Monthly Archives: September 2017

#Classroom Tour

Welcome to my classroom!  This year has been exciting because every classroom in our building got a makeover.


Not only was every classroom painted,  but we received new  student desks and chairs.  I like that the desks are flat.  They can be pushed together for group work or be put in rows for tests and quizzes.


Even the teachers each got a new desk and chair!  I love that my desk is magnetic so that I can put posters on the front and a basket of pencils on the side for students who forget to bring a writing utensil to class.


One of the walls was painted orange, while the other three walls are white.  On the orange wall, I have three bookshelves that hold all of the supplies that students might need for class, such as glue sticks, scissors, pencil sharpeners, colored pencils, markers, rulers, clipboards, lined paper, whiteboards, dry erase pens, and paper towels.  This keeps the class running smoothly since students do not need to keep asking me for supplies.  Students use the small middle bookshelf to store their chromebooks on if we aren’t using them during class.

This year I decided to use my back bulletin board as a resource wall.  The left side has all posters about fractions and the right side is dedicated to algebra concepts, such as absolute value, like terms, and factoring.  Above the bulletin board is a poster on order of operations.

Unfortunately that leaves little room for student work to be displayed.  Instead, I have had to tape it to the bottom of the bulletin board.


I split up the front of my white board using magnetic borders. I have three sections on the left side for my 7th grade classes and three sections on the right side of my board for my 8th grade classes.  Since I teach six different classes, I use that space to write in the homework and as a reminder to students who have missing work.


On either side of the front whiteboard are small bulletin boards.  I use the extra desks in front of those boards to put the handouts that we will need for the class that day.

And that it my classroom. I hope that you enjoyed the tour!



This year I am being more intentional about my warmups.  There are so many good things out there on the MTBoS, but I decided this year to focus on three specific areas.  The items that I am including in warmups are activities involving numeracy, workbook review, and what doesn’t belong.

In fact, as I create my lessons for the week, I am writing the warmups in my grade book so that I cover each topic at least once during the week.

1.  Numeracy:  When I think of numeracy, I think of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, integers, decimals, fractions, order of operations, and the like.

I am starting out with Christian Lawson-Perfect’s 30 second challenges.  Rather than have students go on their chromebook, I take a snap short of the problem and put it up on my tv screen. Students work through the problem from left to right without regard to order of operations.  When they have an answer, they raise their hand so I can come over and check their answer.  I tell them it is correct or try again.

Also, I might start using Math Minutes.  I can print out the page and hand it to them as they walk in the classroom.  I will give them 3 – 5 minutes to complete the ten problems and then go over the answers as a class.

2.  Workbook Review:  In each of my classes, students have a workbook that is only used for DO NOWs and end of class review.  It is great to have access to specific problems that are similar to problems that they had for previous homework assignments or for homework assignments that night.  I can quickly pick a few problems from the page and have students work through them individually and have students put the work and the answers on the whiteboard before we go through them as a class.

3.  What Doesn’t Belong? I love this site started by Christopher Danielson!  In these types of problems, there is no right or wrong answer, but it is a great way for students to look for patterns.  It also leads to rich math discussions.  I give students one minute to think on their own about which expression, term, or number they think does not belong.  Then, I have students turn to their neighbor and discuss their answers.  Finally, we go over the answers as a whole class.  I encourage students to use proper mathematical terminology.  Students love, love, love to do these problems!  They are always asking when we will do it again.


Favorite Math Task

What is my favorite math task?  That is a hard question!  I like anything and everything that gets students out of their seats, working in groups, and keeps them excited and engaged.  One such activity that has been incredibly successful with my 7th Grade Algebra and 8th Grade Algebra students this year is 21st Century Math Projects’ Whodunnit –  Order of Operation Skill Building Class Activity.  There are ten order of operation problems of increasing difficulty that I copied, laminated, and hung around my classroom.

On each card is the problem and four possible answers, along with clues to help solve the murder mystery.  As students complete each problem, they can check off the players, last known whereabouts, and methods on the Whodunnit worksheet. The one remaining in each column is the solution.

All of my students are thoroughly enjoying this activity (they haven’t finished yet).  The problems are challenging and they want to figure out the solution.  This is definitely a keeper!


Emergency Sub Plans

I was very happy to see that this week’s topic was on emergency sub plans.  I have been wanting to update my folder for a long time and this gave me the incentive to do just that.  In the past I’ve had several different Math-O games (think math bingo) in there as well as FACEing Math pictures.


However, I think it would be easier on me and my sub if I used Math Minutes.


Then it wouldn’t matter which topics we’ve already covered and students would get a variety of practice.  Classroom management would be easy because all students should be quietly working on finishing the handout in the allotted time.  Students seem to be more focused when a timer is on.  Additionally, the directions are simple and there would be minimal direct instruction.  After the sub passes out the paper upside down to each student. the sub starts the timer and students have 3 minutes to complete the page.  The sub reviews the answers and then hands out the next sheet and repeats the process.

In addition to the Math Minute handouts, my folder includes my homeroom class list, fire drill instructions, and lock down instructions.  I have been fortunate that I have never had to use my emergency plan, but it is always better to be prepared.

Teacher Hack – First Days of School Notebook

This week’s Sunday Funday topic is on Teacher Hacks.  After 16 years of first days of school, this is the first year that I made a small notebook to organize my first days of teaching lessons.  Previously, I would put these lessons in the notebook of the first unit that I would teach.  Since I have five preps, that meant I was making five copies of this lesson and any handouts needed with it to go in each of the first unit notebooks.  What a waste of time and paper!  Each time I came up with a new idea for the first days, I would add it to the beginning of the first unit notebook.  The notebooks were getting bigger and bigger just for the different first day activities.  What was I thinking?!  Now I have one notebook that contains all of the lessons and activities that I have used to begin the school year.  Each year, I can choose from the many ideas I’ve already used or add another new idea without having to make additional copies for each class that I teach.  I guess an old dog can learn new tricks!  Hahaha!!