Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Moments of 2014!

I always say I am going to do some sort of recap at the end of the year and I never do. So, here goes! Some of my favorite moments of 2014 in no particular order!

My sister got married at the tail end of 2013 and is getting married in just 2 months! I cannot wait to stand next to her when she says "I do!"

This was one of my favorite days of teaching last year when I actually remembered to snap a pic! This girl was so into what she was doing she had to take her glasses off to concentrate ;)

The first of many moving pictures. We decided just one week before state testing to put our house on the market which meant we needed to declutter and start packing!

One of the days that our sweet pup, Banjo, was at day camp there was a party! He came home with party favors and pictures. I cannot stop loving this picture!

They were getting ready to pour the slab...things were getting real!

My love took me to the Melting Pot for my birthday! It is the only time of year that we go since he isn't the biggest fan. But, the birthday girl always gets to choose!

My best friend and I took our mommas out to Pinot's Palette to celebrate my birthday and  Mother's Day. We had a blast! And, no. I do not have a bald spot...not sure what that is!

We took Banjo to see the house and he fell in love with the lake across the street!

How cute are these hardhats!?

The highlight of my summer was meeting TPT Amy at the conference! Swoon!

My sister and I at a math conference in Fort Worth.

We hosted our first Thanksgiving in our brand new house. It was a success!

We just celebrated at my sister's first wedding shower last weekend. I am not sure why I don't have a picture with her, but my BFF and I look great so I had to post something :)

See you in 2015!

Monday, December 29, 2014

We Made it Halfway Through the School Year Sale!

If you are like me, you are on winter break and LOVING it! But, like always, you have your classroom and kiddos in the back of your mind and you look forward to starting fresh in the new semester. No? Maybe that is just me!

Anyhow, I am super excited to put my whole store (yep, even the mega-saving bundles) for 20% off December 31 - January 1! Fill up your carts and get those items that have been on your wishlists for months! Check out all of the amazing secondary sellers that are joining in with me:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

iHeart Math Holiday Hop

Image Map

I hope that this post finds most of you on Winter Break or very close to it. You may have noticed that I have been MIA for quite a while and will catch you all up on what I have been up to in a post very soon! For now, I am thrilled to be a part of the iHeart Math Holiday Blog Hop. You can click on any of the blog buttons in the image above to re-visit any of the other fabulous blog posts in this series.

Stocking Stuffer #1: Re-evaluate and Re-adjust 

I just love the schedule that I have this year and I love my students even more. Although I loved my 8th graders last year and thought that was where I needed to be, I decided to split 6th & 7th grade to help both teams. I have to say that I love it so much. My teammates are wonderful and I just love the curriculum.

Something that I love to do at the end of each semester (right before exams) is give an evaluation sheet to each of my students. I tell them it is anonymous and to not write their name. Some still do, but it is an amazing way to see how you are doing from the perspective of your students. They are very honest, and that is a good thing! I want to know if they think I am being fair to everyone, if I play favorites, etc. Even though I like to think that I treat everyone equally, it doesn't really matter if the kids think you don't. I am sharing my word document below for you to be able to edit to suit your needs! Feel free to use when you get back from the break or this week if you are still in school. Click here to download!

Stocking Stuffer #2: Giving Back

Every month we have a character trait at my school. This can be a time for great teachable moments when you have some downtime. This year, my campus has assigned each club or organization one month to create a lesson (lasting about 20-30 minutes) for the whole school to complete at the same time. This past week, we had our lesson on "Gratitude." This was put together by our student council and was fantastic. My little 6th graders were so into it that I shed a tear. No lie. 

Anyhow, the culminating task was that students closed their eyes and thought about someone who has positively influenced them. Then, I gave everyone a sheet of paper and they wrote a letter to that person. Some wrote to their favorite teacher from a past year. Some wrote to grandparents who had passed on. It was beautiful. I guess my point of this story is that is is sometimes so hard to cram in all of the curriculum that we teach in the short amount of time that we have with these kids. However, I think my kids learned more in those 25 minutes than I could have taught them in a week! They talked about be thankful for what you have and not what others have. They talked about those less fortunate and how we can help as a school and a community. I was so proud. If you have any spare time, these can sometimes be the best teachable moments that kids remember.

And, a freebie for you! One of my best-selling products is my set of Middle School Math Writing Prompts and I have so many people who have wishlisted this item. Want to try 10 writing prompts in your class and see if you like them? Click on the image below! This download is only available through the link below. (Click the image.) 

Well, that's it for me! I hope that you and your family have the most relaxing holiday and just enjoy spending time together. Join us tomorrow as my friend Jennifer from Teaching High School Math will share with us some holiday tips and a special gift!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

I LOVE a Good Bundle!

This summer, ten teachers from Teachers Pay Teachers joined together to compile an EXCLUSIVE bundle of math resources for 3rd - 9th grade math. The value of all of these resources is over $125 and you can grab it for only $25 - 80% off! There is a very limited quantity - once we are sold out, it is gone forever! Grab your copy at

Find out more about the participating teachers and their products at and hop along this linky party!

The product that I have in this bundle is valued at $15 on its own!

This is one of my best sellers and my most used resource in my own classroom!

I just know you will love it in addition to all of the other great goodies, too!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Take on Interactive Notebooks

Happy Friday Eve! Doesn't that sound a lot better than dreary old Thursday?? After the week I have had...I need Saturday to be here stat! I always love to escape after a long day and reflect on something great that is happening amid all the other stuff that can make you crazy if you let it. For me, that is using Interactive Notebooks in my math classes.

I am linking up with several other like-minded teachers who are great consumers of interactive notebooks in their own classrooms. I am thrilled to be part of the same blog hop hosted by 4mulafun!

Let me first start by telling you what INBs are NOT: I was in a professional development hosted by my regional service center here about this time last year. I was so excited to see composition notebooks on the tables when we walked in and were told to take one. I was even MORE excited to find that mine had grid paper inside. Am I a nerd or what? I was the only person stoked to be at a PD at 7:30 AM on a random Thursday. Because of grid paper. It really is the little things. Anyhow, long story short, all we did was glue random worksheets that we did in our notebook. I feel like it would have been better suited for a folder.

Or a trash can.

Needless to say, I didn't keep that notebook long. I like spirals better anyhow!

So, let me tell you what works in my classroom. And let me also state FOR THE RECORD that just because something works in my room doesn't mean that it will be a best fit for you and vice versa. Only you know your kids and what will work. I will tell you what DOES work for every classroom if the budget allows it--and that, my friends, is colored paper. Oh, mylanta. When the kids see that they get SO EXCITED. For real. One student said to me just today, "I just want to thank you for making our foldables on colored paper. It makes me look forward to your class."

They almost had to pick me up off of the floor.

Colored paper was the trigger. This, of course, I already knew. I mean, I love colored paper, so why wouldn't they?! But, I digress.

The point is that you have to find something that kids will look forward to each day. Something that keeps them on their toes.

We are just 8 days into the school year, and we are going strong with our notebooks. I have 6th grade regular math and 7th grade Pre-AP math this year, so I am keeping a notebook for each class. I am going to share with you what we have done so far in 7th grade so you can get an idea of how I set up my notebooks at the beginning of the year.
First page is always the table of contents. I printed all year on one legal size sheet of paper to save time each day.

Next, I had them put their syllabus in so that they have it to reference.

We are a goal-setting campus! Students can set anywhere from 3-5 math goals for the year, but they must follow up each one with an action plan. I was so proud of how serious they were with their goals. We have a big conversation about making them reasonable as well as attainable.

So, unfortunately, my Pre-AP babies didn't come to me with all of the skills that they need to be successful. Some did, some didn't. It depended on their placement last year. SO--we made some cheat sheets that they can reference. I know that this is way more teacher input than output, but sometimes curriculum pacing guides don't allow time for reflection or student output for everything!

Actually, giving them these cheat sheets has made them accountable for pre-requisite skills and they have already deemed their notebooks as their math bibles! A teacher's dream :)

We start every unit with vocabulary. The first unit, I model how I want them to do it, and then for subsequent units, they come up with the way that they want to display it themselves. In this case, I chose a simple tab foldable. Underneath, students write a definition and provide examples. 

This one here...I am particularly proud of! We had to classify numbers and although it seems like an easy task, I could tell by conversation the previous day that this was going to be an issue for some. This solved it all, and it was so easy to do! Layering the circles helped the students see which groups the values belonged to.

These are just SOME examples that I have used this week in my class. Stay tuned throughout the year to see more ideas. Whatever you do, the key here is to make it interactive. The best thing is when you see students pull out their notebooks instead of asking you a question. Not that I don't like the questions, but sometimes it gives me (as well as the student) so much more pleasure to find the answer themselves. 

One other thing that I love the INBs for is organization. In order for it to be truly useful for the kiddos, I try to make things easy to find. I LOVE these tabs:

Doesn't that just make you want to go to math class?!?

Check out these awesome posts for more ideas:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Educents Bundle of Middle School Math Goodies!

Wow! Can we just say that the beginning of this year is way harder than previous years? I simply cannot get it together. And, for those who know me, know that I cannot be unorganized. I was lucky to go to school with matching outfits last week. I feel like I am swimming in paperwork, new content standards,  more paperwork, beginning of year stuff, and more paperwork. I think I could save the rainforest if we just did away with paperwork!

So, I would have loved to share with you some of the fun things that I have been doing in class, but I can't because we were so busy being so super engaged in everything that we were doing we just simply couldn't get any photos. It just couldn't be helped! No, really, I just forgot. But, it was probably because of the high level of engagement. Just smile and nod. It has been one of those days/weeks/months. Yes, I am aware it is only the third day of the month.

So, let's get on with the real reason that I am posting today. Four other TPT sellers/bloggers have teamed up to put together a FANTASTIC bundle of Middle School Math Resources for you! It is just about that time of year that we are scrambling to stay ahead in our lesson plans, and this is just the ticket. This has 16 resources that you can use in your classroom throughout the year. Just take a look:  

Here are my products that are included in the bundle:

But that's not all... the bundle covers to following topics that you will need to teach this year:

      Multiplying and Dividing Fractions and Mixed Numbers
      Long Division with Remainders 
•      Algebraic Properties & Expressions
      Fractions, Decimals, & Percents
      Place Value  through the Millions
      Word Problems
      Order of Operations
      Number Lines
      Composite Figures, Complex and Irregular Shapes
      Mean, Median, and Mode

      Pythagorean Theorem

For a limited time it is $10.99 from Educents which is about 75% off!  16 instant downloads for your middle school math learners that are sure to engage.  And 220 pages of materials ready for you to use - there is sure to be tons you will love!

I hope you have the best beginning of the year!

Check out the other amazing products included below:

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Book Review

I am so excited to be participating in this Math Book Blog Hop today! I have teamed up with a bunch of awesome math bloggers to bring this to you.

I am a reader. It seems as if I read more for school than I do for me. BUT, when I find something that is good, I want everyone to know about it. My team is probably sick of me talking about this book, but if I could only have one teaching resource in my classroom, this would probably be it!

Let me tell you how this book works. It is divided up by strand according to the Common Core Standards. Being from Texas, this doesn't bother me at all even though we do not follow the common core curriculum. Within each strand, it is broken down in to grade levels. This particular book has content for K-8th grade. If you are looking for high school, you might want to check out the "sequel" that can be found here: More Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Secondary Mathematics Instruction  

Within each grade level, there are two types of questions: open ended questions and parallel tasks. The open -ended questions are exactly what they sound like--open ended. These are great because they not only correlate to the big idea from the standard, but they also have suggested answers, teaching tips, and examples. My favorite question that I asked from this book last year was:

"You divide two fractions and the numerator of the quotient is four. What could the two fractions be?" 
(taken from page 47)

I love this question for so many reasons. The vocabulary used is vocabulary that we want our kids to use. This reinforces the proper academic vocabulary for the content being assessed. Also, it requires students to come up with a strategy that may be different from their classmate's strategy. There is no "right" answer, there is an infinite amount of correct answers. It also allows the kids to all be able to share their solutions instead of one student answering and moving on. 

Starting to ask questions (especially warm-ups or exit tickets) in this way totally transformed my teaching. I was now asking purposeful questions. They were planned. I got excited to get the part of the lesson when we could share responses. We did this every day, and the results were amazing!

The parallel tasks are just as good, if not better. Parallel tasks are based on one topic, but there are two questions. One is sometimes more challenging than the other, but it is always disguised by having what students would refer to as "friendly numbers." The point is that you tell them they only have to answer one question. In my opinion, they end up working out both to see which is easier! Kids are so funny. Here is an example of one of my favorites:

"Lisa's dad was driving 16 miles every 15 minutes. 
Choice 1: How far would he drive in 20 minutes?
Choice 2: How far would he drive in 2.5 hours?"
(taken from page 65)

Both questions involve some analysis before proceeding. Students inherently want to figure out which one is "easier" or will take less time. Many students of mine started out by answering choice 1, but then qiuckly switched to choice 2. 

These are just two examples of types of questions in this wonderful book. I encourage all of you to give it a try! 

Want a chance to win it?? I am raffling off a copy of the book and will send it to you directly. Because I am incurring the cost of shipping as well as the book, please only enter if you live in the contiguous 48 states. I apologize in advance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click on the image below to be taken to the next blog: Miss Math Dork!