Archive for August, 2015

Starting New

Posted: August 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Well, we’ve had 3 days of school. How is it going? Well, it’s Sunday and I think I have gotten enough rest to head back tomorrow. So, here’s the run down of this week. . .

We have written on the desks, played some competition and also created some art. Why? Because it’s building a community as well as giving me a chance to see how students interact and showing what they know.

Students were working on an order of operations maze to get their minds back into math and remembering the order. Since it’s a maze and they are just trying to work through the problems, we wrote on the tables to solve. There’s no reason to write on paper (wasting it) to solve problems. I’m not checking their work in this case. It’s a reminder for them to get back into the mode of school.

I had several students ask for assistance as they did the problems, but I had the chance to see which students had a full understanding, which students struggle a little and which ones have difficulties. The conversations that I was able to have that day was a great way to get to know the abilities of students.

Another activity we did was an Instructional Modern Art. I will post the directions with examples of the art work after they turn it in on Monday. This activity is a great way to see which students have the creativity and the freedom to do as it says. It also allowed me to see which students need (or are use to) precise instructions on exactly what they are to do. When it says “draw 3 shapes”, some students do a great job of doing so while some students are asking if they have to be normal shapes, the same shape or just frustrated because I won’t answer questions. I just kept asking “What do the instructions say?”

One of my favorite moments of the day was when my principal came in to watch the students work, then ended up asking me for a pencil and paper so that she could do the activity as well. She sat with a group of students and they all helped each other hold the paper when drawing circles. I think many students had forgotten that she was in there, but that was so great! They were being themselves and celebrating their work with each other.

And finally . . .

Students are really enjoying the community puzzle. I’ve had several students who have asked to go work on it when they complete their task (and many who just quietly get up and go because you don’t need “permission”). I’m loving how students work together and quietly on the puzzle. It is slowly coming together, but I think it’s a hit!

How are the first few days of school for you?


Classroom Tour

Posted: August 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Well, I’m 24 hours from the start of school. It’s a new school district for me and I’m excited about the changes I’m going to have this school year and I wanted to share my design with you.
Word Wall

Of course all classrooms need a word wall. This is the start of my word wall. You will notice that there are not too many words yet, but that’s because I want students to own this space. As the year goes along, I will have students create their own posters to hang up. That gives them ownership of a word and a deeper understanding that they can then share with others.


I’m excited to have a counter and storage in my classroom! I haven’t had this much space in many years to have things stored away. There are labels on some drawers, which are drawers for student use. Throughout the school year we will need to use scissors, markers, crayons, etc. and I feel that I need to have those things available for students.

The drawer that isn’t labeled is pencils because those are an essential tool for school, and I know many students forget to bring them. By handing students a pencil it allows a time for me to visit with the student and also encourage communication with their parents to remember supplies for school.



I have two bulletin boards in my classroom and just like other middle school teachers, I hate to figure out what to put on them. This summer I attended a Pre-AP Middle School Mathematics training and the instructor had these four questions on the wall. (Well, the name was not Purcell) So I have the questions there for students to write responses on sticky notes and hang them up. It’ll give me a chance to talk with students about how great of a year that we’re going to have.

Community Puzzle

The final piece of my classroom (See what I did there?) Along one wall, I have a table with a puzzle on it. This will be a community puzzle for students to enjoy. When I was a student, I would finish class work and often times be a little bored. Always reading a book isn’t fun either. So I have options for students after they complete their assignments. One of those tasks is this puzzle. I’m excited to see how this works. This again is something I heard from someone at the Pre-AP training. I’ll be sure to post photos throughout the year as this puzzle is put together and hopefully more puzzles to follow.

This is going to be a great school year. You can check out the video of my room below and see a few more things that I didn’t share about.

In The Real World . . .

Posted: August 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

Whenever I hear a teacher tell a student “In the real world . . . “, I start thinking about this.

Yes, the MTV show “The Real World”, where they take 7 strangers and place them in a loft . . . .

Welcome to my classroom, where we take 25+ students (many who are strangers) and expect them to learn through collaborating, reflecting and sharing life experiences.

When a teacher tells a student that they are not in the “real world” yet, what are we telling them? That their life doesn’t matter?

When a teacher tells a student that they are not in the “real world” yet, how does the student explain taking care of their younger siblings every night while their parents are at work?

When a teacher tells a student that they are not in the “real world” yet, how do we explain why their parents are getting a divorce?

I know that some of the examples above are only looking at certain students, but we need to remember that student’s lives do matter and that we don’t always know what’s going on in their life. When we say “the real world”, are we talking about when they graduate and find a job? I had a job when I was in high school. Was I in the “real world” yet?

Remember that students are living their life right now. They are living in the real world. Heck, I can’t imagine life not in the real world. We have real numbers and imaginary numbers, just like kids (and some adults) have real friends and imaginary friends.

So the next time you want to help a student understand why we need to be able to get along with a group on a project, don’t say “in the real world”. Help them understand why today matters and why it matters today to work with that group.


Posted: August 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house and I saw the something sitting on their counter, so I took a picture.


As a male, I see a lot of red lipstick. When I mentioned it to my friend, she started to take one at a times and telling me the different colors that she saw.


In education it’s important to listen to other’s perspectives and not just share our own. Be sure to listen to others because they may have thoughts and ideas that you never thought about.

We in education need to work together and share with one another, which also means taking time to listen and digest what  others are sharing.