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!!