Print Your Own Homework Passes – #myFavFriday

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Last year I created, laminated, and then cut out homework passes to give out for a Halloween treat instead of candy.  I intended to do this for Christmas as well, but it was so much work that I never got around to making anymore.  I hate laminating and cutting things out.  But, I did all of this work because I thought, “Once they turn them in, I can use them again!”  This did not work!  Some kids lost or did not use them.  Many of the ones that came back had been stored in their pencil cases and were pretty banged up or kinda – gross.  Plus, without names on them I sometimes forgot who had given them to me.  Yikes!  So, this summer, I got smarter!

I bought a pack of Avery Business Cards for just $8.79.  It has 250 cards in it!  Then, I just printed homework passes on them.  These cards were already precut, so I just had to break them apart.  This was effortless as they pretty much fell right apart.  I found a really cute font here.  I will have each student write their name on it when I give it to them.  I’m hoping this will work better!  They were about one hundred times easier for me to make!

I designed mine in Word.  I wanted them short and simple so I wouldn’t use up too much precious printer ink.  I did a Happy Birthday one bc I think that no one should have to do any work on their birthday!  And, it’s a pretty cheap gift for me to give out.  Here is the pdf if you just want to download it and print your own without having to design it.

Happy Birthday HW Pass


Google Presentation Sub Plans – How to Be There When You’re Not

I will be presenting “Google Presentation Sub Plans” at the Global Math Department “My Favorite Ideas” TONIGHT at 9pm EST  (Tuesday, December 4th).  “My Favorite Ideas” is where several teachers share some of their favorite things they do in the classroom.

I had to call in sick last week for the first time in 2 1/2 years, and I wasn’t even sick!  My poor baby boy had the stomach bug, so I stayed home to take care of him.  I haven’t used sick days in the past because there is nothing I hate more than being absent, and mostly because of the dreaded sub plans.  I had my lessons all planned the day I had to call in sick last week.  But that did not matter.  Because it still takes forever to type up what you do in your head all day long, for a substitute.

Luckily, my 7th graders are in the middle of a Google Presentation Word Problem Project.  They are all creating slides and writing word problems in a single Google Presentation.  I was out, but I was able to see then work and conference with them the entire class period from home.  It was fabulous!  And, I didn’t lose a day of class.  To learn more about it, please come to Global Math Department “My Favorite Ideas” tonight at 9pm EST.  I’m going on right at 9:05 – so don’t be late!

Monthly Meal Planning GDoc – My Favorite Friday

Today is going to be a non-math post.  But, it is a list of things that enable me to teach math so it is indirectly related!

I am often asked, “HOW do you do it??” by two types of people.  Teachers with no children and stay at home moms.  I used to be both, so I understand.  Honestly, I don’t know how I do “do it” many days.  I teach full time and have three children who are involved in competitive soccer.  That equates to 8 practices a week at two different fields between the hours of 4:45 – 9:15, as well as games every Saturday and Sunday.  No lie, life = soccer around here.  This means I am out of the house or in transit Mon – Thurs from 4:45 – 9:15 and a large part of Saturday and Sunday.

Laundry can go unwashed for a while as long as I have purchased enough clothes (or we go rumpled).  But, we have to eat.  Three boys playing soccer eat so, much, food.  Plus, even though they pack lunches three times the size of my lunch, they are STARVING when they get home from school.  I used to let them snack when they were little.  But now that they are bigger, a snack is like 3 packets of pretzels, 2 cheese sticks, a yogurt, and they are still starving.  So, I started feeding them dinner when we got home from school.  This helps because it eliminates after school junk and fuels them up better for soccer.  The only downside is that they are hungry AGAIN after soccer, for an entire meal.  Fast food is easy to pick up on the way home, but it is just gross, and unhealthy, and they only like a couple of places.  So, I cook for them.  I love to cook, and I love to cook for my family even more.  But, I don’t get home until 4:15 at the earliest and have to leave around 4:45.  There is just enough time to change for soccer and eat dinner.  But there is no time to make dinner.  So this year, I am going to try to make crock-pot, freezer, or super easy meals from Monday through Thursday.

I feel that the hardest part of cooking is planning WHAT you are going to cook in advance and planning for it.  If you don’t have the ingredients at your house, then you can’t make the meal.  This happened to me often this summer, and was very frustrating!  Enter, my monthly meal planning Google spreadsheet.  It includes a differnet meal every day for four weeks (excluding Friday).  I do not cook, or clean, on Friday.  Each month, I make the same food.  But since we only have it once a month, no one gets tired of it.  To make it even easier, I have put all of the food that I will need into online shopping lists called “Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4”.

  • To make my life more manageable, I order groceries online from Harris Teeter.  It only costs about $16 a month and all I do is order online.  They shop for me.  I just pull up and they load my car up with groceries.  It is an amazing service.  The first time you do online shopping it takes a while to add all of your items.  But then it takes so little time – and you can shop at home (or at soccer practice)!

I have entered all of the food that I need to cook for a weeks worth of meals into my Harris Teeter Shopping lists.  So every Saturday I pick the week number, “Week 1”, select ADD ALL and then add it to my cart.  This allows me to automatically order all of the groceries that I need to cook for the entire week in two clicks.  Yes, this took me several hours of time today.  But it will save me many more hours in the future when I am crazy busy with school and soccer.  It is amazing!

Below are just some of my other random favorite things.

Keurig Coffee Pot – No fuss, no mess.  Just turn on the button and make a cup of coffee.  It allows me to have time to make coffee in the am while getting myself and three kids out the door by 7:30am.

Chobani Pineapple Yogurt w Bare Naked Granola and nuts – I eat this when I am on the run (usually breakfast and sometimes even lunch when school starts).  I put the Bare Naked in a ziplock with half a bag of pecans and a package of almonds so I can just spoon it into the yogurt easily.

Buffalo flavored whole almonds – seriously?  tasty and good for you?  These are my go to snack.

Kashi Chocolate coconut chewy granola bars – this is my easy, late morning snack that enables me to watch / talk with students while getting fueled up for more teaching.  They are so yummy and healthy.  Win-win!

G2 – Only 40 calories in a bottle and it just tastes and makes me feel so good after a run.

Many days I do think I’m crazy to do it all.  But I love it all and I can’t imagine giving any of it up!  So, I have to find a way to do it all. 

Google Spreadsheet and the Wiki for Assigning Homework

I used to keep a plan book.  It was ok.  But, I never actually wrote my plans in it bc those squares were too small.  I just wrote down the lesson title and the homework assignment.   As I got busy, I would often forget to write things down it in.  Especially when I made changes in assignments.  The plan book was one more thing to keep up with and drag back and forth to school every day.  The idea was to use the plan book for the next year as a guide.  But I did not refer to it as often as I should have (only about once a unit) because then I would have to take TWO plan books (one for last year and this year) home every night.

Now, I’m all electronic when I plan.  I made a Google Spreadsheet that lists the date, lesson, homework, and any important links the students will need.  I love this way of giving homework, because then students can easily find the links I want them to access.

I then embedded it into my class wiki.  I only embed one week at a time so my students won’t get confused when looking at the whole document.  (It is blank right now because I still haven’t planned week 1 for this year yet – ACK!)

At the bottom, I provide a “6th Math Archives Page” link so absent students can refer back to the previous week(s).

To make things easier for me when updating and going to a new week, I have two separate tabs in the GDoc spreadsheet.   One is the current week and the other is the archive page.

I put the current week’s assignments into the 6th and 7th tabs.  These are the tabs that I had embedded into the class wiki.  6th 2011 is the entire year and it is what I use for the archives.  I start a new tab for each year (you can see the 6th 2010 and the 7th 2010 from two years ago).  This way I have a record of multiple years of plans and homework all in one place.

Read about other teacher’s Favorite Fridays here!

Dry Erase Bins – My Favorite Friday

I couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted these beauties in Target’s dollar bin today!    Yes, you are seeing it right, they are DRY ERASE bins!  AND, you can write on all four sides!  Each side is a different color.

I have five tables, so I bought one for each table.  I was so tempted to buy 16, one for each student, but thought that may be overkill (or just crazy).

The possibilities for this are endless.  I had a conversation with @druinok about paint chips yesterday.  Kid can hold up a green, yellow, or red one to indicate their current level of understanding.  But, we felt bad taking paint chips from Lowes, and also doubted they would have enough for a class set!   Then, @MsKLaster then mentioned having, “Need Help” on  the side facing the teacher while the side facing them said, “Keep Working” to remind them to keep trying until the teacher gets to you.  Since I have 5 buckets, I figured this would be great for tables during group work.

What else could I do with these?