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.


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





“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.

Desmos Art Project

Last year I had my students create an art picture using Desmos.  I showed them examples from Staff Pics, Creative Art to motivate them and give them ideas.  My students loved the art they saw on Desmos, and were excited to create their own pictures.  They came to me outside of class to learn how to graph certain functions, restrict their graph, and color in their art.  It was a blast for me and a great learning experience for them.  I loved how excited they were about creating their art!  I have done this with students in Pre-Algebra and up, but you could change the project to make it appropriate for lower grade levels by having them graph only lines, or having them plot points in a Desmos table and connect them.

To keep all of their art projects in one place, I created a Desmos Activity Builder for the project.  Having them do the project through an Activity Builder helped me manage all of their graphs so I could easily view them and access them for help.  By using an Activity Builder, I was also able to include the instructions for the projects and helpful tips for them.  I used teacher pacing, and restricted the screens to 1 – 5 during the project.  After they finished the project, I turned on the “Reflection” slides so they could fill those out.

I had them print out their Desmos Art, and I made a huge collage of it on my wall in the back of the room.

My Activity Builder Includes:

  1. Project Instructions Screen
  2. A link to Learn Desmos so they can use more advanced equations
  3. Example screens that taught them how to restrict and color their graphs (and more) for them to examine and play with.
  4. A blank graph screen for their project
  5. A screen to describe their project
  6. Two “Reflection” screens for after the project was finished.
    1. What did you like the most about the project?
    2. What would you change about the project?

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Here is the work of the Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 students at my school.

Desmos Art

Desmos Art Collage on my wall!

My Favorite Math Games

Playing game in math class can engage even my most reluctant students.  It is so inspiring to see them light up with competition!  For this weeks challenge I decided to compile all of the games that I have blogged about in the past.  Most of the games listed below include powerpoint templates that I have created.  I always forget about the great games I have used in the past and hope this will be a good reminder for me and anyone else who may need it!

My top three for high school are Math Survivor, Trasketball, and Speed Dating!


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Math Survivor Game (Powerpoint Template included) – This is currently my FAVORITE game that I play in class.  I usually play it on review days.  I love seeing kids make alliances screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-8-53-16-am
Trasketball (Powerpoint Template included) – Another great review game that is always a big hit with the kids.  I love to get them up and moving. photo-1
Speed Dating – Great to get kids working with different people all period. HS students will be embarrassed bc of the name and work quietly. lol! Thanks Kate!
Row Games – These are partner activities for specific topics instead of a general review. Thanks Kate!
Flyswatter Review Game (Powerpoint Template included) – Students screen-shot-2011-05-12-at-9-21-00-am
Matho (Powerpoint Template included) Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 11.13.55 AM
Draw It! Game (Powerpoint Template included) – Students compete by writing or drawing  or Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 10.03.50 AM
Add It Up Partner Activity Thanks Rachel! 20120929-131353
Kahoot – I have used other online quiz games, but my students always beg for Kahoot. IMG_3157
Zero Game for Integer Operations – Great middle school game! img_3850
Euclid the Game (Geometry) – This is a game that helps kids learn constructions. screen-shot-2014-09-07-at-9-39-41-pm
Favorite Middle School Math Class Games – A Compilation

One-Sheets Are Back!

We just finished our first chapter in Algebra 2.  This means that we also just did our first “One-Sheet” Study Guides!

  1.  I provided them with a list of the 6 main topics of this chapter.
  2. They brainstormed in groups about what should go under each topic, using their notes and book.
  3. They folded a brightly colored piece of paper into 6 sections and label each section with the topic.
  4. Gallery Walk – They walked around the room and examined each other’s boards to see it there was something great they wanted to include on their sheet that wasn’t on THEIR board.
  5. I take pictures that I post so students can go back and read the boards if they would like.

Brainstorming with their teams

Gallery Walk of the finished boards

Creating the One-Sheet


Creating the One-Sheet from their boards

Week One Done! SOS Internal Clock

Week one is in the books!  It was SO GREAT to be back!  I love starting new each year, and especially meeting an entirely new batch of students.  They are so fresh and truly inspire me the first week of school.  It reinforces how much I love what I do!

I am also EXHAUSTED.  You know, the “I haven’t even worn shoes much or woken up before 9am in two months” exhausted.  I don’t sit down while teaching, unless I am joining a students group, and am not used to standing so long.  The first week is stressful because I have so many things to do to start the year and am afraid I’m going to forget everything.  I wake up almost every morning around 4:30 or 5am, even though the alarm isn’t set until 6, with things running through my mind.  I literally was in bed by 9pm every night this week, but usually didn’t fall asleep until 10 or later.

I was so excited for this weekend!!  My son had a football game over 2 hours away Friday night, so I didn’t get to bed until 1:00 AM.  I had planned on SLEEPING UNTIL NOON today, but my body had other ideas.  Apparently, my internal clock has been totally reset and I awoke at 6AM.  I stayed in bed until 7, desperately trying to fall back to sleep, with no luck.  So, I decided to get up and DO THINGS.

I got up and ran three miles (well, it was definitely more of a walk speed as I’m exhausted and haven’t exercised in toooo long – BUT I DID IT).  Then, because I love to cook and miss it when during the school year (teaching plus 3 boys in sports), I went on a cooking spree and made two quiches, a cobbler, and pasta salad this morning.  I also organized my unit binders and blogged – TWICE now!  I am feeling invincible right now.  BUT, I see a giant nap in my future…

Have a great weekend!  And take care of yourself.

Organization – The Struggle is REAL

I love being organized, but have such a tough time with it.  I move too fast, do too much, and don’t leave enough time to put things away at the end of the day.  But I try.  I love making things organized for my students, so I don’t have to waste class time passing out papers and materials, or getting work for absent students.  Most of my organization tips I found from other people, and am even trying something new after reading the blog posts this week!


Plastic Grading Folder/Pocket:

I put all assessments that need to be graded in a clear plastic pocket.  There is a hi-lighter and Pilot FriXion Clicker Retractable Erasable Gel Pens in there for grading.  This way I can take my grading with me to all of my children’s activities.  The plastic pocket is durable so the papers don’t get messed up on the soccer field.  🙂


IMG_1653Student Math Numbers:

I give every student a number at the beginning of the year.  They put this number on all of their graded work.  It helps me quickly alphabetize the papers so I can enter them into the grade book.

Extra Handouts:

I have two hanging file folders on the wall, one for each prep, that I label for each day of the week.  I put extra handouts in there so if a student loses theirs, they can get another one.  This is also great for tutors as they can see any work we’ve been doing.


Table/Team Folders:

I got this amazing idea from Sam Shah last year!  I have one folder for each table.

  • I put their handouts for the day in each folder so I don’t have to pass them out.
  • They put work they need to return to me inside the folder.
  • If a student is absent, then the next day any handouts they will need is inside their folder!
  • I have Homework Responsibility sheets in there as well so they can fill out a sheet when they first come into the room if they didn’t do their homework.
  • I also put their name (on a post-it) on the outside of each folder.  This also serves as their seating chart.  When I want to change seating, I just switch the post-its.  It’s great for me bc I’m a very visual person, especially when arranging seating!
  • I keep their folders on the table by the door, so the students get their table folder as they come in.  But, if I want to change where a TEAM sits, I just put their folders on a different table before they come in.



I keep all supplies that students will need on a big shelf in the back.  This way I don’t have to get them out and distribute each time!

Unit Binders!

I have not done this yet, but after reading Greta’s organization post and a slew of tweets I am going to try to use unit binders.  I am hoping it will keep me more organized.  I bought a box of 12 1 inch binders on Amazon for $27.00!  But now the price has increased to $37.00!?

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