First Week Back = PD

This week we had three days of PD. I was pretty surprised with how much time we were given to work in our rooms. 

First Day:

The day began with the mandatory teacher meetings which took up most of the morning. Then we had our union meeting. Did I say that I am co-president this year for my local teacher union? If going back to school was not enough stress I also have to deal with this but at least I have a great partner in crime working with me on it. We then had the afternoon to work in our rooms. 

Second Day:

This was a full day of meetings. To get more funding in Iowa schools pretty much had to create a teacher leadership program that is where TAP comes into play. This is our first year implementing TAP so we spent the morning learning about it as a district. The school board then provided lunch for us. (Thanks) After that we had building meetings to see how TAP would work in our buildings. It all comes down to having a master teacher observing us, then a mentor teacher and finally our princpal. Along with that we will have cluster meetings where we will work on implementing strategies in our classrooms. Over all it was a pretty stress free day.

Third Day: 

Our final day this week was yesterday and we started out by having the morning to work in our rooms. I worked on getting all my student Chromebooks plugged in. Then worked on some computer work. I went to lunch with two great friends/coworkers. After that we had building meetings. The first meeting was making sure everyone knew how to set up their grade book which was easy! Then we moved into curriculum groups to review Iowa Assessment data, the grading rubric for SBG and discussion on how we are going to work with students in need of assistance (those that didn’t score high on Iowa Asssessments). This was all fine. There was one thing that did make this afternoon very stressful and is still on my mind today but I can’t share it now. 

We have one more day of PD on Monday and then students start Tuesday. 


Pre-School Stress = Pain

Do your clothes just hanging on your body make your body hurt? Does it ever hurt to just have your husband/partner rub their hand on your back? Does it ever hurt putting on lotion? 

I can’t figure out why my fibro is acting up right now because school has not even started. My husband says that I am starting to stress about school already and kids don’t even start until next week Tuesday. I go back for PD starting this Wednesday. My classroom is all ready with just a few minor things that probably will pop up in the next week. During classroom work time this week I hope to get some lesson planning done and update my Google Classroom that I hope to use more this year. 

I have been told by others that this is going to be a difficult year because of the kids that are entering seventh grade. I try not to think about that. I want to give each student the benefit of doubt. They had all summer to grow up and it’s a new year. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t done extra planning for active students. I am looking forward to this year. 

I do know that there are a lot of changes happening in my district and I will admit that I have a little anxiety about that. My district is implementing TAP where we will have a master teacher at each building along with two mentor teachers in each. Even though I was part of the process to get TAP started I don’t like the unknown and I guess that is getting to me. 

I am going to try to enjoy my last two days off. I am co-president for our district teacher union this year and we are taking all the new teachers out for lunch on Tuesday. That should be a fun time. 

I guess I am going to go catch some TV time. 

Later gators!


Flexible Seating

So, I am going to try something new this year. After reading blogs this spring and summer about flexible seating I thought I would give it a try with my 7th graders.

I purchased 6 exercise balls from the store Five Below. Then I went to Walmart and purchased 6 water noodles and some cool duct table to create exercise ball stands.

File Aug 10, 11 40 56 AM

No, I don’t have just 6 students in my math classes but I do have 6 groups. I put a colored dot on each desk. Each day I will post the color dot that gets to use the exercise ball instead of their chair if they want. If they decide not to use the exercise ball they can give it to someone else in their group.

File Aug 10, 11 39 54 AM

I am not sure how this will work with 7th graders but I want to give it a try. If it does work well I will explore more options for flexible seating. I will write an updated post later into first quarter to share how its going.

I did steal and change some rules for flexible seating that I have posted in my room.

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Posters For My Classroom

My room is about ready for school year 16-17 but I wanted to include some posters in my room for extra inspiration. I have to be careful with how much I put up on walls as the Fire Marshall says we can only have like 10% of our walls covered.

So, I decided that I would make 11×17 posters and hand them in the four corners of my room from the ceiling. I don’t have a Staples close by and I wanted to try to stay local so I am using a store in town called, Paper Trail. I created my posters on and saved them as PDF’s. I just sent all of the PDF’s to Paper Trail via email and I will wait to see what I get.

Below are the four posters I created.

Perseverance Perseverance

Notice/Wonder NoticeWonder

Convince Me Convince Me

Mistakes miStAkEs

I’ll send pictures out late this week when I get them hung up.


Why Tweet

I have seen this Tweet from Bob twice now in my feed and it has really made me think about why I joined Twitter. 

In my district we have at least one PD day where it’s just technology. One session that I attended was on Twitter so I went and created an account. At first I didn’t do much with it as I didn’t feel that I needed it right then in my life. I thought it was just for posting random things; not a place where you can experience such wonderful PD on your own. PD that is specific to what you need.

Looking at Bob’s first question here, “What experience caused Twitter to become a PLN for me?” (Sorry, Bob I reworded it a little) Is that I felt that PD in my district was stagnant at least for me. I felt that what I was learning at the district level was stuff that I already knew or had learned as at that time I was getting my masters and did a lot of research reading on my own and that we were moving too slow. So, I turned to Twitter and found this marvelous group(s) that I now call my virtual PLN (but once a year I can talk to people in person at TMC). I have my #msmathchat PLN, #MTBoS PLN, #TMC PLN and individual people that support me in ways that I never thought possible. I have learned so much through tweeting and participating in chats on Twitter. 

I can say that I am not a novice on Twitter anymore but I don’t think that I have moved to a Twitter ninja yet either. I am somewhere on the side of the spectrum that is moving closer to Twitter ninja. 

I don’t think I have an aha moment except to say that Twitter has pulled me through some rough days of teaching. The support that you get on Twitter is amazing. 

Thank you,


Dear Etiquette Expert

I read the book, “Well Played Building Mathematical Thinking Through Number and Algebraic Games and Puzzles” Grade 6-8 by Linda Dacey, Karen Gartland and Jayne Bamford Lynch this summer. One of the things they talked about is that students are familiar with online etiquette. Students know that if you text in all caps it is considered screaming. They also have ideas about how to treat each other but do they know how to work as a group when solving math.

So, they came up with etiquette cards (6 of them) to deal with working in a group. One example the authors gave of using these cards is to have groups pick a card at random and that it’s their job to discuss the concern and create a written response to the writer’s problem. They then need to identify one expert in their group that will share it with the class. After listening to the expert’s response the class will have a discussion and add their own remedies for the problem.

Here are the six cards I am going to use. I modified them to fit my classroom of 7th graders.

Dear Etiquette Expert,

Sometimes I really like solving problems alone, but my teacher likes group members to work together. I get too distracted when my partner(s) starts talking right away and can’t think about the math. I want to ask if we can start by reading and thinking to ourselves, but I don’t want to seem too different from everyone else. What do you think?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

My group and I had a lot of questions about the task today. We read the directions again, but it didn’t help and everyone else looked like they knew what they were doing. We finally just filled in numbers randomly and said we were done. I know we need to find a way to work through being stuck. Can you help us figure out how to keep going?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

My group won the game we were playing today, but my group made a big deal about our win and I felt really embarrassed. My group kept telling other groups that we were much better than they were and that we would win the next time that we played too. How can I avoid this big scene again?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

My group and I were working on a task, but after working on it for a little while the group gave up. They said it was too hard and we should do something else instead like talk about Friday’s football game. I thought we could solve it if we worked together. How do I convince my group to work longer and that the effort is worth it?

Dear Etiquette Expert,

One of the students in my group always want to be the one to say what we should do. He/She doesn’t give the rest of the group a chance. We feel like we understand the math but are just not as quick as he/she is. How can we help him/her to understand that we need to be involved in deciding what to do as well?


Dear Etiquette Expert,

I like to just sit back and do nothing when working in groups. I like to let everyone else do the work and then just copy what the group wrote down. I just sit back and do nothing or act out so that I don’t have to be a part of the group. Often I wait until the teacher notices that I am not working and comes over to say something. Can you help me figure out how I can become involved with the group and want to work?

If you have any suggestions or ideas for cards that might be added please let me know.


7th Grade Math Classroom 16-17

Even though school does not start with kids till August 23 I have been busy getting it ready.

I wanted a new bulletin board that dealt with a Growth Mindset but I could not find something that I liked on Twitter, Blogs, or Pinterest. The thing that kept coming back in my mind is Jo Boaler’s “With Math I Can…” that has been on Twitter all summer. So, my new bulletin board is that. I plan to have students finish the statement and then post those on the board after the first week of school.

File Jul 22, 3 35 54 PM

I have read a lot this summer and one of the books that I read was on whole brain learning. From that I have modified some of their things to fit my room. I wholeheartedly use ClassDojo in my room and wanted to still use that but incorporate some whole brain learning too. So I stuck with 5 classroom rules some from whole brain learning. I also used the ClassDojo monsters.

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I stole this next idea from one of the ClassDojo mentors on Facebook. Each class that I teach has a Dojo Meter. This is where I will record positive points earned. So, when a class gets to 25 positive points I will fill in that part of the circle. As of right now the circles only go to 500 points. When a class gets past that I will create another circle.

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I stole Sarah Carter’s welcome sign.

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To encourage students to do their best on assessments I have a Math Stars bulletin board. On final assessments students get a dot for each 4 that they earn on a learning target. Students then put their name or initials on the dot(s) and put it on the bulletin board. Each class has a different color dot. Classes like to see who can get the most dots by the end of the year.

File Jul 22, 3 37 59 PM

Finally I have turned one of my whiteboards into many things. The box on the far left is for learning targets. The next set of boxes is where I will write in the day’s assignments. The columns on the right that are numbered are each of my classes and this is where I will write students names that have late work. I used washi tape to mark everything off on the board.

File Jul 22, 3 31 38 PM

One thing that I have left to do is to create shelves for student Chromebooks. My husband has volunteered to attach those to the wall for me.

Since, my room is about done I can now focus on planning for the year.



middle school math


middle school math

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