Three Million Strong TpT Sale (and 3 new bundles!)

Teachers Pay Teachers has reached THREE MILLION teacher members!

Image Credit: Lindsay Perro

In celebration of this milestone, my TpT store will be 20% off for THREE days February 27 through March 1. And I will reveal a new bundle of math goodness each day in this little nook...


Solve Systems of Linear Equations




Arithmetic and Geometric Sequences

Meanwhile...hop over to Blog Hoppin' to browse the linky party of sellers who are celebrating with me. Happy shopping to YOU!

30+ iPad Apps for the Math Classroom

Do you have an iPad or two (or maybe a class set of 30!) available to use with your math students?
Are you wondering where to begin?!?
Problem solved.

iPad Apps for the Middle School Math Classroom

Browse my list of 30+ iPad apps for the middle school math classroom. This list includes everything from student screencasting to project organization to teacher productivity. And each icon is linked directly to the App Store for your convenience. Be sure to check back often for updates!


Thank Your Champion...

Every child deserves a champion...
an adult who will never give up on them,
who understands the power of connection,
and insists that they become the best they can possibly be.
-Rita Pierson

During an impromptu meeting, my mentor posed a question I had never pondered.

"Lisa, what was the turning point for you?"

We talked about professional growth and career goals often, but this question was focused on the distant past instead of the future. I had never shared the pivotal failure that occurred during my fifth year of teaching.

Envision the last day of school before break when teachers and students are putting the final touches on semester details. I was conferencing with students to review final grades...in this instance three boys had gathered at my desk because they were inseparable (or should I say competitive?!?). I informed one student that his final grade was an 88%.

He replied, "Not bad."
I rallied, "True. Not bad. But you could have done better."
And his gut-wrenching statement that I will never forget, "Why didn't you tell me that sooner? I would have worked harder!"

Seriously. What had I done? I was so focused on the challenging content and making it accessible to my students that I had completely lost never gained sight of my students. Please notice the difference. I had great rapport with my students. I was involved in their world. I never gave up on them. And I truly believed they were capable of great things. I just never told them. In that moment of realization, I vowed to be a champion for students.

When I watched Rita Pierson's TED Talk this past summer, I immediately thought back to this discussion. I wholeheartedly agree. Every child deserves a champion. Not just someone who silently believes in them from the sidelines, but an adult who is in the game for the sole purpose of ensuring they reach their fullest potential.

Do you have a champion?
Yes. YOU! The educator.
The one who works tirelessly for the students you serve.
Who never gives up on you?
Who is it that understands the legacy of relationships and insists you become the best you can possibly be?

Be sure to thank your champion for asking the hard questions!


Genius Hour for Teachers

While sitting in a district Math Task Force subcommittee meeting last winter, the junior high principals asked me what teachers needed most to fully implement the Common Core State Standards. My response was immediate and simple. Time!

Modeled after 20% time projects at 3M, Google, and FedEx.

I continued with specific descriptions. Not time before or after school...that conflicts with tutoring, conferences, meetings, and assigned duties. Not time away from the classroom...that hinders overall long-term progress with students. But time during the school day with no responsibility for anything other than a focus on researching, thinking, collaborating, and creating whatever necessary to build stronger students.

One principal was convinced she could make that happen if the math teachers would be willing to increase their class size from a maximum of 25 students to a maximum of 30 students. The teachers were willing and the principal worked her magic with the master schedule so that every math teacher has 5 classes, 2 preparation periods, and one math department period for Genius Hour. The design allows teachers 80 minutes per week to collaborate via a scheduled session with an additional 120 minutes per week to create their own supplemental path.

The Mission:
Every Fulbright math teacher has genius in them. It's true. And it takes time to discover, develop, and unleash that genius. Given the shift of instructional practices in the Common Core math classroom, FJHS math teachers have been gifted with time to investigate the genius that will build better math students.

The Process:
First, the teachers generate pedagogy-related questions based on student needs. Then the facilitator creates coordinating prompts to jumpstart a team session. And the team collaboration evolves from there. 
Considering my relocation to a state in which I'm not certified to teach, the principal asked if I would facilitate the scheduled Genius Hour sessions via Skype. It was a privilege to brainstorm this program into existence with her. We launched the first sessions in September 2013. And it has been an honor to work with her teachers; they are committed to excellence in all they do to serve students well.

For additional resources on Genius Hour ventures in education read The Best Resources for Applying "Fed Ex Days" to School blog post by Larry Ferlazzo, a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA. Follow @JoyKirr and #geniushour on Twitter. Read Joy's My Own Genius Hour blog to see this idea in action with her ELA Grade 7 classes. (The mission statement above is fashioned from her thoughtful posts.) Or view the Inside Look #3 video highlighting @KristiLevy and the Oshkosh Area School District in Wisconsin.

This post is written in loving memory of Kathy Murry.
The former principal and creative genius who established the home of the Timberwolves.
May her legacy howl forevermore.