Thursday, 27 February 2014

3 Million Strong!

Have you heard the news? 
Teacher pay Teachers has recently hit 3 000 000 teacher users on their site and they are having a sale to celebrate. Most of your favourite sellers will be marking their stores down by 20%, plus you can save an additonal 10% at checkout with promo code TPT3!

Looking specifically for secondary teaching materials? Here is a list of amazing secondary sellers, who will be participating in the sale.

Don't miss out, now is the time to buy some of those items on your wishlist!!

If you have a fantastic math resource that you recommend, feel free to leave a link in the comments, so I can check it out!

Happy shopping!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Pin-tastic Middle School Boards

I am a Pinterest addict! I am always pinning such creative ideas to my boards from classrooms around the world, the only problem is, I don't think I will ever have enough time in the world to try them all out!

Below is a little sample of some of the amazing Pinners I follow. Each one has recommended one of their boards for you to check out.

TWELVE middle school bloggers have gotten together to share with you their favorite Pinterest boards geared towards 5th-8th grade teachers. We hope you enjoy the variety of ideas. Be sure to check out our other Pinterest boards while you are there. Happy Pinning!


 Kim (that's me!) from Teaching Math by Hart recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Number Sense You can find other great things by Kim by following this link: Teaching Math By Hart Blog

Kristy from 2 Peas and a Dog recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Middle School Freebies   You can find other great things by Kristy by following this link: 2 Peas and Dog Blog.

Jamie from Miss Math Dork recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Math is Real Life You can find other great things by Jamie by following this link: Miss Math Dork Blog


 Ellie from Middle School Math Moments recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Middle School Math You can find other great things by Ellie by following this link: Middle School Math Moments Blog


Jennifer from 4mula Fun recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Success in Secondary You can find other great things by Jennifer by following this link: 4mula Fun Blog

Pam from Desktop Learning Adventures recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Hot off the Presses Latest Middle School Releases You can find other great things by Pam by following this link: Desktop Learning Adventures Blog

Sidney from Teaching is a Gift recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Gifted Teaching Ideas You can find other great things by Sidney by following this link: Teaching is a Gift Blog

Kate from Kate's 6th Grade Classroom Cafe recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Grade 6 Tricks of the Trade You can find other great things by Kate by following this link: Kate's 6th Grade Classroom Cafe Blog

 Stephanie from The Creative Classroom recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Anchor Charts You can find other great things by Stephanie by following this link: The Creative Classroom Blog


 John from An Educator's Life recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Reading Ideas You can find other great things by John by following this link: An Educator's Life Blog

Erin from Miss Lifesaver recommends this middle school Pinterest board: School Stuff You can find other great things by Erin by following this link: Miss Lifesaver Blog


Tammy from Teaching FSL recommends this middle school Pinterest board: Magnificent Middle School You can find other great things by Tammy by following this link: Teaching FSL Blog

Looking for other Middle School ideas? Check out the Middle School Blog Log

Special thanks to Kristy from 2 Peas & a Dog for organizing!

Do you have a Pinterest board I should be following? Leave me a link in the comments.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Math is Real Life - February 2014 Edition

 I am happy to once again join up with the fabulous linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, The Teacher Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th! 

Here we are the first week of February, and I don't know about you, but January was a loooooooooooooong month! This cold weather has been insane, we've gotten outside to play maybe a handful of times in the last month. My husband lucked out with 2 snow days...which makes me consider transferring to a rural school, as schools in the city never close!

So, let's get to my "Math is real life" post. This month I want to share an activity I do with my students that I find to be really successful...and very REAL! Let's be honest I can tell them that "math is real life" until I am blue in the face, and still there will be those unbelievers. So I need to prove it, by having them work through some real life math scenarios. 

Just before starting the following activity, I actually came across this picture on Facebook.

It makes me cringe to think that any of my students would say some of these things after being in my class. If we aren't teaching them real-life skills, what are we teaching them?

I also had to giggle a bit, as I am now teaching the Pythagorean Theorem, which I think is also a very important skill to have, especially for those students that will end up working in a trade.

So back to my activity...

Over the course of a week I present my students with some real-life math scenarios. I usually do these activities as a culminating activity to a unit on decimals and percentages. To make the activity a little more exciting, though not necessarily real-life, money is no issue. Therefore I call the activity "In My Dreams".

Day 1 - The students are asked to pick out one "dream" item they wish they could buy. 

Once they have selected their item from a flyer, they then need to calculate the amount of tax they will need to pay on top of the regular price. BUT WAIT...their item has been discounted due to too much inventory!

At the beginning of class I have students select a task tag from me when they walk into the room.

The color of tag they choose, determines the percentage they will receive off the regular price (which I don't reveal until later). I am always surprised at how excited the students are who get the higher percentage, and the disappointment of those with the lower percentage. I think it really shows that they are engaged in what they are least I like to think so!

Now that they have their discount, they must now calculate the final price of their item, including the discount and sales tax.

Day 2 - The students are asked to pick out their "dream" car.

I allow the students to go online to find their cars, with the only requirement being that it needs to include the actual price. (One student found the original Bat only costs $2,000,000! No biggie!)

Once they have their cars we discuss additional costs associated with owning a car, deposits, loans, etc.
The students are then required to calculate their deposits, and the loans they will require, with interest.

Again, the percentage of their deposit and the percentage of interest they will have to pay are determined by which color task tag they select at the beginning of the class. (Their first question, is always, "Is purple still the best one?")

Day 3 - The students are asked to pick out their "dream" house.

On the morning of, I do a mad dash into my local grocery store and grab a stack of "Real Estate News". I get a few strange looks, but hey, they're free!

Once they have their houses, we discuss additional costs associated with purchasing a house, property taxes, water, electricity, mortgage, etc. I have tried to make these activities as realistic as possible, however I did not want to “lose” the students by adding information that would go over their heads. Of course you could have a discussion about other factors that might come up when purchasing a house, i.e. insurance, negotiating purchase price, amortization rates, etc. 

The students are then required to calculate their mortgages (including interest), and payment plans (monthly vs. bi-weekly)

Again, the percentage of interest they will have to pay on their mortgage will be determined by which color task tag they select at the beginning of the class.

After completing this activity, I feel that I have prepared my students for scenarios they will inevitably encounter in their future. I strongly believe that I have provided them with some valuable tools with which they can use to make informed decisions later on in their lives.

OR....I may have scared them off of buying a house completely! Some students realize that they will pay double for their house, by the time they pay it off! Every year I have at least one student say, "I'm never buying a house". This begins a great conversation on renting vs. buying, and the fact that once you hit 18, living at home forever doesn't seem like the best idea anymore!

If you are interested in working through these real-life math scenarios with your students, you can check them out here.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop

I am so excited to be teaming up with an amazing group of teacher bloggers to bring you the first official "Bright Ideas Blog Hop". This blog hop was created to bring you practical classroom ideas from a variety of teachers, from different grades and subject areas. I hope you find some great ideas that you can easily implement in your own classroom. 

Happy Hopping!

My "Bright Idea"

This month, I will stick with my current theme of filling your room with Math manipulatives on a budget.

Are you ready for my bright idea?


Crazy concept, right?

By getting your students involved not only can you fill your room with manipulatives for FREE, but you can quickly collect enough items to keep you busy throughout the whole year.

I start collecting math "junk" right at the beginning of the year, by sending my students on a scavenger hunt in their own houses.

In order to collect items that I will incorporate within my math lessons, I challenge my students to scavenge their houses. In order to encourage enthusiasm and participation, I make it into a game in which students can earn points for “junk” collected. I would hold the scavenger hunt for a week or two, tallying points as students bring stuff in.

**On a side note, the first year I did this, I let it go for a month, by the end I had enough “junk” to last me 3 years and not enough room to store it all! It will all depend on how enthusiastic your students are about collecting, and bringing the items into school. Just make sure you have room in your classroom to store the stuff you will not need right away.**

I also used the items collected in my science class as well, for dioramas, models, experiments, etc.

Of course, you do not need to collect all these items at once, especially if you have a lack of storage. You could also send home short notes, asking for specific items right before you will be using them in your class.

Remember: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Here's a sample letter I send home. Of course, the items you request will depend on the concepts you teach throughout the year.

Here are some examples of "junk" in use.

There are so many ways to make junk into something useful for your classroom. If you are creative enough, you can think of another use for just about anything. I would love to hear any ideas you have tried! I hope you enjoyed my "bright idea".

If you’re looking for more great ideas, here is a great post by Kate at EduKate and Inspire on how she utilizes a Super Improver Wall in her classroom (whole brain teaching). She shares some great tips that you will definitely want to check out!

Looking for something specific, browse the bright ideas below:

Make sure to check in next month for another batch of "bright ideas"!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

DIY Dice - Idea #3

I am continuing on with my series called "DIY Dice". If you haven't seen my previous posts you can find them here.

My main goal is to provide you with some alternative ways to make Math manipulatives without breaking your budget, as well as some interactive activities for using your new hand-made manipulatives.

So, another week, another idea. Here is another way I use "do-it-yourself" dice in my Math classroom...

DIY Dice - Idea #3

Integer Dice 

Again, the thing I love most about using these dice is it allows for easy differentiation. These activities allow students to develop their understanding at their own rate, thus becoming more confident learners. Each set of dice can be slightly different to accommodate each student's abilities. . One group could be working with positive integers, one with a negative integers, one with a combination of positive and negative integers, etc. Plus, you can easily keep them organized by color-coding them, i.e. positive integers are red, negative integers are blue, etc.
I also love that the possibilities with these dice are endless. Here are a few ways to create your integer dice. 

1.      Sign Dice – I use these most often as I find they provide the most variety in terms of integers rolled. Students will roll two dice to determine their integer. One die represents the sign (positive sign and negative sign each appear 3 times on the die), and the other the value. If you have already created sets of number dice, you can use either single digit numbers or double digit numbers, depending on your students and the activity. 

2. Positive/Negative Dice – I make sets of dice where all the integers on one die are positive, and the numbers are random between 1 and 9, alternatively I create sets where all the integers are negative. These are helpful when you want students working on a particular skill, such as subtracting negative numbers. 

3. Combination Dice- These sets of dice include random positive and negative integers between 1 and 9. You could also use double digit numbers if you wanted.

Here are some sample activities in progress.

...and here is a sample game to play with integer dice.

You can find the whole collection of activities and games using DIY Integer Dice here. There are over 12 activities and printables included in the pack!

I hope you have been enjoying these posts and have found some ways to incorporate DIY dice in your own classroom. I would love to hear about them.

Stay tuned for another way I use DIY dice next week!