Monday, August 2, 2021

#Made4Math - A Play Table Update


This past week FLEW by and now it's time for another #Made4Math Monday post!

I'm telling you - the month of July has to be the shortest one of the year for teachers... so much to do, so little time to get it done :)

August is now here and school will start soon, so this past week was spent working on my classroom.  It' STILL not done, but it's closer than it was last Monday, so I'll take that as progress! :)

In case you are new to #Made4Math, it is a weekly blog challenge to share a project or creation for your classroom.  I love reading your posts, so please join in the fun using the hashtag #Made4Math on Twitter, IG, or blogging about your project. 

Here are last week's posts in case you missed them:

Kim (@LogicalPoetry) shared some new labels for her classroom

Jane (@extraneousroot) shared how to do a Geometry Make-Over

I shared about some new labels and clipboard stands for my classroom

We would love for you to join in the #Made4Math fun - Post your creations on Twitter, blog, or IG with the hashtag #Made4Math!

Now on to this week's projects!

Project #1 - A Made4Math Update
A few weeks ago, I shared about the Puzzle and Play Corner in my classroom, but at that time, I hadn't finished it. It's now done! :) On the left is the original photo I shared on that post.

Last Monday, a friend came to help me unpack and she was amazing in helping me unpack all of the puzzles and games and neatly organize them into the Sterlite drawers! I had also laminated a title and put up a border on the Cartesian plane. You can see the binders hiding in the corner. I had ordered a table skirt from Amazon to hide the clutter, but it took a while to get here. My friend and I went to IKEA on Tuesday, so no work got done that day, but on Wednesday, I was back at it by putting up the Mental Math board and installing that table skirt to hide the Sterlite drawers. In the windowsill, you can find some mathy books to read, including my favorite "Introductory Calculus for Infants" Project #2 - Some New Puzzles!
Of course, with the play table now done, I decided I needed some new puzzles.  Pre-COVID, I had one of those Page a Day calendars with Mensa Puzzles and I kept several of them to create for the table.  Of course, I couldn't have my table last year, so my Mensa Calendar stack stayed on my desk until this summer.

You can print them here:

Don't forget to share your creations on Twitter, IG, or blog! Until next time - keep creating and sharing!

Monday, July 26, 2021

#Made4Math - Clipboard Stands and Labels


I swear that Monday just keeps getting here quicker and quicker each week that we get closer to school!  How are we already at the end of July???  I have just under 3 weeks before I officially go back, but between now and then, we are hosting a math conference, so in reality, summer is pretty much over and I have a TON left to do!

So I guess that means that I need to get my act in gear and share out the #Made4Math projects from this week! 

In case you are new to #Made4Math, it is a weekly blog challenge to share a project or creation for your classroom.  I love reading your posts, so please join in the fun using the hashtag #Made4Math on Twitter, IG, or blogging about your project. 

Here are last week's posts in case you missed them:
Jane (@extraneousroot) shared this amazing Geometry Aerobics dance activity that I really want to try!

Kim (@logicalpoetry) shared some classroom decor on the habits of mathematicians - totally printing this one out for my classroom!

Sandra (@sandramiller_tx) shared this beautiful piece of fractal art for students to cut and make!

I shared my "Play Learn Grow" Corner with my Puzzle table

We would love for you to join in the #Made4Math fun - Post your creations on Twitter, blog, or IG with the hashtag #Made4Math!

Now on to this week's projects!

Project #1 - Clipboard Stands

I wish I could say that I actually created these, but I didn't :)  

Over the years, I've had situations where students have made makeshift stands or easels for group problems so that everyone could see them easily but they were flimsy or would fall over easily.  Earlier this summer, I had this thought of making a stand for my small whiteboards to create an "easel" but I didn't have the tools to make it.  I looked online and found some instructions for it and also found that I could purchase a similar setup for about $10 per stand.  Ummm - I'll pass!  

I was talking to my sister about it a few weeks ago and she said she thought she could do them - sounds great to me!  This weekend, she popped into town and brought me a box of these stands.  They will work with clipboards or my individual dry erase markers and I have enough to go on each table - yay!

Project #2 - Label ALL THE THINGS

Like every classroom, mine has a lot of Sterlite drawer storage :)  However, with a new room, things are in new places and needs new labels!

My bigger drawers weren't labeled at all and my smaller drawers were a very dated black and white pattern, so it was time for something new :)

Thanks to some free digital paper and my trusty Aldi laminator, I now have new labels for my classroom when I go up later today.  Sadly, I don't have an "after picture" yet because they were waxing the floors!

That's it for me!  Until next time, keep creating and sharing!!!

Monday, July 19, 2021

#Made4Math - Play Learn Grow


It's Monday again and what a week it was!  This week was one of those where I was busy every single day, so the week flew by.  This typically wouldn't be a problem but summertime is already on warp speed after July 4, so add in a busy week and it was on triple time or something.  We're now down to 4 weeks before school starts and my garage looks like I haven't made a dent with regard to moving into my new room.  This week, they will be waxing the floors, so maybe that will force me to start thinking about the first days of school since I won't be able to work in my room.

In case you are new to #Made4Math, it is a weekly blog challenge to share a project or creation for your classroom.  I love reading your posts, so please join in the fun using the hashtag #Made4Math on Twitter, IG, or blogging about your project. 

Here are last week's posts in case you missed them:
@pamjwilson shares a TMC throwback with Mirror, Mirror: Tools for Teacher & Student Learning Reflection

@extraneousroot shares some documents she created to support Building Thinking Classrooms - I really really love her Geometry notebook idea!

I shared a first look at my new classroom 

We would love for you to join in the #Made4Math fun - Post your creations on Twitter, blog, or IG with the hashtag #Made4Math!

Now on to this week's project - Play Table

This week is a continuation of one of last week's projects. In my new classroom, there was a green cartesian plane in the front corner of the room.

My goal in that corner is to bring back my puzzle / play table! If you've never tried having a play table, I urge you right now to go read Sara Van Der Werf's post on why you need one, then go to Sarah Carter's blog to start your Puzzle Collection

When I first saw my new room, the cartesian plane was covered in square cork tiles.  After removing them, you can still see on the photo at the left all of the white foam adhesive squares.  

I asked on Twitter (of course) about how to remove the adhesive without damaging the board and several people suggested Goo Gone.  I happened to have a bottle at home, so I tried it.  

After several hours of using Goo Gone, plastic putty knives, and a LOT of elbow grease, the squares were mostly gone, but due to some residue, the board still isn't fully functional.  However, as you can see in the photo above, it looks a TON better than it did before!  

You can see the table below the board which is where the puzzle of the week will be... the blue bulletin board will host the Mental Math Challenge and I wanted to use the cartesian plane as an area to highlight some weekly tidbits about math...

So I started out thinking about what all I wanted to include.  I knew I really liked the idea of the Math Joke of the week from Sarah Carter's blog but that left me 3 more quadrants to go!  What should I do??

I settled on these 4 topics:
  • Math Jokes (See link above)
  • Math Fun Facts  (Click to download)
  • Math Quotes (Click to download)
  • Mathematician of the Week (See link below)
So then I spent time scouring the internet for facts and quotes, dumping them into a Google Doc until I had enough for one each week.  By the time I found enough and then made them into a printable format, I really didn't want to go through all of that for the mathematicians too, but thankfully Nathan Day had already made a set and I was able to go to our local office supply store to print them in color.

Now that I had all of my sets printed, I put them in binders / sheet protectors, hung up some titles and some small command hooks and I'm mostly ready to go!  I still have to title my display, which I think will be Play - Learn - Grow (thanks @pamjwilson for the title idea!)

I still need a few finishing touches, but my play table area is almost done!

Until next week - keep creating and sharing! :)

Monday, July 12, 2021

#Made4Math - New Classroom!

Wow - how is it already Monday again?!?!?

#Made4Math is a weekly challenge to create something for your classroom.  I love seeing each of your posts as it helps motivate and inspire me to work on projects for my own classroom!

Last Week's #Made4Math Posts:
@pamjwilson shared about the hypsometers for indirect measurement - I know these will come in handy for Geometry teachers! View the post here:… @extraneousroot explored some options for VNPS for those of reading Building Thinking Classrooms! View her post here:… I finally made a set of Quarantiles (although I did mess up and had to make some more! LOL) - Read my post here:

We would love for you to join in the #Made4Math fun - Post your creations on Twitter, blog, or IG with the hashtag #Made4Math!

Now on to this week's creations....

This week was a whirlwind with getting the keys to my new room, then leaving for a short vacation, then coming home to sheer exhaustion! :)  

Project #1 - Welcome to my New Classroom!

As you may (or may not) know, I am switching schools this year!  After 21 years at my previous district, I am jumping to a smaller district that is closer to my house.  Part of the reason for bringing back #Made4Math (other than much needed motivation) was due to this switch!

While this project is definitely NOT a completed project, I wanted to show off my new space and what I was able to get accomplished prior to going on vacation!

Upper Left - This was taken when I toured the room right after accepting the job.  

Upper Right - This was how I found the room on Tuesday morning - carpets cleaned and the tables were stacked.  Getting the tables placed into groups was one of my first tasks!

Lower Right - I also wanted to get rid of the blue paper on the bulletin boards as well as the cork board tiles - the front already looks better!  

Lower Left - Tables are set up, new fabric is on the boards and all the cork board tiles have been removed!  My next goal is to put up border and clean the adhesive residue off of the Cartesian Plane.  Hopefully that will happen this week!  

Project #2 - Word of the Year Bracelet
After working in my room, it was time to leave for vacation!  I had a delightful long weekend with some #MTBoS friends and it was just the rejuvenation I needed!  Four women from four different states who originally met on Twitter and linked by our love of math - does it get any better than that?

A few years ago, I stumbled across the One Word Challenge, which was the idea of using a word to guide your year instead of making New Year Resolutions. Of course, for teachers, our "New Year" is more tied to the school year rather than the calendar year, so why not come up with a word to guide your school year?

During our trip, one of our adventures was to visit the botancial gardnes and they were having a Lego exhibit. Hubs is a HUGE Lego fan and we have more Lego sets around my house than I care to admit. But what I didn't know was what the word "Lego" meant...

Lego is an abbreviation of two Danish words 'leg godt' which means "Play Well". In Latin, the word "lego" means to put together or connect. My goal this year is to make connections with my students and colleagues and to help my students make connections with math. I also want us to find the joy and beauty of mathematics by playing with math.

On our last night together, we made some bracelets to remind us of our time together. The beads on the sides are the initials of the amazing #MTBoS math teachers I spent the weekend with, written in Morse Code, to remind me of this trip and of the amazing math teacher community that turned into life long friends.

Project #3 - New Office Chair!
After working in my room earlier in the week, I had put in some Amazon orders that arrived while I was away.

Of course, after the equivalent of a multi-day slumber party, I was pretty exhausted and so my productivity this weekend was mostly limited to naptime!! LoL

But while I was away on vacation, my new desk chair was delivered and during my nap on the couch yesterday afternoon, the cats decided to play "Queen of the Mountain" and chasing each other off the box, which woke me up. Obviously that meant it was time to put the chair together and take it up to school! I was pretty impressed with how easy it was to put together, so hopefully it lives up to the reviews! I liked that it was the same color blue as my new school colors!
And like any good cat, Kenzie had to be the first one to try it out... I think she approves :)

So there you have it - another #Made4Math in the books!

Don't forget to share your creations on Twitter, blog, or IG!

Monday, July 5, 2021

#Made4Math is Back!!

Holy Moly - It's been 9 years since we started Made4Math!!

You can read more about the beginnings of M4M or over on Pam's blog.

In 2012, Made4Math was inspired by a blog series called Monday Made It, hosted by Tara at 4th grade Frolics.  The basic idea was that on Mondays, we would share something we had created for our Math classrooms - maybe a new lesson, a new activity, an organizational idea for the classroom - the sky was the limit!  We kept M4M going for a few years and honestly it really helped me stay accountable.  This accountability is a great thing now as I'm getting ready to start a new job in a new district and I really need some accountability as I navigate through classroom organization again! :)

We would LOVE to have you join in the party - all you need to do is get your creative juices flowing and either blog, tweet, or IG your creations with the hashtag #Made4Math so we can steal your ideas get inspiration from you!

Here are my Made4Math projects this week...

Project #1 - Quarantiles

Last year, during lockdown, Nat Banting shared a project on Twitter and on his blog that he called Quarantiles.  I was so excited to make these last year for the Puzzle Table, but when the COVID restrictions came down, I knew that my beloved Puzzle / Play Table would not make an appearance and so my tiles were on the back burner.  Fast forward a year and I have zero clue what happened to those supplies that I purchased in Summer 2020, so I bought some more.  I ended up buying a pack of 100 2" squares on Amazon and the paint supplies at Dollar General.

After I made them, I realized that I messed up on one of the sets, so I have purchased another package of 100 to correct my error and add in a couple more colors.  All in all, these were super easy to make so I am curious how the kids react!  I do need to come up with a better storage box for them :)  If you search through the hashtag on Twitter, you'll find some really cool creations and even a coloring sheet where you can make a paper set of tiles!

Project #2 - Laws of Logic

At my new school, I'll be mostly teaching Geometry, so I've been going through some old Geometry files for any activities or things that I want to use.  Sadly, all of my classroom supplies are boxed up in my garage, so I'm going off memory on lessons and activities that I need to work on!

But one early topic that I know gives kids trouble are the Laws of Logic and what conclusions can be drawn.  I've used this card sort before once students knew what the LoD / LoS were, but I've never tried letting them actually come up with the laws and reasoning themselves!  This past week, I was going through some files from a textbook my first year of teaching (1998) and found this worksheet in a Lab Manual from Addison Wesley.  I liked that it asked the kids to sort the statements and see if they could come up with a conclusion.  I typed up the sentences (get the file here), printed on colored paper and cut them out.  Each group will get a set of sentences to sort and hopefully use those to discuss what would be a logical conclusion, leading us (hopefully) into the Laws of Logic!

More Projects Coming Next Week!

I will get my keys to my new room this week, so hopefully I will have some room pictures (and projects) to share with you next week, but until then, don't forget to share your creations with us using the hashtag #Made4Math.  I look forward to seeing your ideas!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Power of Words

 As a child, I remember the whole "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!".... but that's a lie.  Words have tremendous power to hurt and to heal, which I've been reminded of a few times this week.

In college, this quote by Haim Ginott made a huge impression on me:

I remember using this quote in my first teaching portfolio and I'm pretty sure it will be displayed in my classroom next year as a reminder of teaching through a pandemic and how much influence we have.

My pastor's sermon today was on the power of the tongue - his official title for the sermon was "The World's Smallest yet Largest Troublemaker" - and isn't that so true?  The scriptures he referenced were Matthew 15:10-20 and James 3:1-12

With our words, we can set a spark and that can be good or bad.  Fire can be used in good ways - to warm us, to ignite passions, to spread those passions to others - but it can be used in bad ways too... to tear down and destroy.

Friday was a bittersweet day for me as I said goodbye to the students that kept me going through the 2020-2021 school year for the last time.  But, not only that, I also am saying goodbye to the district that has been my home for 21 years.  A former student upon hearing that I was leaving, sent me an email reminding me of the power of words:

You were one of my few math instructors in my secondary education that didn't make me feel less than because math wasn't my strongest subject. I never once felt demoralized under your tutelage. Thank you so much for that respect and kindness, particularly in a time of life (the teen years, OMG!) when we're tender and looking for our place in the world. I always felt valuable in your presence.

As we leave our classrooms for the summer and start to prepare for next year, let us remember that tremendous power that our attitudes, actions, and words have on those around us.

(Images from Google Image Search)

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

#MTBoSYuleBlog - Whiteboarding in 2021


What is the Yule Blog Challenge?  Over Winter Break, I'm going to attempt to blog 12 times, sharing reflections of 2020 and what I'm looking forward to in 2021.  I would love for you to join in the blogging fun - read more about the challenge by clicking here!

Whiteboarding in 2021

Technically, the Yule Blog Challenge is over for this year, but I had planned this one during Winter Break but just didn't have it together, so I'm counting it! :)

One of the things I missed so much during 2020 was whiteboarding.  For years, I have had groups with table buckets and personal whiteboards on every table.  But then with COVID, we couldn't have shared supplies, we couldn't be in table groupings, and I honestly missed the whiteboarding SO much!

So during the break, I went hunting on Amazon for some cheap whiteboard markers and erasers, thinking that if I could get them cheap enough for my 80+ stat students, that I would splurge for individual goody bags.  

This week, we are on Distance Learning and one of my students came up to assemble the goody bags for me...

In each goody bag is a:

With the note, I had looked on Pinterest and saw several gifts TO teachers with markers, etc, but none that were gifts FROM teachers.  Then I was thinking about all of the life lessons I've learned from whiteboarding / dry erase in general as just a encouraging note for the back.  I wanted the life lessons to be a bit more applicable to life in general versus classroom applications.

The desks in my classroom are dry-erase surfaces, so I didn't have to do anything there, BUT, I wish I had gone ahead and done white card stock in a glossy sheet protector, but I have until Monday before I see my students, so it could still happen :)

Friday, January 1, 2021

#MTBoSYuleBlog - Planning Away


What is the Yule Blog Challenge?  Over Winter Break, I'm going to attempt to blog 12 times, sharing reflections of 2020 and what I'm looking forward to in 2021.  I would love for you to join in the blogging fun - read more about the challenge by clicking here!

My 2020-2021 Planner

Several social media posts this morning have been about buying new planners.  For me, I don't keep a separate personal vs school planner, so I tend to think of new planner ideas in the summer, not during January.  But a few days ago, I tweeted this:

For several years, I have kept my lesson / personal planner and gradebook together.  However, with the craziness of this year, I honestly didn't know what to expect, so I decided to separate them and make my planner into a junior planner and keep my gradebook separate.

While I'm not sure if I love the gradebook separate, I do love the junior planner!  When Hedge asked me to tell her more, I shared a photo, then decided I should share some more here...

A Junior Planner is the size of a half-sheet of paper, so 8.5 x 5.5.  The post-it pad is there for size reference - it's a typical 3x3 note size.  I designed my planner in PPT and then printed double sided.  Typically I take my planner to Staples to print on heavier paper, but again, when the year started, we didn't know what to expect and I didn't want to put a ton of money into a planner I didn't use, so I just printed on a normal laser printer.  The cover is a heavier plastic that I had found in the Staples clearance bin YEARS ago, but you could easily make your own using laminated card stock or by cutting down a folder (plastic or cardboard).  I am a huge fan of disc-bound notebooks and these are standard 1" discs.

The dividers are just printed on card stock and I've shared them before (see this post)

You'll notice the tabs say Calendar, Lesson Plans, AP Statistics, FSDA, Blog / Tech, and Other.  Let's start with the calendar type pages...

Under the "Calendar" tab is the traditional monthly calendar.  This is more of an "at-a-glance" for the month.  The "Lesson Plans" tab is a bit messier.  I shared this layout earlier this summer and I really like it!  There are a few changes I would maybe make depending on how the year played out, but for now, it's allowed me to keep up with the weekly lesson, schedule for any meetings, reminders for things like #MathTeachCollab, and lots of space for my Notes / To-Do List.  This is definitely a working space, so I shared some of my mess with you :)

The AP Stat / FSDA tabs are based on an idea from my friend Rachel, who blogs over at Purple Pronto Pups.  Click here to see her post about her "Summer Notebook" 

For the most part, those two sections are just notebook pages, with subtitles for "General" and each chapter / section of content.  This is a place where I can jot down ideas when I'm browsing the internet, thoughts that just come to me about various topics, articles, etc.  This is super helpful for lesson planning!

The "Blog / Tech" tab is just a place to keep track of blogging ideas and EdTech ideas

Definite shout-out here to two other good friends - Rebecka and Sarah - I am so very blessed to have these two women in my life and can't wait until we can have lunch together again!  (Sidenote - our last lunch date was scheduled for March 16 during our Spring Break, but we all know what happened with lockdowns in March 2020....)

Sarah (of Math Equals Love) shared this summer the idea of a visual blogging calendar and I LOVED the idea!  She's totally right in the idea of stickers make a difference...  Hopefully it will help me in 2021 to keep up with blogging :)

On the left side is a goal of mine to keep track of "One Good Thing" - Rebecka posts daily over on the OGT blog and she also challenges her students to keep a running list in the back of their notebook.  You'll notice I didn't really start this until the #MTBoSYuleBlog challenge though... LOL

The last tab is just for other notes and it just has blank paper over here.  I've thought about adding my Meeting Notes to this section, but that's a thought for another day... :)

If you want to make your own Junior Planner, click here to download copies of the files I mentioned above