Blog Posts for the First Days of School!

It’s back to school time!!

Here is a compilation of posts that will hopefully help with all of your “Back To School” planning.  I thought that putting them all in one place would be helpful. Happy planning and welcome back to school!

Customized Sticky Notes and Stickers!

I love the fun stickers that Sam Shah and Allison Krasnow make for their students!  I haven’t created customized stickers for my students in the past. Instead, I usually make customized sticky notes.  I love using sticky notes because the students can return them to me.  My favorite new sticker that I made is one that students write their name and number (for quick alphabetizing) on, and then I stick it on their group folder.  I love that they are sticky because I can easily re-arrange them when I change groups.

Individual Sticky Notes

Name sticker for group folder.

Group folders are another awesome Sam idea that I keep meaning to blog about! At the beginning of the year I use a “Home Enjoyment” sticky note where I can check off improvements I would like to see in their homework.  I have an, “Oops, I’m tardy!” sticky note, where they write the reason for their tardy on the note.  I also made a “See me after class” sticky that they return to me. Once they return them to me, I stick them onto a page in a binder so I can keep an accurate record. These come in handy for parent meetings. Sticky notes are usually cheaper unless there is a sticker sale, especially when you cut them in half!

I completely forgot to order more sticky notes last year.  But seeing Allison Krasnow’s My Favorite at TMC19, reminded me, and even made me want to order stickers!  I can’t wait to encourage students with these stickers, on their best as well as their worst days.

Here are the sticky notes that I created, and the notes and stickers that I created from Allison (and Sam’s) posts.  The round stickers are 1.5″ because they were cheaper.  I usually shop at Vista Print when they have a sale!  The stickers and notes are so easy to create because Vista Print has so many ready made templates!

Julie

 

My Favorite (Cooking) Things with Recipes!

As a full time teaching mom with three teen boys in sports, I have a few important requirements for dinner.

  • Quick and easy:  I am the worst with meal planning and prep. Before I went back to work, and the kids were into so many sports and activities, I would plan out meals, prepare things in advance, and even make freezer meals sometimes.  I was so together.  Yeah, that is over.
  • Healthy:  I have three teenaged boys who play sports and prefer to eat healthy as much as possible.  So my comfort meals are nice, but need to be sparing.  I need to make healthy meals as often as I can.
  • Quick and easy clean-up:  In addition to sports, and my two oldest are taking four AP classes each next year.  So as much as well all love a good home cooked meal, clean up cannot take forever.  They have too much work at night, and often, so do I .  I want my kids to look forward to a great meal with their family, not dread it because there will be a huge clean up process afterwards.

main_variation_Default_view_1_425x425..jpegSo far, I have found two things that fit all of these requirements, my Staub cast iron skillet and my InstanPot.  I am probably WAY late on the band wagon, but I just discovered “One-Skillet” meals using a high quality enameled cast iron skillet.  And I am telling you, I AM IN LOVE.  Busy teacher moms, you need this Staub Skillet.  You can sear your meat, throw on some veggies, and then throw it in the oven to finish cooking!  It is a time saving game changer.  I love this skillet because it was easy to use and clean up, thanks to the enameled coating.  But what made me love it even more was that my entire family loved this really simple (and healthy) meal!  OK, I know I sound like an infomercial, but busy teaching moms need help.  And if I can make a dinner in 10 minutes of “work time” I am in!  I got my 10″ skillet from Sur La Table, and they even have free shipping right now!  A 10″ skillet will fit four large chicken breasts.  But that isn’t enough for my family, and I love left-overs, so I just ordered a second 10″ skillet.

Cost of two 10″ skillets = Cost of one 12″skillet

7180ANtxfGL._SX569_.jpgMy other favorite thing is the InstaPot.  It makes soft boiled eggs in under 10 minutes.  I steam fresh green beans in it.  And most recently, I cooked perfect brown rice in it.  Tonight my son was so disappointed that I didn’t make white rice like he has at school, until he tasted it!  And it was so easy.  I put my recipe below.

I’ve only tried two recipes in my skillet, but my family raved about how great it was so I had to share!  I would love more recipes if you have a favorite!

Recipes

Basically, don’t make skillet cooking hard.  Season and sear the meat, remove the meat from skillet, put liquid of your choice in skillet to get the seared stuff unstuck from the skillet, put meat back in, top with fresh veggies if desired, then transfer to the oven to finish.  You can add your seasonings, extras (GARLIC!), and liquid. I recommend wine, but you could also use broth.

Skillet Garlic Lemon Chicken

  1.  Season chicken.  I used garlic salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper (for some spice).
  2. Heat some olive oil in the pan and then sear it, for about 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove the meat and add some liquid to get the stuff in the pan loose and in your sauce!  I probably use half a cup of wine, and about half a lemon. This will bubble up so beautifully, and you can whisk up all of the stuff in the pan.
  4. Optional:  Add more stuff, like garlic or herbs! I press at least 3 bulbs of fresh garlic into my bubbling broth.  Garlic cooks fast and you don’t want it to burn!  So as soon as it starts sizzling, turn off the heat.
  5. Put the chicken back in the skillet, and then add chopped veggies on top!  I then sprayed them with Olive Oil and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook for 10-15 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.

So, the entire meal is in the oven and I have 10-15 minutes to chill before dinner.  And then clean up is ONE skillet!  Rice goes really well with this, so I cooked some in the InstaPot.  And I sometimes make a salad.

Perfect Brown Rice in the InstaPot

Warning:  Is is really not “Instant” rice.  It will still take at least 30 minutes to cook the rice in a pressure cooker, 10 minutes to come to pressure, 15 minutes to cook, 5 minutes to release pressure.  So plan accordingly.  It’s not really much quicker, however it’s just worth it because it is low maintenance and comes out perfectly every time.  

  1. Use equal parts rice to liquid. Too much liquid will make your rice mushy (yes, this happened to me the first time).  I used chicken broth instead of water because it makes the rice very flavorful.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  3. Once it finishes, let the InstaPot release the pressure naturally.
  4. Season it how you like.  My kids like some butter in their rice, but it doesn’t take much!

Creamy Cilantro Chicken

I also have to include this recipe, Easy One Skillet Creamy Cilantro Lime Chicken, as my son loved it!  I used reduced fat sour cream and it still made the most incredible sauce!

Again, I am sure that I am the only one who is not already making one-skillet meals!  So please let me know if you have a great one!

Julie

 

Blog in August to Participate in the Virtual Conference on Mathematical Flavors!

The amazing Sam Shah has created a virtual math conference for the month of August and he would love to feature your blog post!  To participate, write a blog post that answers the prompt below and submit it from now until August 27th.  You can read more about the details and even get blogging ideas on Sam’s Blog.  Once submitted, your blogpost will be featured with the keynote blogs of the week from Ben Orlin, Annie Perkins, Rebecka Peterson, Dan Meyer, Robert Q Berry III, Matt Enlow, Michael Pershan, Lybrya Kebab, and Tracy Zager.

The prompt that you will blog about is:

How does your class move the needle on what your kids think about the doing of math, or what counts as math, or what math feels like, or who can do math?

Your teaching practice has an impact on how your kids think about mathematics. Our classrooms are little bubbles and while kids are sitting in them, they are picking up all kinds of signals about mathematics. You might have students leaving a year with you thinking mathematics is collaborative, or that it requires taking risks, or that it is hard but hard is okay. We all have our own unique flavor of mathematics that we are imparting to students through how we orchestrate our classes day in and day out.” – Sam J Shah

Click here to read more about the virtual conference!

Weekly Keynotes and Deadlines

  • To be featured on Week 1 with Ben Orlin and Annie Perkins, submit your blogpost by noon on July 30th
  • To be featured on Week 2 with Rebecka Peterson and Dan Meyer, submit your blogpost by noon on August 6th
  • To be featured on Week 3 with Robert Q Berry III and Matt Enlow, submit your blogpost by noon on August 13th
  • To be featured on Week 4 with Michael Pershan and Lybrya Kebreab, submit your blogpost by noon on August 20th
  • To be featured on Week 5 with Tracy Zager, submit your blogpost by noon on August 27th

Happy Blogging!  I would love to see your blog post at the conference!

Julie Reulbach

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“Teacher Leader, You Are Enough” Keynote, #TMC18

This summer, I was fortunate enough to be asked to give a keynote to the most brilliant and innovative math educators in this county, and beyond.

Of course I started it out as a pep rally (thanks Courtney and Sam), because that is who I truly am.  My friends know me.  TMC is NOT your typical math teacher conference!  But then, I had to get serious, because I am very passionate about teaching, and I wanted to share what has been on my heart.  However, I did not expect to make teachers cry.  And I did not expect that their powerful responses to my talk would make me cry.

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To all of the teachers out there, please remember that even on your worst days, YOU ARE ENOUGH.  Also, please don’t disappear, we need you.  We all need each other.

IMG_2992I can mail you a sticker if you want one.  Or, you can print it out using the png file.

Watch the entire Teacher Leader keynote on YouTube.

Thank you to Lisa Henry for that hilarious (and surprise) bio!  Thank you to everyone who took and shared pictures!  And a special thanks to everyone who helped me prepare.  ❤

Love, Julie

 

 

YOU ARE ENOUGH Stickers!

I taped all of the stickers to the chairs during the FIRST morning session of TMC.  Yes, they were there the entire time folks!  

 

I’ve had many requests for the stickers that I taped under the chairs for my keynote.  I will happily mail you stickers!  But my life is pretty crazy, so I will need some help from you!  To get the stickers, please send me a self-addressed stamped envelope with the number of stickers you want.  It is $1 for 2 stickers.  I also have to order more stickers, so it will be a couple of weeks before I can get them and mail them out.  

  1. You will need TWO envelopes and a stamp.
  2. Snail mail me:
    1. An envelope that is self-addressed (has your address on it).
    2. Please put a stamp on it. I have like 3 stamps in my house.
    3. Yes, you will put your stamped envelope inside the envelope you are mailing to me.
  3. Include $1.00 and I will mail you 2 stickers.  If you want more, just add more money!  $1 for every 2 stickers is what Sticker Mule charges me.  🙂
  4. I didn’t want to put my mailing address on my blog, so please Go to this form and fill it out to get my mailing address.

Or, you can print it out using the png file.

My #TMC18 Sticker Story

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200+ chairs is NO JOKE people, and I knew it would take me a while.  My friends offered to help me tape them to the chairs after everyone had left for the day.  But, the evening activities started up pretty soon after TMC ended each day so I was worried I would not have time.  I taped the stickers to the chairs on Thursday morning, during the first morning session.  I wasn’t able to finish them all because people kept coming in to use the ladies restroom and I didn’t want to get caught!  So, thankfully Mattie Baker helped me finish it up after lunch.  Thank you Mattie!

 

I was sad to miss my morning session however.  The morning sessions go deep and are such an amazing time to connect with new people.  This is my first time missing the morning session, and I realized that I did not connect with as many new people as I usually do. I was also a little crazy from stress at the beginning of the week, so I don’t know if I would have been able to focus in a morning session anyway as they can get pretty involved.  But I do know one thing, I will never miss another morning session if I am at TMC!

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I owe a giant thank you to Sam Shah!  After listening to my speech back in June, it was his great idea to make the stickers from my slides and then do the entire Oprah give-away!

I am so much better because of my brilliant educator friends!

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It takes a village. ❤

Julie Reulbach, @jreulbach

** I used Sticker Mule to buy my stickers and they were awesome! They texted me a preview picture of my sticker for approval before printing them, and then texted me when they were shipping.  I also got them 2 days faster than they said they would arrive! They just sent me a $10 coupon if you want to use it!

Teaching CPM? Join Our Working Group

The first CPM meeting is September 5th, register here!

My favorite session at the #TMC18 conference was the CPM Flex session that we had at the end of the day Saturday.  (The Flex session is an open hour on the last day of the conference where anyone can propose and hold an impromptu session.)  The CPM session evolved from meeting teachers who were also using CPM in other sessions.  Once we discovered we were teaching CPM, discussions ensued, and it was obvious that we needed focused time together to brainstorm and discuss our experiences.  Our discussions were incredible, and we all decided that they must continue throughout the school year!

CPM Working Document

Our one hour flex session was incredible, and it went by too fast.  We all shared our successes, concerns, and ideas for improvements for next year on a CPM Working Google Doc.  I loved brainstorming with other educators who were using the same curriculum that I was.  The CPM Working Document is viewable to anyone.  **If you would like to collaborate with us, leave a reply to comment on the document with your email address and I will add you.

CPM Monthly Virtual Meetings

Typing on the document was great, but our conversations were even better.  We decided that we would like to meet virtually once a month, to talk with each other and update the working document together.  We will meet the first Wednesday night of the month, at 9PM EST.  Our first meeting is September 5th, sign up here!  I will update this post with more information once I know it, and then also post it on Twitter.  If you want, sign-up to receive info here:  CPM Sign-Up

I’m so excited to connect with an learn from other CPM teachers this year!

 

About CPM

I loved using CPM this year. For my entire teaching career, I have not had a good curriculum to teach with.  Sometimes I didn’t even have a textbook.  So, with the help of the #MTBoS, I created (and “borrowed”) all of my material.  This was enjoyable, as I loved creating the material for each day, but it was also exhausting, and at times, overwhelming. I’m at a larger school now, and working with other teachers across multiple subjects, so we needed a curriculum that we could all use.  I was very happy when I found CPM two years ago, as many of the activities in their Algebra 2 book were things I was already doing.  However, the CPM activities are written very well, with better scaffolding and questioning.  And, CPM included things I wanted to do, like spiraling homework.  It was also rated, scoring all greens, on EdReports.  So we decided to try it out.

Before using CPM, I never realized the importance of a cohesive, comprehensive curriculum (note: not a textbook series).   The CPM series threads together concepts from chapter to chapter, always including past material and going deeper each time.  It is really enjoyable to experience it unfold throughout the year.  Additionally, concepts are taught in a consistent way, with consistent ideas and terminology, in subsequent subjects.   No longer do I hear, “That is not the way that Mrs. X taught it last year”.  This consistency has allowed students to build on their previous learning, instead of feeling like they are learning entirely new and different math each year.

 

 

 

Algebra 1, Here I Come!

I just found out that I will be teaching Algebra 1 in addition to Algebra 2 next year! I haven’t taught Algebra 1 since I first started teaching, many years ago. I taught an advanced pre-algebra class four years ago at my last school, and have taught algebra 2 for the past four years. So I’m excited to finally complete the series!

I will be teaching Algebra 1 to a small class of 9th graders. We use CPM for most of the classes in my high school but won’t use it for Algebra 1. Algebra 1 is also taught in our 8th grade, so I will be have the Glencoe Algebra 1, 2018 that the middle school selected.

I will definitely use Standards Based Grading as I tried it for the first time last year and LOVED it. I would love to start working on everything Algebra 1 now, but I have a crazy summer. I’m currently on family vacation and then I am taking my son to CA later this week for summer camp. I also have the Desmos Fellowship and Twitter Math Camp. I was asked to be a keynote speaker this year at TMC, so much of my brain power and extra time is devoted to writing my speech. However, curriculum is my first love so I can’t stop my wheels from spinning about all of the things I plan to do in Algebra 1 this year!

I’ve already reached out on Twitter to build up my Algebra 1 PLN. I created an Algebra 1 teacher list on Twitter if anyone wants to subscribe to it. If you have Tweetdeck, you can create a column of teachers from the list, so you can follow their tweets all in one place.  I plan on frequenting the Algebra 1 chat (#Alg1chat) , Sunday’s at 9PM EST, once I get back from TMC.

I can wait to have so much fun with Algebra 1 this year. I plan on using groups, Desmos, Algebra Tiles, Number Talks, debate, whiteboards, tons of games and activities, and CPM, IM (Open Up Resources) and Mathalicious. I hope to blog about my adventure as it unfolds this year! I hope you will join me!

BE WARY of Teachers Pay Teachers

TPT sellers told me in the comments that the majority of sellers are only selling authentic material that they have created.  However, since I posted this, every blogger that has searched Teachers Pay Teachers has found at least one person selling their copyrighted material.  This is a huge problem that should be a concern for ALL teachers, especially if they are buying or selling material through TPT.

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Bloggers:  If you blog and create awesome math resources that you intend for other math teachers to use for FREE, then you should hop on over to Teachers Pay Teachers to make sure that there aren’t teachers trying to SELL your FREE stuff.  Teachers Pay Teachers makes money off of every sale, however, they do not monitor the site to make sure the posted material is authentic.  They leave that up to US with a “Report this resource” link on the page of the activity.  It is so disappointing that they don’t have any preventative measures to stop this.  Robert found three different sellers selling his free lesson with one keyword search.  To see if your material is there, go to the site and type the name of an activity / worksheet / foldable you have created into the search engine.

 

Teacher Consumers:  I know some teachers love the site.  And I can see how it could be helpful for busy teachers.  Much of the stuff on there is activity based, very “polished”, and already finished, all packaged up for you to purchase.  But PLEASE, before you purchase, do a quick Google Image (or even Pinterest) search, to see if you can find the same material for FREE on a teachers blog.  Even better, you can also search math ed blogs using the MTBoS Search Engine created by John Stevens! In addition to the resource being FREE, there are two other great bonuses.  First, the blogger usually has the EDITABLE version in a word doc on their blog.  Second, the blogger usually explains how to use the resource in detail (and pictures) and will even comment back and forth with you about the work if you have questions.  And if you are on Twitter, great work is often found for FREE under the #MTBoS and #iTeachMath hashtags!

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I go on the TPT site about once every six months or so, and usually find at least 2 teachers that are selling my material.  I comment on their item to let them know that I created the material, it is for free on my blog, and they should not have it in their store.  Then I try to find the seller on social media so I can ask them to promptly take the item down.  The seller is usually apologetic, and will take it out of their store.  I have had a couple of people that claimed they didn’t steal it because they added a border or changed the font.  But, that is the exception.  TPT now has a “Report this resource” on each activity, but since I don’t trust TPT I usually try to find the person myself, and let them know.  As in, please take down my material and stop trying to make money off of teachers for stuff they could get for FREE online.

I know that it may be crazy to think that many, many, math teacher bloggers offer all of the materials that they create for FREE.  Some teachers you work with may not even share their materials with you, am I right?  We chose share our work freely so that we can become better, together!  Publishing our work for free allows many teachers to see and comment on it, so we get great feedback.  When we publish our work, other teachers often take it, tweak it, and share it back with us.  And, we have usually spent much time on our work, and want to share it to benefit another overworked math teacher.  We have all benefited from someone else sharing their work, and we want to pay it back!

Update:  Thank you to all of the commenters!   I love hearing and learning from other perspectives.  Teachers have different philosophies about sharing and or selling our work, and that is ok.  I do not feel that teachers should not buy or sell from TPT.  I have purchased material off of TPT (My students enjoy Virge Cornelius’ Circuit Training Sheets).  This post is about protecting all teachers, not accusing them.  The math education community has an extensive network of teachers posting quality work for free, but I know that this is not the reality for many other disciplines.  This post was a warning for bloggers and consumers. Most bloggers are not even aware that their work could be for sale on the site. And I think it is important to warn anyone, especially hard working teachers, to “look around” before purchasing a resource. I have found too many resources on TPT that can be found for free.  It upsets me that other teachers, that are also naive about TPT, are paying money for these resources.  It is not enough for TPT to take things seriously after an activity has been reported. TPT is making money off of the site.  Thus it is their obligation to monitor it, not the burden of individual teachers who do not profit from spending their time combing through the site.  Everyone should want TPT to do more to make sure stolen work is not being sold, because that is what is truly upsetting here.  Even if it is only one persons work that is stolen and sold, that is one person too many. But, it is more than just one person.  I hope that TPT starts doing their part by cleaning out the dishonest sellers, because that will benefit all teachers.

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There is a great article in The Atlantic, written by Abigail Walthausen, that everyone interested in this topic should go and read.  The last two sentences of her article say it all.   “The fact is, teachers’ work is already bestowed on the American public whether or not it is polished for sale or uploaded to an OER platform. But whether a teacher decides to share on a micro or a macro level, the choice should be open and judgement free.”  Thank you Abigail!

Featured Comments:  

Dan pretty much sums it all up here.  Thank you Dan. 

The TPT sellers in this thread need to get it together. There is a pretty simple response here that absolves them of wrongdoing and restores whatever connection they want to the online math ed community. Instead of that response, every seller cites (1) how great TPT is, (2) instances of plagiarism, exploitation, and copyright infringement by other businesses and in other fields.

(1) is beside the point. Julie isn’t calling out the service as a whole, except insofar as they don’t take violations seriously.

(2) blows my mind. “Other companies do bad things so only call out TPT plagiarists if you’re also going to call out Amazon, Apple, British Petroleum, Monsanto, and the Zodiac Killer.” Huh?

Here it is for free:

“That is lame, Julie. I’d never do that and I love what TPT offers me as a seller so it makes me mad when other sellers give the service a bad name. I’m going to forward this to all of my contacts at TPT and ask them to take this more seriously.”

 

TPT takes customer feedback very seriously. If someone is reporting a product I’m sure they are getting an email from TPT immediately. I cannot speak to this directly, but I did once accidentally upload the wrong product, and immediately after receiving a comment from a purchaser, I received an email from
TPT with an ultimatum to fix it within 48 hours or face consequences. – Brianne

 

There is nothing in this post that criticises teachers (or anyone else) from buying and selling resources using TPT or other avenues. The criticism is of the TPT platform itself. This seems reasonable as any site that profits from the trade in Intellectual Property needs a robust mechanism to ensure that the seller actually has the rights to offer what they sell. Youtube has their “Content ID” system to detect freebooting and TPT really should have something to do basic automated checks of uploaded content against existing material elsewhere on the web. – Chris Heddles

 

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“Speed Dating” Review – Get Them Moving!

“Speed Dating” is a very easy way to spice up a review / practice day.  It’s a quick twist on an otherwise long day of just working review problems, especially when we have too much material to get through for some of my favorite games like Trasketball or Survivor.  I do it a bit differently than it has been done in math classes previously.**  Each students sits with one partner to do one problem that I project.  They each work on individual whiteboards, but talk together while working.  I walk around and answer questions while they work.  After we finish each problem, one person at each table rotates to the next table.  The same people move all period.  I usually have them do a quick rock, paper, scissors, to determine who has to move.

I usually have the students put everything away and clear off all of the tables.  Then, I have them put their bookbags against the walls so everyone can move around the room more easily.  I really like that they don’t have all of their “stuff” out during this activity as I think it helps them focus on just the math and their partner.

I make a big deal about saying “HI!” to your new date after every rotation.  I also tell them to be a good date by talking and helping each other out.  Occasionally I will have an odd number, then I just put three people at one table.

I think it works so well for two reasons.  First, the kids are moving all period long, which helps them stay alert. Second, they are working with a new partner for each problem.  The combination of these two things keeps them more interested and alert than the normal review day.   I also love doing groups of two because each student feels more responsible for helping their “date” and getting the work completed together.

**The original “Speed Dating” in Math Class idea came from the amazing Kate Nowak.  She does it a bit differently, where each student is an expert on a certain problem and then explains it to others.  I like that as well when it is a review with different types of problems, but use this method when I need the same type of problems to get progressively more complicated for the entire class.