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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You know when you give a quiz and students do well on one objective, but almost all of them completely bomb the other objective? That's when I know I did not effectively teach the second objective. So, back to the drawing board I go.
The quiz was on solving exponential and logarithmic equations. Most of the students clearly and easily solved the logarithmic equations. But, WHOA, those exponential equations really threw them for a loop!
I had taught the solving exponential equations lesson right before spring break. Normally, I write all of my own lessons, but this time I decided to use a lesson from a textbook (stupid, stupid, stupid!). In this lesson, the textbook had only shown how to solve exponential equations using logarithms as the inverse operation to exponentials. At the time, I didn’t think twice about it. I had already showed them in a previous lesson how to rewrite a logarithmic equation to an exponential equation and vice versa. I assumed they would apply that knowledge too. Ugh…bad assumption.
When we did the practice activities the day before the quiz, I also reviewed the property of equality for exponential equations. I think that is when I started to realize that I did not CLEARLY define the three methods to solving exponential equations, which is not like me at all. If you’ve read this post, you’d know I think one of the best ways for students to understand math is to compare and contrast different methods.
Anyway, the students seemed to be doing okay in the group activity, so I gave them the quiz the next day. Once I began grading them, I immediately realized they were struggling to solve the exponential equations. They were mixing methods all over the place. That’s when you get that pit in your stomach and think oh man, where did I go wrong with this lesson?!
It’s not the textbook’s fault, it’s mine. I so regret not taking a more critical eye to the textbook lesson. Maybe it was me being antsy for spring break or the fact that I had wanted to revamp some of my notes for that unit and I hadn’t had time to do so, so I was wanting an “easy” way out. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter, I knew I had to fix it with my students.
I decided to create a graphic organizer that CLEARLY states each method and the proper steps to solve. I will be using this with my students tomorrow to review solving exponential equations and then giving a mini retake on this objective.
I’ll update you all soon on how it goes. I imagine it will be MUCH better!!!
In the mean time, I want to share the graphic organizer I created with all of you! Maybe it will prevent you from having an exponential failure like I did.
Click on the picture below to download the file. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Ummmmm, yeah, went soooooo much better!!!!
What I really wanted to title this is “How TpT for Schools Saved my Behind” because that’s exactly what happened.
Our school needed to purchase new math books for grades K-5. We use the Virginia Standards of Learning (VSOL), so it was difficult to find textbooks that covered these standards because most resources are aligned with Common Core. We had to carefully evaluate all of our textbook choices online. Why? Well, we are an international school, so shipping is both expensive and time-consuming. Even if samples could be sent to us, there would not be enough time to evaluate them and order books in time for the new school year. So, yes, evaluating books online was not an easy task. Regardless, we finally decided on one that we thought would work well for our program.
August came and the textbooks arrived. It didn't take long to realize that, not only were the books missing standards, but they were also missing pages that had been in the online version. To top it off, the workbooks were stamped "Common Core," which was also not on the online version. How could this happen? These textbooks were listed as Virginia aligned, so we assumed they were specifically designed around the VSOL and all standards would be included, but they weren't. I was devastated. As our school's curriculum director I felt responsible. I am in charge of leading the team and approving the resources. How could I have let this happen?
Long story short, we were able to get reimbursed for the insufficient resources by the publishers. Yay, problem solved, right?! No, we still had teachers with books that had missing standards and no resources to teach those standards. What were we going to do?
Ordering new books wasn't feasible. We needed an immediate solution. We decided to give each teacher a budget on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) where they could find high quality, standard aligned resources. Teachers could purchase resources to cover the standards they were missing. Another yay, right?! Yes and no. In order for our teachers to get the resources they would have to go through a very complicated process which included filling out a Google Form for each resource they wanted, approval of the resource by me, then approval by our financial manager and then finally the resources would be distributed to the teacher via hard copy or thumb drive. Clearly not an ideal process, but it was our best option until I saw that TpT was coming out with something called, TpT for Schools. I immediately applied and was thrilled when I received the email that we had been accepted into their early pilot program. They scheduled a video conference so they could explain the platform. It was exactly what we needed!
TpT for Schools was the perfect solution to all of my problems. The steps are so simple:
This process can happen in five minutes or less. We love this process and we love the wonderful resources we are able to purchase through TpT. This was so well received by the K-5 teachers, that we gave other teachers a budget and added them to our TpT account so they could order resources to supplement our curriculum. What had once been a curriculum catastrophe, turned into a long term victory, thanks to TpT for Schools.
Besides the convenience of TpT for Schools, they also have top-notch customer service! Anytime I have a question or suggestion, they quickly respond via email. They assured me that it is a priority of theirs to help make the platform even better for us. Also, they check in with me every other week to see how we are doing with it and if we have any other suggestions or ideas, etc. You can tell they truly want this to be the best solution for all schools, and it’s a team effort between them and us. The TpT team is outstanding because they are:
Sign up for TpT for Schools NOW
So, as you can see…..TpT for Schools SAVED ME! What does this mean for you?! It means that it can save you too. Maybe your school doesn’t have the same issue as we did, but teachers are ALWAYS in need of more innovative resources that books from publishers do not provide. Therefore, I highly recommend you reach out to your admin and ask them to sign your school up for TpT for Schools so that you can start enjoying the benefits too!
Share TpT for Schools with your administrator to begin the conversation:
I have spent a lot of time on YouTube looking for videos for warm-ups or even to use as review for my students. Over the years, I've found a lot of quality channels that I subscribe to, so I thought I'd share my favorite ones. They are not in any particular order because they are all mathtastic in their own way. You can click on any of the titles to go right to their home page.
There are over 4,000 videos at your fingertips from this non-profit organization. The videos are mainly for middle and high school math and science. Teachers, professors, NASA scientists, Ph D.’s, and many other experts created the videos. Here is a neat one on Linear Functions.
This is my steady Eddie. Whenever I am having a difficult time finding a video for a specific topic, this is the channel I find myself going to for help. James has created over 5,000 math videos from arithmetic to calculus III and beyond. The videos with the yellow background are mini-lessons and the videos with the graph paper background are examples only. He also has a website with a list of videos for each subject, which is easier to navigate than the YouTube channel.
Clear and concise best describes Derek’s videos. He has over 1,000 videos covering Pre-Algebra to Calculus topics, and even some Physical Science and Physics lessons. He organizes his videos by chapters of study, so it is easy to find what you are looking for. Here is one that uses great visuals for Adding and Subtracting Fractions.
When I first began searching on YouTube for videos for my calculus warm-ups, Patrick was my go to guy. He covers anything and everything calculus. While I mainly use him for calculus videos, he also covers other areas, such as SAT and GED math problems. He just seems like a cool, down to earth guy that loves math. Here is a quote from his bio page: “Trying to empower people with a bit of math know-how. I make straight, to the point videos on how to tackle different math problems. No gimmicks and no distractions. My goal is to make your time as useful and effective as possible when studying. These videos are intended to be a supplement to what a (hopefully) good teacher is providing you with in the classroom.”
The All Around Math Guy
This guy has some really cool real world examples in his videos. Here is one of his real world videos that I particularly enjoyed: Understanding Engine Size – The Volume of a Cylinder. You also can find math examples for Grade 8 to AP Calculus.
Unless you are a math teacher living under a rock, you’ve heard of Khan Academy. While this may be one of the most popular channels for math videos, it is not my all time favorite, nor my students. However, there are tons of topics on this channel that are covered thoroughly. Khan has even expanded to a full website that includes more subjects beyond math where students can work their way through topics that they choose or that are chosen by their teacher.
Firefly Lectures - Calculus
At first, it looks like a Khan Academy video, but then this guy pops up in the bottom right corner of the screen and you’re like woah, who’s this? Well, I actually don’t know his name, but I do like that he added himself to the videos. It’s nice to feel like a person is talking directly to you, as well as clearly seeing the math steps on the screen. If you teach Algebra or Calculus (I, II, and II), his videos will be a great resource for you! Here is one on the Absolute Value Function: Domain and Range.
This channel also has over 4,000 videos and the majority of them cover middle and high school math concepts. The best part is that most of the videos are three minutes or less, so they are great if you want to use it in class or assign it to your students to watch at home for quick review. Here is one on how to Solve Linear Equations with Variables on Both Sides.
Nancy, a MIT graduate, explains Algebra and Calculus topics. Even though she does not have a huge library of videos, she does have over 370,000 subscribers. I don’t use her videos a lot because most of them are over 10 minutes long, and I usually select videos that are 5 minutes or less for my students. However, I know several of my students really like using her videos to review concepts. Here is one on Solving a Quadratic Equation by Factoring.
High tech and fun videos! This is a fairly new channel that was established in 2015, so the library is small with only 139 videos, but it is still growing. This is a perfect channel for primary and middle school math. This one is great for introducing Slope.
Krista King (formerly known as Calc Expert)
She has changed her YouTube channel name so many times, it may even be different by the time I post this! It doesn’t matter what her name is, she has quality videos for Pre-Algebra to Calculus III and has been posting videos since 2010. I find that she is very thorough in her videos, and they don’t take over 10 minutes, which is a plus. Here is one that explains Limits and Continuity.
A hodge podge of lessons, lectures, and examples. You have to dig a little to find what you are looking for, but a lot of them have fun visuals and cool sound effects which students love. There are topics for Pre-Algebra to Algebra 2. Even though the resolution in this video is not perfect, I really like it for a Graphing Quadratics Overview.
I subscribe to many more channels, however I didn't want to overwhelm you with too many channels, so I stuck to my top twelve. Here are some notables you might find helpful as well. They are listed by channel name and subject(s) that their videos cover:
Math Easy Solutions – Calculus
Math Meeting – Algebra to Calculus
My Why U – Pre-Alg and Alg (about 100 videos)
Miller Math – Calculus
Mathman 1024 – Algebra
My Secret Math Tutor – Precalculus to Calculus
Math Gives You Power – Precalculus to Calculus
MSLC Mathematics – Calculus
Rootmath – Calculus
Scott Haselwood – Precalculus to Calculus
Carrie Kyser – Statistics and Calculus
Math Planet Videos – All math levels
Charlie LIndelof – Calculus
Straighter Line – College Algebra, Precalc, Calculus, and Business Statistics
Timothy Kasper – Geometry
Tracey Jensen – Algebra to Calculus
Vividmaths.com by Steve K – Grades 7-12 math
I hope you found some new and helpful YouTube Channels to follow for middle and high school math! Email me or comment below with some of YOUR favorite YouTube Math Channels, so I can check them out!
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Teachers plan and prepare lessons, attend meetings, help students, create resources, grade assessments, communicate with parents, learn new teaching strategies, learn technology…and the list could go on forever. With so many things to do, I find that thinking of a new way to decorate my room each year can become daunting. Don’t get me wrong, I love decorating my walls and bulletin boards, but it’s the with what that sometimes stumps me.
After searching the internet, I discovered some amazing ideas and came up with a few of my own. I divided the ideas up into four main categories – informative, interactive, student work, and motivational. Check out what I found and am using in my classroom this year…
These types of bulletin boards display information that provides students with visual reference throughout the year.
1 – Word Walls
Love them! Scaffolded Math and Science has the most amazing ones and she explains why they are so important for high school students on her blog.
2 – Graphing Calculator Reference Sheets
Students constantly forget the steps they need to use on a graphing calculator. These sheets are great for students to put in their interactive notebooks, binder, etc. I hang them up on folders and then place the sheets for my students behind the picture so they are ready to go whenever they need them. Read about them in my blog post or snag them in my store.
3 – Math = Love Blog
All of her ideas are awesome! Her blog is filled with so much creativity, which includes ways to decorate your room with math. I used her Perfect Squares and Perfect Cubes sheets this year and my students were so appreciative, especially for the simplifying radicals quiz.
Bulletin boards where students engage with the pieces on the board. There are several types out there, but I found this one to be great for math class.
4 – Boggle
Students interact with this vocabulary Boggle bulletin board designed by Math Giraffe. Learn about this idea and how to set up a classroom that works for teens on her blog. This is great for stations, bell ringers, or even early finishers. Lessons with Coffee also has a Boggle bulletin board for math expressions which you can find here.
Show off your student's hard work!!!
5 – Math is Everywhere
Every year I use this bulletin board idea from the Middle School Math Man. I have my Algebra 2 and Calculus students think of a place they see or use math in the real world. Then they are to create a sheet that includes one Algebra skill, one Geometry skill, and then one more math skill of their choice (Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, etc.) that ties to the real world setting. I have added a rubric, example, and bulletin board letters for this activity in my FREE Resource Library, so SUBSCRIBE to my email list to get instant access!
6 – iMath resources
A fun spin on student’s favorite iPhone Apps – Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and iMessage. Students add sheets to their phone throughout the school year to show what they know and document their growth. At the end of the year they use it for review before their final exam. Check them out here.
7 – The Fridge
Easy way for student’s to display their hard work! Check out how Scaffolded Math and Science sets it up in her class.
8 – Math Pennants
Scaffolded Math and Science does it again! Her blog is full of fun and witty ideas. These pennants are a way for students to confidently display their knowledge and understanding of math topics.
We can all use some inspiration in life, right?!
9 – Growth Mindset Posters
I’m all about GRIT this year, which you can read more about in my blog post on To-Do Lists and True Grit. I used Mrs. E Teaches Math’s growth mindset posters to encourage my students to be gritty. Check them out here.
I hope you found some ideas to use in your classroom! I would love to hear about more cool ways to decorate a math classroom, so send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas.
*All photos are from my classroom, unless otherwise noted in the photo caption.