Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The One Where Students Think

I thought I would share the way my students "do" math in my classroom.  I'll admit it is a teaching style that I'm learning as I go.

Growing up my math teachers would work three or four examples for the class and then we were expected to do twenty problems on our own.  Every math teacher I had taught this way.  Though I always made good grades in Math it was because I could copy what my teacher did.  It was never because I had a real understanding of the math.

A few years ago when I taught math for the first time I swore to myself that I would not be that kind of teacher.  I want my students to understand the math.  I want them to be problem solvers.

I'm not perfect at this teaching style, but I'm learning right along with my students.

When I want to introduce a new concept I present my students with a task.  For example we are studying fraction in 6th grade so last week I presented my students with this problem: 

Jason has 3 1/2 candy bars.  He wants to share the candy bars with his friends.  He gives as many of his friends as possible 3/4 of a candy bar.  He keeps the rest for himself.

Part A: How many friends can he give 3/4 of a candy bar to?  Show your work and write your answer in a complete sentence.

Part B: How much of the candy bar will Jason keep for himself?  Show your work and write your answer in a complete sentence.

The first thing my students do is spend some time with the problem by themselves.  We call it individual time.  During this time they know that I will not answer any questions.  They are not allowed to talk to a neighbor.  I just want them to think about the problem on their own.

For some of my students this is incredibly difficult.  They have never been asked to figure out a math problem by themselves.  Some of them get frustrated sometimes, but I believe learning comes through struggle.  I believe there is a good kind of struggle and that is what I want my students to experience.

After they have had time to work on it individually I then allow them to talk about the problem with a neighbor.  Depending on how my desks are arranged, sometimes they talk with one person and sometimes they talk with their table (4 students to a table).   During this time they are to discuss their answer and what strategy they used to arrive at that answer.  If there is any disagreement about what the answer is they are to work together to figure out the correct answer.  I'm walking around listening to these discussions.  It is a great informal assessment.  I'm also strategically selecting students for the next part.

The next step is for a few students to share their work with the class. I like to start with a student who used a simple strategy and work up to a student who used a more advanced strategy.  We have set norms on how it should look when students are sharing their work.

The student sharing walks us through his or her thinking while other students watch and listen.  Sometimes they work it out on the white board.  Other times I show their work using the Elmo.  After the student is finished explaining he or she then asks the class if they have any questions and calls on any student that has a question.

Ya'll this is when some of the best learning takes place in my room.  It is not when I'm standing up front teaching but when my students are teaching each other.  They can come up with questions that are harder than anything I would have asked.  It is also good for the student explaining to have to field these questions.  

Some of my favorite AHA moments are when I have a student who doesn't quite have the right answer.  Often they will discover their mistake on their own while they are explaining.

As you can imagine it is very difficult at times for me to just sit back and not say anything.  However it is well worth it to see my students discovering things on their own. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The One with the Snow Day

It looks like some of you have also enjoyed a few Snow Days lately.

We were dismissed at two on Thursday and were out yesterday.  I'm not going to lie, I wouldn't mind enjoying another Snow Day on Monday.  It's nice to sleep in.

Of course I know I will despise these days when I'm making them up at the end of the year.

This picture pretty much sums up my Snow Day.

Change Oklahoma to Arkansas and this picture depicts the few days leading up to the snow storm perfectly.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The One with the Christmas Party

Up until this year the last few days of school before Christmas break have always been consumed with semester test.  I sit at my desk grading as the students finish so that I don’t have to grade them over the break.  It’s an easy and peaceful few days.

This year will look differently as I have my first class Christmas party as a teacher.  There is a part of me that is super excited about it.  I LOVE Christmas.  But then there is a part of me that is terrified.  Will my students enjoy it?  Will it be mass chaos? 

I asked my coworkers today about what I need to do and they gave a few suggestions but told me I could pretty much do whatever I want.  So I’m coming to you for party tips.

Do you do a theme?  If so what themes have you had?

Do you buy gifts for your students?  What can I get 25 sixth graders that won’t break the bank?

Do you find it easier if parents are present or not present for the party?

Do you play any games?  What kind?


Sunday, December 1, 2013

The One In December

Can you believe it is already December?  CRAZY!  Just 3 short weeks until Christmas break.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The One With Thanksgiving Break

Tomorrow is my last day of work for the week.  Thanksgiving Break begins Wednesday and I could not be happier about that.  I love my job but I'm ready to enjoy a few days of sleeping in, staying in my PJs all day, shopping, and spending time with family.

I have not been a good blogger lately.  

I'm sorry.

I don't even have a good excuse.

My goal is to start blogging on a regular basis again next week.  

I have a few hands on activities that I want to share.   

I read something today where a fellow teacher discussed how sad she was that our blogs as well as Pinterest have become one big advertisement.  Everything is a link to someone's store.  

I hope that I'm not that type of blogger.  I hope that I never become that type of blogger.

It's not that I think there is anything wrong with selling products that you spends hours creating and perfecting.

But at the same time I believe we are a community.  No one other than fellow teachers can understand our jobs and the things we walk through each day - each year.

Maybe we should be a little willing to share our ideas and activities simply to help each other out without thinking about making a profit.  

Please don't take offense to this.  I'm not trying to start a debate.  I'm just sharing my thoughts on this.

When I return next week I will have some things to share with you.  You won't find a link to my TPT store.  I simply want to share and I hope that you will enjoy.

Until then...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The One After the Break

I'm still here.  Still teaching.

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last blogged.

Time flies!

I feel like I'm doing everything I can just to keep my head above water this year.

Adjusting to change is hard for me.  

I feel like I did a 180 turn last week.  After a long heart to heart with our math coach I began feeling much more confident.

I have felt like a first year teacher all over again this year.  I'm having to regain my confidence and remember that I am a good teacher.

I'm remembering that there are things I enjoy about teaching Math.  

When you have a student who claims to always have been bad math tell you they like it this year and they are successful... That's when you love it the most.


My fifth graders are knee deep in division.  They spend their days solving story problems and sharing strategies.  

Sixth grade is still in the world of ratios and proportions.  They are currently practicing their conversion skills.  How many seconds are in one month and so forth.  I'm learning they do better with time conversions than distance.  

My husband and I are closing on our new home Friday and moving this weekend.

Hopefully after we get moved and settled I will be back to blogging on a regular basis.

Until then I hope you all have a fabulous week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The One With Unit Rates

We have been working on ratios and unit rates for about a week now in 6th grade.

They are making me crazy.

If I am working a problem my students can tell me exactly what to do.

If they come to the board and work a problem, they get it right 95% of the time.

Ask them to do it on their own though and you would think I was asking them to solve a Calculus problem.

So I did what any teacher would do.  I went to Pinterest for a wonderful lesson that would make this click for my students.

I found this pin.

Click on the pic to go to the pin.

I loved the idea of having my students write out the steps.  I hoped that would clear up their confusion.

I picked up some Dollar General Sales Papers and put my students in pairs.

I asked each student to choose 2 items from the sales paper and write the steps for calculating the unit price.

Then they put their 2 items with their partner's 2 items on a poster.

I think they turned out great!!  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The One With Ratios

We started our unit on ratios yesterday in 6th grade.

I use something called Mathalicious as my curriculum.  Mathalicious is all online and has some great real-world lessons.  You can check out some of their lessons for free.

As wonderful as Mathalicious is, it cannot be a stand alone curriculum.  I needed something to introduce ratios to my students before I dove into the first activity I had planned from Mathalicious.

I went straight to Pinterest.

What did we do before Pinterest? 


I found two things that I thought would be great and they did not disappoint.

We started by watching this little clip from The Andy Griffith show.

I'm pretty sure I thought this was much funnier than my students did.  Oh well!  Still a fun introduction.

Next on the agenda was Froot Loop Ratios.

I found this activity here

I pretty much kept exactly what she did, but added some things of my own.  I was afraid the original activity would not fill my alotted time so I added some problems from some old math books I have in my room.

I also added a section where students get to choose things in the room to compare and write five ratios of their choice for things in the classroom.

This activity was a HUGE hit with my students.  Of course it helped that I allowed them to eat their cereal once we finished the math.

It was a fun way to introduce ratios and I feel like my students really got it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The One With Skip Counting

Do your students struggle with their multiplication facts or skip counting?

My students struggle with certain facts - sixes are especially hard for them.

Last week when it was time to line up for lunch I decided to try something new.  I was pleasantly surprised when my students LOVED it and asked to do it every time we line up.

We decided to skip count by six as we lined up. 

I began by saying 6.

I then randomly selected a student.  That student gave the next number and then lined up.  In this case the student said 12.

We continued this until all 27 students were lined up.  

One of the students pointed out that we just did all the multiplication facts of six up to 28.

They were pretty proud of themselves.

I was pretty proud of them.

We will continue to skip count by 6 until we can do it without even thinking about it and then we will move on to a new number.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The One in September

I'm a few days late, but I can't skip out on a Currently so here we go.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The One with Accelerated Math

After tomorrow I will have officially completed the first two weeks of school.

I must admit it has not been the easiest two weeks.  

New school.

New grade levels.

New content.

Needless to say I have been feeling completely overwhelmed.  I had a major melt down last night and told my husband I just felt like I was drowning.

Today has been a better day.  I dare say it was the best day yet, despite its rocky start.  

I'm looking forward to next week.  Next week I plan to start my first unit in both 5th grade and 6th grade.  I feel like I will finally be able to really get into a routine.  

There are still some things I need to make a decision about.

Yesterday we spent the morning doing STAR test in both reading and math.  I will get the results of the test next week.  Then I will be able to start Accelerated Math.

Do any of you use this program?  I would love to hear how you incorporate it in the classroom?

I've used Accelerated Math before and thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  But now that it is all online - which is great - it changes my game plan.  

Do you have students complete assignments inside or outside of class?

How often?  

I would appreciate any thoughts.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The One on the First Day

Today was the first day of school for students.

I have never felt so indifferent about the first day of school in my life.

To be honest I was dreading it.  I may have been a little whiny yesterday about the whole ordeal.

I didn't even have my outfit planned until it was time to get dressed this morning.    So unlike me!

 I still had a few copies to make when I arrived at school this morning.  What a headache.  Our school has the weirdest paper.  It is slightly longer than 8.5 x 11 so you have to select a special thing on the computer before you print.  You also have to select where you want it printed EVERY time.  It only took me around ten attempts to get my papers printed.  

Not how I wanted to start the year.

After that though, things went smoothly.

My homeroom is full of sweethearts.  I have never received so many compliments in one day.

I think I will like teaching 5th and 6th grade.

Biggest highlight of the day?  I get a 40 minute lunch!!  I don't even know what to do with that.  It is twice as long as what I'm accustomed too.


All in all it was a great first day.

I'm ready to start problem solving tomorrow.

Have you had your first day yet?  How did it go?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The One With Social Media

Are your students a part of the social media community?

Having taught 7th grade for the past seven years, I've had very few students who were not a part of social media.  They all seem to have instagram, facebook, twitter, or some other form of social media.

What about you?  Do you participate in the social media community?  I do.

Every year one of the first things I tell my students is that yes I have an instagram account and yes I have a facebook account.  But no I will not be "friends" with you or allow you to follow me.

My students have always understood this.  They still try to friend me or request to follow me. But they understand that for me it is part of being a professional.

My accounts are set to private.  If  students try to look up my pages the only things they will be able to see are my name and my profile picture.

There is nothing on any of my accounts that I wouldn't share with my students.  I'm not posting inappropriate pictures or badmouthing my school.

However, for me I feel like I need a line between being me and being Mrs. Weaver.  I need some separation.

I've also watched multiple teachers be fired for inappropriate conduct with students.  Though I know I would never do anything like that, I don't want to risk anything being misinterpreted.

Though I have worked with other teachers who are friends with their students on facebook, I've never been in the minority.  Those teachers who allow it have been few and far between.

However, at my new school I believe I will be in the minority.  It is a very small and close knit community.  I have already received and declined requests from students and their parents and I haven't even met them yet.

My coworkers accept these requests.  That's fine for them.  I do not judge them.  But it is something I'm not comfortable with.

I've thought about creating an instagram or facebook as Mrs. Weaver just for my students but I don't think I would ever keep up with it.

What is your take on social media?  Are you friends with your students?  Why or why not?  Is this even allowed by your administration?

I'm not looking to start a debate.  I believe we all need to decide for ourselves.  I'm simply curious as to what your take is on the issue.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The One With the Attendance Tracker

It's official.

Summer is over.  I returned to work today.  

Students will return on Monday.

It is really starting to sink in that I'm at a new school this year.   Everyone has been so incredibly nice and welcoming.  It makes the change a little easier.  

All that to say that this will probably be my last Monday Made It.  Tear!

I'm going to miss sitting around all day Monday checking out all the amazing things you all have created.

Today I have two projects to share with you.


I've been eyeing all the cute attendance trackers that you all have been making with cookie sheets.  A few weeks ago I bought my cookie sheet and all my supplies.

I came home and got to work.  I spray painted the cookie sheet and made all my cute little marble numbers.

When I got ready to make the labels, it just wasn't working for me.  The cookie sheet was too small.  I wanted something larger.

I have a huge black cabinet in my room that needed some sprucing.  I decided it was the perfect place for this project.  I bought yellow wrapping paper and spray adhesive and went to work.

I added the wrapping paper, smoothed out the wrinkles, and went to a meeting.  Only to return to the paper coming off and lots of air bubbles.

Plan Fail.

When I tried to remove the paper some of it refused to come off.

I decided to cover it in duct tape since I had such success with the filing cabinet.

I didn't want to do a bright color because I felt like that would be too much.

So I covered a black cabinet with black duct tape!

I added my labels and numbers.

I'm super happy with the way it turned out.


This project isn't quite finished yet, but I thought I would go ahead and share.  It's my hallway decor.

I've had this idea in my head for a while now.  It didn't quite come together as easily as I would have liked.  It took me forever to figure how to get the trunk to stick to the wall.

I almost had a meltdown trying to figure it out.  But at last I figured it out.  The poms were easy.  I follow this tutorial.

All that is left is to add my saying out to the right.  It will say "Sixth Grade is a Hoot!"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The One with the Eight Standards

With just a little more than a week left before the first day of school, I have been working to finish everything.  

I'll admit that I'm starting to feel a little stressed about everything that is left to do.  I'm having to really look at my to do list and prioritize. 

I think I have everything created and printed that I need.  Now I just need to get to school to laminate it and hang it up.

One of the things I created is a set of posters with the eight standards for mathematical practice.  

These standards are HUGE with common core and something I really want to focus on with my students.  My goal is for my students to understand and apply these eight standards.  I want them to recognize when they are using them and their importance.

Here are two of the eight.

These will hang above my whiteboard so that we can refer to them often.

I also made a smaller student friendly version of each poster.  I turned them into I can statements to help students understand what each standard looks like.

I plan to laminate these, hole punch them in the top left, and put them on a key ring.  I'm making one for each desk.  

To be honest I'm not 100% sure how I plan to use these.  I just know that I want my students to have easy access to them.

In the beginning we will focus on one standard a day - talking about what it means and what it looks like.

I'm open to any suggestions on how to use these.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The One in August

I cannot believe it is already time to link up with Farley for another Currently.

The One With the Birthday Sale

August is here!  I LOVE August!  It's my birthday month!  

I'm a big fan of birthdays!  Though this particular birthday is proving to be a little more difficult for me to take.

Either way they should be celebrated and celebrated big.

My birthday isn't until the end of the month, but I like to celebrate the WHOLE month!

To celebrate I'm throwing a sale in my TPT store.

Everything is 10% off.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

It's Friday!  That means only three more days until Monday Made It!  Why wait to have a little fun?

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite pins with you.

Click on the picture to go to the pin.

1. Math Menu
I've done a Homework Menu before.  Students love it.  I've just never made it all cute like this before.

2. Monogrammed Cardigan
I wear cardigans to work all the time.  They allow me to wear sleeveless tops and dresses, not to mention I am always cold.  I will definitely be adding my monogram to a few for this fall.

3. Classroom Jobs
I have been struggling with how I wanted to display my classroom jobs for a while now.  I stumbled across this pin a few days ago and had my big AHA! moment.  I cannot wait to finish mine and share it with you.

4. Math Spoons
I loved playing Spoons with my cousins growing up.  Such fun memories.  This incorporates Math into the card game and I couldn't be more excited!  I cannot wait to try this out as a review activity in my classroom.

5. The Ten Commandments of Math
I LOVE this!!  

Monday, July 22, 2013

The One With the Filing Cabinet Makeover

It's Monday again!!  I love Mondays during summer.  I spend all week looking forward to all of the Monday Made It posts.  You all are some very talented teachers!

New to Monday Made it?  Go on over to 4th Grade Frolics & check it out.  You won't be sorry.  Just be prepared to neglect your home and family for the next few hours as you read through the hundreds of great ideas.  

My project this week includes one of my favorite things.


I am still in awe of all the different colors and patterns.  I spent thirty minutes in Wal-Mart just looking at all the duct tape trying to determine the perfect colors for this project.

You see, I had three full size filing cabinets in my room plus a small one.

They were all old and disgusting and in desperate need of a makeover.

My original plan was to spray paint them and then modge podge fabric onto the drawers.

Then I decided they would have to stay like they were for a year because I just didn't have the time or money for this project this year.

But every time I was in my classroom working, they bothered me.  They were just so blah and ugly.

Then it hit me.  Duct Tape!  The perfect solution.

So after hours of trying to choose the perfect colors, a full day of redoing, & a lot of help from a sweet friend my filing cabinets now look like this...

They are so much better!!!  I LOVE how they turned out.

Half way through we decided to get rid of the third full size cabinet and the smaller one.  I would never use all of them anyway.  

It was a good thing we did because I was not able to get the handles removed from a few of the drawers.  

I used less than one roll of the pink and green tape and a little more than one roll of the black.

What did you make this past week?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The One With the Planner

After much debate, I decided to go with a spiral bound planner instead of my binder.

I could not be happier about it!!

My love for planners runs deep and this one is by far my favorite!!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The One With All the Projects

Ya'll I have been waiting not so patiently for Monday to get here so I could share my latest projects with you.  I had hoped to have some of them finished to share last Monday, but it just didn't happen.

Sometimes you have to back away and enjoy a little vacation time.  

Now I have even more projects to share with you.  And I couldn't be more excited.

My first project was super easy.  I made some Math Discovery Bottles.  You all inspired me to make these.  I have seen several of you make them with sight words.

Can I just say I love Monday Made It.  I took a project designed for first grade and made it work for fifth or sixth grade.  

You start by coloring your rice.  I put 2 cups of rice into a freezer size ziploc bag along with 1.5 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and several drops of food coloring.  I wanted bright vibrant colors.

Close the bag and shake it up.  Work the color into the rice.

Place your rice on a paper towel to dry.  I left mine for about an hour while I worked on creating the math problems that would go inside the bottles.

I typed up my math problems using Word, printed them, and laminated them, and then cut them apart.   I love having a personal laminating machine.

I placed the water bottle in the bowl with the rice and used a measuring cup to pour the rice into the bottle.  Having a funnel would probably make this part a little easier, but I couldn't find one so I made do.

Pour in a little bit of rice and then add three or four problems.  Add more rice.  More problems.  Keep doing this until all problems are in the bottle.  Be sure to only fill the bottle 3/4 of the way.  You need room for the rice to be able to move around.

Each of my bottles has 12 problems in them.

And of course you might want to super glue your lids on so that students can take them off and spill the rice.

I cannot wait for my students to use these in a center rotation.

This next project is one that I have been absolutely giddy over.  It may be my favorite project EVER.

I gave my classroom chair a make over.  This is the before picture.  It actually looks pretty good in the picture.  It was pretty nasty and just not colorful enough for me.

The original plan was just to cover the cushions, but as I was taking it apart I decided to spray paint it at well.  The bottom cushion came completely off, but I could not get the back cushion off.  I covered it with a trash bag and started painting.

Once it was painted and dry I roughly measured the fabric for each cushion.  For the back, I sprayed the fabric with adhesive and then began tucking between the cushion and the plastic.  We'll see how long this last.

The bottom cushion was a two man job.  I couldn't pull my fabric tight and staple at the same time.  Thankfully my husband was around to help.  I couldn't have done it without him.

I created a cover page for my planner.

As well as a page for note taking during staff meetings.

I'm still pretty indecisive on my planner.  I used a binder last year.  You can see that here.  I LOVE binders!  Like seriously!  They are my love language.  But after seeing everyone's spiral bound planners, I am torn!  I like the idea of something smaller than my big two inch binder.  But I also love that I can add things to my binder throughout the year.

Last project for the week.  I created nine math strategy posters for my classroom.  I am LOVING how they turned out.

Each one is a little different.  Like them?  You can purchase them in my TPT store.

A good friend of mine just landed a teaching job for the upcoming school year.  I am so excited for her.  She will be teaching 7th and 8th grade Math so I made her a set too.  She is decorating with orange, blue, and brown.

These are also in my TPT store if you like them.

Not your color scheme or theme?  I would be happy to work with you to make a customized set just for you.  They don't even have to be math strategies.  I can make genre posters, posters for the writing process, or whatever you need.

Hope you all have a wonderful week.