error analysis...

Is this thing still on?!?
I cannot believe it's been three months since I've reflected publicly. Where has the semester gone? But I'm not complaining...because it is definitely time for a break. And on top of some serious rest and relaxation, I'm hoping to reflect on some of my favorite activities from my classroom.

One of my favorite activities occurs after my students have completed a unit test. The following day when students review the graded tests, they analyze each missed problem and determine what type of error was made. I create a Google form that separates each problem and lists the possible errrors (ex: calculation error, copy error, notation error, units error, solving error, model error, etc.). Students are able to click each error to complete the process of reflection. We follow the error analysis with the development of a graphic organizer (see example below) that summarizes the content within the unit and then a roundtable discussion in our teams about errors they want to avoid on their redo test.

I am able to complete this activity easily with my classroom set of laptops. But I have teammates who have used the form by reserving the computer lab or using a classroom set of Nooks. The advantage of the Google form is that students don't have to register for an account and remember username/password information. I can simply post a link to the error analysis form on my blog and let my students analyze at their own pace. And the data gathered from my students can be exported to a spreadsheet and then calculated for PLC data review.

With that said, in the past I have done error analysis using scantrons and then offering my students to identify where the mistake occured and then reworking the problem from that point. I believe the activity of classifying the type of error raises the students' attention to detail when having to distinguish between possible errors.

To create a new form to share with teammates and/or students follow these steps:

Hope you have a fabulous winter break!
Make it count!



avoiding the chaos of piles...


My classroom organization motto is "a place for everything and everything in its place!" And I find it fairly easy to keep up with manipulatives and classroom supplies, but I used to struggle with papers...especially papers I didn't plan on receiving. As day after day of teaching continued, unexpected papers would create a pile of chaos. Typically the only thing that would force me to address the piles was preparation for a substitute. And even then, sometimes I would just scoop the pile from my desk to a cabinet. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who is guilty of that bad habit!) Anyways, last year I created a file crate that eliminated the chaos of piles.
The crate contains laminated file folders (zebra and polka dot, of course!) labeled for everything from absent work to class rosters. Here's a view of my different labels...
This file crate sits on a short bookcase behind my podium. I can easily access a needed file for unexpected papers. If the paper needs addressed by the end of the day, then the file stays on my podium. I sort through files and accomplish necessary tasks after school before returning files to the crate.

So how do you stay organized from day to day?!? Please leave a comment to share your organizational tip! No tip is too small. :)

This post is included in the Middle School Math Sunday Funday collaboration of posts from middle school math teachers!

Next week's topic will be...
classroom management!
Stay tuned for my secret to managing a middle school math classroom.

Have a great week...make it count!


mathchat forum...

Make a prediction. What percent of instructional time is dedicated to answering homework questions from the previous day? Now...time yourself for ten days and report your average. Inquiring minds want to know! :)

This will be my third year to offer my students a private online forum to discuss homework.

Our MathChat forum extends the walls of the classroom beyond the school day. We can still collaborate and coach each other after school hours. The discussion threads are posted in an education wikispace. My students, parents, and administration have logins and passwords to participate in the forum. And I have notifications sent directly to my email when someone posts in the forum...which I manage from my iPhone. The setup does not require the use of student email addresses. Two of the most significant benefits from the implementation of a MathChat forum is that the discussion option reduces anxiety for my students and saves me time in class the next day. It's a win-win for all involved.

How do you address homework issues in your classroom? Please leave a comment to share your tried and true method.

Happy Friday Eve to YOU...make it count!


remembering 9.11

It was the Tuesday before Homecoming at BHS.
I remember the vivid details like it happened yesterday.
My 2nd hour Precal students were taking a trig test.
Every classroom had a TV.
But the TVs weren't functioning yet.
It was our first fall in the new building.
My neighbor had prep that hour.
He came to my window and motioned for me to come to the hall.
The details of a terrorist attack were few and vague at best.
Yet unbelievable.
Since I didn't have much to share, I opted to let my students finish their test before I relayed the breaking news to them.
I still remember the conversation.
Their shock and subsequent questions.
We continued the routine of the day.
Going through the motions.
Though completely distracted.

Spend time today in a spirit of gratitude for those who sacrificed beyond our wildest imaginations...past, present, and future. May our freedom be treasured!

Be intentional today...make it count!


favorite math games...


My students absolutely love to play games in math class! One of my students recently asked, "Do we play a game every single day?" When I told him "with the exception of test days," he decided our class was the coolest algebra class ever. (I didn't declare the obvious...that it was his only algebra class ever. Haha!)

My lesson plans integrate a math game into our MATHercise routine for the purpose of building fluency. I use 1 player games at the beginning of the year, but quickly progress to small group games with 3-6 players as the year continues.

My students' favorite math game is Go Fish! They love it because they get to go again when the make a set. :) I love it because the game improves their mathematical communication skills, and they complete a ton of problems in a short amount of time...great practice!

Click on the Exponental Functions preview above to download a FREE game from my TPT store.

This Go Fish! game allows students to practice matching functions displayed graphically, algebraically, numerically, and verbally. And a Go Fish! game is super easy for teachers to differentiate...just stack the deck strategically! ;)

Currently, I have a tie between my two most popular games available in my TPT store:

Stem-and-Leaf Plots Matching Game
Inequalities Go Fish Game

Check them out and let me know what you think. So what's your "go to" game for the math classroom?!? Any special content requests for the next game I create for my store?!?

This post is included in the Middle School Math Sunday Funday collaboration of posts from middle school math teachers!

Next week's topic will be...
organizational tips and tricks!
I will be sharing my filing system that eliminates the dreaded piles. :)

Have a great week...make it count!



make-a-monster learning styles glyph...

Based on Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, we know students are smart in many ways. I have one daughter who is word smart and one daughter who is people smart. They couldn't be more different as learners. And in the classroom setting, it is important that we as teachers recognize and meet the needs of the unique and varied learning styles represented by our students.

On the first day of school, my students completed a monster glyph to display their learning styles.

You might notice that I have a lot of blue monsters! Students selected the color of their monster based on their tendency when learning new and difficult concepts. If they tend to jump in and contribute ideas, their monster would be blue. If they tend to sit back and listen first, their monster would be orange. Quite the visual reminder for me as the teacher, huh?!?

Detailed instructions for this Make-a-Monster Glyph Activity are available in my TpT store as a priced prodcut.

So how do you get to know your students and their unique learning styles at the beginning of the year? Leave a comment to share your "go to" activity!

Enjoy your weekend...make it count!



differentiating instruction in algebra...

The strengths of principals vary from building to building and state to state. Yet I'm convinced excellence with every step in regards to instruction is critical to the progress of a community of learners. It is a privelege to work for a principal who makes teaching and learning a primary focus. Wanna spy what she just added to her collection of resources for our building?!?

Differentiating Instruction in Algebra 1 by Kelli Jurek is another great find to help us meet the individual needs of our math students. This book includes activities for the major function families (linear, exponential, and quadratic) included in Algebra 1 curriculum as well as other supporting topics.

What's on your teacher bookcase? Or perhaps...what's in your "teacher books" folder on your iPad?!? Leave a comment to share your latest and greatest find!

Have a good one...make it count!



calendar app...

Middle school tends to be a giant transition for students. With the need for time management and organizational skills, our students encounter a significant learning curve. And with that fact comes the truth that I teach much more than algebra. I want to build better students who will be successful far beyond my classroom.

One way that I support students in learning time management is to provide them with a calendar to reference important dates. I've spent the last three years updating a calendar on a teacher website provided by my school district. With help from my super smart colleague Jared Jones, I created a free app via Mobile Conduit for my algebra students and parents. It's fast and simple and requires no coding!

The app connects to our classroom Google calendar and includes event titles and descriptions with details (and links!). Mobile Conduit automatically generates a QR code to allow users easy download to their mobile device. School has been in session for two weeks and 50% of my students and parents have downloaded this app for their convenience.

A calendar is just one of many options for app creation available at Mobile Conduit. Please leave a comment and share your ideas for other useful apps to help ease the transition for middle school students.

Wishing you a great week...make it count!



homework with purpose...

The homework assigned to my algebra students either prompts students to apply concepts learned in class or investigate upcoming concepts. My goal is to provide a format that enables my students to master the foundational concepts required for future math learning.

Mastery requires focused practice over days or weeks. After only four practice sessions students reach a halfway point to mastery. It takes more than 24 more practice sessions before students reach 80 percent mastery. And this practice must occur over a span of days or weeks, and cannot be rushed (Anderson, 1995; Newell & Rosenbloom, 1981).

Since research shows that students need multiple encounters with the content before they reach mastery of the concepts, I continually integrate prior learning throughout our lessons. The main deposits for revisiting concepts occur in our MATHercise routine, Unit Menus, and spiraled assessments. You can read more about our daily MATHercise bell ringer activity here. It's a great way to continue working on previous concepts while allowing me to work with individual students or small groups. Next, the unit menus provide a structure of choice for enrichment and remediation on previous concepts. You can read more details and view a sample or invest in a book of blackline masters by Laurie Westphal. Finally, each unit assessment in algebra contains one or two competencies of distributed practice from previous units. It helps my students to keep practicing concepts...as we say in class...if you don't use it, you'll lose it!

And to allow feedback on homework outside of the school day, I have organized a wikispace for my students to post homework questions. The settings allow me to receive an email notice when a response is posted. And with the access of email on my iPhone, I'm able to respond quickly. But nothing melts my heart more than when my students start helping each other in our MathChat forum! A similar discussion forum for your class is available through edmodo; however, I prefer the organization of post titles in the wikispace.

This post is part of the Middle School Math Sunday Funday collaboration of posts by middle school math teachers!

Next week's topic will be...Favorite Math Class Games. Let me know if you have a special request.

Have a fabulous weekend...make it count!



let's use triangles...

What's your opinion on the integration of technology in today's classrooms? Watch this YouTube video to see what students at our high school think.

Will Richardson was the keynote speaker for our Back-to-School celebration yesterday. I also spent a few hours in open forums with him on Thursday. He is a challenging consultant. One who asks bold questions and provides no solutions. It is somewhat ironic how educators prefer a 5-page action plan including a detailed checklist...especially when it's not provided. The issue? Our world has radically changed due to technology; however, our current education system was not built to serve students in the 21st Century. I parallel this to the square peg/round hole issue. As an educator, I must find a way to bridge the gap in my classroom. I have no choice but to offer 21st Century skills to the learners in our current education system. What did Will suggest to me via Twitter? "Somehow we have to find ways to change the shapes."

As I enter a new school year with a classroom set of laptops and three sections of Algebra 1 students, I plan to use triangles...slowly merging my square peg and circular destination to a new shape through an effort to bridge this educational gap.

The 21st Century Toolbox in my classroom will begin with the following platforms:

Will my efforts be successful? Will my plans yield a positive impact for the future learning of my students? That's my goal. Only time will tell.

What changes will you be implementing in your classroom this fall? Please share. I would love to add your expertise to my toolbox!

Have a fabulous weekend...make it count!



drawing a line in the sand...

You know the first day of school is coming soon if...
  • you simply cannot remember the last day you didn't make a trip to Staples or Walmart
  • your custodian secretly leaves a super-sized trash bag in your classroom
  • you only have one alarm-free weekday remaining
It's true. I'm drawing a line in the sand. Last week was filled with assessment meetings and classroom organization. Yesterday I met my fall semster intern. Today I presented a classroom management session at our district new teacher orientation. And tonight I will be heading to a faculty/staff pot luck dinner to ring in the new year. So...that's it...I'm crossing over. Today was my last day of "teacher stuff" in the summertime. Tomorrow will hold a jumpstart to our inservice that officially starts on Friday morning.

Let the random blogging of my classroom life resume!

Hope you're having a great week...make it count!



problem-based learning vs. direct instruction

Becoming a Common Core teacher.

What exactly does that mean to you?

Moving from the sage on the stage to the guide on the side.
Requiring students to solve problems via different paths.
Providing a learning environment that involves choice and differentiation.

Agree? Disagree? Qualify?

These are goals that I have been striving to achieve in the past three years. I didn't set these goals to become a Common Core teacher; however, I do believe they coincide with the characteristics necessary to be successful with the new standards. But I've decided there is an element of teaching that I haven't truly processed.

Yep. It's official. I've been stretched. My current professional development (UAEMP) has challenged me to assess my teaching methods. Conclusion: There is a time for problem-based learning and there is a time for direct instruction.

If I can develop a concept through discovery, then I should engage my students in that task and provide an opportunity for reflection and summary of findings.

If I can expand a concept through problem-based learning, then I should provide rich open-ended problems for my students to solve in a variety of ways...and again...provide an opportunity for discussion that prompts further learning.

And if a concept requires process via direct instruction, then I should provide such teaching opportunities in the most engaging and efficient way possible to allow for adequate practice and application of the concept.

However, it is important to note that I cannot successfully teach a process unless my students have the conceptual understanding to make connections and applications of the concept to said process. Far too often math teachers focus on the short-term process without a watchful eye on the long-term concept. As my district dives into Grades 5-8 Common Core standards implementation, I commit to being intentional as I select discovery and problem-based learning activities vs. direct instruction.

Have you attended professional development this summer that has stretched you as a teacher?!? Oh...please share...surely I'm not the only one with ideas swirling these days! :)

Hope your week is off to a great start...make it count!


definitely time for a "to do" list

Hello to my blogging friends! I apologize for my absence. I've hit the stretch of my summer with consecutive plans...one week at the beach...one week at the Arkansas Department of Education...two weeks at UofA.

The beach was wonderful! I quickly converted to a complete and total beach bum. Reading. Sleeping. And eating lots of hot boiled shrimp! :)


My week at the ADE was valuable professional development. I'm so thankful for the invite! Nearly 1000 algebra items were reviewed and sent to the edit stage.

Currently...I'm in my first week of STEM professional development at its finest. UAEMP. University of Arkansas Engineering and Math Partnership. The engineering professors are leading us through the changes to our curriculum that are forthcoming with the implementation of Common Core. Today's focus was changing how we teach. We're building projects that align to Understanding by Design.
Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition

Meanwhile...I have been investigating Evernote via Nicholas Provenzano @thenerdyteacher in some recent blog posts about his Epic Evernote Experiment and an IPEVO document camera. I plan to help my students organize their algebra notes and sample work in a stack of notebooks in Evernote. And I will be able to model key elements through a shared notebook in my premium Evernote account. My next investigation is Weebly for Education to create a private set of websites/blogs for my classes. Any suggestions? I would love to hear your review on Weebly websites.

I refuse to look at my calendar, but I feel my final summer days passing quickly. And that can only mean one thing...time for a serious "to do" list. So...do tell...what's at the top of your school list?!?

Have a great week...make it count!



middle school math classroom tour

As a middle school math teacher and an avid scrapbooker, I've had a blast setting up my classroom with a festive decor. I'm not sure my classroom has a theme...unless color counts! I focused on our school colors...red, black, and white...plus a splash of green. And I probably should mention that I simply adore polka dots! ;)

Having an organized and attractive classroom is yet another way to be proactive with classroom management. I recently completed a series of blog posts on my classroom setup. Take a quick photo tour via the slideshow below...

And if you would like more details see my previous blog posts outlined below...

farewell to paper journals

papers, papers, and more papers

classroom attention signal

students coaching students in the classroom

classroom bulletin board ideas

organization of classroom supplies

displaying student work

teams for cooperative learning

differentiation via small groups

There's No Place Like Home

I'm linking up with Mrs. Parker over at Learning with Mrs. Parker. Hop on over and tour some fabulous classrooms from fellow bloggers!

Happy Friday to YOU!
Make it count...


classroom management (part 1)

A Little Magic

Are you a new or veteran middle school teacher? Are you brainstorming ways to improve your classroom? Middle school can be tricky...stuck in the middle between elementary and high school. You want to train your students to be responsible learners, yet you know they have no clue where to begin on their own.

So often the structure middle school students need falls to the teacher--the classroom manager. Classroom management encompasses many areas including expectations and consequences, procedures, and routines. Join me over the next few posts as I address each area in my math classroom.

But let's start with my top 3 preventative measures. It's true. You must have a plan in place to address concerns and misbehavior. But I believe it's equally important to be proactive!

Tip #1: Greet your students at the door. Welcome them with a smile and call them by name. When possible, I make a personal comment (ex: Great hustle in the basketball game last night!).

Tip #2: Greet your class once everyone has arrived or the tardy bell has sounded. I always say, "Ladies and gentlemen, Good morning to you!" (And then I give them a 1-minute overview of what we have on deck for the class period.)

Tip #3: Set a classroom environment based on mutual respect. I expect my students to use their manners. I require my students to say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, ma'am" when responding to me or another adult in our room. However, I usually only correct a "yeah" or "huh" or "what" response. I know. I'm a Southern girly. But it's amazing the tone this sets in our classroom.

I'm linking up with Stephanie over at Teaching in Room 6. Be sure to hop over and follow the great posts on classroom management!

Stay tuned for more posts on classroom management!
Have a great weekend...make it count!



farewell to paper journals

Journal writing is one of four tasks included in our MATHercise routine. My students respond to two prompts each week. I wholeheartedly believe writing is the first step toward communicating mathematically. And preparing prompts that align with our algebra curriculum is definitely on my summer "to do" list.

While my students will complete weekly journal writings, we will not be using this paper filing system any longer.

Thanks to 1:1 technology in my classroom and Penzu, my students will record their responses online. Penzu is a free online journal that is secure on the web. The journal can be kept private or you can opt to share a specific page via a link. The journal allows you to import pictures; so my students will be able to copy and paste the prompt into their journal before responding.

Now I just need to find an easy way for students to create and organize notes online. Any ideas?

Have a fabulous weekend...make it count!



21st century classroom

It's official...my summer vacation is a reality! After the last day of school, I spent 2.5 weeks working with our new Common Core math standards. And most recently I spent one week in technology training. These two events have certainly stretched me beyond my wildest imagination. But definitely in a good way.

In the fall I will be teaching three sections of Accelerated Algebra 1...one section for 7th graders and two sections for 8th graders. And since this is a high school course, we will be in transition to the Common Core standards. That means we will be teaching three sets of standards: MATH-7, MATH-8, and Algebra 1. And fortunately our district has granted us double time...my students will have one block of Algebra every day. So that explains why I have been working day and night with a team of algebra teachers to create assessment documents to align with our new curriculum. :)

Meanwhile in April, I wrote a grant for our district's 21st Century Technology initiative...and I was accepted! My classroom will be filled with 30 new laptops and a wireless hot spot! So I spent last week reviewing ISTE standards and receiving a ton of cool tech information...and this week processing, recovering, and processing some more (while entering the final stages with our assessment project).

And as a result of my pending adventures, my blog will take on a new emphasis. I will continue to share my Common Core reflections and activities designed for my algebra students. But I will also share my efforts within my 1:1 classroom. I have no clue exactly what my classroom will look like in the fall, but it's taking shape as we speak.

So who else attended some professional development workshops already? Do share!

Have a great week...make it count!



lesson planning: enrichment vs. rigor

In my state, the department of education plans for grades 3-8 to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the fall. In response to this timeline, my district developed a transition plan to shift our curriculum. There have been a few glitches along the way...but isn't that to be expected with change of any magnitude? The bottom line as I see it is that states, districts, and even individual schools can create a plan...they can even mandate said plan...but the teachers are the ones who implement the plan to make the shift to new standards benefit our students. Together we're building better students!

Which brings me to my latest revelation...rigor. If you've been in any discussion regarding CCSS, then I'm certain you have heard the standards described as rigorous. These standards require our students to have a deep understanding of the content. And if you have studied your grade level standards, then you know that is a true statement. For example, no longer will Algebra 1 students mindlessly use the quadratic formula to solve a quadratic equation. Instead they will first derive the quadratic formula by completing the square...which will enable them to know why this crazy formula with three variables truly does find the solutions for the variable x located in a quadratic equation.

Perhaps the community of educators has a misconception that rigor is equivalent to enrichment. Why might we be confused? Simply because enrichment is something we already do...it is familiar. However, enrichment extends procedural understanding...can the student move further with the concept? While rigor calls the student to a deeper conceptual understanding...does the student know the depth of the concept? Enrichment adds to the end of your lesson plan and requires additional time. Rigor changes your entire approach to the lesson but does not require additional time. I spy that CCSS have tackled process vs. concept teaching. In an effort to meet the standards we must implement concept teaching that reveals the process. I'm game! How about you?

Have a great weekend...make it count!


papers, papers, and more papers

How do middle school teachers manage student work? Some days keeping up with student work feels like the neverending battle of picking up pool toys in the summertime!

I collect homework from the center of our team tables. This allows me to immediately address missing assignments. (Our school has a Stop Late and Incomplete Papers "SLIP" policy that encourages all work to be completed in a timely manner.) Also I can avoid the no name assignment trap!

Once papers are graded, I keep them in a folder to be returned during the next class. If a student is absent, then I place any returned assignments or quizzes in the trays shown above. This stack of trays is centrally located so students can check for papers after an absence.

I would love for you to share the paper tracking system used in your classroom. I'm always looking for ways to be more organized. :)

Hope your week is off to a great start...make it count!



classroom attention signal

My math classroom is bustling with activity from day to day. My students work cooperatively in teams of four students. And this combination requires an attention signal that will bring my students back to me for announcements, helpful hints, etc.

I raise my hand and say, "Freeze, please. Stop. Look. And listen." This attention signal gives my students 5 seconds to freeze their conversations and listen closely for directions.

Some cues are visual; other attention getters are verbal. What do you use in your classroom?

Have a great week...make it count!



students coaching students in the classroom

Math is a subject that calls its participants to a need for accuracy. What are the options when students make mistakes while reasoning mathematically?

Well...if your students are working independently, then the teacher will have a steady journey around the classroom. A journey that involves reteaching and giving the same friendly reminders repeatedly. But there is another option...and one that I definitely prefer! Your students could be working cooperatively and the teacher makes a steady journey around the classroom to observe progress.

From the very first day of school, I train my students to coach either other. The coaching process begins when a math buddy has a question. Students are encouraged to provide one tip to the student...something that will help redirect the learning. If that tip doesn't resolve the issue, then the student is encouraged to provide an additional tip. If the second tip still doesn't resolve the issue, then the student can tell his/her math buddy where and why the mistake occurred and verbalize the accurate solution. However, the math buddy with a question is not "off the hook" because he/she is required to redo the problem.

Yes, there are still questions that I answer while wandering from team to team. But the quantity is significantly reduced. And the best part of the process is that I'm not the only one talking math!

What else do you train your students to do from the very beginning of school?!? I would love to hear your tips and tricks!

Happy Sunday to YOU...make it count!



my new best friend #CommonCore

My last day of school was Monday. It was bittersweet for me because my oldest daughter is leaving my building and starting high school in the fall. I have absolutely no idea how that happened so quickly! I know she will be wildly successful. And I also know I will miss her terribly!

Tuesday was filled long "to do" lists. Our department scrambled to get things organized for the fall. And our building work day ended with a luncheon. We said our farewells, enjoyed salads from Chili's, and finished evaluations.

And then my Algebra PLC buddy and I headed to her classroom. We joined another pair of teachers from the junior high across town. My new best friend?!? Common Core State Standards. Who else is with me? Are you spending time this summer working with CCSS? Math, literacy, or both?

We have worked 3.5 days and accomplished these details: Organized standards into units, created a sequence, outlined competencies per unit with aligned standards, and created a pacing guide for the year. Today we were able to dive into our first unit and determine the details for the questions we want on our assessment. And that's where we stopped this afternoon. We're hoping to pick up speed during the assessment writing process. Any helpful hints?!?

I'm super excited for a long holiday weekend!
Enjoy...make it count!



gearing up for summer training

One of the most intelligent teachers I know mentioned how his non-teacher friends comment about the vacation he gets to enjoy every summer as a teacher. His reply is so very true..."so I've heard, but I'm still waiting for one of those!"

I've never experienced a summer without multiple trainings. And I wouldn't wish for anything else! Instead of summertime as a "winding down" movement, my summer has more of a "gearing up" theme. I look forward to brainstorming and planning with my teammates...especially when we can do that poolside. :-)

I was able to spend Thursday at the state Capitol reviewing fourth year math course offerings. I always welcome work related to Common Core standards because it pushes me to deeper understanding. And tomorrow I will join my teammates at the UofA for our second session on partnering with the engineering college to improve our STEM instruction. I will also spend three weeks in July with these same groups.

I'm looking forward to all my "summer vacation" has to offer! What's on deck for your summer vacation?!? Do share!

Have a great weekend...make it count!



response to intervention

How do you provide Tier 1 intervention in your classroom? What is the basis for providing such intervention? And how does your school respond to intervention beyond the classroom? What do you find to be the #1 key to success?

Last week I was given a unique opportunity to observe an elementary building finalize their RTI recommendations for next year. One grade level at a time met with the administration and support specialists to discuss the students in their grade that were of greatest concern. To say my experience was eye-opening would be an understatement!

First of all, every single teacher was invested in the discussion. When one teacher discussed a need for her student, the other teachers were quick to offer suggestions and support. The entire team had one focus...success for all students.

My second realization was the difference between elementary and secondary in that the elementary building has access to specialists (ELL, reading, literacty, math, etc.) and my junior high building only has a part-time reading specialist. As a junior high math teacher, I have to be the specialist for every one of my students.

The first line of defense is within my classroom. And I wholeheartedly believe that the #1 key to success is differentiated lessons that dedicate time to respond to students who need additional support. Our elementary friends do a fabulous job of managing this task in their classrooms. It's time for us secondary teachers to follow in their footsteps.

And then what happens when the student needs to move to Tier 2? What do your schools do to offer additional support to students outside of the classroom? Add RTI to my summer brainstorm list...

Have a great week...make it count!



the heart and soul of a teacher

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to YOU!
Q: So what do you think melts a teacher's heart?
  • a sweet compliment from a student, parent, or colleague
  • a lunch that doesn't require standing in the microwave line in the lounge
  • time provided for effective staff development that directly impacts student learning
  • new tools for their classroom
A: ALL of the above! :)
My school celebrated this festive teacher holiday last week. We started with student notes organized by our Student Council. I treasure every tiny slip of purple paper with comments from my students. And I can't even begin to describe the amazing event our PTO showcased. Not one...but TWO catered lunches! A day of chocolate desserts...name a teacher who doesn't love chocolate?!? A "You're a Rock Star!" cupcake with a $5 Sonic gift card. Plus a gift bag of fun stuff for each and every teacher. Oh...and did I mention the random drawings for gift cards on the daily announcements? Drawings. Plural. As in 8 drawings each day! I know. They spoil us rotten!

In the midst of the fun, I was able to attend an excellent staff development from ExploreLearning. Karen Lyons came in from New Jersey to get us organized. I'm so thankful for her and the expertise she shared. I learned much as I realized I have not been using this tool to its fullest potential. The interactive simulations they offer will be the perfect complement to my LTF lessons! And by the gracious grant gift from my school district I will not be standing in line to reserve the computer lab to make this a reality. My students will be enrolled in my 1:1 technology classroom for the next school year.

The blessings abound and the fun continues in these final days of our school year. So it's official...this teacher's heart is melting!

I hope you have a fabulous week and feel appreciated for all the awesome work you do with students day after day. Make it count!



teacher appreciation jackpot

I am super excited to participate in the first Teacher Appreciation Jackpot! Sunday, May 6th is sure to be your lucky day! The Jackpot is an amazing "blog hop" event involving over 130 bloggers!

We wanted to show our appreciation for you in a BIG way, so we're all going to give away one of our TeachersPayTeachers products for free on that day! Each free gift will be valued between $3 and $8, so the total jackpot amount is estimated to be over $500! We'll post the actual amount on Saturday, May 5th.

Because so many bloggers are participating, this event will be divided into three grade level groups. Each of those smaller events is being coordinated by one blogger as shown below:

I have selected my customer favorite as a freebie for one day only. Be sure to click on the image below to download this lesson bundle for free.
{ETA: The Teacher Appreciation Jackpot has ended. Thanks so much to everyone who joined in on the fun! Be sure to continue shopping through Tuesday, May 8th for sale items.}

Scroll to the end of this blog post to spy the fabulous grades 7-12 participants.
Remember to hop over to my TeachersPayTeachers store and shop because TeachersPayTeachers is throwing a huge "TpT Loves You" Teacher Appreciation Week Sale for three days. TpT is offering ten percent off when you use the promo code TAD12 and all of my math games will be an additional fifteen percent off.

Thanks so much for all you do!
We appreciate your commitment to your students and your dedication as an educator!