Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Happy *ALMOST* New Year!!!! :)
I haven't blogged in awhile--I apologize for that.  However, I am SUPER excited to link up with Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her Currently--especially since I somehow missed last month!  Eeek!

Here we go!

Listening:  "Tree House Masters"--Anyone watch that show??  We got hooked on one where he made a tree house brewery.  It's kind of interesting, but I can't figure out why it's on Animal Planet?!

Loving/Wanting:  My hubby, son and I just got to spend over a week and a half with my parents that live in my hometown in Northern Michigan.  We don't see each other as much as I would like to, so it is just so nice when they come to visit.  It is just so hard sometime to be living away from them...especially now that we have a child.

Thinking:  Ugh--I know it's sad, but I am not sure if I will make it until Midnight!!  lol  Our son is asleep upstairs already, so we are set for the night at home.  :)  I'm ok with that though.  

Needing:  We still have ALL of our decorations up and things ALL over the place.  It will get put away...eventually. :)

Yes:  I am losing weight this year.  It's sad to say that Baby B is a year and a half old and I am STILL not back into my prepreggo clothes...ugh.  I know it's "New Year" cliche, but it has GOT TO happen.  I got a Garmin Vivofit for Christmas, so if any of my bloggy friends wants to join up online, let me know. :)
Maybe:  We want to take Baby B on a camping adventure this spring/summer.  I know he is still little, but he LOVES being outside.
I Wish:  That my family will stay healthy this year.  
PAR-A-NOID about this flu epidemic thing (bring on the hand sanitizer and lysol spray!).  Most of you know that our son is a micropreemie (25 weeker), so this germ stuff worries the HECK out of me!!  We always try our best to be cautious, but you never know!

I hope that you all have a WONDERFUL end to your 2014, and here's to 2015!!!!!!!! :)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fun with Algebra! Our Introduction Week

This past week in class we started my FAVORITE type of math to teach!


I'm not sure what I love so much about it, but I just think that the possibilities are ENDLESS with the fun things that you can do with it!  I remember when I was in school and was in Algebra-it was book/paper activities ALL. THE. TIME.  

However, I plan to do some out of the box things this 9 weeks with my Expressions and Equations 6th Grade CCSS. :)  

So, here is a peek at what I did this past week in class to introduce Expressions and Equations.

First, we took some note in our Interactive Notebooks on the difference between Expressions and Equations, vocabulary, the Distributive Property (with Algebra), and did some stick and solves (with post-its).

It was hard for the students to grasp the distributive property a little with algebra since we learned about it a little with Number Systems, but with numbers not variables.  They got stuck for awhile thinking that you could SOLVE these expressions with a number, so we spent a LOT of time talking about the difference between an expression and an equation.  
We then got into like terms and combining them.  This sparked my higher students to go crazy with this, and all week during enrichment, I spent giving CHALLENGES with maybe 7 terms that had to be distributed to, powers and mixed variables!  Even though we got into some CRAZY variables, powers, and combining (7th or 8th grade stuff), they had a BLAST!  It really challenged them to understand the process-so I think that it really pushed my higher students!  Not to mention they were having FUN---and who wants to stop that? :)

We did an Algebraic Expression Mix and Mingle, too.  I did it on note cards for now, unless anyone expresses an interest for me to put all of my Mix and Mingle games on Teachers Pay Teachers, then I will make them cute and fancy. :)  Just send me a message or comment, 

First, I made expressions that the students needed to solve using the distributive property:

I then also made cards in blue ink that had the answers written on them.  The students paired up and were each given a question card and a random, answer card.  The pairs of students then worked out the question on their card:

Once everyone had worked out their questions, they mingled with each other to try to find the group with their answer card.  They had a lot of fun--plus it included an aspect that ALL middle school students LOVE to do---MINGLE! :)

The last thing that we got to this past week was translating words into algebraic expressions.  Ugh.  I was dreading this one because even when I taught math at the community college they struggled with this one. 

We started with some Pinspired notes in our interactive notebooks:
 Then we did some practice whole class.  That is about as far as we got this week.  We did a Mix and Mingle activity with this too.  Everyone got a card-some were the words and some were the expressions, and they had to match up the correct words to expression. :)  

We only have two and a half days this next week of school, and I am planning to have them work on our Thanksgiving Math Centers as a review (shameless plug-they're on sale the rest of today!!!). :)  Plus, I have math planning on Monday, so I won't be in the classroom.  

Have a great week everyone! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Monday Made It! Thanksgiving Mantle & Crafts, and Christmas Comes EARLY

It's November, so it's time for my Monday Made it with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics :)

I don't know if this is a "Made It" or more of an "I-Put-It-Together" :)  It's my Thanksgiving Mantle. :)

However, I did print and make The Give Thanks banner that I got HERE.  I printed it out, and put it onto some pretty brown ribbon that I got from Michael's.  
I am in love with everything on it, and it makes the house look so cozy!!!
 These cute little hedgehogs I got from Big Lots, and they make it look very woodland-which is what I wanted.
 These light up birch trees I am IN LOVE WITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They're from Target in the Christmas section.  I got them this year, and I plan to use them ALL year round.  They remind me of home (Northern Michigan).  The little string lights mixed with the leaves are from Hobby Lobby.

I'm also in love with the brown light up owl from Big Lots, also.  I plan to keep that out year round now somewhere, too. :)  The leaves are from Pier 1.  
I am thinking of now making my mantle for Christmas woodland themed too, so I can keep the trees.  I'm in the market now for some cute woodsy pine trees, so if you know of anywhere that has what I am looking for, leave me a comment, please. :)

My second made it was a craft that I did with my son.  It is our Thanksgiving card for our families.
I was Pinspired by this pin:

My problem is that my son does NOT keep his hand open and still enough to make super perfect hand prints (he is only 18 months old).  So we did ours a little bit differently:

In the world of school, I have been math centering away! :)  We have been doing math centers once a week in my classroom, and the whole week of Halloween, so that inspired me to make some for Thanksgiving and Christmas, too!   My students had a BLAST during Halloween!  Plus, as I blogged about the other day--help me work with small groups of my 6th graders. :)

You can also download some FREE RESOURCES, too to help with your Thanksgiving and Christmas lesson planning.  Just click on the picture to download:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

You Oughta Know About: Math Centers Aren't JUST for Elementary School

Hooray!  It's time to link up again with Jasmine for the You Oughta Know Blog Hop! :) 

 This month I am going to talk about how math centers are NOT just for elementary school!  

If you read my post earlier this week, I talked candidly about how what I was doing in my 6th grade math classroom was NOT working as well as I had hoped.  I had taught 10 years in elementary school, and I now had a time limit on my teaching, I was doing "older student" things like interactive notebooking, and independent practice,  I thought that there was NO WAY middle school students would go for cutesy math centers.   


As part of my reflection, I realized I was teaching WAY too fast without a lot of time for the students to practice.  I also learned that middle schoolers do not really like to ask a lot of questions or tell you if they don't understand something.  I also have less time to teach, and I needed more bang for my buck.  So, I went back to my old ways:


I'm learning along the way that middle schoolers are still just kids, only older.  I posted a picture on Instagram this week of putting stickers on their papers...THEY LOVE IT!  I even think they love it MORE than in elementary school because they don't really expect it, and they appreciate when you do it. :)

So, why wouldn't they still like cutesy math centers?


The reason I'm saying all this, is because in elementary school, I did guided math.  Coming from the elementary world into the middle school world, it was MUCH DIFFERENT.  There isn't much of guided anything (reading/math), so I didn't implement it at first, and I regret it now.  

One of the main things that my students told me on their suggestion cards that I had them write was "more time to practice, and help small groups that need it."  Hello!  GUIDED MATH! :)

So, I went back to my old ways on Thursdays.  It is now our "Math Activity Day".  On this day, I do some sort of activity with my students practicing the things that we did that week.  It's normally in the form of task cards that the students can work through independently (through the Kagan Strategy Showdown normally) while I work with a small group on the SAME activity that need my help.  

I'm very lucky that I have AMAZING students this year that work well together, and we also do ONE team building activity once a week (52 students on our team) where they mix and mingle with each other, which I think has totally transformed the way our students work with each other (hmmmm...that might need to me my next You Oughta Know...).  

For example, this week for guided math we worked with percents of numbers.  Our center activity this week was one with a grocery store sales paper.  The students LOVED this one!  

My students worked in pairs to answer the given questions that were on the task cards with the sales paper that they had.  Then I was left with a small group that I could work with on the same activity. That gave me the WHOLE HOUR with a small group to reinforce what we had done that week.  This has REALLY been working for me.   Also, it lets middle schoolers work cooperatively (I do this a lot) and they get to talk through the math center.  I have heard some AMAZING conversations about how to solve problems, strategies, etc.  The class also enjoys the centers because they get to socialize--what middle schoolers love the best. :)

We had a lot of fun, too at Halloween doing review math centers as well.  So much so I have some for Thanksgiving AND Christmas ready to go---and they are all cutesy.  Thank you, Krista at Creative Clips! :)  Be sure to also grab a free Christmas Math Center HERE:

 before you blog hop on today!  

So, if you're a middle school teacher, and haven't tried to implement guided math into your day or week---I HIGHLY recommend it!  My students have definitely made growth in the classroom since I have started it!!!

Be sure to check out these other great ideas from my fellow blogging buddies, too! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reflecting on your Teaching

As many of you know, I took the leap this year from elementary school (10 years!) to the wonderful world of middle school.  You might also know that I L-O-V-E it so far...absolutely LOVE IT!!!

However, I am going to be very honest in this post...I had a little bit of a rough patch with my teaching in the beginning.  Middle school is a whole new world, with a TIME CONSTRAINT on how long you can teach before you have to set them free to another classroom.  If you're an elementary teacher you know that the one luxury of having your class ALL DAY is that you can spend as much time as you want on a subject.  However, I was really struggling with now HAVING a set time to teach.  I was always like "it's time to go already?!?"

Our first 9 weeks have come to a close, and I was getting really frustrated with my students scores on tests.  It seemed like they ALL understood the concept when I taught it, but when it came to the test, I had MANY students FAILING.  :(  Which as a teacher, is heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time.  I mean, we have interactive notebooks, I create CUSTOM homework, activities, etc.  and I had a majority FAILING.  

Soooo, I knew I had to do something.  I needed to do some reflecting on the way I was teaching.  I am by NO MEANS an expert, after all this is my first year teaching 6th grade.  I'm kind of a newbie to Middle-School-Land.  I think that the most important thing a teacher can do is REFLECT on what they are that is just what I did. :)

I had a little heart to heart with my students. 

 I tell them all of the time that I plan to work hard for THEM, but in return THEY need to work hard for ME.  That's part of my first day of school speech about respect and hard work.  However, if so many of them were not performing well on tests, then it was about my performance, too.

I gave each student a piece of paper and had them fold it in half.  The top part was for them to reflect on what THEY could do better as a student.  The bottom half was for what I could do better as a teacher.

I made sure that I wasn't going to take it personally, but they needed to be honest.  It was the only way we could come together as a classroom and start knocking it out of the park.

I got a lot of really awesome responses!  Everyone really put thought into what they wrote.  I learned that I need to SLOW DOWN and allow them more time to practice the concepts that I was teaching.  I always had in my head "oh, they learned this in 4th grade, so it's just a review", so now I saw that I really WAS rushing them.

I had a lot of students suggest small groups working with me for the students  that really aren't understanding (Stay tuned next week for my You Oughta Know post about how I fixed that).  The students also said that they need to be using their notebooks more to study AND that they needed to ask more questions in class.  

The reason that I am writing this is because it's so easy to sometimes just do what you always do in the classroom,  However, now that I am teaching something new, I needed to really look at how my students were responding to what I was doing.  

Since we had our little reflection pow-wow their scores have looked a LOT better, and I am making sure that I am providing them what they need.

I'm really glad that I took the time to do this with my class!  It was a good reminder that even after teaching for 10 years, I'm still learning.  :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Holiday's WAYYYYYY Ahead of Time FREEBIE

Hello Bloggy World. :)

I just wanted to write a quick post to tell you all that I put a super cool freebie up today, so please go and grab it as an EARLY Holiday gift from me to YOU! :)  Just click on the picture to grab it.

I am just so appreciative to everyone that reads my blog.  I have a really good post coming up this week, so be sure to check back for that. 

I'm sorry that I don't have anything else to say.  I just want to make sure that you get it so you can start planning for your Christmas school activities. :)

Enjoy your day!!!!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Decimals and Percents, a Sale, and a Baby Shower

Well, it's Sunday, which means, 1.  It is still acceptable to link up I hope for a Five for Friday, and 2.  I also need to link up my Sunday Circular, too. :)

So, here is my link up with Kacey this week for Five for Friday:

I'm going to try this out this week as I link up with Nicole over at All Things Apple in 2nd.  I will try a buy 2 get one sale.  Buy ANY two items in my TPT Store, and get one for equal or lesser value for free! :)

This week we learned all about percents to decimals, fractions to decimals, decimals to percents, etc.  This is the first time the students had exposure to this, so it was an uphill battle. :)

We started my making a little foldable book for our Interactive Notebooks:

 We made it by taking a piece of colored paper, folding it half, and then in half again to make a little book.  Then we cut the fold at the top to make a little mini book. :)

This was one of the foldables that was their new favorite!  After we made each page, we did some examples of each conversion, then went on to the next page.  

We then talked a little the next day about writing examples of word problems into algebraic equations.  They REALLY struggles with ones like:  12 is 30% of what number.  So, we spent a lot of time talking about  the words is and of, and what they mean as an operation.  

Then we worked through some of my robot task cards...we are STILL not done.  I did task cards 1-4 as a whole class, then tried to see if they could try 5-8 independently, and we still struggled.  So we did 5-8 together as a guided practice, too!   Next week we plan to do the rest.  

If you're looking for a challenging percent activity this is it! :)
Next on our agenda will be practicing what we know using grocery store sales papers! :)

 I made a set of 36 task cards (there is something for ALL grade levels 4-7!)  that you can use with ANY sales paper.  It covers everything for operations with decimals to working with percents as a tax or a discount.  I can't wait!  What a great way to practice math in REAL LIFE! :)

Totally not school related, but yesterday I helped throw one on my BEST friends her baby shower! :)  I am sooooo super excited for her!  It made for a very fun Saturday. She is having a girl, so we are joking that her sweet daughter and my sweet baby B will be future boyfriend/girlfriend. :)

 This long holiday weekend, my fellow NC TPT-ers and I are part of a holiday Facebook hop!  You can hop all around the Facebook pages to get some awesome Freebies!!! :)

Here are all of the links you need to Hop 'til you drop! :)

I'm giving away my prime and composite color turkey, so be sure to hop around for some great freebies!!! :)

Last, I am very excited that it is a FOUR DAY weekend! :)  Monday for us is a work day, so I plan to go in and get some stuff done.  What about you all?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Currently

Wow-it's soooooo crazy to think that it is November already!!!!  Time to link up with Farley for Currently!

Well, I remember the days when the time change meant sleeping in an extra hour...not so much anymore.  Baby B is an early riser, but with the time change early riser now meant before 4:30!!!!  So, we have been snuggling and watching cartoons most of the morning. :)

This cooler weather in Eastern NC!  Last night it was sooooo windy and cool!  It was FANTASTIC!

Again, see Listening. :)

My hubby is now up too, and making smells DELICIOUS! :)

Yesterday I started putting Thanksgiving decorations up.  I went out yesterday to Target and got these SUPER CUTE light up birch trees!!!!  They are in the Christmas section, but they fit PERFECTLY on the mantle for my woodland Thanksgiving theme! :)  I posted a picture of them on Instagram today (@immixingitupinmiddle)

Is it bad that it's nothing?  I know I am a teacher, but reading is just not something I do for enjoyment.  I feel as though my life is so incredibly busy, and there are other things that I would like to do to relax. 

I can't wait to see what everyone else is up to!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Ought to Know About...Semi-Flipping Your Classroom

I'm so excited again to link up with Mrs. McClain for the You Oughta Know Blog Hop! :)  I really enjoyed it last time, so it's great to do it again! :)

 This time I am talking about how you OUGHTA know about semi-flipping your classroom! :)
Now-here is a disclaimer...:)
1.  I am NOT a flipped classroom expert
2.  I know that this is not a TRUE flip by definition

However, in MY definition a flipped classroom is essentially where the STUDENTS do the teaching, engaging cooperative learning, and the problem solving, while I myself facilitate. :)  You could also look at this as project based learning.  I like to think the latest thing that I did in my classroom as a mix between the two--a mash-up you could say.  It was an AWESOME lesson, and I think that you OUGHTA know about it. :)

So, this year I am TOTALLY in love with our interactive notebooks.  Since I teach 6th grade math AND science, we have one for both.  I wanted to do something fun with our last science unit which was on Biomes and Ecosystems.  I wanted it to be HANDS ON, STUDENT DRIVEN, COOPERATIVE LEARNING, and ENGAGING...which it was ALL of the above and more!

The first thing that I had to learn was some new technology (I can thank my tech savvy teaching partner for that!).  He introduced me to the world of Edmodo.  It's essentially a Facebook type social media platform that is COMPLETELY managed by you.  You can monitor all student interactions (and as a bonus it sends you an e-mail EACH and EVERY TIME your students post something!).  

Here is what I used Edmodo for in my Flipped Classroom/PBL Unit:

I really liked using it!  I am not sure if there are any tutorials out there on it, but I would be happy to do one if there was a need.

The second thing that I did was create a MILLION foldables for their notebooks.  This is ironic because my last You Oughta Know was on saving copies.  Ha ha!  This time I made a million copies-it works out in the end, right??  I wanted these foldables to be how the students recorded all of the information that they were going to learn in the unit.  The students LOVE their notebooks, so I figured this was the way to go:
Foldables for vocabulary.  I had all of the vocabulary terms in a Powerpoint and the students put them in their 

The next thing I did was put ALL of the 8 Biomes that the students could choose from on the board:  Grassland, Marine, Fresh Water, Taiga, Tundra, Desert, Mountain/Alpine, and Rainforest.  I then pulled their student numbers out of a container, and had them pick what biome they wanted.  I did NOT let them pick partners, nor did I assign them a group. It was first come first serve.  I still had some students that didn't want to work with others, but there lies the life lesson. :)  


So, once that was cleared up, they got to work.  My school is lucky enough to have received a grant for Chromebooks, so I have 1:1 Chromebooks in my classroom.   My students either chose to do a Prezi or they used their Google accounts to do a presentation.  I gave them about 20 minutes in class each day to work on their presentations with their groups, but the rest was done at home.

I learned that my students were WAYYYY more tech savvy than I was with Prezi!  Their presentations were UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!  They taught ME a thing or to about Prezi.

Once the students were finished with their Prezi's (it took about 3 class periods over the course of 2 weeks--I see my students every other day for science), they PRESENTED!!  While they presented they taught the students the information needed for their foldables:

I then graded them on a rubric:

This was probably the most FUN unit I've done EVER!  We aren't even done yet-I made  a vocabulary match for them for their vocabulary words. 

I LOVED my experience trying to "flip"/PBL my classroom!  I think that the students enjoyed the teaching of their peers!  I also got a "now we know how you feel, Mrs. Sugg" when it came to students saying "wait, I'm not ready--don't change the slide yet!" They also talked about how it felt like FOREVER standing up there teaching the class.  ;)  I was just SO PROUD of the students!  It was great!

Want a chance to WIN an opportunity to use this unit with your class for FREE??  It would be great for grades 4-7!

Just enter the Rafflecopter below! :)  Contest runs through Halloween!  If I make it to 300 TPT followers, I will choose FIVE winners!!!!

Don't forget to head back to the hop to see what others teachers have to share that 
You OUGHTA Know :)