Sunday, October 21, 2012

Student Reflection

Parent conferences were held last week and I have been relaxing/recovering from the two exhausting days.  Our parent conferences are held from 4:45-8 two nights in a row (Wed &Thurs).  We only have 5 minutes to share student progress so I made a packet of students work consisting of homework quizzes, unit test and a student reflection. 

I created the student assessment at the last minute to have my students reflect on how they work in groups and independently (homework).  

If you would like to see the whole word document click here .

Students completed the assessment first and then I filled the teacher column and commented on their improvement plan.  This was a great way to give a snapshot of strengths and weaknesses of students during the conference.  This also helped me target my concerns since I only have 5 minutes.  I shared this with other math teachers in my school so I will be interested how they used the assessment during the conference.  

I am always looking for new ways for students to self assess their effort and knowledge.  If you use something similar I would love to hear about it!  

I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

PBIS bulletin boards

For the past couple of years our school has been trying to get PBIS (positive behavior intervention system) off the ground.  This is the first year we have a school wide reward system to motivate our students to make good choices.  As part of the PBIS committee I offered to use my bulletin board space to advertise our "elite eagle" stamp system.  Each student has an elite eagle card in their planners that teachers stamp when students are showing positive behaviors.  Students can use the stamps throughout the year to enter raffles or buy goodies from our new school store! 

Both bulletin board ideas came from my favorite inspiration - Pinterest!

The iPod board. 

All of the "apps" are positive qualities or behaviors that could earn students stamps throughout the year! A fellow math teacher helped me make the apps and we tried to match apps with words.  Flexible on the weather app, focused on the camera app and organized on the calendar app - so fun! 

 The puzzle board
 Each puzzle piece is again a quality or behavior of our elite eagles!

As much as I love making bulletin boards I can only do such involved boards at the beginning of the year.  I am so in love with these boards that I am happy to leave them up for the year! I feel that I set the bar pretty high this year so I am going to need to start planning now for next year's boards! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vocabulary Wall

The vocabulary tree I created in the hall is one of my most creative vocabulary displays to date.  As much as I loved the tree I needed my vocabulary words to be in my room instead of in the hall.  Students weren't able to refer to the tree when they were trying to think of a vocabulary word during our discussions.   Along with the tree my students created a glossary to keep all of their words, definitions and pictures.  I found students weren't referencing their glossary (shocking I know) so I had a volunteer write the words on sentence strips and attach a magnet to the back. 

Magnet Roll
Magnet attached to the sentence strip.

Last year I put up the words that would be used during the current unit on the board so students had words to use while speaking and writing. 

As I took the words down I forgot to label the books they belonged to causing a huge mess when I got them out this year.  Instead of sorting all the words I decided to devote my entire chalkboard to create a word wall. 

My plan is to have students find the words on the word wall as we come across them in the book.  Once the word is found a student will move it to my front board so we remember to use the word during our discussions!

I would like to say that four days into school and my room is finished but sadly I still need to add a few more touches.  I will hopefully be able to post some new additions to my room in the next week.. Get excited!

Friday, August 31, 2012

T minus 3 days!

The 2012/2013 school year is almost here (T minus 3 days) and I feel like I need another month to actually be ready for my students.  I worked in my classroom until 7 pm then made a point to stop at Home Depot tonight to pick up some paint swatches for a quick project to do at home.  

I have 7 tables so I picked up 7 swatches. 

I cut down the white stripes on each swatch so that I had 4 separate strips of each color. 

I am now ready to form my groups on the first day of school! Each student will pick a color as they walk in the door and sit with students in the same color family. Such a simple way to switch up the groups when you need a quick change! 

This idea came from a Pin on Pinterest but I can't seem to find it to give credit to the savvy teacher who came up with this idea.  I can at least thank Pinterest for providing me a hundred different projects that I have on my "will create someday" list!

I hope everyone has had or will have a wonderful start to the new school year!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Growing Vocabulary Tree

We are half way through August which means I need to start getting back into teaching mode.   I am not able to get into my classroom yet so I start with thinking about a new bulletin board theme for the hallway.

I am liking the iPhone/iPod theme I found on Pinterest with the title:

"Elite Eagles have all the right apps for success"

Each "app" will be a positive student trait such as organized, on time, etc.  Pictures will come when my vision comes to life!

While I was thinking about my new bulletin board I realized I never posted about my board from the past school year! Last year I wanted to do a vocabulary wall but I had no space in my room.  Since I inherited (or might have taken over) a bulletin board in the hallway I decided to make it my vocabulary wall! I wanted a theme that could last throughout the year.  I decided on a "vocabulary tree" that would grow throughout the year with the new 7th grade math vocabulary words.  I tried to add the new words at the beginning of every new CMP book. 

"7th Grade Growing Math Vocabulary"
After unit 1

Later in the year...

And Later..

Final product (end of year)
The background got a little abused by the end of the year but that is what you get with middle school students.

This kind of bulletin board was perfect for me because the board looked different throughout the year without ever actually changing it! Although bulletin boards can be a lot of work I secretly love the chance to get crafty with paper.   Hopefully my board this year will be just as fun to make as my tree!

Stay tuned for my new iPhone/iPod board..
Good luck to those that are starting school in the next few days!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mutilplication Madness

The last full day of school was a fun day in room 314.  I finally got out the playing cards and taught my students one of my favorite math games - multiplication war.   For those of you that have never heard of this game it is a mathematical spinoff of slap jack.

How to play multiplication war (2 player game):
1) Use a full deck of cards (take out the jokers)
2) Split the deck in half
3) Players must keep cards face down and in one stack 
4) Players place one card down in the middle of the table.  First person to say the product of the cards wins the two cards (place them under original stack)
5) object of the game is to win all of your opponents cards. 

To add a challenge I keep the face cards. 
Jack = 11
Queen = 12
King = 13
although not a face card - Ace = 1

First person to say 117 (13x9) wins both cards.

These girls said 20 at the same time (5x4) so they did another round to break the tie. 
The first person to say 96 wins ALL FOUR cards!

One of my favorite times to use this game is during ISATS which is during the month of March.  Because it is also the time of March Madness I like to set up my own bracket and make a tournament called Multiplication Madness!

I usually have the Multiplication Madness written at the top of the poster
(I let a couple of students create this bracket)

This is one of the crazier brackets that has been created.   Because this game can take a long time I give a time limit of 10 minutes for each round (winner is the person with the most cards).  My brackets do not run as smoothly as the NCAA brackets (too many players) but it is still fun to watch the names fill up the brackets. 

I first learned about this game during student teaching when we had some extra time to fill - Thanks Mrs. Pohl!  This is also a great wrap up at the end of tutoring.  Some of the students I tutored were in elementary school so I would take out the face cards or just concentrate on certain sets of numbers.

This game is a great activity to use throughout the year.  Students are very engaged and love the friendly competition!  I always forget about this activity but it would be a great way to refresh students' mental math skills throughout the year.

 Do you have fun math games you use with a deck of cards? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Second Place Teacher - Last Place Blogger

I have faced the truth that my blog is probably the most BORING teacher blog in the blog world.   Seeing that I NEVER update this thing I am sure I have been forgotten about.  I am determined to make a come back - one picture at a time. 

 I will start with this little gem I was awarded the last week of school.  

I would first like to thank...  Haha just kidding. 

Who received first place?  Sadly it was her reading teacher.  Cards like these always give me the best laugh and remind me of why I love teaching.  

I hope everyone is enjoying the first official day of summer!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

NCTM Annual Meeting (a month late)

Wow - it has been forever since I wrote my last post!  School has been crazy busy for the past month and I have only have 7 more school days until I am finally able to RELAX!  I meant to write this post about a month ago but time got away from me.  Better late than never - right?

If you can recall I had the opportunity to speak with a colleague about group work at the NCTM annual meeting in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
I was amazed by the historical buildings including this beauty.

We flew into Philly Wednesday night and were lucky to be one of the first presenters Thursday morning.  It was really exciting to walk into the convention center and see all the amazing math teachers ready to learn!
I started to get butterflies when I saw Julie's and my name on the presenter board in front of our room. 
Thank goodness we had lots of colorful task cards and other table accessories to disguise our ugly tables. 

I was so relieved that our presentation went smoothly.  Teachers seemed very excited about our ideas and asked great questions throughout the session.  During the activities we tried to demonstrate the earning of "marbles" through good group work.  It was a lot harder to give marbles when you have eight large tables you are trying to observe.  At the end of the session we took pictures of our "golden groups" with my trophy. 

All the tables were great groups but we had two tables that tied for the golden group status! 

Big thanks to the teachers for being great sports and taking a picture with my trophy!  The pictures made it worth it to take up half of my suitcase with the giant and being a pound under the luggage weight limit :)

Julie and I were so happy once we finished the presentation.  We got one last picture to remember the morning before sitting in on other presentations for the rest of the day. 

There were so many interesting sessions it was really hard to decide which ones to attend.  
I am always drawn to hands on activities and found a session that had an activity that would be great for the Comparing and Scaling unit of CMP. 

This was a puzzle that we had to put together.  Once we had ours together we taped 4 completed puzzles together to make a larger version.  You can keep doing this as long as you have four puzzle pieces of the same size.  This would be so great to use for scale factor.  Students can measure the corresponding sides and find the area of the shape (great mini lesson on breaking shapes up to find area) to see how the scale factor affects the dimensions, perimeter, and area.  

 After two and a half days of learning we got chance to take in Philly for an afternoon.  Our first stop was of course the Liberty Bell. 

 After standing in a long line with hundred of students (school trips) we headed across the street to Independence Hall.

We got to sit in the seats of the original meeting hall for the house of representatives. 
I even found a picture of my great great great (not sure how many greats) Grandfather Horatio Gates! 

Our trip to Philly was so much fun  Julie and I quickly submitted our proposal to speak in Denver next year! We are keeping our fingers crossed that our proposal gets accepted and we can get the funding to take advantage of the amazing opportunity again! 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!