Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The One with the Number Line

I realized pretty early on that my students did not have a very strong understanding of fractions.  They did not see fractions as numbers.  They didn’t understand that fractions hold a value. 

I immediately went to Pinterest looking for a hands on activity that would allow my students to discover the connection between all these fractions without my having to tell them.  I kept coming across this pin. 

It needed some changes to work for my students, but isn’t that what we teachers do best? 

I divided my students into groups of 5 to 6.  This gave me 3 to 4 groups in each class. 

I gave each group a piece of calculator tape.  I did not measure these exactly but they were all approximately 80”.  Students measured 5” from each end and drew a vertical line.  This left 5” of empty space on each end.  They then used a meter stick to mark every inch between those two vertical lines creating a number line. 

They then glued their tape paper onto a big piece of bulletin board paper.

Once that was accomplished I asked students to find the half-way point.  They wrote ½ on an index card and glued it in the correct location. 

The next steps was marking the thirds and sixths.

Our goal was to label everything up to twelvths but after four days of working on these I decided my students had gotten all they were going to get from them.  They had gotten more than I had hoped they would.

I was doing a happy dance on the inside as I walked around listening to the conversations my students were having as they tried to determine where the index cards went.  It was a very PROUD moment.  Students discovered on their own that ¼ was half of ½ and 1/8 was half of ¼.  They discovered that 1/6 was half of 1/3.  They realized that when working with unit fractions the number decreased in value as the denominator increased. 

I was a little concerned about the size of the groups, but I also didn’t want 7 pieces of bulletin board paper in each of my 3 classes.  For the most part it worked out quite nicely.  My students worked well together.  I think having the larger groups really helped the conversation that took place. 

This is definitely a project that I will be doing again next year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Which One Doesn't Belong

Have you ever come across an idea that you liked, but you still didn't really give it much thought?

WODB (Which one doesn't belong?) was just that for me.

I vaguely remember hearing about this a couple of years ago.

I had long since forgotten about it until this past summer when it was mentioned in a math conference I attended.

Even then though I didn't fall in love with the idea.

Last week was my first week back with students.  You know the drill - lots of procedure practice & lots of getting to know your students.

I wanted to do a math activity that gave me some insight to their abilities but that didn't stress them about.

After all it was still the first week of school. :)

I decided to try WODB.

The idea is that there are 4 items - you can choose between shapes, numbers, and graphs & equations.

Students determine which item doesn't belong and they must give a reason.

We tried the numbers category last week.

What I love is that there is no one right answer.

Y'all every single student in my class was able to experience success

We started the year on a good note, experiencing success, and building confidence.

Here is an example.

Common answers for this one in my class was that the 9 didn't belong because it didn't have a digit in the tens place and the 16 didn't belong because it was the only even number.

Those are pretty easy and obvious choices in my opinion.

But after some discussion we found deeper reasons for those same two numbers and even came up with reasons why the other two might not belong.

The discussion that was going on in my classroom was seriously impressive.

It made me excited for the year.

There are lots of ways you can use WODB in your classroom.

I gave students 3-4 minutes to decide which number didn't belong and write down their answer along with their reasoning.  I told them their reasoning was the most important part.

Then I gave them a few minutes to discuss their thoughts with their table group.

Finally we discussed as a whole class.

The picture above was our first example.

Students only wrote down one answer.

After our discussion where they realized there are lots of different answers, they wrote down as many answers as they could for the other examples we looked at.

This is definitely something I will continue to use throughout the year.

I hope you and your students will enjoy it too.

If you already use WODB, I would love to hear how you use it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Organized Grading

How do you keep track of all the papers that need to be graded and that have already been graded?

A few years ago when I was teaching 7th grade I found a system that works for me.

It's very simple.

I think that's what makes it so great for me.

Two file folders for each class and a sharpie to label the folders and you are all set.

I will admit that this year I seriously contemplated trying something different.

I looked at this for HOURS in Wal-Mart one night.

I even made what was probably too many snapchat stories about it.

Since I plan to use Google Classroom this year and hopefully have fewer papers to keep up with, I ultimately decided to go with my cheaper file folder system.

However, I did up my game this year and purchased some cute folders instead of the solid ones I've used in the past.

There are three different designs but I forgot to take a picture of the other two designs.

I see three different groups of students throughout the day.

And I see each of those groups twice a day - once for math and once for science.

As you can see I have a folder for each homeroom and for each subject.  When my students turn in an assignment, I paperclip the papers together and place them in the appropriate folder.

Once the papers have been graded they are moved to a new folder.

Last year I had six "graded" folders because  I kept the math an science papers separate. 
We send all graded papers home every Monday in our parent communication folders.  Because of that it doesn't really serve any purpose for me to keep them separated once they are graded.

I've just always had two folder for every class - a "two be graded" and a "graded" folder.

And that's it.


How do you organize your papers? Leave me a comment letting me know.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Made It - Starting the Countdown

My husband and I recently spent ten days in the Carolinas.  It was a much need vacation.  

Sadly as soon as we got home the countdown began for me.

I've been working in my classroom and getting things ready.

This is my last week of summer vacation.

I return to work next week and the students show up the following week.

I'm ready for it and I'm not.

I'm excited to be back at school with my coworkers and students.

I'm not excited to be reunited with my alarm clock or real clothes before 9AM.

I'm very happy with how my room is coming together.

Today I'm linking up for another fun edition of Monday Made It

I'm loving my desk area this year.

The letters that spell my name on my desk are from School and the City.

My desk is oriented my desk differently this year.  I love it but it left me without a good place to put my toolbox.

So I purchased this little shelf and it works perfectly.

A few Monday Made Its ago I got inspired by Mrs. Heeren to add a fabric garland to my curtains.

I got my crate for make up work all set up.  Students just find the file of the date they missed and grab their make up work.  For example if they miss August 20th, they would look in file marked 20.

And last but not bulletin board.

It's not completely finished.

I still need to add the words "I have a growth mindset"

But I'm pretty proud of it because I HATE bulletin boards.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Made It - Organization

Well I'm starting to feel a little overwhelmed with everything that is still left on my to do list.

I am quickly running out of weeks.

I need to get myself organized and prioritized.

Speaking of being Monday Made-It Projects this week are all about helping me stay organized throughout the school year.

I have two projects to share this week but one of them was probably the biggest thing on my to do list for the summer.

I am so excited to have (almost) all my task cards organized.  I still have a few that are too large for my current container.  I plan to buy a container for those the next time I'm in town.  

But here are my task cards...all organized.

Y'all this seriously makes my heart go pitter patter.

This past year they were all just thrown onto the bottom of a bookshelf.  They were constantly falling off and I could never find what I wanted.

I'm going to need another one of these containers because I have a few more categories left.

The containers are from Michaels by the way.  And be sure to them you are a teacher.  You get a discount.  (Happy Happy!)

To be honest I'm not sure how much this next project will get used next year but it has been in my classroom and has been a huge help for several years now so I couldn't not do it.

My daily paper drawers got a make over to match my new theme.

I had originally planned to replace the labels but I decided I liked the way they looked with the new color.

The reason I'm thinking they might not get used too much is because I'm going to attempt a Math Workshop style classroom and I'm just not sure these will be big enough for all my papers and stuff each day.  

But I'll give it a try. ;)

So those are my two projects for the week.

Jump on over to Tara's blog to see lots more great project ideas.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Plickers - An Online Assessment

I would consider myself to be a fairly tech savvy person.

Yet when it comes to my classroom, I don't incorporate as much technology as I would like.

I plan to change that next year and have been to a few technology workshop this summer looking for new ideas.

I have gotten so many great ideas that I spent the month of June with my brain on major overload.

One of the ideas that I'm excited to use is Plickers.

Have you heard of it?

So What Is It?

Back when I was in college I had to purchase a very expensive clicker for my biology class.  Every day we had a quiz at the beginning of class.  I would use my clicker to select my answer.  My individual clicker number would appear on the screen when I had answered.

Plickers is a lot like that.  

Only it's free.

How Does It Work?

Students use a Plicker (paper clicker) to answer the question.

You can see a picture of a Plicker up above.  It reminds me of a QR Code, which I love using in my classroom.

As the teacher you will need to install the free app on your phone or ipad so that you can scan the Plickers.

I was a little skeptical about this at first.  How much valuable time would I waste trying to scan all the plickers in my classroom.

Y'all it only took a couple of seconds to scan them all.

Getting Started

To get started you will need to download the app as I mentioned before as well as set up an account on their webbsite

Print the Plickers for your students to use.

Because I have three different Math classes I created three different classes on the website.  However, I can use the same set of cards for all three groups.  Students from different classes can share the same card.

Once you have created your account and set up your classes you are ready to start creating questions.

Here are a few I have created about ratios.

Putting It To Use

Once you have everything set up, you are ready to use it with your students.  Spruce up your exit tickets or have fun reviewing for an upcoming test.  There are so many ways to use Plickers.

You choose a question to display for students.

They hold their card with their answer on top.

Use your app to scan the room.

Immediate feedback.


I love that every card is different.  Students can't  decide how to turn their card based on their classmates' cards.

Keeping Up With the Cards

I do not plan to have my students keep up with their Plickers for a couple of reasons.

One..I want to use the same set for all three classes.

Two...They would lose them the first week.


I have found several good ideas on Pinterest (What did we do before Pinterest?) for ways to store Plickers.

One teacher had students glue them in your notebook.  This would be great if you were only using one set.  She told students it didn't matter where the A was when they glued them in.  This ensured that their notebooks were all turned differently when they answered...again preventing them from copying from a friend.

Several teachers punch a hole in the corner of the card to hang them on a wall or bulletin board.

I love this idea of printing them a little smaller and using a pocket chart.

So yeah...

I'm absolutely giddy about using Plickers in my classroom next year.  

I think my students are really going to enjoy it.

If you are new to Plickers you can check out Pinterest for a ton of great ideas.

And if you have used Plickers in the past, I would love to hear from you.  Did your students love it?  How often did you do it?  How did you use it?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Monday Made It - Posters and Sub Binders

I'm pretty sure that if it weren't for the Monday Made It link up, my blog would still be sitting here completely untouched.  

Every week I say I'm going to blog more than just this one post.

Then before I know it the week is gone and I haven't blogged.

I've said it a million times but I really do want to get back into blogging on this blog.

Maybe this will be the week.

But in the mean time let's have some fun with my favorite link up...

I didn't get as many projects completed this week as I had hoped.

Hopefully this next week will be more productive.  I can finally get in my classroom and I know it's early but I'm so ready to get in there and start putting things together.

Life was crazy last year and I didn't get to decorate like I normally do so I'm excited to decorate this year.

First up this week is my 8 Mathematical Practices posters.  These were a pain in my side to make this year.  I went through several different designs before settling on one.  Here are three of the eight.

I even got these added to my TPT store if you are interested.  

This next two things were completely inspired by the Peppy Zesty Teacherista.

You can read Teacherista's post about the HW documentation here and the restroom pass here.

But basically...when students don't have their homework or need to leave your room to go the restroom, they scan the QR code which takes them to a Google Form.  The Google Form is very short and to the point - like it will only take them a couple of seconds to complete.

Then you have great documentation!!

My last project for the week isn't quite finished yet, but until I get my class list and other info I've done all I can do.

This design was inspired by Adrienne Wiggins on TPT.

I have been trying for years to find or put together a Sub Binder that is perfect for my needs.  I haven't to accomplish this.  I'm really liking where this one is headed though.

What's in your sub binder?