6 High School Teacher Must Haves - Guest Post

26 June 2017
Today, my friend Shana will be sharing her 6 MUST HAVES for new (and old!) high school teachers.  Shana is my friend and the mastermind behind Scaffolded Math and Science.  Her passion is helping math phobic kids find success.  Check out her budget-friendly tips!


6 high school teacher must haves

I am very excited to be writing this post today as a guest on Mrs. E Teaches Math! Mrs. E's blog is one I have followed for many years, so this is a great honor. There are so many things I'd love to buy for my classroom, but then I'd be broke! In this post I narrowed it down to the 6 things I can't live without. If you or someone close to you just landed their first high school teaching job, congratulations! After so many years of preparation, this is a very exciting time. We have all seen the memes about how much money teachers spend on their classrooms, but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are 6 things that would mean a lot to a new high school teacher.

6 high school teacher must haves

1: A Mouse 
This one might seem silly, but it makes a world of difference. Chances are, you'll be issued a laptop of some kind. When I taught in Boston, we were given Apple computers that ran Windows because of some law suit about one or the other monopolizing education. It was so weird. It was also really awkward! Even more awkward with any laptop maneuvering the touchpad mouse while trying to work at the necessary light speed in order to get everything done. Having an external mouse cuts down on a whole lot of unnecessary frustration.

 
2: Magnets 
I'm not talking any old magnets here. I'm talking those mega magnets tough enough to hold half a ream of paper onto that 1992 magnetic whiteboard. These strong disc magnets are super cheap on Ebay and are so versatile in the classroom. They allow for student work to be displayed, which makes student engagement go way up. Magnets are also awesome for displaying a whole host of other things, like scavenger hunts, anchor charts and group directions.

6 high school teacher must haves

3: Panel Board 
This might also be called "tile board" at Home Depot. It's an 8-foot by 4-foot slab of shiny white board that, after being cut into sections, works great as personal student white boards. Whenever I need a quick filler activity or if my students are just not focused, personal white boards are a lifesaver. The ones sold at teacher stores are SO expensive. Panel board is almost as good and a whole lot cheaper. If you have no way of transporting the big sheet and/or can't cut it at home, Home Depot will cut it for you. I chickened out and only asked for mine to be cut into 8 sections, which were a little big but did work great for group work presentations. I am sure by asking nicely you can get more sections cut  Though a whole lot cheaper, panel board is not as durable as the personal whiteboards you can buy at a teacher store. A good workaround is a layer of dry erase paint at the end of the 2nd or 3rd year. This post from Alex at Middle School Math Math Man shows how dry erase paint can be used to make a dry erase table.

6 high school teacher must haves

The paint can also be used to spruce up personal whiteboards. Also, some teachers like to edge the cut sections with something like electrical or washi tape.

6 high school teacher must haves
 
4: Quartet Dry Erase Markers 
Everyone raves about Expo markers. I've found that the smaller Quartet markers, like the one in the photo, work awesome on personal whiteboards. They seem less scratchy, which helps the boards hold up, and the ink seems to last longer. This past year I laughed when I overheard a teacher's, "Whoa, what is this?" after being impressed with a Quartet marker. Usually the school will provide some dry erase markers, but never enough for all year.

6 high school teacher must haves

5: Flair Pens 
This one is such a teacher stereotype, but no doubt deserves its place in this top 6. For a long time I resisted the flair pen with an, "Ugh, like I'd fall for that trend!" Boy was I wrong. What makes them so great, and what I hadn't ever understood, is that the color is super bold yet, by sheer magic, doesn't bleed though the paper to the other side. They are the perfect grading pens. I can check all the correct answers I want on one side of a kid's paper and nothing goes through to the back. Awesome and mysterious!

6 high school teacher must haves

6: Document Camera 
This one is the most expensive on the list and may not be a must for some, but I love my document camera for so many reasons. When a student is out and will miss notes, I can give the class notes under the document camera so that the student can have the filled-in sheet the next day. My document camera lets students share their work and for us to discuss it as a class. When my graphing calculator software is acting up, which is usually, I can put a graphing calculator under the document camera and continue with the lesson.

What must-haves would you suggest to a new high school teacher?

  Scaffolded Math and Science
Shana McKay has been a Massachusetts public school math teacher since 2004. Teaching math to kids who are afraid of math is her passion, and every one of her lessons and activities is especially designed for students who struggle with self-confidence. She blogs at Scaffolded Math and Science.  

Functions, Tables, and Graphs INB Pages

I used these interactive notebook pages during my functions unit in Algebra 1.  It built on my student's previous knowledge, which I loved!

There are three main parts on the notebook page.

three views of a function foldable  {function rule, table, and graph} for algebra 1 interactive notebooks

First, I reminded students of the definition of the words "discrete" and "continuous".  They learned these words in Pre-Algebra and in science class.  However, I wanted to make sure they were in their notes.  Then, we completed a foldable relating an equation, table, and a graph.  I also had students label key features of a graph.

After we completed the different parts of the notes page, I had students practice with a partner on a practice page.  I copied the page at 80% so it would fit in their notebook.  I could have left it full sized and used it as homework though.

three views of a function practice page  {function rule, table, and graph} for algebra 1 interactive notebooks

This is what the pages look like as a "spread".  I like to plan pages as a two page spread, like a newspaper.  :)  To keep my students interested, I copied everything on different colors and I let them choose what colors they wanted.  Honestly, I dropped a stack of colored paper on the way to the copier, so I made it work ;)

three views of a function foldable  {function rule, table, and graph} for algebra 1 interactive notebooks

You can find the foldable and practice page here.

Arc Length vs. Arc Measure

18 June 2017
Students always seem to get confused about the difference between the length of an arc and the measure of an arc.  When I teach this concept, I try to relate it to sports.  The vast majority of the kids in my class have run around the track at some point.  So I start asking them questions. :)

If you have to run one lap around the track which lane do you want to run in?
The inside one!

Why?
It's shorter!

Why?
The circle is smaller.

Interesting...  You have still run one lap though.  All the way around the circle would be 360 degrees.  So, it should be the same distance.  If you run the outside lane, that's the same distance as the inside lane.
[At this point, controlled chaos ensues.  Most of the athletes become indignant.]

Then, I tell them that the measure of an arc is the degree measure.  The length of the arc is the actual distance you would have to run.  Most of them get it by this point.

arc length and arc measure cheat sheet for interactive notebooks - free download

I made a handy little "cheat sheet" for students to glue in their notebooks.

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