Saturday, May 2, 2015

Calming The Chaos

The end of the year is approaching and not only are your students getting restless, but chances are you are too! In the upper grades it can sometimes be difficult to keep control in a classroom where students have checked out and many think school is over since testing is over (for the most part).

Here are a few tips for maintaining order and your own sanity!
  • Ensure now, more than ever, that all assignments are relevant to real life. Try to avoid traditional notes and worksheets this time of year. Give students hands on activities, projects and partner work. If possible, assign long(er) term activities that will take multiple class periods. Incorporate technology and some form of art if you can. The more engaged they are, the more likely they'll be to stay on task. Do you really want to be grading worksheets this late in the school year? Doubtful. Think about it this way... if you don't want to grade it or facilitate it, they aren't going to want to do it. Be fun and creative but also relevant!
  • Don't slack off. Secondary kids feed off your energy. You already know that. When you're having a bad day, they'll take it and run with it. If you start slacking on getting papers graded and returned and slacking on getting assignments prepared and planned, they will totally know it. If they sense you are sliding into the "who cares it's almost summer zone" they will quickly follow you. For them, it's a deep dark pit of no return. Once they're there, they won't crawl out until August. Stay on your game! I know it's hard when all you can dream about is that first day where you don't have to see their smiling faces, but try! Remind them that there are still expectations. You are still taking grades. The work they are getting now counts just as much as it did in October (you remember that too!). 

Some help for you! 
  • Limited Time FREE Resource! My Coffee Shop Project is a great way to keep students working on essential math skills while incorporating real world skills and group work. This resource will be free May 2 - 9 only so grab it HERE while you can! 

  • My End of Year Math Activities for Middle School Resource contains relevant, skill based activities that are different from boring worksheets or mindless word search puzzles.  You can purchase it HERE!

Hop around to check out the other end of year tips to help calm the chaos!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Math in Real Life - Furnishing A New Home

We have started the process of building our "forever home." We've picked out all of our options, signed our contract and are just waiting for the road to our street to be complete so they can actually start construction. To say I'm excited would be the understatement of the WORLD. I've already started buying a ridiculous amount few things for the new house. It's hard to buy things for a house that doesn't exist yet, so I'm having to do LOTS of measuring. 

Thanks to Pinterest, I'm determined to use IKEA for a lot of hacks around the house. First up is the sunroom that will be a playroom for our kiddos. Three of the walls are completely covered with windows that begin about 12-18 inches above the floor. Storage is going to be an issue if I don't come up with something creative. IKEA shelving to the rescue! My plan is to lay bookcases longways along the floor to allow for bins/books to be stored. I'm also going to make cushions for the tops so they can double as seats. Each wall is 20 feet long and each bookcase is 57.875 inches tall. 20 feet = 240 inches and 240 / 57.875 = 4.14 which means I could fit 4 bookcases along each wall. That's the fun math. The not so fun math is determining the cost of those shelves. I would need 12 since three of the walls will be utilizing them. Each bookcase is $59.99. $59.99 x 12 = ouch $719.88.

Next up is the living room. We have a formal living room, but I refuse to have one of those fancy rooms that nobody is allowed to go in. Rather than pay for expensive built-ins, I decided that we are going to make our own. My plan is to have the living room be almost like a library with shelving that will store all of our family photo albums and books. The living room wall where I'd put the shelving is 14 feet, 4 inches long. Each shelving unit is 29.5 inches long. 14'4" = 172 inches. 172 / 29.5 = 5.83 which means I could make the wall to wall (almost) unit with 5 of these. One is priced at $95, so 95 x 5 = $475. 

Last on the list for now is my office. I plan to have one entire wall of my office consist of shelving. I LOVE the 4x5 Kallax units because they are big and provide for lots of storage as well as display areas. The unit is 57.875 inches wide. The wall in my office is 12 feet 7.5 inches long. 12'7.5" = 151.5 inches. 151.5 / 57.875 = 2.6. Luckily for my wallet me I will only need two of these and have plenty of room to spare. One is $139, so I'd need to spend $278 for 32 units of storage.

I'm certain I'll be back with may more MIRL posts regarding this house... especially when it comes to time to paint and build a deck!

I'm linking up with a REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by 4mulaFunThe Teacher StudioTeaching to Inspire in 5th, AND MissMathDork

Friday, March 20, 2015

Test Prep Resources from the Secondary Mathletes

Chances are you are either in the middle of testing season or you are preparing for it. The Secondary Mathletes are here to help!

 Check out these fabulous resources to help your students review, get inspired and stay excited about math even during the most stressful time of year!
  • In my store I have a bunch of Common Core aligned reviews and assessments, as well as generic review packets for 6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade! You can grab them by clicking on the grade level that applies to you! 

  • Miss Math Dork has relays that provide students with a fun way to review skills. Check out her blog post about them HERE

  • Kate from To The Square Inch has just posted a 6th Grade Math Test Prep Task Cards and Recording Sheets resource. You can grab it HERE!

  • Danielle from Live Love Math has a bunch of 6th grade (and a few 5th grade) STAAR test prep items. You can see them all HERE!

  • Jennifer from 4mulaFun has a large collection of Task Cards to help your students review in a variety of different ways! Check out what she has to offer HERE

  • Elizabeth over at Hodges Herald has some posters to help keep your students inspired and ready to work! Grab them HERE

  • Secondary Math Shop has some great quick reference sheets for the second semester of Geometry. You can check them out HERE

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Teachers Helping Teachers

What happens when hundreds of wonderful TpT sellers decide to help a fellow teacher in need?

A MASSIVE fundraiser happens! 
That's what!

We call it Teachers Helping Teachers, and it came about after TpT teacher-authors heard the story of Diana Salmon, a New York teacher who lost a leg in a tragic hit and run accident.

Diana is an inspiration to all who know her, sending a message of strength and resilience by returning to the classroom just months after the accident.

Unfortunately, the extensive injuries Diana sustained require an expensive bionic knee for her to be at her dynamic best. This is where Teachers Helping Teachers comes in.

Diana's fundraising store, Bionic Teacher, is now the home of TEN limited edition resource bundles promising HUGE savings to all who purchase one. There is a bundle for everyone, and they all contain the most amazing products from top sellers! Best yet, 100% of the profits go to Diana's fund!

Visit Bionic Teacher, download the freebie for Diana's Story, and take a look at the bundles. You will be happy you did!

If you would like more information about Diana, click HERE!

To contribute to her Go Fund Me account, click HERE!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Coffee Line Discussions

Successful teacher conferences need many key ingredients. Great presentations, quality exhibits, and good coffee! This morning while waiting in the coffee line at the SCAMLE Conference, I found myself drawn to the different conversations around me. Every single person in line was an educator. Every single person was discussing something related to their jobs. 

Not one single person was talking about their students or some fabulous activity/lesson they did in class. 

What teachers are talking about in the coffee line:
  • Professional Development. Teachers need professional development. Education grows and changes almost yearly it seems so it makes sense that teachers need to grow and change as well. What doesn't make sense is the need to get more professional development as a means to "get out of the classroom." If all teachers are trying to get out of the classroom, what does that say about education today? It seems as though many teachers are trying to grow not as teachers, but as specialists and administrators and coordinators. Why? So they can leave the classroom and do something else. There is something not right here. Teachers use to LOVE to teach. Now it seems like that isn't always the case. Why? See my next point. 
  • Data. I was in line for coffee for 30 minutes. It was an early morning and a long line. The two teachers in front of me discussed methods of data collection and analysis for all 30 minutes. Assess this, track this, group by this... What about the kids? What about the instruction? Teaching used to be about helping our students grow. Not tracking their data and grouping them by race, socioeconomic status and gender. What about the kid who didn't pass the mandated test but has greatly improved their behavior this year. The kid who didn't pass the test but has completely 100% of his homework this year as opposed to 15% last year. That is the data that should matter, yet that is the data that isn't measured. 
  • Salary. Insert sigh here. Chances are, if you are currently in education, your salary has been frozen at some point. This is SUCH an issue for teachers everywhere and unfortunately, an issue that doesn't look to have a solution coming soon. One teacher was talking about her change from an administration role to a specialist role. This change resulted in a lower salary for her (despite having the same degrees). She LOVES what she's doing now but the pay cut has hurt her family. Her husband, also a teacher, works a part time job FIVE NIGHTS a week after teaching to help supplement the pay cut she took when she left administration. She's considering going back into a position she didn't love because of the money. It's a shame to hear someone consider leaving a job they love because it isn't financially benefitting their family.

Monday, March 2, 2015

ePIc Pi Day Giveaway!

Hello! Remember me? February was a crazy month for our family. My son had pneumonia and a "little project" at my grandma's house turned into a 3 week complete bath and kitchen renovation due to rotting wood and mold. Everything is back in order {for now} so hopefully I'll be back to blogging this month! 

I'm coming back with a pretty fabulous giveaway hosted by 4mulaFun! Over $314 worth of great items {mostly fabulous gift cards} are up for grabs! Scroll through the rafflecopter below and enter to win all 31 awesome prizes! The giveaway is open until midnight central time on 3/13.  Be sure to check out 4mulFun's blog each day this week for guest posts about awesome Pi Day Activities! I'm the guest poster over there today so check it out!


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