Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to My Classroom!

After traveling all over the last week, I finally made it back to my classroom today to set up!  Again, I was greeted by a lot of boxes (mostly thanks to the new Algebra books we are using this year).

I was a little sad because someone put a box on my construction paper holder (which is only made out of cardboard).

I turned it upside down though and put books in it to straighten it back out.  I think it will survive!

After going through all the boxes of books and supplies, I tackled my posters.  I'm so excited to say that in my 9 years, today was the fastest I have ever hung my posters!  Using Velcro dots last year really paid off!  Nothing fell at all during the school year and rehanging everything was a breeze this year.  I totally recommend using Velcro to hang stuff!  (I just wish it didn't take me 8 years to figure it out!)

Seriously, all of the dots you see in my pictures like this:

Turned to this in a matter of minutes:

If you do go with Velcro, make sure you number or label your posters and toppers when you take them down.  Take pictures too so you remember exactly where everything goes.

I also set up my desks today and hung containers for glue sticks and scissors on each one.  I'm headed back tomorrow to organize some more and hopefully make copies for the first day next week.  How is everyone else's setup going?

Monday, August 19, 2013

2013 RedditGifts Teacher Exchange!

It's back!!  It's back!!

I've been waiting and hoping and praying that RedditGifts would do their Teacher Exchange again this year.  And they finally posted about it today!  I posted about it last year, but after the signup deadline (sorry!).  It really is a wonderful program.  Basically, you signup with RedditGifts.  You then create a wishlist (I use for mine).  You post a little about yourself, your school, and your link to your wishlist.  Eventually, you get matched with a donor.  In a few weeks, you'll receive a package with some of the supplies you wished for!  It's such a great idea, and people are so generous to help us teachers out.  It really puts a smile on my face!

Check it out here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Combining Like Terms Dice Activity

Last summer, I wrote about all the things I intended to do with my students to help them learn how to combine like terms.  While the concept at first can be difficulty for many (especially when there are positive AND negative terms involved!), all of the activities I created and found really seemed to help.  One of the activities was my Combining Like Terms Dice Activity.  Basically, each student got a pair of dice.  Each die had 6 like terms on it.  Students rolled the dice twice and recorded their results in the blank boxes on the worksheet.  I then had them highlight like terms in the same color.

After they highlighted, they wrote a simplified expression (aka they combined the like terms) on the line next to the boxes.  They then repeated the process three more times.

The last step was to combine the first two simplified expressions and the last two..

If your students are struggling, you could also do this activity with just one like term (instead of two).  This year I plan on creating more like term dice so that negatives are involved in the activity.  If you like the activity, you can get it at my TpT store or my TN store!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fraction, Decimal, and Percent Puzzles

Well, I'm back from a fun and relaxing week in Lake George!  I really do love that place.  In fact, I'm already counting the days until we go back next year!

Now that I'm back though, it's pretty much crunch time.  While I don't officially go back to school until September 3rd, I know these last few weeks of summer are going to fly by!  I spent the day (when I wasn't unpacking and doing laundry) creating a 3-piece puzzle template and then a Fraction, Decimal, and Percent Puzzle.  I'm going to print the puzzles in color on card stock and have them laminated.  This way, they will (hopefully) last a long time.  I think the puzzle will be a good review for my 8th graders early in September, specifically during the first 3 half days when there's not a lot of time to get much done in class.  And, they will be very useful for my 7th graders when we get to the percents unit later on in the year.

I made 21 different colorful puzzles, along with answer sheets for students to record their answers.  This could be a good center activity.  I also am thinking I could have the students race to finish first (with correct answers of course).  Here's some pictures:

You can get the activity at my TpT store or my TN store.

Do you have any center activities for fractions, percents, and decimals?  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Managing Late Assignments

Besides not having homework, some of my students struggle with handing major assignments in on time.  I have a strict 10 points off per day policy (which I wish would prevent lateness better!), yet still, some kids just can't seem to get their acts together.  I usually keep a post-it on my desk with the list of students who are late, but it really isn't the best system.

So, I created a form to keep myself more organized when collecting late projects.  I also hope it will give the student more accountability, since he or she will have to fill it out and sign it.  I plan on stapling the form to the actually assignment once it's finally handed in.  This way, there is no confusion on how many points off the student will get (and no arguing the deduction either, from the student OR the parents!).

Here's my form:

If you like it, you can get a general version in my TpT store or my TN store.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ask Me Anything!

In case you didn't notice, I added an "Ask Me Anything" widget to my sidebar.  (It's underneath the "About Me" section.)  While I encourage you to ask questions in the comment section after each post (so anyone can see and respond), if you have something you don't want to publicly post, you can use "Ask Me Anything" to send a private question.  I'll email you a response.

Check it out!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Managing Missing Homework

No matter how many times I stress how important it is to complete math homework in order to practice the skills we learned in class that day, inevitably, kids don't do their homework.  I usually have repeat offenders too (as I'm sure you do as well!).  I don't even collect homework.  I just go around the room, making sure that every student has it and show their work.  If they do, they get a 2.  If they don't show their work, they get a 1.  And if they don't have anything they of course get a 0.  I don't accept late homework because I post the answers on the Smartboard and we go over any questions, so you either have it or you don't.  As long as my students just try, they can have a 100% in homework for the marking.  Yet, for whatever reason, some just don't realize that homework is 15% of their final grade and not doing it can really affect their average.  It's very frustrating to me...

For this coming school year, I've created a form for kids to fill out whenever they don't have their homework.  This will (hopefully) make them more accountable.  I'm going to print the slips on brightly colored paper and leave them in a bin on my table at all times.  Anytime a student does not have homework, I'm going to have that student get a slip and fill out his or her name, math class, date, and what the assignment was.  Then, I'll have him or her check off the reason for not having the homework completed and sign it.  The slip also has a reminder to add a missing homework to their grade sheet in their notebook.  I'm going to place the slip in the student's personal file as documentation of the missed assignment (which will be very helpful during a parent-teacher conference!).  Here's what it looks like:

I have a slightly more general version (so it can be used for any subject) in my TpT store and in my TN store.

I'm also hoping to encourage more homework completion this year by rewarding the whole class when they have they have 100% completion.  I'm thinking of using the letters "HOMEWORK" for each class (an idea I got from here).  (I'm just going to use a notebook file on my Smartboard to keep track.)  Every time the class has 100%, they get a letter.  Once the class spells homework, the whole class gets a no homework night.  I'm not sure yet if they will need to just have 8 days of 100% or 8 days in a row in order to get the reward.  What do you think??