Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Punch board

It has been a while since my last post!  The whirlwind of school came in FAST!!  It has been non-stop since the first day of school.  I have been finding new things to do this year, and it has kept me busy.

My biggest thing is starting the interactive math journal.  I LOVE this!  I wish I would have started this years ago.  As soon as I take some good pictures, I will put it in a post.

I just created this punch board tonight.  I plan on using it for a review game.

Items used:

  • tri-fold display board
  • plastic bowls (purchased at Dollar Tree....they even came with lids)
  • stick-on velcro
  • tissue paper
  • rubber bands

Here is what I did to set up my board:

  • I used velcro to adhere each cup to the board.  
  • I got a big thing of tissue paper (50% off right now at Hobby Lobby).  I cut a few pieces in fourths. 
  • I used a rubber band to put the tissue paper on.  
  • Once the cup has been punched, I can restock and use the same rubber band to put a new piece of tissue paper on.  This would be a great job for a student.  I see some math bucks being earned with this.  
  • If I don't need all the cups for the task at hand, I can put the lid on the ones not needed.
  • For easy storage, I can pull the bowls off and store the board.

My son has tested the board, and it worked just fine.  He had fun hitting it!

Here are some ways I plan to incorporate this:

  • word problem questions
  • skill (create the item listed on the SMART board..for example, right now we are reviewing graphs and plots.  If they punch a bar graph, they would need to draw a bar graph on the board)
  • # to a question on a test/paper already assigned  (periodically I do group tests, so this would be a good way to assess)
  • incentive rewards (different prizes, etc)

I am sure I will come up with more uses as I incorporate this.

Happy Punching!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teachers pay Teachers SALE

Many sellers are having a 20% off sale plus an additional 8% at checkout.  Make sure you use the BTS13 code.

If you have never looked around TPT, you should try it.  Many people have a lot of free stuff, as well.  I always find great things.

This year, I will be trying an interactive math journal.  I already bought every student a spiral.  Last year, I did more with foldables, and the kids really liked it. I thought I would take it even deeper this year.  I am looking forward to this product I purchased at TPT:

What item(s) have you found or would like to purchase?

Happy Shopping!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

VistaPrint Goodies

I came across a pin on Pinterest on an order from VistaPrint.  She had some really good ideas, so I stole borrowed them.  You can find the original pin here.

With free shipping, I spent less than $50, and I have a TON of labels and cards.

I got some labels to put on papers when it is obvious the student did not take his/her time, and I know he/she can do better.

Even in 8th grade, I still have a problem with no name on papers!  I get pretty good at deciphering handwriting, but this year, I am just going to put this label on it, and then hang it on the door.

At times, I have things that I need parents to sign and send back.  This is usually a low test grade or something similar.  I got these labels, and I can just write in the date it is due back.

When the labels run out, I also got a self-inking stamp!!!!

I have always wanted one of these!

I call my class rules, "Standards for Success."  I have a TON of them!  I also incorporated bucket fillers last year, but the standards for success are the things that have consequences if not followed.  I created these business cards, so when a standard is broken, the kids can fill out the card.  I can then file it in my little card box, and pull it out if necessary for parent/teacher conferences.

I am very happy with how my order turned out.  Now I just need to remember to use them!!!

Happy printing!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Open and Closed

I just made a new name plate for my desk (or in front of my elmo).

Cook is not a very long name, so I had to add a little filler.

I added some inspirational words to the back, so I will constantly be reminded all day.

The extra block is double sided.  One side says "open", and the other side says "closed".
Most of the time, I will be Open, but it is nice to provide that visual to the kids so they know if they can come ask me for help.
When it is test time, Mrs. Cook is closed for questions and help. When I do cooperative learning groups, I want the kids to ask each other questions, so this would be a good time to be closed, as well.  :)

I am happy with how it turned out!

In two more weeks, we will be open for business!!!

Happy opening!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Decorating my classroom

At the end of last year, I finally started throwing a BUNCH of stuff away.  Being in the same classroom for eight years, makes it easy to just push stuff under the table and forget about it.  I am busy from the time I get to school until the time I leave.  Cleaning my room just goes by the wayside.  Now, don't get me wrong.  My kid's area is always picked up and cleaned.  My desk.......that is another story.  I tell the kids that I know where everything is, so they should never doubt that I am organized.  :)  I know I should do a better job of keeping EVERYTHING tidy, but I would rather spend my time teaching my kids as opposed to making sure I have a perfect classroom.  With a family at home, I don't want to stay at school until midnight every day, so I opt to just make sure I have organized stacks on my desk and everything else is pushed under the table.

At the end of the year, I ended up with three large trash bags full of junk.  I had to go up to the school a few weeks ago for a few meetings, so I spent the time between meetings in my room.  WOW!  I have always said I needed to spend a day in my room just cleaning.  It is amazing how much I have thrown away.  I have three trash bags, a few boxes and some broken shelves in the hallway.  I know our cleaning crew is not happy with me.  I will bake them some brownies when I come back to school.

I got the table out of my room, so that MADE me go through everything under it.  I found an old bookcase in an abandoned classroom, so now I have shelves!!!  WOOHOO!!!!  I am not finished with my room, but man it sure looks better and bigger without that huge table in the back.

I love making things, so I just made a wreath for my door. We are the Gladewater Cubs and our colors are orange and black. I love how it turned out.

The letters have a white glitter on them.  I am sure little fingers will never touch my letters, so they will always have the glitter on them.  :)

I will add other pics of my classroom once I have it all ready to go!

Happy decorating!!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Parent And student help after hours

Last year, I created a Facebook page for my class. I am the only one able to post on it.  I have my kids create questions and we post them on the page.  We try and get people to answer them. I also used it to post incentives we were doing in the classroom.  We had good feedback from parents and students.

Yesterday, I created a new Facebook page to be used by all the math teachers at my school.  It is open for posts from parents and students.  It is my hope that parents and students can post questions they may have in the math class.  This should provide quick feedback, and hopefully we will be able to help after school hours.

Here is the link to the gms cub math Facebook page.

Last year, we started a wiki for parents to see examples on how we teach things.  I know that so many of the concepts we teach are different than when parents learned them.  With this wiki, parents and students are able to see notes, power points, and other examples.  All the math teachers have access to the wiki, so it is a collaborative effort. The wiki is linked with the Facebook page.

Here is the link to the parent wiki.

Both this Facebook page and wiki are in addition to my class sites.  I hope parents and students find them all beneficial.

What are some things you use to communicate with parents and students after hours?

Happy communicating!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Mistakes will occur often in school and life in general.  Making a mistake is a great way to learn if the mistake is corrected and understood.

In my class, I do not give extra credit. Students are able to correct their daily grades (< 70) and test grades(< 90). Test corrections are mandatory on any test grade < 90. Some class time may be given, but overall, they correct the test on his/her own time. Students are always allowed to come to me for help on corrections. They are able to receive half the credit back on missed problems.

I created a form for the students to fill out when the corrections are being made.  The IMTQB (I Missed This Question Becuase) form provides a place for the student to reflect on any problem(s) missed.

A four column table is used which includes:

  • the problem number
  • new answer
  • place for work
  • place for the students to write in complete sentences why they missed the problem

The IMTQB form holds the students responsible for understanding why the problem was missed, and hopefully the student will learn from the mistake made.  I model correct IMTQB responses, so the students know exactly what I expect.  Of course, I always get a student to put something like, "I missed this question because I got it wrong".  My students know I will not accept this, so it will be given back to be completed correctly.

This form could be a prerequisite for extra points to be added to the test or a chance to take a retest.  I vary how I implement the form, and the students do not before the test if the graded test can be corrected for extra points or a retest.  I never want to give the students the impression that it is okay to not be prepared for the original test and then do the corrections for a better grade.  I want the students to know that it is okay to make a mistake, but what they do with the mistake is the true test.

You can download the form for free from my tpt store.

Happy correcting!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Daily Agenda

Summer is starting to wind down, so the thoughts of the new school year are upon me.  I believe it is very important for students to have a structured classroom.  Structure does not mean that there cannot be variations, or the students cannot have fun.  Structure means that the students know exactly what is expected each and every day.

I have found having a daily agenda that I follow every day is very effective.  Again, this does not mean that I never vary from this.  There is always a time in which a change needs to be made.  As a teacher, we must always be flexible!

To be even more effective is to have the entire math department aligned and on the same page.

Daily Agenda:
We have a 90 minute math class every day. This is the agenda our math dept follows. If you have a shorter class, you will need to modify to meet your time constraint. Maybe only do the quiz or speed test twice a week. I would keep the bell ringer every day.

Bell Ringer (2-4 minutes) - May need longer depending on the length of the questions. Move on after 4 minutes.
Daily Quiz (5 minutes) - time it and move on after 5 minutes.
Speed Test (1 minute) - skill practice
POTW (5 minutes) - work on the POTW that is received on Monday and due by Friday
Accelerated Math or other individualized practice (10 minutes) - practice geared towards each student's needs
Reach for the Stars (< 5 minutes) - We use the CPS clicker system. The kids answer their question on the paper, and then they click in their response. If you don't have a clicker system, you could note cards for an easy grade. Have them hold the letter of their answer at their chest.
Homework review - go over any left over work from the previous day
Instruction/Notes - go over any notes or lesson for the day
Activity/Work - Students use the remaining time to work on the activity/work assigned for the day.
I always allow partner work. If students get off task, I take the opportunity away.

If I have a test planned, I may or may not have the bell ringer and daily quiz (depends on the size of the test), but I do not follow the rest of the agenda for test day.
Structure is effective for the students, and I believe it is necessary for a smooth and well-managed classroom.
I would love to hear what type of agenda your classroom follows.

Here is a link to my bell ringer and quiz sheets our math department uses.

Happy structuring!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New 8th Grade Math TEKS

Effective for the 2014-2015 school year, the math TEKS will be different.  Many teachers are already preparing for the changes.  As I started looking at the changes, I noticed that I have already built many of these TEKS in my class.

I do believe the personal finance TEKS are a great addition.  I already incorporate personal finance to an extent in my classroom, but now I will be looking for activities that include all the new personal finance TEKS.

I am not sure how these will be tested.  Currently, we have readiness and supporting standards.  I have not seen any information pertaining to readiness and supporting for the new TEKS.

I have created a new checklist for the new TEKS.  Unlike my old checklist, the new one does not break the TEKS down by readiness or supporting.  If TEA decides to keep this format, I can easily go back and add that information.

The new checklist DOES include a list of the current TEKS and how they are changing.  I have included the new TEKS and if any old is being completed deleted.  Some TEKS moved to other grades, so the appropriate grade level TEK is also included.

comparison of old TEKS to new TEKS

A place for date taught and mastery percent for each TEK

 I am currently working on the new checklists for 6th and 7th grade.  I will post those as soon as they are complete.  Then I will get the other grades done.

The new checklist can be found at my store.  It is never too early to begin planning.

I have also included a bundle which includes a checklist for the current TEKS and the checklist for the new TEKS.  The bundle can be found at my store.

I hope you don't let the new TEKS overwhelm you.  Once you become familiar with the new TEKS, they aren't so scary.  :)  One test does not determine if the students learn.  How well you teach will determine if the students learn.

Happy new TEKING!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Math: A Carnival of fun!

Once testing is over, we are able to take time in the class to work on projects.  Most of the projects must be completed at home due to lack of time.  My kids know that we are not at school just to take a test, so once the test is over, math will still be learned!

A few years ago, I created a carnival game project for the kids to do.  This is my final project, so they are able to work on it in the classroom.  The kids must:

  • create a carnival game
  • write instructions
  • create an income equation
  • create an expense equation
  • create a profit equation
  • build the game
  • play all the games in the class

The kids love it!!!  I am surprised each year when I see the final games.

Some games are very simple.  Knock the Cups over - three plastic cups and a ping pong ball.  The goal is to knock the cups over with the ball.

Some games are more advanced.  Angry Beans - balloons and lima beans.  The goal is to pop the balloons by slinging a lima bean from a sling shot.

Some games are WAY more advanced.  Skeeball - a skeeball machine built by a student!!!  I was BLOWN away with this one.  WOW at the math that was used to build it!  He plans on donating it to his church for the annual fall fest.

When they come up with the income, they must decide how they would make money on this.  Some people say they will charge money for each play.  Others say they will rent the game out.
Example income equation:  i = 2t  ($2 per ticket) or i = 50h   ($50 per hour)

They must also decide what expenses are needed.  For example:  $.25 per cup, $.50 per ping pong ball
e = .25c + .50b

We talk about at what point they will finally start making money (break even).  The difference between profit and loss is discussed, so we talk about what could be done to make sure the game operates at a profit.
Example profit:  2t - (.25c + .50b)

The kids make a poster that shows the name and written instructions.  I do not make them include the income and expenses on the poster (since they won't really be making any money when we set the game up).

Usually, we set them up during class time, and we walk around and play all the games.  This year, we set them up at an Athletic fun day outside, so students from 6th and 7th were able to play.  All the kids really liked it.


Cup stack



Ball toss

Guess the Song
I tell the kids that they can create a game with no cost to them or the parents.  The Guess the Song game featured included a boy humming a song, and the kids had to guess the name of the song.  I have had some create a tic tac toe board out of sticks and then use pine cones to try and make three in a row.  The grade is never based on how much money they spend to create it.

My kids have always loved this game, and it is a great end to the year.

You can go to my store for the complete instructions on the game.  Get the instructions here!

Happy Gaming!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day 5

Today was the final day of Teacher Appreciation Week!  Of course, that does not mean we don't appreciate our teachers the rest of the year!

For Jaxxon's main teacher, I put together a little box of goodies!  It contains a little bit of everything.  I got the original idea from the Seasons of Joy blog.
 I got a craft box from Hobby Lobby.  I used a 40% off coupon.  It comes with dividers, so you can make the sections as big or small as you like.
I covered the top of the box with school-themed scrapbook paper.  I mod-podged it on, so the top layer would be protected.  Of course I used a tulle bow and attached some pencils to the top.  Using my cricut, I created a custom name tag which can also be reused.

The box was filled with teacher goodies:

  • sticky notes
  • paper clips
  • push pins
  • magnets
  • binder clips
  • clothes pins....not for clothes of course  :)

It was also filled with some sweet treats:

  • peppermints
  • lifesavers
  • hershey kisses
  • now and laters

On the front cover, I attached the candy poem I created.  On day 1, I included these candies and poems for all of Jaxxon's other teachers.

Thank You!

Thank you for all the LOVE you have shown the kids this year.
You are a LIFESAVER to all the children you hold dear.
NOW & LATER the kid’s love for you will continue to reach.
You were MINT to be a teacher, and you were meant to teach!

For all the teachers, I had planned on getting everyone his/her favorite Sonic drink.  This question was of course on the questionnaire I had the teachers fill out.  Jaxxon has had so much enjoyment from passing the gifts out, I wanted him to have something to hand out (since I would be the one bringing the drinks).  I whipped up some chocolate covered popcorn!  YUMMY!  I love this, and it is so quick and easy to make.  I put some popcorn in plastic baggies.  I created a popcorn sign on the computer:

I wanted to POP in
and say Thank you
for all you do!
Love, Jaxxon
This allowed Jaxxon with a gift he could still deliver.  Not only has this been great for teacher appreciation week, it is showing him that it is great to give a gift and not get a gift back in return.

I created some labels on the computer to put on the straw of the Sonic drinks.  This allowed me to deliver with ease.  I ran to Sonic on my conference at 9:00 this morning.  Of course, I had to go ahead and get me and two teachers from my school a drink, as well!

I loved being able to pass out these drinks and just say, "thank you" in person.  I also got a GREAT hug from my sweet little man!!

This week has been fantastic, and I have loved creating these gifts for the teachers.  They have made this first year for Jaxxon so special, and I know this is the strong foundation he needs for a successful academic career!

Happy Appreciating!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day 4

Here it is already day 4 of this great week.  Although I have only received one handmade sign from a student, I still love this week.  I love being able to make and do things for other people.

On the questionnaire I sent to Jaxxon's teachers, I asked them what their favorite snack food was.
Three teachers said popcorn!  For that, we bought a box of popcorn and divided up the pouches.  We tied a bow on it, and the gift was born.
One teacher likes trail mix, so we got a bag and tied a bow on it.
One likes caramel popcorn, so we got a bag and tied a bow on it.
The last teacher likes peanut butter crackers, so you guessed it!  We bought some peanut butter crackers and we tied a bow on it.
I used my cricut to make little personalized name tags.

I wanted to add a little something extra for Jaxxon's main teacher.  I found this cute sign at the Skip to My Lou site.  She provides the download! I printed out the sign in the two colors.  I bought two frames from Dollar Store.  After putting the sign in the frame, I wrote the number and the event with a dry erase marker.  This will be perfect to sit on her desk.  It can be used for any type of countdown!  I also made one for my very close teacher friend at my school!

In case you haven't noticed, I love tulle bows! Tulle just adds a little something extra to a gift!  I buy it at Hobby Lobby when they have their Christmas supplies on sale for 50% off.  They start putting the Christmas stuff out during July, so you have plenty of time to get it!  During Christmas, they have the big spools of tulle for $9.99!  I use it all year!!

The teachers liked the goodies, and Jaxxon and I liked providing the smile!

Happy Appreciating!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day 3

For the third gift of this wonderful week, we gave homemade cookies or brownies in an oven mitt.  On the questionnaire I sent to Jaxxon's teachers, I asked if they preferred cookies or brownies.  5 preferred cookies and 1 preferred brownies.

I made brownies to reward one of my classes for good behavior with a sub, so I pulled some out for one of his teachers.  That was great since I was able to accomplish two things with one task!

For the cookies, I love baking snickerdoodles, so that is what I baked. I love these cookies!  The first batch was a little crispier than I prefer, so I kept those for myself (I said I love these cookies)!  The other batches came out GREAT!  Of course, I had to sample them, as well.

We put four cookies or brownies in a ziploc bag, and then we put those in an oven mitt.  I was able to pick these up for $1 from the Dollar store.  We attached a note that said:

Mrs. Keller,
You are a GREAT
Thank you for all you do!
Love, Jaxxon

They were a big hit, so our job was done!  Jaxxon has enjoyed bringing gifts each day.  I hope this helps him to see that it is always good to do nice things for other people.

Happy Appreciating!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day 2

On day 2 of Teacher Appreciation week, we sent some candy goodies to Jaxxon's teachers.

I pinned a great idea from this Season's of Joy site.  I adapted the poem just a little.

For his main teacher, I applied vinyl letters to a glass jar from Hobby Lobby (I caught that 50% off).  We filled it with M&M's.  Top that off with a tulle bow, and one great gift is born.  We attached the M&M poem.
Here is the poem:

My Magnificent and Marvelous Teacher

Green is for the inspiration you give me each day.

Blue is for your patience in showing me the way.

Orange is for your warmth and caring style.

Yellow is for the way you always make me smile.

Red is for my life that you have touched this year.
You're a very special teacher just like this box, that's clear.

You place knowledge in our children's hands
and melt into their hearts and lives forever.
You're a "Magnificent" & "Marvelous" teacher.
Thank you for helping the kids on their learning endeavor!

I had Jaxxon color in the boxes.

For his other teachers (we adapted just a little with the poem for our nurse), we put these items in a baggie:

  • two bags of M&M's
  • peppermints
  • now and laters
  • lifesavers
  • hershey kisses

I created this poem and we attached it to the back of the M & M poem:

Thank You!

Thank you for all the LOVE you have shown the kids this year.
You are a LIFESAVER to all the children you hold dear.
NOW & LATER the kid’s love for you will continue to reach.
You were MINT to be a teacher, and you were meant to teach!

His regular teacher will get the other items in her big gift on Friday.

I made some for my math teachers at school.  Hopefully, it brought a smile to the faces of all the teachers!

Happy Appreciating day 2!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day 1

It is the first day of teacher appreciation week!  This is the first year that I have a child in school, so I had a blast making teacher appreciation gifts yesterday.  My son will take a gift each day of the week.  Of course, we couldn't forget about the librarian, computer teacher, coach, music teacher or nurse.

For the first gift, we made a pencil holder from a used can.

Last week, I created a form using Google docs.  I emailed the form link to all of my son's teachers.  I asked for these things:

  • favorite Sonic drink
  • favorite color
  • favorite snack food
  • favorite type of candy
  • do they prefer cookies or brownies

We painted the cans, using each teacher's favorite color.
Using my cricut, I put each teacher's name on the can with vinyl letters.
I found some cute Dr. Seuss ribbon and glued it on the can.
In the can, we included:

  • pencils
  • pens
  • markers
  • favorite candy

My son said the teachers really liked the gift!  I know how hectic this time of year can be, so if we were able to bring a smile, then we did our job!

Here is your chance for a free gift.  Comment to this post with your favorite teacher appreciation gift you have ever received or given.  The deadline is midnight Friday, May 10.  One lucky person will win any item from my teachers pay teachers store!

Happy Appreciating day 1!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Amazing Math Race

I always have a six weeks project.  Four years ago, I was thinking of what project I could do for the fifth six weeks.  I had shown a few clips for CBS' Amazing Race during the year.  Of course these clips held mathematical content.  The class said it would be fun to do an Amazing Race, so the project was created.

The race has five questions with five events/obstacles.  It even has a detour and a roadblock.    The race features one question from the five categories:

Pythagorean Theorem

We go outside during the class and they perform my race (in groups of 3-4).  They have a blast!  They are answering math questions, being outside, and performing tasks.  They don't even look at is as being work.

Only one member can use his/her legs to go to the question.

Blowing bubbles

Measuring diameter

Pythagorean Theorem
I allow each group to have:
dry erase board with a marker
formula chart

Once they solve the question, they bring me the answer on the board.  I must be able to see the work, and the label (if any) must be correct.  I have flags set up for each question.  They must go to that flag to work or rework the problem.  Once they are correct, they get to complete the event.  It always goes very smoothly, and the competitive nature comes out.

I have each question printed on cardstock and laminated.  I have used the same questions since I started this four years ago!  I have enough questions for each group.  For my race, here are the items you will need in addition to the questions.
dowel rods, string and tape measure
hula hoops and measuring stick

Event flags (laminated and hot glued)

bubbles and bubble gum

After they complete my race, I give them the information sheet they need in order to create their own race.  They may work in groups of 3-4.  They must have five questions and five events.  It takes about two days to make it through all the groups. By the time we are done, the kids have answered 30-42 questions.  It is great, and we get to spend some time outside!

Here is the criteria:

The objectives of this project are to:
(1) help students better understand mathematical concepts and formulas by applying them in a fun and dramatic setting
(2) integrate math with competition and kinesthetics, providing students with the opportunity to utilize both their cognitive and creative abilities
(3) provide a motivational strategy that will encourage an appreciation for mathematics

The obstacle course must:

have 5 events and questions

feature the following mathematical concepts

  • Measurement
  • Probability/Statistics
  • Percent
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Proportions

feature the following obstacles

  • Road Block: A task in which only one team member can complete
  • Detour: A choice between two tasks, relating to the same concept
  • be contained to the “race area” and able to be performed

The questions must:

  • Be written one per page (enough pages for each group)
  • Have a solution provided to your teacher
  • Feature the mathematical concepts listed above

Here are some pictures from student created races.

If you would like the complete race, you can get it at my store.

The kids will enjoy it, and they are learning!

Happy racing!