Pookie Background

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teacher Binder FINISHED!

I have FINALLY finished creating and tweaking my Teacher Binder!  Next year I may change things up a bit, but for now this works perfectly for me!

I started with a 3" white binder, 2 packs of colored plastic dividers, and a handful of page protectors.  Then I downloaded some free binder covers from Teachers Pay Teachers to use for sections in my binder.  (Sorry, I don't have the link and when I went back to look for them I could not find them.)

In the front of my binder I have a pencil case with my data highlighters, pens, pencils, flags, and extra Post-It notes.  Behind the pencil case is a hole puncher for papers passed out at meetings that I would like to save or have to save.  Then I put standard forms that I use on a daily basis in page protectors in front of my other binder sections.  These forms include copying and laminating request forms, day-off request forms, behavior referral forms, and so on. 

Next, I have a section for meeting notes.  Immediately behind this page protector is a spiral notebook for note taking and then five dividers for papers distributed during meetings.  I have a divider for faculty meetings, department meetings, team meetings, technology meetings, and our union meetings. 

Following the meeting note section is a section for parent communication and eight dividers.  the first divider is for my parent communication chart where I document all phone and most email conversations I have with parents.  This is a really good habit to have in case there is a problem later with the student.  After my communication chart I have a tab for each of the classes I teach and my study hall.  In each section I have a class list with parent names and phone numbers for easy access when I need to call home.  These charts were generated through PowerSchool, but you can make your own or have the students fill out an information sheet. 

Using the left over three tabs from my meeting note section, I have divided my student information section into three sections - gifted, learning support, and music.  (The music department sends out a lot of class lists and lesson schedules.)

My last section is for Assessments and Data.  In this section I have documentation from my data conferences with administration, PVASS reports, PSSA scores, and MAP data.  I also have this years additions to the guidelines for administering the PSSA (Pennsylvania Standardized State Assessment.) the back of my binder has a few extra pocket protectors just in case there are additional forms I want to keep at my fingertips. 

Please share your ideas for your teacher binder and how you have yours organized for ease of use.  I am always looking for ways to make my life easier!  Hopefully this has given you some ideas for your own teacher binder.

Monday, December 17, 2012

New TpT Unit - Green Building!

I have posted my third item to my Teachers Pay Teachers store!  This unit is my STEM: Green Building Unit that I created back in September/October.  The kids loved it, so I decided to clean it up a bit and post it for FREE!  I think I am settled on just keeping everything in my store free.  This unit encompasses A LOT!  My administration advised me that my STEM course is suppose to be "a class of appetizers," meaning I am to introduce ideas and concepts but not dwell on them or expect mastery.  I am slowly adjusting to this idea and I think that this unit is a great "appetizer" for transfer of heat, green building, environmental studies, and sustainable living.  Please download this FREE unit and rate it in my TpT store.  If you have any resources that you think would be helpful to me when I teach this unit in the spring, please comment below!  I am always looking for new games and activities for me and my students.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

K'NEX Classroom Challenge & eCYBERMISSION

Bring it on!

Despite being an already overwhelmed teacher due to my new position, I have decided to participate in TWO different STEM challenges with my students after school and during our anchor (study hall) period.  (My husband thinks I am officially crazy.)

K'NEX Classroom Challenge
For this challenge students in grades 7-9 will construct an athletic stadium model for the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.  Since I am limited in the number of K'NEX pieces I have in my classroom, I made up an application and asked interested students to complete it and return it to me before the thanksgiving break.  (K'NEX Application)  I will be meeting with my team on Friday to register and work out any scheduling conflicts!  I am excited to continue to post about my team's progress.

This FREE challenge is available to all students and sponsored by the Army.  For my grade level, students select a community problem that falls into one of the seven different categories listed on their site (Clean Energy, Fitness & Health, Robotics, etc.).  Students work in groups of three or four to develop a process for approaching their problem to find a solution.  Students are judged on the steps they take to find a solution, not on whether or not a solution is actually found or implemented.  For each team a teacher registers, he/she gets a free STEM research kit!  I currently have two teams and I am excited to meet with these students on Monday to get them started!!!

I am super pumped to get to work with these students!  I have heard of a lot of different STEM challenges lately for students, but these two stood out as the most interesting and easy to manage (for me!) I urge you to check them out and take advantage of these opportunities!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I posted my first item in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!  Please check out my Inventions & Innovations Unit and download it now for FREE!  Please post feedback either in my store or on my blog after reviewing my unit!  Have a fabulous holiday and make sure you watch my store for more goodies!  (I have a feeling I will have most things for free or at the most $1.00!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Opening a Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Happy (Early) Thanksgiving!!!

I know I am a few days early, but I doubt with all of the holiday hustle and bustle I will be able to find time to post.

As I comb through the lessons, activities, games, and resources I have created over the last two months for my STEM class I began wondering if there would be value to opening a TPT store.  I rarely find resources I can use anymore on TPT since I teach such a unique class.  With this said, I have created a number of thematic units that encompass science, technology, engineering, and math that other teachers can use.  Does anyone have any experience with TPT?  What I can sell and is it worth the time?  Should I use Teachers Notebook - a site that does not take a percentage of my sales?  Can I post on both?  Please post any information you might have on how to open a TPT store.  Have a lovely Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What does a STEM classroom look like?

As I complete my budget request for the 2012 - 2013 school year, I am thinking...

What does a STEM classroom look like?  What does it have in it?

We all know what we would find if we walked into a literacy room.  Comfortable places to read, visual reading cues for students and an overflowing library.  You would see literacy journals and notebooks as well as examples of paired books.  There would also be obvious evidence of guided reading and possibly Cafe.

In a math classroom (which I use to have) you would see my colorful bins of math manipulatives, a library with math fiction and non-fiction books, and calculators.  I had containers of general school supplies as well.  Reference charts and helpful information filled my walls.


What should that look like?

Well, starting with the units I currently plan on teaching (more to come) - money management, Rubik's cube, renewable energy (wind), green building, and restaurant design and management - I should have the supplies for those units.  So, I have my K'NEX kits organized in Ziploc bags stored in their plastic bins, general classroom supplies for building projects tucked neatly away in drawers, and my Rubik's cubes in colorful bins.  But what is next?  In order for an inquiry approach to learning work, I need my classroom to promote open-ended exploration.  Enter... THE STEM LIBRARY!  Scholastic and Delta Education (Green Collars and Mechanical Engineering) offer some great STEM library starter kits.  Continuing down this road, I decided an additional K'NEX kit may be the way to go.  The Discover Controls K'NEX Education kit offers students the opportunity to play around with computer programming - something I am very familiar with!  But will this be too much in the way of K'NEX?  I do not want a K'NEX curriculum.  So off to Amazon (my favorite place to shop and search for goodies)!  I found a number of Solar Energy, Renewable Energy, Force and Motion, etc. kits for sale, but are they meant for repeated use in the classroom?  Will they survive the kids and me?  Most of what I teach is computer based, so in addition to wanting a few laptops I am at a loss of what else would create a true STEM environment...unless that is what I am already doing?

Please post comments, suggestions, and links to resources that you have found helpful when teaching STEM (or any of the four subjects individually.) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vistaprint & Classroom Decor. UPDATE!

I got my posters from Vistaprint and they look AWESOME!  For one, they are HUGE!  The large is way too big for my classroom, but I made room for them all over my classroom - inside and out.  I had them laminated so that I could hot glue them to the wall.  (The humidity in my room is unbelievable!  Everything peels and/or falls off the wall.)  

In addition to hanging my posters, my fun goodies arrived from Oriental Trading and I was able to hang the striped & polka dot banners as well as the apple shaped dry erase stickers.  My pencils turned out great too!  So, banners, tissue paper decorations, patterned Duck tape, and Dollar Tree wall stickers are helping me create the classroom environment I am striving for.  Next I plan to remove all of the hardware from the cabinets in the back of the classroom and cover the cabinets with black paper.

Above the cabinets, I have my character pillars and school required posters on bullying and our vision statement.  The posters had some water damage and I could not keep them on the wall, so I glued them to clean poster board, added colored Duck tape with a Chevron pattern, and had them laminated!  They look a lot better and stand out against the plain walls.  

Next, I had to decide on both a display for my Essential Questions and my tickets-out-the-door.  So, I laminated some white paper and made day-of-the-week signs with my Cricut for my EQ display.  It works really well, especially since I do not currently have a white board in my classroom.  For my ticket-out-the-door I turned the side of one of the cabinets near the door (with the fire extinguisher) into a Twitter display.  I have green and pink baskets at each table group with various supplies, including Post-it Notes.  The students will "tweet" a response to the EQ for the day and post it according to their class period.  I will be going over "tweeting" with the kids on Monday. 

Things are slowly coming together.  It is my first year in this position in a new school, so I am chugging along.  I am sure I will be putting in countless hours over the summer putting all of the finishing touches on my classroom.  My Word Wall is a little challenging to see, so I may be moving that to the cabinets after I cover them with black paper.  I am still torn on what to put where, so PLEASE share thoughts and ideas!!!


Friday, October 5, 2012

L.F.S. Training

Today I spent my day in Learning-Focused Training.  I have always been a foldable junkie, and now I am an officially trained foldable junkie.  Here is K.U.D. - Know Understand Do - chart I made during training.  My next unit is Green Architecture.  The kids will be redesigning our school using green building materials.  I am very excited to be starting this unit in a week and a half.  More to come...

Friday, September 28, 2012


I am in LOVE with Vistaprint.  I really liked Vistaprint before, but now I am in LOVE!  Through the use of RetailMeNot (a site that provides you with discount codes and offers) and the amazing Vistaprint, I just ordered 6 classroom posters (size LARGE - 24" x 36") and 250 business cards for only $64.  The original total for this order was $150.  I can not wait for them to arrive!  Pictures coming soon...

I have also fallen in love with the cute pennant banners (hot pink and lime green, of course - $3/9 feet) and the pom-pom banner that is on sale right now at Oriental Trading ($4.99/9 feet)!  I have also ordered personalized hot pink pencils for my desk!  I am super PUMPED!  I need to find tissue paper cheap (in hot pink and lime green) soon to make those awesome tissue paper balls that have been all over Pinterest and the School Girl Style blog!

Please share pictures and decorating ideas for my classroom.  I will post before pictures soon as well as what I have been able to accomplish thus far.  I NEED HELP & INSPIRATION!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

STEM Resources & Recent Finds

Hello all...

I am so very sorry that I have not posted anything since I was hired.  As most of you can imagine, I have been SWAMPED moving classrooms, redecorating, reorganizing, learning all the ins and outs of a new school, creating lesson plans and materials, and developing the curriculum for the course.  In addition to just barely keeping my head above water professionally, I have had lots going on at home in terms of travel, company, and wrapping up summer projects.  ANYWAY...

I absolutely adore my new job.  It is a lot of work, but the best decision I ever made!  I miss my kids at my previous school, but I love the faculty, opportunities, and content I teach here. I have two things to post today - some recent finds from the other blogs I follow and what I have taught so far in class.

  • FREE POSTERS -Krissy Venosdale (Venspired) has created and uploaded 154 educational and motivational posters to Flickr for teachers to use in their classroom.  Jennifer Runde (of Runde's Room) recently blogged about how she had many of Krissy's posters printed through Vistaprint to hang in her classroom.  Vistaprint also allows for you to design your own posters, which Jennifer did, to have printed as well.  The price isn't too awful, $14.99 for a large poster and that includes the 25% new customer discount, but I plan on shopping some other sites before I make my decision.  I will keep you posted...
  • Top Educational Apps - This blog is exactly as it sounds.  It shares and rates educational applications for iPads and other devices.  This will be VERY handy when purchasing apps for my iPads.  (If ANY of my readers have ANY suggestions for educational applications for 7th grade students, PLEASE SHARE!)
  • School Girl Style - Great ideas for classroom themes and decorations.  I probably won't buy from Melanie, but I will def. follow her creative classroom mind!  Check out the Classroom Couture, Lemon Chiffon in all its glory at my cousin's blog - Teaching in the Mitten.  Courtney has done a phenomenal job decorating her new 4th grade classroom!
  • Rubik's Cube - You Can Do the Cube! - I blogged about this site previously.  I loved this lesson plan!  I was slightly concerned that the students would end up spending many many days coloring and cutting out cubes.  This was not the case AT ALL!  The students were much more interested in being engineers and had their materials prepped in a day or less so they could devote the majority of the week to making their cube move.
  • The Wonderous Windmill - K'NEX education kits come with free lesson plans or you can create a free educator account with K'NEX to access their free lesson plans.  I am in the process of completing this unit with my students.  The Construction Conundrum was SO MUCH FUN!  Only one student could look at the directions and then they were responsible for reporting back to their group and only sharing the directions verbally.  The goal of this activity was communication.  Today the students worked with completed windmills to find a way to measure efficiency.  Without ANY help from me, EVERY group of students was able to come up with their own way of measuring RPMs.  WOW!
  • KidWind: Windwise Curriculum - This is a FREE curriculum to educators.  I printed out many of the lessons and plan on spending the weekend finding ways to expand my current windmill unit!

Future units include some DefinedSTEM activities like their restaurant project and baseball sweet spot assignment.  I am also planing a Green Building unit in which the students watch a previously recorded webinar I found through the Siemen's STEM Academy.  With the FOSS Science Kits, I hope to do a unit on inventors and include Rube Goldburg machines and Henry Ford.  Everything is still very much a work in progress so resources of any kind are greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 10, 2012

I got the job!

If you haven't noticed, the name and address for my blog has changed.  I was recently hired as a 7th grade Math Applications & Foundations teacher at a neighboring school district.  I am THRILLED!  Essentially this is a STEM position.  I am to teach the entire 7th grade about STEM through real-world projects!  How awesome is that!?!?!  The district has purchased a number of laptops and iPads for me to use, as well as a variety of K'NEX kits and FOS Science Kits.  As I head off for vacation soon, my hubby will find quite a few of these new "toys" in our vehicle to play with over our vacation. 

The reason I adjusted my blog is so that I can focus primarily on what I am teaching in terms of STEM projects and the activities I come across in my search for materials.  I will still be posting cool math stuff and general classroom ideas, but the focus will be on the integration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through project-based learning assignments.  Stay tuned for links and rubrics for projects I plan on using.  School starts August 27th, so I do not have a lot of time...

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teacher Binder

I won't lie to you...

Despite my reputation as being well organized and color-coded, my teacher binder is VERY ghetto.  I hate it and rarely use it the way I intended for it to be used.  So, since I have seen TONS of blog posts on improving the teacher binder, I have decided to revamp mine! 

I have started by creating a calendar for the school year and typing in the meetings and vacation days I am currently aware of (I should know more that first week of school and will add them as needed.)  This was simple enough and I didn't do anything fancy.  Next I created printable forms to either type or hand-write notes from faculty meetings and team leader meetings.  (That is right, I am a team leader this year.  I need to be prepared to bring my 'A' game!)  Then I created a weekly scope.  This document spans two pages and includes the days of the week and the three classes I will be teaching this year (Regular Math, Social Studies. and Honors Math.)  Last I created a weekly parent communication form.  I am undecided on this form.  I have always kept a running record for the school year on my computer, and not a handwritten form for each week.  Thoughts?

Seeing that I have done enough for one night, I will revisit my parent meeting form at another time.  I am hoping that by creating printable forms that I find easy to use, either on the computer or in print form, I will be able to manage all of the documentation I am required to keep.  While this process will probably require more paper and be slightly more time consuming in the beginning, I hope that it creates a more reliable and organized resource for me to use.

(My intent was to include links, but nothing uploaded properly to GoogleDocs.  I will try to get everything up soon.)

What forms can't you live without?  Please share links and ideas!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Educational Discounts

Teachers are some of the savviest shoppers! Over the last few years I have found a number of places more than willing to help teachers. Below a a few of my favorite places where teachers can register for or request a teacher discount simply by flashing that gorgeous teacher ID badge/card we all carry!


  • Michael's - 15% off your purchase (@ my store I can NOT combine this with other coupons, but the cashiers are usually happy to allow you to make multiple transactions.) 
  • A.C. Moore - 15% off your purchase (SAA) 
  • Staples - 15% off 
  • OfficeMAX - Spend $75 and get a $10 gift certificate using your Perks card (they also send out a LOT of 25% off your entire purchase coupons)
  • Lakeshore Learning - 15% off your purchase PLUS they send you some great coupons 
  • Barnes & Nobles - 20% off 
  • The Container Store - 10% off 
  • JoAnn Fabric - 15% off 


  • Anne Taylor LOFT - 15% off your entire purchase 
  • J. Crew - 15% off your entire purchase 

I have read that Banana Republic offers a 10% discount, but when I go to the store near me, they do not honor a teacher discount.

In addition to these discounts, I still look for coupons by using a free app called, CouponSherpa. It is easily downloaded through the App Store.  More often than not, stores will accept coupons from your smart phone.  So, while waiting in line to check-out, search for coupons or coupon codes that can be used in store!  PLEASE share any additional places or websites that offer teachers significant savings!  These are just a few of my favorites!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Teaching in the Mitten

My cousin recently started her own educational blog to share her ideas and classroom projects.  Courtney is a fantastic educator and someone worth following!  She is sure to post creative resources and helpful links.  If you have an educational blog that would be worth following, share your link or button below!!!
Michigan = Mitten
~ Teaching in the Mitten ~

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rubik's Cube STEM Lesson

Sorry for the long stretches between posts, my summer has been consumed with projects around the house (thanks Pinterest) and making more learning centers for my classroom (I promise to post pictures!)  Today is my 2 year anniversary and I FINALLY have time to share an AMAZING resource I recently stumbled upon. 
Taken from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a6/Rubik%27s_cube.svg/480px-Rubik%27s_cube.svg.png

You CAN Do The Rubik's Cube is a teacher resource for integrating the Rubik's Cube into the classroom.  Seeing that I am a math teacher with a vested interest in STEM education, I immediately feel in love with the STEM Middle School Rubik's Cube unit.  The entire unit encompasses Common Core standards in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  It is a fascinating unit that pushes students to think outside of the cube through a project-based learning (PBL) approach.  Through PBL the teacher acts as a guide to student learning, not a leader.  Most of the activities require teachers to activate prior knowledge and work with the small groups on not just solving the Rubik's Cube, but breaking it down into its most basic parts and then building their own 3 X 3 Rubik's Cube.  You CAN Do The Rubik's Cube also offers units at the Elementary and High School levels as well as more advanced engineering and math lesson plans - STEM Lessons.  I can't wait to share this with my students this coming school year!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Teacher's Notebook

Today's post is a quickie!

I am sitting in the Shippensburg University library printing out a few essentials for school and stumbled across Teacher's Notebook.  This site is just like TPT (TeachersPayTeachers), but when you sell your products, they do NOT take a commission.  It is free to create an account and there are TONS of freebies posted by teachers for teachers.  I have not spent a lot of time exploring yet, but I plan on investing a significant amount of time at the pool today with my iPad becoming very familiar with Teacher's Notebook.  Keep cool!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Classroom Expectations

Like everyone else I know, I am TOTALLY obsessed with Pinterest.  Since I finished my research paper for my research course (I do not know why I continue to go back to school for various degrees), I decided to reward myself with a little bit of Pinterest, blog button creating, and classroom decor.  I pinned a great image of a teacher's classroom expectations a few days (weeks?) ago.  Today after I created my fantastic blog button I decided to Stacify these classroom expectations for my classroom.  (Stacify is my coworker's term for when I take something and make it super crazy organized and/or creative.)

First I downloaded a template from Microsoft that had elements I could pull apart and use - two backgrounds and the flowers.  Then I created six pages, alternating between the green polka dots and the green stripes.  (My school colors are green and white so I do a LOT with green and pink.)  Next I typed the expectations above in black Ravie font (a free download from FOREVER ago) on each of the pages.  Last I went through and added the pink flowers in different sizes and positions.

The plan is to have them framed and then sweet talk a janitor to help me hang them above my side board where I keep my daily objectives and procedures.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Math Word Walls

Image taken from http://www.rundesroom.com/2012/

I am an elementary teacher at heart!  Therefore, I adore Word Walls!  In my math classroom I have a Word Wall that I swap out and add to as the students move through the different units.  All of the terms are from the PSSA and we practice using them in our explanations both orally and written.  Unfortunately, that is about it for my Word Wall.  I do not have a lot of interaction or activities built in for my students.  This is about to change!  I LOVE Mrs. Runde's Bog (Runde's Room).  Recently she posted her own Word Wall and how she uses Cootie Catcher activities with the students to encourage them to interact with the vocabulary.  You can buy her package on TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers - Jen Runde) or adapt her ideas for your own classroom.  She has inspired me to begin investigating new ways to integrate my Word Wall into my daily or weekly instruction.  What do you guys do with your Word Walls?  Thoughts for a middle school math teacher...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

More Math Centers!

As the school year quickly comes to a close and classes wind down, I have been SUPER busy making math center and whole class games.  I posted pictures of Laura Candler's Island Conquer turned colorful learning centers (by yours truly) at the end of May.  Now I have a few more gems to share...

Fraction Spinners

Laura Candler's Fraction Spinners can be used a number of ways.  I glued both of them inside a file folder and clipped a paper clip to the folder to use as a spinner.  On another blog (I am so sorry for not remembering which one of the many I follow) I saw different variations for games that reinforce fraction skills using Laura's spinners.  I typed up the variations and glued them to the back of the folder. 


Switchboard is a game I found while teaching 4th grade.  Each student has to have their own game board, so I made a class set of 30.  For this game the teacher selects a target number and the students must circle as many equations as possible that have a product, quotient, sum, or difference of that target number.  Just like the Fraction Spinners, I glued the directions (and a variation to play in partners/small groups) on the back for students to refer to.

Pick, Place, Win

This is another game that I stole from another teacher while teaching 4th grade.  I have not used it with my students yet, but it was a hit in 4th grade.  Students place one of their colored toothpicks on three hexagons, multiply, and add it to their score.  This is great multiplication practice - especially for students struggling with multi-digit multiplication.  I may pass out one calculator per pair for the opposing player to use to double-check.  Again, I glued the directions to the back of the game board.

Math Area Matching

As I have mentioned previously, I LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers.  This fantastic activity was uploaded by the Enlightened Elephant...AND IT'S FREE!  I had the cover page printed in color and everything laminated.  As you can see I still need to cut out all of the cards.  The laminated construction paper will be included in the bag as an erasable workspace for students to use to help them solve for the area of quadrilaterals and triangles.  Gotta save those trees!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The World of Foldables

As I wrap up this school year and begin thinking about next year, FOLDABLES come SCREAMING to mind.  I have mentioned previously that I am trying to go towards a math center classroom (at least on Friday's next year) and thought that foldables would compliment my new approach.  In social studies I use vocabulary foldables (by clicking this link, you will be opening a PDF - it is safe.) The students are given multiple vocabulary foldable worksheets in order to accommodate all of the vocabulary.

While reading some older posts on Corkboard Connections I came across some very neat ways to use foldables in the classroom.  Many of the ideas shared can be used in my middle school math classroom.  Check out the list for your self by clicking below!

Let me know what you think and share any additional links to information on foldables in the classroom!  Through the link above I found The Enlightened Elephant (very colorful foldables) and Runde's Room (very cool math journaling.)  Both blogs have FANTASTIC uses for foldables in the math classroom.  I will be spending my summer pool-side with stacks of foldables!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Island Conquer Learning Center

As I have mentioned previously, I am trying to prepare myself for "Center Friday's" for the 2012 - 2013 school year.  The first mass produced learning center I made was Laura Candler's Island Conquer.  For this game students play in pairs.  A student draws a card and plots the four points.  The other student then finds the area or perimeter of the figure drawn.  Points are scored based upon accuracy.  You can download her learning center HERE!

I made seven of these games, each their own color, and had everything laminated.  (Even the envelopes! Neat trick I discovered - use a stitch ripper to gently re-open or cut the envelope opening.)  The game is contained to a manilla folder for easy storage.  The fronts of the folders are labeled and the inside has been covered with colored construction paper.  I stapled the directions in separately so that the students could flip them over to play either variation of the game.  (Perimeter directions are on the front and the area directions are on the back.) 

 The cards are all individually glued on corresponding colored construction paper and laminated for durability.  It was extra work, but I hope they last this way!  The cards are stored in a laminated envelope that is secured to the learning center with a binder clip.  There was some separation at the top of the folder where the construction paper was glued.  If I were to re-make these, I would cut the construction paper just short of the folder to prevent this since no glue in the world of glue seems to work as well as I would like when it comes to gluing paper without a mess!

I am thrilled with how all seven learning centers turned out and I am currently working on the Fraction Spinners (also Laura Candler's).  I will post pictures once they are assembled and labeled.  I am aiming to have a class set of everything I make.  I read in another article/blog that the best way to structure a learning center classroom is to introduce the game to the entire class and play it as a whole class before giving each pair or group their own individual game.  Please leave me feedback on these centers and how you have made centers or use them in your classroom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Math Centers

Next year I am going to integrate math centers into my math classroom.  Ideally I would like for centers to take place every Friday.  I can structure the 47 minute period into two separate sections so that the kids can either play two games, two variations of a game, or in different groups.  In my quest to save money and make my own creative math centers, I came across a number of FREE materials for math centers.  As I have mentioned before, I love the resources I have downloaded from Laura Candler. Follow the link provided to a umber of resources on math centers in your classroom!

Super Math Centers

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Well, it looks like the warm weather is here to stay and I am LOVING it!  Being cooped up all day inside with 100 sixth graders, however, is not fun.  Since the school year is not over and I plan on teaching until the last possible second, I try to work in activities for the students that get them up and moving or outside.  Chalk is by far the best teaching tool I have in my arsenal for this time of the year.  The kids love using it and enjoy the opportunity to go outside.  On our first nice day of spring, back in March, I taught the properties of multiplication and addition.  I took the classes outside and lined the students down the sidewalk.  Each student was given a piece of colored chalk and asked to draw an example of one of the properties using variables or numbers.  We then moved down the line labeling the examples.  This was a great test review activity for the kids.  They loved being out of their seats (and the classroom) and it reviewed material they were being tested on.  Chalk is cheap, nice weather free, and in my opinion, chalk fits into any subject.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Classroom Organization

My room tends to get a bit out of control during the school year.  I always start the school year with some sort of organizational plan in mind, but by Christmas it is out the window.  Through Pinterest I found Mrs. Terhune's blog.  She is full of fantastic organizational ideas for her classroom.  Her blog is geared towards 1st grade, but many of her ideas work across all grade levels.  Everything on her site is amazing!  While it is not technology driven, it is definitely creative and innovative!  I went ahead and ordered the All Purpose Teacher Organizer from Lakeshore Learning and some really great magazine holders (Whitmor) from Amazon to organize my unit games and activities.  I play lots of BINGO and Concentration with the kids so I have lots of sets of cards.  Instead of trying to store them in bins in a separate location or squeezing them into my unit binders, I will keep them in the magazine storage bins between binders.  This way everything is exactly where it needs to be for me to use it each year.

Hopefully I will get a chance to post some pictures of my new super organized classroom soon!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I wish I had a class set of iPads for my students to use.  I am in love with the app Nearpod.  It allows for the synchronization of all of your classroom iPads so the teacher can control the content on the iPad and "push" through presentations and such.  If you have iPads for your classroom, you must check this out!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012



When I am creating or downloading worksheets for my math classroom I like notes and sample problems at the top and practice problems below.  This way the kids have something to refer to if they "accidentally" took their homework out of their binder and "accidentally" left their binder at school.  :)

I am totally hooked on Education.com.  They have HUNDREDS of free worksheets that are fabulous for both my math and social studies classes.  In social studies I create unit packets with games, projects, general information & readings, and worksheets.  This summer I plan on updating these packets and Education.com has a lot of great resources that I will be incorporating into my packets. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

TeachersPayTeachers - Laura Candler

Taken from L. Candler's Factor Race

My new addiction is TeachersPayTeachers.  I heard about this site before and glanced at it briefly.  However, it wasn't until my cousin (and fellow math teacher) Courtney posted all the CRAZY stuff she was downloading for FREE that I bothered to spend any amount of significant time on the site.  While poking around before bed I found this fantastic author of teacher resources - Laura Candler.  While most of her resources are parts of eBooks she has created and cost money, she does offer a few games and activities for free.  Two games that I downloaded to use in my classroom are Island Conquer and Factor Race