Friday, July 31, 2015

Texas SIZE Link-UP: Let's Get Organized!

As teachers, we all know how important it is to be organized in the classroom. It just helps the days run more smoothly. However, we weren't all born with the organization gene (if there is one). With this in mind, I would like to share a few ways to keep your math manipulatives organized and ready for students to grab quickly and quietly throughout the day. 

Game Boxes

I started creating game boxes a few years back when I had some extra school boxes that needed a purpose. Because I use games daily to reinforce grade level content and skills and to provide extra intervention or challenge, I decided to fill them with common game materials that students typically need to play games. (See the picture above.) Once filled, I place the boxes in a cabinet that is accessible to students. When we get ready to play games, either as a class or in small groups, students grab a game box and game board. Material pick-up literally takes less than one minute. When game time has concluded, students replace the materials in the box and then return the box to storage. 

Game Markers

Another strategy that I use to keep my classroom running smoothly is to package my game markers. My class plays lots of quick games like Cover Up!, Connect, and Bingo to review skills. It can be time-consuming and tedious to hand-out markers to students before game time begins; so I started organizing my centimeter cubes and transparent chips into small containers that I found at Staples. (See the picture above.) Once filled, I organize the containers by color into a large basket. Whenever it's time to use them, I pull-out the basket and student pairs grab one container of cubes and one container of chips. Having these prepared in advance makes prep time super quick and easy. My students can take-out materials, play a game, and return materials in 10 minutes. No kidding! When game time has concluded, students replace the materials in the containers and then return them to the storage basket. By the way, when I have that random group of three, one student grabs a pre-packaged bag of beans to use as markers. Click the game links above for freebies!

Math Toolbox

The last organization tip that I have is my math toolbox. I got the idea after seeing all of
those cute toolboxes that teachers were creating with the toolboxes that you buy from the hardware store. (See the picture above.) This toolbox is filled with all of the materials that I need when I am working with a small group. It's the perfect size for my small group learning table in the classroom. The toolbox can also be used as a go-to place for students to find the math tools they need to make sense of the work they're doing in the classroom or as a stand-alone math station toolbox with materials needed to play games or complete task cards and/ or menu work.

I've included a free download of the labels here. Just place a text box over each oval and type your math tool name into the space. If you're trying to match the font, I used Hello Fonts Poppin' Tags

I've created the labels to fit the toolbox shown here; however, you can print them and use them to label other math tools in your classroom as well. For example, you can slip them on the inside of a plastic container and attach the label with double-sided tape. Enjoy!

I Challenge You: Turn Your Beliefs Into Actions Blog Hop

Recently, Whitney Alexanderson from With Love From Whitney posted a challenge for all of us teachers. After attending a church service where her pastor preached about knowing what you believe in, she challenged the teacher-blogger community to really think about what we believed in as educators and to create a blog post declaring those beliefs. 

When I first saw this challenge, I thought, "Well that's easy." But it wasn't as easy of a task as I first thought. While I know what I believe in, putting it on paper makes me feel so accountable. If I write it, I have to live it! And I have to be open to other people's criticism about what I say and how I act. So, here I am. These are my words. These are my beliefs and they will become my mantra for this school year. 

While I'm not in a classroom of my own, I will encourage the first and second year teachers that I mentor, as well as, the staff as a whole to rise to this challenge and provide the kind of education that all kids deserve. 

What are your beliefs? Please share them in the comment section below. 

Click the button below to visit the next blog: 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Math Rocks Mission #3- Goal Setting

Because my role this year is not as a classroom teacher, my goals are more related to my professional growth and work as a mentor teacher. 

First, I would like to challenge myself to read more professional books. With all of my graduate school work, it is challenging to find the time to read for my professional pleasure; however, there are lots of great books that people have been buzzing about lately and I feel left out of "the know." So, even though it will be hard, I am challenging myself to read at least one professional math book each semester. 

Second, both myself and the other mentor teacher with whom I work have expressed a desire to work more closely with our mentees. After year one of this grant program, she and I both felt like we had difficulty consistently supporting the needs of all of our teachers. This year we have decided to have a daily schedule so that teachers know when to expect our support. I'm really looking forward to this structure as I feel that it will help me get to know each teacher and the needs of his/ her students better. 

Third, I want to spread my knowledge with the campus teachers and staff with whom I work. While many teachers know that I have a passion for math, they do not know to what extent. In fact, 95% of the teachers do not know that I even have a blog or that I write math curricular materials for fun in my spare time. So this year I want to challenge myself to speak-up and offer to deliver a training on a useful math concept or topic. 

In terms of obstacles, my biggest challenge is my graduate school work. After working all day, my evenings are filled with night classes and homework. I very rarely get any additional time to work on other things. On top of that, I am a newlywed and need to make time with my new hubby a priority as well. Clearly, time is not something that I have an abundance of; however, since I am anticipating these potential roadblocks, I am spending the last few weeks of summer front-loading as much work as I can so that I can be ready for the new school year to begin. Over the past few weeks, I have been cleaning up my blog, creating new activity packs, scheduling new blog posts, and reading in my spare time so that I will be ready to shift my focus once I am back at work and at Baylor in August. 

What are your goals for this school year? What obstacles do you anticipate? Please share. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Math Rocks Mission #1

I recently joined a program in my school district titled, "Math Rocks." It's a community of district math teachers collaborating together to decide how to help our students become more successful math students through building professional relationships and being curious teacher-learners. On our first day, we were assigned the task of creating a blog and writing a blog post. 

Here's the prompt: What is one thing that happens in your classroom that makes it distinctly yours? It can be something you do that is unique in your school… It can be something more amorphous… However you want to interpret the question! Whatever!

One of my hallmarks is using math journals in the classroom. Over the years, it has provided me with the most concrete evidence of where my students are in their thinking and their understanding of the skills and content on which we are working. Journals also make great assessment tools and provide concrete evidence for student data meetings. 

I wrote a post about how I use journals in the classroom last fall. Check it out here

Sunday, July 26, 2015

New Product: Multiplication and Division After Math Pack

Check out my Multiplication and Division After Math Pack! It includes three learning games that reinforce multiplication and division of larger numbers. Check it out at:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Confessions of a Middle Grades Student- Rule #5

Hello All! Please share your thoughts about ways to address this misconception. And, for the upper grades teachers, how can we "undue" this rule when we begin working with fractions, decimals, and integers?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge: New Freebie- Cover Up! Mental Math Games for K-5

Whew! I made it just under the wire, but I finished the third challenge! 
Check out my new FREEBIE!
Great for summer review! This K - 5 freebie includes eight mental math games correlated to the Common Core Math Standards for review and challenge. There are two types of games. One-star games review basic grade level content. Two-star games provide a challenge for the grade level content. The games include the following skills: make ten, ten more or ten less, two-digit addition, multiplication, division with remainders, and multiple operations. 

Check it out at: 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Confessions of a Middle Grades Student- Rule #4

Hello All! Please share your thoughts about ways to address this misconception. And, for the upper grades teachers, how can we "undue" this rule when we begin working with fractions, decimals, and integers?