Sunday, September 30, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect- MS Sunday Funday

This week's topic is about practicing.

For me, practice is about fun, games and yes, even homework.

This year, I am being very consistent with homework. Students get hw Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We go over it in class the next day, not all of it, but we do several problems together. I think it is good practice, because its normally 5-10 questions and students have access to notes we have taken in class.
I have blogged about my homework policy here.

Here is an example of an assignment we sent home. This one has directions and an example on the front.
 The second sheet is for our parents. I include this on my website to help them help their child with homework.

The other way we practice is through games. Sometimes, its just games, sometimes its in a station format. With my larger classes, they stay in their seats and the stations rotate. In my smaller classes, they can move around. It's about crowd control sometimes.

I teach a Math lab and it is completely designed in a station rotation format. Students complete four stations a week and stations are all game formatted. This is their second math class of the day. These students failed the state test and this gives them an extra class to help them with their math skills.

This is my kids playing Bubble Burst on the Promethean board. This game is practicing prime and composite numbers. They LOVED it.

When you have a few free hours, check out this site. It's from a teacher named Janet who has made a gazillion interactive games. They are really great.

If you haven't checked out Laura Candler's resource for Middle School Math Stations, try this game.
It's Factor Race and it's one of her freebies. My kids are playing this in Math Stations this week.

Factor Race Game
We have used one or more of her games every week this past six weeks. This one is Math Race and we have used it twice, once for comparing decimals and once for adding decimals.

I also received a grant from and my kids get to play these on Fun Fridays. We have only had a few of those this year. It's a reward for my math lab kids when they work hard during the week and complete their stations on time.

This is the Math Uno game we played a few weeks back. It came from Pinterest. Gotta love that site!

So, how do you practice?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Foldables for our Math Notebooks

Linking up for Friday Freebie from TBA!

This week we made a few cool things for our Interactive Math Journals.

First, we made a vocabulary wheel. It wasn't a perfect circle, so it is off a bit, but the idea works.

Students wrote their definitions in each "pie piece". Then they randomly wrote their words on the outside. We put them in a pocket in our journals and they can "study" them anytime they want.

Next, I created a Greatest Common Factor foldable. It was from a template comparing the sun and moon, but I was proud that it was my own idea to use for GCF. (just patting myself on the back over here)

We did this together on the right side. Students will do some problems on their own tomorrow, on the left side.

Click for the free foldable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Power Point Games

Looking for pre made, FREE, games to play with your students?

Check out

This website has PowerPoint activities ready for you to use. You have to do NOTHING!!! Our service coach shared it to help us make reviewing more fun. It was awesome. All you have to do is start the slide show and your kids are having fun!

My students had a test last week. They did a boring study guide review for homework. The next day, in groups, they shared the answers they got and why. Lots of math talk going on people. Then, I shared the right answer. If the team got it right, they got to spin the wheelimage of big wheel game
 or click on the sunken treasure. image of sunken treasure game
It just depends what game I chose. I used the Promethean board for the game and flipped back to the overhead to show the work for the problem. It worked really well and I know the kids had fun and reviewing for a test was not the same old boring worksheet way.

And, there's a new Halloween game up and ready to use!!!!

image of Trick or Treat  screen

Hope you can use them!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Positive vs. Negative Classroom Management MS Sunday Funday

The weekdays are so busy with school and then sports for my own child, that blogging only happens on the weekends around here these days.

Thank goodness for MS Sunday Funday.  It's that time again.

Today's topic Classroom Management.

I have actually blogged about this before. 4 P's and Rewards were the main topics.
So, how's it going?

The 4 P's have been explained, but with things being so hectic, I haven't actually started implementing this. I do plan to start soon though.

I honestly feel like things are calming down (did I just jinx myself?) and I see this being manageable now.

I have one rough class and its the one I plan to start first. They are the one that needs structure and it helps me stay calm if I plan on starting with one class at a time.

This year our campus became a PBIS campus. That stands for Positive Behavior Intervention Support. I have been involved with this before, but at the elementary level. It is going really well as a campus. We are only on stage one and have a lot to do, but there's a huge difference on our campus.

The whole concept is based on being POSITIVE with students and teaching them expectations and then rewarding them for those positives behavior.

This is how I decided to handle my classroom this year based on how awful things went last year. I knew I had to be positive if I was going to survive this school year and not be an alcoholic or worse.

I have implemented Positive Behavior Rewards in my classroom. I pass these out for everything; bringing homework back, sitting in their seat when the bells rings, having a pencil, name on their paper, sharing, etc.... I give them out constantly.

Each class has a decorated can where they put their rewards. (sorry no pic)

Once a week and on days we have 100% homework completed, I choose names and they get to choose from my reward coupons. I thought of things that were FREE and that my students wanted. So far, so good. The students love getting the coupons and the students really like getting their name drawn. I probably need to draw more and for me, I think that is an easy fix.

 My coupons are here as a free download.

I am a firm believer that classroom management is essential to teaching. You can't teach if you don't have control of your class. I learned last year, the hard way I might add, that having systems in place and using them will make things so much easier.

What systems do you use?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

MS Sunday Funday- Organization

Today's topic: Organization

I like to think I am an organized person, and I think I was at some point in my life, but if I were honest, I am not now.
This is what my top shelf looks like.

But, this is the rest of it... this is my reality.

I do have bins and baskets for organizing my student journals and workbooks. This works really well actually.

I saw this in another teachers class and I am totally stealing it. This is how she keeps parent info for 100+ students handy at any moment. This stays on her clean desk. Mine, is not as clean, but I know I can do this.

Same teacher... Science teacher... these are her lab tables and she has each seat labeled so students know their job. LOVE this... I know, not Math, but organized!!!! These pictures are obviously from table #2.

Julie, from I Speak Math just shared her absent work hangers from The Container Store. I really like those. This year I started this:

It's a decorated cereal box. When I student is absent I put their missed work in this box and give it to them when they return.
I have been good about writing the students name on their missed work when they are absent. I think after seeing Julie's though, I am going to make more boxes and do one for each class I teach. My children are big cereal eaters, so I have plenty of box choices.

The purple binder from the first picture is what we call our "Wildcat Binder". It's like our bible at school. It holds all data, meeting notes, professional development notes, etc... It uses dividers and it truly keep us organized as a staff. We take it to every meeting we go have. I like that it is campus wide and the expectations are clear for all staff.

Also, this year I implemented the No Homework Binder from Jack of All Trades. SOO doing this next year! The No Homework Binder- when kids dont do their homework, they have to write the date, assignment, and why they didnt do it.  Can show at parent conferences!!!
I made an adjustment to it though. Instead of alphabetical, I did it by class period and it has worked very well. This has been a life saver. My students are totally getting the concept. I have even used it to show parents missing work and unfortunately attached to a referral I had to write yesterday. It has been a great way to organize homework.

I admittedly struggle with organizing things. For example, I haven't quite figured out how to get all the papers back to students that I pick up.  We check homework every day. I pick it up. It sits on my table. Then what??? Do I even need to pick it up if we go over it and they sign when they don't bring it? I have to figure something out.
With so many students I have to get a handle of getting work back to them. I am hoping someone shares a fabulous idea for this today.

Seen these on Pinterest?

Now why didn't I think of this???  And to think, I've been using post-its all this time
 I have the binder clips, just need to label them. I use post it notes right now for everything. They are life savers for me.

For me, I am good at organizing centers for students to work on, but after we use them how I do I store them for next year? This is a huge goal for me this year. We are using a lot of stations in class this year and I want to get a grasp on this.

I am looking forward to seeing other teacher ways to organize your classroom.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tell Me Something Good

I am linking up with Rowdy in First Grade for Tell Me Something Good.
I really need this today. I feel overwhelmed with every aspect in life. This will help me focus on the positive.

Something good from School:
After three weeks, morale is good. I am the new department head. We have experienced a GREAT deal of turnover,  but we are a strong team and work is fun to go to. I feel I have procedures in place with my students and they know what to do when class begins and what the expectations are for homework, journals, and class participation.

Something good from home:
My two year old changed day cares this August. He now attends our school day care for employees. It has been a amazing. He cried everyday at his old day care when I left him. Now, he hugs and kisses me goodbye. His class is set up more structurally and its more like pre school than day care. He even has homework! But it is fun and age appropriate. It is so calming to know I leave him in such good hands and that he isn't sad when I drop him off.

Door Contest

Our principal issued a "friendly" competition amongst our staff.

We were challenged to decorate our doors with our college theme. As a staff we voted on the top 5.

                                                                    This is my door:
I'm an Aggie from Texas A&M. My blood is maroon.  My door says, "Unwrap the gift of Education"

And another Aggie...

My next door neighbor is a Texas Tech Red Raider... boo hiss. But, I do love her door.  Plus, she won 2nd place!

We live east of Austin and we are surrounded by burnt orange which is the worst color ever! My house is divided in this area so I am used to it, but hate it! (in a friendly rivalry kinda way)

 The Longhorns are known for their clock tower, so this is pretty cool

Other Texas Schools

This door won 3rd place. She had lights attached as well, wish I had taken a picture before they were removed.

This door tied for 5th place
We do have out of staters as well.

   Also tied for 5th!
I like that this teacher showed who also attended Purdee. Lots of famous people our kids can relate to!

It's all in good fun and the purpose is for our students too see the different possibilities out there past our small town!

So, what does your door look like?