7th Graders and My Monster Hat

Monster hat for monster equations!

one good thing

7th graders are hard for me to teach.  For me it is tough because I had them when they were in 6th grade.  They were new to me and to middle school.  They were bursting with excitement every day.  Most of them have never had a singing, monster costume wearing teacher and they enjoyed it.  In 7th grade, it is my 2nd year with them.  They have had me for an ENTIRE year, they have heard all of my stories, they know my jokes.  The shine is worn off.  So, I think I am probably “old hat” or boring to them on most days.  Of course I wish they were loving every minute of it, but I’m ok with this as long as they are learning.   This is my 4th year teaching 7th graders, I now know not to take it personally.  But, sometimes I do.  And sometimes this loss…

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How to Get Sharpie Off Whiteboards

Thank you to my wonderful curriculum director, Kim Lysne, for this tip!  She hadn’t tried it, just heard about it.  I told her NO WAY would this work.  But it did!  It’s a good day.

  1. Write over the sharpie with an Expo maker.
  2. Erase.

MAGIC!  Yes, it’s that easy!  I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it for myself so I just had to share!

Read the #msMathChat Archive – 500+ Tweets in One Hour

Wow!  What an exciting #msMathChat we had tonight!  We had over 38 participants and over 500 tweets in one hour!  I followed all of these amazing middle school teachers and favorited many tweets.  I can’t wait to use the ideas I got tonight and go back and explore all of the links I favorited.  Simply, I’m invigorated!

But don’t worry if you missed it!  I archived the entire chat with Storify.  You can go to the Storify link or just read about it here.  It should work, I’m new to Storify.  To see the archives of the other subject chats, check out the Math Chat wiki!

[View the story “Middle School Math Chat #msMathChat 8/19/13” on Storify]

Middle School Math Chat #msMathChat – Monday Nights at 9PM EST on Twitter!

Join middle school math teachers from around the country on Monday nights for the brand new Middle School Math Chat!  #msMathChat

Helpful Hints:

  • If you have never participated in a Twitter chat before you are in for a treat!  To participate, you just need to include the #msMathChat in your 140 characters.
  • The moderator (@justinaion) will ask a question and then everyone can answer it and discuss.  (The format for chats is usually a question, Q1 from Justin, then you will answer with an A1 then your answer.)
  • Don’t feel intimidated, because you don’t actually have to “chat” if you do not want to.  You can simply log into twitter and watch the conversations.  To do this, follow the hashtag #msMathChat.  To follow a hashtag, simply perform a search on Twitter.
  • If your Twitter account is private, you may want to unlock your tweets during the math chat.  This will allow people who do not follow you to read your chats for the hour.

If you can’t come tonight, but hate to miss it, you don’t have to!  Each week, the math chats are archived on the Math Chat Wiki.

If you would like to participate in other subject chats, the full list can be found on the Math Chat wiki (and I listed it below for your convenience).

Subject Twitter # Day / Time Facilitator
Middle School Math  #msmathchat Monday 9PM EDT @justinaion  @luvbcd
Algebra 1  #alg1chat Sunday 9 PM EDT @lmhenry9  @_MattOwen_  @anthonya @kathrynfreed
Algebra 2  #alg2chat Monday 9PM EDT @druinok  @wmukluk  @lbburke
Geometry #geomchat Wednesday 9 PM EDT @algebrainiac1  @barbarawmadden
PreCalculus #PreCalcChat TBA @mrlenadj  @untilnextstop
Calculus #calcchat Friday 11AM as per IST – that is 12:30am EST and 1:30am EDT @ajitmishra71
Statistics #statschat Thursday 9pm EDT @jkindred13

We Are Hiring – Come and Work With Me! (near Charlotte, NC)

My small private school is GROWING!  Woodlawn School is an amazing project-based learning K – 12 school only 20 minutes away from downtown Charlotte, NC in the college town of Davidson, NC.  The class maximum is 16 students per class.  I’ve worked at public, charter, and private schools.  It’s the most amazing place I’ve ever worked!  We are hiring the following positions.

  • Middle/Upper School Math Teacher – Woodlawn seeks a full time math teacher for the 2013-2014 school year to teach the following courses: Algebra I, Algebra II, and Discrete Math. The successful candidate will possess a degree in math and have a minimum of three years teaching experience.
  • Middle School Science Teacher – Woodlawn seeks a full time science teacher for the 2013-2014 school year to teach 7th and 8th grade science courses. The successful candidate will possess a degree in science and have a minimum of three years teaching experience.
  • Middle School Language Arts Teacher
    Woodlawn seeks a full time Language Arts teacher for the 2013-2014 school year. The successful candidate will possess a degree in English and have a minimum of three years teaching experience.

Differentiation in Math Class – MS Sunday Funday

#msSunFunClick here to submit your MS Sunday Funday post!
This is not the first time that we have blogged about differentiation.  However, it is such a crucial topic that I’m excited to feature it again – especially since we are joining up with
Tina’s blog!  I am adding our previous posts to this list as well.
Next week our topic is “Supplies – What’s in Your Cabinet?” Please blog a quick list of your favorite math supplies (and why if you have time)!  This could be books, manipulatives, or even things like giant whiteboards!


The iMovie is coming!

one good thing

We had only 50 minutes.  I let the kids group themselves and then choreograph their own part of our fraction song.  I gave them only ten minutes to make props.  It was the coldest day of the year so far (and the windiest).  But, in only 50 minutes they designed, rehearsed, and even preformed their rendition of “The Fraction Song” for me AND the 2nd and 3rd grade students at our school.  I was as blown away as many of their signs on this windy day!  I’m working on the iMovie and will post it when finished!  Until then, here is the YouTube of my creative, adorable, sweet, and enthusiastic students.  I love 6th graders.

Here is the iMovie…

The Fraction Song

Adding fractions L-C-D,

Equivalent fractions each will be!

Denominators stay the same,

Numerators add some fame!


Simplify and Multiply,

Simplify and Multiply,

Times the bottom and the…

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A Day In My Life – I’m Sorry Mom and Dad

This post is dedicated to my Mom and Dad.  They moved all the way from Kentucky to live close to us.  But now with my work schedule and the kids crazy soccer schedule, I rarely see them.  I am doing the best I can, but it never seems like enough.

I was excited to blog about a day in my life.  The trouble has been actually finding the time to blog.  I didn’t realize how much I do in a day until I typed this up.  It took forever to type as it is at least double the length of my usual blog post.

4 am – I’m not sure what miscellaneous sound awakened me, but now visions of mult-step equations are running through my head.  At 4:45 I finally get a pencil out and scribble what I’m sure will be incoherent notes in the morning.  But, at least it is out of my brain so I can hopefully fall back to sleep.  Math haunts me.

5:45 am – I get up 15 minutes earlier today than normal because I have offered to host hot chocolate sales in my room.  Set up begins at 7:30.  Several of my 6th grade students are selling hot chocolate to raise money for Charity Water.  They are amazing.  I need to be there by 7:30 instead of 7:45.  I pre-heat the oven to make muffins for breakfast.

6:15 am – I wake up the boys then make the muffins and put them in the oven.  I put an over night load of laundry into the dryer, and a new load in the washer.  I’m going out of town for a soccer tournament this weekend and we are in desperate need of clothes.  The laundry never ends around here.  I finish getting ready.

6:30 am – I order groceries online.  I usually do this on the weekend but I need to get food to take to the soccer tournament with us.

6:45 am – I call the boys again to make sure they are on their way down.  One of them fell back to sleep and is way behind getting ready.  They make lunches, unload the dishwasher, and grab breakfast.  I make tonight’s dinner, Salsa Chicken, in the crock-pot.

7:15 am – We are supposed to leave by now but are running behind, as usual.  I still need to help fix hair and someone has lost their shoes – AGAIN.  One came down in shorts and it’s 35 degrees outside.  We may never get out of the house.  I make my lunch and load up the car.

7:20 am – After frenzied and loud encouragement we are finally leaving.  We can make it to school in about 5 minutes with no traffic.  However, it’s a school day so it will take us about 15 minutes.

7:40 am – I finally arrive at school.  Traffic was terrible.  The charter school on my way to school completely clogged up the roads today.  It’s really frustrating.   I’m supposed to be at school by 7:45 at the latest as I am the “early” teacher who opens our building for the students.  I made that in time but am late for hot chocolate set up.  I’ll need to get everyone up even 15 minutes earlier next week if we are ever going to make it by 7:30 am.

Hot chocolate doesn’t start until next week!  My conscience has a reprieve!  I’m so glad I didn’t miss it and let everyone down.  Whew.  I now have time to print out and hang up the signs for the different math groups just for today.  I make copies of centimeter grid paper for class.

8:00 am – Two students come for help.  I am the early arriving teacher this year and thought I would use that extra 30 minutes to lesson plan or grade papers.  However, after school help is hard to do with meetings, car duty, and student’s sports schedules.  Last year I offered help at work time but our schedule has changed so we only have one work time period every six days.  Thus, I have started offering help before school.

8:15 am – 1st period.  6th grade, dividing decimals – group 1.  I have split my two math groups into “exposure groups” just for the day.  The students in first period have never done division with decimals before and/or are still working on their long division skills.  I’m so glad that our science / math blocks allows me to do this, but it also means that I had to make two lessons for 6th grade instead of one today.  These students take some notes and do a couple of examples in their graph books before moving to dry-erase templates (centimeter grid paper inside page protectors).  This helps students line the numbers and the decimals up.  I have the students show me each step on their dry erase mat before they go on.  They LOVE anything dry erase so they are happy today, even if it is long division – with decimals!

9:15 am – 2nd period. 6th grade, dividing decimals – group 2.  These students have been dividing decimals since 4th grade.  After taking short notes and doing one example in their graph books (just in case), we play Decimal Review Trasketball in groups.  I give them killer hard problems.  They love it and don’t want to leave when the period is over.  I love 6th graders.  🙂

10:15 am – 3rd period. 7th grade, word problems with multi-step equations.  I get out the king sized boards, and I let them work together.  However, no matter how I slice it they do not love this.  I only give them word problems.  They have to write the equation individually and then confer with their group to come up with a group equation they all agree on.  When I approve their groups equation, they each solve it.  We then look at everyone’s methods and discuss which group’s solution was the most efficient.  As in YES, it is better to combine like terms as soon as possible so you don’t have to keep adding and subtracting to get the variable term alone.  Some students are not convinced.  Also, some of the problems are too easy for this group.  The classes change from year to year.  I’ll fix it for the next 7th grade class during my planning.

11:10 am – It’s my planning period but I have a student issue I need to deal with.  This takes most of the period.  The rest is spent revising my 7th grade lesson from last period at bullet speed.  My desk is a wreck and emails continue to pile up.  I have several students absent that have emailed me with questions about today’s lesson.  I quickly look over the emails so I don’t miss anything urgent, but I don’t have time to reply.  This is a deadly combination and what makes up my “Email Graveyard”.  Yes, I read it, I just didn’t have time to reply so I could get through all of the emails.  I even thought of my reply in my head later that day.  But that is dangerous because the email is not longer “new” so is off of my radar.  And, I often forget that I only replied “in my head”.  This always makes me feel bad.

12:05 pm – 6th grade advisory meeting over lunch.  We discuss advisory plans and students.  It goes fast.  Every day I have either a meeting, math help, or math team during lunch.

12:55 pm – Project Work Time with the students.

1:50 pm – 3rd period. 7th grade, word problems with multi-step equations, take 2.  This is the fixed version with more difficult problems.  But now I think I’ve made them too difficult.  I don’t think this class got as much out of the lesson as the previous class, even though I worked extra on this lesson.  It’s such a delicate balance!

2:45 pm – Advisory.  Today, after our homework roundup, I am conferencing with individual students.  My other advisees are doing homework and locker clean up.

3:15 pm – School is out.  I head to cheerleading practice until 4pm.

4:00 pm – We leave school and pick up the groceries.

4:25 pm – We arrive home.  I put away the groceries and dish out dinner for the boys while they get dressed for soccer.  Did I say how much the crock-pot is a working parents dream?  I fold the load in the dryer and put a new load in.  I eat a few bites.

5:00 pm – 9:00 – Two soccer practices.  My children soccer four nights a week from 5pm – 7:30 pm.  But, my husband has a meeting tonight so I’m doing double duty.  Two have practice from 5:45 – 7pm and one from 7 – 9.  I usually try to run during soccer practice.  I can’t tonight because I have the children that aren’t practicing in my car.  It’s freezing outside so we just camp out in the car and I help them with homework.  I brought quizzes to grade but this is so not going to happen here.  I try to check and answer emails on my iPhone.  I get way too many emails.

 9:30 pm – We get home from soccer and the boys are hungry again.  I make cheese quesadilla’s for everyone.  I do one more load of laundry.

10:15 pm – Everyone is finally fed and tucked in.  It’s a late night for the boys and I hate that.  My husband gets home in time to kiss them goodnight.  He looks more tired than I feel but starts making their lunches.  I feel bad because we didn’t have time to even get them started tonight.  I fold the last load of laundry for the night.

I then crawl into pj’s and then work on my lesson plans for tomorrow.  After that I try to grade the quizzes that they took yesterday.  I have four sets and usually try to get them back the next day.  But, this has been a rough week.  My husband has had more evening meetings than usual lately.  At midnight I realize I can no longer read the numbers on the quizzes.  Quiz grading isn’t going to get finished.  I finally go to sleep.  I’m so tired that I don’t dream.  The alarm seems to go off immediately after I set it.  I don’t mind because at least I got to sleep through the night.  I promise myself I will go to bed earlier tomorrow night.   I lie.

Support Math Bloggers – MS Sunday Funday!

Click here to submit your MS Sunday Funday post!

This week was fabulous for me!  I enjoyed reading middle school math blogs so much that I read them ALL.  I wasn’t able to comment on them all because I often read them on my iPhone and it’s hard for me to type comments on that little thing.  PLUS, I can almost never prove that I am not a robot.  HEY BLOGSPOT – I AM NOT A ROBOT!  lol!

The best thing about this week was reading posts from the Middle School Math Blogs page that are not “popping up” in my Google Reader.  Why are they not popping up?  Because some of the blogs that I read haven’t posted since the summer (or even the spring).  I know how hectic teaching is (especially when you try to combine it with family life), but all of these blogs were fabulous and I am hopeful that these bloggers start posting again – even if it is only one great idea a month!  I love new ideas!

Some of my favorite things I read about this week are buzzers (which I have been eying since the spring but have not pulled the trigger), and the reminder about ThatQuiz.org.  I have used it before, but forgotten about it.  It will be great for integers and I even may try to incorporate it into standards based grading.  Wouldn’t it be great even if SOME of the reassessments were electronic?  I know there will be some significant front end work here, but anything is better than grading papers – anything!!  I also loved the Stand Up, Sit Down warm up activity that helps review fractions, decimals, percents.  You could use this just for fractions, then decimals when you get there, then add on percents.  Brilliant!  And, speaking of SBG, Fawn blows me away as usual with her printed SBG labels.  What an amazing time saver!

THANK YOU for reading and commenting on other blog posts as well!  There is nothing more important in our community than supporting each other.  In so many posts I read, bloggers mention other blogs that have helped them.  Everyone is so thankful for our “gift” community of freely sharing our resources.  It makes us all better teachers!

If you want to write about your favorites, please do and then submit your post here so I can include you below!  Also, if you have given “props” to another teachers blog on your blog recently, please submit that as well.  We all love to be recognized for taking the time to blog and sharing our “blood, sweat and tears” resources.  Click here to submit your MS Sunday Funday post!

NEXT WEEK we will blog about iPad apps and other technology sites that we use in our middle school mathematics classrooms.  Please join us!  🙂