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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hop into #SpringSavings

This spring has been flourishing in more than one way! My Facebook page has been growing and it is with many thanks to people visiting my blog, TpT page and becoming followers of my small teacherprenueur business.  I have started to really look forward to the next year and half as that is my projected return to school date. My  youngest will be 3 shortly and my oldest is going to be going to VPK full-time! I have already started preparing what my classroom theme will be and I am so excited to reveal "pieces" of my Neon Dots Décor. This décor unit will be primarily for middle school math as many normal pieces of Décor packages are lacking what the typical math class requires. 

This sneak peak will highlight a few of my classroom "pieces"

1st: 2-d and 3-d Shapes
This set is so valuable during your Geometry Unit. My incoming 7th graders find it so hard to understand that there are MORE than just the basic 3-d shapes they are comfortable working with such as rectangular prisms and triangular pyramids.  With this set of posters, you will receive 22 3-d Shapes. A few favorites are the octagonal prism and dodecahedron!   You will also see the Neon Dot Theme that I will be focusing my upcoming releases of that Math Classroom Décor unit on. 
Create a large scale visual on your bulletin boards and reference the attributes, learning shape recognition and essential terms such as vertex, face and edge! You can also use the editable slides to add onto this set with any personal touches you choose! 

2nd: Sudoku Bulletin Board
I personally love interactive bulletin boards as a way to peak interest in problem solving skills for my students. Sudoku is a great MATH Game that students can play in small groups or pairs and there are plenty of websites to get puzzles to use.  I can't wait to  play this Sudoku Bulletin Board Game with my students!  Perhaps even make a championship game out of it with an ultimate Sudoku Winner!  I have so many ideas on how to implement it!  

If you have younger Sudoku Players you can opt to only using 1 board game with one set of numbers 1-9 OR up the difficulty levels with 4 or 9 board games and multiple sets of 1-9!  Now, I have seen teachers use Velcro circles for each spot but seriously, the sound of ripping Velcro can be quite noisy when other centers/stations are occurring. So, for me, I like using scotch tape and placing the original pieces on the puzzle before hand. Then, students can solve using a whiteboard marker which makes mistakes easy to handle by a wipe with a tissue.  Students don't have to guess where the original pieces go and you don't have to continuously replace the original puzzle when you conduct rotations.
3rd: Behavior Chart
When I first started teaching, I took a Classroom Organization and Management Program (COMP) through my university that I graduated from.  It provided me ample of information and techniques to make running my classroom easier.  One beautiful skill that I learned about that I have been using ever since is a Behavior Chart. I teach middle school and when you think of a Behavior Chart automatically, you assume elementary. However, in Middle School I think it is important to continue to foster positive behavior in the classroom.  Each period gets a drawer from a small bin like this one from Staples. I have a six drawer organizer that holds each periods clothes pins.  The clothes pins are labeled with each students name and everyday a student places the entire class set on "Ready to Learn". As the class progresses, students will go up or down depending on a number of factors as showing excellent behavior, participation, good deeds or acts of kindness! On the discipline level, you should follow school protocol but I have had to make parent phone calls to discuss a behavior plans.  Since implementing this behavior chart my classroom runs smoother and students are reaching for that top spot  "STAR Student"!  I pass out school bucks, homework passes, +2 points on activity grades, even jolly ranchers.  I highly recommend starting this system earlier than later!  
I am going to continue working diligently and with a purpose so please make sure you follow my store and progress as I make my way through the world of Teachers Pay Teachers and being a Middle School Math Teacher!  May the odds forever be in our favor!



Thursday, April 19, 2018

JENGA Math Center

Jenga Math Centers

One of my TOP 10 Favorite Centers

Jenga!  I'm sure you have played this super addicting game as a child and couldn't wait for someone to topple that tower so you could shout out "JENGA!".  Well... I brought that pure joy into my classroom with Math Jenga.  I started out using my original product on Rational Numbers (addition and subtraction of fractions).

It was such a hit that I have since added to my list of Jenga Editions with:

1. Rational #s
2. Inequalities
3. Scientific Notation
4. Combining Like Terms

and now... my latest edition on Proportions!!! 

You can snag these bad boys at $1.50 a pop and very soon I will be making these my first ever BUNDLE edition... ahh... my oh my! I am really excited about it!! 

These games are perfect for those quick twenty minute stations you dream of having in your math classroom.  Students will be begging to keep going, trust me! Mine, didn't want to leave after the bell rang!  Answer keys are always included.  So, how are you going to keep track of your students learning and understanding??? Well... I have taken care of that for you too with my handy dandy Workspace Document that includes sections to show their work on plus it indicates if the student has gotten the problem correct. This gives you valuable insight on your struggling students. From my classroom to yours!
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Update :::::::: JENGA 5 Editions Bundle Now Available!!!

As promised in the above entry, I have finally released my very first Bundle Edition for the enticing Math Center that I used in my very own classroom.  You will receive ALL 5 activities from the original post at a discounted rate of course ;)

However, if you so choose the editions can be sold separately if you would rather pick-n-choose which activities are right for your lesson plan. 
Jenga Bundle $7.00 or $1.50 per edition

MATH Centers

M-A-T-H Centers

Info on Centers

Starting centers in Middle School can be a daunting task. BUT... they are so worth the time and sweat with the pay off the students learn.  We all are in the know that middle school students are in a transitional phase. They exhibit character traits that are still in the developing stages so typically they're chatting, have short term attention spans and sometimes can stray to off topic conversations as easy as turning a page. All the factors weighing against establishing centers in your math classroom are real and relevant. With that being said, it is still the most valuable way to spend time in your classroom.  Peer support and communication for your low level students is beyond what you can provide to them. Just like my toddler, I can visibly see how much more he learns by watching older kids.  This is the exact way our students learn too - by observing, listening, talking through obstacles and discussing methods for problem solving. 

The age old saying, "sage on the stage" versus the "guide on the side" has been a topic of conservation in education for quite a long time. I think there is a time and place for each but the majority of your students learning, really should be guided instruction not leading them. Therefore, I am a HUGE advocate for Centers, strategic small groups and student-led activities. I prefer my time to be spent monitoring, posing questions, and inquiring on their thought process to ensure that students are concentrating on the bigger picture. This all comes with a plan of action, pre-written questions that I know I will ask at certain times, and consistent pen to paper note-taking on my part to identify students that may need some extra help. Using centers allows me to navigate the tasks easier and identify students that need remediation. It is clearly our job, as educators, to identify struggling students before an exam and prevent failure. Occasionally, it is not always a success story but I truly believe the students that I push a touch harder always appreciate the support I give.  This support may be pairing them with a higher level student, sitting them near a great note taker, giving them differentiated assignments, printed notes due to poor handwriting etc. I promise, after establishing centers in your room it is somewhat second nature to modify things to fit your individual student needs. 

Some teachers are experts in creating, implementing and completing centers (this is my category) and others are a touch shy in the beginning because the control and authority we have when it is a whole group activity is abandoned - completely <rofl>.  It is a difficult thing to do to relinquish our control and pray that students are capable of learning on their own without us to guide them to the correct way of thinking and processing information. Let me tell you, they are! It's like a child taking off training wheels. They are a bit wobbling first and may fall but eventually, with consistent practice they will flourish! This post on Teacher Centered vs Student Centered is a great read with TONS of valuable information with pros and cons to consider.  I hope you not only try centers but actively use them throughout your school year! You will never regret the leap of faith! It's exhausting but unbelievably worth it. Everyday, my students ask are we doing centers and I know yours will too!  




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!