Sunday, August 5, 2018

Classroom {Office} Tour

This will be my first year without a classroom and I have to say it feels a little weird! I super LOVE reading all of the back to school blog posts, especially classroom tours! I am in love with my space and will never be able to thank my hubby enough. This is his 11th back to school classroom and he did not disappoint!


I went to pick up my key in July and asked where my classroom which I got laughter and shown this office. I knew I wanted to make it mine and that would include some flexible seating. The space is small so stand up tables seemed to be the best option. My vision is teachers collaborating and coming up with amazing things while they sit or stand. 

This table was the beginning and I had a specific color I wanted that Lowe's nor Home Depot nor Sherwin Williams had! Imagine that! So we invested in Annie Sloan and made our own. It turned out to be the perfect aqua color I was wanting. 



Did I mention how awesome this guy is? He makes all my Pinterest dreams come true! By giving more space to the table, I lost storage space. Big decisions had to be made about what was important to have in my ONE cabinet. 


Sizing down from a huge classroom with thousands of cabinets to an office left just a little in the storage unit! 


The TOROS are my new school's mascot. How super fun is this trophy Toro, that we even got to put together, for my wall?! I still have lots to do with finishing touches, including an amazing calendar that is coming soon. Binders for the shelves with all the things in them. A fake plant or lamp maybe for the empty spaces on the wall. But I love how it turned out and wanted to share it with you before we start back tomorrow. I am beyond excited to start a new position even though my heart is teaching math. Here is to the best year ever!

This post is part of the MTBoS Blaugust Festival of Mathematics Blogging! Click the photo to be taken to some amazing math bloggers! You can still participate so go blog about your awesome classroom!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Barbie Zipline for Pythagorean Theorem

Math and Science classes could have been sponsored by Mattel this year with all the Barbie involved! You can read about our super fun Barbie Bungee adventures over at my awesome partner science teacher's blog where we dropped Barbie from the top of the football stadium bleachers.


After doing Barbie Bungee with our students this year for scatter plots, we leaked the plans that we would also be doing Barbie Zipline. Students had really been looking forward to this and as soon as they saw the unit divider for their notebooks was Pythagorean Theorem, they erupted with excitement and questions!

The lesson started with this video to get them thinking about the criteria of what makes a zipline fun but safe. Most line, height, and speed! We reminded them that just like Barbie Bungee, we wanted to give Barbie a thrill without killing her! Students were also given a budget to work within to get their business started. After looking at all the ways other teachers have done this lesson, I liked how Andrew Stadel at Divisible by 3 did it so I used his plan to guide me...along with talking out every detail 47 times and adjusting throughout the day with my amazing co-teachers!

Students had to get their designs approved by our super awesome maintenance guy or amazing library media specialist. Our library media specialist gave them a tough time and even had some redesign their zipline before she would approve it! One group forgot to take their money with them to pay for the permit and she charged them interest by the minute while they {ran} to get the money! I love that the whole building was involved in their learning. 

We walked through the criteria together and they had to come up with three designs. One that would be instant, certain death for Barbie, one where Barbie may get stuck or lack a thrilling ride, and a ride just right where Barbie goes a safe, fun speed. 


Students worked hard on their designs and stood in line to get them approved! I gave them the height (leg) of the launch which was the catwalk at the cafeteria. They used the tiles on the cafeteria floor to measure where the zipline should be held (leg). The hypotenuse was the amount of cable needed and they had to calculate that as well. I let them have a walkthrough of the cafeteria to make any last minute adjustments to their design and that was Day 1.

For Day 2, launch day, the science classes timed the Barbies going down the ziplines and calculated the speed for each group. We used feet for the design measurement so students could use the tiles but for the speed we had them convert to meters. It was awesome to see mathematicians launching their Barbies while the scientists collected the data below! I love when our powers combine! 

In the videos below, you can see the launch and the students timing and calculating below. I love everything about this lesson and the Pythagorean Theorem!

This post is part of the MTBoS Blaugust Festival of Mathematics Blogging! Click the photo to be taken to some amazing math bloggers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

My Favorite First Week

'Tis the season...Back to School Season! My fave! There is nothing like fresh new pencils and notebooks to go with the perfect first day of school outfit! The excitement of all that is ahead at the start of a new school year is electric. I am passionate about using that energy and excitement to start the school year with community building and learning how to work as a team. This post is part of my own math teacher community's blogging challenge. Click the Blaugust photo above for all the details to blog with us!

The first few days of school are not about your course guide, they are about building relationships with the new kiddos sitting in front of you. I have used many activities over the years during the first week of school to get to know my students and set the tone for the community I want my classroom to be. We can't have an Eclipse the first day of school every year but these are my most favorite first week activities and I know they will give you the best year ever!

My ALL time favorite thing to do the first week of school is Sara VanDerWerf's Name Tents. If you only add one thing to your teacher toolbox this year this is THE ONE! You will learn so super much about your new students. They put their name on the outside so I can learn them and respond each day on the inside. I reply at night and repeat each day the first week. It takes a little extra time to read and reply but it is time well spent. It is the best, private conversation that will lead to many more. I modified Sara's last year with different prompts: What would be your baseball walk-up song, what do you look for in a teacher, what are you passionate about, and what are your strengths we can use. Music says so much about a person and knowing what they are passionate about helped me pull out their genius and make activities that they would be interested in. I love that the kid above said he was strong and I could use him for lifting! Football was my connection with him and this simple name tent provided that for me! The name tent below shows how some students like to share in private. I love this!

Download the name tent and do this! I promise you will love it! Get Sara's or grab mine. The one pictured was last year when the first day of school was the Eclipse so I skipped Monday! The one linked has all five days. 

Also from Sara VanDerWerf is 100 Numbers, which I am certain has gone viral! And for good reason!  If you want to show your kids what group work looks like, this is the activity that does it. Go over to her blog post for the original with detailed instructions and different variations our community has made!

Last year, I added a new team building activity and it will definitely stay in my top 3. Cup stacking has been around but this activity from Math = Love adds a few twists from Middle School Science Blog


Students were given 6 challenges with a range in difficulty level. They could communicate verbally until they got to challenge 4 when no one could speak! Only the rubber band could move the cup. I was impressed with their perseverance because it crushed me every time their stack of cups fell!


Breakout boxes have been my go to for the last couple of years. I love how the entire class can participate and it shows you what each student's role will be. The leaders naturally emerge to organize while the thinkers will take a clue off to the side, and the blue personalities will keep the peace when things get intense. All the skills our students need with just simple locks and a box!

See our little community already forming? This is why I love the first week of school! I would love to get ideas from you and what you do your first week!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Distance Using Pythagorean Theorem and Crows

This lesson has been swirling in my head for a couple of years. I have talked about how the crow flies when teaching distance using the Pythagorean Theorem, but wanted more to really seal the shortest distance idea with students. The school is full of right angles and I knew I should be using those for math. Today was "real-world" story problems and counting squares in the hall for the win! By "real-world" I mean...I {could} teleport with enough Mountain Dew... I am sure!

Students were given four story problems that took them all over the schoolhouse! When you try to play super hard with toddlers to make them tired...that was me with my 8th graders today! Many students said what a fun activity it was which is HUGE with the only three weeks left, after testing, why are you still making us do work, sunshine shining, ready for the summer vibe we have in Room 206. 

Heads down counting square tiles all over the building was hilarious to watch. Especially when your group keeps trying to make you mess up counting so you have to cover your ears and count out loud. Or your partner makes you stand at the right angle while he counts.

I highly suggest you make up some "real-world" stories and have your kiddos find the shortest distance even if it has to be through walls or flying over the cafeteria. Ignore our sad, bare walls. They made us take everything down to paint.

Just be sure to clarify the units you are measuring in. I have drilled "no naked numbers" into my students' brains. The student below obviously didn't want a naked number so her best guess was {miles}?! But she did get the correct number of Mountain Dews!

The best part of the lesson was that I made my activity rings happy. I almost closed all three just at school!