Points, Lines, Planes, and Intersections INB Pages

27 August 2016
So my first unit of Geometry is in the books!  I am LOVING interactive notebooks for Geometry!  I have even had a few parents email me to tell me how proud their kids are of their notebooks.  i love that the kids are busy while we are taking notes.  I was worried that creating the foldables would take too long and make the lesson super long, but that hasn’t been the case at all.  It’s taking me about the same amount of time to teach the lesson as it used to.  The kids are super engaged the whole time, so I’m able to move quicker because I don’t have to stop because kids are fooling around.  I didn’t hit the class jackpot either - my geometry class has several kids that are known for behavior problems.

Whenever I read about other people’s interactive notebooks, I always wonder HOW the unit progressed in their class and what the days looked like.  I’m going to try to give a glimpse of that.  My students added to their notebooks almost everyday this unit.  My plan going forward for the year is that any day I would typically “do notes” is a day that we will add something to our notebook.  Some days it will just be finishing pages, some days it will be creating a new page.

This is part one of my first unit for Geometry.  I intend to post all of my interactive notebook pages for Geometry and Algebra 1 this year.  However, sometimes life will in the way, so bear with me :)

Day 1 - Points, Lines, and Planes

These two pages were vocab heavy and were lots of writing.  My students did great with it though!  I got the chart page from Sarah Rubin at Everybody is a Genius and the definitions page from Busy Miss Bebe.  

Points, Lines, and Planes interactive notebook page for Geometry

I only had my students glue the chart down at the top.  It's like a large flap in their notebooks.  Under the flap, they wrote the information below.

Points, Lines, and Planes interactive notebook page for Geometry

Day 2 - Intersections

On this day I always give the kids notecards and have them partially rip the cards to create intersecting planes.  Then, we stab their pencils through the notecards to show a line intersecting the plane.  After that, I gave the kids the foldable for intersections from Sarah Rubin at Everybody is a Genius

Points, Lines, and Planes interactive notebook page for Geometry

Points, Lines, and Planes interactive notebook page for Geometry

Then, we added the Always, Sometimes, Never worksheet from Math Giraffe on the opposing page.  I wasn’t paying attention when I copied and gave it to the kids, so I was surprised when I saw angles mentioned as we started completing it in class.  Mental note: pay attention to the stuff you’re giving kids!  We only completed part of it and left the rest to be completed after we talk about angles.  The page is good though.  Next year, I think I will move this page to be the last page of the unit and do it as a review.

Points, Lines, and Planes interactive notebook page for Geometry

Watch for parts two and three of my first unit of geometry coming soon!





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Interactive Notebook Setup

20 August 2016
Before I started using interactive notebooks, I always wondered how other teachers set them up and got kids started.  I’ve read on other blogs that some teachers take up to a week (!) to set them up.  So, I thought I’d share what I did this year.

I told kids at Open House that they would need a composition notebook by the second day of school.  I reminded them on the first day of school as well.  On the second day of school, I had a notebook check.  For the kids that didn’t bring their notebook, I had them follow along on blank notebook paper.

First, I explained that all of their notes will go in their notebooks.  They should never do warmups or homework in their notebook.  Also, their pages should look exactly like mine.  The vast majority of their notebook will be teacher directed, so I don’t want them going off-grid and doing crazy stuff.

I passed out Sharpies and had the kids write their name and class period on the front cover somewhere (inside or outside).  Then, on the first page, they wrote their name at the top of the first page and below that wrote “Unit Table of Contents”.  I decided that they would have a table of contents of the units only in the front.  At the beginning of each unit, we will list the specific pages in the unit.  I made this decision on the fly, because I accidentally forgot to skip the first few pages when I started explaining things to the kids.  Oops!

The second page explains the “rules” of the notebook.  I stole most of the wording from another blogger, but I can’t for the life of me remember who.  Sorry.

interactive notebook set up for high school students

The third page is my favorite of the beginning pages.  It’s my subtle way of getting would-be whiners to shut up.  Again, I stole parts of this page from others, but I don’t remember who.

interactive notebook set up for high school students

The fourth page I threw in for good measure.  I thought I should include a little study skills reminder at the front of their notebooks.  Maybe they will actually read it one day.  After they glued in the page, I had them write in the margin the study skill they thought they were best at, and the one they struggled with the most.  I didn’t plan it, but I had a couple minutes to kill and came up with it once I saw the clock :)

Math Study Tips for an Interactive Notebook

…And that’s all I did.  The next page starts Unit 1.  It took about 35 minutes to talk to them about all of the information in the pages.  I gave them the last few minutes of class to number the pages.  However, I don’t think I will have them number the pages ahead of time next year - too many of them messed it up.

Link for the pages about notebook "rules"
Link for Tips for Studying Mathematics

As far as supplies, I just have a small pencil pouch under each of their desks.  In the pouch is a pair of scissors, a highlighter, a glue stick, an extra pencil, and a red pen.  They are free to use anything in the pouch, as long as they put it back at the end of class.  I told them that if things start to go missing, they will be responsible for bringing their own supplies.  We will see how it goes…




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The Marshmallow Challenge

16 August 2016
This year, the first day of school was a little different at my school.  Instead of having the kids go to all of their classes, we met in our advisory groups and did team building activities all day.  There was a pizza party at lunch and an ice cream party after school.  Overall, it was a pretty fun day for the kids.  I’m still undecided about how I feel about it.  While the day was fun, I’m not a huge fan of seeing the kids in that type of situation before I get the chance to lay out my expectations in class.  It think it might have been better at the end of the first week.

The first hour and a half that we were in our groups, each teacher could plan what they wanted to do with their group.  After that, we went through a rotation of activities.  I knew I wanted to do some sort of hands on activity and decided on The Marshmallow Challenge.

The Marshmallow Challenge: a STEM team building activity perfect for the first day of school

The Marshmallow Challenge

  • 1 marshmallow
  • 20 pieces of spaghetti
  • 1 yard of masking tape
  • 1 yard of string
  • 18 minutes

Build the tallest unsupported tower you can.  The marshmallow must be at the top.


I split my students into groups of four.  If you had uneven group sizes, I would make the groups smaller, rather than larger.  In groups of four, each student got building time.  I didn’t have a yardstick or meter stick in my classroom, so I just gave each group pieces that were the same length.  My groups didn’t find the string very helpful.  Now, 18 minutes seemed a little long for them to build.  Most groups finished what they were able to in less time.  If I did this again, I’m not sure I would give the full 18 minutes.  

The Marshmallow Challenge: a STEM team building activity perfect for the first day of school

The Marshmallow Challenge: a STEM team building activity perfect for the first day of school
The tallest tower was 16 1/2 inches.  I wasn’t super impressed.  If you’ve done this with your students, I’d love to hear how tall theirs were!




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Dear Teacher...

15 August 2016
Dear Teacher at Back to School:

You’re excited.  You’re nervous.  You’re hopeful.  I know, because I am too.  It’s hard to stay focused during the school year, so there are a few things I would like to remind you of.
a letter to teachers preparing for back to school
Your classroom doesn’t have to be Pinterest worthy.  Classroom decor should be at the bottom of your to-do list.  What’s more important?  Course descriptions.  Procedures.  Lesson plans.  Most classrooms you see on Pinterest are the result of organization and refinement over years.  Don’t stress about it.

Don’t be a teacher that you’re not.  Use whatever teaching style works for you.  If guided notes are your thing, then use them!  If Powerpoints are your jam, rock it!  The best way for you to teach is the way you’re most comfortable and most effective with your students.  

Try to give others the benefit of the doubt.  It is so easy to get beaten down through the school year.  Dealing with admin, parents, and other teachers can get exhausting.  Try to give others the benefit of the doubt before assuming they are attacking you.  It will help you have a more pleasant year.

Find a group to help.  I don’t teach at a school where I have a team.  I’m the only one teaching my courses.  It is helpful to find a group.  I really like the Facebook group Secondary Math Teacher Community.  Read blogs.  Buy things on Teachers pay Teachers.  Find a group of people where you can go when you have questions.  You do not have to live on an island and have all the answers.

You rested this summer (hopefully!).  You’ve planned for this year.  Have a great year.

Let’s get to it!




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Right Triangles Interactive Notebook Pages

07 August 2016
I have three interactive notebook pages for right triangles to share today.  This is mostly going to be a photo dump.  :)

First, I have a two-page glue-in for special right triangles.  I always teach 45-45-90 triangles first and spend a whole day on them.  At the top of the page I have a diagram with the rules, and practice problems at the bottom.

Special Right Triangles Interactive Notebook Page:  45-45-90   mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

Special Right Triangles Interactive Notebook Page:  45-45-90   mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

The second day of special right triangles, I teach 30-60-90 triangles.  I used the same format for these notes.  You can find this as a freebie in my TpT store.

Special Right Triangles Interactive Notebook Page:  30-60-90   mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

Special Right Triangles Interactive Notebook Page:  30-60-90   mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

After special right triangles, I teach trig ratios.  I usually spend a whole day on tangent, then teach sine and cosine the next day.  

In this foldable, there is an example under each flap and two examples.  One of the examples has the missing side in the numerator and the other one has the missing side in the denominator.  Sometimes students have trouble solving these equations, so I have both types under each flap.  You can find this foldable in my TpT store as well.

Trig Ratios Foldable for Interactive /notebooks

Trig Ratios Foldable for Interactive /notebooks




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