Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hey, Mrs. Lamb - All the Cool Kids Are Here!

There are a few stories that have affected me over my years of teaching.  Some have made me sad and some have made me happy - some have made me re-evaluate everything.  Here is one of the happy stories mixed in with a little bit of re-evaluation...

A number of years ago, one of my students was an aspiring film maker.  He was entering a film contest with a film that he had made from start to finish - who does that?  I have no idea how you would even do that!  He was a great kid - I thought he was pretty confident and a great role model.

So, he arranged with our principal to have a screening of his film in our theater one Friday night.  I don't remember the name of the film, but it seems to me that it was some kind of spoof on Indiana Jones.  I liked the kid, so I decided to go to the film screening.

As I was standing there watching the kids come in, I saw him standing off to the side watching the kids come in too.  He looked excited and a little nervous.  I had no idea what the turnout for the film would be - how disappointing to him if NO ONE CAME!  But kids were coming - and lots of kids - they really seemed interested.

Finally, right before the film started, he came over to me with his eyes only a teenager's can...he said - "Mrs. Lamb, I can't believe it - all the cool kids are here!"  I thought he was pretty that just goes to show you - all teenagers can use a boost to their self-confidence!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Soaring Through Secondary Blog Hop

Today, I am participating in the Soaring through Secondary Blog Hop!

First, I would like to send a shout out to Jennifer Smith-Sloane for creating this awesome logo for our hop!

Each person on our blog hop today will be featuring either a freebie through their TPT store, or a giveaway on their blog - so be sure to visit them all!

Here is a list of all of the blogs participating, so if you get lost somewhere along the way, return here to get back on track!  (THAT'S ME :)

For my featured product today, I would like to highlight my Christmas Quadrilateral Puzzle.

I just finished my unit on quadrilaterals with my Geometry Honors class.  Since we are all getting restless and ready for Christmas vacation, I decided what better to do than to create a review puzzle.  This puzzle contains 17 review questions about the properties of quadrilaterals.  For example, students need to know things such as: there are 90 degrees in each angle of a square, the diagonals of a rectangle are congruent, and that opposite angles of a parallelogram are congruent.  After the students solve the puzzle, they can match their solutions to a letter to solve a funny Christmas joke.

Geometry Quadrilateral Christmas Puzzle

My students tried this puzzle last week - it was a big hit and they even thought my joke was a little bit funny ;)

As a thank you for participating in our blog hop today, I will randomly choose one person who makes a comment on this blog entry to receive one item of their choosing from my store.  Share something you are doing in classroom to combat the before Christmas craziness! Blog comments will close midnight on Sunday.  I will choose the winner on Monday - please return to my blog on Monday so you can find out who won and claim your prize.

From, here, you should hop on over to:

Hope you all have a nice day!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Received My TI-Navigator System

Woo-hoo - I am excited.  I received my Texas Instruments Navigator system in the mail today.  Thank you to Texas Instruments who provided a free system to our school in exchange for sending in calculator proof-of-purchases!

This system will allow me to send and receive documents to and from my students wirelessly - saving paper and time!  Also, as students are working on documents, I will be able to see all of their calculator screens on my computer screen - how cool is that : )  Not only can I be sure that all students are on task, but I can also poll my students.

I have installed the software on my computer, and now I am ready to try putting the "hat" on top of my calculator which will allow my calculator to communicate with the wireless server.  So far, I am a little confused about the logging in process.  However, we had a workshop here last year and it was an easy process then, so I am sure I will get it figured out.

I am really looking forward to using this system with my students.

Stay tuned for a High School Teachers Blog Hop on Saturday!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quadrilateral RoundUp

I have just finished the quadrilaterals unit with my Geometry Honors class.  I have found several things on Teachers Pay Teachers that have been very helpful for me.  So, I would like to feature my top five here.

1) Students need to learn the properties of quadrilaterals to be successful in this unit.  There seem to be many types of lessons on TPT that help students to learn the properties.  The one I liked was by Brenda Callaway.  It had students graph points, connect the dots, and then make measurements to discover the properties of that particular quadrilateral.  Quadrilateral Lab

2) I think a chart of some type helps students organize the information in their heads.  Here is one that I like by Leslie Mohlman.  Quadrilateral Chart

3)  I like to use a couple of worksheets during this unit so students have lots of algebraic practice finding missing parts of quadrilaterals.  I didn't find quite what I wanted this year - maybe that is something I can make next!

4) I love the Quadrilateral Detective project by Emily Allman.  It just sounds like it would be an exciting, fun thing to do!  This is an excellent culminating project for the unit.  My students loved it!   Quadrilateral Detective Project

5)  Finally, I would like to show you my own Quadrilateral Christmas Card Project.  Basically, in this project, students use all 6 (square, rectangle, rhombus, parallelogram, kite, and trapezoid) of the quadrilaterals we have talked about to make a mosaic style Christmas card.  Here is one of my favorite cards that any of my students have ever done.  Can you see how all of the pieces are quadrilaterals?

Here is a link to the product on the TPT store:  Quadrilateral Christmas Card Project

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sneak Peek of my Fractions Workbook - NOW AVAILABLE!

I just want to give a sneak peek of a new product I will have in my TPT soon - hopefully this weekend.  It is a fractions workbook!  There is no new ground covered here, it is just 12 basic worksheets that can be used to help review fractions all in one place.  Topics covered include:

- adding fractions
- subtracting fractions
- multiplying fractions
- dividing fractions
-equivalent fractions
-comparing fractions
-changing improper fractions to mixed numbers
-writing fractions as terminating decimals
-writing fractions as repeating decimals
-adding and subtracting mixed numbers
-multiplying and dividing mixed numbers
-changing decimals to fractions

Adding Fractions Worksheet

The above links are FREE worksheets in my TPT store.  They show the general format of the worksheets.  The workbook will contain all new pages for each of the 12 worksheets listed above.  

If your 4th, 5th or 6th grade math students need fraction practice, these worksheets that are ready to go will help you!  Answer keys for each worksheet are included.

NOW AVAILABLE - Fractions Workbook

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Do your students detest fractions?  I know mine do - even the kids that are in my AP Calculus class hate it when a problem involves fractions in any way.  Although they CAN work with fractions, if they can avoid it, they absolutely will!

I have thought about this and observed students in action with fractions for a long time.  I feel like fractions are a dividing line between students "good" at math, and those that struggle.  I suppose there are some students in between, but mostly I feel like fractions is the place where kids either GET IT, or they start to lag behind.

Why is that?  Maybe it's because to work with fractions, you have to know some rules.  To use some rules, you have to memorize them.  (e.g. If fractions have a common denominator, you can add or subtract them.  If they don't you have to get a common do you get one, etc.)  Some students are not good math rule followers or memorizers.  Why?  I don't know.  Some kids just refuse, but some just struggle, even though they try.

What can we do to help students with fractions?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

How Do You Group Your Students?

There are lots of ways to put your students into groups.

1)  You can let your students choose their own groups - not very effective with most classes, in my opinion.  Although it is my favorite way to work in a group if I'm the one working in groups : )

I have a couple of ways that I am using to put my students in groups right now.  

2)  At the beginning of the year, I just randomly assign groups of 4 based on the seating chart.  My classroom is arranged in the standard 6 rows, with 4 or 5 seats in each row.  At the beginning of the year, I seat the students alphabetically, so the groups of 4 are made up of the students who sit closest together.

I change the students seat's each quarter, so their groups change.  After the first quarter, I can arrange the groups so they are more helpful.  For example, I try to put two girls and two boys in each group.  I pick out the top 8 students and separate them one to each group.  I do the same thing with the bottom eight.  Then the middle groups are mixed together.  It seems to help.

I like this arrangement because the students always know who they are working with.  They can get into groups quickly.  Also, I try to make a point of having them exchange phone numbers so they have someone to call if they miss class, or need help at home.

3)  By the time the students are in AP, they kind of catch on to how you are making the groups, and you need to mix things up.  They, even more than the younger kids, want to make their own groups.  Everyone wants to be partner with whoever they consider to be the smartest kid in the class.  I certainly don't want to make the groups because all of the students want me to put the "smartest" kid in their group.

Here is my favorite way of putting the AP students into partners.

I put the numbers from 1 to however many students we have in class on the board.  I am careful with how I write the numbers on the board...I want to give myself options.  When the students come into class, I tell them to write their name next to a number on the board.  They don't know why they are doing it, and so that generates some excitement.  After everyone writes their name on the board, I tell them who their partner is based on where their name is on the board.  For example, if there are 24 students in the class, I put the numbers from 1 to 24 in 6 rows of 4.  Then I assign the partners in a specific way.  For example, the student at the top and the bottom of the row are partners and the middle two in the row are partners.  Or, the student that is at the top of the row is partners with the student at the top of the next row (student #1 and student #4, student #7 and student #10, etc).  Or finally, I could assign partners by saying the sum of their numbers must be 25.  (student #1 and student #24, student #2 and student #23, etc.)

It's fun!