classroom bulletin board ideas

Do you have classroom bulletin boards to decorate? One or two? And how often do you change the display? Do you cover your board with fabric or poster paper? Do you hot glue your border to the frame or staple just inside the frame? There are so many options!

I have one long bulletin board in my classroom. It's located above the storage cabinets along the back wall. I've opted to select a display that remains all year. There are other things in my classroom that change according to content; the bulletin board just isn't one of them.

The title reads "Many Faces of ^Wildcat Math Students" and includes a display of different faces. My daughter created the faces with inspiration from the popular "How do You Feel Today?" poster. And my students periodically select "their face" and respond in their journal writing about how they feel with our current content. (Have I mentioned that I love my daughter's artsy self?!?)

Be sure to comment and share your favorite bulletin board display title. We can't wait to hear from YOU!

It's a busy week in my classroom.
Hope your week is off to a fabulous start...make it count!



organization of classroom supplies

"A place for everything, and everything in its place." An organized teacher makes for a happy classroom. What's your motto?

The lovely Stephanie Moorman encouraged her readers to share our best organizational tip. Hop on over to her blog to check out how she keeps up with who has turned in completed work and who is still in progress. Simple and brilliant!

Between math manipulatives and classroom supplies, I have lots of pieces to keep up with on a daily basis. It's crucial that I know what materials my class has available and exactly where they are located.
need for structure + my love for totes = organization of classroom supplies

These 12 totes contain the supplies that my students need for classroom activities each day. The totes for small items also contain a plastic candy store bin for extra organization. The supply storage sits on the counter at the back of the room.

I have a similar system with red totes and a black five-shelf bookcase behind my desk for math manipulatives. The only difference...the totes are labeled but not the shelves.

So how do you organize classroom supplies? By item in a general location? Or grouped into a team supply container?

I'll be back soon with more posts for my classroom tour!
Have a fabulous weekend...make it count!


my students move to learn

Cooperative learning can look different from one classroom to another. Some teachers prefer to have students working collaboratively at their desks in pairs or teams of four. There is definitely a new level of management involved when students work collaboratively as a whole class; however, student engagement continues to increase as structures include choice and movement.

Rachel Lynette is hosting a "Move to Learn" linky party about incorporating movement into the school day. Hop on over to her Minds in Bloom blog and join the party!

I'm thrilled to share one of my favorite activities to use when my students are reviewing for a unit test. In the structure Find Someone Who, students mix around the room to find a partner. The students ask their partners to explain a problem from their record sheet. The students record the responses, and the partners initial accurate answers. Students continue to find new partners until they complete the record sheet. Here's a sample of the Metric and Customary Measurement Find Someone Who record sheet we will complete during our unit review on Monday:

Click on the picture to download this FREE product from my TpT store.

This freebie is part of Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies...hop over and join the fun!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

See you tomorrow for our regularly scheduled program...my classroom tour continued.
Have a great Friday...make it count!



displaying student work

How do you display student work in your classroom? My space is somewhat limited. Unfortunately I don't have a blank wall or a bulletin board in the hall because my classroom is in a pod surrounded by lockers. My classroom does have a bulletin board (I'll save that display for another post), but it is above my counter and my height-challenged self would need a ladder to routinely hang student work. :) Thus my dilemma! Enter: the random closet door. I covered the closet door on my front wall, hot glued magnets to the three posters, and labeled the space "Wildcat Math" in fun, giant letters.

We just finished our state tests last week...so my student work display is still empty. I hope to hang our sailboat measurement activity by the end of the week. So what do you have displayed in your student work corner?

More blog posts to tour my classroom...coming soon!
Enjoy the rest of your week...make it count!



teams for cooperative learning

My students learn math in cooperative teams of 3-4 students. We use Kagan structures for cooperative learning. Each team is numbered 1 through 6. Each student within a team is numbered 1 through 4. And each pair is lettered A or B. So each student in my math classroom has a Team number, Student number, and Pair letter. That's a lot for a junior high student to remember!

To offer a silent but constant reminder, each team is labeled with a team tag in the center of the tables.
Visit the cooperative learning tab above to grab a template for making team tags for your classroom.

This post is part of Manic Monday over at Classroom Freebies...

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

ETA: Please excuse my door...my framed window is missing a few scallops. ;) Let's focus on my classroom motto instead...haha! The motto "Make it count!" is posted above the door so that my students will remember to carry our supportive classroom environment into the school at large. We want to make a difference in the small things...letting each and every action count for a positive impact.

Stay tuned for the continued tour of my classroom...coming soon!
Hope your week is off to a fabulous start...make it count!



differentiation via small groups

For teachers to meet the individual needs of their students, time for differentiation must be integrated into the class schedule. My math students spend 15-20 minutes during each 80-minute block class completing their MATHercise centers. (For more details about our MATHercise routine, visit this blog post for specifics.) This independent work time allows me to gather students at our small group tables. I can work with students who need remediation on specific content. Or I can use this time to enrich students who need challenged.

Here's where the magic happens:
I have seats for six students to join me at the small group tables. Usually I work with a small group for 10 minutes of guided instruction and then allow them to practice together for 5-10 minutes. On some days, I have worked with one group for 10 minutes and then a different group for 10 minutes...it just depends on how many students need served that day.

ETA: We are the Washington Wildcats, and my oldest daughter painted the giant mural on thin 12x12 canvas squares during the summer before her 6th grade year. It's the first thing you spy when entering my classroom. I love, love, LOVE it! :)

For more great ideas on how to use math centers and some fabulous sample centers, hop over to Laura Candler at Corkboard Connections blog.  Laura is hosting a linky party with lots of ideas math centers in your classroom.

Stay tuned for the continued tour of my classroom...coming soon!
Have a great week...make it count!



staff development for math

It's official.
My students are finished with standardized testing.
I still have two days of proctoring in May.
But that's just to help our algebra teacher...
No pressure for me!

Now I will be able to return to our regularly scheduled program.
I'm so ready to finish the last five weeks of school!
This is the time of year that I start planning for next year.
It's always fun to reflect on the big changes I want to implement with a clean start.

Some of the changes I'm dreaming about are dependent upon grant results.
But one guarantee is increasing my use of LTF lessons.
Laying the Foundation is absolutely genius!
The basic premise is taking AP Calculus and AP Statistics problems and back mapping through 6th grade.
It's not just for advanced students...these strategies are appropriate for all math students!
Tomorrow is my last day of training in Year 3.
Check back tomorrow to spy my new favorite LTF lesson...

Have a great week...make it count!


standardized testing

Every teacher has an opinion about standardized testing. What are your thoughts? Do you "teach to the test" in your classroom? Do you dedicate time in your classes to review for standardized testing? I would love for you to share a snapshot of standardized testing from your classroom!

I totally "teach to the test" in my math classroom.  I organize content according to the standards that will be assessed on the standardized test...even sequencing the content to finish the predominantly tested standards prior to the annual test. I view this as setting my students up for success. And to the best of my ability, I consistently teach beyond the standard outlined in the frameworks. Why? Because I wholeheartedly believe that if we carry our students a step or two beyond the required standard then they are more likely to master the basic standard. However, I know my chances of teaching something new two weeks prior to the test and my students mastering the content to a proficiency that will carry over to the standardized test is slim to none. So yes, I dedicate 6-10 class meetings for review...specifically revisiting content my students need a refresher because it isn't an integral concept in our course. For example, I don't review solving equations because we solve equations in everything we do. But writing function rules from a table of values is isolated to one unit in 7th grade math, so my students need a refresher.

We just finished Day 2 of 5 for standardized testing in 7th grade and Day 2 of 4 in 8th grade. Classes resume regularly scheduled programs on Monday. And then my geometry students take their end-of-course test on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. I'm not teaching this week...proctoring the test in the mornings and monitoring activities in the afternoons...and I'm totally exhausted! I told my students that I would much rather be taking the test. :)

In final review for the geometry end-of-course exam, I created an "I have... Who has..." vocabulary review game that encompasses the terminology for the entire course. My students completed seven stations in their teams. Their task was to match the "I have..." terms with the corresponding "Who has..." definitions. And as the teams completed each station, they collected a list of concepts they wanted to review during our last class together before the test. I love this review routine!

The Geometry card set is available as a priced item in my TpT store.

A similiar Algebra 1 card set is available as a FREE product in my TpT store.

Spring break or testing or class as usual...
Whatever comes your way this week...make it count!




Hop on over to Farley's blog and join this linky party!

What's your dream super power?!?
I would absolutely love to fly.
Just think...
long day at work...
the kids are bundles of energy waiting for summer...
no worries!
Just fly to your favorite beach to soak in the setting sun and the sounds of the ocean...
refreshed and ready to continue the summer countdown the next day. :)
A girly can dream, right?!?

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



Socratic Circles in Math

Socratic Circles is an engaging activity that allows students to develop critical and creative thinking skills through class discussion led by students.

Students are provided a text to read critically prior to class…noting questions and/or points they want to make in discussion. In class, the students form two concentric circles. The inner circle examines and discusses the text and the second circle critiques their discussion. The two circles switch places and roles, and the process is repeated with the new ideas from the new inner circle students. The outer circle is required to remain quiet while the inner circle responds to the text. Also the inner circle must listen respectfully to the outer circle’s critique of their discussion.

As a math teacher, I opted to use released open-response items of sample student work provided by the Arkansas Department of Education as the text for discussion. I provided my students with four samples of work, the corresponding rubrics, and a copy of the strands and standards for geometry. The first inner circle discussed two measurement prompts, while the second inner circle discussed two language of geometry prompts. The students were expected to address four key components: content knowledge required to complete the prompt, organization of sample work, accuracy of the response, and rubric rating.
The discussion was enlightening! My students made comments like...

"I don't know why they didn't just say corresponding instead of being so vague in their response"

"This response is a mess to read."

"This student clearly knows what she is doing, but she didn't ask the question posed in the prompt."
These are the things that I want my students to do. Communicate clearly with your expanded vocabulary. Be neat and organized. Read carefully to ensure you are answering the question asked. But this activity far outweighs my "teacher talk" because the students experience and wrestle with sample work that lacks these things.

We completed our first Socratic Circles activity in geometry on Friday. It was wildly successful. When I asked my students if they found this activity to be beneficial, they all said, "Yes!" The reasons provided include...

"Now I will check my EOC prompts like I'm the grader."

"I see how easy it is to miss the actual question."

"It's pretty annoying to review work that's unorganized."

"It helps me to tie the prompt to the strands of standards we will be tested on."

We will squeeze in two more Socratic Circles before the geometry end-of-course exam on April 17-18. And if you're interested in trying this activity in your classroom, you will want to download these number cards:

This FREEBIE is a set of number cards. One set of blue cards #1-15, one set of orange cards #1-15, and a blackline master of cards #1-15. Click on the pic to download a set of number cards to use in your Socratic Circles.

I apologize for being MIA this past week...we are in Benchmark Bootcamp for two weeks before state testing. My evenings are filled with adjusting lesson plans for the following day. I'll be back into full swing by Earth Day. ;)

Enjoy...and make it count!