Great Math Products!


Base Ten Number Line


Multiplication Tricks



TwoFingers copy

Telling Time Misconceptions


Equivalent Fractions


Simplifying Fractions


Clock Fractions


Math Fact Motivation


Math Night 2012


Bulletin Board Ideas


Classroom Management


Lines and Angles



I get the cutest handwriting fonts at Fonts for Peas!

Classroom Management

How You Can Improve the “Office”

I know you probably have a collection of “offices” in your classroom–you know the two file folders stapled together and laminated if you went the extra mile.  I have a collection of colored file folder ones from when I was in the classroom.  I loved these things!  We would pull them out any time we tested or I wanted students to think independently.

Well, guess what!  Someone has improved “the office”!  The resource teacher borrows the back of my room to work with some of her students.  One day she left this up.  I thought it was genius!  If using a round table, do this for four kids at a time. offices-1


She made four regular offices by stapling two file folders together…



Then she clipped the four offices together with paper clips and binder clips.  This allowed four students to sit and work privately.



And voil’a taking file folder office to the next level!

How Can You Help Your Students Focus During Instruction

I am going to share a little secret with you about something I have been using for myself and plan on using this year at school.  I have started using essential oils in a diffuser when I am working at my home computer.  I have found that using two drops of peppermint, two drops of lavender, and two drops of lemon in my ultra sonic bamboo diffuser with these oils helps me focus, helps me stay alert if I’m working late at night, and helps lift my spirits.  In other words when I diffuse these three, I just feel happier :D.  See my happy face!

I am planning on taking it to school this year to diffuse in my room.  I have even been thinking of buying another one so I can have one at work and at home.  Not only that, but I have a close friend who took hers to school last year and diffused lemon on a daily basis to help her students focus during instruction.  Another great benefit of using a diffuser at school….if you use the Thieves blend of essential oils, it promotes cleaner air, which is especially needed during those winter months.  As if, ALL teachers haven’t already spent a small fortune on using hand-sani!  This would be another way to support the prevention of germy surfaces!

Here is my diffuser in action with my favorite three oils.  As you can see it sits in my office in front of my gargantuan printer.  This model is my favorite that Young Living sells because it has a one or four hour timer so you can choose how long to diffuse.


 If you want to order an ultra sonic diffuser and oils like mine, the best value is to buy a starter kit here.  If you decide to buy some be sure to use my enroller and sponsor number 2600343.  I would really appreciate it!  Happy calm school year!

Do You Need a New Chic Planner to Start Your School Year Right? (Freebie)

I mean just LOOK at these new adorable planners, I have found!  These are called “bloom” planners.  I know at the beginning of a year, I look and look for planners that are cute and functional, and at times, have problems finding one.  I normally settle for one at Target and decorate the plain cover with stickers.  With these fabulous planners, there is no need to buy stickers because they come decorated with a pattern that you can choose to suit your personality!


They have planners suitable for students in middle school, planners for teachers, or even planners that would suit moms.

Bloom even has some accessories that you can use to match your planner cover, like this “to do” list matches it’s planner.


What’s even better is that they aren’t even very expensive!  Many of them are between $10 and $13 at the time of this post writing.  I know Office Depot sells planners many times that are around $20, and they aren’t even cute!  I put them back immediately!  The teacher planner, though, is priced around $26, but it is well worth it for the bulk of planning capabilities available.  Just look at the teacher planner features…

Brightly colored tabs…


Monthly and Weekly Planning Options…IMG_1885


…a place for student information and right next to the student information, a parent communication log!



And one of my favorites is the pretty design on the inside front and back cover.  Also, there is a handy pocket in the back!


There are also other nice goal setting feature pages embedded within each month.  I personally don’t know if I would use these.  However, this is a nice option.  I would probably do better writing my goals on the monthly calendar, so that it would always be in front of me.  Also, there are inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout the planner.

Some other nice features are a section of graph paper for possible seating charts, and a page for substitute teacher information (I wouldn’t want to leave my planner behind for the sub ;)).  This teacher planner could potentially be your go-to book where almost all of your important and often used information is stored–an organizational lifesaver!

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for, I teamed up with bloom to offer this free planner and mousepad to you.

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All you have to do is sign up below to win this ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE mousepad and planner set!

The contest ends on July 19th at 11:59 p.m Eastern Time.  I will announce a winner on the evening of Monday, July 20th! a Rafflecopter giveaway


How You Can Make Cute & Cheap Rewards for Kids

This is how my idea all began.  My mom had given me some adorable sticky notes in the shape of stars.  She is always thinking of me buying me school items (thanks mom!).  Also, I had bought this very cute patterned masking tape before school started at Office Depot on clearance.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but I knew it was cute.  That was all that mattered!


I found myself wanting a way to attach something meaningful to the award certificates that students were getting for fluency in Reflex Math, and I ran out of Scotch tape. But, I had this cute tape, so my clearance deal found its purpose on students’ reward certificates!  Next, I was trying to figure out a way to efficiently hand out cute pencils to students who scored 70% and up on the Reflex wall, but I had no certificate to attach it to since the certificates went on the wall.   At first I was using square sticky notes to write children’s names on and attaching them to the pencil, but the pencils would get stuck to one another with the tape, and they didn’t look very attractive to say the least.   So, what did I do?Finally, I wised up and used the star sticky notes and attached one piece of cute tape horizontally to the back to hold the pencil on.  The star sticky note would have the child’s name and his percentage of fluency.  Even though I used this idea for Reflex rewards, it could be done with anything.  I think the pencils kind of look like little magic wands!  This is so much better than the sticky Scotch tape mess I started with.  Here is an example below (but I would have the student’s name on the star also).


You Can Use This Cute Bulletin Board Idea to Recognize Achieving Students

Every year we recognize students who scored proficient or above on our state test.  We think of a theme and build a wall around it.  Our principal usually is the one who decides on a phrase for the year.  This year she coined the phrase “Ignite and Inspire (our school’s name) is on Fire”.  I really can’t take credit for all the decoration because several people were involved in the whole project.

If you have been following my blog for long you will remember our Olympic themed bulletin board from last year…well we put all that yellow, orange, and red cellophane to good use again for this year!  Oh, and the Christmas lights that we made the fire out of…yep, we used them again too, but in the rocket flame this time…see….

Then to recognize all of our kids, we took their pictures and placed them on little fireballs.

We got the glitter scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby and our whole staff helped cut most of them.  One of our teachers freehanded the stencil for the fireball. (how talented!)

Here is an up close view of a fireball…this one turned out lopsided.  I’m not sure why I chose to take a close up of it????

Finally the hallway view…

Have You Tried This Simple Idea to Ensure Serious Test Takers?

So often I see students blow off a test, rush through it, make careless errors, and become too lazy to show their work.  Because of this, I have to share what this 5th grade teacher did whenever her students did horribly on a test.  Many of the grades were failing.  Now regardless of whether the grades were failing or not, she will have them do this–student test reflections.  I love how she is holding the students accountable for their work by reflecting their test performance.  Just take a look below at their writing prompt.  (I am sharing this with her permission.)

Maximize Your Space with this Pencil Holder Creation

I saw this idea on Pinterest last year and am just now getting around to using it.  The original post showed a wine rack that held the wine at an angle with plastic cups holding different writing utensils.  I loved this idea because it gives more desktop space to work.  I have always felt that I had a dozen pencil cups sitting on my small group table, which didn’t permit much room to spread out for one of the people sitting there.  Since the wine rack stores pencils in a vertical direction, it allows for me to have more desktop space–just like tall buildings in big cities!  I’m taking a hint from China and building upward!

I found the wine rack at a junk store for $4.50 and the plastic cups at the Dollar Tree–2 for a $1.  I’m still going to be looking for a wine rack that will hold the cups at an angle, but for $4.50, I couldn’t pass this up!

In case you’re looking for a picture of my door that I posted about earlier…it is coming.  I still have to put some finishing touches on it before I take a picture.

I Just Saw the Most Brilliant Use of a Flip Cam!

When I stepped into a classroom yesterday I was so intrigued that I couldn’t leave.  Before I spill the beans on what I saw, I must say this.  There has been a lot of emphasis at my school about having students share their work for a lesson closing.  This idea could also spill over into the common core mathematical practices in which students must “construct viable arguments and construct the reasoning of others”.  Now I understand that when students share their work in front of the class that this does promote other students’ higher levels of thinking as other students decide whether they agree or disagree.  On the other hand at this late point in the school year the downfall of student sharing is that even with a doc camera and students’ micro phoned voices other students attention spans are likened to a fly hovering over a summer picnic buffet.

Now, onto what I saw.  Ms. T was showing students a flip cam video of herself talking to a student named ‘Briana’, who was solving a double digit addition problem with base ten blocks which she had taped during the students’ work time.  She showed the video to students after their work time and paused it after the questions she asked Briana in the video.  Then Ms. T would ask the class what the answer was to the question in the video.  The class would respond.  Then Ms. T would un-pause the video to allow the class to see if Briana answered, counted, or exchanged blocks correctly.  I absolutely loved this–so much more engaging than regular sharing!

Thanks to the literacy people who ordered these flip cams with literacy money! 🙂  They were originally bought for students to do book talks.  Using them for math sharing–so much better in my unbiased opinion ;).

Free Test Taking Rubric or Checklist

I showed the fifth graders that I have been teaching for the past few weeks this page before they tested.  I let them know that I was going to be looking for these actions or test taking strategies while they tested.  Our principal gave the students extra recess time at the end of the day if they worked hard on the test all morning long.  I wanted a way to measure “working hard on the test”,  so I used this checklist/rubric.  If students did 4 of the 6 actions or testing strategies  listed on the sheet, then they were able to have extra recess.  Across the top of the page the categories read:

  • Underlined Key Words
  • Brain Dumped— Writing important information down on the math reference sheet that they may forget
  • Eliminated Wrong Answers (on multiple choice)
  • Used P.E.C.E (an acronym that stands for using a picture, equation, complete sentence, and elaboration to solve an open response)
  • Persevered When Problem Solving
  • Checked Work or Used the Entire Time to Work

If you would like to use this form, you can download it for free here.  I am posting it in Word format so that you can open it and change the wording to suit your needs.


Testing Rubric Checklist

7 Ways to Improve Standardized Testing and Practice

1.  Teach students to “Brain Dump”.  As soon as students are allowed to begin their test, tell them to write everything down that they worked hard to remember, but are afraid that they might forget during the course of the test.  Our state tests give students a math reference sheet, card stock rulers and pattern blocks.  Students could write other formulas down on their reference sheet, write the name of the pattern blocks on the pattern blocks, and write the fractional measurements on their rulers.  If your state doesn’t provide students with these materials, then they may provide them scratch paper, or they may be allowed to write in the test booklet itself.  Students could “brain dump” in these areas.

2.  Have a Mathlete’s Challenge.   To give students a break from the mundane multiple choice test prep and practice, allow them to work in pairs to discuss which answers are correct.  Give the top three student pairs a prize for answering the most questions correctly.  The competition helps keep the students focused on the task.  Students get the benefit of discussing with their partners which answer is correct.  Allow students to move to a quiet corner of the room to work in their pairs.  Remind them that because this is a competition, they need to work quietly so that no one steals their answers.

3.  Weeks before the test make  vocabulary or spelling lists based on most often used language in test questions.  Your list might include words such as represent, approximately, elaborate, explain, outline, trace,  support etc.

4.  Time students like they will be timed when taking their real state tests.  Allow students to see the timer as the minutes pass by to help them pace themselves.

5.  Practice bubbles.  Make sure students are bubbling in the whole bubble.  Practice bubbling in bubbles darkly.

6.  Practice using the calculator.  If students are allowed to use calculators, make sure they know that they are smarter than the calculator and that the calculator is only a tool.  For example, many students may have difficulty inputting money in the calculator.  Instead of typing 0.50 for 50 cents, students type 50 and then add 1.50 for a dollar and fifty cents.  Then they get the wrong answer.  Students also build a misconception around the calculator showing 0.5 and thinking that the calculator is showing them that they have 5 cents and not 50 cents.

Another common misconception students have is when they are dividing numbers.  Students tend to misread the number behind the decimal as the remainder.  On a recent test, I noticed that many students saw 29 and divided it by 5 only to read 5.8 on their calculator screen.  Many of the students wrote that the answer was 5 with 8 leftover (as a remainder) in the word problem.

7.  Eat a peppermint candy.  Peppermint oil is excellent for mental fatigue and depression, refreshing the spirit and stimulating mental agility and improving concentration. It helps for apathy, shock, headache, migraine, nervous stress according to this website and this one.  We always give students a few peppermints during testing to give them an extra boost.




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