Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Communication in the Middle School Classroom

Communicating with middle school students can be... challenging. They don't want to answer questions in class because looking smart is SOOOO totally not cool. They do however, want to communicate with their classmates. They don't want to ask questions in class because they don't want to appear as though they aren't smart (even though smart isn't cool). They don't want you to praise them in front of their peers because they most certainly are not the teacher's pet.

Eliminating verbal communication from parts of your daily routine will help with classroom management, time management and student participation.

Providing students with dry erase boards to use when working as a whole group will allow students to participate in giving answers without having to speak. Eliminated is the fear of being wrong and the fear of being "too smart". Students can simply hold up their boards with answers so you can clearly see who gets it and who doesn't.

Sticky notes are a fabulous way to provide feedback to students without drawing attention to them. While students are working independently, you can walk around the room and place notes on students desks. A note such as "You did a great job on your homework last night!" or "I heard your soccer team won - Congrats!" can make a big difference to a student.  
Watch your tone when speaking to your students. Your tone can lead students to believe that you are angry with them, frustrated with them or think they are stupid. Try to keep an even tone when speaking to your students as a whole and individually. 

If students are off task but not disruptive, you can often get them back on task with just the tap of a finger or your presence. Walking over towards a student who is off task can be enough to stop the behavior because they'll not want you to speak to them. If they see you coming, they'll likely stop. If they don't, you can just walk up and tap on their desk or their paper to redirect their attention.
Of course there are the standard finger raises to signal certain things. For example, one finger indicates the need to use the restroom. Two fingers = I have to go to my locker. Holding up their pencil is a way to ask if you can sharpen your pencil.

Middle school students are old enough to be able to do things like pick up their own papers on the way into class, drop off papers after class, turn in homework without being asked, and much, much more. To save class time and to keep yourself from answering the same questions over and over again, try these quick tips:
  • On your warm up each day, have a note that reminds students to turn in their homework / copy homework for that night / get something out on their desk / etc. The more you can have them do on their own, the better! 
  • Have trays by the door for students to put work in when they leave the class. When you pass out an assignment, let them know it'll be due in the tray when they walk out of the door. That will keep them from raising their hands and asking "Are you collecting this?" or "What do I do with this?" It will also keep you from replying to those questions with statements like, "Oh no, I'm not going to collect it. I just gave it to you to keep you busy and quiet." or "What do you do with it? I dunno... eat it for lunch?" 
  • Consider having a tray or other organizer by the door that contains papers the students will need that day. Graphic organizers, handouts, notes home and other things can take up valuable class time when you pass them out. By having them available for students to pick up on their own, you save time and save questions.
If you have other verbal or non verbal communication tools you use in your classroom, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maryland Seller Giveaway!


I’ve joined together with other Maryland sellers to bring you a little giveaway! There are three different prize packs to win – wahoo!

The first is a K-2 Pack. Check out what’s included and enter to win below!

K-2 Prize pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Next is a 3-5 Pack. You can win my Logic Puzzle Bundle in this one!

3-5 Prize pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lastly is a Middle-High School pack!

Middle High Prize Pack

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Incorporating Warm Ups in Math Class

Hi there!
It's Kim from Teaching Math by Hart, and I am here to tell you about how I get my students engaged and thinking mathematically within the first 5 minutes of class.
Transition times can be rough, especially in the social atmosphere of middle school. Students come into your room, already fully engrossed in the conversation they started in the hall. So how do you grab their attention while prepping their brains for a period of math?
I have found the best way to start my math class is by using a short and simple math warm-up. I know it can be a challenge to get through our curriculum in the time we have with our students, but I can tell you that taking the first 5 minutes to engage your students with a quick activating activity is well worth it.
Let me backtrack for a minute and tell you how I incorporate math warm-ups in my class. From the very beginning of the year I implement a math routine. Each day we start class with a different activity. Some days it can be as simple as an optical illusion (kids LOVE these), while other days we start with a journal entry, a brain teaser, or a number activity.
After a bit if training, students know what is expected of them, and they usually get down to the task at hand right away. Whatever activity is happening that day, the instructions are on the board/projector as soon as they walk in, that way they can get started on their own without any support from myself. If you decide to implement a similar routine, I can tell you that you will notice a difference in your students. They will begin to automatically focus on the day's warm-up as they enter the room, settle quicker, and get working sooner!
Today I am going to share a few different number activities I use in my classroom to get my students engaged, while strengthening number sense at the same time. It’s a win-win!.
Spot the Imposter
I love this activity! It is so fast and simple, but the kids will love it. Tell them that they need to be math detectives and determine which number does not belong.

106 is the imposter, as it is the only one where the sum of the digits is not equal to 8

As an additional activity, have students create their own in their notebooks to share with a partner.

{Download level 1 for FREE here!}

Number of the Day

Definitely not a new idea by any means, but often only used in the lower grades. Select a number as a class. I often have random students roll dice, or select from a deck of cards.

The great things about these activities is that they can be used multiple times, simply change the number. Easy differentiation as well, as you can decide how many digits to use.

It’s all the Same
This is a great activity that helps stress that numbers can be expressed in multiple ways. It seems easy enough, but quite a few students will begin to struggle once they have the first 5 or so. I find it encourages them to be a little creative, by coaching them to make use of pictures, numbers, and words.

I always have the students come up to the board and show one of the ways they cam up with, In the end, we usually have a lot more than 8 ways represented on the board.

Making Numbers
I love this activity as it incorporates a visual and kinesthetic component. Provide each student with a set of number chips, and have them create different numbers using a set criteria.


I hope you found a few ideas that you can try in your own classroom. These activities can be used in multiple ways as well, not necessarily as warm-ups alone. Have 5 minutes left at the end of class? Use them as a wrap-up activity/exit slip. Have some early finishers? Use them as an enrichment activity.
Interested in using Math warm-ups in your class? You can check out my full collection of warm-ups in my TpT store.

Kim is a devoted mother, wife and teacher. She is currently a middle years math teacher in a school in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She spends her time planning and thinking of new and innovative ways to teach math to her students. Why, you ask? Believe it or not, she thinks learning Math should be FUN and it should be REAL!
If you are interested in finding more math activities to try in your own classroom, please consider following Kim on her blog Teaching Math by Hart, or her Facebook page.


Monday, January 12, 2015

#1 Selling Secondary Math Resources


Do you know what’s hard to find sometimes? REALLY GOOD secondary math resources. The resources that come along with your textbooks can be less than engaging. Ok, let’s be honest. They can be BORING. Even the “activities” that are included are often in black and white with no images/content to get students engaged.

Luckily, I’m pals with quite a few awesome secondary math sellers who wanted to share their top selling resources with you!

stations coverMy top seller is my Middle School Math Stations Bundle. I think this resource is my best seller because when I posted it {almost 4 years ago}, there wasn’t a huge collection of hands on, station type activities for the upper grades. I’m glad teachers seem to appreciate it and use it often! The stations allow students to get up and move around the room while practicing skills necessary for success in 8th grade math. I created them when I started getting frustrated with worksheets and the lack of creativity in the resources my district was giving me to use!

Cover ThumbnailAll Things Algebra - My best seller is my Multi-Step Equations Math Lib Activity.  This is a stations activity in which students solve equations at each station in order to create a funny story about a teacher in their school.  I knew this activity was special from the moment I printed and laminated the cards! I was so excited to share this activity with my students. Each group was even more excited to share their story with me!  I think it's my best seller because it's unique and FUN!  And even better, teachers can customize it with teacher names from their own building, celebrities their students love, locations nearby, and more!

bundle coverSecondary Math Shop - I think that my best selling product is my Methods of Proving Triangles Congruent Bundle.  It includes three activities that designed to not only  help students understand the underlying concepts behind proving triangles but to also give them solid practice.  The first activity is a vocabulary matching activity helps students to match the term, definition, diagram and label together to help build a foundation of the language used.  The second activity is a cut, paste and match activity that has students examining sets of triangles to see what method or methods are being illustrated.  This allows students to perfect their recognition of the methods before applying them to proofs.  The third activity is a set of proofs that allow students to practice writing the proofs.

original-715176-1Teaching High School Math - I think my Trigonometry Identities Task Cards with QR Codes are my best selling product because teaching Trig Identities can be dry and boring.  Students need lots of practice!  These cards give teachers a chance to let students practice and incorporate their favorite thing - technology!

original-300691-121st Century Math Projects - My bestselling product is my CSI Algebra 1 eBook. I think teachers have gravitated to this product because it can be used as review, as stations or as just a rigorous math challenge. Students usually love the CSI investigation hook and it helps them persevere to the end!

coverMiss Math Dork – My best seller is my Function Match Up Activity. I think this is a best seller because it's simple, yet effective.  Students need to be flexible with their functional reasoning.  This activity has 6 different function representations which allows for flexibility and differentiation for the teacher. Teachers can differentiate by having students sort and match as few as 2 representations and as many as 6. This activity can also be used through-out the function unit as a building activity adding new representations as they are learned.

Slide1Live Love Math – My best seller is my Middle School Math Writing Prompts. I think that this is my best seller because there is a huge push to get students writing across the curriculum and especially in math. It is important for students to not only know how to do the math but also to know how to explain it in words and to justify their responses.

Slide1Hodges Herald – My best seller is my Integer Operations Flippable. I think it's a best seller because it's useful information to students all in one simple place.

PowerPoint Presentation4MulaFun – Her number one best seller is her Converting Fractions, Decimals and Percents Flippable (Foldable). This hot seller includes: 

  • Teacher Directions
  • Photos of completed Flippable
  • 6-flap shutter style flippable
  • Notes and examples for Converting Fractions, Decimals and Percents
  • Exit Ticket for Converting Rational Numbers

original-1405345-1Lessons with Coffee – My best seller is my Print and Go Interactive Math Bulletin Board. I think it is my best seller because it is something that you do not see on TPT, it allows you to decorate a bulletin board in your room, but still make it educational.


Teaching Math by Hart – My number one seller is Writing in Math Class? I believe that it is a top seller because it is a valuable way to get your students to:

  • reflect on their math understanding and learning
  • search for real life connections
  • openly write about ideas, thoughts, and feelings about math
  • become more actively involved in their learning
  • make use of the math vocabulary being used in class.

A lot of teachers don't necessarily think of incorporating journaling in math class, a concept typically associated with English language arts. However, journaling in math class is an extremely beneficial way to get to know your students as math learners.

So, there you have it! The best from some of the best! Be on the lookout for more collaborative posts from us!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

You're half way done!

Whoa, It's a Half Way Sale! You've Made it! 
Super Secondary Celebrates! 

Some Super Secondary teachers got together for a TpT sale. Fill up those wish lists and empty your carts on December 31st and January 1st. All stores will be discounted up to 20%! Enjoy!

Everyone below will be participating in the sale! Check them out! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hands on Holiday Gifts–Literally

Now that I have children, my ideas about gift giving have changed. The cards my daughter makes me and the pictures she draws mean SO much more than anything that could be bought in a store.

We used to give family gift cards for Christmas because we didn’t really know what else to get. This year, we’ve taken a different approach – one that will mean so much more than a gift card.

Our children are growing bigger each day. Everything about them will be different next Christmas. We wanted to preserve a little something about this age and decided to have them make ornaments for family using just their fingers. One ornament has a “string of lights” where the lights are made with their fingerprints. The second ornament includes two fingerprint snowmen, one from each child. The third ornament is hilarious. It was supposed to have two fingerprint reindeer on it. My daughter (the perfectionist) has cute little reindeer on her side of the ornament. The other side… well… my son decided he was over using his fingers. He took his paint brush and made a big ol mess with brown paint. It’s ok though because it still reflects who he is right now – messy and wild!

These ornaments would also be a great craft to make in the elementary classroom and send home for the students to give to their families!

photo 1

photo 3

photo 2

photo 4

In addition to the ornaments for family (of course we are keeping some too) they made a Christmas tree handprint canvas that will forever be my favorite Christmas decoration. My son refused to have his hands painted so the tree was made entirely from my daughter's hands. They both used their fingers to add the “lights” on the tree. Hopefully next year Gavin will be less concerned over messy hands (seriously though, this kid is a full mess all the time yet wouldn’t let me paint his hands) and we can make another!

photo 5

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday Nerd Libs


It's Saturday and that means it's once again time for me to get a little nerdy with my pals Mel & Gerdy. I LOVE their "Nerd-Libs" and look forward to this new link up. If you want to participate, write down these words. Don't peek below!

  • An adjective
  • The name of a store
  • A written type of communication
  • An adverb
  • An assignment
  • A verb
  • An office accesory
  • A piece of office furniture
  • Something that every teacher wants
  • A superlative adjective (I had to look that one up - math teacher problems)
  • An assignment
  • An adjective
Use the blank Nerd Lib image below to record your results! Hop over to Mel & Gerdy's blog post to link up and share your story!
Here is how my letter turned out! 



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