First Day Revisited

Wow! What a week?! I took care of all my teachers and didn't get much time to take care of myself this week. I finally sat down and really planned out my first day of school. I had a plan that I blogged about here, but that has changed a bit due to some required info that must be disseminated in each period. It's the school plan for addressing the student handbook, because we all know that it doesn't actually get read. So, each period is assigned a different part of the handbook to review with students. I thought having pages 8-11 would be no big deal, but it's actually quite a bit of information. I don't want to just read it or have my students read it, so of course, I had to come up with something a bit more interesting. Thanks, Trista for mentioning a jigsaw! The beginning of the lesson was modeled after a post by Daniel Schneider. His first day plan is so thorough and well thought-out. Okay, so here's the plan:

  • Line up by birthdays
  • Answer math question correctly to grab a partner and pick your seat. (integer questions since that will be our first lesson)
  • Seats assigned, now let's practice how you'll enter the classroom.
  • Warm-up, page 11 of handbook - highlight any phrase you think is important & underline any phrase you have a question about
  • Handbook Jigsaw - each group assigned a page to highlight & underline as modeled in the warm-up
  • "Pay attention, there's going to be a quiz afterwards."
  • Students share highlights and underlines for whole class
  • "My Life in Numbers" Quiz, followed by Prezi with answers.
  • "Student Life in Numbers" - 5 numbers important to students and why. 1-2 paragraphs. HW if not completed in class.
  • Procedure for exiting classroom.

The "Student Life in Numbers" will flow into the next day as their paper blog post. Day 2 plan:

  • Warm-up - Highlight & underline syllabus
  • Syllabus acknowledgment placed in HW folder and due tomorrow
  • "What is a Blog?" discussion & video
  • Complete paper blog post using "Student Life in Numbers" assignment
  • Discuss & show examples of good commenting vs. bad commenting
  • Post-it note commenting activity
  • Lockdown Procedures (I know that doesn't flow, but required by school)

So, that's a rough outline. Here's a copy of my SMART Notebook files (and pdf) for both days...
Day 1 - Mrs. Howard.notebook
Download File

Day 1 - Mrs. Howard.pdf
Download File

Day 2 - Mrs. Howard.notebook
Download File

Day 2 - Mrs. Howard.pdf
Download File

I feel good about it. Afraid I may have too much on day one, so it may change within the next 24 hours, but I feel good about the plan. I really hope to have a good experience with the paper blogging. It feels a bit rushed, but I have to start curriculum on day three. I'll be sure to share the results!

VistaPrint BONUS Card

So excited about this idea I borrowed from Mr. R over at Solve & Simplify. This business card can easily be issued to any student for any type of bonus i.e. extra credit points, restroom pass, choose your seat, etc.

I was given an idea at training today to give each student two restroom passes per grading period. Any restroom passes not used at the end of the grading period are good for 5 bonus points! I think I'll just use these since I'll have 250!

Calendar Math

I have always liked the ideo of calendar math and the way it is used in elementary classes. Many of the ideas that I've found for calendar math have been targeted towards elementary math skills.

On Pinterest, I ran across a link for Calendar Math for the Upper Gradesby Nasreen Wahid and I am so glad I did! he file is two pages, but I plan to shrink it to fit one page. It reviews concepts such as word form, expanded form, basic operations, fraction-decimal-percent conversions, prime/composite, greater than/less than, factoring, central tendency, area, and perimeter! And there is no need to create numbers for the problems because they all come from the date and the day in school!It could be great as a daily or weekly warm-up activity! 

Head over to TeachersPayTeachers for this great file, currently on sale for $2!

Love-Hate for Interactive Notebooks

Where to start? I think notebooking is an issue that I over-contemplate and change every year. I was only introduced to interactive notebooking two years ago. I did notebooks for a full school year and then only the first semester of the following year. It's not that I don't like notebooking, my biggest dilemma is the supplies and time needed to do it well. I know that I can cut back on time required byt prepping materials in advance i.e. cutting items down to size, shrinking docs, etc. The materials is what I've had to think about the most.

This past school year, I tried supply boxes on each group of desks. Of course, this picture is from before any students stepped foot in my classroom, and this did not last. Students did not take care of supplies and the boxes were trashed and a mess in no time.


Recently, while visiting my new school, I saw an awesome idea and I wish I'd taken a picture so that I could share it with you. The picture to the right is fromMissCalcul8's blog, which is one of my recent favorites. She decided to hang supply bags from each student desk.

So, imagine a zipper pouch...
upside down
zipped tied to the desk
and the zipper pouch holds the needed supplies.

Hope your imagination and my description brought the same picture to mind that I have in my mind. If not, I'm sorry for my poor description. Anyway, I think I may try something along these lines for supplies. The only thing is that I'll be floating, so it's not my classroom to make this call, and I may just keep supply bags that students pick up at the beginning of each class period.

In addition to the supplies, I've also debated over using spirals again or transitioning to composition notebooks. I initially chose spirals because of more space on a single page and trying to limit my notes to one page.
I have seen some awesome notebooking via Pinterest. So many show how composition notebooks work and how to accommodate more room. I imagine composition notebooks are more durable. It didn't take long for some of my students' notebooks to have no cover when we used spirals. (Click on any of the pics or captions for larger images or sources.)
So, on to the actual notebooking...ideally, the left side is for output (student info being processed) and the right side page is for input (teacher-given notes, direct instruction, etc.). This is another area where I have struggled...the left side page. Recently, I've seen some different ideas from Megan Hayes-Golding. She offers some good ideas like highlighting meaningful selected classwork or homework problems, graphic organizers, mid maps, foldables, daily warm-up, and using using Bloom's Question Starters to create questions they circle back and answer later. Head over to her blog for more information. (I'm sure you'll fall in love with her blog as quickly as I did.)

Also, Sarah of Math=Love is working bulletin board of left hand page ideas. You can see her progress here!

A new idea I've seen is how some teachers do vocabulary in their interactive notebooks and I definitely plan to adopt this or something similar.

Sarah of Math=Love offers a free download of her 6 to a page frayer model!

Now that I've discussed my struggles, let me just tell you that I love the concept. I love everything being in one location. I love having a place to keep foldables where they will stay put and are available to use for reference. I love when students keep an accurate table of contents and I see them referring to it to answer a problem. I love how students will take pride of the notebook when it's personalized and has so much needed information. I love how easy it is to give a notebook check by just asking question referring to specific pages. I love interactive notebooks. I hope to work out the logistics so that they're not as much of a pain for me this year.
Are you looking for more posts from middle school math teachers
about notebooking? If so, check out #msSunFun...

New {School} Year Resolutions

I'm linking up with Amanda from Teaching Maddenness for her New {School} Year Resolutions!
This school year, I hope to:

#1 - Build better relationships with my students and other teachers. I want to put the kids first, grades second. I think this includes being fair and consistent with students when it comes to consequences for undesired behaviors. I am also moving into a leadership role and understand that relationships with my teachers is imperative to our working .environment.

#2 - Encourage writing in math thru blogging and providing more opportunities to write during class.
I think I should include here to keep my class blog updated and current with the learning happing in our classroom as an example for students.

#3 - Find Balance! I have tendencies of a work-a-holic. I'm known for staying at school until 6 in the evening. I need to find a balance between work and home. Maybe I'll set a time to unplug because I can work or just surf the interent for hours until it's time to go to sleep. I think I'll unplug by 8!

That's it! I can think of lots of other things, but I don't usually make resolutions since I'm notorious for not stinking to them. I figure I'll stop myself with three, in hopes that less is more! Do you want to see what other teacher's are resolving this school year? Or do you want to join the linky party? It's easy...just write a blog post of your new {school} year resolutions and click the button to join the linky party!

I'm a Fiverr Fan!

So, I was inspired by Paul Anderson of Bozeman Science to try and make a quick intro clip for my flipped classroom videos. So, I google led me to some tutorials, but needless to say, they didn't work for me. Fortunately, I stumbled upon, where people are willing to do some awesome things for only five dollars. I'll let you browse Fiverr for the wide range of services you can purchase, but I am so excited to share my $5 project!
...and I couldn't resist an outro as well!
$10 well spent!