Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let the Voting Begin

The student created songs have been posted to our class facebook page.

Here is the song that is currently in the lead!

Go to our facebook page and cast your vote!

I recorded the voices of the kids singing the songs.  The song with the most likes will win!  The kids are excited that other people can vote on their work!  It is also a great way to get the parents involved.

Our big project this six weeks is for the kids to work with a partner to create a song that teaches a concept. I have done this every year, and I usually get some really good ones.  They can pre-record it or present it live.  With the addition of the facebook page, I am planning on posting the best videos there.  We will have another voting session.  Of course, I will make sure the kids are able to have their picture or video posted.

I really think projects like this help with public speaking.  The kids have already had to present many times as a small group.  Now, we will see how they do with a partner.  They should take away some great skills to be used now and in the future!

Don't forget to go our facebook and like your favorite song!

Happy voting!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Student Created Songs

Since the beginning of school, I have been writing songs to teach different concepts.  I have created songs for:
Scale Factor
Tax, Discount and other Percent Apps
Fraction, Decimal and Percent equivalencies

Last week, I told my classes that they were now responsible for creating an original song that teaches Scientific Notation.  Since I have my classes in houses, each house had to create a song.

The songs were due today, and I was pretty impressed!  I always have my kids do a sing a long with a partner, but this is the first year I have given them songs I have created!  I think by allowing them to see how my songs teach a concept, they were able to create a pretty good song.  I wish I could say that all of them were great, but some were not!  I hope they use this as a learning tool and are able to create better songs as the year progresses.  I really believe that the sing along projects with a partner will be MUCH better this year!

One girl told me that she is not as nervous any more when she gets up in front the class.  I really think this is helping develop good public speaking skills, as well.  The first step in public speaking is to not be nervous in front of a group.

I told the kids that I would select the best song to add to our song portfolio.  I have two songs from my first class, one from my second and one from my last class that are in the running.  I think I am going to record them singing the songs.  I only want their voices (for now).  The performance factor will come in later!  I am thinking about posting them on my class facebook page for people to vote on the best song.  I only use the facebook page to post questions that the kids have created.  I believe this would be a good thing to add, as well.  I can see them working hard to get their song chosen.

It has been a busy year, so far!  I am really ready for Thanksgiving break!

Happy Singing!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Black Light Lesson

Two weeks ago, I completed my first black light lesson!  I went up to the school on a Sunday afternoon to black out my room.  I had some black sheets to cover my windows, and that worked great.  I didn't have enough, so I had to use paper.  That did not work as well.  I will definitely be getting more sheets to do this activity again.

I put up black butcher paper on an old chalkboard in my room.  I sprayed it with 3M adhesive spray (make sure you don't get the permanent kind).  It was about $18 at Office Depot, but you only need a little bit, so this can should last me a while.  I lined the trays with 4 black lights.  I have two black light bulbs that I put in flood light holders.  I hung these at the top.  I use all the these black lights at the dances, so I already had them.  I created different shapes, and I printed them out on neon cardstock paper from Hobby Lobby.  You can catch this when scrapbook materials go on sale for 50% off!  It goes through the printer beautifully!
This is what the board looked like as a whole.
I started my class like normal.  We created a quick foldable over the lesson.  The lesson was on Transformations:  Dilations, reflections, rotations, and translations.   When it came time for the lesson, I had the kids sitting with their backs to the wall move to the floor.  I pushed the desks over.  I turned the black lights on and the the main lights off.  The kids were mesmerized!  The foldable was made with neon paper, so it glowed too!
The O is for Original and the N is for New.
We went through different examples over the different transformations.  I also used a tri-fold board and created a coordinate plane with neon crayons. I used sticky tak to hold the shapes on the board.  I used neon color pom-pom balls.

Great representations of enlargements and reductions.

 The students really liked this.  I will definitely be using this in the future for another activity.  Overall, the students acted great.  I only had issue with one kid, and the other kids told him how he needed to act before I could.  They didn't want to lose the lesson!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Marbles for Management

I have two VERY talkative classes this year.  They are not bad classes.  They are just very talkative.  As I was walking with my family, two weeks ago, I was thinking of a way to nip the talking.  I came up with a marble jar for each class.

To begin, I used three old cotton candy tubs (I had these under the sink).  I put a piece of duct tape around the top.  I filled it with glass gem marbles from the dollar store.  I introduced the concept to the kids the next day.

Each time they begin talking during a transition time or if the voice level is too loud, I will pull a marble out.  They are able to earn marbles back if they are doing great, etc.  If they go below the line, they will have a punishment.  If they stay above the line, they will earn an incentive.  We will check each Friday.

To give them ownership, I had them brainstorm the punishments and incentives. I adapted a few and numbered them 1 through 8.  I told them that each consecutive week above or below the line will result in the next punishment or incentive.  They were all into this.

This week, I had to have a sub.  I forgot to include the marble system in my sub book.  The kids told her!  She pulled marbles when they were loud, and they would correct the talking.  She even allowed them to earn them back.  Although, they were still talkative, she said they were all good classes, so no bad note!  Of course, I had already warned what would happen to those left on the "naughty" list.

I love coming back from being out and not having any issues to contend with.  The first thing they asked was what the note said.  I told them, "well let's talk about it.  You tell me your side."  Of course, I didn't have a bad note, but they will tell you everything.  They admitted to losing marbles and that they talked.  The also admitted that no one did anything bad, so I was pleased with their honesty.  I gave them a sucker for their behavior.

Even for 8th graders, they love the marble system. Right now, we are above the line in two classes and right at the line in one class.  We will see what tomorrow holds in store for them!  I need to print the list of incentives!  I hope to present them with one on Monday!

Happy Marble Managing!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

School is Rockin

Phew!  I am exhausted!  School is Rockin right along.

 This year, I am using the house system (Thank you Ron Clark....End of Molasses Classes).  Each class is divided into 1 of 6 houses.  They are able to earn points for different things.  At the end of a specified time, the house with the most points will earn a prize of some sort.

Last week, I handed all my students the lyrics to a dilation song.  I used the Firework song by Katy Perry and I created new lyrics based on dilations.  On the first day, we sang it as a class.  It was funny to listen to the kids.  Many of them cannot sing....just like me!  I told them that on Friday, each house had to perform the song.  Friday came and the performances began.....well I cannot call anything I witnessed a performance.  I had one group all day that actually had a performance....of some sort.  It was really only one student who blew me away.  I know that once I get them out of their comfort zones, the performance factor will happen....for some.

This week, I will present them with two more songs.  One about scale factor to Moves Like Jagger, and one about translations to Tonight Tonight.  I am thinking a math musical might be in store for my classes at some point.  They will be required to write songs as a house, so I will be interested to see how this goes.

Tomorrow, I am doing a lesson I have never done....Black Light Transformations.  I went up to the school today....on a Sunday!  I had to black out my room.  I put up my black lights.  I cannot wait to see how this goes.  I will post some pics tomorrow.

It has been super busy, but I know we are working hard and having fun.  I am almost convinced that my kids will be okay in the event that I have a sub.  We still have some more practicing to do.

Happy Rockin!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I have seen versions of Homeworkopoly in different places.  Over the summer, I decided to create the board. has the board you can download.  It comes out to be quite large.  My first debate was where on Earth I was going to put it.  I already have so much in my room.  I picked up a tri fold board from Wal-mart.  It works perfectly.

I was able to tape the board to the middle with a little overlap on each side.

After placing the game board on, I put contact paper over it to protect it.

On one side of the board, I put a copy of the rules that I created, and a list of possible prizes. You can find those here.

On the other side, I created little card holders by gluing three sides of card stock paper to the board.  I created Chance and Community Lunchbox cards (template on  The prizes I wrote on there are the same ones on the prize sheet.  The Brain Binders are fun little thinking activities found on  I made smaller versions, so I could get more on a piece of paper.  On the back, I attached a qr code with a link to the site, so they could see what the solution would look like.

My next debate was how I would keep up with what prizes the kids earned and where they ended.  With 75 kids, there was no way I could give each one a game piece.  I created an Excel Sheet with the prizes and properties listed and a place to put each student's name on top.  Almost all of the prizes include some sort of pass.  Those are cheap prizes!!! After everyone plays, I can pass out the appropriate passes.

Now, I had to figure out how often I would do this.  My main homework is a weekly assignment they receive on Monday and it is due by Friday.  If they do not have it, they have lunch detention (that could be a whole post on the blog).  I always have someone eating lunch with me.  This year, I wanted to try and reduce the number of lunch detentions, so I "encourage" each student to bring 5 problems Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  This includes justifications (that is a whole post too).  I don't grade them, but I just check to see they are completing all of it, etc. Now, I am able to discuss what they might be doing wrong before they turn the finished product in.  I have been doing this for two weeks now, and I love it.  Each day they have it, they will earn one roll.  We will roll either Friday or Monday.  Some kids earned 4 rolls!  Next week, I have told the kids that if they do not have their work at the door, they will pay one math buck (another post for that too).  Anyone who lands on "Free Homework" will earn a homework pass and all the math bucks collected!

My next problem was how the kids would see their movement on the board.  I wanted them to have a visual, but I didn't want to mess up the board.  I used a little sticky note.  You can see it in the picture above. All I need to do is tell each student where to put the marker, and we are ready to roll.

We did this today.  I knew the first time would take a little longer.  While the kids were working on classwork, I called each kid up to complete the number of rolls they had earned.  Kids were still able to ask me for help, so it worked.  I told them that if they stop working and just watch the rolling, they will lose their roll.  I didn't have any problems with this.

With one class, I had two kids come up and roll at the same time (I used an orange and pink sticky).  That made it go quicker.  Once we get the routine, I anticipate about 15 minutes will be needed.  I also plan on designating a student to be the leader, so I can monitor other things.

The kids loved earning the prizes.  I even heard a few say that they needed to do their problems tonight, so they could roll next week.  SCORE!  I am able to fold it up and place it against the wall out of the way until next week.  My sheets are on the clipboard, so I know what passes to hand out and where each student will begin next week.

If you decide to create the game, make it work to fit the needs of your class.  It is a great motivation tool.

Happy Game Day!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I found this wonderful video on youtube.
What teachers make
It illustrates how fulfilling the job of teaching can be.  I hope that you find your job as fulfilling as I find mine.  I know we all have days that might not go as well as we plan, but in the end, our ultimate goal is to make a difference.

Hopefully, the difference being made goes beyond the classroom.

Happy Inspiring!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

One week down

The first week of school is behind us.  I am exhausted!  This morning, I slept until 9, stayed in bed until 1, ate lunch, took a two hour nap, and finally got out of bed for the late afternoon and evening!  I am exhausted!

There is always so much to do at the beginning of school.  This is when you set the tone for the whole year.  I hope that I conveyed that we will work hard, follow all rules and have a good time while we learn.  We had to practice some procedures and standards for success a few times, and I know we will need practice more.  Practicing is the only way for them to truly understand what you expect!

The kid have enjoyed learning about being bucket fillers.  Even in the 8th grade, the kids like to know that they can do good things for each other.  I have so many come up to let me know about things they have done to fill a bucket.  I know that people shouldn't need to publicize the good things are doing; they should be noticed.  With kids, they long for the sens of knowing that they have done something good and that someone knows about it.  Encourage them to continue to fill the buckets of everyone around them.  When they are filling someone else's bucket, they are also filling their own. 

The kids are divided into their houses and they are creating chants,songs,dance, etc for their house.  I have enjoyed watching the ideas come to life.  They are keeping up with their points, so hopefully the spirit of competition will fuel them to push themselves. 

The wiki is updated, and the kids have been created as users.  This week, they should all start posting and answering the questions.  We will start using the digital project menu I created for proportions this week, as well.  Last year, the studens liked the idea of getting to choose what they got to do.

The classes have started working on creating the facebook questions.  I am letting each house design a basic question.  The house with the best question will receive points.  We will tweak the question to fit the class as a whole and then we will post it.  I want our questions to be posted on facebook this week, so we can start to see what happens. 

I have parents and a few students who signed up to receive text message alerts, using  I am excited about using this tool this year.  As a parent, I think this communication will be a great tool. 

Based on the work that was supposed to be turned in Friday, it looks as though I will have about 12 people in lunch detention Tuesday.  That is not too bad, but the number definitely needs to come down!  On Tuesday, the kids will get to play Homeworkopoly if they had their work turned in.  I am hoping the winning of prizes will push the students to want to turn in their work.  If not, they will eat lunch with me until I get it!

Well after a long but promising week, I am still tired.  All this resting today is still not enough.  I am glad we started the year off with a three day weekend.  I know next week will continue to be great and busy, but hopefully I will be a little more prepared with rest.

I hope the beginning of school has been great for you. Be firm, teach the kids, and build the relationships they will need to successful.  Enjoy the long weekend and be ready to hit the week running next week!

Happy resting!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of School and jibjab

The first day of school is behind me.....PHEW!  I love coming in and meeting my new kids, and I always know it is going to be a GREAT year.  I do not like going over the rules and procedures.  Why can't they just know what I expect?  It sure would make it so much easier.  :) 

The day was a great one, but I am exhausted.  My little boy started kindergarten today, so I was thinking about him all day; my feet were killing me (since I had to wear real shoes again); and my throat is sore since my portable sound system won't be shipped until the end of this month (I  miss you little microphone...If you have never used a portable microphone system in your room, I strongly encourage it.  They are the best thing ever)!

We hit the ground with understanding the high expectations I have.  We are an aligned department, so by the time they get to me, I get to fine tune them.  Hit them hard and tough at the beginning!  I have incorporated some new things this year, so I am hopeful that it will make me a better teacher.

Tomorrow, my kids are going to be put in their houses (thank you Ron Clark for the wonderful idea).  I have set up my groups based on the "Star" theme.  My houses are Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Nashville, Times Square, New York, and Broadway.  They will get to earn points as a house and we will have contests. 

I paid the yearly fee and joined  This is the best!  I created a video using myself, Candy, and one other math teacher.  I showed it to my kids today to show them that we will have fun, but we will also work hard.  They were laughing and wanted to watch it again!  I am thinking about creating a video for each class each week.  The kids who have turned in their work will be eligible to be in the video.  I think they will really like this.  Here is the link to our little video: 
The fee is only $12 for the year.  Be careful.  They are not all appropriate for kids.

I hope everyone has a great beginning to the school year.  Look into jibjab.  The kids will love it, and you will enjoy watching them laugh!

Happy jib jabbing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Attention Grabbers

Most teachers have some way of getting the attention of the class.
I have seen lights that go off and on.
Hands in the air.
A bell that rings.
I have even heard the teacher battling with the raised voice of BE QUIET!

A few years ago, I took the little section from the cha cha slide.
"Freeze....Everybody clap your hands"
As soon as the kids hear it, they do the clap pattern like in the song.  They took to it so well, I even have that little part on a cd of little things I will sometimes play in the class (I have other snippets from various kids show about please and thank you, being proud of doing something good, etc.  Of course, we practice "pulling back" after we do the clap part.  That takes a little practice, but it works!

I think I am going to add an extra one this year.  I have been looking around trying to find something that I think my kids would like.  I found this one, and I even adapted it to make it work for math.
me:  Bada ba bap ba
kids:  I'm loving math
In case you couldn't tell, that is one of the slogans for the golden arches (well not the math part...that is all me)!

Again, you have to make sure you go over what needs to happen once they hear the attention grabber.  I think it will be good to have a few different ones to use.

Happy grabbing!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Classroom Timers

With our state testing now being timed, I have really started implementing more timed activities in the room.  I am blessed to have a SMARTboard and projector, so I always have something going on the board.  I found these really neat online timers.

Some of them are fun when "time is up".  Some will get annoying, but the kids will know they have run out of time!  I think I will vary them up.

You can still use it even if you don't have a projector.  They are online timers, so all you need is the internet!

Happy timing!

Parent Comunication

I recently heard of a new resource for parent communication.  It is an app you download to your iphone (Droid version is coming soon, I think) or you can access it from your computer.  The app is called Remind101.  It allows a teacher to send a text message or email to a parent that has signed up for the notification without giving out the teacher's personal information.  The app Remind101 is a free app in the iTunes store.  But even if you don't have an iPhone, you can still access this resource from the web.  I recently went to the website from my computer - Remind101 - and set up my account.  It allows you to have multiple classes within the site in case you wanted to send out different reminders to different classes.  The site generates a pdf file you can give your students or parents with directions to sign up for the reminders.  The student/parent sends a text message to a number generated by Remind101 with a uniquely coded message.  This attaches the student/parent to your class.  If they don't want a text message but an email, the student/parent can send an email to a uniquely coded email address that will link them to your class as well.

This will be great to remind students and parents about homework and tests.  The communication is only one way though - from teacher to parent or student.  If a parent needs direct communication with the teacher, they would have to contact the teacher themselves.  Likewise, if a teacher needed to contact a parent about an individual child they would NOT want to communicate this way.  Every person signed up for your class will get the email or text.

Currently, the application is free and is in beta right now.  The website states they intend to keep it free for teachers.  There is a Remind101 FAQ at the bottom of the webpage you can read through before signing up your class.

Parent communication is always an area I can improve upon.  I'm looking forward to utilizing this resource and making communication so much more efficient.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

STAAR Teks Checklist

I needed something to use to help me keep up with the teks when I teach them.  After I give a mini assessment on a tek, I always know which ones are weak and which ones are good, but I of course must have documentation.  Each year, we are always being piled on with extra things to document.  Don't get me wrong, teachers must know their students and the strengths and weaknesses that come with the class, but why must we make EVERY teacher go through the same procedures.  Some teachers need to go through extra steps in order to truly know their kids.  Many of us know our kids frontwards, backwards, and every other direction, but if we ask one person to do this documentation, we must ask them all.  I completely disagree with this philosophy, but I do as I am asked (I do give my opinion when I am asked too).

Back to the topic.....sorry.... 

I use a CPS (handheld clicker system) in my classroom.  Each day I give the kids a multiple choice question in which they click in their response.  I also give a 5 question mini assessment over particular concepts, as well (not each day).  The feedback is instant, and the kids love it!  I needed something I could quickly write down my mastery percentage for the tek.  When it comes time for me to fill out all the forms, I am always going back through the program and backlogging.

 Not this year!  I have created these forms (available in my tpt store), and I will keep them in a notebook right beside my laptop.  When the results pop up, I will write it down.   I think I will have 4 tabs.  I will document for each class individually and all my students as a whole.  Now, I won't need to go back digging for all my documentation. 

I have also created a set for 6th and 7th grade, as well.  I think I will share this with the other math teachers.  If it works for them, they can use it.  I by no means am trying to give them more work.  Some already have a system in place, and if something is working, don't try to create more work!
For each grade level, I have the breakdown of the number of readiness and supporting questions tested per reporting category.
For each grade level, I breakdown each tek as to readiness or supporting.

For each tek, I have a place to put the date(s) taught/retaught, and a place to put the mastery date, %, and source.
To get your own set, go to my tpt store.

I wish you all a great beginning to a wonderful year!

Inspirational Posters

I found these great posters/sayings on Pinterest.  I have printed them on colored cardstock to hang in my room.

Before You Speak:
I created this in different ways.  This is the one I am going to hang in my room.
Idea from pinterest: 
I am also thinking about making smaller ones and laminating them.  I will tape them on the corner of each desk.  This poster is great in all aspects of our lives.  Think how great it would be if people would actually THINK before they speak!

Idea from pinterest: 
I am going to hang this up in my classroom.  I think I am also going to make a copy for each of the other math teachers.  I will give them this and a 7 up when we meet next week before school starts.  I think it is always great to give little pieces of encouragement!

I really liked this visual reminder of what voice level the students should be using.
Idea pinned from: 

 I am going to print out the poster with all 6 listed, but I am also going to print out each level on a separate poster, as well.  Depending on the activity, I will post which voice level they should be using.  I can just remind them what number they should be using.  The colors are a great visual!


This one holds so much meaning!  The only way anyone can ever truly listen to someone is to be quiet and try.  I made this a few different ways too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Centers and Classroom Management

I have so many ideas on using centers this year in my 6th grade Math classroom (more on that later).  I found a great idea on managing centers while surfing through Pinterest and the blog world.  I cannot find the original post of this idea, so I am by no means taking credit.  If this was your idea, by all means, take credit for it.  I just think it's a great idea.  You use stacking cups in the colors of red, yellow, and green - like the stop light. I found these at Hobby Lobby for about $3 for a pack of 24.  Even middle school students need redirection during activities.  I thought this was a great visual and it keeps the teacher from yelling at students to get their attention.  The notice is calm and it's swift.

The cups are stacked on top of each other and the teacher changes the stacks as students need redirection.
When students get to the red cup, they are not allowed to participate in the activity anymore.  They will be redirected to working independently on the current assignment or book work that correlates to the activity.

I like this also because it holds the group accountable to each other.  Of course, any individual student that is off task and not working with the group would have to be dealt with individually.  The group shouldn't be punished for one student's offenses.  This system would strictly be for the entire group.

So many times as I've circled group stations and warned certain groups they were getting too loud, only a few students would hear me or pay attention.  I would then have to speak to every student in the group to make sure they understood me.  This way there is no question as to my expectations and the consequences should they not cooperate.  I hope this makes group work/center time even better this year!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Vistaprint order...

I am addicted to all things Pinterest and reading my teacher blogs.  I've seen lots of teachers posting things they had ordered and it looked interesting.  So I went to Vistaprint to see just what I might could use.  I loved it!

First, I made lunch detention cards.  I don't allow students to not do their homework and take an easy zero.  I choose to give up my lunch and have them eat their lunch in my room while completing the assignment.  This will be their pass and documentation as well.  I plan to file them in a little index card holder.  I've even thought about having them write on the back what they will do in the future to prevent having lunch detention.  This might be a good tool to bring to parent conferences to show just what their student has been (or not been) doing.  And, they were FREE!!!

Then I made some business cards to hand out to parents at our open house.  I was thinking it may be easy to slip these in their wallet or purse to keep up with.  The only thing listed is school information.  I put my class website, my school email and then our school address and phone number.  My hope is that they will put them on their refrigerators and look at my class website every week.  (I did pay for these - about $10 for 250 cards.)

I made a computer password card for my students.  Our students get a network password but then I also have several websites we use in class.  I'm thinking I'll put them on a binder ring by class and pass out as needed.  Of course, they will stay locked up in my cabinet when not in use.

I was able to get free labels made.  I had the "property of..." label made as well as "please return...".  I'm thinking these will be useful in correspondence with office staff and colleagues.

With all of this, I got a free pen!  No one can claim my pen now.

And then I ordered a stamp that says "turned in late" -  in red ink!  That way I'll know and parents will know when they look through their child's paper.

Because I was new to Vistaprint, I got all of this for $25 and free shipping.

I saw where other teachers ordered punch cards through Vistaprint.  You could use those for either homework completion or good behavior.  I'm still thinking on that one.  I have over 70 kids so punching cards would take up a lot of time I'm thinking.  I also saw where teachers created a type of exit slip card and students write on them at the end of class.  But I'm thinking we could do the same with regular index cards.  I'm not sure students could write on the business card size.  Elementary teachers even made a student information card and to keep in their room.  Our school already does the information card and they're kept in the office so I didn't make one of those.  There are so many ideas and possibilities!

So excited to start a new year!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Hall Pass

I love pinterest!  I was looking for something new to do for a hall pass.  I put one together today.

I started with a piece of wood (left over from the crate seats I made for my son's room.
I used modpodge and put two pieces of scrapbook paper on the wood.
I used some stencils and glow in the dark paint for the words.
I attached some ribbon.  We are the cubs with orange, black, and white as our school colors.
Last night, I was making little pom poms for my sister's baby sprinkle coming up, so I made a few for this, as well.
I spray painted some clothes pins (I have extras that I will keep in my drawer).
When the kids need to leave, they will pin the pass to their shirt.  If they break or get lost, then they are cheap to replace.

I created little signs for each pass:  office, restroom and conference (going to another class, etc).
On the back of the clip, I wrote the destination.
I love creating things, and I am excited to put this in my classroom.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Facebook in the classroom

I am not sure if I am completely ready to fully incorporate Facebook into my classroom, but I am going to use it to an extent this year.  I have created a Facebook page for my classroom.

I have set it up completely separate from my personal account because I do not want to blur the lines.  The page I created is set up so no one can post on it other than myself.  Here is what I want to use the facebook page for:

This page is to be used by my math students to post and share problems in the facebook community. We will chart the progression of each problem and see how social media can impact education.
Every two weeks, each class period will post a problem that they as a class have created. The students can then "share" the problem with their own friends. The object is to be the class to have the most: likes, comments with answers, and who can reach the most states/countries. The results will be charted in the classroom, and the students will be able to see how their problem is being seen and answered.

I think that by using Facebook, the kids will be eager to "share" the problem they have created.  We will make it into a contest between the different class periods.  I am planning on having them post a new problem every two weeks.  Of course, the other problems will still be out there, and they can continue to monitor the progress.

There is so much the kids can do with the data.  I think I will set up a graph, and have a student from each class period update the results of the graph each week for each question.  The abundance of central tendency questions that can be created based on the data is overwhelming.  Geography questions can also be created.  Hello cross curricular planning!!!!

During class, I will have the students brainstorm a question. It will be up to them as to what type of question it needs to be (multiple choice, open ended, etc).  One student from each class will post the problem.  Within each problem, we must also include:

  • My 8th grade math class is conducting an experiment to see how many people this question will reach, how many states/countries will reply, how many people will get the question correct.
  • We are posting this question in hopes of getting many: likes, shares, and comments.
  • The question we post has been created by my math class.
  • Please comment and place your answer and include the state/country you are from.
  • Class period, Question # - Question

I think this will be interesting, and I hope it works out like I think it will.  We will jump right into this the first week of school, so be looking for the first three questions (I have three math classes) beginning August 28!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Math Creations with Chick Peas

Here is a fun activity I do with my kids when we review over 3d figures.  I like to do this before we get into surface area and volume.  Let's face it!  If they don't know which figure they are dealing with then the surface area and volume will more than likely be wrong!

Chick Pea Activity

Materials Needed:  Chick Peas, toothpicks, baggies or cups

Preparation:  You can purchase the peas in a can or dry in a bag like black eye peas.
The ones in the bag are much easier!  Just let them soak in water overnight.  The ones in a can stink!  Drain the water out, and they are ready to use.  Before each class, put about 1/3 cup of peas in a cup or baggie with some toothpicks.  Keep extras at the front for the kids to come up and replenish if necessary.

Objective:  Create 3d figures using chick peas and toothpicks.  The peas are used for the vertices of the figure, and the toothpicks are connected through the pea.  The students are able to create the figure, using a hands-on activity.  They are also able to make connections between the prism and pyramid. 

Square Pyramid
Rectangular prism (remember a cube is still a prism)
Triangular Pyramid
Triangular Prism

After creating the four figures, have the students:
List the similarities and differences (at least two) between:

Triangular Pyramid and Square Pyramid
            Triangular Pyramid and Triangular Prism
Triangular Prism and Square Pyramid
Triangular Prism and \Rectangular Prism
Rectangular Prism and Square Pyramid
Rectangular Prism and Triangular Pyramid
Identify the shapes of the faces for each
Identify the shapes of the base(s) for each
Calculate the number of edges for each
Calculate the number of vertices for each

Extension:  If time allows, have the students create a different pyramid and prism.  Tell them they must be able to correctly name the figure.

Conclusion:  Discuss some of the similarities and differences as a class.  Make sure you go over the shapes of the faces for the pyramids and prisms.  Remind them how each figure is named for the shape of the base.  Also, the base is not necessarily what the figure is sitting on. 

Clean up:  For less mess, have the students dismantle the figures.  Place the toothpicks and unused peas back in the cup, and the used chick peas can be thrown away.  Keep a couple to use for examples.  Some kids will want to take at least one of the creations with them!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Arrays can do so much

Do you use Arrays in the math class?  We do!  With arrays, you are able to accomplish so much:
  • Identify dimensions
  • label fractional parts
  • Calculate Perimeter
  • Calculate Area
  • Create Equivalent fractions with scale factor
  • Model the fractional parts
  • Compute the four basic operations

By the time I get the kids in 8th grade, we review over the arrays, but they are already familiar with them. I do not make the kids model every time they do a fraction computation, but it is a tool in their toolbelt.  Some of the kids do model each time because they see it that way.  Fractions are tough!  Modeling with arrays offer so much.

You can model with arrays with graph paper or you could use the color tiles.  In 8th grade, I focus on graph paper. 

The most difficult fraction computation is division!  We do not teach the short cut of "keep it, change it, flip it!"  We teach them how to divide the fractions.  The arrays do allow for a model to be created in which the kids get a better understanding as to what division of fractions means.  When you teach the shortcut, the understanding is lost!

Arrays are a great tool to arm the kids with. 

Happy Modeling!


My name is Candy Keller and I teach 6th grade math. I'm joining Jamie on the blog and contributing lower grade ideas. We are a collaborative math department and I'm excited to branch out to collaborate with other teachers in other districts. We are in Houston, Texas this week at CAMT (Conference for the Advancement of Mathematical Teaching). We are presenting a session this afternoon on projects. Projects are such a great way to engage students and extend learning to the real world. I'm always looking for great projects for my students. I'm trying to attend as many sessions on iPads and technology as I can. Hopefully I can blog about some new and exciting activities or apps for the classroom. I attended a session yesterday on Edmodo. I have many plans and ideas to use Edmodo this year in the math classroom. I will blog more on Edmodo as well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm not just your math teacher...

"Why are you teaching me this?  This is math class".  How many times have you heard this?  I wish all teachers would get on board with the concept that although we may teach one subject, we are still teachers.  I think it is great when we can do cross curricular activities, and it helps the kids to better understand it.  I add history and science questions in my bell ringers.  You can always find something in every subject that you can link back to math. 

My biggest thing is correcting the grammar of my kids!  "Why is you always correcting me? This is Math".  REALLY?  Maybe that is why. 

I have my kids write in math all time.  I incorporate a 4 step plan, and the 4th step is to Justify what they did and why they did it.  The kids do not like to justify, but it is such a great tool.  I not only check for the math part of the justification, I check for the grammatical aspects as well.  I think all teachers should incorporate writing in every subject, and we should all grade spelling, punctuation, and grammar. 

I also have my students post discussions on the class wiki.  I list a problem that they need to solve.  They log in and write a discussion as to how to solve it.  Since I am not able to see their written calculations, they must write in detail what they did, why they did it, and what the answer is.  For some kids, this is a building process.  The writing becomes more meaningful when you have discussions on the correct way to write.  I do not count off points for the grammatical aspects of the writing every time they write, but I do at times.  Maybe eventually, the corrections will sink in, and they will become better writers which will help them become better students....not just math students.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Project Based Learning

I think projects are a great way to learn and understand a concept.  Projects usually take a little time, and they allow the students to take ownership. 

This week, I am at the CAMT math conference in Houston, TX.  On Thursday, a colleague and I will be presenting a session on Projects in the classroom.  Throughout the years, we have come across some fun and interesting projects.  Under my "Goodies" tab, I have the links to my wikis which goes into detail for the projects I use.  Some projects have been borrowed and tweaked, and I have created some projects. 

This past year, I brought BizMovie into my classroom.  This is a great project that includes business, finance, and technology.  The kids create a movie production company.  They applied for the various positions in the company.  They must keep up with all the financial aspects that go along with running a business.  They use kerpoof to design an animated commercial and movie.  At the end of the project, I had my kids present their marketing campaign to other students.  We opened the box office, and the kids were able to "purchase" tickets to the movies they wanted to see.  We then showed the movies, and the kids were able to see if they made a good purchase.  It was GREAT!  The kids learned so much.  It is also great for team work.  A few groups wanted to fire a member for them not doing their job.  How much closer to real life can you get?  I will definitely be doing this project again!  Here are couple of links to the commercial and movie.

I really need another project that deals with 3d measurement.  Currently, I have the kids create a commercial that deals with a 3d figrure.  The commercial can either be selling their product (whatever they turn the figure into), or a movie promo like "Attack of the killer cubes".  They must discuss how to calculate volume and surface area of the figure.  I like this project, but I also need one in which the kids are actually using a 3d figure.  I am thinking about this:
  • the kids are assigned a 3d figure (the figures we discuss will all be assigned)
  • the object will be to create the figure using the materials I provide
  • Each material will have a different $ amount, and they will be allowed to be spend x amount of money
  • they will be assessed on durability, creativity, and the object must meet the criteria for the 3d figure
  • to add technology, they will do a write up on the class wiki that details the volume and surface area of the figure.  They will then create a qr code that will link to the wiki, and the qr code will be displayed with the figure. 
I am still working it out, and I haven't typed up the project info yet.  Hopefully, I will work the kinks out.

I think a project over similar figures would also be good.  Proportions are a difficult concept to grasp. 
For this, we could use life-size models of different objects, and the kids could scale it down or up and then create the object.  I am trying this out in my Percent Baseball digital menu board under "build it". 

Last year, I came across an activity using CSI math (this activity can be found at my middle school math wiki).  The kids created a perpetrator.  They had to draw it to scale.  This worked out pretty good, but I think an additional project would be good to help with similar figures. 

I think projects are great, and I am constantly adding to my project list.  Not all projects need to take a long time to complete.  I incorporate individual and partner projects in my class.  Hopefully, I will pick up some more projects at CAMT.  Maybe some of you did, as well!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Middle School Centers???

I am thinking about doing centers in my math room this coming year.  I am not sure how this is going to work out with middle school kids, but I am anxious to see.  I am going to design my centers around the big topic we are discussing.  Last year, I was able to have a laptop cart in my room, so we had some laptops for the kids to use.  They were used every single day.  I have a class wiki, and they are responsible for doing different things on the wiki.  I am hoping that I get laptops again!  Oops....I got off track a little bit.  Back to the centers!

I am wanting to get away from regular book work.  Now, I have always incorporated projects and activities, but there are some good problems in certain books/workbooks.  I have never believed that kids need to do 100 problems over a certain topic.  If they cannot do 10, then 100 is not beneficial, and if they can do 10, then they can probably do 100. Anyways, I have always chosen certain problems from the book.  I have learned that I must give my kids a time limit.  I set a timer, and at the end of the allotted time, we go over the problems (so they get instant feedback).

Now that I have set up the background, here is what I was thinking for the criteria for my centers.

  • I want to have 5-10 different stations (depending on how many laptops are set up).  
  • They will rotate through the stations in groups of three (I am big on partner work).
  • They will get 15-20  minutes per station (different topics may require more time).
  • This could take two-three days to complete the Centers.
  • The kids will have a log sheet for all the centers.  Since we are just practicing skill, I am not really concerned with a certain grade for each activity.  Many of the centers will really be focused on practice and a daily grade for participating and completing.

Here are the centers I want.  Again, this will be focused on a particular topic.

  • Smartboard activity over the topic
  • One-two laptops used for a wiki discussion over the topic.  This may in the form of a discussion post or a project on the wiki in which students will build upon what the other students have already written.
  • Word problems (5-10) on cards.  This center will involve a hot dot pen in which the student will use the pen to select the answer.  The pen will tell them if the answer is correct or incorrect.  
  • Skill/word problems (10-20) on cards.  One student will read the question and be in charge of the answer.  The other two will have buzzers.  They will buzz in when they know the answer.
  • Two-three laptops set up for online practice from qtopia and similar sites.
  • Book work (I firmly believe paper and pencil is still crucial).  5-10 problems from a book or workbook.

All of the centers will provide instant feedback.  At the end of the Centers, I will give a short quiz to assess and see if any reteaching needs to occur.  These are my thoughts so far.  The first big topic we go through is Proportions.  This includes: scale factor, similar figures, and proportional relationships.  Hopefully it will come together.  It all sounds great in my head!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

QR codes

I recently came across the use of QR codes in the classroom!  These little codes are everywhere.  I think it will be a great addition to my math class.  I am always looking for new things to do with my students.

There are many sites available to create the codes.  QRvoice allows for an automated description to be given once the code is scanned.  The code generator with Kaywa allows for the scanner to be taken to a particular location (website, etc).

Here are some ways I was thinking I could implement them:

  • students will add a code to a project that provides more detail about a topic
  • students will write word problems, and they will create a code with the answers.  they will share their problems, and the students will check to see if they are correct.
  • answers provided for an assignment
  • posted on different documents hanging by my door, and the code will provide a link to more information

I am anxious to see how well the students respond to the codes.  I think they will like it.

Scan the code for a little goody!

Happy scanning!

Inventive Incentives

I am a big believer in giving kids incentives to complete their work and do the best they can.  Some people disagree with this thought, but let's face it.  Kids are different today.  Many kids would gladly "take the zero".  When that happens, no learning of any sort has occurred.

Zeros are not an option in my classroom.  I gladly give up my lunch to have lunch detentions.  If the kids have not completed their two big assignments for the week (and test corrections when applicable), they will eat lunch with me until they have the work completed.  Some will argue that we are not preparing them for college, etc when someone is not there to stay on them to turn in work.  My thought is that what are they learning now by not doing the work in the first place?  At what point do we stop "teaching" them to be responsible and just "assume" that they should already be that way?  It is better to get a good foundation on completing work now, so they can be responsible with being on time in the future, and I am instilling the art of being responsible for their learning!

At the end of each six weeks, our math department offers an incentive party.  We do a really big party for the first and last six weeks.  The criteria to attend the incentive party is simple:

  • all work must be turned in
  • 100% effort must be given on benchmarks (this includes working every problem and writing a justification)

The kids live for these parties.  I always have a missing work list hanging outside my door, so I do not get the constant questions of "what do I owe".  I give them the deadline for the work  If they have any missing work as of the deadline, they do not get to participate.  Work will come flying in from the kids who never would have done the work to begin with.

For the first and fifth six weeks, we rent two bounce slides, and we set them up in the gym.  The kids slide and play and many will bring basketballs and footballs.  They have the option of being "tuned in", and they can bring their electronic devices to the party.  The party takes place during their math class for the one day we have designated.  We are double blocked for math, so they get about 90 minutes to relax. That is our way of saying, "thank you for doing your work and trying hard".
In order to pay for the bounce slides, the math department will host different fundraisers throughout the year:

  • dances (sell concessions and glow items....easy way to make a profit of at least $900)
  • sell tattoos (during football season on game days)
  • water balloon dodgeball (sell water balloons and we go out on the field one afternoon and have a battle between teachers and students.....make at least $500)

For the other six weeks, we do smaller incentive parties in the classroom:

  • movie and popcorn
  • wii or xbox and play games (the kids love to play "just Dance")
  • go to the gym or outside 

For our final incentive party, the kids will bring $5-$7.  We take the kids off campus for this incentive party, and it lasts the whole day.  We always schedule this after ALL state testing has taken place (usually third week of May).  For four years, we took the kids to a skating rink and park.  We no longer have any skating rinks in our area, so this past year, we took them to the movies.  The theater opened just for us!  We watched a movie, and then we went to the park.  The kids cover the cost of their ticket, and we cover the transportation costs (due to our fundraisers, we still have money). For many kids, this is the only time they experience any type of special outing like this.

Regardless of the party, I tell the kids that the biggest reward is not doing math for a day and to enjoy being a kid!

In my classroom, I also offer other incentives:

  • turn work in on time
  • A's on tests
  • helping other students
  • great comments or suggestions
  • improvement in any area

I have a star chart for each class period.  When a student accomplishes the things above, they get a star on their chart.

Once they get 5 stars, they get to participate in "incentive roll", and they get their name on a big star that hangs in the hallway.  For Incentive Roll, they roll two dice, and they get the prize that is listed.  The prizes are simple and cheap, but the kids are excited to participate.

Friday, July 13, 2012


I love finding new activities and seeing new ideas.  I look forward to sharing!

You can follow my class wiki.

I present at CAMT each summer.  You can also follow that wiki.