Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Winter is Here!

October and November (almost to the end) has come and gone! Where did the last two months go?  I remember, they have been filled with diy Dinosaur Costume attire and Thanksgiving menu prep <rofl>  It has for sure been a good Fall but I am really looking forward to cooler weather, camp fires and Christmas Lights.  We just got ours up and the twinkling glow is already filling my heart with positive vibes.

On to the real business of things.  I am hear to shout to the moon and back, that kids love Christmas Holidays. You know, the excitement and childlike behavior that fills your middle school classroom with chaos and shenanigans. Each day ends with a countdown of when you are released as well!  Turn all that negative energy into positive ones with Winter Themed Activities that are not only fun but challenging for your Math classes!

I am a huge advocate of Winter Break material. I teach at a Title 1 school, which means I have many students that are of low economic status. I large amount are second language learners and/or migrant families.  I love these kids but I can count on one hand, which students will practice their math skills without me making them do it.  The last year before staying at home to raise my two children, I created Winter Break Packets for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students based off skills that they have previous learned.  This is used as a spiral review in most cases and I highly recommend all teachers really using them. It will definitely help for those 2-3 weeks when students are doing nothing but engaged on social media, sleeping in, or vegging out on the couch. I hate, hate, hate having to re-teach concepts that were totally completed prior to breaks. It is frustrating to spend additional time reviewing covered standards (although, in some cases it is needed!) and since I started using Winter Break material it has definitely cut down on the wasted time of refreshing their memories (I blame the amnesia)

My first Crack the Code activity was released for Fall but I extended the idea into Winter with some great questions on Percentages.  Which are taught at the end of the Ratios & Proportional Relationship Unit. My students are pros with Percents. I always tell them, that the math we learn in Middle School becomes the math that we use in our daily lives. Grocery shopping, eating out, purchasing merchandise or even beginning banking. It is not only vital for them to learn it but understand where they will be applying these mathematical concepts to.  It is more difficult when you are teaching Trig but Algebra and Geometry have some real connections to our daily lives that are digestible for the average 13 year old to grasp.  This edition includes 20 Percent problems using percent increase/decrease, sales tax, tip, discounts, simple interest, commission, and percent of equations.  Not only do students solve each problem but then, they must use the Crack the Code Key to decipher the codes to translate a decrypted Winter Inspired quote by Kahlil Gibran.

Another super easy and fun activity to use during Winter is my Combining Like Terms: Color by Solution!  This is perfect for when you are starting the Expressions & Equations Unit. Before starting my unit of Equations, I want to ensure that my students completely grasp the Expressions Unit first. Therefore, they aren't trying to figure out a balanced equation prior to knowing, fluently, Order of Operations, inverse operations and exponents.  This product uses the Distributive Property throughout the 9 challenging questions with up to 4 Like Terms.  It is difficult for your lower level students but be assured that this is something they need to know how to do before moving on... and... yes, your sixth graders can do it! Have faith! Raise that rigor bar slightly above their personal capabilities and set the challenge for them. They will reach it! Afterwards, they will enjoy the whimsy coloring page associated with it which will also make assessing their work a breeze. Your welcome :)

If you are already looking at a bundle, check these out!  I included my Crack the Code: Percents activity in it but the other three activities are exclusive to this Expressions Bundle.  It includes 4 NO PREP activities which make creating a Winter Break Packet a no brainer! Literally, print, staple and deliver to your students to complete.  All of them come with options of printing in color or black/white to save ink.  Included in this purchase along with the Crack the Code activity is 16 Winter Themed Task Cards, a Spinner Activity with a peer review component (optional - could use a family member) and another color by code Oder of Operations Themed activity. Your administration will love that you are a go getter with a powerful insight on not wasting any down time!

To remind you, Winter Break material should be review style, so - nothing new here ladies and gents. You'd hate to get a phone call while away of an upset parent not having a clue where to find the notes covering this material.  Now, you can just sit back and relax. Enjoy looking at your decorated Christmas tree and sipping hot cocoa by a toasty fire (in my case, sunshine and mimosas since I live in Florida) and reap the rewards of students returning with no loss of information or amnesia of the brain!  Winter is here let's all Cheer!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bringing Back Holidays to the Classroom!

There is no question that students (and teachers) get giddy over the Holidays at the end of the year.  It is jammed pack with celebrations such as Halloween, Fall Festivals, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Winter Break and New Years. Mind you, that all of these are within three short months!  That is why it is so important to acknowledge the excitement and in turn, draw the chaos into a controllable way with Fall and Winter Inspired Activities! 

Fall Themed Activities:
These are all perfect for a 5th to 6th Grade Math Classroom!

Fraction Task Cards with QR Codes
First, is my Fractions Set of Fall Themed Activities!  The Task Cards include QR Codes that can be easily scanned for a self-checking answer key. I L-O-V-E using technology in my class and I know you would too if you had the right type of easily accessibly tech for your students to use!  Most if not all, upper elementary to middle school students have used QR Codes before! Therefore, the instructional know-how is already done! Just in case, I have included in the step by step process a few free apps for Windows and iPhones that can be downloaded prior to beginning.  After downloading, the game is on!  I like using these in a center and since I only do 20-25 minutes of center activities I know not all questions will be solved. However, I do provide students with a workspace document to show all their steps which makes assessing them a breeze. I can really look at their work and figure out where they are struggling.  The QR Codes makes the self-reflection portion super easy for them and gives them less anxiety when approaching a more difficult word problem.  This set includes 16 color or black/white Word Problem Task Cards to solve. Each has a Halloween touch including dressing up, candy, witch potions and so much more!  Your students really will get a kick out of some of the funny themes that I created!

Cooking with Fractions: Color by Solution
Next, allow your students a chance to explore in the kitchen with Fall recipes without the mess!  There are 7 Word Problems all about recipes, cooking, baking and much more.  Students will practice using all four functions with fractions (not always a crowd favorite) and coloring a whimsy Fall Inspired page which is great for quick checks!  This product also includes a self-reflection component and two follow-up questions.  My students love coloring, even my older students! It brings back their fond childhood memories and creativeness that can be lost in a structured math classroom.
Crack the Code: Adding & Subtracting Mixed Numbers

The third (for now!) is one of my favorite types of worksheet based activities! Crack the Codes! In this product, students will solve 15 Mixed Number problems using addition or subtraction (again hitting home the idea of finding common denominators!). After the solution is found, students will take the referenced image and use the Crack the Code Key to decipher into a letter.  I take this a step further by using a cryptic message. In this case, students finally decode a Fall Inspired Quote by Oscar Wilde. 
I have received some really positive feedback from customers who loved these activities. Some of the comments include:
  • Ally P. said, "This was so fun. I did this with my intervention group last week and they loved it. When they couldn't find their answer they knew they had to redo the problem or simplify. It made it so easy for me to go around and do quick checks on what each of the students were struggling with!"
  • Anonymous said, "a great resource!"

These three activities would fit perfect in your classroom. Some ideas to get your creative juices following include NO PREP Centers (especially when you are gearing up for time away from the classroom), Holiday Break Packets (material for students to focus on while away from school), Homework, Small Groups and Strategic Pairings!  The options really are open to your imagination but full enjoyment will be had!

Stay tuned because I will be reflecting on my Winter Themed Activities next! I am just wrapping up a few loose ends and recovery from a very blessed Thanksgiving of which I hosted 24 people including family and friends!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Back to School 2017

I have been devoting many hours in product creating since May to ready my store for this HUGE back to school event. Last year and the years prior, I just didn't have time to spare in between juggling work, married and new mom life I was just trying to complete my daily tasks.

I will give myself props now since I have been a master at accomplishing things haha But... on the serious note!

My goal was clear: Sell more than I did last year!  Since my sales were close to dismal the prior year it was my driving force!  I marketed myself on my regular teacher blogs and Facebook that I was doing a storewide sale of 20%. The sale lasted three days prior to one of the biggest TpT site wide sales for Back to School.  My experiment was to test if I increased the days of the sales for my customers they would purchase items prior to the big sale. 

I am a guppy right now swimming in a current surrounded by Megalodons to put in perspective how competitive Teachers pay Teacher is! So I wanted to find a way to reach more customers by having additional days they could buy my on sale items.  I think it worked! But, there are still a few more days to figure out the end results! 

Don't forget the guppies out in the world - We have some AMAZING products to offer!
Ready, Set, Go - Check out my Products!!! Grab them while they are HOTTTTT

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Creating My First .GIF Banner!

As I am on this TpT journey, I hope to share my insights with you as well! If you are an active TpT'er you will notice somethings that the normal "sellers" just don't have in their store. One of these items have been on my To-Do-List since opening my store. Rotating Banners, seems easy right?! Well... I'm pleased to Present (drumroll...) My very first and personally created ROTATING BANNER!  <the crowd screams - ahhhh>
This task may seem to have been an easy one BUT... Let me tell you! Noooo! It was actually very tedious in finding the correct directions. Many people purchase pre-made banners, but I really like to add my own style to my store! What do you think???? 

Kudos to Home Run Teaching, her step-by-step directions were exactly correct and was so useful! Visit her store here! 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Weekly Bell Work

Weekly Bell Work

Whole Numbers for 6th Grade Review

Whole Numbers Bell Work

I have been working on making my warm-ups available and now the first two series are up! Weekly Bell Work: Whole Numbers (Freebie) and Weekly Bell Work: Whole Numbers Word Problem Edition. These two series are part of many more to come!

They both are extremely useful with a particular focus on Whole Numbers using Addition and Subtraction. I will be completing my sixth grade warm-ups prior to releasing seventh and eighth grade.

However, you can stay informed by following me on Pinterest, Blogger or TpT!

Ratios & Unit Rates Bell Work

Since the above release of my first two units in the 6th Grade Bell Work Set, I have finished with a very fun warm-up revolving around Ratios and Unit Rates. It is one of my personal favorite units because ratios are vital to understanding proportions, similarity and not to mention fractions!  One of the many goals with these warm-ups is to grab your students attention and get them thinking immediately when class starts.  My Bell Work is fast, fun and engaging. It takes the teacher out of the center of the room and allows for them to complete daily tasks such as attendance, returning of graded materials and prepping for the activities to follow.  I always supply an answer key making reviewing seamless. My goal is to encourage high performance teaching with equally rigorous materials. 

New Blogger

Well... Let me start with how excited I am that my personal teaching journey has lead me to become a BLOGGER! 

It's a big step in my realm for my own individual growth and reaching out to my followers.  Thank you for all your continuous support and feedback. 

Please take a moment and visit my TpT store HERE

"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you" -B.B. King


Let me tell you a bit about myself... HI! My name is Tiarra Arthur! 
I am passionate about middle school math and came to love it by accident!  HA!  Here's a bit of my background for you:

In college my major was Secondary Education, so I knew I wanted to be a teacher -- However, my focus was on Biology NOT Math!  After graduating, there was no openings in my county for ANY science positions and I hastily snatched a teaching position as an English pool teacher.  I joined the school system mid-year so I had my work cut out for me. At the end of that year, I was presented an opportunity by my amazing Principal to secure a 7th Grade Math Classroom.  I jumped at it since science and math go hand in hand.  

I was up for the challenge! 

That year, was full of excitement for me. Not only was I a young teacher learning the ways of the world but I was also wanting my students to absorb information.  During that first year, I found my passion in creating math activities centered around stations or rotations.

So many trials and tribulations lead me to becoming a proficient Math Teacher and a stronger one at that!  Middle school students are unlike their younger and older counterparts - anyone can tell you that!  They have a strange mix of childlike mentalities in a almost teenager body --haha!

With that being said, it was a difficult adjustment for my students and myself included. I was so comfortable in college teaching science that I knew I had to implement those teaching processes to my current field of Math.  So I did!  I started from the ground up, literally! No one in my grade level was using centers so I was "all by myself" <singing the song too> BUT, I was confident in my abilities. 

In the end it was a beautiful experience and extremely valuable at that. That year, after assessments were completed our data came back from the county that I had the top performing students in my grade level! Toot my horn - whoop whoop!  All I can say, is that centers is where its at! 

Follow my Blog and learn my secrets :) I look forward to this experience!!!!