Global Math Webinar – March 4: Student Creativity in Math with Technology

Don’t miss Global Math this Tuesday night, March 4th, Student Creativity in Math with Technology. Rafranz Davis (@rafranzdavis) will be presenting.

Rafranz is an instructional technology specialist for a Dallas/Fort Worth area school district. As an advocate for passion-based learning, Rafranz uses her experience as a secondary math educator to help teachers integrate technology using innovative teaching strategies aimed at empowering students to be autonomous learners.


Visit the Global Math Page to reserve your spot!

To Grade or Not To Grade: Homework in Math Class

Click here to submit your MS Sunday Funday post!


Next week:  Blog about Spiraling Review from Past Math Topics

Math Class Grading Policies

Click here to submit your MS Sunday Funday post!


This week we are blogging about math class grading policies.  Please submit your post!

Next week:  Blog about how you grade (or do not grade) homework.  (By Request).

Click here to add yourself to the MS Sunday Funday mailing list.

Quick and Easy Math Stations (aka – Pimp Your Worksheet)

I LOVE Math Stations and wrote all about them before.  For easy stations, you can make fabulous math stations in a fraction of the time by simply cutting up a worksheet into 5 or 6 pieces.

Materials Needed:

  • 1 Math Worksheet
  • 1 Answer Key
  • 5/6 sheets of different colored paper
  • 1 Station Word Foldable**
    ** This is totally optional as students can simply do the work in their notebooks. 

First, I find a worksheet that has all of the topics I am interested in working on.  My “teacher edition math book” is of course FULL of these.  I print off the Station Templates onto colored paper and cut them in half.  (One half is to glue the questions on, one side is to glue the answers on.)   I cut the worksheet into 6 pieces and then glue stick them onto the Station Templates.  I glue stick the answers onto the matching colored “Answer” sheets and fold them in half.  I insert the Stations into clear picture frames for easy viewing (and sharing) and then tape the answers up in a central location.

Viola!  I have quick and easy, color coordinated Math Stations.  The students get tons of practice while moving around the room.  I can help students that need it.  The kids love them, I love them.  Everybody wins!  🙂

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Math Motivation Classroom Posters – Made 4 Math

I love Pinterest and have been pinning great posters and quotes every since I joined.  But, there is nothing I hate more than clicking on a link that doesn’t take me to the pinned item or WORSE, takes me to the dreaded Teachers Pay Teachers site.  Ugh.

So, since I just bought my very own laminator, I decided to make my own posters and post them here AND on Pinterest, for FREE, in PDF form.  These are not fancy posters, as I do not have fun borders.  But, they are the things I want to say in my classroom.

As part of my first day (or first week) activities, I am going to have my student read all of my posters, pick their favorite one, and then write why it is their favorite poster and what they think it means.  I don’t want the kids to not notice or even think about these posters on my wall.  They are here for a reason.

Without further ado…

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The No Homework, “Responsibility Binder”

The homework discussion came up over and over at #TMC12. No one is totally happy with their system, but here were some common themes.

We were all more concerned that students attempted the problems.  Several of us give the students the answers when assigning homework.  I’m in this category. I like them to check their answers as they work so they know when if they are doing it correctly.  It also allows me to tell them that I all already know the answer, I want to see HOW they came up with that answer.

As they already have the answers,  I do not grade homework. I just check it for completion as they are doing a “bell ringer” activity. For their grade, I start them out with 50 points at the beginning of the trimester and dock then two points everytime they miss an assignment. For most kids, this is a real grade booster as 50 points is equivalent to a test grade in my class.

Last year, I saw an amazing Student Responsibility Card on Hedge’s blog.  I totally stole it, but but made it into a half page to save paper and made it YELLOW.  Then, I had students fill out this yellow slip when they didn’t do their homework.  This was a great idea, as I never had to “record” who didn’t do their homework.  I just collected the yellow sheets and then recorded it at the end of the trimester. This took almost no time and was a record, in their own handwriting, of who had not done their work.  The biggest problem was that I just stacked these in a pile and didn’t really look at them until the end of the trimester.  So, unless a student was very obvious (no homework several times in a week), I missed accumulating homework incompletion.

My second problem was that I thought that filling out yellow sheets would thwart most of my errant homework kids, but it did not.  Seventh graders can be quite persistent, and homework incompletion was no exception.

In a discussion with Sean Sweeny at the airport (yes, we were all still talking math right up until we got on the plane), he told me that if one of his students doesn’t do their homework they have to stay after school or to do a study hall to make it up. I believe he said that this was a school wide policy. Sean said that this was pretty effective in getting the kids to do homework on the night it was assigned.  They knew they had to do it anyway, and no one wants to sit after school doing homework.  So, his students were pretty good about doing their homework.

This year I would like to do something similar, but more organized. And, I would like to make the students more accountable for completion of their homework.  My fabulous director always says that if we are assigning homework, then it should be important enough for every student to complete.

After seeing this great idea on Pinterest from Leslie at Jack of all Trades, I made a no homework binder.  I call it a “Responsibility Binder”.  I still want students to fill out a sheet when they don’t do their homework. It was so valuable to see their reason WHY they didn’t do their homework in their own words.   But instead of loose half sheets, it will be organized alphabetically in a binder.  Another improvement is going to be the addition of a “date completed” column on this sheet.  I want to give the students ownership over completing their homework.

Even if students don’t do their homework initially, they will still be required to complete it.  And this should be an easy way to have the student keep track of it. If they don’t complete two or three in a row, I’ll intervene.

There has been much discussion on Twitter about having an electronic GDoc Form that students filled out when they did not do their homework.  I really liked this but I can’t make it work because I want students to go back and fill in the date when the homework is completed.  I don’t want them to have access to the GDoc as they could change it, or get confused about which column to write it in.  I could have them fill out another GDoc when they complete their homework but I’m afraid they won’t be able to keep up with this.  I am thinking that a hard copy record in a binder is going to work best for me right now.  I am still working on this in my mind however because I do love all things electronic.
Here is my proposed sheet. I would love any suggestions!

Read other #made4math posts here!

Graph Paper Interactive Notebook in Math Class – MS Sunday Funday

Last year I transitioned from regular notebooks to spiral bound graph paper notebooks.  I LOVE graph paper notebooks for two main reasons.  First and foremost, I never have to pass out graph paper.   We make many tables, charts, and graphs in my class so having their notebook BE graph paper is just divine.  Additionally, I teach 6th grade and many of them still have giant handwriting and/or their work is all over the place.  With the graph paper notebooks, I can strongly encourage them to put one number in each square.  This helps in almost every mathematical procedure that they do.  Numbers are small, neat, and all lined up.  Beautiful.

 I also do a modified version of the INB (Interactive Notebook).  I didn’t do very well with the Left Hand Page OR the Table of Contents last year, but thanks to Megan I am motivated and planning to be much better this year!

Most teachers like to use the composition books for the Interactive Notebook.  They DO have these graph paper composition notebooks!  But, I would have to buy them all myself and have the students reimburse me.  My parents have a hard enough time finding the graph spiral bound notebooks and I don’t want to stress them out further.  Whatever you do, don’t let them use the notebooks with the glued in pages (not the composition books).  The pages of the notebooks with the glued in pages start falling out, in mass, after about 2 weeks of use.  This is a nightmare.

Notebook Tips:

  • You will probably need one notebook per semester.
  • It usually takes us about 30 minutes to set up the notebook initially.
  • Have extra blank notebooks on hand it you want to set them up any day in week 1.  Someone is not going to have theirs yet.  You just give them one of your new, blank ones, email the parent a reminder, and then collect theirs as an extra when they bring it in.  You can use this one next semester.
  • Use Foldables or half sheets for their notes whenever possible so you don’t have to trim every worksheet you give them.  That gets very old, very fast.
  • Modeling is the key when doing a math class notebook with younger students.  I have 6th and 7th grade, so I made a Powerpoint that shows how to set up the notebook step by step.

Read more Middle School Math Sunday Funday Posts!


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!

MS Sunday Funday – First Day / First Week Activities

Hi!  Be sure to follow me on Twitter for more updates!  I am @jreulbach.  🙂

Welcome to a collaboration of posts by amazing middle school math teachers!

This week’s theme is First Day / First Week Activities.  Next week, the theme will be sharing how you have your students set up their math class notebooks.  This can be interactive notebooks or traditional notebooks.

To submit a blog, click on this link.

** Brand new blogger!

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?