Minds on Mathematics Book Study Chapter 1

Today I'm linking up with Sherrie at Middle School Math Rules for a post about a new book we are reading called Minds On Mathematics  by Wendy Ward Hoffer.

I was interested when Sherrie talked about this book because I wanted to find a new way to work my math periods.  I love teaching my middle school smarties, but I hate that I am constrained to 42 teaching minutes.  I'm hoping this book will give me some insight into changing my teaching format.

One of the things I liked immediately about the book was Hoffer's  stress on creating a coaching environment and engaging a community of learners.  I want to be more of a "guide on the side" so to speak, but with the transition in sixth grade already a huge factor, with math gaps galore, I find myself "on the stage" directly teaching.  I'm not providing enough opportunity for extension to my UBER Smarties, nor am I spending enough time with basics and reteaching with my inclusion Smarties.

The layout of the book is simple.  It is designed with a Problem of the Day, a Question to Consider, then research and examples.  I especially like the "Yeah but" section.  I have a feeling I may have a lot of "Yeah buts."  Hopefully these will be answered as I read through the book.

Biggest Aha Moment:  
In chapter 1 Hoffer asks "How can we use our time in math class to grow students understanding?"
This is a great way to start the book, because immediately it forced me into reflection mode.  It made me think about how my students will be able to notice and use their development as mathematicians.
Chapter 1 lays the groundwork for the book.  I like the mini lesson mode; I like the idea of spending more time on particular concepts.  But I have questions:  Time is still popping up for me.  I'm also wondering about practice.  Hoffer discusses early on about how the classroom time is used for a small amount of problems. It is an introduction, something like a morning math concept or problem of the day.  Next comes a mini lesson, and concept development through discussion (work time)  The last piece is reflection..  My concern is that the example used is a fourth grade classroom, and then again, that darn time element is the elephant in the room.  

Components that are already present:

Many of the things that Wend Hoffer says about team work and creative communication are already present in my room.  After introducing interactive notebooks this year, I feel like there is much more hands on learning.  And with the focus in Common Core more on informational writing, I'm trying my best to do my part in the math classroom. 

Next Steps:
 I would like to see my classroom become more of a guided math environment with a teacher directed center, and then work groups.  I have heard people talking about Guided Math books that are similar to this text, but I'm concerned they are for a contained classroom environment, not a middle school setting.
I'm looking forward to diving deeper into the book, and hopefully working this concept out in my middle school classroom!
If you are interested in learning more about Minds in Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer, you can click {HERE} to go to Amazon to order and join us in our book discussion!


Five for Friday: A Little Work.. A Little Play

I've been off of school for one week... one week.. it has been a crazy crazy busy week!
I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs with 5 Random Thoughts.. a little work.. a little play.

But before I get into my 5 Random things for the week, I want to thank and give a shout out to my bloggy friend Erin from I'm Lovin Lit.  When she heard my computer hard drive crashed last week <sniff sniff> she helped me out with some clipart stuff... She is kind... She is wonderful.. she is creative...and I'm thankful.  Stop over and see her.. she is doing fabulous things with Interactive Notebooks for ELA.
I'm Lovin Lit

Now on to my 5 Random Things
Thanks Krista Wallden for the dice!
Professional Development:  Wowza!  I didn't have anything "scheduled" for school, but I'm working through Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.  

I thought the first chapter was really interesting.  Burgess talks about finding your Passion for teaching. One thing that struck me was his use of the acronym PIRATE as a reminder of the what is important within the profession.  P (passion)  I (immersion)  R (rapport)  A (ask and Analyze) T (transformation) and E (enthusiasm).  He continues throughout the first chapter reminding me ( at least a veteran) that even if you don't have passion for everything you have to teach, you must ACT like you have passion for it.  A few years ago I took 2 summer courses.  The first was on Cognitive Coaching, and the second on Critical Thinking teaching methods.  What I remember was interesting about both courses was the reminder that what you put up on the walls of your classroom is NOT just for students.  When Burgess made the acronym, I knew it was the perfect thing for me to add to my classroom walls... NOT for my students but as a reminder to myself about what I need to be as a professional educator.  I'm placing these signs HIGH on the walls, as close to the ceiling as the fire marshall is going to allow... because they are for ME... so when I am in front of a group, or working, I remember that I must show passion if I want my students to HAVE passion.  I must IMMERSE myself in their culture, and see what their needs are.  I must gain RAPPORT to set a stage and tone for learning.  I must ASK and then teach ANALYSIS if I want my students to be critical readers, writers and mathematicians.  I must TRANSFORM my expectations, and be the change I want to see in my profession.  I must show ENTHUSIASM and not get sucked in by the energy vampires. 
I'm really interested in knowing what others are thinking about this book. If you have read it, or are reading it, leave me a comment below and let me know what has resonated with you.
Professional Development:  Take 2
I also just started reading a book called Minds on Mathematics:  Using Math Workshop to Develop Deep Understanding in Grades 4-8 by Wendy Ward Hoffer.
I'm going to participate in a blog discussion about this.. first chapter goes up tomorrow.  What I'm really interested in learning through this book is how to use Math Workshop in a Middle School setting.  I have time constraints.  Like it or not, they are there.  I'm hoping this book will give me some insight into getting around this with all of the curriculum I teach in sixth grade.

Professional Development: Take 3
Have I bitten off more than I can chew? I hope not but I also signed up for Teacher's Write 2013.
My bloggy friend Shannon from I Run, Read, Teach shared this with me.  Basically it's an online Summer Writing Institute.  Several authors are running the program:  Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, and Jo Knowles.  Jen at Teach Mentor Texts is involved too.  We are given prompts, have a Q & A session with real authors, and even a feedback day.  What is so neat is that people are there for so many different reasons.  Some are writing novels and picture books.  Others want to improve their blog writing, or their writing with their students.  The institute just started this week.  As a big picture I'm a little overwhelmed, but the ladies running it are super cool, and I'm just taking baby steps.. RIGHT SHANNON!  Every week there is a Q &A with different authors, and also several blog posts from guest authors.  I know many of you have read, or are reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and she is the guest post author this week.  I think her text may be my next PD read.

I can't make my summer vacation all work and no play.. that makes for a boring mom!
We have been spending some time this week at a friends camp.  No sleepovers, it's local.  But we did manage a great boat ride earlier this week.

and who can go to camp without eating S'mores.  Have you seen the GIGANTIC marshmallows that they have now?  They oozed out of the s'more... LOVE IT!

My family went to see Monster's University when it was raining this week.  Have you seen this movie?  So cute.. and funny..LOVED it!  Take your family and see this movie! It inspired me to purchase a little monster clipart for something I'm working on. 
Jessica is an awesome clipartist!

Have you had a busy week?  Link up with Doodle Bugs and share 5 random things for the week!
Don't forget about the Bloglovin switch-over.  Google Reader ends July1st.  I'm having a giveaway to help you get started.  You can go {HERE} to enter!
Thanks too to Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties for setting up the Bloglovin linky giveaway.. again.. AMAZING Bloggy Buddies!
Collaboration Cuties


Show Us Some Bloglovin! A Giveaway for Bloglovin Follwers!

So, I know... I know.. you have definitely HEARD by NOW that Google Reader is going away on July 1st.  Everyone is talking about it.  I have even posted 3 times now about it.  But today I'm linking up with some sweet bloggy friends and offering a giveaway for making the switch.

If you have not yet switched or are not following my blog through bloglovin, then there are a few easy steps to follow.  You can go to my sidebar (that's the column on the right over there that shows my followers) and you can click the button that says Follow this Blog with bloglovin.  Or, you can go into the Rafflecopter below and click the link in the first entry, and that will take you to my blog on bloglovin.

You will need to set up an account with bloglovin so that you can follow me.  Please be sure to leave your bloglovin username in the Rafflecopter entry.  Then, go to this post on bloglovin and "like" it.

If you want to go ahead and move all of the blogs you follow from Google over, you can go to this link and it will take you through the super easy steps.  BUT, please go to our bloglovin link and make sure that you are following me through bloglovin.  To be sure, make sure that the blue button at the top of our bloglovin page has been clicked (it should be gray with the word following- if it's blue, please click it to follow!)

So, if you follow me by bloglovin, please enter my giveaway!!  I will be picking 2 WINNERS and each winner will get their choice of 2 UNITS FROM MY TpT STORE!

get the InLinkz code

Bloglovin Bloghop Linky

Just popping in here to remind everyone that you just have a few more days to make the switch from Google Reader and follow Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans under Bloglovin.  I'm linking up with
Tori's Teacher Tips for a Bloglovin Hop.  Click the picture below to go to Tori's page.  She has an incredible tutorial on how to get everything settled into Bloglovin.. I don't need to reinvent the wheel.  Tons of bloggers are linking up, so you can find your old friends and make some new ones too! Don't forget to link my blog through using the button on the side panel.


Monday Made It: Pencil Containers and Calendar Numbers

Happy Monday friends!  Today I'm linking up with Fabulous Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics to show what I made this week.

 It was my last week of school, so what I created wasn't elaborate or all that original.  But it was a NEED in my room.  Our school colors are white, red and black.  Next year with my love of all things converse, I'm going with those classroom colors.  I made numbers for the large chalkboard calendar that sits in the front of my room.

To go with it, I made new pencil holders using the red/white/black theme.   I took two small Folger's coffee containers, and added mustache duct tape to the outside.
Then I added my SHARP and DULL Pencil labels, and covered that with clear package tape.

 I'm happy to have gotten these completed before school ended, because I could leave them at school and not store them at home over the summer.
Did you get a chance to make something over the week?  Link up with Tara and share what you've made.  If you need the labels, or you are going with a red/white/black theme, you can go {HERE} and download.

Printable Labels- A Teacher's Best Friend

Today I am linking up with Kristen and Elizabeth to get my organization on.  I love this linky... So often I feel disorganized, and when I post about BEING organized, it balances my universe <hee hee>
Today I just have a quick one.  I wish I would have remembered to post about it when the gals started the linky because many people were still in school and I use it mostly at the end of the year.  I am fortunate for the most part that I do not have to put everything I own into boxes when I leave my classroom, but I do have to label all of my chairs, book boxes etc.  Instead of writing my name on everything, I simply write my name and room number on paper, copy and cut.  My teammate taught me this one when I started working with her like 10 years ago.
I tape these sheets to my classroom chair, desk, computer chairs etc. so when our custodians clean all the classrooms in our hallway, they know what goes back in my room. 

Something else that I do is print my name and room number on labels.  I usually end up getting these for free from Vistaprint if I can.  I put the labels on all of my staplers, and tape dispensers etc.  That way when my smarties take them to study hall or out into the hallway to work, and of course leave then there, they get returned.  Also, I have a teammate that often will send his students over for things, and then they get left in the wrong classroom.  Using the labels just simply saves me from having to sharpie marker everything to death. 

Stop on over to visit Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files or Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B
and share your Organization Tips!


5 for Friday.. Last Week of School!

I made it my friends... I... MADE.... IT.... My school year is finally over!  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs to review 5 Random things about the Week!

1:  This was my last week of school.  I had Smarties for 2 1/2 days and then I finished off the week with teacher days.  This has been a tough year with my smarties.  Many of them did not mature as much as they needed to for middle school.  But we did complete some neat projects.  I made end of the year gifts for those that completed the 25 Book Challenge.  

2:  My Little Man "Moved Up" from Fifth grade to the Middle School.  He was so excited, and so nervous.  I'm glad my hubs was able to get home to see it.  Hubs has been really busy at school, we want him done with this PhD.. ASAP.. and I am thankful that he could get back to watch our little man move on up! Little Man was really proud that Mom and Dad could be there to watch.  

3:  I got my CRASHED computer back with a new hard drive... boo hoo.. sad face... if anything, I hope that my computer debacle can PLEASE PLEASE get you to buy an external hard drive and BACK UP EVERYTHING.  Buying an EHD was on my agenda for next week...blah..

4:  My Little Man played an awesome game of baseball on Wednesday night.  It was a playoff game, and it took 8 innings before the boys lost.  He had two beautiful hits into the outfield.. drove in 2 runs each time, but it wasn't enough.. Isn't he cute in the catcher's gear though!

5:  I can't talk twice about my Little Man without mentioning "24".  She took 4 finals in 4 days.  First time she had to do that.  We don't know all of her grades, but we DO KNOW she got a 100 on her Social Studies Final and a 100 on her English final!  WOOT WOOT Smartie Pants! I love this picture of her and my hubs.. we sat through a rain delay on Sunday for our softball tournament.

Let me know a little bit about your week.  Have things begun to quiet down for you?  Link up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday!
Reminder:  Google Reader is going away on July1st!  Earlier this week I set up my Bloglovin account and put a button in my sidebar.  Be sure to connect with me through Bloglovin so you will know when I put up a new post.  I'm hoping to blog a little more now that school is finished.  I have a few products I'm working on too..well RECREATING since I lost them.. 'dern 'puter!


Getting Started with Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Bear with me my friends, I'm figuring out this Bloglovin business and needed to post in order to claim my blog.
Google Reader is GOING AWAY July 1st. I'm sure you have already heard, so be sure to click on my BlogLovin Button in the sidebar so that you can still follow me!
Thank you to everyone!


The End is In SIGHT! Monday Made It!

Happy Monday all!  This is my last Monday of the school year!  I have been so busy lately.  School has kept me really busy these last few weeks, trying to finish up my math curriculum, and prep my smarties for the two exams my teammates are giving.  We have had a lot of added pressure this month because all of our APPR information is due.  My evaluation is 40% based on my state assessments, which of course haven't come back yet, but that doesn't stop people from creating a TON of paperwork that has to be completed.  Where would the world be without paper work!

This past week was particularly crazy because I had to get a few end of the year gifts ready for the smarties on our team who met the 25 Book challenge.  Out of the 84 students we have, 20 read 25 books this year.  I'm not sure how proud I feel that only about one quarter of our students met this goal. Maybe ask me next week when I've absorbed more sun.

I'm linking up with TARA at 4th Grade Frolics and her Monday Made Its. Her Instagram pictures helped me get through the week, I swear!  Especially after my computer CRASHED and I lost like EVERYTHING!!! But I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

I made my Smarties each a gift bag containing a water bottle, pass to mini golf (THANK YOU PTA), candy, Summer Book Its, and a bookmark.

On top of having to get school related items ready to roll out with my smarties, we traveled this weekend for softball.  My daughter, 24, had a few really great games both catching and in the outfield.  She had an ESPN worthy dive to catch a ball which I am still pretty impressed with, and a throwout at home from a bunt behind home plate.  Summer softball has begun!

How has life been treating you lately?  Are you finishing up with school, or have you been lounging pool side for awhile?  Leave me a note below and let me know I'm not the ONLY ONE STILL WORKING!!!! And stop by and visit Tara and share what you made this week!!


MATHO- Review game FREEBIE: Monday Made It

I've got about a week left of school!1 YIPPPEEEEEE
I have finally managed to finish all of my curriculum, and now I am reviewing some of the important topics this year.  Tomorrow I am going to play MATHO with my smarties.

This is a simple math bingo game.  I give my students the answers, and they place the numbers randomly on a bingo board... holla! for smarties making their own bingo boards!  woot woot!!!

Then I give them the problems one at a time and they solve the problem.  When they find the answer, they cover that number on their card.. easy peasy... and prizes?  Well SMARTIES of course!
If you need a review game stop by and download it {HERE} for FREE from my TpT store.  Leave me a little love if you do and let me know what you think!

I'm linking this up with TARA who is FABULOUS at 4th Grade Frolics... and Monday Made It.

Until I get out of school this is about all I can accomplish, but I've got a great list ready for the summer!
Have a great week.  Totally jealous of everyone who is already out of school!


Organizing for Retakes

In Math, I allow my smarties a chance to retake sections of their test that they have done poorly on.  I grade tests according to our curriculum standards, instead of just giving them a single grade.  It has been tough this year with the introduction to the Common Core, and I've kind of had to hodge podge my way through, but with the year under my belt, I'll have the system much more organized next year.
So today I'm linking up with Kristen and Elizabeth to share an Organizing Tip.

When my smarties have to prepare or retake assessments, they are always looking for extra practice problems, so I use this file system to hold papers for each lesson.

Our math units are divided up into 6 lessons per topic.  In each section I put additional practice problems that I have created or found in other workbooks or TpT.  There is a self checking answer key section in the back so that my students can come in and check work during a studyhall.  Then, if they have any questions I can help them work through the problems they missed.
I used to use a crate that sat on top of a table in the front of my room, but it was big and bulky and always getting moved.  Over this past weekend I found this at Target:

I really love this file case.  It is sleek and classic, and best of all it does this:

A NET!!  As in...... I teach surface area and now have ANOTHER real world example to measure! and what is awesome is that they will have to calculate the surface area MINUS the top.. it adds a level of differentiation!  So excited!  My smarties loved the surface area lab I did this year.  If you want to learn more about it, you can go {HERE}  or {HERE} is where we put info into our Interactive Notebooks

Even if you don't allow retakes, or have another place for extra practice sheets, using a file box like this is great to organize papers for students instead of a standard mailbox. I know a lot of people hold papers and pass them back on a certain day of the week.  I don't do that in middle school having 90 math students to keep track of, but I was thinking of getting another box to place homework or other papers I return when students are absent.  I'll label them by the periods I teach.  Then when a student is absent they can go to the file box to get class notes, homework, notices, returned papers, etc. Right now those papers are clipped to one of my magnetic walls, but that is a problem when my walls fill up with anchor charts.
One other Organization MUST for me are Post-it TABS... Have you discovered these? LOVE them!

Do you have an Organization Tip or Trick?  Head over and visit Kristen or Elizabeth and share your ideas. Summer is a great time to be organized!

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