Monday, July 29, 2013

Pythagorean Theorem Foldable

This past school year, after teaching the Pythagorean Theorem for what seemed like the 18 millionth time, I decided to create a foldable to help streamline the information my students needed to know.  I decided to go with a 4-tab foldable.  This was also my first attempt at creating a double-sided foldable, with information already printed inside the tabs.  I was very happy with how it turned out!

The first tab contains a place for students to write that a and b are the legs and that c is the hypotenuse, which is always the longest side.  There is also a picture of a right triangle with a, b, and c labeled.  This is where I have the kids write the equation.

The second tab is where the kids write down how to find a hypotenuse and complete an example.  The third tab is where they write down how to find a leg, along with an example.  For both of these I use a sort of chant...I go around chanting and chanting until they can chant back to me.  For finding the hypotenuse it's: "Square them, add them, take the square root!"  For finding the leg, it's the same except instead of add it's subtract.  Through the years I've found that making it a chant really helps the kids remember the steps.

The last tab is where they write down the converse of the theorem and some common Pythagorean triples.  Here's what the foldable looks like in an actual notebook:

Next year, I won't use red paper.  It's a little dark, especially if your students write in pencil.

If you like it, you can get the foldable in my TpT store.  On my to-do list is to create corresponding problems for students to glue into the next page for practice.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Liebster Award

Elizabeth over at Hodges Herald has nominated me for a Liebster Award!  (Thanks so much!)

Here's how it works...I have to:

1. Link back to the blog(s) that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator
4. Create 11 questions for my nominees
5. Share 11 random facts about yourself
6. Contact my nominees and let them know I nominated them

Here are Elizabeth's questions and my answers:

1. Why do you blog? It's a way for me to share what I do in my classroom.  I love interacting with other teachers (through comments) to hear their ideas.

2. Do you have a TpT/TN store? If so, which did you do first, blog or store?  Yes I have both a TpT store and a TN store.  I actually started with the stores first, based on encouragement from a coworker.  The blog evolved from there.

3. How long have you been teaching?  I am about to start my 9th year of teaching middle school math.

4. What songs would be on the soundtrack of your life? (Stole this from Divide and Conquer, but I love it!) I'd have to go with a mix of *NSYNC, Mariah, Britney, and a little Bon Jovi.

5. Do you have a favorite teacher from your days in school?  I do (Ms. Gonzalez, my 7th and 8th grade language arts teacher) and I actually have the pleasure of working with her now.  I work in the school I went to, which is a surreal thing!

6. How would you describe the morale at your school?  We're a small faculty, so we are pretty close.  We are normally very positive and make each other laugh all the time!

7. Favorite decade? (80's, 90's etc...)  I'd have to go with the 90's.  I love good old 90's sitcoms and pop music!

8. Do you speak a second or third language? Which one?  No, I do not.  My husband speaks Korean though!

9. Favorite sport? Favorite team?  I'm a basketball girl.  (I coach girl's team at my school.  We are back-to-back undefeated champions!)  My favorite teams are Duke Men's Basketball and the NY Knicks.  I'm also a big NY Yankee fan.

10. Ever said "never" and then had to eat your words. (Ex: I will never teach middle school. HA! I am there!)  I used to say I would never eat sushi, but now I's obsessed with it!

11. Dog or cat lover?  To be honest, I'm not much of a pet person.  If I had to choose, I'd go with a kitten.

And here's 11 random facts about me:
  1. I love to cook and actually have a cooking blog (
  2. I have my Masters degree in Educational Technology.
  3. I met my husband the first day of college.  We lived on the same floor.
  4. Even though I have only ever taught middle school math, I student taught in Kindergarten (and did my junior year experience in first grade)!
  5. I teach a cooking class in my school 2 periods a week.
  6. There is no such thing as enough sleep in my mind.
  7. I'm addicted to reality television (especially any show on Bravo).
  8. I go to Lake George, NY with my family every year.
  9. I was a computer science major my first year of college, not a math/education major.
  10. I'm obsessed with Christmas.  Everyone knows it.
  11. Pinterest has changed my life!

Okay, drum roll are my 5 nominees:
  1. Mrs. Hester's Classroom
  2. Everybody is a Genius
  3. Square Root of Negative One Teach Math 
  4. Walking in Mathland
  5. For the Love of Teaching Math

And here are my 11 questions for them:
  1. What's your favorite lesson/unit to teach each year? 
  2. What grades/subjects have you taught?
  3. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be?
  4. What are your favorite blogs to follow (doesn't have to be teaching blogs)?
  5. What's you favorite song of all-time?
  6. How do you unwind after a hectic day/week at work?
  7. What's your favorite memory from teaching?
  8. What's your favorite food?
  9. How do you keep your desk organized?
  10. Do you have any kids?  If, so what ages?
  11. What do you think the hardest lesson/unit is to teach?
Okay, go check out their blogs.  They're really great!  (And don't forget to check out Elizabeth at Hodges Herald!)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Updated Grade Sheets

In addition to redoing my cover pages, vocabulary section, and grading rubric for next year, I also redid my grade sheets.  My students have 4 grade sheets glued into the beginning of their notebooks, one for each marking period.  It's my way of making sure they keep track of their grades.  Last year, I had way too many lines on my grade sheet:

I mean, I never give that many assignments in one marking period!

So for this coming year, I cut down the amount of assignments and also got rid of the date column.  I also changed the bottom up a bit.  I added a space to keep track of missed homework assignments.  I also included an equation for calculating their average each marking period.  (No matter how many times I demonstrated how to find it, the different weights confused so many of my students!)

I like it much better.  It's so much more practical!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grading Interactive Notebooks

At the end of every marking period, I collect all of my students' notebooks and grade them.  I count the notebook as 1 test grade for the marking period.  I tell my students that this is my "gift" to them.  As long as they keep their notebooks up-to-date and have all of the required elements, it should be an easy 100!  Of course, not everyone takes advantage of this "gift".  I'm hopeful that the few 7th graders who really struggled with maintaining their notebooks this year will improve as 8th graders.

This past year, I used this rubric that I found on this great blog to grade my students' notebooks each marking period:

While I liked the rubric, it really didn't fit all of my needs.  It was a little too general and didn't include anything for my Math Dictionary section (which some kids tended to skip out on).  Each marking period as I went through my 100+ notebooks, I made a list of things to use on a new rubric.  I found that some students had a hard time numbering the pages correctly.  I also found lots of doodles and some work for other classes scattered throughout the notebooks.  And, I was receiving some notebooks that were falling apart!  Missing covers, lots of missing was a nightmare!  I want my students to treat their interactive notebooks like a textbook; they are that important!

So,in June, after my final notebook collection, I went through my list and created my own rubric.  I divided the rubric into two main sections: Neatness & Organization and Required Elements.  For Neatness & Organization, the main areas of focus are: Handwriting, Doodles, Physical Condition of Notebook, and Section Content.  For Required Elements, the main areas of focus are: Beginning Pages, Notes, Miscellaneous, and Math Dictionary.  Students can score a 1, 2, or 3 in each category for a total of 24 possible points.  This rubric holds the kids much more accountable for every aspect of their notebook and is much more specific.  I am really excited to use it!  I will have them glue a copy of the rubric into the beginning of their notebooks again as a constant reminder of what is expected of them.

Here it is:

If you'd like to use it, you can get it at my TpT store or my TN store.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Vocabulary Template

Remember when I said yesterday that I was thinking of creating my own vocabulary template?  Well, I did!  I used Microsoft Word and made my own version.  I personally think it is more visually appealing then the template I found and used last year.  What do you think?

If you like it, you can get it at my TpT or my TN store.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vocabulary Section Improvements

About halfway through this school year, I decided that I would revamp the "Math Dictionary" section of our interactive notebooks just a bit.  Don't get me wrong, I really like the Frayer Model:

And, I like having a list of vocabulary words in the beginning of the section:
My real issue was with the order of the list.  Last year, I really wanted to make the vocabulary section like a real dictionary.  So, I listed all the vocab words alphabetically.  It made sense then, but I soon regretted my decision.  Students would end up completing vocabulary for units that we weren't in yet.  It just didn't make sense.

So, this year I reorganized my lists.  The words are now in the order we will come across them.  This will make it easier to check, too.  Last year, I had to keep track of what number each class was up to when I collected notebooks.  This year, students will be responsible for making sure all words are finished from any completed unit.  I'm going to have them color-code each unit, just like we color-coded our Table of Contents this year.  I'm excited for this change!  I'm also thinking of creating my own Frayer template.  I want to make my own "cooler looking" version.  Has anyone made their own??

Saturday, July 20, 2013

New & Improved Interactive Notebook Cover Pages

I completed my new interactive notebook cover pages.  And, I am very happy with how they turned out!

Last year, I told the students to design their own cover pages.  They had to include their name and class.  I also asked them to write down their user name and password for our online textbook.  Unfortunately, many kids did not do this.  So, most didn't know their passwords.
This year, I included a space for each student to write their user name and password for our online textbook site, as well as for (a nifty practice website my school subscribes to).  I also added a link to my homework calendar (which is a shared calendar with their English, science, and social studies teachers).  This year there will be no excuses for not knowing any of these sites!

I also included my Common Core Word Stars on the cover pages.  Here's how they turned out:

What do you include on your students' cover pages??

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Common Core Word Stars

So, I've been redesigning the first few pages of my interactive notebooks for next year.  I am adding a place for students to write online textbook and user names and passwords.  I also wanted to add a cool math graphic (which can be hard to find).  I came across these cool word clouds on TpT.  They are really nice and are only $1.00 each, but I still decided to make my own.  I wanted to change the shape and play around with the placement of words.  So, I used Tagxedo (for the first time!).  It's free and so simple to use!

All I did was copy and paste the common core standards for Grade 7, Grade 8 and Algebra I into Tagxedo.  I played around with the orientation, font, and colors until I was satisfied.

I have to say, I really love the results!  Here they are:

Grade 7:

Grade 8:

Algebra I:

Feel free to copy them and use for your own stuff.  If you have trouble, leave a comment with your email and which stars you want, and I'll send them to you.  Happy Summer!