#myFavFriday- Middle Schoolers

I blogged earlier about my journey that brought me to middle school, but to sum up, I never planned on this grade level.  But these kids do things every day to remind me that I am exactly where I should be.  Here are two of my favorites from this week.

Student 1 to me: Do you like teaching?

Me: Yes, do I seem like I like teaching?

Student 1: YES!


Student 2: I used to hate math, and it used to be really hard for me.  But this year I finally understand!  Now I like it!

Student 3: I know! Me too!


I know this post is short, but the feeling and excitement behind it is much bigger.  Thanks to my crazy, awesome, hilarious kiddos!  I really do love spending my time with you, even when you don’t want to spend your time with me 🙂




First Week

Be prepared, I am going to get dramatic here.  After the end of day 3, so far this year is the best. year. ever.  And I am trying to figure out why.  I really think I can attribute the success of this year in part to starting an interactive notebook.  I also think a lot of it has to do with the amazing group of bloggers I have met who have been kind enough to share their ideas with me (and the rest of the world).  While my to-do list is just as long as every other year, the plans and activities that I prepared for these first days all turned out to work much better than I could ever have imagined.  So here are some of the things I did (I think I already blogged about all of them already, but I am going to tell how they went now!)

Day 1: Mrs. S by the Numbers (found here).  I had the kids match the numbers, then I decided to use my new white boards and markers and had the kids hold up their answers.  I loved this because I would dramatically pause before announcing my answer, then after the annoucement the kids would either cheer or let out loud groans.  I had no idea it would be so intense.  Also, as far as the whiteboards and markers went, both projects were successful, minus the one puff ball that a student ripped off.  The red markers did leave behind a red tint on the page protectors, but I can live with that.

I also assigned my Million Words or Less assignment to the kids.  I don’t know where I found it, but when I googled it, I found many many similar assignments except they were directed to the parents to write about their students.  I had my students write to me.  I assigned it on the first day (Tuesday) and it is due Friday.  Day 1, several students turned in fine assignments, they all wrote me a few sentences telling me some interesting things.  I thought, “cool, this was fun, I would do it again.”  Then Wednesday, more turned them in but I didn’t get to them until tonight.  Wow.  Several letters had me laughing out loud, and one specifically went from laughing to tears streaming down my face as I read the paragraph to my husband.  Many of the letters from this day were absolutely amazing and touching and I will for sure be reading them over and over.  I can’t wait to read the rest tomorrow.  Oh, and my toughest student, the one who hasn’t made it to class on time so far and hasn’t brought a single thing to class… Turned it in!  Yay!

Day 2: Glue in all pages into the notebook.  We only did the first 4 on that page on day 2, and did the others today on day 3.  Gluing all went great, and then came my activity. 

Since my first year teaching, I had this idea in my head and finally did it this year.  I had no idea if it would bomb or not.  But it went great!  Almost every single group came up with the answer to the problem and were so excited and happy that they could do it on their own without any help.  Success!  It also gave me a great opportunity to talk to the kids about working in groups with a fairly low stress situation. 

Day 3: Scoring Scales Match AKA The highlight of my week so far.  So while I like scoring scales, I think the kids don’t know enough or understand enough so that they understand the grade they have in class and if it is “good” or “bad”.  Students (and parents!) have a problem with a D, but a 1.0?  What the heck is that?  It is close to a 3.0, so that’s good, right?  So I had the kids cut out descriptions today and line them up in order.  Then we went through each score and talked about what it would mean.  Now this is in their notebooks so we can refer back to it.  This went great!  This also gave the kids another opportunity to work in groups with pretty low stress.

I also introduced my class to the blog I started just for my room, students, and parents.  I want to use this to post pictures and info about what we do in class each day so it can be accessed at home in case students forget their notebooks or are absent.  2 hours after school ended and 3 of the students had already started following the blog and had commented… 31 had viewed it… and I had an email from a student with a link to her own blog that she had started today to document her journey in 7th grade!!  I am in shock.  I can’t believe something that had never even been on my radar before this summer is now such an important part of my life.  So thanks to everyone out there in the math twitterblogosphere

Now that I have written this blog post, and posted something about my amazing week on facebook, I have for sure jinxed myself for a horrible day tomorrow.  But the success of my first 3 days may have been worth it!

Obvious Mathematics

“Obvious is the most dangerous word in mathematics.”
E. T. Bell

For my blogger initiation this week, I want to talk about this great quote.  It is a huge problem I see all of the time in middle school- kids glance at the assignment, write down the first number they see, or use their favorite operation, write down anything then turn the assignment in.  Doesn’t even matter what the question was in the first place.  Unfortunately, students often don’t seem to mind a lot when I return assignments and tell them they are wrong.  I even have several students who write down IDK (I don’t know) for the entire assignment and turn it in!  How do we make students care?  How do we teach kids that they really do need to learn this?  I hope you are not reading this blog thinking that I have all of these answers and I am about to reveal them to you.  Because I don’t.

Maybe the solution involves showing students multiple ways to find answers and walking them through the entire process of finding the answer instead of focusing on answers.  I have seen a few posts lately on homework where teachers provide the answers for the student right up front so that students can focus on the correct work and not just the answer.  I love this idea!  Maybe this is the place to start…

Not sure this post will make any sense to anyone else as it seems to be a collection of random thoughts.  But I think it is a problem we all deal with and will continue to encounter.


So last night I wrote a wonderfully witty post about how amazing pinterest is, posted it on twitter, then found out that the post had disappeared and all that was left was the title.  No clue what happened.  So for those of you who follow me on twitter or follow my blog, I am so sorry that you had to spend a sleepless night last night wondering my thoughts on pinterest.  I will do my best to recreate the post now. 

I love pinterest.  I have found so many amazing ideas for cooking, organizing, crafting, throwing a first birthday party, and tons of other random fun things that I had never heard of before.  I had no clue that there would also be so many awesome teaching ideas posted.  I initially posted all of the things I found into one main Teaching MS Math board, but have recently tried to reorganize my pins so that they are in smaller subgroups so that I can find what I am looking for better.  I would love for readers to share their favorite teaching or non teaching boards with me so we can continue to learn and grow. 

Some of my favorite pins are here:

Pinned Image

Mr. Potato Head– Great idea for probability!

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Barrel of Monkeys Rewards– Add a monkey every time the group is doing well.  Great idea!

Pinned Image 

Number Ice Cube Trays– No clue what I would do with these, but they are so awesome!

Here are all of my boards, I would love to see yours!

My Journey

I started out wanting to be a high school teacher.  Then at some point I switched to wanting to teach 4th or 5th grade.  For my student teaching I got placed in a 1st grade inclusion classroom with 38 students and 2 teachers- one regular ed and one special ed.  Right out of student teaching (January) I applied to sub all around town and got called right away to fill in for a 2 week parapro sub position.  Immediately from there, they hired me as a full time para in kindergarten.  Then at the end of the school year, a shocking offer.  Teaching 7th grade math.  WHAT???  The math stuff I wasn’t worried about.  I love math.  I have always loved math.  My degree was in math.  But, me, teach those kids?  I had no clue about middle school.  They were big, a few even taller than me.  They were loud.  Some were rude.  Some were disrespectful.  I didn’t know anything about how to do that.  But I couldn’t resist a job, so I took it. 

And I loved it.

While I can’t predict the future, I have a feeling that my first year of teaching was possibly the best year I will ever have.  The team was amazing.  We were all on the same page.  We had our differences and specialties, but we knew our goal, we worked together, we supported each other.  And some of them continue to be the best friends I have ever had.   We have all moved on to different things since then, but I won’t forget that year.

And the kids.  Wow.  I had the privilege of working with one of the best groups of kids I will ever work with as well.  Sure, there were some tough kids, but every single one of those kids touched my heart.  I can’t even write this without tearing up at the thought of some of these children I got to meet.

Why tears?  Because they taught me something crazy.  Something I seriously had never thought of.  That middle school was my home.  That even though middle school students can be big, and loud, and rude, and disrespectful, and TOUGH… they are also insightful, and amazing, and thoughtful, and FUNNY!  (And very hormonal)  And that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Which leads me to this:

This isn’t a last day of school card or a birthday card or a random card.  It is a mother’s day card.  I love that in addition to being their teacher, I get to be a momma to many of these kids, even the ones with wonderful mothers of their own at home.  Because teaching math isn’t about teaching math.  It’s about teaching a million other things that they will remember for so much longer than they will ever remember some silly formula.