Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Bulletin Board!

So, I started out the school year with one of my pinterest-inspired bulletin boards. I didn't take a picture of it, but the idea of it was this.
In our part of the building, we wanted to make our bulletin boards more interactive. I was not very excited to do this (who has the time to make a new bulletin board). I wanted to do something besides relate it to social media like all the other ones you see on Pinterest. I started thinking about QR codees and made a math riddles bulletin board. Here it is!
I had a lot of down time during parent teacher conferences day 2, so I decided to put this together during that time. I love it, and I think the kids will love it too! I plan on changing out the riddles every week and have even given students the opportunity to give me ideas for funny math riddles.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Algebra I ISN part 1

Here are some pages from my Algebra I ISN. If you've been following my blog, then you know the set-ups. If not, refer to my ISN set-ups post. Each activity takes up the left and right side of the page. Left side is an activity and right side is the notes for the topic. 
Here's my TOC so far. My students have the exact same TOC as me. I tell them what to put in there each day as part of their bell ringer.
Our first topic was Order of Operations. The activity was just some examples from the board that they wrote down, so I didn't include that.
Here's what we did for Algebraic Expressions. The kids liked the idea of the graphic organizer and I think it helped them learn the terms a lot better because they could visualize its meaning when they translated.
These are the two activities we did to go along with translating verbal phrases into algebraic expressions. The puzzle is glued onto the actual page and the matching is taped on top of it so it can be opened up to reveal the puzzle underneath (like a book).
Since we already talked about Order of Operations, we did a quick lesson on what to do with substituting and evaluating expressions. Here's the activity (just a worksheet):
Here's the foldable and activity we did for properties of numbers. 

Properties of numbers took 2 days, so I did notes a little differently with these 4. 
Here's the notes for simplifying expressions. We go over the key terms on the first page and then the steps to simplifying on the inside. Same with the activities.
We did just a quick review of opposites and absolute value with Frayer Model definitions.

Here's the foldable for the rules of integers. Oh, integers...I'm not sure why they're so difficult for kids to do without a calculator.
Their activity for this was actually a 70 question assignment that they ended up just putting in their notebooks.
Here's the real number system. We did Frayer Model vocab for each term. Then we did a graphic organizer so they can see how the relate to each other. I think the graphic organizer really helps them see the relationships between the sets so they can classify them.

So here's my notebook so far. This is a compilation of things I've found on Pinterest, things I've been given, and things I've come up with on my own. Feel free to take whatever you want and use them in your own classes. I'll continue to add more throughout the year.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ISN Setups

This school year has been CRAZY busy thus far. We're nearly 2 weeks in and I feel like I've been working nonstop. I finally got a chance today to breathe and share with you all how I set up my notebooks for my classes. All the notebook setups are the exact same, so I'll show you one example. I took my ideas from Sarah's blog Everybody Is A Genius. She does a wonderful job with her notebooks and I wanted mine to be just as organized and effective.

I have my students get 3-subject notebooks for their ISN's. In high school, a 1-subject just won't hold it all. We go through a lot of topics and activities so a 3-subject really works best. They got their syllabus on the first day of school (Thursday) and had until Monday to get their notebooks. I bought a bunch of extras in case students forgot. That way they could participate in each activity and wouldn't be behind. I made their notebooks a grade (10 points). If they used one of my notebooks, they could either pay me back or replace it to get their points. Believe it or not, I'm STILL out about $30...but I digress.

On Monday, we worked on our cover pages. I printed out strips of paper that had their class title (Algebra I, Advanced Geometry, or Algebra A) and another strip that says "Numbers about Me." These strips were in fun fonts so they got to choose one that they liked best. Then they got to choose their paper. I had cardstock, colored paper, construction paper, and even wrapping paper which they used to put on their cover. Their task was to write 5 numbers that represented them. A lot of students picked their birthdays, graduation year, etc. A lot were generic but some were pretty creative. I was impressed. Once they made their cover page, I then taped it with packing tape to make it more sturdy. Below is an example of my cover and links to pages I used for their labels (feel free to download!).

Algebra I Notebook Labels
Numbers About Me

Tuesday we started setting up the inside of our notebooks. On the inside cover, they taped their ISN Rules and wrote their calculator/clicker number (that way they won't forget when it comes time to use them). Their rules are simple and are a good reminder of what they should be doing in their ISN.
ISN Rules

Their first 4 pages are reserved for their table of contents. Here they keep track of each activity we do. Everybody has the same information on the same pages in their notebooks so everyone's TOC is the same. Each day, I have them write the unit number, page numbers, and activity title in their table of contents before we start. I've done it where it's their responsibility to keep up-to-date with it and that's a mess. It's a big organizational thing for me and I think them having the exact same content will be beneficial for them in the long run.

The next 5 pages are reserved for their vocab. I call this section Words Worth Knowing. With each activity, they have a couple of vocab words that aren't major topics in the activity but are still important to know (like "substitute" is an important term with properties of numbers, but specific properties are not listed here). Once student fill out their TOC, they turn to their WWK section and write down the vocabulary and definitions here.

Page 1 is where their syllabus is located. I wanted their syllabus to be informative but interesting looking so its something they can look back to when they have a question about a policy or something. I wanted to put the most important information on here since it's the first item they received from me this year. I also wanted their parents to look at it so they could know what was going on in my class so I made a place for them to sign (10 point assignment).


Pages 2-3 are where we put the Classroom Expectations and More Class Information pages. These are things that are really important, but I didn't want to overwhelm them with it on their syllabus. I passed out these papers and went over them on the 2nd day of school so they knew the expectations earlier than the 5th day of school. We put the More Class Info page and Class Expectations on page 3 and did the High 5 activity on page 2 (why I did these this way will make more sense later).

Class Expectations
More Class Info

The High 5 activity was pretty fun and they did a good job with it. They had to trace their hand and use information from the syllabus/expectations to write 5 things that they think will be the most important things for them to remember about my class. Some kids listed the rules since I have 5, but a lot of kids were actually creative and wrote things they knew they needed to remember. The biggest one was what to do when they don't have an assignment to turn in (but that will never happen, right?). This was another way to reinforce rules/policies/expectations without droning over it for the first week of school.

Pages 4-5 are home to ISN Information. This explains how we will use our notebooks, what they will look like, how they'll be graded, and what goes in them. We use both pages of our notebook per activity. The right side is where we put new information. The left side is where we complete any activities or practice the new skill. So on page 5, we put the ISN Information pages since it's on the right. On page 4 we completed the notebook activity. For the notebook activity, students had to make 2 predictions on how their notebook will help them this year. A lot of them said the same things about staying organized and keeping their papers neat.

ISN Info Pages

In the very back of their notebooks we made pockets so they have a place to keep their loose papers until we get them glued into their notebooks. I call them iPockets from something I found on Pinterest. They like them for the most part. Some kids were mad because I had them rip out their dividers that had pockets from their notebooks if they were not directly in the front or back. I didn't want them to have a random pocket in the middle of their notebook but they didn't understand that concept.

So that's how I set my notebooks up! I had a lot more things planned for my notebooks, but to save time and start on content we skipped on those. In a high school setting, I think this is plenty. Stay tuned for more ISN pages soon!

Monday, July 21, 2014


Random post, I know. Last night I was looking online for class decor and went to Mardel's website. They are having a huge sale on Filetastics! All of them are under $10 with some even under $5!!!!!! Go check it out.
A lot of their classroom decor is also in sale. Go check this out!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back to School

I went to Wal-Mart the other day and the workers were busy stocking the shelves with school supplies. Can it ready be getting close to that time again?! It seems like summer just started, especially here in Missouri. For those of you who are not familiar with Missouri summers, they are typically hot, humid, and miserable. This year it has been a very, very mild summer (I hope I just didn't jinx it) so it doesn't even feel like summer has been here yet.

We start school on August 14th, which is coming up a lot faster than I thought it would. So today I decided to get in gear and start making the easy things for my classroom so I can hopefully get in and start working on it this week. I've been working on binder covers, banners, posters...just general things.

I went supplies shopping during Walmart's teacher appreciation sale and got tons of things that we'll need throughout the year. Today I got to get in my classroom and start getting stuff together for the upcoming year. Below are a bunch of pics of what I've been doing this summer. I'll let you see the finished product once school begins.

The bookshelf where each group's ISN bucket is located and where kids will put their binders. Each freshmen gets a binder that they put their work in.
The bins are where extra papers are located for each class. This just helps me stay organized.
My desk. It's a hot mess right now.
The massive "bulletin board." It wasn't really a bulletin board but a little paper and border makes it one.
The front of the room. The pennant banner adds a little something to the front of the room.
This is where class info is gonna go. These ugly room dividers are gonna get made over big time. Notice my wonderful Filetastics that I got on sale :).
The back of the room. It's boring but hopefully not for much longer.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Do Teachers Ever Rest?

It's been a while! A lot has happened since the last time I posted. Obviously school is out and summer is in full swing. If you've been following, you know that I am changing schools for the next school year. So since school's been out I've moved, changed coaching positions twice, and been to multiple basketball camps with my new girls. Busy, busy, busy!

Yesterday I met with the math department head at my new school to get books and kind of learn the ropes a little bit. There are going to be a lot of changes for me at my new school, but I'm excited to be working with great people.

I'm super excited for these books. For one, they are brand new! I love the smell of new books. Second, they are already aligned to common core which makes that part of lesson planning a little easier. And last, I used the Pre-Algebra addition at my last school and loved them. I'm happy that all of the math classes (except dual credit) are using the Glencoe series. That will make transition from one class to the next a whole lot easier because they flow so well.

Now that I have my books and saw my future classroom, I've been busy scouring Pinterest to find ideas on decor and ISN setups. My new classroom is absolutely huge! The ceilings are very tall and the room is pretty deep. I have a lot more wall space than I had before so I'm in the market for good decorative ideas.

Even though we still have over a month until the start of the new school year, I'm already ecstatic to get started planning and decorating. The elementary teacher comes out in me around this time of year. I'll be sure to keep you posted as the new school year approaches.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"An Inspired Student"

Today was a very trying day for me. I spent a lot of my extra time getting my grades ready and packing up my things while my students worked on their stars. It was a pretty rough day in some classes and by the end of the day I was pretty worn down. While I was cleaning out my grading bins I found this letter from a student. After I read this and had my cry, I felt so warm inside. This is what teachers dream about doing - inspiring their students. This definitely made my day a million times better and it is something I'll cherish forever. We all have those discouraging days in our careers, but this is a sweet reminder that all the work we do and everything we put up with makes a difference to those young ones we influence daily.