Monthly Archives: August 2012


It seems like a really good idea. I just hope I can keep up with it. I have an idea of how I would like this to go. Here’s the plan: I will post pencasts to Edmodo, students will watch the pencasts for homework and then fill out a summary sheet. Kind of like this one.

Here’s an example of a pencast I did using the Livescribe pens last year:


I’m not sure if the pencast is the best way to record the information, but this is the technology I have now, so I’m going to give it a try.



Today was one of those days, well actually, maybe it was yesterday. It was one of those days I question if I am really moving forward. School starts in two weeks, and I was told yesterday that my classroom is moving and I have vacation plans with my family beginning tomorrow until the day before school starts. I know, poor planning, but my room was ready to go.

Now, I have to start over. I went in today and took everything off the walls. I undid every bulletin board, and emptied every closet and shelf. I can’t even start to move into my new room because it is a disaster. No, actually a disaster, things attached to the floor disaster. It was one of those days.

I didn’t want to write this post. I’m trying to be more positive. I had all these really great ideas. I was ready to start and now I can’t even remember what they are. It’s a good thing I wrote them down in this blog.

Now that I’ve started writing, I can go back and read about the better days. I can read about the triumphs and great ideas.  I think that’s how I’m going to deal with the days that are …., well you know.

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When students enter middle school, we hope they have mastered numbers. By mastering numbers, I mean, having strong numeracy skills and knowing the general processes for the operations.

Unfortunately, most students in the sixth grade are still struggling with numeracy. This is going to be a strong focus for the beginning of my year. (Yes, I know it’s awful to drill multiplication facts, but it has to be done.) I didn’t focus on these skills as much as I should have last year, and when we reached fractions some students just couldn’t keep up. They didn’t have the automaticity that was necessary to work with fractions.

I recently came across a book by Pamela Weber Harris, Building Powerful Numeracy for Middle and High School Students. This seems to be the answer to my problem. In it she outlines basic strategies and models, beginning with addition that students should know, and the number strings to teach them.For example:

39 + 41

23 + 31

Well, you get the idea. The question becomes how to fit it into 45 minute periods? Hmmm…

Some ideas I’ve been thinking of for drilling multiplication (it doesn’t look as bad in italics) :

A Friendly Game of Nubble

Multiplication War

Missing Number Problems

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This year my room will not look like this. It already looks very different (I don’t have a picture of that). Tables have replaced individual desks and there are working nooks, created for students to work together uninterrupted. Each group will have a large whiteboard for collaborating on problems, a la @bowmanimal, and smaller individual whiteboards for working independently.

Group work has always been the norm in my room. I also feel that students used to be better at it. Now students believe group work is dividing up a problem and copying one student’s work. For group work to be successful there needs to be discussion about the problem before any work is done. I want to spend a lot of time teaching how to do group work at the beginning of the year. There needs to be a lot of processing while students are working. I think Dan Meyer’s beginning of the year activity  stacking styrafoam cups is a great way to start teaching group work. The marshmallow challenge is another idea for teaching group work. While it isn’t directly related to the curriculum, it is a great way to see how students work together. 

Technology! This is the first year that we have laptop carts to share for each grade, as well as projectors, wireless, and document cameras in each room.

1) Class Dojo is at the top of my list. This was a source of conversation at BLC12. The way that you can engage students in a discussion about behavior and what they want the classroom norms to be is very exciting. And who wouldn’t love the little monsters?

2) Edmodo is also going to be implemented this year in my classroom. I was using another website, but I want students to have the opportunity to interact with the site, ask questions, and answer each others questions. I also hope to start posting pencasts to begin flipping my classroom. I say begin, because I am not ready to commit. We’ll see how it goes.

Wow! I didn’t know I had so much to say.

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New year, New Blog!

I am inspired. Every year I have great ideas. I start out the year and I have really good ideas. I begin to implement them and then… I don’t really know what happens. I lose steam, I run out of time, or I don’t think it’s working. This year will be different, I think.

I have really good ideas this year. I could list them, but you would think I’m being too ambitious. I had the opportunity to attend BLC12 in July. I went last year for one day, but this year attended all three days. I was surrounded by amazing educators, who genuinely care about learning rather than test scores. People who are inspiring. I was told to do just one thing. That was the message over and over. Well, there are too many things I want to do, so this will be my one thing.