Saturday, September 13, 2014

#mtboschallenge Week 5: SKUNK and Other Favorite Math Games

This is Week 5 of the #mtboschallenge on twitter.  The challenge is to blog once a week for the remainder of 2014.  Each Saturday there will be a different prompt shared to blog about.  The prompt will be shared prior to Saturday on twitter using #mtboschallenge  You can link up on my blog (or any other blog that shares the link up). Also share your blog post on twitter with #mtboschallenge .  You can copy the following graphic into your blog post.  Each Sunday @druinok from  Teaching Statistics will host a 3-2-1 Summary prompt where you can blog about anything you choose.   Feel free to join the blogging challenge on either Saturday, Sunday, or both days.  We really hope you join the challenge!


The prompt for this week is to blog about a favorite math game or activity your students enjoy.  Please check all the blogs that link up and leave comments.  

I play a game in my classroom called SKUNK and the kids absolutely love it.  Each player needs a piece of paper with the word SKUNK written at the top of it.  Draw lines between the letters to create a score column for each letter.  Basically the leader rolls two dice and then you find the product of the numbers (great practice for beginning multiplication up to 6 x 6).  As long as players remain standing they get to write down each product rolled.  Once they sit down they add up the total points they earned for that round (each letter S-K-U-N-K is a separate round).   Play ends for each round when everyone is seating or when a one or snake eyes (double ones) are rolled.  Anyone standing when a one is rolled loses their points for that letter round.  Anyone standing when snake eyes is rolled loses all their points for the game up to that point.  The game ends after five rounds and winner is the person with the highest point total.  Also I play that if a one or snake eyes is rolled on the first roll of the round it does not count, otherwise no one would get points for that round. 

Love playing on my SMARTBoard
This game involves both choice and chance and is a great discussion springboard when you are studying probability.  I am linking you to Illuminations.  They give a detailed explanation of the game as well as a great Thinking About Skunk sheet.  I have always played the game for fun, but plan on doing the follow up sheet this year when we start probability.  My students always ask to play SKUNK if we have some extra time.
You can play it old school with dice and a chalkboard or overhead projector (wait does anyone even have an overhead anymore?!), but we play it on the SMARTBoard and they LOVE the virtual dice.   Enjoy and let me know what you think.  


This bookcase is in the corner of my room and it is for storing math manipulatives, games, and learning station activities.  Last year was our first year implementing Carnegie Learning Curriculum and I really did not have time to do much with learning stations as I have done in past years. I'm hoping to incorporate stations more this year and also have them available for early finishers and for students wanting some extra practice or enrichment.  That will be a work in progress.

The bottom two shelves are where I store games
Over the years I have purchased many math games for my students to enjoy in class.  A few years ago (before CC and Carnegie) my students would play the games all the time at the end of class once they had finished their homework.  I have to say that the past couple years there has been very little time for that.  I am hoping to find more time for games and fun activities this year.  They are still doing math and learning while playing the games.

Blokus has always been a student favorite.  I have 3D Blokus, but they tend to prefer regular Blokus instead. I also think VersaTiles is a great way for students to independently practice important math skills and they nice thing is they are self correcting.  The blocks in the bottom right corner are manipulatives, not a game.  If I let my 7th graders they would build with those blocks all.day.long (but I don't).

A closer view of the game shelves
I absolutely love Think Fun Games.  They are great independent/partner activities.  They really make students think.  
Think Fun Games and Playing Cards
These are my Think Fun Games:  Block by Block, Shape by Shape, Brick by Brick, Square by Square, Serpentiles, and Math Dice.  I love that they come with bags for storage.  So much nicer than having a bunch of different size boxes to store (not sure they still come with the bags so you may want to check first).
Love these games by ThinkFun
I can't wait to see what other teachers blog about today.  I'm always looking to add more fun and educational learning activities/games to my classroom.



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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday 3-2-1 Summary Week #4 #mtboschallenge


Three things I enjoyed this week:
1)  Meeting my new students.  THEY.ARE.AWESOME.
2)  Doing the Marshmallow Challenge with my students. Blog post coming soon.
3)  Meeting Jessica algebrainiac1 We've been twitter friends for quite awhile and finally were able to          meet in person.  It's amazing how much easier it is to communicate with someone without the                constraints of 140 characters.
Two things I'm looking forward to this week:
1)  My youngest celebrating his golden birthday on Tuesday the 9th.
2)  Starting our Carnegie workshop lessons.
One thing I want to focus on this week:
1)  I want to really focus on my lesson plans and teaching resources for Chapter 1 of Carnegie                    including getting my classes set up for MATHia our computer program.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

#mtboschallenge Week 4: Day 1 of School

This is Week 4 of the #mtboschallenge on twitter.  The challenge is to blog once a week for the remainder of 2014.  Each Saturday there will be a different prompt shared to blog about.  The prompt will be shared prior to Saturday on twitter using #mtboschallenge  You can link up on my blog (or any other blog that shares the link up). Also share your blog post on twitter with #mtboschallenge .  You can copy the following graphic into your blog post.  Each Sunday @druinok from  Teaching Statistics will host a 3-2-1 Summary prompt where you can blog about anything you choose.  We really hope you join the challenge!


The prompt for this week is to blog about your first day or week of school.  Please check all the blogs that link up and leave comments.  If you started school earlier and already posted about your first day or week feel free to link that post.

Tuesday Sept 2nd was our first day of school this year for students.  We started the day with a 2 hour orientation period with our first hour students.  I had told my students and parents at Back to School Night that I would provide breakfast for the students.

We went through all the apples and four bags of donuts.  These kids were hungry!

This was our schedule for the day.  During the orientation period we went over lots of information in the student handbook, watched a few short informational videos that were created by students, and had a station where we went to the cafeteria/playground and our administrators filled the students in on how the lunch lines work in the cafeteria and other important expectations.

Day 1 Bell Schedule.

During my 30 min math classes that day we started out with introductions.  I introduced myself and then I had the students tell me their name and if they prefer use a nickname.  I had them tell us what elementary school they came from and they had the option to describe their day so far in one word.  To not put pressure on anyone I told them they could pass on giving the one word description and nobody did!  Popular words were confusing, fun, and stressful.  I came up with the one word idea at the last second and I really loved it.

After introductions we got started on my first day post-it prompt activity.  This is my third year doing this and it's still one of my favorite things.  I was cracking up when I saw the first two posters during my first hour.  I told students to put the post-its on the posters and they ended up making an array, I told them I loved the array, but they could put the post-its anywhere on the poster.  They got a little more footloose and fancy free with the last two posters.

Love the arrays they started.

They got a little crazy on the last two.  LOL

Do you just love the boxes full of consumable texts on the floor?  Yes they drove me crazy all week, but I am happy to report that as of yesterday during Homebase, boxes are all gone.  There are piles of Volume 1 books ready to hand out next week and the Volume 2 books are now boxed up and stored away until we need them when we start Chapter 9.  I felt like I was running a little sweatshop, with the kids unpacking, separating, and repacking books frantically.  My Homebase is full of great helpers and most students didn't have much homework to be working on yet so it worked out well. I try to never do myself what students can help do.

Students in action.

Here are the completed posters. When I do this activity.  I pass out a pack of post-its at each table with four per student.  Then each student writes a response to each prompts.  When everyone at the table is finished with the prompt ONE person collects them and puts them on the poster.  That way I only have six students at the posters at a time.  It's much more controlled than every student getting up and putting their own post-it on each poster.

I used the same four prompts as last year and these posters are the same ones I used last year (I laminated them).  I kept those up the entire school year, but this year I will need to space for anchor charts I create so they won't be up all year.

The students definitely enjoy this activity and I don't want to overload them with information on day one because they have already had the two hour orientation session full of information.

Lots of responses of FUN this year.

Always so impressed with their responses to this prompt.

Always laugh when they put "Teaching Us" 

Growth mindset!

Completed posters on my side board.  I have magnets on the back of them.

The finished product.

Day 1 went great this year.  The students were sweet, respectful and fun.  I have blog posts planned for Day 2- Workshop Introduction, Day 3- Carnival Bears (problem solving), and Day 4- The Marshmallow Challenge (team building).

My first week is over and it was fun, exciting, and exhausting.  I know it's going to be another great year because I can already tell how awesome my students are.  This weekend I need to spend some time going over my first lessons for Carnegie and figuring out how to incorporate growth mindset in my classroom.  Hope everyone had a wonderful first (or beyond) week.

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently September

I am linking up with Farley for her September Currently.



Listening:  To the Today Show on TV right now.  My oldest two are still sleeping and my youngest is at a sleepover.  My husband is cleaning up the kitchen from his salsa making last night.

Loving:  We had such a great fun weekend.  Friday I worked until 11:30, but actually did not leave school until 1PM when my husband called to let me know they were all hungry and waiting for me to get home so we could go out to lunch.  We ended up going to California Pizza Kitchen and then got some groceries at Trader Joe's.  Friday night all the guys went to our High School's home opener.  We have a brand new stadium with artificial turf so it was extra exciting.  I stayed home and chilled out after a busy and exhausting first three days of PD, getting my classroom ready, and BTS night.  Saturday our friends had their annual Corn hole tourney and it was a sweep for our family.  My middle son and his partner were tourney champions, my oldest beat my husband to win the B bracket, and my husband won the long toss with a toss of 70 feet.  While all this excitement was going on I treated myself to a 90 min massage.  Any teacher know how physically exhausting it is setting up a classroom.  Yesterday we had an early birthday celebration for my youngest who turns 9 on Sept 9th.  Today we are chilling at home and we are making a nice ham dinner for our "last supper of summer" before all the craziness of school starts tomorrow.

Thinking:  This is my 25th year of teaching.  I know, crazy right?!  It will be my 16th year teaching 7th grade math.  Prior to that I taught 6th grade for 7 years and 7th grade SS for 2 years.  My middle son is a 7th grader this year and I will be teaching many of his friends this year.  I am really excited for this year because it's my third year using Carnegie curriculum and my second year of doing math workshop.

Wanting:  I really want to keep from feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work.  I feel last year I felt that way all year and despite loving my job and  enjoying the time with my students, it's not a great way to live.  We are implementing Standards Based Grading this year and it's weighing heavily on my mind because of the report card/rubric standards we were given to adopt are Problem Solving, Justification, and Precision.  We are not using content standards on our rubrics like most math teachers I see who use SBG.  I'm sure once we get started it will be fine, but right now it's stressing me out a bit.  I'm bound and determined to keep a balance between school and home life.  It helps that I chose not to apply for the position of middle school math liaison, I really felt with the ages my sons are I need to minimize my extra work commitments.  I have a 3rd and 7th grader and a sophomore.  All three are playing football this fall and my middle plays fall BB so our evenings and weekends are full of FB practices and games.

Needing:  I am spending today prioritizing what needs to be accomplished off my summer to do list.  I always feel the two most important things are laundry and menu planning.  If the laundry is done and everyone has clean clothes and we have meals planned with the fridge, freezer, and pantry stocked up then everything else really takes care of itself.  By hosting a birthday party yesterday we cleaned up the house so that's done.  I would love to get my fall decorations out today, but if it doesn't happen today it's not a big deal.  I got a pedicure this weekend so I just need to get my outfits picked out for the week and get my nails polished so I'm ready to go tomorrow morning.

Three Trips:
I have been fortunate that I traveled extensively prior to getting married.  I studied in Spain my sophomore year of college and traveled all over Europe.  Some of my favorite places were Paris, Greece, and Italy.  I have traveled to many states in the US as well as Mexico twice (once in high school and once in my 20s.)  I've cruised in the Caribbean and also honeymooned in Jamaica.  Despite all the traveling I did in my 20s, there are a few spots I'd still love to see.

1)  New York-  I've always wanted to spend a few days in the city and also to see the MOMATH.  My cousin lives in New Jersey and I've been talking about visiting her for a few years, we just need to find a time we are both free.  We both have very busy lives.

2)  Hawaii-  I'd love to go there with my husband and the boys. Sun, sand, beach.  What more could a girl ask for?!

3)  Turks & Caicos- I would really love to go to any remote tropical island, that's my kind of vacation.

Hope you all enjoy your Labor Day and have a great school year whether you've already begun or if you are just starting.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

#mtboschallenge Week 3: Sharing Classroom Photos

This is Week 3 of the #mtboschallenge on twitter.  The challenge is to blog once a week for the remainder of 2014.  Each Saturday there will be a different prompt shared to blog about.  The prompt will be shared prior to Saturday on twitter using #mtboschallenge  You can link up on my blog (or any other blog that shares the link up). Also link your blog post on twitter with #mtboschallenge .  You can copy the following graphic into your blog post.  Each Sunday @druinok from  Teaching Statistics will host a 3-2-1 Summary prompt where you can blog about anything you choose.  We really hope you join the challenge!


This week we are sharing photos of our classrooms. I cannot wait to see everyone's rooms!  This post is very very photo heavy and explanations for the photos are in the captions.  I will let the photos do the speaking for themselves.  I take all my photos with my iPhone because it is quick and easy. I know they are not the best quality, but I take all my photos on my iPhone.  All these photos were taken at the end of the day Friday right before I left school.  We could leave at 11:30, but I finally left at 1:00 PM when my husband called to tell me they were all hungry and I needed to get home so we could go out to lunch.

This is a virtual 360ยบ tour of my classroom, starting with the view from the right of the door and circling around.  I tried to make sure I got everything.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Enjoy!

The view of my classroom from the hallway

Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite

Top Ten List Poster I made on Vistaprint

Those cabinets are currently at maximum capacity, decluttering is on my to-do list

Posters ready for 1st day Post-It activity and boxes of texts to be handed out

Going through those white boxes and tossing is on my to do list

Another to do list item is redoing the CC standard posters and changing the border on the cabinet

My anchor chart stand I have been waiting for since my previous principal promised me one, patience is a virtue

Math Focus Wall has been revamped slightly, I may do a separate post about it in a few weeks

My teacher resources bookcase, wish it was black

We were the 7th grade Dodgeball tourney runners-up last year, some posters from that

This is where I keep artwork from my sons and notes from students, I have a pile of stuff more to add

On top of my paper sorter

I completely love how I've organized my back shelves this year

This is where my kidney table will go once it arrives, the B & G person forgot to order it last Spring so who knows when it will arrive

My happy place!

Wider view of my teacher corner

Paper sorter and desk

My Elmo is between the file cabinets

Another desk view

Elmo and lapdesks on bottom of the cart

Side of my file cabinet

Everything is ready to go for Tuesday

View of my classroom from my teacher corner

Window ledge decor

I change the border monthly and put seasonal decor

Pencil sharpener, kleenex, and MATHia graphic organizers

Learning stations/math games bookcase

I just love this corner

Close-up not finished but good enough to start school

Calendar and bell schedule

Another table for small groups, napkins ready for breakfast Tuesday

Computer cart and extra desk that must stay in my classroom taking up space because there's nowhere to store it #teacherproblems

Scrap paper basket and student planners ready to be handed out on the first day

Window cling looking out to hallway, to the right is a door that lead to outside, we consider our rooms the cul-de-sac

View to the left from my door

View from my door

I hope you had fun seeing what my 7th grade middle school classroom looks like.  At back to school night one of my parents told me that my classroom looked like something off of Pinterest.  I told her she could very well see photos of it there.  I hope we get lots of people linking up to this #mtboschallenge because I love getting a peek into others' classrooms.  Thanks for stopping by!

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