a problem on the board and explain.
3 punches

I explained or helped someone who needed help.
3 punches

I asked a good question that pertained to the math we were doing.
3 punches

Written Response
I wrote a thoughtful and detailed response with correct grammar and complete sentences.
3 punches

I'm planning on using this to give a quarterly participation grade. At the end of each quarter I will use the amount of punches to determine how many points out of 100 the student gets for their behavior in that quarter.

Here is the scale:
100- 22 punches
90- 17-21 punches
80- 11-15 punches
70- 5-10 punches
60- 0-4 punches

I also bought a star hole punch at Hobby Lobby (currently 40% off this week!) for $3.99 because it will be harder for students to fake a punch since it has to be in the shape of a star. And because it's cool.

Hopefully this might help some with classroom management, especially since it is focusing on positive behaviors and rewarding those who exhibit those behaviors.

Now let's talk logistics.

Although I could just keep them all myself and punch accordingly, I don't think the students would go for this. I think they should keep it in the front of their binder so I can easily punch when needed. I also think students will hold me accountable for giving them punches when they earn them.

But I easily see that this could be a disaster. Maybe I should only give it to my small classes? Although my big class is the class I will struggle with most. That's one reason I made it quarterly. They have nine weeks, almost 45 days to get 22 stamps. And they could get more than one a period so it's not like they must try to get one every single day.

I'm sure there will be students who will try to get all of their punches as soon as possible and maybe not participate as much the rest of the quarter. But everyone can't do that and of course there are always slackers who will wait to the end. I think it might balance out.

I only made this one grade a quarter worth 100 points because if students totally bomb it, it won't kill their grade. Some of the best students might never say a word but maybe this will be a small way to start to draw them out.

It will also hold me accountable to offering enough opportunities for students to actually get all of these punches.

I used pretty fonts that I've downloaded so on your computer it might look plain and boring. I'm sure you will want to edit it anyway so here is the file.

Prepare to punch!


SBG + Holistic Rubric

Update: Check out my Star Wars Holistic SBG Rubric.

Sbg is coming together more and more for me.

My latest hang up was on how to grade, how to label grades, and how to calculate a percentage.

After tweeting with @druinok and @bowmanimal, here is what I've come up with. I will have four levels that are simply defined. Students will receive a level rather than a number, along with specific feedback. No numbers. Yet.

When it comes time to calculate a grade in the grade book, each level will convert to a percentage. Then I will average them all together.

Here is a student/teacher/parent/admin friendly picture of my holistic rubric.

The red is what I would think about while grading. The black is what students would be thinking while learning. Master and Expert are kind of confusing and I don't love Practitioner. I really like novice though. But these just sit better with me than Advanced, Proficient, Developing, Below Mastery, etc. Do you have any other suggestions? @mathtastrophe suggested Padawan, Jedi Knight, Jedi Master, and Jedi Grand Master. Maybe I do need something more teenager appropriate... Ninjas and unicorns anyone?

I posted the numerical scores on this so that I wouldn't forget them. Not sure if I should post them for everyone to see right away.

Here is my question. How would I go about communicating this? I want to get away from numbers on assessments and focus more on feedback. Obviously more descriptive feedback that just a level but still. Do I give students a copy of this with numbers on it? Then, aren't they still working for a percentage rather than learning? Do I wait until midterms and the end of quarter to put actual numbers in the grade book? That might be a nightmare and ignores students who want to constantly know their grade. But if I immediately convert the level to a grade, what is the point of the levels? I might as well go ahead and just call them percentages.

This is the last thing that is really nagging at me.  I don't want to be deceptive about how I'm calculating a grade. But it seems like if you tell them then it just loses some of it's meaning...or something.

So my two questions: What can I name my levels? When/how do I convert words to numbers?

Teaching Outside the Box

Just a few quotes I liked from LouAnne Johnson's Teaching Outside the Box.

I cannot control my students' behavior, but I can control myself and my classroom. As soon as I understood that simple concept, I stopped responding to their behavior and started making them respond to mine.

Focus on giving your attention to the students who are cooperating and verbally praising them for their excellent behavior, instead of letting students derail the teaching train.

You can't save your students from themselves. But you can teach them to think, to solve problems, to analyze choices, to be successful people, and they will save themselves.

Somebody tried to force a lesson on him, or he was punished harshly for not doing right. So now he's nervous, scared, and defensive. He is just flat-out turned off to learning.

Students, like horses, resist having their spirits broken or being forced into performing uncomfortable or unfamiliar actions. If we give them time to get used to us and time to understand what we want from them, they are much more apt to cooperate. Children, like horses, may cooperate temporarily out of fear, pain, or exhaustion, but unless we gain their trust we're going to have to fight the same battles over and over again.

You can establish that you are the leader, number one in the pecking order, without causing your horse pain or fear. The way you do that is to control your horse's mind instead of his body.

Instead of focusing on how to fix your students, find ways to fix yourself. Perhaps you have created the problem or contributed to it in some way.

Instead of trying to bulldoze students into accepting my perception of their talent and potential, I need to find a way to help them change their perceptions of themselves as hopeless losers or powerless pawns- a subtle but powerful difference.


10 Steps to SBG

After a long and involved Twitter chat last night, I think I've come up with my skeleton outline for how I want to do stands-based grading. Here are my 10 steps.

  1. Write your concept list/pacing guide (aligned to whatever) and determine your priorities.
  2. Write assessments for each standard separately (3-5 questions per standard).
  3. Write extra questions that can be used for reassessments.
  4. Teach; give assessments and grade (give specific feedback!).
  5. Mark students’ proficiency on each standard individually in the grade book.
  6. Offer students the opportunity for reassessment.
  7. Require students who want to reassess to fill out reassessment form.
  8. Give students a specific day when they can reassess and require them to inform you ahead of time.
  9. Give reassessment.
  10. Grade by giving feedback; change old grade for that standard to the new grade from the reassessment.
Here is my thinking. I will give reassessments every Thursday and require the reassessment form to be turned in on the previous Tuesday. This gives me all day Tuesday and Wednesday to check the links and revisions as well as prepare the reassessment. I don't want students to think they can write crap down and I will let it fly. Also, I chose those days because we are rarely out of school or have an early dismissal on a Tuesday or Thursday.

As for the form, I'm aware that students might just find a link without actually watching the video or reading the example. I'm also aware that they might just copy someone's problems for their revisions. But I'm thinking this is a way to teach that you don't get something for nothing and that you have to put forth effort to attain success. Even if they put forth a lame effort, then that can be a teachable moment. Lame effort doesn't lead to success.

When I (poorly) attempted sbg before, I surveyed my students at the end of the year to ask why they didn't come in to reassess. The answers that stuck with me the most were that students didn't know when to come in, if they did come in they didn't know what they were expected to do, and they figured if they didn't know how to do it the first time then how would taking it again help?

I hope that this plan will help solve those problems.

What else? Oh, I figure I will put graph paper on the back of the paper for questions that pertain to graphing. Did the form seem clear and easy to understand? Of course I will explain it all but I hope to have a pile in the classroom that students can grab and fill out at any time. I think (hope) this form will hold me accountable for giving specific feedback. How can students make corrections without it?

I'm finishing up my Algebra II pacing guide and then I will start writing assessments. I have the Kuta software so I think that will help when it comes to reassessments. I can click a button and all the numbers change. Yay. But there are definitely things Kuta doesn't offer that I will have to write myself. That's my biggest challenge for the moment.

Let's talk about grading for a second, shall we? I really liked the idea @mwmathews mentioned about using words rather than numbers. He mentioned Novice, Apprentice, Practitioner, and Expert. I'm thinking I want to use novice, apprentice, expert, and master. The difference between expert and master to me is that the expert is successful with that specific content but that the master is successful with learning and applying that content. That along with specific feedback seems like it could be really helpful.

Here is where I have two ideas. One is to convert the words to percentages for the grade book. Novice = D, Practitioner = C, Expert = B, Master = A. But then we are still averaging and I don't know how I feel about that.

Two is to calculate the percentage by dividing the number of standards labeled master/expert by the number of standards taught. But then what about a student who gets practitioner every time? He/she would normally be a C student but I wouldn't be counting those at all. What then?

Can you help me think of pros and cons for these methods? I'm really leaning toward the second one because it just seems more fair. Although, I'm not sure how that would work with my online grade book. That may limit me to the first method. What do you think?

A few other teachers mentioned that they grade holistically. I'm not sure how that would work since my brain is soooo analytical. Can you make a generic holistic rubric that works for any content?

My homework was to take my chapter 1 test and cut it apart, sorting into piles by standard. I don't know if I will actually do that yet. I would rather just start over- I like a clean start. But maybe I will work on a holistic rubric instead.



Reflection Questions

I'm currently reading LouAnne Johnson's Teaching Outside the Box. So far it seems aimed more at new teachers but I've been really taking time to reflect on some of the questions in the book, which I've never really done before. I'm going to share some of my thoughts here because I think it's important for everyone to answer and reflect about their own practice.

What is my teaching philosophy?

Success is possible for everyone. Each student has different talents and different needs. My job is to provide students with the tools they need to be successful and achieve their goals. Making students successful makes me successful.

What is my teaching persona? (I don't think I answered this the right way but I like what I wrote.)

I am a mathematician: I observe, analyze, think logically, reflect, and solve problems. I am a professional: I'm organized, creative, quick on my feet, routine, and efficient. I am a teacher: I'm loyal, compassionate, funny, willing to help, and a deep thinker.

How do I want students to feel and act in my classroom?

I want students to feel safe, comfortable, challenged, successful, peaceful, cared about, and at home. I want them to feel like they matter.

Here are my actions I've come up with so far (They almost seem like classroom rules. Hmm...).

  • Speak freely without interrupting others.
  • Be active and energetic without being out of control.
  • Be respectful with words, actions, attitudes, and possessions.
  • Take risks and try something new.
What is my optional agenda? What do I really want to teach my students?
  • Organization makes life easier.
  • Be observant, looking for patterns and things that stand out.
  • Justify your thinking.
  • Keep asking questions until you are satisfied with the answer.
  • Be firm in what you believe but respectful in the way you express it.
  • Treat everyone like they matter.
  • Do what needs to be done even if you don't want to do it.
  • It's okay to not know, but it's not okay to not try.
  • There is no substitute for hard work.
Now, how do I go about making these things happen?

Made 4 Math #2- Hanging File Folders

A while back druin posted pictures of her bulletin boards and I was immediately jealous of her hanging file.

I was immediately jealous.

She sent me two links (here and here) on how to make your own using duct tape and file folders. I kind of combined both methods I guess and I will try to explain.

First I decided what order I wanted my colored folders to be in (I hate orange so it's at the bottom and I have a lot of green in my room so it goes on top.

Each folder is tucked inside each other like so.

I measured about 4 and a quarter inches down and then started taping the blue folder inside of the orange one.

Then I flipped down the blue folder and taped the red folder inside of the blue one.

I continued up, taping each folder inside of the previous one. Next, I turned all the folders over so that I could tape along the top of each folder.

For some reason, some of my folders were wider than others even though they all came from the same box. So next I had to tape the sides. I tried to tape down half on the folder and half hanging over so that I could bend it around the back. It worked...kinda.

I added long vertical strips of tape to the back to make it a bit more sturdy. Then I added horizontal strips of tape across the top and bottom of the front side to make it all come together. I stuck some paper in there just to make sure it would fit. It does. Yay.

I even stood it up against the wall just to see if it would.

I plan on hanging it up on my bulletin board so I will be able to use extra thumb tacks for added support.

My plan is to put papers in there for students who are absent so they can just grab them and go. Last year I hung them on the board with magnets but that took up to much board space.

I'm not in love with it and I still might buy one but....it will do.

My Copy Cat Made 4 Math

Warning: This is not my official #Made4Math post.

Every Saturday me and my mom go to yard sales. This week was kind of a bust and so we went to waste time at the Dollar Tree. Both me and my mom are total office/school supplies geeks (she is a secretary) and so we were very easily amused.

This is what I allowed myself to buy. =) Three magnetic blue caddies which I will hang on my whiteboards and either put markers, pens, or my SMART board remote inside of them.

Magnets. I don't really know why other than they are cute and $1.

And then this set of post-its, (the same one's druin bought for her teacher binder lol) because I prefer the mini ones but they are so ridiculously expensive. I never use those little flag sizes so let's brainstorm a way we can use them. I'm assuming they're made for books as little bookmarks. Is there another way to use them?

Then, ironically, I read druin's post about Target so I turned around and went there as well. She must have a super Target because mine sucks compared to hers.

I was on a mission looking for things druin found and when that didn't work I had to look all over again and decide what could actually be useful. I bought the lint roller because that seemed to be the one thing students always asked me for that I didn't have. Plus it is lime green and matches my school stuff. So yay.

I bought the clothes-pin type magnets because I love them and every time I go to Target I buy at least one pack.

I bought the decks of cards called Brain Twisters and Brain Benders because I thought they would have some good questions to use for warm-ups. I'm thinking of making warm-ups a review of past courses so that everyone should be able to start and complete them as well as to build retention. More on that another time.

And lastly, I bought this beach ball because I want to try the idea of a toss 'n talk ball. I think it will be great when the class gets sleepy or lethargic to start tossing it around, even make a game out of it. The hard part will be figuring out what kind of questions or what to write on the ball itself. I guess we could do vocabulary words and just keep adding them on as the year goes by. What do you think I should write on it?

Also, I copy catted some ideas from last week's #Made4Math Monday.

I decorated my pens with coordinating scrap book paper. I'm a freak about matching. This sucked. Thankfully druin told me to cut a strip 3.5 in x .75 in and that helped but scrapbook paper does not roll well. It was more like an ugly fold. And you can see the ugly creases but I couldn't get it to look any prettier. Oh well. If it bugs me I'll just take it out.

Then I hot glued pom poms on to the end of dry erase markers to use as an eraser. I glued them on the ends of the lids so that students will put the lid on the end of the marker. I think I need bigger pom poms but I was just using the ones I had without buying new ones. I also realized that when I replace the markers, I can just switch out the lids so that I don't have to glue new pom poms on. But realistically, the pom poms will probably wear out before the markers do.

And that brings us to the end of me talking about how awesome I am for copying other people's ideas!


My Teacher Bag

So druin made me totally jealous by posting about her new teacher bag but not actually taking it out of the package! She got it from Thirty One which made me think of my own Thirty One lunch bag so I decided to share my own teacher bag and lunch bag pictures.

First up is my teacher bag. I absolutely love it.

I bought this from Amazon and it's made by Fash Unlimited. (Here is the link but it is currently unavailable.) I paid $23.99 for it and that was a year ago.

It has three sections- one for my laptop (a 17 inch), one for my power cord and external hard drive, and one for my papers I need to to bring home. There is an inside zipper pocket that I use for flash drives and binder clips and an outside zipper pocket that I use for pens and markers. 

Yes, I carry my laptop home every night so I have to have a bag that will hold it. This bag has long handles so I can carry it over my shoulder, the material is thick (it's already held up for over a year), and it's super dog cute! Red is one of our school colors and plus, I just love a colorful bag. 

Next up is my Thirty One lunch bag.

This style is called Cinch-It-Up Thermal Tote (item D) and is $24. It comes in 7 different prints and this one is called Lotsa Dots. The nice thing about Thirty-One is that their prints are common so you can order a whole room full of stuff that coordinates (my life goal)! It has a drawstring on the inside (that I never use), two handles, and has that silver thermal lining stuff. It's really easy to wipe out if you spill anything (ask me how I know) and I have had it about 6 months and it doesn't look dirty or worn or anything. 

My favorite part is that it's expandable so it can fit all your weird shaped frozen dinners or plastic containers. I can fit a Marie Callender's frozen dinner in here along with silverware, a 24 ounce water bottle, and my strawberry kiwi sugar free Jell-o. =) In my opinion, it holds A LOT.

I totally have the cutest lunch bag in the lounge...if you know what I mean. =)


Made 4 Math #1- Popsicle Stick Proofs

This is more for my final project in my grad class than a cool Pinterest idea but it is still a creative idea for my classroom.

In working with my English teacher friend, I've discovered that writing geometric proofs is really the skill of making inferences. We start with the given information, use facts that we know, and infer a conclusion.

I also 'discovered' that writing a proof is similar to writing the outline of a story or paper. I'm thinking that next year I will introduce proofs by first giving a story (hopefully something funny) and have the students help me write an outline: introduction, supporting evidence, and conclusion. Then we will compare the parts of an outline to the parts of a proof: the introduction is the given, the supporting evidence are the facts we know based on definitions and properties, and the conclusion is our prove statement and postulate/theorem.

I created a type of formative assessment using popsicle sticks. I wrote each statement and reason individually on a popsicle stick. Every stick has a unique symbol on the right side. I can use these symbols to have students identify parts of the proof and manipulate the sticks into the correct order without giving anything away.

I used colored popsicle sticks ($2.99 for 150 at Hobby Lobby) and they came in red, blue, yellow, green, orange, and purple. I used the yellow because I thought marker would show up best on that. The other colors are pretty dark so maybe it would be better to use regular ones and colored markers? Even better, we could use both sides of the sticks by writing in all one color on one side and writing in a different color on the other.

So I made a formative assessment using the sticks, again, more for my class than this but maybe someone will like it and use it or make it better. I also scanned the popsicle sticks in to the assessment so you could pass it out to students, have them cut them out, and then fill out the worksheet.

Either way, what I envision is students working in partners and manipulating the pieces of the proof, identifying important characteristics of a proof, and hopefully making better connections to English skills and writing proofs that make sense.