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Teaching Reflections: Year 6 (2017-2018)

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teaching reflections

August 3, 2017 – My ONE GOAL for the 2017-2018 School Year

I am GREAT at setting goals. Just like I’m great at making to-do lists. What I’m terrible at, however, is actually doing those things I set out to do. I learned a long time ago that it was pointless for me to make a new year’s resolution. I never keep them. It probably doesn’t help that I always want to have five or six different resolutions.

In year’s past, I have set many a goal of what I wanted to accomplish in the upcoming school year. And, when I look back at these goals, I rarely feel like I’ve met them. For example, I decided last year was going to be the year I embraced number talks and basic numeracy in my classroom. This lasted until October when my SMARTBoard projector broke and wasn’t replaced for a month which threw off everything in my classroom. Does that mean last year was a failure? No.

Last month, I started participating in Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek. I’ve been so inspired by Angela’s free podcast, Truth for Teaching, and I appreciate the way her words can make me look at problems in my classroom from a positive, productive viewpoint. Every time she mentioned the program, I would think that it sounded great, but the price tag kept me from joining in. When a new round of scholarships for a free membership were announced, I made a three minute video about why I deserved a spot. I was so excited when I found out I was chosen. I know I spend too much time stressing about school and working on school stuff. This past year I did not do a good job of work/life balance at all. This year I am determined to do better.

Actually, I’m determined to do better at a whole bunch of stuff. But, instead of making a list of all that I want to do, I am going to choose ONE word to embrace as my goal for this school year.


So far, my main takeaways from Angela’s program haven’t been super-productivity tips. Instead, she has given me permission to work through things at my own pace. She is constantly reminding us that we don’t have to read and apply every bit of advice. We just need to find one idea to implement. When we’re ready for more, the information will be there waiting for us. Perhaps the biggest change has come to how I approach my to do list. I am the queen of the multi-page to do list that could never get finished in a million years. I’m also the type of person who gets so overwhelmed by said to do list that I make new to do lists with some of the same items on them. Soon, I find that I can do a task and find three or more to do lists to mark it off on. This has changed, however. I now keep one (doable) to do list for the day. At the end of the day, I give myself permission to move the items I didn’t complete to the next day. Then, I mark a huge X through that day’s list. Does it matter that I didn’t finish everything I set out to? No. I give myself grace and remember that there will be a tomorrow. No guilt. Just grace.   

This summer, I had plans to write my own chemistry curriculum. I started writing a list of SBG skills. Then I stopped. I tried starting again, but I quickly realized I’m in over my head. I am not a chemistry teacher. I haven’t taken a chemistry class since AP Chemistry in 2007-2008. I know just enough chemistry and a whole lot of math that allowed me to pass the chemistry certification test this spring. I do love chemistry. I even considered majoring in chemistry at one point in time. After a few conversations with my husband this summer, I’ve decided to give myself grace. I won’t be doing SBG this year in chemistry. In fact, I won’t even be writing my own tests. I’ll be using the tests provided by the textbook company. Does this go against everything I normally stand for? Yes. Hello, I’m teaching from a textbook. (We will still be keeping our own interactive notebooks. Don’t worry about that!) But, as a first year chemistry teacher, I am giving myself grace.   

Instead of beating myself up, I will make grace my theme. When I try to do it all and fail, I am going to give myself grace. When my desk gets messier than I’d like, I am going to give myself grace. When I break my daily blogging streak, I am going to give myself grace. When I forget to take a picture for #Teach180, I am going to give myself grace. When I have a much needed venting session with a coworker instead of being productive during my planning period, I am going to give myself grace. When I hand out a worksheet instead of an interactive activity, I am going to give myself grace. When I have a rough day and eat an entire bag of chocolate, I am going to give myself grace. When I reuse an activity from last year because I don’t have the time or energy to update it, I am going to give myself grace. If my classroom isn’t perfectly decorated before school starts, I am going to give myself grace.    Last year was, by far, the hardest, most miserable year of my teaching career. I spent most of the year frustrated and stressed. This year WILL be better. 

August 9, 2017

Yesterday, I had the best intentions of compiling a Monday Must Reads post. But, after seven hours hanging posters in my classroom, I just wasn’t feeling it.

I started to beat myself up before I remembered that my goal for this year is to give myself grace.

As a result, I’m not going to try to catch up today and write a Monday Must Reads post on a Tuesday. I’ll just keep collecting great blog posts and tweets for next Monday. 🙂

Here’s a sneak peek at my favorite wall so far. Still have more posters to hang, though!

August 24, 2017 – [DEAL EXPIRED] Free Educator’s Copy of Hidden Figures

Back in May, I saw a tweet mentioning that Fox Connect was giving away free educator copies of Hidden Figures to high school teachers in the US. I hadn’t seen the movie, but I signed up because I’d heard good things about it from pretty much everybody.

As we got ready to leave for Australia this summer, I started thinking about how I was going to keep occupied during the 16 hour flight from Dallas to Sydney. There are tons of movies to watch, and I told my husband that I HOPED that Hidden Figures would be one of the options.

The first thing I did after getting seated on our flight was check to see if Hidden Figures was there. It was! I was so excited I had to take a picture. 🙂

It turned out to be great. Shaun watched it as well on the flight, and we both really enjoyed it.

This week, my free copy of Hidden Figures finally showed up!

I have to miss two days of school next month for the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year announcement, so I’m thinking I will let them watch Hidden Figures. Normally, I’m not a teacher to show movies, but this movie has a special place in my heart!

August 27, 2017 – Getting Organized: Project Trays

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I had to drive to a nearby town to visit our credit union. This town happens to have a Dollar Tree, so we decided to stop in. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, but that’s never stopped us before! 🙂

I was hoping that there might be some sort of organizer that would hold letter sized paper. After walking down the aisle full of organizing baskets, I thought I was out of luck. Then, Shaun spotted some paper-sized baskets in a totally unrelated section. I decided these would be PERFECT for putting supplies together for various activities.

I ended up buying eight of these baskets. Here are six of them on my back counter waiting for me to pull out the needed materials for future activities.

One of the baskets is currently sitting on my desk, and the eighth basket is sitting in my husband’s room. 

I feel so much better about having supplies out on the counter when they are in one of these baskets instead of just sitting out. These were super useful for the first week of classes since I had so many different activities going on with different supplies!

Here are our supplies for the marshmallow challenge

These two baskets have cups, rubberbands, and string for the cup stacking challenge and paper growth mindset challenges

These are definitely worth the $8 investment!

August 29, 2017 – Australian Adventures: Wildlife Sanctuary

This is the second post in a series where I share photos from the two months that my husband and I spent in Australia this summer. One of the highlights of the summer was visiting a wildlife rescue sanctuary in South Australia. My mother-in-law arranged for us to go for a visit because she knows that I’ve been obsessed with kangaroos since my first trip to Australia two summers ago.

When we arrived, I was just super-excited to see a kangaroo up close. I’ve seen a few tame-ish ones in the wild before, but these kangaroos would actually let us touch them since they’ve spent almost their entire lives in captivity.

Then, the lady who runs the sanctuary asked if any of us would like to bottle feed a kangaroo. Of course!

Here’s the kangaroo I had the privilege of feeding. Isn’t this face adorable?!?

Next, we got to meet some baby wombats. They were super adorable as they ran everywhere.

Of course, when I tried to take a picture of one of the wombats, it proceeded to do this:

I thought when the wombat went to Shaun that I would finally be able to get a good photo. Nope!

I finally got a good picture when my mother-in-law picked one of the wombats up, though.

As we walked through the sanctuary, we got a chance to see some birds that had been rescued.

After walking past the birds, we reached the part of the sanctuary that held the older kangaroos.

We were given food to feed the kangaroos. You will never guess what we fed them. Make a guess before you scroll any farther!

Made your guess yet?

Almonds! I never would have guessed in a million years that a kangaroo would eat an almond out of my hand!

These kangaroos are just so cute. I can’t stop adding pictures!

Here’s a video of one of the kangaroos:

I’ve still got more pictures to share of other adventures from our summer in Australia, but those will have to wait for another day!

September 4, 2017 – Five Good Things

It’s the last day of a three day weekend. I have to admit that this makes me a little sad. As much as I love school and teaching, we all need a bit of a break now and again. To cheer myself up, I’m going to blog about five good things that have happened recently.

1. GEOMETILES   Friday, I got a set of Geometiles in the mail. The makers of Geometiles contacted me via my blog to ask if I would be willing to write a review in exchange for a free set. Of course, I said yes! My review isn’t due until October, so I’ve got a full month of playing ahead of me to prepare!  


I actually received two shipments on Friday. A month or so ago, NAEIR had Base 10 Blocks on their website for super cheap. 10 sets for $4 cheap! Even though I teach high school, I decided to invest in a set. I think these will get lots of use with my math concepts students when we review decimals later this year.


Somehow, I managed to come down with a cold during the second week of school. Usually, my immune system holds off until October to get sick. Not this year! This was a double bummer because it feels like I just got over the cold I had in July when we were in Australia. But, I’m feeling much, much better already. I’ve even managed to get some school work done over the weekend.


Friday, I was NOT feeling well. See #3 above. You know it’s obvious that you’re sick when a student walks in the room and asks “Why is your nose red?” Nice to see you, too. I couldn’t bear for my Algebra 1 students to get behind, so I pushed through our order of operations lesson even though I was NOT feeling it. I did give myself some grace and take it easy with my math concepts and chemistry classes. We did the Crazy Eights puzzle from School of Fisher. And, the biology bunny came to visit for part of the class period in chemistry.

5. ALL MY LESSONS ARE PLANNED FOR THIS WEEK!   For my entire teaching career, I have been a last minute planner. This year, I’m trying to stay ahead. So, each weekend, I’ve been writing out my lesson plans for the upcoming week, creating any foldables, activities, etc., and creating my SMARTboard files for the ENTIRE week. I still have to do a bit of tweaking from day to day, but it feels so good to go to school in the morning and know that I don’t have a million things to do just to get ready for the day. I’m starting to feel truly organized for the first time ever!  

September 13, 2017 – Organizing 11 x 17 Dry Erase Activities

Over the past year or so, I’ve made quite a few activities for my classroom that use 11 x 17 cardstock.

Often, this card stock ends up getting placed in the amazingly useful 11 x 17 dry erase pockets I purchased from Amazon.


dry erase pockets

I cannot imagine teaching math without my dry erase pockets! They instantly make any activity more engaging and save me countless hours at the copy machine since I can use the same class sets of copies year after year.

Here are my current go-to recommendations:

I’ve found that 9 x 12 dry erase pockets (which hold letter sized paper) is perfect for students working alone. When students are working in groups, they really need the extra space that 11 x 17 dry erase pockets provide.

Here are some examples:

Venn Diagrams

Periodic Table of Mistakes

Identifying Outliers

Can You Level the Towers?

Simplifying Radicals

Farkle Score Sheets

After I took these activities out of the dry erase pockets to make way for new activities, I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with them. I couldn’t just stick them in a file folder!

When I moved into my new classroom this summer, they ended up being stuck in a cabinet. Last week, I finally decided to do something about them.

I took a copy paper box from the office. It’s the exact length needed for 11 x 17 paper!

Then, I used a binder clip to hold together multiple copies of the same activity. I stuck a post-it note to each bundle with the name and alphabetized them in my box.

Hopefully it will be much easier to find them now when I want to reuse them!

September 18, 2017 – How I Teach

Just a heads-up that there will be no blog post here today on Math Equals Love because I’m being featured on Dave Sabol‘s How I Teach series.

You can read my answers to his questions about my teaching style and work style.

I’ll be back here tomorrow with a new volume of Monday Must Reads!

September 30, 2017 – Organizing Teaching Mementos

Since I started teaching, I have kept all of the notes and pictures from students. When I’m having a bad day, I can look through these and remember why it is I do this crazy job on a daily basis. Until recently, these have lived in an over-flowing file folder.

When I was in Oklahoma City for the Teacher of the Year Ceremony, I picked up a decorative box at Tuesday Morning. I had two requirements when looking for a box: the box had to have a cute design, and the box had to hold letter-sized paper.

Now my teaching mementos are easier to look through and cute when sitting on the shelf!

October 3, 2017 – Epiphany: Answer Key Binder and Stickers

Do you ever have an idea that you are so excited about until you realize that you should have thought of it years ago? Last year, this idea was an answer key binder.

This year, I’m continuing my answer key binder because I now can’t imagine teaching without one! But, my new discovery is related to stickers.

I use SBG, and I put a sticker on the quizzes of students who earn a perfect score (4) on their first attempt. I have always stored these stickers in my desk. I often have to dig around for a while in my desk to find my stickers when I need them.

This fix is so easy, I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of it sooner. I can keep my stickers in the front pocket of my answer key binder! Now I always have stickers when I’m grading. And, I’ve spent so much time looking for stickers!

October 8, 2017 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 49

Join me today for Volume 49 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. 

It’s been awhile since the last volume of Things Teenagers Say. Kids keep asking if I’m going to do it this year, so I guess it’s time to share the first volume of overheard conversations of the 2017-2018 school year!

things teenagers say

Student: Can you play some tunes while we work?
Me: Sure.
Student: Now, don’t play any of that bible thumper music or Jesus reggae.

Girls shave their legs and then wear jeans. I don’t get it.

Student: Do you want to buy a ticket for donkey basketball?
Me: I can’t go. I teach a class at church on Wednesday night for 4th graders.
Student: Do you teach them about math or God?

Stop laminating things. You have a problem.

Stop cheating on me. Wait, I mean stop cheating off me.

Student 1: Do you want to know a fun fact about my shorts?
Student 2: Sure.
Student 1: They are my dad’s shorts from his honeymoon with my mom.

I know this is probably weird, but I just made eye contact with your husband through the window.

Dude, my grandpa posts more stuff to instagram than I do!

I’m going to move to Chernobyl.

I eat fairly healthy. I just eat big portions.

Congratulations! You will win a Nobel prize in three weeks for knowing my name. It will be shipped to your door. If you don’t get it, that will be due to a manufacturing defect.

During after school tutoring
Me: Will you guys be okay if I run to the restroom?
Student: No. I will die from lack of Carter. I will suffocate.

Does Mr. Carter have a genuine Australian accent? I want to hear him say Mississippi.

In March, my husband and I were impressed by a post by Jo Morgan titled Papers Society. We loved the idea of getting students together outside of class to review. But, we couldn’t implement the idea as shared because of two reasons. Oklahoma got rid of the yearly standardized test in math at the high school level. The only standardized our students will take during their high school years will be the ACT, a college entrance exam for non-US readers. Even when we did have a yearly standardized math test, the tests were not released each year. Thus, we don’t have past exam papers available for students to study.

Still, we wanted to encourage students to stay after school for extra help. We always open our classrooms after school for students to stop by for tutoring, but we tend to get a student or two each afternoon. We decided if we designated a certain day of the week for tutoring and provided snacks that we might get a bigger turnout.

We toyed with a few different names before deciding between “Homework Club” and “Cookie Club.” The former sounded a bit dreary, so we settled on Cookie Club.

Every Monday, my husband I join together in his classroom to offer homework help and give students a chance to retake quizzes if they need to. So, my Sunday routine now includes baking for Cookie Club.

As the weeks have passed on, the number of students showing up has grown. And, I’ve started stretching the snacks away from cookies only to desserts in general.

One week, I made lemon bars. This was a dessert staple in our house, so I was surprised to learn that many of my students had never had a lemon bar before. They declared them a winner!   

This week, I made chocolate covered peanut butter crackers and chocolate covered pretzels. We had even more kids than normal, so we also pulled out a package of store bought cookies.

So far, the cookie club experiment has been a success. We look forward to continuing to provide homework help and yummy snacks to our students.

October 27, 2017 – Thermometer Repair

I used some pretty tape to repair some thermometers.

I found some thermometers stuffed in a random box in the science lab of our old high school. I brought them over to my classroom for my chemistry students to use, but I found that a previous teacher had misplaced the backs to some of the thermometers.

After replacing all of the batteries, I took some decorative tape and covered the back of the thermometer. Now they’re ready for my students to use!

October 27, 2017 – Teaching Myself Physics

I’m teaching myself physics!

After earning my chemistry certification last year, I’m now looking towards earning my physics certification. I don’t have any real desire (yet) to teach physics, but I love the challenge of learning something new. My physics experience in high school wasn’t the most rigorous, so I have A LOT to learn. When we were in Australia this summer, I found my husband’s 11th and 12th grade physics textbooks. So I have adopted them as my curriculum.

October 27, 2017 – Starting a Puzzle Table

I challenged my students to solve some tangram puzzles using Geometiles.

Recently, I was contacted by the kind people at Geometiles to write a review in exchange for a free set of Geometiles. Of course I said yes! You can check out my in-depth review of these awesome math manipulatives.

One of the awesome free resources that Geometiles provides teachers is a printable set of tangram puzzles. I printed off these puzzles and set them on a (mostly) unused table in my room. I didn’t mention them to my students. Instead, I just waited to see what would happen.

It took a few days for students to start noticing them, but when they did they became obsessed! I love that these puzzles look easy but can actually become quite tricky. Soon, students were rushing to play with the Geometiles whenever they entered the room or finished early.

Inspired by my Geometiles experience, I decided to start a “Puzzle Table” in my classroom. 

After leaving the Geometiles out for about a week, I decided it was time to change it up. I packed up the Geometiles and pulled out another puzzle for students to play with: ThinkFun’s Brick Logic.

On the first day of having the Brick Logic puzzle out, we had a little mishap. My students informed me that one of the pieces had been lost. We looked all around and couldn’t find it. I started to think that this was the end of the puzzle table since one of my students must have walked off with the piece (either intentionally or unintentionally). I know I shouldn’t assume that a student would steal something, but it wouldn’t have been the first time it happened. Sadly, I’ve had so many things stolen from my classroom over the course of my teaching career. 

Thankfully, it was just a false alarm. See that second piece from the top? It’s actually two pieces stuck together. Mystery solved! This means the puzzle table can live on!

Fun Fact: If you do lose a piece to a ThinkFun puzzle, the company will replace it for free if you are a teacher! That’s some awesome customer service!

October 27, 2017 – I made the news!

My hometown newspaper recently published an article about me and my Oklahoma Teacher of the Year journey. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about me, you can check out the article here.

November 3, 2017 – OKC Thunder Tickets

I received my final teacher of the year perk in the mail: OKC Thunder Tickets! 

One teacher is going to be honored at each Thunder home game as the “Teacher of the Game.” I’ve never been to a Thunder game, so I’m super excited. Some of my husband’s students back in Australia were super obsessed with the Thunder. They are going to be jealous!

November 3, 2017 – Fall Decorations

I decorated my classroom for fall.

November 3, 2017 – Science News Magazine

My school got a free subscription to Science News magazine. 

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to incorporate this into my chemistry class yet, but I’m looking forward to getting my students to do more reading about science!

November 3, 2017 – Triangles

We recently got a chance at Math Teachers’ Circle to play with triangles!

Each group was given a triangle cut from a manila file folder. We were challenged to trace the original triangle then flip the triangle along one edge to create a new triangle.

As we created each new triangle, we colored in the triangles that were reflections of the original triangle. It was very interesting to see our pattern grow! 

November 8, 2017 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 50

Join me today for Volume 50 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. 

My students are complaining that I haven’t posted a Things Teenagers Say post in a while. So, I guess I’ll oblige them.

things teenagers say

[Student Name] has an ugly personality. I have a beautiful personality. I have a rose gold personality.

Every time you walk in class, it looks like you just walked out of a 90s music video.

Every time Mr. Carter talks, I giggle.

Student 1: Do you have a game on your phone?
Student 2: Nope. All I have is social media.

I wonder if twins still have a doppelganger.

My dad is my doppelganger.

I don’t think I’d be good in prison. I’m too pretty.

Did you know that butterflies are an endangered species? There are only five of them left in the world.

Squiggly brackets look like angel fish trying to kiss.

Did you know that someone made a meme about Mrs. Carter’s projector?

Mr. Carter should grow a beard He would look like a mean teacher then.

I couldn’t quit doodling the symbol for all real numbers last hour.

You mean-mugged me. Now I have a head ache.

You’re going to miss Mrs. Carter, so soak it up.

Student 1: Is this really where you want to be when Jesus comes back?
Student 2: No. I want to be at home.

Tell me the inside joke. We are INSIDE right now, so you can tell me the joke.

Me: It’s called the caret button.
Student: Is it good for your eyes?

I’m going to get pulled over and look like an alcoholic that loves pistachios.

Why does glue look so satisfying?

November 10, 2017 – Decorating

I did some more room decorating in the form of certificates, plaques, and crystal apples from being named a Teacher of the Year finalist.

My “Sarah Hagan Day” award was happy to be joined by two new friends. 

November 10, 2017 – Dish Drying Mats

The dish drying mats that I bought at Dollar Tree this summer are a life saver for my chemistry class!

Last year when I taught physical science, I found that we were wasting a lot of paper towels whenever we went to dry our lab equipment. This summer, I picked up three drying mats at Dollar Tree. They live on the back counter so that we always have a place to put our lab equipment while it dries.

November 10, 2017 – Plastic Sleeves

I’ve become so much more organized this year that I had to invest in some more plastic sleeves!

I use these plastic sleeves to keep my copies separate. This year, thanks to Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Work Week, I’ve been making all of my copies for the ENTIRE week at once. I used to only ever get ahead a day or so with my copies, so this is $6 that I am happy to spend!

November 10, 2017 – Two Colored Counters

Two colored counters made their first appearance in Math Concepts as we continue to work on integers.

Now, I just have to figure out how to engage my students in using the counters without encouraging them to build towers with them instead of doing their math. 🙁

November 14, 2017 – Puzzle Table: Weeks 1-6

Yesterday, someone on twitter asked me for a list of puzzles I had used so far this year on my puzzle table. Inspired by Sara VanDerWerf‘s idea of a play table, I put out a new puzzle for my students to play with during spare class time each Monday. The puzzle stays out for the entire week to spark student interest and curiosity. Some of the puzzles I use have been purchased. Others are puzzles I downloaded and laminated for durability.

Here are the puzzles I have used so far on my puzzle table this year:

Week 1: Tangrams with Geometiles – I printed the free tangrams puzzles from the Geometiles website and placed them in a binder for students to work through. These puzzles look deceptively easy. My students loved these! They also loved building 3D shapes using the geometiles. My classes were so sad when I put these away. We only did the first set of tangram puzzles, so I will have to get them out again soon. I love that each set of tangram puzzles uses a different subset of the tangram pieces.

Week 2: Brick Logic by ThinkFun – You wouldn’t think that a puzzle with only five pieces could be so tricky, but it is! I love that these puzzles can be solve with the puzzle pieces lying flat (like a 2D puzzle) or with the puzzle pieces standing up (like a 3D puzzle). I find it very interesting to watch students tackle these puzzles. I do wish that the answers to each puzzle weren’t so easily accessible. My students are quick to flip the cards over and look at the answer. 🙁

Week 3: Shape Logic by ThinkFun – My students didn’t take to this puzzle as much as I would have hoped. The goal is for students to use the specified green and blue pieces to make two identical shapes. Most of my students, however, just chose to use these pieces to make creative designs. I guess that’s still a win! In the future, I would type up some directions to place next to these puzzle pieces.  

Here are some of their creations: 

Week 4: Panda Squares – I learned about this fun puzzle from a tweet that led me to a blog post by David Butler.  The goal is to arrange the 16 pieces into a 4 x 4 square so that the colors match along each edge. Black must touch black. White must touch white. There are thousands of solutions, but my students struggled to come up with a single solution. Many students got close, and they were quite frustrated at me when I put the panda square puzzle pieces up.

Week 5: Block by Block by ThinkFun – I have an older copy of this game. The box says it was created by Binary Arts. A google search shows that ThinkFun is the name that the Binary Arts company used to rebrand themselves. Makes sense! Many of my students took it upon themselves to make these pieces into a cube instead of trying to solve the challenges on the cards. Towards the end of the week, I saw several students working together to try and make the designs on each card.

Week 6: The Four Aces Puzzle – I found this printable puzzle on a Canadian puzzle website. It’s a clever and tricky edge matching puzzle. When I put out the new puzzle yesterday at lunch, I had three students surrounding the table within a minute of the new puzzle being out. I thought this puzzle was going to be self-explanatory, but it’s looking like I need to type up a set of instructions for it a la panda squares. I managed to solve this puzzle during Cookie Club yesterday. I have had one student get close so far, but no one has solved it yet. Good thing we still have four days to go with this one! 

So far, the extra time it takes each week to put out a new puzzle has been SO worth it. I look forward to seeing what my puzzle table evolves into as the year progresses.

Have any suggestions for puzzles? I’d love to hear them in the comments below! 

November 16, 2017 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 51

Join me today for Volume 51 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. Either my students have been saying more interesting things lately, or I’ve just been better at writing them down. I’m not sure!

things teenagers say

How am I not supposed to worry when your ones look like twos?

Student: Mrs. Carter, can you eat butter since you’re a vegan?
Me: I’m not a vegan. I’m a vegetarian.
Student: What’s the difference?
Me: Vegans don’t eat any eggs or dairy products. They don’t even eat honey.
Student: Why?
Me: Honey comes from bees.
Student: Woah.
Me: They also don’t wear leather since it comes from cows.
Student: Do they wear anything?

Student 1: Why do students keep saying you are pregnant?
Me: That rumor has been going around for the entire six years I have worked here.
Student 2: Yeah. Someone said it must be twins because you’ve been pregnant for so long.
Me: What?
Student 2: Can you believe that some students at our school think you have to be pregnant for 18 months to have twins?

Don’t leave me with these heathens.

They treat us like slaves in this school. I don’t come to school to be told what to do. I come to see my friends and play sports. I’m not learning anything.

Food and cats. Aren’t those the same thing?

He’d never survive in a gunfight. They’d tell him to take ten paces. He would take five and turn around and shoot. Then, he’d be an outlaw.

Do trees shrink when they get older?

Student 1: Mrs. Carter, it’s 12 days until our birthday!
Me: I know! I’m excited.
Student 2: You’re going to have a birthday?
Me: Yes. I’ll be 28.
Student 1: 28? You look like a mom!
Student 3: A cat mom.

Me: What do we use to measure time?
Student: A ruler.

What would you do if Mr. Carter ever left you? A cat would always be there for you.

Student 1: The cat I want is like $3000.
Student 2: Is it a tiger?

Student 1: We need to do the quiz on Thursday because I might not be here on Friday.
Me: Why?
Student 1: My puppy died.
Student 2: Today is Tuesday. If your puppy died, why would you be gone on Friday?
Student 1: We’re going to have its funeral on Friday.

Me: When I was in school, I learned “My very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas” to remember the planets. But, now that Pluto is no longer a planet, I’m not sure how they are teaching it in school.
Student: Didn’t Pluto get blown up?

Student: Mrs. Carter, do you know what the best way to eat bananas is?
Me: No.
Student: Trash.

One freshman student to another: You look old. You look like a grown woman. Your face looks like that of a 40 year old.

Student 1: Can we name the tree Bob?
Student 2: The tree can’t be named Bob. We already had a problem with Bob emptying out his swimming pool.
Student 1: So why can’t our tree also be named Bob?
Student 2: Trees can’t empty out pools or even swim in them in the first place.

Student 1: We don’t have school next week.
Student 2: That’s how Thanksgiving Break normally works.
Student 1: Rude! What would you say if I said I was dying?
Student 2: I would say, “Of course you are dying. I can see the blood stain on the carpet.”

Me: What is special about mapping diagrams that will help us with finding domain and range?
Student: Mapping diagrams show love to the oval shape.

Instead of writing “It passes the vertical line test,” I’m going to write VLT-Approved.

One time I sneezed back in Vietnam…

It reeks in here. It smells like rabbit.

November 18, 2017 – UTA Goodies

I got some UTA goodies in the mail this past week. The President of UTA heard that I was a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, so he decided to send me a gift of a UTA Pennant and Scarf. I did my Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction through UTA online. I have a TU flag in my classroom from my undergraduate days, so I’m excited to have something to hang up in my room to represent my time in grad school.

November 18, 2017 – Learning Physics

My study of physics is continuing. I’ve started creating an interactive notebook of sorts to contain my physics notes and worked practice problems. There’s something about doing my study in a notebook that makes my learning feel more real. Since starting to keep my worked problems in a notebook, the amount of problems I’ve been working has been increasing. So, that’s a win!

December 1, 2017 – Thanksgiving

My husband and I spent a lovely Thanksgiving day with my dad’s family. This was Shaun’s second Thanksgiving ever, and it was his first Thanksgiving to feature turkey (or any meat for that matter…)

We had a huge turnout at cookie club this week. We were close to reaching the point where the room was going to be too crowded for students to get anything done. I made chocolate chip cookie bars, and we used Shaun’s classroom kettle to set up a hot chocolate station. Of course, my timing wasn’t great. It was over 70 degrees on Monday! 

December 1, 2017 – Grant Supplies

My grant supplies finally arrived! Every year, our local education foundation provides grants to teachers in Drumright. I have been blessed to receive a grant every year I have worked there! This year, I requested jumbo algebra tiles, a class set of fraction tiles, 9 x 12 dry erase boards, 11 x 16 dry erase boards, playing cards, and blank spinners.

December 1, 2017 – pH

Now that I teach chemistry, I’ve gained all sorts of new gadgets and stuff in my classroom. My husband is teaching statistics this year, and some of his students came and borrowed a pH meter and some pH strips a few weeks ago to do some data collection for their statistics project. They returned the pH meter and pH strips, and they’ve been lying in a box on my desk ever since. It’s this time of year where I become really bad at putting things up where they belong! I have had at least ten students pick up the pH meter off of my desk and ask what it was. Why aren’t they this curious about math?!?

I have last period plan, and as a result I often have students hanging out in my room. One student decided to try out the pH meter this week. He measured the pH of hand sanitizer, dry erase cleaner, and spick and span cleaner.

December 11, 2017 – Baking

It’s Sunday evening. Today can be summed up by this equation: Sunday = Church + Wal-mart + Dishes + Baking + Function Notation. I’ve been doing my best to tackle the mountain of dishes that has a tendency to grow out of control when you’ve spent the past week being sick and recovering from having your wisdom teeth removed. It also doesn’t help that the husband has now caught my cold…

Just to make my pile of dishes even larger, I decided to do some baking. Tomorrow is Cookie Club, so I always spend Sunday doing at least a bit of baking. For that, I decided to change things up a bit and make a sour cream bundt cake. Then, I had some bananas that were looking very sad, so I whipped up a loaf of banana bread. This will make the trek to school tomorrow because the high school teachers are responsible this week for keeping the teacher’s lounge stocked with goodies to eat. Last week, the middle school teachers provided a week’s worth of snacks, so it’s our turn.

My husband and I watched the first two episodes of The Great American Baking Show. We watched them make lamingtons which are a traditional Australian dessert. Despite visiting Australia three times, I still haven’t had a chance to eat one. Shaun mentioned that they are one of his favorites, so as I type this, I have a cake in the oven to make into lamingtons tomorrow.

Enough about today. I want to share a file I created a few weeks ago to introduce my Algebra 1 students to the idea of discrete vs. continuous. I’ve been finding blogging a bit harder than normal the past few weeks because I keep getting this feeling that I don’t have any ideas worth sharing. I know this isn’t true. Hello, I’ve written over one thousand blog posts now. But, that doesn’t stop my mind from trying to convince me otherwise. Hopefully, the upcoming holidays and break from school will give me a chance to recharge and get back to blogging more regularly.

December 22, 2017 – Semester Tests

I survived semester testing! This is the first year that my school has done semester test exemptions as well as a modified semester test schedule. There were only a few mishaps with students showing up on the wrong day/time. I was shocked, though, at the number of students who chose not to show up at all for semester tests. After typing up a semester test schedule for my own wall, I made copies to share with all of the other high school teachers.

December 22, 2017 – New Phones

My school bought phones for every single classroom. Our intercom system has been broken all year, so the office has had no way to contact each classroom. Apparently, each teacher can page the entire school from their classroom now, but I’m too scared to try!

December 22, 2017 – Lamingtons

I made lamingtons! I was inspired to make these after watching them make lamingtons on the first (and last) episode of the Great American Baking Show. When I found out that they were an Australian treat and my husband mentioned liking them, I knew I had to give them a try. They were super yummy, but they are one of the most tedious desserts I’ve ever made.

December 22, 2017 – OKC Thunder

My husband and I enjoyed our first professional sporting event together. Monday night, we made the trek to OKC to watch the OKC Thunder take on the Denver Nuggets. As a perk of being a Teacher of the Year Finalist, I was named the “Teacher of the Game.” I received two courtside tickets to the game so I could be recognized during one of the timeouts with a plaque and prizes as the Teacher of the Game.

This was the view from our seats. We were in the fourth row back on the floor. See those seats with the Gatorade covers? This is where the Thunder coaches were sitting during the game.

There was a giant OKC Thunder blimp that floated around the stadium. This was very cool to watch! 

These are the goodies I received. There was also an OKC Thunder “Padfolio” and a $75 gift card inside for classroom supplies. 

It was an incredible game to watch. The Thunder untied the game with only 1.74 seconds remaining. 

One more selfie. It turns out that when you show up with your tickets around your neck with lanyards that don’t say OKC Thunder, they give you new lanyards! 

Thank you to American Fidelity and the OKC Thunder for an amazing experience!

Every year, Jo Morgan posts a recap of her favorite and/or most popular posts of the year. Last year, I copied her lead, and this year I am going to do the same. I guess that makes it a tradition. 2017 isn’t quite over yet, but I’m going to take advantage of the fact that it is early Christmas Break and my to do list is not yet overwhelmed with stuff to get ready for next semester.

This will be my 197th blog post of 2017.So, how does this year’s blogging stack up to previous years?

Blog Posts by Year
2017 – 197 (so far)
2016 – 183
2015 – 199
2014 – 214
2013 – 107
2012 – 103
2011 – 3

Hopefully, I can knock out a few more posts over the rest of Christmas Break. That would make 2017 my second most frequent year of blogging. Like last year, I am going to take a look at how many pageviews each blog post I wrote in 2017 received. I enjoy doing this to see what type of posts my readers most enjoy.

1. 21 Ideas for the First Week of School – I wrote this post this summer to reflect on the activities I did LAST YEAR during the first week of school. I’d never gotten around to blogging about it last year, so I decided I might as well do a recap of last year to help me decide what I wanted to do this year during the first week. This was by far my most popular post of the year. It was read over 20,000 times! The fact that this post was my post popular of the year doesn’t really surprise me because my blog traffic always peaks in mid August/early September as teachers are planning for the upcoming school year.

2. My Most-Referenced Math Classroom Decorations – My next most popular post featured one of my favorite things to blog about – decorating your math classroom! This past summer, I took a different approach to my classroom decorating process. Instead of creating a bunch of brand new posters like I have the last few years, I almost entirely decorated my classroom with my favorite posters from the last few years. Making posters for my classroom is an activity that brings me incredible joy each year. The fact that so many math teachers across the country choose to hang the posters I have designed on their walls is amazing.

3. Post-It Note Puzzle – This post included an awesome puzzle from Chris Smith involving post-it notes. The puzzle was included in Chris’s maths newsletter which is a must-subscribe. (For subscribing info, check out the blog post above!) Quite a few of you tried the puzzle out after I shared it. Writing this post reminds me that I have yet to use this puzzle with this year’s students. I must remedy that! Want more puzzles? Check out my puzzle page!

4. Free Printable Farkle Score SheetFarkle is one of my favorite dice games to play with students. This year, I designed a reusable score sheet for my students to use while playing Farkle. I printed them on 11 x 17 cardstock, and we slid them into our 11 x 17 dry erase pockets. If you don’t have the ability to print on 11 x 17 paper, I have also uploaded a letter sized version. I think one of the reasons this post was so popular is that it isn’t just math teachers who love playing farkle. I’ve had plenty of blog traffic from people just searching for “printable farkle score sheets.”

5. Two Truths and a Lie Activity Template – For several years, I have used two truths and a lie as a review strategy in my math classes. This year, I decided to formalize the process a bit and create a printable version that students could then glue in their notebooks. I think this post has been popular this year because this printable file can be used by teachers of any grade level and any subject. In the future, I’d love to edit this file to make it into a bulletin board version where the answer to which statement is the lie is hidden underneath the statements.

6. Systems of Equations and Inequalities Interactive Notebook Pages – I’m a bit surprised that this post was in my top ten for 2017. When I looked back through this post, I couldn’t find anything to get super excited about. One reason I think it may have been popular is that I’ve always found teaching systems of equations/inequalities to be a very tricky topic to teach. If you do a search on my blog, you will find relatively few posts about teaching systems because I’ve never really felt as if I’ve done them justice. Last year’s attempt was my best attempt at teaching systems so far.

7. INB Pages for Algebra 1 Unit on Polynomials – Polynomials, on the other hand, are one of my favorite topics to teach in Algebra 1. Over the last few years, I’ve made my polynomial unit into a unit I’m very proud of, so I’m not surprised that this post was so popular. Using the box method (or area method if you prefer that name) has been a life-changing experience as a math teacher. Every year, I try to focus more on conceptual understanding when teaching factoring than the many tricks I used to use as a beginning teacher.

8. Kicking off Sequences in Algebra 1 – This is a relatively short post, but I guess it still resonated with my readers. Last year was the first year for sequences to be included in Oklahoma’s Algebra 1 curriculum, so I had to get especially creative with this unit.

9. Can You Level the Towers? – Unlike the last few resources, this is not my own creation. This task was created by the amazing and inspiring Don Steward. I took his image and resized it to fit in my 11 x 17 dry erase pockets. I love that this task approaches the concept of mean through an understanding of leveling instead of a memorized algorithm.

10. Mean, Median, Mode, and Range Spider Puzzles – This last most popular post of 2017 was also not my own creation. These spider puzzles were a free download from alutwyche on TES. If you haven’t checked out his wide range of spider puzzles, they are an incredible resource for your math classroom. I resized his file (originally meant to be printed on A4 paper) to print on letter sized paper to fit inside my 9 x 12 dry erase pockets. These puzzles provide great leveled practice of mean, median, mode, and range.

So, what are my take-aways from compiling this list of my top ten most popular blog posts from 2017? Like last year, I recognize that most of my post popular posts include downloads. People still love downloads. Three of my most popular posts are just re-shares of awesome resources created by UK maths bloggers. The majority of my readers are American math teachers, so I assume many of them aren’t familiar with many of the UK maths teachers who are sharing amazing resources.

I’ll admit that when I first started reading blogs, I steered away from blogs from other countries because I found a lot of the terminology they used to be confusing. Then, I made an exception once for an Australian maths teacher who I ended up marrying. Since then, I follow ALL THE BLOGS.

I’m happy that I am able to use my blog as a place to elevate the voices of other math(s) teachers around the world. This is one reason I love compiling my Monday Must Reads posts each week. I’m looking forward to 2018 as a year to share both what I’m doing in my classroom and what others are doing in their classrooms that I find to be inspiring.

December 31, 2017 – Puzzle Table: Weeks 7-9

This puzzle table recap is only half the size of my previous recap post in mid-November. This is the result of having an entire week off before Thanksgiving and a two day week before Christmas that was taken up by boring semester tests. I could save these three puzzles for a few weeks to make for a longer post, but I like the idea of having them separated by semesters. Since I didn’t start my puzzle table at the very beginning of the school year, we only made it through nine puzzles during the first semester.

Not sure what I mean by a puzzle table? Inspired by Sara VanDerWerf‘s idea of a play table,
I put out a new puzzle for my students to play with during spare class time each Monday. The puzzle stays out for the entire week to spark student interest and curiosity. Some of the puzzles I use have been purchased. Others are puzzles I downloaded and laminated for durability. Most recently, I have been finding puzzle inspiration from the Puzzle Box books (Volumes 1-3) which are published by Dover Publications. Two of the puzzles in this recap come from this series of books.

Each volume has 300 puzzles. What I love most about this series of books is that there is such a great variety in puzzle types. You aren’t stuck with just sudoku puzzles, kenken puzzles, or traditional logic puzzles where you have to figure out which person matches with which food and drives which car which is which color. Sure, you will find some Japanese style logic puzzles and traditional logic puzzles inside, but the books are chock full of interesting puzzles of all different types.

I highly recommend using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon to get an idea of the awesome variety of puzzles. So many of these logic puzzles can be adapted for classroom use, so these books are perfect for math teachers.

Recently, I’ve been asked where my puzzle table is in relation to the rest of my classroom. See that small table right in front of the SMARTboard? This is where my puzzle table currently lives. I chose this table because it is rarely used by my students. Mainly it is there to serve as a demonstration table for my chemistry class. I do have one student who sits there because of eye sight issues. And, I have eight students in my math concepts class and eight tables, so you can do the math there. I’m not sure if this is the best placement, but it works for me for now.

When I start a puzzle table from the beginning of the year in the future, I will probably plan it into my classroom design a little more thoughtfully.

Puzzle Table

Puzzle Table Week 7

Color Square Puzzle from Puzzle Box, Volume 1

Puzzle Table Color Square Puzzle

This puzzle represents my new puzzle table obsession: shape fitting puzzles. When I flip through the Puzzle Box books, these are the puzzles my eyes are drawn to. These are the puzzles that I know my students will be sucked in by. Need proof that I’m obsessed by this type of puzzle? I recently created my own Christmas-themed shape fitting puzzle. I sadly didn’t get to use it with my students because I made it during Christmas Break.

The goal of this puzzle was to take eight pieces in three different colors and arrange them (without overlapping) so that the square on the puzzleboard was formed. Each piece could only touch pieces of different colors. Pieces of the same color weren’t even allowed to touch at a corner!

Puzzle Table Week 8

Pyramid Challenge from Puzzle Box, Volume 3

Puzzle Table Pyramid Challenge

This puzzle wasn’t so much a test of trying to get puzzle pieces to fit a shape but to try and get students to lay their puzzle pieces in such a way as to follow the prescribed logic. No two puzzle pieces of the same color could touch at an edge (touching at corners is okay). Also, no two puzzle pieces with the same picture are allowed to touch along an edge (again, touching at corners is fine). 

Puzzle Table Pyramid Challenge

This puzzle really tested my students’ instruction reading ability. Check out this student’s attempt at a solution. He has two exclamation points touch one another. This student had read the part of the instructions about colors not touching but had stopped short of the part about pieces with the same shape touching.

Puzzle Table Week 9

The H Puzzle and the T Puzzle from

Puzzle Table

This was my first attempt at placing two different puzzles on the puzzle table. Sadly, these puzzles didn’t end up getting much play because I decided to fit way more into the last full week of the semester than was probably wise. But, there was no way that we weren’t going to finish our current chapters before our semester test and Christmas Break!

The T Puzzle got quite a bit more play than the H Puzzle. I’m curious if this had to do with the differences in numbers of pieces. Nobody ended up solving the T puzzle, however. Each student who tried commented that it was just impossible. My husband even gave it a shot one evening while waiting for me to pack up my stuff and declared it to be impossible.

I’m looking forward to trying out even more different types of puzzles with my students during the upcoming semester! I’ll be sure to keep you all updated with how it goes. Now, I’m off to plan my first six weeks of puzzles for the new semester. Isn’t that how everyone spends New Years Eve?!?

January 19, 2018 – Exploragons

Part of my math teacher identity is defined by the fact that in six years of teaching I have never taught Geometry. Algebra is my comfort-zone. I’ve branched out over the years to teach other things than Algebra such as Statistics, Physical Science, and Chemistry, but I’ve never thought of myself as capable of teaching Geometry. My husband, however, does teach Geometry. And, this year, he teaches right across the hall from me. I was thankful for this earlier this week because my Algebra 1 class got embroiled in a big debate over rhombuses vs. parallelograms. One student insisted we didn’t need the word parallelogram because every parallelogram was a rhombus.

In the middle of the debate, I left the room. My students thought I was mad about their debate. I wasn’t. In fact, I was quite excited. I barged into my husband’s room and announced that I was needed to borrow his tub of exploragons. It was an emergency! We used various sized pieces to make a parallelogram that was a rhombus and one that wasn’t a rhombus. It was awesome.

I’m realizing more and more that algebra and geometry are intertwined. I need to embrace geometry and incorporate it in my teaching whether I am formally a geometry teacher or not. This is something I want to think on how to do better this summer.

January 19, 2018 – 100 Chart

I took the plunge and purchased a 100 number chart for my classroom. I’ve only ever seen these used in elementary classrooms before. As a high school teacher, this purchase might seem a bit weird, but I’m looking forward to challenging that view. My math concepts class is a class of 9th graders who aren’t ready for Algebra 1. We’ve already used it once when looking at finding multiples of three. I also look forward to using it to play a LOW-TECH version of Julie Morgan’s 1-100 Grid Review Game. If you’ve used a hundred chart with secondary students, I’d love to hear more ideas in the comments!

I was super impressed that it came with different sets of color-coded cards based on which numbers the cards were multiples of.

January 19, 2018 – New Projector

For the first time since September, I have a properly working projector in my classroom. My old projector would overheat and turn itself off every 3-5 minutes. This was not convenient for getting through material in a timely manner during class. My new, fancy LED projector is so much brighter than my old projector. We can actually have class with all of the lights on! And, it doesn’t randomly turn off, so we can actually get stuff done. Yay! My chemistry class was the first to use our new projector, and I was excited to be able to share what plum pudding looks like while talking about Thomson’s Plum Pudding Model.

January 19, 2018 – Slope Art Project

One of my students chose to draw a math symbol as part of her slope art project. This made me so happy. What didn’t make me happy was grading these slope art projects because many of my students did not follow all of the directions. 🙁

January 20, 2018 – Games

My husband and I played a delightful mental math game over break called Skiwampus.  We were both immediate fans of this game. The instructions made the game seem a lot more complicated than it turned out to be. I especially love the versatility of this game. It can be played with anywhere from 2 to 6 players. Each player gets 12 tiles. 3 challenge discs are turned over for each player. So, when my husband and I played, there were 6 challenge discs to be won. When someone says go, each player flips over their types and tries to arrange the numbers in such a way to fulfill one of the challenge discs. These discs say things such as “sum 17” or “two colors” or “all even.” When you fulfill a challenge, grab that disc and lay it over the group of numbers that match the challenge. The game is super fast paced, and it’s easy to get stuck trying to do one challenge that ends up being claimed by another player. We loved the fast pace of the rounds because it made the game go quickly without dragging on. I look forward to playing this game with my students and writing a more complete review with what they think. Special thanks to my sister for getting this game for me for Christmas (and most of the other games in this post)!

Another game we’ve been playing has been Otrio.

This is a tic-tac-toe game with a twist. You can win three ways. Nest three of the same colored circles in one of the circular areas of the game board. Or, get three pieces in a row of the same size and color. Finally, get three pieces of all different sizes and the same color in a row. My husband and I found the two-player directions to be a bit confusing because each player has to play with two different colors. We think it would make a more interesting (and less confusing) game with 3 or 4 players. I’ve been told on twitter that this game is best with three players. I’ve found this game much more interesting (and challenging) than the typical tic-tac-toe based game. I definitely recommend it!

Another game we got for Christmas was Wonky. I’ve decided that this game is what you get if you combine jenga, uno, and a desire to sabotage your opponents.

You have to figure out how to play the cards in your hand to build the tallest tower possible. If you knock the tower over, you have to draw more cards to add to your hand. The goal is to be the first person to empty their hand of cards. This could be easy or hard depending on how devious your opponents are. Each of the game cubes has flat sides and wonky sides. So, they can make the challenge very easy or very difficult. My husband and I played a game with just the two of us and a game with my entire family. We found it to be a much more fast-paced and interesting game with the larger group.

When my husband and I got back from Australia this summer, we came back to find that my mom had picked us up a math game at the thrift store. Number Rings claims to be “a number game that makes math fun.” We didn’t have a chance to give this game a try until Christmas Break. It turned out to really be a fun one!

The goal of the game is to roll three dice and cover as many of the 18 numbers in your sector of the game board as possible. If you roll a 3, 5, and 2, you could cover 3, 5, and 2. Or, you could do 3 x 5 + 2 and cover 17. If you can’t cover a number in your own sector, you can block a number in another player’s sector. This turned out to be a great mental math and strategy game. You can still find copies of this game available under the names Number Rings and Sector 18.

After the NPR story aired about me a few years ago, I received a bunch of gifts in the mail. One gift I received was a Puttle set. The only problem was that I didn’t have a putter to use with it. Our golf course in town recently closed, and somehow all of the golf clubs ended up in the office of our high school. Don’t ask because it’s a really long, confusing story. Our secretary was getting VERY tired of having golf clubs everywhere, so I asked if I could take one off her hands. She had to have our former golf coach pick out a putter for me because neither of us knew which one was a putter! 

My husband and I gave the game a shot the other day after school, and we realized that neither one of us excels at putting. Now, I’m working on trying to turn this putting game into a review game. I’ll keep you all posted once I figure it out! 

February 1, 2018 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 52

Join me today for Volume 52 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. 

things teenagers say

Basketball season is my favorite because I get my abs back.

I thought it was someone who loved me, but it was just my phone company saying “Hi.”

Me: We are about to watch my most favorite video ever.
Student: Is it a video of a chicken wearing sweatpants?
Me: That would be a no.

Whoever made this was the da Vinci of our generation.

It feels like there is a stomach monster curling up inside of me.

If you’re a slacker, then I’m a snail.

Student 1: The water in the bathroom tastes like tomatoes.
Student 2: Thank you for saying that. I told that to someone, and they thought I was stupid.

You left toast in my bed!

Does anyone else really want mesquite barbeque chips right now, or is it just me?

Mr. Carter is a line master. His lines are always perfectly straight!

Student 1: I like your twitter profile pic, Mrs. Carter!
Me: Thanks! I like it, too.
Student 2: It’s a cute picture of you. I think I’m going to make that my phone background.

Me: Are you guys glad to have a catch-up day?
Student: I prefer mustard.

Me: Does anyone have an answer?
Student: I have an eyebrow ache.

Student 1: You better act right today or we will have homework.
Student 2: I will. I’m not POed today. Do you know what POed means? Pancake Offspring.

After explaining that we need to get y by itself…
Student: Why does y always have to be single?

Student: Why are your feet more tan than the rest of your body?
Me: It’s called pantyhose. Let’s get back to Algebra.
Rest of Class: I noticed that, too!

(While discussing the job of cleaning windows of skyscrapers)
A bird
could hit you in the side, and you’d need a kidney replacement.

Student: So, how’d you end up in Drumright?
Me: They gave me a job.
Student: If I was a school, I would give you a job.

Mrs. Carter, you actually look cute today!

What did you get for Christmas? Obviously not a hairbrush.

Which mathematician figured out that if you divide by zero that the world explodes? Was it Jeff the Mathematician?

Me: What does the word linear make you think of?
Student: A linear eclipse!

Student 1: Are your yellow posters made out of 2 different colors of paper?
Me: Yes. I didn’t realize it until I laminated them.
Student 2: Don’t point out Mrs. Carter’s mistakes.
Student 3: I think we should point out her mistakes because she doesn’t make them often.

SBG Score Explanation Posters

You are a good listener. You would make a great psychiatrist.

Student 1: Your 2 in 320 looks weird.
Student 2: It’s super curvy.
Student 3: Like Mrs. Carter!

math writing on dry erase board

Student 1: What is a parallelogram?
Student 2: It’s like a pentagon but with one more side.

Mrs. Carter, is that cheese you are eating? That’s illegal.

Mrs. Carter, I started following you on twitter. You posted a picture of the back of my head and it wasn’t brushed.

Science describes math as a tool, but math is an ar

February 10, 2018 – Graffiti

This week I happened on what is likely the most mathematical graffiti I will ever find in my classroom.

February 10, 2018 – Happy Mail

I got some happy mail this week from Pam Cruz. First, isn’t this card adorably cute? Yes, yes it is.

I tweeted recently about wanting a copy of the Silhouettes puzzle for my classroom’s puzzle table. Pam printed off six sets of the puzzle and sent them my way. I can’t wait to try out this puzzle with my students! 

February 10, 2018 – New Poster

I made a couple of posters for the history teacher across the hall. He gave me this quote to turn into a poster.

I’m pretty proud of my finished product.

February 10, 2018 – New Fraction Resources

We started fractions in Math Concepts. This has given me reason to add all kinds of fraction-related decorations/manipulatives to my classroom. I wrote a grant through my school’s education foundation this year for fraction manipulatives. With just a week of use, I’ve decided that they are definitely a great investment! 

The fraction magnets are probably my favorite purchase. They’ve even found some use in my Algebra 1 class. A student was confused this week why we changed the 2/4 in our problem to 1/2. I pulled out 2 of the 1/4 magnets and 1 of the 1/2 magnets. It was awesome to see the student’s reaction when they saw that they were indeed equivalent.

I love that my new Equivalency Center has tiles for fractions, decimals, and percents. The pockets at the bottom hold the pieces that we’re not currently using. 

The individual student sets of fraction tiles are probably getting the most use, though. I love that students can grab a set off the back counter and take them to their seat whenever they need them. The plastic tray keeps the pieces organized which helps maintain my sanity! I also love that most of the time, students can use the fraction tiles while they are still in the tray without even having to take them out! 

February 10, 2018 – Electron Configuration POGIL Activity

We *finally* started electron configuration in chemistry. I used a POGIL activity that relates electron configurations to boarding houses, and it’s one of the most brilliant activities I have ever used in my classroom. I literally had to do nothing more than print off the activity and hand it to my students. Then, I sat in my desk and pretended to get some work done. Okay, I got a bit of work done. But, mostly I just sat and eavesdropped on the incredible conversations my students were having as they made sense of electron configuration by themselves. Now, I want to drop everything this summer and try my hand at writing similarly structured activities for Algebra 1.

February 16, 2018 – New Puzzle Book

I bought a new puzzle book. Yes, I know I’m addicted to puzzle books. No, I don’t think that’s really a problem. My newest purchase was The Big, Big, Big Book of Brainteasers by The Grabarchuk Family. This is the same family that edited and contributed puzzles to the Puzzle Box Volumes 1-3 that I rave about all the time on this blog. If you need even further proof of this family’s awesomeness, check out their new Strimko Puzzle Books!

This puzzle book is turning out to be just as awesome as the others. There are 567 puzzles in the book, and I only paid $5.83 on Amazon for a used copy with free shipping. That’s just over 1 cent per puzzle which I think counts as a super-awesome bargain. If you are a geometry teacher, you should definitely check out this book because there are probably at least 100 puzzles that tie directly to various geometry standards.

My husband and I had lunch duty together all week. On Thursday, I brought my new puzzle book with me and we enjoyed a fun half-hour of puzzling and discussing which puzzles we could use with our students. Shaun tried his hand at a geometric puzzle that involved making a net of a cube which he plans to use in his unit on 3D shapes.

February 16, 2018 – Valentine’s Day

Shaun and I spent Valentine’s evening at church. We teach a class of 4th graders at church on Wednesday nights. Since it was Valentine’s Day we were supposed to create some sort of Valentine’s Day Craft. I’m a last minute planner and didn’t have time to grab any special supplies, so we took some yarn, colored paper, and tape to make heart mobiles. My sweet husband made this one for me.

I learned that seven fourth graders can make quite a mess while doing arts and crafts.

I also learned that cutting out hearts is a skill that my 4th graders have not exactly mastered yet. Our Wonky Game made the perfect introductory activity to our lesson over the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand.

February 16, 2018 – Games

Some of my classes had some unexpected downtime this week since they managed to get themselves ahead of my other classes. I pulled out part of my game stash to keep them busy.

We enjoyed some games of Absolute Zero. The creator of this game reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I would like a free copy in exchange for a review on my blog. I added it to the games table this week to see what students though. A full review is in the works, soon, though! This card game gives students practice adding positive and negative integers with the goal of landing a hand that equals zero. One of my students said “Tell the creator that it’s an okay game for a math game.” It must have been more than just okay because the same student insisted on playing the same game a second time this week!

We also played some Izzi. I like to think of Izzi as Panda Squares on Steroids.

Otrio was probably the biggest hit of all the games I put out this week. If Izzi is Panda Squares on steroids, Otrio is Tic-Tac-Toe on steroids.

This week’s Silhouettes Puzzle from the puzzle table also got some attention during free time.

The last game that captivated my students was Tantrix. I taught students to play the solitaire version of the game where you flip over the first three tiles and make a loop. Then, you flip over the fourth tile and make a new loop. It gets harder and harder as you go. I loved watching students go from thinking “This is impossible!” to “Oooh…wait…I got it!”

February 22, 2018 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 53

Join me today for Volume 53 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. Well, we finally got a snow/ice day here in Oklahoma! To celebrate this unexpected day off, I’m sharing a new volume of Things Teenagers Say.

things teenagers say

You don’t drink pop?!? You’re not American!

On Tie Dye Day for Spirit Week…
Someone should have worn a tie that said DYE on it!

Do you think when you’re pregnant, it’s heavy?

Valentine’s Day is for people who are dating.

What if someone named their children Mr. and Mrs?

It smells like an herb in here.

Student 1: Can I have a bite?
Student 2: Well, your ex-boyfriend already took a bite, so why not?
Student 1: Which one?

I don’t know how to hula hoop, guys.

I’ve always felt kinda put-off by the rabbit.

Student: I forgot to get this signed.
Me: That’s okay. Get it signed this weekend and bring it back on Monday.
Student: Unless I can forge his signature.
Me: Please don’t.
Student: Oh, I can’t forge his signature. He writes like those old George Washington type people with the fancy handwriting.

It’s okay. We all have shirts that are too big for us. Big shirts are comfy shirts.

My brother tried to do a British accent, and it sounded like an Australian duck dying.

When I have twins, I’m going to name them “Greater Than” and “Less Than.” The one that weighs the most will be “Greater Than,” and the one that weighs the least will be “Less Than.”

You’ve got to help me, help you, kill her.

After answering a call in class that turned out to be a robocall…
Next time someone calls you randomly, just ask “Do you have the drugs?” They’ll hang up right away.

While playing Absolute Zero… 
Student 1: You’re such a cheater!
Student 2: No, I’m just sneaky.

Why do your glue sticks look like they came from a hospital?

There’s a potato chip in my notebook!

Mrs. Carter, you look like you went to a funeral today.

Mrs. Carter is not in a bad mood, she’s just being sassy.

Student: What does M T B O S stand for?
Me: Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere
Student: Good job! (Said while reading my twitter feed…)

Student 1: What’s the vertex? I’m aching in anticipation to find out the vertex!
Student 2: Vertex? I thought it was pronounced vortex!

Can we host a memorial for Slope Dude?

It’s not stealing. It’s borrowing forever without asking. I have excuses for every situation.

When I have twins, I’m going to name them “Greater Than” and “Less Than.” The one that weighs the most will be “Greater Than,” and the one that weighs the least will be “Less Than.”

If I had a British accent, I would never shut up.

OKC Thunder Teacher of the Game Award

Student: How’d you get this? (my OKC Thunder Teacher of the Game Plaque)
Me: I went to the game.
Student: Did you get free tickets?
Me: Yes.
Student: Did you get to touch Russell Westbrook’s butt?
Me: No.

Student: So, what are you and Mr. Carter going to do for your anniversary?
Me: Stay at school late for parent teacher conferences.
Student: Afterwards, they are going to go home and eat carrots.

You’re a bad word, so shut up!

So the box that says “test space” isn’t for testing your marker? Because that’s what I used it for.

Everyone loses their train of thought when they see me!

You have a lot of math posters on the wall!

What do teachers do when they are not at school?

Student 1: He really wants to see a mushroom cloud.
Student 2: All you have to do is burn a mushroom. Then, you’ll see a cloud.

My graph is sophisticated and color-coded.

I’m going to start a twitter account called math equals hate and tweet about Mrs. Carter.

Can I borrow a tippy tappy thing?

Your husband is such a doll.

February 23, 2018 – Electron Dot Diagrams

We pulled out my sticker collection recently in the name of learning how to create electron dot diagrams. I’m currently on a sticker buying ban for good reason…

My kids complain about how easy it is for me to draw dots on the SMARTBoard and how time consuming it is to draw their own dots. When you pull out stickers, the complaining goes away!

February 23, 2018 – Rush Hour

Have a few extra odd minutes at the end of class? We played the online version of Think Fun’s Rush Hour Game. Sadly, the website doesn’t appear to exist anymore.

March 1, 2018 – Puzzle Table: Weeks 10 – 17

Now that it’s March (how in the world did that happen?!?), it’s time again for another puzzle table round-up post.

Not sure what I mean by a puzzle table? Inspired by Sara VanDerWerf‘s idea of a play table, I put out a new puzzle for my students to play with during spare class time each Monday. The puzzle stays out for the entire week to spark student interest and curiosity. Some of the puzzles I use have been purchased. Others are puzzles I downloaded and laminated for durability. Most recently, I have been finding puzzle inspiration from the Puzzle Box books (Volumes 1-3) which are published by Dover Publications. To prove how much I LOVE these books, seven of the eight puzzles from the last eight weeks are from this series.

For each puzzle, follow the link to get more information and access a free downloadable file!

Week 10: Ducks and Snakes – This is a tricky puzzle. None of my students were able to solve this puzzle during the week it resided on the puzzle table. Others have posted on twitter that they had a small handful of students who were able to solve it. The goal in this puzzle is to take three duck shaped pieces and three snake shaped pieces and organize each set of shapes to make congruent shapes.

Week 11: North East South West – My students found this letter-placing puzzle much easier to solve than last week’s Ducks and Snakes puzzle. The goal of this puzzle is to place the letters so that you can trace out each of the cardinal directions by moving one space horizontally, vertically, or diagonally between letters.

Week 12: Cover the Duck – This puzzle was the first in a series of puzzles on the puzzle table that use the exact same set of pieces. Quite a few people have been asking me about what puzzles would be appropriate to use with elementary students. I would recommend this puzzle as well as the camel and heart versions mentioned below for elementary level students. I will warn you that even some of my high school students found it tricky, though!

Week 13: Cover the Camel – As I mentioned above, this puzzle uses the same five pieces as the Cover the Duck puzzle. 

Week 14: The Four Seasons – After two weeks of puzzles that ask students to cover a geometric shape, we took a break and tackled another letter placing puzzle. This Four Seasons Puzzle asks students to arrange the letters so that the name of each of the four seasons can be traced out by moving horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. This puzzle follows the same rules as the North East South West Puzzle mentioned above.

Week 15: Silhouettes – A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet that featured this puzzle at a science museum. I retweeted it, asking if anyone knew where I could find a copy of the puzzle. My husband did some serious google-searching and found the puzzle online at Pam Cruz offered to print a set and mail them to me. This puzzle involves placing octagons on top of one another so that two different silhouettes of a bunny appear. My students loved playing with these octagons and seeing what shapes they could create!

Week 16: Cover the Heart – The week after Valentine’s Day, we tackled this heart-shaped puzzle where the goal was to cover the heart using the five provided pieces. Remember, this puzzle uses the same pieces as Cover the Duck and Cover the Camel.

Week 17: Double Letters – This letter based puzzle that occurs throughout all three volumes of Puzzle Box caught my eye. You are given nine cards that each feature a double letter. You must find a way to lay out the cards (with overlapping allowed as long as no pair of letters is completely hidden) so that a 10-letter word is formed. My students have been working on this puzzle all week without being able to figure out. They keep insisting that it must be an obscure math or science word despite my reminding them daily that it is an everyday word.

 Hope this post helps you increase the puzzling fun in your classroom!

Don’t forget to check out the puzzles tab on my blog that features links to every single puzzle that I’ve ever blogged about.

March 2, 2018 – Acrobats, Grandmas, and Ivan

My Algebra 1 students debated the outcome of the tug of war contest involving Acrobats, Grandmas, and Ivan. I highly recommend this task from Marilyn Burns. I found a lovely PDF of the activity here to print and use with my students. It was very interesting to see the different approaches my students took to solve this problem. I’m planning on writing up a post to share their different solution methods.

March 2, 2018 – Panda Squares

My husband and I teach a class of 4th graders at church on Wednesday nights. This semester, we are learning about a different parable each week. This week’s lesson was on the parable of the persistent widow. We have a super tiny classroom, so we can’t do many of the activities suggested in the teacher’s guide. I started brainstorming activities or games that we could do to practice persistence. Then, it hit me – PANDA SQUARES!

I passed out a set of panda squares to each 4th grader and gave them no instructions. I just stood back and watched them for a while. Most caught on to the idea of matching black with black and white with white with absolutely no prompting from me. After a bit of free play, I issued the actual panda squares challenge: assemble the pieces into a 4 x 4 square so that the colors match along each edge. 

March 2, 2018 – Graffiti

I found a bit of interesting graffiti on my dry erase board… 

March 2, 2018 – Modeling Hydrocarbons

We pulled out the hydrocarbon modeling kits in chemistry this week, and my students were big fans of being able to create they physical model before drawing the Lewis structure. I definitely saw some lightbulbs go off. 

March 2, 2018 – A Filing Cabinet Lesson

I learned a very important lesson. If your filing cabinet drawer won’t shut, don’t force it shut. If you do, it will not open. And, your classroom will end up looking like the photo below as you dismantle your entire file cabinet to unstick the drawer that you forced shut. I have to say a special thank you to my 2nd period class for helping me with this non-routine filing cabinet maintenance! 

March 9, 2018 – Strike?

There is a possibility that Oklahoma teachers will go on strike April 2nd. Let’s just say that Oklahoma teachers are tired of being ranked 50th when it comes to teacher pay. We’re tired of the state legislature cutting education funding year after year. We’re tired of constantly feeling disrespected and taken advantage of. We’re tired of being told that we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to become Oklahoma teachers.  

My district’s school board has voted that our entire district will shut down so that teachers can (and must) strike if the education union’s demands are not met by April 1st which is the deadline for the Oklahoma legislature to pass a budget. It’s a crazy time to be a teacher. I’m hoping that our legislature steps up so that a strike is not necessary. The place I want to be more than anywhere else is in my classroom teaching my kids.

March 9, 2018 – Game of Nim

On Wednesday night, our lesson at church with our fourth grade class was about being prepared for when Christ returns. While thinking about what game we could play as an illustration of being prepared, Shaun thought about the game of Nim. Having played the game before (I learned the game from my 6th grade math teacher), we were much more prepared than our students who had never heard of the game before. They had lots of fun competing against each other. Then, I challenged students to play me. They were shocked that I was able to beat them EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Of course, I had to confess and tell them that I had “prepared” before class so that I could beat them. Can you tell that my husband and I enjoy fitting math-y activities into bible lessons?

March 9, 2018 – Math Teachers’ Circle

Last night at the Tulsa Math Teachers’ Circle, we got to explore the world of perfect card shuffling. This was a fun and rather shocking activity. Our job was to answer the question of how many perfect shuffles are required to return a deck of cards to its original ordering. Let’s just say I did not expect the answer we found!

Another fun thing that happened at Math Teachers’ Circle was getting to see the giant pentominoes! A local boy scout made a set of giant plastic pentominoes for the math department at TU for a service project to earn his Eagle Scout ranking. They are ginormous, and I’m already scheming a way to create something similar for my own classroom!

March 11, 2018 – No Tissue Is No Longer An Issue!

I don’t blog about it very often, but I have been the student council advisor at my high school for the past six years. This year, with the terrible cold and flu season and the already-started allergy season, my student council students decided to hold a bake sale to purchase boxes of Kleenex for every single classroom.

This resulted in me dragging my husband to Walmart last week on a mission of buying Kleenex and only Kleenex. 51 boxes of Kleenex. In our combined middle school/high school, we have 17 different classrooms, so this worked out to 3 boxes/classroom.

I thought this would be a relatively simple shopping trip. I had planned on filling our cart with the Kleenex multi-packs that feature 3 or 4 boxes bundled together. There were a grand total of 3 multi-packs on the shelf. This meant that we had to fill the rest of our cart with individual boxes. As we were filling up our cart, one of our school board members stopped to say hi when she saw us. Then, she saw our cart. The conversation went a little like this: “How are you guys? Oh, I see you need a lot of toilet paper.” I quickly explained that we were purchasing it for a student council project. Then, she insisted on taking a photo of us so that we could remember this shopping trip forever.

Before we got away from the Kleenex aisle, we started getting questions from another shopper. This lady had assumed that we were store employees who were taking the Kleenex off the shelf because Walmart was no longer going to be selling it.

Luckily, the cashier didn’t blink an eye when we she saw our purchase. We made a comment about getting weird looks, and she said that we actually weren’t here weirdest purchase of the day. Earlier, a lady came through her checkout line with an entire cart full of children’s underwear. It turned out that the underwear was on clearance for $1/package, and she was going to send it to Haiti.

One of my student council kids came up with the slogan “No Tissue Is No Longer An Issue!”

I typed up the slogan with a little message at the top that says that DHS Student Council is behind the project, and I printed them 2 to a page. After grabbing some colorful paper and spending a short amount of time at the paper chopper, we assembled the tissue boxes in stacks of three and taped a sign to each one.

Here’s a shot of almost all of the tissues waiting to be delivered.

Shout out to my student council kids for coming up with a creative way to serve our school!

March 16, 2018 – Blood Drive

I think our blood drive was a success! My student council kids did a great job of trying to make sure everyone’s blood donation was a great experience. They recruited extra donors on the day of the drive, and I’m incredibly proud of them. Even though I was technically the blood drive coordinator, they did almost all of the work. I was a big fan of the blood drive sign up poster they made!

March 16, 2018 – Parent Teacher Conferences

My principal bought everyone tacos for dinner for the first night of parent/teacher conferences. Since I’m vegetarian, they special ordered me a quesadilla. Having a yummy dinner made it much easier to stay positive while spending 3 hours after school for conferences. I love meeting with students and parents, but it makes for SUCH a long day!

March 16, 2018 Reusing Activities

We’re working on polynomials in Algebra 1. I made several question stack activities for this topic last year, so it’s been nice to just go over to my filing cabinet and pull out the day’s activity without having to do any prep! Check out my adding/subtracting polynomials in function notation question stack.

March 16, 2018 – Speed Drawn Pigs

We had a student council meeting this week, and my dry erase board ended up being taken over by speed drawn pigs. Who knew that you could turn a capital E, two W’s, one M, and one cursive l into a pig?!?

March 20, 2018 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 54

Join me today for Volume 54 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. It’s a much-needed Spring Break here, so I thought I would celebrate this week off from school by posting a new volume of Things Teenagers Say.

things teenagers say

Student 1: What’s a mapping diagram?
Student 2: It’s one of Mrs. Carter’s favorite things.

Student 1: I know how to say 500 in roman numerals.
Student 2: How?
Student 1: D.
Me: How would you write 600?
Student 1: DC.
Student 2: Shouldn’t it just be E?

Student 1: Did you hear that Toys R Us is closing?
Student 2: That’s better news than Stephen Hawking dying.

Student 1: Wasn’t Stephen Hawking like 30?
Student 2: He was 76.
Student 1: No way. He didn’t look that old dat all.

You don’t know what middle age is until you die.

Student 1: What’s that disease where you throw up whatever you eat?
Student 2: Bulimic.
Student 1: Yeah. Bulimic. What if you had a vampire who had bulimic? Then, if it threw up blood, it wouldn’t know if that was just what it ate or if it had cancer or something.

I don’t like you Mrs. Carter. You’re always making us do things we don’t want to do!

Do you know what’s not a real place? Wyoming.

Student: You should supply hairbrushes in your classroom.
Me: Uh no. That’s the way to spread lice around the school.
Student: Just don’t let the buggy people use them.

I think it should be the disturbing property instead of the distributive property.

It’s actually easy when you try.

Too bad John Wayne didn’t live long enough to be president. He had such good morals.

Are you ever too old to play hide and go seek?

Me: I’m sorry. I failed mind reading class in teacher college.
Class: They really have that class?!?
Me: *speechless*

My brain can’t function. I’m not sure I should be doing this [a quiz] right now.

If you went to a crying olympics, you would lose!

Student 1: That’s a girl.
Student 2: It has a Nicolas Cage face.

Keith Urban is Australian, so I really hoping Mr. Carter was going to sound like Keith Urban when he sang in the talent show.

For being lazy, mathematicians sure do a lot of work!

Student 1: Wait! Don’t Australians speak their own language?
Student 2: They speak English.
Student 1: Oh, they have accents!

Your notebook ain’t nothing compared to mine!

Mrs. Carter, you haven’t tweeted about me in a few days, and it’s making me sad.

Did you know that you don’t have to know how to tie a shoe in order to untie a shoe?

Don’t you hate when you stick your pencil in an M&M’s wrapper?

Can your grade get so low that it’s a negative number?

I think 40 is the perfect age because you’re not TOO old, but you’re old enough to make wise sayings all the time.

Mrs. Carter, did you know you’re crazy sometimes?

Student 1: What are you going to college for?
Student 2: To be a veterinariast.

April 8, 2018 – Oklahoma Teacher Strike

Things may have been quiet on the blogging front, but life itself has been the opposite of quiet lately. If you’ve been watching the news, you have probably heard mention of the Oklahoma Teacher Strike/Walk-Out. As an Oklahoma teacher, this has been consuming my life lately. At the beginning of the school year, we talk a lot about feeling “teacher tired.” Well, this week, I learned that “teacher on strike tired” totally trumps “teacher tired.”

The majority of this past week has been spent at the Oklahoma State Capitol building. My district chose to shut down for the entirety of last week, so we rode school buses to the Capitol each day to protest. The number of people at the Capitol each day was astounding.

The mother of a former student gave each employee of my entire school district a Tupperware water bottle so that we could stay hydrated during the walk-out. We are a small district, but I still can’t imagine how much of her own money she had to spend to purchase all of these bottles.

April 8, 2018 – Hot Cross Buns

Before marrying an Australian, hot cross buns were nothing more than the topic of a weird children’s song. Now, I know that they are a delectable Easter treat. Technically, I was supposed to make them in time for Good Friday, but I didn’t get around to baking this year’s batch until Easter evening. I tried a new recipe this year, and they were definitely a hit. In the past, I’ve always relied on the Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I was short on time this year, so I found a recipe that let me use my bread machine to mix up the dough.

April 8, 2018 – Exploring the Math of Spot It

At Math Teachers’ Circle on Thursday, we explored the mathematics behind the game Spot It. We started by playing a few rounds of Spot It Jr Animals. This was my first experience with a Spot It Jr deck, and I have to say that I found thinking of the name of the different animals super hard.

After exploring how the game worked, we set out to create our own deck. Our facilitator gave each group a set of post-its and some sheets of stickers to create our own decks. We created a deck with thirteen cards. Each card had four different symbols for a total of thirteen different symbols. It was really fun to create our own deck!

April 8, 2018 – Classroom Chef

The Classroom Chef recently celebrated its second birthday. As a result, there were lots of giveaways on twitter. I was lucky enough to win a signed copy! I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the book when life calms down. We’re back to school this week, so I’m hoping that means I have more time to think about teaching!

I was super impressed that the mailing envelope was customized!

April 27, 2018 – Undecorating

I had to un-decorate my room for the ACT test, so all of my posters have returned to their summer homes in pouches that are each labeled and stored alphabetically in a file cabinet until I re-decorate my room in August. Each year, I go through my drawer of posters and pull out the ones that best fit the classes I’m teaching that year. Organization makes my heart happy.

April 27, 2018 – A New Student

One of my students was so distraught that her friend was absent one day that she created a replacement for him from a hoodie and balloon. She even went as far as putting his name on their group project!

April 27, 2018 – Cover Me Puzzles

We’ve been enjoying the Cover Me puzzles from MathsPad as warm-ups in my Math Concepts class. If you don’t have a Mathspad subscription, you can still access the Addition, Multiplication, Multiplying Terms, and Exact Trig Values puzzles for free.

April 27, 2018 – Baguettes

I finally got the chance to use my new baguette pan I purchased a few weeks ago at a thrift store! I tried my hand at making French bread for the first time. The bread was super-tasty, but I could definitely work on making the end product prettier!

May 4, 2018 – New Games

A few months ago, my husband and I picked up a Kono and Alquerque game set at a thrift store for $2. I had never heard of the games, but  We finally pulled it out last weekend and played a game of Kono. I definitely see some potential for playing this in the classroom, but I’d definitely make my own set of boards using cardstock and use bingo chips as game pieces. We haven’t tried our hand at Alquerque yet. Maybe this weekend…

I found one of my Izzi cards torn in half and thrown behind a bunch of boxes. This makes me sad. I’ve taped it back together, but it’s never going to be the same. I guess this means I’m on the look-out for a new Izzi set this summer.

I’m super excited about this vintage puzzle called It’s Knot Easy that my husband found at a garage sale for only $1. A used copy is $10 on Amazon , so I’m excited about this bargain.

May 4, 2018 – Summer Reading

It’s the next-to-last Friday of the school year! Things are winding down as the number of activities and reasons students have to miss class for various field trips, banquets, etc. increases. I did my last notebook check of the year today. And, I’m preparing to print semester tests.

I added two new books to my summer reading pile. I’m looking forward to reading Heart! and Making Sense of Mathematics for Teaching High School. I will try to remember to post a review of the books once I finish them.

May 5, 2018 – Things Teenagers Say Volume 55

Join me today for Volume 55 of Things Teenagers Say. This is my regular round-up of the crazy and memorable things I hear my students say in class. It’s time to wrap up Things Teenagers Say for the year. It’s been a crazy year with lots of crazy things coming out of the mouths of my students. Hope you find at least one that makes you laugh!

Things Teenagers Say

He doesn’t rap. He rhymes fast.

Student: Mrs. Carter!!!
Me: What?
Student: Do you believe in outer space?
Me: Yes…

I have the reflexes of a cat. That’s what my doctor told me.

Student 1: Nobody goes out to the hot Sahara Desert wearing flip flops.
Student 2: Moses did!
Student 1: Moses is dead, and global warming wasn’t a thing back then.

Student: Can I ask you an adult question.
Me: (worried) Sure.
Student: How many stamps do I need to send a manila envelope in the mail?
Me: (relieved) Let’s get out a scale and find out.

If teachers got grades from students, I would give you a 96%.

Student 1: So, who DO you like?
Student 2: I don’t like anyone. Leave me alone.
Student 1: So you’re going to die alone?
Student 2: Yes, I’m going to die alone with my dog.

Student: Is Mr. Carter sick?
Me: No.
Student: Is Mr. Carter dying?
Me: No.
Student: Is Mr. Carter pregnant?
Me: No.

If riding a bike is part of your personality, then you’re a really boring person.

Me: What do you think surds stands for?
Student: Super Ultra Real Dudes Seriously

Mrs. Carter, you’re like the teacher that never goes away. You are always here.

You’re just a silly goose then, I guess.

If a kid came up to me and said ‘You look icky’ I would probably die from hurt feelings.

You should get a professor’s degree so everyone has to call you professor.

I got a 4 (SBG Grading Scale) and I rock! My sticker says so!

Student 1: I think I’m getting a migraine.
Student 2: Then go take a bath. That’s what helps migraines.
Student 1: No. Pills help migraines.

Does anybody have any baby lotion?

I’m sorry my parents gave me an almost common name.

I’d rather try and be wrong then not try and be right.

I use my context clues. I know my latin roots!

May 6, 2018 – Australian Adventures in the Grampians

As the school year winds to a close, I’ve been looking at my drafts folder to see which blog posts are worth finishing. In the process, I ran across some of the pictures I took this past summer in Australia. I started sharing these pictures in a series I called “Australian Adventures.” But, I never made it very far. So far, I’ve shared only photos from a Wildlife Sanctuary (complete with cute pictures of kangaroos and wombats!) and our trip to Darwin.

Last summer, Shaun had the opportunity to be the speaker at a week-long youth group camp held in the Grampians. The Grampians are a national park in Victoria, Australia. According to Wikipedia, the Grampians are known for their sandstone mountains, wildflowers, and wildlife including echidnas and wallabies. I love getting to see the wild kangaroos throughout the mountains whenever we visit.

Since Shaun‘s parents run a farm in rural Victoria, most of our time in Australia was spent in the relatively-flat farming region. It was nice to be able to get away for a week to the mountains! Living in Oklahoma means I don’t get to spend much time in the mountains without a very long car drive, so I especially enjoy any time in the mountains. This was my second time visiting the Grampians, and I can see us going back many times in the future when we visit Australia!

I enjoyed our time hiking, but I found that the hikes that the youth group were doing to be a bit too challenging for me. They made it to the top and back down one of the mountains before we even made it half-way up the mountain. I blame this on the fact that I’m out of shape and didn’t grow up hiking in the mountains. I get really nervous in steep/slippery spots, and it really slows me down. To account for this, we spent the rest of our week taking shorter/easier hikes to places with pretty waterfalls.

I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures I took during some of our hikes!

Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Waterfall in the Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Waterfall in the Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Waterfall in the Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)
Grampians (Victoria, Australia)

May 11, 2018 – Games

Thanks to all the events that seem to be scheduled for the last full week of school, attendance has been all over the place. As a result, I decided to pull out some of the games from my filing cabinet that this year’s class has not had a chance to see yet. One of those games was Manifest by Frank Tapson. The math is super simple because it only relies on a knowledge of place value and comparing numbers. But discovering a strategy to win the game can take some trial and error!

Another favorite from last year that got pulled out of the filing cabinet was Cover Up by Frank Tapson. Kids always really like this one because it involves rolling dice! It was a great follow-up to a few games of Blocko that we played earlier in the week! The natural conversations occurring about probability were awesome!

My chemistry students tackled the game of Izzi one day when the majority of the class was missing due to Senior Tea plus some other event that I can’t even remember now. My students remain unconvinced that there could be almost a zillion solutions.

May 11, 2018 – Quadrum

We also played a few rounds of Quadrum. This is a micro game that I discovered via Twitter earlier this year. It was created by a game company in Australia and originally sold through a Kickstarter campaign. I purchased a pdf version of the game to print myself for $2 AUD on Veldi Games’ website. I’ve been meaning to write a full post about this game with a thorough review, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. The game only has 24 cards, so the rounds are relatively quick.

May 22, 2018 – Changes are Coming

I’ve already made the announcement on both Facebook and Twitter, but I realize that many of you may have missed it or may not follow me on those forms of social media. So, I guess it’s time to make the big announcement here.

After six years at Drumright High School, I have turned in my keys and said some tearful
good byes. I will be returning to my hometown of Coweta, Oklahoma to teach Algebra 2, Pre-AP Algebra 2, and Pre-Calc at Coweta High School in the fall. I will miss teaching at the school that made me a teacher, but I’m excited to return to the school I graduated from as a teacher.

After teaching almost entirely ninth graders for the past couple of years, I’m excited about the switch to teaching upper level math courses. Of course, I’m also a bit terrified because the number of resources I have for these classes pale in comparison to the number of resources I have built up for Algebra 1. Yes, this will be the first time ever in my teaching career that I won’t be teaching Algebra 1. I’m a bit sad, but I’m hoping I can learn to love Algebra 2 just as much. If you have any advice/resources for Algebra 2/Pre-Calc, I’d love for you to send it my way!

For those of you not familiar with the geography of northeastern Oklahoma, Drumright and Coweta are about an hour apart. My husband has already announced that he will be attending grad school in the fall at the University of Tulsa to earn his masters in Applied Mathematics. Given that he will be attending school in Tulsa and I will be teaching in Coweta, this means that our big project for this summer is to MOVE! Though I’ve got great plans to blog about everything this summer, that may or may not end up happening with the upcoming move and related craziness. 

May 31, 2018 – A Blank Slate: Photos of My New Classroom

This has been a very busy week. Monday was Memorial Day. I had an all-day textbook training on Tuesday. Wednesday featured a New Hire Meeting at my new school where I got to fill out fun paperwork. Tomorrow (Friday), I am meeting with a team to do some curriculum writing for the state department this summer. This means that a lot of the stuff that I need to get done this week has ended up on today’s to do list.

So, in the interest of procrastinating on said to do list, I figured I would give you a peek at my classroom for next year. I was able to get keys to my classroom on Tuesday, and my brain is already running with ideas of how to decorate it! This will be my third new classroom in three years. So, I’ve gotten quite used to decorating new spaces! In case you missed the announcement, I will be teaching at a new school starting in August. After six years at Drumright, I’m returning to Coweta High School where I graduated from in 2008. It’s super exciting to be coming home. I’ve already had a few back-to-school nightmares about my new/old school, though, and it’s only May!

Here’s the door to my classroom. I’m hoping to be able to hang my Math-y Welcome Sign posters on the door. That won’t decorate the entire door, so I think I might make some math symbol posters to decorate the rest. Hmmm….

And, here’s the view of the other side of that door. I was able to score a rolling table/cart thing that the library had decided to get rid of to sit right by the door. I’m hoping to be able to put hand-outs on that table for kids to pick up when they walk in so I don’t have to hand them out myself. I will have much larger class sizes than I’m used to, so I need to find as many ways to save time and become more efficient as possible.

The first thing my principal said when he showed me my classroom was that I would definitely not be disappointed in the amount of whiteboard space. He was right. Here is the first of three whiteboards.

The second wall of the classroom features two windows, a chalk board coordinate plane, and another whiteboard. After having a dry erase coordinate plane for the past six years, I think I’m going to have a hard time getting used to using chalk. Luckily, I found a box of boxes of chalk that another teacher was getting rid of. So, I don’t think I will run out of chalk for the next century.

The podium in the corner turned out to be broken, so it had to go. But, that’s okay because I have a wooden podium that my mom found at a garage sale that I’ve been using for the past few years. It even has built in storage!

The other window on this wall is by my desk corner.  I actually have two desks, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. I do love the fact that there is a coat rack hanging on the wall because usually I just end up tossing my coat on the back of my chair only to have it fall off fifteen times a day.

The classroom I just left had a giant desk, so this one is going to take some getting used to. I got a bit spoiled the past two years by having lots of hanging file storage in my desk. But, I did manage to snag an extra filing cabinet that someone was getting rid of. It’s not in the photo, but I think I will set it up next to my desk for extra storage. 

I am super excited about this bookshelf, though. I’ve never had a good place to store textbooks/binders by my desk so this is a HUGE plus. 

Here’s the view from my second window. 

This is my computer desk. I was super excited to see that they have already programmed my name into the telephone.

These filing cabinets are going to come in super-handy with organizing all of my laminated activities. In the past, I’ve sorted them alphabetically. But, I’m thinking that with eight different drawers that I will sort them first by subject, then alphabetically. For example, I want to have separate drawers for posters/decorations, games/puzzles, algebra activities, trig activities, science activities, etc. 

I’m sure this rolling cart will be useful for something. I haven’t figured that out yet, though. Maybe supplies for students to access???

I was excited to find a magnetic coordinate plane on top of the filing cabinet. I haven’t put it together yet, but I’m thinking that will end up being super useful.

Up next, my wall of cabinets. I’ve been spoiled by having a wall of cabinets for the past two years, so I was very worried when job hunting that I was going to have to give them up. So glad I don’t have to!

See those piles of textbooks? Thanks to the help of my amazing husband that Algebra 2 books have been carted off to the surplus storage area, and the Pre-Calculus books have been moved to the giant cabinet on the far end. That cabinet also now houses Trig books and Calculus books. SO many books. We are adopting new books for next year, but they are all digital. I don’t know how that’s going to go, so I’m holding on the to Pre-Calc books just in case.

My principal is hoping to bring back Calculus in the next few years, so I didn’t want to get rid of the calculus books in case that does end up happening. I guess it’s my job as the pre-calc teacher to inspire enough students to sign up for calculus in order to make it happen. Of course, I think that means I will then have to learn to teach calculus which could be interesting.

The Algebra 2 books were Common Core aligned, and we are no longer a Common Core state, so I didn’t feel the need to keep those since the digital books we adopted are much-more aligned to the Oklahoma standards.

And, the books on the counter were just the start. Almost every one of those cabinets had even more textbooks in them! I had to clear them out to make room for my own teaching supplies. 

I originally took a photo of this tall cabinet because it was locked, and I couldn’t find the key. My husband ended up being able to get it open for me.

The next wall features a bulletin board, and the third whiteboard. I’m used to having more than just one bulletin board to decorate, but I will still have plenty of wall space to decorate.

There is also a SMARTBoard on this wall. The school is slowly phasing out the SMARTBoards, so I’ve been told that a 65″ TV will be installed over the summer to replace the SMARTBoard, and I will be given a tablet to write on that will project on the TV. I’m not sure if this means they will take the SMARTBoard down and put the TV there or if they will put the TV somewhere else… I guess I will just have to wait and see! 

And, now we’re back to the door, so I guess this concludes the end of my new classroom tour. 

Yesterday, my husband and I spent hours tossing out pile after pile after pile of papers from every drawer imaginable. I was excited to find a nice stash of dry erase markers that will definitely come in handy with dry erase boards on three out of four walls! 

Of course, most of my other finds were much less exciting. Unlabeled floppy disks, anyone? 

I also can’t help but share a photo of the bulletin board directly outside my new classroom. 

You might remember a similar bulletin board that I put up in my classroom in 2014 that went viral on twitter and pinterest. It’s very cool to realize that something I did in my classroom four years ago has had an impact on students in my own hometown.

Okay, one last thing and I promise I will end this post and get up to something that’s actually productive. I learned this week that each department at my new school has a mission statement. How cool is that?!?

If you have any decorating ideas, I’d LOVE to hear them! 

June 30, 2018 – New House

The blog has been very quiet lately for good reason. We bought our first house! This big purchase has led to a mile long to-do list and a whole lot of adulting.

As exciting as it is to be first time home owners, it was still a bit sad to say goodbye to the house I’ve been renting every since I moved to Drumright 6 years ago. For privacy issues, I don’t feel comfortable posting a picture of our new house, but I guess it’s fine to post a picture of our old house since we don’t live there anymore. 🙂

June 30, 2018 – Summer Immersion Workshop

Shaun and I were able to attend the Tulsa Math Teachers’ Circle Summer Immersion Workshop last week. This was my third summer immersion workshop and Shaun’s second summer immersion workshop. It was amazing, as usual! I took lots of photos, so be on the lookout for a post about what I learned soon! 

June 30, 2018 – Organizing Activities

I spent some serious time organizing the laminated activities left behind by the previous teacher in my new classroom. There were lots of tarsia puzzles, card sorts, and dominoes for Algebra 2 and Trig/Pre-Calculus. Yay!

The only problem was that the cards were all mixed together. Some of the sets were held together by bulging paper clips. Others were spilling out of envelopes. Now that they are all nice and sorted and placed in snack bags inside of plastic storage pockets, I can place them with the rest of my activities so I can find them when we get to those topics! 

June 30, 2018 – Hacking Mathematics

My autographed copy of Denis Sheeran’s Hacking Mathematics showed up in the mail! I was super lucky to be given a sneak peek of this book before it was published!

You can check out my review of the book IN THE BOOK. How cool is that?!? 

Even if it’s just a review at the beginning of a book, seeing your name in print never gets old!

June 30, 2018 – Make It Stick

I’ve started a re-read of Make It Stick. When I read this book two years ago, I was really challenged and inspired by it. But, I sadly didn’t end up implementing the things I learned in my classroom. Now that I’m switching schools and taking on two new-ish preps of Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to try and structure my classroom around how students actually learn.

July 3, 2018 – Tulsa Math Teachers’ Circle Summer Immersion Workshop 2018

I recently had the privilege of attending the 2018 Summer Immersion Workshop for the Tulsa Math Teachers’ Circle held at The University of Tulsa. This was my third summer to attend, and it was a blast as always. Here’s a small peek at what we experienced during the week as told through the pictures I took.

The sessions were led by Dr. Harold Reiter from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. Brandy Wiegers from Central Washington University, and Amy Schachle from the University of Tulsa. 

Dr. Reiter kicked things off with an interesting question stemming from the above photo. Are the numbers getting bigger or smaller?

Then, we jumped into a discussion of the area model for multiplication. Having used the “box method” as I normally call it in my classroom for several years now, I was a bit bored during this section. But, I could tell that this idea was new to many of the teachers at the workshop.

We spent quite a bit of time exploring the painted cube problem. This is one of those famous problems that I have often seen included in books and curriculum, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually set down and solved the problem myself.

We ended with a fun twist on cutting the painted cube to figure out how many cuts it would take to end up with 1 x 1 cubes.

Dr. Brandy Wiegers introduced us to some mathematical biology. My group REALLY struggled with this task because we got caught up in too many specifics.

Next, we looked at describing population dynamics mathematically.

I didn’t get any pictures of the Oh Deer! activity because I was up and moving around while pretending to be a deer, but I can say that it was a blast. If you’re interested in learning more about this activity, it was adapted from Project Wild.

We returned to our seats for some noticing/wondering.

If you’re not familiar with this chart, it’s from Math For Love and part of the game Prime Climb which I highly recommend. I was first introduced to Prime Climb through a Math Teachers’ Circle event, and you can read about my experiences/reflections here.

We were introduced to a new-to-me game called “Criss Cross.” You can read more about the game in this PDF.

Dr. Brandy demonstrated how the game worked with a volunteer.

Then, we were instructed to play in pairs and collect data as we went. We had to collect data regarding how many vertices, edges, and faces were in the finished game and whether the first player or second player won.

Our task was to determine if the first player or second player would win in a game with 101 vertices. Don’t read the next image too carefully if you don’t want to see the answer!

Dr. Reiter introduced us to the concept of factor tree puzzles. This puzzle was created by one of the other teachers participating in the workshop. Each letter represents a distinct digit. The terminating branches represent prime numbers. Your task is to determine the digit represented by each variable.

We were encouraged to try our hands at making our own puzzles, and I had a lot of fun doing so. I shared the factor tree puzzles that I created myself in this post.

One thing I love about our summer immersion workshops is that we are forced to move around and work with different people each session. Each table was labeled with the photograph of a mathematician. And, we were assigned a different mathematician almost every session. I have a tendency to work with the same small group because I’m definitely on the shy side. So, it was good to be forced out of my comfort zone and get to work with everyone.

For our next activity, we were given strips of paper that were five inches and seven inches long.

Our first challenge with these strips was to figure out how to measure an item that was exactly one inch long using only the five and seven inch strips.

The challenges progressed, asking us to measure something that was two inches long or three inches long. I was really surprised by the simplest solution to two inches because the method my brain concocted was definitely more complicated than it had to be.

This idea was then extended to the famous problem of using a five gallon and seven gallon bucket to obtain exactly one gallon. I have done this task with my students before, so it was interesting to see it introduced a different way.

On the last day of our three day workshop, we were given the chance to solve a few KenKens. Then, we were challenged to make our own. This turned out to be a lot of fun. I had no problem making one. I did have trouble, however, solving the puzzle that I made because it turned out to be a bit ambiguous. I had to add some extra clues to make it solveable.

We were each given a kenken book of our own to take home. I received The Little Pink Book of KenKen.

Shaun was at the workshop as well, and he got to bring home a copy of The Big, Bad Book of KenKen.

The entire group was mesmerized by this prime number chart shared by Dr. Reiter on the back of his business card. I got so excited by this chart, that I have already typed up a giant version to hang in my new classroom. It needs lots and lots of proofreading before I will feel comfortable sharing my poster-sized version, though.

Not sure how to read this chart? Check out this website for an explanation as well as downloadable cards and bookmark templates.

I was super excited to get to experience an Ozobot for the first time. If you’re not familiar with Ozobot, they are code-following robots. You use colored markers to create paths for the robots to follow. Then, you instruct the robots about what to do using different combinations of colors. I’ve seen them online a lot, but it was exciting to get to try my hand at using one.

Our first task was to calibrate our Ozobot by placing it on the black circle on this page.

After calibration, we set the ozobot down on a line and watched to see what happened. Our task was to figure out what the different color combinations told the ozobot to do.

After figuring out some of the color combinations, we were given paper and markers with instructions to try out our own color combinations to see what happened. My table learned pretty quickly that the color segments have to be short or the ozobot won’t follow them!

After figuring out some more combinations ourselves, we were given a sheet that contained all of the color combinations and what actions they stood for. It was super cool to be able to place the Ozobot on this sheet and watch it perform each action.

Now it was time for our big challenge. With our group, we had to make a large track for the Ozobot to follow that included 5 tricks, 4 turns, and 3 speed changes. Each person in the group had to make one page of the track.

Here was my group’s track. At the point this photo was taken, it was still a work in progress. 🙂

I had a lot of fun playing with the Ozobot, and I definitely see potential for use in the classroom. I’m not sure I could justify the purchase price without having grant money to purchase them, though. I think they would be more suited for a STEM elective class than my math classes, though.

Our final session of the workshop involved another math-y tool that I’ve wanted to play with for years but never got a chance: Zometool.

We ended by taking our Zometool creations outside for some bubble-making adventures. Sadly, it was too windy for it to work. 🙁

I hope you enjoyed this small peek into what a Math Teachers’ Circle is like. You can find out more and find one (hopefully) near you here.

July 13, 2018 – Footy

I went to my second ever footy game. And by footy, I’m referring to Australian Rules Football. Before this, my only ever footy experience was watching my brother-in-law play a game in Australia. But, Shaun discovered that Tulsa has an AFL team known as the Tulsa Buffaloes. Since we’ve moved much closer to Tulsa, it’s much more convenient for us to go and watch them play. We had a lot of fun watching them play. Though, I will admit that I did get a little bored during the second half and started focusing more on my kenken book than the game…

July 13, 2018 – Games of Late

The hubby and I have been playing quite a few board games and card games of late.

After talking about Prime Climb at Math Teachers’ Circle, I realized that Shaun had never played despite the fact that we own a copy of the game! This was quickly remedied by him winning ALL three rounds that we played!

Next, we tried a game that was new to both of us: Mille Bornes. This is a card game that I picked up at a garage sale last weekend for only one dollar. “Mille Bornes” is french for “1000 Miles.” The goal of the game is to lay down cards to represent exactly 1000 miles. You can prevent the other player/team from laying down mileage cards by causing them to have an accident, run out of gas, etc. The rules were a bit complicated to learn, but Shaun and I really enjoyed playing it once we learned how it worked.

Wednesday night, I challenged Shaun to a game of Hedbanz. I picked this up at a thrift store months ago with the intention of possibly using the head bands from the box in my classroom with some math versions of the game that I had intentions of creating. Well, that still hasn’t happened yet. The game box said it was appropriate for ages seven and up, but as two adults we found the game to be super tricky! Maybe we’re just bad question askers/guessers…

July 13, 2018 – New House Organization

Even though the house we bought is much bigger than the house we were previously renting, organization is still proving to be an issue. As a result, I had to turn to Amazon to purchase some organization solutions. In the past week, I have purchased two 18 inch over the door organizers from ClosetMaid to bring both our pantry and our bathroom closet to order. I feel like just adding these two shelving units to the doors has more than doubled the storage space in each of these areas! Maybe after I get some more organizing done, I’ll feel comfortable showing you what my cabinets and closets actually look like inside!

July 13, 2018 – New Glasses

I recently marked an important task off my summer to do list. I got new glasses!

July 13, 2018 – EngageOK Workshop

Tuesday, I had the privilege of spending the day with Shelli at an EngageOK workshop. My favorite part of the workshop was a sorting activity where we looked at student responses to a common formative assessment. Our group had to decide how to sort the responses.

We decided on three piles: ????, Misconception, and Correct.

I also enjoyed watching my group explore Liar’s Bingo. I have experienced this activity twice as part of Math Teachers’ Circle, so I tried my best to keep my mouth shut about how the activity worked. I’m looking forward to using this “magic trick” in my classes somehow. You can download your own set of Liar’s Bingo Cards here.

August 7, 2018 – Puzzle Table: Weeks 18-24

It’s time once again to start a new school year, so that means it’s also time to make sure the previous year has been wrapped up on this blog! One of the things I haven’t wrapped up from the 2017-2018 School Year is my puzzle table recap posts.

Not sure what I mean by a puzzle table? Inspired by Sara VanDerWerf‘s idea of a play table,
I put out a new puzzle for my students to play with during spare class time each Monday. The puzzle stays out for the entire week to spark student interest and curiosity. When I first started out, I mainly used puzzles I had purchased. Later, I started downloading and laminating puzzles I had found online. Soon, I began searching for more and more puzzles from books which I could type up and use in my classroom.

Another great source of puzzles is The Big, Big, Big Book of Brainteasers by The Grabarchuk Family. Sadly, the book is now out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon.

You can also use the Amazon’s Look Inside Feature to see more puzzles from this book! You can still access quite a few of the puzzles for free, though. Just keep clicking “Surprise Me!” on the left pane to see a different page of puzzles.

These four books are must-haves for anyone interested in incorporating puzzles into their classrooms!

For each puzzle, follow the underlined link to get more information and access a free downloadable file!

Puzzle Table Week 18

Arrows Puzzle – This dry erase based puzzle didn’t get quite as much attention/participation from my students as the puzzles from other weeks which involve manipulating pieces. A lot of my students don’t like reading the instructions before jumping into a puzzle, so I’m thinking this is why many of them didn’t jump into this puzzle.

Puzzle Table Arrows Puzzle

Puzzle Table Week 19

Double Letters – These puzzles drive my students insane! I always have more than a few students mad at me when I won’t reveal the word at the end of the week when the puzzle is getting packed up to make room for the next week’s puzzle. When I solve these puzzles myself, I find that I either find the world RIGHT AWAY or it’s nearly impossible to figure out! Haven’t solved one with a nice middle ground yet.

Puzzle Table Double Letters

Puzzle Table Week 20

Cover the Shape Puzzle – Remember the Duck/Camel/Heart puzzles mentioned in earlier puzzle table recaps? This puzzle uses the exact same pieces. Score! Sadly, I couldn’t figure out a cool name for this puzzle, so I had to settle for “Cover the Shape.” 

Puzzle Table Cover the Shape

Puzzle Table Week 21

Hidden Equation Puzzle – This dry erase based puzzle got a bit more attention than the arrows puzzle I mentioned above. I think this was because the puzzle was much more straight forward. I chose to use multiplication dots instead of x’s because I thought my students might confuse the x’s for variables. But, some of the comments said people were confused about the dots being decimal points. So, this puzzle may need a bit of work still… 

Puzzle Table Hidden Equation

Puzzle Table Week 22

Square the Shapes Puzzle – This puzzle led to some awesome conversations with students! The goal is to place the three circles so a square is formed with the circle already provided on the puzzle board. Then, do the same with the squares, the triangles, and the pentagons. Oh, wait, there’s one more catch: each square must have different dimensions! My students were convinced it was impossible, but I promise it’s not!

Puzzle Table Square the Shapes

Puzzle Table Week 23

Don’t Get Stung Puzzle – This puzzle got a lot of attention on the puzzle table! I think this was a result of the fact that the puzzle pieces are so eye-catching. I had huge groups of students gathered around the puzzle trying to place the pieces to that shapes were not repeated in any of the rows (in any of the directions) AND that all the bees were hidden. Most of my students started off just trying to hide all the bees. They wanted to prove that it was even possible to hide all of the bees. I love this puzzle because it got kids to the puzzle table that rarely tried their hand at puzzles all year long.

Puzzle Table Don't Get Stung

Puzzle Table Week 24

Mixed Emotions Puzzle – This was the last puzzle for the puzzle table for the school year. After my students had a productive struggle for quite a while with last week’s puzzle, I looked forward to them tackling this puzzle. They eagerly did, and most of them ended up quickly solving the puzzle.I think this was a result of only being composed of four different puzzle pieces. Still, fun was had, and brains were challenged!

Puzzle Table Mixed Emotions Puzzle

So, 24 puzzles later, I can’t imagine not having a puzzle table in my new classroom. I’m looking forward to reusing my favorite puzzles from this year with my new students and trying out plenty of new puzzles, too. 

Susan Hewett

Wednesday 4th of October 2017

I keep my stickers in a large zip lock bag (due to humidity here in Vietnam). I know where the bag is (shelf behind my desk). Easy to find stickers. I use % for grades. Make 85% or better, and you get a sticker. My 8th grade students love them (the stickers are from the US). They peel them off and put them on their binders! Little things!


Tuesday 3rd of October 2017

It's the mundane stuff that makes such a big difference :)

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