Sunday, May 24, 2015

Teaching Philosophy

Its the end of the year and everyone is done. We have one week of "real school" left before we enter a week of field days, awards, talent show, etc.

While I am dreaming of a summer of book reading, sleeping in, and spending time with my baby, I need to be reminded that I still have students to teach. For 8 days anyways.

I came across an old blog post from before I got a teaching job about my teaching philosophy.

It starts with this quote:

"I was successful because you believed in me."
--Ulysses S Grant to Abraham Lincoln

Expectations matter to our students. They all deserve someone who believes they can be successful. I work with students who come from difficult backgrounds, who go home to difficult situations, and generally don't have family encouraging them to do their best.

I always had personal cheerleaders at home who expected me to do well in school and go to college. That made a difference in the choices I made. It is something I took for granted until I realized that not everyone has that.

I absolutely believe that my students are capable of being successful in life. They need to know that someone believes in them. They don't need to be told they will end up in jail one day. (Something I've actually hear a teacher tell a group of students.)

So as the school year ends, I want to remember why I am there in the first place.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Quick post here. I am almost ready to come back to blogging. I have 21 days until I graduated from grad school! I am about to have so much time to do other things besides school work!

I found this picture from my classroom a few years ago. I wanted an easy way to separate notebooks by class and subject. Colored duct tapeto the rescue!

I LOVE all the color and how organized it looks. Remember, my classroom is a bit of an organized mess, so corners like this are rare to find. 

It takes time at the beginning of the year to wrap the spines with duct tape, but it is worth it in the end. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Small Group Table

I think I was on Pinterest last week when I saw these dots and had to have them. They are dry erase dots about a foot in diameter and they stick to surfaces. (And can be re positioned but I haven't done that yet.)

They make my small group table pop and make it easy for me to get started in my organized mess. No more hunting down where I last laid the small whiteboards. 

I have plans to organize this area of my classroom soon. There is a filing cabinet there filled with old worksheets from previous teachers that needs to go. 

The reviews I read online said to not leave what you write on these dots too long or it will be harder to erase. I would also imagine that some colors won't erase to easily either. 

There was three in every package and I bought two packages. I think it is my best investment in my classroom so far. I have just had the students write on the table before, but this is just more fun. They come in lots of colors! Click on the picture below to take you to amazon for all the colors.

This is my little helper in the classroom with me. With two parents who are teachers, she has a life of being in the classroom after hours. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015


This is Day 1 of how I will be teaching Triangles this week.

With the new Texas standards this year, my 6th graders are supposed to already know the types of triangles, but they do not. So I really cannot spend any days on teaching classification of triangles, but I will.

Inquiry Question: How can triangles be classified or grouped?

Engage: Ask students where they have seen triangles or how could they be useful.

Explore: In groups: Cut out a sheet of triangles of all types and find 3 ways to group the triangles.
Allow students to share how they classified the triangles. (I expect that some students will already know the types of triangles, so this will be a way for me to assess who knows and who doesn't.)

After listening to student ideas, have them try again and find 3 other ways to group the triangles.

Explain: Glue notes into ISN giving definitions of triangles and watch this video.

Elaborate: Using the app Geoboard, students will make and explain all the types of triangles.

Evaluate: Write triangle riddles: I have 3 60 degree angle, I have 3 equal sides. What am I?
 and a quick 4 question exit ticket.

This is the plan. I'll report back after execution.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Giant Hand

One of my classes was catching onto proportions fairly quickly and I wanted to give them an activity where they could apply those skills. 

I found this link to a lesson called Hands on the Giant. I projected a giant hand onto paper and traced one for each group. There instructions were to find the height of the giant just knowing how big its hand was. I gave them no hints and let them work. 

Immediately some groups were measuring themselves and their hands and then setting up an equivalent proportion. It was great to see them pull from the math they knew to solve this problem. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Math Shorts

I have been using these short videos in my classroom this year to jump off into a topic or to refresh student's memories.

Math Short has about 20 videos on various math topics that are colorful and to the point. And  no log in is required. 

Videos can be great additions to math class and can break up a lesson into manageable pieces. 

Anyone have any website with videos that they frequently use?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Books Read

I am a reader. I have been since as long as I can remember. My siblings always made fun of me because I would have my nose in a book instead of being outside playing. I begged my parents to take me to libraries and still visit a library at least once a week. I love taking my daughter there. Even though she is only 1, I want her to love libraries as much as I do.

So, here are the books I read in 2014. I had a goal to read 25 and I read 26.

The Cuckoo's Calling, Robert Galbraith (really J.K. Rowling)
The Song of Quarkbeast, Jasper Fforde
The Abundance of Katherines, John Green
Death of a Maid, M.C. Beaton
A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
I Shall Wear Midnight,  Terry Pratchett
The One, Kiera Cass
Wedding Night, Sophie Kinsella
Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
The Bride Wore Size 12, Meg Cabot
Nation, Terry Pratchett
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, Rob Thomas 
The Elite, Kiera Cass
The Woodcutter, Kate Danley
The Selection, Kiera Cass
Under the Dome, Stephen King
Reached, Ally Condie
Promised, Caragh M. O'Brien
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
The Saber-Tooth Curriculum, J Abner Peddiwell
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Cultural Politics and Education, Michael W Apple
As Texas Goes, Gail Collins
The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

The books in blue are the ones I would recommend reading. Looking at my list though, I finished all of these books so...they weren't all bad. Some years I have books on my list that I read because its there and I am holding out hope that it will be good. Not this year. If it didn't grab my attention in the first 5 pages, I didn't read it. Not something I would tell anyone to always do. But all of these books grabbed my attention really quickly.

What books should I add to my to-read list of 2015? I love finding obscure books that few people have heard of.