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!