I have always wanted to have a “My Favorite Things” list like Oprah does each year. I remember watching the Oprah Show back in 2004 when she gave out cars to everyone. It was AMAZING to watch! The crazy thing was, I didn’t want to be a person in the audience that received a car (okay, maybe a little bit), but I really wanted to be Oprah….the one that got to surprise everyone and absolutely make their day!
Giving is one of the kindest things we can do for one another. This is probably why most of us became teachers. We have a desire to help others!
I have created a list of “My Favorite Things” for teachers. I’d loooooove to be able to give out each item to 275 people, but of course, I’m not Oprah.
I hope you discover some things that maybe you haven’t used before, or maybe a parent has been asking how they can help supply resources for your room and you can direct them here.
I have listed some resources that a teacher could have used 10 years ago (if they existed) and hopefully 10+ years from now. These are, in my mind, the most valuable resources in my classroom.
*Some products have Amazon affiliate links.
A necessity for every teacher! The two that I use the most are EXPO Dry Erase Markers and Papermate Flair Pens. Teacher’s need color and these two products do not disappoint!
What does this look like?....I post a few problems on the overhead screen and have students hold up their answers whenever they are ready. I respond with a yes or no, so they know if they can go to the next problem. Once the complete the practice problems, they then can begin their other math work.
These static cling dry-erase sheets have been a fun addition to my class! They are great for when students are practicing math problems in pairs or groups. Each group hangs their sheet anywhere in the room. I can easily see them working together and when they call me over for help, it’s easy to see the steps they’ve already completed. Then, when we are done, we roll them up and put them away for next time.
These are not just for primary students!!! I am in love with these dry-erase pocket sleeves because it allows me to save handouts from year to year…without laminating! Plus, this set includes 30 dry-erase markers. I use these sleeves all the time for my Battle My Math Ship games.
Of course, I use all of my graphing calculator reference sheets to teach students how to use the TI-84 calculator, but it is also helpful to do the sheets with them. This tool is a great way for students to visually follow along with you.
I know some schools provide class sets of Texas Instrument calculators, but mine does not. So, I always like to have about five extra TI-84 calculators on hand for when a student forgets their calculator or their batteries run out…or heaven forbid they lost it! Eeek!
I use my Wacom Tablet almost every day! It is an amazing way to digitally write notes with students. I know there are other types of tablets that come with Smartboards, but I have been using my Wacom for years and I love it…so easy and durable. I even have the wireless kit so I can walk around the room or have my students use it from their desk. Below is a glimpse of how I use it in my class....
WHITE CARD STOCK SHEETS
Students love to be identified with a talent! I like to give out math awards and these sheets are perfect for awards.
These are for the “I don’t have good handwriting, or a Cricut, or the time ~ teacher”. I like these because they are easy to re-use and move around the room throughout the school year.
Let’s face it, we know that we are better teachers if we are HAPPY! So, I have also listed the things that have been huge aspects for me to keep up with my self-care.
I’m not big on headphones while working out. Therefore, I purchased a bike mount for my iPhone. I don’t even need the volume up that high to hear it and I can ride and see the screen at the same time. It’s also nice and handy for taking pictures of cool things I see on my route.
AIR FRYER & INSTANT POT
Okay, I have to admit…I am completely obsessed with both of these small kitchen appliances. In fact, I am now the proud owner of one Instant Pot and two air fryers. These appliances have made making dinner soooo much faster AND easier, but still keeping it healthy! Here are some of my favorite foods to cook in each…
Instant Pot: chili, chicken noodle soup, shredded pork, ribs, shredded chicken (usually for enchiladas), and hardboiled eggs. This is basically a super fast crockpot!
Air Fryer: ANY vegetable is amazing when cooked in the air fryer, as well as chicken wings, bacon, pork chops, cheeseburgers, homemade french fries or hash browns, salmon (simply the best), fish, and chicken breasts. Any food you want to be crispy on the outside, but still juicy/tender in the middle…this is your go to appliance.
After a looooong week of teaching, sometimes we just want to curl up and watch a good movie or binge on a tv series. And that’s okay!!! Netflix is an easy way to do this via computer, tv, or even your iPad. Some people watch on their phone, but my eyes are too old for that!
I used to be an avid reader and then kids and life took over for a few years. However, I have made a commitment to read at least one book every month…or at least try. I definitely do it in spurts. I’m the type that will read a book in 2-3 days because once I start, I can’t put the book down. I find that reading really helps me “escape” my worries and stress in a good way. So if you are like me and reading has been on the back burner, get back into it! You can find some good ones on the New York Time’s Bestseller List or free ones on Wattpad.
I hope you found some useful things in this post! Feel free to email me with things you use in your classroom that are must-haves!!!
I am always trying to create or find projects where each student’s project will be different than every other student’s in the class because it is more authentic this way. And of course, I want it to be applicable in the real world! This is not always easy to make because if every student’s project is different, or even has an unlimited number of solutions, checking each one is extremely difficult and time-consuming for the teacher. Well, guess what?!...the project I’m about to tell you about is authentic AND I was able figure out how each student could have a different solution. And at the same time, have an answer key for the teacher with all the possible solutions….I know, fabulous, right!! And it covers one of the most popular math topics…Linear Systems of Equations!
Oh wait, one more cool thing about it….it’s not quite STEM because there isn’t any engineering, but I’d say it’s STAM (Science, Technology, Art, and Math)…fun little twist…so check it out:
Every project needs to have a focus and goal. In this project, students are to…
RESEARCH & SOLUTIONS
Students select a tree from the Arbor Day site and find the growth rate range and mature size. Students write two equations – 1 to represent their tree’s growth over time and 2 - their teacher’s tree growth over time. Students use the substitution or elimination method to solve the system and explain the solution. Included is a spreadsheet where the teacher can record the student name, tree, and growth rate to ensure each student has a different growth rate.
Student’s us graph paper or Desmos to re-create their system of linear equations by graphing both lines. Students also draw, paint, or find a picture of their tree online and label it by finding specific characteristics of their tree. I learn a lot of neat things about different trees from each project. And students love the artsy aspect!
Students find at what year the trees are the same height and determine if it’s realistic based on the year each tree will reach their mature size. This helps students understand that not every solution in the real world will make sense, so it’s important to critically think about the results.
As with any project, I do use a rubric, which is 100% editable for teachers. This project is evaluated on the following criteria: neatness/organization, accurate research, writing a systems of equations and finding the correct solution, the graph, analyzing the results, and the visuals. I also include an answer key for the questions and all of the possible scenarios/solutions depending on the growth rate of each tree in comparison with the growth rate of the teacher’s tree. This is a HUGE time saver for teachers!
This project is very dynamic, creative, and fun! Here are some of my student’s Life of Trees Projects:
Click on the Life of Trees Project cover below to go directly to the resource. Look at the preview to learn even more about this activity!
Here are more resources for systems of equations:
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This post is for ALL teachers - elementary, secondary, SLP, learning support, ELL, etc....EVERY SINGLE TEACHER can benefit from this post!
Why, you ask? Well, because we are all looking for ways to improve our practice to better meet the needs of our students. In order to do so, we usually seek out some kind of professional development. So, today, I am going to share with you one of the BEST professional developments I have ever discovered!
First, let's breakdown PD's for a minute. Basically, there are two types of professional development (PD) – free and paid.
I’m not saying PDs are bad. Not at all. We, as teachers, do need to be lifelong learners and grow in our profession. In fact, I crave to learn and explore more innovative ideas, BUT, in general, my experience with PDs is that the negatives out way the positives, especially if you are on a tight budget.
Well, what if you could attend a PD where you learned a new idea, was free, and required less than an hour of your time? Would you do it? I know I would!!!
A few years ago, I stumbled upon Jennifer Gonzalez’s blog post on Pineapple Charts. It was probably one of the most valuable blog posts I have ever read because it solved my PD problem. I teach at a private, international school that has limited access to professional development due to location and expense. After reading her post, I realized I don’t need to fly back to the States to learn how to be a better teacher. Nope, all I have to do is walk right next door and observe a fellow teacher who has already gone to PD's and is implementing the techniques in their classroom. Yep, you read it right. The PD I have been seeking all this time was right next door all along.
So, what do I mean? I recommend you read Jennifer’s blog post about what Pineapplinng is, because quite frankly, she is an amazing, attention-getting writer and I don’t think I could ever summarize it any better than she already has.
Now that you've read Jennifer's blog post, and understand what Pineappling is, here is my breakdown of the benefits:
In lieu, of Jennifer’s blog post, I decided to implement Pineappling at my school, not just for myself, but for all staff members. I created a powerpoint explaining what Pineappling is, how it’s helpful, and how to use the Pineapple Chart. This is our third year using it and it’s been AMAZING! Teachers love having the opportunity to learn from their peers and also show off their talents. Below is an example of our Pineapple Chart:
I know what you are thinking....I love it!...but I don't know how to start implementing it at my school. Don't worry! I have you covered. I am happy to share my professional development resource with you! The resource is 100% editable and includes the following:
• Powerpoint presentation explaining what a Pineapple Chart is, the benefits, and how your school can implement it. (7 slides)
• Pineapple Chart (1 slide)
• Peer Observation Form that may be helpful in assisting teachers with their thought process while observing other teachers. (1 page)
Click on the image below to go directly to the resource:
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What are iMath activities?
iMath is a series of activities designed with the intent to engage students in math by putting a fun twist on their favorite phone apps* - Facebook, iMessage, Instagram, and Tumblr. Each iMath Activity covers different skills in a unique way. Students add each activity to their phone/tablet template that can be on display in the classroom. Below is a description of ERRORGRAM, which is meant to model Instagram
*None of these activities are actual digital apps or affiliated with the app they model.
What is the purpose?
Error analysis is a method used to identify common mistakes made in mathematics and the cause of the incorrect answer. According to Robert Marzano, error analysis is at the top of the higher level thinking skills and an aid in conceptual understanding. This ability to check for correctness is a big key to achieving math proficiency. It’s awesome to see the critical thinking that happens during these activities!
How do I use this in my classroom?
Again, just like Doodlr, this activity can be used in various ways. I have used it in a station, after an assessment, or when a student has completed all tasks for the day and needs an extra activity to work on. Print some off and have them available for whenever your students are in need of some extra critical thinking!
Which app does this activity model?
Errorgram is meant to be similar to Instagram, which has rapidly become one of this generations favorite apps. Errorgram is an engaging way for students to determine the mistake a famous person made in a math problem they posted on their Instagram feed. Of course, that person didn’t really post it, but it’s fun for students to feel like they are fixing a mistake by someone they like or admire. Students need to explain the mistake and then correct it. Students can even add hashtags that are fitting for the post.
How do you do this activity?
Step 1 – Need one Errorgram sheet.
Step 2 – Analyze the worked out problem and find the error the person made.
Step 3 – State the error and find the correct answer by working out the problem.
Step 4 – Add the sheet to the phone/tablet template and hang the activity on the wall or bulletin board.
Oh, yeah!…students become analytical thinkers using Errorgram! Add more iMath activities to show mathematical growth and use for review at the end of the year.
What’s included in each Mathbook activity?
Want to learn about the other iMath Activities?
Read about them here:
Click below to go directly to ALL my MATHBOOK activities in my Teachers Pay Teachers store: