Monthly Archives: October 2017

My Story

As far back as I can remember I always thought teaching would be a great profession.  I even remember playing school as a young child.  However, by the time I got into college, my interests changed and I got my degree in criminal justice and then went on to get a certificate in paralegal training.  I got married soon after college and I worked as a litigation paralegal for the first few years of my marriage.

After two kids and a move from Montana to New Jersey (where I grew up as a child), I became a full-time mom. Fast forward to four kids and still in New Jersey, I knew I needed to go to work full time.  Unfortunately, I knew that it would be impossible to have the summers off in the paralegal field and I didn’t want to put my kids in daycare all summer long.  I asked myself, what else did you like?  Well, I love math.  And if I became a math teacher I could have the summers “off” when my kids had off.  So, I enrolled in the local university to begin my second degree.

After finishing a course in the Philosophy of Teaching, I decided to go to the school I graduated from to see about substitute teaching while I was finishing my degree.  I walked in to the middle school in jeans and with my youngest daughter.  I told the secretary there that I was going back to school and wanted to do some substitute teaching to gain experience while I was finishing my degree. She innocently asked what I was getting my degree in and I said math.  She asked me to stay right there.  Okay… She left and a moment later came back with the principal. The principal asked me into her office.  My daughter sat outside while I went in to chat with her.  When she started to ask me about my philosophy of teaching I realized I was in a full blown interview. Yikes! It just so happened that they would be needing a middle school math teacher for next year.  After two more interviews I was offered the job and I have been teaching at the same school for the past 16 years.

During the first few years of teaching full time, I went to school at night and finished up my degree and then got my teaching certificate .  However, I still didn’t feel like I knew enough to be the teacher I wanted to be.  So I started to look online to see if there was anything there that could help me with my lesson plans.  Was there ever! It just so happened that I stumbled on several great teaching blogs and a MTBoS challenge.  The MTBoS walked me through creating my own blog and getting me setup on twitter.  I would never have done that on my own!

I do not remember the first few blogs that got me started on this incredible journey, but I do know that my teaching has never been the same since I found this amazing resource!  I could not have done it without the help of so many people, most of whom I’ve never met in person.  I still aspire to be that great teacher and through the help of many great people on the MTBoS, I will continue to grow to be the teacher I want to be.

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My Favorite Games

I love to play games!  I especially love classroom games that require little explanation, little prep work, games that can be used in a minutes notice, and games that can hold students’ attention.  Here are a few that fit the bill in my classroom.

1. Favorite Test Prep Review Game:  Before every test, my students always ask to play the “Whiteboard Game.”  I blogged about it here.  Students are willing and excited to do an entire class period worth of math problems on a mini whiteboard.  I guess they see it as a game rather than work.

2. Favorite Internet Game:  I haven’t had a class that didn’t like to play Spider Match when we are studying adding and subtracting integers.  I blogged about it here.

3. Favorite End of the Class Game:  If there is time left at the end of the period, I love to quickly make up a version of the Pyramid Game or Race to the Top.  I blogged about it here.

4.  Favorite Spiral Review Game:  This is a game that I like to play after we’ve learned several different concepts in a unit.  It requires a little prep for me, but once I make a version of it, I keep it for future use.  I create five different problems, where the answer to the first problem goes on the line of the second problem.  Each previous answer is used to solve the next question.

To begin, I have students write down questions 2 -5 on a scrap paper.  Since question #1 is missing, no one can start ahead of time.  When everyone is ready, I put up question #1.

When students finish the fifth problem, they come up to me and show me their answer.  I reply with “Yes” or “Try Again.”   To keep students motivated, I will give a dum dum to the first five students with the correct answers.  A lot of times I will extend the treat to anyone who can come up with the correct answers.