Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

A "HodgePodge" of DIY

Okay,  I was inspired and made several things this week. Since I will be in Vegas next Monday and not posting, I am justifying it. (do I really need to justify being productive though?)

First, I cleaned up two clipboards. One with Modge Podge and one with chalkboard paint that I love so much.
Even the before photo came out ugly. (lol)
Some Modge Podge and cute paper and Viola!
Chalkboard paint (so simple)

Next, I  repurposed coffee cans. My hubby and I are big coffee drinkers. The teacher in me can't throw anything away, so I had  these and thought, "What can I do with them?"

The three finished products. Not sure what I am going to do with the polka dot one yet. Btw.. that is duct tape. I LOVE IT and it was so simple.

One of my goals is to use more "positive rewards" for my students. So, I created this Positve Performance Paw reward. Click on the picture to get a FREE copy.
When I see students behaving, I will give them a ticket, they write their name on it and put it in my newly decorated coffee can shown above. On Fridays, I plan to pull several names and they will get to choose from my FREE coupon rewards.
Click here to read that post and get those freebies.

Lastly, I made this for make up assignments.

The make-up assignment is not mine. It's from Laura Candler, get it here.
She is A-MA-ZING! Pour some coffee, turn on a good movie for your kids and get lost in her site!

What did you make? 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Day Jitters

Ashley over at Fierce In Fourth is having a blog hop that seems so fun and appropriate for us all. I may even read the book to my 6th graders, they'll be nervous about starting middle school.

Here's what you do:
Tell three things you are "jittery" about for this upcoming school year.

Three things I am jittery about:

1. I am head of the Math Department for 6th-8th grade. This is only my second year in middle school and we have FIVE new people in our department and two of those are first year teachers. 

 2. We are beginning PBIS as a campus and I know its awesome, just know it will be a big change for our campus.

3. Implementing math stations and math notebooks for not only my classes, but the entire department. Getting every one to "buy" into this is going to take some work.

So, what makes you jittery?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Free Rewards for Students and YOU!

This is my 1st Freebie Friday!!! I am so excited!

As teachers, we spend a lot of our own money. As I read blogs, I see all the great bargains everyone has been finding at Target, Wal-Mart, Office Depot, teacher stores, etc....

I have been shopping this summer as well. I have spent too much money, I know.

While planning positive reinforcements for my classroom management plan, I started thinking about how I could reward them with 1) FREE things, and 2) something that they would like. Plus, I have approximately 100 students, so free is important.

I made reward coupons. These are things I know they wanted to do last year, but weren't allowed to. Middle school kids are sometimes hard to please.

 I have 9 ideas so far.

I found these index card boxes at Target for 50 cents one week. I wish I had bought more because when I went back, they were $1. But, they also came with these dividers and stickers, that I know I will use at some point.
I made labels to match the coupon and this is where I will store each coupon.

I am really excited to share this with my Math department when school starts and to start using this with my students.

I also want to share this with you.  I  took my name off so you can use it yourself.

Click here  or the picture for the free download.

And, if you have any other ideas, please share them with me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Preparing for School Linky Party

I found another link party!
6th Grade All Stars is hosting her first ever link party.

From her site:
"The reason for this linky party is for you to help me and other new teachers in preparing for our classrooms! Just follow these simple rules and link up!"

The rules:
1. Post about this linky party on your blog
2. Follow her blog (
{6th Grade} All-Stars) (and mine too if you like)
3. Answer the following 5 questions (include documents if you have them):

- What grade do you teach?
- What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching?
- Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)?
- What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)?
- What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom?

 What grade do you teach? 6th grade Math

- What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching? My first year was in Kinder, but it transfers well to 6th... Have a classroom managment plan, TEACH it, and ENFORCE it. The teaching part will be much easier if you have control of your classroom.
- Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)?
Great question... after 18 years, I have several checklist, but they are in my head, on post its, yellow pads, note pads. Right now I actually have 3 different notepads I am working from. Harry Wong's book, First Year Teaching has some great ones though. Maybe I should organize one. Right now I am planning my bulletin boards and creating my hw policy, syllabus, and positive behavior rewards if that gives you an idea of what's on my list.
- What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)? Like I have mentioned, management strategies for sure, I also use lots of anchor charts to help students recall learning strategies we have used, my word wall is HUGE, with lots of words, and also in size. I want them to see it and I USE it daily, it has to be meangingful. This year, I am also printing lots of positive posters to pump my students up. Like cool sayings and quotes. I have lots of bins, box lids, caddies, etc... to keep things organized. I teach 5-6 classes, they keep their Math journals in my classroom. I have a bin for each period to keep them together.
- What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom? It took me a few years, but a refrigerator. Stock it with water and some time of caffeine drink. My choice would be Diet Coke. You will talk a lot, your class will not be close to the lounge, you will need water and sometimes you will need a jolt of energy. Oh and comfy shoes!!! I leave a pair of flats in my room so when I in heels I can change when my feet start to ache.  And chocolate doesn't hurt either!

Best of luck! And I can't wait to read everyone's responses!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Newbie Blog Hop

There are so many, but I feel I need to join since I am so new.

 Grade Three is the Place for Me is hosting a newbie blogger hop and  I'm hoping to make more teacher/blogger friends, otherwise, what's the point of this blog?! :)  To participate in this blog hop, I need to answer 5 questions.

1. What state are you in?   The great state of TEXAS

2. Your current teaching position?  6th grade Math

3. What is your teaching experience?  18 years...  3 in Kinder, 10 in 1st, 1 Math Coach, 3 as a Math Interventionist, 1 6th Math

4. When did you start blogging?  Officially, July 16th, 2012 (Very New)

5.  Share a blogging tip / blogging resource. I have learned so much from so many friendly bloggers. My suggestion, join those linky parties! People will visit your blog that way!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fractions, Decimals and Percents Game

Many months ago, I saw this on Pinterest.

At the time I was thinking of ways to help my own son who was in Kindergarten learn his sight words. So, I started saving bottle caps.
I needed a way to save a lot and as luck would have it, my school was doing some testing and we gave our kids water bottles. I sent a mass email and asked the teachers to have their students save their lids for me and I ended up with hundreds of them.

 I didn't need that many, but being the teacher that I am, I can't throw them away. I am sure they will come in handy at some point. 

I did write my son's sight words on some and he played with them a few times. It was helpful.

So, here I am just sitting and surfing the web, stalking blogs and game sites and it hits me. I can use those for a matching game.

So, here's what I came up with: 
Put a Lid on It!

Students will match the fraction, decimal and percent

My plan is to use this as a center. This is a big goal for me this year in Middle School, more hands on centers/stations.

Download the activity here.


Monday, July 23, 2012

My Teacher Story

Thanks to Jayne from Frogs and Cupcakes for hosting this linky party to help me reminsce about why and how I became a teacher.

I am entering my 19th year of teaching so I have to think way back.

In high school I knew I would go to college. I also knew I would go to Texas A&M Universit (WHOOP!). I didn't know what I would major in though.  First, I went to community college and just took the "basics". I followed a boy to SWT, now Texas State, and that didn't work out, so I headed home to sulk.

After two weeks my dad told me to "Take a shower and  get a job" I should have known he wouldn't let me sulk long. Heck, looking back, I am shocked he gave me two weeks.

I needed a full time job and I think it was my Dad that suggested working as a substitute for the school district. I just saw it as a job and knew I could get him off my back.

I ended up working everyday and finding my calling. I think I did high school once, but since I had graduated just a few years before, it was awkward. I worked at a few middle schools and called the office and asked them to never send me there again. There were always needs at the elementary schools and I stayed busy.

It was really good experience and I worked hard at getting accepted back at A&M and headed there that summer. I officially had a major, Interdisciplainary Studies... aka Education! I also knew I wanted to teach Kindergarten, so I went the Early Child hood route.

My student teaching experience was wonderful and I knew I made the right choice.

In the past 18 years, I spent 3 in Kindergarten, 1 as an elementary Math Coach, 10 in 1st grade, 3 as a Math Interventionist and 1 as a 6th grade Math teacher. Ironic, that I teach middle school.
Never say never...LOL

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!


DIY Classroom clock

I have waited all week for this link party with 4th Grade Frolic! So excited...

I saw these clocks on Pinterest in May.

So, I made these for presents at the end of the school year.

Then, I saw this clock at Target. Perfect for my middle school math classroom.

It wasn't crazy $$, I think $20-$25, but I just knew I could make it for less.

So, I did!

The clock cost me $3.97. I had the chalkboard paint (this cost $7.99, but I use it for lots of projects!) and chalk (bought mine for $1) from another DIY project and we always have batteries around here with four boys and their toys.

Take the clock apart carefully. Spray paint it with chalkboard paint. I followed he wait time on the can, 24 hours.
Write numbers and or equations for the numbers. Since my clock was smaller, I had to adjust my numbers. I still love it though!

I heart chalkboard paint very much! 

And now, I have a great MATH clock for my classroom this year. The glare made it hard to take a picture, sorry.

The cost was $13 if I never use the chalkboard paint again. Oh wait, too late, I already have... maybe I can share that on another Monday Made  it day!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Promethean Planet

I wouldn't call myself technology savvy, but I do try.

At my school we use Promethean Boards (white boards) and a program called Active Inspire. I can't say I know much about that in comparison to smart boards. What I have been told is we aren't compatible with "smart boards".

Well, one of the goals at our school this year to do more interactive learning. My principal asked our staff to attend some summer training on Active Inspire. I attended 3 days and they were both really productive. Its always a bonus when you attend a professional development that isn't a waste of time, especially during the summer.

We were introduced to Promethean Planet.

This site has a zillion (okay, may not that many) flip charts that are all ready made and ready to use. It's a start, a resource that I didn't know was out there last year.

We also learned to create interactive flip charts and it has been very fun to make those for the beginning of the year. I will admit, time consuming too. That is why Promethean Planet has come in handy. Not sure how I can share what I have made so far, when I figure that out, I will post those.

Maybe you can find something you can use from Promethean Planet.

Another site that I have used and love, is Janet's Interactive Site. She has created tons of interactive white board activities for all ages. My student's favorite was Bubble Burst. She has two, one for odd and even and one for prime and composite. They loved the competition. 

Happy Searching!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Classroom Management

As a first year teacher I was so fortunate to have the very best mentor teacher, Brenda Duncan. She was awesome. I pretty much cloned my classroom after hers. It worked. It was the very best first year imaginable. I would literally wake up every morning and be excited about work, and I mean, everyday. Year 2 was different. I had a whole new set of kids.  I learned a lot. Again though, I mirrored my classroom after "Duncan's" and tried a few new things. It was still a really good year.

The one thing that didn't change and didn't for about 10 years of teaching was the management plan she taught me. We had the typical "color" system and positive classroom rules. The most important thing that we did was have a system in place and we used it, consistently.

In my third school district, I went into a team that had a system in place so I adapted to that plan and it worked. Again, it was a color system and positive rules. The thing was, there was a plan, it was implemented and it worked!

For a few years I wasn't a classroom teacher and behavior wasn't an issue. I did a pull out program and students saw it as a reward already. They saw me for thirty minute blocks, we used computers a lot. Time flew by. Behavior issues were very minimal.

Then, I went to middle school. Everything was different. I implemented a management plan, sort of. I had some "Respect Rules" posted on my wall. Each letter represented a positive behavior that was expected in class. It was on nice blue paper. It was large on the front wall and all the students could see it from any place they sat in the classroom. I even had my classes copy the rules in their agendas. I mean, they carry these with them every where, I thought it was such a good plan.

I can sit here and laugh about it now. It was ridiculous. I had no management in my classes. I had 50 minutes with them and I spent a great deal of time yelling. I was so frustrated and those sixth graders could see it. Most elementary kids respect their teachers just because he/she is the "teacher". Middle school kids, especially first year middle school kids, don't. These kids have crazy hormones and new found freedom. They are testing the waters and they want it all. Much of the school year was un-fun. It was really, really hard.

Each week, we attended a mandatory PLC (Professional Learning Community) meeting for our Math department. Honestly, they seemed like a waste of time to me.
One week though, another teacher shared some strategies she learned about at a workshop. It was something about dealing with unmotivated, tough kids or something. My first thought was, "Why hadn't I heard about that workshop?" Then I realized I wouldn't have gone anyway, so just listen to her. It was  a quick synopsis, but something clicked.

After the meeting I took a second look and thought, how can I make this work for me? I needed something.
Unfortunately I can't give credit to who invented this, but I will say, I didn't. I made it work for me. I want to share that with you. I don't want credit for it.

What I took away is called the 4 P's; Punctual, Prepared, Polite, Productive 
Working when tardy bell rings
Have all required materials when tardy bell rings
Appropriate language and behavior
 Daily Assignments completed by end of period

I made a bulletin board for all to see. I spent a great deal of class time explaining the procedure and the most important part was I enforced it, daily
Here's one example of what I posted.

How'd it work? My students had a chance to get 10 points per day, 50 for the week. I multiplied that by 2 on Fridays and that became a daily grade for them each week. I made adjustments as needed for absences and such. Just did some simple dividing as needed. Ex: 30/40 points = a 75 for their weekly grade.

The 10 point breakdown:
3 points came from a "Daily Quiz". This was their warm up and was normally posted on the white board. Something quick and a review from a previous lesson. It was designed to only take a eight minutes max.

Punctual, Prepared, and Polite are worth 1 point each.
I love these. You either got it or didn't. If you were in your seat working when the tardy bell rang, you got 1 point. I love when they would say, "I was in the room." I would only have to point to the definition of punctual and the argument ceased.
Same for prepared. Students knew that meant having a pencil and their Math journal.

Productive is worth 4 points, You do the work, you get your points.

At one point after implementing this system the science teacher across the hall peeked in my room after the tardy bell and was amazed that ALL my kids were in their seat doing their warm up. Trust me, 2 points made a huge difference to them.

To me, the most important part of making this work was the students saw the points they received daily. I tried using a clip board and checklist, but they kept asking me, "What I get? How many points today?"
So, since they are required to have their math journals everyday, I stapled a log in the front and walked around and gave points. I know this seems tedious and for 100+ students a day, it is, honestly. But, the flip side to that was my class ran smoothly and that is worth it to me.

I have two different charts. The first is one I used and liked, but I wanted more weeks in one place. The second is what I am going to use starting in August. I know the dates for my school are probably different than you, so instead of saving it as a PDF, I am just uploading it as an Excel document.

Feel free to adjust it as needed. 

Here's what I know when it comes to classroom management.

1. Have a plan
2. Teach it
3. Implement it
4. Enforce it

I hope you find something  that works for you and your students.
Any suggestions? I  would love to hear those as well.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Math Humor

As I was searching through my Pinterest board, I saw a few things that just made me laugh.

pinned from 30.media.tumblr.com

pinned from demotivation.us

Hope you chuckled as well.