Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here They Come!

So as I browsed around Target the other day I stumbled upon perhaps one of the most horrifying things for a middle school student...SCHOOL SUPPLIES! That's right--school is right around the corner, which got me thinking of some things to start off the year.

At my school we are big into team building (I am very fortunate!) among the students, so the first two days of school they stay with their advisories and we do many "getting-to-know-you activities". This really eases the nerves of many of our students making the transition to middle school...not so scary. It also builds a great sense of community with the teacher and their fellow classmates in advisory.

The third day is the first day they go to all of their classes. We go over the basic rules, routines, and policies of class. But before that, I hand each student an index card and ask them to put on the card "Why I do not like math". Usually I hear a small murmur-with comments like, "I hate everything haha", which is what most put. I then ask for volunteers to read aloud their responses. As the students read their answers some don't know what to think and look straight at me as if I may get offended to what they say (well sometimes I do but I don't hold it against them :D), no no, I just sit quietly listening with a smile. After a few read theirs, I collect the index cards, hold them up and say in a very optimistic tone--"By the end of this year, this will change, you can count on that".

At the end of the year I hand the index cards back to them and have them reflect on their opinion at the beginning of the year until the end, and see how their answer has changed.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What's in a name?

"That's so isosceles!" was a constant phrase I heard this year in class. During a lesson about classifying triangles one of my classes just thought the word isosceles was the coolest word ever-so later on in the year when they would learn something cool--they would say, "That's so isosceles!". Well that cracked me up first of all, but I wanted them to not only remember the name, but what it meant. So when they would say that I would say, "which is????" and they would respond by saying "Two congruent sides!" So now you know where this crazy blog name came from.

Magic Number Seating Chart

I can remember my first day of 7th grade--new school, new people, worried to get to class on time, trying to get the hang of the whole locker thing, not to mention getting to the right classroom and most importantly knowing where to sit. Which makes me think, many teachers assign seats alphabetically on the first day of school--others let the students sit anywhere they want. I do neither. I do something I call "The Magic Number" seating chart.

I numbered all the desks with a brightly colored/laminated number and then had a set of the same numbers in a stack. When the students would walk into the classroom, I would hand them a number and they would find the corresponding desk and sit there for that day. This was done everyday, so the students sat in a different spot and were working in different groups each day.

At first the kids got confused, because this is something very new to them-they are used to being assigned a seat and sitting there for a long period of time. But it only took them a couple days to get the hang of it. The students really liked this method and I would assign a student each month to be in charge of picking up everyone's ticket after the bell rang--they took pride in making sure the cards were kept in good shape and making sure every number was picked up again. I did have a couple students switch cards so they could sit by each other--so each time I saw that, I would take the students to the side and assign them a permanent seat. This rarely happened though-the students really enjoyed the idea of getting a different seat everyday.

At the beginning of the year I gave out a seating chart for the students when there is a substitute teacher, and had a copy of this available for the sub as well. I also made this my test day seating chart, so the students would remember where they would sit when I did call in a sub.

I love this seating chart because it gets the students around different classmates everyday--building a better sense of community. It isn't a lot of work AT ALL as long as the first few days you make sure the students are on track. Also, Some of my lessons include working in cooperative learning groups, some are a solo effort, and some learning activities require an open space in the room, so needless to say, my arrangement changes quite frequently. It took me a couple years of just making a new seating chart every time I would change the room around, until I found this.


Monday, July 5, 2010


Happy First Post!

This is somewhat of a challenge for me, being a numbers-artsy-oriented person myself, but I want to broaden my horizons and figure that what better time to do this than the summer time! Besides, I am one of those "weird" teachers that rather than countdown until the last day of school....I actually countdown until school begins, so anything to pass the time.

I teach 7th grade Math, Pre Algebra, and a Teen Leadership (7th-8th) course. My math classes are not the most "traditional" math classes. We do many art projects, activities, and I make most of my own worksheets. I know what you are thinking "Where do you get the time?!" Well some of the activities I create never make it to the classroom, but they are always there just in case!

The Teen Leadership class is awesome-we do many Character Education activities, but mainly focus on video production and photography. We create videos about character-and pretty much anything else that the students think of--Last year we re-made the "Thriller" video with a drug free theme for Red Ribbon Week--and many more videos that I will post and talk about in the future.

I am creating this blog not only to share my ideas but to make a place where educators can share theirs as well. So please read-use the ideas-and post your own. Enjoy!