Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2013

First Day of Math Class Activity - Pentominoes Revisited

Back at the beginning of August, I wrote about using pentominoes on the first day of math class . I used this activity again today, on the first day of math with my new classes, and I am so glad that I did! I was again so impressed with the way the students worked together and were so persistent in trying to make that rectangle! I did give the class a hint after about 10 minutes or so, showing them the 2 pentominoes that go at the top of the rectangle. I have a magnetic set that I can use on the blackboard, which is pretty handy. In all classes, we spent about 20-25 minutes working on the task, which was longer than last year, I believe. And, I think I waited a little longer this year before giving them any hints, because we had more time. In my first two classes, only one group finished (after using the hint....or two), and they finished at the very end of the period. In my 3rd and 4th classes, a group finished early enough to go around to the other groups and offer them help.

Name Game

First day of school tomorrow!! On the first day of school, I can't get much done until I learn my students' just bothers me when I don't know them. So, we play a name game every year. This is the name game that I like to use: First, we get into a circle. Then I ask the students to try to think of an adjective that starts with the same sound as the first sound of their first name. (A few students usually need help with this, so if they do, we take suggestions from other students.) Once everyone has their adjective, we start around the circle. The first student states his/her adjective and name. The second person repeats the first person's adjective and name and then adds his/her own. The third person repeats the first and second people's information and adds his/her own. This continues around the circle, so that the last person (me!)  has to repeat all of the students' names. This really helps me to learn the names quickly, and it helps the stu

Memory Wheels - First Day, Last Day, and Any Day in Between!

This post has been moved to:

Getting Things Done in the Classroom!

Check out my new site: In between meetings the past two days, I've gotten a little more classroom work done. I made an area and perimeter "poster" to cover one of my closet doors (yes, I did see this idea on Pinterest!). Hopefully the kids will notice it throughout the year! We won't get to these topics of study until later in the year; however, the Mental Gymnastics book that I use for morning work does address area and perimeter throughout the year, so I know they will be able to use the poster as a resource. old, messy whiteboards! I also decided to redo the kid-sized whiteboards that I've had for years. I had these cut at Home Depot quite a while ago, and used them often when I taught at the elementary level. I haven't used them quite as much in middle school, but my math classes are going to be a bit smaller this year (yay!), so I'm thinking I may use them a bit more. I used some nifty Duck Tape to make them

First Day - Getting to Know You

Five days until my first day with students! Last year, as a little "getting to know you" activity, we designed hot air balloons. I made the tracer and an example, and the students then traced and designed their own balloons. I asked them to draw pictures/designs that showed something about themselves, and they had to write a goal for the year on the basket part of the balloon. These looked so nice last year..... I laminated them and hung them along the top of the walls in the hallway. Most students took them home at the end of the year but a couple of students moved away, without their balloons, so I still have them for examples this year. I wish I had taken a picture of all of them when they were hanging up!  This year I will:) A few great things about this activity: it was a little bit time-consuming, so whenever we had down time in the first couple of days, they had something to work on; setting the goal for the year made them think about what they could focus on for t

Sunday Surprise: Footloose Freebie!!

I'd love for you to check out my new site - I have to head off to take my son to college in a few minutes, but before I do, I wanted to share this Footloose freebie! Click to download from TPT This is a Footloose game to help students practice finding areas and perimeters of rectangles. This Footloose game includes 30 question cards that require students to: calculate area and perimeter of rectangles: find missing sides; find perimeter when given area and a side length; compare areas and perimeters of rectangles. When playing Footloose, students solve every problem and record their answers in the corresponding box on the Footloose grid that they each receive. To get the freebie, click on the Footloose picture and download!

Working on the Classroom!

I've spent many hours at school so far this week - finally:)  I spent quite some time cleaning off my shelves...I keep sooo many things that I might use. So, I threw away some items and organized the rest....mostly. I still have some organizing of new materials I've made. Besides cleaning and making 110 hornets for our team bulletin board (took forever!), I put up the new items I've made in the past week. These ideas are based on many great ideas found on Pinterest. My clock idea is a little different than the clocks I've seen so far...I decided to use basic facts for now, because even though the kids "should" know them by 6th grade, quite a few of them do not. I'm hoping that using division facts in this way will help them more quickly than usual. I'm starting with the 7s, and plan to switch to something new each month (maybe every two weeks...we'll see.)  I'm excited about the coordinate plane! It's laminated and on an accessible

How Much Math Homework??

I am very curious about math homework in middle school, from a teacher perspective:     How much math homework do you give?     What kind of homework do you give?     How do you go over it in class? Let me explain why I ask these questions. I have taught 6th grade math for eight years, and every year, my goal is to "perfect" the homework issue. My basic issue is that I feel that I spend too much time going over it (not necessarily every day, but often). In the past, we have reviewed homework in the following ways:    1. going over answers as a class    2. self-checking answers that are on the board and sharing any questions    3. partner-checking and then verifying    4. choosing only a few problems to check When I taught elementary school (for 12 years), I never seemed to have this problem....we had 60 minutes for class and I never struggled to fit everything in. But at middle school, we have 44 minutes (minus time to switch for classes), and I just haven't fo

Workin' on It Wednesday

A super-quick post to share that I got something done today!  :-) After some cleaning, and QUITE a bit of time trying to work on my blog design (unsuccessfully!), I finally made myself get around to working on something for my classroom. I made "horizontal" and "vertical" signs to put above/beside my door frame. This idea was on Pinterest, and I believe it came from The Applicious Teacher's blog. Just need to get them laminated, and I can put them up in my room. Yay! Since I didn't get much school stuff done today, I better get myself moving a little earlier in the day tomorrow!

When is Lunch??

How do students get to know the schedule, teachers, principals, guidance counselors, locations, etc when they start at a new school?? When our sixth graders come to us, they are brand new to middle school, very nervous about such a large building, and have so many questions.....when do the class periods end, where is the nurse, how do the lockers work, WHEN IS LUNCH?? To help my homeroom students with all this information, I set aside time on the first day of school to have them find answers to some of these questions, using their assignment book/handbook. The information sheet I give them has about 30 questions about the school, including our homeroom number and the names of all the teachers on our team. This helps them get familiar with both their handbook and all of this new info. Then, over the next couple of days, we play "I Have, Who Has" with these questions several times. This really seems to help them learn and remember important details about their new school, and

Math Class - First Day Activity

Rectangle of pentominoes Many 6th graders seem to have a pretty negative attitude about math, so I try to do something interesting to "grab" them during our first class. Last year, during the first math class, we spent part of the period working with pentominoes. Before working with the pentominoes, however, we played a name game so we could learn each others' names (I find it impossible to start anything else if I don't know some names, and fortunately, I learn them fairly quickly). rectangle outline For the activity, I divided the students into groups of 3 or 4. The directions for the activity were not complicated - the task was to make a rectangle, using all of the pentominoes. I gave students an outline of the rectangle, as pictured to the left, so they would know the correct size of the rectangle. The squares in the grid are each one inch. The rectangle is 5 squares (inches) wide and 13 inches long (13 inches includes the row that has the "Pent

Mental Gymnastics...whew!

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was, "I'm done!" I've spent most of the summer working on a book of daily math problems for my math classes, and I finally finished (this morning at 2 a.m.....I wasn't going to bed until I was done). I've been working on it almost nonstop for the past week because I just wanted to get it DONE.  I feel so free today! Mental Gymnastics is the name I use for our warm ups/daily math/problem of the day. A few years ago, I decided that I needed a different name for warm ups and thought Mental Gymnastics was appropriate. I usually call it MG for short. I decided to make my own book, because I just haven't found a resource that I really like. For a few years, I used the Daily Math Review by Evan Moor, but that goes by week (Week 1 Mon, Tues, Wed....Week 2, Mon, Tues Wed). If we skipped a day, we were on the "wrong" day of the week. So, I made my MG go by numbers, 1-180. I also included fewer problems e