Monthly Archives: August 2017

Classroom Organization

This week’s challenge is on organization.  I tend to see myself as an organized person, a trait I need to keep my sanity.  Here are a few of the ways that help my classroom run smoothly.


A shoe hanger is a great place to store calculators!  The calculators are numbered and every student gets a number at the beginning of the school year.  Any time we need to use the calculators, they must only use the number that was assigned to them.

Unit Binders:


I have a binder for each unit.  Each binder is broken down by lesson with all of the handouts and supplies needed for that lesson.  The lesson shows my powerpoint screen, followed by the common core standards associated with the lesson, and then what my lesson looks like.  I include questions that I want to ask, specific problems that I want to go over, handouts or worksheets that I want to use, workbook problems that I want students to try, and the homework assignment.  I have this binder open on my rolling cart during the class.  I keep a pen handy to jot down any ideas I might have at the end of class, so that I can make those changes for next year.

Absent work:

Whenever a student is absent, I make a copy of my notes and attach it to any handouts that we used in class and put it in the file folder attached to my desk.



I keep all of my supplies organized on the bookshelves so that students can access rulers, scissors, glue, markers, etc. whenever they need them.

I’m sure I have more organizational ideas, but that’s enough for now.


Classroom Management

I think I speak for most teachers when I say that behavior management is a topic that not many teachers want to think about, but all teachers have to deal with. We want students to enjoy coming to our classes and be engaged with the lessons so that we can do what we love to do, which is to teach math. Yet, in reality, not every student likes math and students come with all sorts of baggage that gets in the way of learning. Consequently, they act out. So what do we do? After 16 years of teaching, I wish I had a complete handle on this, but I don’t. What I do know is that when kids are acting out, learning is not going on. When students are sent out in the hall, learning is not going on. When students are sent to the principal or dean, learning is not going on. So, my goal is to keep students in the class and try to bring them back into focus. Usually, I try to handle small infractions while I teach.  If possible, I will walk over to a student who is not on task and tap his or her desk or shoulder while I continue with class discussion. If I have to, I will quietly tell him or her to focus again. My last resort is to have a student sit outside the door until I can have a short conversation with him or her.

I don’t like having a bunch of dos and don’ts for students to remember. Rather I have summed up my expectations in one word: RESPECT. Within the first few days of school, I explain what I mean by that. First, we need to respect others in the classroom. I want to keep a positive attitude in the class and I want the classroom to be a safe place to ask questions and make mistakes without classmates laughing at them. Second, we need to respect supplies. For that, I explain that students are to sit only on the chairs, not the desks, write only on their paper, not on other students’ papers or on the desks, take proper care of their textbook, and put supplies back where they found them. Finally, we need to respect learning. That means students need to come into class with a positive attitude, be prepared and ready to begin when they walk through the door, and bring the required materials to class.

And I try to be the first one to model these expectations. I try to walk in class with the right attitude, with the required materials ready.  I want to be an encourager and show them that all students can do math. Not every class goes as well as I expect it. But each day, I start with a clean slate and do my best by leading by example.

First Day of School Plans 2017

I thought I had the first day of school figured out.  Then I started reading the Sunday Funday blogs on everyone’s first day of school activities and now I’m not so sure what I will be doing.  There are so many great ideas, but there is not enough time to incorporate them all in those first few days.  Since my school doesn’t start until August 30, I have a bit of time to finalize my plans.

However, I do know that I don’t want to start with the rules and expectations on the class.  I want the first day to be doing math.  I like the idea of starting out with Sara Van Der Werf’s 100 Numbers to Get Students Talking.  After watching Thom Gish’s video, I think I will start out having the students use pencils just so that they don’t see the pattern of numbers right from the beginning.  I will probably do three rounds of this activity.  Then I will take out a big poster board and have each student answer the question, what does good group work in math look and sound like?  We will discuss this as a whole class and hang it up so that we can refer back to it throughout the year.  Finally, I will assign her daily practice ( I love her idea of calling it daily practice instead of homework!), What is Math?

Day two will run similar to Sara’s post entitled, What is Math? What do Mathematicians Do? Hopefully this will set the groundwork for what is expected in my class: collaborating with classmates, staying on task, noticing and wondering, and articulating your thoughts in written form.

Here’s to a great year!

Goals for 2017 – 2018

This challenge could not have come at a better time.  Every year, I start out with great intentions of blogging more and participating in weekly twitter chats.  And that lasts until the going gets tough, which is usually around the end of November.  Last year was no exception.  In fact, it was an especially rough year with five different preps.  This year will be no different with five different preps, but I’ve had the summer to relax and refresh and have some good “me” time.  Just reading everyone’s goals has inspired me to get back into #MTBos and try again. I’ve also loved hearing about #pushsend because frankly that is my biggest hurdle to blogging!  I can agonize over how to even begin a post and worry if it is blog-worthy.  So, here are my goals for 2017 – 2018:

  1. Blog at least twice a month even if I don’t have something “big” to blog about.
  2. Change my approach in my 7th grade math curriculum so that I spend less time with solving equations and more time with rational numbers, proportions, and probability and statistics.  This should give me ample ideas for blog posts.
  3. Complete a full year of posts on  #teach180.
  4. Continue to allow time for me every day.  This summer I went to the gym six days a week, read at least one chapter each day in a book not related to math, found new recipes to try, and spent quality time with my family.  I know I will have to cut back on the amount of time I have each day, but I don’t want to forget about this important aspect of my life.

Thanks for the support and for pushing me to be a better teacher!